Next time someone talks about how it is just as hard to find a good reliever as a good starting pitcher, point them in the direction of Salomon Torres.
The Pirates just signed Torres to a two year extension through 2008, with a club option for 2009. Torres will be 37 in 2009.
Pretty remarkble Lazarus act by Torres...he was a hotshot prospect who was called up to join the Giants' rotation down the stretch in 1993, when they were trying to fend off the Braves in one of the greatest playoff races of all time.
For those of you too young to remember, the Giants jumped out to a big lead in the N.L. West (this was in the old two-division days), taking a 7.5 game lead over Atlanta into the All-Star Break. Atlanta was white-hot in the second half, though, and an 8 game losing streak in early September left the Giants 3.5 games back with 17 games to go.
The Giants then won 11 of their next 13 to climb to one game back of the Braves heading into their final series of the year, a 4 game set at the Dodgers. They won the first three games, to tie up the division, but in the final game of the season, Torres imploded, getting yanked in the 4th inning of a 12-1 blowout by the Dodgers, which left the Giants, at 103-59 on the season, out of the playoffs.
Anyway, Torres was never the same after that, and ended up getting shipped off to Seattle a couple of years later for Shawn Estes. He kicked around and could never stick as a starting pitcher, ultimately being out of the majors from 1998-2001.
But he joined the Pirates organization before the 2002 season, made a few starts late in the year, and then carved out a niche over the past three years as a pretty good relief pitcher.
Salomon Torres is an extreme example, but he again drives the point home...good relievers are generally guys who can't hack it as a starting pitcher. They aren't that hard to find.