Bob Wickman

The Tubby Messiah, or just a solid reliever who did the job after several non-solid relievers had failed? More the latter. Wickman’s a good pitcher, but he’s not 18 of 19 in save opportunities with a 1.04 ERA good, which is what he did last season. Interestingly, though, this is Wickman’s peak, in his mid to late thirties. In 2005 he led the AL in saves with 45 and sported a 2.47 ERA, the second-best of his career. Last year, he had the third-best of his career (though he had a number of unearned runs) and had a better than 3-1 K/BB ratio. I see no reason, barring the Curse of Gene Garber, that Wickman can’t continue to be an effective ninth-inning reliever, coming in after the fireballers in the seventh and eighth.

Wick has metamorphosed into a control and ground ball pitcher late in life, though he was never a typical fireballing closer and usually pretty good at preventing homers. His biggest strength last season was keeping the ball in the park, allowing just two home runs, but one year he pitched a full season and allowed just one. There are problems with being a ground ball pitcher, which I believe everyone is familar with at this point, but it’s nice in a closer. He comes in with a lead, you need three “events” to get a run off of him, because you aren’t going to get many extra-base hits. I’d still bring in someone for defense in place of Johnson and Renteria in the ninth.

Bob Wickman Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

42 thoughts on “Bob Wickman”

  1. I thought Wickman was just some troll but he has more career saves than Dan Quisenberry – not that he is a better pitcher, but thought it was worth noting.

  2. At the very least, he won’t start putting guys on base with walks. He knows what he is doing out there which is more than you can say about the recent Braves closers and he has confidence that he can get guys out. I’m not sure it takes that much more to be at least a competent closer; after all, you are only talking about one inning. On the other hand, he probably benefitted last year form coming into the National League in midseason, so I would expect that he will have more ups and downs than last year.

  3. Still, for the first time since Smoltz I actually feel comfortable winning a game late with the big-three coming into the game….it’ll be an odd feeling this year, that’s for sure!

  4. WICMANIA!!!!

    Walks are what have been killing our pen in recent years. I agree with what you said Marc.

  5. but don’t forget, we have BOTH soriano AND gonzalez to turn to if things get too hairy…

    a pretty nice nice nice situation to be in, if you as me.

  6. Wickman should be solid. I think an 80% save conversion rate would be acceptable, and I think he’ll actually be a bit better than that. Either way, we’ve got solid backups, and if worse comes to worst, we can trade him away mid-season with relative ease and probably get a decent prospect in return.

  7. Any contributing ballplayer who actually looks like one of the fans in the stands is bound to be a very popular guy. Bob Wickman is our John Kruk.

    Also, I love knowing that the upside of our bullpen is very high.

    Now about that rotation…

  8. Well, it’s official. The Mets are the clear front-runners in the division after winning the Chan Ho Park sweepstakes.

  9. Heh. I saw that. But that does add depth to their starting rotation. And he wasn’t that bad last year.

  10. Chan Ho Park hasn’t pitched more than 156 innings in a season since 2001. After leaving LA & signing the Texas, he’s been an injury machine. Since 2002, he’s exactly a .500 pitcher with an ERA way over 5.00.

    For the Mets, it may not a be a terrible signing, considering their rotation situation—but it’s definitely not keeping me up at night.

  11. Wickman should have a very solid year. You can’t expect a repeat of what he did for the Braves in ’06, but he should still be good. The best part is we now have 2 true backup closers, so Bobby won’t have to run Big Bob out there every night the Braves have a lead in the 9th inning. There’s no reason to worry about the bullpen at all at this point in time.

  12. Along with Ken Griffey, Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter, Sammy Sosa, and Hank Blalock…

    He’ll improve.

  13. Of that bunch, Frenchy played the most games (162), had the most PAs (686) & had the fewest BB (23). He did, FWIW, have one of the higher BAs (.260).

  14. Chan Ho Park AND Jorge Sosa? WTF? Did Omar Minaya lose a bet? Or does he not understand that large ERAs are bad?

    I like our chances of starting a new division title streak this season, and Wickman should contribute to that. If not, as noted, we’ve got multiple backup plans.

  15. Re the list: I love that Joe Pepitone is on the list. I just love the name, Joe Pepitone.

  16. My favorite Joe Pepitone story.

    A few years ago, he was driving late at night & tried to negotiate his way through the Midtown Tunnel (going under the East River from Manhattan to Queens). He didn’t do so well, and he clanked a few pylons & finally banged into one of the walls, disabling his car & stopping traffic. NYPD showed up to find out he was drunk.

    Pepi had already had a few brushes with law, so he tried to skate by cashing in on his fame as a former Yankee, offering, “Do you know who I am?

    And the officer replied: “Yeah, you’re Under Arrest.”

  17. Ugh.

    A free agent at the end of the 2007 season, Smoltz has gained more comfort with the fact that the final days of his playing career could be spent wearing something other than a Braves uniform.

    Age and financial realities have killed some of this sense of invincibility. There will come a day when his arm no longer allows him to pitch. And as early as next year, Smoltz knows that there could actually come a day when he takes the mound representing somebody other than the Atlanta Braves.

    http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070208&content_id=1798193&vkey=news_atl&fext=.jsp&c_id=atl

    It’s almost as if Mark Bowman is lobbying for Smoltz to leave. This is like the fourth time he’s written about Smoltz being “comfortable” on some other team. The Braves are probably going to do something stupid, like let Smoltz walk so they can go on an all-out sure-loser attempt to sign Andruw Jones, and the Braves end up with neither. The odds are greater than 90% Andruw Jones signs somewhere else, and even if he stays it will be at some 18 million a year for eight years. As I said, Braves lose either way when it comes to Andruw Jones.

    Maybe Schuerholz has told Bowman that Smoltz isn’t coming back. That he is still angry about the “homeboy” comment Smoltz made to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog. I don’t think it’s set in stone, but Smoltz will probably be gone. Bowman is already doing PR damage control, and the final season on his contract hasn’t even started yet.

  18. Regarding Mac’s list and Frenchy’s peers, it shows that, offensively, he was almost as good at 21 yrs old as Andruw was at age 24! It’s all going to depend on how Frenchy matures, hopefully before he reaches free agency. Someone in Atlanta and/or Florida, please, please, please give Frenchy a gift-wrapped copy of Ted Williams’ book, “The Science of Hitting”. Ted’s first commandment: “Get a good pitch to hit”.

  19. My theory:
    John Smoltz puts out PR about being willing to leave so as to gain bargaining power in negotiating a deal to stay, because that’s probably what he really wants to do, stay in Atlanta. But he can’t let people think that in negotiations.

    Andruw Jones puts out PR about how much he wants to stay in Atlanta, because that helps him gain bargaining power over all the teams outside of Atlanta that he’ll be bargaining with. e.g. “You’ll have to give me an extra $50mn to tear me from my beloved Atlanta home.” Because Andruw probably isn’t planning on staying in Atlanta.

  20. The fact is, no one ends their career with the same team unless they are willing to take a lot less money, like Cal Ripken. But most players would consider it an insult to sign for much less. So, yes, there probably is a good chance Smoltz will not finish in Atlanta, especially given the team’s ownership issues. I mean, even Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth were traded at the end of their careers–and payroll was not an issue in those days. As for Andruw, I would be incredibly shocked if the Braves even make a competitive offer.

  21. “The fact is, no one ends their career with the same team unless they are willing to take a lot less money, like Cal Ripken. But most players would consider it an insult to sign for much less.”

    Smoltz has been here this long. He reportedly turned down 4YRS/52M from the Yankees to sign the 4YRS/40M contract the Braves offered him.

  22. Dan,

    It seems like Smoltz has a bug up his butt about something, but that idea might be due to media exposure like this.

  23. The way I see it the Braves have three options:

    1. Give Smoltz a 2YRS/20M contract with an option.

    2. Give Andruw Jones the eight years he wants and some gross amount of money.

    3. Lets both walk.

    Option #1 is clearly the best in cost and value. The Braves lose either way with Andruw, letting him walk and get nothing, or caving to his high demands. The best thing that can happen is for Andruw Jones to accept a trade in July for some very good prospects, but the Braves would probably have to realistically be out of the race to even consider it. I don’t think Andruw Jones will be worth anything near 18 million a year five, six, seven or whatever years from now.

    Schuerholz should give Smoltz an extension now if he’ll take it. But that might mean, gasp, the Braves can’t vastly overpay for eight years of Andruw Jones.

  24. I really tried to not like Wickman that much because I felt like I would just be setting myself up for a fall. I fully don’t expect what he gave us last year but as long as he keeps it in the zone he will be a-ok with me. That is why I will take Travis Smith over Mike Hampton any day. If you are going to get rocked at least have the decency to get it over with. Don’t waste my time throwing your crappy 87mph fastball just off the plate over and over again.

  25. DOB seems to think moving Soriano to the ‘pen was the right move (based just on his results there over the past few years). I’m interested to see Mac’s thoughts on it. If this kid could be a 6+ inning starter, we should think about transitioning him there after this season.

  26. Everybody leaves eventually, and that’s fine with me. My memories of Aaron, Murphy, Niekro, and Glavine aren’t sullied by seeing them play for other teams — that’s just the way things usually work out. To me, the wrong thing to do would be to throw money at someone for sentimental reasons.

    Trivia time:

    How many Atlanta Braves spent at least 10 seasons with the Braves and never played for any other major league team?

  27. Don’t know if it has been mentioned but the Mets are currently the front runners for Johan Santana when he becomes a free agent.

    It was up in the “rumors” section of SI, so I hope it stays just a rumor…

  28. What bothers ne about losing Niekro is that he would have stayed if we had not traded Brett Butler and Jacoby to Cleveland for a disappointing pitcher. That trade as well as lost of Niekro hurt the Braves for years

  29. PaulV,

    Actually, I don’t think that’s true. It was an open secret that the Braves wanted him out because he was holding back the development of the young studs they thought they had in the minors. It wasn’t that trade that made him leave, it was the fact that didn’t like that he was 43 years old.

    The Barker trade was a pure panic move.

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