Closer to the End?

Does it concern any Yankees fans that Mariano Rivera is now tipping the clocks at 35, and that for the first time in his storied career he didn’t throw a single ball in the offseason, according to the man himself?  Usually this would be a sign of a few things:

  • Mariano is getting old, fat, and lazy (not likely)
  • Mariano is getting old and knows his own physical limitations (likely)
  • Mariano was overworked last year, sees no end in sight to that pattern, and needs to pace himself starting right about now (very likely)
  • Mariano got an XBox, a kegolator, and a subscription to FHM

Not that I expect anything but a great closer in Rivera, but I think it is imperative that the Yankees plan for life without Mo, sooner rather than later.  I have no illusions about Rivera’s historical greatness and current goodness – he’s not getting supplanted any time soon.  But giving somebody a chance to close in Rivera’s stead (however rarely) or acquiring somebody with that in mind (however unlikely) would have numerous benefits. Some are long-term and obvious, but others would go mostly undetected, recognized only at the point that Rivera is once again able to successfully close out an important postseason game.

10 comments… add one
  • Mariano marches to his own Panamanian drum beat. And he’s already threatened a retirement. We won’t speculate about what’s in his head. We would guess, however, that time away is only going to save his arm, and that in any event he’s still probably as fit as anyone in camp, A-Rod included. The guy just has a magic body.
    As for replacing him, I’m not sure how they can better “prepare” for that. They have Tom Gordon already, a proven closer, and we’ll see what F-Rod is capable of. They’ll always have the cash to go shopping. Meanwhile, despite all the carping, their lower-level minors (in particular Charleston) have a bunch of prospects with excellent k/bb ratios, who should be coming along in the system in the next few years. There may not be another Mariano down there (how could anyone expect that?), but they might well be a more-than-adequate replacement.

    YF March 3, 2005, 11:51 am
  • Eric Gagne is a free agent in two years.

    Maniakes March 3, 2005, 12:55 pm
  • Gordon is a ‘proven’ closer? Um, yeah, he sure proved himself last season when he was yakking in the bullpen before entering games in the ALCS where he basically threw BP to Ortiz. Joe may have overused him during the regular season, but that doesn’t explain his nerves, or lack thereof. I don’t want to see that guy in a tough spot ever again, just like I don’t want to see “Brownie” start any important game ever again. I mean, let’s face it, no one is gonna be Mo, and no one is gonna come close. Not Gagne, not Lidge (as friggin’ unhittable and merciless as he looked last season), not anyone. I feel the same sort of denial about what happens after as I imagine Packers fans feel re Favre’s impending departure. Let’s just hope Mo keeps it up for, oh, another ten seasons or so…

    Spidey March 3, 2005, 4:57 pm
  • Gee, let’s try to be a little fair. If you had been overused over the course of the season, and knew there wasn’t much left in the tank, how would you have felt about facing Big Papi (whom I think even Bill James would allow us special dispensation to describe as both hot and clutch during last year’s playoffs)? In the same situation, YF would have been barfing all over Monument Park. Gordon may be aging, but he’s certainly proven. He was at or near the top of nearly every relief stat last year, besides saves, and has closed in the past (46 saves in 98, 27 in 2001).

    YF March 3, 2005, 5:34 pm
  • Gordon was last a dependable closer in 2001, his best season with the Sox 7 years ago when he was 30 years old. He’s 37. He had a great season last year, but was overused, and ain’t getting younger – do 37 year old pitchers who aren’t Roger Clemens bounce back as easily after a season in which they were used in every other game, pretty much?
    Gordon could spell Rivera in a pinch, should that be needed, but that wasn’t really the question. The question was what does the future hold for the Yankees in the closer spot, and what might they do about it from a long-term standpoint. I think this is a question that Yankees fans have avoided addressing or simply not thought about, and for good reason. Gordon isn’t a reasonable answer to this query.

    SF March 3, 2005, 6:05 pm
  • “I think this is a question that Yankees fans have avoided addressing”
    In January, all us Yank fans got together at our annual winter beach party at Orchard Beach and decided once again Mariano’s eventual departure would not be included in the agenda.
    Minutes from the meeting to come in a future post.

    Nick March 3, 2005, 7:17 pm
  • How do you even address that question? Should the Yankees have a second ace on hand? A younger Mariano waiting to step in some time down the line or should injury strike? Well that would be nice. Should that person have been signed this offseason? If so, who should it have been? What under-32-year-old would-be relief ace was out there on the market? Or should it have been addressed a year ago (when the Yankees picked up Gordon instead of Latroy Hawkins? Gordon had a better year)? I know the Yankees have a lots of money, and I would agree that they do not have the best team $200m can buy. But for the moment, the closing situation seems to be the least of the problems. Let’s hope it stays that way.

    YF March 3, 2005, 8:52 pm
  • Don’t manipulate the post for your own, misguided ends. My comment points out that any avoidance of this issue has been for GOOD REASON, as in, Rivera has been dominant and shows no sign of letting up. Except for the pesky issue of not throwing a single ball in the offseason and a penchant for late-season/post-season chokery. All of a sudden YF ends up sounding ultra-defensive, and not the analytical sage we think him, sometimes know him to be (it smacks of his defensiveness of Cashman, familarly). This isn’t an indictment of Yankees fans or the Yankee front office, so don’t act like it is. It’s a simple and reasonable question about the future.

    SF March 3, 2005, 10:32 pm
  • SF, I was just having fun. Sometimes you Sox fans take things so seriously! Here are the minutes:
    Jerome from Manhattan called the meeting to order. The first order of business was what to do with the “1918” chant. About half the YF members in attendance began chanting “1918”. A quorum was reached on this issue: This is now an obsolete chant. It served its purpose and definitely was one of the best years to base a chant around. But in light of recent events, we shall scrap it.
    At this point Steve from Bayside made a joke about Pedro Martinez looking like a muppet. General laughter ensued. The Mariano issue was brought up by an unidentified man in back. Hushed silence followed. The man was led away from the meeting grounds by security. Gary from Saybrook told a story about Thurmon Munson. He met him in 1975 at a gas station. It was agreed that Munson was a great guy. The Randy Johnson trade was discussed. General agreement that he was a better pitcher and human being than the insufferable Curt Schilling. Skipped down to the 3rd item on the agenda: “The answer to the Jeter vs. Nomar debate.” All agreed that even Sox fans had to agree: Jeter is better.
    At this point, Jerome from Manhattan keeled over. He clutched his chest and was rushed to the hospital. The meeting was adjourned. It was agreed that 2005 would be a better year.

    Nick March 4, 2005, 1:51 pm
  • I was responding to YFs post, not yours, Nick. Clearly you were having some fun. YF wasn’t.

    SF March 4, 2005, 2:09 pm

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