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:: Monday, April 25, 2005 ::

The off day after our latest bullpen miscue allows me a chance to do some exploration of baseball theory, but first a recap:

When I left off yesterday the Rockies had a slim five to three lead heading into the sixth inning. Francis got through that with no further damage and handed the ball over to Brian Fuentes, who made it through the seventh before hitting J.D. Drew to lead off the eighth. Hurdle then called for Byung Hyun Kim to come on and then the wheels fell of and by the time the dust settled we had snatched another defeat from the jaws of victory or whatever other cliche you want to use that you haven't already worn out in the first few weeks of this season.

I don't care, honestly, about the loss. Okay, I lied. I care a bit, but this game was a definite positive for our team and let's face it, we weren't going to run the tables on the Dodgers this season anyway. The negatives were clearly centered around Kim's performance, but we knew we were getting damaged goods in the trade with Boston, so we can't expect much from this particular reclamation project right away anyhow. If we really were expecting a significant and quick improvement, then suddenly I have my doubts about the wherewithal of the pack of jibbering emus who are apparently running things in the front office. Ryan Speier? He's earning his stripes too, he couldn't bail out Kim and might be on his way to Colorado Springs soon, but I see progress. And then there's Scott Dohmann who came on and pitched a scoreless ninth, and now I'm thinking we really aren't that far off.

Our starting pitching is solid, though not very deep and vulnerable should somebody get injured. Our offense is young but it's coming together with the exception of catcher and probably third base (even there, our anticipated starter hasn't played yet, so why worry?). Yes we have issues with the way the lineup is constructed, and maybe a few other calls by our increasingly defensive manager, but these are all small and easily rectified problems. The bullpen however, is a big issue, and looking at its makeup (as of this posting, the way the season has gone there's no guarantee it will be the same tonight) its not hard to see why:

Chin Hui Tsao - unproven, but young talented and looking alright so far
Fuentes- proven effective, consistent for a couple of years plus now
Dohmann - was effective last year, but bad start has hurt his development and thus the jury's still out.
Bobby Seay - injured, but looked good in his brief appearances with us. Still, he has the specter of being a prospect bust in the Devil Rays system hanging over his head.
Jose Acevedo - a rare veteran acquisition, not that it means much, Cincinnati was willing to give him up for Allan Simpson. He had a rough outing and hasn't seen much action since. Formerly a starter, might be the best option should someone go down if management has lost confidence in Jason Young's ability.
Kim - Has had glimmers of hope but mostly has looked terrible thus far. Remember Charlie Sheen's Wild Thing character in Major League? If only this were Hollywood, things really would turn around quickly, and Kim would be a major hottie. Too bad he's not and they're not going to.
Speier - Started off okay but has been roughed up. A rookie who's impressive minor league resume might not mean much if he can't duplicate that success in the majors.
Marcos Carvajal - Our still unscored upon active Rule 5 pick, but Hurdle's picking his spots very carefully. Before this year Carvajal pitched only three innings above the Sally League. His day of reckoning is coming, beware.

So there we have it, our rubber band bullpen. The problem with youth movements in the pitching staff is that they get really ugly when they're this young and you can't tell how long it will take for them to finally come together. So sit back and enjoy the process, I say, we're only one and a half back of the Yankees, after all. Things could be worse at this point of the season.

:: Bran 8:52 AM [+] ::
You bring up an excellent point about the starting pitching not being a very deep group. Since Darren Oliver decided to dog the Rox for hurting his feelings in camp Tucson, there really isn't anyone to call up from the Springs except for Jason Young. However, Young's talents have, I'm afraid, topped out at the AAA level, so he's not a good fit. Justin Hampson, Tim Drew and Mike Esposito aren't on the 40 man roster. Aaron Cook ain't ready yet.

It's a scary thought indeed should one go down for some reason!

I think we Rox fans could go back and take a hard look into the horrible affect the Darren Oliver defection has done to the bullpen. There is not a long relief guy down there and too many young, inexperienced arms in the pen were thrown into situations early on that they were not equipped to handle properly. We should wonder why a veteran like Oilver left like he did! He had to have known he was ticketed for the bullpen and spot starting from the outset. That missing ingredient has had a trickle down effect not only in the pen but has left the Rox with a big hole should a starter stub a toe and can't go.
I absolutely agree with you Head Bum, when Darren Oliver first bolted I thought well, Jason Young can come into that role, but did you see his line from two days ago at Colorado Springs? Zero outs recorded, eight runs allowed, I'm ready to start admitting that Young was a major bust, and certainly hasn't lived up to the huge contract he signed coming out of Stanford. Tim Drew's probably the least odorous option at this point, as Hampson and Esposito still need more time at AAA. At any rate, it's not a pretty picture and you're right in that it all goes back to Oliver.
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