Load of Bullpen

It's a tough thing when it's January, and your team is out of moves.  It's like we collectively bit the ear off of a cellmate, and are now banging our heads against the wall in solitary.  Tick.  Tock.  Tick.  Tock.  If you need something to pass the time, there's a heapin' help of Mike Dunleavy in the corner somewhere.

Ah, but there are little things to be ironed out, like the 12th man in the bullpen.  Where are the Fox reality gurus for this epic battle?  They are probably wrapping up a pilot about seven pairs of good-looking twins, each receiving cryptic messages leading them closer to a golden egg.  (Hint: wading pool in Prague, under the layers of multi-colored Jello)  

Big deal.  Sit down, you network monkey, and listen to this pitch:  Wayne Franklin.  Oh, is that rapt attention I'm picking up?  Thought so.  Here's another sneak peek, on the house:  Jeff Fassero.  This kind of drama can't be manufactured.  The tagline writes itself:  Seven spots.  Four good pitchers.  Plenty of tears.

The bullpeneers with guaranteed jobs:

Armando Benitez
Jim Brower
Jason Christiansen


Likely jobs:

Matt Herges
Scott Eyre
Tyler Walker


Going to scrum for the last one or two spots:

Jesse Foppert
Kevin Correia
Wayne Franklin
David Aardsma
Jeff Fassero
Brad Hennessey


Needs an injury to someone else, or a ridiculous spring training:

Brandon Villafuerte
Matt Kinney
Jeremy Fikac

This was mostly covered here on the old site after the Benitez signing, but it's worth revisiting now that Christiansen has a guaranteed spot.  The obvious favorites are Foppert and Aardsma.  Foppert is coming off a serious injury, and, according to conventional wisdom, the last spot in the bullpen is a perfect spot to build up arm strength.  Where this conventional wisdom came from, and if it is accurate, is a mystery.  Conventional wisdom also states you should never drive drunk, however, and we've all seen what a crock that is.

Aardsma needs to throw strikes, and get his very good-but-not-that-good fastball out from the middle of the plate.  He is the future, whether as a closer or setup man, and he would likely grab the spot with a decent spring.  Foppert's struggles this winter call for the soothing waters of Fresno, but a good argument can be made he would be best served under the eyes of Stan Conte and Dave Righetti.  A real good argument.  I think I just convinced myself.

The real wild-card might be Tyler Walker, as his spot is in no way assured.  He should make the cut, but definitely hasn't paid his dues in the Grizzled Veteran Reliever's Guild* yet.  He's durable, and acquitted himself very well in his first season as a reliever.  He's going to have one excellent season which will allow him to kick around for several more, and that one excellent season might as well be here.

Comment starter:  Who's your pick for the glory of 12th man on the staff?  I waver back and forth between Aardsma and Foppert, but will settle on Aardsma.

* It's like an Elk's Club, with less parking and, ironically enough, more elk.

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