1/03/2004 09:34:00 AM
Braden is in the Loop
The Newark-Star Ledger is reporting today that the Mets have signed free agent closer Braden Looper to a two year $6.6 mil deal. Looper will close out games and be supported by David Weathers, Mike Stanton and John Franco. Sort of a "Geezers Tour" of baseball.
So what have here in Looper. Well, the Marlins did not feel he was worth signing for the similar amount that the Mets gave him. He was replaced by the roller-coaster ride of all closers in Ugie Urbina. When given the choice to re-sign Urbina or Looper, the Fish went out and got the Space Mountain of all closers in Armando Benitez. But even with all that I like the deal.
Looper has a terrific sinker and outstanding cutter. He also has a strong arm, hit inte gun in the high 90's. What he does not have is confidence. Remember he had pitched under the worst manager to ever sit in a major league dugout in Jeff Torborg and a head case of a pitching coach in Brad Arnsberg. He will now be with the "elder" statesman of the game in Senator Al, who is King of the Cutters and will give him a copy of Harvey Dorfman' The Mental Game of baseball upon his arrival to Port St. Lonesome, Titan Tommy, who will show him where the put the Ques-Tech camerers at Shea and Granpa John, who will show him how to grow tomatoes in Flushing. He also has Professor Rick to help hone his skills and build his confidence. On the down side, it gives Artie from Flushing one more name to memorize. Plus it's only a 2 yr deal and gives the Mets time to see if Ring, Yates, Moreno or Roberts can fill the closer roll if needed.
What I like about Looper is he has a close to 2 to 1 ratio in K/BB and he throws the cutter. So with the new and improved infield defense that means more groundballs and more double plays. What your concern would be is, he was beaten out by Urbina and Benitez for the job in Florida. Now was it a talent question or make up question or a monetary question. It seems that Urbina and Looper wanted more money than the Fish would pay. In Looper's case, it seems the 2 years was the main thing. The Marlins were also afraid of going to arbitration with Looper seeing that he could have gotten more the $3 mil and change the Mets are giving in each of the nest two years. So choosing Benitez seems to be the most fiscally prudent move for Florida as they have given Benitez 1 yr at $3 mil.