Friday, January 23, 2009

Bullpen Remains A Sticky Proposition For Tigers

I don’t think signing Brandon Lyon in itself is necessarily a bad move by the Tigers. They sorely need veteran bullpen depth as a bridge toward the future and what looks like a good crop of relievers they are developing in the minor leagues.
It’s just the prospect of Lyon and Fernando Rodney closing games for the Tigers at the start of the season isn’t promising. Both have done well in stretches - Lyon in 2003 with Boston before having Tommy John surgery, and the first half of last season with the Diamondbacks - and Rodney in 2006 and toward the end of last season. Neither has been able to do so consistently. Lyon is a good middle reliever. He doesn’t walk many hitters and knows how to get out jams in those situations. He doesn’t throw that hard or have a real outpitch, which causes problems when ending the game. Rodney’s success seems totally predicated on how hard he throws. When he’s in the mid-90s with his fastball, it provides a separation in speed between his changeup, which is an extraordinary pitch, that makes him very difficult to hit. His struggles come when his velocity comes down, which is often. Then nibbles with his fastball early in the count and never gets to setup his changeup.
I do think Juan Rincon might help the Tigers. He hasn’t pitched well in recent years, but Tigers pitching coach Rick Knapp is familiar from Rincon from both were with Minnesota. There is little risk because Rincon signed a minor league contract, but there would be high reward. Rincon is only 30.

Random Thoughts

- Scott Linehan as offensive coordinator is a solid move by the Lions. He wasn’t a successful head coach, but he did go through the process.
His ties to former Michigan State coach John L. Smith aside, Linehan’s offenses have generally been well-conceived and balanced. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out from the perspective of Daunte Culpepper. Linehan was Minnesota’s offensive coordinator during Culpepper’s most successful stretch in the league.

- Suspending Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datysuk for the first game back from the All Star break is preposterous. Those guys - particularly Lidstrom - should have been insulted from the standpoint of not starting. They're the ones with the beef, not the league because they are missing the game because of injury. The NHL All Star Game has run its course. It should be done away. Everybody knows that - except the typically clueless NHL.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You would think the NHL could be creative with the all star game.

Why not make this your outdoor game. Saturday have your skills tourney with the all-stars, on Sunday have the annual game which actually counts in the standings with real teams and the real game they are trying to promote, rather then the no touch game we get now.

Seems like a simple solution, and this is such a dead period in the sports world it may draw better then New Years.

Allan

3:58 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Lyon has does great job in a set-up role in the past and the Tigers do need to sign someone. He will benefit of having Everett and Inge on the left side of the Field. I think he is a nice addition to the bullpen as long as Tigers do not over do on the size of his contract. I also though Rodney's problem beside his control, drop in velocity (shoulder problems) and what between the ears is his two pitches are too good. What I mean I think hitters are sitting on either his fastball or his change-up because hitters should not be getting such a good whach at those pitches . After all he has regular with 96 m.p.h fastball and the best change -up in the league. The little 90 m.p.h slider he has, should be develop to throw those hitters off. Rodney has great potential, maybe Mr.Knapp get the stress off his shoulder and develop the third pitch. I know two pitches are fine but you need some control with it.

4:09 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

well book I think our whole pitching staff is confusing these days. If anything looks like we may got some debth. Weather it is good debth it remains to be sceen. Everyone is saying how cats are looking good in the offseason. My biggest thing to be watching is the Willis, Robertson, and Miner situation. Personally I don't see Miner in the Pen I feel that ship as sunk. He has shown to be a much better starter. That leaves Willis and Robertson do the Tigers really want that kind of money pitching every so often?

Another thing is the Tigers lineup I still feel a left handed bat would help unless Larish is really that guy. I mean Guillen isn't really making me jump for joy in left and Brandon's Bat along with Everett really weaken this lineup. Plus we don't know what Laird will do yet in this lineup. hell we don't even know if Sheffield will regain form. So outside Granderson, Ordonez, Polonco, Crabera, Maybe Guillen. . I am not excited there either. Not yet anyways..

As for the lions. I hope the O.C. job doesn't dictate Culpeppers future. I still like Dan O. for the time being. I still think it is a big mistake to take Stafford. When this team will stink again and the talent level is 100 times better going into 2010 draft. Speaking of the draft. I'd say this year grab guys taht can be productive and productive right now. Next year if u want then get your QB project or what eve. Right now this team needs to fill it's squad with Talent. We have none. With the exception of 3 players.

4:42 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

There is just no telling how the pitching in any combination will play out.

Because the great fell so badly last year, I think our pitching could fall anywhere in the range of fantastic to elstinko.

This is the first time I ever remember approaching a season with such nervous anxiety and excited anticipation at the same time. Fingers crossed and observing every rule baseball superstition.

Allan's outdoor allstar game is interesting but the logistics of guarenteeing frozen ice these days - on a specific day - even in Montreal - is unacceptable. I agree Book, shut down the all star game.

Great break down of the pitching situation, Pat. Thanks!

11:49 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

I am happy that Scott Linnehan is the new Offensive Coordinator for the Lions. There is only one person I would rather have for OC, and that is Norv Turner and he isn't exactly available for hire. I expect them to be much better next year offensively, as Linnehan has a history of putting his players in a position where they have the best opportunity to succeed. We'll see if that happens here or not.

I like what the Tigers are doing. Shoring up the defense was a must, but I am happy they aren't throwing a bunch of money at relievers. They seem to be the biggest crapshoot when you get one in free agency. They have enough players in the minors to have a decent bullpen in the next few years. No need to overpay players now to long term contracts, that will just force their own developed pitchers to stay in the minors.

I remember when I started watching the Tigers religiously in the late 90's, early 2000's, they always had a good bullpen. The rest of the team stunk, but the bullpen could usually keep the other team from scoring once they came on in the 4th or 5th inning (since the starters couldn't make it that far.)

-Marty

12:49 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Allan,
For some reason, Allan, the New Year's game was a big hit. People clicking their TVs found it appealing and stayed with it. I wouldn't touch it. I'd just do away with the NHL All Star game. They have Olympics every four years and should bring back the World Cup every third fall.
Caputo

1:48 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Barry,
Even when he is healthy, Rodney's velocity goes up and down. I have come to the conclusion that while he belongs in the major leagues and is OK at the back end of the bullpen, counting on him is a recipe for disaster.
Caputo

1:50 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
Larrish I don't know about. His swing is a little long. That's why he might struggle hitting major league pitching.
Caputo

1:52 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
Very perceptive view on the Tigers pitching. It could fall either way. Chances are they will end up somewhere in the middle. A lot depends on Jeremy Bonderman's health. I do think Verlander will bounce back. I don't expect much from Willis, but Robertson will likely be better.
Caputo

2:01 PM 

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