No Need For Bullpen Panic

Bullpens can really make a difference in whether or not you make the playoffs. Look no further than last years playoff teams where 7 of the top 8 made the playoffs. That's impressive. The Jays ranked 10th. While I realize that's not the case for every season, it still looms large in a teams success. The current bullpen has some fans and even other columnists questioning Alex's direction of the pen and more specifically why he is not bringing back both Downs and Gregg. Comment's such as "who will handle our 8th and 9th inning duties", "we are doomed" and "Gregg's option this year was very affordable" have been made. While on the very thin surface that could be the...........No, I can't say that's the truth at all!
A bullpen consists of several arms throughout the season, not just 2. So looking at the bullpen as a whole, I believe there is an opportunity for improvement and for fans to gear down when discussing the pen.

RETURNING:
Shawn Camp: Logged the most innings and is a consistent arm. His solid ground ball induced play should have him around 2010 stats.
Casey Janssen: A forgotten arm that really has bounced back well . Logged the 2nd most innings and will continue to be effective. Nice to see he's got the K's back up there.
Jason Frasor: Another steady contributor with a live arm. Yes, yes he can be the human rain delay, but still battles out there and should be around the mid 3 ERA again.
David Purcey: Looks ready to make huge strides and be a key cog in the pen. Suffocated lefties to a .163 BA and will continue to improve his craft. Has some good juice on the fastball as well.

GONE
Brian Tallet: I admired the fact that he always did what the Jays asked of him and seemed to give it his all. Despite that, any time you can subtract a player with a 6.84 ERA has got to be an improvement. Two straight 5+ ERA season's will not cut it.
Scott Downs: Really enjoyed his play here in TO. But with the opportunity to get 2 picks for him and the team looking to go with some youth, it made sense to let him go. And seeing his 3/15 contract confirmed that.
Kevin Gregg: When he was on and throwing first pitch strikes, he was dominant. The flip side of the Gregg, was a pitcher constantly trying to nibble the corners and showing no confidence in himself or in the team behind him. Having said that, he did put up a 37 save campaign and that is a hole Alex will have to fill

WILDCARD
Carlos Villanueva: Brought over from the Brewers for the PTBNL. Not sure how the Jays plan to use him, but he has experience both starting and relieving. This is a good weapon to have especially with a 11.4 K/9 inning. At 27, he should be hitting his stride and is a solid frame at 6'2", 230 IBS. He did log 52 bullpen innings last season, so that does seem to be a fit.

NEEDS
A veteran closer. Dotel, Rauch, Qualls, and too a lesser extent Soriano are still available. All have various levels of experience and this void will be filled and will be cost effective. Perhaps seeing Balfour's availability is also an option.

INTERNAL CANDIDATES
Carlson seems to be another fit for the pen.
The likes of Roenicke, Lewis, and to an extend Rzep. will have a shot for another role.

Blue Jays Trade for Brett Lawrie

The Blue Jays traded the Brewers Marcum straight up for Brett Lawrie in what looks like a good trade for both teams. The Blue Jays get the Brewers top prospect in Lawrie the 16th pick in the 2008 who had a very nice showing this year in AA despite being only 20 years old. Lawrie was drafted as a catcher by the Brewers but was moved to second at his request where he is still learning defense. It is the defensive knock on Lawrie that is keeping him from the majors as his bat is already close to major league ready if you wanted to rush him up. Brett Lawrie also has the potential to be a real fan favorite hear in Toronto as he is from Canada and stared on the National Junior team. The one thing though that has to raise red flags for us Toronto fans is the Brewers likely completely gave up on Lawrie due to attitude issues, the main one being that he refused an assignment to the fall league which seems completely irrational given he is still learning a new position. Who knows maybe Lawrie has been trying to force a trade as he has been blocked going to the big club in Milwaukee by Rickie Weeks and that likely wasn't going to change meaning he would ride a lot of pine early in his career or be forced to switch positions again.

You always have to worry when you trade a know commodity like Marcum as they are really a suspect not a prospect, but sometimes you need to take a risk and it didn't look like we could resign Marcum and his value is high now. Lets hope the Brewers didn't swindle us like they did the Indians by dumping strikeout machine Matt LaPorta on them for CC Sabathia.

Blue Jays Mix blog featured writers William Bruyea
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