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What to do with....Joe Borowski?

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From a practical standpoint, picking up Joe Borowski's 2008 option is very easy to justify. $4M to any closer, even a poor one, is a bargain. The difficulties lie in the straitjacket that keeping Borowski creates for the bullpen. Because Borowski's value seems to be that he elevates his game in a save situation, using him in any other role than that of closer would be to turn Joe into an almost unusable setup man. And there's the rub, since the Indians should be looking to find a better option to pitch the ninth.

"But," you may be saying, "there should be no difference between closing and the eighth inning." Rafael Betancourt, who set up Borowski in 2007, was by objective measures the more effective pitcher. Rafael dominated in all the ways you'd love a reliever to: walks (9 in 79.1 IP), strikeouts (80), hits (51), and home runs (4). He finished second to JJ Putz in Relievers Expected Wins Added; Joe Borowski finished 38th. It is easy to justify flipping the roles of Betancourt and Borowski based on a cursory view of the statistics.

But Eric Wedge, though not intentionally, maximized both relievers by making Borowski the closer. Betancourt pitched almost fifteen more innings while making just one more appearance than Borowski. Betancourt was the one pitching in tie games, not Borowski. Rafael's appearances came in just as crucial situations as Joe's, if not more.

So if it really is for the best that Betancourt remain in the less-notable role while Borowski remains with the team, wouldn't the better course of action to find a more effective reliever than Borowski, trade Joe to a team that will look past his pedestrian peripherals to see a very good closer, and then have the freedom to re-configure the bullpen as needed?