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Detroit Tigers Should Not Bring Jose Valverde Back as Closer

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers looks at the ball on the mound against the San Francisco Giants during Game One of the Major League Baseball World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Brett KaplanCorrespondent IIIMarch 2, 2013

Earlier in spring training, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland spoke about his surprise that last year's closer Jose Valverde is still a free agent. According to Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland became emotional this morning, saying that he is “totally shocked and brokenhearted” that Jose Valverde has not found a job as a closer.

“I can’t believe it,” Leyland said. “This guy was absolutely fantastic for us. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever managed.”

At the time on February 14, no one thought too much about Leyland's comments, since rookie Bruce Rondon was targeted to be the Tigers' closer in 2013.

Fast-forward to March 2 and Bruce Rondon has yet to prove he can successfully handle the closer duties in three spring training appearances.

New York Post columnist Joel Sherman posted a series of tweets this morning about Rondon:

Not just wildness should scare #Tigers about Bruce Rondon, vet baseball guy who watched potential #Tigers closer v. #Mets said (cont)

— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 2, 2013

"He's throwing 98 mph on March 1 and not missing any bats. Hitters see his fastball for some reason." #Tigers #Mets

— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 2, 2013

Following those comments, Sherman posted a jaw-dropping tweet saying that Leyland is interested in bringing back Valverde.

So I am not surprised to hear Leyland remains interested in bringing Valverde back as closer safety net but $$ still not right. #Tigers

— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 2, 2013

After how Valverde was removed from his closer spot in the ALCS because of a disastrous 2012 postseason, could the Tigers actually be considering bringing him back?

Valverde, 34, looks like his best days are behind him. While he saved 35 out of 40 games during the 2012 season, he was abysmal in the postseason.

Valverde appeared in four games, pitched 2.2 innings and had a 30.38 earned run average. For a team with World Series aspirations this season, he does not inspire confidence in his teammates.

While Sherman didn't state a source regarding Leyland's interest, he is very connected throughout baseball and is a trusted columnist.

Also keep in mind that Leyland being interested in Valverde and Valverde actually returning to the Tigers are two separate things.

The Tigers would be making a huge mistake if Valverde does come back. The potential of the fans at Comerica Park constantly booing him is a real threat.

Regardless, with one simple tweet, Tigers fans could be wishing that Todd Jones was returning as closer rather than seeing Valverde.

 

*All statistics are from baseball-reference.com and espn.com


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