The save speculator: St. Louis Cardinals

We’re gonna shorten this “Save speculator” since the decision actually came down while I was in the process of writing this article. Jason Isringhausen is being temporarily removed from the Cardinals’ closer role, as one could have surmised from his quote last night (hat tip to Andy Behrens at Yahoo!):

I’m just getting sick of embarrassing myself and letting my team down … We should be five more wins in the win column in my mind, so we should be ahead in first place even more. But they can’t keep sending me out there when I’m pitching the way I’m pitching … We’re going to have to figure out some kind of remedy. I’m sure that remedy will give me some time off and get somebody in there that can do a better job right now.

Later, when Tony LaRussa was asked about the situation, he had this to say:

Let me ask you something. Do you think it’d be fair to talk to you about it or talk among ourselves and talk to him first? You think you got any chance to get an answer to that question?

The fact that LaRussa didn’t deny that he was considering it and that he said he would “talk to him,” in conjunction with the quote from Izzy himself led us to believe a change could be coming. Sure enough, today it was announced that Izzy is out. From LaRussa:

He’s not hurting, he’s just pressing and lost his confidence. You go back to the drawing board a little bit on his delivery so he can locate better, and you give him some appearances and hopefully he gets people out and his confidence goes back up.

From Izzy:

It needed to be done. It’s a mental break more than anything.

Successor

Ryan Franklin should be added in all leagues immediately. It’s a near certainty Isringhausen will not be back closing for the next couple of weeks, at minimum, and it could be a month before he returns.

Franklin has been Izzy’s setup man for quite a while now and had a 1.74 gmLI this year. His skills really aren’t very good, and he’s on the decline at 35-years old. Saves are saves, though. Here are his skills since the 2006, the year he transitioned into the bullpen:

YEAR	IP	K/9	BB/9	GB%
2006	66	5.00	3.84	47%
2007	69	4.95	1.24	48
2008	19	4.00	3.00	33

Obviously not very good. His 2007 BB/9 was a career best and looks a little anomalous, although his 2006 BB/9 was also a career high. A K/9 in the mid-to-high 4.00s and a BB/9 in the high 2.00s is probably what should be expected going forward. His ground ball rate since 2002 is 38 percent, although many of those innings were as a starter, so it definitely could bounce back to 2006 and 2007 levels.

Franklin isn’t someone to drool over, but if you need saves (as I’m sure many of you do), pick him up. I grabbed him in three leagues this morning.

Keep an eye on

If Izzy ends up being out for more than a couple of weeks and Franklin struggles (as there is a good possibility of), keep an eye on Kyle McClellan. He currently sports a 1.71 gmLI and has the skills to be an effective closer.

YEAR	LEVEL	IP	K/9	BB/9	GB%
2007	A+	29	7.45	1.24	54%
2007	AA	30.2	8.80	1.76	58%
2008	MLB	18.2	7.71	1.45	53%

Could be a successful long-term for the Cards if given the opportunity. Might be a good guy to grab in keeper leagues as well since Izzy’s contract expires at the end of the year. Decent speculative add, although LaRussa could just as easily turn to a veteran like Randy Flores (1.82 gmLI) or Russ Springer (0.63 gmLI) if Franklin struggles.

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