The End Of The Six Man Bullpen

Dave · April 8, 2010 at 10:35 am · Filed Under Mariners 

That didn’t take long. The M’s have decided that three days is enough, and the six man bullpen is no more. Jesus Colome has been called up from Tacoma to give the team another arm out of the pen. To take his place on the roster, Ryan Langerhans has been designated for assignment.

There’s no nice way to say this – the team is now actively making themselves worse to keep Mike Sweeney’s personality around. Langerhans is a better hitter, a better fielder, a better runner, and a guy who can actually serve a useful purpose on this team. Mike Sweeney is a mascot taking up a roster spot. Now, it’s not just some theoretically useful player he’s blocking, but an actual, honest to goodness major league player that the team is discarding to keep his cheerleading behind around.

This sucks. Go away, Mike Sweeney. If you want to hang out with the guys, accept a coaching job.

Comments

57 Responses to “The End Of The Six Man Bullpen”

  1. Carson on April 8th, 2010 10:42 am

    This… blows my mind. As great as Jack has been, I just don’t get how this decision could be made.

  2. Jud 8 on April 8th, 2010 10:46 am

    I know it goes without saying but, shouldn’t we REALLY be calling for Griff’s head? Sweeney was better than him last year and this year in ST….. I KNOW he’s “Junior” but perhaps he can develop an “injury”

  3. superkid20 on April 8th, 2010 10:47 am

    Or we could blame the lack of offense, lack of quality pitching, etc. BUT blaming the assignment of a 4th outfielder who squeeked onto a weak roster structure, on a guy who hit the lights out and was an all-star for most of his career is lame. Sure it may limit what this team can do in pinch situations, but don’t blame Sweeney for doing his job better than others.

  4. lamlor on April 8th, 2010 10:50 am

    Dave- I have always enjoyed your articles, but I think you have gone a bit over the top on this one. First you say Langerhans is a better hitter than Sweeney. What planet is that on?

    Then you blame everything on Sweeney for Langerhans’ release when I don’t hear one mention on Grandpa Griffey and his lack of production. Now I just read your tweet saying you wouldn’t mind seeing Sweeney getting hurt. Time for a deep breath my friend.

    personally, I think Langerhans, Sweeney, and Griffey should be all gone leaving the off chance of actually bringing in an offensive player or two to help this team. Bradley is a DH and nothing more. Our DH’s are retirement ready.

    I predicted a .500 season before the year started and I still see it that way. Pitching and defense does win, but not mediocre pitching and above average defense.

  5. Goody on April 8th, 2010 10:50 am

    What role does Ryan Langerhans have on this team?So far Wak has been no more inclined to play him than he is Sweeney. Langerhans was insurance in case one of the starting outfielders gets hurt. He can provide the same insurance policy down in Tacoma (assuming he is not claimed).

  6. Wells on April 8th, 2010 10:52 am

    The hell’s this team trying to be? Are Junior and Sweeney providing that much mentorship for the young guys that it will pay off next year? Probably not. What an odd move. It’s pretty clear that either Griffey or Sweeney should have gone, and anyone who runs an MLB organization ought to have the balls to make such decisions because it makes the team better.

  7. Liam on April 8th, 2010 10:56 am

    Then you blame everything on Sweeney for Langerhans’ release when I don’t hear one mention on Grandpa Griffey and his lack of production.

    Before Sweeney even entered the picture, this was discussed ad-nauseum after the Griffey resigning and non-tender of Langerhans.

  8. wescottr on April 8th, 2010 10:57 am

    Langerhans had his moments last year and was a valuable backup OF, but for now I’d rather see Byrnes get any starts and AB’s that might have gone to Langerhans. Sweeney is sweeny, but for goodness sakes what’s a guy got to do to make the team? If he doesn’t pull his weight during the season, if he’s not a useful player, I’m sure we’ll let him go. Langerhans is no big loss, and at this point he could still make it through to AAA.

  9. TomTuttle on April 8th, 2010 11:00 am

    A rare bad decision by Z. Go figure.

    Could be much worse though.

  10. bwisdom on April 8th, 2010 11:00 am

    Well first of all Dave, I wouldn’t be blaming Mike Sweeney and telling him to go away. All the blame needs to be directed towards Jack & Wak since they are the ones who control the roster. I don’t disagree with the guy who basically said Sweeney should have a roster spot over Griffey. Griffey should have had his final season last year when he came back to the M’s.

  11. nwivoryhunter on April 8th, 2010 11:04 am

    This is not good! Sweeney needs to step up and pack his bags! This team isn’t very good in the first place and this just hurts them even more. I can’t believe JZ allowed this to happen! :(

  12. NBarnes on April 8th, 2010 11:07 am

    a guy who hit the lights out and was an all-star for most of his career is lame.

    My vote is to DFA Langerhans and exhume Babe Ruth to be part of the DH platoon. For most of his career, he was the best hitter who ever lived, who wouldn’t want that on their team?

    Sweeney is sweeny, but for goodness sakes what’s a guy got to do to make the team? If he doesn’t pull his weight during the season, if he’s not a useful player, I’m sure we’ll let him go.

    What makes you sure of that? He didn’t pull his weight last season, he is not yet pulling his weight this season, and he has yet to be let go.

  13. Liam on April 8th, 2010 11:09 am

    What role does Ryan Langerhans have on this team?

    Left handed bat off the bench. The extra outfielder allowed the team to use Eric Byrnes as a pinch runner for Griffey the other night. When Milton Bradley starts at DH, they’ve still got a true backup outfielder on the bench. (They would forfeit the DH if he had to move to the field)

    It’s also insurance against a Bradley ejection.

  14. hark on April 8th, 2010 11:10 am

    A rare bad decision by Z. Go figure.

    I’m really not sure how “rare” it is at this point. We kept Sweeney, Saunders continues spending time in Tacoma instead of Byrnes or Langerhans, we keep Rob Johnson, waived Garko (subsequently losing him to the Rangers), now this. And time will tell on the Brandon/Brandon trade, but it’s pretty public knowledge that I’m not a fan of that one either.

    Z is a master of big moves: getting Gutierrez, signing Figgins (and Felix!), snagging Lee. But his small moves in sum are almost disturbing.

  15. TiltedMug on April 8th, 2010 11:13 am

    Releasing Langerhans is something that had to be seen coming. Let’s be reasonable. The guy has a career .231 average. Hannahan shouldn’t be on the team either as his .217 average 2 years ago was higher than the .213 he hit last year. Let the guys who can contribute play.

  16. Liam on April 8th, 2010 11:17 am

    “Mike Sweeney has earned his spot on this team,” Zduriencik said. “He earned it with the way he played for us this spring. And he earned it with the way he played for us last season.”
    Geoff Baker

  17. marc w on April 8th, 2010 11:21 am

    The DFA of Langerhans means Bradley’s your starting LF vs. righties. Again, I think any of the decisions MAY be ok in isolation, but the sum is worse: Bradely plays the field most days, which hurts the OF defense, Kotchman plays 1B against lefties, etc.
    The M’s surely know all of this, and think that Sweeney’s contributions make up for them, which, OK, great, but if they don’t even use him as a pinch hitter (because he can’t play 1B), then he’s going to have to hit like Pujols in rare starts against tough lefties like Anderson. That’s asking a lot. Like a lot of these decisions, they’re going with the scouts who must think Sweeney’s hitting like he was in 2000. Z’s a great scout, but he’s got to be right. If he’s not, then all of the marginal hits to their WAR will make hanging with the rest of the division difficult.

  18. andrewjsnider on April 8th, 2010 11:21 am

    I rooted for Sweeney to make this team, and even defended his making the team. But I never wanted him over Langerhans. If the 11-man pitching staff had worked out, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for us…but now that the 12-man staff is a necessity for the team, Langerhans was not the man who needed to go.

  19. Liam on April 8th, 2010 11:23 am

    Z is a master of big moves: getting Gutierrez, signing Figgins (and Felix!), snagging Lee. But his small moves in sum are almost disturbing.

    It’s not all bad. Hannahan, Langerhans, Aardsma, Branyan were all smaller moves.

  20. jamhov on April 8th, 2010 11:23 am

    Z is a master of big moves: getting Gutierrez, signing Figgins (and Felix!), snagging Lee. But his small moves in sum are almost disturbing.

    I think disturbing is a bit of a stretch. You’re cherry picking a bit here. He did dump Morse for Langerhans, got useful pieces for Yuni, acquired Hanahan, took a flyer on Aardsma, among others. There are plenty of small moves that have been very effective/useful for the team.

  21. Goody on April 8th, 2010 11:28 am

    If they cut Sweeney without any opportunities this season it sends a clear message to the team. That if you come here, play your ass off and do everything right it still won’t matter.

    That is the type of message that puts players at odds with their front office very quickly. One of the “chemistry” things that so many like to ridicule.

  22. et_blankenship on April 8th, 2010 11:28 am

    I know it goes without saying but, shouldn’t we REALLY be calling for Griff’s head?

    Yes, Junior staggers around the batter’s box with a fork sticking out of his back. Yes, his Rawlings glove has church mice living inside of it. But the entire add campaign for the 2010 Seattle Mariners orbits around Ken Griffey Jr. Cutting him loose would create an awkward and expensive P.R. nightmare that I doubt anybody wants to deal with. Griff’s head is strictly off limits.

  23. Chris_From_Bothell on April 8th, 2010 11:28 am

    There’s no nice way to say this – the team is now actively making themselves worse to keep Mike Sweeney’s personality around. Langerhans is a better hitter

    By what measure?

    Sweeney v. Langerhans, avg
    Sweeney v. Langerhans, OBP
    Sweeney v. Langerhans, wOBA

    Can’t argue with Langerhans being the better fielder and better runner, and him simply giving more flexibility from the bench overall. But your Sweeney hate is making you go a bit overboard.

    Also, you can search-and-replace your entire post swapping out “Sweeney” with “Griffey” and make the same point.

    If they’d stayed with a six-man bullpen for another couple weeks and blew a couple more close games, you’d still be complaining about Sweeney anyway.

    I personally like the quick trigger by Z. Rather than languish for weeks on end running the same guys out there and running the same guys into the ground, they tried something aggressive for the first few games, saw it didn’t work, then made adjustments right away.

    Could the bench have been better constructed if they didn’t carry Grief-y, Sweeney, Byrnes, etc. Sure. But losing Langerhans doesn’t mean season-over. He’s just a 4th outfielder on a team with something like 3 of them already.

  24. CCW on April 8th, 2010 11:29 am

    If baseball ability was the priority, neither Griffey nor Sweeney would be on the team, Langerhans would be playing the field against righties, Byrnes would be playing the field against lefties, and Bradley would be the full-time DH.

    I don’t really know what Sweeney looks like right now, but I know that Griffey looks absolutely cooked. Personally, I was holding out hope that he might somehow resurrect himself, but he clearly didn’t spend the off-season getting into great shape, and absent that, there just doesn’t seem to be any scenario in which he isn’t bad.

  25. riversurge24 on April 8th, 2010 11:31 am

    Wow so much Sweeney trashing..

  26. smb on April 8th, 2010 11:35 am

    Re: Sweeney taking Dave’s target on his back and not Griffey, it stands to reason that no one is going to cut a hometown hero with four, “count ‘em!” FOUR bobblehead nights of his own scheduled for home games this season.

    Griff is too much a part of the marketing plan to let go, and yes, I am one who believes he should have retired two years ago after sitting on the bench for one game in an M’s uni a la Rice with the Niners. Also, Sweeney is washed up and you can lean on his good spring numbers all you want, but the clock is already ticking on his worn-out back. Hopefully Langerhans makes it to Tacoma and this becomes more of a non-issue.

  27. PackBob on April 8th, 2010 11:37 am

    I get all but the “better hitter” part. Lower BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+ – where’s the better part?

    Seems like the 11-man is just a gamble that failed, although they helped it along by pitching Kelly just the one inning.

    I don’t disagree with Dave’s assessment, but I always wonder what additional factors Jack and Wak are considering.

  28. jephdood on April 8th, 2010 11:40 am

    This team won’t start winning until their unconditional Griffey love comes to an end. At this point, I’d rather have Griffey go away and have a Sweeney/Bradley DH platoon.. and a Saunders/Byrnes LF platoon.

    To borrow a quote: [We'll always be grateful, but] “Go away, Ken Griffey. If you want to hang out with the guys, accept a coaching job.”

  29. luckyscrubs on April 8th, 2010 11:41 am

    While I’m glad to see the six man bullpen experiment come to an end, I’m still confused why we have three DHs (Bradley, Griffey, and Sweeney) on our active roster.

  30. behappy on April 8th, 2010 11:43 am

    What I don’t understand is why would they make this move now and not to start the season?

    I mean Felix went 6.2 innings, Snell goes 6 and RRS goes 5 innings. Was Jack really expecting them to go 7 or 8 innings to start the year? There is no way our rotation is going to average more than 5-6 innings per start without Lee. Vargas and Fister are really going to have to step up and that is scary when so much of the season rides on their shoulders.

    It’s still early but, our greatest strength looks mighty average.

  31. downwarddog on April 8th, 2010 11:45 am

    To blame Sweeney is pretty ridiculous and, frankly, completely crass.
    How about blaming the man who made the decision in the first place?
    Sweeney just wants to keep playing the game he obviously loves. Anyone on this site would do the exact same thing if given the opportunity. That’s what players do – they play until they no longer can; GMs are the ones who are supposed to tell them when their time is up.

    If you’re going to have a temper tantrum, direct it at Jack Z. Not the player.

  32. Liam on April 8th, 2010 11:46 am

    I get all but the “better hitter” part. Lower BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+ – where’s the better part?

    CHONE is projecting him to have a better year at the plate. ZiPS and Marcel give the edge to Sweeney. The differences between them aren’t that large and in a part time role, it’s going to be even less.

  33. Marinersmanjk on April 8th, 2010 11:47 am

    Dr. Z’s reasoning to which Sweeney has more value than Garko and Langerhans is beyond me. Langerhans isn’t that great, but he brought flexibility and defense. He would have caught that ball last night.

    This is probably going to be Z’s second mistake of the off-season. Trading Morrow being the first, and the Cliff deal a lurking third if 1: we don’t resign Cliff, and 2: He turns into 2007 Cliff.

  34. davepaisley on April 8th, 2010 11:54 am

    Sweeney is so valuable because he has contributed so much in three really close games so far.

    Oh, wait…

    So really he’s so valuable that we have to keep in reserve as a secret weapon to be used only in games where we really, really, really need a hit. Glad we haven’t played any of them yet.

  35. riversurge24 on April 8th, 2010 12:00 pm

    Why is any of this Mike Sweeney’s fault? He isnt the one making decisions.

  36. spankystout on April 8th, 2010 12:10 pm

    I knew we weren’t overreacting! But I’m dead wrong in who got the short end of the stick. I like Sweeney but he obviously can’t help the team as much as Langerhans. I don’t even like Langerhans and the M’s should have kept him over Sweeney. I guess nice guys don’t finish last.

  37. Techno_Viking- on April 8th, 2010 12:15 pm

    We haven’t even used Sweeney yet! I could be nice but no, the second we use Sweeney and he wears the collar, I’m going to be all over it. Simply perplexing decision.

  38. Chris_From_Bothell on April 8th, 2010 12:15 pm

    CHONE is projecting him to have a better year at the plate. ZiPS and Marcel give the edge to Sweeney. The differences between them aren’t that large and in a part time role, it’s going to be even less.

    Right, so let’s just throw out the last 8 years of player data and trends that show that Sweeney hasn’t been a better hitter than Langerhans for about 3 or 4 years.

  39. spankystout on April 8th, 2010 12:23 pm

    GOODY had a point. If they cut Sweeney after his ST without one AB would that have negative repercussions? I didn’t think about it in that context…. Lets just cross all digits that Milton and Byrnes stay healthy. Both have looked good running down flyballs. Better than I expected. Especially afterboth have had numerous leg injuries.

  40. Carson on April 8th, 2010 12:25 pm

    Rob Neyer has a take on this.

    I can see his point. I’m not going to go booing Sweeney at games or anything like I’ve been known to do almost to the point of being removed (Seriously. I almost got kicked out for booing Sexson. Not cursing or screaming. Booing). I still think the move sucks, but perhaps our name calling of Sweeney is excessive.

  41. Paul B on April 8th, 2010 12:26 pm

    know it goes without saying but, shouldn’t we REALLY be calling for Griff’s head? Sweeney was better than him last year and this year in ST…..

    If you are going to carry a pure DH, and if you play half your games in Safeco, and if your pure DH is not a HOF quality hitter (like, say, Edgar was), then you should have that player be a left handed batter.

  42. tubbabubba22 on April 8th, 2010 12:26 pm

    Dave- I hate Sweeney as much as you do. Really I do. But at the same time, give the guy a chance. He batted nearly .600, he deserves a chance to see if he can even hit half that. Especially in a line up that is really struggling. I don’t like Sweeney at all either, but he deserves a chance.

  43. Paul B on April 8th, 2010 12:31 pm

    Differences between Langerhans and Sweeney:

    Langerhans is left handed, which is an advantage in Safeco.

    Langerhans is a good fielder, and can fill in at any of the OF spots. Sweeney can’t play in the field.

    Langerhans could pinch run. Sweeney can’t run.

    Sweeney and Langerhans would have roughly the same wOBA this year, assuming (big assumption) that Sweeney can stay healthy and has not aged since last year. You could argue one is higher than the other, depending on which forecast system you use, but in the end they would be about the same WAR for hitting, especially given limited plate appearances.

    Sweeney gives good hugs, or so I am told

    Somehow, Wak totaled all that up and came to the conclusion that Sweeney is better.

    Sometimes, I really don’t understand Wak at all.

  44. ck on April 8th, 2010 12:34 pm

    The bullpen needed reinforcements. The fifth outfielder was DFA’d to keep the bullpen from being overworked / injured before the starters ( whomever that may end up to be ) have arm strength for 100 + pitch games. It won’t be the last move of the season. GM Jack Zduriencik is trying to finish April above .500

  45. Tim B. on April 8th, 2010 12:34 pm

    Three thoughts. 1. Doesn’t this hurt the organization’s chances for a blockbuster trade down the line? With Langerhans on the roster, the OF prospects in Tacoma were more expendable.

    2. This move also makes it more likely that Tuiasosopo will stay with the team when Hannahan returns, because Tui can play the infield and the outfield, if needed. No other player on the roster has that flexibility. (Retaining Tui would give Wakamatsu the freedom to use pinch hitters and pinch runners for all infielders and all outfielders, if Tui is always available on the bench.) Apparently Tui is also the backup catcher. Of course, this would mean shifting back to an 11-man bullpen.

    3. Will Langerhans be traded for a prospect? How much value does he have, in the eyes of other GMs?

  46. Paul B on April 8th, 2010 12:35 pm

    GOODY had a point. If they cut Sweeney after his ST without one AB would that have negative repercussions?

    When the Mariners cut Sexson, he went to the Yankees for about 3 games, was cut, and nobody wanted him.

    Do you think anyone would pick up Sweeney if the M’s released him? I don’t. There isn’t much of a market for a RH DH with bad wheels who hasn’t been a good hitter since 2005.

    Would that alter your opinion on the “negative repercussions”?

  47. Liam on April 8th, 2010 12:44 pm

    Right, so let’s just throw out the last 8 years of player data and trends that show that Sweeney hasn’t been a better hitter than Langerhans for about 3 or 4 years.

    What are you talking about?

    All these projection systems utilize 3-4 years of data, weighted accordingly. What Mike Sweeney did in 2002 should be thrown out as it’s largely irrelevant in projecting his 2010.

  48. ivan on April 8th, 2010 12:54 pm

    I liked Langerhans a lot and I’d rather have seen them stick with 11 pitchers and keep him. But I can’t agree that this makes the team weaker. Langerhans wasn’t going to play much anyway.

    As for Sweeney and Griffey being over the hill, I don’t disagree with that, but it should have been clear by now that neither of them are going anywhere.

    I’d have cut Byrnes, who looks just god-awful at the plate. If they need another LH-hitting OF who can go get the ball, they can go get Carrera or Saunders, so pardon me if I don’t think this is such a big deal.

  49. Shanfan on April 8th, 2010 1:06 pm

    Exposing a 5th outfielder to waivers in the first week isn’t going to doom our season. Jason Repko cleared the other day and signed a minor league deal with the Twins. Langerhans will most likely wind up in Tacoma unless he chooses to sign elsewhere. Langerhansesque players come available often. Why don’t we blame the problem on the 11 guys (minus Fister and Vargas, I guess) who have given up 29 hits, 12 walks, and 2 hit batters already in 3 games (and 477 pitches) so far? And that’s with the help of our defense. Our .188 team BA isn’t helping either. It’s early and the roster probably isn’t done churning anyway.

  50. AssumedName on April 8th, 2010 1:33 pm

    I think he should’ve been DFA’d just for not catching that flyball in LF in the 9th yesterday.

    Oh, right.

  51. JMHawkins on April 8th, 2010 1:55 pm

    That is the type of message that puts players at odds with their front office very quickly. One of the “chemistry” things that so many like to ridicule.

    So what message does it send to release Langerhans? You seem to be forgetting that part of it.

  52. Mrelli on April 8th, 2010 2:17 pm

    Wow, this M’s team is going to lose A LOT of games this year

  53. Kazinski on April 8th, 2010 2:18 pm

    This decision only makes sense if Bradley is going to be the everyday LF against RH pitching. Which he is so it makes sense.

    It probably would be a better club with Bradley as the DH and Langerhans and Byrnes sharing the LF job. But that decision was already made, and has nothing to do with whether Sweeney was on the team or not. As a 4th outfielder Langerhans is worth having around, as a 5th outfielder he isn’t going to make any difference.

    The real test on Sweeney is going to come when Hannahan is ready. Then they will have to choose between Tui as RH bench bat that plays IF/Corner OF, or Sweeney a RH bench bat that can’t/shouldn’t play in the field.

  54. Paul B on April 8th, 2010 2:48 pm

    The real test on Sweeney is going to come when Hannahan is ready. Then they will have to choose between Tui as RH bench bat that plays IF/Corner OF, or Sweeney a RH bench bat that can’t/shouldn’t play in the field.

    or bat.

  55. SpokaneMsFan on April 8th, 2010 2:52 pm

    What I really don’t get is they apparently kept Sweeney on the club because he had a hot bat in spring training and now they aren’t even giving him ABs against lefties. What is the freaking point????

    I’m not trying to justify Sweeney being on the roster, but just saying if you’re going to keep a guy because he hit well in spring shouldn’t you, umm, let him try to keep hitting. This is stupid.

  56. bunnypigdad on April 9th, 2010 12:42 am

    Chill… it’s April. The M’s need another bullpen pitcher, and Colome may be Okay. Langerhans at his best is a good defensive player, but can’t hit a lick. Sweeney and Griffey are part of the solution, and both much better hitters than Langerhans. The pitching will be Okay, and when Lee and Bedard are healthy, the M’s will match up with anyone. Defensively they are as good as it gets, but don’t have the offense from Kotchman, Wilson, and Johnson/Moore that they need to contend. The M’s need some M’s bop from 1st, SS and LF. Give Ackley a shot, and wait a couple of weeks as things settle in.

  57. daveblev on April 9th, 2010 6:39 am

    Tonya Harding, where art thou? Please take Sweeney out and Griffey too while you’re at it. Mike Sweeney, next time you pray I hope it’s for recovery from an injury that ends your career.

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