Well, that was quick.
Apparently Knober's sources believe four appearances was enough for the Tigers to determine rookie Bruce Rondon "can't handle the job" of closer.
Not that Rondon has been tearing up the Grapefruit League, posting a 7.36 ERA and 2.73 WHIP in 3 2/3 innings. Jim Leyland was succinct when asked about Rondon's slow start.
He's a very good candidate and he's still a very good candidate. He's struggled. To put it simple, he's throwing it pretty hard and they're hitting it pretty hard."
Still...it's been a WHOLE four appearances. It's far too early to call the Bruce Rondon Closing Experience a failed experiment.
But If Knobler's report is true, what trade or free agent options do the Tigers have at this point?
Rumors swirled this past week Leyland was pining for the return of Jose Valverde. Leyland quickly shot those rumors down.
"If we were going to bring Jose Valverde back, we would have made a run to try to sign him."
"We, obviously, didn’t sign Valverde. So that tells you something. We did not really make an attempt to sign Valverde, so that tells you something."
If the Big Potato isn't an option, who is?
Francisco Rodriguez (294 career saves) is still available as a free agent, and will be showing off his arm pitching for Venezuela in the WBC. Former Giants closer Brian Wilson (171 career saves), along with his trademark beard and surgically repaired arm, are looking for a new team. Andrew Bailey (81 career saves) of the Red Sox could be on the Tigers' radar and may be available for the right price After Monday's lights out appearance, there's also been talk (on sports talk radio, natch) of moving Rick Porcello (zero career saves) to the bullpen.
Of course, there's the usual closing suspects known as Phil Coke (6 career saves), Joaquin Benoit (13 career saves), Octavio Dotel (109 career saves) and Al Alburquerque (zero career saves). The Tigers could do a lot worse than closer by committee.
In a perfect world, Rondon makes all this speculation moot. He settles down over the next three weeks and nails down the job of closer. But the world isn't perfect, Rondon has been walking almost as many batters as he's struck out and we need something to talk about during spring training.
If Knobler's sources are to believed and Tigers are suddenly in the market for a closer, he could have shortened his story to four words.
It won't be easy.