Pouring gasoline on the fire

The headline jumped out at me with such force that it knocked me to the ground and took my wallet.

"Braves Bolster Shaky Bullpen By Signing Tavarez"


"Shaky bullpen" and "Tavarez" seemed about right. Julian Tavarez is a human earthquake for any relief corps. But the accompanying article explained that the Braves signed him to steady an injury-riddled, exhausted unit that was in disarray.

Don't bother waiting for the punchline. It's true.


Tavarez, 35, is joining his third team this year and his 10th in 16 major league seasons. The Boston Red Sox released him May 22. The Milwaukee Brewers let him go a month later, after he refused a minor league assignment - or the minor leagues refused him.

In 20 innings for the two clubs, he was 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA. Opponents were batting .356 against him. Left-handers were 21-for-40 with a .574 on-base percentage.

Bolster a shaky bullpen? It would make more sense if the Braves were giving him a hammer and nails.

Desperate teams take desperate measures. That's how Sidney Ponson ended up in New York. How else to explain Alberto Castillo pitching in relief for the Orioles on Tuesday night? Tavarez became more appealing to Atlanta once relievers Manny Acosta and Jeff Bennett went on the disabled list and everyone else was still packed in ice after Sunday's 17-inning marathon.

Tavarez won't cost much - unless you're counting games. The Red Sox are paying his $3.85 million salary. The Braves owe only the prorated portion of his major league minimum $390,000.

Somehow, he still doesn't sound like a bargain.

Steady a bullpen? I wouldn't trust him to even the legs on a table.