The Chron is reporting that the Giants will decide within a week whether or not to trade Armando Benitez. It almost seems that the Giants’ blogosphere has been trying to decide if trading Benitez is a good idea or not since he signed with the G-Men. Ineffectiveness coupled with his lack of attitude, well good attitude that is, has made Armando a easy target of hate among the fans.
If the Giants want to trade Armando then the time to do it is here. A combined 4 innings of scoreless work has essentially boosted Benitez’s trade value. The Giants have expressed interest in Jorge Julio this past week and I think with that interest you could narrow down the potential closer possibilities for the Giants to Armando Benitez, Jorge Julio, Brian Wilson, and Kevin Correia. Out of the four mentioned which one would have the best chance to excel as the Giants closer for the ’07 campagin? Let’s take a gander.
Here’s a look at PECOTA’s 2007 projections for our candidates
For those unfamiliar with the stat WXRL it is expected wins added over a replacement level pitcher. For reference the top reliever in 2006 according to WXRL was F-Rod with a score of (7.301).
Armando Benitez – Despite the 4 innings of scoreless work I’m not sold yet on Benitez. If the Giants can trade him for something of value then I would do it. The recurring rumor is that the Marlins are offering Yusmeiro Petit whom I like more than most. The velocity still isn’t all the way back and his health concerns are still legitimate. He’s no safe bet to pitch even 40 innings next year. Half the time Benitez just looks plain hittable.
Jorge Julio – Almost a copy of Benitez but younger. Has both pitched for the Mets and Orioles like Benitez and his pitching style is similar. Uses a big fastball and slider to attack opponents. He even has the same weight concerns that have dogged Armando. In 2006 he struggled with the Mets and was traded to the D-Backs where he pitched much better. Julio is better than Benitez but not by much and I would only take a chance on him if the Giants are trading a scrub to the D-Backs and nothing resembling a actual prospect.
Brian Wilson – Throws real hard but has really bad control. If Wilson can take a step forward and harness his pitches better then I really like him as a closer candidate. Until that happens Wilson is only a hypothetical and nothing more. Watching a closer come in a walk a couple of batters in a close game is what gray hairs are made of.
Kevin Correia – The most solid reliever for the Giants in 2006 could step into the closers role. Of the 4 pitchers listed, Correia might be the most suitable to close despite his lack of “closers stuff” (aka, 95+ MPH fastball and funky facial hair) He has a decent K/9 rate and a respectable BB/9 rate. Despite all this, I’m still somewhat skeptical of Correia. Relievers often fluctuate the most between seasons and I’m not sure that Correia’s first ever successful season warrants a move to the closers spot.
I like Julio if he comes cheap. I like Benitez if he can return us something of mild value in a trade. I’ll like Wilson more once he improves his command. I like Correia as a middle reliever or even setup man but not so much as a closer. All the options have warts and all of them could easily blow up or be suitable for the job.
Despite all the options, I do not think Benitez is the best pitcher to close for the Giants. Is this one of those scenarios where “addition by subtraction” actually works? Maybe, as the Giants management seems to be split on the topic. Moving out Armando would most likely do wonders for clubhouse spirit even if I’m not a firm believer in that line of thinking. Constant bitching and criticizing teammates has got to wear thin even on the strongest of nerves after three straight years.
When it comes down to it the Giants will have to make the move that they think will give them the best chance of winning ballgames. If Benitez is truly healthy and motivated by the contract year then he could put up good numbers. I don’t know if it’s the negativity that surrounds Armando but I can’t pump my hopes up too much for that scenario. Rod Beck could also park his RV out in the parking lot to close 9th inning home games. At this point each seems as plausible as the other.
Comment Starter: Who would you crown as the closer for 2007?