Outside The Box: Closing Options In Detroit

Dave HamptonCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2009

Yes, Detroit, it has been said before. So much more of the same for a weary Tiger bullpen that has no relief in site.

Yes, look at the picture above. I am still sore that no attempt was made to sign the all time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman. It would be spectacular to hear "Hells Bells" blaring in Comerica, preceding the high leg kick and devastating circle change that has secured so many games.

Who will close in 2009? Well, we know it won't be Hoffman. So, what options exist?

Jim Leyland has stayed inside the box so far this spring, limiting the suitors for the job of closer to these special three: Rodney the Wild, Zumaya the Injured, and Lyon the Ineffective.

Why settle for less? This trio clearly is far from being ideal at the back end of the bullpen. So why not discuss some other options?

Try some of these names on for size, and try not to think I have lost my mind. Jeremy Bonderman, Rick Porcello, or Dontrelle Willis.

Let's do Bonderman first. The rotation already has Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga, and Edwin Jackson locked in. Willis, Nate Robertson, and Zach Miner are fighting to get in.

So why not let one more of them into the rotation and move Bonderman to closer?

Bonderman is trying to recover from surgery to alleviate his thoracic outlet syndrome. So far that recovery has been very fitful.

Adding into that is the notion that his elbow seems to be soft. He has had recurring problems in being able to stay healthy and effective for an entire season.

Problem solved! Move him to the bullpen, where his innings and pitch counts will be drastically lowered. A dominant fastball and slider also make the case for him.

On the other hand, he has a tendency to have an awful first inning.

Rick Porcello is next. Using him as the closer would be a great way for him to get a taste of the big leagues this year. Being in the bullpen is a very elegant solution for the problem of needing to limit his innings.

Being the closer has an extra added benefit of limiting his exposure. In the future, he can then be moved to the rotation, once he has matured more as a big league pitcher.

Dontrelle Willis is last. He needs a place to pitch. If not in the rotation, then why not the ninth inning? Ever heard of the term effectively wild?

He could be that in the short stints that a closer works. In that regard, could he really be any worse than having Fernando Rodney finish games?