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Closing time

Bobble, bobble, toil and trouble.

Derrick Turnbow may be an all-star, but he's not pitching like one. And there aren't a lot of options to replace him. That comes as something of a surprise: entering the season, I would've told you that Matt Wise could fill in on occasion, that Jose Capellan might deserve a chance, maybe even that Mike Maddux would bring Dan Kolb back to life.

Alas, not only have none of those predictions really come true, Turnbow is underperforming. His ERA is now over five, and he's blown seven saves. Maybe a better closer would've only blown three or four--that difference puts us back over .500. Long story short: we're a wannabe contender without any dominant late-inning options.

What to do? If we really are in the hunt, maybe we should try to acquire a closer. Tom Gordon is available, but he'd likely be very pricey--not only would he cost $3m+ for the 2nd half rental, his contract includes $5.5m for '07, too. And the Phillies aren't giving him away: the rumor of the moment is Gordon to the White Sox for Freddy Garcia or Javier Vasquez.

The problem with acquiring a closer midseason is twofold: most teams out of the race don't have good closers, and the deep-pocketed teams want those closers to be set-up men. Gordon would probably take over 8th inning duties with the ChiSox, and frankly, the White Sox have more money to spend on a setup man than we do on a closer.

If I were in charge of things, I'd probably give Jose Capellan a trial run as closer. He's got the stuff, and he's occasionally flashed the brilliance this year. We don't need Mariano Rivera, but we do need someone who won't allow extra-base hits to the first two batters they face in the 9th inning of a one run game. Maybe Capellan is that guy.

Another alternative would be something I suggested a couple of days ago: trading for a starter, then when Tomo Ohka and Ben Sheets are both back, give Dave Bush a shot at the ninth inning. It's not the best idea, but it's not like we're buried in great options, here. After all, Joe Winkelsas retired.

The best way out of this, of course, is for Turnbow to start pitching like a Major League closer. We know he can do it. Especially with the other choices available, we hope he can do it.