What happens to closers when they don't know a save situation is coming?
There are two types of days in my world, both marked by how they begin. One day involves my waking up, going downstairs, having a leisurely glass of orange juice, and packing my lunch. Soon enough, my daughters will wake up, so I get breakfast ready for them and mentally prepare for the demands that come with having a three-year-old and an almost-one-year-old. That's a good day.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Few players have made their major-league debuts in the cleanup spot, and the A's Yoenis Cespedes wasn't one of them.
Yoenis Cespedes has often batted third or fourth in the Oakland A’s lineup this spring, which isn’t surprising, because the A’s don’t otherwise have anything like a cleanup hitter. Of the other eight players in their starting lineup for Wednesday morning’s opener against the Mariners, only three players have ever started a game batting fourth: Kurt Suzuki (60 times), Seth Smith (nine), and Brandon Allen (once). If Cespedes doesn’t lead the Oakland A’s in home runs this year, something will have gone very wrong or very right. But it was Smith, not Cespedes, who batted fourth against Felix Hernandez in the opener, and this also isn’t surprising, because players making their major-league debuts in the cleanup spot are all but extinct. Since 1980, just nine players have made their debuts in the cleanup spot, and over the past half-dozen years only one player—29-year-old Barbaro Canizares—has. San Jose Mercury News:
Is there such a thing as a "closer mentality," or can any effective setup man handle the closer role? The BP staff tries to get to the bottom of the matter.
The following is an edited transcript of an in-house discussion that took place among the Baseball Prospectus staff when one of our number solicited examples of unsupportable baseball arguments for an upcoming article. After Kevin proposed "Anyone can close," the thread took off in a new direction.
White Sox skipper Guillen knows the pressure is on in 2011 to make good on Jerry Reinsdorf's off-season spending spree.
Ozzie Guillen loves to talk more than anyone in baseball. The White Sox manager regales the media in his daily press greetings and several times each season is guaranteed to say something that makes its way into the national headlines.
The Indians reliever talks about the pressure of pitching late in games and other aspects of working out of the bullpen.
Chris Perez knows all about pressure and expectations. Once looked upon as St. Louis’ closer of the future, the 24-year-old right-hander now holds that distinction in Cleveland, where he is caddying for the it’s-only-a-matter-of-time-before-he’s-gone Kerry Wood.
Jim Leyland enjoys the weight of high expectations, but will the sluggers in his lineup live up to their lofty billing?
A gaunt, 63-year-old chain smoker, Jim Leyland looks like a man who has been under pressure all his life. However, the manager of the Tigers lives for pressure. He relishes it so much that he came back to managing after a six-season exile in which the former Pirates, Marlins, and Rockies manager had a cushy special assignment scouting job with the Cardinals that never required him to leave his Pittsburgh home.
Thus, Leyland isn't the least bit bothered that his Tigers are the consensus pick to win the American League Central division, two years after an improbable run to the World Series, and one season after missing the playoffs. "In this job, you're under pressure every single day, that's just a fact," Leyland said. "If people want to put the pressure on us to win, then that's fine with me. That's a good kind of pressure to have. I'd rather have that pressure than the pressure of going into a season hoping you don't lose 100 games. I'm happy there are expectations on us, and I know our players are, too."
The move to send down a once promising regular is usually a permanent one.
"[Angel Berroa] is still going to be a heck of a player. [Andres] Blanco has got a long way to go even before he considers himself in Angel Berroa's category."
--Royals Manager Buddy Bell in September of 2006
Joy in Boston, anticipation in New York, bitterness in Philadelphia.
"I wasn't really thinking about hitting a home run...I wanted to at least get on base."
--David Ortiz, Red Sox designated hitter, following Friday's 10th-inning home run that won the Division Series (Bloomberg News)