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Saturday, March 13, 2004

Angels' 2004 Bullpen Preview

Tyler Bleszinski at Athletics Nation has released his 2004 bullpen preview for Oakland, and while that's fine, normally Fire Bavasi would have something going for the Halos. Since not, I'll just do it for him. First, I'll start off with links to the usual commentary about the ground rules: Now, on to the pitchers:

Brendan Donnelly

This one's easy: he's about to decline. You don't just step up, deliver a pre-All-Star-Break ERA of 0.36, and expect to repeat that the next year. Heck, he didn't even deliver that in the second half, once his elbow started breaking apart, he came back down to earth to finish the season with a 1.58 ERA. His age of 32 says he's on the downward slope.

Troy Percival

Another year of age-related decline as his K/9 took a big hit last year. Last year's degenerative hip condition isn't going away, and he'll continue to make me nervous. Of course, a lot of that nervousness is due to watching Misseur Gagné on the mound, as automatic a closer as I've ever seen.

Francisco Rodriguez

Frankie's going to bounce back this year with a terriffic year. Like Lackey in the starting rotation, he had an awful sophomore year, but Rodriguez's K/9 went through the roof in the last three months of 2003 even though his ERA took a hit. I see him a big candidate to improve substantially even if he doesn't become Mariano Rivera.

Scot Shields

Shields name, IMO, shouldn't even be on this list -- he should be in spring training working on a third or fourth pitch, working on pitch sequences so he can start. He's better than Lackey was last year. He's got very, very good stuff for five innings, and with some training, I think he could be extended to even more. That said, I'm going to suggest he'll decline a little as his K/9 regresses to his career average.

Ben Weber

Weber's 2003 and 2002 K/9 rates are nearly identical, but trending slightly down, and that's where I'm headed with Weber: decline.

The Rest

My guess is that Sele's most likely to enter the bullpen, which actually might solidify it further. Scioscia's plan to keep Aaron on a five-inning leash worked for a while, and I tend to think a bullpen job would help him out. If not Sele, then Ortiz, and if it is Ortiz, watch out; his walks ramped up while his strikeouts nosedived. Ortiz in the pen could be gasoline to the fire. I see once-highly-regarded Chris Bootcheck as a longshot to make the pen. Last year's spot starter Kevin Gregg is more likely to supplant Shields as a swingman if it comes to that, though it has been said he's liable to spend his days in AAA. Derrick Turnbow has one option left, and the Angels may deal him a similar fate. Too much depends on who actually ends up here, so I decline judgement until Scioscia and Stoneman make their picks.

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