Talk baseball all season long with SI.com's Jacob Luft in Baseball Chatter, a journal for hot topic debates, Sabermetric ramblings and reader-driven discussions.
5/02/2007 12:22:00 PM
Ranking the Closers
Francisco Rodriguez is working on a third consecutive 40-plus save season.
Closers are like shooting stars. With rare exceptions, they shine brightly for a short while before burning out. Every few years, the top tier of closers resets with a new cast. Must be something about coming out of the bullpen every day and throwing as hard as you can for 20 pitches that isn't conducive to long-term success, though it does keep orthopedic surgeons gainfully employed.
Just five years ago, the top 10 saves leaders consisted of John Smoltz, Eric Gagne, Mike Williams, Eddie Guardado, Jose Mesa, Billy Koch, Robb Nen, Jose Jimenez, Troy Percival and Ugueth Urbina. Among that group, Gagne and Guardado are the only ones currently employed as a closer, and they are both injured. (Though for all I know Urbina may be leading the Venezuela Penal League in saves.)
Fast forward to April 2007, a month during which established closers performed so badly as a whole that it makes me wonder if we are in the midst of another major shift in the closer ranks. Here is how I would break down the current crop of closers into tiers with some comments tacked on below:
Light up a stogie
Joe Nathan, Twins Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox Francisco Rodriguez, Angels Billy Wagner, Mets
Comments: As I write this, Papelbon gets taken deep by A's rookie Travis Buck for his first blown save of the season in nine opportunities. No matter. Papelbon still belongs among the elite. ... K-Rod's small frame and wicked mechanics always have critics ready to pounce, but he hasn't broken down yet. And it doesn't hurt to have two of the best setup men in the game (Scot Shields, Justin Speier) softening up the lineup for you, either. ... Wagner and Nathan just keep chugging along, year after year.
On the way up
Chad Cordero, Nationals Francisco Cordero, Brewers Brian Fuentes, Rockies Bobby Jenks, White Sox J.J. Putz, Mariners Chris Ray, Orioles Takashi Saito, Dodgers Huston Street, A's
Comments: The Nationals trailed in nearly every ballgame they played in April, so opportunities were few and far between for Chad Cordero, who is still only 25 and should have a few more good years ahead of him. ... Francisco Cordero has been rock solid since being traded to the Brewers, and his 0.00 ERA in 12 games is a huge reason for their hot start this season. ... Fuentes is working on his third straight 30-save season. He deserves hazardous duty pay for getting the job done at Coors Field, where he saved 15 games last season. ... For sheer dominance, Putz is probably the best of this group. ... At 25, Ray also has a bright future in store. ... All Saito has done since coming over from Japan last season is blow hitters away. The 37-year-old Dodgers closer has struck out 122 batters in 92 innings while issuing only 24 walks. ... You'll know when Street will start to slip -- when Billy Beane pawns him off on an unsuspecting fellow GM.
On the way down
Armando Benitez, Giants Joe Borowski, Indians Ryan Dempster, Cubs Tom Gordon, Phillies Trevor Hoffman, Padres Jason Isringhausen, Cardinals Todd Jones, Tigers Brad Lidge, Astros Mariano Rivera, Yankees B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays Bob Wickman, Braves
Comments: It's safe to say that for all these guys, their best days are behind them. Hoffman and Rivera have such magnificent track records that a sudden turnaround to their slow starts wouldn't shock anybody. But they have to start declining sometime, don't they? For Rivera in particular, it's not a good sign that his manager feels like he has to treat him like a China doll. His days of getting more than three outs in an outing are over. ... Ryan is on the shelf with an ominous elbow injury. He's always had herky-jerky mechanics but somehow they never slowed him down -- until now. ... Jones overpowered hitters while with the Marlins in 2005, striking out 62 batters in 73 innings, but he's only whiffed 30 batters since signing with Detroit before '06. Jones is further proof that closing is more about moxie than stuff. Sooner or later, though, his inability to miss bats will catch up to him (see Kolb, Dan). ... Dempster is coming off a poor season (nine blown saves in '06) and I expect more of the same once the opportunities become more frequent.
Wait and see
Henry Owens, Marlins Al Reyes, Devil Rays Joakim Soria, Royals Salomon Torres, Pirates Jose Valverde, Diamondbacks David Weathers, Reds Dan Wheeler, Astros
Comments: Some of you fantasy leaguers have probably picked up Reyes without ever watching him pitch, though the truth is that the guy is such a journeyman (seven teams over 12 years) that you probably have seen him at some point. He's 36 and spent 2006 recovering from Tommy John surgery, so enjoy the ride while it lasts. ... Valverde is off to a nice start but it's tough to be a successful closer over the long-term if you have control problems. ... Soria is a rookie filling in for the injured Octavio Dotel and has shown flashes of dominance (e.g. four Ks in two innings against Detroit on April 18). ... Owens just notched consecutive saves against the Mets, so the Marlins' closer job is his for the foreseeable future. He's got a nice fastball that rides in the low-to-mid 90s and tails away from left-handed hitters. If he remains aggressive in the strike zone he might prove to be serviceable. ... Wheeler's peripherals have been outstanding in setup duty. Now let's see if he can do it in the pressure spot.
J.P.'s not going to like it when he realizes he spent a kings ransom on a herky jerky blown out elbow.
I cannot understand these GM's. For a few pennies more he could have got Billy Wagner during the same offseason. Why don't the GM's talk with their players? Wagner is one of the most feared pitchers in baseball. Nobody likes facing him. Meanwhile, BJ Ryan is laughing all the way to the bank.
Why is Borowski on this list as 'going down'? All he's done this year is save 9 of 10 (second in the majors) and strike out 13 in 11 innings. His ERA is up from two non-save outings (Yanks great 4 run comeback and an early season blowout where he got work in). Yet he isn't even mentioned. There's a reason why the Indians are first in the AL and he's been a big part of that.
I don't see how Benitez is on his way down..... he has 7 saves in 7 save opps and a 2.0 era..... while he doesn't have the overpowering stuff he used to I'd say he's more of a wait and see or even if you want to stretch it on the way back up..... also considering the fact that of there was a complete game or two in there of the giants 13 wins.... it's stil early in the season to be making such an analysis.... i see the point with rivera and lidge though
This is about the silliest thing I've ever read. If the theory is that young guys are "on the way up" and older guys are "on the way down" the I accept that, but to put Mariano and Hoffman in the same league as Borowski and Gordon is ridiculous. You are burying Mariano based on 9 2007 appearances. Do you recall his 1.80 ERA and 34 saves last year? I guess he lost it all over the winter. Ask any New Yorker (including Mets fans) who pays attention and they'd take Mo any day over Billy Wagner.
wow.... so Ryan is now on his way down because of his first injury? Try looking at his stats from his first season with the Jays. You might wanna re-consider and move him back to 'on the way up'.. or 'light up a cigar'
Are you insane? The best closer in the history of baseball(obviously Rivera) blows two saves early on and you send him into exile? Give me a break. Billy Wagner? Did you watch him pitch in the 2nd half of last season? One word, TERRIBLE!
Panama Express has been on the way down for a long time. People keep talking about his October performance, but thats not fair to most of these other closers. The Yankees are in October every season so his record will always look better than others. Take Rivera and put him on another team and he wouldn't be ranked any better than these other guys.
Indians in '97, Snakes in '01 and Red Sox in '04? You can't be serious. Most postseason saves ever and a sub 1 ERA with over 100 postseason innings. When you are given 100 times to save a game there will be a few where you lose....nobody is perfect. Who would you rather have than Rivera? Paplebon has shows glimpses of Rivera-like dominance, but he wasnt able to handle it last year (injury). We will see if he can handle the work this year.
i'm a yanks fan and think mo will still be fine (even tho he has begun to frustrate over the last 4 years- at times) even though he is human. but, i look forward to getting k-rod when he comes up on the block, the kid is 100% nasty and in my opinion, he will be the best closer we will see for some time.
Where have you been in the last two years? This is a clear example of East Coast bias. I can't believe you did not mention a Padre reliever/closer except to mention Trevor Hoffman as a closers in decline. Also no mention of Scott Linebrink as one of the best and no mention of Cla Meredith as an up and comer. All you care about are the big names teams.
Ask Papelbon about....Oh wait, I forgot he's only been a closer for a year because he was a failure as a starting pitcher. I'd say by mid season there will be enough film on him for teams to be effective. Right now, he's way too new, young and inexperienced to be lighting up stogies.
Ryan Dempster's on the way down. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. No blown saves this year. He's 4 for 4 in save situations. He's been in 10 games this year, 6 of them in "hold" situations, His only loss was extremely tough and in extra innings. Oh, and he has an ERA at about 2.15.
Yeah, all pitchers should be on their way down with such stats.
Papelbon has yet to prove he can last a season or that he can close the big game. Why rag on Rivera for a poor start when he does not need to prove he is the best ever. I do not see any comments of the the blown Papelbon save last night. People love to hate the Yankees and anyone who plays for them but Rivera is a class act and the team will be there come September. Remember 2 years ago.
Ask Papelbon about....Oh wait, I forgot he's only been a closer for a year because he was a failure as a starting pitcher. I'd say by mid season there will be enough film on him for teams to be effective.
..You Sir, are obviously an idiot. Stick to what you know...NOTHING!!
Yeah sure Papelbon is lights out in april (he was last year too) but I'm betting he'll start blowing saves/get injured after the all star break just like last year while Mo goes on to have a 2 era and 30+ saves...just like last year
Time to relax on Rivera being done. He's not 2 years removed from a sub-2.00 ERA. Last year, he had some arm troubles and Torre has decided it's best to prolong his career and not ask him to get more than 3 outs (which he's already done this year).
Rivera has had a bad start. But if you actually analyze his pitching, you'll notice that his cutter has the same bite it always had and the movement is still there. He's having mechanics problems - his control is off. Pitchers don't lose their stuff because they don't have the mechanics anymore. Physically, Rivera may not be the pitcher from 5 years ago, but once he gets on track, he'll be fine.
Say what you want - Rivera is the best closer of all time and even as his career winds down, he's an elite closer. Don't believe me? Wait and see what happens if (BIG if) he hits the free agent market. He'll be getting gigantic offers from clubs who still believe he's an elite closer.
A late-season arm injury and an unrelated slow start do not mean Rivera's career is getting close to being over.
Riveria is getting old and Brian Cashman is a knucklehead. I love Mo, but Cashman doesn't understand that people get old...just because he hasn't started shaving yet doesn't mean the rest of the world has a fountain of youth in its backyard. Mo will be a Hall of Famer no matter what happens this season. As for Pap, he and the Red Sox will choke and tank like every year (except 2004). They have their World Series for the century.
Bobby Jenks saved 41 games last year, two games in the World Series in 2005 (including the clincher on the road in a 1-0 game), has gone 8-for-9 this year, and only makes the up-and-coming list?? Meanwhile, Paple-shmear hasn't even smelled the playoffs, but he's on the Cigar list, while Hall-of-Famer Mo Rivera is on the way down? Is this the Bizarro List of Closers??
so papelbon is lights out a month removed from being told he shouldn't be a closer because of injury concerns and without putting forth a full injury free season while ryan is on the way down because of his first trip to the DL in his career? strange article.
I agree that Hoffman is on his way down. Time to start thinking about the "R" word. I think Bud Black is stuck with him because he's such a hero in San Diego, but it could prove costly to the team in the long run. On a lucky day, the opposition hits the ball within someone's range. But they do hit it. He is certainly not overpowering. I like Hoffman, but the team comes first.
Failed starter? Papelbon had a 2.25 era in his three career starts - all in 2005. He and Lester were slated to be the next two young studs in the rotation before Beckett and Dice-K entered the picture.
Pap's stats as a starter in 2005: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlbhist/players/splits?statsId=7614&type=pitching&year=2005
I love Yankee fans, always good for a chuckle....Mo Rivera has been on the way down for years. The "Only 3 blown saves, your praising him" approach doesn't really work when those were 3 of the most critical blown games for the franchise in what, 30 years? Sorry, but racking up saves against the Tampa Bays and Texas of the world in June doesn't impress me. He had a great start to his career, and the last 7 years have been average.
Mo is the leading postseason closer in history because the Yanks ALWAYS MAKE IT TO THE POSTSEASON. Sure, he's been a pretty darned good closer for a long time now, probably one of the best in history. But you Yankees fans can't really try to tell me that he's still his same old self and isn't on the decline at all??
Don't get me wrong, like I said, I think he's one of the best closers in history. But I've never played competitive baseball in my life, and if the Yankees made me closer for 10 years, then I would probably be the all-time leader in postseason saves too.
For much of his success, Mo has Steinbrenner to thank, for buying teams with excellent defense year after year, because that's one of the biggest factors that affects saves/ERA: team defense. What did all those great Yankees WS teams in the late 90s have in common? Fantastic defense, most notably.
The reason people are bringing up the Indians, Dbacks and Red Sox, is because he blew it in those situations in a high-pressure environment. OF COURSE he's blown more saves than those times. They're just notable, because they were blown by the "greatest postseason closer in history." Heck... that greatest postseason closer blew the World Freaking Series in 2001, and the Yanks have had a hangover ever since.
You can always spot a Yankees fan: they'll defend Mo everytime. Problem for them is that he's finally old, and for the first time in his career, Red Sox Nation and Red Sox batters are eager to see him in the 9th. A Revera blown save is such a delight to see!!!
Yes sir... yankee fans always bring up the rings as well... it will be interesting to see the playoffs without them this year.. just like we got the braves out after 15 years last season. Mo is on his way down... he is getting old, thats why.. no way he can keep up that production the same way he did when he was younger. just like your starters...
I love Yankee haters, always good for a chuckle...
Saying that Mariano's blown saves in the postseason "were 3 of the most critical blown games for the franchise [...]" is the most blatant use of an availability heuristic I've seen in a while. He closed out three of the past four Yankee World Series titles and countless other postseason games that were far more critical than those three.
Let's all remember this article when Mariano makes it look foolish in October.
As stated before, Paps never had problems as a starter, but is a closer because that's where he is most valuable to the team. Although he is young and has not been a closer for a full season yet, he IS lights out. Mo is still a very good closer (his ERA will go down and his saves up), but is no longer in his prime and is by no means lights out, ESPECIALLY against the Sox. Being a Sox fan I may be biased, but I'd much rather be hitting against Mo than Papelbon in the 9th, whether it be May or October. Paps stuff is lights out, his endurance is the only thing to worry about (which hopefully was fixed with his strength traning). If you disagree, it's because you are a Yankees fan who knows little about the game.
Yes Mo is one of the best EVER.. but, with age he is on the decline. thats all this is saying. this article doesnt take away any of his rings or accomplishments. just states the fact that with age. production declines... yankee fans should be able to accept that for what it is... the truth
For Mo to get back to a 2.00 ERA this year, he would have to give up 0 ERs in his next 33 IP. Assuming he gets to 72 IP this year, which is likely, he would have to give up no more than 7 ER in the next 64.1 IP - a 0.98 ERA. How likely is that?
Mariano has the best cutter fastball of all time. Every batter has studied videos of his games for years. That has helped them hit against him, but there is no good answer to his cutter--especially to the left side hitters.
As a Phillies fan I have seen Tug McGraw in 1980 to Mitch Williams in 1993 to Jose Mesa, who is done in the majors, to Billy Wagner blowing every save against the Astros when they beat the Phillies to the wild card two years in a row, to Tom Gordon as an all star last year to terrible this year. The phillies need a good young closer but have never had one. Antonio Alfonseca has been good but Charlie ("I been growed up") Manuel has kept Flash in there. I would still love to have Rivera, Hoffman, or Ryan.
As a Nats fan, I'm glad you think Chad Cordero is the real deal. Wish I did. For the last year and a half I have watched him do it with mirrors. When he gets a save, it is usally because his outfielders pulled down 3 blasts to the walls or someone lined into a double play. The Nats should trade this guy asap before the rest of the GMs wise up.
Apparently no one can take an objective opinion on Mo. They either love him and he'll save 1000 games this year, or they hate him and he'll blow 2000. I'm a huge Yankees fan and I love Mo, but he is getting old. Is he the best closer ever? Probably. Is he going to be fine this year? I'm confident he will be. Will he be the best closer this year? Probably not. Am I comfortable going into the playoffs (hopefully, at this point) with him closing? Absolutely! Everyone says he has all those postseason records because he plays for the Yankees. Does it help? Yes. But many players/pitchers fail in NY because they can't handle the pressure (see: Weaver, Contreras, Johnson), or because they just aren't good pitchers and we overpaid them misjudging their talent (see: Farnsworth). You still have to be a good pitcher to close out those games. Ask any batter in the Major Leagues. Do they say, "Man! Rivera is so hard to bat against because of that team on the field behind him!"? No. They cite his "nasty" stuff, and "great" cutter. His stats are a result of both his situation and his talent, just like every other player on every other team. Has he blown some big saves? Yes. Against Cleveland you can say it was his first year as the full-time closer and excuse it. I do. Against Arizona, it was a little of each. He made an error and put runners on base, but also remember if Joe Torre had the defense at double play or normal depth, instead of in to cut down the run at the plate, Gonzalez's pop-up would have been caught by Jeter, and then who knows how that series would have ended. The ball barely made it to the outfield. Again, a mixture of circumstance and talent. Against Boston, it looks like he blew it. The Boston hitters hit him, he didn't make his pitches, and he helped the rest of the team (remember, the other pitchers didn't exactly help the cause) give away the series. You know what? He was still a key component in the World Series championship teams, I'm grateful I was rooting for the team he played for, and I hope we can get at least one more before he retires, since that time is coming up soon.
Mo always has a slow start. he has ice water in his veins and a cutter that can still cut. Before its over he will stronger and be better while the others like papelbon will tire and be less effective. He is still the std by which others should be judged!
I'm not convinced Rivera's done yet. He's only blown 2 Save Opportunities...to Boston and Oakland (top quality teams). He's held opponents to 0 runs in 6 of his 9 appearances. How is that really falling? It ain't Mariano-like, but get a grip.
Huh? You baseball writers should know better than that. It could be true, he could be falling from grace...but I think saying so is just being trigger happy right now.
BJ Ryan's never been hurt before, doesn't need surgery and was lights out last year, but suddenly his "herky jerky" motion and an unproven track record suggests he's in a downward spiral? Give me a break. Papelbon also has a single year under his belt and started struggling in the second half but he's a proven closer on the upswing? Give us a break!
I hate the everything about the best team money can buy (the Yankees for those in denial) but Mariano Rivera is the best closer I have ever seen. Hey may not have thrown the hardest but he definitely had the nastiest stuff. I hate the East coast biased but truth be know, he was and probably still is the most CLUTCH closer. And that is all that really matter right? Who cares about the regular season, it is in October that he made his career. I do believe that Eric Gagne was the most dominant, but Rivera's longevity and when the most of his impressive saves occured is what matters. I have watched Saito pitch and he is really good but definitely watch out for Jonathan Broxton. Yankees suck, but, Rivera has done it with class and dignity
Way too many Yank-off fans reading baseball news looking for a tiny shred of hope .... not gonna happen, not this year (again). Mo and the whole "veteran" (i.e. OLD) pitching staff is toast. Let's see George pull some magic out of his .... Kick back and enjoy the Sox, Red or White!
Does the anymous Dr. that assured us that Papelbon would not make it through the season without shoulder problems have some inside info?
To the other Yankee fan who wrote Paps failed as a starter...and that teams will figure him out by mid-season... give me a break 0.92 ERA last year and continuing this year. WAKE UP - he's as good as there is in baseball right now... Rivera will get better - he can't get any worse...
Funny the other yankee fan is already figuring out the next reliever they are going to buy!
They may need to increase the payroll to $300m next year so they can buy their way back into the playoffs b/c they aren't going anywhere this year.
Are you kidding me? Hoffman's stats speak for themselves. Over 30 saves during 11 of the past 12 seasons (and he had surgery during the 12th). Over 40 saves during 8 of those seasons, including the past 3. Oh, and more career saves than anyone, ever. And he merits barely a mention? Yes, he blew two saves during April, and he doesn't pitch in NY or BOS. But let's not count the guy out yet.
Are we all taking about the same MO as in Rivera?? i hate to break it to you Yankee fans but Mo isnt Mo anymore hasnt been the same for a while... the triumph has to end sometime... hate to be the bearer of bad news
The notion that Rivera is done is just dumb. He has a slow start every year (including last year) and then turns it on when it counts... when will columnists learn??? Don't get me wrong they'll get it right one day but is that really fair when they say it every year.
Lutz, aren't you the same guy who buried Detroit last summer when they lost 5 of 6 to the Yankees and Red Sox? I'll take any predictions of future performance you make with a grain of salt the size of Texas.
The last time Mariano Rivera was "finished",after blowing two saves early on (both to the Red Sox, I think), he "finished" the season with a career best ERA. The only thing finished here is my interest in these idiotic postings.
Please tell me you're kidding? Hoffman on the way down?
Did you write this just to check the pulse of the West Coast?
It is Hoffman, not MR, who has the best closing ratio in MLB history. It is Hoffman, not MR, who has the most saves in MLB history. Mind you, Mo is a very, VERY good save artist, and easily the best one in playoff history.
Neither one of these guys are on their way down. It's the first of the season. Give them a little time.
Hoffman will have 40 saves before the season is over and will not have blown more than 4 all year, or I will eat my hat.
Francisco Cordero is hands down the best out there right now. 0.00 ERA and 10 for 10? He did not win them in 3 run games, many were 1 run where 1 little mishap does him in. I am sick of relievers giving up a couple runs and "escaping" with a save. You don't find that in CoCo - solid all the way!
every year someone says that Marino Rivera is done. The reason his era is over 10 is because the Yankees have not needed him very much this season. Just wait till July when Rivera is back to his dominant self
man...yanks and red sox dominate the conversation. now some facts. mo's era, whip, etc. have been about the same for his entire career. if anything, his era has been a little lower over the last 4. all this is ignoring 2007. nothing we saw in spring training make you feel like his end is in sight. papelblown. lot of blown saves (6) the second half of last year - plus shoulder troubles.
I'm a Yanks fan who is realistic about Mo. Flat out not good right now. And I'm frankly amazed that he's been so good for so long. Mo will definitely know when it's time to go, and he'll know long before any of us will. If he doesn't have it, he'll leave. Maybe he won't have a microscopic ERA this year, but come August he'll be back on track.
But, God forbid the Yanks are going south in July, and God forbid they consider dumping him to a contender (this will never happen, but play with me on this), there is absolutely no team that would not take him. Even the Red Sox would take him and use him and Paps as a deadly combo. In August, nobody else but the Red Sox would take him and not make him their closer.
I'm a Yanks fan but I honestly believe that the other fans who respect Mo the most over the years are the Red Sox fans. For years Mo owned them (as he did most everybody else), culminating in his epic 3 inning save in the Grady Little game. But they had aleady begun to figure out his cutter and jump on his fastball (seeing him 19 times a year helps) and in 2004 they finished the job. Only Red Sox fans (and I know a few who feel this way) have the unique feeling of being both in awe of Mo and being greatly satisfied that they've conquered him.
Papelbon has never been a failure as a starter. He asked to be put back in the closers role casue then every good game schilling beckett and matsuzaka pitches will put an L in the column. He makes the best hitters in the game look silly. He Yankee fans anyone want to talk about when he struck out your best hitter jeter two nights in a row. Or Vlad with a men on the corners with one out. Or how about Michael Young. And i want to let you know Papelbon said he could've gone last year but why risk your future when your 7 games back and your best hitters arent even playing. His stuff is wicked and had a better rookie season than rivera if anyone can remember that. Good call on the rankings you hit it pretty much right on the spot except for not having broxton on the up and coming even though hes not a closer yet.
I am a Yanks fan. Mo was so perfect, people can only count his mistakes. Nobody counts the number of saves and rings he achieved. A perfect guy now has come to reality and now has to face the "music". I wish to see him once more to do his magic and get yanks the ring (especially after Boston Won) b4 he retires.
I disagree about Mo, he has had a rocky start but i think he will make a quick turnaround, and although Papelbon is amazing I think that he should be listed as on the way up, as he is arguably the best young pitcher in baseball today and in my opinion (although I am a Yankees fan) he hasn't reached his prime yet, which is a scary thought.
Joe Nathan gets plenty of credit... too much if you ask me. K-Rod is the best in the league. He has a changeup now, the best slider in baseball and a hard fastball. He has slowed things down and is showing great command now.
for everyone who's saying that billy wagner sucks, you're all idiots. rivera IS on the way down and has been for a while (yea i know great last year bla bla bla). but with a 100 mph fastball, wicked slider, and now a changeup that he added to his repertoire i don't think there is a better closer in the game than billy wagner. case closed
I love how the yanks are already being counted out when they've only played like 25 GAMES! The first month of baseball is just over and we already know who's going to the playoffs? Alot can happen between now and then. And the Yankees are(no matter what condition) not a team to count out. For all we know the RS could be hit with devastating injuries come July, and the Yanks are healthy. We just don't know.
Paplebon Man-fan club, looks like it has another member. Statistically the best closer has been and is Frankie Rodriguez for 3 years now. He Ks more then anyone his ERA is competitive with all those East Coasters and I dont see how body make can drop you down a spot. I seeem to remember a significantly smaller kid by the name of Billy Wagner having a decent career. Also Paplebon has barley been a closer. I dont see how he gets any nod here. Garbage
to respond to: Posted: 5:46 PM, May 02, 2007 by Brian man...yanks and red sox dominate the conversation. now some facts. mo's era, whip, etc. have been about the same for his entire career. if anything, his era has been a little lower over the last 4. all this is ignoring 2007. nothing we saw in spring training make you feel like his end is in sight. papelblown. lot of blown saves (6) the second half of last year - plus shoulder troubles.
Definately agree. Papelbon may end up being the best closer this year, find. I do not have any qualms about that if it is to occur; however, to claim Mariano is on his way down when aside from Torre's caution Rivera has had two of the most dominating seasons of his entire career in 2005 and 2006, which I must remind everyone, began with blown saves and inconsistency due to Yankee offense leading to fewer save chances. His ERA those seasons was 1.38 and 1.80 respectively. Damn, those are horrible totals. In his last appearance against Boston which was also his next appearance period after blowing the game at Fenway he closed the thing out. Rivera is the rare closer who never loses composure. His near hit batsman in the game at fenway was indivicitive of his long layoff, not an emotional response. Rivera was hitting 93 and 94 MPH in his last 2 appearances. These are speeds at which his cutter has worked best, and has showed the most break. To declare his is on his way down is an assumption that is based on little evidence. The sample size in incredibly small, and is idiotic to suggest his demise solely due to age. This has been debated for years. Rivera should be off this list for all categories. He has defied all norms and does not have anything in common with other closers ever, be it regular season or postseason. In addition, to name Paps as one of the top 4 in baseball using such a small sample is idiotic, and to call wagner elite while mentioning rivera as on the decline deserves serious condemnation at this point in the season. Wagner is a guy who piles up numbers during the first 75% of the season and begins to unwind latter in the year; Rivera, well, Rivera only improves as the year progresses. Many thought game 5 against the Idians would derail his careet. Wrong. Game 7 against the D'backs, a game he additmitedly F'd up in by making an error and deferring blame. Wrong again. To name top notch closers that have never faced postseason competition, or faced a "deadly" cardinal lineup is preposterous. Nathan and K-Rod belong on that list, but it is early to proclaim Paps as top notch after he nearly pulled an Eric Gange circa 2005-2006 at the end of last year. Can he stay healthy? We will see. If Paps is on the list why is Street not on the list when he has more experience, a similar track record, and a few years younger meaning he still has growth potential. I am an Angels fan, but Wagner and Papelbon do not belong on this list if Rivera is to be designated as one to dismiss. This is not Yankee bias, "we" kill the Yankees. The list is simply idiotic. The top "Light up a stogie" category should include only Rivera, K-Rod, and Nathan. That is it. Nathan has not had such a hot start either. One can never judge a season based on such a small sample, and K-Rod has had a few misses himself, and this does not include the potential cheating incident. I would bet money that Paps will save under 40 games due to injury, and the Red Sox will sincerly regret his readmission to the pen. He is a unique talent, but his motion is much too violent,moreso than rodriguez, and will be on the Dl within 38 more innings pitched. He will most likely breakdown. If he does not, good for him; however, all signs point to him combusting in the final fifth of the season.
Lidge is young enough to rebound. Based on Borowski's career, I would not count him out. He was relgated to the Mexican League at one point and resurrected his career in a playoff race.
Fransisco Cordero walks too many to be effective over a whole season. Right now he is a 5.6/9. Once he has been around the NL once or twice the hitters will start to catch up to him.
Dempster's struggles last season were due to infrequent use not overuse. He would go a week to ten days between opportunities due to the Cubs either being behind or the game not being close. I do not expect the same struggles as the opportunities pile up this year. He should be used more regularly this season as the Cubs offense is better as is their starting pitching.
I rather Papelbon blow one in May than in October when games REALLY matter. Hey you can't save them all......and look at how Papelbon destroyed the cooler after he blew it. He's definitely got the fire to now absolutely destroy hitters for the rest of the season!
What is most hilarious about this debate/article, is that the season is only a month old. By the logic shown by many here, John Smoltz and Johann Santana should have been "done" last year when they got off to rough starts. Lo and behold, they are all still around...
By the way, I love all the chatter about how "Mariano blew teh 2004 ALCS!!!11" In Game 4, he allowed a walk, and after a stolen base, a seeing-eye single. Fine, he gave up the lead there, but was well out of the picture when the game was lost. In Game 5, he came in in the eighth inning with first and third, no outs and got out of it with one run. It was Gordon who spit the bit and left Mariano in a near-impossible situation.