Thursday, December 08, 2005

What about Bob?

To quote a Richard Dreyfus line from the movie:
"Bob's not gone. Bob's NEVER gone!"
Despite the fact that, like Dreyfus to Bill Murray's skittish, obsessive-compulsive character, everybody in Cleveland seems to want Bob Wickman gone.
But he never is. We in Cleveland just don't know what's good for us. That includes the Indians front office, which is supposed to be the voice of reason when fans and the media get star-struck by the idea of stitching a big name across the back of an Indians jersey.
For the past two years, the Indians have neglected Wickman to chase after Armando Benitez, Dustin Hermanson, B.J. Ryan and Trevor Hoffman. But the sexy names keep turining them down. In Hoffman's case, he turned away a Cleveland offer that smacked of desperation: three years and $22 million to a 38-year-old closer.
Zach is right. Wickman has every right in the world to be humiliated. The Indians have done everything short of coming out and telling Wickman "we think we can do better than you."
But Wickman, who quickly re-signed for one year and $5 million after Hoffman spurned the Indians, keeps standing by, the trusty fallback. He's overweight, doesn't strike many hitters out, and has mastered the shaky save in ways Mitch Williams can only dream about. But when the game is on the line, he figures out ways to convert saves, to the tune of 45 last year.
When you get right down to it, what more can you want than what Wickman has delivered? He's hard to rattle, has an extensive knowledge about how to pitch (a rare quality in the rear-back-and-heave-it world of short relief) and can even resort to trickery (reference last year's intentional balk against the Angels).
But all Cleveland and the Indians can seem to muster is "oh, it's you again" when Wickman re-signs.
I can't help but think that if another pitcher notched 45 saves for the Indians, he'd be certified as a franchise player and fans would revolt if the Indians even considered not bringing him back.
But because Wickman is his usual, steady, non-glamorous self, we all somehow view him as second-rate.
The good news is, Wickman doesn't care what you think. He doesn't care what the media thinks. He might not even care what Mark Shapiro thinks. And, come summer, when we're all griping about how many runners he lets on base, Wickman will still be there, saving games for the Indians.

1 comment:

Zach said...

I certainly respect what Wickman has done, and I don't mean to downplay how important he was for the Indians last year. I agree with most of this, with one exception.
I think Wick does care what we think, at least to an extent. Remember Bob coming out in the media and saying he was upset at what he was hearing on the radio, and that might affect whether he came back?
Well, Wick is back, and he probably has at least one more season in him.
It's just a wait and see situation, like everything in December.