With the All-Star Break upon us, and the trade deadline getting closer, the Bullpen Report will look a little different over the next few days. Stay along for the ride as we dive into the world of trade rumors and how that might affect some of the bullpens in baseball.
• The Houston Astros are ready-and-willing to unload their ninth inning man, Brett Myers, and as much as they can of the remaining portion of the $11 million he was to earn in 2012. Teams that will likely inquire about the right-hander’s services are the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets. The Astros’ current general manager, Jeff Luhnow, served as the Vice President of the Cardinals from 2003-2011 and had a hand in drafting many of the players in their farm system, which seems to make them a decent fit.
While the Cardinals’ current closer Jason Motte has locked down 20-of-24 save opportunities, the bullpen as a whole ranks in the bottom five of all MLB bullpens with a 4.48 ERA. As for the Mets, well, it’s no secret they’re on the hunt for some relief reinforcements to improve on that league-worst 4.94 ERA.
So what does a trade mean for the guy that has saved 18-of-20 with a 3.34 ERA (3.92 xFIP) and a 3.17 K/BB? First and foremost it means that Myers’ wallet would get a little fatter, as he would claim a $500,000 kicker for being traded. It also means that Myers would likely be reduced to a set-up role, and for those outside of holds leagues, he could have little-to-no fake baseball value. If by chance he landed in Flushing Meadows, Myers could see a few save chances depending on how well Frank Francisco returns from his oblique injury as well as the continued development of Bobby Parnell.
This is way too much speculation for me, so I’d be looking to sell my shares of Myers before the Astros move him. Brandon Lyon looks like a good bet to take over the ninth inning role when Brett Myers is dealt. Lyon, who has 78 career saves, is 0-2 with a 3.24 ERA (3.70 xFIP) and a 9.45 K/9 (4.38 K/BB) in 35 appearances (33.1 IP) this season.
• Not that Buster Olney is the end-all-be-all when it comes to potential moves at the trade deadline, but he is one of the more reliable insiders who always seems to have his ears to the ground. With that said, back in June Olney tweeted that the Colorado Rockies would have to be “overwhelmed” by rival clubs in order to move their closer Rafael Betancourt (or Matt Belisle).
Despite Olney’s remarks, teams would still be wise to inquire on Betancourt due to his reasonable contract and overall performance in the recent years, as Ben Duronio notes. Through the first half of 2012, the 37 year-old Betancourt is 15-of-19 in save opportunities with a 2.84 ERA (3.56 xFIP) and a 3.78 K/BB.
If by chance a team is able to pry Rafael Betancourt out of Colorado, Matt Belisle or Rex Brothers could be called upon to close out games. Belisle has had the better overall season to date (3-2, 1.93 ERA, 2.96 xFIP, 5.00 K/BB) but Brothers had a monster June with a 0.66 ERA, 0.66 WHIP and a 7.0 K/BB in 13.1 IP.
• Sometimes a team’s best acquisition around the deadline isn’t in the form of a trade. It may come as a player returning from the disabled list like Jacoby Ellsbury, or in the case of the Miami Marlins, a player returning from suspension.
Juan Oviedo, the reliever formerly known as Leo Nunez, will finish his eight-week suspension for identity fraud on July 22nd and rejoin the Marlins bullpen. Oviedo and his 92 career saves will immediately bolster the depth in the Marlins’ bullpen and give Ozzie Guillen an additional experienced arm to call on in save situations.
Although Heath Bell was a perfect 6-for-6 in save chances in June, he is just 3-of-5 in July and now 19-of-25 on the season with a 6.75 ERA. Ozzie Guillen stated that the Marlins would begin the second half with a closer-by-committee based on Bell’s recent struggles, and once Oviedo returns, he figures to be a part of that committee. Oviedo makes for a fine add for you saves chasers.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]