Thoughts From a Lost Season: The Bullpen – Phillies Nation

Thoughts From a Lost Season: The Bullpen

Horst was a great find by the Phils. (US PRESSWIRE)

Quick thoughts on 2012 with the relief pitchers up next. Coming up, position players. Click here for the starting rotation. Phillies Nation will also have a more thorough breakdown of each player coming later this month.

-Let’s begin with the highest paid relief pitcher on the team, and in baseball, Jonathan Papelbon. I’ve struggled with what to think about his season, but much more negative stands out for me. I guess that’s because the Phillies were not a winning ballclub, so the negatives overshadow the positives.

Focusing on Papelbon, you can’t help but notice his inabilities in non-save situations. His 3.90 ERA in those games with four losses, some of them crushing, were tough to swallow. No pitcher is going to be perfect, but he was asked to keep games tied or close and couldn’t do it some of the time. In normal save situations, he was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, sporting a 0.87 WHIP and a 1.49 ERA. Papelbon was able to save 39 games this year, so he did more right than wrong. But when you’re the highest paid guy that anchors an overall subpar bullpen, failures stand out. He’s gotta’ be a little better next year.

-I’m really excited about the youthful explosion in the pen this season. Players that maybe wouldn’t have been utilized had it been a “normal” Phillies season saw plenty of action, which can only serve them well for the near future. Let’s start with the lefties:

Jeremy Horst, Jake Diekman, and Antonio Bastardo could provide the Phillies a stable of quality left-handed pitchers for a long time. Horst was perhaps the Phillies best relief pitcher this season. His minuscule 1.15 ERA stands out, as does his 11.5 K/9 rate. Horst still needs to work on walks, but he looks like an absolute steal in the trade with Cincinnati for Wilson Valdez.

Diekman has had his struggles with command, but you can’t teach 97 mph. Diekman has a power arm but needs to hone his skills. I think he wins a job next season. Keep in mind that it was merely a year ago that Bastardo emerged out of nowhere to become a filthy reliever. Who’s to say that can’t be Diekman next year?

Bastardo will obviously be out there in 2013. After some wild moments from him early in the season, he reshaped his year with a dynamic second-half performance. Opponents hit just .188 against him after the break, and he owned the lefty/lefty matchup: they hit just .169 against him. Can’t wait to see if these three can continue to toy with lefties in ’13, with Diekman having much of the work to do among the three.

-Some others gave a glimpse of what could be in the bullpen. Justin De Fratus pitched some big innings down the stretch and finally overcame a bum elbow. He, too, throws hard and looks to make a bigger impression in 2013.

Phillippe Aumont was the most surprising of the bunch. He struggled mightily with command in Triple-A this year, but was summoned to the bigs and pitched very strong at times. Walks are certainly an issue with him, but he dominated, at times, with a heavy sinker and an upper-90’s fastball. The sky is the limit for the big Canadian.

-The jury is still out on Josh Lindblom, but again, he’s got a pretty good arm. The Phillies are expecting big things from him since they gave up an all star to get him.

Raul Valdes was a diamond in the rough. Not sure how he fits for 2013, but he impressed at times, as well. His 0.742 WHIP in 31 innings proves it’s tough to get on base against him. As a situational lefty, Valdes killed it.

-Remember Chad Qualls. Yep.

-Don’t forget, there are still guys like Stutes, Schwimer, Herndon, and Rosenberg that will be vying for a few spots next year.

Click to comment



    October 5, 2012 at 11:45 am

    The Phils still need a proven set-up reliever, like Ryan Madson once was. There must be somebody out there who can pitch the eighth inning with consistency and effectiveness. Also, someone who could close if Papelbon gets hurt. Did I hear Ryan Madson’s name?

    • schmenkman

      October 5, 2012 at 11:58 am

      I wouldn’t be opposed to Madson if he could be had at a reasonable salary, but he might still be able to get $7+ million on the market.

      The bullpen certainly looked better in the 2nd half:

      1st half: 4.76 ERA (15th in NL),
      2nd half: 3.03 ERA (5th)

      3.03 is not bad for essentially “free”.

      • Lefty

        October 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        Do those numbers include the highest paid reliever in the NL? Maybe the rest of the guys are essentially free, but it all averages out. I would think we still had a BP that was at least middle of the road in terms of payroll.

        Unfortunately I already know you’ll come up with numbers to dispute that. 🙂

      • schmenkman

        October 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

        I won’t even try. Good point – “free” other than Paps.

      • George

        October 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm

        Lefty, one has to realize that when Amaro did make that “foolish” statement, Martinez had a broken bone, Utley had shown no signs of progress, Polanco was struggling, and Fontenot hadn’t been signed yet. It would look foolish to anyone to have traded away the only versatile infielder left standing.

        I’m sure that in retrospect, Amaro now believes his statement about the trade was the real foolishness; he probably wishes he’d kept his mouth shut.

  2. Lefty

    October 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I don’t trust Lindblom. IMO- He’s no set up man. 6th or 7th inning guy maybe, but not protecting a lead in the 8th.

    And by the way, there was a point in the season where I clearly remember RA Jr. saying (paraphrase, not a quote) that he regretted the Valdez trade. I can’t find the link, but he said it one day when sitting in the dugout talking to reporters. I find it ironic that Horst may have been the best bullpen move he made.

    • Lefty

      October 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Oh I found it, he said trading Valdez was foolish.

      • lou possehl

        October 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm

        Ah yes, but – thank God – at least he kept Michael Martinez.

        The only shortcoming here – and maybe that’s why Ruben had second thoughts that probably keep him sleepless to this day – was that, in the 19th inning of a tight game (OK; I know – if you’re in the 19th inning, what kind of game could it be OTHER than tight?), whoya going to bring in from the pen?

    • schmenkman

      October 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Agreed — very good move.

      Just for kicks, here are two batting lines from this year:

      .206/.236/.227 (.463 OPS)
      .174/.208/.252 (.460 OPS)

      The first is Valdez. The second is Martinez. Sure, Valdez hit a lusty .206, but it’s an empty .206, with only 4 doubles for extra base hits, and 8 walks in 208 plate appearances. If you project both of them to a 650-PA full season, you get these numbers:

      Valdez ..: 13 doubles, 0 triples, 0 HRs, 25 BB, 113 SO
      Martinez: 16 doubles, 0 triples, 11 HRs, 27 BB, 112 SO

      • EricL

        October 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm

        lol Martinez and Valdez. Lusty numbers there, fellas. Good job. Good effort.

      • lou possehl

        October 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm

        Shmenk, in carefully going over your numbers, I was impressed by the SO differential, Valdez vs. Martinez. As one can see, comparatively speaking, Valdez was swinging for the fences while Martinez showed far greater plate discipline.

        I may have to reconsider my entire thesis.

      • Lefty

        October 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm

        An empty .206? That’s an oxymoron, no?.

        Hmm, or not- Here’s a full .204 (204/.333/.468/.800) Note those two 2012 season bold marks. He joins a very exclusive club there. (Babe Ruth, Jim Thome, Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt, Dale Murphy etc.)

      • schmenkman

        October 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm

        Huh – very interesting (for those not clicking through, Adam Dunn led the AL in both walks and strikeouts). And he just missed (by one) tying Mark Reynolds’ single season strikeout record.

        That certainly is a full .204. Any average can be either empty or full, IMO, depending on whether it overstates or understates a hitter’s overall performance.

      • EricL

        October 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm

        Adam Dunn is an interesting guy. He’s got 402 home runs at the age of 32, and is coming off a 40+ HR season. It should be pretty easy for him to hit 500, and 600 might not be out of reach if he stays around for a little while, provided his awful average doesn’t scare too many teams away.

        But boy is he ever the quintessential three true outcomes guy (HR/BB/SO)

      • Lefty

        October 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        Yup, and any time you have a 129 point difference in you avg/obp, that’s pretty damn good, but especially with that kind of pop.

      • schmenkman

        October 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

        The other thing about Dunn that was amazing is that he hit exactly 40 home runs 4 years in a row.

        Then there was the complete debacle of a year he had last year (.159/.292/.277) in an otherwise very respectable career.

      • c schreiber

        October 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

        I remember prior to the season when Valdez was traded for over a week all this group talked about was these two “clowns”. Are you starting on them again?? Their not even worth the thoughts. It didn’t matter as neither helped or could have changed anything on the Phils. I guess the best thing out of the two of them is predictably MiniMart made the last out of the season and probably his MLB career.

    • George

      October 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      I’m not sure I trust Lindblom even for the 6th or 7th. Maybe I’d only use him on the road, and only in certain stadiums, where some of those fly balls he gives up might actually stay in the park.


    October 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I hope that the Phils find a better bat than Martinez’, despite the fact that the little guy can play everywhere. I do not understand that a player with little power and some speed does not become a great bunter. Doesn’t Juan Pierre set a great example of this? Why don’t guys like Rollins (he still has the speed) and Martinez take note and emulate Pierre. Rollins would become a .280 hitter and Martinez would perhaps break the Mendoza (or Martinez) line in batting average.

    Perhaps some players lack the ability to be coached?

    • schmenkman

      October 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Pierre never had any power, so just in order to survive as a major leaguer, he’s had to develop other parts of his game. If he had power, like Rollins does, he would not be trying to leg out infield hits.

      For his career, when he bunts (excluding sacrifices), he has been successful 34.3% of the time, so his batting line is .343/.343/.343 for a .686 OPS.

      More recently, probably because he has lost a step, he’s only been successful 28% of the time, so his line is this: .280/.280/.280 for a .560 OPS.

      So even if Rollins somehow managed to be as good a bunter as Pierre, that’s probably as good as he would do when bunting for a hit.

      When he’s not bunting, he had this line this year: .249/.316/.429 for a .745 OPS.

      According to the stats, he’s tried to bunt for a hit 10 times this year, and was successful 3 times. There might be the occasional situation where it makes sense, but in general I would not want him to try to bunt any more than he already is.

      For Martinez, it certainly makes sense, especially if his MLB career depends on it.

      • EricL

        October 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm

        I don’t think Martinez has anywhere near Pierre or Rollins’ speed. Just because he’s little doesn’t mean he’s all that fast.

        And I think we underestimate just how hard it is to hit a baseball. If slapping the ball through the infield or just over their heads was that simple hundreds of guys would do it. It’s not. For his career, Juan Pierre has one of the lower strike-out rates in baseball. You absolutely cannot do that without being extraordinarily gifted. As much as I make fun of guys like Pierre (for the noodle-arm and anemic power and BUNTING), he’s probably in something like the top .001% of all people in terms of athletic ability.

        I think the reality of it is that Martinez just isn’t that talented (although, again, he is, by far, much more athletic than the average person)

      • Brooks

        October 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm

        “If he had power, like Rollins does, he would not be trying to leg out infield hits.”
        You really don’t have anything substantial to back that statement up do you?

        I think Pierre does exceptionally well with the bat. Moving the runners over, either by sacrifice or a hit is vital and I would love to see his atbats increase substantially in 2013.
        Jimmy seems to be rooted by Cholly in the leadoff spot. I would not mind seeing Juan hitting second for an entire season. Like I have said before about Kevin Frandsen, let him play himself out of the position.

      • schmenkman

        October 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm

        Just common sense. Since he mostly hits singles when he swings away, he doesn’t give up much when he tries to bunt. If it was more likely that he would hit an extra base hit, that opportunity cost would mean it would not be worth trying to leg out a bunt single (with what’s recently been a 28% success rate).

      • Bob in Bucks

        October 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        Martinez simply cannot bunt. I don’t know why but he can’t execute. For this reason alone we should move on. Who ever heard of a utility infielder (and he is a great fielder) who can’t bunt?


    October 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    A lot of successful hitters used the bunt to bring infield in so they could slap the ball past fielders. Or, they surprised the defense with a drag bunt or a bunt down the line. It is a tactical play that would indeed benefit a player like Rollins. He should be trying to bunt at least 25 to 50 times a year. A drawn-in infield or a surprised infield would add to his batting average, his on-base-percentage and his success as a lead-off hitter. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it. I love Rollins, I am glad he is a Phillie, but this is an area that could have made a difference in his overall offensive success and HOF balloting.

    • Bob in Bucks

      October 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Jim Thome is a great player and a great man. However, we have zero evidence of his ability to teach.


    October 5, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I’m glad the Phils have promoted Ryne Sandberg to a coaching position. Moreover, I think it is a good idea to have a hitting coach PLUS a hitting assistant coach. Mike Sweeney would be really good at that post because he is extremely likeable and has a .297 lifetime batting average and has been a true student of hitting throughout his career. I would not complain about Matt Stairs taking this position either. Jim Thome would be great as well. Overall, a good move the Phils.

    • Ken Bland

      October 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      Off season wonderings…

      I wonder how the Oakland A’s fate would have turned out had the pre trade deadline rumors, unrealistic or not had acquired Jimmy Rollins. Never one to attract unanimity in reaction, had Jimmy gone there, and played as well as he did here the last couple months, which was pretty good, I can just imagine the uproar anti Rollins people would be in over why he didn’t do that in the first half with the Phils.

      Some names you think of in any walk of life, and are blown away by the time elapsed since you were concious of their exsistence. Just as an off the head contrain example, for whatever reason, it just feels like Eric Bruntlett played with the Phils 3-4 years ago. But way, way different is the name Ben Fransisco. Can you believe it’s almost a year to the date since he became a temporary folk here in ripping a playoff homer against the Cards in Game 2. Bennie Fresh moved on twice, and it feels like an eternity since he was here.

      • schmenkman

        October 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm

        Moved on three times, actually. The Rays acquired him from Houston on 9/1. Tough year for him, aside from playing for three different teams, he hasn’t hit very well for any of them – hope he puts it together one of these days.

      • Ryne Duren

        October 6, 2012 at 8:26 am

        yea ken i probably would’ve been one of those guys you are talking about! i bashed rollins for his lackluster play for almost 1/2 to 3/4 of the season! however mr rollins shut me up with an excellant 2cd half! i’m still not crazy about him, but my hats off to him for redeeming his season stats wise. i still would like to see stats like that over a full season but spread out a little more with consistancy. that’s been my biggest beef with him he’ll do nothing for three weeks then go on a tear! werth was the same way. i can’t stand when players do that! and it’s a shame but there are a lot of player that are just like them! give me a guy like chooch this year he had a career year! his numbers where great for ( him!) they weren’t great numbers, they were good numbers. B.A was great for any player. but what stood out more than anything else with chooch was his total consistancy, and how he hit smart! he hit the ball where it was pitched and played within himself. and when he got his pitch in a good count he crushed it! to me he was our MVP last year. oh and i’m not forgetting tha his numbers would have been even better if he didn’t injure his foot.

      • schmenkman

        October 6, 2012 at 9:47 am

        Out of all players with 400+ plate appearances, Chooch was the 6th best hitter overall in the NL this year, sandwiched between McCutchen and Melky. I don’t know if that’s “great”, but it’s pretty damn good.

        BA .325 (5th)
        OBP .394 (4th)
        SLG .540 (7th)
        OPS .935 ( 6th)

      • Lefty

        October 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

        And second best hitting catcher, ahead of Yadier Molina.

    • Ken Bland

      October 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Now that short stop in Tampa having escaped my memory, that sets Bennie up joining the list of most likely baseball records never to be broken…

      1/ A quick web search to see if anyone played for 4 clubs in a year was fruitless, and a specific seacrh of former hot prospect Mike Morgan led to the shocking revelation that intra season, he was pretty stable. But 13 teams in a career probably had U Haul stock in it’s own bull market during Morgan’s career..

      2/ Another record set this year that is going untouched is most brothers hitting their 100th career homer in 1 night. I don’t even think the Upton’s record gets topped.

      3/ I didn’t realize how historic it was at the time, but I recall listening to the Phils game around 1978 when Joel Youngblood got a hit for the Expos. Earlier in the day, he had a hit at Wrigley, I think for the Mets. Any player getting 3 hits for 3 teams in 1 day ain’t happenin.’

      • schmenkman

        October 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm

        I thought four in one year had been done once, but it’s been done a surprising number of times.

      • Lefty

        October 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm

        It’s beyond me how so many teams could be wrong on Joey Bats. I guess they truly do develop at different ages.

      • Ryne Duren

        October 6, 2012 at 8:33 am

        hey ken you probably know this. a few years ago i was working on the midnight shift at my workplace and a few of us baseball lovers would have trivia games on stats and stuff. the winner got free coffee all night by the losers. i asked the question “what brothers” hold the record for the most combined HR’s in baseball history? much to my caffinated glee did anyone get the answer! the answer was the Aarons! hammerin hank 755, his brother tommy 1. cool huh?

      • Ken Bland

        October 6, 2012 at 11:33 am

        Ryne Duren mentioned the Aarons holding the brotherly record for dingers. I wonder if Sadaharu Oh had a brother. But anyway…

        Here’s a question intended solely for Ryne Duren. With purpose that will be explained later. There’s a reason for that which I’ll explain once he answers. The year is 1964, and the sun is shining 24/7 in the City of Brothers Love, as they say in North Philly. Phils are in first place, and it’s Fathers Day. Jim Bunning warms up for the Ed Sullivan show that Father’s Day night by tossing a perfext game against the Meet the Mets. In the 4th inning of that first end of the doubleheader, a Phillie defender made an unassisted double play to save the perfecto. Who was he?

        Get ’em, Ryne.

      • Ken Bland

        October 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm

        I’m going to provide the answer to the question I asked specifically for Ryne without waiting. And explain why I asked it of Ryne. I’ll add that it seems like a trivia question with a specific answer, but it’s not. It’s really a question that taps the emotion of Phillie fans, particularly those that were young when Bunning thre his perfect game.

        That’ 64 year was a brief respite from select successes the Phils enjoyed over the previous severalecades. And perfect games (like no hitters were extremely uncommon then. Course a year later, Sandy Koufax threw 1 against the Cubs Bob Hendley who threw a 1 hitter, but perfect games were no annual occurence. So imagine yourself emotionally caught up in the Phils being in first place 3 years after losing 23 in a row enroute to a 47-107 season before lasts to firsts ever exsisted, and your team’s star pitcher throws a perfect game.

        Nowadays, with the internet and advancement of the disection of the game, the emotion, or fan part of things has been backseated to all the analysis. But that was a gripping capitulation, and as he’s told us he’s 62, Ryne is 2 years older than me, so I would think he would have been a candidate for equal enthusiasm for that day.

        As is usually the case with a perfect game, there’s 1 play that stands out. That game was no exceoption. In the 4th inning, Met catcher Jessie Gonder hot a screaming liner that Tony Taylor caught on a dive, and Bunning’s perfect game was still in place. That play is frozen in the minds of those of us that watched it, and maybe even more so if you were in your yon teenager years, and baseball could easily be the most important thing in your responsibility free, or minimized exsistence. I guarantee you that play would spark instant memories to any that watched it, even fair weather Phillie fans.

        But as intense as that play was, as the years rolled on, the emotion of that play was crystal clear in our collective fan mentality, but people’s exact memories of it faded a little.

        Going back to the original wuestion of who made the unassisted double play to save that game, I asked that exact question of a wide range of people over the next 5, 10, 15 , maybe 20 years. The one common denominator of anyone I asked was I knew they’d remember the game. And the ratio iof people that answered the question wrongly was unanimous. And the reason was because they got swept up in the emotion of the play.

        If you asked one of these 25-30 year old modern day baseball fan marvels that question (which I haven’t), I’d guess an overwhelming percentage would answer quickly that you can’t have a double play in a perfect game. But to the Ryne Durens, and Ken Blands of the world, that watched, or heard about that game with unique intensity, the spectacularness of the play takes you out of accurate memory, and pictures Tony Taylor diving because you knew there was a great defensive gem that the question must be about. So I was curious if Ryne would fall trap to this fun question that no less a baseball guy like Bill Conlin did when I asked him that very same question. In my mind, that proved the image of Tony Taylor, a very popular player, diving was completely engulfing.

        John Stephenson looked at a 1-2 curve to seal the Senator’s accomplishment, and 18 year old Rick Wise beat the Mets, 6-0 for a Phillie sweep. Good night nurse.

  6. bacardipr

    October 6, 2012 at 7:33 am

    What about Schwimer? If Aumont and Diekman can gain better control they could be very good. However you can say that for a lot of pitchers. Valdes might be a good choice for call up duty. Valdes did a pretty good job in his short call up duties. With Papelbon eating up the budget for bullpen the Phils will have to rely on these young guys. It doesnt make much sense for Rube to bring in another Qualls, Willis or Baez type of guys. Although im sure he will.

    • Ryne Duren

      October 6, 2012 at 8:39 am

      bacardipr agreed! and i hope he doesn’t.
      i was looking at you post and i’ve seen your handle a lot but tell me if i’, wrong or if it’s any of my business but is your name on hear short for bacardi puerto rican rum? if it is it’s a good one! you don’t have to answer, i was just curious.

    • Bob in Bucks

      October 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Schwimmer is done with the Phils. You can’t be an ass about being sent down. He has to move on. Expect him to be thrown in with some trade.

  7. bacardipr

    October 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Yes Ryne you are correct. lol..Thanks…

  8. bacardipr

    October 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Possibly Bob but who knows. Wasnt it proven that he indeed was correct?

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