Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Joe must go!

Not long after I moved to New York in the 1980s, the Jets had a much-vilified head coach by the name of Joe Walton.

Walton was known primarily for being a bad head football coach and for his penchant for picking his nose on the sidelines.

It was primarily because of the former, but not helped by the latter, that Jets fans grew ugly with impatience.

As Joe Walton's career was nearing an ignominious end Jets games became nothing more than a three-hour orgy of the chant "Joe must go!" And go he did.

It's time for Indians fan to strike up a little chorus of "Joe must go!" themselves.

The Tribe's troubled so-called closer blew his second save of the season in four chances last night. And as is usually the case, he did it in spectacular fashion, blowing a one-run lead and then serving up a two-run batting practice homer to Manny Ramirez.

There are several things about that that turn the stomach.

First and foremost is the prospect of watching the same type of thing over and over again as the season progresses. The Tribe front office is one to stick by their man, and this case is likely to be no different unless and until Borowski's performance makes it impossible for Wedge and Shapiro to stay the course.

We may catch a break though, because Borowski is hinting at possible arm problems in this morning's Plain Dealer.

(By the way the headline for the Cleveland.com version of the story is priceless: "Tribe closer says 'he had nothing'" "Titanic skipper says 'I think we hit some ice.'" )

The second most galling thing about the loss last night was the fact that it was at the hands of the dreaded Dreadlocked One.

Making it even worse is the fact that Borowski's latest blowout followed Raffie Betancourt's lights out performance two innings earlier when he blew away Big Papi and the Dreadlocked One to keep a possible earlier Red Sox uprising at bay.

Want more salt for that wound? How about watching Johnathan Papelbon come in and waltz through the ninth inning and then comparing that to the performance of our "closer."

Still can't satisfy that masochistic streak? Try re-running the TIVO on the little celebration near the Red Sox dugout after Manny's homer. He and Papi were apparently rubbing each other off in some sort of first-grade-like dance/grope of each other. Uh, not that there's anything wrong with that, but get a room would ya.

And, of course, another outstanding outing by Jake Westbroook was pissed away by JoBo.

As we have seen many times in the past - most recently in 2006 - a bullpen that lays waste repeatedly to hard-fought-for late-inning leads can demoralize teams and ruin seasons in a big hurry.

Borowski had 45 saves last year, but nearly every one came with a lot of sweat and the vast majority came with leads of two or three runs.

He seems to be pitching at an even less effective level this season.

Whether it's an injury problem or just age turning a pitcher with mediocre stuff and a big heart into a BP pitcher, the time has come.

Joe MUST go!

I will try to be back late this afternoon or early this evening with a saner, less emotional view of the situation, and maybe some thoughts about who should be put in the role that Borowski so clearly must be relieved of.

I haven't been able to post as often as I'd like. I'm in crunch time for my final project at school, as I am less than a month away from the end of a three-year journey to my masters at Iona College. I expect to be tied up quite a bit for the next few weeks but I'll post here as often as time permits. Thanks to those who keep checking back.


The Other Ben said...

Im tired of hearing about closers, Its the most overrated position in the majors unless you have an aboslutely lights out guy (Gagne pre injury,Smoltz, Rivera to name a few). Personally, Id rather have Jensen Lewis do the job because I like having Raffy Right for long relief when our starters get shelled. In any case, i dont think it needs to be set in stone. Raffy is our best guy so he should be put in when we need him. Same goes for Lewis and Perez. As for the rest of the bullpen, give rest when its needed and put in the BEST pitcher available to do the job.

Ron Vallo said...

other ben

your approach sounds perfectly logical and doable, but other teams (the pre-Papelbon Red Sox come to mind) and have kissed away a season in the process. It never seems to work. Pitchers at every level of the pen seem to do better when they know that the phone is ringing for them. Roles add stability, whether it's logical or not.

The big question is who to put in Borowski's place.

I hope to do a little something on that tonight if time permits, but the short answer is, there is no perfect or obvious candidate.