Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Rueter and the Giants' Bullpen; An Unfortunate Combination

Marty; I was looking forward to spending a relaxing week, watch a few ball games and then reflect on the week’s developments. Yesterday I raised some concerns about the state of the Giants’ bullpen, additionally giving vent to the thought that managment should, sooner rather than later, consider the need to remove Rueter from a starting role. Little did I realize that within twenty-four hours what had been expressed as a portent of things to come would quickly reach calamitous proportions.For someone who has the interests of the Giants at heart it was painful to watch the team demonstrate that the future concerns noted here yesterday, after only six games, would turn into a present reality after seven. Yesterday it was assumed that the bullpen problem didn’t include worrying about Benitez falling apart in the ninth inning trying to protect a three run lead. I am willing to accept that his performance today could be an aberration, that he will right himself and be the closer for the remainder of the year that was anticipated when signed. He does have a track record that could justify such conclusion.

The track record of Rueter and the bullpen, other than Benitez, is not an aberration. It is not too early to start addressing the situation. Rueter is not a pitcher who should be in the rotation of a team hoping to compete successfully in the post-season. He was given a five run lead before LA came up to bat in the first inning. When the second inning ended he had given up three runs, making a ball game out of what should have been a walkover.

He managed to get through five innings, his usual stint, giving up three runs. He left the game in the sixth, having given up two hits in that inning, with the bases loaded and none out. Eyre came in and allowed two runs to score. In the seventh Eyre hits a batter, gives up a hit and a walk and is relieved by Brower. LA has five runs to this point but the Giants have scored three more runs between the first and the seventh. The score is eight to five.

In the ninth Benitez has what may be the worst inning of his career, giving up four runs. LA beats the Giants for the third succesive time. In each of these games the bullpen has a direct responsibility for the loss.

This game should have been over after the top half of the first inning. Eyre and Benitez were less than ineffective, it is true. The bullpen bears it’s share of responsibility. However, it is past time to accept that Rueter is not someone who should be starting for the team. He throws batting practice pitches. He can’t get past the fifth inning. He gives up two or three runs consistently in those five innings. His fast ball reaches eighty- three miles an hour and he has difficulty throwing it for strikes.

When this is coupled with a bullpen which leaves much to be desired the result is predictable.

It was noteworthy to watch Rueter sitting alone in the dugout after being removed, head in his hands, dejected, the picture of a player who suspects he can no longer compete.

It may be necessary to allow him one or two more starts, in deference to his ten years on the club. One of the Fresno pitchers has to be brought up and placed in the rotation. This team can still win. It has the making of an outstanding group of starters. They shouldn’t wait too long.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, the bullpen issues must be addressed. As presently constituted it cannot do the job. They have made a gift to LA of at least two games. The defense today was faulty but overall they have played well. They should be six and one, without Bonds and Alou.

It is true that it is very early in the season which has barely started. But these are obvious problems which will not go away. The time to address them is right now. It must be disheartening for Vizquel, Methany, Alou to watch what has been going on.

Tonko goes tomorrow. Then on to Denver where anything can happen,even to a team which doesn’t have pitching problems. Lowry opens against the Rockies. If they skip Williams, which is being contemplated, Schmidt goes next, in his regular turn. Rueter would follow Schmidt under the present arrangement. It might make sense to throw Williams in Rueters spot. Rueter can then take over Williams’ place in the rotation. Perhaps there soon will be some changes, if Foppert is ready, and the Giants are willing to bite the bullet.



1 Anonymous { 04.13.05 at 2:57 am }

Ed I appreciate your game story, waking up in Barcelona and seeing the score I had little idea about how it all happened. Thanks, tonight Judge Thelton Henderson is on Memories of the game at 615 pm on KFRC. He is also on Friday as I commemorate the debut of Jackie Robinson on Right Off The Bat (Dusty Baker is the interview at 540 pm) and Memories of the Game.
Anyway, I think Benitez will be fine but I have pointed out that getting the ball to him will be an adventure based on how the team ended last season.
Rueter can go five more times than not but give Foppert about three months more to rehab his arm and get up to speed.
Beautiful day in Spain for a ball game.

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