PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Todd Coffey #60 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 22, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Nationals won 6-1. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
In a recent interview with MLB Network Radio host Mike Ferrin, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said he thought that in addition to finding that elusive center fielder/leadoff bat, the one other thing the Nationals' brass would still like to do this winter was add a veteran arm to the bullpen. "We'd like to supplement our bullpen a little bit. Get a little veteran presence in there," Rizzo said, though he didn't elaborate on what sort of bullpen arm the Nats were after. Todd Coffey, 31, could fill that role again as he did in D.C. in 2011. ESPN.com's Buster Olney, in the "Moves deals and decisions" section of his daily post this morning, reported that the Nats are still searching. "The Washington Nationals continue to look for another relief pitcher," Mr. Olney wrote, "whether it be Todd Coffey or someone who could do for them what Coffey did last year."
What did Coffey do last year? In his first season in the nation's capital after three-plus years with the Cincinnati Reds who drafted him and two-plus with the Milwaukee Brewers who claimed the 6'4'', 240lb right-hander off waivers in 2008, was to post a 3.62 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 6.94 K/9 and 3.02 BB/9 in 69 games and 59.2 IP as part of the Nationals' bullpen. The sprinting right-hander, in an article entitled, "Coffey unsure if he'll return to Nationals", told MLB.com writer Bill Ladson during the Winter Meetings in early December, "... he is not sure where he will pitch next year."
"'In my heart of hearts, if it's the right contract,'" Coffey told the MLB.com Nats beat writer, "'I would look to definitely come back to the Nationals.'"
Even without Coffey, (Would the Nats be better off with a veteran left-hander?) ESPN.com's Mr. Olney had the Nationals ranked eighth overall in the majors on a list of the Top 10 Bullpens in baseball recently, putting them behind only the Braves, Yankees, Giants, Indians, D-Backs and Brewers. The D.C. bullpen had a combined 3.20 team ERA, which the ESPN writer points out was the 5th best in the majors, they had 27-year-old right-hander Tyler Clippard, "... who had an 0.84 WHIP and held opponents to a .535 OPS," and, Mr. Olney wrote, had the, "... lowest BABIP among relievers with at least 60 innings last season." The Nats had closer Drew Storen too, who saved 43 games in 2011, the sixth-highest save total in the majors in 2011, and together Clippard and Storen give the Nationals, "... good anchors for what should be a good bullpen," in his opinion.
Do the Nationals have enough bullpen arms to choose from in Storen, Clippard, recently-acquired right-hander Ryan Perry (whose remaining option made him a better fit than Collin Balester), Ryan Mattheus, Yunesky Maya, Craig Stammen and left-handers Sean Burnett, Atahualpa Severino and Tom Gorzelanny? Will Rafael Martin get a look in 2012? Will Cole Kimball return and contribute? Rizzo said they could use a veteran presence and (if Mr. Olney's correct) they're still searching for a bullpen arm, so apparently the Nationals are still looking for the right fit. Is Todd Coffey it?
MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats) wrote on Twitter recently, that the Nats weren't the only team Coffey's pitched for that's expressed interest. "The Brewers still have interest in RHP Todd Coffey," Mr. Ladson wrote, "There is a 50-50 chance he goes back to the #Nats." Which bullpen will Coffey be working out of next season? According to Coffey (who's also on Twitter @ToddCoffey60) wherever he pitches the sprinting will continue.