Franklin to be released

The story out of St. Louis according to reports from the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss is that Ryan Franklin is set to be released by the St. Louis Cardinals today.

The embattled closer has failed to reclaim his reliability out of the bullpen and is on his way out. Through 27 innings this season, Franklin sports an 8.46 ERA. He has allowed 9 home runs this season, the same as he allowed in the previous two combined.

After reclaiming some reliability during an 8 inning run from mid-May to mid-June, he posted a 2.25 ERA with 7 strikeouts and just 1 walk. Things looked to be turning around for him. Thoughts were entertained that he was over his issues and would once again take an important role in a bullpen that was still reeling from the loss of it’s closer. However, in his last four appearances, Franklin has allowed 5 homers in 6 innings of work and has a 13.50 ERA.

While many in Cardinal Nation will be screaming “Finally” and “What took so long” to this news, I find it difficult to rejoice in a player’s hardships. Let alone one that has given up money and performed so well for us. While it may be good for the team that Ryan Franklin won’t be pitching out of the bullpen for the Cardinals, he is hardly the only issue in the bullpen. This team is better off with a successful Franklin than without a struggling one.

Ryan Franklin wasn’t flashy, and for some (including myself) that discredited his ability to be a closer. In each of the last three offseasons, I have made my case that the Cardinals needed to bring in a true closer, because Ryan Franklin was better suited to middle relief, maybe a setup guy. I didn’t like that our closer required the other team to hit the ball in order to get outs. But Franklin went about his business quietly and provided the Cardinals a great value. He wasn’t a great closer, but he was good enough for a few years.

He became closer in 2008 after the Cardinals last big name closer, Jason Isringhausen, began to struggle with hip problems. Franklin provided good enough performance in the closer’s role for the team to give it to him in 2009. Franklin responded with a 1.69 ERA and 38 saves. It was by far the most successful season of his career. Then, in the heart of that spectacular 2009 campaign, where he likely could have made much more money on the free agent market, he signed a 2 year, $6.5 million extension. For a closer who could do what he did, it was big savings.

Unfortunately for many, that 2009 season is overshadowed by his blown save in Game 2 of the National League Divisional Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers that was cued by a Matt Holliday error in the 9th inning.

Coming into this season, Ryan Franklin had planned to retire at the end of it. But he changed his mind and decided that he would consider pitching beyond the 2011 season. Little did he know what the season would bring him.

Unfortunately, it was a bitter end for Ryan Franklin’s Cardinals career. Many will easily forget that he was very successful, and most successful of anywhere he pitched, in a Cardinals uniform. While the time had come for this, let’s not forget what he’s done for us.

Happy trails, Ryan Franklin.

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