In 2009, Si.com’s columnist, Cliff Corcoran, wrote article about the Top 10 set-up men in baseball, which featured Matt Thornton in the number one spot. Oh, how the mighty have fallen in result of one word, “closer.” Since Thornton has switched roles he’s been completely ineffective as the White Sox’s closer. Chances are he’ll slowly work himself back into his set-up role, as Ozzie Guillen will be forced to make a change.
Next up will be Sergio Santos as he has been the most effective pitcher out of the pen this season with no runs allowed over five innings pitched. Hopefully, the word closer does not affect his psyche as it has done to Thornton and Chris Sale.
The irony of this situation is the Sox addressed their issue with left-handed power by adding Adam Dunn, but let worrisome closer, Bobby Jenks, go to the Boston Red Sox for $6 million a year. Apparently, addressing one problem left a gapping hole for another problem to surface this season. The only solace Sox fans can take is the fact that three closers were used in 2005, but it should be noted that Bobby Jenks taking over that role played a key part of winning it all. I was actually at Jenks’ first game against the LA Dodgers, where he hit 101 on the speed gun and snapped off 69 mph curveballs. Ah, the good old days.
If Santos does not fill the role adequately I suggest a trade with the Yankees for Rafael Soriano. I know that may sound crazy, since they just signed him to have a back-up plan when Mariano Rivera retires or suffers an injury, but the Yankees are a team desperate for starting pitching.
A trade of Edwin Jackson or Jake Peavy for Soriano would nearly be perfect and fiscally responsible. I do not think that the Yankees would take a risk on Peavy at the moment, but if he comes back strong that might be a possibility. By trading Peavy, it would give the Sox the roster flexibility in June or July to add a marquee pitcher for teams looking to deal. A trade of Jackson for Soriano is really a wash roster wise, and will handcuff the Sox from making a key trade for a fifth starter at the trading deadline.
I know Phil Humber had a decent outing the other day, but I’m not sold on him just yet.
Preferably, I’d like Thornton to figure out this problem, and have Santos shift into the closer role with a rotation of Mark Beuhrle, John Danks, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, and Edwin Jackson. Sounds pretty good to me, but not sure that will be case.