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If You Ain't Got a Bullpen Then You Ain't

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Okay, we were all bummed about the Marlins crash and burn at the end of the season, with the one exception of the sweep of the Braves in the final series which was sweet. It wasn't a good ending to the season.

Trust me, there is a real reason to breathe a sigh of relief. In the playoffs the relief pitchers play an amplified role in the outcome of the games.

Baseball's most decisive work shift in October doesn't crank up until about midnight on the East Coast. That's when starting pitchers are icing their arms and relief pitchers are making their inning-by-inning trek to the mound. And if the last decade has proven anything, World Series titles are won and lost on this swing shift.

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"The best bullpens usually win in the playoffs," says Yankees bench coach Joe Girardi, a catcher on three of the Yankees' World Series championship teams in the 1990s. "There's more pressure, so bullpens take on a huge significance."

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"The starters get you there, and then the bullpen determines the outcome," says Florida Marlins pitching coach Mark Wiley, who had the same job for the Cleveland Indians when they were an American League powerhouse in the 1990s. "The majority of the games are very close. It seems like it doesn't matter how good your offense is."

Or, to a lesser degree, how good your starting rotation is. While strong starting rotations win the regular-season marathons, bullpens can make or break any of the eight teams playing in October.

Let's face it, the Marlins bullpen had one pitcher and a bunch of belly-itchers. Can you imagine going into the playoffs with our bullpen?  Talk about a joke, that's a train wreck waiting to happen.  Normally at this point in the story I would quote lyrics by the Grateful Dead but decorum prevents me from doing so.

Speaking of the only pitcher in the bullpen, the Myrtle Beach online reports:

Florida | One AL personnel man expects Marlins closer Todd Jones to get a two-year contract for between $5 million and $6 million total this winter. He suggests the Marlins could then go after somebody like Ugueth Urbina or Roberto Hernandez to fill the void at a lower cost.

If that is all it's going to take I don't see any reason why Todd Jones can't remain a Fish.  Willis is probably going to command about $4 million a year, which he is worth.  To get our closer back and help the Willis investment pay dividends for about $2.5 million a year, I say that's a good deal.

Now to wrap up this post about the bullpen,

Driving that train,...