In this edition of EndScore Report, we speak about New York Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera and his setting the all-time MLB saves record. Trevor Hoffman is mentioned and wondered about if he were on the Yankees. How about the era versus era debate? Would Bruce Sutter or Rollie Fingers fare better? Either way, Rivera has to be considered the greatest off all-time when you put the postseason equation into the mix. Give it a LISTEN!
The anti-storybook season of Jorge Posada became more interesting this week. Not only did the veteran New York Yankees player celebrate his 40th birthday by striking out looking to end and lose a 5-4 game to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, he also announced that he’s considering playing in 2012. The most interesting part is that there’s a better chance that no pitcher will go down with another arm injury ever again than the Yankees signing Posada one more time.
In the last few decades, the role of the closer has grown exponentially from guys who had to mop up games that a starter couldn’t finish to pitchers with defined jobs that earn them save stats all their own as well as paychecks with a significant number of zeros. However, despite the prestige the role gets when successful, it’s still very much a work in progress. On average, teams only convert 68 percent of their save opportunities.
Derek Jeter hit his 3,000th career hit on Saturday in grand fashion with a home run, which helps solidify his future place as a member of Cooperstown. But a calf injury will keep him out of Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game in Arizona. Jeter made the announcement on Friday that he decided – on his own – to vacate his spot on the American League’s starting roster and will watch from home instead. He joins teammates Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera as All-Star selections who won’t participate.
Well, it’s not all bad for the Tampa Bay Rays, right? They lost Carl Crawford to their division rivals in Boston recently and will have to face him 18 times this season. Now Rafael Soriano, their startlingly effective closer in 2010, has jumped ships to another division rival – the New York Yankees. The good news at least is that the Rays won’t have to face him coming out of the bullpen 18 times, right? Right?
When Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement, a lot of people quickly spoke up about whether this guy was worthy of the Hall of Fame or not, and if so, should it be as a first-ballot member. As a career reliever (he never started a game), he has not had the same opportunities in the game as a starting pitcher or a position player, but he has silently helped define the closer’s role in the bullpen; at least as silently as a guy with his career number can.
Scott Boras has signed another one. He inked Rays closer Rafael Soriano to a deal and will represent him as his contract with Tampa Bay comes to a close and he begins to search for a new; and significantly higher-paying deal. As one of the top closers in baseball this year, holding his own with the likes of Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell, Soriano will demand top dollars from whatever team he winds up with.
It was a busy week and change for Jonathan Papelbon. On the 19th, he helped his team defeat the Dodgers and got a win. The following day was a similar Red Sox victory, this time getting a save for his efforts. On the 23rd, the Rockies made quick work of Papelbon, giving him his first blown save of the season as well as a loss. The next night looked similar as Papelbon blew another save, but his team bounced back and he got his second win of the week. On Saturday, Papelbon returned to normal recording his 17th save of the season in an eight-pitcher effort to defeat the Giants.
Have you ever wondered who the best closer in baseball is? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 16 years or have a burning hate for all things Yankees, you would probably say that it’s Mariano Rivera. You’re probably right. Name one closer that’s had more success over the course of his career than the Yankees’ door-slammer. You can’t. However, Rivera is 40 years old now, and while he may have a few seasons left in his rubber arm, he’ll have to pass the torch someday.
Have you ever wondered why relief pitchers don’t win the Cy Young Award more often? We’re not talking about the guys who come in to clean up a mess when down by seven runs. We’re talking about the guys who come in the tough situations, whether it is a two-inning setup man with an ERA under 1.50 who keeps his team in the game, or the “lights out” closer who shuts the door 45 out of 50 times. These are the guys who deserve just as much recognition as a 20-game winner, but just aren’t taken as seriously.
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