Monday, January 09, 2006

Closer Prospects

Although open to trade offers, it looks like the Braves will go with an in-house solution to their closer vacancy. There are six options which have been mentioned by various sources and I would like to take a look at each of them individually. These options are in no particular order.

Chris Reitsma:
He was the closer last year following the Kolb debacle and saved 15 games. However, it was apparent that he ran out of gas at the end of the season. He provided no dependability at all towards the end of the year. But he was successful early on in the closer role. I think that after two straight years of running out of gas, the Braves should limit his innings and he can hopefully be a solid middle relief or setup man. But I don't see him as a good fit for the closer role.

Jorge Sosa:
His name has been mentioned once or twice but Scheurholz has shot it down in his recent statements. He has closer stuff but his lack of control and lack of success in general as a reliever means that he won't get a shot at the job. Plus he was one of our most dependable starters last year and will be counted on to help make up for not having Hampton all year.

Blaine Boyer:
Boyer seems to be a popular option to land the closer job. He surely will get every opportunity in spring training to win it. He doesn't have overpowering stuff but pitched extremely well last year. My only fear stems from his injury that kept him off the postseason roster last year. He apparently had been overworked and his arm was numb one morning when he woke up. Hopefully he can last the full season.

Anthony Lerew:
Lerew is a young guy with a good fastball who started during his career in the minors. The Braves depth of starters and lack of relievers has forced Lerew into the bullpen this season. He is inexperienced so I doubt he will be closing any games but he could become an option down the road.

Chuck James:
His amazing statistics in the minors suggest that he is ready for the big league rotation. I would love for him to make the rotation but with Smoltz, Hudson, Thomson, Ramirez, Sosa, and Davies, he might not make the rotation. If this happens there has been talk of making him the closer, but I would rather see him work in AAA because I see him as a much more valuable player down the road as a starter.

Joey Devine:
He is their closer of the future. I don't think anybody will deny that. He dominated in the minors and showed flashes in the majors, but nobody will forget the two grand slams he gave up and the walk-off, season ending home run that the also gave up. If he works hard and impresses in spring training he could come away with the job. I think he is almost a lock to be the closer in 2007 but the Braves would love it if he took a page from the book of Chad Cordero and Huston Street by making the jump very quickly and successfully.

Comments on "Closer Prospects"


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