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Thread: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

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    Member OnBaseMachine's Avatar
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    Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Plenty of possibilities
    Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp
    By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

    SARASOTA, Fla. -- How many closers does it take to lock down a save opportunity?

    Before the Reds break camp next month, they could determine it will take more than one.

    The Cincinnati bullpen is bustling with veterans, brimming with lefties and sprinkled with some promising younger arms.

    Yet, it's missing an anointed closer -- for now.

    "Outside of not having a closer, our pitching is as good as it's been here in a while," Reds manager Jerry Narron said.

    Eddie Guardado was re-signed earlier this month but is coming off ligament replacement surgery in his left elbow. Guardado, who was 8-for-10 in save situations before he was shut down in August, is targeting a late June return.

    "We're waiting on Eddie to get healthy and then go from there," said reliever David Weathers, who led the club with 12 saves in 2006. "But it's pretty much how we started the year last year."

    What the bullpen lacks in a dedicated closer, it compensates with several pitchers that have experience closing.

    Weathers, Todd Coffey, Bill Bray, Rheal Cormier, free-agent acquisition Mike Stanton and recent non-roster addition Kerry Ligtenberg are all considered in the mix by Narron this spring.

    Of that group, Weathers, Stanton and Ligtenberg have extensive ninth-inning experience. However, Weathers has been stronger in a setup role, and outside of eight saves he recorded for the Giants filling in as a closer in 2006, Stanton has been primarily a setup man for the past several years.

    Ligtenberg had 30 saves for the Braves in 1998 and was once a promising closer. Then he missed all of 1999 with an elbow injury and never fully returned to prominence. He spent all of last season at Triple-A Iowa for the Cubs.

    Indications are that the right-handed Weathers and the left-handed Stanton would, depending on the situation, share the ninth inning if the season opened today. Of course, that can always change.

    "Whatever they want me to do, that's how I pitch," said Weathers, who had a 3.54 ERA in 67 games last season. "I enjoy that role. It's a little more pressure. I kind of like that."

    "Would I like to be the closer? Sure," said Stanton, who had a career-high 27 saves in 1993 with the Braves. "The bottom line is I want to pitch. I come to camp and I go into the regular season with the idea that I'm coming into the ballpark pitching that day. That's always been my approach. That will always be my approach. I don't like to sit and watch games."

    Among the younger pitchers, Coffey, 26, had eight saves last season. He excelled in a setup spot and led the Reds with 81 appearances. The right-hander already said over the winter he wanted another crack at the closing job.

    At 23 years old, Bray is the youngest pitcher on the list of candidates. He had two saves for Cincinnati last season after coming over from Washington in a July trade.

    "If the opportunity arose, I would definitely try to make the most of it," Bray said. "Right now, it's so far in the back of my mind. I'm just trying to prepare for the season and concentrate on breaking camp with the team."

    Weathers emerged from an closer-by-committee system early last season before losing the job to Coffey, who struggled and lost the job when Guardado was acquired. Holding leads into the ninth inning often proved difficult for a Reds bullpen in constant flux, especially in the first half.

    Cincinnati's bullpen ended up ranked 12th in the Natinonal League with 36 saves.

    "If you are going to go with a bullpen-by-committee ... you need three or four guys in the bullpen that can close," Stanton said. "Do we have that? Yeah, we have experience down there. We'll have to see how it comes about. It might be that situation or somebody steps forward and takes the job.

    "Back in Atlanta, when we had bullpen-by-committee for the most part, it can be successful. We went to the World Series a couple of times. I don't think the bullpen was one of the weaknesses of the team. It's not easy. You have to have multiple guys that can go out there on any given night."

    Can one reliever emerge from the pack and take the ninth inning for himself until Guardado returns? We won't know until games start in March, but if no one claims the job, Narron knows he has options.

    "One thing about it is they've all pitched in every situation possible out of the bullpen," Narron said. "We've got a couple of young guys in Coffey and Bray and veterans -- Stanton, Weathers and Cormier. You can't get a lot more experience than they've got."

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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    I don't see anyone mentioning the name Brad Salmon when talking about the bullpen. Why not? I really, really hope the Reds give Salmon a fair chance to make the team out of spring training. This is a guy that has the durability and stuff to be an above average major league reliever, IMO. Check out his stats from AA and AAA last season: 81 innings, only 54 hits and three HR allowed, and a 43 BB/96 K rate. That is a 10.7 K/9 rate. That is what the Reds need - a power arm that can get you that strikeout when you need it. Coffey and Bray are the only two that even resemble a power pitcher in the Reds bullpen.

    I hope the young guys (Coutlangus, Salmon, Medlock, and Belisle if he doesn't earn a spot in the rotation) are given fair shots at winning spots in the bullpen.
    I miss Adam Dunn.

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    Curveballer Candy Cummings's Avatar
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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    I'm more interested in the ERA of the bullpen than who the closer is. Last year, our middle relievers were often responsible for eliminating save "opportunities"
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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    I'm a little concerned Bray doesn't think he's a lock to make the team.

    Maybe it's good that he feels that he has to "audition", but honesty, I'd be surprised if the team broke camp and he wasn't heading to Cincinnati.

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    Tired of talk. Win! Joseph's Avatar
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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Quote Originally Posted by Highlifeman21 View Post
    I'm a little concerned Bray doesn't think he's a lock to make the team.

    Maybe it's good that he feels that he has to "audition", but honesty, I'd be surprised if the team broke camp and he wasn't heading to Cincinnati.
    I worry a numbers game will prevent him from making the team more than performance. He has options, simple as that. Narron's love for the vet and Krivsky's desire to add Hermanson [rumored] will really push the kid.

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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph View Post
    I worry a numbers game will prevent him from making the team more than performance. He has options, simple as that. Narron's love for the vet and Krivsky's desire to add Hermanson [rumored] will really push the kid.
    If that's true, then the FO doesn't have a care in the world about this season. And quite frankly, neither will I.

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    Viva la Rolen kaldaniels's Avatar
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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Quote Originally Posted by Highlifeman21 View Post
    I'm a little concerned Bray doesn't think he's a lock to make the team.

    Maybe it's good that he feels that he has to "audition", but honesty, I'd be surprised if the team broke camp and he wasn't heading to Cincinnati.
    I think he's just saying the politically correct thing.

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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Quote Originally Posted by Highlifeman21 View Post
    I'm a little concerned Bray doesn't think he's a lock to make the team.

    Maybe it's good that he feels that he has to "audition", but honesty, I'd be surprised if the team broke camp and he wasn't heading to Cincinnati.
    While I believe Bray should be on the 25 man on opening day, I'm pretty sure he'll be in Cincy by April 15. Does anyone think Weathers, Stanton, Cormier, and others will all actually be healthy two weeks into the season. Even if Bray isn't on the roster on opening day, past experience leads me to believe someone will be on the dl before mid-April and he'll be on the team by that point.
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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Look for one or two of the middle relief guys to be wearing different uniforms by the beginning of the season. Krivsky has shown a penchant for moves made during Spring Training. This year, his surplus is, IMO:
    One OF (between Denorfia, Hopper, and Freel)
    Three #5 starters (EZ Ramirez, Belisle, and Saarloos)
    Three relievers (between Weathers, Salmon, Cormier, Bray, Coffey, Majewski, and the losers in the starter race-- Belisle or Saarloos)

    Of these, only Bray and Salmon have options left, I think. (That may be wrong, as Coffey could; still, each has proven major league capability, so I'd think they'd stay that way.)

    The bigger question, IMO, is what Krivsky is looking for. Could he find a closer for two middle relievers and an OF? If the Giants don't like Benitez much, that's a possibility. Too, Krivsky could be looking for a defensive CF, having not been sold on Denforfia last season. (Though I like him, as do many on this board.)

    Others are a tossup. I supose we'll see.

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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    "If you are going to go with a bullpen-by-committee ... you need three or four guys in the bullpen that can close," Stanton said.
    One of my pet peeves. Rick Sutcliffe is one of the worst purveyors of that ridiculous term "bullpen by committee."

    Every bullpen is a "bullpen by committee." The issue is having a "CLOSER by committee."
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Didn't one of the articles on Josh Hamilton say he was able to hit 96 on the gun back when he was drafted? Make him the closer and it solves two issues: how to use him on the 25 man roster and who will be the closer.

    The move could be called a Reverse Ankiel or a Full Hoffman.

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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    I think the "closer by committee" is an excellent concept. I don't really like the idea of the best reliever on the team sitting in the bullpen in the seventh inning while the opposition mounts a rally that costs the team a win. Why shouldn't the best relief pitcher be pitching when he is needed most? Doesn't it make sense to bring in the best reliever to stop inherited runners from scoring rather than saving him until the nineth inning when he might be facing the bottom of the order.

    I've long felt the closer is a convenient way for the manager to avoid second guessing. The conventional use of the closer relieves him of some responsibility for his use. Shouldn't the manager have to actually decide when to employ his best reliever based on the game situation rather than a given belief that save situations are the most crucial time in the game?
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    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Quote Originally Posted by Spitball View Post
    I think the "closer by committee" is an excellent concept. I don't really like the idea of the best reliever on the team sitting in the bullpen in the seventh inning while the opposition mounts a rally that costs the team a win. Why shouldn't the best relief pitcher be pitching when he is needed most? Doesn't it make sense to bring in the best reliever to stop inherited runners from scoring rather than saving him until the nineth inning when he might be facing the bottom of the order.

    I've long felt the closer is a convenient way for the manager to avoid second guessing. The conventional use of the closer relieves him of some responsibility for his use. Shouldn't the manager have to actually decide when to employ his best reliever based on the game situation rather than a given belief that save situations are the most crucial time in the game?
    I agree Spitball, but you have to remember who the Cincy manager is. Do you trust Narron in that situation?

    The whole thing is a Catch-22...if you use your best reliever in the 7th and then lose in the 9th, you should have saved him because you had a chance to come back if you lost the lead in the 7th.

    If you wait until the 9th to use him...you get the picture.

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    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Quote Originally Posted by Spitball View Post
    I think the "closer by committee" is an excellent concept. I don't really like the idea of the best reliever on the team sitting in the bullpen in the seventh inning while the opposition mounts a rally that costs the team a win. Why shouldn't the best relief pitcher be pitching when he is needed most? Doesn't it make sense to bring in the best reliever to stop inherited runners from scoring rather than saving him until the nineth inning when he might be facing the bottom of the order.

    I've long felt the closer is a convenient way for the manager to avoid second guessing. The conventional use of the closer relieves him of some responsibility for his use. Shouldn't the manager have to actually decide when to employ his best reliever based on the game situation rather than a given belief that save situations are the most crucial time in the game?
    I agree with this from a strategic point of view. Unfortunately, baseball pays for saves. The best reliever will actually have his career stifled by use in this manner. Its just not a very fair system these days.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Closer-by-committee an option if no one claims job in camp

    Quote Originally Posted by Spitball View Post
    I think the "closer by committee" is an excellent concept. I don't really like the idea of the best reliever on the team sitting in the bullpen in the seventh inning while the opposition mounts a rally that costs the team a win. Why shouldn't the best relief pitcher be pitching when he is needed most? Doesn't it make sense to bring in the best reliever to stop inherited runners from scoring rather than saving him until the nineth inning when he might be facing the bottom of the order.

    I've long felt the closer is a convenient way for the manager to avoid second guessing. The conventional use of the closer relieves him of some responsibility for his use. Shouldn't the manager have to actually decide when to employ his best reliever based on the game situation rather than a given belief that save situations are the most crucial time in the game?
    What if you use your best reliever in the 7th and then your opponent rallies in the 9th?

    I'm a fan of having a designated closer, if for no other reason than to allow the pitchers in the bullpen to know their roles.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful


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