"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News Update – 3/8/10

This update is powered by . . . a trailer for every Academy Award-winning movie ever:

Q. You were a starter and reliever before you settled on closing games. What roles do you think Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes should have on the Yankees staff?

A. I think Phil Hughes is a starter for sure. He can go deep into games. He’s a power pitcher and he also knows how to pitch, with a nice curveball. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. Personally, I think Joba is a relief pitcher. He’s got that makeup, that aggressiveness. I think that he is more valuable in the bullpen. I think that he would be a great relief pitcher.

Q. Do you think Mariano Rivera is the best closer in baseball history?

A. I think that he is a tremendous relief pitcher. He’s the best current-day, modern reliever. But it’s just like you can’t compare the 500-home-run club today to the old 500-home-run club. When I was inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was told that I had 53 saves with seven-plus outs. I was told that Mariano had one and Trevor Hoffman had two. So I think that says it in a nutshell.

Back on Thursday.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT


1 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 8, 2010 8:08 am

The Goose is setting new standards for a lack of humility. It's time for someone to sit him down and explain to him all of the ways that Mariano was better than he was.

As for his 53 saves of more than 7 outs, it should be noted that those games included some less than nail biting situations. Just randomly by looking at the 1978 game log, you see two games of interest: On May 16, Goose was brought into an 8-3 game with men on 1st and 2nd and 1 out in the 6th, while on September 21, he pitched the last three innings of a 7-1 game. I am sorry Goose, but those 7 out saves aren't very impressive. Also, it looks like Goose had 5 saves in 1978 of fewer than three outs, so that needs to be thrown into the mix as well.

Of course, the main point is it makes no sense to judge Rivera by the standard bullpen use of Gossage's era. Also, what makes Gossage think his usage was more valuable than Rivera's? Rather, each's relative dominance in their own era is sufficient to draw a conclusion. Otherwise, you could argue, for example, that pitcher like Koufax, Seaver, Clemens, Pedro were as good as Pud Glavin because the later threw over 650 innings in 1883.

2 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 8, 2010 8:37 am


Comment of the day nominee

3 monkeypants   ~  Mar 8, 2010 9:56 am

[1][2] Actually, I have to disagree on this one. While Goose is silly most of the time---and he certainly has an implicit agenda---nothing he said in this quote is particularly problematic. He didn't say (explicitly) that he was more valuable than Mo, he said that the role of the closer is extremely different, thus making comparisons difficult. Isn't that basically what we say here all the time? In fact, it is precisely what William says.

And, while I think that he is wrong about Joba, at least his evaluation of the two young pitchers was *somewhat* more nuanced; there was an attempt to distinguish between the two of them and map their (perceived) strengths to specific roles. I don't agree with his conclusion, but nothing to see here.

FWIW, William, while many of Goose's seven out save may not have been impressive (though I think you undervalue the difficulty of a reliever coming for basically three innings, and doing so repeatedly, logging considerable innings as a reliever), so too are many of Mo's one inning two and three run saves (let's call these the Joe Torre specials) are not all that impressive in my book.

4 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 8, 2010 10:45 am

I don't think I'd enjoy Goose Gossage's company.

5 monkeypants   ~  Mar 8, 2010 10:48 am

[4] On that we can agree. Though it would be fun to ask him repeated questions about George Steinbrenner and George Brett!

6 OldYanksFan   ~  Mar 8, 2010 11:09 am

[3] In addition, having a Goose (7th inning guy, setup man and Closer wrapped up in one) has a great impact on saving the rest of the BP for other games. There is certainly value in that.

Most would agree that a (report card) 'B' starter is more valuable then an 'A' Closer, even if the 'A' closer has much better stats.

Mo the Great is a Closer. Goose was a Master Reliever. They are different roles and have different values.

My guess is if Mo pitched when Goose did, he could go 100 IP/yr and post better numbers then Goose. But that's just a guess.

Value is hard to judge, looking at all the different positions and uses. Many think Mo has been the most 'valuable' Yankee over the last 10 years, even though Jeter played 3 times as many innings, and Posada 2.429032 times as many innings (made that up). And then you can throw Regular Season vs. Post Season into the soup.

Myself, I won't say an Apple in better then an Orange.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 8, 2010 11:12 am

[3] That's not really what he is saying. By saying you can't compare Mariano to his generation, and defining 7 out saves as some magic criteria seem to imply superiority, at least to me (especially when taken in context with previous, similar comments).

As for the relative value of saves, I don't base my evaluation of either pitcher on that particular stat: whether it's a 7-out save or a 3-out save (which Gossage had plenty of as well, not to mention several 1-2 out saves). Instead, I look at Goose's ERA+ of 130+ in 1,600+ relief innings and his 2.87 ERA in 30 post season innings, and compare that to Mo's ERA+ of 202 in 1,090 relief innings and his .74 ERA in 133 post season innings.

8 monkeypants   ~  Mar 8, 2010 11:29 am

[7] defining 7 out saves as some magic criteria seem to imply superiority

We all know that;'s what he probably thinks, but that's not at all what he said. The issue was brought up by others when he was inducted, and he merely stated it in this interview as a fact of the almost fundamental difference in the his and Mo's role as relievers. As I see it, you and Goose are in strong agreement.

As for comparing ERA+, I'm not sure that really works in this case. Modern closers (who are good) tend to have extremely low ERA, but no one would think to compare 'straight up' a reliever's and a starter's ERA+, and I am equally wary of that comparison between one inning specialists and multi-inning "firemen." That said, you could make a comparison is Mo's 1996 season (100+ inn with several multi-inning appearances) to any of Goose's "big seasons" in which he threw a lot of innings as a reliever. That one season of Mo's is truly outstanding. The question that can never be answered is Mo could have maintained that level of excellence if he three or four seasons in a row with that heavy usage, as Goose did.

Ok, I'm on the train with spotty internet connection, so I'll leave you boys and girls to discuss.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 8, 2010 11:32 am

[6] On the other hand, having starters who can give you more innings permits a manager to use his best relievers for multiple innings, even if the team has a 4 or 5 run lead.

I also don't think Mo would agree that a "B" starter is more valuable than a closer of his ability (I don't agree either, depending on what you mean by B starter).

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that with post season, the Goose average 1.6 IP/G versus Mo's 1.2 IP/G. That equates to approximately 1 extra out per appearance, which while significant, is not as vast as what Gossage's statement seems to imply.

Finally, for what it's worth, a higher percentage of Mariano's innings have been in high leverage situations:

Goose: High: 43% ; Middle: 24%; Low: 33%
Mariano: High: 49% ; Middle: 23%; Low: 29%

10 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 8, 2010 11:34 am

[8] I don't think we are in strong agreement because I think Mariano is the best reliever of all time, and clearly better than every reliever in Gossage's era, including the Goose himself.

I also agree that ERA+ isn't perfect for comparing relievers, but when the distance is 200 to 130, many of the flaws are mitigated.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 8, 2010 11:36 am

[9] That should have read: a higher percentage of Mariano’s *PAs faced* have been in high leverage situations

12 monkeypants   ~  Mar 8, 2010 12:29 pm

[9] Though leverage is problematic because late innings are automatically weighted as higher leverage.

Mo may very well be the best of all time.I tend to think that especially with relievers it is impossible to compare across eras, because their usage has changed so dramatically. As I see it, the modern closer is simply not the same position as the fireman of Goose's era, a role itself that was probably very different from that of the star relievers of an earlier generation.

13 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 8, 2010 12:50 pm

[12] I don't think leverage is problematic if you are trying to determine value (the real problem is determing how much leverage the pitcher's own performance created, but Mariano's better peripherals would suggest he'd come out even further ahead on that criteria). It frames the debate as what is more worthwhile: a reliever who pitches more total innings or more high leverage innings. Also, with Mariano's long-term dominance, the comparison becomes a reliever who pitches more innings, but whose dominance ends earlier in his career, or one who throws fewer innings, but remains dominant late into his career.

In that context, I don't see why it would impossible to compare relative values. After all, relief isn't the only role that has evolved. When you combine Mo's leverage (made even greater when you consider his 100 post season inning advantage), dominant statistics and longevity, I think the value he provided as a reliever is greater than Goose's.

14 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 8, 2010 8:19 pm

Oh, how I have missed Williamnyy23 & Monkeypants statistical Banter!

I find Goose's honesty and lack of polish to be refreshing..if only Captain Jeter would talk like that for once..

15 a.O   ~  Mar 9, 2010 11:45 am

[7] Actually, that's exactly what he was saying. It came in the form of an analogy, so it may have confused you:

"But it’s just like you can’t compare the 500-home-run club today to the old 500-home-run club."

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver