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The Sports Daily > Firebrand AL
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Bullpen Edition

By Andrew Lipsett
Last year, the Sox’ most reliable RP was Mike Timlin. This year, it appears to be Jonathan Papelbon. Beyond Timlin in 05 and Papelbon in 06, there’s very little to recommend either collection of relievers. Though this offseason was supposed to center around dramatically upgrading the pen – one of the two worst in the majors in 2005 – early in the season, it appears that much work still needs to be done.
Aside from Papelbon, the most trustworthy reliever the Sox have is Keith Foulke – the man most responsible for the pen woes of last year. Behind him is Mike Timlin – as likable as they come, but a man whose 2005 performance was primarily smoke and mirrors, with a great ERA hiding a declining K rate and a rising BAA. Those twin issues are catching up with him now. Beyond those three, the pen gets into mop-up men altogether too quickly.
So what is to be done here? How long do the Sox stick with Rudy Seanez, Julian Tavarez, and even David Riske (remember him?)? When does the front office make the decision, this year, to delve into the minor league depth that looks so promising? Last year, it took until June for the Sox to address their bullpen woes, but much of that was a lack of in-house options. Now that we have potentially reliable RP’s in Pawtucket and Portland, when will they get their shot? Discuss.

Comments

  1. Seanez has looked terrible. Tavarez hasn't looked great in somewhat limited usage. Van Buren actually did surprisingly well in one appearance, but they sent him down. Riske did poorly in one appearance and is on the DL. Delcarmen hasn't made it into a game.
    With the (likely) exception of Seanez, they really need more data on the rest of the pen so they can see what they've got. It could be a very good one; we just don't know yet. It would be nice if Seanez could strain his back like Riske did. (Maybe Theo can help him with that?)

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  2. Assuming the MDC callup means anything, the front office already recognizes the urgency of getting the bullpen in order. Consider that with a better bullpen last year, we probably win the division — and preliminary evidence would indicate that the division might be tight again. The Red Sox have been rather lucky so far (in terms of game outcomes, not in terms of health & performance).
    Foulke is back. He's been extremely unlucky with the fielding behind him. Speaking of which, re. last night, why is Willie Harris alive?

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  3. Sam – the MDC callup has a lot more to do with Wells' DL trip though, doesn't it? Especially considering he hasn't been used, I'm not sure this signals a reogranization of any kind – I imagine Delcarmen is there to fill out the pen, at least for now.

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  4. Possibly. But wasn't that what Van Buren was for, too? But we sent him right back down. Which makes me think MDC will be around for a little while this time, although I doubt he's up for good. But even if he's only the 6th man in the pen, I think he'll get at least a couple of weeks of action in the major leagues.
    Personally, what the heck, I think we should challenge him a little this time. He can't be worse than Seanez. He could be better than Tavarez. In that case, he could prove useful while he's here, giving us an inning every 2nd or 3rd night.

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