Tuesday, July 14, 2009
2009 Mid-Term A'ssessment: The Bullpen
Andrew Bailey: 4-1, 1.92 ERA, 10 saves
What I Said about a different relief pitcher in March: "Meet your lone Oakland A's representative to the 2009 All-Star Game."
What I Say Now: I actually like the "every team must be represented" All-Star rule, but Bailey deserves his All-Star spot, regardless. After a lights-out April as a middle reliever (1.15 ERA, .060 opponents BA!) the A's moved him into the closer's role vacated by Joey Devine's elbow immolation. After last year's overhyped novelty act of Brad Ziegler, it's refreshing to see a closer out of the "throw the ball through a wall" mode.
Mid-Term Grade: B+...Bailey's on pace for just under 100 innings pitched which is a sign of how inexperienced our rotation is and an indictment of Bob Geren's inept bullpen management. The A's have a recent history of overworking their closers – Octavio Dotel and Billy Koch come to mind – so, here's hoping they've learned from their own history.
Brad Ziegler: 1-3, 3.27 ERA, 6 saves
What I Said in March: "There's simply NO way he can repeat his run prevention from the year before. Instead of blame, Ziegler will be defended with excuses that reference his mechanics or his release point or a hidden injury."
What I Say Now: Good ol' predictable A's fans and beat writers. Ziegler gave up two runs in his first three appearances of the year, so it HAD to be because the WBC threw off his routine. He posted a 6.10 ERA in May, so it HAD to be the nine days he missed from April 26 – May 4 with flu-like symptoms. Ziegler can't retire lefties (.333/.425/.435) this season. He couldn't do it last year, either. I said that in March, too.
Mid-Term Grade: B...Over the past four weeks, Ziegler's ERA is just a tick over 2.00. The guy is a strong set-up option out of the 'pen, but not nearly as good as he looked last year. Just don't say that in front of my fellow A's fans.
And, the rest…: Hard to believe that Cubs fans practically ran Michael Wuertz (5-1, 2.95 ERA) out of town last year. He's got 53 Ks in 42.2 IP and his power-slider is almost unhittable when it's working. In March, I wrote that Russ Springer (0-1, 5.04 ERA) would become our most reviled middle reliever before Memorial Day. In back-to-back appearances on May 20 and 23, he failed to retire a batter, giving up four runs, combined. Check your calendars, kids. Santiago Casilla (1-2, 6.75 ERA) insists on overthrowing everything. At 92-93 mph, his stuff is pretty nasty. At 95-97 mph, his stuff is pretty flatty. Journeyman Kevin Cameron was only around for 11 games, but it was long enough for Mrs. Bootleg to get me his jersey t-shirt for Father's Day!