The Bullpen of Misfit Arms

If you’ve ever seen the holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer (and by now, who hasn’t?), you’ll notice there was something very endearing about the Island of Misfit toys.

Despite their flaws as a group of unwanted and defective toys, the Misfit Toys embraced their deformities and banded together to work cohesively as one unit.

While there were endearing qualities about the Misfit Toys, I’m not sure if I can say the same thing about Alex Anthopoulos’ similar creation, The Bullpen of Misfit Arms.


The latest relief pitcher acquisitions by the Toronto Blue Jays certainly weren’t mean to bowl anybody over by any means, and with a rebuilding team with plenty of young talent in it’s farm system, these moves scream of a band-aid solution.

Remember back in 2007 when J.P. Ricciardi signed the trio of scrap-heap starters John Thomson, Victor Zambrano and Tomo Ohka? Well, these recent relief pitcher signings mirror those moves made back in 2007, except this time it’s with relievers instead of starters.

If 2011 is supposed to be another year of rebuilding anyway, why not hand the reigns over to the young guys like Josh Roenicke, David Purcey and Rommie Lewis and let them get plenty of big league experience?

I really don’t see the downside in keeping those players on the big league roster, other than the fact they’ll log service time. And if they have a poor showing in the first few months of the season, then maybe the team can reevaluate and see if somebody like Chad Cordero or Wil Ledezma should take their place.

Who knows … maybe Octavio Dotel, Chad Cordero and Wil Ledezma will turn out to be great additions to the bullpen. With a combined salary of around $4.6 million, it’s certainly a great price to pay to get three bullpen arms.

However, I’m willing to bet that two of three of these guys won’t even crack the Opening Day roster.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

6 thoughts on “The Bullpen of Misfit Arms

  • January 7, 2011 at 2:50 am

    You're probably right that we won't see all of Dotel/Cordero/Ledezma – and Villanueva, I guess – on the opening day roster. (I figure Dotel will be there, probably Villanueva, probably not Cordero, and have no idea about Ledezma.)

    So long as the best players make the roster – and there are no dumbass decisions like Brian Tallet as the #2 starter – I have no issue with the team inviting dozens of longshots to camp. Competition is a good thing, and I'm just as willing to bet that all the young arms you mentioned will get a chance to prove themselves this year (due to injuries/ineffectiveness of the vets).

    I guess in the end, I'm just not as outraged by the idea of Cordero playing ahead of Roenicke as I was by Snider or Ruiz sitting down while some broken down favourite of Clarence's got to play.

  • January 7, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Robbie, just venturing a guess here, but I bet Cordero and Ledezma don't make the cut, and Dotel and Villanueva do.

    The benefit of having John Farrell as a manager this time around is I'm sure he will distribute the bullpen time much more evenly, as opposed to Cito who tended to stick with the same 3-4 guys in the 'pen.

  • January 7, 2011 at 6:00 am

    I'll take the over. Dotel, unless he's injured or can't find the plate with a map will break with the team. I'll also venture that one of Ledezma and Cordero will start with the Jays based on a strong spring.

    I'd note one constant among these scrap-heap relievers: they have a history of being able to strike people out. I'd be much less positive about the chances of catching lightning in a bottle if we were talking about sinker-ballers or finesse guys. The bullpen is the easiest area of a baseball team to get a decent result on the cheap, and I for one, applaud AA's approach to the pen.

  • January 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    gabriel, thanks for stopping by! That's one of the redeeming qualities of the signings: they are relatively inexpensive.

    Initially, I thought the Jays should go after guys like Crain and Qualls, but they're all after multi-year deals. AA did a good job of going cheap to find a short-term solution for the bullpen.

  • January 8, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Glad I'm not the only one that related the flurry of bullpen signings so far this year to the horrendous Thomson/Ohka/Zambrano ones back in '07!

    Those 3 all had an ERA of 4.82 or higher the previous season, all starters, and a K/9 south of 6.3. It's hard to really complain about any of these signings, even if it means taking playing time away from Roenicke (who I like) and Lewis (who I don't like).

    I know AA has said we don't necessarily need veterans in the bullpen, but at least 2 -IMO- are essential just for experience to pass along to the young guys.

    Should be interesting to see what the final 2011 'pen looks like come Opening Day. Bring it on!

  • January 8, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Jared, I'd say Camp, Frasor and even Janssen to an extent are veteran relievers. If anything, the best learning tool for the young guys is to get the consistent big league experience they need.

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