July 11, 2008

Game 91: Two Words: White. Flag.

WhiteFlag.jpgI’m breaking from the usual game recap format tonight to reluctantly raise a white flag on the 2008 season.

In fact, indulge me while I use a line from my favorite movie, “Midnight Run“, in which Robert DeNiro tells Charles Grodin:

“You’re in this mess because you’re in this mess. I didn’t put you in this mess.”

There are countless reasons why the Tigers are in this mess. The poor start. The inconsistent hitting. The Little-League caliber defense. You know the rest. But I think one of the main reasons the Tigers are in a mess for the rest of the season is the closer role.

Easy target? Yep. Todd Jones is actually too easy a target, I’ll admit it. But in tonight’s loss to the Twins, you could feel the difference between the two teams as the game wore on. The difference, of course, is the Twins closer, Joe Nathan. The guy simply doesn’t blow saves.

Okay, he’s blown two this season (the same number as Jones. Ahem). But against Detroit in his career Nathan’s a perfect 24-for-24. Opponents know that he’s lurking out there waiting to come in, usually in the ninth inning, to close out the game, often in 1-2-3 fashion.

Let’s face it, the Tigers bullpen, outside of setup man Joel Zumaya, maybe, scares no one. These days, opponents are practically giddy when “Bobby Seay, Bobby Don’t” or Fernando Rodney enter a game.

If — a monumental if — the Tigers somehow hang around to make late noise in the division there will be tight games left and right, and the margin for error, particularly in the standings, will be just about zero.

How confident are you that Todd Jones can save important games down the stretch?

Same here. Discuss.

4 Comment(s)

  1. Ian C. | Jul 12, 2008 | Reply

    You and I talked about this via IM a little bit, and I’m inclined to defend Todd Jones. But you’re definitely right in that Jones does not inspire that “we’d better win this game in the 8th, because we’re not getting anything in the 9th” dread in the other team that the elite closers do.

    I know Zumaya and Dolsi are being groomed for the closer’s role, and that’s probably the economical way to go. But given Dombrowski’s penchant for pursuing closers in the past, I wonder if he might try to go for the sure thing this off-season. Although Frankie Rodriguez’s price – just to use him as an example – looks out of control.

  2. Blake | Jul 12, 2008 | Reply

    I cannot defend Jones anymore. I don’t see how Ian can possibly do that. There is no statistical reason to back the guy any longer. He looks cashed each time he heads out there and it seems like an act of God for him to get through an inning.

    Or is that just me?

  3. Kurt | Jul 12, 2008 | Reply

    Feeling the same as you, Mike. The Tigers just aren’t going to do anything this year. They can’t beat their division, they don’t deserve to do anything. I just hope they stand pat or sell at the trade deadline, don’t waste any more young talent on this blown year.

    For that reason, I think you can try out a few different guys in the closer role and send Jones on his marry way. Not that he’s totally to blame. He is what he is. He is scary, but he is mostly successful. he’s not going to impress you, but most nights he’s going do get the job done.

    which reminds me, maybe I should post this on my blog, an observation:

    If a starter wants a quality start, he has to allow three runs or less over six innings.

    If a closer wants a save, he can get one for allowing two runs in an inning.

    How useless of a statistic is saves?

  4. Doug | Jul 12, 2008 | Reply

    Right there with you Kurt (on all accounts).

    The save is rather meaningless (if you recall the guy from that 30-2 game or whatever last season got a save because he went three innings). Further, if RBIs are kept as a stat, why isn’t LOB? It’s already in the expanded boxscores, why not put it in a player’s statline? Then you could have a cool RBI-LOB=RAP (Runs Actually Produced) stat.

    As for Jones, yep, offer him around and if no one takes him let him let him know he’ll have a reduced role the rest of the season. Let’s find out if Dolsi or Zumaya can handle it.

    Speaking of which, when Maggs comes back it should be as DH. Matt Joyce and Marcus Thames have both done enough to stay up on the big club and play darn near everyday. I know they’d have to eat a lot of contract, but didn’t everyone know when he signed the extension that Gary Sheffield wouldn’t finish it out here? It’s time to part ways with him as well.

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