Ken Davidoff's baseball insider

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Friday Five: The dead power cord edition

Thanks to those who reached out to me to make sure all was well, vis-a-vis the absence of new posts the past couple of days.

Everything was fine. My power cord died, that's all. I love my iPad, but I've found blogging on that to be more challenging than perhaps even the roommate switch (not that I've ever attempted that one). Therefore, I sat out of the blogosphere until my new power cord arrived. Thanks to Newsday's Mike Rose and Kim Fiorio for making that happen.

So what does all of this nonsense mean? It means that, for the second week in a row, we're laming out on the Friday Five. We need to catch up on stuff. Sorry. Next week, I promise, we'll get back to an actual, discussion-generating list.

Unless I spill Sprite on my keyboard or something.

OK, so what has transpired since the last post?

1. Mariano Rivera. With his next save, he'll tie Trevor Hoffman for the all-time lead in saves, 601, and the save after that will put him on top. 

It's yet another highlight for the best closer ever, but the reason the feat isn't generating more fanfare is because, well, it shouldn't.

You know the deal: Saves weren't officially calculated in 1969, and for the first two decades or so, the elite closers - think Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage or Bruce Sutter typically picked up around 30 saves per season because most of those lasted well more than an inning. It wasn't until the late 1980s that Tony La Russa changed the paradigm with his A's bullpen, forming a late-inning corps and utilizing his last guy Dennis Eckersley for a mere three outs.

Even more to the point, Rivera passing Hoffman on the saves list doesn't best illustrate just how much better Rivera is than Hoffman. You know what does? Our old pal WAR.

Rivera's career WAR to this point is 55.9. If you look at his Baseball-Reference.com page, you'll see that he has 12 seasons of providing three or more wins above replacement, which is roughly equivalent to a good team's number two or number three starting pitcher. This year, for instance, Rivera's 3.1 WAR puts him ahead of all Yankees starting pitchers besides CC Sabathia (6.5) - although he also trails his setup man David Robertson (3.5).

Hoffman's career WAR was 30.8. He tallied three seasons of 3.0 or better. He simply didn't separate himself from the pack anywhere as much as Rivera did. For further comparison's sake, if you look at the guys in the Hall of Fame strictly for closing (whereas Eckersley is there for closing and starting), Sutter is at 25.0, Fingers 24.4 and Gossage (who spent one season, 1976, as essentially a full-time starter) 40.0.

Consider that we haven't even mentioned his remarkable postseason numbers, and yup, Rivera is the best ever. And he didn't need the saves record to affirm it.

Erik Boland wrote how impressed first-year Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been with Rivera.

2. Terry Collins. I had a nice discussion with Sandy Alderson yesterday, revolving around the fact that his reign is reaching the year anniversary. Actually, we're closer to the 11-month anniversary, but October is a slow month for clubs that don't make the playoffs and aren't hiring a GM, as the Mets spent their October last year.

In any case, Alderson stressed that the Mets' season isn't over, and that first impressions and last impressions matter, and that the Mets' first impression this season was awful, and that, ...well, if you're a Mets fan, you know what's going on right now.

Indeed, Collins predictably ripped into the team yesterday, after the Nationals completed a four-game sweep at Citi Field. 

Regardless of what happens in the way - well, assuming there's nothing crazy - Collins will get good grades from his bosses. He did keep the team competitive for longer than most could have expected, and he and Alderson teamed to change the culture in the clubhouse. No more of the "Woe is me" over injuries to Ike Davis, Jose Reyes or David Wright or even the trades of Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

Nevertheless, if the Mets continue to stagger toward the finish line, it'll be hard for the Mets to sell their fans on what went down on the field this season, all the more so with Reyes' future in doubt. To the contrary, their best sales pitch will come via their moves to fortify the organization - the Beltran trade and the amateur draft.

(Story coming soon off the Alderson interview.)

3. The 2012 schedule. MLB released it en masse, which it has been doing for the last few years, and the Astros are staying put in the NL Central for now. As we've discussed here, the complications involving the sale of the club from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane have slowed down the realignment process.

Expanded playoffs for next year is still a possibility. That isn't something they had to announce at this point. It just depends on how the collective bargaining talks go. However, Players Association head Michael Weiner told the BBWAA in July that he saw realignment and playoff expansion as very much connected, so maybe we'll just have to wait until 2013 for both.

For now, the result is that we have another ridiculous, unbalanced, irrational interleague schedule, leading to conversations like this:

Fan #1: So what are the divisional matchups for interleague play next year?

Fan #2: East-East, Central-Central and West-West.

Fan #1: Oh, cool. So we'll get Yankees-Phillies, then.

Fan #2: No.

Fan #1: Hmm, that's odd. That would've been a good World Series rematch.

Fan #2: Well, on the bright side, we get Yankees-Reds. That's a World Series rematch.

Fan #1: Yankees-Reds?! Are the Reds moving into the NL East?

Fan #2: No.

Fan #1: And didn't the Yankees and Reds play each other just this season?

Fan #2: Yes.

Fan #1: Then what the...? Why the...?

Fan #2: How the hell should I know? Let's just focus all of our energy on the other awesome thing coming out in 2012 - "The Avengers."

(curtain closes)

4. The Red Sox. They got clobbered by the Rays in their series opener at Fenway Park last night, allowing Tampa Bay to close within three games of the AL wild-card.

Math says the Sox will withstand this; they're 98.5 percent likely to make the playoffs, according to Baseball Prospectus' odds. But math isn't very reassuing at this time of the year. Tonight's game, with Josh Beckett returning from his right ankle injury, looms as a huge one.

5. The Brewers . In the span of about 24 hours, Prince Fielder, an impending free agent, said he probably was in his last year with Milwaukee, and K-Rod expressed his unhappiness over receiving zero ninth-inning save opportunities since his arrival from the Mets.

It's not what a slumping team needs, but in this case, I agree with the assessment of Brewers GM Doug Melvin: Actions speak louder than words. 

Fielder, who is generally an honest guy (hence his quote), has a .965 OPS this month. K-Rod, who is generally an emotional guy (hence his quote), hasn't allowed a run in six September appearances, totalling six innings.

The playoffs are unpredictable. Maybe the Brewers will go out quietly in the first round. But it won't be related to either of these situations.

--I'll check in later from Toronto.

--UPDATE, 6:51 p.m.: I'm here at Rogers Centre, but it's too close to game time to blog. I'll post in the morning.

 

 

 

 

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