Much has been made ado about the bullpen turnover that the Rays will be facing heading into the 2011 season. Some have chosen to hide behind rhetoric and claim that the Rays won’t have a chance next year because they didn’t over-pay for Joaquin “The Phoenix” Benoit. We all know the story of how he rose from the ashes of a lost season to become one of the best relievers in MLB last year. This isn’t the first time that the Rays have lost a reliever (the average reliever from 2007 – 2010 that faced at least 10 batters in a year lasted just 1.4 seasons with the Rays), and yet we can’t be expected to break .500 next year because our ownership is too cheap to pay for talent. Instead of proclaiming that the sky is falling when cumulonimbus appears on the radar, I thought it would be interesting to look at the numbers. I looked at every reliever that faced at least 10 batters from 2007 – 10 to see if we could shake anything out. Bear in mind that this does include a couple of inherited players, but let’s take a look at some initial findings:
While it looks like the Rays have not made out quite as well developing internal candidates into bullpen reliables, we can see that the two acquisition categories that fall most directly under the purview of a General Manager have turned out be, on the average, extremely beneficial. Friedman and Co. have a shown a genuine knack for pulling guys off the scrap heap or seeing something in a guy that may have been used incorrectly by a former team to continually build a solid bullpen. Most of the smartest people in the game will tell you just how stupid it is to give a reliever (especially ones with demonstrated arm injuries) guaranteed years on a contract. When you add in guaranteed monies for those several years at what can only be described as an overpay, then you have to wonder why some teams still commit this sin.
Luckily we have a front office that can expertly evaluate talent and a coaching staff that accentuates these players’ strengths while doing a good job of hiding weaknesses. I sure am glad that we have money-men in charge of the money instead of meteorologists and their reports of gloomy weather.