A Closer Look at Free Agent, Francisco Cordero


One of the big questions that still lingers around the Red Sox, aside from who their next manager will be, is who will occupy the ninth inning position as the team’s closer.  With Jonathan Papelbon now a distant memory, yes it’s time to move on, there is a huge, gapping hole in the bullpen.

The best internal option is Daniel Bard, but even he wouldn’t comment on  his position with the club going forward.  Bard does bring forth a compelling argument to give the position to him as is backed by my colleague Brian in his latest post “A Case for Daniel Bard.

Yet regardless of the in-house options the Red Sox have to replace Papelbon, free agent names continue to swirl around and the latest tied to the Red Sox is Francisco Cordero.  Would he be a great fit to pencil in for the ninth inning?  Let’s have a look.

Cordero, 36, has been the Cincinnati Reds closer for the past four seasons, averaging 38 saves per year.  His career ERA of 3.17 is concerning and has blown at least four saves every year in the last four seasons.  The past two seasons he’s blown eight and six saves respectively with an ERA of 3.84 in 2010.  Hitters usually hit well over .200 against the closer and his career WHIP is 1.33.

This past season was a pretty good year for Cordero, despite blowing six saves. His ERA of 2.45 was his second lowest in the past six seasons and his WHIP of 1.02 and his opponents batting average of 1.98 were both the best of his career as a closer.

His season strikeouts total has diminished over the last three seasons, dropping from his average of 80 per year to 58 and 59 in 2009 and ’10, to a mere 42 last season.  Quite concerning when you consider he worked over 69 innings, right around his career average.

Doesn’t sound to good does it?  Sure he’s saved a lot of ballgames in his career, but dig a little deeper into that.  He’s saved 327 of 397 games over a thirteen-year career, resulting in a  82% closing rate.  Consider Papelbon’s career closing rate of 89% or Rivera’s of 91% and suddenly an 82% closing rate isn’t real comfortable from where I’m sitting.

In 2006, Cordero blew 11 saves, finishing the year with just 22 converted opportunities.  One year later he blew seven opportunities, then six the next year.  He just doesn’t appear to be Mr. Reliable.

The other issue with Cordero is he’s 36-years of age and will likely want a multi-year deal.  The past three seasons with the Reds, Cordero was making over $12 million per year so it’s safe to assume he’s going to cost at least in that $10 million range, if not more.  Ben Cherington has already said he doesn’t want to pay a high price for a closer with multi-years attached to it.

But what about this scenario.  What if the Red Sox sign Cordero to a one-year deal with an club option for a second and give him his $10  million.  Groom Daniel Bard for one more season and in 2013 turn the reins over to the hard throwing righty.  It could work if Cordero can stay consistent.  If not, if he starts losing control of a few games early on then maybe Bard takes over for good as the ninth inning man.

After reading over the last paragraph forget it.  It won’t work with Cordero.  He’s not the guy to come into a fish bowl setting like Boston with his inconsistencies that he’s shown in the past.  We’ve been there in 2010 with Paps when you never knew which closer you were going to get.  Cherington needs to sign someone who has proven he can deliver.  I personally like Heath Bell with Ryan Madson a distant second.

But that’s just my thoughts.  What are yours?  Take part in our poll and let your voice be heard.

For all the latest news and analysis from BoSox Injection, follow us on TwitterFacebook, or with our RSS feed.