Closers and the Trade Deadline

Joakim Soria. (Insert tired/overused Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reference here)

I don’t pretend to know what the guy did to get back in the swing of things, but it’s working. Maybe he’s changed his approach or maybe he just needed to be relieved of the pressure of his closer role via “vacation” (courtesy of Aaron Crow). Whatever he did to get things squared away, I’m thankful for it and it presents interesting options as we approach the trade deadline.

Some of Soria’s stats for the month of May are listed below. Be sure to merely give them a quick chance as they are capable of inducing cardiac arrest:

10.1 IP – 8.71 ERA – 3.50 K/BB – 2.03 WHIP

During this stretch of bad play, Soria recorded one save while blowing four, and overall just looked really awful and verrrrry vulnerable. Whenever I talked to the scant few Royals fans that live in my part of the state, it seemed that Soria’s difficulties were always the topic of conversation. What I kept hearing was that we should have traded Soria after last season, when his value was at its peak. Hindsight is always 20/20. (talk about tired/overused references) Of course, Soria has been one of the bright spots of a franchise that has been well…awful since he’s been there. Besides Soria and Greinke, there wasn’t really a lot to be excited about when it came to the Royals. Well, in my humble opinion there wasn’t anyways. It’s been exciting to have great pitching at the back end of our bullpen…at least when he got the opportunity to grab saves.

Some of Soria’s stats for the month of June are listed below. Feel free to look at these for as long as you’d like. (These stats don’t include today’s game)

11 IP – 0.00 ERA – 5.50 K/BB – 0.45 WHIP

Now Soria has “figured it out” and is in the good graces of fair-weather Royals fans once again. We’ve got our stopper back. The king of the ninth inning has returned and all is well.

I love Soria. I enjoy great pitching and he has definitely provided some of that over the past few years.

However,

I think the closer role is grossly overvalued. I think it’s a position that’s close to impossible to dominate for a career. Before too long, hitters can figure you out and if your name isn’t Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman you can start getting shelled.

Dayton Moore may not even be considering trading Soria at this point, and of course, why would he? He’s figured everything out and has returned to rare form hasn’t he? I can’t answer that, but I can look at how ruthless the position has been to other pitchers. When closers get figured out…well they really get figured out and the results aren’t pretty.

I think that management and we as Royals fans should at least consider the possibility that trading Soria might not be the end of the world. He’s getting hot at the perfect time and as I said before, closers tend to be overvalued in the MLB. If the Royals could get good worth for him I think I could forgive them for shipping him.

He pitches in a position that isn’t conducive to longevity. The Royals bullpen has plenty of arms that could step into that role if need be. Closers are overvalued. There are not a lot of teams shopping players as we near the deadline, which makes a good closer even more valuable…..these are all reasons that could make the idea of trading him less painful to me. If the Royals can make themselves better via the pieces they could acquire from a Soria trade. I am not opposed to it. That seems painfully simple to some people. Of course you’re willing to let a player go for a better deal. But it’s not that simple in actuality. It’s hard to break ties with a player who has been one of, if not the face of the franchise for the past few years.

But to be better we’re going to have to be open to seeing friendly faces leave….if and only if it’s for the betterment of the team.

I wrote an article a couple of weeks back discussing how I wanted Soria to figure out his problems and regain his status as a shut-down closer once again. He looks like he’s back on track and if that means that he can continue to be a consistent stopper, I’ll be excited to watch him for seasons to come.

But if the Royals get an inflated offer for him at the deadline that could make them better now and in the future, well, we can’t let sentimental feelings stop us from getting better. I won’t do that.

You can’t rise to the top unless you’re WILLING (note: I merely said “willing”) to make some sacrifices.

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Tags: Aaron Crow Joakim Soria Kansas City Royals Mariano Rivera Trevor Hoffman

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