For four years, the Tigers have been nursing Bruce Rondon in hopes that he would become a bullpen asset. He is now 26 and has a cumulative WAR of .4, which is misleading as it fails to indicate that it has been a negative number for two of his four years in the majors.
The Tigers like him because he throws hard. They thought he was a find, but you know what they call a 100 mph fastball outside? A ball. You know what they call an 80 mph fastball outside? Still a ball. It doesn’t matter how hard you throw, if you can’t find the plate.
Thus far, in the start of the season, Rondon’s best outing was an inning pitched where he struck out one and gave up one hit. Fantastically, he gave up no runs. In his second outing, he shit the bed for three earned runs with a walk, recording one out. Today — his third appearance — he turded three runs again — this time with two walks (granted, one intentional) and not a single out. The Tigers have lost two games so far; Rondon was a major contributor to one and almost led to another (avoided, luckily, thanks to a poor showing by the Sox’ pen).
So, the question is: what exactly does Rondon have to do — besides, you know, sucking entirely — before the Tigers give up on him?
(Maybe more importantly: how do Tigers’ fans not develop PTSD from the flashbacks to Jose Valverde?)
The Tigers’ weakness has consistently been the FO’s inability to obtain good bullpen pieces and cut guys who undermine our ability to win. This has been the problem for at least six years now. They stay with guys way too long — well after they’ve demonstrated that they cannot contribute to the team. Under DD, we blamed this on the way he gutted the farm in trades — and, subsequently, we learned that his anti-stat, anti-scouting impression-based approach to roster adds was part of the problem. But, when AA ascended from the number two slot and bolstered the scouting and analytics departments, his pick ups for the BP were Mark Lowe and…well, that appears to be it. So, aside from making us better by subtraction by dumping Ian Krol, he has succeeded only in making us better by subtraction by finally dumping Mark Lowe (and not even getting a return for him but still paying him $5.5M).
I am constantly frustrated by the ignorance of the FO on this. I know building a solid BP is hard, but you got money and the means to get smart folks who know how to do it. If I as an amateur know that Pelfrey, Lowe, Valverde, Krol, Rondon, and Benoit are lousy, how do these professionals not know this? I can look at their numbers and see they stink. Hell, I can watch them bomb multiple games and see they stink. You don’t have to do subtle analysis to get that. I expect their people to be able to do analysis that I can’t, but they don’t seem to be able to find their backend with both hands — which leads me to believe we need a whole change in thinking in the FO. This has been our problem all along, and whatever you think of Beautiful Brad’s bullpen management, there isn’t much he can do when all he has are the guys he has. The ongoing issue seems to indicate that the Tigers could use some real diversity in their FO, because the group they currently have has whiffed for the past six seasons (even with the management shift).
Currently, Rondon has an ERA of 20.25. The Tigers’ solution? They are letting Anthony Gose try his hand at pitching, since he sucks in the outfield. I’m not even kidding with that.