Sunday, March 31, 2013

Preseason Predictions Part 4 - Bullpen

The San Francisco Giants are a day away from starting their season in Los Angeles so naturally the battles for the last spots on the roster have been finalized.

The Giants opted to send Perguero and Gillespie back to triple A Fresno and keep Guillermo Quiroz as a third catcher for insurance due to Hector Sanchez's health and the need to give the $167 million man Buster Posey a break every so often.

From left: Affeldt, Casilla, Lopez, Romo
The other winner for a bench job was Nick Noonan who in the last few weeks of Spring training did almost everything right, getting key hits, RBI's and showing off a glove that can easily be put at shortstop or second base at a moments notice.  The job was won mostly by default as Noonan could do what the other options could not.  Tony Abreu was promising but couldn't stay healthy enough this spring to win his job.  Kensuke Tanaka had defensive problems all spring and obviously couldn't handle playing shortstop or hasn't quite made that transition.

That brings us to the last job on the 25 man roster that seemed to have been locked up for awhile now.  That is now being held by Chad Gaudin.

A little history on Gaudin (GO-DAN).  Gaudin has had a long career starting with the Tampa Bay Rays, then to the Oakland A's, winning a world series in 2009 with the Yankees and bouncing along at different major league teams until finally landing here in San Francisco.  The spot he occupies is the one we knew for awhile to be occupied by our favorite children's cough medicine connoisseur Guillermo Mota.

Although Mota was used in the past as the Giants' de facto long reliever, he really wasn't made for that role.  Gaudin on the other hand has done it over a long career.  But here's the bad news, despite an impressive spring where he did everything he was asked, Gaudin has a 4.63 career ERA and a 1.51 WHIP, not really numbers that inspire a lot of confidence.  However, as a guy who will most likely be coming into games that have already gotten out of hand, there isn't a lot of trust that we need to put in Gaudin as of yet.  Anything good he does this year will probably be a bonus.

As for the rest of the bullpen, you know what these guys can do.  Mijares, Lopez and Affeldt make the Giants a fearsome force against left handed batters, and gives Bochy the flexibility to use Mijares and Lopez as lefty specialists while keeping Affeldt as a closer option.  George Kontos was a great addition last year and will continue to grow as the young pup in the relief corps.  Santiago Casilla was re-signed in the offseason and he's shown that as the guy with the nastiest stuff on this staff, he can get the job done even if he can't quite handle the closer role.

Speaking of that closer, Romo will get the job for now and although the Giants have always been wary of overexposing him or overtaxing him, the fact that Affeldt and Lopez can both come in at times to close, the Giants have the luxury of going forward without having to rely on a more traditional closer like Brian Wilson. Part of the reason the Giants were willing to pay Affeldt big money this offseason is that he's the natural choice to step in as closer in case Romo gets injured or struggles.  Affeldt can easily become the closer with Casilla as a setup man.

In case you wanted me to slam Fangraphs' ranking of this bullpen, here's my 2 cents on this ranking:

#13 Giants

Sergio Romo65. %2.472.631.7
Jeremy Affeldt65. %3.383.440.6
Santiago Casilla55. %3.433.610.3
George Kontos55. %3.743.820.1
Javier Lopez45. %3.543.490.2
Chad Gaudin40. %
Jose Mijares35. %3.493.670.0
The Others149. %4.504.88-0.1
Total509. %3.723.892.9

It's really not that bad, 13th is respectable when you realize that this bullpen does not have one crowd pleasing fireballer with a beard.  Although Romo did great in last year's postseason, many people in baseball insider circles believe that his success over a long period is questionable at best.  He's got knee problems, elbow problems and you just can't be successful when your fastball tops out at 89 mph right?  That same fastball that hit the outside corner for strike three in Game 4 of the World Series.

Fangraphs also gives us this little nugget.  Last year, Romo ranked 3rd among pitchers with at least 50 IP with O-Swing % of 40.7% as in players swinging 40% of the time on that slider of his that lands safely outside the strike zone.

Yeah we'll be fine...

Laws of the Day

Romo gets a swing and miss on 15.3% of his pitches tied for 5th in the league last year.

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