A Rare Time I Agree With Patrick Reusse

Hat tip to Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN for pointing out on Twitter that “Everything (Reusse) is tweeting about Jesse Crain is 100% spot on.”

From Reusse’s Twitter account:

New moron standard for Twins fans: Debate that raged Wed. as to whether Jesse Crain should be moved to closer role.

Finally, in his 7th season, Crain has become beyond reliable in setup role & I received e-mails from people wanting him to be closer.

A) Getting out of jams in 7th & 8th regularly more crucial than closer’s duty in 9th; and B) Capps has been fine, and …

Twins now have Fuentes as ass’t closer when tough lefties are due in 9th. Seriously, Crain as closer — slap yourself upside the head.

Speaking of closers: You gotta love Brian Wilson … bad hair, serious gas, and doesn’t fret giving up one when Giants are ahead by two.

Now, I wouldn’t go so far to say that this is the “new moron standard,” but removing Matt Capps and inserting Jesse Crain as the new closer really isn’t necessary. For one, although Capps has appeared shaky as the new closer, he has converted 12 of 14 saves (85.7%) for the Twins. Compare that to Joe Nathan’s 246 saves in 272 save opportunities (90.4%). It’s not like Capps has only converted about 70% of his saves.

Second, as Reusse says, a game is usually over in the 9th inning, regardless of the score. Putting in your best reliever when your chances of winning are far less – like in the 7th or 8th inning – is smarter than putting him in for the final inning. A good example is the now-famous strikeouts of Paul Konerko and Manny Ramirez in Tuesday’s game. If Crain was the closer, then any combination of Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Matt Capps, et al would have been pitching in that spot. That inning was a critical situation; it turned out the 9th was not.

Finally, why the Brian Wilson quote? From purely anecdotal evidence, it feels to me like Wilson is always pitching himself into trouble, only to escape. Wilson’s 1.79 ERA and 1.22 WHIP dispels this belief, but it’s very possible that what Reusse said is correct. Wilson could give up a run while attempting to earn a save, only to shut the door before he gives up the lead.

If Capps is continuing to frighten you every time he comes in to pitch, just think about this. Billy Wagner currently has a 1.48 ERA. For the season, Capps’ ERA is 2.73. Despite these differences, Capps has converted a higher percentage of saves (38 of 44, 86.4%) than Wagner (33 of 40, 82.5%). It’s still debatable over who is the better closer, but Capps is certainly not as bad as what people claim. If anything, I feel that we’ve been spoiled by Joe Nathan, much like some of us don’t like Drew Butera because we’re spoiled by Joe Mauer.

I like to call Reusse as one of the Official Punching Bags of Off The Mark, but at least for one day, his title shall be removed.

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