Sunday, October 23, 2005

Large Closers

After watching Bobby Jenks blow away 4 helpless Astros to close out game 1 of the World Series, it got me to thinking - why in the hell did the Angels let this guy go, and why wouldn't the Royals take a chance on a guy like this?

Looking through his minor league history, its understandable why he was let go. He wasn't particularly hittable, as you might imagine a monster throwing 98-mph gas wouldn't be, and he was stingy with the long ball. But he made hardly any progress in several years in the Angels system, bouncing from A ball in 2000 up to AA and back A again in 2003. He hardly pitched at all in 2004 and was pounded when he did so. He's always been a big strikeout pitcher, but ridiculously wild - 6 walks per 9 innings for his minor league career. Couple that with the Angels bulging staple of excellent pitching prospects, and its pretty easy to see why the Angels let him go (surely because he ran out of options).

In short, there was nothing in Bobby Jenks' history to suggest that he was going to perform the way he did in 2005.

Comparison time.

Player 1: 432 IP, 376H, 22HR, 290BB, 449K, 1.54 WHIP
Player 2: 232 IP, 157 IP, 17HR, 131BB, 297K, 1.24 WHIP

Pitcher 2 has better numbers than Pitcher 1, albeit in few innings. Yet Pitcher 1 is closing out games in the World Series and Pitcher 2 is floundering at the margins of the major leagues.

Player 1, of course, is Bobby Jenks.

Player 2 is Ryan Bukvich.

I can't tell the difference. Can you?


At 11:57 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Jenks was waived to clear space on the 40-man for Kendry Morales, I believe.

He was deemed expendable not only because of his shoddy minor league performance, but also because he had off field problems the Angels were tired of dealing with, revolving around Jenks' tough childhood and alcohol problems.

I remember reading an ESPN the Magazine article about him a couple years ago, which recounted his some examples of his drunken belligerence and recklessness. I don't remember everything it said, but I do remember one instance in which the crazy bastard burned his own pitching hand with a lighter.

I seriously don't fault the Royals for letting him go to the White Sox. He would have been nice to have, but it was most definitely a big risk.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger DL said...

Agreed, and further there's nothing to suggest that this isn't anything more than a flash in the pan. Let's see Jenks do it again next year. He may yet turn out to be another Ryan Bukvich.

But timing is everything, and the White Sox couldn't have picked a better time for Jenks to figure it out. Good for them.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger t said...

I was just going to say what Dave said. The ESPN mag article was very interesting and it seems that Bobby Jenks has broken through that wall (God willing) and hopefully he'll be a good big-leaguer for a while. I remember even the article they were raving about his stuff but were worried about his drinking problems and some family problems-can't remember exactly what they were. Anyway....yeah, if his problems were as significant as they were, it's hard to fault GMs for eventually despairing of him...


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