I agree that Jenks is likely first in line for saves if Papelbon is deposed due to trade or bad performance. I think a motive behind signing a “proven closer” for one of the set-up roles is to delay Bard’s eventual promotion to closer as long as possible. He can still be used in high-leverage situations and, if he’s not piling up saves, it’ll keep his salary down once he hits arbitration. I wouldn’t be shocked if he doesn’t take over until until 2013.
I definately think that Boston has improved their team and specifically their bullpen. I think that overall Epstein is one of the better GMs in baseball.
That said, I think that while we are deriding teams for overspending on relievers there should also be some criticism of Boston for the amount of money they are spending on their pen. By my estimation (projecting arbitration, etc.), they already have $23M committed to their pen. While Paps, Jenks, Bard, and Wheeler are all solid bets to be good, we all the the unpredictability of 60 to 70 inning samples and what that means to reality. While Boston will have a good pen and we can congratulate them for doing so, I think that the article space should be dedicated to the teams that build pens of the same quality for half or a third of what Boston has already spent.
TB and SD have a history of doing this (although SD’s pens might be aided by their home park). Also, I think the Nats (despite the strange Peralta Non-tender) has also been very effective at this as has Atlanta. Those are the teams that I want to applaud for good bullpen development. Boston and the NYY should always have good bullpens when they invest in them at this rate… and when they dont they should be held to account for it.
Comment by Socrates — December 21, 2010 @ 12:30 pm
They just spent a lot of money on stars added to an impressive collection of guys making a lot of money. Isn’t trying to keep Bard’s arb numbers down a little simplistic here? If they lose the wild card because they wouldn’t use the clearly superior player in situations where it would cause his salary to increase, wouldn’t Sox fans be just livid? I’m sorry, I don’t think the arb number is in play here at all. This is all about putting together the best team possible. Francona gets paid to use them appropriately to win games, not worry about their arb numbers.
I’d go Bard if I needed an under the radar saves backup.
I agree. I don’t think the arbitration numbers are important here at all. I think Francona will use Bard as a bullpen weapon, bringing him into the high-leverage situations that come up earlier in the game.
What downward trend? The FB is back to just below the 2006 average. He puts the ball in play a lot more than most closers, and with a 58% rate and the necessarily small sample, there will be a lot of BABIP fluctuation unless he has a really good defense behind him, which he didn’t.
His LD% is pretty high for a power guy, but that may actually have been his biggest achilles heel. He had a complete statue in RF and a just okay CF. Pierre has good range in LF, but unless I’m mistaken he doesn’t play real shallow.
So let’s put Jenks in front of a much improved infield defense, a short LF with a guy out there who will almost never let those LDs drop, etc.
In sum, I think he’s a wipeout 7th inning guy for them, which is really, really necessary because a certain 5th starter consistently reaches 100 pitches by the 5th inning. And I think they are planning to run Beckett out there for 6 innings and pull him whether they have the lead or not. If they can keep his line clean that will help his confidence a lot. To some extent the same can be said about Lackey. They need dominant 7th and 8th inning guys in that division more than a closer, because inevitably getting knocked around a bit hurts the confidence of guys who are accustomed to dominating. Pull them early, keep their line relatively clean, shorten the game. In other words, Bard and Jenks are more valuable to the early innings than the late innings.
It’s certainly not the only reason Jenks was acquired and not close to the primary one, but you’re crazy to think it’s not a consideration. The unreasonable escalation of closer salaries in arbitration was the whole reason why Jenks was available to begin with, and Papelbon would have been non-tendered by virtually any other team in baseball. A properly deployed middle reliever can provide just as much value to a team at a fraction of the price; why not take advantage of these inefficiencies?
Since we only know the highest leverage situation AFTER the game is over, having 3 quality (“closer quality” relievers gives good options from the 7th inning on … and can also provide a break if any of the 3 need it.
The mid 90s NYY had 3 quality relievers … Nelson, Rivera & Wetteland turning into Stanton/Nelson, Mendoza, & Rivera … and while not the quality of The Nasty Boys (Charleton, Dibble (ERA+ of 229!), and Myers … 3 “closers” in one bullpen has to be a good thing.
Granted we’re talking a 50 IP sample, but Jenks put up his highest K/9 rate since his rookie year in 05. When he keeps his GB rate north of 50 (i.e., and keeping the ball in the park), he’s done well.
Papelbon is still effective, even with increasing walk and HRA numbers. Bard’s numbers are also solid with an increasing workload.
So, while they may not be the Nasty Boys, they are 3 guys out the pen that could all put up 10+ K/9 numbers.
The view on Jenks seems to fluctuate week to week. This week he must be hurt. Next week he’ll return to previous dominance, rinse and repeat. Had he been resigned by the CWS in a non-closer role for the same $/y as with BOS, would it be viewed as a good move?
Comment by CircleChange11 — December 25, 2010 @ 1:07 am
White Sox fans came to hate Jenks because he made them nervous by allowing baserunners, never mind that he still saved games at an above average pace. His ridiculously high BAbip in 2010 (compared to a career level right at MLB average) suggests that his high ERA and WHIP were aberrations. The only thing I’m not sure about is Jenks as a setup/late inning man. He seems to thrive as a closer but his performance tends to drop off if brought in before the ninth inning.
Jenks had health and personal issues in 2010 (well publicized recently by Ozzie Guillen’s moronic media-wannabe Twit of a son) but there’s no reason to think those problems will persist.
I have a feeling that before 2011 is over White Sox fans will wish Jenks had not signed with the other Sox this offseason.
Comment by Rafe Mendenhall — January 2, 2011 @ 2:56 am