When looking at the standings, it is usually a great indicator of how well a team is doing by looking at the Hold leaders.  It doesn’t tell you all or is the end all be all of indicators, but when you have three guys in the top-4, it speaks volumes.  It shows the team is ahead, but not by so much that they are blowing people out, have a great set of flow through the bullpen with set jobs, and they are successfully in-sync.  Not that “in-sync”, but yeah, sorta because something that included J.T. can’t really be all that bad.  So what is making the Chicago White Sox so good at what they are doing right now?  First, it starts from the last inning back.  David Robertson has the goods of what you want from a closer, he has the K-rate and decent control to limit base runners.  What I am noticing is he is keeping the ball away from the upper part of the zone, which was his buga-boo from the past; that he gives up too many homers.  In front of him, he has a trio of relievers with different mindsets.  Nate Jones is basically a closer in front of the real closer, but with a better approach of pitching to contract then K’ing everyone.  Zach Duke is by far the sexiest LOOGY in the business right now and Matt Albers is an all effort pitcher with tons of movement on his pitches.  Add in the fact that they have Putnam and Petricka as sub pieces that can fit into anyone’s role, and they have what looks like in the early stages of the season the best bullpen in baseball. That is not to say that it will last but the investment level from a fantasy level, especially from a holds league, but it is very stout.  So check out the other tidbits and bits tids that I have for you after the bump.  (Plus a chart that monitors usage and runs given up by relievers that usually lead to them losing or gaining spots in the pen.)

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As much as I love publishing and giving you the “haps” on the closer ranks, I love the depth that a bullpen can give you and how it can affect your roster.  It is way to early to look into my Grafix crystal ball and say this guy and that one will be the crowned prince of the hold this year… to some degree.  Early usage and situations prove a lot.  Yes, injuries happen, and ineffective spells happen, and sometimes trades happen, but if you were good enough to make the team out of Spring, then usually you are good enough to make yourself an established piece of the bullpen.  The top names are still the top names.  The cream either rises to the top or it rules everything around me, both perspectives are interesting because how can you not believe the Wu or old school rhetoric. So with the first bullpen piece of the year, we will cover all the same things you are accustomed to from last year as I get more in-depth than anyone else when it comes to holds.  Some don’t care or are on the fence, as if it’s a completely comical or made up stat.  It is no more made up then saves, because that is exactly what it is, just before the save… so it is basically a pre-save.  Either way, I care and will give you some early trends to look at and some names to go with it.  Trends rule everything around bullpens or TREAB, dolla dolla bill y’all.

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Welcome to my first regular season post of the year 2016. I’m moving in a different direction this season, as I wanted a new challenge and got burnt out doing the same thing every year. You gots to diversify! This will be my first season where I get to talk about pitching, but not just any pitching, bullpens! I love the pen, always have. As a kid, the Goose was one of my favorite players and seeing a game get closed out was the best feeling as a fan. Even as a kid I wanted the ball at the end of games. From age nine ’til 16, I was a solid back end option [Jay’s Note: I like your mom’s solid back end option] to take the mound and finish a game. On the unfortunate flip-side, I couldn’t start a game to save my life. I don’t even want to try and remember what the ERA difference was, but it was somewhere in the fourish range. You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with SAGNOF? Only to show you how much passion I have for the bullpen. This year I’ll be doing my best week in and week out to bring you the top speed and saves plays. For those that remember my Sunday content for the past two seasons, Creeper of the Week, this will be similar to that, with the focus going solely to SAGNOF. Unless of course I can’t resist a batty call plug that hasn’t been mentioned on the site. Hey, I’m working through creeper withdraw. I wonder if they make an alternative to help me get my fix… Mendozadone!

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The National League Least has the Marlins, Braves and Phillies to thank for the Least moniker, as none of those teams were able to win 72 games last year. The Braves and Phillies are in rebuild mode. What’s your excuse Marlins? At least, they have an awesome sculpture in the outfield. Why? Thank goodness, for the fanatical few on the East Coast that actually read this, least means smallest and not bereft of everything. The Metropolitans and Nationals are juggernauts and represent the division well. Speaking of representing… RIP Phife Dawg. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Chicks dig the long-ball, so it’s a good thing that some of the preeminent boppers reside in this division. Pitching wins championships, though, and some of the most exciting and young arms are on display. With that said, there are plenty of spots open for the taking. I will discuss the major ones below for each team.

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With the baseball season starting in the blink of seven-days-eyes, I figured it would be fitting since we all crunch drafts ’til the last possible moment.  Waiting until the end isn’t always a bad idea, you get the last news possible on injuries and job security.  Bad thing is that you lose some of the sleeper appeal.  By now, if you haven’t heard of a guy who could be closing, there is a great possibility that he doesn’t have a Sam Hill’s chance of closing.   Just facts.  These guys aren’t born yesterday and matriculate with a mastery of three pitches overnight.  The bullpen folk have one job and that is to make a save situation stay a save situation.  This holds true for holds guys, pun semi-intended.  So the list is basically where it should be until we start seeing some production from the lads.  The committee situations that exist in Milwaukee and possibly Philly will be that until someone gets the bulk of the load on his back.  Which sounds gross, but from a fantasy perspective, you want a full orgy of saves on your closer.  After all, quantity is the name of the game, that and continued success at it.  It is like everyone else’s job; you do good you stay.  You do poorly, you get pink slipped and sent to middle relief-dom.  So fingers crossed, or if you play the cuff odds, just simply uncross them and pray for the worst. Here is the last rankings of Closers and their hand-cuffs for the start of fantasy baseball version, 2.016…

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Seems like Andre Ethier followed Natalie Portman’s advice in Garden State a little too closely when she told Braff that The Shins will change your life.  Dodgers announced that Ethier would miss 10 to 14 weeks with a fractured tibia.  What is that, two days after I drafted Ethier in Tout Wars?  Two and a half?  One and one three-quarters of a tibia later?  All you can do is laugh.  A high-pitched, crazed laugh like when you lose your job, then step in an empty elevator shaft.  One of those real crazy laughs that you expect to hear from someone pushing a shopping cart filled with Ho-Ho boxes that have been removed of Ho-Hos and replaced with dog turds.  One of those kind of laughs.  Filling in for Ethier will be some combo of Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford, Kike Hernandez and Trayce Thompson, a group that could be summarized with:  Bleh, Meh, Jewish, Girl.  I removed Ethier from my top 100 outfielders and top 500.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for fantasy baseball:

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No, you haven’t stumbled onto a WebMd bait page.  Well… this is an advisory blog, none the same, but we won’t scare you into believing that you have clinical depression with every symptom.  I mean, I’ve seen some other fantasy sites that attempt to advise on bullpen strategy.  It’s easy to throw stuff up about closers and bullpens and say this guy will fail because of this and that.  Heck, I like watching Jeopardy and guessing at the stuff I don’t know about either.  Add in the fact that I remember my first beer…  So this is one of the last pieces of the fantasy bullpen puzzle before we get down to brass tacks.  The NSVH question…  I always get it from the fantasy inspectors of the net of how and what to do about it.  Do I stick with what I know, or do I go complete rover and draft whatever, whenever?  That’s why I am here, hopefully to quell all ills in the race for bullpen dominance.  The NSVH leagues are tricky and can be described as: people don’t know until they have to know.  I know that really isn’t a draft strategy that I am going to “learn” you with this post, since I am better than that and take pride in leading my disciples into reliever bliss.  So go get a comfy seat upon the porcelain throne of fantasy knowledge and let me guide you, for I am the fantasy bullpen shepherd.

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True Story Alert!  Socrates Brito used to pause the Diff’rent Strokes credits for Dana Plato’s title card and would argue with the screen, calling himself a Socratic method actor.  This drove his family crazy.  For many years I’ve spouted off like Tom Selleck’s sprinkler the need to ignore spring training stats.  You should only concern yourself with injuries and position battles.  With that in mind, Brito is winning a position battle with Yasmany, leaving Yasmany baffled, “Do you people just want an outfielder with a long-flowing beard?  Is that what this is about?  What’s the argument for Socrates?  Am I making an argument for Socrates by annoying you with questions?  Is this table still blue to a blind person?”  In the top 80 outfielders, I added in Socrates into the Brendan Dassey tier.  Appropriate that he’s in the Brendan Dassey tier because if there’s any justice, there will be Socrates.  In Double-A, Socrates had nine homers and 20 steals, and Yasmany looks to be headed into the same Cuban abyss as Rusney Castillo and that guy that played Tony Montana’s buddy, Manny.  For 2016, I gave Socrates the projections of 56/7/47/.264/18 in 410 ABs, and if your league counts arguments with Plato, he has added value.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for fantasy baseball:

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Welcome back campers to the second season of Razzball’s homegrown dynasty baseball league, “The Razznasty”, filled with readers, writers, commenters, and J-FOH. It’s with great pleasure that I ring in the second year of updates. Since we last left you a few teams have changed hands, a commissioner switch took place, a whole lot of trades before the winter trade deadline, and our inaugural 10 round draft comprised of the unkept, free agents, 2015 draftees and internationals. A couple of teams with ownership changes included, J-FOH pulling a Jay-z and retiring for like 5 seconds after winning last year, and then handing the M-I-C to commenter and hip-hop aficionado Nick the Dick. This was then followed by the “Hatest that ever did it” coming out of retirement to manage the first vacancy available. We also welcomed Smokey into the fold, as he stepped in to take over an up and coming squad. Finally this club will have the quality ownership to match it’s competitive roster. In addition to those three changes, we were gifted a real wheeler and dealer by the name of Raskals. An owner, that from his first day in the league, has aggressively built what seems to be a formidable contender.

In our latest installment we’ll discuss a couple of the trades from the deadline, and hear from some of the members of the Razznasty on their takeaways form the draft. Yes there were takeaways, just like the Oscars, but more like the swag from an insurance conference. Yeah another stressball!!! Well here it is Razzball’s 2016 dynasty baseball league.

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With every first list or preseason edition of anything, there comes question marks. Lots of ifs and buts, with no real sound determination until we actual see the product. I am pretty sure Jane Austen’s first attempt at Pride and Prejudice was an abomination because who knew if Elizabeth Bennett was up to the task of being wifey material? It turns out that I can win a bet and correlate anything into the bullpen situations of the current MLB teams. Until injuries, demotion or a better option arises, we have to go by two main instincts: former ability and common sense. So the list is based off of the news to date that we have gotten on all the potential closers to date and for gigg’s I have ranked them accordingly. I have been doing bullpens for a long time and have been wrong on a few occasions, but I am not the manager or GM for the team pulling the strings, I am merely a fantasy writer. So here is the Spring training edition of the Closer rankings, their set-up men, and the cuffs we covet for fantasy in 2016.

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