There is good possibility that Brad Lidge will never be an effective closer in the majors leagues again. Throughout an inconsistent career he has had one shining season. Now on the north side of 30, he has spent the better part of the last 18 months battling through injuries – including two surgeries and just recently a cortisone shot in that right elbow. While I hope for the best, I am expecting the worst. My only request: Please do not bring him back until he’s as close to 100% as he going to be. I don’t really want to see Charlie having to walk the Lidge tightrope like he did last year. If Brad doesn’t have it when he comes back, I hope Charlie makes the swift and decisive move to option #2: Ryan Madson.
Okay, in the past Ryan has not been a good closer. Maybe we haven’t seen enough of his body of work in that role to pass judgment. Let’s give the guy a chance and see what he can do for a month. Maybe he can harness all that talent and be the closer some feel he can be. Not working come July? Move right to option #3: Danys Baez.
Baez has pedigree – he has been a successful closer in the past. If his arm is all the way back from surgery and he is pitching well the first couple months, please move him in if Madson falters. In the event Baez is a bust, then Ruben can step in to handle option #4: Trade for a closer.
I imagine this would happen, if needed, anywhere between the all star break and the trade deadline. There will be names out there (I don’t know why Trevor Hoffman’s name keeps ringing in my ears) and Ruben will surely know who he can and can’t trade by that point. And it might hurt. Perhaps it will be some variation of a Jayson Werth trade. I do know that a “closer-by-committee” situation is generally a bad idea; and that this team deserves a true closer to shut down the game. Anything less cheats everyone.
In summation: Assess what very well may be a cluster(bleep) of a bullpen in thorough but timely fashion. If the answer is not here, let there be no hemming and hawing about going out to find it somewhere else. Let Ruben bear in mind the words of a great mind from years gone by who once said, “He who hesitates is lost”. He’ll be doing everyone a great service.