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One more reliever off the board.
I just finished talking about the extreme shortage of good relievers. Well, take another one off the list. A team looking for bullpen help better start getting creative.
The Giants signed Armando Benitez to a 3yr/$21M contract. Considering Troy Percival got 2yr/$12M, this is probablly about market value for a pitcher of basically the same value in a body three years younger.
The Giants needed real help in the bullpen. Last season they combined for a 4.53 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. Only three teams were worse, one of which plays in Colorado, and the other two, Cincinnatti and Arizona both play in hitters parks. Those three teams also lost 86, 94, and 111 games last year. For a playoff contending team like San Francisco, that plays in a pitchers park, having such a poor excuse for a bullpen is unacceptable.
Benitez will certainly help, and with the list of good relievers dwindling fast, San Francisco needed to make this signing. The bad spin that people will try and put on it is in the constant reference to Armando Benitez's struggles to close out games. Those struggles have been pretty well documented. Benitez has mysteriously (Mitch Williams-like) lost his control, or at other key times, has given up game winning bombs.
It's true, but most people would be very suprised to learn that Benitez has actually been a pretty reliable closer in his career. And what a lot of people probablly don't realize is that Benitez has saved 86% of his games. Considering this includes some blown saves "earned" as a setup man, its pretty damn good. If you count the 52 holds he has, he's gotten the job done 88% of the time.
Any guesses on "THE GREATEST CLOSER IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME"???? Any? Well, Mariano Rivera has also got the job done 88% of the time. Go figure.
The difference is that Benitez has blown some big games, and has the reputation of a big game choker. Okay, fine they were some REALLY big games, and there were quite a few of them, but his reputation as a choker is still a little unfair. Was there no pressure during the regular season?
UPDATE: Well, ignore that part about park factors, I was pretty wrong. Thanks to James for pointing that out, but did you have to be so mean about it. I have feelings, you know.