On April 15, 2008, Indians manager Eric Wedge had the following to say about Joe Borowski:
“He’s our closer,” said Wedge. “He’s proven himself to us. If he comes back and he’s healthy, I suspect he’ll be our closer again.”
One stint on the disabled list and several blown saves later, Joe Borowski returned last night to record his first save since April 6th. Most teams would be excited to have their closer back, especially given the recent lack of production that we’ve seen from Jensen Lewis, Rafael Betancourt and Masa Kobayashi. But “excited” may not have been the term I would use. How about “edgy?” And I obviously wasn’t alone.
Though Franklin Gutierrez is hitting at a woeful mark of .235, manager Eric Wedge decided to use his superb fielding abilities last night, in a game that started out with Ben Francisco in right and David Dellucci in left. Francisco went on to have one heck of a night at the plate, and Dellucci had a couple nice snags of his own. But almost in a fashion that would resemble Mike Brown subbing in Ben Wallace for Joe Smith at the end of a close game when the other team has the ball, Wedge called on Gutierrez to play right field – moving Francisco to left. You know, just in case we would need his bat again. The score was 5-2.
The Rangers pinch-hit Ramon Vazquez for German Duran. Vazquez worked a good count, and hit the ball fairly hard – just right at Gutierrez in right. The second batter was lead-off hitter Ian Kinsler. Kinsler then proceeded to take the ball to right-center field, but this time just shy of the warning track. A ball that would have likely been off of the wall in left had Kinsler been of the “opposite field” type. Two well-hit balls, both to Gutierrez.
Obviously, the game ended with the three-run lead in tact – dually lowering Borowski’s ERA to its current state of 14.40. You know that the media is buying your abilities when the headline in the major area publication includes “Joe Lets In None.” I liken this to those financial pundits who are bullish on the stock market, but are overweighting sectors like Consumer Discretionary and Utilities – typically two of the more defensive plays.
Eric Wedge can stand behind Borowski. After all, he had one heck of a season when it comes to save totals in 2007. Plus, who else is he going to defend when his bullpen has imploded over the last few weeks. But the defensive switch in right field may be one of the more overlooked parts of last night’s win. In fact, while others mentioned who made the put-outs, no one has mentioned that Gutierrez wasn’t there before the inning started. Obviously, it paid off given the nice plays by “Gut” (rhymes with “root”). But are Wedge’s words really speaking support, or is it one of those “lesser of two (or in this case, four) evils?”
You be the judge.