Exit Interviews: Addison Reed

Addison is capable of dressing for formal occasions. Or just wearing a miscolored hat. // Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

These “exit interviews” will be going over the entire 40-man roster and looking to see how each player does or does not fit into the White Sox future.

The term “exit interview” is usually used when an employee is leaving the company. I took that into consideration…and kept it.

Addison Reed - Talented and effective closer who never manages to fully satisfy, or seem fully healthy.

Age by 2014 Opening Day: 25

Contract: One last pre-arbitration year before arbiters’ attempts at evaluating the monetary value of saves affects all of our lives.

Relevant stats: 68 games (all relief),  71.1 IP, 3.79 ERA, 56 H,  6 HR, 72 K, 23 BB, 3.13 K/BB, 113 ERA+, 40 out of 48 in save chances.

Interpretation: These peripherals and stuff are way too good to have the same save rate as Chris Perez. Chris Perez just got released, by the way.

Emblematic split: 15 appearances, 17.1 IP, 1.56 ERA, .494 OPS against, 10 of 10 in save opportunities in the month of August. Nine appearances, 8 IP, 7.88 ERA, .850 OPS against, four of seven on save opportunities. Tired, Addison?

Pre-season expectations: Kevin was, if such a thing is possibly, hesitantly bullish on Reed building upon the travails of his first season at the end of the pen:

“The most likely situation for bullpen failure (and frankly, the most damaging scenario) is if Reed struggles in the closer role.  While ERA isn’t as telling of a stat for relievers as it is for starters, Reed’s 4.75 ERA and 1.36 WHIP are reasons for concern.  However, Reed was still 29 for 33 in save opportunities last season.

While Reed’s 33 opportunities at trying to close games last season could prove valuable for next season, he never seemed like a guy who let the game affect his nerves or emotions.  His 62 appearances from last season should give him greater arm endurance for this upcoming season, which could prove vital in August and September.”

Quote of the year: Existentially, this quote is more depressing than all the angry ones about losing:

‘‘Everything is the same,’’ said Reed, who bagged his 31st save and third of the series Sunday in the Sox’ 5-2 win against the Minnesota Twins. ‘‘Any time I go out there, I have tons of adrenaline flowing. If we’re up seven and I’m in the game, or if it’s a one-run game and we’re a game out of first place, everything is the same.’’

Addison’s story: Maybe it should have been suspicious how easily all of Addison Reed’s 2012 problems washed away. Instead of having to battle his way over the other bizarre closer choices, he was returning to the role without question or challenge. After searching for his slider for the entire second half of 2012, he was able to throw it for a strike regularly from Opening Day on. And after a 2012 that saw him go months without a perfect inning, Reed snapped off two in his first three appearances.

Then the malaise came.

It might not be fair to say it’s easier to determine when to use a closer during a playoff race than a 99-loss death march, but it might be simpler. The Sox were into May before the thought that waiting for save situations might result in an odd schedule for Reed came into play. Rather than spacing his work out, it was simply decided that Reed was always available for a typical save situation, and would wait patiently for them during droughts.

In saving 40 of the 63 White Sox victories, Reed led baseball in his percentage contribution by miles. While the lack of winning gave him the occasional entire series, or almost a week off, Reed pitched on zero days rest (23) more often than Craig Kimbrel (21). While he mostly excelled at it, the way he finished the season–completely out of gas, struggling to hit 91 mph and getting shelled–inspires searches for when things went overboard.

This photo is just breaking up the text, man. // Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Singular blow-up outings always spike a reliever’s ERA, but one-sixth of Reed’s runs came in a bizarre 16-inning nightmare game in Seattle that he had to wear–since everyone in the bullpen was already cashed–even after it was apparent that he had no command upon entering the game (he’d have time to find it over the 55 pitches he threw), and even after he allowed a game-tying grand slam to Kyle Seager. There was an odd heroism to him finishing the game he ruined with two more innings of work, but it introduced the now familiar image of Reed slogging himself through his work at half-power.

Reed’s Brooks Baseball velocity chart shows two dips over his season, coming down from his 94-95 mph average that he started the year with. The first is a small one that came in at the beginning of June, and after a return to form with the regular rest that a loss-filled July brought, a large and brutal one came in August. The trade for Avisail Garcia and some death rattles from Adam Dunn brought about a 16-13 August, and a six-game winning streak…which Reed recorded a save in every game of.

Flush with opportunities to use his closer, Ventura deployed Reed liberally, and his ninth-inning man was eager to match his requests. When Hawk asked Reed “Will you be able to brush your teeth in the morning” after Reed’s sixth save in seven days, he laughed it off.

It would be his last laugh. Even when September call-ups reduced his workload, Reed limped through a miserable final month. He blew three saves, the last two of which caught him a broken state of affairs. He walked four Tigers batters in two-thirds of an inning in an embarrassing spoiling of a Chris Sale gem on Sept 21, and three days later fell one strike short of grit-and-guiling his way past Cleveland with 91 mph heat.

As his FIP indicates, Reed should have an ERA in the low-3.10′s, and as someone who strikes out three batters for every one he walks, it seems like he should be more successful than 40 out of 48 on save chances. Having his manager’s trust just means he gets left out to dry more often, but Reed’s second full season still hid away any rumor of the force of nature that obliterated all minor league competition in 2011. He’s a suitable closer, capable of being a good one, but not a great deal more at the moment.

Assessment: As someone serving in a high-leverage role for a minimal salary, Reed certainly is a useful piece on the current iteration of the White Sox. But since closers are both overrated and replaceable (especially with this organization, which has cannon arms like Nate Jones, Jake Petricka and Daniel Webb, just on the major league club alone) in perpetuity, Reed is an easy player to identify as a trade target.

The Sox don’t have to move him, as they are not wasting money or time having him work. But the value he could bring in could easily trump the value lost from his departure, and if anything, his responses to extreme work schedules hints that the window for cashing in this trade chit may not be open forever.

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

Topics: Addison Reed, Chicago White Sox, Robin Ventura

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