Bailey: Bullpen transplants are a repeated failed experiment -

Bailey: Bullpen transplants are a repeated failed experiment

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) -- If I were a rich man- say moderately wealthy, not stupid, Warren Buffet rich- and if I were eccentric (rich people are eccentric, poor people are crazy), here is what I would do.

I would rent all the available billboards in St. Louis and the greater metropolitan area in order to present on behalf of St. Louis Cardinal fans everywhere, a simple message for our beloved club: FOR GODSAKES, STOP TRYING TO USE STARTERS AS RELIEVERS!

In many respects, the Cardinals are at or near the forefront of modern baseball philosophy. They are developing minor league talent instead of spending buckets of money on free agents. They stockpiled young arms, refused to pay veterans more than their worth, reduced ticket prices for certain games in order to allow the average fan to see a game in person.

Why then can they not learn from repeated failure? Why do they insist on repeatedly trying failed strategies to the detriment of their pennant chances?

Early on, because of the massive shuffling when both Jaime Garcia and Chris Carpenter went down and then Jason Motte was unable to close, the Cardinals understandably experimented with available talent. Clearly, Mitchell Boggs was not the answer and Marc Rzcepzynski reportedly sassed himself out of contention. It was therefore reasonable that they thrust Joe Kelly into a late inning role, hoping for the best.

But as I have written before, asking a starter to relieve is like asking a thoroughbred to pull a plow. They are not wired for that duty. Starting is completely different than relieving, as catching is to playing right field. Starters stretch out, find their best stuff as the game moves along, learn the umpire’s strike zone, and work over each hitter in a different way.

Relievers must get ahead, come with their best stuff every time, and endure the pressure of having the entire game rest on every pitch.

Kelly is a starter, not a reliever.  He failed miserably in a late inning role and was nearly written off as the odd man out. Now, as Jake Westbrook has faltered and Adam Wainwright looked hittable, Kelly has, over the last several games, been the ace of the staff.

Why then, did the Cardinals repeat the mistake with one of their prized rookies, Michael Wacha? Michael Wacha will be a middle of the rotation guy for years to come and should only be used as a starter. May I suggest in place of Westbrook? If the Redbirds have no problem replacing David Freese and Pete Kozma for underperformance, why not the fading Westbrook who can’t get out three average fans on the road?

If not, send Wacha back to Memphis for the rest of the month, let him start and leave him alone. Starters are not relievers and in virtually no instance has a starting pitcher ever been used extensively in relief early in his career and done well.

Wacha proved that again Monday night in Milwaukee, surrendering four hits and three  runs in one crucial inning.

What are the options? Sam Freeman, Fernando Salas, Michael Blazek and Keith Butler are all at Memphis and have all thrown for the big club.

As relievers. 

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