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Kimbrel. Chapman. Storen. Oh. My.

January 13, 2016

2014T22     Seung-Hwan Oh. Nickname: The Final Boss.

The Cardinals just signed NPB stud Oh to a two-year deal worth $11M and despite the coolest nickname in baseball, Trevor Rosenthal probably rates to remain the Cardinals’ Final Boss in the 9th unless the new Cardinal Way is to try to fuck Rosenthal’s arb years. Maybe they’ll hack into the blog and let us know.

But it does show another instance of a new trend of teams stockpiling excellent, often expensive relievers. The Giants and Royals have been doing it awhile and have the World Series rings as results. Now it seems one lights-out guy isn’t enough for anybody.

This might make moot the single thing that pisses this desk off the most about managing the ‘pen: we’ve ranted over and over that your Best Guy shouldn’t be kept to begin a bases-empty ninth inning with the lead if it means running Johnny Lunchpail out there in the seventh or eighth to face the heart of the order. Your Best Guy should get their Best Guys, lest the lead evaporate.

Now, if every team decides it wants two or three premium relievers, I’m much less worried about which one takes on the other team’s best hitters because my relievers are all pretty good.

Something else: Mendoza reached for the pun ‘arms race’ to describe what’s going on in the AL East. We’re not allowed to discuss the Cold War in my household, but that’s kind of what you’ve got here, isn’t it. The Sawx went for Kimbrel, and the Yankees (Chapman) and Jays (Storen) swiftly moved to cancel out any tactical advantage, like for like.

In Oh, the Cardinals are trying to move ahead in the bullpen race in the NL Central. The Pirates have Melancon but only serviceable (Watson, Hughes) or unproven (Caminero) guys behind him. Rondon has likely figured it out after a shaky May 2015 in Cubs-land, but the rest of the pen is far from intimidating. (Bob Costas even claims set-up man Pedro Strop is an embarrassment to the ghosts of his ancestors.) So the Cardinals aren’t just matching, they’re moving farther ahead.

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