Via Steve Dilbeck, we’ve learned that if Ronald Belisario actually does show up to camp this year, he’ll be suspended for the first 25 games of the season. We don’t know exactly why that is or even when the offense took place – I’m guessing it’s not a coincidence that this comes out the day after we find out he might actually get a visa – but considering his history and how much of his last three years have been shrouded in mystery, it’s not exactly a surprise.
While it’s rare that a suspension can be seen as a positive, I think in this case, it is, because it gives the Dodgers more time to evaluate what they have. Belisario is a completely unreliable quantity at this point, following up his surprisingly good 2009 with an underwhelming (though, I’d argue, somewhat underrated) 2010 and a completely lost 2011. Though he’s been pitching in Venezuelan leagues, it’s anyone’s guess what kind of shape he’s in or if his demons are truly behind him. Since he’s out of options, the team would be forced to carry him on the roster, trade him, or expose him to waivers if they wanted to send him down. The suspension allows them until about the end of April to evaluate him under the eyes of team personnel, either in Los Angeles or Arizona, and it also gives them time to see how the rest of their bullpen shakes out, because someone always gets hurt or is brutally ineffective in the first month.
It’s not like they’re desperate for him immediately, anyway. The Dodgers usually carry seven relievers as part of a twelve-man staff, and if the season were to start today, five spots in the bullpen are all but guaranteed:
The sixth man is almost certainly going to be Josh Lindblom, who impressed in his debut last year, though since he has options remaining his spot isn’t completely guaranteed. The final spot, as usual, will be a battle between non-roster invites like John Grabow, Wil Ledezma, Angel Guzman & friends, young players pushing for a job like Nathan Eovaldi & Shawn Tolleson, and whatever veteran reliever Ned Colletti insists he’s still going to bring in, whether it’s Mike MacDougal or someone like him.
Anyway, it’s all moot until Belisario actually shows up, which I won’t believe until I physically see him on the mound. If he’s not as good as his 2009 2.04 ERA would have you believe, nor was he as poor as his 2010 5.04 mark would suggest, and he could be an interesting piece out of the ‘pen. Frankly, I don’t mind waiting an extra month to find out.