Wednesday, February 16th, 2005
As the season draws closer by the minute, the burning question on everyone’s mind is who the closer will be. This offseason there have been a god awful amount of names that have been thrown around. I’d like to offer some opinions on the names that were and are being considered.
If I could choose anyone on the Cubs to not be the closer, he would be tops on my list. Plain and simple, he can’t get the job done in that role. Something happens when Latroy steps on the field in a save situation that makes his head implode. It’s not to say that he isn’t a good reliever or late inning guy, because he truly is. It’s just something about that “Closer” title that fouls up his whole mental game. Hawkins should not be considered for the closer role. With that being said, it is obvious that Dusty Baker either does not read this blog or reads but doesn’t regard my opinions. I tend to lean toward the former, but you never know. Dusty will give Latroy every opportunity to win the closer role in spring training.
This guy is the other major candidate for the job this year, and I’m not really sure why. He’s a starter by trade, until he encountered a cluttered rotation last year. This year, I would rather see him compete for the 5th starter job with Glendon Rusch. In 2000 and 2001, Dempster won 14 & 15 games respectively in the starting role. Those are Kerry Wood numbers in the win department, and he’s our opening day starter. Rusch was impressive last year, but will we see a return to the previous year in which he posted a 6.42 ERA? It’s tough to say, but why not at least have a competition for that role. I would guess that Dempster, if given the choice, would rather start.
I would have loved to see him get a shot at the role, but so much for that happening. Good Luck in Detroit.
If I had my choice, this is the guy I choose. He was great in the role before he tried to be an ironman and pitch hurt. Suddenly, no one remembers those days. He says he’s healthy, so should the job technically go back to him? I think it should. He earned it by pitching well. If we had a better option, that would be different, but seeing that there is not one, give the job to average Joe.
The competition has apparently been restricted to LaTroy Hawkins and Ryan Dempster. Hawkins is the incumbent, but not many Cubs fans have forgotten that he blew three saves down the stretch last fall. Dempster has saved exactly two games in his professional career, both of them last September.
What makes this particularly interesting is that general manager Jim Hendry seems to favor Dempster, while manager Dusty Baker seems to favor Hawkins. My guess? One of the starters gets hurt in spring training, and Dempster gets tabbed for the rotation. And at 32, Hawkins finally enjoys his first 30-save season.
I think Neyer smokes some good stuff to think 30 is the number for Hawkins, but it is interesting to see that Hendry and Dusty do not see eye to eye on this one. We’ll see how THAT plays out.
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