Blog Entry

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

Posted on: April 18, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 6:32 pm
By Matt Snyder

When Matt Kemp's ninth-inning home run cleared the center-field wall in Dodger Stadium Sunday, it marked the fourth time in five tries Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin had blown a save. Sure, it was a pretty questionable way for Tony La Russa to deal with the ninth inning -- in that he insisted on using a left-hander against Andre Ethier (who doubled) and then pitched to one of the hottest hitters in baseball with first base open -- but the blown save from Franklin has been a troubling early trend for the Cardinals.

Considering Franklin is 38, he could be in a natural regression due to age. Considering he's been awful thus far in the season, coughing up eight hits -- including three home runs -- and six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, it's entirely possible his confidence is shot as well. That matters for all baseball players, but with a closer it's paramount. If he doesn't feel like he's going to mow down the opposition every time out, that's an issue.

Regardless of why, the combination of underperformance, age and a possible lack of confidence have forced the Cardinals to make a change. But where to turn? Let's rundown the options.

Mitchell Boggs - In the very small sample we've had thus far, he's been the best pitcher in the St. Louis bullpen. Boggs has a 2.00 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in nine innings. Even more importantly, he's struck out 12 hitters while only walking three. On the flip-side, his history suggests the strikeout rate comes down a bit and he's not been used in as many high-leverage situations as some of the other guys. But, hey, you gotta start sometime. Can't figure out if he's a realistic option without trying it.

Miguel Batista - He does have 41 career saves, but the lion's share of those came his one season as a full-time closer -- when he saved 31 games back in 2005. Still, it's experience in the role, and he's thrown the ball very well this season -- 1.29 ERA in seven innings. The downside is that he's 40 and his rate stats (like six hits in seven innings) suggest he's going to start allowing runs sometime soon.

Trever Miller - He's a lefty, so there's no way La Russa would give up one of his most beloved pastimes -- playing matchups with his bullpen. Therefore, Miller's not an option.

Jason Motte - The 28-year-old righty fits the part, as he throws hard and struck out more than a batter per inning last season. He had a 2.24 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 52 1/3 innings. This season, he's thrown seven innings and given up just two earned runs (2.57 ERA). He has walked too many and struck out too few, but it's a small sample. I'd give him a shot.

La Russa has now removed Franklin, even if it's only temporary. If they do, Motte seems the best-suited candidate, while they should probably keep Boggs as a put-out-the-fire guy. However, most speculation from across the writing community seems to think Boggs will get the shot. We'll find out whenever the Cards get another save chance.

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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:58 pm

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

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Since: May 27, 2007
Posted on: April 20, 2011 11:38 am

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

Why not try a Bullpen by Committee? Give it a shot. All 3 (Boggs, Motte and Batista) are capable of doing it. No reason to settle in on one. Just throw out who you feel is hot at the time

Since: Apr 6, 2009
Posted on: April 20, 2011 11:23 am

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

I think what ever choice LaRussa makes to close games at this point will probably not be his last one for this year. History will tell you he likes the experience of Batista. Boggs should probably be the first choice with Motte and/or Batista a close second. Something else to consider is that whoever gets the nod to be the closer will most likely have a short leash and not have the opportunity to blow 4 of 5 before he gets removed. Let the waiver wire scramble continue.

Since: Oct 2, 2008
Posted on: April 19, 2011 11:11 pm

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

Derrick Goold of the STL Post-Dispatch did a recent article to suggest it would be Miguel Batista.  The article gives the same viewpoint that most of us have about how guys like Boggs or Sanchez should be good enough for the role but also points to La Russa's stubborn insistence on veteran players and experience. I can remember the first postgame interview after Jason Motte was replaced a few years back: it started closer by committee and it was a blown save by Dennys Reyes. La Russa didn't have confidence in Chris Perez so Franklin got the next opportunity and didn't blow it. I wish it was Sanchez and Boggs makes the most sense, but La Russa will probably give Miguel Batista the first shot.

Since: Feb 22, 2011
Posted on: April 19, 2011 2:16 pm

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

I heard Adam Leake is available. He would fit in with Coach McGuire.

Since: Jul 24, 2010
Posted on: April 19, 2011 12:25 pm

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

Well as a owner of Franklin I willbe now hunting for saves. I have H.Bell and B.Lyons so you can see my dilemma.Someone grabbed Boggs a while ago so I will grab Mott when we next have our FAAB. 
Any suggestions ? I am trying to make a trade but of course other owners want the roof fora stable closer and what one guy is asking forDrew Storen is well highway robbery. Lase ask was Britton for Storen which I am considering.
Help/advise ?

Since: Aug 10, 2010
Posted on: April 18, 2011 7:17 pm

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

Nobody has mentioned Sanchez? He has lights out stuff and has 8ks in 3 innings

Since: Apr 10, 2011
Posted on: April 18, 2011 6:41 pm

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

Anyone other than Franklin would be a good option right now

Since: Sep 17, 2007
Posted on: April 18, 2011 6:23 pm

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

Bring in Jimmy Journell, baby!

Since: Dec 21, 2010
Posted on: April 18, 2011 5:43 pm

Some possible options for Cardinals closer

im a big fan of motte getting a chance, he was the better pitcher in the bullpen for the cardinals last year, and truthfully cant
be any worse than franklin has been this year

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