Addition of Ryan as closer shores up already solid 'pen

By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com

簽下Ryan使得原已不差的牛棚更加穩固!!!
多倫多的牛棚也許不是聯盟被談論最多的牛棚,但隨著明星終結者B.J. Ryan 的加盟,他們已經成為AL東區強而有力的競爭者。

看看藍鳥隊後援投手在2005年的進步:從2004年全美聯第三差的5.08ERA到上一季美聯第八的3.81,這個成績甚至是東區的第一名;其他4隻球隊的
牛棚ERA都超過4。

此外,牛棚的被上壘率0.324也是AL EAST第一,滾地球飛球比->1.3<-僅次於雙城位在AL第二(這邊再次想到Kan Tong兄所提到,守備更動所帶給
藍鳥的問題是否會在2006年開季後逐漸顯現出來,看來最好先不要太樂觀比較好)。

唯一的問題就在於CLOSER!!!
2004年球隊前後用了4個人來充當終極者,而去年大部分的時間這個位置都由Miguel Batista 所佔據著,但這對球隊來說卻是一個不是很大的成功
雖然最終拿下31次救援點,但是他的表現是每況愈下,在明星賽後搞砸了6次救援機會同時ERA增至5.35,而他也丟掉了這份工作。

接著

Ryan來了

當他在11月底和球隊簽下5年4700萬的合約時,這名前巴爾的摩金鶯的終結者是藍鳥隊的第一波補強. 30歲的Ryan在上一季出賽69場,三振100人次
,拿下36次救援成功和2.43ERA的成績. 而他在季末的表現更是藍鳥想在東區出頭所不可或缺的他最後的26場出賽,15次機會全部拿下救援成功,
ERA更是只有1.65,外加37K。

Batista本來可以在隨之而來的球季充當setup man的角色,但是GM J.P. Ricciardi 在12月27日選擇將他和Orlando Hudson交易出去以換取
Glaus。

到目前為止,藍鳥隊在開季時牛棚將會擁有7名投手
右:Vinnie Chulk, Justin Speier , Pete Walker, Jason Frasor
左:Ryan, Scott Schoeneweis and Scott Downs
而兩名年輕的右投,Brandon League and Dustin McGowan ,也正在成長;此外,球隊也以小聯盟約簽下右投Ben Weber並邀請參加春訓
而這3個人也將視春訓的情況看是否能在開季時贏得在大聯盟的一席之地。

現在在中繼(setup man job)上,有一堆人選來讓教練John Gibbons 好好選擇,首先是Frasor,在2004年時以17次救援成功領先全隊,這名28歲
的投手在去年的ERA則是3.25--主場更是只有2.89--在74 2/3局的投球中三振了62人次。

接著是32歲的Speier,他可能是這個位置的最適人選. 他在2004年時有7次救援成功,而2005年從牛棚出發則有2.57的ERA. Speier在對上
左打者時尤其得心應手,面對他們只有1.65的ERA, Speier對好球帶的控制非常出色,在66 2/3 局中面對56名打者只保送了15人次,被打擊率只有
0.254。

牛棚中最有可能擔任long relievers 的是Walker和Downs. 2個人在1年前都曾頂替過當時常出狀況的先發群陣容,並且都獲得了些許的成功。
Walker在擔任reliever時的ERA是2.98,但是他在4月就要滿37歲了. 29歲的Downs在面對左打時的防禦率是2.76,但是在上一季他的表現卻
非常不穩定. 一但先發群出現問題, 有了他們,可以提供一定的保證,而他們2個似乎也使得牛棚更加穩固。

而McGowan就好像隱藏在其中的一顆新星

即將在3月滿24歲的McGowan並無法適應先發的角色. 然而,在上一季後半段當他從牛棚出發擔任reliever時,他的防禦率只有0.85--而似乎自信心
也回來了-- 因為他的球速,球團仍視他為未來的先發投手,但是現階段仍讓他從long reliever 出發並不是不可能的, 從任何合理的角度來推測,
他今年應該還是會先從3A的Syracuse出發,但這並不代表他在春訓時不能贏得一個牛棚的位置。

而Schoeneweis和Chulk則填補了剩下的位置。

Schoeneweis在上一季出賽了80場,不但是球隊第一,在AL也高達第二. 隨著球季的進行,他的成績也不斷的進步--在五月之後防禦率只有1.98。
32歲的Schoeneweis因為他的滾地球投手的特性,將會被用來在特殊情況下對付打者--2.53的滾地球飛球比和王牌Roy Halladay不相上下。

相似的情況也出現在27歲的Chulk身上,他將主要被用來對付右打者. 在2005年面對右打者的打擊率是0.286, 在他待在多倫多的第二個完整球季,
一共出賽62場,防禦率是3.88--其中主場防禦率是2.74。

現在唯一的問題是League. 這名22歲的右投在2005年以reliever身分上場,但是表現不佳,新球季應該會從3A的Syracuse出發。在大聯盟出賽時,
他所保送的打者超過他所三振的,而ERA也高達6.56. 不過League仍然很年輕,多倫多也並未對他失去信心,但是他在開季時應該不會在大聯盟的
登錄名單內.

跟2005年那個AL東區第一的牛棚比較起來,陣容並沒有多大的改變,而他們現在又補進了全明星賽的終結者,這強化了他們在9局的穩定性,
這可能使得藍鳥的2006的牛棚是大聯盟最佳之一的Bullpen。

原文

Toronto's bullpen may not be the most talked about around the league, but it might be the one unit ready to
contend in the American League East. And that was before the Blue Jays added All-Star closer B.J. Ryan into the
mix.

Consider the progress the Blue Jays relievers made in 2005. As a group, Toronto's 'pen had a 3.81 ERA last
season -- a drastic improvement over the 5.08 ERA that ranked third-worst in the AL in '04. While the 2005 group
finished eighth in ERA in the AL, it was the best showing within their division. No other AL East team finished
with a bullpen ERA lower than four.

The Jays relievers were tied atop the division in opponents on-base percentage (.324) and their
groundball-to-flyball ratio (1.30) was second only to Minnesota in the league.

The only real area of question remained at the closer spot. Miguel Batista held that role for most of the season
and finished with 31 saves. That was a small victory in itself for Toronto, which went through four different
closers in 2004. Batista proved inconsistent down the stretch, though -- blowing six saves and posting
a 5.35 ERA after the All-Star break -- and he fell out of favor for the job.

Enter Ryan.

Baltimore's former closer was Toronto's first offseason upgrade when he signed a five-year deal worth
$47 million in late November. Ryan, 30, converted 36 of his 41 save opportunities and finished with a 2.43 ERA
and 100 strikeouts in 69 games a year ago. A late-season performance similar to that of '05 by the lefty would
be a valuable asset for a Toronto team that's trying to make a push in the East. In Ryan's last 26 games,
he converted all 15 of his save chances and had a 1.65 ERA with 37 Ks.

Batista could have been a candidate for the setup role for the upcoming season, but Toronto general manager
J.P. Ricciardi opted to use the right-hander in the trade that brought slugger Troy Glaus to the Blue Jays
on Dec. 27.

As it stands right now, it appears that Toronto will begin the season with seven relievers. Jason Frasor,
Vinnie Chulk, Justin Speier and Pete Walker are the right-handers and Ryan, Scott Schoeneweis and Scott Downs
are lefties. Youngsters Brandon League and Dustin McGowan -- both right-handers -- could be on the bubble.
The Jays signed right-hander Ben Weber to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training, and the
three could earn a spot on the Opening Day roster depending on what happens during Spring Training.

Manager John Gibbons has a couple of options to fill the setup man job. There's Frasor, who led the team with
17 saves in 2004. The 28-year-old had a 3.25 ERA in '05 -- 2.89 at home -- and struck out 62 in 74 2/3 innings.

Then there is Speier, 32, who could be the favorite for the job. He notched seven saves in '04 and had
a 2.57 ERA out of the bullpen in '05. Speier was especially tough on left-handed batters -- posting a 1.65 ERA
against them. He showed good command of the strike zone by fanning 56 batters, walking just 15 in 66 2/3 innings
and holding batters to a .254 average.

The pitchers most likely to serve as long relievers are Walker and Downs. Both helped fill the often-depleted
starting rotation a year ago and both found some success out of the 'pen. Walker had a 2.98 ERA as a reliever,
but he'll be turning 37 in April. Downs, 29, had a 2.76 ERA against lefties, but was inconsistent throughout 2005.
Having them on board helps provide some insurance if a starter gets injured and they both seem likely to break
camp as members of the bullpen.

McGowan lurks as an interesting possibility, though.

McGowan, who turns 24 in March, was shaky as a starter. When he moved to the 'pen late in the season, though,
he was nearly lights out. He had a 0.85 ERA as a reliever and his confidence seemed to rise -- along with the
velocity on his pitches. Toronto still views him as a future starter, but inching him along as a long reliever
isn't out of the question. In all reality, he'll probably begin the season with Triple-A Syracuse, but that's
not to say he can't win a job in Toronto's 'pen during Spring Training.

That leaves Schoeneweis and Chulk to help fill the gaps.

Schoeneweis pitched 80 games, which was a team-high and ranked second in the American League. He got
progressively better as the season wore on -- posting a 1.98 ERA after May. Schoeneweis, 32, will be used as a
situational pitcher again due to his ability to force groundouts. His 2.53 groundball-to-flyball ratio equaled
that of ace Roy Halladay.

Similarly, Chulk, 27, will probably be used primarily against right-handers. He held righties to a .286 average
in 2005. In his second full season with Toronto, Chulk finished with a 3.88 ERA -- 2.74 at home -- and logged
appearances in 62 games.

The only other question mark is League. The 22-year-old right-hander struggled in his stint as a reliever in '05
and will probably begin 2006 with Triple-A Syracuse. He walked more batters than he struck out and finished with
a 6.56 ERA for the Jays. League is still young, though, so Toronto hasn't lost faith that he can be successful.
But he probably won't fit into the plans for Opening Day.

Not a lot is different from the 2005 squad -- a unit that ranked first in more than one area in the AL East.
Add in an All-Star closer with the hopes of finding consistency in the ninth inning and the Blue Jays bullpen
could be one the best in the league.
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