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View Full Version : Matt Clement as the Reds' closer?



Spitball
06-25-2006, 04:29 PM
I understand Peter Gammons claims in his ESPN Insider column that the Red Sox have approached small market teams about Matt Clement. Unless the Sox are willing to pay most of his salary like they did with Renteria, this makes little sense to me. Why small market teams?

If the Sox are willing to pay for him to pitch for the Reds, he might be worth a shot. He is out right now with shoulder weakness but doctors can't find anything physical. I think he is neither equipped to start anymore (high pitch counts) nor to pitch in the Boston spotlight. But...I think he could close for the Reds.

I've always felt the guy could be a lights out reliever. He misses bats and induces grounders.

Highlifeman21, can you please check that Peter Gammnon's ESPN Insider story for me? :help:

jimbo
06-25-2006, 04:44 PM
I'm not sure if Clement has the mentality to be a closer, but it's an interesting idea.

paulrichjr
06-25-2006, 04:45 PM
http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?name=gammons_peter#20060623

Edgar Renteria admitted what few players would have the courage to address -- that, yes, Boston got to him last season after he left the friendly confines of St. Louis and signed with the Red Sox for four years and $40 million.
"The deal [in which the Red Sox acquired Coco Crisp and are paying $3 million of the $9 million Renteria gets paid this season] was the best thing for everyone involved," Renteria says. "I just never got comfortable."

Renteria had a bad April 2005, got the nickname "Rent-A-Wreck" and was tentative the entire season. He said he was confused why players like Keith Foulke and Mark Bellhorn, who helped bring the Red Sox their first World Series title since 1918, were booed mercilessly.

"I feel badly for the great fans," Renteria says. "But it did not work out."

It is different in Boston and New York, and -- to a lesser degree only because of the Phillies' place in local interest -- Philadelphia.

"I have friends among the managerial community that complain about things in their cities," Terry Francona says. "I tell them they have no idea what it's like in Boston, to play, to manage, even coach. Or be the general manager."

Right now the Red Sox are wondering if Matt Clement is going to survive the final year and a half of his three-year deal, just as the Yankees wonder if they'll ever see Carl Pavano. They had to rid themselves of Jose Contreras because they did not think he could pitch in New York.

Clement complained of shoulder weakness, but got a clean bill of health from the doctors. He has a 6.61 ERA. He has allowed 121 baserunners in 65 1/3 innings. The club has tried to see if there is interest among teams in smaller markets -- like the Indians and Blue Jays -- without success.

"He can't go back to the National League because of his asthma," says one NL GM. "If he runs the bases, he loses 3-to-5 mph in velocity."

There are few better people than Clement, few who have a greater desire to succeed. Stuff? Outstanding. Hey, he made the All-Star team last summer.

But he had the makeup issue raised his final year with the Cubs when Dusty Baker yanked him out of the rotation down the stretch. He had a meltdown in Game 1 of the ALDS against the White Sox. Now...

Maybe he is hurt or is flinching from being hit in the head. We also don't know what a battle it is to deal with asthma; often when he covers first, Jason Varitek will stall to give him time to catch his breath. And anyone who has asthma or has lived with someone who has asthma knows it is dramatically exacerbated by stress.

Theo Epstein has privately beaten himself up over this issue. He realizes that while Derek Lowe had a 5.32 ERA his last year with the Red Sox, he loved pitching and living there. David Wells is 16-2 the last six years at Fenway and has no problems dealing with the fanaticism, but his knee might be shot, so Epstein is essentially figuring he may have to finish the season without Wells or Clement.

Hence, knowing the ages of Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield, and knowing Josh Beckett has never started 30 games, Epstein picked up Jason Johnson and Kyle Snyder as inventory and protection ... and that was after Jon Lester stepped into the fourth starter hole.

The Sox now approach the midpoint of the season with Jonathan Papelbon, Lester, Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen in major roles. The way they look at this problem, the Red Sox might be better off developing their own players, watching them grow up professionally in the New England baseball culture as they go from Lowell to Portland to Pawtucket. Their own organizational people know the makeup of their own players better than they know players from other teams.

What fascinates the Red Sox about Lester is his ability to dial it up with runners on base. He often goes from 89-93 mph to 94-95 mph out of the stretch. He doesn't fluster, as evidenced by his .094 BA against with runners in scoring position in Pawtucket. In Boston, Clement's OPS with runners in scoring position is 1.187, which means the average batter hits like Albert Pujols against Clement in those situations.


Brian Cashman has tried to keep the Yankees on that track. He's gotten significant contributions the last two years from Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera, who were raised as Yankees.

The 2005 free-agent class is now pretty much written off as a disaster. Pedro Martinez and Lowe could pitch in Boston. Jon Lieber could pitch in New York. Can Clement and Pavano pitch in Boston and New York? Anyone who knows either roots for them but cannot criticize either team for wondering.

THE INFAMOUS FREE-AGENT STARTER CLASS OF 2005
PITCHER TEAM CONTRACT 2005-06 RECORD
P. Martinez NYM 4/$13.25M 22-11, 2.88
Pavano NYY 4/$9.99M 4-6, 4.72
Lowe LAD 4/$9M 18-18, 3.35
Milton CIN 3/$8.5M 12-19, 6.03
Clement BOS 3/$8.5M 18-11, 5.09
Ortiz ARI 3/$8.25M
(released) 5-16, 7.00
O. Perez LAD 3/$8M 11-10, 5.24
Benson NYM 3/$7.5M 18-13, 4.11
Lieber PHI 3/$7M 20-18, 4.57
Wright NYY 3/$7M 8-9, 5.52





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Several teams have called the Devil Rays about Carl Crawford, but he will not be traded during the season. "We'll evaluate where we are at the end of the season," says Andrew Friedman. In other words, given their outfield possibilities -- Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Jonny Gomes, the Terrible Twosome (Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes, currently suspended for a clubhouse fight) and possibly B.J. Upton -- the Rays will decide who to trade, and when, come November.


Upton is struggling defensively at Durham, but while he hasn't shown the improvement they'd hoped for, the hope is to make a good deal for Julio Lugo, bring Upton up and see if he plays better in the major leagues. "He's a big-time bat," one scout says. "He'd be a great player if he could play short. But right now, I'd say no."


Friedman had talked to the Mets about Lugo, but GM Omar Minaya refused to give up reliever Aaron Heilman. Now Minaya seems focused on pitching, is happy with Jose Valentin at second base and may eventually try to get Tony Graffanino to platoon with Valentin. There are several teams -- including the Dodgers and Yankees -- talking to the Rays about starter Mark Hendrickson. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, there is no current interest in taking Aubrey Huff's contract.



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The Indians want to get third-base prospect Andy Marte up to the big leagues so third baseman Aaron Boone can be traded to the Dodgers or even the Padres, although Padres GM Kevin Towers seems more inclined to stick with Geoff Blum and Bellhorn at third. Indians reliever Bob Wickman, maybe even first baseman Eduardo Perez (although the Indians have a friendly 2007 option), could be moved as the club keeps promoting its own players out of the system.

As 2005 No. 1 pick Trevor Crowe shoots through the system and could be leading off in 2007, the Indians are now speculating that he could play in Cleveland next season. Thus, they will try to see if he can return to playing second base. Crowe was moved out of the infield at Arizona because of a throwing problem from a high school football injury, but his arm has come all the way back. The Indians have their leadoff hitter of the future from that draft, and the Red Sox have theirs from the same draft in Jacoby Ellsbury. Crowe and Ellsbury grew up playing AAU ball together, a la David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman and B.J. Upton.


Middle infielder Dustin Pedroia is doing so well at Pawtucket that the Red Sox figure he'll play a role in the final months similar to the contributions of Graffanino last season.


A's GM Billy Beane has not, contrary to the rumor mill, called around and offered Barry Zito. "With (Rich) Harden uncertain, I'm less inclined than ever to move him because we want to win this year," Beane says. It will take a young position player who can play next year and a zero- to two-year service time starting pitcher who can pitch Game 3 of the ALDS this year. That's a lot.


Nationals GM Jim Bowden did ask Epstein if he were interested in Tony Armas for Ellsbury and RHP Michael Bowden. The Red Sox were not interested. Kyle Snyder beat Armas, and then the free-agent right-hander went back to the disabled list. That, along with Livan Hernandez's right knee, will hurt Bowden's efforts to try and mold the Nationals into a younger, more athletic team. "I have a lot of trouble pushing off and getting any velocity," Hernandez says. "I am able to run now, which I couldn't do the first two months, so in a few weeks I should be a lot better." The Nationals wonder if George Steinbrenner will step in and mandate the Yankees trading Philip Hughes and someone else for Alfonso Soriano.


The Braves were heavily involved in the Joey Gathright deal and still could get him from Kansas City. Yes, they need a leadoff hitter, but there is the possibility that they will explore dealing Andruw Jones at the end of the season. Jones is a free agent at the end of the 2007 season, he makes 17 percent of their current payroll (no team since 1985 has won with one player making as much as 16 percent) and both shoulders kill him.


As for John Smoltz, unless Braves GM John Schuerholz gets blown away, he is not inclined to trade his ace. First, the 2007 option is only $8 million (very cheap for a pitcher of his status). Second, with Mike Hampton making an impressive recovery for next season, Schuerholz thinks a rotation with Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Hampton, Kyle Davies and Chuck James can get them back with some relief help.

Johnny Footstool
06-25-2006, 04:54 PM
As with any hypothetical deal, it depends on the asking price.

Spitball
06-25-2006, 05:14 PM
Thanks, Paulrich.


The club has tried to see if there is interest among teams in smaller markets -- like the Indians and Blue Jays -- without success.

This sounds to me as though they may be willing to pay just to get him out of town. Why else would they be approaching small market teams?

Perhaps Brandon Claussen and a mid-level prospect would work for them.

I believe teams are shying away from Clement because of his record as a starter, but I believe he could be a great closer. Remember when the A's acquired Isringhausen from the Mets and converted him into a closer?

KronoRed
06-25-2006, 05:18 PM
Milton for Clement? :D

Cedric
06-25-2006, 05:41 PM
Clement is/was a below average pitcher and always will be.

He can't throw strikes and we want him as a closer? Lord no.

edabbs44
06-25-2006, 05:43 PM
I'd keep Coffey as the closer and have Clement be the 7th-8th guy. He has the stamina built up to go more than one inning. Like how Zumaya has been used.

saboforthird
06-25-2006, 05:48 PM
Thanks, Paulrich.
Perhaps Brandon Claussen and a mid-level prospect would work for them.


Would never happen. Think high-level prospect. :p:

TeamBoone
06-25-2006, 07:46 PM
The Reds need middle relief; they already have a closer.

What would that say to Coffey if they went out and got someone to replace him?

Newman4
06-25-2006, 07:53 PM
Clement is/was a below average pitcher and always will be.

He can't throw strikes and we want him as a closer? Lord no.

Clement's last three years in Chicago he had OPSA under .700 and averaged better than a strikeout per inning in two of those seasons. Until this season his K:BB ratio was better than 2:1 for the last four seasons. Sounds ok for a closer to me.

Chip R
06-25-2006, 08:03 PM
Hasn't princeton said that he thinks Clement could be a good closer?

Spitball
06-25-2006, 09:36 PM
If Boston really wants to move him and is willing to take much of his contract to make it happen, then I think it would be a worthwhile gamble. Clement has the classic closer stuff, moving fastball, hard slider, and it looked like he added a splitter last year. As a starter, his three year splits for his first 15 pitches show a pretty good 19 base on balls to 70 strikeouts while surrendering a .665 OPS. As a closer, I believe he could go in, knowing it was for an inning, and just launch strikes. The incredible movement on his fastball and run on his slider would take care of the rest.

The Reds are going to have to upgrade their bullpen if they want to stay in contention. There just doesn't seem to be a wealth of dependable arms out there and certainly not many available to the Reds. If Clement is made available, he could be a "nasty" reliever.

Highlifeman21
06-25-2006, 10:28 PM
I understand Peter Gammons claims in his ESPN Insider column that the Red Sox have approached small market teams about Matt Clement. Unless the Sox are willing to pay most of his salary like they did with Renteria, this makes little sense to me. Why small market teams?

If the Sox are willing to pay for him to pitch for the Reds, he might be worth a shot. He is out right now with shoulder weakness but doctors can't find anything physical. I think he is neither equipped to start anymore (high pitch counts) nor to pitch in the Boston spotlight. But...I think he could close for the Reds.

I've always felt the guy could be a lights out reliever. He misses bats and induces grounders.

Highlifeman21, can you please check that Peter Gammnon's ESPN Insider story for me? :help:


I was at a wedding all day or else I had your back. Thanks to paulrichjr for coming through with the goods!

As for the story...

If we're not paying for most of Clement, I can't imagine he'd be any worse out of the pen than the rest of what we have, but I don't think he's bonafide closer material

Crosley68
06-26-2006, 12:25 AM
Sounds like an "outside the box" type of deal that teams like the Reds need to consider. I say go for it.

princeton
06-26-2006, 07:51 AM
Hasn't princeton said that he thinks Clement could be a good closer?

I'd need to know more about his asthma and the money, but suspect that he's an ideal add for the Reds

lollipopcurve
06-26-2006, 09:03 AM
Nah -- the guy is terrible now and has generally folded in big situations to boot

Newman4
06-26-2006, 09:17 AM
Let's say he adds 2-3 MPH out of the pen coming in for just an inning or so at a time. He would be even nastier.

dfs
06-26-2006, 12:10 PM
The club has tried to see if there is interest among teams in smaller markets -- like the Indians and Blue Jays -- without success

I understand that the standards of sports journalism are low, but that just can't pass unquestioned.

It was not THAT long ago, that both of those franchises where being held up as model franchises that had tapped into the local populace and would be able to sustain success forever because their fans were so loyal and their fan bases where so large. The Jake was the place to be and Toronto was going to surpass the Yankees as the capitol of America's past time..

A couple of losing seasons and now they are "smaller markets."

As to bringing Clement in as a closer....if you believe that "closing" requires some special mental toughness of mystical "closer" pixie dust then it's pretty questionable that converting Clement into your closer in the middle of the season is reasononable. If you think a pitcher is a pitcher, Clement seems to be available too cheaply.

Spitball
06-26-2006, 03:00 PM
Princeton, I wouldn't think Clement's asthma would be a factor if he were closing.

Dfs, I don't know how we measure mental toughness. John Smoltz was an effective starter turned closer, yet he used a psychologist earlier in his career. Dennis Eckersley had fans in Boston and Chicago questioning his mental toughness before he was treated for alcoholism. I believe mental toughness is directly related to how effective your pitches are working.

As for converting a starter to a closer, I don't see the problem. It has happened many times, especially to those starters who have struggled. Tom Gordon, Jason Isringhausen, Ryan Dempster and many others have converted mid-season to relief roles. Like Newman said, pitching in relief would add 3-5 mph on his fastball which would add to his confidence.

The Reds can't afford to go out and acquire a proven closer. They have Todd Coffey, but he seemed to perform better in the 7-8 inning role. Plus, Mercker, Weathers and company have turned that into a virtual Twilight Zone. Clement, if available as Gammons says, should be pounced apon and given the chance to revive his career as happened with Eckersley, Gordon, and so many others.

smith288
06-26-2006, 03:08 PM
I have asthma (much more mild than it was during childhood) but I cant believe running a base would effect a professional athlete so much that it would knock off 5 mph from his fastball.

So if Clement covers first on a hit to the right side, he is done for the game?

Spitball
06-26-2006, 03:23 PM
I have asthma (much more mild than it was during childhood) but I cant believe running a base would effect a professional athlete so much that it would knock off 5 mph from his fastball.

So if Clement covers first on a hit to the right side, he is done for the game?

No, the article says his catcher has been going to the mound to give him extra time to recover. Seems to me that the asthmatic condition would be of far less of a concern if he were closing.

smith288
06-26-2006, 03:27 PM
smith288: Proudly posting without reading the articles since July 2002

Spitball
06-26-2006, 03:35 PM
smith288: Proudly posting without reading the articles since July 2002

:laugh:

KronoRed
06-26-2006, 04:15 PM
smith288: Proudly posting without reading the articles since July 2002
Reading is for multitakers :evil: