Reitsma and Rhodes reassigned; bullpen questions linger

Dave · March 26, 2008 at 10:34 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The M’s told Chris Reitsma that he wouldn’t be making the opening day roster today, so he’s now deciding whether he wants to head to Tacoma or become a free agent (technically, he doesn’t have the contractual right to do this, but the M’s aren’t going to hold him hostage). I’m hoping for the latter, so the M’s won’t ever be tempted by his veteranocity and give him a role he doesn’t deserve down the line.

So, with Reitsma out of the picture, the bullpen picture becomes a bit clearer, but questions remain. Here’s what we know:

J.J. Putz works the 9th inning in games where the M’s lead by 3 runs or less.
Sean Green and Eric O’Flaherty will work the 7th and 8th innings of close games.
R.A. Dickey will be the mopup guy when the game gets out of hand.

That leaves several holes, with roster spots going to three of Brandon Morrow, Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, Ryan-Rowland Smith, and Cha Seung Baek, assuming the M’s go with a 12 man pitching staff again. I’d call that very likely at this point, especially considering Morrow’s questionable status.

If we assume that Morrow is healthy enough to start the year on the active roster, he’s in for one of the spots. Depending on how he performs, he’d likely start the year in the 7th inning right-hander role with a chance to overtake Green for the 8th inning role if he figures out how to throw strikes with regularity.

So that leaves two spots. Rhodes thinks he’s ready, but the organization doesn’t seem to agree (edit: They told him he’s not making the club on opening day, so looks were right in this case), if you take their public comments at face value. However, with O’Flaherty the only lefty in the pen, it’s a lock that he or Rowland-Smith will make the team, as I can’t fathom John McLaren being willing to only take one lefty into the season. The two southpaws are fighting for one spot, and my gut says it goes to Rowland-Smith.

That leaves one spot for Cha Seung Baek or Mark Lowe. If they choose Lowe, they lose Baek, as he’s out of options and there is zero chance he’ll clear waivers. If they choose Baek, they can send Lowe to Tacoma and keep both in the organization. That would seemingly give Baek a big advantage, but the coaches aren’t convinced that Baek profiles well as a reliever and, with Morrow’s effectiveness in doubt, they’d like another power right-hander on the staff if he struggles early. So, Lowe fits the profile of the pitcher they would prefer, and that neutralizes the option scenario, making it a tough call.

I’m guessing the team ends up going with Baek, at least for the first two games. If Morrow struggles in the opening series against Texas, Lowe could be on the flight to Baltimore while they’d hope they could sneak Baek through waivers just a couple days into the season.

So, my gut feeling on the opening day bullpen: Putz, Green, O’Flaherty, Morrow, Rowland-Smith, Baek, and Dickey. This, of course, assumes the M’s don’t make any moves to bring in someone from outside the organization. If they do, may I suggest David Aardsma? Boston might not have room for him, and he’s basically Morrow’s equal at this point, with the added benefit of being able to get lefties out.

It’s certainly not the strength it has been in previous years, and getting to J.J. could be a little bit hairy this year.


35 Responses to “Reitsma and Rhodes reassigned; bullpen questions linger”

  1. Pete Livengood on March 26th, 2008 10:47 am

    Rhodes looked pretty good last night, but I agree with you that RRS is more likely (and if it were up to me, I’d always go with youth over advanced age/injury guys…).

    I hope they keep Baek. There will be an opportunity to get Lowe up here pretty soon, as injuries or performance shakes things out. I agree with Derek’s take on Baek – he’s the kind of guy you should be plugging rotation holes with. However, I think the org’s right that he doesn’t profile as a reliever. I wish they could dream up an injury for Baek, keep him in AZ for a few cold weather weeks, and then “rehab” him in Tacoma until he’s needed….

  2. robbbbbb on March 26th, 2008 10:51 am

    What’s your take on RRS these days, Dave? The last Future Forty has him as a pretty marginal player. Has he made improvements in the offseason, or is he still a back-end long guy?

  3. BaltimoreDave on March 26th, 2008 10:52 am


    If you were going to try to sneak Baek through waivers, when is the best time to do that? Now? 2 weeks from now? 2 weeks ago? This seems like something many teams do every year, and I’d be curious to know if there are any specific periods of time when other teams are less likely to place a claim and jumble their roster.

  4. Dave on March 26th, 2008 10:56 am

    I’m hoping to update the Future Forty before opening day, so without getting too deep into that side of the question, I think RR-S could work as a 5th starter in a park that will make his extreme flyball rate okay (like Safeco, for instance), but his skillset works better as a multi-inning reliever. His willingness to work up in the zone in the low-90s means he’s probably going to have a home run problem, so using him in high leverage situations could be dicey.

    He’s kind of the pitching version of a tweener – there’s no obvious role that fits his skillset perfectly. If the M’s had decided to toss Jarrod Washburn overboard, I’d have liked to see him given a real shot at winning a rotation spot, but given the current roster composition, he’s probably best served as the 6th/7th inning lefty.

  5. claskowski on March 26th, 2008 11:01 am

    you mean 3 runs or less for j.j., right?

  6. Mike Honcho on March 26th, 2008 11:02 am

    Baker is reporting that Rhodes won’t make the ML team, but unlike Reitsma seems willing to go to the minors to build up his arm.

    I like the Aardsma idea – and if Lowe is ready, it gives the M’s every opportunity to send Morrow down to Tacoma so he can learn how to start games.

  7. Alaskan on March 26th, 2008 11:03 am

    Maybe I’ve said this before…

    but aren’t Lowe and Morrow basically the same pitcher? (fastball-reliant righties) Do we really need them both? I would think if Lowe was performing, there would be no need to keep Morrow here. That way they don’t lose Baek.

    Am I missing something obvious here?

  8. Mike Honcho on March 26th, 2008 11:06 am

    When he was healthy, Lowe had a much better secondary pitch.

  9. JI on March 26th, 2008 11:06 am

    What’s Dickey’s potential upside? Is it too much to think that he’ll be a better option than Washburn in the near future?

  10. PositivePaul on March 26th, 2008 11:10 am

    But with 2 aces, adding Silva, and bumping Washburn and Batista down, they’ve revamped the rotation! The bullpen won’t need to be used so much!


  11. msb on March 26th, 2008 11:13 am

    hey, Travis Blackley is available again …

  12. Jim Thomsen on March 26th, 2008 11:13 am

    I like Aardsma’s stuff and velocity, but who knows if he’ll even turn the corner on his control. I think he’d ultimately frustrate us, like Jason Davis did.

  13. bakomariner on March 26th, 2008 11:15 am

    They should put Morrow on the DL with his “dead arm” issues, then have him START in Tacoma for his “rehab” and keep him there as a starter…They should package Reed, Morse, and Baek to the Mets as they would probably perform better in the NL and the Mets need another starter and another outfielder…RRS should be starting in Tacoma to take over when Wash is done…

    The pen should be:

    Eric O

    Not as good as it’s been, but serviceable for sure…

  14. HamNasty on March 26th, 2008 11:33 am

    The idea that Rhodes or Reitsma might not make opening day is making me a little cheerful. The organization is going to rely on young guys for a change.

  15. Dave on March 26th, 2008 12:10 pm

    Lowe’s slider and change-up are both miles ahead of anything Morrow has to offer as secondary pitches. However, we shouldn’t automatically assume that he’s going to be healthy and reliable every day – this is a guy with a defect in his elbow. He’s a pretty significant risk.

  16. IdahoInvader on March 26th, 2008 12:23 pm

    Has there been any evidence to show that the organization recognizes RRS could be used as a starter?

    I completely agree w/ you he likely going to be more effective in that role rather than in the ‘pen.

    Is Huber still alive?

  17. JMHawkins on March 26th, 2008 12:25 pm

    The really need to keep Baek. It’s almost a lead-pipe cinch somebody in the rotation will miss a few starts, and there’s a reasonable chance two guys might be out at once. Aside from Baek and RRS, who else can step in? Feierabend? Seems like he needs more time.

  18. IdahoInvader on March 26th, 2008 12:30 pm

    I think an interesting stopgap could be Dickey. I mean if (and clearly its a big ongoing “if”) he can be effective and pitch 3 straight games w/ little adverse affect on his arm, then maybe the 7th member of the bullpen would become unnecessary.

    Wishful thinking I know…

  19. hans on March 26th, 2008 1:21 pm

    I agree with bakomariner. This seems like the perfect opportunity to options Morrow to Tacoma and begin his career as a starter. The only difference I see is that I would prefer to see RRS in the bullpen instead of Rhodes.

  20. Kazinski on March 26th, 2008 1:26 pm

    Escobar is done for the season (career?), news on Bakers Blog.

  21. PositivePaul on March 26th, 2008 1:39 pm

    Sounds like Reitsma has made his decision to leave, depending on how you read Hickey’s blog… But Hickey mentions that neither can become free agents (thanks to their minor league contracts) and would have to ask to be released…

  22. currcoug on March 26th, 2008 1:52 pm

    McLaren addressed Rhodes’ situation in pregame today. He stated Rhodes would finish his throwing program into April (10th?). McLaren then stated it was highly likely that Rhodes would be called up to Seattle, so it appears he is going to make the team.

  23. msb on March 26th, 2008 2:58 pm

    Triunfel into the game at short in the 6th, where he promptly got a screamer hit to him, and then threw out Teahen.

    looks like Dickey gets the start in the tv game tommorow night.

  24. sass on March 26th, 2008 3:04 pm

    Speaking of pitching, Escobar’s out!

  25. fallingceilingtiles on March 26th, 2008 3:09 pm

    quick note.

    on the ESPN Sportsnation poll, they’re listing the following results

    4) Which team has the best defense?

    38.8% Mariners
    33.3% Red Sox
    27.8% Blue Jays


    8) Which team is the biggest potential darkhorse?

    46.5% Mariners
    29.6% Blue Jays
    23.9% Rays

    Total Votes: 5,519

  26. Dave on March 26th, 2008 3:12 pm

    Wisdom of crowds does not apply to readers.

  27. IdahoInvader on March 26th, 2008 3:17 pm



  28. katal on March 26th, 2008 3:33 pm

    Doesn’t the presence of Dickey as our long reliever make Baek redundant? I don’t recall Cha Seung having any plus pitches. How much can we really expect him to help in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings?

  29. Kazinski on March 26th, 2008 5:01 pm

    If Dickey’s knuckleball doesn’t consistently knuckle, he wouldn’t make HoRam redundant let alone Baek. I think he is a great pick-up on the rule 5, but he hasn’t proven anything yet.

    Cha Sung has one thing that a lot of guys with 3 plus pitches don’t have, control. A pitcher with a bag full of nothing can give himself a career if he has good control. Look at Guardado, he made his whole career out of throwing low and outside in the late innings and betting that the opposition wouldn’t be able to string together enough hits to beat him.

  30. avideo on March 26th, 2008 6:19 pm

    I’m pulling for Arthur Rhodes. His recovery from Tommy John surgery has gone as well as possible, according to what Norm Charlton said to me back in early March in Peoria. Hope to see him back in the lineup by mid-April.

  31. galaxieboi on March 27th, 2008 8:30 am

    I think Baek has pretty decent control. His walk rate is always right around 3 per 9IP. Sure, that’s not Carlos Silva territory and I understand there’s a lot more to control than walks but I think Baek’s problem is more or less staying healthy.

    I hope Mr. Rhodes makes a healthy recovery, but I’m not real sure I want him pitching for the M’s.

  32. currcoug on March 27th, 2008 10:31 am

    Many of us were thoroughly unimpressed with Dickey last Sunday in Tempe.

  33. DMZ on March 27th, 2008 10:39 am

    That’s some sentence construction right there.

  34. currcoug on March 27th, 2008 11:03 am

    The sad thing is that the M’s would have the best bullpen in the AL if Bavasi hadn’t traded Soriano and Sherrill.

  35. Gerald on March 27th, 2008 1:06 pm

    I don’t know if I agree with letting Reitsma go. I mean, Bavasi’s fetish for veteranocity is undeniable. Wouldn’t you rather have them promote Reitsma than make some sort of Clement for Al Reyes trade?

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