Opening year with closing thoughts

Happy New Year everyone!

As we start 2007, the Red Sox have one burning issue left on their Hot Stove plate. No, not the J.D. Drew contract situation. We all know that will get resolved with a handshake between Scott Boras and Theo Epstein.

The issue, as you know, is that this team does not have a closer. This internal idea is a little scary. Julian Tavarez? Loved the guy as a starter late last season. He brings energy when he starts. But I don’t think he’s a closer. If he was, wouldn’t someone have already made him a closer aside from that cameo he had with the Pirates all those years ago?

Timlin? When he’s right, he’s a terrific setup man. At best, he’s an average closer. Keep him as a setup man and hope that he gets back to 2003-2005 form.

Donnelly? He’s always been a setup man so I’m not sure why that would change all of a sudden.

Hansack? He can throw five no-hit innings in a rain-shortened game. We know that about him. But what else do we know about him? Not enough.

Delcarmen? Nice kid, but just doesn’t have the makeup to be a closer. I’ve heard that from people in and out of the organization.

Hansen? The hope is that he is the future closer. Can the future be the immediate future? We won’t know the answer to that question until Spring Training at the earliest.

So where does that leave the Sox? In a precarious spot, that’s where. We remember what happened in 2003 when they didn’t have a closer. They won 95 games by bashing the ball and getting decent starting pitching. That generally isn’t a formula for getting deep into October.

So who will the closer be in 2007? It doesn’t seem as if anyone is any closer to knowing that now than when the 2006 season closed down.

Stay tuned.

29 Comments

I have a feeling that the Sox will acquire a closer rather than promoting one in house; however, I like the idea of giving Craig Hansen a shot in spring training, and other candidates, such as Brendan Donnelly and even Edgar Martinez. I know that Donnelly has wanted to close for awhile, but he was behind K-Rod and Scot Shields in Anaheim. Martinez is having a nice winter ball season. I know it would be risky giving the closer’s role to a rookie, but it did work with Papelbon.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

The biggest problem with Hansen last year is that he didn’t get ahead of hitters and then got eaten alive. You can’t be in tight situations pitching from a 2-0 or 3-1 count all the time, which he did frequently. He’s got great stuff, but may not be ready yet. Of course, the alternatives right now are pretty ugly too! If Jon Lester can come back, the answer is Papelbon.

Why can’t Donnelly be a closer? What’s wrong with Delcarmen’s “makeup”? He would seem to be a young,agressive,hard thrower. His Boston roots would definately have people in his corner. Hansen seems like a bit of a cold fish by comparison.
Finally,why is Theo so reluctant(reportedly)to give up Clay Buchholz for Chad Cordero? Sometimes you have to give up someone to get someone,and the Sox would seem to be well-able to afford a deal like that to benefit the big league team.

I am in the following camp in regards to the closer situation:

If a reasonable trade presents itself for Chad Cordero, take it. Reasonable would be Hansen and non pitching prospects (Murphy, Moss come to mind). I don’t think that is enough. Unless someone like Lenny Dinardo, Kyle Snyder, or Kason Gabbard would be considered a #5 starter in Washington and would have value.

More likely, I would go into the spring with what you have. Remember in 2003, Brandon Lyon had 13 consecutive saves and BK Kim came before the deadline and actually handled the job well down the stretch, then Williamson went lights out in the playoffs.

I don’t know if we can find that again….but use the spring and the first months of the season to see what you have in house. At the same time let Lester get back to form in AAA. Around May 1st, if there is no closer in house, look to pull the trigger and overpay a little for a Cordero type or move Papelbon to the role and Lester or another acquired arm (or Clement) into the rotation to replace him.

There isn’t a need to panic yet….patience.

Tim

http://www.redsoxtimes.com

I would go with clement, but I think I read that he’s out for the season. I don’t beleive at this point Pap is an option, although I also beleive that if push came to shove and desperation set in that they would go to Pap. I beleive they will wait and see what they got in spring training, and if need be they will pull a trade into the season. I’m hoping for Hanson as we all are, but to give him that role in a season that could spell world series might be asking too much. Is Donnelly an option. I guess he could have a lot to prove.

Can’t the Sox just go bullpen by committee until the All Star break? (after Grady Little I know that is like a forbidden phrase). There is always the possibility of picking up a cast off (like Francisco Cordero last year), at a knock down price, much better than overpaying for one now. And while this may be glass half full stuff, the good thing about the options Ian went through is that if one of them doesn’t work out, there are many other options available. Don’t forget that the Sox effectively didn’t have a closer from the get go last year. The only difference is this year that they know that they don’t have a closer whereas last year they had to adjust quickly when Foulke got injured.

The only person I would say not to put in yet is Hansen. You can’t send him down to the minors late in one season and then make him closer starting the next season. I’d say that no matter how good he is in Spring Training. Maybe if he is lights out for the first three months of the season he can be brought into that role.

I vote on the bullpen by committee until we see how things shake out. I think its just too much of a **** shoot to make a bad trade now out of desperation… Few recent examples… Todd Jones had more saves and a better save percentage than Papelbon last year with 4 times the ERA. The White Sox won the world series 2 years back with a journeyman closer (Hermanson) and then a cast-off rookie (Jenks). They didn’t even use a reliever in the World Series. With our lineup and starting pitching, I think we should be patient. Even Wakefield could be an option if Lester or someone else steps up into the rotation.

What I think will happen and what I would like to happen are two different things.

I think that Theo and the front office will acquire a “proven closer,” either Cordero or Gonzalez, probably. I think that will happen BEFORE spring training.

What I would like to see happen is that the Sox will let Donnelly start in that role and see how their young guys develop. There is no difference between a “closer” and any other effective reliever who can pitch high-leverage innings. Donnelly has pitched very effectively in high-pressure spots. If he’s still healthy and effective coming out of spring training, give him the ball.

http://outskirtsofredsoxnation.blogspot.com

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Just say no to trading Buchholz to fill the closer hole. A lights-out closer is a wonderful bit of frosting for a pitching staff, but let’s not mistake it for the cake.

The Sox’ improved offense and improved starting staff will mean fewer save opportunities for any putative closer, anyway. Let’s see who steps up before deciding to sacrifice a future #1 starter, ok?

ESPN reported that the Sox are close to a deal with Pineiro, who was atrocious last year with the Mariners (6+ ERA) but has definite potential (only 28).

Buchholz, Bard, Ellsbury, Hansen, Cox and Pedroia are the untouchables of our farm. Everyone else can be traded for fair value. Bowden and Place are borderline untouchable. I don’t have enough knowledge to comment on the recent ’06 draftees either, Lars Anderson, for example.

I don’t understand why Papelbon can’t close for us next year. If he wants to be a starter, that’s fine. Let him take Schilling’s place in the rotation in 2008. He says he wants to do whatever the team needs. The team needs a quality closer much more than they need a #5 starter. We have any number of pitchers who can fill that role right now.

Why sign Pineiro for $4 mil for a year? The Red Sox could have signed Mark Loretta for $4-5 mil for a year. I much rather have Loretta than Pineiro for that money. I understand the thought that Pedroia is expected to be ready to start this year, but they may or may not be true. I liked Loretta’s contributions last year and thought he played a good defensive second base. Why spend $4 mil on a question mark of a pitcher when that money could be spent on a solid middle infielder that by all accounts would like to be a Red Sox for another season. I don’t want to hold back Pedroia’s development, yet, feel as though that money spent on Pineiro would be better spent on Loretta.

I dont mind the Pineiro signing, more depth that we were apparently lacking last year. The sox seem fixed on Pedroia for next season and I dont beleive Loretta would be willing to play super sub. They have to give the kid his chance sooner or later, and with the bats we have this year, might as well be now.

I have to agree with you d_reinbold on this one..Scouts feel that Pinerio might be more effective out of the bullpen, plus this give us the depth that we need. You can never have enough pitching and who knows, maybe Pinerio will benefit from a change of scenery and a new outlook.

Jamie, My buddy who worked out for the sox at Fenway last spring said that Place and Lars Anderson were monsters. I guess he said that Place was jacking them over the monster, and oh yeah, hes only 19. He also said Anderson can mash them too. So I say keep Place and Lars Anderson for right now to see how they play out. Both look to me right now to be part of the team for the future (Post 2009 -2010 season).

Hate to see Loretta go, as he was a rock, but d_rein is right, we have promising sticks to cover for Pedroia.

We should hold tight and let Donnelly and Hansen earn the job in Ft. Myers. Much like Pap last year, if they can step up under the gun in the sun, it will carry them into April and beyond. The cream will rise.

The guy’s era has gone up every year for six years, where exactly is this potential coming from? When he was 22? Three years in a row with more hits than innings, one 200 inning season, one season with more than 150 k and of course, as stated, an era over 6 last season…..

That said, it is a good signing, cheap pitching, mostly incentive based can’t hurt, he makes a more reliable spot starter than tavarez and he is only signed to one year….I doubt in a pressure atmosphere and in less of a pitcher’s park he does well, but perhaps in one inning or work or during a blowout he will be ok.

haha yeah, nobody expected the 2nd half of that, did they?

i think that any signing of a pitcher with promise is a good gamble. Sure, Pineiro has had his struggles the last few years, but he once was an amazing prospect. I’m not expecting him to win a Cy Young, but I definitely think he can post a 4ERA in relief. However, I do worry about the 4mil guaranteed… seems a bit much, no?

Why not give Kyle Snyder A shot at closing I think he will do ok as A closer. He did A fair job as A starter he was good for about 3 innings then he got rough up. So I think he will be A good closer.who knows only time will tell. BOB K.

Pineiro as the closer possibly they say…hmmm, might work out. If not plenty of other candidates to choose from including Donnelly, atleast that will close the chapter on a crisp trade. Four solid outfielders, pen looks good, starters could be among the best in the league, solid infield with Lowell anchoring the defense. I’m liking it!

rskbrs, Snyder isn’t even on the radar as far as closing is considered… he falls into the category of “depth relievers”, which means that he won’t be given critical situations for the team. He’s a long reliever and will probably stay that way. It’s what he’s good at, after all.

Pineiro’s signing was backed by Alex Cora, who apparently sees great potential… he was alot better coming out of the pen than he was starting. We have to remember than Pineiro is still young, and that he was a pretty good starter a few years ago (2002-03)

our defense should stay good… Varitek remains one of the best catchers in the league defensively; youkilis was awesome as a rookie at 1B last year; Pedroia has the best hands the Sox have seen for quite some time now, and he has good range; Lugo’s potential is limitless, and his range might even surpass that of Gonzo; Lowell deserved the Gold Glove last year; Manny can make spectacular plays when he feels like it, as was shown pretty frequently last season; Drew is above average at any OF position; Coco and Pena both play adequate CF.

I don’t mind spending a few bucks on some long shots and long as we don’t throw them out there over and over again after its plain as day that they stink. Redsox started probably the worst starting pitcher in history 6 times last year (Jason Johnson) before they gave up. We need to know when to cut the cord faster. Don’t say we didn’t have anyone else… because ANY PLAYER WITH A PULSE would have been better than Johson.

i just hope pinerio does not turn out to be another rudy seanez as a reliever.

I can’t believe what Arizona is doing… trading top prospects for Randy Johnson.

It looks like the Yankees might not crash to a messy demise after all… after half a decade of spitting on their farm and breaking the bank for aging veterans, Steinbrenner’s team has finally decided to focus on the future. That’s terrible news for the Sox. Not only do the Yanks now possess prospects such as Hughes, Tabata and Humberto, it appears to be on the verge of a compete overhaul in its system…

With the blue jays rising to prominence, it’s a pretty good thing that the Sox have 3 young aces in its rotation (plus Lester). I hope we continue to get great drafts… prospects are most definitely the most valuable commodity in baseball. For one thing, you can trade it for veterans (not recommended) or wait for them to become 30-HR mashers earning less than 1million bucks!

and you know what, I’m getting scared about the Yanks. I’ll predict their 07 and see exactly how much **** we’re in.

Wang – 17-10, 4.10ERA, 210IP, 80K

Mussina – 16-9, 4.20ERA, 200IP, 150K

Pettite – 17-8, 3.90ERA, 210IP, 160K (this is generous)

Igawa – 14-11, 4.90ERA, 180IP, 140K

CLEMENS?? – 16-5, 3.50ERA, 150IP, 130K (won’t play full season)

Damon (.290/.350/.460, 18HR, 20SB)

Jeter (.300/.370/.450, 15HR)

Arod (.310/.420/.630, 45HR)

Abreu (.280/.390/.530, 20HR)

Giambi (.270/.380/.550, 30HR)

Matsui (.290/.360/.540, 20HR)

Posada (.270/.330/.430, 15HR)

Cano (.300/.330/.440, 15HR)

DH (who?)

RF (who?)

That’s a pretty gloomy picture for us Sox fans…

Jamie are you feeling all right? I think….and we may need to do some back tracking, but this might be the first time, ever, we agree on all of something. Like litterally, era, wins, BA, homeruns, everything. You even didn’t include Pavano’s stats, which any yankee fan would have done.

DH is giambi, first base is a who’s who of offensive incompetance but solid defense (phillips and mienkevfijfrifhjri), I’d expect something like .265 15-20 hrs, 80-90 rbi between the two of them in split time. Abreu is in right, damon in center, matsui in left, cabrera off the bench.

Obviously neither of us, or anybody for that matter can guarantee clemens to the yankees, nor can we predict if it didn’t happen how hughes, sanchez, rasner, karstens, or whoever will replace the 1-3 injuries on the yankees starting staff can fair, but I wouldn’t count on “poorly” being an answer….Pavano will be injured before May, mussina in september for his usual two week vacation before the playoffs. The rest I don’t see coming.

I think the Red Sox should have signed Trot Nixon for 1 year 3 million a year. For this reason JD Drew has this injured shoulder and then he is done for the year and then you have to relay on some Wily Mo Pena guy who i think has not got his swing down yet I mean it is only 3 million. What do you think?

PS: If they sign JD Drew it will be a big mistake

I just want to thank the Red Sox for taking that stiff J.D. Drew of the Dodgers. He is the most over pay over hiped player ever. Enjoy Red Sox fans.

I just want to thank the Red Sox for taking that stiff J.D. Drew of the Dodgers. He is the most over pay over hiped player ever. Enjoy Red Sox fans.

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