After last night's debacle and subsequent questioning of Brad Mills about Matt Lindstrom's place as closer, I got to thinking about who would replace him. That led me to create a complicated, LOST-style comparison which you'll get after the jump. First, though, I wanted to ask if it matters for this team whether Lindstrom stays as the closer.
Most of you seem like pretty forward-thinking baseball fans. You have embraced the kind of concepts that Moneyball first put out there about finding value in unique places and not overvaluing the ninth inning because of a silly stat like saves. That means we shouldn't really care who that pitcher is, if the manager is willing to use his best reliever in the most important spot in the game.
I haven't seen evidence that Brad Mills does this, but would you like to see him move Lindstrom out of a traditional closer's role and use him wherever he can? Sometimes the seventh inning, sometimes the eighth, but always finding the best possible matchup. Lindstrom definitely has the best stuff on the staff, so would it be beneficial to move Lyon into that ninth inning role, but use Lindstrom as the "closer" without the stats?
I'm not sure that would ever happen. The other part of that question is does a team that's going to finish at least 10 games under .500 need a closer? Does it matter who's in the role? I'd argue that it does, if only so we don't have to be subjected to games like last night. Still, it's worth considering.
Candidates (to take over for Jacob)
Matt Lindstrom (aka Jack) - Frustrating as all get out, Lindstrom/Jack has all the talent in the world. If only he could learn to harness it instead of playing God/throwing gopher balls. Lindstrom definitely has one of the best arms in the bullpen and deserves every opportunity to prove he's the best reliever on the team.
Brandon Lyon (aka Locke) - The wily veteran, who's got a dark past. For Lyon, it's the fact that everyone hates his contract, while for Locke, it's that whole business with his father. Lyon could probably do well in the closer role, but also represents everything that is wrong with the Astros thinking from the past few years, since he's older, has no room for growth and would be blocking younger players. Let's just hope he doesn't turn into a smoke monster.
Wilton Lopez (aka Hurley) - One of the best stories of the bullpen, Lopez gets it done without an overpowering arsenal. He's snuck in this year past the likes of Alberto Arias and Sammy Gervacio to become the newest solid arm in the bullpen. Like Hurley, he's well liked by fans and it'd be interesting to see what he could do in the closer's role.
Mark Melancon (aka Faraday) - Technically, Faraday isn't a candidate, just like technically Melancon probably isn't in line for the job. Having just been traded from the Yankees, Melancon wasn't particularly effective in his stint at Round Rock. Still, he's got the mentality/genius to pull it off and could become a valuable member of the back end of this relief staff.
Bud Norris (aka Kate) - Like Kate, his performance is maddeningly inconsistent, but also like Kate, his stuff is smoking hot. Norris has plenty of talent and probably shouldn't be in this discussion, since he looks like a rotation candidate for the near future. Much like Kate, who also dropped the whole candidate thing early on. I'm more optimistic now about Norris since he came off the DL, but we've still got a ways to go before we find out if he can legitimately stick in the rotation.
Danny Meszaros (aka Sawyer) - The bad boy of the island/bullpen. Meszaros was recently suspended for taking a pre-workout supplement that contained a banned substance which wasn't listed on the label. To me, that sounds an awful lot like the southern grifter, doesn't it? If only Meszaros had a penchant for coming up with snappy nicknames, the analogy would be complete. As it is, the only way he gets a shot at the closer's job is if it's still available next spring.