Nationals Baseball: Where are they now? : Nats 2009 Opening Day Relievers

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where are they now? : Nats 2009 Opening Day Relievers

Commenter Will questions why I think the Nats bullpen will be better this year than last year besides the simple "they can't possibly be that bad" return to mere awful from historically bad. No, it's not because the Nats brought back Mac the Ninth, I'm not sure why they did that. Nor is it because I think that the arms in this year's pen are that much better than those the Nats had going at the end of last year. It's because it took the Nats a hell of a long time to get those arms together.

Ron Villone came around on May 7th, about a fifth of the season in. Mike MacDougal had his first outing on May 29th. Tyler Clippard didn't get going until the very end of June. Sean Burnett started throwing for the Nats on July 1st. While this year's squad may not be substantially better than that bunch, they'll all be here come Day 1. That's the difference.

Which Nats made the Opening Day 25 man roster as relievers last year, and where are they now?

The quality arms

Joe Beimel : he's good as a LOOGY and just resigned with the Rockies.
Joel Hanrahan : a talent that may or may not put it together. He'll make the Pirates opening day roster if he's healthy.

The rest

Mike Hinkley : Orioles, will not make the opening day roster.
Wil Ledezma : Pirates, will not make the opening day roster, also recovering from injury.
Saul Rivera : Indians, might make opening day roster.
Steven Shell : Mariners, will not make opening day roster.
Julian Tavarez: Went unsigned after being DFA'd, retired from baseball.

So out of 7 pitchers (the Nats only carried 4 starters to begin last season) 5 of them are not good enough to make the opening day roster of a major league team a mere 365 days later. That's how bad the bullpen was that the Nats began last season with. Two major league quality arms to pitch in relief. (Ok Saul was quality at one point and could be again, but he wasn't last year)

, Bruney, Bergmann, Clippard, Burnett and ?. There has to be at least 3 arms in that bunch don't you think?


bdrube said...

I just took a peak at the opening day roster from last year. Holy crap, only 7 or 8 (depending what happens with Gonzo) will be there this year. That's an incredible turnover for just one season.

Gues that's what happens when you lose 100 games two years in a row.

Harper said...

yeah, usually such a turnover can make you think the team is going overboard, but looking at that squad, good riddance to nearly everyone.

Hoo said...

2009: Mike McDougal Nats closer.
2010: Mike McDougal: Likely Syracuse bound unless he beats out a faltering Bergmann or Batista.

The Nats may not have a great bullpen or even a good bullpen. But I expect they'll have a mostly average bullpen instead of an amazingly awful pen. It's reassuring that a Tyler Walker fringe player is on the cutting edge instead of the 7th inning setup guy.

All that said, I think Sean Burnett had his career year last year and I expect him to be a little worse.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

Excellent analysis! I hope Hanrahan makes it in Pittsburg and Capps pans out as our closer.

Harper said...

Hoo - if only we could discuss this years pen in a bubble. Using terms like "much better" and "vastly improved" are technically true but misleading, having everything to do with how bad they were last year. Average is about right. Now, do we praise Rizzo for putting togehter an average pen? I'm not sure about that. But it'll happen if it is average...

Hoo / Sec - I believe at the time of the deal I said Hanrahan would be better than Burnett not only going foward, but for the rest of '09. I'm not sure about last year (Hanrahan's ERA is better - but the periphery #s make me believe he had to give up more inherited runners) but I'll stand by it.

Hoo said...

I think Rizzo deserves credit for the pen. Going from really bad to average is a step in the right direction. The trick is going from average to good and reliable. That's what could make Rizzo go from average GM to a good one.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I recall this blog was the HQ for the "not a big fan of the Pirates trade." I wasn't a big fan giving up on Milledge but Morgan has pretty much made me look silly. As long as he can have another 3 really productive seasons.

That trade was probably one of the few win/win trades. I think the Pirates got the better talent but they're headcases that needed a change of scenery.

I'm really concerned about Burnett. I think he got pretty lucky pitching against righties and I'd prefer to see him go lefty only in close games and let Bruney/Clippard work the 7th/8th but for lefties.

I'll be pleasantly surprised if Capps is the closer in the middle of the summer.