Results tagged ‘ Closers ’
Opening Day saw some pretty spectacular bullpen meltdowns. But what
does it say about the game that teams have become so reliant on the
bullpen that relievers can pretty much make or break a season? Have
pitchers gotten soft?
*Breaks window, jumps from the second story, runs down the street screaming even though forgot pants*
Believe me, Mr. Jake, I am really trying to tackle this one without any bias, without any memory of Opening Day in the ‘Lou, without a mammoth-sized chip on my shoulder. But let’s be honest: in baseball, there isn’t much worse than watching your team dominate throughout a game, only to blow it all in the 9th when the win is on the line.
My Redbirds managed to do that on Opening Day. The Brewers did too (all credit goes to John Axford). The Mets ran into it last night with Jail-Rod’s shenanigans (Also, his unfettered desire to fight people proves that pitchers — at least this one — have not gotten “soft”… unless the pitcher’s name is Kyle Farnsworth). Hell, ask the 2010 Baltimore Orioles… they know all about losing games late considering they blew more games last year than Lil Kim did Bad Boys in the 90s.
But what does it say about the game that teams have become so reliant on the bullpen that relievers can pretty much make or break a season? Gee, I’m not sure it’s really come to that. The ’08 Cardinals were pretty awful, as I remember the bullpen yacking up over 25 games late… but, after giving it the old eye test, I’m not sure it’s really fair to say that the state of Major League bullpens is any different than it has been in years past. You either have a good one, a mediocre one, or a bad one.
And even when you have a bad one, that doesn’t necessarily spell gloom and doom for one’s team. 2009 Brad Lidge comes to mind; my pedestrian and oft frightened colleague, Mr. Krause probably could’ve done a better job on the hill than Lidge that season, but the Phillies still managed to grind their way to the World Series.
Unfortunately, these days, the role of a “closer” and “set-up man” and “7th inning guy” has been magnified because of money. The more money involved, the more pressure. The more pressure, the fewer who can actually deal with it.
In fact, for my money, there’s only one closer who is reliable every single day and that man’s name is Mariano Rivera. I think the Yankees could realistically state that their season might rely on Mo’s cutters; but then again, their set-up man saved 40+ last year. And, oh yeah, their all-star lineup doesn’t hurt either.
But for the other 29 teams, yeah, it could be a problem. But when your team is in flux — featuring an unsigned future Hall of Famer, a sidelined perennial Cy Young contender, and an All-Star outfielder absent because of an appendectomy — then you got more problems than you can actually stomach right now. The bullpen is just one of many.
Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz I’m right.
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When that one game exposes a rudimentary flaw that I have been gripin’ about for over three years now, then that’s when trouble starts. That’s when walls in my apartment become punch-holed and that’s when my neighbors consider burning me at the stake for my insane bouts of baseball rapture.
Ryan Franklin… brother… I love ya… and I know you only blew two saves last year, but you ain’t a closer.
Pitching to contact is fine if you’re Derek Lowe. It’s fine if you’re a starter. Heck, it’s fine if you’re guaranteed that the batted balls are going straight into someone’s glove. But in the 9th inning, with a one run lead… I don’t want ANYONE ON BASE. NO ONE.
Ya hear me?
When I bring a guy in to close a game, I want someone with firepower, someone with strikeout potential… someone who throws GAS, someone with a wicked slider, someone with an impossible-to-hit cutter.
Think Mo Rivera. Think Dennis Eckersely. Think Neftali Feliz.
The closer’s job is to come in and close the game, not to let ‘em hit it and hope your defense saves you.
The best way to close a game is to miss the hitters’ bats. And Ryan Franklin has a real hard time doin’ that.
Now, for more on this, let us turn to our junior RSBS correspondents:
And so in this Podcast…
Jeff and his sCrUBS fan nemesis pal, Johanna Mahmud, get back in the studio and throw down on the art of being right! Among the titillating topics of discussion: mispronouncing dominance [Doc Halladay] and futility [John Grabow], Brandon Phillips’ wings, a wild war of words over Albert Pujols, the Lou Piniella Mailbag and much, much more.
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to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
via iTunes by clicking *HERE*
thanks to Keith Carmack — our engineer, director, editor and
all-around sound guru. He always knows when the Hawks are (or aren’t) gonna get donged.
Recorded Monday, May 31, Memorial Day 2010
Hate me ‘cuz I have the gutz, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
(Chris Perez image courtesy of Getty Images; all else taken off other stealin’, theavin’ blogs)
As the 2009 regular season comes to a close, so too do the pains suffered by most Major League clubs (unless you’re the Phillies, of course, who will have to endure a flat bullpen through at least three playoff games) and no team has bled out more publicly than the New York Mets.
I haven’t said a whole lot about the Mets’ woes because, well, everybody else has done quite an adequate job of ripping them apart, feasting on their mishaps, devouring their disastrous misfortune.
Then I found a futon.
On the interwebs.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 New York Mets (played by an inanimate metal futon frame shot with a hand held digital camera):
Yep. It’s broke.
Either just leave it there, dead on the ground, or start all over again fresh with a new, shiny, expensive futon that can take a beaning or two. Put a great big kiddie helmet on it if ya like. I’m cool with that.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Just as the homerun he gave up to Albert Pujols during the 2005 NLCS finally falls back to earth, so too does Brad Lidge’s status as an elite Major League closer. Having notched his seventh blown save of the season (by giving up a game-tying single to bonafide bust Milton Bradley no less), Lidge forces us to ask the serious question:
Who in the world is going to be fooled by that low and away slider when you throw it on the first pitch?
And then, I gotta follow up by asking:
Who in the world is going to be fooled by that right-down-central fastball you are forced to throw after they don’t swing at the low and away slider early in the count?
There was a time (it was just last year actually) when Brad Lidge was one of the most feared pitchers in the league. Nowadays he’s looking more and more like Mitch Williams circa 1997 (or Kevin Gregg today — in both cases, it ain’t good).
Lidge lucked out in that his team won it in extras but that doesn’t change the fact that he gave Cardinal fans the type of heart attack once only attributable to prospective hunting trips led by Dick Cheney (no, that will never get old). The Phillies, this year, have proven over and over again that there ain’t no such thing as a sure thing and Lidge’s once-devastating slider is definitely not a sure thing.
You want a sure thing?
Bet on an MMA fight looking at least kinda gay.
Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Old defensive liability power hitters who strikeout 150+ times a year and can’t hang in the National League should retire.
And yes, perhaps players should go back to wool uniforms (‘cuz when you’re itchy, you play with an edge).
Verily! The Gospel according to Jeff hath been spoken.
With that, I virtually extend my hand through the interwebs and take that of my calloused and oft misguided colleague, Mr. Krause. Indeed, I accept his dubious (and ultimately self-deprecating) proposal knowing full well that victory is in my near future.
And, since we’ve opened up the Gospel, let it also be known that:
The closer is the most overrated role in baseball.
And Albert Pujols is the only man who could make me gay.
Wait, did I just say that?
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Round two of the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry kicked off Friday night and once again the game wobbled in the unsteady hands of each club’s respective bullpens.
Ryan Franklin was a success.
Carlos Marmol was not.
If you don’t know by now, Albert Pujols is a baseball god. He hits for average. He hits for power. He steals bases. He motivates his teammates. I would rather donate half my salary to the Republican Party, sit on Rush Limbaugh’s lap and make out with Ann Coulter while listening to the entire Barry Manilow catalogue than piss off Pujols.
No wonder Franklin got the job done.
As for Marmol, well, can anyone blame him for yet another failure? His manager hates him. He has no clearly defined role on the team. And he just found out that General Motors is pulling the plug on the Pontiac line!
Life just ain’t fair; I couldn’t be happier.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
(*Base images courtesy of the Associated Press)