In yesterday's Times story on the Putz contract, this statement by Lee Pelekoudas caught my attention:
"There's a theory going around now that the seventh and eighth inning are more important outs than the ninth inning, and that anybody can do the closer's role," Pelekoudas said. "We don't think so. The ninth inning are the toughest three outs in baseball, and whether it's guts, or moxie, or makeup -- J.J. has it. ..."
Pelekoudas is referring to the notion that teams shouldn't use the closer in the ninth inning only. As a general rule, run prevention does become increasingly important as a game progresses, peaking in the ninth inning. But regular LL readers are aware of Win Expectancy, and understand that many times games are really won or lost at critical situations in earlier innings. The ninth inning isn't a critical inning if you're down by two runs because the game got away from you in the seventh or eighth innings. In many cases, it's appropriate to bring in the available pitcher who is the best at shutting down the other team in those critical earlier innings; if that pitcher is the "Closer", use him then instead of saving him for a save that never happens because you effectively lost the game innings earlier.
But notice how Pelekoudas misstates the concept. In Pelekoudas' mind, the premise becomes a blanket statement that "the seventh and eighth inning are more important outs than the ninth inning" And that misstatement leaves me wondering about the willingness of the Mariners' front office to update and revise its thinking. When an individual doesn't really want to change their mind on something, the person will commonly misstate or misrepresent the opposing position into something that can be refuted or dismissed. That is precisely what Pelekoudas has done here.
The "theory" that Pelekoudas is referring to has been well presented and discussed by many writers. For a person at his level to misrepresent in this way the alternative approach to using a Closer indicates the Mariners haven't really bothered to understand the alternative strategy. Instead, they've made it into a bogeyman and dismissed the bogeyman. It leaves me wondering how many other recently popularized ideas of running a baseball organization have also been made into Royal Brougham bogeymen?
A final note before Jeff returns from his trip. I suggest that the efforts of Trent, Deanna, and me during Jeff's absence have possibly defined a performance standard for a "Replacement Level Blogger". With that benchmark established, I leave it to you, the loyal members of the LL community, to determine Jeff's VORB - Value over Replacement Blogger.