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Hypothetical reliever question:


JoeHova

Is there any point at which you consider cutting your high-priced closer?

 

I should make it clear that I'm not advocating cutting Gagne or anything like that. It's just that my wife and I were discussing this last night during the game- do you ever totally give up on a high-priced reliever? Or do you put your faith in sample sizes and regression to the mean?

 

Gagne was the impetus for the discussion (you have to love a game where a guy blows a save but his ERA goes down a run and a half), but neither of us want him cut or demoted, we both see no reason he can't at least be as effective as Todd Jones. This is purely hypothetical.

 

Jeffrey Hammonds was cut at the beginning of June after hitting .158 in 10 games, but a reliever is maybe a bit different than a hitter in that signs of permanent decline may be less obvious (also, Hammonds was never any good anyway). A pitcher might still throw in the 90s whereas a player's bat might be noticeably slow.

 

The Brewers have shown patience with relievers in the past, but they are trying to contend this year so there would be more risk in sticking with an underperforming guy than there was in the past.

 

As for the original question, I'm aware that there would always be variables like contract length, age, and possible alternatives, but I'm just looking for a general opinion.

 

 

I'm thinking that cutting a guy may be appropriate in some instances, like if a guy was becoming a problem in the locker room because of how bad he was pitching or if he wouldn't willingly step aside from the closer role. I would think that a demotion to mop-up for a stretch would generally be a good move before cutting someone, just to see if they could get it back together (Texas did this with Cordero before the Brewers got him).

 

However, that's the problem with judging relievers. They just don't throw enough innings to be able to make a great month to month (or even year to year) assessment of their effectiveness.

 

To conclude, I think if a team thinks they have a better alternative, they shouldn't keep trotting out a terrible guy just because he makes a lot of money. The hard part is deciding whether someone is legitimately terrible or just having a bad stretch.

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It depends on how "terrible" their pitching is. For a one run save, getting two outs and then getting the last guy down to two strikes and then give up a home run, I can deal wih that. However, a meltdown like Turnbow in 2006 is horrible where the ERA is above 10 for well over double digit innings, the walks are up there every outing, and he can't get ahead of hitters at all.

 

I thnk they pulled the plug on Turnbow at the right time. Get him out of the closer role, have him do mop up the rest of the season, and then reasses for next year's spring training. That reassessment got Turnbow into the setup role where he was lights out for the first two months of the season and iffy the rest of the way. Going into this year Turnbow does not seem to be the setup man, long relief, or ever mop up. He seems to be the odd man out of sorts that will come in during important situations only if the other 3 relievers ahead of him (Torres, Riske, Mota) are unavailable or need a rest. We're holding onto him because there is a glimmer of hope he can get back to the greatness he had in 04-05.

 

As far as Gagne goes, hasn't had control issues so far, just a few untimely home runs.

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The Yankees were faced with this issue and the performance of Kyle Farnsworth. They kept him, even though he was mostly unusable during close games.

 

I think there are enough spots in a bullpen where you can bury an underperforming guy, and just use him in unimportant spots while he tries to reclaim past glory.

 

The problem with Gagne is that he doesn't seem to be able to be used for long stretches, so he's not going to save the staff by throwing for 3 innings at a clip.

 

If he pitches ineffectively, there's no reason to keep handing the ball in the 9th. And if he accepts the demotion to a lesser role and doesn't cause problems, he should probably be around for the duration.

 

The only situation I would see the Brewers cutting him would be around the trade deadline, if they were able to pick up another closer with Gagne grumbling.

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It depends on how bad said reliever looks. I believe if they look horrible outing and after outing then you pull him out of the closer role. I would say the number would have to be somewhere between 5-10 horrid performances. That being said last night was a performance I can handle. Gagne looked good, getting the first two batters and then Patterson gets a cheap home run to blow the save. If he was out there walking guys and just leaving the ball out over the plate for big hits then I would be worried.
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He had mentioned in the post game interview that he had set Patterson up for a change up and wanted to get the strikeout instead. So he shook off Kendall's sign for a change up and threw the fastball. He wanted to end the game on a strikeout, which is what the fans want to see out of a high profile closer. Two outs, two strikes, no one on. Why shouldn't he go for the strikeout. Patterson just got lucky.
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I was wondering about this same thing the other day. What if Gagne completely tanks? I don't think he will but what do you do with a $10 million closer that sucks? I don't think they'd cut him and would fin him a different role.
"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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There is no point in cutting him with a big contract - since the contract is guaranteed.

 

I would imagine, if a high priced closer really faltered...he would develop some mystery ailment that put him on the DL. (Sore Arm)

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The only reason to completely cut him is if there is someone in the minors that can take his demoted spot (mop up duty) and perform better. Hammonds was terrible and should have been delegated to the bench. However we could pull a minor leaguer up and have him hit the Mendoza line, so we cut him instead.

 

Also, we were in the rebuilding phase when Hammonds was around. We wanted the chance to see how well younger guys could do. We aren't in the position to train untested guys this year.

The poster previously known as Robin19, now @RFCoder

EA Sports...It's in the game...until we arbitrarily decide to shut off the server.

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Unless your best guess of a reliever's true overall talent is below everyone else in your bullpen, it makes no sense to cut him. And if a guy was paid $10 mil to close, The team's best guess at his true talent level was probably very high. You are right that relievers typically get so few innings that it's very difficult to change your best guess of his true talent on simply the results of those innings. Unless something else is way off (low velocity, no command, etc...) 10-20 innings doesn't tell us much.
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i compltely agree with avrock. when applying this question to gagne, he has still only had 1 bad outing and it was his first appearance in les than favorable weather conditions (i'm not saying thats an excuse).

 

with how he pitched overall last night, my confidence in him actually is higher. and it's a lot easier to back the guy when we are still 3-0 in games where he has pitched. and i think part of that is because of him. while he blew saves, he also didn't blow the lead AND give up go-ahead runs. that to me means a lot more than a lucky HR to patterson...

 

bottom line for me: if gagne didn't throw that stupid pitch to patterson (who might hit a HR 1 out of 20 times with that pitch), we would all be talking about how great gagne looks

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bottom line for me: if gagne didn't throw that stupid pitch to patterson (who might hit a HR 1 out of 20 times with that pitch), we would all be talking about how great gagne looks

Bingo. Except for that one pitch, Gagne has looked like a stud closer the last two games.

 

Maybe this should be in the "silver lining" thread, but the fact that Gagne made a mistake, learned from it (he now knows he can trust Kendall's pitch calling) and we still won the game can only help us in the long run.

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