Wednesday 27 March 2013
The Bench and Bullpen Bind
I was listening to Behind the Dish (Keith Law's podcast) yesterday, in which he and Dave Schoenfield discussed the concept of the 13-man pitching staff, and the more-or-less uselessness of the LOOGY (starts around 9:40). Naturally, I immediately thought of our good friends, the Toronto Blue Jays, who are, in all likelihood, bringing 13 pitchers up North.
Law calls the LOOGY the "biggest waste of a roster spot" in baseball, for example, and he'd rather have a guy who can go a few innings in the bullpen, so as to deepen a bench. Makes sense.
To me, this isn't a huge deal, especially given the way that the Jays (presumably) are planning on going about this. I really hope that the plan is to trade, outright, or possibly option a pitcher to AAA once Brett Lawrie returns to action. Until that happens, we're going to see both Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis playing practically everyday, which makes the bench as follows: Rajai Davis, Henry Blanco, Mark Derosa.
Not that there's a whole lot else available, but still.
A look at these guys (Career wOBA, 2012 wOBA, career wOBA vs. LHP and career wOBA vs. RHP):
Blanco: .223, .286, .317, .264
DeRosa: .330, .257, .362, .319
Davis: .306, .299, .338, .253
So basically, Davis can kind of hit against lefties (.285 wOBA vs. LHP this past season, over a small sample), while Blanco and DeRosa seem polite. DeRosa could hit lefties in 2009, and has done dick since. He can at least take a walk, so he might be an improvement over Adam Lind, especially against LHP.
I tend to like a bench to mask the weaknesses of the lineup. In this particular case, I see the weaknesses being Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus vs. LHP, and JP Arencibia pretty much always. If this were 2008, DeRosa would be great to be able to plug one of those holes. This is five years later.
I realize that once Lawrie is back and playing 3B every day, we'll see Bonifacio or Izturis filling that last bench slot, and seeing as they're both switch hitters, things will probably improve, and that this will probably only last for like 6 games max, but still.
Hopefully everybody's nice and fresh to begin the year, because this is probably the worst bench in baseball right now. It's not like we're playing National League baseball here, so we don't need to worry about multiple pinch hitters every night; I just hate having such an exploitable detail about a team. Lind and Rasmus are both really vulnerable to lefties, and at the moment, there are no alternatives that make me at all comfortable.