Remember when the Cardinals' bullpen was a huge issue?
Play A was for Jason Motte to close games this season. He got hurt before the season.
Plan B was for Mitchell Boggs to close games this season; why Boggs rather than Trevor Rosenthal, I don't have the foggiest. But B was for Boggs. He saved a couple of games, blew a couple of games, and so it was on to Plan C ...
Edward Mujica, who opened 2013 with six career saves in seven career seasons. Since taking over as closer after Boggs melted down, Mujica has converted 21 of 21 save opportunities. Essentially, it's Edward Mujica's fault that the Pittsburgh Pirates don't have the best record in Major League Baseball all to themselves.
But this isn't about surprising closers, or Edward Mujica's long journey to stardom, or the basic fungibility of relief pitchers. No, I just wanted an excuse to pass along this story about Mujica's nickname, via Rick Hummel:
To all his Cardinals teammates except Choate, who calls him “ Mookie,” Mujica is “the Chief.” This originated two years ago when veteran manager Jack McKeon was finishing out the season with the Marlins.
McKeon had trouble with Mujica’s name.
“He said to me one day, ‘I can’t say your name? Are you American Indian?’
“I said, ‘No, I’m from Venezuela,’’’ said Mujica.
“He said, ‘It’s better for me to call you ‘the Chief,’ You’re the last of the Mohicans.’”
Mujica said, “That was crazy. But I said, ‘OK.’ And everybody started me calling me ‘the Chief.’”
“I was surprised last year when I got traded when Mo (Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak) called me and said, ‘Chief, how are you doing?’
“I said, ‘What? How did you know that?’’’
Now everybody knows. And they also know that Mujica’s pitching has been worthy of the title.
We'll leave for another day the question of whether his .207 BABiP allowed and 14-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio are sustainable. Today, let's simply revel in the wonders of good ol' Trader Jack McKeon.