Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tom Gordon 

The Phillies seem set, entering the 2007 season, on having Tom Gordon as their closer. After suffering through closer issues in 2003 the Phillies went out and brought in lights out closer Billy Wagner in 2004, whose tough, blue-collar image jibbed with the city of Philadelphia and have the Phillies a major weapon in close games. Wagner pitched well in ’04 and ’05, but fled to the Mets as a free agent in 2006. The team brought in Gordon, a low-priced alternative to a high-priced free agent, and were pleasantly surprised by Gordon’s production. In fact, he pitched so well that he played in the All-Star game.

Allow me to be blunt: if the Phillies think they are going to get the same production from Gordon in 2007 that they got last year, they will be solely mistaken. In fact, I suspect that Tom Gordon’s stint as the Phillies closer won’t last to this year’s All-Star Break. Here is why:

Prior to the 2006 All-Star Break, Tom Gordon had hurled well:

ERA: 2.17
HR/9: 0.96
BB/9: 2.65
K/9: 11.09
WHIP: 1.10

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:

WHIP – Walks plus hits by innings pitched: (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
G/F – Groundball-to-Flyball ratio.
HR/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings: (HR * 9) / IP
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP

Not so much afterwards:

ERA: 5.32
HR/9: 2.05
BB/9: 4.50
K/9: 9.00
WHIP: 1.55

Admittedly Gordon has missed time in August due to an injury, but the fact remains that he pitched, quite frankly, awful after the All-Star Break. Gordon will be 39 entering the 2007 campaign and has hurled 2,036 & 2/3 innings in his long eighteen year career, having served as a starter, as a set-up man, and as a closer. I suspect that Gordon’s arm is at the end of its run and that he could struggle at the start of the ’07 season. In which case, it would put the Phillies in a situation where they would be in dire need of a closer to fill in the gap.

Don’t get me wrong: there are a lot of things I like about Tom Gordon. He’s a groundball oriented pitcher (1.41 G/F) in a park that punishes allowing flyballs. I like having a veteran presence out there, but I doubt that Gordon’s arm will hold up in 2007, and I am surprised that the Phillies haven’t shown the foresight to think about getting Gordon help.

Who will they go with in Gordon struggles? Ryan Madson? Geoff Geary? Alfonso Alfonseca? All of those options have flaws. So, I suspect that the Phillies will probably be in the trade market in early ’07 looking for a capable closer to take over Tom Gordon’s job.

Tomorrow, Ryan Madson.

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In the interest of Wagner bashing, I would like to point out that the last two saves he blew in the 2005 campaign were at home to Houston--two blown saves which cost us the wild card. Wags was lights out when there was no pressure. Turn the lights on, and he starts sweating bullets (See his breakdowns vs. StL last year).
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