Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, June 27, 2014 02:45 PM Comments: 4
Most modern Major League general managers will tell you that one of the keys to staying under budget while fielding a competitive team is spending wisely on relief pitching. These days, Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year, $62 million pact gets a lot of, deserved, flack for perhaps being too long, too expensive, or both for a reliever while young players like Greg Holland and Ernesto Frieri seemingly turn up every year or reclamation projects like Joe Nathan or Jason Grilli become success stories.
The key to rationale behind the long commitments is the idea that good, and more importantly consistently repeatable, relief pitching is incredibly difficult to find. While Holland has continued his excellence in 2014, Frieri has not, posting a 6.39 ERA at press time. And while Grilli and Nathan were great stories of value relief pick-ups for 2013, 2014 has been disastrous to say the least for either.
As you may imagine, the long held narrative of find reliable, consistent relief pitching being difficult to obtain existed even in a time when relief pitching was first becoming specialized. Tug McGraw was one of the original stewards of this expansion of roles on a baseball team. According to the SABR Baseball Biography Project, a then-swingman McGraw was told in 1969 by Mets manager Gil Hodges “Tug, I have three pieces of advice for you. One, I think you should think about staying in the bullpen permanently. You could be a great reliever and at best an average starter. Two, this team needs a late-inning stopper, and I want you to be my stopper. Three, I think you’ll make a lot more money as a reliever than as a starter. Now it’s up to you.” Continue reading Top 10 Trades in Phillies History: #6 Owens Brings Believer Into Fold