Matt Holliday… It’s Not Your Fault..

October 9, 2009

Here’s a quick video of Tony La Russa and Matt Holliday talking it out after last night’s game…

Matt Holliday made one of the more memorable plays in recent history last night in the Cardinal’s last inning loss to the Dodgers.  In a play more fitting for America’s Funniest Home Videos than Baseball Tonight, Holliday got hit in the balls, fell over, and then chomped on sunflower seeds while getting harassed by America’s prettiest in SoCal.  It was as if the opposing team’s Leftfielder was channeling Holliday from the bench.  To put it bluntly, Matt Holliday pulled a Manny.

Sorry Ryan, you were called on to get 2 outs, then needed to get an extra one because of Holliday, but, isnt getting 3 outs your job?

Sorry Ryan, you were called on to get 2 outs, then needed to get an extra one because of Holliday, but, isn't getting 3 outs your job?

Moving on, I realize that Holliday’s catch would have ended the game.  It would have been a one, two, three inning, and Cardinals fans would have gone and listened to books on tape read by Jack Buck, and wandered off to dreams of Mark McGwire hitting dingers into Big Mac Land (or whatever it is Cards fans do after victories… Budweiser?).  But, in his defense, Ryan Franklin still has to close this game out.  Lets take a look at Franklin’s line:


R. Franklin   0.1 IP,  2H, 2R, 0ER, 2BB,  0SO, 0.00 ERA  L, BSv

James Loney would have been Franklin’s second out in his appearance.  You are telling me a closer can’t get three outs for a save?  The problem I have with Ryan Franklin is that he doesn’t have overpowering stuff.  He had a WHIP of 1.20 for the season (meaning he gave up 1.2 walks or hits per inning he pitched, meaning, basically, he allowed at least a base runner in every appearance he made.).

A good closer has to be nearer to 1.  Also, with a WHIP of 1.2, Franklin is used to pitching with a runner on base.   He did not have anything to put away Casey Blake in a long battle that ended with a walk of Blake.  He then sacrificed the game tying single to Ronnie “Belisario” Belliard.  Then, the one that really throws me for a loop, he walked Russell Martin on four pitches, none of which, made Martin even contemplate swinging.

Once Manny and Ethier were out, this was not the heart of the Dodger lineup.  One must question Tony La Russa’s taking out of Adam Wainwright as well.  Wainwright had thrown 109 pitches, but he had allowed only 3 hits.  Wainwright did run into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the 8th, but it ended without anyone hitting anything too hard off of him.

A closer has to have the ability to get a strikeout.  Unless you are a popup producing machine, you need to be able to get a K to limit damage with runners on.  Franklin struck out 44 guys in 61 innings this season.  For some perspective (Mo, 72K- 66IP, Pap, 76-68, Hoff, 48-54, and Broxton, 114-76).  My esteemed colleague picked him as closer of the year in the NL.  WHIP is why I disagreed.

I am not placing the blame squarely on Franklin, but he is due a fair share, and I am sure he is kicking himself as much as Holliday is today.  You want to spread it around some more?

Here we go, nobody out in the 7th, Mark DeRosa singles, Colby Rasmus follows him with a double that scores DeRosa, but is thrown out at third.  Cardinals take the lead, but the rally is dead.  Could have been a big inning, instead of runner on third nobody out, it is nobody on, one out.

With his contract up, its sad that Holliday will probably be remembered in ST. Louis as, That guy that got hit in the balls.

With his contract up, its sad that Holliday will probably be remembered in St. Louis as, "That guy that got hit in the balls."

Here is another fun fact, the Cardinals scored two runs in this game.  The second was on the double by Rasmus.  The first run was on a homerun by none other than public enemy #1 in St. Louis right now, Matt Holliday.  How soon we forget.

There is no worse feeling for a baseball player than making an error, and just waiting in the field to see if it will result in runs.  A closer has to have the balls to pick up his teammates.  Holliday screwed up, but this loss was a team effort, just as the win was a team effort for the Dodgers.

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MLB Awards, Day 2: The John Rocker Closer Distinction

September 30, 2009
I wanted to name this the Kenny Powers award, but instead I named it after the real deal.

I wanted to name this the Kenny Powers award, but instead I named it after the real deal.

A good closer is hard to find.  You look at the teams that have already clinched, and a big factor in their success is having a guy in the pen that can shut the door (with the exception of the Phightin’ Phils, who may have finally found their man).  We take a timeout here, to honor those great doorclosers with the Blue Duck’s award for best closer.  We give it in the honor of one of baseball’s greatest players and humanitarians, Mr. John Rocker.

And the winners are:

NL
Boomer
Ryan Franklin (P) StL

If it looks like that now, imagine it when he stops shaving for the playoffs

If it looks like that now, imagine it when he stops shaving for the playoffs

ERA below two? Check.  Among the league leaders in saves? Check.  Pitching for a playoff team?  Check.  Ryan Franklin fits the bill, albeit in a league of less than flattering options.  He doesn’t strike out many batters, his walk totals are average, and he’s blown a few saves.  But look at the National League this year and even with all the negative things pointed out about Franklin, he’s still the best.  Now it’s overstating it a bit to say he’s been only okay, because he’s been very good.

Franklin is closing games for Tony La Russa, someone whose trust isn’t easy to gain.  Ryan doesn’t allow many hits and has only 13 runs on the season.  That’s pretty amazing considering his peripheral stats (k’s, walks) are average.  The bottom line?  He gets the job done for a team with World Series potential.  Congrats.

Carebear
Trevor Hoffman

I know we did Comeback Player of the Year yesterday, but this guy is really the epitome of returning to old form.  But, the beauty of Hoffman is that he has evolved as a pitcher.  The once prototypical closer has become a crafty changeup machine, but got the job done maybe as effectively as ever this year.

Hoffman carried with him the lowest WHIP in the major leagues at 0.88.  Hoffman blew only 3 saves in 39 chances, and finished the year with an ERA of 1.76.  Not bad for a 41-year old.  The Brew Crew struggled mightily in ’09, but Hoffman did not contribute to their plight.  It would have been nice to see what he could have pulled off with a playoff contender this season, though.  Hells Bells.

AL

Biggest honor of my long career. Mos reaction when we told him of the award.

"Biggest honor of my long career." Mo's reaction when we told him of the award.

Boomer
Mariano Rivera
(P) NYY

Another classic year by Mo.  He’s been the only constant in a Yankees bullpen that was battered by injury all year.  He’s got 44 saves, two off the league lead.  His stats aren’t neccessarily mind-blowing; among closers he’s not near the lead in strikeouts, nor does he pitch multiple innings, but he doesn’t need to.  With his devastating cutter breaking the bats of lefties and causing righties to pop-up, he’s efficient.  Considering he doesn’t walk batters (almost literally, he’s got about half as many walks as any other AL pitcher with 30+ saves).

He’s closing games for the best team in baseball and he’s getting it done the same way he does every season.  The qualities you look for in a closer are consistency and reliability.  Rivera’s got ’em, as he doesn’t have many heart attack innings (see Papelbon, Jonathon), doesn’t have total clunkers (Fuentes, Brian), and gets the job done in the ninth.

Carebear
Joe Nathan

Joey’s been getting it done for a long time now.  It seems like he is one of the few closers in baseball whose job has never been in question.  Minnesota has made this interesting and during their comeback stretch, Nathan has been solid.  In the last 2 months, Nathan has 16 saves with only two blown.

He has blown 5 on the season, a bit steep, but his numbers are great.  With a WHIP of 0.95, Nathan does not allow baserunners, avoids big innings, and strikes out more than a man an inning.  Best closer in the AL? no, but Boomer chose Mo.  Joe Nathan is as good as any non-Mo closer in the league.

Kenny lost out to Rivera in a close decision.

Kenny lost out to Rivera in a close decision.

Tomorrow is day 3 of the baseball award extravaganza.  Our Cy Young Award goes out.  No Name for that one yet.  Send us any suggestions?  Gaylord Perry, Orel Hershiser, and Doc Gooden are in the running.  Tune in tomorrow.

Yesterday we announced the Comeback Player of the Year Award winners here https://blueducksports.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/blue-duck-mlb-awards-day-one-comeback-player/