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Tom Haudricourt took a closer look today at Derrick Turnbow's disaster of a season, and his hopes for next year. A few items of note:

Now, at another crisis point in his still-burgeoning career, the 28-year-old right-hander insists he hasn't come full circle to those tumultuous days with the Angels that led to his exodus.

"Not really," said Turnbow. "There's a little bit of similarity. The difference is I struggled the whole season there. Here, it's just been the second half."

That doesn't reassure me. In fact, that worries me more: if he looks good next spring, does that mean he's back for good, or that he's just a ticking time bomb again? What does reassure me, at least a little, is that Turnbow has worked with Mike Maddux before, and the results have been excellent.
"It all started when I lost the feel for my slider," said Turnbow, who later lost command of his blazing fastball as well. "Then, I started changing things mechanically to try to find my slider instead of just sticking with what I was doing.

"It's kind of weird. I was being very successful with the way I was pitching before. I think what got me in trouble was I always wanted to do something different. Now I've learned that what I was doing was good enough. Maybe I was at my best and that was as good as it gets, and it was good enough."

What I wish Turnbow and Maddux would acknowledge more is that he didn't have all that great of command before the implosion. He averaged one walk per two innings, and I'm sure we can all think back to a couple of games--even when things were looking rosy--in which he bunched those up. Maybe, if you have a 98 mph fastball, you can walk that many batters. (Actually, it works for Francisco Cordero--more on that in my Hardball Times column tomorrow.) Regardless, it would be a stretch to say that D-Bow ever had strong command of multiple pitches.
The final straw came a week ago against St. Louis, when Turnbow blew sky-high again, turning a close game into a 12-2 whipping by surrendering five runs in one-third of an inning. Afterward, Yost said he would not use Turnbow in a close game again this season.

Turnbow hasn't pitched since, and it remains to be seen whether Yost will use him on the Brewers' season-ending trip to Chicago and St. Louis. Some of the pain of his collapse has been eased by the tremendous work of Cordero, who is 16 for 16 in save opportunities, but Turnbow signed a three-year deal in April and both he and the club are hoping a winter of rest and relaxation will prove therapeutic.

I suppose it can't be worse than it is now, can it? Maybe having to fight for a job again will light a fire under Derrick, even though he doesn't have to pitch for a contract for a couple of years.
If Turnbow does return to his all-star form, there's no guarantee he'll get his old job back. Cordero has earned the right to be the closer entering spring training, based on his near-flawless work thus far.

Turnbow only hopes to make it a difficult decision for Yost and his staff.

"If I'm pitching well next year and ready to go, I'd like to be the closer," said Turnbow, an affable, fun-loving sort who has the entire clubhouse pulling for him. "I hope I've done enough up here to get another chance. We'll see what happens."

He'll certainly get another chance, just not in the way he means--as closer. Cordero would have to have an implosion like he did this past April, and even then, knowing Ned Yost, he might just keep his job through that.

The more welcome scenario is that Turnbow could make it all the way back, creating one heck of a set-up corps around Cordero. Matt Wise will be back and healthy and Jose Capellan ought to make another stride in the direction of consistency. Throw in a decent waiver-wire find (maybe Chris Spurling, or maybe not) a lefty (maybe Brian Shouse, and maybe not, a long man (maybe Rick Helling, get the idea) and you've got yourself a very solid bullpen.

It's great that Derrick has the support of his teammates, but it's even better than Coco Cordero's arrival makes him less important to the team. I want Derrick to return to form as much as anybody, but we've been made all too aware of just how much Ned Yost will delude himself when it comes to his core players.