How do you spell relief?
For the Rays, it's along the lines of "S-O-S". I dunno how I could possibly describe the look on my face when I see Brian Meadows, Chad Harville, Tyler Walker or Travis Harper warming up in the bullpen. Let's just say, it's not a pretty sight at all. I'm not even really comfortable seeing Ruddy or Camp warming, but they're at least holding their own in the ERA and "getting hitters out" departments.
For the last few years, the bullpen hasn't treated Rays fans too well, with their pitching. Last year, Rays relievers couldn't get anyone out in the 8th inning for a majority of the season. Joebo looked like a 8th Inning Superhero for a stretch, until September hit him like kryptonite.
Don't even get me started about the rest of the 2005 bullpen, who Travis Harper is the hold-over left on the team.
How, you ask, can the Rays fix this problem that they call the bullpen?
Well, the Rays have the smart way and the very fan-friendly way.
First off, I must warn you that the "fan-friendly" way promotes massive consumption of alcohol. Long story, but you'll see what I'm talking when I get there.
The Smart Way
The "smart" way is to cut our losses(i.e. players) and give our minor leaguers a chance to show their stuff against major leaguers. It's not as if the Rays have anything to lose by doing this. A majority of our best relief prospects are already at the AA or AAA level and at the age where confidence should really be an issue.
Our first 3 Call-ups to shore up the bullpen should be Jeff Ridgeway, Tim Corcoran and Brian Stokes. 2 of them are already relievers at Durham and Stokes is the least heralded and least likliest starter to be in the Rays future rotations from the Durham Staff. He's got decent stuff, but he's getting up there in age and isn't looked at as a "prospect" by any Rays fan. Time to bite the bullet, Scouting & Development Dept., Stokes should be long-relief bound.
Who should these guys replace and why?
-Meadows *was a "staff-saver" in Pittsburgh, but like a poster at Raysbaseball.com's board said, "he's been a "staff infection" ever since he stepped foot on the Rays." His K/BB may look great, but he's no more than a BP pitcher with a Coors ERA. He should be released.
-Travis Harper, oh Harpo, I hate to see you go...but you're no longer needed here. You've shown glimpses that you can hold your own against the best line-ups, but then you go out and give up a few HRs or 9 runs in an inning. It's sickening sometimes to know that when Harpo is called in to pitch, the white flag has been waved and chalk up another Rays loss.
-Chad Harville, consider your reunion with Gerry Hunsicker over. It wasn't nice knowing you, and don't let the door hit you where the good lord split you.
Next, if Tyler Walker continues to suck as the closer, we need to bring our best reliever in the organization up. Untested or not, Juan Salas needs to be brought up and thrown right in the fire. He's 27 and has yet to give up an earned run in 30+ IP pitching for the Biscuits. Everyone scouting baseball is raving about Salas now and it's time the Rays give the people what they want. Insert Salas as the closer, what's it gonna hurt?
The Fan-Friendly Way
This is a totally "off-the-wall" idea, but watching the Rays bullpen is the #1 cause of alcoholism in Rays fans. Since they're already drinking, why not have a drink special when the Rays are losing and Meadows or Harpo are called upon to "put out the fire". By the time fans walk out of the stadium, they'd be too drunk to care if the Rays won or not and they'd be happy nonetheless.
It's that or the Rays need to consider selling ads on the Rays bullpen wall to an alcoholic beverage company.
All kidding aside, the Rays need to fix this bullpen. It's stunk since the season began, NDRO, consider yourselves wrong in the personnel choices that you've made and cut your losses while you can.