Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
So i’m going out on a proverbial limb by saying that the Dodgers bullpen will look a lot different come Spring training. Okay okay, that’s not a limb at all, the Dodgers bullpen is going to continue to look different. At least I hope so because Kenley Jansen Joel Peralta and J.P. Howell anchoring the back end of your bullpen… isn’t going to be good enough if the team wants to go deep into October next season.
This is obviously a problem, because there are some horrendous contracts still on the team, whether that’s Brandon League who is getting 8.5 million dollars this season solely to get ground balls 60%> of the time, or Brian Wilson who’s elbow might very well be dead being paid 9.5-10 million dollars, the situation for the Dodgers bullpen is dire, and in need of saving.
Ken Rosenthal reported today that the Dodgers balked at Zach Duke‘s 3 year 15 million dollar deal from the White Sox (as they should have), and Stan Kasten reportedly is not very happy regarding the bullpen either
"The new Dodgers front office is not enamored with righty Brian Wilson, sources say. However, it also appears wary of spending heavily on bullpen pieces with Wilson under contract next season for $10 million, Brandon League for $8.5 million and J.P. Howell for $5.5 million. The team’s closer, Kenley Jansen, projects to earn $8.2 million in arbitration, according to MLBTradeRumors.com."
I mean I wouldn’t really be enamored with a 2x tommy john surgery survivor who just posted a 4.29 FIP and who’s velocity has declined from the low to mid 90’s in 2011/2012 to the mid 80’s, sometimes hitting as low as 86 this past season. His WHIP was extraordinarily high at 1.614, to finish up an overall bad season.
But up until now, the idea was that Wilson would start the year along with League pitching mostly mopup duty, or finishing up the game in blowouts, and just praying that they wouldn’t find themselves pitching the 8th inning under any circumstance.
OH no no, not literally. More washed up/retired up closers isn’t going to fix the bullpen, but lets start with Heath Bell, and his story with current President of Baseball Operations for the Dodgers, Andrew Friedman.
When Freidman, was still the general manager of the Rays he traded for the then 36 year old Heath Bell who was coming off of 2 sub par seasons as a member of the Miami Marlins, and the Diamondbacks. It was a risk, knowing they were taking on 5.5 million dollars in salary, and the risk failed miserably. Heath Bell only got in 17.1 innings of 7.27 ERA ball during 2014 and was straight DFA’d on May 5th and is basically retired right now. So Heath Bell was a Ray for 1 month (otherwise known as 4 less months than Chris Perez was a Dodger). It’s good knowing that the President of Baseball Operations wasn’t afraid to cut bait with a lost cause.
When Farhan Zaidi was the assistant General Manager of the A’s, they traded nothing useful for Jim Johnson and his 10 million dollar salary as he was likely to get non-tendered by the Orioles. They expected him to be one of the best relief pitchers in the game, and rack up the saves. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, putting up a 7.14 ERA in 40.1 innings as an Athletic. Being that he was one of the highest paid relievers in the game, the small market A’s seemingly would have gone through with Johnson in the bullpen to get some return on their investment. Well, they DFA’d Johnson on July 24th, after not being able to withstand Johnson’s pitch to contact, no control type ways. I don’t know how much Zaidi had to do with this transaction, but this fits perfectly with his “non traditional” way of doing things.
So basically the highest ranked guy in the organization is not happy with the bullpen situation, and the two guys ranked directly below him have proven to be quick to get rid of dead weight in the most volatile area of a professional baseball team. I would not be surprised to see Brian Wilson (or any overpriced reliever), who has fallen out of favor with the organization either DFA’d, or traded (with nothing coming back in return) before or during Spring Training.