The True Cost of Brandon League

June 26, 2013 at 9:48 am | Posted in Brandon League, Kevin Gregg | Leave a comment

league_sad_2013-05-31I have other pictures of League I could use. But this one is just so perfect all the time.

Brandon League, once again, was atrocious last night, nearly costing the Dodgers the game. While I’ll give Don Mattingly some small amount of understanding simply due to the fact that Kenley Jansen had pitched three days in a row and wasn’t available, League never should have been in the game in that situation. Fortunately, Paco Rodriguez was able to step in and avoid what would have been a gut-punch loss, and I hope we’ll see more of that to come.

Now, we’ve been over League and his problems so many times that I don’t really care to do so again here, though I will note that there has to be something seriously wrong, simply because I can’t accept that he’s suddenly this bad. (Not that I expected him to be good, mind you. But this is something else.)

No, what concerns me today is what this is going to mean for this roster. With League completely off the rails, Ronald Belisario reliably unreliable, and Jansen, Rodriguez, & J.P. Howell really the only three relievers who give you any sense of comfort, Ned Colletti is going to feel the need to do something. And it’s that something that terrifies me, especially in the relief market.

Maybe that will be going after one of the two recently-deposed veteran closers in Carlos Marmol & Jose Valverde, each DFA’d for severe cases of “awful,” or being the team to give Brian Wilson a shot. Or overpaying for Jonathan Papelbon if the Phillies decide to sell — and let’s be honest, we all know Michael Young is coming in that deal too. Or trading for yet another overrated Seattle closer in Tom Wilhelmsen, or going after Jose Veras, who I’m sure most of you haven’t heard of despite being in his eighth season (for six teams!), simply because he’s the closer by default in Houston and now has “saves”.

Or, most hilariously, trading for Kevin Gregg. That’s an irony so delicious — trading talent for a guy three months after you cut him in spring training — that it almost seems like there’s no way it doesn’t happen. I wish I knew how to figure out if that’s ever happened before, but I think it’s safe to say it’s not a regular occurrence.

Since we’re talking about Gregg, by the way, let’s be absolutely, unmistakably clear here: I had absolutely no problem with the Dodgers cutting him at the end of spring. None at all, and I bring that up because as Gregg has a 1.11 ERA and 11 saves with the Cubs as the Dodger bullpen continues to struggle, we’re hearing an increasing chorus of second-guessers who insist that a huge mistake was made.

To that I say: no. Hell, at the time I said “this is no loss at all, and… I’ll consider it a win.” Remember, this was a soon-to-be 35-year-old guy coming off years of mediocrity who had been flat-out let go by Baltimore last season and hadn’t caught on anywhere else. After a decade in the bigs, you’re not going to convince me that a nice run of 24.1 innings is suddenly a massive change in who he is, and a .246 BABIP indicates nice luck that isn’t going to last. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t have been useful to have around, but remember that if he had made the roster, Rodriguez almost certainly wouldn’t have. That’s not a net win.

But enough of Gregg and the inevitable trade of Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling for he and Luis Valbuena, because Colletti is all but certain to do something in the bullpen, and that’s what’s scary. Every once in a while that works — Josh Bell for George Sherrill ended up nicely, though I think I was one of the few who didn’t hate it at at the time — but more often than not, due to the volatility and low usage of relievers, it ends poorly. Have we all forgotten James McDonald & Andrew Lambo for three weeks of Octavio Dotel already?

This is what you’ve wrought, Brandon League.

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