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December 4, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Extraordinary Joe?

by Sam Miller


DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with RHP Joe Nathan [12/3]

It’s practically impossible that our kneejerk anti-closer response is at least partially wrong. We know that there’s nothing special about the ninth inning, that relievers are just failed starters and late-round picks who can be bought in bulk like penny stocks, that their performance fluctuates too much to merit three-year deals or eight-figure salaries. But it’s one thing to note that a handful of GMs are doing it wrong. It’s another to think that virtually every GM is doing it wrong, without reassessing our position.

Remember, Billy Beane was the Johnny Appleseed of the Anybody Can Close approach, but it’s not as though he let anybody close. He just spent a bit less resources--still a lot of resources!--for second-tier options, free agents and first-round picks and power-arm trade targets. And this week, when Beane puts down a possible $10 million chip on Jim Johnson, and reliever-skeptic (and reliever skeptic) Jerry Dipoto goes long on a sidearming Joe Smith, and extremely successful GM Dave Dombrowski uses his 12-hour-old surplus to sign Joe Nathan, it’s worth accepting that something like certainty in the ninth inning (and the eighth, and the seventh) goes a disproportionately long way toward winning teams winning.

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