Goatriders of the Apocalypse

The Endangered Closer

Following Randy Myers departure in 1995, the Cubs have not had a consistent closer for more than a year at a time. Lets review:

  • 1996: Turk Wendell - 18 saves, $160 K; Bob Patterson - 8 saves, $675 K
  • 1997: Terry Adams - 18 saves, $215 K; Mel Rojas - 13 saves, $4.583 M
  • 1998: Rod Beck - 51 saves, $3.6 M
  • 1999: Terry Adams - 13 saves, $736 K; Rick Aguilera - 8 saves ~ $1.43 M
  • 2000: Rick Aguilera - 29 saves, $3.5 M
  • 2001: Tom Gordon - 27 saves, $2.0 M; Jeff Fassero - 12 saves, $2.4 M
  • 2002: Antonio Alfonseca - 19 saves, $3.55 M
  • 2003: Joe Borowski - 33 saves, $410 K
  • 2004: LaTroy Hawkins - 25 saves, $3 M, Joe Borowski 9 saves, $2 M

That would be 11 different closers, $28.3 Million, and 283 saves (31.4 per year). Only Beck broke the 35 save plateau with his excellent year in 1998.

Cubs Team Saves Since 1996:

  • Year #
  • 1996 - 34
  • 1997 - 37
  • 1998 - 56
  • 1999 - 32
  • 2000 - 39
  • 2001 - 41
  • 2002 - 23
  • 2003 - 36
  • 2004 - 42
  • ---------
  • Tot. - 340

Closers with Good Track Records

  • Trevor Hoffman 332 saves since 1996
  • Mariano Rivera 331 saves since 1997
  • Troy Percival 313 saves since 1996
  • Robb Nen 276 saves from 1996-2002
  • Billy Wagner 235 saves since 1997
  • Armando Benitez 233 saves since 1998
  • Ugueth Urbina 227 saves since 1997
  • Roberto Hernandez 224 saves from 1996 - 2002
  • Eric Gagne 152 saves since 2002
  • John Smoltz 144 saves since 2002

Ok, stat dump finished. What does this mean? Well, I don't really see a clear conclusion. I know the value of a great season from a closer. Do you think the Cubs would have made the playoffs in 1998 without the shooter's 51 saves? But I also see a list of pretty 'impressive' closers, a few of which did not beat the Cubs panel of 'distinguished' closers over that stretch, or in terms of saves per year. In fact, Billy Wagner has saved fewer games per year than the Cubs list of closers. (This was a suprise to me.)

So what are my conclusions? Well, I wish the Cubs had snagged Benitez rather than the Giants. However, I don't see a proven closer out there who is available besides Urbina. That said, I have strong reservations because Urbina's mother was kidnapped last year, and I don't know where he is at mentally. If my mother were to be kidnapped, I don't think that I would care about saving games, and so I doubt Ugie does either.

The real lesson from this list is this: develop a young closer and then keep them in your organization. About half of the closers above have been with their teams for most of their careers, and many of them started having real success in their third year in the bigs.

So, I don't see a closer available on the market, and I would look internally. Possibly Borowski, you can give Hawkins another chance, or you might consider someone like Todd Wellemeyer. He's had some experience, and doesn't look to have a real shot at the rotation. I'd like to see the Cubs try him as their 8th inning set-up man for a year, and then promote him to closer eventually if things pans out.


Non-Baseball Thought:

Tyron Willingham was fired this week. The University of Florida is looking for a new head coach. Hmmm... I think I know who should be the Gator's new head coach. Unless of course Indiana University could get Mr. Willingham... he he he ha ha ha Sad

Joe

This may seem dumb, but is there a way we can know who is Death, who is famine, etc. I don't know who's who.

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