In the David Weathers thread tonight chandrathan and I debated whether Coffey had a closer's mindset, given his struggles last year. Ultimately chandrathan wondered how much we complained about him in '06. Let's get in the wayback machine...
(I'm not taking the time to put make fancy hyperlinks. Maybe if you all were more deserving)
Coffey started out the year with a microscopic ERA while the rest of the bullpen, including closer David Weathers, struggled. The fan base began clamoring for Coffey to usurp the role.
On May 8th Brian B and I had a back and forth on the value of a closer. We both liked our best reliever to venture beyond the 9th but anticipation was building.
On May 12 eastwik called for Coffey to take the role based on his DOMINATING season. Coffey's sprint from the bullpen was offered as evidence for his mentality and makeup. Scotsman (remember him?) concurred. JinAZ spoke out against the closer model in favor of the fireman--using your best reliever in high leverage situations--and Brian B agreed. I challenged the idea of finding a closer's makeup in his entrance from the bullpen.
Many agree that moving Coffey would just shift the problem, and an influx of better relievers is needed.
By May 20th Coffey had a 0.70 ERA and the fury was growing. Melonhead drafted an open letter to Wayne Krivsky pleading for a trade to be made for a closer if Narron was unwilling to try Todd. He ends with a call to give Kearns a long term contract...
On June 1st Coffey became the closer. Paul Householder broke the news, calling it long overdue. He worried, however, that Narron might always save him for the 9th. Oh those high leverage innings!
At the time Coffey became the closer he had a 1.20 ERA. He had thrown 30 innings. He had saved 2 games, including one the night before.
Two days later Coffey pitched the 9th against the Astros with the Reds leading 7-3. He gave up two runs and the Reds won 7-5.
The next night on June 4th he didn't have as big a cushion. He came into the 10th with the Reds leading 4-3. He got two outs before Biggio double in a run. The 74 post game thread:
After Coffey blew it greg456 summed up the Reds bullpen thusly:
"I hope we have another save situation, but if we do....yikes, who are we gonna trot out there? Not many options, and none are good."
The Reds took the lead in the 11th on a Freel homer, and Esteban Yan rode to the rescue, pitching the bottom of the inning for the save. Coffey got the win.
But Coffey was resilient! He saved back-to-back games the next two nights (1 run and 3 run). He later made two scoreless non-save appearances. Thus after June 14th he had completed a fortnight as the Reds closer. His ERA in that span was 4.26 in 6.1 innings, largely because of the two meaningless runs in his first game in the role.
He saved 2, blew one but got the win. His season ERA had risen to a paltry 1.73.
On June 17th the Reds faced the White Sox. He came into the top of the ninth to face the heart of the order with the game tied 5-5 (not strict closer usage). With one out he walked the bases loaded to set up a double play. Joe Crede hit a grounder to someone named Lopez, but Phillips threw away his half of the double play and two runs scored. Coffey gave up another run before ending the inning, and the Reds only scored one in the bottom of the ninth. Coffey was charged with 2 ER but the inning could have been over. Relive the horror:
A bad call against the Reds in the bottom of the ninth and the error earned criticism, not Coffey. This game thread includes high tempers and some weird exchanges. A lean and hungry gentleman by the name of NEILYNG suggests greg456 should "build a bridge and get over it."
Coffey earned saves on the 21st and 25th (1R, 3R). On the 27th against Kansas City Coffey entered a tie game in the ninth again. He got two outs before giving up a double and a 2-run homer. The Reds scored one in the bottom of the ninth and lost 9-8.
satyanaas asks what's wrong with Coffey. Caleb suggests his arm is tired as he's been at least warming up during every game.
Two nights later Coffey bounced back with a one run save. Then on July 3rd in Milwaukee he was touched again (there was a lot of that going around in Milwaukee that week). With the Reds leading by 1 in the bottom of the ninth he gave up four straight singles leading to 2 runs and a loss. "Dear Lord," says teb7, "How many lucky hits are they gonna get?"
MixFMKyle asks if Coffey's innings have caught up with him. Blue says, "He's not really striking many batters out lately. I hope its just a rough stretch. I have my doubts." For those who think this site is overly critical check out Slyde vigorously defend the Reds against accusations of suckiness (after a game like that no less).
On July 5th, still in Milwaukee, Todd entered the bottom of the ninth of a 3-3 game. He threw a scoreless inning. In the top of the 10th Adam Dunn selfishly hit a one run shot and Coffey came back out for the 10th leading 4-3. He promptly gave up a homer to Geoff Jenkins, then pitched his way out of the inning. Jason Standridge blew another save op in the 13th, and Krivsky decided he really needed to get some relief pitching. Here is the first part of the game thread where Coffey is involved. It went over 400 posts and collapsed on itself like a dwarf star.
In a sign of the growing tide of opinion against Coffey, boobs refers to him with a naughty nickname several times. The next day he earns a sharp rebuke from JD (referenced by Ash in the Weathers thread above).
I haven't linked to any of JD's game recaps, because Coffey never came up. There are numerous sighs and complaints about "the bullpen." I think people recognized that Coffey was struggling, but had proven himself our best option. When Weathers struggled people called for Coffey. Now no one was calling for Weathers or Yan. The seeds were being planted for some sort of Transaction to come, for good or ill.
On July 6th Eddie Guardado was acquired. Red Reporters can't get over his horrible track record in 2006, but the move is hopefully lauded as high upside.
jambolyajones hopes that Coffey, who has "choked", might learn something from the veteran, suggesting that he hasn't given up on the kid. Later in the thread news reaches that Eddie is the closer. Here's FritzMW: He is a closer. Todd Coffey is not. Coffey is like Kyle Farnsworth in my eyes, excellent pitcher, just doesn't have that closer attitude. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Coffey is Farnsworth, I would take Coffey anyday over Farnsworth. He goes on to suggest Guardado struggled in Seattle because he wasn't the closer.
At 7:35 PM that day the Reds played the Braves. Coffey knew he'd lost his job, but he had it for one more day. As much as I like to think players are soulless robots that had to be hard. He entered the bottom of the 10th in a tie game, struck out two, then gave up the game winning home run.
This is the infamous "eat a peach" thread. People pine for Guardado. NeilYNG writes Coffey's epitaph: Coffey has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he is NOT our closer.
For the rest of the year Coffey pitched 33 innings with a 4.09 ERA. By late June his name was bandied about in trade rumors.
Geki says "Coffey's never going to be anything special" and Brian B agrees. This thread, however, is more of a statement on the superstud Ian Kinsler, who was the other player in the rumor.
So there you go, a classic American rise and fall (push it to the limit!). Coffey pre-closer: 1.20 ERA 30 IP. First two weeks on the job: 4.26 6.1, but pitched better than his ERA. From 6/17 to 7/6: 9.35 in 8.2 IP. From then on: 4.09 33IP.
Now should he get a shot at the job next year? I say yes. I understand the narrative: he was lights out. He got the job and faded in the bright lights of the ninth. His knees buckled. He met failure and it got into his head. After retreating to the setup role he recaptured his form with no pressure.
I just see things a different, unsexier way. He got off to a great start. Perhaps too great, as it was very unlikely he would maintain an ERA under 1. Some might say he was due to "trend". He got the job and succeeded. He even bounced back after blowing games to record saves the next nights. Then he had a bad stretch. He could have been overworked, but I won't excuse his performance. He sucked... for 8.2 innings. I'm not willing to write off a 26 year old to middle relief based on 8.2 innings. Like I said in the Weathers thread his OPS against was lower in the 9th than in the 6th 7th or 8th. With 2 outs and RISP he allowed a .706 OPS despite a .355 BAbip. He still throws good stuff.
...and he still sprints in from the bullpen. That's got to count for something.