We just signed Ryan Franklin to a one year deal. I am not sure what to think about this. Maybe it is similar to last year’s Jeff Nelson situation, where we see if he fits in during spring training. But I can’t imagine a single spot on the bullpen roster where he would beat out who we currently have. He has a lifetime losing record of 41-57. I have never really been impressed with watching him pitch, but you never know. Our bullpen already has Randy Flores, Josh Hancock, Tyler Johnson, Randy Keisler, Josh Kinney, Braden Looper, Chris Narveson (possibly), Ricardo Rincon, Brad Thompson, Brian Falkenborg, Russ Springer, and Jason Isringhausen all competing for probably 7 jobs. Izzy is the closer, so now you are at 6 spots. So where is an outsider going to come in? You can pretty much guarantee Tyler Johnson & Randy Flores because we need at least two left handers in the pen. That means Keisler, who is left handed might end up in Memphis. So now you are down to 4 spots and Hancock, Kinney, Looper, Rincon, Thompson, Falkenborg, and Springer to choose from. Springer and Looper are sure things to make the squad, so now you essentially have two spots with Hancock, Kinney, and Thompson fighting for them. I think Rincon is too old and hasn’t pitched in over a year, and Narveson may be the ace in Memphis so he will continue to build up endurance as a starter in the future. So you tell me, where would that leave a guy like Franklin? He may compete for a spot in the rotation, but I don’t see room for him there either now that we have Carpenter, Mulder, Wells, Wainwright, & Reyes. He started 30 games with the Mariners in 2005 going 8-15 with a 5.10 ERA. Where will he end up? Your guess is as good as mine. In my opinion it doesn’t hurt to sign him, just not sure if we need him.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you out there….
Earlier, I addressed the starting rotation, in my article entitled "Pitching, Pitching, Pitching". Now I would like to start a series of articles where I will address what I would like to see happen regarding the bullpen. After yesterday’s signing of Randy Keisler, we now have four lefties in our bullpen that are on the active roster: 1.Tyler Johnson 2. Randy Flores 3. Ricardo Rincon (That’s right, he should be healthy) 4. Randy Keisler. I don’t see all four on the opening day roster, but I do see possibly three of them making the team. I have to say that the role of Steve Kline/Ray King should fall on the shoulders of Tyler Johnson. The Left handed specialist/set up role, where LaRussa has always had a go to Lefty that can come through big should be given to Tyler. Anyone that watched the post-season saw that NASTY curveball he threw up there. He is VERY exciting to watch, and I am glad we have him on our team. I watched him a lot this year in Memphis, and I think he wil be a member of our team for a long time. Tony LaRussa has said, "He has plus stuff. Many of his pitches are unhittable. He’s just got to be consistent getting them over the plate." So let me work the bullpen backwards. In my opinion, the clear choice for closer is Adam Wainwright. He is a much cheaper option than Izzy, has shown to perform in the clutch (World Series Closer), and biggest of all is that Izzy probably won’t be ready to pitch till later on in the season anyway. If I were Walt Jocketty, I would trade Izzy NOW for whatever you could get, to unload his salary. You might end up with a surprise like we did in Aaron Miles, when we traded Ray King to Colorado last year. Not only that, but the cash freed up by dumping Izzy’s salary would enable us to go after a top quality starter. So, Wainwright is my closer. Braden Looper is my right handed set up man. The above mentioned Tyler Johnson would have the left handed specialist/set up duties as well. Also in the pen I would have Josh Kinney, Josh Hancock, and Randy Flores. The remaining spots could be filled out by Ricardo Rincon, Randy Keisler, Brad Thompson, and possibly Chris Narveson. That is assuming we don’t pick up a free agent of a higer caliber than those just mentioned. I am sure my bullpen will evolve as the off season does, but if I had to pick it today, these would be my choices. I would get Jorge Sosa out of town so fast that he would pass Jason Marquis on the expressway out of St. Louis. He showed me NOTHING. Yeah, so he can throw fast. Big deal, most of the Major League hitters I saw tee off on him weren’t that impressed either. Neither were the Braves when they got rid of him. So here you go here is my 2007 Bullpen if I had to set it up today:
Wainwright Looper Johnson Kinney Hancock Flores Rincon
Closer Set Up LHP/Set Up RHP RHP LHP LHP
This still leaves out some people that could make the squad, like Brad Thompson, Randy Keisler, Chris Narveson (who led the 2006 Memphis Redbirds in Wins),Brian Falkenborg, and Andy Cavazos. Chris Narveson could even prove to be a starter one day, so maybe you leave him down in Memphis. And don’t forget Alan Benes, who I wrote about yesterday. Should he not make the rotation, he could contribute from the bullpen, similar to a Cal Eldred role, a veteran comeback player with a lot of knowledge.
So there you have it, so far. My thoughts may change as the season nears. Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you out there….