Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Some Closers to Ponder
2005-01-22 22:41
by alex ciepley

The Washington Post suggests that the Orioles' signing of reliever Steve Reed makes it more likely that Baltimore will trade closer Jorge Julio.

The Orioles are actively shopping the former closer Julio, and rumors persist that the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Mets may be likely destinations.
I think many Cubs fans would look at the following and get rather excited:
23 2002 25
24 2003 36
25 2004 22
A young closer with three years' experience at finishing games? On the surface, it looks promising. The rest of his stats are a much more mixed bag.
YEAR  ERA   IP     H    HR   BB   K    H/9   HR/9   BB/9   K/9
2002 1.99 68.0 55 5 27 55 7.3 .66 3.57 7.28
2003 4.38 61.7 60 10 34 52 8.8 1.46 4.96 7.59
2004 4.57 69.0 59 11 39 70 7.7 1.43 5.09 9.13
Julio is fairly difficult to hit, and it's great to see that his strikeout rate is consistently climbing. Unfortunately, his walk rate is stupendously awful, and the number of homers he allows is pretty troublesome as well. Is this really the profile of a pitcher who's any better than the guys already in the Cubs' pen?

And how exactly should you interpret Baltimore's reluctance to use Julio as their closer even if they keep him? Do the Cubs want someone who's about to lose their job... with the Orioles?

The final straw for me: Julio was suspended last year for throwing at the head of dearly beloved ex-Cub Augie Ojeda. Augie! How can you want any part of Julio after knowing that?

Julio isn't the only closer whose name is being tied to the Cubs these days. Robb Nen is reportedly negotiating with the team. I have no complaints about Nen's performance as a closer. If you want to compare a good reliever's line with that of Julio's above, take a gander at the last season Nen was able to put together:

YEAR  ERA   IP     H    HR   BB   K    H/9   HR/9   BB/9   K/9
2002 2.20 73.7 64 2 20 81 7.8 .24 2.44 9.90
He was great. Hard to hit, decent walk rate, great strikeout rate, and rockin' home run rate. Handsome enough guy, too.

Sadly, that line was from two years ago. Nen, no longer a spring chicken, hasn't been able to pitch in either of the past two seasons due to shoulder woes. So just as I have zero complaints about Nen's performance record, I have zero expectations that he'll ever be able to pitch again, or--at least--effectively.

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