SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why Your Team Shouldn't Invest In Relief Pitchers with Many Seasons of Excellent Work

Sounds counterintuitive, right?

But it's not. The Yankees signed lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano in the off-season to improve their bullpen. Feliciano had pitched in 266 games over the past three seasons for the Mets, and that doesn't include spring training or the times he warmed up and then wasn't used. He was terrific (killed the Phillies), but now he's done for the year. And it's only April 14.

Brian Cashman probably should have known better. As a diehard Phillies' fan, I always wondered why the team, when in need of a lefty reliever several years ago, didn't pursue Will Ohman, Joe Beimel or more recently John Grabow as free agents. The reason was that they were concerned both about overuse and about the price tag these pitchers would command after being used heavily (such as $3-$4 million a year for 3 years). I had even read one GM offer that his team was more interested in an underused reliever with a live arm coming off an injury-prone year (I know that sounds like an oxymoron) than someone with three years of good work in a row because of overuse.

So now the Yankees have a hole in their bullpen, which I'm sure that the energetic and well-bankrolled Cashman will fill. But all GMs need to be careful with signing veteran relievers with too much tread on their tires, even if they excelled last season at torturing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Sometimes the obvious choice isn't the best solution (sorry, William of Occam, but in baseball the simplest solution isn't always the best one).

Caveat emptor!

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