Rolling the Dice on a Reliever

The Angels have been spending a lot of time talking about their plans on adding a late-inning reliever to compliment Walden, yet so far they’ve let all the quality relievers on the free agent market slip past them. Now I don’t blame them, some of them were just too overpriced (Madson), and some were just plain not worth it (Cordero). What makes this a tricky case is that the Angels don’t need a quality reliever as much as they need a quality mentor, someone who can show Walden the ropes of closing out games at a big league level. It’s like Dipoto’s been saying, he needs a COMPLIMENT, not someone who can mop up after his mistakes or set up Walden to get the save. While that would be nice for now, in the long run the Angels need someone who can work the kinks out of Walden’s game and prepare him for closing out important games, let’s face it, after this offseason every single game is going to matter much more than any game Walden closed last year. Lucky for us, the perfect mentor is sitting on the free agent market waiting for the Angels to pick him up. 

Jason Isringhausen of the New York Mets, the lovable losers back east.

JoBu

OR we could dedicate our souls to JoBu. JoBu magic is the best kind of magic.

I just want to state this off the bat to make sure we’re all clear, I realize Isringhausen is very mediocre now, but skill set isn’t what were going for now. While we don’t have the most loaded ‘pen in the majors, or even in the AL West, we still have reliable arms in the pen that can get things done. No more Fraudney to blow games in the grandest of fashion, though we still have to deal with Takahashi every now and then. What’s going to prove Dipoto’s excellency as our GM is whether or not the little moves, the Ianetta’s and the Hawkin’s type deals work out, and just how well they work. Signing Isringhausen is a risk, I know, but you have to realize that Isringhausen isn’t going to have the same type of role he did in New York. He won’t be in the position to blow saves anymore; at best he’ll be making his late inning appearances when the Angels have cushy leads. The value of Isringhausen won’t be on the field, it will be off the field, behind closed doors with Jordan Walden.

You don’t have to take it from me; there are a lot of young pitchers on the Met’s that highly value Isringhausen’s abilities as a mentor. Young Bobby Parnell, a player similar in many ways similar to Jordan Walden, looked up to Isringhausen. Parnell focused a lot on learning from Isringhausen’s approach on the mound, watching him pitch with simple direction, studying his reliance on the same three pitches that have carried him throughout his 15 year career (fastball, cutter, curveball). “It shows me there’s nothing fancy in this game,” Parnell said. “That gives me confidence in my game, because I’ve got a fastball and a slider.” Hmmm, sound familiar to anyone? If there’s a pitcher on this team that could benefit greatly from learning from Isringhausen, it’s definitely Jordan Walden? Walden’s struggles with his secondary pitches are no secret, and his troubles locating his fastball consistently are also a problem. It seems to me that investing in a mentor to teach Walden the ways are much more important than bringing a guy on board who will inevitably put too much pressure on Jordan Walden to perform better. Remember how Walden quickly took the closer role from Fraudney after his early season implosion, what if the same happens to Walden? That’s not something I would want Walden to have nagging at the back of his mind while he tries to close games.

What makes Isringhausen valuable is his willingness to guide the rookies, someone who will mentor the rookies not because the brass wants him too, not because the money motivates him too, but simply because he wants to. “He wants to help me,” Parnell said, “and I keep my eyes open and my ears open and try to learn from him every day.” It won’t just be Walden who would benefit from Isringhausen, the Angels have many other young relievers who come and go from the minors most of the season. Remember Michael Kohn and his times with the Angels in 2010? It was rather good for the kid, and even though he couldn’t live up to the expectations he set up for himself during the 2011 season he still has a lot of promise left that can be fulfilled, and having a great guide like Isringhausen would bring the best out of Kohn. 

Isringhausen did have a resurgent 2011 season after missing a year in the majors, posting a 4.05 ERA in 53 games, so it isn’t like signing him would hamper the bullpen, in fact Isringhausen put up a better season in 2011 than any of Rodney’s seasons with the Angels. Let’s not forget that he would be moving from the Mets to the Angels, a team constantly in the bottom of the division to a team many are penciling in for a World Series appearance this upcoming season. If there are two variables that can improve a players performance it would be a change of scenery and moving to a contender, though those are also two variables that could put too much pressure on a player and crack them, though I wouldn’t be too worried about Isringhausen as he is a seasoned vet and has post-season experience under his belt. Jordan Walden needs his Troy Percival, just like K-Rod needed Percival, now I’m not comparing Percy to Isringhausen, that would be ridiculous, though mentoring wise I would say Isringhausen could have the same effect on Walden that Percy had on K-Rod. 

The veteran pitchers count on this team isn’t too high, and the reliable veteran pitchers count is even lower. The only guy I really trust is Scott Downs, and even then he doesn’t really seem as leadership oriented as Id like, though I wouldn’t want to discount his abilities as a leader. Hawkins COULD make a good role-model for the kids, and his standing relationship with Torii Hunter will work out perfect for the team, though I won’t be entirely sold on how well he can mentor rookies until the season starts. Isringhausen, however, is a guy with proven leadership skills, and on a team full of kids leadership is very hard to come by. I know it’s a bit of a roll of the dice on Isringhausen, but it’s a roll I’d be more than willing to let Dipoto take after what he’s done for this team after only a few months. 

I know it seems like Dipoto can do no wrong, and if he makes this move and it pans out we will all be able to call Dipoto our MVP without a doubt in our mind. Hell, I might even get me a custom Angels jersey if Dipoto can take us all the way to the World Series.

It’ll say: “Dipoto #1″

 

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