Baseball observers schism into intuitionists and empiricists over the matter of closers. Some have been ripping on saves, and the men who make them, as overrated, for decades, and seemingly every year a team—with varying degrees of success—announces an attempt at closer-by-committee. Just as often, sports-talk ululationists and tabloid backpages make the case that teams need brand-name solutions at the back of their bullpen, or everything will be f***ed.
If you watched K-Rod implode as a Met, or have ever watched Matt Capps pitch, you can appreciate the thrift wisdom of Joe Maddon’s open-sourced closer solution. If you watched Joe Borowski close games, you can not mind the retail shock therapy of giving a multi-year, mid-10-figure contract to a guy who’s probably going to pitch a third as many innings as Jake Westbrook. The position is surely overrated and overpaid, but try to convince someone living in the afterglow of Calvin Schiraldi or Jose Mesa’s love.
Rivera’s injury was the most prominent catastrophe to the closer guild in 2012, but it’s been an ugly early season for that particular profession. No fewer than 12 teams have changed closers, because of wonky thumbs, torn ligaments, and talent deficiencies (perceived or real). The internet paranoia kettle, stoked in part by fantasy tweakers, is always shrieking with news about closer legitimacy crises, something that the Yankees haven’t known since the first Rudy Giuliani mayoralty.