Friday, May 15, 2009

The $10 Million Dollar Man


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Beneath all the drama that was A.J. Burnett returning to Toronto along with the media circus that accompanies Alex Rodriguez, there was a smaller story at hand for the Blue Jays. Just in time for their extendo 4-game series with the Chicago White Sox, the Blue Jays $10 million dollar man has returned to the bullpen.

Except this time, B.J. Ryan will not be returning to his coveted closer role. For the time being, that place is being occupied by lefty reliever Scott Downs. But you can tell that Downs doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers, as he took time for a rare interview with the media and talked to Blue Jays beat reporter Jordan Bastian:
"In my eyes, he's still our closer," Downs said of Ryan. "I'm just filling in until he's ready to go."
Obviously, Scott Downs has been put in an awkward position. He wants to perform to the best of his ability and close games whenever he’s called upon, but at the same time he doesn’t want to be the guy to usurp B.J. Ryan. It’s like if someone from the office left on a maternity leave and their replacement performed better than the person who went to mat leave. It makes for a bit of an uncomfortable working environment.

So where does the $10 million dollar man fit it on the Blue Jays bullpen? For the time being, I think Cito Gaston will slowly ease him back into high-pressure situations and Ryan will probably slot somewhere in between Shawn Camp and Jesse Carlson. After all, the Blue Jays are paying B.J. Ryan $10 million dollars to be their closer, so I think he should be given a fair shot to regain his job. For the time being, Scott Downs is the man who will be called upon when there is a lead of 3 runs or less in late innings.

2 comments:

  1. This really makes me wonder if Cito's a lot wiser to sabermetrics than I had thought. I've always been a fan of abolishing the 'closer'. You should use your best pitcher when you need them, not just solely the last inning. I'd have no problem with Cito tossing him in the 6th to get out of a bases loaded jam. The best reliever should be thrown in when the game's on the line, not when they have the opportunity to tag an SV next to their name on the box score.

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  2. You're right Chris. Before B.J. went to the DL, typically Scott Downs was used in higher leverage situations (runners on base, etc). The closer has to come in with a clean slate, and just get 3 guys out. But usually, the setup man or next to has a much more difficult job. I don't know if Cito is going to feel comfortable using Ryan in those high leverage situations though.

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