|Brewers bullpen, a source of much frustration late last season, has a new look|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 13 March 2008 09:35|
Milwaukee retooled its bullpen this offseason, signing former NL Cy Young winner Eric Gagne and David Riske, while trading for Salomon Torres and Guillermo Mota to bolster a group that got overworked down the stretch as the Brewers slid to an 83-79 record last season, missing the postseason by two games.
``It's a totally new bullpen,'' Brewers manager Ned Yost said. ``I think if you go over most teams, most teams from year to year, when they rebuild a portion of their team, it's always the bullpen, or they always add bigger pieces to the bullpen. Everybody's trying to get starting pitching, but they always find bullpen guys.''
Last year's group went 23-32 with a 4.24 ERA, but even with the decent numbers Yost could only rely on only Scott Linebrink, Turnbow and Cordero late in the season because the remaining members of the bullpen pitched so poorly.
Linebrink and Cordero bolted in free agency, signing four-year deals with the White Sox and Reds, respectively. That left some room for imagination for general manager Doug Melvin, who also got a little extra cash from principal owner Mark Attanasio to bring in Gagne on a one-year, $10 million contract.
``He'll be banked on to pitch the ninth,'' Melvin said. ``He wants to go out there and prove a lot after last year in Boston.''
Gagne pitched well in Texas last season, amassing a 2.16 ERA with 16 saves in 34 games, before being traded to Boston, where his ERA was 6.75 in 20 appearances.
He said he's been healthy this offseason for the first time in three years, and knowing he will close games, like he did when he won the Cy Young award in 2003, has been helping him prepare.
``It's always easier on you, you know you have a place on the team,'' Gagne said. ``That's why it's hard when you're a young guy. You're really trying to work and press and you've got to come into spring training ready to go, 100 percent. I'm lucky.''
Other than Gagne, Yost doesn't know who will be relied on late in games. Turnbow usually pitched the eighth inning, but the Brewers now have several guys who have filled that position in their careers.
In rebuilding the bullpen, Yost said he had looked for pitchers who threw often in important situations and could pitch without much rest.
``We broke our bullpen down and decided that we needed more durability down there,'' Yost said. ``We needed to try and find guys that could pitch on a more regular basis. We tried to find power arms that threw strikes.''
So, they dealt for Torres and Mota. Torres, who came over from the Pirates, was hampered all last season by tendinitis that began in spring training. But he showed durability before that, with three straight years when he pitched in 84, 78 and a league-high 94 games.
``Just give me the ball every day,'' said Torres, who has been on a slower throwing program this offseason to give him more rest, much like Cordero did in training camp last year. ``My goal is to throw as many games as I can without jeopardizing my health or anything like that.''
Torres said he hopes to pitch 80 to 85 games, and he doesn't care what inning he starts in. Riske is another option after he signed a three-year, $13 million contract. He also could be the only holdover next season, since everyone else is on a one-year deal.
``I'm impressed with how much talent there is on this team and all the additions they did with the bullpen, and I think it's going to be a really good year if everybody stays healthy,'' said Riske, who noted that he, Turnbow and Torres all have closing experience. ``You can't experience anything better than that because the game's on the line, it's do or die and I think that can just help you out even if you're in the sixth, seventh or eighth inning, that can help you out tremendously.''