Monday, November 13, 2006

Arms Race

If the Indians’ plans to add 3 arms to the bullpen, it’s likely that at least 2 will be acquired from Free Agency. With the November 11th filing deadline behind us, here’s the final list.

A few names stand out, but expect the Indians to add a veteran RHP and LHP to fill the set-up roles for 2007.

The name that stands out among LHP is Jaime Walker, who we learned first-hand, was an extremely solid arm in the Detroit bullpen. He had a great 2006 and will likely command a multi-year deal. He's 35 and there's no guarantee of multiple years of success, but if the money is there to be spent, let’s get the top players available.

Walker’s success in 2006 proved that he could be successful in the AL, and particularly the AL Central. In addition to giving the Tribe that veteran LOOGY for next year (remember how many times he got Hafner out in tight jams), it would also weaken the Tigers’ bullpen, allowing the Indians to close ground on the defending Central Champs in more ways than one.

Walker, by the way, is reportedly looking for a 3-year deal. A bold demand for a 35-year old.

If Walker’s not the answer, it’s likely that the arm will come from this list:
J.C. Romero
Ray King
Alan Embree
Steve Kline
Mike Stanton

As for the RHP to fill the 8th inning role, the name that looks most attractive is Justin Speier, and not because when you say his name it sounds like you’re saying, “Just Inspire”. Inspire’s numbers have continually improved and he served as an excellent set-up man for B.J. Ryan in Toronto last year.

If Inspire becomes the hot name on the market, these would be the other players under consideration:
Miguel Batista
Danys Baez
Joe Borowski
Dan Kolb
Keith Foulke
Dustin Hermanson
Octavio Dotel
Tanyon Sturtze
Scott Williamson

Terry Pluto hits on the RHP in yesterday’s column and the name that still stands out is Just Inspire.

As an aside, back in college, we used to watch ECW wrestling where one of the guys was named Justin Credible. I always thought the name must’ve been thought of for him because of how clever it was.

Anyways, back to Just Inspire, he would fit perfectly into that 8th inning role, which allows Betancourt and Cabrera to move down a few notches in the pen.
Obviously, by adding more arms to the back of the pen, the domino effect takes hold.

The interesting thing to watch this off-season will be to see how many years and how much money theIndians will be willing to commit to pitchers who will not be closing games for them.

Has The Lesson of Bobby Howry been learned, that a good pitcher is a good pitcher and sometimes a team has to overpay, in terms of years and dollars, to ensure that the strongest bullpen can be created?

Howry received a 3-year deal for $12M, which isn’t out of the question for a pitcher like Speier in this market. Walker may not get that money, but he’ll be looking for the years.

After last year, I’m inclined to believe that the Indians will overpay for the players they want to fill the bullpen this off-season.

As for finding a closer, that will take a little more creativity and chutzpah, but after Josh Barfield fell into their laps, it’s starting to feel like Shapiro is going to pull another rabbit out of his hat.


t-bone said...

Updated: Nov. 16, 2006, 12:31 PM ET
Report: Orioles sign ex-Tigers lefty reliever Walker news services

Jamie Walker
The Baltimore Orioles have a three-year agreement in principle in place with lefthanded reliever Jamie Walker that will pay the former Detroit Tiger about $11.5 million, The Baltimore Sun reported, citing team sources.

The team declined comment on the report, but club officials acknowledged they had been in discussions with Walker's agent, the Sun reported. "We're in the running," team president Mike Flanagan told the newspaper.

Walker, 35, was 0-1 with 2.81 ERA in 56 games last season and held left-handers to a .238 batting average. He allowed 47 hits and 15 runs, all of them earned, in 48 innings.

In 383 appearances over seven years for the Tigers and Kansas City Royals, Walker is 15-16 with a 3.95 career ERA and 5 saves.

The Orioles, who had the second-worst bullpen ERA (5.25) in the majors last season, are undertaking a bullpen overhaul. The newspaper reported that according to sources, the O's have made offers to San Francisco Giants left-hander Mike Stanton, Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Justin Speier and Atlanta Braves right-hander Danys Baez.

Paul Cousineau said...

Walker got his 3-year deal.

Neil Cotts also got traded out of the AL Central to the Cubs, so there's going to be a decidedly new look to LHP in the Central next year.

pojo said...

Funny how all these guys that play such a big part in their teams success, from the bullpen, keep moving other teams...year after year...

and what do teams generally say they need...year after year...


and once you let go of the rarely return to where you were...


I think we'll know what the Tribe will have by the end of November...