Major league closers are probably in the highest stress position on their team. So I guess it’s only appropriate that they cause us the most agita. I’ve already explained that I won’t draft any closers in the first tier. Rudy Gamble broke down why he does grab a closer in the first tier. Anyway, what are these tiers and who are in them? Here’s all the closers and their setup men going into the 2008 season. Side note, closers need guile, charisma and whole lot of I-just-don’t-give-a-fark, not unlike some of the characters that were portrayed on The Wire, a show that I’m sadder to see end than any in past memory. So in honor of the series finale of The Wire, I’ve named the tiers after some of The Wire’s more memorable characters.
Clay Davis – This tier comprises closers that will make you smile every time they make their appearance. Papelbon is lights out on arguably the best team in the majors. Nathan has a track record that is better than anyone in the game, except for maybe Rivera, but has an age advantage. Putz’s numbers last year were Cy Young-worthy and there’s no reason to think he can’t be as good this year. K-Rod’s delivery has made the critics say he’s doomed for the DL and every year he’s great. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!
1. Jonathan Papelbon, BOS (Hideki Okajima)
2. Joe Nathan, MIN (Pat Neshek)
3. J.J. Putz, SEA (Brandon Marrow)
4. Francisco Rodriguez, LAA (Scot Shields)
5. Mariano Rivera, NYY (Joba Chamberlain)
Omar Little – This tier compromises closers that have the emotion and the stuff to get the job done, but they could get taken out at any time. Francisco Cordero ventures to a hitter’s park. Member what happened to him in Arlington? Chad Cordero may not be long for the Nats, but he’s shown he can close a game as well as he can wear a low, wide-brimmed hat. Saito is backed by the most obvious closer-in-waiting. I don’t even think Jenks believes the year he had last year. Soriano has some of the nastiest stuff in the game, yet still gives up dingers. Capps might end up the most reliable from this group, but on far the worst team.
6. Francisco Cordero, CIN (David Weathers)
7. Chad Cordero, WAS (Jon Rauch)
8. Takashi Saito, LAD (Jonathan Broxton)
9. Bobby Jenks, CHW (Octavio Dotel)
10. Rafael Soriano, ATL (Peter Moylan)
11. Matt Capps, PIT (Damaso Marte)
Proposition Joe – This tier comprises closers that are no newcomers to their position of stress, and they will be absolutely fine this year as long as nothing unforeseen happens. Wagner, Hoffman and Isringhausen should all be trusted, but all three can remember when Hoffman’s entrance song was new, so there’s the age thing. Valverde can save 45 or he can be sent back to the minors to figure things out.
12. Billy Wagner, NYM (Aaron Heilman)
13. Trevor Hoffman, SDG (Heath Bell)
14. Jose Valverde, HOU (Oscar Villarreal)
15. Jason Isringhausen, STL (Ryan Franklin)
Stringer Bell – This tier comprises closers that have the stuff for the long haul, but something tells me their tenure isn’t going to last long. Corpas has good stuff, but Fuentes was more than serviceable. A few hiccups from Corpas and he could end up figuring things out in the seventh inning of blow outs. Huston Street will be traded, maybe to a team that doesn’t need someone for the ninth. Howry and Marmol will share the lion’s share of the saves. Brian Wilson is hardly safe as there’s already grumblings that Tyler Walker will get some opportunities. Soria’s on the Royals and Ryan’s recovery is too fast to not spell trouble.
16. Manny Corpas, COL (Brian Fuentes)
17. Huston Street, OAK (Joey Devine)
18. Bob Howry, CHC (Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol)
19. B.J. Ryan, TOR (Jeremy Accardo)
20. Joakim Soria, KAN (Joel Peralta)
21. Brian Wilson, SAN (Tyler Walker, Brad Hennessey)
Marlo Stanfield – This tier comprises closers that are fit to do the job, but the men behind them are more badass and better suited. Brandon Lyon better watch out for Tony Pena. Kevin Gregg has two looming in Lindstrom and Tankersley. Sherrill better look out for the entire bullpen. Borowski and Todd Jones, Betancourt and Rodney, respectively.
22. Joe Borowski, CLE (Rafael Betancourt)
23. Todd Jones, DET (Fernando Rodney)
24. Brandon Lyon, ARI (Tony Pena)
25. Kevin Gregg, FLA (Matt Lindstrom, Taylor Tankersley)
26. George Sherrill, BAL (entire bullpen, namely Greg Aquino, Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford)
Ziggy Sobotka – This tier comprises closers that you hope die, whether you own them or not. I liked Lidge two months ago, now he’s injured and I wouldn’t trust him to carry Barmes’s deer meat. Gagne will make you wish you drafted Garrett Anderson in the 18th round. If Wilson makes it out of spring training as the closer, he won’t last until tax day as the sole closer. Percival was retired this time last year. Nuff said.
27. Eric Gagne, MIL (Derrick Turnbow)
28. C.J. Wilson, TEX (Eddie Guardado, Joaquin Benoit)
29. Troy Percival, TAM (Al Reyes)
30. Brad Lidge, PHI (Tom Gordon)