How about LaTroy Hawkins as closer in 2010?

I’m not a big fan of closers. I mean, it’s an important job and when you have dominant closer like the Phillies did last year with Brad Lidge, it can make a huge difference. But I’m also of the belief that most pitchers with good stuff could convert nine of 10 save chances.

Jose Valverde has been pretty good this season since coming back off the disabled list, which has only driven up his price up when he faces free agency this winter. He’s going to demand, I’m guessing, at least $10 million per year, which should be enough to make the Astros walk away from him. Nice guy, good pitcher, but they can’t afford that.

If I were the Astros, my Plan B would be LaTroy Hawkins. Nice guy, good pitcher and affordable. Hawkins is making $3.5 million this year and he would likely return at probably less than half at what Valverde is going to make. Hawkins has pitched well since the Astros plucked him off his couch last year, and he has experience closing games.

Hawkins saved 42 games for the Twins in 2000-01 and 25 for the Cubs in 2004. And he saved 11 this year while Valverde was on the disabled list. 

Jeff Fulchino has blossomed into a pitcher who could handle the set-up role. Let’s be honest, Doug Brocail isn’t coming back.

But to say a team is only as good as its closer isn’t entirely true. Look at the Phillies. They’ve blown at least 11 saves this year and have one of the best records in baseball. That being said, who would pick the Phillies to win the World Series at this point with their unstable closer situation? The point is the Phillies are a great team, even without a top-notch closer. The Astros aren’t in their league, so why retain a top-notch closer?

5 Comments

I think this should actually be plan A for closer. I like Valverde, but there’s absolutely no reason the Astros should be spending the kind of money Valverde would command on a closer. They’ve got to many other holes to fill to waste there money on an expensive closer when there are cheaper options out there.

I think this should actually be plan A for closer. I like Valverde, but there’s absolutely no reason the Astros should be spending the kind of money Valverde would command on a closer. They’ve got to many other holes to fill to waste there money on an expensive closer when there are cheaper options out there.

I agree that Hawkins can handle the closer role for the Astros next year. I do believe that the Astros should offer arbitration to Valverde though. There is little doubt that he will decline arbitration and sign elsewhere. I would hate to see us lose Valverde and get no compensation.

Agreed, Hawkins should be plan A for closer, especially if he costs about the same as this year. Fulchino would be great as the setup guy and it would be good preparation for him if we want to eventually convert him into a closer.Brian’s argument here is exactly what I’ve been saying for months. What use does a sub-.500 ball club have for a high-priced closer? At this point the next step is just to have a winning record. If things are looking good at the trade deadline but Hawkins isn’t working out, we could look around then, but for right now let’s focus on starting pitching/third base/shortstop.

I’ve been saying this for months. The front office’s apparent dedication to playing the young guys next year is at complete odds with resigning an elite closer for probably eight figures. If they’re willing to spend that much, they need to bring in a starter or a third baseman, not a reliever.

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