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Mesa proves indestructible and signs with Tigers
2006-12-10 20:12
by Bob Timmermann's Jerry Crasnick is reporting that Jose Mesa will come back for a nineteenth season in the majors. Mesa signed a one-year contract with Detroit, pending a physical where Mesa must demonstrate the ability to throw fielded balls at least five feet out of reach of any Tiger infielder.

2006-12-10 21:28:23
1.   Linkmeister
"...ability to throw fielded balls at least five feet out of reach of any Tiger infielder."

That's cold, man. That's really cold.

2006-12-10 22:12:35
2.   das411

How long til we get a Mike C chart of most career saves by a pair of teammates? Jose and Todd Jones have gotta be up there...

2006-12-11 00:45:35
3.   Tom Meagher
From fooling around at the B-R saves leader board (i.e., not actually doing a database query or anything sophisticated), I came up with the following leaderboard-for-career-saves-by-teammates narrative. It could be wrong.

1995 set the gold standard. Lee Smith, then the career saves leader, was in his first season with the California Angels. Troy Percival didn't have many saves back then, but the Angels had taken a flyer on Mitch Williams. Williams had had a disastrous 1994; after giving up that one home run to that one guy, Williams was traded for fellow Saves leaderboard-dweller Doug Jones, and his stay in Houston yielded only a very unpleasant 20 innings before Williams earned his release. California took a chance on him, but his 10.2 IP for the California Angels of Anaheim were as ill-fated as his Astros stint. Nonetheless, the pairing of Smith and Williams produced a historic 643 saves by the time Williams was released on June 19th with 192 saves to his name.

The next season, the Angels traded Smith to Cincinnati, where he was greeted by closer Jeff Brantley. By the end of the 1996 season, Brantley (129) and Smith (473) totalled 602 career saves, so the Smith-Williams combo still reigned supreme. When 1997 rolled around, the saves stopped flowing for both Smith and Brantley, with each being supplanted by a future saves-master: Urbina in Montreal (Smith) and Shaw in Cincy (Brantley).

Though 1998 ultimately didn't provide any real challenge to the record, it should be noted that it was Randy Myers' final season, and after clearing waivers he was traded from Toronto, where he (347) and Dan Plesac (153) had finally reached the rare 500-save mark, to San Diego, where by the end of the season Trevor Hoffman had reached 188 for 535 combined.

After 1998, the Mets acquired Armando Benitez from the O's for Charles Johnson. Benitez had a mere 37 saves at the time, and the Mets already had a closer in John Franco. However, 1999 saw the torch pass when Franco was injured in July. The role was relinquished to (Whose mando?) Armando. The two remained teammates for years, and by the time the Mets traded Benitez to the Yankees in 2003 he had racked up 197 saves to go with Franco's 422.

Benitez's brief pairing with Rivera was not as impressive, as Mo had only reached 264 by the time the former was traded. That total of 461 was not topped when Tom Gordon was brought in in the 2003-4 offseason, but by the end of 2005 the Gordon-Rivera combo reached a respectable 495.

However, there was something brewing on the other coast in 2003. As you'll no doubt remember, the Padres scoured minor league trailer parks to replace the injured Trevor Hoffman. They came out with Rod Beck. Hoffman had had 352 saves and Beck 266. When Beck notched his first save on June 15th, it gave the Beck-Hoffman combo 619 saves, equalling what the Benitez-Franco combo would top out at a month later. At that point, Benitez-Franco had only reached 615, and Beck's hot summer only widened the gap. By the time Hoffman returned to play in September, thus consummating the technical "teammates" requirement, Beck had notched 20 saves on the season, giving the duo a 638 total, only five away from the historic Smith-Williams mark.

As always, the Padres did not disappoint, bringing the pair back for 2004. Hoffman notched his 5th and 6th saves of the season on April 28th and 29th, tying and then breaking the 643 mark. Alas, Beck was released and out of the majors for good on August 19th, but by that time Hoffman had 383 saves, giving the combo 669 combined. 2130, 56, 669.

However, there was another development in 2004. The Phillies had signed Roberto Hernandez in the offseason, and his pairing with Billy Wagner meant 545 combined saves; by season's end, they'd reached 566.

While fortune frowned on that pairing in 2004 - injuries to Wagner limited him to 21 saves, and Tim Worrell was given the 9th inning role instead of Hernandez - fortune eventually smirked at the two. Wagner continued to close out games, and Hernandez even managed to pick up six between an '05 NYM stint and an '06 Pirates cameo. Wagner was signed by the Mets prior to '06, and when Duaner Sanchez was injured in the taxicab incident, Omar Minaya acquired Hernandez and Postseason Hero Oliver Perez for Xavier Nady. By the end of 2006, Wagner had 324 saves, tied for eleventh all-time; Hernandez had 326, #10 all-time. That gave them a valiant 650 total, besting the Smith-Williams mark and within shooting distance of Beck-Hoffman. Perhaps we are just one Ambiorix Burgos cable car accident from Minaya trading Lastings Milledge for Casey Blake and Hernandez; 669 may be in danger.

The Jose Mesa & Todd Jones combo will begin the season with 583 combined; can the Tigers keep 87 of their 2007 victories close enough to get the Sv to one of these two? And even if they could, would they actually choose Mesa or Jones to pitch close and late, given their other bullpen options?

As far as I can tell, Mesa-Jones' 583 is a Detroit best. The previous high would have been the pairing of Troy Percival and Ugueth Urbina; when Urbina was flipped for Placido Polanco, the two had combined for 555 career saves.

2006-12-11 07:31:26
4.   Bob Timmermann
Excellent work Tom. Thanks.
2006-12-11 10:43:53
5.   thelarmis
3 yes, great work indeed, tom! someone - mike c? - should put that in a tidy list-like form. fun stuff! i'm not so sure that detroit pairing will even make it to 600...
2006-12-11 13:52:17
6.   das411
3 is awesome. You've gotta love any sport where a pair like Rod Beck and Trevor Hoffman can hold any sort of all-time record!
2006-12-11 18:07:21
7.   Vishal
[2] hahahahah that was also my reaction exactly. JOE TABLE!!!!

[3] thank you tom, that was unexpected and entertaining.

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