As the 2012 Spring Training begins to wind down to the last final days, as always there are now questions we had never dreamed of. The elated feeling of having Adam Wainwright back on the hill made the Cardinal faithful ecstatic. Then we received the proverbial kick in the gut of Chris Carpenter’s nerve problems. This news left us all wondering is it not possible to have Carp and Waino healthy at the same time? Spring Training always provides us with these situations. That is what camp is for.
One question that was answered early on was who was going to be the closer. It is not as if there was any real doubt who was going to be tagged with the moniker of “closer”. We all knew that the fiery former catcher turned power pitcher, Jason Motte was going to be the man for the job. Manager Mike Matheny did something that his predecessor never did with Motte, officially name him the closer. Let me back up, La Russa actually did name him the closer, after the final out of the 7th game of the 2011 World Series. He sought Motte out and told him he was now the closer. The joke being, there were no more games.
I am sure that TLR had his reasons for never officially calling Motte the man who would be tapped to close the door. He didn’t need to, his actions showed how he viewed Motte. When it seemed all was lost for the 2011, Motte caught fire as well as the rest of the team. He collected 8 saves and a 2-0 record in the month of September. He went on to record 5 saves and an ERA of 2.19 in the 2011 postseason. Not too shabby!
Mike Matheny decided last week there would be no word games as to who was the closer for the Birds. Matheny basically said it speaks for itself, Motte is the man. I think that this was not only a no brainer, it is a good choice. I think Motte is the type of player that brings so much fire to the game when he comes in and the intensity he does everything with, it is good to hang the title of closer on him.
I don’t know if this was TLR’s way of having Motte chasing the carrot and not naming him. But, I think removing that from the equation will even make work harder. He is a guy that completely retooled his career a few years ago. He was a catcher that just wasn’t making it happen and was on the verge of being done in the game of baseball. He made the transformation from behind the plate to in front of it. He has consistently worked harder to improve himself and hone his skills on the mound.
I see him as a player that will take great pride in having the title of closer. I think it will be a position that he will battle anyone to keep. He is a player that was given a second chance and he is not only showing the Cardinals they have made the right decision but he is proving to himself he can be successful as a pitcher.
He has proved himself to the fans. He brings the type of intensity to the game that Cardinals fans love to see. Who doesn’t like to see a guy that is so into the game you see him screaming into his glove, driving himself to achieve perfection when he is out there?
Last year at this time we heard Ryan Franklin say that he was having trouble to find the motivation to get pumped up to play the game. I don’t foresee this ever being an issue with Jason Motte.