Jim Leyland leaning toward Joaquin Benoit for save chances

8 Comments

With Jose Valverde showing exactly why he failed to attract much interest over the winter, Tigers manager Jim Leyland is seemingly phasing him out of the closer role.

According to Jason Beck and Bobby Nightengale of MLB.com, Leyland said today that while he isn’t ready to make an official announcement on his closer situation, he’s prepared to go with Joaquin Benoit in the short-term.

“I’m not naming anybody closer,” Leyland said Thursday. “I’m just saying that if Benoit’s available right now, I would probably try to close with him, if he’s fresh and available.”

Valverde allowed just one run over his first 12 appearances this season, but he has been touched up for 11 runs on 15 hits (including five home runs) over his last eight appearances. This includes four runs in a non-save situation yesterday against the Orioles. Benoit notched a save during Sunday’s game, which was an indication that a change could be in the offing.

As for Valverde, Leyland said he’ll use him when he sees fit and “will try to do that intelligently.” That could mean never.

Interestingly, Valverde’s contract includes a $500,000 bonus if he reaches 25 games finished, with an additional $500,000 bonus for every five games finished after that. He’s currently sitting on 18 games finished for the year. If the Tigers truly think he’s cooked as a late-game option, it wouldn’t be surprising if they cut bait soon.

A “Mystery Team” may be in on Gerrit Cole. What does that mean?

Getty Images
Leave a comment

“Mystery Team” is a term invented by Jon Heyman at the 2010 Winter Meetings in Florida. That’s when he published a rumor in Sports Illustrated that then-free agent pitcher Cliff Lee was being courted by “the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and a third mystery team.” He added — and I am not making this up — that “the mystery team remains a mystery and is also seen as a long shot.” That’s a heck of a line.

The whole “Mystery Team” thing was initially seen as a joke — and by some as Heyman trying to sound plugged in when he didn’t know anything — but he showed all of us when, the very next day, Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies who were, in fact, the “Mystery Team.”  With that a meme was born, and Heyman has owned it since then, mostly ironically, but certainly as a part of his personal brand. I’ve long been critical of Heyman for a lot of things, but the “mystery team” thing is kind of fun, actually. Takes some of the seriousness out of all of this. It’s certainly put his own stamp on his beat.

Welp, we got another one today:

I like to poke fun at the concept of “Mystery Team,” but given where the bidding is already, I don’t think that Cole needs a phony rumor of another bidder in order to inflate his market. He’s gonna make bank. As such, I’m willing to believe that there is, in fact, an unnamed team in the bidding.

I feel like we’ll find out soon.