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Handicapping the LOOGY battle

Rusty in name only?
Call me Rusty
With pitchers and catchers due to report in just a few hours, and the rather surprising results of the poll on the sidebar, I thought I would put my own two cents in trying to handicap who would win the defending World Series Champions' coveted last roster spot, The LOOGY.
  • Arnie Munoz -- He nearly won the LOOGY spot the '03 team, using what was described as the best curveball in the Sox system. The Sox converted him to a starter, with good results initially, hoping to improve his other pitches. He has never quite been the same since he was thrashed in his major league debut in Montreal. Ozzie recently called him out at SoxFest, but I don't think that's an indictment, rather a direct challenge to Munoz -- Odds: 5:1
  • Rusty Tucker -- The one LOOGY candidate who still maintains legitimate prospect status. Tucker was once pegged as a successor to San Diego's Trevor Hoffman. Tommy John surgery in '04 cost him most of that season, and probably had something to do with his poor showing in '05. If the Sox can refine his control, he could be a diamond in the rough. -- Odds: 10:1
  • Armando Almanza -- I'd be lying if I said I've ever seen him pitch before. He's only been able to amass 15 innings pitched in the major leagues the last two seasons, and was with 3 different franchises last year. -- Odds: 12:1
  • Chad Bentz -- Bentz is unencumbered by the LOOGY-inessential right hand; he only has a left one. And at just 25 years old, there could be room left for improvement. I've seen about as much of Bentz as I have of Munoz, and they gave much the same impression. He could put it together to be an effective LOOGY someday, but I doubt that day is today. -- Odds 8:1
  • Paulino Reynoso -- Reynoso was initially signed by the Sox as an infielder, but after a glimpse of the heat he could bring, he was converted to pitcher. Reynoso reportedly can reach the mid-90's, but he never reached that mark last season at B'ham. He also failed to improve his control at all, posting a 1.84 WHIP in AA. If you like your odds long, Reynoso is your horse -- Odds 35:1
  • Stephen Randolph -- Randolph made his major league debut with the Diamondbacks at the age of 29, after 9 seasons in the minors. Sounds like a similar story to Scott Podsednik, except Pods isn't completely useless. Randolph issued an astounding 6 walks per 9 innings for his entire minor league career, and was even worse, with a mark of 7.5 walks per 9 in his limited time in the bigs. There's little room on this team if you can't find the strike zone. -- Odds 25:1
  • Javier Lopez -- Lopez' claim to fame is posting the lowest ERA, 1.71 in 2003, (min. 25 IP) of any player in a single season at Coors field. 2003 was Lopez' only effective year as a reliever. He's posted ERAs north of 7.5 ever since. Like Bentz, he doesn't have a great strikeout rate, but he doesn't walk too many batters. His success will be determined by his ability to induce ground balls -- Odds 9:1
  • Common Sense (none of these fools) -- It has escaped managers for years, but if Ozzie has shown one thing in his handling of the bullpen the last two seasons it's that he doesn't always follow conventional wisdom.

    Examining Ozzie's LOOGY tendencies, Cotts was the second lefty in '04, but he wasn't used like one. He was more or less the 11th man in the pen. Not quite the mop-up man, but certainly not to be trusted with late-game-pressure situations. In '05 Cotts was also the second lefty, but he was hardly used like a LOOGY until about mid-season.

    In Guillen's two season's on the south side, he hasn't had true LOOGY in either of them. If one of these guys doesn't prove that he can routinely get major league hitters out in Spring Training, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Ozzie forgo the agony of keeping one of them on the roster. -- Odds: 4:1