United Cardinal Bloggers Round Table: The Bullpen

For my turn on the round table, I asked the following:

Let’s go with the bullpen question…Assemble your bullpen for next year.  Also, to make it fun, assume Pat Neshek signs elsewhere, what external candidate do you replace him with? Andrew Miller? Other possibilities?

Also, here are Trevor Rosenthal‘s month by month splits. While he ended on a high note, it also shows he’s inconsistent, with a great June preceded by average May and and a so-so July. Plus his great finish is preceded by an awful August. Do we really want an inconsistent closer? If not, who do we replace him with?

That should be enough to get things going.

And here are the responses, with links to the various authors’ blogs.

Ben Chambers: The View From Here

Well, Since there are too many guys for the rotation, a couple of them are going to have to either be put into the rotation in Memphis or put in the bullpen. I think Matheny liked having Marco Gonzales in the bullpen in September and October, and he’ll try to put him out there again next year instead of letting him start in Memphis. Michael Wacha or Shelby Miller is likely to be an odd man out of the rotation as well.Trevor’s had some inconsistencies, but I don’t think there’s going to be a change there. For all the nervous outings that we had to deal with, he was 4th in the MLB and 2nd in the NL in saves. Carlos Martinez will slide into the 8th inning role, I’d guess.

As for the left side of the ‘pen, it’ll begin with Sam Freeman and hoping that Kevin Siegrist was just dealing with injury last year and will return to form.That makes 6 so far out of 7. Choate still hasn’t made my list yet, and I think he won’t be here next year. I could see them going to get another arm, but I don’t want them to go after Miller.Yes, Miller can get both righties and lefties out, but with the 6 that I’ve already given, they’re half lefty and half righty. However, if Wacha/Miller probably not getting a ton of use as a long man, Martinez and Rosenthal saved for the 8th and 9th, then grabbing another lefty like Miller would mean the entire middle relief would be left-handed.

So they should try to sign a right-hander for the last spot or grab someone from Memphis like Tuivailala to have a right-handed middle relief option.

That’s my best guess at what I think will happen with next year’s bullpen.

Tom Knuppel: Cardinals GM

I believe Garcia goes to the bullpen if healthy at the beginning of season to get him some time and Martinez starts in the rotation. Also believe Wacha maybe be damaged goods so he starts in pen with Shelby Miller in rotation.

Rosenthal
Garcia
Wacha
Maness
Gonzales

I don’t like Wacha here as it is not the way he grew up. It depends on his health. If he is gone then I believe Tuivailala is pen material. Siegrist is possible but lots of variables.

If lefty needed in rotation then substitute Martinez for Garcia or Gonzales.

Dan Buffa: Cardinals Nerve Center

The overloaded rotation does create a series of moving parts but if I had to set a pen today, here we go.

Trevor Rosenthal-Closer (Sorry folks, but there is no guarantee anyone else would be as successful as TR was in 2014. Still young.)
Carlos Martinez-Setup Role. He can start but with the overloaded staff, he will stay in the pen.
Seth Maness-Fireman. Putting out all the fires in the 6th and 7th innings.
Kevin Siegrist and Sam Freeman-The lefties. When right, they can get LH and RH batters out.
Marco Gonzales-Long man. Sixth starter. Potentially dynamic and unable to leave in Memphis.Wacha will be in the rotation if healthy. Jaime Garcia has no place right now even though he has a contract. With Waino, Lynn, Lackey, Miller and Wacha, Jaime may have to start in Memphis to prove he is right. I got zero faith in the injury prone man.

Maybe they add Andrew Miller or another young arm like Tuivailala, but the bullpen won’t look much different than 2014 save for a starter or two.Daniel Solzman: Redbird Rants

There’s no assumption that Neshek will sign elsewhere.  It’s a guarantee at this point that another team will overpay for him.  Don’t get me wrong.  He’s a great addition to the St. Louis clubhouse and I wish he would return but I think he pitched himself off the team.The big question for me as I build the bullpen:  does Randy Choate get traded during the offseason?  During the end-of-season press conference, Mo said that Choate was “fairly one-dimensional.”  If he does get traded, there are a variety of LHP candidates.

August wasn’t just awful for Rosenthal.  It was a month that Adam Wainwright would love to forget ever happened.  It also helps players grow as they develop and mature in the league.  I think Trevor’s going to be around for a long time as the closer with consistency.

Those factors out of the way…here’s what I think about the bullpen.

I think Marco Gonzales starts the season in the bullpen similar to Wainwright in 2006.  In 2016, he’ll take John Lackey’s spot in the rotation.

Carlos Martinez is the 8th inning guy.Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, and Sam Freeman are my other bullpen picks.

I want to see what Michael Wacha’s health looks like.  If he is capable of starting, he’ll be in the rotation.  If not, he’ll pitch out of the pen.

Ben Chambers: The View From Here

There it is. I knew I would forget someone. I forgot Miller in Wednesday’s UCB Radio. Now I forgot Maness in the bullpen. My apologies to both guys if they read this.

If I had remembered that, I would have said the Cards don’t need to sign anyone unless they want Gonzales or Garcia to start in Memphis and Maness would have the last spot instead of Tuivailala.
Cole Claybourn: High Sock SundayWhile Trevor Rosenthal had his struggles, both small and large, I think we’d be doing him a total disservice if we ignore the fact that he had 45 saves in his first full season as a closer, which was good enough for third in the National League. To put that in context, only Jason Isringhausen (47 in 2004) and Lee Smith (47 in 1991) had more in a season. And this was a guy just being thrust into the role. I see no reason why the Cardinals should replace Rosenthal as the closer heading into the 2015 season. If he continues to struggle, then that role should be reevaluated. But I full expect him to make adjustments and be a much better closer in 2015.

I was never in the camp that wanted Neshek to close, so if he does sign elsewhere, I won’t feel like the Cardinals are losing their “backup” closer. I always envision closers as strikeout pitchers, guys who can throw heat. Neshek is obviously not that. To me, the guy with the most “closer-like” stuff is Carlos Martinez, and I’d have him as my 8th inning guy next season. I understand he projects as a starter, but with the current rotation, I don’t see a spot for him there next year. He was great in late-innings relief in 2014 and he can play an even bigger role if Neshek does in fact leave.

I’ll go ahead and list my rotation to make it easier to follow when I pick my bullpen: Wainwright, Lynn, Wacha, Lackey, Miller.

Bullpen:

Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales, Seth Manness, Kevin Siegrist are certains, in my opinion.

I believe if Jaime Garcia is healthy and still on the Cardinals, he’ll be in the bullpen. At least he should. There’s no way anyone can convince me that he’s capable of starting right now nor should he be trusted to. In fact, I would be in favor of the Cardinals trading Jaime Garcia to possibly get bullpen help in return.

As for any potential signings, I think based on Mozeliak’s comments in the postseason press conference, it’s reasonable to think that Randy Choate will find his way out of town before next season. I’d imagine they’ll replace him with a free agent lefty, possibly Andrew Miller. However, I’d be more than happy if they allowed Gonzales to more or less take Choate’s spot but give him a different role. At some point you’ve got to find spots for the guys you’ve drafted, especially when they’re quality draft picks like Gonzales.

Daniel Shoptaw: C70 At The Bat

At some point, I wonder if the Cardinals’ continuing process of putting starters in the bullpen isn’t going to backfire on them when they actually need starters for the rotation.

That said, given the talent for the five starting spots, it does seem like Martinez at least will be in the pen.  I imagine they’ll first try him as the eighth inning guy to replace Neshek, though we’ll see if that will work long-term.

As much as Marco Gonzales deserves to be in the big leagues, I wouldn’t be surprised if they leave him at Memphis to be on a starter’s schedule in case someone in the rotation goes down.  We don’t know how Wacha is going to do with that stress reaction so Gonzales might be the most obvious insurance policy.

I assume we’ll have 12 pitchers, which would leave seven for the pen.  My picks would be Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist (at least to start the year), Sam Freeman, a free agent acquisition (though I’m not sold on Andrew Miller being that guy) and, because it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t put him in here, Tyler Lyons

My personal bias aside, Lyons makes a lot of sense for the pen.  He can go long innings, he can be a guy to bring in for a lefty early in the game (and save Siegrist and Freeman for more crucial situations) and he can spot start if necessary.  I’m rooting for him to break through the logjam.

As for Garcia, I still have problems believing the Cards would put him in the bullpen or that he’d be all that effective there.  The irregular life of a reliever, warming up and not being used, never knowing if you are going to pitch or not, would seem to just add stress to an already fragile body.  While Garcia might be getting out of that home/road mental block, I’m not convinced getting him off a regular five-day schedule is a good thing.  Of course, most likely with Garcia the point will be moot somewhere down the line.

Marilyn Green: Red Cleat Diaries

I begin with the philosophy that relief pitchers as a class are fungible.  You should have a certain amount of right handed ones and a certain amount of left handed ones and that is pretty much it.  I don’t buy into the “role” model of relievers.  I believe you use your best reliever in your highest leverage situations, regardless of what inning that occurs in.   I don’t believe in labels or stubbornly sticking with the same guys in the same situations until they don’t work anymore.  I think that is stupid.Trevor Rosenthal is an effective relief pitcher.  His walks were up somewhat in 2014 but he still strikes hitters out at a high rate.  While he may have had his moments of giving fans heartburn, I think he was just fine and I have no issues with his performance.  He needs to get his walk rate down, but other than that, he’s fine.

If the Cardinals trade Choate, (this is another thing that I think is stupid. Choate was signed to be a LOOGY, and now he has to be traded because he turned out to be the thing he was signed to be? ), then they are going to have to replace him with someone who can get lefties out.  Whether that is Siegrist, or Freeman, or Lyons, or someone they sign, I don’t care, as long as he can get lefties out.  I think Andrew Miller will be overpriced, and I have a problem with signing relievers on multi year deals.  If Miller wants more than 2 years (and even that is stretch for me), then stay away from him.  Far, far away.

Matheny is a terrible bullpen manager, so it makes no sense to spend a lot of money on guys that Matheny will misuse and abuse.  Go with what we have, bring up arms from the minors if we need them, and if we sign someone from outside the org, go with someone on a one year deal.  Spend the money on position players, where you will get the most value.

Mark Tomasik: RetroSimba

Trevor Rosenthal is the youngest reliever to earn 40 or more saves in a season for the Cardinals. He’s 24 years old. Heck, yes, I want him as the closer. The upside is tremendous. He just needs better command of the strike zone. It will come.

Seth Maness can pitch the seventh and Carlos Martinez can pitch the eighth.

Yes, pay the price for Andrew Miller. We need a quality left-hander in the bullpen _ not another Trever Miller.

Sam Freeman can be the second left-hander if Kevin Siegrist cannot rebound.

Acquire a veteran for long relief.
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Looks like we had a very productive Round Table.

As always, thanks for reading.

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