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As the Season draws closer, hell, it’s basically here tomorrow, the Closer Apocalypse of 2012 is starting to be as ritualistic as a Mayan prediction.  So, for those not in the know, it’s basically going to happen again, and has already started.  Injuries either that are lingering from last year or new ones that get covered with Snoopy boo-boo strips are popping up.  It’s going to happen, but don’t fret.  Smokey is here with a doomsday prepper’s guide to handling the relief situations that are always in flux.  So grab your prepper’s bible and 12 lbs. of powdered eggs and let me settle you down some.  Here are some guys that I am storing away for the inevitable next closer carousel situation, because staying ahead of the waiver wire is cool and gets you stickers.

St Louis – Jason Motte goes down and everyone rushes to the Boggs.  They may find cranberries, they may find a relief situation that will not be short of viable options. I like, strike that, LOVE Mitchell Boggs.  I had him as my top holds guy this year and he, if given the chance, will undoubtedly do a great job in the closer role should Motte be shelved for awhile.  Unfortunately I think he is more valuable as a no mess, no fuss set-up guy rather than closer.  Guys with more electric stuff exist in that bullpen.  Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica have more closer type stuff.  You can even add in Fernando Salas if you wanted to.  Rosenthal seems to be getting the secondary looks for deep hand-cuffing, but the guy to watch for that savvy veteran presence is Mujica.  Rosenthal reminds me of the situation not to far back when Wainwright was used as a reliever, then sporadic closer, then became a mainstream SP.

Cleveland – Chris Perez is basically playing out his string in Cleveland.  The tribe are getting lots of hype as potential contenders in the Central.  There are 3 reasons why Perez doesn’t last the year with the Indians.  First, he is a complete mental head case.  The kind of girl you wanna take out because you know the sex will be phenomenal, but you have to change your number afterward type stuff.  Second, he will be entering his final year of arbitration next year and as a super 2 closer he will be getting a raise to well over 10 mil; he currently makes 7.3.  Lastly, I think the Indians are abundant with talent behind him.  Yeah, I’m not going to talk about Vinnie Pestano.  I am talking about Cody Allen and even further down the line Danny Salazar.  So Vinnie should be rostered,  but Allen should be stalked, legally of course.

Boston – Joe-L from the planet Krypton was brought in to be the cat’s knees the bee’s pajamas.  Well, I am not one for paying attention to ST stats, but in this case I will.  9 ER runs in 6 innings pitched isn’t fantastic or fabuloso or some other household cleaning product for that matter.  The Sawx aren’t shy about options.  Andrew Bailey is chomping at the bit to get back in the closer circle.  They also have little respected Koji Uehara who is forgotten about like pokemon cards.  The guy I like for the long term spot in Boston is Allen Webster, came over in the trade with Dodgers and has pitched outstanding this spring.

Pirates – Jason Grilli last year had a dominant year.  Can he translate that into a closing role, he of his 5 career saves.  The K rate is to drool for, but the track record isn’t.  He is already 36 years young and has a career relief ERA in the mid 4′s.  The guy I want and as a favorite roster stash is Mark Melancon.  The thing with Mark is he isn’t a big city guy at all, I know this because I have spoken with him several times when he was in the minors.  Now I think Grilli gets a lotta leash in the closer seat, but I would feel more comfy knowing that he had the pedigree for years.   For those digging further for dynasty gems check out Vic Black.

  1. Hawk says:
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    What do you think abut Jon Axford? He turn it around or is he on the replacement line too? If so, who would pickup the Saves for the Brewers?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Hawk: @Hawk: love Axford this year. K’s should be as abundant as last year. The lack of brewers depth leads me to think he will have a longer leash but not really need it. Henderson is the cuff.

  2. Peter says:
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    Boras is confident Valverde will sign with a team. Stash?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Peter: depends on league size, but lack of dl capability says no. Try and stay ahead if the know and grab him when you hear positive news.

      • The Jabronis says:
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        Stash.

        • Peter says:
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          @The Jabronis: PAPA NOT SO GRANDE (I think him losing 18 lbs is total BS)!!!

          • Smokey

            Smokey says:
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            @Peter: yea it’s a marketing ploy. Like healthy fast food

  3. Who sets up Boggs in STL? Worth picking up in a Holds league?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Jeremiah: mujica, the RZE and rosenthal. Mujica and rosey are worthy of a deeper league spot.

      • Dobber says:
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        @Smokey: Rosey Palm

  4. Chris says:
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    In order, who would you add with most potential to close for the entirety of the season from teams with tight closer battles?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Chris: pestsno melancon rosenthal from above. Gregerson, fujikawa Wilton Lopez in other sitches

      • Chris says:
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        @Smokey: THANK YOU

  5. Jay

    jaywrong says:
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    Should I assume that if I want a teaser on your posts, I should simply watch your wavier wire activity in our writers league?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @jaywrong: I’ll just pull the old Jedi mind trick and say these are not the droids you’re looking for

    • UncleLarryWalker says:
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      @jaywrong: Ohh, getting high on your own supply (of advice) are we Smokey? It’s rule 1 for a reason…

      • Smokey

        Smokey says:
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        @UncleLarryWalker:Haha…. rules only apply to Frank Lopez and Frank White.

  6. Robby D says:
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    Is there any word on whether Cook has the job right now with Balfour recovering in Oakland?

    • Robby D says:
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      @Robby D: Closer options:

      I have a DL spot that will come open as soon as the Cubs get off their pre-pubescent hairy bear asses and put Garza on the DL. I’m in a H2H 10 team and the best available options are:

      Jose Veras
      Vinnie Pestano
      Tyler Clippard
      Ryan Cook

      We are an 8X8 where Losses, K/9, QS are also stats, so sometimes it’s better to have a high K/9 closer/reliever than just a guy who gets saves but is doing it ugly (which is supposed to be the name of the new Cher album)

      Which is the best option? I’m leaning towards Cook if Balfour is still supposed to miss the beginning of the year.

      • James says:
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        @Robby D:

        Veras is the safer save option. He will not kill you anywhere and grab 25 saves on the year (the stros are so bad that even an average releiver should be able to hold that job).

        I would go cook since, as you pointed out, he has value even without the closing gig for really good ratios.

        Pestano would be close to cook… not the same upside, but a much longer track record.

        Clippart is like pestano and cook now only likely 3rd in line for saves, so i would pass.

        • Robby D says:
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          @James: Gracias, I think I’ll go with Veras at first, and see what happens. I also have two daves: Robertson and hernandez. Are any of them worth dropping for one of the guys mentioned above?

          • Smokey

            Smokey says:
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            @Robby D: hold with the Dave’s

            • Robby D says:
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              @Smokey: Last question I swear. I have Sergei Santos in this league also, so would it be worth it to drop him for any of the above (besides Veras who I’m snatching up when Garza clears for the DL)

              • Smokey

                Smokey says:
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                @Robby D: I like Pestano better than Santos

                • Robby D says:
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                  @Smokey: I like him because I’m a Cleveland native originally, but thought I might be homering on him hard.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Robby D: Balfour seems ready to go for regular season. Cook is a great handcuff option in holds leagues or deeper than 14 team leagues.

  7. Tchaikovsky08 says:
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    Ahem …I believe the correct phrase is that Andrew Bailey is “champing” at the bit.

    In all seriousness, I agree with most of your assessments. I would love to see Melancon get more saves than Hanrahan, just so I can watch the Sawx fans continue to devolve into the Sawx fans of old — disheartened and bitter.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Tchaikovsky08: I suck at grammar. But I hope the Sawx suck worse.

    • Freakshow says:
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      Chomping and champing mean the same thing, but no one uses champing anymore so it’s colloquially become chomping.

      • Robby D says:
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        @Freakshow: They don’t mean the same thing, but you are right about colloquial usage. If you’re writing for the New Yorker, you may want to go with champing, but for the interwebs, chomping pays the bills.

        For what it’s worth, champing at the bit is what a racehorse like Trout or Harper would do, chomping at the bit, would be more applicable to Sandoval, Bartolo Colon, or Miggy, and then you have yourself some nice wordplay to go with your cosplay and coldplay.

        • Robby D says:
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          @Robby D: I wish I could have come up with another, but I can think of a play at number fore…

  8. Rags says:
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    NL-only 11 team roto league. Top closers go in the low 20s and all but two or three of them have been kept this year. I had Motte kept at 8 (this year only), but we can drop injured players before the draft. Think he’ll come back and be worth 8 before the end of the season? Or cut my losses and spend that 8 somewhere else?

    • Rags says:
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      @Rags: Has anyone had an elbow flexor injury and come back from it after a week or two of rest? All I hear about is Sheets, Colby Lewis and Nick Punto. Obviously those guys are going to stand out more than guys for whom it was no big deal, though.

      • Smokey

        Smokey says:
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        @Rags: at 8 it’s a decent dented can discount. It won’t hurt you to keep him at that price if closers are high priced

        • Robby D says:
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          @Smokey: I love this use of the term and I will refer to any injured reliever as a dented can. If only I could photoshop, I’d have Adam Sandler saying Microsoft is down two points then punching Zach Galifinakis (I’m sure I murdered that spelling) who is playing Jason Motte in this scenario.

  9. The Guru says:
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    I love me some Boggs and he’s still out there for the taking. Nice pick with Webster in Boston. Another Beantown guy to watch is Henry Owens. I know spring don’t mean a thing, but he was throwing 95 Sunday and struck out 13 of the 15 batters he faced. No word on whether it was the Fort Myers little league but impressive.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @The Guru: I like Owens a little bit. He is a few years away and needs to work on secondaries. He should be given every chance to start in highs/ double a this year.

  10. Pefacommish says:
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    What do you think are the chances that later in the season Chapman finds his way back into the rotation?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Pefacommish: Little chance to zero. The jerking back and forth is over with him I think. Unless Capt toothpick gets his way and wants to ruin stuff.

  11. Justin says:
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    What about Rondon? Is Benoit or Coke a better handcuff?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Justin: if Rondon fails its going to be a committee type deal so they would steal from each other and both would be mutually beneficial to a team desperate for saves.

  12. uncdrew says:
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    I find Glen Perkins dreamy.

  13. Shake N Bacon says:
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    Nice write up!

    Is this going to be a weekly or bi-weekly (or is that bi-monthly, I get so friggin confused with that!) column? The league I’m in is so hard to pick up saves on the wire. I live in the southwest and everyone else in the league lives on the east coast. I wake up at 6:00AM MT and they’ve already been awake for 2 hours and picked up all the fresh meat on the waiver wire before I even get to take my ritualistic morning deuce. It’s not fair.

    What are your feelings on Aaron Crow? Worth picking up in 12 team leagues or just watch the situation for now? I don’t see Holland losing the job, but a year ago Crow was hyped as the future closer of the Royals.

    Do you think Sergio Santos will get his job back this year? Do you see him getting any saves this year?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Shake N Bacon: thanks man. I will be doing a lot of relief posts during the year so stay tuned. I like Crow to be a great win vulture this year closer not unless something catastrophic happens. Santos will get a handful just as the handcuff and over use of Janssen, but I don’t see him winning it back without the obvious injury or in effectiveness.

      • Shake N Bacon says:
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        @Smokey: I will keep my eye out for more of these posts. I’ll be chasing saves this year like 50 Cent is still chasing Erin Andrews for that kiss.

        Thanks for the reply!

  14. Big B says:
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    Trade offer, I’m in need of OF help with Eaton down. Offer on table, MY GUYS (Halladay, Prince Fielder and Segura) for (Starlin Castro, Hunter Pence, Mark Buerhle)…

    What u think, I’m torn about dumping Prince. No keeper implications apply.

    • stumanji says:
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      @Big B: Hell to the No.

    • bossmanjunior says:
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      @Big B:

      Smokey didnt reply so I’ll give my two cents..

      I wouldnt do it. Fielder is much more valuable than Castro, Pence is slightly more valuable than Halladay, and Segura is much better than Buerhle.

      I’ll use Greys rankings to put it into context: Fielder 7, Castro 31, Pence 71, Halladay 95, Segura 187, Buerhle …I cant even find Buerhle. I stopped looking around 265.

      Depending on your league, Buerhle is probably not even rosterable and Segura has a lot of upside. Could easily put up Andrus like numbers, more stolen bases, weaker counting stats, and slightly less ba.

  15. hi Smokey -

    always a fan of your MR / late inning work. Since you have a really good handle on this topic, figured Id get your quick take on my RP roster.

    14 team, mixed, redraft 6×6 (ops/holds), 30 man rosters. Start 12 pitchers, 6 can be RP.

    My RP are: Jansen, Venters, McGee, Marshall, Alburquerque, Melancon and Delabar

    * aware of Venter’s elbow

    Obviously, saves are an issue for me. However, I tend to draft/acquire MR studs (cause of holds/solid peripherals) rather than pay for saves and load up on offense, with an eye to the wire and possibly having some of my MR converting into Closers as the year goes on. Last year, did that with Chapman, Romo, Jansen — worked out well. Same concept this year with a tad less talent.

    Of these available MR – do you like any enough to swap out with any of mine listed above:
    Wilton Lopez – presence of rex brothers bothers me.
    Charlie Furbush – a lot of depth in pen, love his stuff.
    Jordan Walden – terrible year last year, injured.
    Fernando Salas – a lot of depth. would rather have rosenthal
    Joakim Soria – coming off injury, but like him. Nathan is also injury prone

    Lastly, I’m watching these 3 young MR guys – wanted to get your take on them:
    Jeremy Horst
    JJ Hoover
    George Kontos

    appreciate the take and help.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @el burros amigo: You can DL Veneters and add Furbush, and then when you get more news on Venters drop all together. I love all three of those guys for under the radar holds guys. Hoover is filthy but is basically the third lefy in the pen and wont get utilized to his potential. Kontos pitched well in the playoffs and Bochy likes mixing and matching late in games he could see some save chances. Horst is going to kind of get lost in that pen, Philly SP go so late in games they will hand the ball off to Bastardo and Adams more often then not.

      • @Smokey:

        thanks, Smokey.

        full disclosure — In light of the Venters news, I actually cut both Furbush and Erasmo Ramirez yesterday to grab Melancon and Delabar…

        despite 30 man rosters — we don’t have a DL spot to utilize — so just 4 bench spots total.

        my bench consists of gyorko, luebke, garza, and venters.

        i cant see a scenario whereby i cut any of those guys (maybe luebke, but rather not for now). It’s tough rostering injured arms that can’t help for 2 months, but will try cause I wanna stash both. So, given the no DL – I guess the question becomes do you like Furbush more than Delabar?

  16. Nate says:
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    Rondon sent down… looks like it will be a combination of Al, Coke and Benoit… who do you like if I was going to stash one and hope they win the job?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Nate: Al and Benoit

    • lost but making good time says:
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      @Nate:
      I am hoping for Coke just so I can say I’m high on coke. And this is totally out of left field but I think they were talking to Brian Wilson back in January.

      Just saying…..

  17. Eric says:
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    Who will get the majority of the saves in Detroit?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Eric: al squared and Benoit is my best guess. It’s going to be a committee until someone proves worthy. Rondon will still be in that situation when he gets called back up.

  18. Bmg says:
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    Thoughts on Marmol?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:
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      @Bmg: I don’t mind Marmol as long as you have 1-2 better options for saves and he is always going to be a whip-tard

  19. Dennis Wilson says:
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    whats up smokey,
    roto with k, w, sv, baa, whip, k/9, and era who would you add: brandon league, bobby parnell, or mitchell boggs?

  20. smokey -

    With news breaking on Venters being out minimum of 4-8 weeks with plasma injection are you still holding him?

    14 team, mixed, redraft league (6×6; holds)

    RP – Jansen, McGee (fun appearance today), Marshall, Al Al, Venters is my core.

    Available FA:
    Melancon/ Watson
    Wilton Lopez
    Sean Burnett
    Junichi Tazawa
    Steve Delabar

    Like any of these enough to replace Venters? Or wait and see if he’s ok in 4-8 weeks? Thinking I should add Burnett.

    I could also drop one of Wily Peralta or Zach Wheeler…

    Appreciate your take,

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