He was all-everything last year when we acquired him from Cleveland, but today the Braves cut ties with closer Bob Wickman. As of today, Wickman was tied for 10th in the league in saves and had converted 20 of his 26 save opportunities (and it seems like all the one's he blown were sure thing Tim Hudson wins). I, for one, was pretty blown away when I saw the headline on the Braves site that they had released Wick, but after about three hours of the power being out, I figured something spooky was going to happen.
As per the norm when the Braves surprisingly cut ties with someone, there is usually a "clubhouse" reason for it as well as a "baseball" reason. This tidbit from Andruw sums it up:
"We're a team. Everybody has their own attitude. Everybody's got their own feeling about each other. Everybody's got their own way of going about their business. But when we put a uniform on and we're all together, we're all as one. And we need guys who want to go out there and perform."
Wow, getting criticism about baseball from the Andruw Jones of 2007 is like getting criticism about your plan for nation building from a neo-con.
Wickman was a tale of two pitchers this year. At home he was the Wickman we saw last year, but on the road he was anything but effective. Here are his home/road splits for 2007:
We probably won't miss big Wick, but who knows. Was his level of effectiveness something we need on this team right now?
In total the roster moves today were as follows: The Braves designated Bob Wickman for assignment (that means they have 10 days to try and trade him). Martin Prado (who has been a yo-yo lately) was sent back to Richmond a day after being recalled. The team then recalled two minor league closers, Jose Ascanio and Joey Devine.
So who's going to close??? I'm guessing it's going to be the c-word; closer by COMMITTEE. We might see some Soriano, some Moylan, some Yates, and maybe even some Acosta or Ascanio or even some Devine (wow!). Could it be Devine-time in Atlanta? Meh. I'm kind of actually hoping it's Soriano - no, I'm not drunk when I say that, though I have been drinking. But remember back in May when Wick was on the DL and Soriano was co-closing, he put up an 0.77 ERA for the month and was virtually unhittable in save situations. Soriano might be a guy who could thrive in the closer's role. Of course, the reason Wickman was released was not necessarily that he was failing as a closer, but because he didn't want to pitch when it wasn't a save, so Soriano needs to make sure he doesn't fall into that same trap.
In the end this parting ways with Wickman and the necessity this year for him to pitch in so many non-save situations was a consequence of our starting rotation's inability to go deep into games - our rotation has thrown the fourth-fewest innings of any rotation in the NL this year. This may also serve as a bit of a shake-up for our team, something that could perhaps be a tool to get them headed in the right direction. We'll see...