Baseball Tonight

Harold Reynolds wants to make Smoltz the closer again; everyone else is shouting him down. As John Kruk says, it’s not that hard to close games. I’m not in the habit of agreeing with Kruk, but I agree. It’s just that Kolb makes it look that hard.

33 thoughts on “Baseball Tonight”

  1. There’s no reason to move Smoltz back now. Has Harold seen any of his past four starts? Even looking at the numbers says a lot. Smoltz has been a blessing, I think, for the Braves rotation this year.

    Reitsma still looks sharp. Kolb still looks sloppy. I can’t believe that I’m starting to vouch for Reitsma too, but he’s played at too high a level to be setting up Kolb.

  2. Raoul, I can’t believe I am about to suggest we should flip the roles of Reitsma and Kolb. Just like everyone has predicted, Kolb will be a setup man the mid-season…for Reitsma! How about the idea?

    There is no way I am supporting the idea of moving Smoltz back to the bullpen. Maybe for a game or two in the postseason, but not during the regular season.

  3. Reitsma actually had a peak-and-valley pattern last year. ERAs by month: 2.84, 2.35, 5.65, 3.55, 2.77, 5.56. He got one out in October but allowed three runs, for an 81.00 ERA. He got used a lot, especially in the first half (46 G, 47.2 IP) and showed a propensity to get tired.

  4. The boo-birds and asterisks were in full force for Reitsma last year, but it was evident that he wore down over the course of a season in which he appeared in 84 games. He’s our most polished reliever, with three quality pitches, and should be in the game in most high-leverage situations. I just can’t see any other option to this. Give him a normal workload and I think he’ll have a great season.

  5. I can’t believe Reynolds would want Smoltz back in the bullpen. A few years ago (or was it last year) he was saying he would want Smoltz in the rotation! Does he think the Mets would be better off with Pedro as the closer? How about the Marlins? They’re having closer issues, maybe they can hand the job to Beckett.

    A dominating starting pitcher is more important than a dominating closer, period. That having been said, the Braves do need to address their closer situation…

  6. I don’t like Reitsma as the closer, I just don’t think that he could handle it psychologically. Kolb clearly can’t handle it, but I don’t think that Reitsma could either. Jorge Sosa I think is the obvious choice. He’s got electric stuff, he’s fiery, and he just looks like a closer, he’s got that intimidating look to him…I think he could handle it. Any way you cut it Kolb’s got to go, but if I were Cox I’d hand it to Sosa.

  7. I don’t think there is any chance that Smoltz will return to the bullpen. Going back to an earlier thread, I wonder if the Braves could put Kolb on the DL and call up Kelly Johnson. I agree that if Johnson came up, it might well be that Colon would go down. At this point, I am not sure that Kolb can even be effective as a setup man. We do need a closer and I cannot help but think that the trade for Sosa (I agree with Grst) was made with this idea in mind.

  8. Kruk was right here.

    “You want to address the issue? Smoltz is starting, Kolb is closing. There. Now it’s addressed. Do I need to write it out?”


    Kudos to Bobby for saving a win by taking Kolb out here. I can understand leaving pitchers in for confidence reasons, but I don’t believe it’s worth throwing wins away to do it.

    The best way to build Kolb’s confidence up is to send him right back out there in the next save situation.

  9. Harold Reynolds: the man who said Juan Pierre is more valuable a player than Barry Bonds because of the “distraction” he causes on base. I guess he forgot to notice his lack of ability to get on base to cause any distraction. But one thing is clear. When he gets on base it will be only to first, since most AL pitchers hit with more power.
    (Wait, maybe Kruk said this…it doesn’t matter.)

    I like Reitsma as closer. At least Kolb didn’t walk anyone this time. I think he just lost the closer job. He’ll have the opportunity to win the job back by showing what he can do in the middle. The thing I like about Reitsma is that Cox can use him more like he did Smoltz. It the game is close in the 8th, he can come in for a batter or two before the ninth.

  10. I haven’t posted on here in ages but watching the current Braves is making me ANGRY enough to return to “Braves Beat”.

    Kolb: SCREW him. He stinks. Why do you people even want him setting up? Want him anywhere near a protected lead? Blowing a game in the 8th inning is just as bad as blowing it in the 9th. Last night, Reitsma threw only 14 pitches so he could have stayed in if let’s say Bobby wanted to win, uh, I dunno, 4-1? Rather then 4-3?

    I agree about Jorge Sosa…keep Reitsma in his current set-up role and don’t overwork him. Make Sosa the closer and either cut, trade or send Kolb down. Or just use him in blowout situations that don’t affect the Braves and make him prove in may and June that deserves to actually have ANY job, let alone the closer’s role…I am sorry…closer’s strike people out, Kolb doesn’t. HE’S NOT A GMNED CLOSER.

  11. In hindsight, what other available “closers” were available on the market last off-season that fit within our budgetary constraints and could have been had for Cappellan straight up?

  12. Trading for a ‘name closer’ like Urbina is what I fear the Braves will do if Kolb continues to be ineffective. Remember Jeff Reardon? I’d like to think that Cox would just ride the hot hand but that would be against the group think that is baseball these days.

  13. What happened to the days when Booby and Sherlockhultz would go out to the scrap heap and find a guy like “Slow” Pena, Sr. Smoke Bernguer, Greg McMichael, Kerry Litenberg, et. al. to be the “closer”. Even Gene Garber looks good right now.

    Wholers coming along was bad news b/c it got Bobby into thinking about relievers pitching in traditional roles. Why can’t he go back to his mid 90s ways and use the hot hand?

  14. I don’t see any reason why Reitsma shouldn’t be expected to perform similarly at the end of games as he does in the middle of games, and his performance in the middle of games has been damn good. The CloserTM role is a money position. Reitsma has earned the opportunity to cash in.

    In terms of Jorge Sosa, just what does it mean to “just look like a closer”, and how does that translate into getting guys out? If you can’t make an argument based on performance that Sosa would do better than Reitsma, then isn’t it unfair to give the opportunity to make a lot of money to a guy who’s been on your team for ten minutes over a guy who’s been there with you for a few years?

    Think of it this way, what if you worked your ass off and did nearly everything right, with some human errors here and there over the course of two years. Your company hires some good looking tall kid out of college who hangs around the copy machine. All of a sudden, your company needs to find a new lead Sales Rep or whatever, and they pass you over for the new kid because “he just looks like a leas Sales Rep”. You’d be pissed and have a right to be. If you’re going to argue for Sosa, you should come with arguments better than he looks like a closer.

    On Kolb, there is another obvious problem here besides the fact that he can’t get outs—namely what should the Braves do with their newly devalued asset. A few months ago Kolb was worth Capellan, in one month his value has fallen to waiver wire material. Teams living on a budget (like the Braves) don’t have the luxury of spending valuable assets (Capellan) and getting nothing in return. The Braves were hoping (foolishly in the minds of most statheads) that they could acquire a marquee CloserTM at below market prices. This move was hailed as “brilliant” especially because it “created” another top of the line starter for them in Smoltz. Now they are in a situation in which they basically traded one of the organizations top assets for a bag of baseballs.

    They need to find a way to recoup some of the investment they lost, and I can see them doing this in only two ways. First, the most obvious is to find a way the rehab Kolb into somewhat decent shape and then get a big-spending stupid team with bullpen troubles (something that starts with a “Y” maybe) to buy him off you for something more valuable. Second, is elevate Reitsma who is throwing well to the CloserTM spot, allow him to rack up some saves and then sell him for more than he’s worth, the same way the Brave bought Kolb for more than he was worth.

    Either way, the Kolb move puts the Braves behind in terms of assets. Given the gaping lineup hole created by the failure to re-sign (or attempt to re-sign) JD Drew, this could prove to be deadly, if Capellan would have made the difference in bringing a top-tier bat at the trade deadline. The braves need to find a way recoup some of the baseball assets the move has cost them.

  15. I hope nobody who’s advocating Sosa is doing so based on Kolb’s inability to throw strikes consistently.

    Sosa — 4.66 BB/9 5.11 career ERA

    Kolb — 4.39 BB/9 3.86 career ERA

    Careful what you wish for — I still say Reitsma is the best in-house option. Yes, he sucked in the playoffs last year, but I don’t buy the idea that he can’t handle the pressure. I think it had more to do with the fact that those were his 85th, 86th, and 87th appearances of the year.

  16. WHOA!! Easy there, JB, let’s not go bringing Gene Garber into this. That’s a road we do NOT wanna go down. Just stick to bashing Kolb and leave my childhood heroes alone. In my head Garber was the greatest Braves pitcher in the Dale Era and nothing needs to change that, especially the facts. Thank you. On pretty much every other point you are dead-on.

  17. I like how people pick out one thing that you say and ignore the rest. I didn’t just say that he looked like a closer, I also said that he has electric stuff and that I think he has the psychological makeup to be a closer. I’m not so ignorant as to think that just because some guy looks intimidating that it does anything to the baseball coming out of his hand, but if you’ve got the stuff, the look helps. I saw an interview one time with people who had hit against Roger Clemens, and almost all of them talked about was how he held his glove just below his eyes when he was waiting for his signs and how intimidating it was. Baseball is 90% mental. Every guy in the bigs has the physical ability to play just as good as the next guy, they’re atheletes, and they wouldn’t have made it that far if they didn’t have that physical ability. What sets them apart from each other is their mental makeup. Sosa is a gritty, intimidating and fiery guy, and like it or not, that helps him some on the mound. Do you think that Scherholtz just looks at stats when he’s picking a player? I’m sure that he goes by feel. He probably asks around the league about what the guy is like psychologically, watches how he acts on the field, relies a bit on intuition…which is exactly why he proves stat guys wrong most of the time.

    And as for who deserves the job of closer more, I could care less. I want the guy who can do the job the best, not the guy who deserves the job the most. One will win you games and the other won’t.

  18. Why don’t we just let Smoltz be the closer also. He has to throw between starts anyway. He could be more effective than Kolb just doing that.

    I think Kolb has some arm problems and he may not be use to the pressure of closing for Atlanta when first place is on the line vs. the Brewers when getting the save only keeps you out of last place.

  19. –And as for who deserves the job of closer more, I could care less. I want the guy who can do the job the best, not the guy who deserves the job the most. One will win you games and the other won’t.–

    Obviously, if one player was clearly better than another I’d agree with you. The fact is that Reitsma has a history of performing well for this team, and there is no performance based argument for jumping over him. In that situation, I think you risk seriously alienating your best reliver because some guy looks like a closer, and has so-called intimidating, electric stuff.

  20. Has anyone seen Kolb’s purported “sinker” this year? Whenever I see him on TV, he’s throwing a 4-seam fastball above the batter’s head. I can stand a closer that doesn’t strike guys out if has great control and doesn’t give up home runs, someone like Dan Quisenberry. Kolb has terrible control and has given up the long ball. Ugh.

    On the other hand, I think Capellan was an overvalued asset in his own right when we got rid of him. It’s just a shame he couldn’t have been turned into an outfielder.

  21. Jeremy,

    Do you know these guys personally, or are you really pretending to psychoanalyze them by watching their facial expressions on TV? If the former, I will listen to what you have to say.

  22. Kyle,

    I agree with you, but one minor correction. Though Kolb is nearing his 2004 walk total in only 9 innings of work, he had at least not allowed a homer yet.

  23. Matt,

    How do you know that Smoltz is a great competitor?

    I doubt anyone on here would argue otherwise. How many people on here know Smoltz?

    Give me a break…

  24. How do you know that Smoltz is a great competitor?

    Through a decade and a half of results.

    Facial expressions? Bah. Tommy Glavine and Greg Maddux looked like Sunday school teachers. Mariano Rivera, Keith Foulke, Trevor Hoffman … none looked remotely as scary as Goose Gossage.

  25. Dan Kolb is not a closer. Plain and simple. He does not have the stuff to blow batters away in the 9th, which is what you want. I am not looking for a double play ground-out pitcher. I want someone who gets the job done, now. I blame Bobby Cox. He is stubborn beyond beleif sometimes. The Braves got him to be the “closer”, so he’s gonna be the closer, regardless of his performance. It pisses me off that someone like Reitsma can blow you away, in say the 8th, with a minimal number of pitches, and now it’s the 9th, so that automatically means to Bobby “bring in the closer”. You can just see the other teams loving that they don’t have to face the guy who just blew them away. Plain and simple, Dan Kolb is not a closer and Bobby needs to get out of his stereotype formulated patterns, and recognize this.

  26. I’m through arguing about this. All I’m going to say is we’ll see. I’m sure Bobby will give it to Reitsma before he’ll give it to Sosa, so we’ll see soon enough. I think Reitsma will be decent, couldn’t be worse, but day in and day out, especially in a high stress situation, I’d go with Sosa.

  27. Let’s not panic. It’s still early in the season and there is time to resolve the closer situation. It is clearly a problem, but more so if you are talking about the playoffs than in the regular season. Let’s face it, how often do you really need a dominant closer; it’s nice to have but not that critical until playoff time–teams win most of the time when they are ahead in the 9th regardless of who is closing.

    That’s not to say that Kolb’s performance is acceptable or that it’s not a problem that needs to be resolved. Clearly, Bobby is not so stubborn that he will keep plugging Kolb in if he keeps getting hit. But from his perspective–which is looking at the long term rather than individual games–you can’t simply discard Kolb at this point in the season. The Braves have too much of an investment in him–they are not the Yankees–to write him off after 20 games. You can’t just cut him; you have to see if Leo can get him to come around. His lack of strikeouts, while relevant to his performance over the long run, is not relevant to what is going on. He clearly is capable of getting major league hitters out because he has done it before. This is not to say he should be the closer–I’m fed up with him too. But in a 162 game season, you simply can’t panic because you lose a couple of games.

  28. There are two reasons why I think Reitsma should get closer consideration over Sosa if indeed a change is made.

    Reitsma is more experienced and has had more success as a pitcher than Sosa.

    Reitsma can throw a fastball, a hard sinker, and a pretty decent curveball. Sosa only throws fastballs and changeups. Sosa does it well and it works for an inning after coming in for a starter, but Reitsma’s stuff is harder to cheat on if he’s pitching well.

  29. Hey, why not leave everyone in thier same positions meaning Retisma set up man and make John foster the closer he been excellent so far.

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