Is Mariano Rivera finally declining? Finally?

Just to be clear, “declining” does not mean “finished.”  Declining is simply something that everyone does. 

Michael Jordan did it.  Remember those Wizards years?  Desperately clinging to what was once greatness, as he all of a sudden didn’t have Scottie Pippen by his side, minus the perfect complement of role players as well. 

Craig Biggio did it.  Remember Biggio sticking around trying to get his 3.000th hit?  And how he was just a shell of the great middle infielder/center fielder/catcher/ultimate team player/Bill James proclaimed “overachiever”/Hall of Famer? 

Emmitt Smith did it.  Went from one of the greatest offensive lines ever assembled, to a line that wasn’t quite that, to a team that didn’t have nearly the talent of those early Cowboys teams. 

All three weren’t as they used to be.

But there is a difference.  Those examples were merely examples of great players who were no longer great, players that declined.

Rivera still might be great.

After all, 8 and 2/3’s innings is far from enough to come to a conclusion.

But Rivera has given up two homers in, let us say nine innings.  That is half of what he gave up in 2008, half of his 2007 total, 2/3’s of his 2006 total, all of his 2005 total…

Rivera just doesn’t give up many home runs, he doesn’t walk many, and he rarely makes mistakes. 

This year is a little different, however. 

Rivera made a costly mistake to Jason Bay.  And Rivera made a costly mistake to Curtis Granderson (although not that costly to CG in terms of the game situation).

And John Kruk mentioned that Rivera may have a problem with his hip, even though it may be minor. 

That could be the “problem” to these past few appearances.

But it isn’t unlikely, that since Rivera is older, he could make a few more mistakes, leading to a few more losses. 

But I have a hard time believing that he will decline too much.  For just last season, Rivera was the best closer in baseball.

Maybe he won’t be the best, but top five seems pretty realistic seeing how Rivera IS Rivera.

9 Comments

What’s with all the hip problems in NY? A-Rod, Wang and now maybe Rivera?

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

maybe you aren’t that familiar with mariano’s typical Aprils in the 21st century. he usually blows two saves in mid- april- one against the sox–it’s happened in 3 of the last 4 years. i’m not worried.

but you know what bugs me? ESPN. all yankee fans hear is that joba should go too the pen. it doesn’t matter if he’s brilliant liker tonight or mediocre. meanwhile not a peep about what may or may not be wrong with the vaunted red sox rotation. sorry to rant–but it’s just sickening.

meanwhile, what’s wrong with papelbon?

I truly believe his age is showing.
and in response to Mikeeff, Papelbon got 2Ks today, he seems fine. We’ll see

-Mike
http://taleoftwoleagues.mlblogs.com

Someone should start doing an intelligent “Rolaids Watch”. Kind of like when stats bloggers do “Cy Watches”, except for something much more irrelevant, polarizing, and silly. Like the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award.

Mike, the media doesn’t like the Yankees. :) And I am not suggesting that Rivera IS finally declining. I am just suggesting that MAYBE he is. It is nine innings of work though, far too early to tell. His fastball velocity is down a tad, from 93.1 to 91.9. But maybe he is doing something slightly differently and/or still getting it together for the season. Maybe his velocity was down slightly last April too, I really don’t know.

taleoftwoleagues, I think Pap is fine physically, no indication that he isn’t fully healthy. But he is more like KROD right now, then the old Papelbon. Not in terms of stuff, but in terms of allowing himself to get into jams. He will be fine as long as he is healthy, but it isn’t fun watching him come into a five run game and walk two batters. With leads like that he needs to make the first few hitters beat him.

Julia, Rivera isn’t the same kind of “problem” yet. Wang was absolutely terrible and AROD is hurt. But the “problems” are made to be much more than they are in New York (by the media mostly). So there always seems like there is a huge problem with something in the Yankees organization.

PWH, relievers are much less interesting to me than position players and starting pitchers. I guess that is because there value means less to me than Joe-average-fan watching the game.

Oh yeah, relievers are very overrated. It was more of a joke than anything.

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