There’s no other way to put it, after watching the unfolding of last night’s bullpen meltdown; carrying Brian Broderick and Henry Rodriguez on this team is having the effect of shortening the bullpen from 7 guys to 5, and is costing this team wins by not allowing Jim Riggleman to put in the right guys at the right time.
WP Beat reporter Adam Kilgore put it more politely, calling the carrying of two essentially worthless pitchers an “unusual roster construction.” You know what I call it? A GM who is hand-cuffing his manager.
I have complained in this space several times (mostly summed up here in this March 2011 post) about the implications of the Nats having 3 of their 12 pitchers (Tom Gorzelanny in addition to Broderick and Rodriguez) be essentially “locked” onto the 25-man active roster. Its one of my main criticisms of the Josh Willingham deal in general; see my post for more opinion but to have only a right handed reliever who your manager cannot use in return for your #5 hitter of the past two years is my definition of a trade failure). Gorzelanny has pitched much better than anticipated and his roster spot hasn’t been questioned (though for me, that wasn’t always the case either).
To say nothing of this plain fact: If you can’t trust a reliever to come into a close game and get outs, then he should NOT BE ON THE ROSTER. Its as simple as that. And clearly neither Broderick or Rodriguez currently falls into that category.
What is the answer? Mike Rizzo needs to do three things, almost immediately:
- Invent another “injury” and put Rodriguez back on the DL. Send him to extended spring, put him back on rehab assignments and tell him he needs to either throw strikes or take a hike.
- Call St. Louis’ GM and work out a PTBNL trade for Broderick. Enough is enough; he projects as a #5 starter (maybe) on a team that has 4 good starters. Is he really part of the future for this team? Is he going to be better than any of Detwiler, Maya, Meyers, Solis, or Peacock in 2012? Because that’s who he’s competing with for rotation spots in 2012 (figuring that at least 3 are already spoken for in Strasburg, Zimmermann and Gorzelanny). Trade for him so you can option him to Syracuse.
- With these two spots opened up, recall Collin Balester and call up Cole Kimball so you can actually have two useful guys in your pen who you can trust. If you’re so in love with Rodriguez’s power, Kimball throws nearly as hard and has put up far better bb/9 numbers in AAA. Balester has been in the majors before, put up great numbers in 2010 out of the pen, and can pitch long relief if needed as a former starter.
Its time for Rizzo to acknowledge his errors in roster construction and fix them.
(As an aside: Jim Riggleman is not totally without fault here: per Ben Goessling‘s report last night, “Todd Coffey and Tyler Clippard [needed] a night off and Drew Storen [was] being saved for a lead.” Why let Sean Burnett stay in to get out one of Atlanta’s best hitters in Martin Prado? Why not bring in Storen at this point and use him as the “fireman?” Is it because he’s the “closer” and you save your closer for save situations? I certainly hope this wasn’t his thinking. A managers *should* use his best relievers in the highest leverage situations, and last night Storen should have been used to get out of a bases loaded jam against a tough right-handed hitter, instead of leaving in a lefty who has struggled lately. But, this post is more about roster construction than reliever use, a topic for another day, and a larger issue in baseball in general).