Reconciling Disappointment, Part 8

Position: Relief Pitcher

2011 Innings breakdown: Nick Masset - 14%

                                            Francisco Cordero - 14%

                                            Logan Ondrusek - 12%

                                            Sam LeCure - 11%

                                           Jose Arredondo - 11%

                                           Aroldis Chapman - 10%

                                           Bill Bray - 10%

                                          Carlos Fisher - 5%

                                          Jordan Smith - 4%

                                         Jeremy Horst - 3%

                                         Matt Maloney - 3%

                                         Travis Wood - 1%

                                         Jared Burton - 1%

                                         Daryl Thompson - 1%

                                         Mike Leake - 0%

                                        Chad Reineke - 0%

                                        Edinson Volquez - 0%                

2011 Composite pitching line (over 72 appearances):

W

L

ERA

G

SV

Holds

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

HBP

WP

4

4

3.55

72

6

10

71.7

62

30

28

7

33

61

3

4

WHIP

BABIP

Opp BA

Opp OBP

Strand Rate

xERA

1.317

.277

.234

.322

75.4%

3.52

2011 Composite NL average relief pitcher pitcing line (over 72 appearances):

W

L

ERA

G

SV

Holds

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

HBP

WP

4

4

3.59

72

7

11

71.0

64

31

28

6

29

64

3

3

WHIP

BABIP

Opp BA

Opp OBP

Strand Rate

xERA

1.306

.293

.241

.320

74.5%

3.54

2012 Contract status:

Masset - arbitration eligible (3rd arb year)

Cordero - team option for 2012

Ondrusek - not yet arbitration eligible

LeCure - not yet arbitration eligible

Arredondo - arbitration eligible (1st arb year)

Chapman - not yet arbitration eligible; has ML contract through 2014

Bray - arbitration eligible (2nd arb year)

Fisher - arbitration eligible (1st arb year)

Smith - not yet arbitration eligible

Horst - not yet arbitration eligible

Maloney - with Minnesota

Wood - not yet arbitration eligible

Burton - with Minnesota

Thompson - free agent

Leake - not yet arbitration eligible

Reineke - free agent

Volquez - arbitration eligible (2nd arb year)

Advanced minor league depth:

Brad Boxberger - age 23, 2.03 ERA at AA, AAA

Jerry Gil - age 28, 3.59 ERA at AAA

Doug Salinas - age 22, 4.47 ERA at A+

Andrew Bowman - age 25, 4.50 ERA at A+, AA

Travis Webb - age 26, 4.35 ERA at AA, AAA

Tim Hamulack - age 34, 4.75 ERA at AA

Relative win increase, 2011 vs. 2010: -1

Brief summary of 2011: There's an old joke about the two actuaries who went duck hunting, took their best shot, and watched as one shooter's bullet whizzed six feet to the left of the target, while the other missed by six feet to the right.  The pair gave each other a spirited high-five, of course, since on average they nailed it.  Given the middling summary numbers shown above, the joke might apply to this bullpen group as well, since the results were average, while the path to get there was anything but.  The bullpen was a frustrating group in 2011, because the key players each went through periods of rather extreme hot and cold.  Every time a reliever or two emerged as one of the hot hands, seemingly, he then was then a good bet to explode in spectacular fashion.  Perhaps all staffs go through this to some degree, but the inconsistency on this team was a regular storyline throughout.

Way too early knee-jerk outlook for 2012: I'm not especially confident, but I'm cautiously optimistic.  The left-handed brigade feels pretty solid with Chapman and Bray, although some screws still need to be tightened with the former.  Additionally, LeCure has emerged as one of the better pure pitchers of the group.  Unfortunately, of the five top names in terms of 2011 innings, we've only mentioned one thus far.  Cordero is likely gone, so the real question is: will Masset, Arredondo, and Ondrusek pitch like relief aces or not?  Or some combination thereof?  The talent is here for a strong pen, but the history is not favorable.  I see two of the questionable three taking a step forward (I feel most strongly about Masset), leading to a nice rebound for the relief corps.  There are enough arms currently to staff a full pen, but I expect another arm or two to be brought in on the cheap this winter. 

Comparable industry: TV weathermen get the most attention of the entire newscast ("Find out if you'll need a sweater or an umbrella...right after this!"), but don't generally tell us much of anything impactful, save for the occasional impending natural disaster.  Meteorological models get improved all the time, and I suppose the predictive accuracy has, too.  Nonetheless, people get a kick out of complaining about how the weatherman never gets it right.  More to the point, I guess, is that people feel free to get a kick out of it, because whatever the weather guy (or gal) says, we're pretty much going to stay the course.  Or, if we're really keen on changing direction, it will probably be more dependent on what gets said in the first couple minutes of the broadcast.

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