Topic: 2005 Preview
When you have four of the best five right-handed starters in the league in your rotation, the bullpen tends to become an afterthought. In Spanish Harlem?s case, that might not be such a bad thing. Owner/Manager/GM Jack Flynn will have to rely on a few select firemen to carry an otherwise mediocre crop of late-inning hurlers.
The relief corps is at its thinnest in years and the Heat will be expecting Kiko Calero to be a workhorse throughout the season. Calero (14/8) has excellent numbers but a problem with serving up home runs against left handed batters. Don?t be surprised if he eats up 50 to 60 percent of all relief innings this season. Greg Aquino (19/19) has solid numbers, but a problem similar to Calero?s ? a tendency toward the long ball, albeit against righties. Dave Williams (29/15) is the top lefty in the pen, but his unorthodox card will limit him to extended use only in specific situations.
Three average righties ? Ricky Bottalico, Francisco Cordero and Brian Meadows ? will battle for two spots in the pen. Bottalico (23/22) has a nice card and gives up very little power but has a (+5) hold. There?s even less power on Cordero?s card (25/25), but his numbers are a little high to make him reliable in high-pressure situations. Meadows (17/26) will be more effective against lefty-laden lineups. Damaso Marte (15/33) brings up the rear, but he may be bumped out of the lefty specialist?s role by Brian Shouse (9/37) on a waiver technicality.
The mid-February trade that imported Jason Schmidt and Roger Clemens takes on even greater import when looking at the shallow pool of talent in the pen. Don?t be surprised if the Heat swing a deal for a reliever at some point in the season, perhaps using Frank Thomas as trade bait. It is believed Thomas could be had for a solid DH and a better than average right-handed reliever. Royce Clayton, who right now is buried in Spanish Harlem?s minor league system but would be a valuable backup on some teams and a starter on a few others, might also be of use in any efforts to bolster the pen.
Bandits and Crackheads Finally Swing Deal
After a delay of nearly two weeks held up proceedings, the New Jersey Bandits finally completed their second trade of the season on February 27, sending Johnny Damon and Ramon Hernandez to the Floral Park Crackheads in exchange for Jason Kendall and Kevin Brown.