Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A bull with no horns

Last week they made six roster moves in one day. Wednesday they moved the No.4 starter from the rotation to a setup role in the bullpen. All that from an organization that prides itself on its patience?

You've got to give this much to Indians officials: it's obviously broke, and they are trying to fix it. And they aren't wasting any time. That's how bad the bullpen has been. So bad that the front office is making moves a full month earlier than usual. During the Mark Shapiro administration the Indians typically wait until about the 40 game mark to make any judgments on the team. Not this year. When you've been in last place every single day of the season, when your longest winning "streak'' is two games, and you've only got one of those, it's time to start making moves, and plenty of them. What's the worst that can happen? You can't go any lower than last place.

Specifically, Indians officals are trying to fix a broken bullpen that has become a threat to sabotage the entire season. So far the bullpen has been even worse than last year, which is almost inconceivable. Wednesday they called up 39-year-old retread Matt Herges, who wasn't even pitching particularly well at Columbus. Why? Because they were getting tired of looking at bullpen by implosion.

Next, Indians officials moved one of their better starters, Aaron Laffey, not just into the bullpen but into a key spot in the bullpen: a setup role. A setup role that Laffey performed so well Wednesday night that he was allowed to be the closer as well, picking up a rare three-inning save.

They demoted the lost-at-sea Rafael Perez to Columbus. Jensen Lewis would probably already be at Columbus, if there were any options down there to replace him. Masa Kobayashi's job security can't be much better. Tony Sipp has already been overused and he's barely been on the team a week. Rafael Betancourt? He hasn't pitched well either, but it takes him so long to throw the ball it's not as apparent.

Jeremy Sowers will be called up Thursday to take the place of Laffey in the rotation, etc., etc., etc. If you're getting the idea the Indians are making this up as they go along, that's exactly what they're doing. They don't have much choice. The season is over a month old, and it is in danger of slipping away. It still could, unless the bullpen starts pulling its share of the load.


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