Dodgers make correct closer call

Los Angeles is better off with an inferior reliever in the ninth

Updated: March 5, 2013, 10:39 AM ET
By Mike Petriello | FanGraphs
TBDAndy Hayt/Getty ImagesKenley Jansen had 23 saves for Los Angeles between May 1 and Aug. 22 last season.

When the Los Angeles Dodgers retained reliever Brandon League in October by guaranteeing him $22.5 million over three years, with the chance to earn an additional $10 million in incentives, it was a move that was largely panned in the baseball world.

League is a good-but-not-great reliever in a world where expensive multiyear contracts for nonelite relievers almost invariably end poorly for the team. Over the past four seasons, League's 3.51 ERA is nearly identical to that of Matt Belisle (making $4.1 million this year for Colorado) and Brandon Lyon (with the Mets for one year and just $750,000).

Why? Because League saved 37 games with the Seattle Mariners in 2011 and has earned the closer label. The excessive money may not bother the obscenely wealthy Dodgers as much as it would other teams, but general manager Ned Colletti compounded the decision by declaring that League would be the team's closer in 2013 despite the presence of the undeniably more talented Kenley Jansen.

[+] EnlargeNed Colletti
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireGeneral manager Ned Colletti guaranteed Brandon League $22.5 million over three years and named him the closer.

This thinking is par for the course at Chavez Ravine. Last year, Javy Guerra began the season as the closer even though he is inferior to Jansen, and he lost the job to Jansen, who lost it to League when he had to miss a month with a cardiac issue.

While it's unclear if the Dodgers actually think League is better than Jansen, what is clear is that they are better off with League in the ninth and Jansen in a setup role.


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