Sunday, April 15, 2012
Wilson's injury not a death blow...
I'm not saying it's not a big deal, because it certainly is. The guy has been pretty damned good since bursting onto the scene in 2008 and saving 41 games. Average players don't complete as many pressure-packed late inning scenarios as Wilson has, and that needs to be recognized. So yes, Brian Wilson will be missed.
He was nails in 2010, and his iconic weirdness and magnetic aura has drawn interest from around the country-- not just the sporting world.
With that said, I am bummed for him personally, because I know how hard he works and how much he lives for closing out ballgames. However, I'm not bumming for the Giants and for the bullpen.
Ask fantasy baseball gurus what their number one rule is about drafting a team, and inevitably, you're going to hear, "Never overpay for saves" come up a whole bunch.
The theory of course being that, while one guy is drafting Jonathan Papelbon in the 5th round while passing up Lance Berkman, the savvy manager is drafting Berkman, then snagging the likes of Sean Marshall or Grant Balfour in the later rounds while the initial dope is scouring the scrap heap for his third OF.
I am not 100% equating fantasy baseball to real life, because it is nowhere near the same, but I believe there is a shred of truth in the aforementioned concept.
Just look at the rapid rate of closer turnover in baseball. Let's be real. Unless your name is Trevor Hoffman or Mariano Rivera, a good run for a closer is like 6 years.
Think about names like Derrick Turnbow, Takashi Saito, Bobby Jenks, BJ Ryan, Brandon Lyon, Jonathan Broxton.
Where are they all now? They were all pretty good for a little while weren't they? Scoff if you will, because some names aren't nearly as good as others, but the point is, all of these guys were starting closers fairly recently.
The main point in all of this is that only the best of the best of the very best having the staying power, overall health, and talent that people like Rivera or Hoffman have.
Based on Wilson's 2010 campaign, one can't deny that he was elite. 2011 was a slightly different story, but based on what we know now, he was obviously breaking down. Now that we know that, I think it's amazing that he did as well as he did.
I won't miss his heart attack-inducing appearances, but I will miss hearing "Jump Around" so often, and I will miss the confidence that goes along with having an elite closer at the end of the game.
With that said, I'm not too worried about the void left by Wilson's injury. I believe that we have the guys to take care of the problem.
Will there be bumps in the road? Hiccups? Yes. Saves will be blown occasionally, and during those disappointing nights, we will see millions of tweets about how much everyone misses Wilson. It's going to happen.
But, the two guys I'm looking at-- Romo and Casilla-- both have closer-type stuff and the ability to close out games.
It's the mentality of the pitcher that gets those last three outs more than anything else. It's a killer instinct and a confidence that can only be gained through success and self-belief.
Do Casilla and Romo possess these qualities?
It's hard to say.
On paper, Casilla has the fireballing stuff of a closer, and if this was a video game, I'd go with him. However, Sergio Romo has (I believe) that little extra intangible something that I think will help him nail down the most 9th inning work.
First of all, Romo's stats the last few years have been among the best in baseball. Look at last year:
65 Games, 1.50 ERA, 13.13 K/9, 0.71 WHIP, .171 Avg. against, and my favorite, a 14.0 K:BB ratio.
Are you kidding me? Let's just define that in words for a second. That means for every walk Romo allowed in 2011, he struck out 14 guys. Wow.
Comparing Romo's stats last year to Wilson's doesn't quite seem fair, so let's take a look at Wilson's for 2010, his best year:
70 Games, 1.81 ERA, 11.21 K/9, 1.18 WHIP, .218 Avg. against, 3.58 K:BB ratio, and 48 saves.
I'm not trying to be a stat Saberjerk, because you should know by now how I feel about WARS, FLIPS, FGUS% ratios and whatnot, but it really is an interesting comparison.
Stat-wise, Romo's got him (or Got Heeeem, if you will) beat fairly handily-- all except for that last little tidbit, the saves.
You can have all the stats in the world, but if you lose ballgames, you don't have a damn thing.
I fully expect Wilson back next season around mid April, and I think he will at some point regain his closing role and abilities, but for now, let's see if Romo has what it takes to save the day and close out a few games.