Issue: Closing time
Analysis: Grant Balfour won the spring training competition for the closer’s role and got off to a terrific start to the regular season on the strength of outstanding command, an aggressive approach to attacking the strike zone, and the type of commanding mound presence with which you typically associate your ninth-inning man.
Of late, however, he’s looking like just another former successful setup man miscast as the end-of-game arm, most recently seen in Oakland in the form of Arthur Rhodes circa 2004.
So what to do?
Ryan Cook, acquired in the Trevor Cahill trade with Arizona, is absolutely killing it, carrying a 0.00 ERA through his scoreless inning of work Tuesday in Boston. But ... he’s a setup man.
Jordan Norberto closed down Tuesday’s win in Beantown after Balfour spit the bit. But J-No — A stretch of a nickname? Yeah, sorry — did so while lowering his ERA to ... 4.91.
Brian Fuentes? He’s been to All-Star Games galore as a closer. Quality option, right? Ummmmm. No.
So again, what to do?
How about a little patience? The last thing the A’s need to do right now is panic. Young teams don’t respond well to knee-jerk reactions from the top dogs, so for the time being, while nobody expects anything close to title contention for the Elephants, caution should be the order of the day.
Let Balfour hang onto the role for a while. No need to make a move. It could be little more than a rough patch. He could find it as quickly as he seemed to lose it.
Besides, how many save situations is this weak offense going to generate? The A’s have bigger fish to fry.