Everyone knows that Oakland needed impact bats in their lineup this offseason and the acquisitions of Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus were made with that in mind. Yet in numerous places there have been comments that the A's needed bullpen help as well. MLBTradeRumors' Tim Dierkes said in a column about unfinished business that the A's needed to sign a reliever (though he did acknowledge that the basis of that - a very ambiguous comment from Billy Beane regarding letting Henry Rodriguez go - had changed with the signing of Rich Harden). Then in yesterday's A's Inbox, Jane Lee answered a question from Joe C. of Lincoln , CA who asked what I have been screaming about to myself all winter. Joe C. asked,
"Why do the A's need more bullpen help? If anything, they already have too many with Outman and Harden in long relief, Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow and Jerry Blevins as setup men and Devine and Andrew Bailey as closers. I realize that a bunch of injuries were among them last year, but if they stay healthy, this is a formidable bullpen."
Lee's answer was somewhat unsurprising, that there's no guarantees they all stay healthy, etc, etc. But come on now. I'd rather spend money building up infield depth which is sort of scary when you think of it. Adam Rosales, Steve Tolleson and um... anyone else? Conor Jackson can play first so there is no concern there, but really if anyone goes down in the infield, we are sort of screwed (especially in light of me advocating we rid ourselves of Kevin Kouzmanoff). While I agree with the premise of having lots of pitching and I am a fervent believer in "pitching wins ballgames", we have a ton of pitching depth. Let's assume here everyone is healthy to start the year and Bob Geren chooses to go with eleven pitchers on the roster. We know Braden, Anderson, Gonzalez, and Cahill are in the rotation for certain, so seven more spots. We can safely assume Bailey, Wuertz, Breslow and Ziegler take up bullpen spots. So three more left. One needs to be a fifth starter, for the sake of argument we say Harden wins that battle. Two more. Two more spots for: Josh Outman, Joey Devine, Jerry Blevins, Bobby Cramer, Brandon McCarthy, Guillermo Moscoso, Tyson Ross, Clayton Mortensen and Fautino de los Santos to fight over. That sounds pretty deep to me. But if Ellis, Kouzmanoff or Pennington go down, we have Rosales or Tolleson, then who? Eric Sogard (who I like but whose entire career is nine plate appearances in length)? Let's not forget it isn't as if Steve Tolleson has a wealth of experience either at the pro-level. This is for a team who allegedly competing to win the American League West against a very strong Rangers crew (even scarier if they add Jim Thome as rumored) and a serviceable Angels squad. I don't get why I am the only one concerned about this. Why aren't we adding a Joe Inglett, Jorge Cantu or Aaron Miles? Guys who aren't great but are certainly much surer bets in case of an injury than Tolleson or Sogard. I am going to go out on a limb here and assume they won't cost more than the $76M we threw at Adrian Beltre.
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