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Monday, December 21, 2009
Too many 'closers' this winter?


From the Dept. of Cry Me a River, Ken Rosenthal's item about pitchers who happen to have protected some ninth-inning leads last season ...
This is all quite interesting, but there's one thing missing ...

Quotation marks. Lots and lots of them. As in, For some "closers," the free-agent game ...

And like this: Two more "closers" -- Pirates righty Matt Capps and Nationals righty Mike MacDougal ...

Over the last three seasons, MacDougal has walked nearly as many hitters as he's struck out. He's been exceptionally stingy with the home runs, so (if his luck holds) he's just good enough to pitch in the majors. But he's good enough to protect small leads only in the mind of his agent or (if his luck holds) some addle-brained baseball manager.

Capps is a different story, I think. He seems to have been victimized by poor luck last season, and figures to improve quite a bit on his 5.80 ERA. But as the Pirates general manager noted, Matt Capps doesn't give you anything that dozens of other relief pitchers can't give you. And most of them will come cheaper.

Mariano Rivera is a closer. So is Joe Nathan, and Francisco Cordero, and Jonathan Papelbon. A few others, for sure. But most "closers" have that label simply because some manager decided that this pretty good reliever had more guts than that pretty good reliever. It's foolish for teams to spend millions of extra dollars because some manager had a gut feeling about somebody else's guts.