Friday, September 15, 2006
So Long, and Thanks For All the Crap
Armando's final line for the Giants in 2006: 38.1 innings, 39 H, 31:21 K/BB, 3.52 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 6 HR, and 17 saves in 25 opportunities. Five of Benitez's blown saves turned into losses, with of course the most memorable one being the Termel Sledge incident against the Padres. He probably would have blown even more in the past month if Felipe hadn't yanked him in a few games before hell could really break loose.
The thing is, this disaster was very foreseeable; it's just that no one (including me) wanted to admit it. When Benitez was signed in 2005 (coming off a year where he had a 1.29 ERA), most Giants fans were ecstatic, ignoring the fact that Armando had been run out of like three cities already and his peripheral stats were in the midst of a major decline. Me? I thought his 2004 was a fluke, and I never like paying closers a lot of money, but after watching the Giants' disgrace of a bullpen single-handedly give away the division the previous year, I didn't care. Any sort of stability was welcome, no matter what the price. No more Wayne Franklin on the mound with the season on the line.
Sadly, stability has been the last thing the Giants have gotten from Benitez. His sinking K totals in '04 proved to be no illusion; his stuff just isn't that good anymore. He doesn't throw as hard as he once did and his formerly fearsome splitter is now basically flat as a pancake. To top it all off, he has the temperment and mound composure of a ten-year-old boy raised by beatniks. He's not a team player and has proven to be the worst kind of cancer. As Bugs Bunny would say, "good riddance to bad rubbish."
I don't usually condone kicking a man when he's down, buuuuuut......
Now the Giants get to test out, the hard way, the theory that you don't need a "proven closer" to close out games. Mike Stanton has been getting the save opportunities in Benitez's stead, but Billy Sadler or even uber-prospect Todd Lincecum could step in and give it a go. Stanton has been a major coup for Brian Sabean. I'm still not going to be happy if Shairon Martis turns into something good, but it may have been worth it if Stanton helps the Giants make it to the playoffs. It's the Doyle Alexander/John Smoltz argument all over again. Stanton has been nothing but solid since donning a Giant uniform. I kinda dismissed him as a good-for-nothing LOOGY from the outset, but he's impressed me with his ability to handle multiple innings. He still has good enough stuff to get hitters out, so he probably won't pull a Matt Herges on us down the stretch.