Friday, March 30, 2012

O's bullpen shuffle continues as Simon and Eveland depart

The Orioles have placed Alfredo Simon on waivers, according to Eduardo A. Encina and Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. Simon was seen as a potential long reliever and spot starter out of the bullpen, which are roles he's filled in the past.

If no other team claims Simon, he could be back with the O's. But that doesn't seem likely. This is the second notable bullpen-related move the Orioles have made in about a day as they get closer to finalizing their 25-man roster. The other was designating lefty Dana Eveland for assignment, which is particularly dumbfounding because Dan Duquette traded two prospects to the Dodgers in December to acquire Eveland's services. (Eveland's 40-man roster spot was filled by Zelous Wheeler, a 25-year-old infielder whom the O's claimed off of waivers from the Brewers. He was immediately shipped to Norfolk.)

At the time, giving up anything at all for Eveland's services seemed ridiculous, and that move looks even more foolish now. Here's what Duquette had to say of the acquisition at the time:
"We think the price was reasonable to add a pitcher of his caliber to our team, and he has experience in the big leagues. You can look around in the book for left-handed pitchers that won 15 games [combined in Triple-A and the Majors] last year and it's a short list. So that was appealing to us."


"He's a credible Major League pitcher and he gives us some more depth," Duquette said. "All things considered, we think there's some value there for Dana to help our ballclub."
So, yeah, that winning 15 games thing didn't mean anything, and no one was fooled by Duquette's attempt to spin the situation. The two minor leaguers the O's sent to the Dodgers may never pan out, but it's also possible the O's gave them away without Eveland ever suiting up for the O's in a regular season game. And while I doubt most fans thought Eveland was very good, I believe they thought he'd at least pitch for the team. What a shame.

Even with Eveland and Simon out of consideration, some tough bullpen choices remain. The likely shoo-ins are Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom, Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop, and Kevin Gregg (ugh). If the O's cared about their fans, they'd get rid of Gregg right now somehow, but because he's due to make $5.8 million this season, that's not going to happen. (But we can hope!) Troy Patton and Zach Phillips are battling for the team's left-handed reliever role, though they both probably deserve to be in the bullpen. And then other options include Tsuyoshi Wada (who could be headed to the disabled list to start the season), Chris Tillman, Darren O'Day, and Pat Neshek. None of Johnson/Lindstrom/Ayala/Strop/Gregg adequately fits the long-man role, so that's something else for Buck Showalter to consider.

That mishmash of bullpen arms does seem like it can be competent, though likely not overly so. And considering the team's likely rotation (in some order) of Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Hunter, and Brian Matusz/Wada, there's going to be a lot of available relief innings to be had.