A common complaint from a good majority of AN over the last several years has been the use of the bullpen. I know we've been talking about the bullpen for days, but I want to know your biggest pet peeve of bullpen management. What drives you crazy when your manager makes a move? What makes a good bullpen manager?
Of course, if you have been around the A's for any good length of time, you know that the bullpen management consists of "put in the healthy pitcher", which usually limits your choices to a couple of relievers a night. However, since it's January, not June, and Rich Harden is still listed as available, how do you apply your philosophy to the seemingly endless depth in the 'pen?
First of all, who do you choose as the fifth starter, and why? And is it more important to you to create a situational bullpen where you mix and match depending on opposing hitters, or do you prefer to loosely assign ranks and roles to your bullpen to add consistency to the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings? Will Bailey be available to start Opening Day? And if he's not, who will get the lion's share of saves during April? Closer by committee, or is there a back-up?
Right now, it looks to be Brandon McCarthy vs. Rich Harden for the battle of the fifth starter; shades of Gonzalez and Cahill last season. The one not picked will likely end up as the long reliever in the 'pen. That leaves the newly-acquired Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes as late-inning relief (you can even customize a match-up, since they are opposite-handed). Andrew Bailey will close when he is ready to start his season. The other roster spots will be assigned to any combination of Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Brad Ziegler, Jerry Blevins, Josh Outman and Joey Devine. Who will crack the roster? Is Fuentes better than Blevins? Can you really start Outman and Devine at the Major League level after missing considerable time? What are you going to look for in Spring Training? And finally, who is the best bullpen manager in the league?