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Choose Your Own Adventure

This post is in no way affiliated with the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series, which is apparently still around. It was never my intent to harm this highly visible book series, and I apologize for burdening the company with any unwanted attention.

You are a manager of a professional baseball team. In the late innings of a close game, the opposing team has the bases loaded. In your bullpen, you have several relievers from which to choose, but one of them sticks out.

He throws a sinker, and only a sinker. It's a good sinker a third of the time, purring along at 93 MPH right at the knees. A third of the time it's out of the strike zone, and hitters rarely chase it. Another third of the time, the sinker is left high in the strike zone with predictable movement. This combination has led to average to below-average results throughout his career, except for a fluky season in 2005.

Because he only throws one pitch, hitters can sit on that high sinker. But if the hitter is a real moron, you might get him to beat one of the good sinkers into the ground for a double play.

What do you do?

Bring in the sinkerballer. We need that double play. (Turn to Page 3)
Why the hell is this guy even on the team? Bring in someone else. (Turn to Page 5)

(The bullpen's a fickle thing. A year ago, Tyler Walker was just an out-of-date punchline. Five months ago, Brian Wilson was a forgotten man. Dan Giese is a journeyman, but a journeyman does well in September is a journeyman who could nail down a job in March; it's the John Johnstone career path. Brad Hennessey went from "fifth starter if he's lucky" to "fearless reliever who throws more strikes than the typical Giants reliever," and that means something in this bullpen.

I can see how these four -- plus a journeyman or the loser for the fifth starter's job -- can comprise a decent bullpen, even though they weren't really in the plans at various points in the past year. Next year, maybe Sergio Romo makes the jump, or Merkin Valdez heals up real nice-like, or Billy Sadler finds his control. Who knows? The bullpen is a fickle thing.

But Scott Munter is never going to be a major league pitcher. I'm sorry. The Holy Sinker Grail of Double Play Starting Goodness is a beautiful dream, but it's just that -- a dream. Let it go.)