(KMOV)-- The Ryan Franklin problem has been kicked around since opening day when the Cards closer blew the first of his four saves. Tony La Russa has given Franklin the benefit of the doubt for the first six weeks of the season, but you have to think Franklin's time is about over. He had another dreadful performance last night in Chicago giving up seven hits and four runs in just three innings. Franklin's earned run average for the season is now at a ridiculous 9.49. He's given up 21 hits in 12 1/3rd innings. Nobody seems to know exactly why Franklin went from one of the top closers in the National League the past two seasons to a guy who's now pitching batting practice.
Franklin still has the same velocity as he had when he saving 38 games in his all star season in 2009. That would seem to eliminate age (he's 38) as the reason for his decline. He just can't seem to put the ball where he wants it. He's lost command on all of his pitches. Last night he threw several knuckleballs trying to find a pitch that might get somebody out. Franklin's making $3,250,000 this season. Clearly that salary has something to do with why the Cardinals don't just release him. They'd love to get something in return for the cash, but it's hard to imagine Franklin would interest any other team looking for a closer. So it appears they'll wait it out a little while longer and use Franklin in mop up duty in lopsided games. At least that serves some useful purpose. If he can eat up a few innings and save the bullpen during games where the outcome is already determined, at least the Cards would get some return from the money they owe him.
You have to feel bad for Franklin, he's a great guy and a popular teammate who has given the Cardinals four solid seasons, including that all star year. But the Cardinals are in a tough spot with him right now, and it seems likely he'll be released as soon as Brian Tallet returns from the disabled list. The end of the line usually isn't pretty for professional athletes, and Franklin is suffering through an especially ugly end of career collapse.