June 09, 2009
Bob Geren has been reluctant to slap the closer tag on Andrew Bailey(notes), but sometimes in this save chase of ours actions speak louder than words. And Monday night against the Twins, Geren gave Bailey the strongest endorsement yet – he shoehorned a save to his relief stud even as there was a strong case against it. To the ninth-inning stopper go the spoils.
Bailey worked both of the weekend victories over Baltimore and collected 45 pitches, so there was a sound case for resting him Monday even if a save situation came about. Geren isn't shy about using Bailey for multiple innings but he kept the hard-throwing righty on the bench for the eighth inning while Craig Breslow(notes) and Brad Ziegler(notes) navigated the meat of the Minnesota order and protected a one-run lead. Zeigler's one batter turned into a seven-pitch marathon, but it was a happy ending when Michael Cuddyer(notes) rapped into an inning-ending double play. Zeigler definitely could have come out for the ninth, especially with Minnesota's best sticks out of the way, but Geren nonetheless decided to use Bailey for the third straight game.
Bailey came out with his good stuff and made his skipper look good during an 11-pitch, 7-strike appearance. He got a couple of borderline strikes with his breaking ball and the Twins had trouble centering his mid-90s fastball; the first two outs came on harmless infield popups. Bailey's only real mistake came on the last pitch of the game – a heart-of-the-plate fastball that Brian Buscher(notes) ripped to right – but the ball eventually settled into Adam Kennedy's(notes) glove, prompting the handshake line around the Oakland mound.
Don't be fooled by Bailey's three blown saves – two of them came in the eighth inning with inherited runners on base, and the other missed opportunity was a sixth-inning assignment. He's yet to have a misstep in any ninth-inning assignment, and while Geren will probably continue to use Bailey for hard-working saves now and then, it's very likely Bailey will get more of the rocking-chair ninth-inning cheapies to convert, as well. Bailey passes the eye test on your TV screen, and the stat sheet defends him very nicely (1.93 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 44 Ks in 37.1 IP, .155 BAA). He's got a realistic shot to be one of the 10 most valuable closers from here on out.
• Memo to the Arizona Diamondbacks – maybe giving a managerial job to A.J. Hinch before he had any real experience was a bad, bad idea.
Let's digest this Hinch gem from Monday in San Diego, top of the seventh inning. The Diamondbacks are down 4-3, there's one out, and the pitcher spot is due up against a dealing Jake Peavy(notes). Do you hit Jon Garland(notes) (1-for-23 on the season, and at 95 pitches himself) or maybe make a legitimate attempt to put together a rally? Hinch decides to hand away an out, Garland predictably whiffs, and the Padres put the game out of reach against a tiring Garland in the bottom of the frame.
Mind you, there's a little more to the context. These teams did play a bullpen-taxing 18-inning game the day before, and the San Diego rally would have gone by the boards had Eric Byrnes(notes) made a fairly routine two-out catch that was graciously scored a two-run hit for Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes). That said, why would it ever make sense to give up a critical out just so you could keep a tiring Garland, of all people, in a ballgame you're losing with the top of the Padres lineup coming up? I understand the case for saving the bullpen, but all Garland would up doing is saving two outs from his teammates – he didn't finish the bottom of the seventh. Maybe it makes sense to you, it sure doesn't to me.
• Andy "big lie" Sonnanstine did work seven innings at Yankee Stadium and he allowed just five hits, that's good. Unfortunately for the soft-server, four of those hits were home runs, and Sonnanstine hit the showers with his ERA squarely at 7.00. He's been hammered in four of his last six turns (12 HRs against 13 Ks), and let's hope the Rays have the good sense to take Sonnanstine out of the rotation when Scott Kazmir(notes) is ready to come back.
• The Tigers left Jeremy Bonderman(notes) on his rehab assignment for as long as they could, and it wasn't any big shock when the rehabbing righty took to the mound at Chicago and got knocked around (4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 1 K, 3 HR). Bonderman barely cracked the low 90s on some fastballs but most of his work was in the high 80s and there wasn't a lot of bite on anything. Even in AL-only formats, I wouldn't take a chance here. Struggling rookie reliever Ryan Perry(notes) was sent to the minors to make room for Bonderman.
• The first three starts from Sean West(notes) were certainly intriguing but far from dynamic – he only worked 16.1 innings over those appearances, with eight walks against nine strikeouts. But the tall lefty made a definite impression in turn No. 4, working eight brilliant innings against the Giants (2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K). He didn't seem the least bit tired by the end of the assignment – he was still hitting 93 mph on the gun – and while I don't have the nerve to use West this weekend at Toronto, he's worth considering if you're in a head-to-head league and need to take a shot at a win. Leo Nunez(notes) retired three of four men in the ninth, working with a four-run lead.
While we're in Florida, heads up on Hanley Ramirez(notes), who's been playing through a sore right groin injury for about two weeks. Fredi Gonzalez feels Ramirez won't be 100 percent for the balance of the year. Ramirez has hit just fine since suffering the injury on May 26 – he's 16-for-43 since – but it's worth noting that he hasn't attempted a stolen base over that span. Clip and save.
Speed Round: Jose Valverde(notes) (calf) is just a day away from a rehab assignment. … Justin Upton(notes) rested his shoulder but the Diamondbacks don't seem too worried about it; he's day-to-day. … Chris Iannetta(notes) (hamstring) should be back with the Rockies Tuesday. … Joe Crede(notes) might as well be day-to-day for the balance of the year. A sore calf kept him out Monday. … I'm not sure why the Giants decided to use Randy Johnson(notes) on three days of rest, but he didn't have his best stuff at Florida (5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K). … J.D. Drew(notes) got a cortisone shot in his shoulder and is looking at a Tuesday return. … With Ryan Sweeney(notes) headed to the DL, Rajai Davis(notes) has some value in deep mixers and AL-only leagues if you're looking for some steals. … Kouzmanoff finished Monday's game with four RBIs; if he can get hot behind well-respected and often-walked Adrian Gonzalez(notes), a bunch of ribbies should follow. … Peavy worked seven strong innings and appeared to be over his respiratory problem from last week, though he had a mild limp at the end of his appearance. … Andrew McCutchen(notes) continues to get our attention, collecting four hits and a bunch of goodies in Pittsburgh's extra-inning loss at Atlanta. Nate McLouth(notes) haunted his old club with three hits, including a homer, and a stolen base. … Looking for more from Monday's fantasy landscape? Take a peak at Pre-Closing Time – all the major news from the first chunk of the day.