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In what can only be seen as a disappointing start to the 2009 season for the reigning American League champion Tampa Bay, a “Ray of light” if you will make his season debut tonight against the Cleveland Indians.

David Price has been called up.

Price was dominant in a short amount of time during the Rays’ 2008 Cinderella season, including a win in Game 2 and a save in Game 7 against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.

The lefty was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, and has been proving his worth to the Rays and their Triple A affiliate Durham ever since. He’ll be replacing Scott Kazmir on the roster, who went on the disabled list with a right quad injury, joining closer Troy Percival (shoulder) and second baseman Akinori Iwamura (knee).  Price’s timing couldn’t be better.

With a 23-23 record, the Rays are fourth in the AL East, behind the always dominant Red Sox, the surprise Blue Jays and surging Yankees. It’s early in the season still, but a repeat of 2008 is already looking doubtful for the Rays. A strong push now may be the only thing that prevents Tampa from returning to form.

Price will face off against Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona, who is 2-4 in 2009 with a 5.74 ERA. Carmona’s last win came against the Rays on May 14 when he allowed four runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Price’s first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM ET, plus the top of the first inning.


Woody at the head of a bullpen of horrors?

The Cleveland Indians signed closer Kerry Wood to a reasonable contract: two guaranteed years at $20.5 million with an option year that only vests if he finishes 55 games in one of the two years. They protected themselves against an albatross of a contract in case his shoulder blows out again, and they got him below market rates: both things that a small market team needs to do.

Along with trading for Joe Smith, and previous holdovers Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez, Masa Kobayashi and Jensen Lewis, the Indians bullpen looks, on the surface, like a revamped and solid bully that could become a strength for this team.

So why the headline? Why does this seem so futile? Why does every GM count the bullpen as an area needing improvement in the offseason? Why do some bullpens that look good going into the season turn into bullpens of horror?

Because the bullpen is the single most volatile sector of any team. Why don’t we go down the list of bullpen candidates in Cleveland and detail their dark side?

Click to continue reading Exercise in Futility: Building the Cleveland Bullpen

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