Oct
06

On Jose Valverde

By

Someone's happy they allowed two runs in a non-save situation. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Even before we knew that the Yankees and Tigers were going to play in the ALDS, I wanted to see Jose Valverde blow a save in the postseason. The Detroit closer had gone a perfect 49-for-49 in save chances this season despite shaky peripherals (3.55 FIP, 71st out of 134 qualified relievers), prompting many old school types to dub him the best closer in baseball. They even gave him an award for it. We know that’s not true though. Add in the way over the top celebrations, and we all had every reason to want to see Valverde blow a save.

After the Tigers won Game Two of the ALDS, the right-hander declared that “the series will finish in our house … They have a good team, but the series is not (coming) back to New York.” This came after Valverde allowed four of the seven men he faced to reach base that night, turning a 5-1 lead into a 5-3 lead while stranding the tying run on base. He walked the tight rope again the next night, but again held on for the save. The Yankees won Game Four, and now the series is coming back to New York despite Valverde’s proclamation.

Heading into tonight’s Game Five, it’s almost a certainty that Jim Leyland will use his closer at some point, win or lose. I still want to see him blow a save, but given the circumstances, I’d rather see him not even get a chance tonight. A walk-off win against Valverde to eliminate the Tigers would basically be the most amazing thing ever, but I’m not sure I can deal with the stress. That 10-1 score in Game Four was stressful enough. I’ll happily take about a dozen first inning runs over rubbing Valverde’s nose in the mud any day of the week. The Yankees have bigger fish to fry than some closer spouting guarantees.

Categories : Playoffs

65 Comments»

  1. Eric says:

    Especially a closer who is terrible. It’s not like we haven’t gotten to him in the past. I hope its 10-1 in the 8th inning and Leyland goes to him and Martin takes him downtown.

  2. Eric says:

    Especially a closer who is terrible. It’s not like we haven’t gotten to him in the past. I hope its 12-1 Yanks in the 8th inning and Leyland goes to him and Martin takes him downtown.

    • Kaz says:

      Actually I have its 10-1 game and Martin from third, bulldozes him at plate on a wild pitch. I want him gone from MLB

  3. Kaz says:

    Actually I hope its 10-1 game and Martin from third, bulldozes him at plate on a wild pitch. I want him gone from MLB

  4. Jesse says:

    Of course I’d love to see him blow the save and lose, but to lessen the anxiety, I hope he comes into the game when it’s tied and gives up a walkoff homer to Russell Martin or something.

  5. RJ says:

    Closers should just let their cutters do the talking….

    His comments are as laughable as Boston’s season ending with a Paplebum blown save.

  6. Supernova says:

    Valverde is a clown who had one lucky year. His antics after a save are an embarrassment to the game of baseball. He should look no further than across the diamond at Mariano Rivera for an example of how to handle yourself after a W. I hope we don’t see him in tonight’s ballgame as it will likely mean that we’re ahead.

  7. Stuckey says:

    To utter utmost conviction in the battle-tested skills of thyself and his comrades and to inject mocking tones toward thy enemy.

    What foul, foul villainy.

    Perchance he should take lesson from the strategy of his worthy backstop opponent, who merely publicly pronounces unreserved contempt for his arch adversaries.

    • Bobby two knives says:

      Well said, Stuckey…and Mike as well. Though baseball is a child’s game with all its emotion, at its foundational beauty is that it is a game of thought, intellect, instinct, skill and self-control, which is what makes Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter and many other here-unnamed mlb players stand out above the rest…and which makes us avid, rabid, life-long fans.

  8. DERP says:

    I hate him more for the fact that he is really mediocre than him being a total ass on the mound. It makes me sick that he is included with the people who have had truly great seasons.

  9. Gonzo says:

    Would love to see Papa Grande be the one to let the floodgates open!

  10. LiterallyFigurative says:

    It usually doesn’t bother me to see pitchers or players celebrate when they do something good.

    But I enjoy watching Papelbon blow a game, and would love nothing better than to get Valverde tonight.

    It’s not that they celebrate, it’s that their routines are premeditated and douchy.

    People got on Joba for fist pumping, but it’s done in joy and done in a big spot (2 on, 2 out, big strikeout).

    Valverde jumps around after 1-2-3 innings.

    As for tonight, how they win doesn’t really matter. But I would, in my deepest darkest realm of fantasy, want to see the Yanks down 3, facing Valverde. They score the first two runs, then load the bases, THEN hit a granny off of him, and whoever hit the homer (Texiera, just for redemption purposes) would mock Valverde as he rounded 3rd (directly in front of the Tiger dugout).

  11. Zach says:

    I would definitely love to see Valverde blow the game but like you said, I don’t think I can deal with that stress. I’m anxious enough as it is, and the game hasn’t even started.

  12. Bavarian Yankee says:

    I really like Valverde tbh. Sure, he’s not the best closer, maybe not even top 10, but he’s put together a nice career so far and he’s a rock solid closer.

    Nothing wrong with a little bit of trash talk and I also have no problems at all that he’s showing his emotions after he saved a game. Some do it this way, others that way.

  13. RCK says:

    Yes. This is my exact feeling. A Valverde blown save would be awesome and wholly deserved, but the path to getting there would pretty much kill me. I would much, MUCH rather the Yankees jump out to a big early lead tonight.

    So long as Valverde goes home, that’s a sufficient takedown.

    • JAG says:

      Here’s the comeuppance I’d like to see:

      Fister gets blown away and exits after 2+, having given up 6+ runs. First and second men out of the bullpen get slammed and Leyland goes to Valverde in the 6th to try and stem the bleeding in an elimination game…and Valverde loads the bases and gives up a grand slam to, let’s say Gardner just for fun. He doesn’t complete an inning and gets pulled to a cheering Yankee Stadium.

      That’s what I want to see.

  14. Darren says:

    You newfangled SABERmetrics folks get a little weird somtimes. You want Valverde to blow a save more than you ordinarily want an opposing pitcher to so, because the save stat is overrated and you want to prove that he is not that good? If he had great numbers (that you respected), you wouldn’t care as much?

    I think at some point you’ve begun to undervalue the save stat. If a guy is perfect, it doesn’t matter how bad his peripherals are. He did his job — closing out the game — perfectly. As was pointed out withall the Mo stories, when Valverde does his job, the Tigers won. He did his job without fail the entire year. He literally could not have done his job better. Even if he struck out every single batter, the end results could not have been better.

    He might at times be the classic example of the highwire reliever, and maybe it would give me pause if I was the Tigers GM as to whether he will succeed in the future. But this year? He WAS great. The idea is to win, not to have the best WHIP or FIP.

    As far as his theatrics, yes, he’s a douche. I was at the Stadium on Sunday when he barely escaped the 9th with his life and he made some ridiculous little spastic motion near first base. What an ass.

    /conveneientlyforgettingJoba

    • Jesse says:

      There is some truth to that. But some people think that he’s the best closer because he’s perfect in saves, and that’s false.

    • StanfordBen says:

      “If a guy is perfect, it doesn’t matter how bad his peripherals are. He did his job — closing out the game — perfectly.”

      The reason the save is considered overrated is because “the job” you referred to — getting the save — isn’t necessarily that useful to a team. It can mean holding a 3 run lead with 3 outs to go, which isn’t as useful as holding a 1 run lead with runners on base in the 7th or 8th. Out of Valverde’s 49 saves this year, only 16 were 1-run saves, which is actually an important job. On the other hand, David Robertson’s job, which very often involved coming in with runners on base in a tight game, was much more important to his team than Valverde’s job. I’d definitely take Robertson’s nearly perfect performance in his job over Valverde’s perfect performance in his job.

      The other reason peripherals matter is that they are predictive. Who would you rather have pitching in a tight game tonight? I’d take the pitcher who is least likely to give up a run, which is not Valverde.

      Finally, since you say that wins are the bottom line and more important than WHIP or FIP, both David Robertson (3.9) and Mariano (3.5) had more wins above replacement than Valverde (2.7) this year.

      • LiterallyFigurative says:

        But even for the peripherals, the ability to save games is valuable to a team. Very few teams win playoff series with bad closing situations.

        Now, Valverde is a high-wire act. But the question isn’t would you rather have Rivera or Valverde. The question is would you rather have a guy with 10 blown saves (even if his peripherals are better) or a guy with none.

        I do think that the old-school media does put too much stock in save % and blown save #’s without looking too deep into the stats. But that’s nothing new, and it’s the very reason the RAB’s and Keith Laws and such have become such big parts of the baseball conversation.

        • StanfordBen says:

          “But the question isn’t would you rather have Rivera or Valverde. The question is would you rather have a guy with 10 blown saves (even if his peripherals are better) or a guy with none.”

          With regards to the second question, it actually depends. I don’t think stats people say that saves aren’t an indicator of *any* value whatsoever, just that they don’t tell nearly whole story at all. In most cases, the only thing you care about is how likely a closer is to give up a run, and peripherals tell you that much more reliably than saves. Sure, in the extreme example you gave, the 10 blown saves might overcome a small difference in peripherals, but in general, peripherals are both more important (helps the team win more) and more predictive (of how a pitcher will continue to help the team) than saves.

          Also, I think the first question *is* in fact what we’re discussing. People are saying he’s the best closer in the game (he won an award for it), over guys like Rivera, mostly on the basis of being perfect in saves.

      • Darren says:

        ” But some people think that he’s the best closer because he’s perfect in saves, and that’s false.”

        Well, he actually, this year, Valverde was a better closer than Mo, or anyone else who blew one save. Emphasis on better closer, not better pitcher. Valverde didn’t lose any games; every other closer did.

        Obviously, if Leyland had stopped bringing in Valverde to close games because he was worried about Valverde’s shaky stuff, then yeah, this analysis breaks down. But that’s not the case. Leyland never stopped trusting him and he came through every time.

        Robertson was amazing this year and he might be more valuable to the Yanks than Val;verder to the Tigers, but he was not a better closer. Because he didn’t close games.

        The job of finishing out the game still has unique characteristics and should be judged accoridngly. Until such time as managers stop treating the 9th as de facto more important than a high leverage situation in the 7th or 8th, we all have to view it differently. So, you simply can’t say Valverde was not as good as his job as Robertson was at his job, because that does not logically make sense.

        I don’t care what happens to Valverde tonight either way as long as we win.

        • StanfordBen says:

          I think most of what you’re saying gets at the main point stats people are trying to make: being a “better closer” as you define it isn’t actually that important or valuable.

          So yes, if you want to define “best closer” as “got the highest percentage of saves,” then by definition you are correct, but that’s not very important. But if you define “best closer” as “pitcher who provides the greatest value at the closer position,” then Valverde isn’t at the top. I’d say at least Mariano and Jim Johnson were ahead of him this year (better peripherals, higher WAR).

          I’m fine with excluding Robertson and other non-closers from this discussion and restricting it to actual closers. I think that’s besides the point.

          (By the way, Valverde did in fact lose 4 games this year. Mariano lost 2.)

  15. Jorge (needs a new name) says:

    I hope David Wells knocks his lights out in a pre-game interview.

  16. Kevin D. says:

    I completely agree with this line of thinking. I cannot stand the antic of Valverde and it killed me that he closed out the game twice against us in the ALDS.I have an unhealthy hate for the way that guy carries himself. I still hope the Yankees take care of business early by mounting a healthy lead so we do not have to see him tonight. My heart cannot take another close game.

  17. Darren says:

    You newfangled SABERmetrics folks get a little weird somtimes. You want Valverde to blow a save more than you ordinarily want an opposing pitcher to do so, because the save stat is overrated and you want to prove that he is not that good? If he had great numbers (that you respected), you wouldn’t want the reliever to blow it as badly as you do Valverde?

    BTW, this is an entirely different animal than looking at Ayala’s ERA and accurately pointing out that it does not reflect how poorly he did his job.

    I think at some point you’ve actually begun to UNDERAVALUE the save stat. If a guy is perfect in save opportunities, it doesn’t matter how bad his peripherals are. He did his job — closing out the game –perfectly. As was pointed out with all the Mo stories, when Valverde does his job, the Tigers win. He did his job without fail the entire year. He literally could not have done his job better. Even if he struck out every single batter, the end results could not have been better.

    He might at times be the classic example of the highwire, shaky reliever, and maybe it would give me pause if I was the Tigers GM as to whether he will succeed in the future. But this year? He WAS great. The idea is to win, not to have the best WHIP or FIP.

    As far as his theatrics, I agrees, he’s a monstrous douche. I was at the Stadium on Sunday when he barely escaped the 9th with his life and he made some ridiculous little spastic motion near first base (the photo above almost does justice to how stupid he looked in that situation). What an ass.

    /conveneientlyforgettingJoba

  18. Bronx Byte says:

    Valverde has never been on this big of a stage before with the season on the line.

    Watch him fold like a cheap suit if he gets the chance.

  19. UncleArgyle says:

    Rooting for the Tigers to have a 9th inning lead would be the worst idea since ESPN the Magazine came up with the “Body” issue.

    “Hey Sports Illustrated’s biggest issue every year features hot women in bikini’s. Lets take that a step further and have an issue filled with lots of naked Dudes!!! That’s exactly what the 18-35 year old male demographic is looking for!”

    • RJ says:

      L-O-MFING-L I know Jose Reyes is in better shape (not by much) than me, not going to pay 5.95 for visual proof.

    • Stuckey says:

      They’re done it what? 3, 4, 5 years in a row now…

      I suspect they have reason.

      • UncleArgyle says:

        My guess is the reason ESPN does it is because they’re ESPN and incredibly tone deaf to what the fans actually want. I have a hard time seeing why a Sports Mag has to have a smut rag issue every year. Has anyone ever subscribed to that magazine because they’re super excited to see Venus William’s bare ass? I sorta doubt it. Anyway, it was just a joke, I think the whole magazine is worthless to be honest with you.

        • RCK says:

          While I agree that as a fan, I’m not really looking to ESPN to provide me with a magazine full of hot naked people male or female, I just want to point out that a large percentage of the fans, fans like me, for instance, are, in fact, sexually attracted to men. Also some sports fans, again referring to myself here, are not, in fact, men ages 18-35.

  20. Filppula51 says:

    Anybody who likes this guy is an asshole I think valverde is a cocky piece of shiti hope the yanks light the tigers up tonight GO YANKS

  21. Filppula51 says:

    Anybody who likes this guy is an asshole I think valverde is a cocky piece of shiti hope the yanks light the tigers up tonight GO YANKS.

  22. YanksFanInSawxLand says:

    I too would rather a blow out than a blown save, but at some point this peacock needs his plumage plucked.

    • MannyGeee says:

      I am guessing that all bets are off tongiht and Valverde gets in the game regardless on if they are winning by 3 or losing by 13.

      Either way a nice F YOU homerun off this douchebag tonight will make me happy.

  23. Rod says:

    “I’ll happily take about a dozen first inning runs over rubbing Valverde’s nose in the mud . . .”

    +1

  24. Rainbow Connection says:

    Don’t be scared, homie.

  25. mlbnyy35 says:

    Off-Topic: Does anyone know when StubHub usually closes sales for that day’s game?

  26. StanfordBen says:

    Even though I think it’s hilarious when he does it after giving up a bunch of hits and runs and still managing to get the save, I actually like that Valverde shows emotion. I don’t agree with this whole “He should act calm like Mariano” thing. In general, I don’t like when people say that players should be “professional” by not showing emotion like this. Sports are emotional for fans and for players, and they are much more fun to follow when you can see that in the players. I would prefer a world where more players celebrate, talk trash, etc. (as long as it’s not completely overboard like it sometimes is in the NFL), even if they make themselves look dumb sometimes, because as a fan, you want to connect with what you’re watching.

    I feel a similar way when it comes to player interviews and comments off the field. When I was young I used to admire guys like Jeter for always saying the right thing, being a class act, etc. But then at some point I realized that not only was this boring, but it was completely fake. Guys who speak their mind, even sometimes say dumb things, are not only more fun to follow, but are more genuine. This doesn’t mean they need to go over the top and purposely say ridiculous things (like Shaq), or constantly talk like pompous assholes (like Schilling), but I no longer admire the restraint and “classiness” of guys like Jeter, and really prefer guys who will say what they think and feel without worrying about saying the right thing.

    • Kibbitty says:

      He’s not showing emotion by now. He has developed an act. I can almost guarantee he practices these things in front of a mirror.

      The first few times may have been raw emotion, but those days are long gone.

      Ideally, it’s tied in the bottom of the ninth, and they bring in Valverde to keep it close. He fails. The walk off hitter trots to first and does an “emotional” rain dance on the basepaths whilst staring at Valverde.

      • CUYanks says:

        Yeah I mean I’d take a guy who cares over a guy who doesn’t any time, but I guess we’re just spoiled because we have Mariano, who is one of the few that can genuinely care and also exhibit a ridiculous amount of class.

      • StanfordBen says:

        Right, I agree he’s over the top. Ideally I’d prefer for players in general to show their genuine, which is somewhere in the middle (not over the top and showy, not showing restraint). However, my point is that of the two extremes — over the top or overly reserved — I’d rather err on the side of the former type.

        Also, I want to clarify that just because I think there should be more emotion in sports, that doesn’t mean I don’t think that Valverde is a jackass and would love nothing more than for him to blow it and for the Yankees to celebrate in his face.

  27. FIPster Doofus says:

    The fact that Valverde is ridiculously overrated bothers me a lot more than his post-game histrionics. He has come in twice in this series, pitched like shit both times, and gotten away with it.

  28. Cuso says:

    Yeah, if it’s the difference of the Tigers having or NOT having a save opportunity in Game 5, I’d prefer the not.

    As satisfying as it may feel to have Valverde lose the game, I’d just as soon not face that situation.

    Besides, as overrated as he is, he always seems to bend (A LOT) but never breaks.

  29. James says:

    Something I don’t get about Valverde’s shenanigans: Why doesn’t the league hate this guy with a passion like we do? Why aren’t there more players speaking up about him? Why doesn’t a Tiger hitter get dusted the day after a save? Why do opposing players tolerate this stuff from him?

    I mean, people go bananas if A-Rod crosses the mound, Joba pumps his fist after a big inning, Cervelli pumps his fist after a homer, etc, but Valverde does a backflip out on the mound after the ugliest of ugly saves and nobody says a word? Now, I understand things are magnified in New York…but come on. This stuff is waaaaaay out of line by any standard, in any city (except Detroit), but he always gets away with it.

    I don’t get it.

    • LiterallyFigurative says:

      The Yanks can’t celebrate. It’s against the rules of what 27 time champs can do. Just be pinstriped robots.

      The Yanks can’t pitch inside or hit the other team, even though they routinely get hit or get buzzed.

      Yankee first-timers can’t perform in big spots, but every other first time playoff performer will be just fine (Nova v. Fister analysis before Game 1).

      The Yanks are old, every other team is young.

      /establishingthenarrative’d

  30. MannyGeee says:

    is it possible that the Closer is the MLB equivilent of the Wide Reciever? Just an arrogant, extroverted dick that whether good or bad must have a gimmick or show? Brian Wilson, Valverde, OchoCinco, Papelbon, Randy Moss… get it?

    Mo of course is excluded…

  31. your mom says:

    Win or lose tonight, Valverde will still be one of the game’s biggest jerk offs. Congratulations to him.

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