Q. How does Tyler Walker fit into the current bullpen?
A. Personally, I *do* think that this club could use one bona fide Fireman to bind the motley crue together out there. I'd have loved to have seen one real bullpen ace brought in -- an Arthur Rhodes, Paul Shuey type, if not a closer.
Objectively speaking, Walker is a lateral step away from what the M's already have. They had average-solid (not impact) short men; they added an average-solid (not impact) short man.
But he's Capt. Jack's man, a reliever JACK trusts, as opposed to a reliever that John McLaren trusted. The M's had average-solid short guys who had no street cred; now they have an average-solid short guy with street cred.
Q. Can he close?
A. This is the real key to the signing, IMHO.
Sure he can close. He's done it, and evidently prefers to do it. There are a whale of a lot of guys who don't.
Pitchers do get injured, and the fact is that Tyler Walker is comfortable closing ballgames. In the real world, GM's have to look at that. Sabermetricians tend to just weigh everybody's FIP's, and if you do that you'll find that Tyler Walker is one of about 100 relievers in his general stratum.
But once again, stop listening to the Math Club (including to Dr. D) and ask the guys who have survived 1-in-10,000 odds and earned major league jobs. All of those guys will tell you that some pitchers can handle The Hot Seat and some can't.
Look, good buddy. You or I could get up from behind our monitors, go GM a team, and snootily inform the clubhouse that anybody can close -- so we're going with Sean Green, and we can beat those Angels, you'll see. Try it, and see how quickly you get DePodesta'ed first to the back corner of your closed office, and then out of town...
You and I might not give a rip about Backup Closer. But there isn't one of the 30 GM's who shares our unconcern.
Q. There really is THAT big a difference, in whether the clubhouse buys into Tyler Walker, vs Roy Corcoran?
TW was 23-for-27, or somesuch, when closing in 2005 following Benitez' injury. He would do the same in 2009, if pressed to it. That's what Capt. Jack means when he says, "the guy can pitch in a lot of roles - middle, setup, closing." Zduriencik is thinking about the backup closer position. That's exactly what Zduriencik ACTUALLY SAID when asked why he made the move: here's a guy who can close if you need him to.
With Putz gone, who was the Closer? From the uniformed point of view, now. Subtract JJ Putz, and the rest of the guys (except Heilman) are not serious answers. As it pertains to closing.
Consider who the Angels would not allow to close. Then check the M's options. Get it? "Got it" Good.
You're an Aaron Heilman issue away from a very precarious situation. Now, you're an injury away from Tyler Walker closing, and in that Contingency H Scenario, the M's are OK.
Walker can pitch some, like other M's can pitch some, but the difference is, Walker is fine -- with everybody in the dugout -- when the house is burning down. Bases loaded in the 7th, or the hot seat in the 9th, Tyler Walker is legit in that situation.
Hey, you said you wanted to manage risk. :- ) This is what Capt. Jack regards as risk management.
Q. So this is what you would have done.
A. I didn't say *that,* Oogway.
But the move does represent vision, a "piece of the puzzle," a bonsai-tree view of a recreated clubhouse. I like the coherency and the feel for the good ol' game of hardball.