As much as I rip on the crazy thing Dusty Baker says, I will hopefully be just as quick to praise the really great stuff, like this (from Fay’s blog):

Fay asked if Cueto, Voltron or Homer will be sent down if they don’t make the rotation:

“Not necessarily,” Dusty Baker said. “I come from the Dodger way. With young guys, the next best thing is long relief. It’s in between starting and relieving. It’s probably the less pressure on the staff because most of the time you’re coming in when you’re behind. We did it with Dave Burba in San Francisco, and he ended up winning nine, 10 games.

A lot of young guys start out in long relief,” Baker said. “If a guy’s not going to start, that’s the next best thing.

I’ve been banging this particular drum for years (Steve P. wrote about it back in ’05). This used to be standard operating procedure for developing pitchers. Earl Weaver’s Orioles were the best pitching-development shop in baseball for a couple decades, and that’s how they did it. Fay mentions Nolan Ryan, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Don Gullett and Roy Oswalt.

It’s more true for some than others (Oswalt spent one month in the ‘pen; Santana spent the better part of three years), but I think it’s a brilliant idea, in general. As Fay notes, guaranteed contracts for Mike Stanton and Todd Coffey are an issue, but according to Fay, it “[s]ounds like Baker would like to go with 11 or 12 best arms.”

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14 Responses

  1. Kevin

    I know this is off-topic and you’ll post about the game later…but I wanted to make an initial comment that Majewski pitched 1/3 inning today, and gave up 6 earned runs. I know its spring training but come on…

  2. Kevin

    also, about long relief, I think a lot of the time the reason I cringe when I hear this is because I feel like LR Bailey and LR Cueto are way less likely to win ROTY than SP Bailey and SP Cueto…but honestly that’s terrible thinking, and ultimately that’s probably a good way to think about getting young guys ready. Last year the paradigm for Bailey was “more seasoning at AAA,” but at this point, how much more seasoning is there for him, down there? Maybe a long relief role could be the missing step before a starting job.

  3. Jared

    How about that Gary Majewski! I read an interview of him the other day and he was talking about getting back to where he was with the Nats. I don’t recall ever seeing an ERA of 162.00 though.

  4. GregD

    I heard that, too. The unfortunate part about it is that everyone thinks he was great in Washington because of his low ERA in 2005 (it was 2.93). We all know ERA is a less reliable stat for relievers than starters, and it appears that most have ignore the high number of baserunners he allowed and low k-rate.

  5. doug

    I think its something that is ok if ONE of them is in the bullpen, but more than that and I think its a horrible idea.

  6. Chris

    How come, Doug? Not enough innings to go around? Do you mean that the “other” guy should be in the rotation or AAA?

  7. Y-City Jim

    With the usual starting stint of five innings by anyone not named Harang or Arroyo, I think this is a good thing. The bullpen needs to made up of the best arms that aren’t in the rotation. That certainly hasn’t been the way in recent years. It puts a little pressure on the starters knowing that one of the long relievers might be taking their spot if they falter.

  8. Y-City Jim

    and I agree, it’s the first sensible thing I have heard come out of Dusty Baker’s mouth since he became the Reds manager. I wish he would quit talking about the Dodgers. I am a product of the 70’s Reds and we hate the Dodgers! 😀

  9. preach

    ….it would have to make you nervous if you were in the bullpen last year…

  10. Kerm

    Being in the bullpen for the first few months sure would be a nice way to protect those arms from the use and abuse of their first full big league season. Not to mention a little protection from the overuse that everyone is sure Dusty is going to lay on the young guns if they are producing.

  11. Voodoo Child

    Nobody picked up on the “Cueto, Voltron, and Bailey” yet? Is there really a decepticon in the running for the starting rotation?

  12. Chris

    I’ve been calling him that since the day of the trade. About five minutes after I realized that I was going to misspell his names (first and last) every time I typed them. It seems to be catching on, though.

  13. Chris

    But I did boof it up by putting my intro inside Fay’s block quote – I’ll fix that.

  14. Earl

    “I am a product of the 70’s Reds and we hate the Dodgers! ”

    Amen to that and he played and managed the Giants. That has been bothering me the whole time since he was hired.

    LA and SF were the arch enemies when Cinci seemed always finish second in the division back when Pete was managing.

    LA also won the world series in the strike year when the Reds got hosed out of a playoff spot even though they had the best record in baseball.

    At least Houston is still around to dislike from the old NL West days, but that is not as fun as they still have never won it all.