Depth is the Key to Surviving MLB’s 162 Game Marathon

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The first priority for team management has to be the daily line-up that takes the field.

This undoubtedly is the reason that position players in Major League Baseball like Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez have traditionally received more money over a longer term than pitchers like Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia. While it is true that arm problems can derail a career in a heartbeat, front office workers also comprehend that players in the line-up everyday consistently create a following with the fans that a player taking the mound every fifth day just cannot create. With that said, pitching is paramount to the success in regular season play and throughout the postseason in both leagues.

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will again contend in the American League East this season. This is not surprising, but the sad news is that the Tampa Bay Rays seem to have taken a major step back with key losses in Matt Garza and Carl Crawford-among others. This is not simply a case of something being wrong with the system. The fans in the area have not come out to Tropicana Field to support the team.

Obviously injuries occur inevitably throughout the season and a viable back-up is a necessity at every position. But this is a pipe dream. Versatility is important from a reserve. This is why players who can play numerous positions have long careers even though their raw talent may not be equal to another player currently in the minor leagues.

Depth is specifically unique in the bullpens of the elite clubs. How many squads can boast of similar pitchers to Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano in their middle relief corps?

Most teams would love to have them even as their closers. This takes into account the chicken and the egg argument. Mariano Rivera cannot achieve a save if one is not possible. That is why it is pointless to have a pitcher like Heath Bell on a team like the Cleveland Indians. How likely is it to achieve forty saves when the club will probably lose in excess of one hundred games?

Depth in the middle relief separates the good teams from the great teams.

There is another type of depth somewhat hidden. Depth of thought on the bench is key in close games. Managers receive all the attention, but who resides on their staff is something else that should be analyzed. The bench  coach is supposed to be the right hand man of the manager.  This relationship can be the difference in close games because an observation can be made from what took place on the field. Momentum and match-ups can be discussed. Also, the mindset of certain players is known to this brain trust. The bench coaches should know who thrives in late game situations and who becomes a wallflower.

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