Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring Training: A Time To Grab the Bullpen By The Horns

Thornton says he doesn’t get recognized much. While it may be every little boy’s dream to grow up to be a famous baseball player, in today’s world, that would mean you’d have to be an A-Rod-sized egomaniac who philanders himself with one famous lady after another, all the while juicing up on steroids and being everything baseball shouldn’t be. It’s okay, Matt Thornton. You don’t have to be recognized. (And you certainly don’t want to be remembered as the guy who gave up the go-ahead run in the All-Star Game in 2010, but alas…)

Uh… what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Matt Thornton. The Sox front page features an article about him and how they will deliver him from anonymity by making him their closer. Yes, at the moment, he seems to be the prime candidate to fill Bobby Jenks’s oversized britches.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. First of all, I was Thornton’s biggest fan in 2009. Last year, though, it was appallingly difficult to tell if he was having a so-so year in the midst of the Sox driving themselves into a ditch or if he was having difficulties. That, or, maybe everyone figured him out. After all, the same article mentions that, “According to FanGraphs.com, Thornton threw his fastball 88.1 percent of the time among his 974 pitches last season.” I’m not exactly a mathematician, but my counting skills tell me that’s a lot of pitches that are the same. If you asked me a few years ago, I would say that’s all a closer is: a guy that throws really really really really really hard. If you asked me last year, while Jenks was struggling and complaining about his fast ball, I would stand behind that even more. In the ninth inning, Thornton isn’t coming on to cover Tony Pena’s ass after he got 12 men on base and allowed 45 runs to score (Pena often does that. Look it up…), he’s coming on with no one out, with arguably less pressure and more room for error. If there’s one thing Thornton’s proven is that he is the voice of reason. And if he thinks he’s ready to close, that may be reasonable enough.

Speaking of the bullpen, Kenny Williams said an interesting thing about Chris Sale. Sale was scheduled to train with the starters, but was announced to be a bullpen arm within a few days. What gives? Well, Kenny says Sale has prepared as a starter all his career and Kenny did not want to change the way he prepared for the season, for fear that it would change his game in any way. Uh… sure. I’ll buy that.

That’s my bullpen news of the day. It’s exciting to see footage crop up from Spring Training and I can’t wait to see the first game! Combined with the increasing puddles outside and the diminishing mounds of snow, I am ready for baseball season.


1 comment:

Leffty said...

Check out more coverage of Thornton in his first Spring as Closer:

http://tinyurl.com/Soxpreview

I had no idea he matched up so well with Mariano and K-Rod... pretty good company