Sunday, October 21, 2007

"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game"

He may well be known to many fans of Our Washington Nationals as "The Chief"--but, he's better known to The African Queen, and I, as "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game"--sometimes even "The Chief Cardiologist". When Chad Cordero has EVERYONE's heart pumping over his latest Save Attempt--there has been nothing quite like that collective feeling of EVERYONE WATCHING--holding their collective breaths.

Yes, for The Good or The Bad--Our Number 32 has consistently provided the most entertainment of any player in the three seasons since Baseball's Return to Washington, DC. And, through it all--playing on a mostly last place team--Chad Cordero has STILL Saved 113 Games as a Washington National. Yet, most all everyone seems to remember--are his 20 Blown Saves and "Houdini Like" Escape Acts. Seemingly,"The Chief" does get himself into more trouble than any GOOD closer in recent memory.

And, that's correct--Chad Cordero is a Good Closer. But, No--he is not dominant. Chad doesn't have the fastest of fastballs, or the sharpest of sliders. Even Cordero understands--he is not a hard thrower. But, what he does have is THE ABILITY TO PITCH. Guile, which "The Chief" uses to counteract his lack of NATURAL ABILITY. When his fastball is tailing off, or that off speed pitch can't find the plate--Our Number 32 can't just rare back and fire a 95 MPH Heater right down the middle of the plate--challenging the hitter--hoping to get out of his latest jam. That's something Trevor Hoffman can do. That's something Francisco Rodriguez can do. That's something Mariano Rivera could do--in his prime.

And, that's something Chad Cordero will never be able to do. One of the reasons why his struggles are so nerve racking and sometimes painful.

It's also why, "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" is far better than many may realize. Our Number 32 has succeeded when most others would fail. Sure, I hear all the time many fans stating: "We Got To Trade 'The Chief'"; "We got to get something while we can!!" But, what exactly does everyone feel Our Washington Nationals should receive in return? And, is there anyone else on the horizon ready to step in? Big Jon Rauch was EXCELLENT in 2007. "The Wookie" recorded Key Out after Key Out all season. Is he CLOSER MATERIAL?

And, if Rauch was--what do you really believe ANY TEAM would offer for Chad Cordero--that's WORTH TAKING? If some are so down on him--do you really believe another General Manager would not realize that fact, and low ball any offer? You still need to find a trading partner. Honestly, its fair for Our General Manager Jim Bowden to ask for a High Return--if Washington is interested in moving Cordero. Chad has youth, success and a budding long term career still in front of him. Its the right move to ask for any other team's best--then work out a deal from there. Why settle for second rate prospects or players--just because "The Chief" has struggled--at times. Our Number 32 is still just 25 Years Old. How many more Saves would Chad have--if he played for a consistent winner? A Baker's Dozen More--a safe best.

Admittedly, Statistics are not my thing, but taking a cursory look over the past three seasons--Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) of the Los Angeles Angels has 132 Total Saves. Trevor Hoffman of San Diego--131. Each plays for a consistent winner. And, each has blown 15 Saves over that same period of time. Yet, each is considered "The Best" at what they do.

From my vantage point--the only difference in these three closers are their respective clubs. And, the quality of talent surrounding them. The Style of Chad Cordero is far different than The Styles of Rodriguez and Hoffman. They all have their bad days. Yet, playing for a WINNING CLUB helps make up for those games when Any Closer doesn't really have his greatest stuff. The Blow Up's can be Blown Out of Their Minds the very next day. Because, on a Winning Team--tommorrow will offer another opportunity. Just fall off the horse--and get right back on it. Ride On.

Do you think Joe Borowski, all of a sudden, is a Top Closer? Or, does it happen to be because, in 2006, he played for a vibrant young Florida Marlins Team? Then, 2007 for The Cleveland Indians. Borowski would have no such success playing for The Pittsburgh Pirates. Or, The Kansas City Royals. A Big Difference. The Lineup standing behind ANY CLOSER is important.

Not overpowering, but confident--Chad Cordero has shown over the past three seasons he is a quality young talent in a Nationals Uniform. Sometimes--you fail to realize what ability any one player has--until that player is gone--forever.

Mariano Rivera is going to The Hall of Fame. Trevor Hoffman too. K-Rod might be there eventually--But, at this point in time--I'll take "The Chief". Because, when Our Washington Nationals become a Contender--"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" will be given more chances than ever before. And, being a betting man--I am sure--Chad Cordero will prosper as Our Washington Nationals climb that ladder of success.

"The Chief Cardiologist" is arbitration eligible. After making over $4 million in 2007--a $2 to $3 Million raise would not be out of the question as his asking price. Why not sign Chad Cordero to a long term deal? Its just makes sense--for now and the near future of Our Franchise.

Whether its "The Chief"; "The Chief Cardiologist"; or "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" who steps to the mound for any given Save Opportunity for Our Washington Nationals--you can also bet--FAR MORE TIMES THAN NOT--Chad Cordero is going to close that door and put a Curly "W" in the books.

Besides--how much less fun would those 9th innings be--if every game ended three up--three down for The Victory? (and that's said with humor--because there is something special about his cardiac appearances)

So, as Our Washington Nationals move forward--I have no problem with Our Team retaining his services--for more years to come. It just makes good Baseball Sense. And, good Business Sense--at the same time. Because, once he's gone--there is STILL NO GUARANTEE the reliever who replaces him will be ANY BETTER. And, those heart palpitating 9th inning close outs, might just become heart wrenching losses from that less experienced man.

Keep "The Chief". Lets Win with Our Guys. And only trade them--if, and only if--something seriously better is offered in return.

Notes After Being Far Away:

Surprised, I was, to learn that not much happened over the past six days while I was out of the country. But, I did want to comment on a few remarks I read.

No 2008 Schedule Released Yet, but I found the comments about there being only 4 Weekday, Day Games, Scheduled at New Nationals Park Interesting. Sohna and I actually enjoy those Getaway Games. The Attendance most always strong--mostly Real Baseball Fans, a more festive atmosphere--not a bunch of corporate types looking to influence a client. And, the real sense that each and everyone, on hand, is getting away with something--from the daily rigors of the scheduled workday. We love those Weekday Day Games. Consistently, the most enjoyable ballgames of the season.

Glad to read that 3WT (Formerly Washington Post Radio) has retained the Radio Rights for Our Washington Nationals for three seasons. 1500AM and 107.7FM are strong signals. But, it concerns me that NO DEAL for Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler to return to the broadcast booth. Like JUST ABOUT EVERY FAN--Please Just Get Their Deals Done. No Excuse for Charlie & Dave not to return for 2008. None--whatsoever.

And, Yeah, I read it--Our Washington Nationals have offered Bob Carpenter a ONE YEAR CONTRACT. Its a stop gap move--if he accepts. And, face saving for Our Franchise for putting themselves in a position without a TV Play-By-Play Guy for next season. But, certainly--this deal, could not give Carpenter any more confidence in his long term employment opportunity here. No doubt--Our Washington Nationals are looking for someone else.

The fact that Micah Bowie, Alex Escobar, D'Angelo Jimenez, Tony Batista, Brandon Watson, Winston Abreu, Mike Bascik and Jason Simontacchi (among others) all refused assignment to AAA Columbus is a good sign for Our Washington Nationals. Sure, they are, like every player, looking for the best opportunity. And, they all want to choose for themselves. But, its also a good sign that being a journeyman--mediocre talent--does not guarantee you a spot any longer on The Major League Roster of Our Washington Nationals. Yeah, its a slight improvement. And, some might be re-signed. But, its a small step in the right direction--forward.

Finally, In most every case--A Rookie Manager gets to pick his own First Year Coaching Staff. After that campaign ends--The General Manager usually steps in and makes adjustments--based on the previous season's performances. With that in mind--it was interesting to see Our Manager Manny Acta's ENTIRE COACHING STAFF re-hired for 2008. Certainly Third Base Coach Tim Tolman and Interim Hitting Coach Lenny Harris were under some scrutiny. Which all makes me believe, that Manny Acta's ever growing managing skills and confidence reaps GREATER INFLUENCE than anyone within Our Washington Nationals Organization expected last January. Our Number 14 is no longer just another employee--but a BIG DECISION MAKER keyed into the top rungs of Our Washington Nationals. That's An Important Development.

In fact, a subtle message that needs to be acknowledged.

And, Oh Yeah--I love that Press Box Camera now on the Construction Site at New Nationals Park looking down on the field. Just Terrific!! The NatsStadiumCam is always linked to the right--on the sidebar--of Nats320.


paul said...

Rauch, Cordero, and an ace to be named later would make a fine bullpen line-up for the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning for a contending team.

SBF, I guess Jon Miller was out of reach. . . . You didn't miss too much!

Anonymous said...

SBF -- As you know, Chief is my favorite National. That said, I think I'd like to see a little less of him. It may sound odd, but when I've seen the September meltdowns, I've wondered if the 70+ appearances has something to do with it.

I think Chief is still maturing as a pitcher. This season, he seemed to be consistently at 90 with his fastball, which may be a slight gain in velocity. His slider is what it is, but he seems to be experimenting with an off speed pitch. I doubt St. Clair had a lot of time to work with him this season, in the midst of starting roulette. So I don't think we've seen Cordero's ceiling.

Chief pitches to contact and depends on the defense behind him, which I think makes people nervous. But when he, and the defense, are on, it's amazing to see.

Anonymous said...

One thing you can say about a closer who tends to load the bases is that he doesn't get rattled when he loads the bases. Chad's got great poise. Doesn't quite make up for talent, but it's crucial in a closer.


Anonymous said...

Trevor Hoffman hasn't thrown 95 mph for at least 10 years -- if he ever did.

Anonymous said...

SBF - completely unrelated to your post, but if you could, PLEASE talk to Stan about the lack of contracts for Charlie and Dave. As radio announcers go, they are certainly some of the best as you have duly noted in the past. Thanks!

SenatorNat said...

SBF offers sage commentary throughout - concur completely. Recognize this amazing statistic: The Chief, whom I lovingly refer to sometimes as the Chef (serving up some real meatballs!), as a Washington National closer has been created for closing fully 50.2% of our precious victories, and only responsible for just under 8% of our losses. As noted, the win figure could actually go lower (and the loss percentage higher)should the team produce a winning record next year, even if he improves, and the defense behind him does too.

Point is: he would be fiercely competitive on a winning team, since a lot of what is involved with closing is the mindset of the opposing team that they are in the clutches of some dark force.

Keep him. And, he is cool.

And sign the duo to the radio contract soon; and give Carpenter two years, as he is the proficient one. We are tuning in for Sutton's commentary and analysis anyway, and like Jaggler, you need one relatively understated, and one more flaboyant to make a good announcing tandem.

SBF - why are they throwing Bowie out the back door? Of all the discards, he seems the most versatile and potentially valuable. I realise we can sign him back, but I would try to keep him now.

Finally, is the young outfielder from the U of MD, Justin Maxwell going to make the big team in 2008, and play?

Trust in Kasten. All Good.
(And go Rocks - shock Sox!)

SenatorNat said...

Forgot to comment on your astute observations re: Acta and the unusual deference paid to him by letting him keep his own staff for 2008. Yes, he is the field general, and he has the comportment for one all the way around. I think that Manny Acta is the one person that EVERYONE from owner, to team president, to GM, to player, to fan, feel precisely that same about - that the Nats identity may be tied up in this man for a generation!

Smart to let him keep his comfort zone, and win his loyalty in the bargain. Smart, all the way around. Now - about Tolman's eye prescription...

Trust in Manny. All Good.

Anonymous said...

Tim Tolman made a few errors in judgement early in 2007, but as the season wore on, he seemed to get a better handle on when to be aggressive or when to hold the runner. Not that he was perfect, but who among us is? I was glad to see that Tolman was retained for 2008. I'm sure many of us are still having nightmares from the 2005 season with vivid memories of Dave Huppert sending Esteban Loaiza, or Livan Hernandez or another slow-footed Nat (Carlos Baerga?) to a date with disaster at the hands of the opposing team's catcher.

Screech's Best Friend said...

As to the Dave & Charlie Contract Comment: Believe me, I have asked Mr. Kasten about Charlie and Dave a few times. What he always clearly states is--he will not talk about negotiatons or contracts, ever. Its his policy to never negotiate publicly. That does not mean The Nationals are not interested in them. Its just part of the process. I also believe he understands the popularity of the two.

Anonymous said...

It is my belief that the club has not offered Slowes and Jageler what they are seeking and deserve, if, in fact, they've made offers to them at all at this point. THe organization, except for MLB imposed deadlines, is way behind in every other area of running their business.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see if anyone asks Stan about it at the ESPN Zone tomorrow or by calling in to the show they are doing from there.

Anonymous said...

Closing is all about having ice water in your veins. And Chad is straight from Alaska.