Saturday, May 15, 2010

Organizational Bullpen Cluster F'

Two things I read this morning really drive home the futility of this season.

The first is Macha's approach to the bullpen, spelled out:

If there is one thing you can expect from a Ken Macha managed team, it's a depleted bullpen.

To be fair, Macha hasn't been blessed with a huge arsenal of starting pitching, but he hasn't helped either. Pulling pitchers from games early for no reason, pitching relievers on consecutive days for multiple innings are the perfect way to end up in the current situation they're in...

n the first 34 games this season, the Brewers relievers have had to appear in way to many consequetive games. I'm not faulting Ken Macha entirely. Short starts have lead to a lot of innings the bullpen has had to log. My biggest problem is what games the relievers were used in. Todd Coffey and Carlos Villanueva have worked in back to back games unneccessarily a couple of times. What is the point of pitching one of those pitchers in a blowout game if they pitched the night before? The only thing that can do is where down an arm.

I'm not really concerned about how they fare in that game, but the road that lies ahead. Todd Coffey was overused last year and has started to see it catch up with him. His velocity is down and his pitches aren't moving as much. Mitch Stetter saw a similar decline at the end of last season when he lost all ability to throw a strike.

On paper, the Brewers should have one of the best bullpens in the National League. The starting pitching is a big reason for the large amount of innings, but Ken Macha is also to blame. If he is unable to show any ability to manage a bullpen, it will cost the Brewers mightily. Possibly, also his job.

It's pretty clear Macha is pretty well clueless when it comes to the pen. Sadly, Melvin seems to be afflicted with the same disease:

The Brewers are still in their sixth week of playing regular season baseball, and they already need reinforcements for an overworked bullpen.

The team on Saturday optioned outfielder Adam Stern back to Triple-A Nashville and promoted right-handed John Axford in time for an afternoon game against the Phillies. Axford gave the Brewers a 13-man pitching staff, and manager Ken Macha said it would remain that way for the "near future."

"Whether that's a week or 10 days, something like that," Macha said.

Axford was excellent in Spring Training and continued to pitch well at Nashville, where he was 3-2 with a 2.03 ERA (13 1/3 innings, 3 earned runs) and two saves in 12 games.

What exactly is the point of calling up righty John Axford, 27 year old never-will-be who is currently pitching mediocre (don't let McCalvy fool you, look at him numbers) in AAA? The Brewers have potential Closer of the future Zach Braddock absolutely twirling at Nashville. 16.2 K/9, 3.38 K/BB, 1.2 WHiP....the kid might just be the real deal. He is 22 years old and is dominating. Why pass him over when the team is in desperate need of back of the pen help??

I imagine Melvin is worried somewhat about contract situation, but the past few seasons have shown players are willing to reward teams giving them a chance early and will trade short term huge deals for security. Worst case scenario he comes up, kills it, doesn't sign a deal and the Brewers lose a couple months of control. Big deal, he's a bullpen arm, you aren't going to give him an 8 year deal anyway.

Damn the tiny little contractual risk, bring up Braddock and give the team the best chance to win.

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