Friday, May 06, 2005

posted by James - 11:56 PM

"Booed while jogging to the mound as he left the bullpen, Hawkins was jeered roundly after blowing a save opportunity for the 11th time in 18 chances since the start of the '04 season.
I'm not going to make any comments about this afternoon's game... in fact, I'm trying to forget the whole last week happened, but the Tribune has provided me with the perfect opportunity to make me feel better about myself by making fun of their stupidity.

I'm talking about the above sentence from this Tribune article of course. If I had a red pen, I'd be opening up a vein on this sorry excuse for filler... but I don't think the gorgeous wife would appreciate me ruining another monitor in this fashion since the paper of version of this story won't be here for a few more hours. Oh, but then the party starts!

First, a herd of oxen could be staggered in its tracks by the amount of passive voice in that sentence written by Paul Sullivan. Booed by who? Jeered roundly by who?

I sat in the first row of seats behind home plate after the section the Cubs added last year... Section 26, row 1. This is just to the right of home plate as you're facing the pitcher's mound. If I were just to the left of home plate, I don't even want to think about the raunchy vocabulary I might have picked up from these crazy fans who were practically hanging over the dugout to give LaTroy Hawkins an earfull.

Secondly... 11 blown saves in 18 chances since the start of the '04 season? uhhh... he had 25 saves last year. I don't know how many saves he blew last year, but I'm guessing he had more than 25 chances last year alone if he saved 25 games. If not, there's some crazy closer voodoo going on I'm not privy to.

Looking over LaTroy's stats (yeah, fancy that. I call it fact checking.), there's something obvious about the difference between Hawkins in '04 and '01 and Hawkins in '02 and '03.

I was going to make you guess... but interactivity isn't this blog's strong point at the moment. Yes in '04 and '01, Hawkins was the closer, albeit ineffectively, so his save numbers are remarkably higher. And in '02 and '03, Hawkins wasn't the closer, with the Twins giving the job to "Everyday" Eddie Guardado (a converted left-handed setup guy) creating one of the best one-two, righty-lefty punches in the American League. They also won league titles in both of those years.

...but there's something else there. Hawkins didn't just lose the closer's job he held in '01 and 2000. They didn't just demote him to a setup role. They took the end of the game completely out of his hands.

In 2001 with Hawkins at closer, the Twins finished in second place in the AL Central, six games back of Cleveland. Hawkins not only saved 28 games, he finished 51.

His last two years with the Twins, he saved a total of two games while cutting almost 4 runs off of his ERA. That's like subtracting a-whole-nother pitcher from your stats.

Most telling for me... he finished only 27 games out of the 139 he pitched. And like I said earlier, the Twins won AL Central titles both years.

We all know what happened for the Cubs last year, but everybody looks at his decent ERA and low number of baserunners per nine innings and assumes he wasn't horrible.

He didn't perform consistenly horrible last year. He pitched marvelously during the first two months of 2004 when he wasn't the closer. After getting the closer's job, he became extremely hittable for the next three months before finally settling down in September when it was too late.

I see a lot of promise in LaTroy Hawkins, but not in the way Dusty Baker has used him since Joe Borowski went on the DL last year.

It's very surprising to me how some hack with a mouse and broadband can click over to a well-known website and find some of these stats, but the management of a team owned by one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world can't figure it out when the problem has caused five of their last eight losses... nor have they done anything to fix a problem that has existed long before that.

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