Not another save rant!

>> Saturday

Sorry, but I just can't take it.

Joe Borowski sucks, plain and simple. He's not--as so many broadcasters (including Buck and Timmy Mac tonight) have implied--a wily escape artist with a penchant for bending but not breaking. He is simply a bad relief pitcher who personifies the meaninglessness of the save and, moreover, how easily a major league pitcher can compile saves given the opportunity.

I don't mean to badmouth Joe personally. How could I ever forget the way he pitched in '03? (Aside: Dusty Baker's going to an NL Central team not the Cubs or Brewers! How long before he benches Adam Dunn for walking too much?) I don't think the guy ever missed the catcher's glove that year. That backdoor slurve that barely broke but still fooled the lefties was awesome. But guess what? That pitch breaks even less now, and his super-straight low-90s fastball is now a super-straight high-80s fastball.

It's hard to be a quality major league pitcher when you have you zero quality major league pitches.

Here's Joe-Bo's line this year: 65 2/3 IP, 77 H, 9 HR, 17 BB, 58 K, 1.43 WHIP, 45 Sv

Now a sane person would look at that and say, "Wow, a 1.43 WHIP is really high--especially when it's so heavy on hits. Just goes to show that saves are really an accidental product of opportunity, not a reflection of performance."

But if you're a 115 year-old baseball writer with a full-grown moustache over each eye, you might say, "That just shows he might give up a few hits but buckles down when it counts."

I just can't understand how a halfway intelligent person could let such a flawed, convoluted stat trump all other measures--including one's eyes--in judging a reliever's ability. It boggles my mind and makes me angry.

And as I've pointed out so many times, Borowski isn't a first-time phenomenon.

Antonio Alfonseca, 2000: 70 IP, 82 H, 24 BB, 47 K, 1.51 WHIP, 45 Sv
Todd Jones, 2000: 64 IP, 67 H, 25 BB, 67 K, 1.44 WHIP, 42 Sv (5th in CY voting)
Jose Mesa, 1999: 68 2/3 IP, 84 H, 40 BB, 42 K, 1.81 WHIP, 33 Sv

If anyone but Jose Mesa put up that line, he would be fortunate to have a job. But because he was already firmly entrenched in the Sacred Fraternity of the Closer after his dominant '95 season, the Mariners kept giving him the ball in the ninth.

I truly believe that Jones and Mesa are two examples of guys who've made lengthy careers on one or two good seasons and facial hair. I'm 100% serious about that. It's the "closer face" phenomenon. All they needed was one year with a high save total, and people would continue to say things like "He has a closer's mentality" about them because of their facial hair.

For a guy like Mesa, I can understand why the "closer" rep sticks. He's always thrown hard, even as he's gotten old. But Jones hasn't thrown hard in years. Borowski never has. Nothing about him fits the mold. Yes, many guys (Hoffman, Saito, Foulke, Quisenberry, Jones, Wilhelm, etc) have succeeded as closers without throwing hard, but just about every one of them had an exceptional changeup or some other exceptional offspeed pitch (i.e. Wilhelm's knuckler). Borowski does not. Borowski is all reputation, and you'd be hard-pressed to convince me otherwise.

P.S.: How many times is FOX gonna play "Dirty Water" in this series? We get it. It's about Boston.


Paul 1:55 AM  

Wow, mad props for the Ice T lyrics under the Borowski photo. I knew the line, but I needed to defer to Google for help in placing it.

And aren't you sick of that "Cleveland Rocks" song too? Do they need to play that every inning?

Vinnie 10:49 AM  

Yeah, that song appeared on one of those mix CDs you burned me back in college. I guess it stuck.

As for Cleveland songs, why not a little Randy Newman? Sure beats a sitcom theme.

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