Offseason needs 4 and 5: bullpen and back up catcher

The Twins' quickly took care of need #5, by exercising Mike Redmond's option. I think that it was an ok move, because Redmond is as good as most older back up catchers out there, albeit with reduced production at the twilight of his career. In the next offseason moves installment, I will discuss "tooling" the organization and the major league bench, and a young ready in 2009 AAA catcher will be identified as a higher priority.

As far as the bullpen goes, the numbers indicate that in contrast to the popular opinion, the bullpen was not as big of a problem as most 'experts' think. Saying that the Twins have bullpen issues, is as valid as saying that the Tampa Bay Rays have bullpen issues because Joe Maddon mismanaged his pen in the ALCS game 5 loss to the Red Sox.

Last season the Twins had some awful pitchers in the pen (Rincon, Bass, Guardado and Guerrier in September) who were used by Gardy after repeated failure in high leverage situations. It is not the personnel, it is use of the personnel and that is where Anderson and Gardenhire should focus on 2009: Go with the hot hand and if someone fails in high leverage situations, use them in low leverage situations, until they prove they can make outs.

The Twins will have a 12-man pitching staff in 2009, which means 7 bullpen arms. If I were Bill Smith, having already traded Bonser, Humber and Duensing and letting Reyes leave as a free agent, my 2009 pen would look like this:

Joe Nathan Closer
Pat Neshek RH Set up
Jose Mijares LH Set up
Craig Breslow LH RH middle relief
Jesse Crain RH middle relief
Robert Deleaney RH middle relief
Matt Guerrier long relief/mop up

next installment: further tooling and the 25-man and 40-man rosters

On an unrelated note, Milwaukee fired their hitting coach. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Skaalen obviously paid the price for an offense that disappeared in September, causing the Brewers to almost miss the playoffs and resulting in the firing of Yost.

The operating word is "almost". The Twins' offense also disappeared in September, causing them to miss the playoffs (unlike the Brewers who made it to the postseason the first time since 1982), but the Twins' brass (unlike the Brewers who fired their manager and hitting coach and letting their interim manager go) are not only keeping, but looking to extend Gardy for 2 more years, in addition to his contact year, and retain all of his coaches... I guess accountability is a higher value for the their Twins' eastern neighbors, as apparently is the desire to win.


TwinsFix said...

I agree with this for the most part. The biggest problem with the bullpen was the way it was run. If that would have changed for the better the bullpen wouldn't have been as nearly as bad.

With that, I also agree with your saying that the Twins shouldn't reach outside the organization when dealing with the bullpen. With Mijares and Neshek the Twins should be right back to where they should regain a huge amount of talent.

However, I disagree with bringing Delaney up early in 2009. I wouldn't push him, but if there is a need he would certainly be among the first to be called up. That said, if he isn't one of the September callups I will be greatly worried.

thrylos98 said...

I agree that Delaney might be a reach at this point, but the Twins have a history of being slow with advancing their minor leaguers. I think that he (and Slama) would be given a chance in Spring training...

TwinsFix said...

You said the Twins have a history of going slow with prospects...that is my point. He is only in New Britain right now and probably will (should) end the season in Rochester. He should be a September call-up, and he will have a chance out of Spring Training, but I doubt he makes the team until late in the year.