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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Casting About For Angels Bullpen Solutions

Rightly, In Play, No Outs' review of the Angels bullpen salaries makes mention of the appalling state of the team's relief pitching, but also fails to note that five of those number are making major league minimum or close to it. Among the rest, Scot Shields was bound to return, Fernando Rodney was a defensible stopgap (and is the only reliever with an ERA+ over 100), and Brian Fuentes, well, about him, the less said the better.

Part of this is Scioscia's inability to juggle parts properly when incompetence of one sort or another become obvious; Fuentes, in particular, has no business facing righties, but the major-league-minimum parts of the bullpen are all just craptacular, and the duo of Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bulger entered the season with substantial questions about their abilities in the major leagues. If anything deserves damning, it's the clerical error that allowed Darren O'Day to exit the team's control.

The scary part is that the rise of the Angels' solid bullpens announced the team's presence as a force in the AL West. Its unraveling seems to herald the reverse. I don't know how to fix it, either, short of some losing years and good drafts.

Via Halos Heaven.

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There's nothing wrong with Kevin Jepsen. His stat line only looks bad because Scioscia mismanaged him in two of the twenty games he pitched and allowed him to accumulate eight earned runs in those outings.

Jepsen has allowed no runs in 16 of his 20 appearances, and his FIP is 2.56 and his xFIP is 3.24. He has a groundball rate of 60.5% and a K/9 of 10.13. His BABIP is a ridiculously bad-luck .371. This guy is a victim purely of Soth mismanagement and bad defense. Otherwise, he's the best reliever the team has at the moment.

As for front office booboos, add letting Oliver walk to the O'Day travesty. Both guys would be our best arms in the pen at the moment had we retained them.
My real issue is poor bullpen management, combined with offering large, multiyear contracts to relief pitchers. Relief should be dime/dozen, and if you really want to overpay for an extremely mediocre pitcher based on stupid stats like saves, then offer large, SINGLE year contracts.

It's particularly frustrating that our minor league arms have been, at best, poor.

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