Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is Jason Motte Leading the STL Closer Battle?

  • Jason Motte has had an interesting path to the majors: he went from .191 hitting catcher to 96.6 MPH throwing pitcher.

  • He has reportedly moved in front of Chris Perez in the battle for the closer role.

  • A Cardinals blogger thinks Motte may get "quite a number" of saves this season.

  • Motte got a save (albeit meaningless) the other day.

  • He had an insane 14.85 K/9 in the PCL league last year. Plus, he looks insane when he's pitching. The insanely good / insane looking combo is not bad for a potential closer who isn't even getting drafted in most leagues.

  • A feeble attempt to provide additional context: Tony LaRussa, Motte's manager, seems to prefer experience in the closer role, and it should also be noted that Motte is only a few bad outings away from starting the season in Triple-A. But did you see that 14.85 K/9 number? Insane!

  • Audio on Motte from a January 18th, 2009 interview: "We were at a dinner last night for Tony's foundation and he [Tony LaRussa] introduced us [Motte & Chris Perez] and he's like these are the two guys who are probably going out for the closer role."

  • 3/13 UPDATE: "La Russa, who earlier had said veteran Ryan Franklin also was a candidate to close early in the season, reiterated that he thought both Perez and Motte could be closers. 'If one guy emerges, he becomes the closer. If he doesn't, then they all kind of share it,' said La Russa."

  • Perez got a save on Friday, March 13th but also gave up 2 runs. He's now given up 3 runs in 5 innings this spring. Rotoworld speculates in their news feed that Perez won't start the season as closer. Then again, this is just spring training so maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

  • 3/17/09 Update: "Jason Motte touched 98 mph consistently and struck out the side in the eighth inning of Monday's ballgame, holding fast to a 6-6 tie."

  • 3/20 UPDATE: Chris Perez is shut down for the next several days. So now it's probably down to Motte and Franklin for the closer role. And Kinney. And anyone else LaRussa dreams up. Pitching coach Dave Duncan said this: "Anyone who's been following what's been going on would notice that among those receiving consideration (to close), Motte has been the most impressive. There's a ways to go in camp. But that's where it stands for me."

  • 3/31 Update: It's official! Rotoworld reports that Motte will get at least some of the saves. How many? Who else might get saves? That we don't quite know yet. What we do know is that Chris Perez has been sent to the minors, and so if Motte does end up having to share the role, it will probably be with Franklin and/or Kinney.

    4/6 Update: Well, Motte got St. Louis' first save opportunity, thus completing the improbable switch from hitter to pitcher, a move that is otherwise known as the reverse Ankiel. That said, the catcher-turned-closer did blow his first save in spectacular fashion. The silver lining? He was one strike away from escaping from a 1-run save. Hopefully he gets a few more chance before getting pulled. Okay, I'm done updating this post. If Motte does anything worthwhile in the future, it will be noted in a new post. This post is getting unwieldy.

    Conclusion: Motte might already be the favorite to close, he costs next to nothing to draft, and he has a brief track record of striking out boatloads of guys. Put that in your craw and ponder it.

    Conclusion #2: As Motte slowly begins to get hyped, it is important to keep in mind that his fastball is straight as an arrow and his secondary pitches have room for improvement. What I do I mean by this? Well, not to crash my own Motte, party, but it is possible that major league hitters eventually begin to catch up with Motte. That said, it is also possible that he continues to click along striking out everything in his path. If he does bomb, we can't complain because he was very cheap to draft. My thought? I think he'll be amazing for most of the season and then have a few rough patches after the All-Star break. Pure speculation, of course.
  • 1 comment:

    Hank Hulkum said...

    An interesting player, especially if he can keep his BB/9 under 3.00.