Observations: Bullpen A Key?

So, T.R. Sullivan posted some great insights into the Rangers’ bullpen over at his Postcards from Elysian Fields blog (this is the post).  I shared some thoughts via  comment, but think this is a subject that needs more review.  If “Little Jon” Daniels and company put this team together counting on the bullpen to be a “competitive advantage,” that tells me three things:

1.  Its an admission that the rotation is not going to get the job done (but we knew that, right);

2.  Its an admission that the offense probably won’t be good enough to really put people away (although keep an eye on Sammy – he could change everything)

3.  We’re probably screwed!

Half-way through camp, this team, including the bullpen, still has more question marks than an IRS form. 

Benoit’s been impressive.  So has Chen.  He looks to be the darkhorse for the 5 spot in the rotation with Loe and Wright emerging as the lead contenders.  I think Chen and Loe wind up in the pen.  If Wright keeps it close, then Loe will be needed to fill one of several emerging holes in the bullpen.  Wilson, Mahay, Littleton, Francisco and Bauer are struggling.  Being out of options, look for Bauer to be traded as soon as we’re certain Gagne’s really healthy.

Gagne seems to be on track (which would be huge if he and Oki could make Rangers games 7-inning contests), and Oki seems to have as good an attitude as we could expect.

But with a rotation full of guys likely to get the hook before or around the 5th, that leaves 2+ innings in desperate need of frequent coverage.  At this point, that looks shaky to me.  Of hope – Buck was horrible at leaving guys in too long.  I doubt I made it a week last year without yelling for Buck to “Get him out of there!”  You?  If Washington does a better job (how could he not?) in that regard, then there’s 5-10 wins over last year.  IF he doesn’t collapse from all the trips back and forth to the mound in the middle innings trying to bridge the gap from the starters to Oki-Gagne (anyone coined the term “OkGone” to describe that potential dynamic duo, yet?  Wouldn’t that be great if they were good enough to get their own combo nickname?  I hereby copywright “OkGone” and all derivations.  Can I do that?  Jeff Cogin – you circus freak – stay away from my idea!  Bumber stickers and T-shirts ready “8&9? Ok, Gone!”)

Now only if “OkGone” have enough Hold-Save chances to make this brilliant 2 a.m. idea worth something!  That, unfortunately, may be a really big IF.  The offense, defense, rotation, long and middle relievers just don’t look strong enough to get it there.  But hope does Spring eternal, thank God!

Oh, and bingosinatra, as for your comment on Elysian fields that:

“I DO give GM Jon Daniels alot of credit in bringing the Rangers back to respectability on the heels of losing GMJ, DeRosa, Lee, Wells, Eaton, etc…and now most everyone is pumped about this season. Can we not lay the reason for optimism squarely on JD’s shoulders? I do.” 

Don’t buy into the the circus-like fan-fleecing con game perpetrated by ownership and the front office.  That’s how they want us to feel so we buy tickets when this team really isn’t offering any reason for hope yet.  And their new ad campaign is more proof.  But more on that in a future post…

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