Should The Cardinals Demote Closer Ryan Franklin?

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 31: Ryan Franklin #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts to giving up a home run against the San Diego Padres on opening day at Busch Stadium on March 31, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Ryan Franklin's recent struggles have a) inspired this wonderful post from Viva El Birdos, and b) led to calls for Franklin's exile to the Mediterranean island of Elba. Or at the very least, a demotion from closer to less dramatic duties.

Bernie Miklasz goes into great depth with the gory details. Here's just a taste:

Four blown saves in five opportunities. An 11.57 ERA. Eight hits, two walks and three homers in 4 2/3 innings. And hitters have a .364 batting average against Franklin. It's ugly.

The latest bomb dropped Sunday at Dodger Stadium, when Matt Kemp whacked a Franklin sinker halfway to Pasadena for the winning two-run homer in the ninth. The Dodgers won 2-1. For the fourth time in this young season, the Cardinals lost a game after taking a one-run lead into the ninth.

Miklasz has seen enough. It's time to make a move, and he recommends Mitchell Boggs. The only other candidates at hand are Jason Motte and Eduardo Sanchez.

Boggs has pitched well this season, with 12 strikeouts and three walks in nine innings. He wasn't nearly as good last season, the first in which he was used exclusively as a reliever. Career-wise, Boggs has a 3.64 relief ERA, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio just shy of 2-to-1. He does throw in the mid-90s, and as a reliever he's basically a two-pitch pitcher, just the fastball and slider. He probably wouldn't thrive as a closer, but adequacy seems within his reach.

Motte throws even harder than Boggs, but has never regained La Russa's confidence after giving up four runs on Opening Day two years ago. He pitched well in a setup role last season, but is off to a rough start this spring.

Meanwhile, Sanchez is the most intriguing of the bunch. The 22-year-old rookie is reportedly capable of throwing just as hard as Motte, maybe even harder, though he's not been routinely doing that this spring. Hardly imposing at an inch or two shy of six feet tall, Sanchez has thrown only three innings for the Cardinals but has eight strikeouts without a walk. He seems to be the club's Closer of the Future, but after just three innings it's hard to imaging the Future is Now.

Generally speaking, this is a pretty talented quartet. Throw in lefties Trever Miller and Brian Tallett, and La Russa's got six relievers who should be able to protect most leads. They obviously haven't protected enough of them, and that's obviously been Franklin's fault more than any other's.

Is 4-2/3 innings enough to pass judgment, though? Franklin's throwing the same pitches he threw last season, and he's throwing them just as hard. Is he fundamentally a different pitcher than he was? It doesn't seem so. Is his confidence shot? After four blown saves in just a couple of weeks, you could hardly blame him for falling into the Pit of Depression.

Has he, though? That's the manager's job to know. It seems to me that Franklin, if he's healthy, is still one of the Cardinals three or four best relief pitchers. As such, he's going to be pitching important innings, whether the seventh or eighth or ninth. If he's not currently able to handle the ninth, mentally, then by all means find another role for him. But this is one of those spots where I'm going to defer to La Russa and Dave Duncan. If they think Franklin's okay, I think he's okay.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.