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?