There is an internet war brewing between Keith Law and Brewers fans. It seems that Keith Law has taken issue with the Brewers re-signing of Trevor Hoffman. The point he makes is that the Brewers being a small market team cannot afford to pay a player like Trevor Hoffman that kind of money and in a lot of ways I agree with him. Law says:
By the way, how awful was that Trevor Hoffman extension? Extremely fluky HR rate gets you $8 million? 10% or more of the team's payroll for a one-inning closer, and not a good one? Wow.
and then later adds:
Committing 10% of your payroll to a non-premium guy who'll throw under 4% of your innings - if he's healthy - is irresponsible.
And he's right. Now before you start throwing your shoes at me, here are a few things I have written about Trevor Hoffman in the past.
Trevor Time is something like I have never experienced before. For those of you who have never been there live for it, I hope that you one day get to do so.
People know that he is going to close the game out and the Brewers will win. It's just expected and that's something that you can't really quantify.
The Brewers could have 5 wins on the season and as long as all five were a save situation with "Hell's Bells" blaring over the loud speakers, it would be worth it. I almost believe this.
I like this guy. He reminds me of George Burns in 18 Again!.
I mean, it's not like I've been dogging on the guy all this time. I LOVE Trevor Time. I think it's one of the truly unique experiences in all of Major League Baseball. Right up there with "Enter Sandman" in New York, "Sweet Caroline" in Boston, getting stabbed in Detroit and having someone throw up on you at Wrigley Field. If you get the chance to experience it live, you have to do that.
Now, with that all being said this probably isn't a good contract. Trevor Hoffman is a ONE INNING pitcher and he simply can't or won't do anymore. Furthermore, he is the type of closer who only wants to close. He doesn't want to come in with the team behind or in any non-save situation, he simply wants to get that save. There is nothing wrong with this, but the Brewers lack a true relief ace and perhaps their money would be better spent on acquiring one. On the Yankees, their relief ace is Mariano Rivera who is also their closer and we've seen him pitch 1 inning plus in almost every game this postseason. He's the guy they go to when the game is on the line, save or no save, and that has a lot of value. I'm not always sure we can do that with Hoffman.
Despite what people may say there is no secret to becoming a successful closer, you don't need to have a mental edge (it is possible to not have the mental edge to be a closer (*cough*Turnbow*cough*) and you don't need to be a certain type of player. We see closers coming out of nowhere every year. Last year it was David Aardsma of the Mariners, the year before that it was George Sherill of the Orioles, one time it was Dan Kolb of the Brewers. Finding someone to get three outs and only three outs at the end of the game with a lead is not as hard as you'd think. Trevor Hoffman is very good at this, but he's not the only one that is. Which has always been my problem with Doug Melvin. He offered Cordero a huge extension that he (thankfully) turned down. He signed Eric Gagne to a big contract and despite the fact that he failed and Solomon Torres stepped in and did the job better (for less money) he still thought he needed a proven closer. Thus Trevor Hoffman was signed. For a team with limited resources, this might not have been the best use of them.
With all that being said, there is something about Trevor Hoffman. Maybe his stats don't bare it out, but there is definitely an aura about him. Teams are maybe a little intimidated when he comes into a game. Potential free agents maybe hear that he's the closer and their ears perk up a little bit. He helps to bring a certain swagger to the team that maybe they didn't have before. In the end, the contract is already signed and it's not like you can get a re-do. Good signing or not, Trevor Hoffman is the Brewers closer in 2010 and you have to support the guy. When Hells Bells plays for the first time at Miller Park next year, I'll be the first guy to stand up and cheer for him because I love the Brewers. And I'll be drunk.