Greg Holland, Jimmy Gobble and Shopping a Favorite Reliever At the Break


Let’s face it. The last week has been a bit of a letdown. The initial excitement over the Royals taking the first two games of a four game set from the Yankees was demolished by their insistence on frittering away a chance to win a series in New York followed by a three game offering to Cleveland that really set the tone going into the All-Star break.

Despite these frustrations, there have been a few bright spots. Eric Hosmer has started to like, you know, hit again. The Royals had two position players named to the All-Star game last week. And Greg Holland has been embarrassing hitters for the last two months.

So for funsies, I want to look at at Holland’s numbers compared to those of my arch-nemesis, one Billy James Gobble:

[table id=6 /]

These are Jimmy Gobble‘s numbers from age 24-27. One of those years was with the White Sox, but enough damage was done in a Royals uniform. If you’re a reliever and you’re giving up double-digit H/9 with an ERA+ of 87, things are not going well for you. Especially if your SO/9 is merely decent rather than overwhelming.

Here’s Greg Holland from the same age range:

[table id=7 /]

It’s not even close. At age 24, Holland struggled a bit in just over 18 innings, but he has been phenomenal ever since. Over 12 SO/9, just under 3.5 SO/BB and and ERA+ of 152. He also didn’t participate in a debacle such as this one, which I happened to see live.

Holland is a ton of fun to watch and his addition to the All-Star roster is deserved. It’s easy to remember a time not so long ago when you cringed when the Royals brought in any reliever aside from Soria. And due to the Royals and most of baseball’s insistence on maintaining a “closer” role, too often Joakim found himself chilling in the bullpen instead of fanning opposing hitters. As if the Royals were a competitive team that had the opportunity to get Soria those oh-so-important saves.

Unfortunately, Holland is starting to find himself in a similar situation. The Royals only want to use him in that “closer” role and as the Royals’ opportunity to make the playoffs this season slowly trickles down the drain, I’m of the mind to shop Greg Holland.

Look, I know plenty of Royals fans would say, “Why would you want to trade Greg Holland? He just made the All-Star team and he’s one of the best players we have.”

I get it.

I love watching him come into a game and make opposing hitters look silly. But I also know that teams overpay for good relievers, specifically good closers. I also know that if your name is not Mariano Rivera, the likelihood of you having both a dominant and LENGTHY career in the 9th inning is slim to none. The Royals experience with Joakim Soria should have taught them that.

I like Greg Holland. I like him a lot. But I also know that there will be some desperate teams at the deadline who may be willing to severely overpay for a man of Holland’s talent. And if, as a fan, you’re not willing to admit that Dirty South is capable of making the Royals better without using his arm, I think you’re letting sentiment get in the way. They don’t HAVE to trade him, but to refuse to consider offers because you think this team is going to the playoffs would be unwise on the part of management.

Because I don’t think the Royals are going to make the playoffs this year. And I think that if they even want to sniff the playoffs next year, they need significant upgrades at various positions and if you’ve got Louis Coleman and Donnie Joseph stuck in AAA for half a season, it’s likely that you’ve got some arms you could move.