DAN: Always Be Closing? Hardly
By Dan O'Donnell
"A-B-C! A, always! B, be! C, closing!" bellows Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross with a fire in his voice so intense one might think he was leaving a message for his daughter.
Always be closing. If only it were that easy. The Brewers' mantra seems to be N-B-C (never be closing), since finishing games is far from easy as 1-2-3. With this many blown saves in their first forty games, Milwaukee's closers are looking far more like Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams than Francisco "I'll Put the Tying Run on Third Base But Still Get the Save" Cordero.
After 40 games, we know that Guillermo Mota isn't a closer, David Riske's hyper-extended elbow won't let him be a closer, Gagne doesn't want to be the closer, and the Brewers are no closer to being able to put teams away than they were in Houston. However, we also know, thanks to the ace reporting of the Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt, that owner Mark Attanasio will pay for more arms.
That's great, but right now the Brewers need an octopus. Every single bullpen arm has looked shaky at times this season, from Stetter's unsettled outing last night to Mota's meltdown tonight, and the less said about Gagne and Derrick Turnbow, the better.
Granted, this is no reason to panic, but tonight's loss was a painful reminder of how valuable a dominant closer is. While it would have been foolish to pay Cordero's outrageous price, perhaps Attanasio should look at bringing in a reliable closer, or a setup man ready to make the jump.
The only problem, of course, is that right now every team is still in contention (heck, the Rays and Marlins have the best records in their respective leagues), and every team won't want to part with top tier bullpen talent. Will Doug Melvin pay a king's ransom for a closer now? He did give up three relatively promising minor leaguers for Scott Linebrink last year. That move didn't pan out, but it did show that this new regime is willing to be a buyer in the trade market when it recognizes a need.
Now they face a huge need, but will they be willing to pay to fill it and, perhaps more importantly, will it make fiscal sense to do so? Alec Baldwin may want a front office to always be closing, but it may well be in the team's best interest to hold off on closing a deal with yet another new closer.