I feel for Francisco Cordero. He’s not a very good pitcher right now, and he probably wasn’t last year either, when his peripheral numbers took a nosedive and he got by on smoke and mirrors on his way to 37 saves and a 2.45 ERA that, even a couple of years ago, would have been enough for some hopeless GM to give him a fat contract to be The Closer.

The reality is, he’s an aging pitcher trying to cope with the loss of his velocity while adapting to life in the toughest division in baseball– though it’s not like the Oakland A’s, last night’s non-division opponents, are a goddamned juggernaut– and not doing a particularly good job of it just yet.

And he knows it.

“I’ve got to pitch better or I’m going to find myself either out of that situation or maybe out of the team,” Cordero said last night, when he faced the media in the wake of his latest disaster.

He’s not wrong in that assessment, but it’s unfortunate that he’s even been placed in the role in the first place– nor is it really his fault. In fact, I hate to say it, but what’s most unfortunate is that Cordero was signed by Alex Anthopoulos in the first place, presumably with full knowledge that his club has a manager who believes in the “closer myth” and who, all winter, told anybody who’d listen that his biggest flaw last season was that he was too loose when it came to defining roles for his relievers.

So, we have Cordero as The Guy in the eighth to start the season, and the bullpen pecking order shifted up a peg when closer Sergio Santos went down, come hell, high water, or ina-fucking-bility to get through a clean inning or not look like a goddamn disaster waiting to happen– or, y’know, in the midst of happening.

The situation was asking for a bad ending, and last night we got it. But that said, by Farrell’s– and most of the free world’s– closer myth mentality, the decision to bring Cordero into the game last night was pretty easily justifiable. If you were an Established Closer guy or gal this winter, I’m sorry, but this is precisely where this type of thinking gets you.

Could Farrell have turned elsewhere after Cordero after having blown two of his previous three saves and not pitching particularly well in the ones he didn’t? Well… it’s real fucking easy to say now, but we can’t forget that after not only picking up two saves in the Kansas City series, Cordero should have had another in the game against Seattle that Brett Lawrie threw away, and in the game he coughed up to Texas, as Drew explained at the time, he genuinely didn’t pitch that badly, and was largely foiled by Ian Kinsler fouling off very good pitches like he’s the most underrated superstar in the game or something.

So… calling on him, gut wrenching as it was, and as pessimistic as we all– myself included– were about what we were in store for, was not terribly egregious. A performance on par with those against the Royals, or even the ones against the Mariners and Rangers, with a couple breaks going his way, and we’re having a different conversation right now; the Jays win, and Cordero looks to be right on track– which, if you’re looking for a silver lining to last night, actually may have prolonged this ill-fated experiment. Getting it over with now, I think, is probably ideal… even if I don’t have a shitload of faith in the next guy, who is apparently Casey Janssen.

(Note: I joke about the presumed internal scoop, but what the hell is Barry Davis gonna do? Not go with it?)

Sickening a thing to watch as it was, all of that seems about right to me. What’s stuck a fuck-tonne more deeply in my craw is not the fact John Farrell understood full well that, as he told reporters later, ”the three outs in the ninth are pretty tough for us right now,” but that he knew it and still only played for one run in the bottom of the ninth.

I mean, taking out JP Arencibia in a tie game, with one out and runners on the corners? JP Arencibia, who could actually maybe drive the ball to the outfield to score a run? JP Arencibia who has just two GIDPs all season?

For Omar Vizquel?!?!? Who could practically be Arencibia’s father??? So he can just give up a goddamnn out on a safety squeeze that he couldn’t even damn well executed???

This I truly cannot comprehend. I mean, I get that Arencibia is slow, and I get that Vizquel has made comments to the media that could be taken to mean that he’s not entirely happy just being a mascot, but… for fuck sakes! Beyond the fact that he didn’t even get the bunt down that he intended to, or that, y’know, it’s pretty ridiculous to give up your precious outs– when you know full goddamn well that the guy you’re about to send in to close out the ballgame, with no safety valve warming up behind him whatsoever, has been strug-uggling all year– but what if he gets to two strikes and has to swing the bat? You’re sending up a guy with a .660 career OPS in that situation? A guy two years removed from a .341 OBP season that was an outlier among all his years since 2006? A guy whose OPS hasn’t cracked .750 since 2002?!?

The mind fucking boggles. Though, thankfully, not quite as much as last night. We’ll get over it.

 

Image via Thearon W. Henderson/Getty.

Comments (35)

  1. Safety squeeze is the right call there, particularly in Oakland at night on a cold evening, and especially when JP has a tendency to GIDP. If we’re up by two, they play that whole inning differently and are much more likely to come out on top. In that situation, safety squeeze is the best way of accomplishing the objective.

    • You really think it made sense to go for just one run, knowing full-well they were planning on bringing their worst-performing reliever into the game to “close” it out? That’s patently ridiculous.

      Let’s also recall that the team’s fastest runner was standing on third base. JP didn’t need to get a hit to score him – Rajai could have made it home on basically any ball hit out of the infield. The probability of scoring a run with Vizquel bunting vs. JP swinging was not significantly increased. But the probability of scoring more than one run was reducted to zero. That doesn’t make any sense.

      And JP doesn’t have a tendency to GIDP.

      • Along with JP not hitting into many DPs, let’s not forget they could have also considered a double steal. I mean does Oakland even throw through to second with Rajai on third?

        • Well, if Rasmus stole second, you know they would have just intentionally walked JP to load the bases anyway.

          Having said that, bringing JP out of the game was a stupid decision.

        • Vizquel is one of the game’s great bunters. He’s put down 250 sacrifices. I’ll take the run no matter who’s on the mound.

          We ran safety squeezes with Rajai on third repeatedly last season in the early part of the year and won some games on it, nobody complained then.

          • Yeah, when guys like John McDonald and Corey Patterson were up to bat. They never used those guys as pinch hitters just so they could bunt.

      • Really didn’t mind it. You can’t ASSUME your closer is going to blow a lead, which means you’d be basically playing for extra innings on the road. I’d prefer if they had had a better PH than Vizquel, but the last thing you need in that spot is a K or DP. Didn’t work, but Rajai did score and I’m happier with a lead than a tie in the bottom of the ninth seven days of the week.

    • Arencibia is one genuinely hot (.901ops in his last 15gms, 1.221ops in May), and he was removed for one of the worst hitters in all MLB. There was no correct call made here, but an absolutely awful one. And has been mentioned, JP has no tendency to GIDP, in fact, he’s an extreme flyball guy who gets the ball into the outfield with ease.

    • No. Just no.

    • Closer Pound the zone with strikes and let your defense make a play.

      Farell is the perfect manager for this team. The team has great chemistry.

      Beam up Craig Kimbrel. ha ha ha

      No one can see that far into the future but close the game out.

  2. Of all the stupid things that happened last night, the pinch-hitting for Arencibia was by far the stupidest. I’d love to hear what Farrell said in his one-on-one meeting with JP about it, but I sincerely hope it was something along the lines of “Here’s my rationale for making the decision, and in retrospect, it was wrong and I won’t do it again.” Because if Farrell still thinks that move was at all justified in any possible way, then he’s nuts.

  3. Sure would have loved to be a fly on the wall with Farrell and Arencibia. Do you think John for a moment even considered it was a pretty damn poor move and admitted that to JP?

    • In media scrum he said he understood why JP was upset, and told him as much in their meeting. I think there’s a good enough dynamic between the players and Farrell that this will blow over.

      Thank God I went to bed in the 6th inning. JP wouldn’t have been the only one losing sleep last night after the 9th.

  4. With regards to Vizquel, it should be noted that the A’s played the infield in against him and, most likely, would have played at double play depth against Arencibia.

    That’s not inconsequential. With the infield in, Rasmus should have easily stole second and I still can’t figure out why he didn’t attempt it.

  5. When JPA came up, the strategy was absolutely apparent to anyone with a functioning brain. JPA stands like a statue on the first pitch, Rasmus takes off for second (speed doesn’t matter here, at all) and you hope for a throw from Suzuki. If so, Davis scores, if not, runners on second and third with JPA and Johnson getting the shot to drive them in.

    I really don’t think Suzuki is going to throw to second, not with Davis looking in from third.

  6. The worst part about that was that they could’ve gotten out of the double play risk by sending Rasmus. They wouldn’t have risked a throw to 2nd with Davis sitting at 3rd, potentially going home on the throw to 2nd. From there, the infield comes in against JP to prevent the run from scoring on a groundball and the go-ahead run then scores on basically any ball hit out of the infield.

    The only reason I can think of that this didn’t happen is that they didn’t trust Davis to read the play on a steal of 2nd given his appalling display of baseball IQ so far this season.

  7. I wonder if pinch-hitting JP was meant to send him a message or light a fire under his ass? Maybe Farrell believes JP plays better in the type of environment where he has something to prove? I don’t really know how one can prove that and it very well might be bullshit, but message-sending isn’t outside the norm in sports and players do react (whether positively or negatively) when it happens.

    As for making Janssen the closer, at least you can make an argument that he has pitched his best (marginally) in high-leverage situations.

    • Send Arencibia a message? He’s got a .905 OPS since April 19.

      • …and he has a .780OPS if you go back to the 14th or .833 if we go back to the 25th. Arbitrary end points eh?

        As I said it could be BS. It was just a theory but maybe it’s something as simple as he like Vizquel better in that situation.

        • No! People have to stop saying that shit. It’s an arbitrary start point only. The end point is his most recent at bat. He’s been hot lately and that matters. Always go with the hot hand.

        • Yes, it’s arbitrary. The point is, he’s been doing just fine.

  8. I still cant get over Farrell’s move regarding pulling JPA. some call it crazy for me incompetence is a more appropriate word. yes OV is experienced , yes Oakland is not any easy place to hit , but OV is lacking in at bats and JPA has been hitting well recently. No wonder JPA was pissed would love to know what the other players thought of the move and what AA thought. Heat is on Farrell with this move and a few other strange ones this season , Linds non production , batting him 4th . At least Farrell has made changes today , his changes or “encouragement” from AA?

    • Pretty sure the heat is on Cordero for fucking up the bottom of the 9th so badly.

      Putting Vizquel in to bunt in a run is perfectly defensible if you don’t know that Cordero is going to shit the bed in the next half-inning. Hindsight.

  9. Farrell is a dipshit, bottom line.

  10. The Rajai Davis pinch run/Omar Vizquel pinch hit was one of the most maddening things I’ve seen in awhile and I’m ashamed to admit a sickening sense of satisfaction was derived from seeing it blow up in Farrell’s face.

  11. does anyine think that Farrel read an article somewhere about how Visquel was wasting a roster spot and wasn’t contributing?

    It might of touched a verve. I can’t think of any other reason for the switch.

    • If Farrell reads Getting Blanked and follows the advice of Parkes, Drew and Stoeten than Lind would have been in the 8 hole 3 weeks ago, and his staunch attitude about defined bullpen roles would have went out the window this seaosn too.

  12. I agree with everything and was discussing all that last night post game with my buddy but i just have one question…….why do you need to repeatedly sware to get your point across? lol

  13. Well… I was damn pissed off last night.

    But, I’m glad they’ve shuffled the lineup and the bullpen. Plus, If Cordero was going to blow it last night, I’m glad he did it in such epic fashion that there really was no way they could do anything but stop putting him in high leverage situations.

    So … new game, new day. Boston and the Angels still look like shit. TB and NYY have their issues. I really believe this Texas series might be the beginning of the Orioles coming back to Earth. And after 7 blown saves and Bautista and Lind essentially not contributing – the team is still 16-14, which isn’t terrible at all. So, lets move on.

  14. isnt this the same blog that sang AA’s praises for ‘improving’ bullpen.

    sigh.

  15. JPA should work on his bunting. Then he won’t need to get lifted. IMO, it is a good time to squeeze- because you still have a runner in scoring position if you score/get thrown out at the plate.

    As it turns out- he popped up a bunt that fortunately both runners read properly.

  16. why do they even play day games. looking up straight into the sun can’t be fun. at least start them late afternoon

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