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Franklin Failing

By Mark Ashby Vaughan

The first ten games of the Cardinals’ 2011 season have shown what may be the most glaring weakness not addressed during the past off-season. Specifically, the Cardinals needed to invest in a legitimate closer because Ryan Franklin is not the answer going forward.

Franklin’s freakishly good year in 2009 was an aberration and belied his career numbers. It’s happened before – a player has a career year which they never come close to repeating. Brady Anderson with the Baltimore Orioles is a recent example. A career .256 hitter, Brady jumped to .297 in 1996. He also belted a career high 50 homers that year while hitting just 16 in 1995 and 18 in 1997. His RBI numbers jumped to 110 in ’96 while he averaged just 67 a year over his entire career.

Franklin’s ’09 numbers are not an accurate reflection of his overall career effectiveness. Prior to 2009, Franklin compiled a 51-67 win-loss record with an average ERA of 4.19 with 3 shutouts and 18 saves between 1999 and 2008. In 2009 he was highly effective with a 1.92 ERA while saving 38 games.

At the age of 38, it isn’t likely that Franklin will be capable of coming close to his ’09 numbers. He has already blown three save chances this season in the first ten games (although one game would have been saved had Colby Rasmus not dropped a game-ending fly ball).

The Cardinals are hoping that either Mitchell Boggs or Jason Motte will be able to fill the closer role when Franklin falters. However, neither pitcher is a reliably accurate pitcher with at least two effective pitches which they can command.

The Cardinals as a team are not in a position to waste leads late into games. Sadly, the Cardinals brass has failed to address this need and it will cost them more than a handful of games in 2011.

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