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Earlier today we talked about the struggles of Grant Balfour this season and now Joe Maddon has announced that Balfour is no longer the closer and the team will instead use a bullpen-by-committee.

Maddon added that he wants Balfour to regain his confidence.

The irony of this move is that Balfour was Maddon’s first official “closer,” referring to the “c-word” when the team signed Balfour in the off-season.

“We’re actually going to use the C-word this year,” Maddon said when Balfour was re-introduced to the media.

Of course, the Rays almost always have a closer, but never as an official title. The feeling has long been that Maddon avoided the title because he wanted to be able to use his best pitchers in the most important spots and if that meant using somebody else in the ninth inning, it helped divert the questions and criticisms.

So why did Maddon change his stance this season? In all likelihood, it was a requirement for signing Balfour, or at least an enticement to get The Mad Australian to return.

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28 Comments

  1. Jason says:

    I wouldn't have him handle any duties besides being a pinch runner right now.

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  2. Jim says:

    The Bell/Balfour debacle that the FO made this year makes it seem like Pat Burrell had All Star seasons as a Ray.

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  3. Dave L says:

    Bell was acquired as part of the 3 way deal which netted us Hannigan, remember?

    He was the bitter medicine we had to take to get the catcher we wanted. If they really thought highly of him individually as being worth that much money, they would have not relegated him to low leverage situations. Bell was really a non issue for the Rays in 2014. And they sort of factored in his salary as the price they had to pay to get Hannigan and hope to get some innings out of him but didnt. Thats why they were willing to cut him lose so quickly.

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    • Gus says:

      Using that logic, Ryan Hanngian is a $10M catcher, in which case the front office was again foolish. His incremental value over Lobaton ($800K) is dubious at best anyway.

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      • Jim says:

        he's better that Jose, but to say we really didn't expect ANYTHING out of Bell is "foolish".

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        • Dave L says:

          They hoped he would get better of course. But he hasn't been good for a few years. They had to factor in that he may not improve.

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          • Jim says:

            Dave, it's ok to admit that the FO screwed up.

            Hanigan(already on DL) vs Bell, Balfour,Molina, Forsythe, bringing back Lueke is there really an debate here?

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          • Dave L says:

            Again time will tell.

            Hannigan, Forsythe and Balfour's grades are very incomplete.

            Molina was a mistake, and Lueke was pretty cheap and was the lowest man on the pens totem pole so he was a minor mistake. If he was Josh Doe we would barely have realized he existed on the roster.

            I questioned the Forsythe trade and argued against it initially here. If I were you I would have been crowing weekly how I was smarter than AF but since I'm neither and its June I will root for him to get better and contribute.

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      • Dave L says:

        Let me explain my logic.

        Getting the catcher you want isn't easy, a starting catcher doesn't become available often.

        Bell was signed for one year. Our load was $4.5 then he's off the books.

        Hanigan is signed for 2014 to 2016 at an average of about $3.2 + team options for 2017.

        So that averages out to about $4.7 for 3 years for Hanigan. SUre the Rays paid most of it up front. But that was the price we paid to get him. We all know the Rays org depth at catcher was thin

        Pretty reasonable if he stays healthy.

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        • Jim says:

          "Pretty reasonable if he stays healthy"

          HUH? a 33 year old catcher that has hamstring issues 1/3 through his first season of the contract. you're optimism is impressive.

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          • Dave L says:

            So if he stays healthy you think its unreasonable?

            Or you are certain he will never give us enough games?

            Or both? Again you know the future better than me.

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    • Jim says:

      So we payed an extra $6 million for a 33 yr old catcher, that has only played over 90 games twice in his career. And we made locked up a quality backup in Molina for 2 years just in case he broke down. Wow, since you put it like that, kudos to the great front office moves.

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      • Dave L says:

        Time will tell.

        You have an amazing ability to read what will happen for 3 years based on 8 weeks.

        I am not blessed with such powers.

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  4. Geoff Peterson says:

    Professional baseball have been around for about 140 years and for about the first 100 years no one knew what a closer was. Relief pitchers were situational and all of the game's great managers managed to handle the closer by committee concept.

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  5. Dave L says:

    Jim and Gus please answer these questions.

    If we traded for Bell solely becuase we really, really wanted him based on what he could do for us, why was he part of a three way trade?

    And if the Rays willingly made him the second highest paid arm in the bullpen because they thought highly of him, why was he used as the 2nd lowest leveraged relief arm ahead of only Lueke?

    Try to look deeper into why things occur and you will understand the logic of why things are done sometimes teams take guys they don't want to get guys they want.

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    • Jim says:

      Dave,
      It's as simple as this. We had planned on using him in higher leverage situations, but we saw something in spring training that made us realize that it wasn't going to happen.

      If you honestly don't think that Maddon and the Front office weren't going to make Heath Bell their 2014 Rays "scrap heap" project then you are delusional. Their no way in hell they were "OK" with throwing that money down the drain, they had bigger plans for Bell.

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    • Gus says:

      First off, the trade itself; the Reds were dumping the great Ryan Hannigan (having signed a better FA catcher two weeks before), and the Rays had agreed to extend him for 3 years $10.75 (Dave L. seems to have slightly lower numbers here) for a 33 year old coming off a sub-Mendoza season (.198). They didn't have to, he was arb eligible and could have gone year to year, but they are smarter than everybody else and have "Offensive Indifference" for the catcher position.

      The Rays got Bell and his $4.5M salary from Arizona and gave up their 2012 minor league player of the year Todd Glaesmann (since-retired) and an A-ball pitcher Justin Choate. For dumping their catcher, the Reds got a decent pitching prospect in David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks. But the D'Backs thought they were getting something with Glaseman, calling him the key to the trade.

      As it turns out, both Bell and Glaseman were out of baseball before Mother's Day,the trade exploding on the Rays (and the D-Backs, who were on the hook for some of Bell's salary) so the real cost is going to be money to the Rays in the Hannigan extension, increased Molina at bats (which is a real detriment) when Hannigan is down and whatever Choate turns out to be.

      Bell was used in low leverage situations because he sucked out loud in spring training and at the end of last year. Unlike a lot of other guys in his spot, he couldn't put together an off-season workout plan to "rediscover" his velocity and was soon waived. But it s clear the Rays were counting on him. Until Balfour was signed late, he was going to be the closer potentially.

      The Yankees and Dodgers take on guys they don't want because they can afford it; the Rays have never done it that way because they are so tight on the $.

      They thought Bell could possibly be Rodney 2.0 or Farnsworth 2.0 and could be worth the money; they missed. They misjudged Hannigan -- a no-hit part-time catcher -- too. Asking him to play every single game because Molina wasn't finishing games was a recipe for failure because he's 33, a catcher and you are asking him to be a workhorse coming off the worst offensive season of his career. Hannigan might not make it to the end of his contract in a Rays uniform either given his trends in 2013-14.

      For 2014 it is about $8M poorly spend to replace a switch-hitting catcher with defensive limitations but offensive potential perhaps and a guy who made 1/10 what the Hannigan-Bell experience makes. It was an abandonment of their youth-orientated bias that has killed them here. Of fighting the last warm trying to replicate the last signings. It was a big mistake becuase they were trying to be too clever.

      The Rays have the worst record in baseball for many reasons. This trade/signing is one of those reasons.

      For what they spent on Bell and Balfour, they could have re-signed Rodney or perhaps better, or just made McGee the closer (which is where we are in June I guess) and used the money to find some offense somewhere or extend somebody who deserves it. They did not. Most of the time they are smarter than us. Not this time. Not this year .

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      • Dave L says:

        Thanks for emphasizing my point Gus.

        The D-backs got absolutely ZERO (two guys out of baseball. place holder throw aways) but they were able to unload part of the Bell's salary. That was what they wanted. Where was the Rays explosion? Or the Dbacks? All they wanted was to get someone to take part of his salary -- mission accomplished.

        We got Hannigan. Thats what we wanted. You and Jim act like we got Bell in a vacuum. We didnt.

        Bell didnt suck out loud in ST he had a mid 3's ERA and everybody is working on thier pitch location etc. so what?

        We took him because we HAD to to close the deal. Of course they said they wanted him, what could they say? He was the poison pill we had to swallow?

        So lets review the trade, by your definition.

        1) Arizona- Pluses - Dumped part of Bell's salary- Minus - Lost a prospect and got nobody in return as you point out-- its a wash to them.

        2) Reds - Pluses - Got a decent prospect - Minus - Lost a Catcher they felt they had replaced Its good for them

        3) Rays - Pluses - Got the catcher they wanted, You and Jim can crap on him all day. Hannigan is a good catcher Minuses- ate Bells salary, Money only- The PLAYER losses were zero as you admit they lost two guys who were out of baseball before opening day.

        Bell and his salary was the poison pill why am I the only one to recognize that? Are all the commentors here brain dead as you two?

        The key to this trade is Hannigan. If Jim gets his wish and he's always injured then its a loss. The Rays always have to take chances we have a fraction of the revenues of our division opponents.

        Jim since you are so good at past links to predictions. Send me the links to verify your baseball acumen to point to where the moves you now deplore you actually were against these moves here in RI when they occured or thereafter.

        I know Gus cant (except Molina as everyone was against) so I wont even bother asking him.

        Can your brains grasp a 3 team trade and the nuances therein?

        Apparently not.

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      • Dave L says:

        Gus, BTW the extra $700k you quibble over was the 4th year buy out/ option i noted. Sorry I didn't spell it out in excruciating detail. I know many are dreaming my posts to be even longer.....

        Anyway I emphasize the key is Hanigan. If he pans out its worth it. If not our only Bell loss is 2014 money which was already baked into the souffle and has no carry over to 2015

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      • Dave L says:

        Gus unlike Jim you have a lengthy paper trail here.

        Send me to the RI link where you advocated keeping Rodney and lamented the signing of Balfour to show you were smarter than them this year instead of vice versa.

        Exactly zero posters here said keep Rodney at his number. I can remember no one objecting to getting Balfour at his reduced number.

        Im just asking for you guys who blast the Rays for doing X instead of the obvious, which was Y. To show where you knew Y was obvious in anything other than hindsight.

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        • Jim says:

          Dave,
          C'mon, you're making up shit to defend your views.

          If you truly think that Joe and the FO didn't think that Bell was their "veteran pitcher reclamation project of 2014" and were willing to just throw away his salary, then you truly don't have any clue as to how the Rays operate.

          HE WAS GOING TO BE ONE OF THE "CLOSER BY COMMITEE" GUYS UNTIL THE BALFOUR DEAL FELL THROUGH. you can deny that all day long, but it is a fact. The Rays quickly saw that he didn't fit their plans, and i'm sure his attitude went straight in the shitter after he realized he wasn't going to be the closer.

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          • Jim says:

            BTW,
            He pitched 5 innings with a 3.4 ERA and 8 hits in spring training. .

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  6. louberger says:

    i agree Gus. They cant revive and get lucky every year. This year, they fell on the other side of the coin.

    Didnt work, now it is painfully obvious, and hard to watch.

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  7. Gus says:

    Returning to my other mantra for the last month -- David Price's 0-2 stubborness/idiocy; did Cano break the game open on an 0-2, 2 out fastball?

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  8. JDALLEN says:

    The bottom line is the FO scewed up this year. THey have made some good and some bad moves and are forced to take chances (due to the continuous awful attendance) on guys that most teams will let walk. If we want a a better team and a team that will actually hit the ball then we will need to spend some cash. They reached this year and missed. Add in the fact the guys like Longo, Myers, Loney, Zobrist, etc. are not putting up even decent numbers. Time to shake this up.

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  9. mp645 says:

    The Twins were my team as a child because that is where I lived. Cal Griffith was the boss. All he bought were rookies, players on the verge of retirement and those fired or dumped by other teams. Was this cheap? Yes Was that a post season winning idea? NO

    The Rays FO folks are following the same pattern and wondering why it doesn't work. Lobo was a fan favorite but he had the lowest pickoff rate in MLB (11%). But catchers are a rare commodity. Washington Nats went thru 5 catchers last year. Suzuki is now with the Twins and batting 293. Too bad we dumped Chris Jimenez at AAA as he was an OK replacement for a few days.

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