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Debates Round 1 Matchup 5


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Here's how it goes. Each side makes their opening argument. One side goes first. Once the other side goes, the first side may post again and defend his argument. You can only go again once the opposing side gets to speak. You've got about 48 hours.


ONLY the competitors of this specific debate, the judges and myself may post in this thread.


At the end the judges will privately vote on a winner.


This debate ends 7:00 PM Eastern on 1/16.


Topic: Will the Marlins bullpen be dominant?


Yes - Wild Card


No - farmer_fran


Either side may begin.

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Let me start off by saying good luck to my opponent, and that this should be a very interesting debate.


The Marlins 2005 bullpen is not going to scare anyone. It includes 3 journeymen pitchers. 1 guy coming off a rough season, a couple of unproven youngsters, and a closer who has never been in the closer role before, and struggled badly at the end of last year. How can a bullpen be dominant if they don't even have 1 guy that the manager can go to and know without a doubt in his mind that he will get the job done.


I'll discuss each pitcher individually.


Long Relief: Nate Bump/Ben Howard


Bump is a guy that I have backed many times, because I think he can be a good pitcher. The fact is though, he just hasn't put it together. A 5.01 ERA is just not going to cut it. His inability to get strike outs has really is his biggest weakness. He has a 4.99 K's per 9 innings for his career. That is just not going to get it done. He will never be a strike out pitcher, but he's going to have to start getting ahead of hitters and have the ability to put them away if he's going to be successful in this league.

Ben Howard may be the most physically talented pitcher in the marlins bullpen. He just hasn't learned to pitch yet. He's the opposite of Bump, he can get you the strike out but he lacks control. 21 walks in 37.2 innings last year, and 50 walks in 83 innings for his career. This wildness has led to him getting hammered also. Howard has given up a ridiculous 20 HRs in only 83 innings for his career.


Left-handed specialist: Matt Perisho


This will be Perisho's second year with the marlins, after an up and down year in 2004. His ERA finished at an unspectacular 4.40. Lefty's only hit .209 against him last year though. Well you might say, wow he did a great job getting lefties out. Well not exactly. Perisho had a problem finding the strike zone on many occasions last year. He gave up a not so impressive .317 OBP to lefties and walked 26 batters total in only 47 innings. Unless he cuts down on the walks, Perisho will continue to struggle.


Middle Relievers:


Todd Jones-

The Marlins will be Todd Jones' 8th major league team of his career. A guy that's been able to stick around in the league for a while, but never really put up very impressive numbers. His career ERA is 4.07. He hasn't had an ERA under 4 since 2000 with Detroit. 2 years ago he finished with an ERA of 7.08. Todd Jones is a pitcher on the downside of his career, and it's showed in his numbers over the past couple of years.


John Riedling is coming off the worst year of his career. In fact his ERA and average against have gone up each of the last 4 years. If that trend continues we may be in trouble because Riedling posted an ERA of 5.10 last year and opponents hit .286 against him. His biggest problem is control. He had an unacceptable 40 walks in 77.2 innings. Riedling has yet to prove that he can be a quality reliever that can be trusted with the game on the line.


Tim Spooneybarger-

Here's a guy that really nobody knows what to expect. Who knows if he'll be able to regain his stuff after Tommy John surgery and almost 2 years removed from pitching in games. He's really only had 1 good year in 2002 with the braves, and based on that season, you'd think he would have a bright future, but considering the circumstances, nobody knows what to expect from him next year.


Set-up man: Antonio Alfonseca


Here's a guy with closer experience, but has never really established himself as the dominant pitcher some thought he would be. His career ERA is 3.89, which is not bad but not what you would hope from your set-up man or closer. Even in the year he had 45 saves he could only post a 4.24 ERA. He also needs to pitch better on the road. Over the past 3 years his ERA was 3.33 runs higher on the road. Which is surprising considering 2 of those years were spent at hitter friendly Wrigley field.


Closer: Guillermo Mota

Mota will get his first opportunity as closer this year with the Marlins. Nobody knows how he will react, but one things for sure he's got big shoes to fill. For some reason some set-up men have not been able to make the transition to closer, I can't explain it, but it has happened on many occasions and who knows if Mota will fit under that same category. I also believe that Mota has been overworked the past 2 seasons and it showed at the end of last year. Mota has pitched over 200 innings the past 2 seasons. That is an incredible amount of innings for a reliever, and if I were the marlins FO I would be very cautious because we don't want him struggling come August in September again if we're in the middle of a pennant race.


Like I said earlier, there is not one guy in this bullpen who is going to strike fear into the opposing team. What we have is a group of guys that have been mediocre their whole careers, a couple of unproven guys, and still a lot of questions to be answered. At this point I don't see how this bullpen could be a dominant force for us next season.

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To say that the 2005 bullpen won't scare anyone is not fair to them, all things considered. Since you went down the list and indivually argued your point for each pitcher, I guess I'll counter by doing the same.


Long Relief: Nate Bump


Nate Bump may not be a dominant pitcher, but as a long reliever that's obviously a role he doesn't have to play. While his numbers aren't spectacular Nate has provided Jack McKeon with flashes of ability, and it's clear to me that all he needs is more experience to make those flashes more consistent. He has very good stuff, and despite throwing a fastball that tops out around just 90-92 MPH he manages to get hitters to ground out with it because of a very good sinking movement. While his stuff isn't amazing, if he continues to improve his location with his curve and change, both very impressive pitches, he can easily become a great asset to the bullpen.

I'm not inculding Ben Howard here because I do not see him as a viable option in long relief, being a hard-thrower than seems to hit hit hard after about 1 inning of work.


Left-Handed Specialist: Matt Perisho


Matt Perisho proved last season that he can easily handle the role of leafty specialist. Like my opponent said, he had a .209 opponents batting average against lefties in a division that includes Cliff Floyd, Bobby Abreu, Jim Thome, Jimmy Rollins, Brad Wilkerson and J.D. Drew. Compared to last season when Perisho was misused because of the weak bullpen situation, his ERA was inflated against right-handed opponents. This year, being used the way he should be, that 4.40 earned run average should drop dramatically and there is no reason to suspect he will even improve against that lefty average, now having seen the division one time around.


Middle Relievers: Todd Jones, John Riedling, Luke Hagerty


Todd Jones has proven over a long time span in major league baseball that he can be a very good member to any bullpen, and not just on the mound. Jones is a leader, and one of the most intelligent figures in the game. Hell, I don't see any other players with their own column with the Sporting News. With Jones you know what you get and that is measured by the consistency between his numbers last season and his career stats. Usually you'll have a 4.00 ERA, give or take, but will never put you in a position where you can't win. Last season, out of the bullpen mind you, he went an astounding 11-5. If Jones can keep doing what he has done for his entire career, he will be a fantastic piece to the puzzle.


John Riedling had a fantastic season last year through the first three months, while his numbers became extremely distorted during the second half. He has a fantastic 4-seam fastball that can get up to 95 MPH and a great splitter that produces whiffs and ground balls. Riedling will also be with his family here in South Florida. He is a perfect match for the Marlins clubhouse as well, being a fun-loving but aggressive player. He has the ability to be a dominant threat and have a fantastic season eventually, and considering his young but not veteran age you might believe it could be now, in the right situation in life for him.


I put Hagerty in here because not only do I believe he will win a spot in the bullpen out of spring training, I also believe he can be out best reliever this season. A big lefty that was once one of the Cubs' top prospects, Hagerty has blatantly dominant stuff. The only question mark with Hagerty would be his recovery from surgery, but he'll sure have a lot of advice from teammates as well as support from Spooneybarger, who is going through the same thing. If Luke can regain his form, there's no doubt in my mind he'll take the league by storm this season.


Set-up Men: Antonio Alfonseca, Tim Spooneybarger


Alfonseca just flat-out has some sick stuff. There should be no doubt in anyone on this board or any Major League hitter's mind that when six-fingers walks onto that mound they are in trouble. He probably has the most dominant 2-seam fastball in the game and his 2.57 ERA shows it. He also gave up just 5 home runs last season in 73.2 innings, a number that could likely subside due to Dolpins Stadium. As we all know, South Florida has been kind to Antonio before... No reason to believe it shouldn't be again.


Spooneybarger was once touted as the Braves best young bullpen arm, and with a mid-90's fastball you can understand why. Like Burnett, his good friend Tim may not only regain prior form but improve upon it. He continuously showed his dominance with Atlanta in 2002 and posted an ERA well under 3.00 and with a great supporting cast hopefully he can loom in the shadows of the Florida bullpen, come out and show some hitters that he means business.


Closer: Guillermo Mota


Like Alfonseca, Mota has always been a dominant pitcher and there should be no reason to question why that would stop. Mota has all the pitches in his game to be a top-notch closer: a Mid to high 90's fastball and a spectacular change. Mota has clearly been THE best set-up man in baseball for years, showing me that the others who have failed before him were obviously more likely set-up for faluire in the first place. Just like any other major closer, players will tremble in sight of Mota.

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With all this being said I think our bullpen situation will be fine. It's not going to be great, but there's not one guy that could be considered a major weakness. I think Mota will do fine in the closer role, he's a heck of a pitcher he just got worn down at the end of the season.


I could see us picking up a dominant reliever come trade deadline time if we're in the playoff hunt, also.

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