Birds need some relief

Written by on November 30, 2011 in Orioles - No comments

The Baltimore Orioles aren’t known for their bullpen lately—at least not in a good way. Their Mike Gonzalez experiment failed miserably and Kevin Gregg has shown flashes of dominance, but his inconsistencies have made fans question his role as the closer.

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With the Orioles needing to bulk up their bullpen, here is a quick look at what they have, and what they could go for.

Baltimore fans will not have Michael Gonzalez to kick around anymore, and there are many more holes to fill in the bullpen. Photo by Shawn Levin

I think one issue in Baltimore was the fact that a lot of relievers didn’t know what their role was, which can partially be attributed to the struggles of the starting rotation. Think of it this way: You know that hot but moderately crazy girl in customer service? You wouldn’t necessarily kick her out of bed, but you know you wouldn’t marry her either. Same thing applies to pitching. Relievers should not go in and out of the rotation. Let them get into their routine whether it be starting or pitching in relief.

Jim Johnson is the most reliable relief option for Buck Showalter. He had himself a great 2011 as he posted a record of 6-5 in relief with an impressive 2.67 ERA. Johnson also chipped in with 18 holds and nine saves, all for $975,000 salary which is downright cheap these days.

Gregg was average over all. He led the team with 22 saves but his 4.37 ERA left much to be desired. His control was a big issue, as he walked 40 batters in 59.2 innings. He did strike out 53, but he needs to stop giving away free passes. Gregg is due to make $5.8 million this season and Baltimore has an option to bring him back for 2013.

Tommy Hunter was brought over from Texas in the trade for Koji Uehara. I see Hunter doing well for Baltimore. Hunter had an OK season, going 4-4 with a 4.68 ERA. He split time as a starter and reliever, but I do like him coming out of the pen.

Brad Bergesen is another pitcher I have had high hopes for, although 2011 wasn’t exactly kind to him. Bergesen went 2-7 with a 5.70 ERA for Baltimore in 2011 as he also split time in the rotation and the pen. I would like him to get one last crack at the starting rotation. I remember watching him in 2010, and he seemed dominant at times.

Alfredo Simon had an interesting year to say the least! Simon has nasty stuff, but I always make sure I keep a pack of Tums nearby when he hits the mound. Simon also spent time in both the rotation and bullpen, going 4-9 with a 4.90 ERA.

As far as who is available and decent, Ryan Madson is out there, as is Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, and Mike Gonzalez. Ok I’m kidding about Gonzo, but he really is a free agent. Something tells me he won’t be brought back to Baltimore.

by Andy Mindzak

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