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the bullpen

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November 18, 2009 - St. Louis sportswriter Jeff Gordon reacts to the news that both Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright were passed over for the Cy Young award in favor of 15 game winner Tim Linececum.
November 18, 2009 - St. Louis sportswriter Jeff Gordon reacts to the news that both Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright were passed over for the Cy Young award in favor of 15 game winner Tim Linececum.

before i get into discussion, i would like to say that I do not believe that the bullpen is the biggest issue for the cards in 2010. last season, there was much kvetching about the failure of the GM to get a closer. the cards could do much better to work on improving their defense, their offense, or replacing joel pineiro's contribution to the rotation. writing in the abstract here, before i really formulate any conclusions, i'd have to say i care less about our bullpen than most areas of the club. still, i think it's worth looking at what we have.

here is a table showing the bill james projections for the cards' bullpen in 2010.

Name

IP

K/9

BB/9

K/BB

FIP

Kyle McClellan

66.0

7.09

3.68

1.93

3.82

Jason Motte

56.0

10.93

3.86

2.83

3.45

Ryan Franklin

61.0

4.87

2.80

1.74

4.75

Dennys Reyes

46.0

7.43

4.30

1.73

3.86

Blake Hawksworth

54.0

6.33

3.33

1.90

4.82

Trever Miller

46.0

8.80

3.52

2.50

3.99

Mitchell Boggs*

75.0

6.00

4.32

1.39

4.78

*mitch boggs was predicted to start 10 games and to make 12 appearances from the bullpen.

I was frankly surprised by these projections - many of them were not nearly as bad as i had thought -- mcclellan, motte -- and some were far worse. miller had an excellent 2009, but james sees him coming back to earth. franklin is projected to fall off a cliff and have the cliff fall down on him after he lands. 

more surprising, though, is that this looks to be a tolerable bullpen performance overall. in 2009, the team average FIP was 4.30. here, only franklin, hawksworth, and boggs are projected to turn in a less impressive performance.

something which shouldn't be surprising to anybody is that the whole bullpen has an appalling tendency towards walks; franklin projects the only real impressive bb rate, one totally subsumed by the 4.87 k/9 right next to it. control should be the gospel for mason to preach this spring. 

not as bad as i had thought, but not inspiring at all. in case anybody is wondering, bill james didn't even give josh kinney a projection for 2010. which sounds about right after managing a stunning 0.73 k/bb rate in stl in 2009.

for jd - smoltz has a bill james projection making 10 starts, with no relief appearances. sorry.

given that we sold off our right-handed relief staff like hail-damaged ford focuses in the middle of "cash for clunkers II" in 2009, there's not too much to look forward to in 2010. eduardo sanchez is the most intriguing name, posting a 3.44 FIP at springfield in 2009, with a 10 k/9 rate. fernando salas had a year basically lost to injury in 2009; he's only a year removed from a 2008 AA stint with a 12.16 k/9 rate and a 1.95 bb/9 rate. if he returns to his 2008 condition, he could definitely help the club at mid-season. a couple of pitchers in the system with lots of gas but no control - francisco samuel (11.14 k/9; 8.68 bb/9) and adam reifer (9.31 k/9; 4.47 bb/9) - are lurking as well; samuel enjoys not only a distinctive bb/9 rate, but is the only one yet mentioned who is on the 40-man.

adam ottavino deserves a mention as also being on the 40-man; he also has shown terrible control (5.13 bb/9). he's likely to start the season as a starting pitcher in memphis. look for him to be retooled as a reliever if he struggles in a starting role. matt scherer was outrighted from the 40-man to make room for adam after a fine but uninspiring season (6.11 k/9; 2.20 bb/9). 

here's a quick look at a group of free agents and their 2010 bill james projections.

Name

IP

K/9

BB/9

K/BB

FIP

Russ Springer

58.0

8.22

2.79

2.94

3.87

Kiko Calero

64.0

9.42

4.22

2.23

3.47

Rafael Soriano

79.0

10.25

2.85

3.60

3.20

Kevin Gregg

65.0

8.31

3.74

2.22

4.04

Billy Wagner

62.0

10.89

2.47

4.41

2.65

Mike Gonzalez

78.0

10.62

3.92

2.71

3.20

only the really expensive, type A pitchers project to be a huge boost. calero looks like he could be well worth a look, producing only slightly less well than the braves' tandem. 

And now, as a parting gift, in case anybody felt any waiver wire remorse . . . .

Name

IP

K/9

BB/9

K/BB

FIP

Brad Thompson

64.0

4.22

2.53

1.67

4.91

We'll miss you, PK.