"It's nice to have one guy down there like Shouse, but you really have to pick your spots to use him. There are times in the sixth inning when you wish you could use Shouse, but you know you're going to need him again in the eighth, so you kind of back off. If you have two guys who can do his type of job, I think you're going to be better for it."
In other words, Ned wants to be Tony LaRussa. Have I mentioned lately how much I absolutely friggin' hate Tony LaRussa? I'm generally a pretty mellow guy, but TLR makes me want to take one of the Cardinals left-handed specialists and...well, let's just say I'd appreciate it if TLR wouldn't make so many pitching changes.
has just the competitive fire that
Ned is looking for!
Let's get one thing straight, here: LOOGYs (Left-handed One Out GuYs) are kind of like closers--inexperienced ones are often just as good or better as the pricey ones you can buy on the free-agent market. Relievers can go from great one year to horrible the next (of course, I don't need to tell Brewers fans THAT), and spending money on somebody who had a good 2006 would be the dumbest thing Doug Melvin could possibly do with his limited budget.
Except, perhaps, offering arbitration to Kevin Mench. But let's not let Jeff digress here.
I really don't mind having Shouse back--he's not great, but he's a solid big-league reliever, especially when used strictly as a LOOGY and against lesser right-handers. From what I've heard, he's a tough competitor, the kind of guy who will take the ball whenever you want him to and do whatever you ask. The kind of guy anybody would want on their team.
But not, clearly, any more than a role-player. Part of the reason I won't mind having Shouse back is that he has been so dreadful for the last few weeks. That'll keep his price down--hopefully he can be brought back for Dan Kolb money, just a little bit more than the $850k Shouse is making now. (Which, of course, suggests that Kolb will be getting paid by some other team.)
Ned's big mistake here is thinking that you need a left-handed specialist to get a lefty out. He shouldn't have to look any farther than his own staff to see how completely untrue that is.
Over his career, Francisco Cordero has held lefties to about the same AVG and SLG as he does righties. (The OBP, unfortunately, is much higher. I wonder why.) If you didn't know whether Matt Wise is a lefty or a righty, you'd surely think he's a southpaw: he has held lefties to .219/.280/.330 over his career--quite a bit better than the .250/.323/.430 righties have hit against him.
In other words, if Wise arrives at Spring Training healthy, we've got one of the best LOOGYs in the game. He just, uh, throws with the wrong hand.
Let's keep going. Jose Capellan has better career numbers against lefties than righties. Against LHB: .241/.361/.433. Against RHB: .281/.335/.493. Having fun yet? Here's Derrick Turnbow: Against LHB: .238/.334/.349. Against RHB: .204/.334/.379. Even Chris Spurling pitched better against lefties than he did against righties this year.
Every time the Brewers come up in connection with a free-agent LOOGY, you can bet I'll be linking back to this. Really, the only short reliever on the Brewers staff right now who can't be counted on to get a lefty is Dennis Sarfate, who has more traditional splits for a righty reliever.
Here's another reason to shut this LOOGY talk down right now: perhaps the best in-house candidate to be Shouse's second-in-LOOGY-command is Dana Eveland. Eveland, of course, had a monster year in Triple-A, but didn't perform in Milwaukee. He deserves another crack at the starting rotation, but his numbers make it very tempting to try him in short specialty relief: in Nashville, he held lefties to .122/.234/.146. But if Dana can be a quality #4-type starter, he'd be worth far more in that role than he would be pitching in the 6th inning against Mike Lamb.
Ned: get over it. The Brewers have a lot of problems to solve this winter, but getting somebody in the bullpen who can beat lefties is among the least of them.