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Thursday, November 13, 2003

THE CALZONE AWARDS: NL PITCHER OF THE YEAR

Eric Gagne won the NL Cy Young award yesterday. I think Gagne is certainly as deserving as any reliever will ever be for this award and there was no NL starter with a Roy Halladay type season to really compete with Gagne's extraordinary feet of 55 straight save opportunity conversions. No other reliever in MLB can claim to be perfect.

Except for Rod Beck.

Albeit in limited action, Rod Beck managed to convert all 20 of his save opportunities before Trevor Hoffman came back to relieve him of his closing duties. And just for good measure he threw in 3 wins, a hold, and an ERA of 1.78 in only 35.1 innings of work. That's a pretty decent value for only 400,000 smackers.

You've also got to love this guy's story. Essentially left for dead, having undergone Tommy John surgery, he went from a power pitcher (very similar to Eric Gagne) who threw well into the 90's to a guy who tossed in the mid-80's. (From grunge to hair-metal if you will.) Almost anybody else would have called it a career but Rod Beck didn't. That's because Rod Beck loves baseball. I didn't have to do any research to figure that out, just have a look at him when he's on the mound. This man is not an athlete he's a baseball player. (I'm pretty sure he isn't on steriods.)

If I was a MLB GM I would give Beck a solid look this off-season. He's 35 but I think his age matters less because of the type of pitcher he's made himself into. He won't be able to carry your bullpen but he's shown he can handle the closer role and he'll probably give you 50-55 solid to excellent frames of work. His work-ethic and enthusiasm will certainly have positive effects on the rest of your bullpen and beyond all that good stuff he'll come pretty cheap. (Especially when it sounds like the Eddie Guardados of the world are going to be asking for 4 million plus. Take a look at Eddie's numbers and then Rod's and tell me he's worth ten times the amount as Beck. ) It's a low-risk/high-reward situation if you ask me.

So, for having an excellent season, coming back from steep odds, showing an unparalleled enthusiasm for the game, and for being the recipient most likely to actually eat a calzone, Rod Beck we hereby award you the "Calzone" for NL pitcher of the year. Enjoy.

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