The Cardinals bats came alive over the past week. Patience was abundant throughout the lineup, and the Cardinals were able to overcome a 2-6 start to now sit at 8-8. Aside from the 2-1 loss today to the Dodgers, the Cardinals lineup looks like it will indeed be a deep one and be able to provide damage on a consistent basis.
While it’s nice to see the offense off and running, the Cardinals are probably going to play most of their games between the two extremes of the first 16 games. I think most of us felt comfortable that the offense would come around, but in no way did I expect the offensive outburst over the last week. There’s no way to sugarcoat that the Cardinals could easily be 12-4 if they had a closer that was, well, a closer.
Now 1 for 5 in save opportunities, Ryan Franklin is showing Cardinal Nation why the position is so important. Ryan Franklin has been smoke and mirrors during his time as a closer, plain and simple. When Franklin does get the job done, there’s normally a lot of luck involved, as at least one out is normally tattooed to someone. The situation is not going to go away. Ryan Franklin is not going to start getting a strikeout per inning or better. Franklin doesn’t have an out pitch, and pitchers normally don’t develop one in their late 30’s.
So who does the blame fall on right now? It’s a tough question really. If Tony LaRussa continues to run Franklin out there to close out games, it has to fall on him. LaRussa’s comments about not having another pitcher ready to take over for Franklin say a couple of things to me. One, Tony didn’t learn anything from the 2006 season. Number two, he’s playing the veteran card too much. Every Cardinal fan knows what I’m talking about here. If not, does anyone really think that if a young closer would have blown 4 of his first 5 saves he would still be getting the chance?
The Cardinals cannot expect to be in position to win the NL Central if they give away too many games too early at the expense of one player. If a one run lead is not enough for a closer to get the job done, then that pitcher should not be the closer. An occasional blown save is expected, but a manager’s job is to make hard decisions when the situations call for them. The future of the Cardinals closer might not be Mitchell Boggs, but I’d rather lose with taking a chance on him than continue to run out a pitcher that should never be in the position anyway.
I’ve been saying for years that the most important player on the New York Yankees is Mariano Rivera…not Derek Jeter, not anyone else. It’s hard to imagine anyone on the Yankees being desribed as underrated, but that’s why Rivera is and has been.