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Not sure how I feel about this. I think the Rays do need a closer if for no other reason than to save Maddon from himself. I’m just not sure it is worth the cost to bring someone in from outside the organization. Anyone with even a decent track record will be expensive in terms of cash or prospects and relievers as a group are fairly inconsistent.
I agree, Sam. There are only a handful of guys who have been successful closers over multi-year periods — so you could be paying a lot for someone who then has an off year. Just think of Brad whatshisname (sorry, senior moment) who was unbeatable for Philly last year….
I’d say, promote someone from within, give a few prospects the opportunity and see who sticks.
As long as Springer, Choate, Bennett, and Shouse aren’t out there next season I’ll sleep better at night.
Sonny will be a great addition to the ‘pen if they’re wise enough to keep him there.
I wouldn’t want the Rays to go spend all their money on an established closer, but if they could get a second-tier closer for Burrell then maybe I’d be okay with it… tough one.
it’s tough cause they obviously need help in the pen, but i just dont think one guy is gonna make the difference i’d rather see them get a few more valuable guys and keep using the pen the way they have been
I think the way they have been using the pen is part of the problem.
The closer role itself has many flaws. I want my best reliever coming in in the 7th inning if there is a jam and we need a shutdown arm to save us. Also, closers have become extremely overpriced. I think the bullpen could certainly use some new arms, but a specific “closer” isn’t the way to go.
I think this is true — also, when teams have someone who is “the closer” they may go a week without using him — you don’t always have a save situation. That’s why I’ve been slow to criticize the “bullpen by committee” arrangement. In theory you ought to be able to retain some flexibility in when you use your relievers, although you will probably have some who specialize in long relief. But what’s happened is that the Rays developed a de facto closer — Howell — and now have gone back to the “committee” set up as Howell has stumbled.
I agree with this which is why I don’t want them to spend for a closer. I don’t have a problem with ‘closer by committee’ in theory, but the way Maddon does it is problematic. When he isn’t using a designated closer, he tends to overmanage.
But I think having a set closer, and then using JP for the highest leverage situations in the game, whether that be the 6th, 7th, or 8th, would be ideal. It gives everyone a little more assurance as to how they’ll be used.
Now I’m saying that’s ideal strategically, but from a financial standpoint, maybe not so much.
The best option would be to find someone from within the organization to be the closer.
Sam A, the person that is close to being in the organization as a full time closer is Matt Gorgen. Gorgen has had about 19 saves along with 77 K’s in 70 IP between high A/AA. He has high hopes for 2010. I would not mind giving Dale Thayer a shot in the bullpen next year.
What if the highest leverage situation is in the 9th inning?
Well, my point was that if you have a proven and consistent closer, you have him for that situation. Then you have JP in high leverage situations that occur before the 9th. How many times have you seen a lead or close game get out of hand for this team in the 8th and 9th inning this year, especially lately. If you have a (please pardon me for this) Papelbum or Rivera in the backend of the pen it gives you a shorter game and takes out a lot of the guess work.
My other point was that financially we probably can’t get a proven or consistent closer, so oh well.
I understand your point, and you’re right that it would be a wonderful luxury to have enough great arms in the pen to have an ace in the hole in the ninth inning. However, as you said we will not be able to afford bringing in a high-priced reliever so we will always have to either pull guys off the scrap heap that have fallen through the cracks and use arms from within the organization. I personally think Jake McGee is destined to be a great arm out of the pen. He has some nasty stuff, but his health record and inability to develop other pitches screams future closer.
Nice analysis. Last year the Rays best reliever was Balfour who was pitched at a historically high level. He rarely “closed”, but rather appeared in key situations. That type of mid-game “closing” did not occur this year – everyone was good (JP) to pretty mediocre (Balfour) until the past few week were everyone has simply sucked and Maddon was scrambling to find SOMEONE to help out. They guys collapsed like pre-2004 Red Sox.
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