Price of relief, 2008

DMZ · January 23, 2008 at 11:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

One of the great things we’ve been able to see the M’s pull off over the last few years is their cheap, effective bullpens. They’ve tried to spend on veterans, or put Rick White into a role, but most of the work’s been done by Putz and a collection of farm system products for little money.

This is important because the bullpen’s one of the places smart teams can save money and still be productive, allowing them to spend money elsewhere. The Padres are notorious for this: they probably scout for relief pitchers harder than everyone, and then pick up a collection of rebound candidates, post-injury comebacks, and pitchers with good stuff who got unlucky, or played in front of a bad defense, or whatever. They pay them all peanuts, juggle them through the season, flipping or dumping them, and then repeat the process.

I mention this because Octavio Dotel just signed a two year, $11m deal with the White Sox. The M’s have a host of guys who are good bets to outperform Dotel this year for under a million dollars. That’s a good position to be in, even if we might disagree about where they spend the savings.


40 Responses to “Price of relief, 2008”

  1. gwangung on January 23rd, 2008 11:03 am

    Positive praise for the team? Oh, you’re just backtracking…

  2. Mustard on January 23rd, 2008 11:12 am

    The M’s bullpen is much like what the Jays had last year in terms of cheap and useful talent. Unfortunately the Jays had to spend alot of money in that area this offseason.

    So did the bullpen saving go directly Mr.Silva’s offshore bank account? haha

  3. Alaskan on January 23rd, 2008 11:18 am

    I’m bothered by your lack of negativity. You have lowered the bar, and I’m dissatisified. Please refund my membership fee immediately.

    Oh, and I love our bullpen!

    Here’s some real negativity for you, though: didn’t BB say that if HoRam didn’t get the #5 spot, he’d be in the bullpen? That sounds like an even bigger problem than Rick White. Can McLaren resist such a proven veteran? Only time will tell.

  4. Grizz on January 23rd, 2008 11:22 am

    I would feel better if the two best power righties (non-Putz division), Lowe and Mickolio, had lower risk factors.

  5. Tek Jansen on January 23rd, 2008 11:23 am

    This year’s White Sox remind me of last year’s Orioles. The O’s felt that they needed to improve their ‘pen, spent millions on Baez and Walker, and still had lousy relief pitching. I have a feeling that the Chisox will have the same expierence.

    Out of all the questionable moves that the Bavasi regime has made, they have not given long term, multi-million dollar deal for a FA relief pitcher.

    By the way, I believe that when the Chisox signed Linebrink earlier this offseason, they actually gave him a full no-trade clause. Now that is dumb.

  6. Tek Jansen on January 23rd, 2008 11:27 am

    #3 — I do not expect Morrow to be the fifth starter, so I would rate him as the best non-Putz power righty in the bullpen.

  7. msb on January 23rd, 2008 11:28 am

    speaking of bargains, looks like the Rays are getting James Shields for 7/$38M ….

  8. Grizz on January 23rd, 2008 11:35 am

    #5: Morrow is large part why I would feel better with safer RHP power options. Morrow should be starting in Tacoma.

  9. Tek Jansen on January 23rd, 2008 11:59 am

    #7 — I agree with you about what Morrow should be doing. Unfortunately the M’s do not.

  10. Panev on January 23rd, 2008 12:02 pm

    I hope Lowe is able to return to his pre-injury form. His start at the MLB level was special and it would be great to see him make the comback.

  11. Tek Jansen on January 23rd, 2008 12:05 pm

    Oops, I wanted to respond to Grizz in #s 4 and 8.

  12. thefin190 on January 23rd, 2008 12:09 pm

    Its nice to see there are actually bright spots in the Mariners organization. It’s too bad Bavasi can’t build his whole team the way he built the bullpen, minus Rick White, Reitsma, Parrish, etc. Unfortunately, to have Morrow in the bullpen takes away a potential starter, but the organization is too impatient to season him in tacoma as a starter before having him come back to the big leagues.

    Who knows, maybe Morrow himself doesn’t want to go to the minors.

  13. CaptainPoopy on January 23rd, 2008 12:28 pm


    Of course Morrow doesn’t want to go to the minors, but if he ever wants a huge payday, he needs to go to the minors and season up as a starting pitcher. Otherwise, he’ll be a bullpen guy for life and another wasted draft pick for the M’s.

  14. et_blankenship on January 23rd, 2008 12:35 pm

    Does anyone know where Morrow’s secondary pitches (change/slider/cutter) rate on the 20-80 scale? Or, what is the potential for each of those pitches to develop into something useful as a SP? Sinkerballers and Knuckleballers are about the only two types of pitchers who can survie outside of the bullpen with a two-pitch arsenal. Also, judging by his release-point chart, it appears Morrow would benefit by extending his change a bit to synch it up with his fastball.

  15. galaxieboi on January 23rd, 2008 12:58 pm

    This is the area I’ve been proudest of the M’s the last few years. There’s no reason to go out and sign a middle reliever for millions when you should have a half dozen or more in the minors to take that role on for the minimum.

  16. Grizz on January 23rd, 2008 1:00 pm

    Before last season, Churchill graded Morrow as follows:

    Fastball 65
    Splitter 55
    Slider 45
    Command 50

    After his performance this year, those (outside the fastball) look a little high.

    Morrow has also worked on a changeup. A scout who saw Morrow pitch in Venezuela told Churchill that Morrow’s work-in-progress changeup was “below average” and that he still needs to get his slider “up to par,” but with maybe 150 innings in the minors, he could improve them to become a viable major league starting pitcher.

    Dave did a recent article on Morrow for which the USA Today version would read: fastball good; command, secondary pitches, changing speeds, and mixing pitches need a lot of work.

  17. Mariner Fan in CO Exile on January 23rd, 2008 1:03 pm

    “Who knows, maybe Morrow himself doesn’t want to go to the minors.”

    I can all but guarantee this is the case. Pretend you are a young man who has the choice (not that he really does) to stay in the majors as a regular, or spend more time in the minors doing whatever it is the team wants you to do. Even putting aside the financial incentives of adding to your service time, etc., what guy in his right mind would rather not spend time in the big show? I don’t expect a 22 year old kid (or any guy playing baseball really) to view going back down to the minors as a good thing.

  18. galaxieboi on January 23rd, 2008 1:04 pm

    Nice work, Grizz (and Dave obviously). It certainly would seem Brandon has the talent but needs the time to work on his pitches. There’s no time to work in the big leagues. That’s what the minors are for.

  19. Grizz on January 23rd, 2008 1:08 pm

    Churchill and Dave did the work.

  20. et_blankenship on January 23rd, 2008 1:14 pm

    In that case, the Mariners should do what they can to give Morrow those 150 IP’s at AAA before reaching a conclusion that may affect the rest of his career. Johan Santana was a tweener before they finally let him work it out in AAA. (Terrible example, but a valuable lesson in patience nonetheless.)

    I also understand the temptation to entrench Morrow in the pen, especially if they truly believe he will never be more than a two-pitch guy.

  21. gwangung on January 23rd, 2008 1:28 pm

    I also understand the temptation to entrench Morrow in the pen, especially if they truly believe he will never be more than a two-pitch guy.

    If they believe that, it should have been AFTER giving a solid 150 innings as a starter. I don’t believe that major league relief pitching is a good place to develop a second or third pitch.

  22. AssumedName on January 23rd, 2008 1:42 pm

    Maybe Willie Ballgame could be an effective reliever…he already *hits* like a pitcher…

  23. optigan on January 23rd, 2008 2:29 pm

    The Padres are famous for that, not notorious. The Padres are notorious for, oh, playing in a park named for a pet food store.

  24. currcoug on January 23rd, 2008 3:45 pm

    Speaking of Dotel, lets not forget that Bavasi tried to give Balentien straight up for him.

    Fortunately, KC went with Atlanta’s offer…and Dotel almost immediately went on the DL. Dotel pitched only 7.2 innings for Atlanta, was a non-factor down the stretch.

    Ouch. No doubt, KC is still having a good laugh over that trade.

    Bavasi is probably still thanking the baseball gods.

  25. Taylor H on January 23rd, 2008 4:26 pm

    I wonder if Balentien for Dotel would have been worse than Soriano for HoRam…

  26. et_blankenship on January 23rd, 2008 5:39 pm


    Not a chance. An injured Dotel would have done less damage than Horacio, and I believe Soriano is primed to make us all cringe with a strong season.

  27. MyOhMy on January 23rd, 2008 9:01 pm

    I logged on tonight after seeing the James Shields contract thinking this would be a lead story on the good ol USS, but the only mention of it is from MSB and nobody else hopped on …

    I also heard earlier today that Jeremy Affeldt was signing a 1 yr, $3M deal with the Reds, but as a possible starter. I thought the M’s might go after him but I guess Horacio the Horrible ate up that money.

  28. Taylor H on January 23rd, 2008 9:39 pm

    I dunno, 26.
    Soriano seems too oft injured to ever repeat his 2006 season with us.
    Not that I’m backing up the trade – I still suffer an unbearable pain when his name is mentioned.

  29. Wishhiker on January 23rd, 2008 10:05 pm

    The oddity here is that the M’s took away Morrows good secondary pitch believing that his elbow/forearm soreness in college could be attributed to his high 80’s split-finger that was his out pitch in his only successful starting season. He needs an off-speed pitch too, but he could conceivably have a + out-pitch if they could revive his split without detriment to his health.

  30. Tek Jansen on January 23rd, 2008 10:08 pm

    #27 — I don’t think the M’s saw Affeldt as a starter, other than in emergencies, and since they have not traded away any of their bullpen, at least to this point, signing Affeldt would have been redundant and pointless. Had Sherrill been shipped to Baltimore, I would have been surprised if Affleldt did not sign with the M’s.

  31. Carson on January 24th, 2008 8:02 am

    That baseball sim league in the new ad on the left looks kind of cool. It would be interesting if we could get enough people to do a league. It has budgets and all that, so not overspending on relievers could be put to the test.

  32. Adam S on January 24th, 2008 8:02 am

    Given the Mariners rotation, they can’t have TOO many good bullpen arms. Right now it’s Putz, Sherrill, and Green with a bunch of question marks/AAAA players.

  33. galaxieboi on January 24th, 2008 8:20 am

    I dunno, 26.
    Soriano seems too oft injured to ever repeat his 2006 season with us.

    Uh, he played pretty well last year.

  34. msb on January 24th, 2008 8:26 am

    #30– even if he has a better chance of starting in KC?

  35. Tek Jansen on January 24th, 2008 9:32 am

    #34 — If the M’s had made an aggressive, competitive offer, yes, I would been surprised had he not signed. Let me put this way, if the M’s felt that they really needed Affeldt, as either a starter or reliever, and went after him, the odds are good that he would have shown up at a press conference with Mr. Bavasi.

    #32 — Actually its Putz, Sherrill, Green, Morrow (until traded/moved into rotatin), O’Flaherty, RR-S, and someone to occupy the seventh spot in the bullpen. Looks fine to me.

  36. bermanator on January 24th, 2008 10:10 am

    Hasn’t the issue with Affeldt as a starter been that he’s prone to picking up blisters in that role? I love that deal for the Reds, but I would guess that he’ll ultimately wind up as a spot starter and bullpen arm.

  37. msb on January 24th, 2008 2:50 pm

    sigh. from ESPN (or maybe from “No, Duh Magazine”)

    “The longer Lohse fails to find a suitor to meet his asking price, the more it looks as if the Seattle Mariners panicked and overpaid when they signed Carlos Silva to a four-year, $48 million deal in December.”

  38. thefin190 on January 24th, 2008 4:27 pm

    37 – I had thought for a while that the Mets were ready to dump money on him. Well it’s still a month before spring training, anything can happen.

  39. Mr. Egaas on January 24th, 2008 9:02 pm

    Notable in this thread, from Rotoworld:

    Braves agreed to terms with RHP Rafael Soriano on a two-year, $9 million contract.
    An interesting gamble for the Braves. Soriano asked for $3.4 million and was offered $2.4 million in his final year of arbitration. Assuming that they would have settled at the midpoint, this means the Braves are buying out his first year of free agency for $6.1 million. Despite his history of injuries, he could have received something like $24 million-$30 million for three years had he turned in a successful year as a closer.

    I think they pegged the analysis. Now that he’s a “closer”, some team would have sacked up and paid the man after this year if he held it down like he did last year. Unfortunate that Raffy never really got the chance to start.

  40. jamesllegade on January 25th, 2008 12:21 pm

    Hey so… what about Phillipe Aumont? I haven’t heard anything on him for awhile but just saw that he will be in camp.

    I saw he was blowing people away for the Canadian Junior team… only pitching 3 innnings per outing but I didn’t see him give up a run. Is there any reports on this kid? What pitches is he throwing? What’s his motion look like (please let it be nice and smooth and clean).

    Any one heard anything official? I know he is isn’t a factor for a few years but I would love to hear a first or second (or third) hand account of his Jr. National team work.

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