Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, March 08, 2013

Politi: Replacing Mariano Rivera will be a challenge like few others in sports history

Guess you weren’t around for The Daily News replacing The Dick Young with Phil Pepe on Clubhouse Confidential.

But we should use that time to prepare for the next step, too, and remember to build up some patience and empathy for the unfortunate soul who takes his place. The pitcher who takes over as Yankees closer next season — be it David Robertson, the most likely candidate, or someone else in a trade or through free agency — will not be nearly as good.

No matter how much money the Yankees decide to pay him. No matter how much life he has in his arm. No matter how much potential he has shown in his career. He will not be Rivera.

Repeat: He. Will. Not. Be. Rivera.

...Few legends are actually replaced in the truest sense – no one, for example, had to step into Michael Jordan’s Nikes when he left the Bulls.

The burden of stardom is often passed from players in different positions in team sports, or not at all. Someone will replace Derek Jeter as Yankees shortstop eventually, but it is likely that someone else on the team – Robinson Cano, maybe? – will take over as the face of the Yankees.

The closer is different. It is a unique role on any baseball team and especially unique on this baseball team, which has thrived because of the best closer who has ever lived. The man who replaces Mariano Rivera will go on a short list in sports, along with the man who replaced Vince Lombardi.

The Yankees can only hope, for their sake and for the sake of the unfortunate soul who gets the job, that it’ll go a bit more smoothly.

Repoz Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:13 AM | 197 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2
   101. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:00 PM (#4384269)
He makes up for it in AS appearances.


? Fans/managers vote for those.
   102. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:08 PM (#4384281)
I'd just like to point out that Chapman so thoroughly dominated as a closer last year that the Reds decided to put him in the rotation. So they clearly think he'd be more valuable there.


Mistake me if I am wrong, but wasn't Chapman signed as a starter (after having been a starter for Cuba) and was moved to the pen to limit his innings, get him used to MLB and because Cincy has a strong rotation?

More and more it seems stud pitchers come up in the pen originally to acclimate to MLB and limit innings, but it's a known temporary thing and the ultimate goal is still to start.
   103. Bug Selig Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4384285)
don't be silly
nobody has a MLB quality arm in 9th or 10th grade
most high schools, at least down here, don't have baseball
you either have guys that do the travel team thingy or you have guys who play more than 1 sport or walk on

there are plenty of times when the team has its few starters and any guy who isn't already thought of as a starter, ESPECIALLY a short or small guy, gets put straight into the bullpen and is never developed as a starter. see huston street

this happens even more frequently when you have a kid that didn't play little league or on any travel team and starts out playing later on


Is that all true? I coach in Michigan and it sounds like a whole other animal. Here, anyway...

The travel team guys are automatically the studs of their HS teams, almost invariably playing key roles as sophomores if not freshmen. But everybody plays HS. The whole starter/reliever thing isn't as cut-and-dried in high school as it is at higher levels, either, since staffs are not as deep and games can be sporadic (especially early, because of weather, you might play 5 games in a tournament weekend and then not play again for 10 days).

That said, anybody who is a high school RP simply isn't among his team's 4 or so best pitchers (and obviously not a potential MLB arm). The best guy will pitch as much as humanly possible, unless he is being saved a day or two for a big game. The next guy will pitch whenever #1 isn't available, and also relieve as needed, and so on and so forth. You just don't see a kid with 0 starts and 15+ appearances, unless he is the 5th or 6th guy on a team that regularly needs a whole bunch of pitchers to stagger through a game.

In the travel tournament world, a team's best pitcher is often the "closer" in pool play and then starts either the first elimination game or is sometimes saved for a championship game. So you will see dominant pitchers get significant relief appearances, but only for teams that expect to go far and can survive pool play with their biggest gun still in the holster.

I would be stunned to learn that Huston Street or Craig Kimbrel were not starting pitchers in high school. That doesn't make it impossible, of course.
   104. Blubaldo Jimenez (OMJ) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4384292)
Fauxsto Carmona could start, but not relieve. Of course after that he couldn't start either.
   105. MikeTorrez Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4384298)
Ben Zobrist wants you to only compare him to other utility players when his name shows up on the ballot. When talent can heavily overlap two "positions" like SP and RP, and we have a very good grasp on how perceived talent changes when moved from one "position" to the other, we should use that information.


Fine by me if you'd like to do that. His versatility should be counted. Didn't Pete Rose basically play every position too?
   106. Dale Sams Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4384303)
? Fans/managers vote for those.


And? The theme of this convo seems to be 'those dumbass writers'.
   107. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:37 PM (#4384320)
I find it weird that a lot of the guys felating Rivera (talking about the mainstream writers, not people here) are also guys who have a very high bar for DH's in the HOF. They are very similar positions - entirely a creation of the modern era with a much higher performance bar in order to be considered great.

Would any GM in his right mind trade peak Edgar Martinez for peak Mariano Rivera?

Case rested.
   108. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4384327)
But Goose Gossage got in with like 90 percent of the vote and Rivera's a lot better than him, so I think he gets in easily.

Lights out as closer in 1974, sucks in conversion to starter in 1975, back to lights-out closer in 1976 et seq.
   109. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:51 PM (#4384332)
Lights out as closer in 1974, sucks in conversion to starter in 1975, back to lights-out closer in 1976 et seq.

Sucks is plain wrong.

224 IP, 91 ERA+, 2.6 WAR is average, not sucky.
   110. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4384342)
Would any GM in his right mind trade peak Edgar Martinez for peak Mariano Rivera?



I assume you're resting your case on Edgar, right? Because it's obviously where it lands.

Here's what it comes down to on the DH-vs-closer point (which is why I object to how the HOF has decided to draw the line): defense is less than half of a position player's value, if he can hit at all. Well less than half. A DH does the important part of what a position player does. I feel that it's reasonable to penalize a DH for not being able to stay healthy (or whatever) enough to be on the field, but I also feel that most of the more radical penalties are kind of silly. Edgar's potential defensive value at the two positions he could play (3B & 1B) wasn't that great to begin with. So there should be a penalty -- but it's essentially a matter of philosophy to decide what it should be.

But an for an elite closer, it's much more straightforward. They throw less than a third of the innings of a regular starter, and probably less than half of the innings of your average starter. In short, what they do has considerably less value than what a DH does, on an innate level. The bar has to be higher for them. Has to. But it's not, right now. Bruce Sutter is in the Hall, but Edgar Martinez isn't. Edgar Martinez was a vastly more useful player. Vastly.
   111. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4384344)
I assume you're resting your case on Edgar, right? Because it's obviously where it lands.

Yes, obviously. Is it even close? It's laughable on its face, right?
   112. smileyy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4384404)
The discussion about closers are kind of reminding me of catchers. There's a lot of very good individual catcher seasons or multi-year stretches, but there aren't a lot of very good catcher careers (mostly due to durability). So there's some amount of replaceability of catchers -- you're probably well off to have a catching prospect in the pipeline every 5 years or so. How much value is there in a guy who can do it for 15 years at a high level, if you're developing players anyway? I think there's some, because teams will miss on their catchers, and now you have a tradeable component.
   113. cmd600 Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4384421)
Fine by me if you'd like to do that. His versatility should be counted. Didn't Pete Rose basically play every position too?


Alright, Zobrist for first ballot HoF then. Jamey Carroll couldn't hold his jock.
   114. The District Attorney Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4384460)
Oh, lord...

- Fans don't vote for All-Star pitchers. Surely this is common knowledge?

- Yes, managers (and players and even the "league office" IIRC, under the recent selection revamp) choose the All-Star pitchers. I believe they normally select a half-dozen relievers if not more, and usually all closers, with rare exceptions. Do you think these people are so dumb that they can't even distinguish the top 50% of closers from the bottom 50%? Forget WAR if you think it's getting relievers wrong... could you cite any logic that would not consistently rank Mariano among the best relievers in the AL? Is anyone claiming he was not? If no one is claiming that, then why are we talking about this?

- Quisenberry is an interesting nomination for a "Tommy John type" who was nonetheless used as a reliever. It's weird, because he was of course a righty sidearmer, but it does seem correct -- no homers/walks/strikeouts, all singles. (I dunno how well he held runners. One would think that, all else being equal, a guy throwing that slow would give up some steals. But that's probably not the main characteristic of the pitcher type.)

He's really an interesting pitcher. It's funny that he was so successful, and yet no one has attempted to replicate it at all. If anything, you would think it'd be more plausible to use a Chad Bradford type as a closer nowadays since teams carry fewer pinch-hitters and thus fewer lefty pinch-hitters, but no one does it. (Oakland did briefly with Brad Ziegler, but even the A's clearly had no faith in it.) I have no answers here.

It also seems more plausible nowadays rather than back in the day to use the Tommy John type as a closer, since he's usually going to come in with the bases empty and thus can afford to give up the singles. (And on the flip side, the fact that the closer rarely comes in when the "fire is hot" illustrates one of the limits on his value). But anyway, teams don't use that type of pitcher in that role. Maybe they know something, maybe they just think they do... in any case, it provides an annoying lack of evidence.

- But, although it's interesting to speculate how Mariano would do as a starter (probably not well) or how Glavine would do as a closer (I honestly have no idea), it is really not the point. The point is the replacement level for relievers. It is already higher than it is for starters. If it should be higher still, then what new evidence do you have to prompt this change, and where do you want to set the level?

A very close analogy: You can continually point out that 2B hardly ever move to SS, and that a good defensive SS would likely be a great defensive 2B. You will be totally correct. That still doesn't mean that Bill Mazeroski couldn't have as much defensive value as a good defensive SS. It all means nothing unless you boil it down to a claim that the adjustment should be X rather than Y.
   115. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4384475)
What Rivera did is incredibly unique.

Maybe. The "position" of "short-inning reliever" is still quite new and only a handful of players have even played the position for their entire careers. It's not as bad as Edgar as the "greatest DH of all time" -- which is a group of maybe 5 players and he's not the best if you consider Frank Thomas a DH -- but Rivera is being compared to a very small lot of mostly failed starters.

There have now been 128 "seasons" of 60-85 IP with an ERA+ of 200 or better. There have been another 349 of 150-199. (or 475 total 150+ when PI counts differently for some reason). Over 75% of those seasons have occurred in the last 20 years, about 65% (283) in the last 13 years. Rivera and Hoffman are pretty much just the first guys to have a full career as a short-inning reliever, I find it unlikely they're both HoF-worthy or nearly so. Nathan (189 ERA+ as a short reliever), Wagner and Papelbon have put up damn good numbers. Nathan has only been at it for 9 years and he got a late start. Papelbon has only 7 years under his belt and has a chance at a Rivera-like career -- man is K'ing 12 per 9 with a 5/1 K/BB ratio, no reason to think he'll slow down until he's hurt. If not for his 2010, Papelbon would have a better ERA+ than Rivera.

We are talking about a "position" that has only existed for 20 years and really only for the last 10 or so. It's true that teams are starting to groom relievers earlier in their careers but it is still true for most of the history of this position that it was filled by failed starters. It has been similar to the DH in that regard in that most DHs don't become DHs until their 30s when they become too much of a liability in the field. Joe Nathan was meh as a starter and didn't become a short-inning reliever until age 28 (his 180 innings as a starter costs him 36 points of career ERA+). Rivera too didn't get into this role until he was 27 (another sign that Rivera is not really that GREAT of a pitcher is that he didn't even make it until 25). Somebody like Kimbrel, starting at age 22 and with 2 NL save titles in 2 seasons and a K/9 around 16, could end up blowing Rivera out of the water.

In that sense, somebody like Rivera should be treated like a 19th century player should have been treated if the HoF was started in 1900 -- we don't even know yet what a good 60-70 IP reliever career looks like. Gossage and Smith and Eckersley (not to mention Koufax, Gibson, Fergie) never had the chance to have such a career.

But it's too late. The HoF has inducted "closers" and Rivera easily meets that standard. Of course so does Hoffman and probably so will Papelbon and ... Like modern day baseball games, each HoF ceremony may be trotting out three relievers.
   116. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4384503)
[115]

Great post.
   117. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4384508)
- Fans don't vote for All-Star pitchers. Surely this is common knowledge?


Probably. If I paid attention to the silly All Star Game anymore - you know, the game where the scrubs are all playing by the 7th inning - I'd have remembered this. I didn't bring the All Star Game up.

Doesn't change the point. The writers don't vote on All Star selections.
   118. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4384566)
Relievers that threw like Tommy John, off the top of my head:

Doug Jones, Garber, Tekulve, Sutter, Honeycutt (hit and miss).

Back in the fireman era, a lot of those guys were rubber-armed soft tossers.

Also I don't know how you characterize somebody like Jeff Nelson -- unhittable slider but I don't remember his fastball being all that much. I could be mis-remembering of course but I know if his slider had also been controllable, he'd have dominated.

As noted, successful relievers are often guys with one killer pitch and not much else. Baseball has, probably wisely, found a way to leverage those guys as much as possible ... but that doesn't make them HoF-quality pitchers.

Now, in Rivera's case, I'm willing to consider his raw stats under a peak argument. I noted in the other Mo thread that his "all-time greatest rate stat" position is matched by the top starters -- e.g. Pedro has a consecutive stretch of 1400+ innings with a better ERA+ than Rivera. But the starters in that list are the best of the best -- Pedro, Maddux, Johnson and (to an extent) you can make cases for Clemens and Koufax and maybe some others I didn't check. Now there is a big boost to short-inning relievers -- there is obvious selection going on, but the median ERA+ 2010-12 for reliever seasons of 60-80 IP with at least 50 appearances is 132. In that sense, Rivera's 1200 inning run probably falls closer to Kevin Brown 1996-2000 (1210 IP, 164 ERA+) than to those greatest of the great starters but that's still a damn fine peak -- 35 WAR, 27 WAA for Brown. That's roughly in line with, say, Dizzy Dean's peak and not far off Koufax at 39 WAR, 28 WAA.

Note, I have no particular problem with using LI (in some fashion) in calculating reliever VALUE -- guys pitching in reasonably close games in the 9th are providing extra value towards winning. But relievers are definitely a case where, for HoF purposes, we should distinguish between "value" and "performance/ability/quality" in our desire to determine "greatness." I don't have a problem with evaluating Rivera based on his un-leveraged performance and I don't have a real problem with including his postseason performance with a weight of 1. I think we should make some adjustment for the relative ease of short-inning relief but that is still going to leave him with a damn fine peak. I lean more towards career value for pitchers though.

Somebody mentioned WAA vs WAR. I agree that for HoF purposes that WAA is probably better as it provides a pretty good balance between peak and career. AROM likes to drop out negative WAA at the beginning/end of a career in that the guy was generally either rushed to the majors to develop or hanging on at the end for a milestone and it's not reflective of the player's ability -- perfectly reasonable but I doubt it makes much of a difference too often (Biggio gets hurt by it).

But for HoF purposes, there really aren't guys chugging along at average for 20 years. There are guys who chug along at a level of excellence for a long time (Murray, Palmeiro) and I have no problem with those guys in the HoF. Tony Perez (18 WAA) is really the only guy the writers put in with crappy WAA (that springs to mind) but he had crappy WAR too (only 50).

WAA is a good tiebreaker for comparing two HoF players and therefore useful around some borderline cases (Dick Allen with 33 WAA should be in) but, while conceptually cleaner IMO, WAA vs WAR is rarely going to make much difference in HoF cases.

I will note that, for short relievers, WAA should take care of some of the chaining issue. I mean the "replacement" for 20 years of Derek Jeter is not a replacement level SS but an average level SS. You can still argue that the replacement for Mo's career is an average closer rather than an average reliever or an average pitcher, but WAA gets you a lot closer to Mo's true value than WAR. What WAA doesn't solve of course is the leverage issue -- Mo is credited with 31 WAA which is still below that of peak Brown, about the same as peak Dizzy -- but that I assume still has leverage tied up in it. By the way, bWAR does penalize relievers for being relievers -- they are being compared to other relievers. But I don't think an adjustment of LI relative to average reliever LI takes place in WAA/WAR. (average reliever LI may work out at 1 anyway but that's because of relief IP in blowouts.)

   119. alilisd Posted: March 08, 2013 at 07:52 PM (#4384581)
There have been relievers better than him for a few seasons in a row of his career, like Gagne


Nope. Gagne had one season, 2003, which you could call "better" than Rivera, but his 2002 and 2004 were typical Rivera-like seasons. He was not better than Rivera for a "few seasons in a row" or even a few seasons scattered throughout his career.
   120. alilisd Posted: March 08, 2013 at 07:54 PM (#4384584)
Because I can have Pedro Martinez throw that inning or two, and also be available to give me 6 IP if I need them.


But why would you want to use Pedro in that way? If you're going to use him in a less traditonal starting role, why not pair him up with another great but fragile pitcher, like Koufax, and have them each pitch 4? Giving the 9th to Rivera, naturally. :-)
   121. alilisd Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:03 PM (#4384588)
Frankly, I don't even see how Rivera is any better than Hoyt Wilhelm. Wilhelm didn't make the majors until age 29, and the difference between them in WAR is all leverage.


I think Rivera has some clear arguments for being quite a bit better than Wilhelm. His K rates are clearly better and his BB rates are much, much better. This carries through to the superior ERA+ for Rivera, both in terms of individual seasons and career rates. Rivera only has four seasons below 190, Wilhelm only four seasons above 190.

Plus, Wilhem proved he could be an excellent SP, something Rivera never did.


I think it's a overstating the case a bit to say Wilhelm "proved he could be an excellent SP" based on one season as a starter.
   122. alilisd Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:04 PM (#4384590)
Yeah, I did that intentionally. The fact is, the list of relievers who were good enough to put up an ERA+ of 150 or better over any length of time is really short.


Ah, gotcha.
   123. alilisd Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:12 PM (#4384598)
entirely a creation of the modern era


Because the mythos of the closer is entirely, or nearly so, the creation of the media types praising Rivera, and they had no hand in creating the DH.
   124. alilisd Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:42 PM (#4384618)
There have now been 128 "seasons" of 60-85 IP with an ERA+ of 200 or better.


Hm, I get 168. Rivera has 11 of them, next closest is Nathan with 5.

Rivera and Hoffman are pretty much just the first guys to have a full career as a short-inning reliever, I find it unlikely they're both HoF-worthy or nearly so.


Maybe so, but the aren't "pretty much just the first guys to have a full career as a short-inning reliever." That opportunity has been out there for hundreds or relievers during this period and they, along with Wagner, are the only ones who have been able to do it for a full career. They are exceptional in their ability to do it over and over for a career. Other guys are able to do it here and there during a career, or for a few years before burning out, but they are exceptional out of a large number of players who have had the opportunity.

Nathan has only been at it for 9 years and he got a late start.


As did Rivera, get a late start that is. Nathan is going to be 38 and would have to put up another 6 years to approach Rivera. Not going to happen. Further illustration of how unique his ability is, at least in terms of consistency over a long career.

Papelbon has only 7 years under his belt and has a chance at a Rivera-like career -- man is K'ing 12 per 9 with a 5/1 K/BB ratio, no reason to think he'll slow down until he's hurt. If not for his 2010, Papelbon would have a better ERA+ than Rivera.


Perhaps. I'll reserve judgment until he's done it. The odss as they stand now, imo, is that he won't come close.
   125. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:48 PM (#4384622)
As DeGaulle noted, the graveyards are full of indispensable men, so, yes, the Yankees will replace Rivera when the time comes. But it won't be that easy, and during the sorting out, trial & error process that will probably take place several times over the next 18 years, the Yankees will lose more games than if they could just rewind Rivera's career. It's fairly likely that they will go a decade or two without getting anyone who produces an average Rivera season, much less matches his peak. Remember, peak Rivera pitched more consecutive games and had more outings over 1 inning than most closers, if that was what was needed.

As noted in #115, we've only had a couple of decades with the strict Closer, Set-up Men roles, but during that period no one has been better than Rivera. A lot of folks have been pretty good for a few years, but not many last as long as Mariano and no one has been better over a lengthy career. He's set marks that will be difficult to surpass, and no one is even in range to do so within a decade. So, that would seem to make Rivera, at least, the best closer over a 30+ year period. And he was even better in his extensive postseason career.

Being the best ever in your role seems like high praise to me.

   126. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 09:09 PM (#4384628)
Being the best ever in your role seems like high praise to me.

Depends on the role. We aren't going to put the "best pinch hitter" in the HOF. Or the "best long reliever." Or the "best #4 starter." Or the "best #7 hitter." The problem with reliever is that, like lineup position, it is both a role and a measure of skill. A team's best reliever is probably about the 4th-best pitcher on a team, on average. So a lot depends on how inherently valuable you believe a "closer" is.
   127. Josh1 Posted: March 08, 2013 at 10:34 PM (#4384685)
If anything the WAR gap understates the real world value difference between Edgar and Mariano. The real world typical DH performance is much worse than the 2 WAR you see at other positions, because the real world average DH hitting is worse than real world first basemen hit. The real average DH hitting performance is more like an average outfielder. 650 PA of Edgar's OBP-heavy 150 OPS+ provides a big advantage over the typical team getting a sub-110 OPS+ out of the DH slot. Mariano's 200 ERA+ over 65 innings provides a much smaller advantage over a typical team getting a 130-140 ERA+ over those 9th innings (or even if you want to compare him to a typical 105 ERA+ reliever to be charitable).

We should also remember comparing very high ERA+ numbers is very deceptive and significantly overstates the real run-saving value. A 200 ERA+ looks vastly better than a 180 ERA+, but it's not. If average ERA is 5, a 4 ERA is a 125 ERA+, a 3 ERA is a 167 ERA+, and a 2 ERA is a 250 ERA+. Moving from a 100 ERA+ to a 120 ERA+ is the same as moving from a 5 ERA to a 4.17 ERA, or a difference of 0.83 runs saved per 9. Moving from a 180 ERA+ to a 200 ERA+ is only a difference of moving from a 2.78 ERA to a 2.50 ERA, or 0.28 runs saved per 9.
   128. Howie Menckel Posted: March 08, 2013 at 10:45 PM (#4384698)
Another issue is sort of the law of diminishing returns. The only important thing the closer needs to do is end the game with the team winning. Whether he gives up a walk in each outing or keeps getting 1-2-3s, that affects one's WHIP but not the results. You win either way.

I'm not a Mariano basher, but his save percentage isn't as otherworldly as other stats (though it's very good), and that's what matters most. I'm more impressed by his reliability and his durability (if we can use such a word for guys pitching 75 innings in 6 months) than the outer reaches of his ERA+, which I don't think change his case much.

   129. Spivey Posted: March 08, 2013 at 11:21 PM (#4384722)
If anything the WAR gap understates the real world value difference between Edgar and Mariano.

This cuts both ways. The replacement level is WAR is so low that in some respects you could argue it is a essentially a counting stat. Accumulating 3.3 WAR in 72 innings (what Rivera average from 1996-2011) is a hell of a lot more impressive than doing it in 200 innings or doing it in 600 PAs.

   130. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 08, 2013 at 11:29 PM (#4384725)
I think his post-season stats pale before Gibson or Koufax's. Even Curt Schilling's post-season stats impress me more.

Gibson threw 60 fewer postseason innings and gave up 6 more runs. Yes, there's a higher degree of difficulty in starting, but it's at least partially offset by the fact that he was performing in the best era for pitching in the last 90 years or so.

Not saying Gibson wasn't fantastic in the postseason, but Rivera is incomparable in this respect.
   131. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 11:35 PM (#4384733)
How is WAR not a counting stat?
   132. Josh1 Posted: March 08, 2013 at 11:50 PM (#4384740)
WAR is a counting stat, and so is value. Mariano might give up 15 ER in 65 innings, a typical closer something like 22 runs, and an average reliever 29 runs. The performance is extremely impressive but only of a limited value. Meanwhile a typical team might get 5 rbat out of its DH while Edgar might provide over 50 rbat, which helps win a lot more games relative to other teams.

The leverage adjustment for reliever WAR is what allows Mariano to do so well in so few innings, and it's a controversial adjustment.
   133. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:24 AM (#4384758)
With the DH I believe it is nearly impossible to account for the negatives of having a pure DH on the roster who plays everyday. The position is often a rotating one that allows the other players to get some rest, shuffle things around defensively to get platoon advantages at other positions, takes up a roster spot other teams use on someone that can at least take the field, these days interleague puts them on the bench, etc. There's a reason most teams don't have or really look for a pure DH and ignoring that will make you overrate a guy like Edgar. To what degree? It almost has to be a total guess.
   134. Walt Davis Posted: March 09, 2013 at 03:43 AM (#4384827)
Maybe so, but the aren't "pretty much just the first guys to have a full career as a short-inning reliever." That opportunity has been out there for hundreds or relievers during this period and they, along with Wagner, are the only ones who have been able to do it for a full career.

Not really. Most guys don't get put into the bullpen until they have washed out as starters. Yes that's changing but it's only just begun to change. Pedro would have been insane as a closer as would Randy Johnson. As we've seen, Eck took to it very well, so did Smoltz.

Darren Oliver is an interesting case. He spent his first season in the pen where he put up a 141 ERA+. He went into the rotation the next year at 24. He rattled off three good years around 113 then started having some issues. As is, he spent 24-32 as a starter compiling a 95 ERA+. He had a terrible year as a swingman at age 33 and didn't pitch in the majors at 34 but did some in the minors as a starter. Career on the ropes, out to the bullpen. At the age of 35. From 35-41 he's put up 460 innings of 155 ERA+ including a 207 last year. From 29 to 33, he had a WHIP of 1.6; as a reliever, it's been 1.1.

Sean Marshall was OK as a starter. He got shifted to the bullpen. His ERA as a starter was 4.86; as a reliever it's 2.64. He K'd 6.1/9 as a starter and 9.7/9 as a reliever. He went from 1 HR per 7 IP to 1 HR per 20 IP. He didn't become a full-time reliever until age 27 and he doesn't close so his LI is mediocre and he has no shot at the HoF or even an AS game although he's probably more deserving than many other NL relievers.

This means most of them won't even get a shot until after age 25 or so to start with which limits the number likely to have a successful career. Most of those that get a shot are not slotted directly into the closers role and may never get a shot. P-I gives me 258 seasons of 35+ saves and only 26 of those are from a pitcher under age 26.

Again, this 1-inning, 60-70 or 80 IP reliever role has only existed for about 15, maybe 20 years. And we've got three guys who have really excelled in Wagner, Hoffman and Rivera. Over the last 15 years do you know how many players have 1500+ games at second base? One, Luis Castillo. There have been 4 at 3B. Why are we so sure that Rivera is rare? And, as Castillo shows, rarity is neither value nor greatness.

Meanwhile, there have been 8 SS to hit the 1500 games mark in the last 15 years. Is this perhaps a sign that SS are better athletes than 2B and 3B generally just as starting pitchers are better pitchers than relievers generally?

In an ideal world, I'd wait to make sure that (a) this role still exists 10+ years from now and (b) Rivera isn't like the Jack Morris or Davey Concepcion of relievers -- the best of a bad lot where everybody else got hurt or wasn't very good. (Rivera at least the best of his era which Morris can't claim.) Baseball doesn't introduce new positions very often (more on the pitching side than on the offense side). But just because guys like Baines, McRae, Chili Davis were the first guys to have extensive careers at DH doesn't mean we put them in the HoF.
   135. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4384906)

Rivera live press conference on YES now: "The tank is almost empty."

   136. Nasty Nate Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4384913)
Depends on the role. We aren't going to put the "best pinch hitter" in the HOF.


What if there was a platoon player who got 200 plate appearances a year for 17 years and finished his career with a .500 on base percentage?
   137. Nasty Nate Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4384915)
We are talking about a "position" that has only existed for 20 years and really only for the last 10 or so. ...

In that sense, somebody like Rivera should be treated like a 19th century player should have been treated if the HoF was started in 1900 -- we don't even know yet what a good 60-70 IP reliever career looks like.


The role of 7-inning starting pitcher hasn't been around that long, do we not know whether Pedro's career is a good one?
   138. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4384917)
#134 - Eh, all I see you doing here is making assumptions that I personally don't see the merit in. You are picking out random examples. This is not statistically sound by any means. For all the guys you are bringing up that saved their careers by switching to the pen there are literally hundreds who did not... The disrespect for relievers around here is staggeringly wrong headed as far as I can tell, almost uniformly consisting of assumptions that are oddly nonsensical like what I just pointed above from people that should know better due to, I suspect, an overreaction against the inflated opinion the media and general populace have for relievers in general and more so closers specifically. It is just as wrong, if not worse because you should really know better.

Whether you agree or not teams do and have been valuing closers very highly for a long while. Relievers/closers are not all "failed" starters by any means except in the sense that MANY truly great starters also failed in their first year or three in the majors. Before current reliever usage was established these players were not switched to the pen. They were sent back to the minors or allowed to muddle along at the back of the rotation to work on things and given the development time the needed to become adequate and then built upon that. These days it often happens even before they get to the majors and for quite a while now converting someone to relief when the struggle initially is almost par for the course. If they excel at that role it is rare they are given a chance to start again and when a team does it it is controversial, and they usually MUST immediately do well as a starter, often only given a few starts in spring training and, if given a longer leash, let's say my god a few months in the rotation, and they still aren't a good starter? Then management is raked through the coals publicly.

These dynamics are not private. They are on near constant display and obviously contradict the baseless assumptions clogging this discussion, that relievers are uniformly failed starters on the hilarious basis that people you KNOW vastly over value closers are making appropriate decisions about when such a conversion should be done and the even more baffling to me idea that any starter could handle a relievers usage pattern and excel often to a degree directly contradicted by statistical analysis of the subject which you throw out as flawed I guess because they don't account for your baseless assumptions.
   139. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4384920)
But why would you want to use Pedro in that way? If you're going to use him in a less traditonal starting role, why not pair him up with another great but fragile pitcher, like Koufax, and have them each pitch 4? Giving the 9th to Rivera, naturally. :-)

Because on the all-time team, he's stuck behind Walter Johnson, Greg Maddux, Lefty Grove, Roger Clemens and Christy Mathewson for the rotation. Not to mention Seaver, Carlton, Feller, etc.

My Lefty RP are probably Koufax, Carlton and Whitey Ford. Righties are Pedro, Seaver, and I'm blnaking on the third.
   140. Nasty Nate Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:44 AM (#4384923)
Whether you agree or not teams do and have been valuing closers very highly for a long while...... people you KNOW vastly over value closers are making appropriate decisions about when such a conversion should be done


Exactly. Just because teams shouldn't limit their good pitchers to 60 innings a year doesn't mean that they haven't been doing that.
   141. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4384925)
The Yankees announced during the Rivera presser that Mo has asked that they find a person or group on each road city they visit that "loves the game," so that he can meet and personally thank them.

examples given were a family of 5 that drives 3 hours each way to/from game just because they love the sport, or a stadium vendor who has put in 30 or 40 years. doesn't matter if they like the Yankees - or Rivera, it was said.

Mo's greatest achievement may be that such a thing can be announced and not produce laughter, rolled eyes, or an OFF click of the TV. It actually sounds cool...

   142. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4384928)

Exactly. Just because teams shouldn't limit their good pitchers to 60 innings a year doesn't mean that they haven't been doing that.


I'm certain they do over limit pitchers at the margin, but nobody takes established starters and moves them to fill a gap at closer. When Rivera got hurt last year, the Yankees didn't consider moving CC Sabathia , or even Phil Hughes, to the pen.

Teams know a good starter is much more valuable, and generally act accordingly.
   143. GuyM Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4384941)
In an ideal world, I'd wait to make sure that (a) this role still exists 10+ years from now and (b) Rivera isn't like the Jack Morris or Davey Concepcion of relievers -- the best of a bad lot where everybody else got hurt or wasn't very good.

I agree with NN and jyjjy that Walt is overstating his case a bit here. There's roughly a zero percent chance the closer role won't exist in 10 years. And only a slightly larger chance that Rivera won't still be seen as the best ever in that role. Since 1980, P-I identifies 231 pitchers who were primarily relievers, finished at least 150 games, and threw at least 200 IP. Many of these guys had a chance to become Rivera -- pitchers like Wettland, Jones, Henke, Nenn -- but only one did. (Though Wagner wasn't far behind on a per-inning basis.)

I think what sets Rivera apart is his durability. Maybe Papelbon or Kimble will match him, but there are a lot of reliever bodies on the side of the road that say otherwise. What may complicate our assessment of Rivera in the future is more guys like Eckersley: pitchers who have 8-9 years as excellent starters, and then tack on 8-10 more years as a top closer. Comparing them to Rivera is tricky. Many of us here would probably conclude the mixed-use pitchers had significantly more career value. But sportswriters will likely compare Mo only to other "pure closers," allowing him to remain a bit overrated for a long, long time.
   144. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4384945)
When Rivera got hurt last year, the Yankees didn't consider moving CC Sabathia , or even Phil Hughes, to the pen.

Jesus man. Do you even stop to think before you say these things? They already had purposely signed a back up closer for big money. That you have constantly ignored this to make points even after you have been reminded of it repeatedly is one of the most blatantly willfully intellectually dishonest things I've encountered in a while and I have been speaking with Ray.
Also, even beyond already paying gobs of money for a backup closer, why put Hughes in the pen when you already have former HOF starter Joba in there, after conclusively proving he cannot start naturally and Robertson who is fantastic but never could have done well as a starter either of course. Looking it up that was decided in his first year of college. They gave him three starts however so he had his chance; pathetic reliever just couldn't cut it.
   145. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4384949)
Jesus man. Do you even stop to think before you say these things? They already had purposely signed a back up closer for big money. That you have constantly ignored this to make points even after you have been reminded of it repeatedly is one of the most blatantly willfully intellectually dishonest things I've encountered in a while and I have been speaking with Ray.

That was the plan in 2010. Soriano was lousy in 2011, and last year nobody in NY thought he was the answer. He was viewed as a Randy Levine imposed albatross.

Notice how Soriano, the "backup closer", didn't the first shot at the job, Robertson did. If Joba was healthy, he had broken his ankle in ST if you don't remember, he might have gotten a shot before Soriano.

You're just a Mariano Rivera fanboy that can't handle people saying he's not "teh greatest pitcher evah!!!".

He's not. Get over it. He excelled in the easiest pitching role ever devised by man. He's probably about as good as Ron Guidry or Jimmy Key, for his career.
   146. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:27 PM (#4384950)
I don't even know what to say to you any more... I've never seen you say such stupid things and the above is not worthy of any real response.
   147. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:40 PM (#4384957)
I don't even know what to say to you any more... I've never seen you say such stupid things and the above is not worthy of any real response.

Everything I've said is true. Closers are just not that important or valuable, and most team act based on this, most of the time.

You're just hung up on "best ERA+ = best pitcher ever". GuyM has shown you that if you do a proper context adjustment, Rivera wasn't as good, by rate stats, as Pedro.

   148. alilisd Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4384958)

Not really. Most guys don't get put into the bullpen until they have washed out as starters. Yes that's changing but it's only just begun to change.


I guess I don't look at it that way. I see guys who at career relievers all over the place. They've already "washed out" before hey get to MLB or start only rarely once they do/have. You mention the role has been around for 15 or 20 years, but in that time every team in baseball has about 7 relievers in its pen and these guys tur over a LOT, they have very short careers. This is why I say the opportunity has been out there for hundreds of guys and yet only three have really been able to do it for what we consider to be a long career. We can take this up again in not her 15 or 20 years, but I feel pretty confident we won't be discussing more than a handful of guys who have joined the three we've identified so far.
   149. gehrig97 Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:48 PM (#4384960)
Still...

                                                                                                                                               

16 Yrs (32 Series)                 8 1  .889 0.70 96  0 78  0   0 42 141.0 86 13 11  2 21   4 110   3  0  3 527 0.759  5.5  0.1  1.3  7.0  5.24

                               Opp W L  W-L%  ERA  G GS GF CG SHO SV    IP  H  R ER HR BB IBB  SO HBP BK WP  BF  WHIP  H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
16 ALDS                            2 0 1.000 0.32 39  0 32  0   0 18  56.0 26  3  2  1  6   2  44   1  0  1 200 0.571  4.2  0.2  1.0  7.1  7.33
9 ALCS                             4 0 1.000 0.92 33  0 27  0   0 13  48.2 33  5  5  0  7   1  34   0  0  2 183 0.822  6.1  0.0  1.3  6.3  4.86
7 WS                               2 1  .667 0.99 24  0 19  0   0 11  36.1 27  5  4  1  8   1  32   2  0  0 144 0.963  6.7  0.2  2.0  7.9  4.00


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/9/2013.
   150. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4384961)

"nobody takes established starters and moves them to fill a gap at closer."

I knew it didn't quite apply, but it made me think of future established starter Wainwright for the Cardinals in 2006. he was a setup man who saved three games as a rookie. As the closer in the postseason with Izzy hurt, he saved 4.
Anyone else have more postseason than regular season saves, with more than 1 of each?

That worked out ok for the Cardinals, what with his 9.6 IP without allowing a run, 15 K, 7 H, 2 BB - and that World Series title.

The Cardinals gave Izzy his closer job back in 2007, though, and he had a big year. Wainwright did well as a starter, too - and the Cardinals went 78-84 anyway, as Kip Wells and Anthony Reyes went a combined 9-31 in 46 horrible starts with ERAs of 5.70 and 6.04, respectively.

   151. Nasty Nate Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:55 PM (#4384963)
but nobody takes established starters and moves them to fill a gap at closer.


Curt Schilling, Brett Myers...

When Rivera got hurt last year, the Yankees didn't consider moving CC Sabathia , or even Phil Hughes, to the pen.


If you are appealing to the Yankees' authority, they were the ones choosing to spend more than $20m in a year for closers when, in addition to Robertson, they presumably have plenty of failed starters to choose from.
   152. Nasty Nate Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4384965)
You're just hung up on "best ERA+ = best pitcher ever"


It seems like everyone else is hung up on that, I don't think he has said that once (but maybe I missed it).
   153. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4384966)
Curt Schilling, Brett Myers...

Myers is the one case in recent years. Before that, Dave Righetti maybe?

When was Schiiling moved to closer? His only seasons with saves came very early in his career, much before he was an established anything.

Team certainly use young SP in relief while breaking them in. That's always been the case.

Hell Phil Hughes, who is a thoroughly mediocre SP, was a lights out RP for the Yankees in 2009.
   154. Nasty Nate Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4384969)
When was Schiiling moved to closer? His only seasons with saves came very early in his career, much before he was an established anything.

Team certainly use young SP in relief while breaking them in. That's always been the case.

Hell Phil Hughes, who is a thoroughly mediocre SP, was a lights out RP for the Yankees in 2009.


Schilling was used as closer for a little when Foulke was out in 2005. Smoltz was a closer for 3 years, so it wasn't all about health and building back arm strength.

Phil Hughes had a 3.00 ERA, that is not lights-out for a starter or reliever.
   155. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4384972)
It seems like everyone else is hung up on that, I don't think he has said that once (but maybe I missed it).

He says "best at preventing runs", without admitting any modification for quantity of innings, or the reduced scoring context for one IP RPs.
   156. GuyM Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:11 PM (#4384973)
I think there is less to argue about here than it appears? Does anyone seriously disagree that:
1) Teams need both starters and relievers, and pitchers can provide value in both roles:
2) Starting pitchers are, in general, more valuable and more skilled pitchers (as shown by the fact that talented pitchers will usually be moved to the bullpen only if they cannot succeed as starters);
3) Pitching in relief gives most pitchers an advantage, and we must account for that in evaluating relievers (and if you are a pitcher who cannot do better in relief, you should either start or find another profession);
4) Pitching well in high leverage situations does increase a pitcher's contribution to the team, but leverage is to some extent a "team resource" that will always be given to (at least) a decent pitcher.

We can certainly argue about the details of #3 and #4 (how to adjust replacement level and how to handle leverage). But it doesn't seem that the basic principles should be much in dispute at this point.
   157. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4384974)
Phil Hughes had a 3.00 ERA, that is not lights-out for a starter or reliever.

His ERA as a RP in 2009 was 1.40.

Even the 3.00 ERA, which includes 7 lousy starts (5.45 ERA) was a 152 ERA+, which is pretty lights out.
   158. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4384979)
Everything I've said is true.

And totally meaningless. Soriano had a middling year as a setup man... all of a sudden he doesn't count as a very successful highly paid closer when he returns to the role and excels at it because management doesn't have a clue, much like yourself on this topic it seems. Your responses show so little respect for closers that when discussing them your brain shuts off and all of sudden other people making demonstrably incorrect decisions is proof that they know what they are doing to a degree that you insist it proves contrary ideas wrong, with no other real evidence.
   159. Nasty Nate Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4384984)
His ERA as a RP in 2009 was 1.40.


my mistake

He says "best at preventing runs", without admitting any modification for quantity of innings, or the reduced scoring context for one IP RPs.


That is clearly totally different than "best ERA+ = best pitcher ever"
   160. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4384985)
Schilling was used as closer for a little when Foulke was out in 2005.

Interesting. He was coming off an injury, and three horrific April starts, when they tried him at closer in July/Aug.
   161. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4384987)

That is clearly totally different than "best ERA+ = best pitcher ever"


On the printed page, yes, but not so much the way it's been argued.

Anyway, I pretty much agree 100% with GuyM, and he's bringing the data, so I'm going to drop out of this one. We're just talking past each other and getting nasty for no reason.
   162. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4384991)
He says "best at preventing runs", without admitting any modification for quantity of innings, or the reduced scoring context for one IP RPs.

I am doing nothing of the sort. I am saying Rivera has been the best pitcher at preventing the other team from scoring on a rate basis when everything, including role, is taken into account with the appropriate "quantity" aspect being enough data to establish a statistically significant appraisal of the pitcher's true talent level and I believe Rivera's body of work does meet that criteria. All you seem to be saying on the other hand boils down to, "closers are all just teh sukky starters guys, derp."
   163. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:42 PM (#4384997)
I am saying Rivera has been the best pitcher at preventing the other team from scoring on a rate basis when everything, including role, is taken into account

But that's not true if you adjust for the fact that it's ~1 run of ERA easier to be a short-RP.

GuyM showed it, comparing Rivera to Pedro, but I can't find the post right now.

Edit: Here you go

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand/discussion/mariano_rivera_plans_to_retire_after_2013_season/P300/
   164. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4385002)
Thank you kindly for pointing out a post(or rather the page a post is on...) which I have already responded to. Very useful.
   165. alilisd Posted: March 09, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4385008)
@ 143: Maybe someone will match him, but there are a lot of reliver bodies on the side of the road that say otherwise. Exactly!
   166. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4385072)
When Rivera got hurt last year, the Yankees didn't consider moving CC Sabathia , or even Phil Hughes, to the pen.

Jesus man. Do you even stop to think before you say these things? They already had purposely signed a back up closer for big money. That you have constantly ignored this to make points even after you have been reminded of it repeatedly is one of the most blatantly willfully intellectually dishonest things I've encountered in a while and I have been speaking with Ray.


Ok: Who is the last ace starter at the top of his game and without injury concerns to be moved to the closer's role because the closer went down?
   167. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4385086)
Really Ray? I set snapper's strawman on fire and you douse it and prop it up again just to reclaim the role of most tediously stubborn? Why would anyone think a team would do that and what is your goal in asking the question?
   168. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4385090)
The point is that teams _don't_ do that, because they know that ace starters are more valuable than ace closers.

This is reflected as well in the length/salary of starter contracts vs. closer contracts.
   169. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4385092)
Maybe. The "position" of "short-inning reliever" is still quite new and only a handful of players have even played the position for their entire careers.


A great point; Walt's post 115 is excellent. People act as if Rivera's role has been around for 100+ years and he's been the best at it. It's been around for 20+ years and he's been the best at it. Massive difference.
   170. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4385098)
I think what sets Rivera apart is his durability.


Yeah, it was the fact that he did it every year for 16 years. But, as I said in the other thread, so what? Teams don't plan their roster for 15 years into the future, or sign closers - or anyone - to 15 year contracts.

The Yankees' job is not to "find a closer who can replace Mo for the next 15 years," as the media and the pro-Rivera contingent seem to think that it is. You can sign a top closer to a four year contract, as the Phillies did with Papelbon, and be reasonably confident that he can pitch well for the foreseeable future.
   171. haggard Posted: March 09, 2013 at 06:43 PM (#4385099)
Since Rivera is used as a closer, you don't need to replace him with someone with the same ERA+. You just need to replace him with someone with a comparable save percentage.
   172. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 06:48 PM (#4385101)
And Snapper is correct: I can't imagine an easier job than closer. Everything is set up for him to succeed. He typically comes in with a lead. Typically with the bases empty. Typically with a margin for error, and typically with a sizeable (2-3 run) margin for error. Typically for only 1 inning. Then when he succeeds, as he will the vast majority of the time, he accepts the accolades at the end when everyone else did all the hard work.

So he doesn't have to come in with men on the bases in the 7th/8th and the game hanging in the balance.

And for all of this, the only difficult thing he has to deal with compared to other pitchers is the higher frequency of pinch hitters, although it's probably not that much higher since managers don't PH much even with the game on the line.
   173. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4385103)
The point is that teams _don't_ do that, because they know that ace starters are more valuable than ace closers.

Excellent. We are breaking new ground here. Shall we all agree that the sky is blue next? What other mysteries that have plagued the world shall we conquer now that we have put our differences behind us?

EDIT: Just looked outside and it's getting dark and the sky is kinda purplish rather than blue. I know it only stays that way for a little bit but I fear I'm admiring it more on a rate basis despite that blue skies are more valuable... the world's mysteries will have to wait I guess while we go for round two.
   174. BDC Posted: March 09, 2013 at 07:11 PM (#4385129)
the fact that he did it every year for 16 years. But, as I said in the other thread, so what?

Well, as I was saying in the other thread, guys who are great for 16 years tend to be widely admired as ballplayers, and guys who are great for one year tend to be barely remembered :)

Who is the last ace starter at the top of his game and without injury concerns to be moved to the closer's role

That in itself is an interesting question (the "closer going down" part seems to be a red herring, though). Unless I'm forgetting a lot of guys, there are few enough examples of even decent starters being converted to closer without an injury intervening (as it did with Aguilera, Smoltz, Isringhausen). Dave Righetti and Jeff Russell are among the few apposite examples I remember, neither one a great starter, though. Without getting into the argument per se, I'd like to know other examples from people with better memories :)
   175. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 07:19 PM (#4385135)
Eckersley was all over the place as a starter, but occasionally pretty great.
   176. BDC Posted: March 09, 2013 at 07:54 PM (#4385162)
Eck was a fine starter, but had reached the end of his rope with the Cubs – not via injury but via drink. I'd put him in the category of something bad intervening; in any case he was not anywhere near the top of his game when converted to relief.
   177. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 08:40 PM (#4385176)
His ERA+s before the conversion;

144, 101, 112, 139, 149, 99, 91, 116, 78, 110, 129, 88

His last year is not good but not really awful and he had a 129 in 300+ innings with the Cubs right before that. I'd think the conversion was just LaRussa being LaRussa more so than alcoholism forcing the switch in some odd way. But yeah, great isn't the word to describe him at that point.
   178. Sweatpants Posted: March 09, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4385180)
Ryan Dempster and Kelvim Escobar both followed a similar career path (well, sort of). They started out in the rotation, where they had some early success before struggling. They moved to the bullpen and ended up as the closer, which went okay. Then they went back to the rotation and settled in as good starters.

What happened with Scott Williamson? The Reds converted him to a starter in mid-2000, and he pitched very well in that role, but he started the 2001 season in the bullpen.
   179. Shock Posted: March 09, 2013 at 09:02 PM (#4385183)
The team pretty much has to trade Cano, don't they?
   180. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 09:12 PM (#4385189)
The team pretty much has to trade Cano, don't they?

If they're sub-.500 in July, they need to trade Cano, Granderson, Kuroda, and Hughes (if they don't plan on extending him).
   181. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 09, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4385202)
@180: why? I don't follow the Yanks except incidentally. Is this the CW, or...?
   182. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 09:44 PM (#4385205)
@180: why? I don't follow the Yanks except incidentally. Is this the CW, or...?

Because they're all FA, and the team seems hell bent on getting below the luxury tax threshold in 2014.

There's basically no chance they resign Granderson, Kuroda, or Hughes (and stay under the cap), so if you're out of it, you might as well get some talent back. You trade Cano because he wants 10/250 and is a 30 y.o. 2B.
   183. The District Attorney Posted: March 09, 2013 at 10:00 PM (#4385210)
Brett Myers was the Phillies' ace going into 2007 (Cole Hamels had yet to establish himself at that level), yet they made him the closer. I'm not going to say it wasn't really stupid, but they did do it.

(EDIT: Whoops, I see that in all this nonsense, that was mentioned and I missed it. Schilling was used as closer [and was awful] because he was coming back from injury and they doubted his stamina. That type of thing presumably shouldn't count.)

There was also the strange situation in 1950-51 when "firemen" were just beginning to take off and the Red Sox transitioned Ellis Kinder, who had gone 23-6 with a 130 ERA+ in 1949, into a part-time and later into a full-time reliever. Of course, this also could be deemed inapplicable for several reasons.

Again, ultimately, who cares? Anyone sensible acknowledges that most pitchers can perform better per inning as relievers than as starters. That still doesn't mean that the best reliever ever can't be as good as a very good starter. There needs to be less anecdotal evidence and baloney here, and more specific claims about how statistics should be adjusted.

Re: Cano: I do think the Yankees might as well re-sign him. I realize they want to stay under $189 million/yr, but they have basically overshot their target there: They are currently only committed to spend $80M or so (not counting arbitration cases) in '14. There's certainly no reason for them not to spend $189M. So if you go cheap at 2B, how do you propose to productively spend the other $100M or so?
   184. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 09, 2013 at 10:27 PM (#4385219)
There's basically no chance they resign Granderson, Kuroda, or Hughes (and stay under the cap), so if you're out of it, you might as well get some talent back. You trade Cano because he wants 10/250 and is a 30 y.o. 2B.

The Yankees will recoup considerable payroll room with Rivera's retirement, Andy Pettitte's probable retirement, and passing on Kuroda if he doesn't retire. Getting under the "cap" may require them to develop in-house replacements for those folks, but if they do, they could re-sign Cano and Granderson. And I wouldn't count on the Yanks being out of the race, so Cano's mid-season departure is unlikely.
   185. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 09, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4385230)
@182: interesting. I was also interested in what YC would have to say. 10/250 for Cano does indeed seem preposterous. I can't see the Yankees not topping David Wright's deal, probably by a fair amount given that Wright has only been terrific in one year of the last four. No way Cano doesn't get eight years. Would you go, say, 8/184? And, is there any chance Cano could be had for that? No idea if he's tied to NY the way, say, Jeter or Rivera is.
   186. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 10:49 PM (#4385236)
They are currently only committed to spend $80M or so (not counting arbitration cases) in '14.

It will likely be more like 100 mill after arbitration and Jeter's option. And they'll have a rotation that includes CC and... Nova... Phelps/Pineda w/shoulder duct taped together? and a pen that is Robertson... and no one else particularly worth mentioning along with a hole in the OF, 2B, C, DH and A-Rod will be 38, Jeter and Ichiro 40 and Teixeira 34 and he has been declining for years already. None of the top prospects are likely to be ready to fill any of these slots before at least the second half of the year. It's looking pretty ugly.
   187. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:03 PM (#4385247)
Manishevitz. The Mets owe 83m to 11 players, won't go much over 1m for anyone else, and of that 83m, 50m is going to Santana, Buck, and Bay, three guys who might add up to 0.0 WAR in 2013. That's ugly, ugly stuff. I can't believe the Mets had to pick up all of Buck's 6m salary AND give up Josh Thole, who will put up some averagey, ML-regular seasons before his career is over.
   188. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4385269)
The Yankees are going to be so far out of contention this year that they might as well shoot for the # 1 draft pick and start trying to rebuild the farm system. I say that only half facetiously. The idea that they can lose virtually every 2012 home run threat** for a big chunk of the season, or the entire season altogether, and still contend with a fast-aging pitching staff has got to be one of the greater testimonies to the hold that aura and mystique apparently still command among allegedly non-superstitious people.

But unless they're going to want to throw in the towel for beyond 2013-14, they're going to have to sign Cano, who'll be affordable after the dead wood contracts expire.

** Teixeira, A-Rod, Swisher, Granderson, Chavez and Ibanez. Only Cano is likely to be in the lineup for the first month or two of the season. Their replacements are either flyers coming off bad seasons or injuries, or they're banjo hitters with little or no power.

   189. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:54 PM (#4385291)
Would you go, say, 8/184?

That'd be about my maximum.

But unless they're going to want to throw in the towel for beyond 2013-14, they're going to have to sign Cano,

That's nonsense. You'll get an A prospect plus more for Cano at the deadline. You'll get B-B+ guys for Kuroda and Granderson. Any of those guys could potentially replace Cano's production by 2015. Plus your own posepcts, plus future FAs.

Cano's is not going to be a 6 WAR guy for most of his next deal. You're not trying to replace the 29 y.o. Cano. You're trying to replace the 32-37 y.o. Cano, who's likely to not produce much..
   190. tfbg9 Posted: March 10, 2013 at 12:09 AM (#4385303)
Personally, I've been waiting 20 years for the Yankees to stink!
   191. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 12:37 AM (#4385318)
You'll get an A prospect plus more for Cano at the deadline.


That's debatable. I think it's pretty clear that an A prospect is more than the going rate for a half-season of a star.
   192. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4385439)
Yeah, an A is unlikely unless an extension is involved perhaps.
   193. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:38 AM (#4385470)
That's debatable. I think it's pretty clear that an A prospect is more than the going rate for a half-season of a star.

The Mets got a A-prospect (Harvey) for half a season of Beltran.
   194. Howie Menckel Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4385479)

http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Klapisch_Jeter_Rivera_are_Yankee_greats_but_which_one_is_king_of_the_heap.html?page=all

That's Klapisch on who is greater, Jeter or Rivera?

#releasethehounds

   195. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 10, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4385568)
I think his post-season stats pale before Gibson or Koufax's. Even Curt Schilling's post-season stats impress me more.

FWIW, according to BB-Ref Rivera has about 3 times the Postseason WPA of anyone else in history as far as I can tell:

Rivera* -- 11.7
Schilling* -- 4.1
Smoltz* -- 3.6
Pettitte* -- 3.5
Pujols# -- 2.9
Hershiser* -- 2.8
Ruth*# -- 2.8
Berkman# -- 2.7
Nehf* -- 2.7
Rose# -- 2.6
Ruffing* -- 2.5
Clemens* -- 2.5
Reynolds* -- 2.4
Pennock* -- 2.4
Gehrig# -- 2.3

* Pitching
# Batting

Koufax is 1.5. Most HOMers and candidates are either negative, zero or at the most +1-ish as far as I can tell. Granted it may not be a repeatable skill but being the greatest postseason clutch performer of all time by such a gigantic margin has to be worth something in HOF votes. Even if you raise the bar from 50% as WPA has it to 85% -- where most closers are in converting save chances -- he's still better than Schilling and everyone else.

   196. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:22 PM (#4386004)
FWIW, according to BB-Ref Rivera has about 3 times the Postseason WPA of anyone else in history as far as I can tell:

This is going to be biased in favor of recent pitchers, as the postseason is longer than it used to be - but if you weight by importance of game toward winning the championship, Rivera still leads all pitchers (players, actually) by an enormous margin.
   197. PreservedFish Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:40 PM (#4386012)
It's debatable. I think it's pretty clear that an A prospect is more than the going rate for a half-season of a star.

The Mets got a A-prospect (Harvey) for half a season of Beltran.


Double quibble. It was Wheeler, and he probably was not an "A-prospect" when he was traded. Sickels, for example, had him rated as a "B" prospect in the offseason before 2011, the year he was traded. BA had him as the #55 prospect in the game at the same time, having moved backwards a few slots since the previous year. At the time of the trade Wheeler had a 3.99 ERA and had bad control problems - basically identical numbers to his previous year, the year that caused him to move backwards on the BA list, and the year which Sickels called "not a great year." The moment he put on a Mets uniform he solved his control problems, and he's been flying up the charts since then.

IIRC the other name being bandied about was Gary Brown - who was also ranked "B" by Sickels, and was #38 in the country by BA - if Wheeler was an A prospect, so was Gary Brown and about 50 other guys.
Page 2 of 2 pages  < 1 2

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Infinite Joost (Voxter)
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogDoug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
(132 - 3:33pm, Apr 16)
Last: cercopithecus aethiops

NewsblogOTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments
(1322 - 3:32pm, Apr 16)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogDaniel Bryan's 'YES!' chant has spread to the Pirates' dugout
(27 - 3:30pm, Apr 16)
Last: Doris from Rego Park

NewsblogGleeman: Mets minor league team is hosting “Seinfeld night”
(7 - 3:28pm, Apr 16)
Last: Hal Chase School of Professionalism

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-16-2014
(9 - 3:26pm, Apr 16)
Last: Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings

NewsblogVerducci: Overuse of young pitchers fueling MLB's Tommy John surgery problem
(29 - 3:25pm, Apr 16)
Last: cercopithecus aethiops

NewsblogMinuteman News Center: Giandurco: This means WAR
(40 - 3:18pm, Apr 16)
Last: Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch)

NewsblogNightengale: Pujols nears 500 home runs...and no one seems to care
(35 - 3:14pm, Apr 16)
Last: Jesse Barfield's Right Arm

NewsblogAstros To Promote George Springer
(27 - 3:14pm, Apr 16)
Last: Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields)

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(853 - 3:10pm, Apr 16)
Last: I am going to be Frank

NewsblogOMNICHATTER: Wednesday April 16, 2014
(17 - 3:08pm, Apr 16)
Last: madvillain

NewsblogOT: NBA Monthly Thread - April 2014
(224 - 2:46pm, Apr 16)
Last: andrewberg

NewsblogExposition:The Jonah Keri Mega Q&A
(3 - 2:15pm, Apr 16)
Last: Jose Can Still Seabiscuit

NewsblogGothamist: Yankee Stadium Is Selling Nachos In A Helmet For $20
(62 - 2:04pm, Apr 16)
Last: Canker Soriano

NewsblogOT: The NHL is finally back thread, part 2
(131 - 1:10pm, Apr 16)
Last: Fear is Moses Taylor's Bacon Bits

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.8538 seconds
52 querie(s) executed