The Major-Minor Bullpen: Discussion

An open discussion for anyone regarding how the boys have been doing in the big leagues. Is this exactly what you expected? Did you think Joe would be better? Did you think Schwim would be better?

Is it hard to judge these guys based off of a few months of work, or is this their future?

My thoughts… these guys were all forced into an impossible situation this season, and they need some more time. I think Savery’s time is likely more borrowed than anybody else’s, but I think Schwimer and Diekman have both had their growing pains. That said, I think they will be part of the bullpen in the future.

Also, any thoughts on how the bullpen shakes out for 2013?

My early guess:

Papelbon, Madson (we don’t know how many bridges were burned or if he’s healthy), Bastardo, Schwimer, Kendrick, Diekman, Stutes. If not Madson, then I think it will be a veteran righty. Does anyone think that’s a fair guess? Who needs more seasoning? Who will be ready to go for 2013? Let’s hear it in the comments.

I will probably have a more lengthy post on my thoughts about the bullpen in the future.

45 thoughts on “The Major-Minor Bullpen: Discussion

  1. I think DeFratus is there and depending on how this season plays out if they have to throw in the towel you could easily see JC and Aumont there and I think Stutes and Kendrick are the ones to go.

  2. This is where I don’t understand why people say our minor league system is thin. Yes, we don’t have that standout Bryce Harper guy, or even a really fantastic position player like Dominguez, Olt, Castellanos, etc. But there is a lot of depth there. Aumont and De Fratus may even get their chances this year.

    1. Starting pitching and your everyday roster have a much larger impact on your overall W-L record, than your bullpen. This is why you see relief pitchers generally ranked a lot lower in top 10/30 lists.

    2. The system is thin specifically because they don’t have the type of players you mentioned. Every team has multiple throw-away, bull-pen arms like Schwimer, Savery and DeFratus. Outside of Amount and Bonilla (who have plus pitches, that make them potential difference makers) the Phillies minor league pen doesn’t provide anymore depth to a system than any other team’s relievers.

      1. By most accounts I’ve read, De Fratus has a couple pitches that are at least bordering on plus. He’s probably closer to the Aumont/Bonilla end of that scale than the Savery/Schwimer end.

        1. I would agree that De Fratus was on Aumont or Bonilla’s level if I heard reports of multiple plus pitches. I’ve never seen that. I also did not see it, when I’ve watched him pitch.
          Aumont has a plus sinker and plus curve. Bonilla has a plus change-up. Those guys just need to get control of their fastballs to be difference makers.

      2. I’d put a healthy Defratus above both Aumont and Bonilla, including pure ‘stuff’

          1. Well, I guess that depends on if you want to include the component of being able to actually control the pitch as part of ‘stuff’. Defratus doesn’t have the FB as Aumont (though its still 94-96), but I’d put his slider up with Aumont’s curve, and he does an immensely better job at throwing both of those pitches for strikes.

            1. Or, at least it was before his injury. Let’s see what he’s throwing when he comes back.

          2. Aumont’s stuff is outrageously good. I think he has te best pure stuff of any minor or major league Phillie. He is that talented.

    3. Did you just say Dominguez is a fantastic prospect? He’s a horrible hitter. A light hitting 3B = UTIL player.

    4. Depth is all about having QUALITY players who are able to fill the ML teams needs. This year we still do not have a reliable RH reliever to alternate with Bastardo as a set up guy or to use in the 7th inning.

  3. Remember a few years ago there was some discussion in the Phillies scouting and drafting departments about looking for a few College relievers who could move fast through the organization? Schwim and Rosenberg were the most notable. Then you throw in the guys who were pushed as starters and ended up in the bullpen like Stutes, Bastardo and Savery. Diekman looked like he was all washed up but they changed his delivery and it suited him. All these guys could wash out but the Phils needed a cheap bullpen and quickly. It adds up to a good execution of a plan, some luck and some good coaching. It has backfired at times but watching the Mets bullpen implode yesterday, tells me a lot of teams have similar issues. The Mets draft much higher than the Phils and should have 5 or 10 really good arms just sitting around in their farm system who should be able to fill a bullpen spot or two.

  4. Based on talent alone, I’d like to eventually see: Papelbon, Bastardo, Stutes, Diekman, Defratus, Aumont.

    I will admit that I expected a lot more out of Schwimmer and Rosenberg (where did those walks come from? He never had control issues).

    I believe Kendrick is locked up for 2013, not sure how he’ll fit in and despite his awfulness at times this year, I could see him given a chance at the #5 job next year (he performs better in odd numbered years!).

    I don’t envision Savery in the bigs unless more injuries hit. I think JC is just not as good of an option than other guys we have, and I believe in the next year he will be passed by other relievers (Friend, Kniggie, and/or Duke).

  5. Papelbon and Bastardo are the only ones that will be there without a doubt. Kendrick may be in the starting rotation if we lose Hamels and Blanton. At least three of DeFratus, Aumont, Schwimer, Diekman, Stutes, Ramirez, Valdes, Savery, and Rosenberg will be in the bullpen, depending on health and Spring Training. If Schwimer, Diekman, Valdes, Savery and/or Rosenberg can show this year that they can consistently get outs at the MLB level, they may not look to sign a veteran FA. They need to call up Aumont and Ramirez at some point (September?) and get them MLB work as well (they are already on the 40-man roster anyway) to see what they may be able to offer at the MLB level next year.

  6. On an individual level, I’m not surprised at any of the younger relievers performances. But as a group, I’d have thought that one of them would have done a better job establishing themselves. Maybe De Fratus would be that guy since he would have likely been one of the first call ups.

    I like that there are so many potential major league relievers in AAA and AA, even if only a handful have back of the bullpen stuff.

  7. Closer – Assuming he isn’t traded which isn’t likely at all, Papelbon will be the guy. End of story.

    8th Inning Setup Man – Somebody from this current roster has to prove they can do this job, or the team will acquire a veteran arm to do it. Guys that have the chance in my opinion between now and the end of the year are Bastardo, Diekman, and DeFratus, in that order. I think it is a longshot that Diekman or DeFratus would be counted on to do that job going into the season (which is different than saying they won’t ever be that guy or even turn out to be that guy next year, just don’t want it to be the plan). I think a healthy Ryan Madson could be a real possibility for this role.

    Left Handed Reliever – I believe Bastardo and Diekman are locks for this roster next year if healthy. What is not a lock is what their jobs are. They could both end up being LOOGY types, or Bastardo could end up being the man in the 8th inning and Diekman could be a key guy in a middle inning role (7th inning) in key spots. Both of these guys will have the opportunity to show what they can do the rest of this season.

    Righ Handed Relievers – I believe both DeFratus and Aumont have a strong chance of making the team out of spring training. I also believe Aumont has future closer or 8th inning potential, as does DeFratus. Despite that potential, I think the Phils would rather move both of these guys into the majors in middle inning type roles and move into more critical roles as their performance warrants. As for Schwimer, I believe he is a AAAA player on the low end, and a very solid, dependable middle reliever on the high end. I don’t think he will be part of the plan out of Spring Training, but will be considered a first option type guy in AAA when someone gets injured. As for Stutes, I believe his upside is to be a good setup man in the majors, but after missing an entire year, the Phils will not rely on him next year in a key role. If all goes well, he’ll be a real solid 7th inning guy next season, but the Phils cannot rely on that with him coming off of shoulder surgery. He could see time in AAA next year depending on how quickly he recovers.

    Long Reliever – This is likely Kyle Kendrick, but could also be a role for guys like Raul Valdes, Brian Sanches, Joe Savery, Tyler Cloyd, etc.

    So what will the Phillies do? I suspect they will have the following heading into Spring Training:

    Closer – Papelbon
    8th inning – Veteran FA i.e. Ryan Madson or similar type pitcher
    LH Setup – Bastardo
    RH Setup – DeFratus
    LH MIddle – Diekman
    RH Middle – Veteran FA (Durbin 2008 type guy)
    RH MIddle – Aumont
    Long Reliever – Kendrick
    AAA Bullpen – Stutes, Savery, Bonilla, Ramirez, Schwimer, Herndon (2nd half)

  8. This response meant to go first….

    This is a very interesting discussion and the answers to many of these questions will depend upon whether we become buyers, sellers, or just hold later this month. But I have a couple of observations….

    1. Kyle Kendrick will never go into spring training as the planned #5 starter for this organization with the payroll we have. They likely will plan to have him on the staff as the long man / spot starter like this year, or they may have him be a competitor for the #5 job with several others, but this team will not go into the season giving him a job in the rotation as part of their off-season planning.

    2. As for the bullpen, we had many interesting debates on this site during the off season with most of us (me included) thinking the Phils should sign many, if any, veteran free agent relievers because they would block Stutes, DeFratus, Aumont, Diekman, Schwimer, and Savery. Before the Qualls signing, the plan was for Papelbon, Bastardo, Contreras, Kendrick, and Stutes to likely have 5 of the 7 spots locked down, then the Qualls signing made it 6 out of 7. We all (again myself included) thought it was crazy to only have 1 spot for the following group, with the others all going to AAA – DeFratus, Schwimer, Diekman, Savery, Herndon, and Aumont, not to mention other journeyman types like Sanches, Valdes, etc. (Purposely left off Rosenberg, Ramirez, and Bonilla as I don’t think they were considered likely options at the time of this discussion.)

    Of course what ended up happening is that of those 6 guys that had spots locked down, 2 of them ended up out for the year (Stutes and Contreras), 1 moved to the rotation (Kendrick), and 1 completely sucked (Qualls), leaving us with Papelbon who’s been fine and Bastardo who’s been mediocre (good at times, not so good at others). Then, the 6 prospect types I’ll call them – 2 have missed the whole year (DeFratus and Herndon), Aumont has not been consistent enough in AAA to be ready, and the other 3 (Savery, Schwimer, and Diekman) have been mostly unimpressive. In fairness to them, they have not been able to be put in the best situations to succeed so I don’t believe we should take some of their struggles this year as evidence they won’t have better careers going forward.

    3. As for next year’s bullpen, even though if we do nothing it could include Papelbon, Bastardo, and Stutes in the late innings, with Diekman, DeFratus, and Aumont taking middle innings, with Kendrick as the long man, I HIGHLY DOUBT the Phils will go into the season with that being the plan. Here is my guess at what the Phillies can assume they’ll get from each of our guy’s next year, meaning we wouldn’t want to go into next season expecting any more than this, albeit a real possibility.

  9. I think Schwimer may be coming around and finally adjusting to the majors. His last 13 appearances, over 13 innings, he’s only given up 2 ER, 3 BBs and has 11 Ks. It’d be a big help if he can keep that up.

    1. Agreed. He’s never been a guy that walks a lot of batters, so those early games were probably a lot of nerves. If (and likely when) the Phils are truly out of the playoff hunt, I really hope to see a lot of relief appearances from our young guys to see what we have for next year.

    2. Agree on Schwimer. In general, successful relief pitching seems to depend on balancing stuff and command. A lot of young pitchers struggle with command and often those that seems to have good command in the minors, lose it when they first come to the majors, because the hitters are more disciplined or because they are nervous and possibly also because the umpiring is tighter. This happened with Schwimer in his first few appearances,with Diekman to some extent and with Rosenberg recently. Others seem to lose something off their fastball, such as Bastardo this year, Savery and Stutes last year. One can always hope that a young pitcher can attain command (Rosenberg, Aumont); it seems less likely that velocity will return if there is no treatable injury (Bastardo, Savery). I think that Diekman should be groomed for the eight inning roll; his command was good in the minors and once he gets settled down on the Phillies, he should be fine.

      1. I agree with most of this, up until the Diekman had good command in the minors thing. He has a career walks per nine of 4.8 in the minors. That is FAR from good command. As recently as 2011 he was 6.1 BB/9 for the season. His BB/9 were down this year in AAA, but that was a 15 inning sample size.

        1. SIFPA, mentions command. Command and control are different items that people tend to intermingle and confuse. He had poor control with 4.8BB/9.

          1. You cannot possibly have poor control and good command. If he could pick which quadrant of the plate to throw the ball over, he’d be able to pick “over the plate” instead of “walk the guy.”

    3. It definitely seems that he was nibbling around the strike zone when he had come up before and was always behind afraid to make a mistake. It is good for relievers to go at hitters and then have short memories when they do occasionally get burned but it is better than walking the first batter of every inning

  10. I dont think the Defratus and Stutes injuries have received the attention that they deserve. I think 1 of them would have done wonders for solidfying the pen in the 7th and 8th.
    I also feel a lot of the young guys, Bastardo, included are put into difficult spots because Charlie refuses to go away from his theory of having a 7th and 8th inning guy to go with a closer. I think its hilarious that Charlie lets left/right effect every single Offensive move he makes, but will allow Bastardo to go into a game in the 8th with 3 right handers due to bat.
    To a point that type of managing is why position players love him. He lets them work out of their slumps and doesnt pull them out. (Example Shane Victorino) I take serious exception to anyone stating Charlie handles the bullpen correctly.

  11. I am very impressed with Schwimer’s last few outings. His confidence is growing with each game. I must commend the Phillies organization for their patience with this young pitcher whose recent outings has made him one of the team leaders (if we can forgive his earlier games.) I also was impressed with his ability to pitch with men on base – yes strikeouts are still good to get out of difficult innings.

    1. Ed, if Michael Schwimmer can pitch effectively in the majors he will help solidify the bullpen for next year and beyond.

    2. Me too, and I’ve been one of the biggest detractors of Schimwer here. (not because his arm, but because of his approach). Really like what I’ve seen from him. I’m not 100% confident in him yet but he’s made some strides.

      For the last two years, we’ve been looking for that Chad Durbin (circa 08-09) guy who can come in and pitch the 6th/7th inning and bridge you to you’re back end combo. Hopefully, he becomes that guy.

  12. I still like Rosenberg. I know they can’t afford to wait for him to improve, but I do think he will be successful given some time to get comfortable.

  13. I think you need to look at this from the phils brass point of view.

    1st as far as turning starters into relievers as some have mentioned. Generally speaking I’ve read the phils like to have the “prospects” work as starters at the lower levels because it builds their experience level that mush faster. For example Madson, in the minors was a starter- he had 1 plus pitch, the change up and one slightly above average pitch, the fastball. He really perfected the fastball in the pen in the majors and worked on finding a 3rd pitch. That’s what kept him from being a starter no 3rd pitch. That’s how Hamels has become what he is–the 3rd pitch, his cutter. When a prospect is at the lower levels 1 or 1 1/2 pitches is ok but when they get to AAA and the majors they have to have 2 plus pitches plus a show me 3rd pitch just to make the pen.

    2nd with the payroll the phils have, they have to develop relievers to handle the 6th and 7th innings on the cheap. That’s were stutes, diekman, aumont, schwimer, defratus and rosenberg come in. If they can develop just three of the guys to be reliable for a playoff team, it will allow them to pay the big money to the 8th inning guys. I think Bastardo will be one and the righty will be a free agent. The Mets have two Jon Rauch and Ramon Rameriz that are having a bad year and are free agents next year. Both have career era’s under 3.5 and have experience as closers on a limited bases(think the closers rest day). I dont think Madson would do it but it would incredible to have him next year but I think he’ll get a 2 or 3 year deal with incentive raisers in the contract. Or how about Jonathon Broxton?

    3rd the Phils don’t think this is the end and time to rebuild. They see 2 or 3 more years. There is no way they are going to rebuild when they have $90 million plus tied up to utley, howard, lee and Halliday alone. They need to save a little money in the bull pen but they’re going to spend and spend a lot. they have Blanton’s 10 million, Victorino’s 10 million, Polanco’s 6.5 million and Contreras 2.5 million and Hamels $15 million all coming of the books at the end of the year. My choice would be to give Hamels 6 years at $23 per/year average but if we could trade him to the Tigers for both RHP Jacob Turner(3.59 era at AAA) and 3rd basemen Nick Castellanos(hitting 295 in AA) plus maybe a couple of throw-in prospects from the lower level we could fix 2 positions for a few years. Then go out and sign Jake Peavy at a 12 or 14 million/yr for 3 yrs. A rotation of Halliday, Lee, Peavy, Worley and Turner? Not bad and about 12-15 million less then this years rotation. And a pen of Papelpon, Bastardo, Broxton(my pick), Diekman, Aumont, DeFratus and Kendrick. With Schwimer, Rosenberg, Savery, Stutes and Cloyd a phone call away?

    Then we address the centerfield position but signing the guy we thought Victorino was– Bourn and he bats leadoff. But this is about pitching not the whole team.

    This year may be done as far as the World Series is concerned but lets see what we have from the kids and reload for next year with a healthy(I hope) Utley, Howard, Halliday and Lee.

    1. Dont forget to add $9 million in raises when making future calculations…not that it really matters.

      Castellanos has some fairly major red flags in his peripherals right now…zero BB rate for one.

      1. That is likely due to him being only 20 and the 4th youngest guy in the league (side note: Valle is 5th youngest). He had no issues with BB rates in previous minor league stops.

      2. You do have to calculate in raises but also calculate that the phils at least in the papers plan on going over the “cap” next year but not this year. So the raises to Ruiz and Pence and basic raises to Worley, Mayberry(if he’s here), Bastardo don’t mean that much. And the raises to Papelpon, Kendrick and Lee don’t count at all because the “cap” money is calculated on the average annual salary not actual yearly salary.

  14. they need to be able to pick up some FA’s. We had a need for a RH reliever since Contreras was very iffy for this year, and RA signed Qualls. We had Jason Grilli last year, but we dumped him. He should have tried to get at least 2 or 3 to go with the kids from the system. Relievers are prone to break down easily, so it’s best to get a few and keep them around. It’s always a crap shoot with them so the more the merrier. The Dodgers rebuilt their pen this year with a lot of guys I’ve never heard of, and they’ve helped carry the team to 1st place.

  15. Relievers are an up and down commodity, so the funny thing is, no matter what happens from now until September, I almost fully expect to go into 2013 with a fully revamped bullpen and two veteran arms ready to go. Then they will suck, and I bet the young guys come up and do a good job instead of a shaky job like this season, because that’s just how baseball works.

    I know we wanted to build this really cheap bullpen for 2013. 2012 was supposed to have Papelbon-Stutes-Contreras in it. Then in my opinion, Ruben just let things get away. It’s turning into a nightmare of a season, but it can somehow still be salvaged. That’s why I think the sooner they go out and pick up two veteran relievers (get Ed on the line for these moves maybe) the better. They can’t keep trotting this out there for the rest of the year.

    Stutes and Contreras ain’t coming back. At the same time, I don’t think Rosenberg, Valdes, Schwim, etc. can be the answer right now. Truthfully, I don’t even think Kyle Kendrick should be on the roster, but he is. I’m tired of mediocrity. If we’re gonna give Aumont and De Fratus a shot, I’d rather go and do it ASAP and see if they can add anything. If they fail, acquire veteran relievers in the next 10-15 days.

    1. What Ed should they get on the line? If you mean Ed Wade, he is no longer a General Manager and he is not in Houston. He works for Philadelphia (NL) , so maybe they won’t have to call him , maybe they can just go a couple of doors down and talk to him.

      Also, on this thread, is this supposed to be a General Discussion thread? If so , the labeling in confusing. People who want to put up various threads seem to want to insert some “clever” editorial comment or “talking points”. I, for one, do not need any “clever” editorial comment or “talking points”. My suggestion, just put “general discussion” up top, and if you have anything you’d like to add , put it down below.

  16. Yeah, I’m talking about Wade. Sorry for not making that too clear.
    It’s kind of general discussion, it’s the Internet, just enjoy it. I don’t know what to tell you. Sorry that the “labeling” is wrong. Just talk. It’s general discussion, yes.

  17. guesses for the 2013 roster is what this thread has pretty much turned into???
    so here goes nothing.

    1. Halladay 2. Lee 3. Hamels or FA 4. Worley 5. FA or trade (Victorino/Hamels)

    De Fratus

    Schneider/Kratz/FA or Trade (Donaldson or Recker in OAK???)



    I would love to see Gillies, Overbeck, Asche (If there is a opening) and Ruf (who reminds me of an older, poor man’s Mike Olt in TEX) get looks but that probably wont happen. I also expect Valle to back up Chooch in ’14, and start in ’15 much like Chooch did for Lieberthal. in 2005. So no need for a big backup catcher.

  18. As Schwim settles and his numbers continue to improve, it is worth recalling that since becoming a relief specialist in college, Mike has always been a bit shaky when coming to a new role or venue; but with a little experience under his belt, at every level he has emerged as a league leader. From his college senior year leading Virginia deep into the CWS hunt, through his stints in AA and AAA, Mike has grown into a successful CLOSER. While one should not count their chickens before they hatch, it is still logical to contemplate a future in which Schwimer grows into a strong, reliable closer at the major league level. It is also worth noting that Mike has been carefully developed throughout his career, never overused and never having any serious injuries in his throwing arm. We all know he is very smart, competitive and hardworking. It will be fun to continue watching Schwim grow as a pitcher with the organization.

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