If the Colorado Rockies are in the business of counting saves, blown saves, and the statistics otherwise associated with the closer’s role, then Rex Brothers should be their man for the job. Between him, LaTroy Hawkins and fringe guys like Boone Logan and Wilton Lopez (kidding guys!), he has the best stuff and he is coming off a season in which he saved 19 games. He has the goods and he has a taste of what it takes in the 9th inning.
When the team first signed Hawkins to close games in 2014, I blustered at the idea, upset that they were taking that role away from Brothers. But now, with subtle hints that Walt Weiss plans to be flexible in how he dispatches his late-inning relievers, I have come around to the plan…or the potential outcomes of the plan, intended or otherwise.
For his part, Brothers says that he has come around as well (quotes from the Denver Post):
I have to be honest. I’ve always wanted to be a closer. I’ve worked toward it…But I will take on whatever my role entails. When we signed LaTroy, I was excited. I think we were looking for ways to make our ballclub better.”
At the moment the plan is have Hawkins as the closer, which is what Brothers is addressing with these comments. That’s fine. But that real reason this could be OK is if Weiss uses the following plan:
Use Brothers to get the other team’s best hitters late.
If that means the 9th inning and Brothers gets a save, fine. If that means the 8th inning and he sets up Hawkins to notch one in the “S” column, that’s fine too. But it shouldn’t be about the overblown closer’s role. Not for this team. It should be about matching up the best possible arm for the other team’s toughest hitters late, and more often than not, that’s going to be Brothers and his wipeout stuff.
So yes, Brothers should be OK with the fact that he does not tout the “closer” designation, even if it might not be for the reasons he means in his early comments this spring.