Bullpens are like children. Just when you think you've got them figured out and everything is going smoothly, one of them goes off the rails.

Or two of them. Or three.

In 2011, the Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen was a strength of the club. In particular, closer John Axford was nearly perfect, converting his last 43 save opportunities as the club roared to the National League Central crown.

Though general manager Doug Melvin believes relief pitchers come and go in general, he wasn't going to mess with success. He brought back his bullpen virtually intact for the 2012 season, locking in each one with big-league deals.

"The one mistake we probably made is not having any flexibility," said Melvin. "They all had guaranteed money."

The wheels started coming off when Axford began blowing games in the middle of the season. Veteran Francisco Rodriguez, once one of the top closers in the game, was Plan B in the ninth inning but, wouldn't you know it, he went south as well.