Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's not just me

For me, the key game of the season came a week ago today when Armando Benitez gave away a winnable game to the Mets in the 9th. Including that game, the Giants have gone 2-5 since then, including Tuesday's horrific 6-5 loss that featured another Benitez blown save. The momentum-killing impact of those kind of losses is threatening the entire season. Despite great pitching by Noah Lowry tonight, the Giants could only manage one run at the Minute Maid bandbox.

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters has concluded that the Giants must stop using Benitez as the closer if they're to have any chance this year. Here's part of his most recent post --

Somebody else needs to be the closer. I don't want to hear about how Benitez needs more consistent use, or how he needs to be used several days in a row, or he needs rest, or anything else. The only question that needs to be asked is how many seasons we're gonna flush down the toilet while our ninth inning situation is so combustible? Since the end of '03, our bullpen has blown an astounding 82 saves, (the Yankees have 55 blown saves over the same span, the Dodgers 49). The Giants blew the third most saves in 2004 (28), the most in 2005 (28), the 8th most in 2006 (22), and are now on pace for another 28 or so.
It's debatable as to what Benitez's role might become, but that's not Sabean's problem, not now, not when the season's in jeopardy. One can hardly overstate how hard it is to have to bounce back from the kind of devastating losses that the Giants have become accustomed to.

To make things even worse, I was at Chavez Latrine tonight as Tony "The Drunk" LaRussa gave the Dodgers a win on a silver platter by insisting that Kip Wells keep pitching in the 5th, even though he was at 120 pitches, until he gave up a pinch-hit 3-run HR to Wilson Betemit, who's been so awful that he lost his starting job to Andy Laroche.


Blogger allfrank said...

I think it is pretty hard to maintain that "the key game of the season" was a game in early May.
I also think it is primarily prejudice gtalking, as opposed to reason, to blame Benitez for the loss to the Mets. How about Hennessey's run in the 8th? How about Linden's unbelieveable gaff on a simple flyball? Since we are talking about "keys," I think the Giants win that game if Linden makes that simple catch.
The 1st game loss to the Astro's was painful, but I don't see how Benitez' giving up a flukey HR off the 315 foot foul pole is more heinous than the bomb Lowry gives up the next night to the same guy.
If you want to crucify any player, and make a point to look for the ammunition, it is easy to find. The series ending 2-1 win is full of goats. Few hits, fewer runs, a long foul given up by Benitez, one to the short LF warning track off of Hennessey. I think Perricone is copm[pletely off the mark in comparing '07 Benitez to '05 and ''06 Benitez. The fact is, Benitez has fewer blown saves than T Hoffman. And the fact is, closer's blow saves. They are not perfect. If you want to crucify a guy for a blown save, no closer is good enough. Ever. Finally, I think it is patently ridiculous to criticize a guy because his saves are not works of art. It is called WHIP. Every pitcher has one. Virtually every pitcher, with enough innings, has a WHIP over 1. That means, on average, every pitcher has a runner on - or more - every inning. Does it make us nervous? Absolutely. Does it make the pitcher a bum? Only if we've decided, on some other grounds, that he is a bum. And that is the nature of prejudice. There are always "facts" that support the prejudice. If you want to find stones to throw, they're there to be found. Even in Armando's 1-2-3 inning tonight.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Big D said...

We're going to have to agree to disagree, Allfrank. Good closers do not give up "flukey" homers. He's a terrible closer and has been even since he came to San Francisco. It's time to move on to someone else.

11:31 PM  

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