Shift in thinking and dollars causing change in closer's role
LAS VEGAS -- "No salary is too small," the young guy with the stiff hair and the stiff suit was saying as his burger oozed blood onto the clear plastic plate in front of him. "No job is too small. Do I have confidence in my abilities? Heck yeah, I do. But my ego isn't too big to think I'm above anything. I'll take anything I can get."
The young man was one of the dozens, if not hundreds, who each year travel to baseball's winter meetings with dreams of landing entry-level front office jobs. But even though the chances of getting those jobs is more minuscule than ever, the aspiring gofer had the right idea, at least as he expressed it to his buddies in the snack bar at the Bellagio: be humble, be flexible, keep your expectations low.
His is an attitude that, it has become clear at these meetings, a different sort of free agent -- the sort who has proven adept at finishing major league games on the mound -- will be forced to adopt this off-season. In early October,
Late Tuesday afternoon,
Shapiro himself appeared as if he would soon benefit from the collapse in the closers' market, as reflected or affected -- probably some combination of both -- by Rodriguez's unexpectedly short and (relatively) cheap contract. The Indians were reported to be on the cusp of signing closer
While a troubled economy and a broad and deep pool of available firemen (who also include Seattle's
Even the Angels'
Someday, the very concept of a closer might become a relic of major league baseball's past, like a scheduled doubleheader or a 99-cent hot dog. That day hasn't arrived yet, but its approach is another reason why this class of free-agent closers has been forced to follow the lead of the job-seeking masses at these winter meetings, and take anything they can get.