When the Toronto Blue Jays decided to sign Francisco Cordero to a one year contract worth $4.5 million, it didn’t promise to be the most prudent of off season moves. There were several alarm bells from the right handed reliever’s previous season in Cincinnati that seemed too difficult to overlook.
Looking past his high number of saves with the Reds, there was the declining velocity of his fastball, the rapidly lowering strikeout rate, the large difference between his low ERA and high FIP, the low BABIP, the high strand rate and of course the fact that he was going to turn 37 years old.
Increasing his reliance on smoke and mirrors rather than the power of a high velocity fastball to get batters out, Cordero, quite simply, isn’t the same pitcher he once was. About the only positive that one could take from the Jays signing the former free agent closer was that they were planning to use him as a set up man rather than a closer.
Of course, there’s something to be said about the plans of mice, men and front office management in baseball. Flash forward a month into the season, and Cordero is closing out games for the Blue Jays. And unfortunately for the team, he hasn’t been doing a very good job of it. To a certain degree, we can point to his astronomically high BABIP and suggest that just as he benefited from luck last season, he’s been cursed by it this year.
However, it remains difficult to get past the fact that Cordero blew his third save in a row last night against the Oakland A’s. Yes, there was a gaffe from the catcher and the manager did the reliever no favours by ordering two intentional walks, but it was ultimately Cordero who only collected a single out, and that one given to him as a sacrifice, during last night’s appearance.
The culprit this time was Cordero’s cutter/slider which was neither cutting nor sliding. The first batter Cordero faced, Michael Taylor, saw five of the pitches before smacking a sixth straight cutter/slider for a double. It was as though the reliever was experimenting on the mound with the lead off batter, trying to find the pitch and make it do things it wasn’t wanting to do. Four batters later, the same pitch also resulted in the game winning grand slam walk off from Brandon Inge.
It was ugly. But this is what happens when a reliever can no longer rely on an over powering fastball. He has to use pitches with more movement. Sometimes those pitches will be working, and sometimes they won’t. Last night, they weren’t. Using the new version of Cordero to close out games is like trying to shove a circular object in a triangular hole. It doesn’t belong.
And The Rest
I will never get sick of watching Josh Hamilton’s four home runs from last night. Is there any greater single game accomplishment for a position player? Think of it in these terms: There have been 21 perfect games thrown in Major League history. Prior to last night’s game between the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles, a single player had hit four home runs in a game only 15 times. [Getting Blanked]
Here is how Major League teams will attempt to game the international free agent signing system as set up by the new collective bargaining agreement. [Baseball America]
The Washington Nationals will improve their bullpen with the eventual addition of Mike Gonzalez. [Federal Baseball]
Mariano Rivera’s ACL complications aren’t as complicated as first feared. [The Yankee Analysts]
The Milwaukee Brewers have handed out contract extensions to the most interesting man in baseball, Doug Melvin, and his manager, Ron “Roll The Dice” Roenicke. [Disciples Of Uecker]
One of my favourite writers, Matthew Kory, scouts the MLB Game Day Scout. [Baseball Prospectus]
Casey Blake is hanging up the cleats. [Des Moines Register]
Ryan Vogelsong legitimately pitched better than Clayton Kershaw to get the San Francisco Giants a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. [McCovey Chronicles]
How changes to Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement metric makes Ben Zobrist and Ryan Braun look like even better players. [It's About The Money Stupid]
Kerry Wood got all surly like after throwing his baseball glove into the stands like a super champ. [Comcast Sportsnet]
How the Philadelphia Phillies use their bullpen. I would love to have a graph like this for every team in baseball. [Crashburn Alley]
In case you missed it, the New York Yankees announced that Andy Pettitte will start Sunday afternoon’s game against the Seattle Mariners. [Getting Blanked]
Identifying the least intimidating hitters in all of baseball. [Baseball Nation]
The evolution of the save celebration. [Baseball Prospectus ($)]
On yesterday’s Getting Blanked Show, we placed our praise upon the Miami Marlins and buried the career of Jose Valverde. Good times! [Getting Blanked]