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40_players_in_40_days_buddy_carlyle | September | 2009 Articles

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40 Players in 40 Days: Buddy Carlyle

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Last winter, I was very excited to see what the 2009 season would hold for Buddy Carlyle, after a big shift in his pitching style in 2008 led to vastly improved results.  In '08, he effectively abandoned his curveball and replaced it with a new cutter that he learned from Roger McDowell, and saw his strikeout rate rise to nearly a batter per inning without too much loss of command.  His 3.58 FIP was one of the better marks in the 2008 bullpen, so I was eager to see if he could carry those gains over to '09.  Unfortunately, though, Buddy was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, and missed most of the season recovering and learning to manage his condition.

Like Jorge Campillo, Carlyle's return to the field and to effectiveness could be a huge boon to the Braves' bullpen in 2010.  He's a guy you can rely on in relief: like Campy, he can go multiple innings if need be and he throws strikes.  But there's a catch with Carlyle: he may be eligible for arbitration going into the 2010 season.  (I say "may be" because baseball's service time rules are extremely difficult to interpret; he accumulates service time while on the DL but not while on optional assignment, and I'm not sure if he accrued enough service days this year to qualify for arb.)  It's unlikely that Carlyle has much if any real leverage in any contract negotiations, but he could still receive a salary bump to perhaps the $600-700K range, which could be more than the Braves are willing to lay out for a guy whose future effectiveness is in doubt after he basically lost his 2009 campaign.

Having the Campillo-Carlyle tandem back in middle relief would allow Bobby Cox to distribute innings more equitably among his relievers, and would give us two guys that could fill any role from multi-inning mop-up duty after a short start to higher-leverage seventh- or eighth-inning work, but it remains to be seen whether the Braves will bother to tender Carlyle a contract.

The bottom line: His situation is very similar to that of Jorge Campillo, in that it's hard to know what to expect from him after his lost 2009 season, but if he can channel his 2008 self, he'll provide a solid bullpen arm.  But would the Braves risk going to arbitration to bring him back?
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