Oh yeah, TW relieves now

... being as we're running the M's an' all.  :- )

SSI waves the white flag on this one, and with gusto.  Kelly sez,

I know you see a starter in Wilhelmsen, but there is value to leaving well enough alone :)  .... Maybe he's figured something out that he can implement on the mound no matter what his role is, but maybe he is mentally/emotionally better suited to relief pitching.

A relief pitcher has to be able to deal with the stress and anxiety of high leverage situations, but a starter has to maintain a razor sharp focus for 2+ hours.  That is hard.  Ever try to sit through a 2+ hour lecture without loosing focus?  UGH!

"Leaving Well Enough Alone" is definitely the loudest instrument in the decision-orchestra now.  Wilhelmsen's recent performances have changed the equation.

It's one thing to talk about Brandon Morrow starting, when he's doing kinda-sorta fair to middlin' as a reliever.  It's a different thing when Jon Papelbon has demonstrated the best relief package in baseball, and then you're talking about a starting-pitcher hopeful.

There comes a point, amigos.  A genuine Terminator (TM) gives your entire ballclub swagger.  You're not going to move Mariano Rivera to starting pitcher, even if you do think he's a 17-game winner.


It's three weeks' performance, or something, but ... the last time I saw a guy murder people like that was Troy Percival.  Well, lately Daniel Bard has looked like that.

There's nothing more fun than having a closer-elect in the 8th inning.  Maybe you remember when Mariano Rivera was behind John Wetteland ... Bard now... remember Francisco Rodriguez behind Troy Percival?  

There are a few occasions when an 8th-inning guy is actually one of the five best relievers in baseball, because of an anointed Closer ahead of him, and that is a gift unto itself...

Bobby Fischer sadistically annotated a chess move one time, "Bisguier slumped and his chest collapsed, as he saw that Black could not avoid losing a piece."  

There's really no overstating the psych impact, when --- > the other club has relievers who embarrass you.  It's tough to get all invested in a game and then watch the other team smirk as they step on your neck.  

As you recall, the 2001 Mariners didn't realize that they were even going to win the division.  Arthur Rhodes was the one who informed them of that fact.


As a completely side issue, Wilhelmsen radiates a danger and violence that even exceeds Randy Johnson's.

Al Hrabosky used to come out wild-eyed, but that was theatrical.  Roger Clemens was real mean, but not irrational, exactly.  Wilhelmsen vibes like .... Rob Dibble.  Yeh, that's the ticket.  Rob Dibble.

You might ask why such a sensitive, gentle soul as Dr. D is endorsing violence.  Sports is vicarious war, something that prevents war by replacing it.  Macho is spiritual.  Yin and Yang are in harmony with the universe.

Or, as Salvador Dali once put it, the more violence the better.  As long as it's on the canvas.


No 1H 2012 guarantees with Wilhelmsen, but it's looking verrrrry ominous.  Savor the last few appearances in 0H 2012.  They're dee-lish. 

You guys were several yards ahead of me on this one.  :- ) You don't fool with this guy, where he's at.  No way no how. 





Wilhelmsen to me embodies the reality with young pitchers --- "dominant talent" does not mean he'll dominate "today". 
I recall the enthusiasm in March that the bullpen would be waaaay better than advertised (which, it was), because of Wilhelmsen and Lueke (which, it wasn't).
A short six months later, "W" is starting to look like a winner.  "L" ... ummm ... "Later", yeah that's it.
And this, to me, also brings up a potential paradox when it comes to bullpen arms.  The default understanding is relievers are relievers because they don't have "enough" weapons to start.  But, that actually makes it MORE critical that the reliever maintain command and control over his small arsenal.
With apologies to Doc's take on League's telegraphing of his pitches ... I think League actually has the proper attitude for a short man.  He needs ONE real weapon - but he MUST have incredible consistency with that weapon. 
Hoffman and Rivera have 1200+ saves and each threw one pitch exceptionally well.  But, that also means that a reliever who struggles with his primary weapon is a disaster waiting to happen.  That, I believe is what happened to Lueke's 2011 season. 
Pauley didn't 'dominate' in anything other than preventing hits.  But, it sometimes gets lost ... that IS the job.


He has two weapons, and the fortitude to get through his legal situation.  He'll be fine - mechanics are the problem of many bullpenners, but I know very few who can succeed without their weaponry, which is how he started the season.  
He just needs to keep THROWING this offseason.  His velo drop in the beginning of the season he said has happened to him before and that he needs to throw year-round.  He does that and comes into the season throwing 96 instead of 91 with good crackle on his breaker, it'll be a different story.  He was thrown off his stride severely by not having that FB weapon to start the season and it snowballed on him.  
Keep in mind that the times he got shelled in the minors were 2+ inning appearances too.  Like I said, I don't think that's what you want him doing.
Season breaks are good for resetting the mind and starting fresh.  Lueke should have enough distance by March to make it work.
Ruffin looks effectively wild - another Nellie trait - and if he wants to hit a couple of batters that'd make it even more uncomfortable to be in the box against him.  He's rough, but I like the package.
Delabar could be hilarious if he works out, but I like a lot of the raw material we're working with to get the bullpen more than 2 deep.
Still need a lefty - maybe that's Moran, maybe not - but with one or two left-handed tossers the pen could be REALLY interesting next year.

Lonnie of MC's picture

I really like what he did down in AA Jackson this year, and he could be the lefty that you are looking for, G.  Manager Jim Pankovits always turned to LaFromboise in high pressure situations, and the VAST majority of time LaFromboise pulled the preceeding players grits out of the fire.  Keep an eye on him in 2012, he might just be the ticket.


Just not head of the line as he was this year.  :- )
Next March, my man Geoffy will be protesting on a nightly basis that all these kids are untested.  But 97-mph bullpen guys can land with a splash.  Ask the Angels.


'cause brought in to face David Ortiz with the bases loaded in the 8th, and the manager wants that super-reliable 90 mph crossfire pitch on the outside corner.
But if LaFromboise turns out to be anything, we'll be sure to forget you mentioned him, Lon :- )


Why it's none other than old pal Tony Butler.
Natural talent, yet to pitch in the high minors, but he's "been through the wars."
This regime won't hesitate to promote such a guy quickly.
I'm not nominating him for LOOGY, but for Arthur Rhodes-hood (or I guess in the 2010s it's Eric O'Flaherty-hood).
(My faith in Moran was shaken this year -- he doesn't have much margin of error.  And I'm a LaFramboise fan as well, but I don't think he'll move up as quickly.)


Bobby makes me nervous because I can’t figure out his role.
He was great this year with the bases empty and terrible with runners on.  He struck lefties out well, but gave up too many runs to em.  No need to use him as a LOOGY because he can hold his own against righties, but he gives up too many hits to be a dominant reliever.
I don’t get him, yet.  Aaron Laffey type?  Bobby's got more Ks than that.  I dunno, I think he’s in the mix for home-grown lefty, but I’m more comfortable with Moran at this point. 
But Moran too got beat up by lefties.  His post-All-star numbers are pretty spectacular, though: ERA under 2 in 36.1 IP, 26 hits, 8 runs (3 HR), 42K / 12BB.
Overall Bobby’s numbers are as good as or better than Moran’s on the season.  But Brian’s spectacular faceplant to start the season masks his return to the numbers he’s had for his whole minor league career.
Moran’s minor league career: 8 hits, 10K / 2.3 BB per nine.  2nd half: 6.5 hits, 10.5 K / 3 BB.
I like the arm with the lower hits and higher K per 9 as potential lefty #1, but that doesn’t exclude Bobby from lefty #2 status.  What would be interesting would be getting a LH long man.  LaFromboise used to start, so he can go multiple innings – that’d be an interesting way to get another lefty in the pen.
I'm very curious to see our offseason bullpen adds - if we make any significant ones.  I could see us going:
CL League
RH Setup Wilhelmsen
LH Setup Moran
RH 7th inning Ruffin
RH mop up Lueke
LH long relief LaFromboise
Or some such.
It'd be a REALLY young pen, but we've had worse ones packed with vets.  Just no Cortes, please. I don't trust that guy.


Have been since we drafted him.  I was more sorry to see him go than Tillman.  His injury derailed his career, but I'm thrilled to see him back. 
He had people telling him he was imagining his injuries, until another surgery proved him right IIRC.  But now that he's healthy, I'd love for him to make the bigs. 
He's still in the 89-92 mph range as a starter, Doc - perfectly fine for a lefty.  He's walking too many, IMO, but he's better than A-ball.  I don't expect him to make the 2012 Mariners squad, but 2013?  If he's healthy, absolutely it's possible.  I wouldn't mind moving him to the pen either - and with Wilhelmsen the Ms showed they're more than happy to promote a guy to the pen as long as he has a weapon as a pitcher.  Tony is not Paxton or Wilhelmsen though - his weapons are not that nuclear.
I think it'll take him a little longer to climb the ranks than they have taken.  The super-helium guys for next year would seem to be righties.  Watching arms like Arias (101 Ks in 63 IP!) Capps, Hobson, etc try to be the next Wilhelmsen or Delabar should be fun.
But we're still pretty light on lefties.


Here, let's do a system rundown real quick, a thumbnail sketch of the arms:
Low Minors pen options:
Arias, RH reliever, 7 hits, 14.5K / 5.5 BB per 9, converted catcher
Bischoff, RH reliever, 7.5 hits, 12 K / 2 BB per 9, only gives up runs in bunches
Burgoon, RH reliever, 8 hits, 9.5 K / 2 BB per 9, more steady than Bischoff
Hobson, LH reliever/starter, 8.5 hits, 10.5 K / 1.5 BB per 9 in short-season
Hunter, LH reliever, 10 hits, 12 K / 1.5 BB per 9 in short season
Raga, RH starter/reliever, 8 hits, 9.5 K / 1.5 BB in rookie ball (1st year stateside)
Sabala, RH reliever, 6.5 hits, 10.5 K / 3.5 BB in rookie ball (1st year stateside)
Griffin, RH reliever, 8 hits, 10 K / 2 BB in short-season
Butler, LH starter, 8 hits, 9 K / 4 BB from the rotation
Nava, RH reliever, 9 hits, 9 K / 4.5 BB
Snow, RH starter/reliever, 9 hits, 8 K / 2.5 BB across several levels
Pries, RH starter/reliever, 8 hits, 8 K / 2.5 BB
Gillheeney, LH starter, 9.5 hits, 8 K / 3 BB as a High Desert starter.
Kesler, RH reliever, 10 hits, 7.5 K / 2 BB also in HD
That's not even everybody!
This list doesn't count Carter Capps or Carson Smith, two of the best arms we drafted last year who got little or no system time.  I'd hope both of em start, but they could move fast if they are moved to the pen.  Or Brandon Maurer, who may move out of the rotation due to injury concerns even though he's got a #3 arm.
And it leaves off everyone in AA and AAA.   I don't need more bullpen options.  We're swimming in them.  Not all of those guys have great arms, but they're still valid options as we move forward and several of them will be at AA this year getting ready for a Wilhelmsen-style call to the major league pen. 
Let the starters start, PLEASE.  One Wilhelmsen moved to the pen is enough - Paxton needs to be in the rotation unless he absolutely cannot succeed there.


Called it a great pick when we drafted him, and he's not lettin' me down so far. :)  I'm a strong buy on that kid at the moment.
They might let him start - we'll see.

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