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Mijares Freaks Out and Further Bullpen Analysis

The Star Tribune is reporting that Twins pitcher Jose Mijares walked out on his Dominican winter league team.  This is not a good sign.  I am no familiar with how seriously players take Dominican League ball.  Do they treat it like a beer league softball game?  Or do they take it as seriously as they do their full-time jobs in the Majors Leagues?  I assumed they were just as important, especially to the latin players.  If this is the case, we all of a sudden have a lot to worry about with Mijares.  Everyone anointed him the second coming last season without even questioning his character.  I understand its hard to see the negatives in his dominant (however brief) performance at the end of last year, but I think its time we sat down and took a hard look at Mijares.  I personally will not be doing this, since its my job to bitch about things and SirSean picks up the pieces with his “numbers” and other witch doctor type things.  But lets give it a shot.

In 2007 he pitched just under 70 innings in 31 games, all in relief.  He had 81 strikeouts to 53 walks, while sporting a 3.88 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.  61 of those innings were at AA and the rest were at AAA.  Nothing overpowering, his strikeout  to walk rate was about 1.5:1 (as a frame of reference Joe Nathan had a 4:1 strikeout to walk rate of 4:1)  The ERA and WHIP are really underwhelming, but not all together terrible.  I think this really shows that people are putting too much faith in the 10 innings he threw last season for the twins.  Could the source of this faith maybe be the fact that everyone else in the bullpen was so terrible during that same time frame and we were willing to crown anyone who showed a flash the next great thing?  I think that it could be.  

Now with this new revelation that he quit on his teammates, I am starting to have great doubts about the man.  In winter ball he was lights out, until two bad outings in a row, then he decided to walk out on his team.  What happens when he gets shelled in Minnesota?  I’m assuming he has experienced failure before and this was just a fluke, but who knows?  From now on we really can’t assume that Mijares is going to be a lights out set-up guy.  Outside of Nathan the bullpen really is a bunch of question marks.  Guerrier is coming off his worst season as a pro, and we don’t know if he can bounce back from a huge 2008 workload.  Jesse Crain will be entering his second full season after major shoulder surgery, word is he is finally back to full strength, but again who knows.  Breslow was consistent last year against lefties, and should be given more chances to get righties out.  Boof has the talent and stuff to be a great reliever, but the head has yet to come around.  It seems like our bullpen is built on a house of cards. The things coming out of the clubhouse sound like this “If Boof accepts his role, AND Crain rebounds from surgery AND Guerrier can regain his 2007 form AND Mijares picks up where he left off, we will have enough guys to get to Nathan.”  Could be worse.  It could be like this: “We are looking for 4 or 5 guys to get us to our closer.  Who we are still looking for” I think thats what it sounds like in Detroit.

9 comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Kushnick January 30th, 2009 8:12 am

    Wait a second…Didn’t you just put up a post that you felt pretty good about the bullpen as is??

    The Mijares story is just further proof that it is appalling the Twins haven’t already added a solid veteran option for the back innings (i.e. Nelson, Affeldt, etc.)

    The kid has great upside, but simply relying on him for the full-time role is risky business.

  2. FunBobby January 30th, 2009 8:14 am

    That was not me, I believe it was my colleague. But since this is the internet, I reserve the right to flip-flop whenever I damn well please.

  3. Kushnick January 30th, 2009 8:22 am

    Whatever the case may be, Gleeman has a fun piece today and correctly called the Twins inaction on the bullpen “maddening.” That’s the right word. And also correctly pointed out that Smith’s first good acquisition this offseason, if it were ever to happen, will be his first ever.

    Maybe this site should be called “firebillsmith.com?”

  4. FunBobby January 30th, 2009 8:24 am

    This really is how I have felt all along, it seems the Twins have failed at every turn to solidify the bullpen. Competent setup men have been on sale all winter, and the Twins have been window shopping. I am not saying that the internal options CAN’T provide us with an upgrade, but assuming they will is not wise. We should at least sign some guys to compete for jobs. Nothing brings out the best in athletes like intense competition for survival.

    If it was called firebillsmith.com we’d have to come up with a new name sooner rather than later.

  5. sirsean January 30th, 2009 8:55 am

    With the news that the Twins are looking at “options” like Ayala, I think it’s time to start hoping they DON’T make any moves, as he would be a downgrade from everyone in the pen.

    I think everyone’s going to end up a little surprised by the bullpen this year. No need to panic, we’ve got some good arms in there.

    I’m worried about this news about Mijares, but I don’t think the Dominican league is all that important and I don’t want to jump to conclusions. It’s possible that he had a disagreement with the manager, who may have wanted to increase/decrease his role against his will, and he didn’t want to endanger his actual major league career for the sake of his Dominican team. It’s also possible that he had a Silva-walking-off-the-mound moment and will get his head straight again. Again, no need to panic, but I certainly hope he talks to the Twins about this and gets everything straightened out.

  6. sirsean January 30th, 2009 8:56 am

    Oh, and “firegardy.com” rolls off the tongue much more easily than “firebillsmith.com” … and we started the site before Smith had really done anything.

  7. Kushnick January 30th, 2009 9:02 am

    Listen, I know I sound overly critical. My patience is just wearing thin.

    I have so much hope for this team and actually give credit to Smith and Co. for not wanting to part with the starting rotation and/or guys like Span.

    I understand it’s important to play the market and be patient at times, but when you drag your feet almost the entire offseason, you are stuck with the Gagnes and Ayala’s of the world. This, despite a payroll that is currently below ‘07 levels I believe.

    I just feel that Crain is a prototypical 7th inning guy, Guerrier is best suited for 6th inning and/or long inning relief, and that Bonser is a total question mark.

    It is certainly maddening that the best relief free agent options like Nelson have signed elsewhere for reasonable contracts.

  8. sirsean January 30th, 2009 9:40 am

    Yes, other guys have been signing for reasonable contracts — assuming that they stay healthy and effective. But as everyone should know by now, relievers are extremely unpredictable, and a guy who’s great one year can be terrible the next. And vice versa. So handing out contracts to guys that just had a good year (even if the contract seems reasonable given that level of production) can backfire pretty quickly.

    I’d have liked it if they moved on Bradford or Hawkins last summer, or Lyon or Nelson this winter. But given the unpredictability of relievers and our surplus of arms that could be just as good, it’s hard to really fault them for passing.

    And I’d say Guerrier’s another 7th inning guy. He as a 6th inning / long reliever earlier in his career, but he’s improved a bit. I just fear his career may be over after the 2008 debacle.

  9. [...] morning FunBobby alerted me to the Mijares situation, and it was the first I’d heard of it. My initial reaction was to take a bit of  a [...]

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