Sorting through all the angry Tigers fans to find that one guy (or gal) who is still behind Jose Valverde at this point is like finding a needle in a haystack, or more appropriately, a single strand of dirty blonde hair in a haystack. Whatever simile you like, it’s real tough right now to be a Valverde supporter. In fact, if you are, you might now want to admit that in public. The lovable dancing closer is serving up home runs at an alarming rate, and has helped the Tigers to losing four games after the eighth inning after leading.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t see the game tying home run live. Missing the home run yesterday probably saved my television from having a shoe or something thrown at it, so at least my TV is in tact still. But the mob mentality has drawn me in at this point, and I don’t know if I can stand to watch Valverde for much longer.
How bad is the level of frustration with the Tigers closer right now?
So bad, that even Tigers radio analyst Jim Price was ranting about how the Tigers can’t continue doing what they are doing with Valverde. This guy is paid by the Tigers. Can you imagine Mario Impemba or Rod Allen openly questioning what the Tigers organization is doing with it’s closer situation? Not likely, that is why it was a little funny (as well as refreshing) hearing it from Price.
But I’m not trying to throw Jim Price under the bus. One, whatever you think of Jim Price as an analyst and announcer, he’s been around the game a long time, and does actually know a thing or two about baseball. Two, his main point was that the continued blown saves are going to affect the clubhouse in a negative fashion. Again, I didn’t see it, but it was said that the Tigers clubhouse seemed visibly frustrated.
Jim Price also alluded to the other problem with the Tigers closing situation. If not Jose Valverde, then who? Paraphrasing, Price was honest when he said he didn’t have the answer, and therein, lies the problem. Jim Leyland doesn’t have the answer. Dave Dombrowski doesn’t have the answer. And worse yet, an answer might not be coming for a while.
Now, Leyland has gone a bit overboard falling on the sword a bit about the closer situation. He has not been entirely subtle asking the media who he has that can do the job, effectively pointing a finger at David Dombrowski. A finger pointing that isn’t entirely unwarranted by the way.
The answer truly lies in a closer by committee approach, but Leyland clearly isn’t comfortable in that situation. In fact, he seems oblivious to all common sense when it comes to bullpens. His two worst bullpen guys, Phil Coke and Jose Valverde, see a good deal of the high leverage situations. Darin Downs, Drew Smyly, and Joaquin Benoit are the Tigers bullpen members that have performed the best in 2013. Finding ways to get your higher performers in the highest leveraged situations seems to make sense. To me at least. Jim Leyland just has to start thinking outside of the box, or stop reading baseball managing 101.
The Tigers have to mix and match until something either works itself out, or Bruce Rondon proves ready for the role, or Tigers GM David Dombrowski acquires a closer. Because right now, the only dancing Jose Valverde is doing is the move where he turns around really quickly and watches the baseball fly out of the park.
Tigers fans aren’t a vicious bunch, and a lot of times, I think most overreact. But this time, Tigers fans have it right. It’s time to try something different. It’s time the Tigers dance to the tune of a different closer.