Building a Bullpen
|Image courtesy of Voltron Central|
I’m not exactly sure how one builds a bullpen from the ground up, but I’ve always envisioned it as a process similar to constructing Voltron (or Megazord for the Power Rangers generation).
Separately, the members all have their very own strengths and weakness, but when they come together as one entity, they form a solid cohesive unit. One that’s able to defeat the evildoers of the American League East. That’s how you construct a bullpen, right?
On paper, the latest addition to the bullpen in Francisco Cordero doesn’t really make very much sense. The Blue Jays already have their closer and a bevy of relievers in the bullpen depth chart.
Occasionally, plans change and you have to roll with the punches. That’s why it seems like Francisco Cordero seems like the Blue Jays second choice after Koji Uehara rejected a trade to the Blue Jays.
Both Cordero and Uehara are set to make $4 million this season, but Koji would be the far more coveted asset. Things didn’t turn out how AA wanted, so he went with then next best thing in Cordero.
Prior to this news, one would have assumed the Blue Jays bullpen was all but set for the 2012 season. Santos, Janssen, Oliver, Frasor, Villanueva, Litsch, and Perez were slated to be the seven guys that would break camp coming out of Spring Training. Just as plans changed, the Blue Jays changed with it.
From the outside looking in, it might appear as though the Blue Jays were trying to assemble a bullpen for a contending team. But I think Alex Anthopoulos has an ulterior motive here. He’s trying to stockpile relievers and parlay them into prospects at the trade deadline.
The new CBA basically rained on AA’s parade and now he has to change his entire game plan. Instead of hoping for Type B free agent compensation, he’ll be looking to poach prospects from other teams who will be looking for bullpen help come July. Employing the “buy low, sell high” strategy is actually a pretty good strategy.
Relief pitchers seem to be the hot commodity at the trade deadline these past few seasons, and AA can really capitalize on that by signing Francisco Cordero, Darren Oliver, and others. Come July, I’m sure there will be at least a few managers that will be knocking down his door trying to pry them out of Toronto.
It just doesn’t make sense to sign Francisco Cordero for one year (with no option, mind you) if the team is planning on having him ride out the entire season as a member of the Blue Jays. Any one else could just as easily step in and do the same job for far less money.
Now that leaves Jesse Litsch and Luis Perez to battle for the final spot in the bullpen, and I initially thought they easily would’ve been shoo-ins. Along with Joel Carreno and others, one of either Litsch or Perez will be on the outside looking in come Opening Day.
If the 2011 trade deadline is proof of anything, it’s that the Blue Jays are not afraid to deplete the bullpen and leave themselves short-handed in the long-term if it allows them to acquire the talent that allows them to be better in the long term.
In its current incarnation, this is a bullpen that’s built to win. It’s a relief corp that is constructed to be a contender, but it’s not a bullpen that’s meant to stay together. Some of these guys are going to be moved at the trade deadline.