Friday, March 19, 2010

The Closer Carousel makes us dizzy!

The whole idea of the Capital-C Closer role is something that has left us feeling conflicted in recent years.

Sure, we love the iconography of it: The Gunslinger! The Fireman! The Hammer! Mr. Lock-That-Shit-Down! We love the idea of some big, burly guy swaggering out of the bullpen in the ninth with some AC/DC or nu-metal anthem blasting as he loads it up and gets ready to put a final exclamation mark on a Blue Jays win. It's high drama, and great fun. It's the Ghost of Tom Henke, and it haunts us still.

The other side is that we can't entirely understand the whole idea of holding your single best relief pitcher out of the game so that he can continue to accumulate numbers in a mostly meaningless counting stat. If you're about to lose the lead in the seventh inning, we can't quite understand why you'd want to send out some mid-level reliever to get you out of the inning while your best relief guy tilts back in his folding bullpen chair, wiping sunflower seed detritus from his warmup jacket.

It's with this in mind that we consider the whole discussion of the 2010 closer situation.

We read this piece in The Sun this morning, wherein Kevin Gregg asserts his confidence that we will once again reclaim his rightful post as Major League Closer. Such talk makes us think that he needs to get a few opportunities soon before his membership in the Closer's Club lapses, and he's left emasculated by Alec Baldwin when looking to fulfill his daily caffeine requirements.

"Coffee is for closers."

This is where we start feeling anxious about Kevin Gregg stepping to the mound with a one-run lead, and the idea that the Jays are going to hang their hopes on this National League retread makes us really worry about the state of the bullpen.

But then, we set emotion aside and approach this rationally. And we get thinking about it, and we wonder if the Jays aren't better off giving him the role he wants, thereby leaving them with the luxury and the freedom to run Jason Frasor (for our dough, the guy with the best arm/brain ratio in the Blue Jays bullpen) and Scott Downs (who runs like a girl but gets outs when he doesn't hurt himself running) out to the mound in any situation and in any inning.

In a close game, with men on and the Jays in need of an out, we're fine with the notion of leaving Gregg out in the bullpen to clean his goggles and cool his heels while the big boys take care of business.

Even with the lack of a prototypical closer type guy, we're feeling like the Jays' bullpen could be as strong as anyone's this year. At this point, we're at least brave and/or crazy enough to think that we'll trade a few nervous ninth innings for some stability through the rest of the games.

...and finally, a Friday Rock Out memorial
Our favorite Big Star song. Thank you, Alex Chilton.


Bret said...


So your point here is that AA signed Kevin Gregg to trick Cito Gaston into using a "veteran" with "experience" as the closer, which really allows the better relievers to be used in more important situations? So basically, finding the best possible use of Cito's, um, Citoness, to actually benefit the team? I like it!

Tao of Stieb said...

I'm not sure if that was my point. But I like what you said, so yeah, exactly. That's what I meant!

Anonymous said...

Detritus: Accumulated material; debris

Just trying to help out - hell, I had to look it up myself.

Gil Fisher said...

Why did I get the sense last year, that the Manager so hated relief pitchers that he would disregard their need for the "stat" that he would put whomever he thought would get the out.

eg. I think there was an 8th inning somewhere along the line that had the heart of the lineup up and the Manager went to the Frasor to get the outs rather than trusting the available 8th inning arm.

Am I misrememebering?

Gil Fisher said...

Apologies to my grade twelve English teacher (not so much to my University English professor, because he struck me as being morally compromised when it came to sexual matters and young people) for my previous post.

And for this one.

mike in boston said...

while there are reasons for being optimistic, there are also facts about the state of the BP relative to other teams. The Jays were 19th in BP ERA last year and they are brining mostly the same crew back + the a guy with a spectacularly bad career ERA and mediocre WHIP.

why exactly will this BP match up well with other teams? where is the improvement coming from?

Tao of Stieb said...

I don't think this is exactly the same crew coming back. And some of the guys coming back were part of one of the best bullpens the year before.

Yeah, there will be a lot of familiar faces, but with just one or two solid new arms, this pen goes meek to mighty.

I've got a good feeling about Roenicke, Reider (Call Me Ray) Gonzalez, and possibly even Merkin Valdez.

And I'm starting to get over my irrational hatred of Shawn Camp.

Plus, you put Tallet in there for some middle inning work, or a refurbished David Purcey, or even a rebuilt Dusty Lambchops, and suddenly...We got guys!

Anonymous said...

No matter how hard I tried -- and I tried pretty hard in college, I just could never get into Big Star.

Tao of Stieb said...

I'm not a massive devotee either, but I like some of their stuff just fine.

I think that people approach Big Star with the notion that they're supposed to blow their minds...but it's not that type of band at all.

Just a really uniquely American amalgam of country, rock and pop, with some pretty deft and understated musicianship.

Anonymous said...

You're just okay with Gregg because he's white. If you weren't racist you'd want Merkin Valdez and his high velocity fastball and flat breaking balls. Racist.

Darren Priest said...

Yeah, I think a lot was written about their "Columbia" recording that put them in an impossible situation in terms of living up to expectations. Kinda like the La's.

Would we be better off if the La's got Oasis/Blur attention?

Tao of Stieb said...

I'm not racist!

Regardless of race, creed or colour, I'm in favour of dudes who can throw smoke. And Valdez throws his Merkin Balls with great velocity.

It's just that he doesn't get them into the strike zone as much as you'd like.

Anonymous said...

Tao works part-time at a Wal-Mart in New Jersey making customer announcements.

eyebleaf said...

The Sausage King gets my vote.

Chill said...

Anybody else concerned that Morrow was scratched today? I don't recall "Shoulder soreness" ever being a skip a start and you're okay kind of thing. Also, Dusty only hit 88mph today. Is that to be expected and he'll get back to the mid-90's as his arm shapes up, or is he close to topping out and we can only hope for some stamina to be built?

saxrdrunk said...

Thanks for the Big Star tribute. There's a reason Alex was revered by a who's who of indie bands (REM, The Replacements, The Hold Steady, The Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney, etc. etc.). Alex could have kept The Box Tops alive and raised them to the pantheon of Sixties' rock. Instead, he did it his way and made the music he wanted. The world is richer for the path he took. R.I.P. Alex.

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Gil Fisher said...

soft tosserist!

Darren Priest said...

LOL, you know your blog is =doing ok when clowns like the above have invaded.