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With the season growing eerily closer, I sit back today and examine the closer situations for some teams that aren’t as cut and dry as others.  Some of these teams have a great situation if one guy can take the reigns and run with, the others, well, as the Fresh Prince said, “that’s not that simple.”  So have a gander, minus the goose, at the closer situations that you will want to monitor for your upcoming drafts and who to be proactively drafting just in case.

DodgersBrandon League allegedly has the job out the gate, but the Tin-Man, Kenley Jansen, has the potential to be a fantasy asset as long as his health stands pat.  League is going to be drafted mid table amongst the closers, which to me is way too high.  He pitched fantastic down the stretch and the thrill of pitching for a better team may have done the trick.  He still is flawed, as he still walks a good deal of guys.  As for Jansen, he is a K/9 machine, and should be rostered in all leagues.  So it’s going to be League to start the season but with a limited leash, so be that guy who steals the handcuff in Jansen really late.

Tigers – The chain- smoker no longer has “Papa Grande” to go to in the ninth.  He instead turns his attention possibly to Bruce Rondon, a hard-throwing youngster that lit up the minors last year with his 100 MPH fastball.  That is where the only problem lies, Rondon has only one pitch, making him a one trick pony.  I have a gut feeling that Leyland is going to get to Spring Training and want a veteran with some experience in the spot.  This could be an in-house option Phil Coke, post season ball kisser Al “New Mexico” or a FA off the street like a K-Rod.   In drafts Rondon will be had later in drafts, for deeper leagues I have seen Coke being taken as the handcuff.

Cubs – While it’s not really a situation yet, it is going to be.  Carlos Marmol on paper looks great, he looks like a caricature you pay for while waiting in line at the Louvre. He is a bad start away from being ditched as the closer and stepping in would be Kyuji Fujikawa.  I am naming him “Super Fudge”, because every reliever deserves a great Judy Blume reference.  Fudge compiled over 200 saves in the last 6 years in Japan, so the skill set is there, just the transition is in his way.

Astros – It’s going to be feast or famine in Houston.  I foresee a lot of skinny people taking the Dick Gregory approach to save situations in Houston. The team has an over/under win total for the year according to Vinnie at my local grocer of 52 wins.  Yikes indeed.  I’d rather invest in arugula at his store than bank on saves for the Lastro’s.  Like any janitorial job,  veteran preference is going to be what happens.  Jose Veras is the shiniest star in an otherwise blacked out situation.  Best advice I can give you as a friend, and yes I consider strangers friends, Avoid Avoid Avoid.

Mets – Frank to the second is the incumbent, but while he tends to his bone spur, Parnell will hold down the closer job.  I just don’t see Francisco being there the whole season when he gets healthy or on a regular basis for the New York Madoffs.  They have shored up their bullpen with quality pen guys, all of which have previous closing experience.  I like Lyon to also slip in there and steal people’s babies, I mean saves.  Sorry was watching Out of Africa.

  1. brett says:
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    Playing a hunch my Tigers handcuff is Brayan Villareal. He’s anything but an experienced veteran but he’s their only quality reliever without a defined role. Thank me later.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @brett: I liked Vilareal when they got him from the Dbacks, with his elbow wonky and at keast 2 better RH options in front of him he is a longshot right now but I can see him carving out a nice role there

  2. AJA says:
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    Hey Smokes,

    Terry Collins said he would use Parnell if FF not able to pitch. Otherwise, good stuff.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @AJA: Yea and I can say Im going to use a broken ladder until it no longer works. Parnell is not the answer there long term, yea he throws 100 but its straight as can be. If Frank can’t pitch of course TC is going to say Parnell is the next in line he was there last year. Lyon is the guy to own or draft better and alleviate the situation all together.

  3. mikey boy324 says:
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    Smokey what about Benoit?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @mikey boy324: He can’t pitch on back to back days, and Leyland has said he wont use as such. He will prolly snag a handful of saves but nothing great.

  4. Elwood Blues says:
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    In an NL Only 12-team keeper league where closers will be scarce.. would you rather trade for a $15 Axford (on a 2yr can’t cut contract), trade for a $1 Parnell and hope he sticks, bid like crazy $30-40 for Motte or Soriano, or none of the above.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Elwood Blues: I would take Axford at15, the last 30 days of the year he was the top ranked closer in some/most formats.

  5. every year in the preseason it seems like everybody decides on a couple of closers who are DEFINITELY going to lose their jobs by may and then mass draft the heck out of their backups. last year it was chris perez, and it got to where people were practically drafting pestano ahead of him.

    this year it seems like it’s league and marmol. i’m not saying either guy couldn’t lose his job, but i don’t think it’s actually any more likely than any other closer losing their job. if they pitch good they’ll keep it, and both guys are completely capable of pitching good.

    league was bad with seattle, and his contract is a joke, and everyone in fantasy loves jansen and wants him to be the guy. but the dodgers believe they fixed league’s mechanics, and the way he pitched for them (plus their confidence in giving him that contract, even though it’s ludicrous anyway) is evidence in support of that idea, small sample though it may be. and he has a lot of ability when he’s on. my guess is he’s just the closer all year and that’s it. he absolutely could get hurt or start pitching bad again, but so could anybody.

    marmol is kinda scary but he had a crazy good second half last year that nobody seems to care about and also has a lot of upside just because of his K rate. he’s a lot more likely to get traded than league is, but he could also be the #1 closer by the end of the year. remember when he used to be one of the first couple closers off the board? it wasn’t that long ago and he hasn’t gotten hurt or anything since then. sure he’s a bad start away from losing the job, but isn’t literally everybody a bad start away from losing the job? it just depends on how bad a start we’re talking about. is marmol actually that much more likely than everybody else to have a bad start? i’m not sure about that.

    so – i *do* think marmol is unlikely to end the season as the cubs closer, but that’s mostly because of the trade factor. so you’re just playing Closer Trade Roulette with him, whether he’ll wind up on a team that needs a closer or just a setup guy.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @wily mo: Anyone can pitch badly and get removed from the role. Marmol did have a decent second half I agree, but if someone in the off season said to the Cubs we will give you something for him they would have taken it, and there would be no speculating at all. Every closer in baseball, shy a few, are all walking carefully over broken glass. Pre-season is just that pre-season, an speculating is the name of the game.

      • philthebluntman says:
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        @Smokey: marmol did get traded this offseason. For dan haren. Deal fell through after haren failed cubs physical.

  6. Cam_13 says:
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    Also Janssen/Santos depending on Casey’s are issues…

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Cam_13: Santos is a great cuff for speculating. Janssen seems to ok so far threw first bullpen the other day, but never a sure thing 3 months after shoulder surgery.

  7. Roy says:
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    What about Frieri/Madson in Anaheim? Scoscia seems to favor veterans, but Frieri was terrific last year. With Madson on the shelf, if Frieri gets off to a hot start can we trust Scoscia to leave him in the role?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Roy: Scoscia is a strange cat, Frieri will definitely get the chance early on, Madson was brought in to be the closer and I see him taking the role back when healthy.

  8. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    thanks good stuff

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