SweetSpot: Mike MacDougal

Too many 'closers' this winter?

December, 21, 2009
12/21/09
11:42
AM ET
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 ...
    For some closers, the free-agent game of musical chairs is not likely to end well.

    Too many of ‘em are on the market. Not enough well-paying, ninth-inning jobs remain.

    Two more closers -- Pirates righty Matt Capps and Nationals righty Mike MacDougal -- became free agents when their respective teams declined to offer them salary arbitration.

    The availability of the Padres’ Heath Bell in trade only adds to the squeeze. Bell is more affordable than some of the closers on the open market; his salary in arbitration is likely to be in the $4 million range.

    Four teams already have found closers. The Braves signed left-hander Billy Wagner. The Orioles signed left-hander Mike Gonzalez. The Rays traded for righty Rafael Soriano and the Astros signed righty Brandon Lyon and traded for righty Matt Lindstrom.

    Only three teams are still looking for closers -- the Tigers, Nationals and Pirates.

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.

MacDougal to lead Nats' cavalry

May, 28, 2009
5/28/09
2:45
PM ET
Sure, the Washington Nationals are 13-33 and their bullpen sports an MLB-worst 6.15 ERA. Never fear, Nats fans ... Help is on the way!
    The Nationals are expected to purchase the contract of right-hander Michael MacDougal and option catcher Luke Montz to Double-A Harrisburg before they begin a three-game series against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Friday.

    MacDougal had an out clause in his Minor League contract that allowed him to leave Triple-A Syracuse on Monday night. However, the Nationals had 48 hours to put him on the 25-man roster. If they didn't, MacDougal would have become a free agent.

    MacDougal pitched in seven games and gave up one run in 7 1/3 innings for Syracuse.

Actually, it's now eight games and three runs in 8-1/3 innings, plus six strikeouts and five walks. And if acting general manager Mike Rizzo dumped Daniel Cabrera because he "was tired of watching" Cabrera, he's going to absolutely love MacDougal (though at least MacDougal still throws real hard).

Nationals adding MacDougal?

May, 11, 2009
5/11/09
11:38
AM ET
I think the Nats just saved the picture ...
    The Nationals gave right-hander Gary Glover his unconditional release on Saturday. Glover was pitching for Triple A Syracuse and had a 6.32 ERA in 10 appearances.

    He became expendable after Washington put Mike MacDougal on the Syracuse roster. The plan is to have MacDougal join the Major League club in a couple of weeks.

I'm not sure that Glover can't still pitch, but it's not like there aren't dozens guys just like him kicking around in Triple-A, etc.

MacDougal, though? Really? What, are the Nats trying to corner the market on guys who drive you crazy with the balls and the walks and the wild pitches and whatnot? They've already got Daniel Cabrera, with his 112 walks and 105 strikeouts in his last 36 starts. They're hoping to add MacDougal, with 52 walks and 54 strikeouts in his last 64 innings.

Who's next? Doug Sisk?

Actually, that's not much of a joke because Sisk wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher. I'm just having trouble finding analogues to Cabrera and McDougal. Which makes it all the more odd that the Nationals might somehow find room for both of them on the 25-man roster at the same time.

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