The Carousel of Crappy Closers Goes Round and Round…

Question:

In the space below, please write down Alex Anthopoulos’s formula for signing closers/late inning relief pitchers.

Answer:

[Name] had a [excellent / good / above average] season in 20[xx] when closing with [former team] (insert stats). We should sign him for a relatively cheap contract, say [x] year(s) at [$x] million.

Correct!

Seriously, apply the above formula to the last three relief pitchers AA has signed. It rings true.

1. Kevin Gregg had a good season in 2007 when closing with the Marlins (3.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 32 saves, 2.18 K/BB, 9.3 K/9). We should sign him for a relatively cheap contract, say 1 year at $2.75 million.

2. Octavio Dotel had a good season in 2004 when closing with the A’s and Astros (3.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 36 saves, 3.70 K/BB, 12.9 K/9). We should sign him for a relatively cheap contract, say 1 year at $3 million.

3. Chad Cordero had an excellent season in 2005 when closing with the Nationals (1.82 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 47 saves, 3.59 K/BB, 7.4 K/9). We should sign him for a relatively cheap contract, say a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training.

See what I mean?

From reading message boards and article commemts, it looks likes many fans are alternating between disappointment and downright outrage with the signings. I’ve read comments such as “How can we compete with crap like this closing games?” or “The Jays have thrown away all hopes for 2011 and it’s still 2010.”

Trust me people, I feel your pain. I know 2011 will likely not be the year that we are playing in late October.

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But do you really think that if AA had signed Rafael Soriano instead of Octavio Dotel that we would be? Hell, I bet that even if he was able to sign Mariano Rivera away from the Yankees we’d still be the odds on favourite to finish fourth.

The bottom line is this: just like Gregg was last year, these are two very risk-free signings. If Cordero stinks in the spring, he’s gone. If Dotel gets to close but stinks, well the Jays simply eat the $3-million. It’s not like these are huge dollar, multi-year contracts. The main reason why those two are here is for one of them (or both) to act as a serviceable closer until somebody from within is ready to step into the role for 2012 and beyond.

That person could be David Purcey. It could be Jason Frasor. It could be Zach Stewart. It could even be Dustin McGowan or Jessie Litsch or another former starter.

It likely won’t be Dotel or Cordero.

If all goes according to plan, one (or both) of them will pitch well enough in 2011 to earn a handful of saves and a Type A or B free agent designation. Then when they sign elsewhere Toronto earns a supplemental pick.

It just happened with Gregg ($10-million with Baltimore).

And if it happened with him, it can happen with anyone…

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