Have We Seen The Last Of Ryan Franklin?

I'll be the 3,367th to mention this ... The Cardinals are in the World Series despite losing their ace starter to elbow surgery in the spring and their ace reliever to brutally obvious ineffectiveness in the summer.

Adam Wainwright's planning to rejoin the Cardinals at some point next spring.

Ryan Franklin ... well, maybe not so much. Seems like a good guy, though. Despite getting released in late June after yet another brutal outing, Franklin's still close to the organization. Joe Strauss:

Former Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin attended Sunday's game as a guest of general manager John Mozeliak. "He made quite a commitment to our organization," Mozeliak said. "It was very important to him to remain part of this club. And I think that was reflected in the way we worked with each other."

Mozeliak frequently sought Franklin's input on rival personnel during the pitcher's 4 1/2 seasons with the club. The two have remained in contact since Franklin's release June 30 and Mozeliak has broached the possibility of Franklin rejoining the organization in another capacity.

"It's definitely something I would think about if I decide I'm done" playing, Franklin said. As for watching the team he was a part of compete for the World Series championship, Franklin admitted, "I feel connected in a way, especially to guys like (Jason) Motte and (Mitch) Boggs. It's fun to watch but it's also tough to watch."

Franklin hasn't shut the door on playing again but admits he is leaning toward retirement. "I know if it started tomorrow I'd be leaning toward staying around the house," Franklin said. "It was pretty neat to be able to take my kids on their first day of school. My wife thought so, too."

It's been one odd career for Ryan Franklin. Probably seem like it, but he's 38. He didn't stick in the majors until he was 28, and when Franklin turned 34 his career ledger included a 41-57 record, a 4.35 ERA, and exactly zero saves.

But then Franklin joined the Cardinals, eventually took over as their closer, and saved 83 games with a 3.04 ERA over four seasons. He was never great, really; he just didn't strike out enough guys to really seem like a dominant closer. Franklin did post a 1.92 ERA in 2009, but that was due mostly to giving up only two home runs in 61 innings, which of course was not a sustainable model.

Oddly, Franklin's luck flipped around completely in 2011, when he gave up nine home runs in 28 innings.

There was no obvious reason for this. He was still throwing his usual non-dominant low-90s fastballs. Which doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't hurt or something. But nobody ever mentioned a real injury, and there's been no hint of surgery or anything. I gotta think Franklin, while miscast as a closer (on a good team, anyway), is still perfectly capable of pitching well enough to rank among the 200 best relief pitchers on Earth.

Which isn't to say he'll come back next spring. Seems like he might start missing it this winter, though.

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