That seems to be the standard refrain regarding the Detroit Tigers this week, as noted by both Lynn Henning in his Detroit News "blog," and Tom Verducci at SI.com.
Henning: Can the Tigers bullpen be trusted?
Verducci: Keeping up with Jones - Aside from their closer, Tigers 'pen is a big concern
Both articles state the same thing, no one is sure what to expect from the Detroit bullpen when the season starts. Not the Tigers front office, the Marlboro Man, the media, the fans or even the players themselves
I've been pondering the bullpen "situation" myself, and have come up with several possible solutions. Some are a tad far-fetched, but this is a "throw shit against the wall and see what sticks" brainstorming exercise. You know what tends to spew out of my cranium, namely half-assed opinions and half-baked ideas, so bear with me...
1. The simplest answer is the right answer, the Occam's Razor solution. So the answer is simple. Score more than the other guys. Lots more. If Mike Ilitch plans on offering Miguel Cabrera $20 million a season, the least he can in return do is help the Tigers score 1000+ runs. The Tigers do that, the pen issues become moot.
2. I've come up with a take on the Milwaukee Braves old "Spahn and Sain and two days of rain" saying.
Hire a medicine man, a rainmaker so to speak, to open up the skies with torrential downpours anytime the Tigers have a lead from the 5th inning on. If that strategy worked for the Braves 60 years ago, why couldn't it work for the Tigers today?
3. Have Justin Verlander pitch in relief between starts. Even at 50%, he's better than most of the current characters populating the bullpen. On second thought, even I think that's a bit much. Only use him out of the pen on one of his off days...
4. INGE! Of course, I should have thought of him before! Send Brandon Inge to the bullpen. If he can capably play the other 8 positions on the field, there's no reason he couldn't pitch as well, right?
5. Use a time machine to go back in time, and put out the San Diego wildfires before they blew up out of control. Thus, Joel Zumaya remains healthy. If need be, go back even further in time, and take out the creator of Guitar Hero. I suggest contacting these guys. I hear their wayback machine works quite well...
7. I bet Mickey Lolich could still throw an inning or two a night, I suggest the Tigers give him a call. He's retired from running the donut shop, so he's got some free time. Even at 67 years old, I'm sure Mick could strike out the side. Lolich could throw 370 innings a season, without breaking a sweat, back in the day, so what's the 60 or 70 expected from a reliever? His being in shape wouldn't even be an issue, as Mickey was the prototypical fat dude with a rubber arm and a fastball, a better David Wells of the 60's and 70's. Think about it. Who would you want to see out of the pen? Grilli or Lolich? Bautista or Lolich? I know who'd I want.