By Steve Buffum
You may not need seven bullpen arms ... no, wait, scratch that ... you DON'T need seven bullpen arms, especially in April. Even in the AL where you don't need arcane double-switches and such,
you STILL don't need seven bullpen arms. That's just profligate.
But you probably DO need SIX bullpen arms, unless you have extraordinary starters, some real workhorses in the 'pen, or don't mind Scott Proctoring a guy or two. So normally I'd say that the
6th bullpen arm probably shouldn't be in the Bottom Five, although, well, someone's got to be, right?
Wood closes, Raffies set him up, and Jen Lewis is right there at the back end in the coveted Eric Plunk/David Riske type role. Flip Lewis and Betancourt if you like one over the other. I don't
know what Wedge will do, but he might play matchups based on stuff and groundball/flyball hitters more than handedness at the back end. And Joe Smiff can get righties out, if he's perhaps a
bit dodgy on the other side.
And then there's Masa Kobayashi.
Hey, I applauded this signing: it was a willingness to go to a different well, and Kobayashi was actually quite good for a half a season. But he'll be 35 in a month, and simply put, has been utterly dreadful
since the All-Star Break, to the tune of a 10.32 ERA (25 hits in 11 1/3 innings ... twenty-five!) and a lousy spring. Sure, there are flashes of adequacy: he has a couple shutdown innings this spring with an ability to miss bats, but these innings are sprinkled amongst some real clunkers that feature multiple longballs.
Arizona is not really the best place to ply the pitching trade (see Cliff Lee's spring), and maybe the taters are a product of the dry, thin air. But given Koba's propensity to suck raw eggs in the back
half of last season, I'd rather his slot be taken by Vinnie Chulk.
Or, better yet, a recovered Adam Miller. You'll excuse me as my breath is not held.