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Mariners’ Position Analysis: Closer Friday, December 12, 2008

Posted by mrgenre in Mariners.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

With Wednesdays big move sending Putz to New York and dozens of national correspondants already trying to analyze our gap in the ninth inning, I thought it was time to bring some local perspective to the situation.  So with Putz gone, who exactly will make those last three outs?  I think you’ll be surprised with the number of options we actually have.

Sean Green was easily our most used reliever with a massive 72 appearances, and he likely would have been one of our first choices had he not gone to the Mets with JJ.  Brandon Morrow is the most logical second choice and that’s why his name has been bandied about with the most frequency as our new closer.  But I think in this case, Morrow’s value increases tenfold as a starter.  He’s more than earned his place in our starting five.

Also talked about after his inclusion in the massive three way trade on Wednesday is Aaron Heilman.  Even USSM thinks he could be a good fit at closer, but I disagree.  He wants to be a starter, he was a huge disappointment last season and at least according to the New York media (which we all know is not necessarily a reflection of reality) he had some attitude problems.  Basically, he’s not going to get what he wants.  He won’t start, he’s not the right character to close and he’ll be miserable in the ‘pen.  Look for him to play the role of “disappointing move” at some point in Zduriencik’s future.

That leaves us with, in my opinion, two other options.  There’s Ryan Rowland-Smith, who doesn’t quite have the kill factor necessary for a closer, but has some decent heat (his consistency and control are also at issue).  And there’s the only Mariner with major-league closing experience: Miguel Batista.  Obviously, he’s the biggest disappointment among our pitchers with his once again miserable performance last year, but let’s face facts: we can’t trade him, and we’re stuck with his salary for the rest of the season.  If we’re smart, we’ll stick him in a role where he’s actually had some success and maybe up his value enough before the All-Star break that we can get a decent prospect for him.  At that point, I’m more than comfortable with a closer-by-committee option.

And if you doubt his ability to close, just look back to his statistics in 2005.  He didn’t start a single game for the Jays, saved 31 games in 39 chances and had a meager (quite meager for him) 4.10 ERA.

In my opinion, Batista’s first choice.



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