Like typical closenado news and happenings, it comes in spurts.  The White Sox, Giants, and the Angels all made changes this past week.  All changes were needed, but only one team, the Giants, look like they will try something new and not return to the original status quo.  Sergio Romo is a proven and decent closer, but he’s overused, predictable, and doesn’t throw very hard.  The change to Santiago Casilla and the cast of Affeldt, Machi or any other Giants RP seems to be temporary.  Casilla has done well in the past with 25 saves in 2012, and a shiny ERA that hasn’t eclipsed 3+ since 2010.  Consistency makes you reliable as a relief pitcher.  I stole that from a German beer ad, or at least I think I did…it was in German and me no sprechen di lingie.  So to continue the look down the road, take a look at the SF bullpen picture for next year and you’ll notice that Romo is a free agent.  So the point is: either Santiago Casilla is the answer there for a one-year stop gap, or should they look to, what is IMO, the best relief pitching group of prospects in baseball.  They have three guys who look to be ready (dynasty leaguers go get a pen!): Stephen Okert, Heath Hembree, and my favorite, Ray Black (public advisory over drop pens). So sit on Casilla if you grabbed him.  It could be a long ride, but big head Bochy, and the monsters of the SF bullpen have a proven closer that will, for all intents and purposes, be back…maybe.  It’s more fun to leave it suspenseful, like Murder She Wrote.

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It’s just sad when you watch what should be a fluid situation turn out to be a fiery car wreck.  That’s what the bullpen situation with the Angels is like.   Just awful to think about, watch and….yikes, to even be immersed in their roster purgatory is just dreadful.  Their bullpen is like the Swamp of Sadness in The NeverEnding Story.  Atreyu (Mike Scoiscia) leads his horse, Artax (Ernesto Frieri) there, and the horse gets swallowed up with despair (your roster).  The only bad thing is that Fred Savage isn’t in the Angels pen. Instead, we are stuck with Joe Smith, Ernesto Frieri and the schloo of underachieving or unproven arms that they have to offer.  I for one would like them to just settle on a guy, who cares if he fails 5 out of 10 times.  I was just informed that this is exactly what has happened already.  In all seriousness, roster Joe Smith, bench Ernesto.  Monitor everyone else, but don’t hold out hope that a luck dragon is going to come swoop in and save the situation, or your team if you got pot committed to the situation there.  Stick around for some random tidbits of mental masturbation…

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I know bad raps can make a career… I mean Shaq made his secondary career off of them, but Joel Peralta is really getting one.  Everyone loves change, and the whole shiny new toy factor associated with bullpens, but I’m here to learn you something about guys that have been drafted, dropped, and then added and dropped twice over this year.  The Tampa Bay bullpen, and starters for that matter, are just bad this year. But, in the last 30 days, Peralta has lowered his ERA by 3-and-half runs.  That’s not exactly easy, especially on a team 15-plus games below .500. Also, he has more K’s, same ERA, and more Holds than the now more-coveted  Jake McGee during the last 30 days. Better pitcher all year, McGee, better lately? Peralta (but he burned us, so we give him the finger).  Just me giving my two cents.  I mean fluctuation, and “oooh that guy looks good in macrame shorts” are a blinding factor for rostering fringe bullpen guys.  Stick around for some cool bullet points shaped like baseballs… neat.

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The job in Tampa isn’t as pretty as it used to be, as the team is super underachieving, and not in a superhero-footed pajamas kinda way. Joe Maddon looks like he needs an executive parachute, even though he is a hoot to listen to during an interview. I think he is waiting for someone to jump and run with the job. Jake McGee, Joel Peralta or even the artist formally known as Leo Nunez may be the most obvious and experienced options, but I have another one for ya: Kirby Yates.  I didn’t make that up. He reminds me of what Jim Henderson did two years ago with the Brewers. Career journeyman, decent, but nothing stands out about his minor league numbers… then boom. K -ates in the minors are above 12 for the last 3 seasons, and he has over 50 saves during that same time.  Tampa is the place to rehab relievers, and Korean War shrapnel wounds, so crazier things have happened.  Kyle Farnsworth, Fernando Rodney, Troy Percival, Danys Baez, Lance Carter, Al Reyes…. you get the point. The rule with closers is: It’s better to be first then not at all. So if time and space are in alignment and Rod Serling is already taken, pounce. Stick around, it’s a good week to speculate on saves and save-nots.

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Everyone knows about the top prospects getting called up. The Singleton’s, Tavares’, and Springer’s get all the pub, as they should.  Hitters that actually hit the ball only need to be successful 3 out of 10 times, and they are considered fantastic… even all-stars.  Now a pitcher gets 3 out of 10 wins, he’s a bum of the highest order, like a bum that can’t play an instrument, but has a puppy for sympathy change.  We all know that guy.  So the rookie RP getting called up around this time may stick with their respective teams, and they may not.  The three in particular I am referring to are Cam Bedrosian, Shae Simmons and Corey Knebel.  Bedrosian’s numbers in the minors are crazy unimaginable, and he could find himself in a great situation once he gains the trust of the bullpen-opath in Scoiscia.  The latter two are prolly not really factors, just yet as Simmons is blocked by the current GOAT at the position, and Knebel, albeit the first 2013 draft pick to make the majors, is going to be a bit-player until next year unfold’s.  I just wanted to point out that bullpen only-guys that get promoted need some love, it’s not like they smell like that musically challenged, puppy wielding guy from previous.  These adds are more of a deeper league or keeper league adds now, though I have speculated on Bedrosian in a 16-teamer with a deeper bench.

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There is something to be said about doing your job, and then saying “good job but the regular guy is back, and he’s taking your job back.”  Mark Melancon filled in swimmingly for the injured Jason Grilli and his line is better than most closers in the F-tier of my rankings.  To his dismay, Grilli is back, and is being eased back into his role.  Is it fair? Probably.  Does it suck for Melancon stat vultures? Most definitely. Going back exactly one year, when Melancon became a fantasy stalwart on our rosters, he has an ERA under 2, 25 Saves and 17 Holds.  That’s all after Grilli went down last year. Besides the K factor, which is in Grilli’s favor, Melancon is basically being grounded for getting only an A- in English class… but but but it’s still and A!, I’m sure he’s muttering.  But, I’m rooting for Grilli, dat journeyman done good, saved all those kids from dat thang. Whatever that thing was. You know the story. No? Well make one up, tell your friends it happened, and let’s start a rumor. So good luck Jason Grilli, just make sure to look both ways when you cross the street. Oh, we totally forgot about your 3 BS in April. Cause you’re back here forever.  Subliminal message: Hold onto Melancon.

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Lots of haps going on in the end-game of fake baseball this week. Matt Lindstrom fell down and sprained his crown. Surgery has already happened, so if you’re stuck in traffic, or your league has weekly adds instead of daily, Ronald Belisario looks like the dude. In case your looking for alterior adds, Daniel Webb looks like he will get some looks, as Belisario isn’t a spring chicken, nor proven commodity. So add willingly if space allows. Also in Oakland, where nothing ever survives, or lives there permanently, according to Jay(Wrong) [Ed. Note-- I was wrong. Bail Bondsman flourish there...], they finally got smart, used their shoe phone, and called in the option that may have been the right choice all along. Sean Doolittle is the shiny new toy, until the new shiny toy comes around or he breaks. I love me some Doolittle. If there was a wagon that hosted bands on it, I would be a groupie I guess. He has the K rate, the arsenal, but gets the whole “he is a lefty” shenanigans. So look past his Loogyness and just dig on the beard and 12-plus K rate, or if that doesn’t do it for ya, the 30/1 K/BB ratio.  Or if that doesn’t get ya… well, err… that was my last detail, sorry. Enjoy the tidbits of straight sizzurp laced knowledge that Stephen Hawking would even Ctl+Alt+Esc.

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This whole opening will be devoted to Trevor Rosenthal.  Why?  Because you are being put on notice, a notice to cease and desist your sucktitude.  Watching you makes me wanna renew my prescription card to the herbal  remedy place.  The stats are yuck, take your K’s and jump around as he huffs and puffs and blows your WHIP house down. I wanna take a moment and send this note just for Trevor.

Trevor… Hey what’s up man. I don’t know you, don’t know if you read Razzball, but you should, because we are like the Danity Kane of Fantasy Baseball.  Take a look over your shoulder my friend, you see that beard having flame thrower getting prepped in the minors?  Yeah, that’s basically Wally Pipp coming back, but in this case he will be called Jason Motte.  Now, Jason is a level-headed bloke, he stabbed someone in 3rd grade for stealing his apple sauce at snack time, and though all charges were dropped and wall-ball was played after… he is coming. Like the Balrog that Gandalf had to beat up…  You have been warned homie. Oh, and say hello to your mother for me.

So if you are reading this and have a DL spot,or a wasted spot you wanna spec on for a week or two, now is the time.  What’s the worst that can happen? Well, he comes back and shats the bed on your bench, but who cares? That’s like doing it on someone else’s bed, and they have a maid.  Stick around for some tid-bits or bits of tid for the guy who wears a helmet and reads this column.

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Hey, hey,  hey, talking relievers on Thursday.  What could be better? Well, maybe ice cream covered in Kate Upton.  Actually strike that and flip it.  That sounds better.  OR exactly the same.  Regardless, the top ‘pens are starting to take shape as we reach the 1/5 part of the season.  The who’s are the who’s and the what the eff’s are, well, what the eff’s.  The MLB average for bullpen ERA is 3.92.  Now, that isn’t exactly something that makes you have confidence in any teams collective bullpens.   That’s why you get to be selective… take who you want and disregard the rest.  It’s like the Chinese buffet down the street– not everything looks edible, and yeah, you will probably get sick from most of it, but there’s some value savings.  Always go with the soup, excellent starter, can’t go wrong with that option.  So, take a look at bullpen arms that are doing these three things: Save situations, games with the lead, and total batters faced (and the percentage of K’s from that).  You have those three things, you have a stout middle reliever.  Yeah, I hear ya dude in the corner with his hand raised, there are other stats that we should look at.  Everyone looks at them, every site pounds you on the simple stats.  Dig deeper, look past the first page of stats and do something different.  Sorry… I was yelling. I get mad when I am hungry.  Food for me, continue reading and comments for you.

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Ah, charts with actual stats are so much nicer to look at.   The first bullpen report of the year was like reading Playboy in braile, ’cause technically we shouldn’t need both hands, but we do.  The cream is rising to the proverbial top when you look at the chart below.  The familiar names are settling in, and if you drafted some of them, or they have been mentioned in the closenado of 2014 for save chances, they probably are owned, were owned  or some semblance there in between.   Middle relievers are like that old cartoon Pound Puppies, yeah they are cute and good ‘n all, but they are still living in the pound in acartoon.  No homes to go to, no freedom…  Sad, but as kids we were fooled.  Relievers are much the same, they never really have a home unless we give them one.

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