What a turn-around for the worst bullpen in major league history from 2010! The Diamondbacks bullpen was lights outs in 2011 and was probably the main reason they won 94 games this year. The Diamondbacks scored just as many runs in 2010 as they did in 2011 but the bullpen consistently blew games for them in 2010. When new GM Kevin Towers took over, he completely revamped the bullpen and made it a priority. One of the happiest days of my life was when the team finally got rid of Juan Gutierrez and traded Jordan Norberto. Here is what the bullpen should look like in 2012:
2012 salary: $4.5MM
Team control: under contract through 2012, with club $6.5MM option for 2013 ($1.5MM buyout)
How great was J.J. as a closer last year? His split-fingered fastball is downright nasty, and he brings a positive attitude and leadership to the bullpen. As long as he is healthy, he will remain a force in the ninth inning.
2012 salary: $424M
Team control: through 2015
Arbitration: eligible for first time after 2012
Hernandez was a great addition to the bullpen in 2011. He came over from Baltimore in a trade for a third baseman who strikes out a ton. Hernandez held down the eighth inning most of the year with his electric fastball. He also stepped into the closer role a few times and did a wonderful job. Expect him to anchor down the eighth inning once again in 2012.
2012 salary: Arbitration eligible ($1.8MM approx.)
The Diamondbacks would be wise to offer Ziegler arbitration, which he will probably accept if its around the approximated $1.8MM. He can pitch to right-handers or left-handers and can be a groundball machine when he is on. Ziegler’s 2011 season with the Diamondbacks had its ups and downs, but look for him to get comfortable in 2012 and become more of a seventh inning setup man.
The rest of the bullpen will probably be pieced together throughout the year just like it was in 2011. If the team decides to offer Micah Owings arbitration then he may be a factor next season. Joe Paterson was the LOOGY last year and will most likely still hold that title in 2012. Other names to be in the mix are Sam Demel, Bryan Shaw (great fastball, but throws it right down the middle), Ryan Cook (see Bryan Shaw), Mike Zagurski (acquired from the Phillies), and possibly even Chris Jakubauskas (signed early in the offseason to a minor-league deal).
Now, let’s get a little creative! If Towers really wants to make games lively (and get fans in the seats), he will call up some of the young talent from the minors and throw them into the bullpen to get their feet wet before getting a shot at the rotation. Imagine a bullpen comprised of Putz, Hernandez, Zielger, Trevor Bauer (has a 96 mph fastball to go along with a slew of nasty breaking pitches), Jarrod Parker (electric fastball, good command), and a mix of any of the other young top-notch prospects waiting in the minors. The Diamondbacks are not short on arms, and if they continue to score runs, those arms should be called up to shut-down their opponents.