It’s been a long, tough winter (especially for those of you who live in the Northeast), but the wait is almost over. Spring training is in full swing and the regular season is just around the corner. That means, of course, that fantasy baseball draft season is here.

Recently, we’ve attempted to identify the next Corey Kluber and looked at some hitters who displayed above average power and plate discipline over the past couple of seasons. Today, we’re going to focus on relief pitchers. If you’re looking for the latest closer rankings as well as the top handcuff and hold options, check out the Bullpen Report, which provides excellent RP analysis each and every week.

This post will attempt to identify relievers with a very specific profile: power arms with high K-rates. Players who throw hard and miss bats. It’s that simple. Well, mostly. Let’s take a look at the search filters that I used for this exercise:

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Does anything feel as comforting, yet restricting as a pair of fuzzy handcuffs? They just lack the masculinity that a normal grown man would like to admit…But you sprinkle in the testosterone laced excitement of fantasy baseball, and BOOM.  The fellas that we will be examining this week should be drafted in all leagues that speculate in the save department. Note to you, that is every league.  You are basically looking for these few outliers to light your path to save endearment.  First, pick a closer situation that has one clear cut guy as the fall back option. Second, find a team that looks to be on the right side of standings, which in theory is the left side, because that’s where wins go.  Third, you want a team that utilizes a keen sense of relief inevitability, vis-à-vis a manager that likes guys in certain situations; for us, that’s the guys that will be the best shut down reliever not named “closer” in the bullpen.  It’s pretty simple math there, no helmet needed or safety strapping cabinets, so you don’t pinch your digits.  So let’s have at some of Smokey’s smorgasbord of top guys you should wanna be sniping from other purveyors of the save.  Oh and by the way, I am ignoring guys like Wade Davis, Andrew Miller , and Ken Giles because if your league doesn’t draft them, then you should skip baseball and focus on Fantasy Soccer.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The A’s traded Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Franklin Barreto. I had this cheap friend who would go to the supermarket and buy things that were on sale. Not because he wanted them, but because he was cheap and it was a good deal. So, he’d come home with groceries of only things that were on sale and for dinner he’d end up having a box of couscous and a Tofutti Fudge Treat. I’d say to him, “Do you even like this stuff you’re buying?” He’d say, “No, but I do like the price.” This is what happened to Billy Beane. He doesn’t like Lawrie, but four players for one? What a deal! There’s one other explanation. Everyone is constantly telling Beane he’s brilliant. He’s so gee-dee brilliant (and handsome!), they cast Brad Pitt to play him. His detractors are nil. So, he thinks he can do no wrong and then does a trade like Friday’s, where no one can check him. If anyone else did this trade besides Beane, people would be saying he got Cosby’d. Since it’s Beane, I’ve heard people say the trade is a bit ‘underwhelming.’ Underwhelming?! The A’s traded away their best hitter, that is only 28 years old, for the Blue Jays worst hitter. If someone did this trade in your fantasy league, you’d quit your league, come into the comments here and say, “I’m done with stupid people.” The A’s five and six-hole hitters now? Ike Davis and Brett Lawrie. Well, lucky they still have Andy Parrino. Andy Parrino will be played by Joe Jonas in the Moneyball sequel. “Coach, it’s Christmas, why are you at my house? Okay, I’ll play for your A’s, but first let me sing a charity concert in Denver.” From a fantasy prospective, nothing really ever was gonna hurt Donaldson, besides maybe a move to Petco, and nothing really was going to help Lawrie, besides Coors. The Blue Jays lineup looks stacked now, but to that I say the Rangers looked stacked going into last year too. Edwin and Bautista aren’t the models of good health, Donaldson, though, has been. The last two years he’s played 158 games, and has hit 24 homers and .301, then 29 homers and .255, while chipping in 5 and 8 steals, respectively. He’s in the prime of his career, as previously mentioned, about to be in a better lineup and in a much better park for home runs, if not offense, in general. Game, set, tennis term! I don’t see him hitting for a great average again, like in 2013, but 27 homers and great counting stats without killing you in average seems not only doable, but likely. For 2015, I’ll give him the projections of 79/27/93/.259/7. The only question in my mind is where he’s batting. My guess is fifth (Reyes, Martin, Bautista, Edwin, Donaldson), assuming everyone is healthy. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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If you take enough shrooms, you start to dream about how Rick Porcello is from the magical land of Zeranok, where Buehrles and Moyers can cruise 15 MPH below the speed limit. Off shrooms, you just see Zeranok as zero ERA, no K. Yesterday’s 9 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 0 Ks was solid, great, adjective. Hard to not get excited about a complete game shutout, but I’m gonna try. Heard a lot made of the fact that Porcello only needed 95 pitches to finish off the A’s. That’s wonderful. Somewhere, Greg Maddux smiled, then he tried to go behind the counter at his local post office to show them how they can be more efficient and nearly got arrested. “Can we all just form a two-person line as we wait for Wet Willie’s Wild Slide?” That’s Maddux at a water park with his kids. I hear ya, Greg, when people are grouped together in a party of six in an amusement park line it drives me crazy too. The worst is when they get up to the front and suddenly they have 25 other friends that were with them. Any the hoo! A 95 pitch CG SHO is great IRL (you like how I was illustrating efficiency with acronyms; though this parenthetical defeats that purpose), but Porcello’s efficiency doesn’t do a whole lot for me in fantasy if it comes with no Ks. His K-rate is 5.2 and his walk rate is 2. That’s pretty blehtastic. I’d own him, since he gets the Rays next. He’s not suddenly shooting up to ace status for fantasy. I know, I know, that Porcello is one funghi, but he’s actually pretty close to borderline for 12-team mixed leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Well, you should be sorry, Ronald Belisario. You have been pretty rough on your owners since stepping into the closer role, testing the limits of SAGNOF and just how much pain a fantasy owner will endure to capture those elusive saves. Belisario was at it again last night and gave up three hits and two runs to the Blue Jays, recording just one out before being removed from the game. In just 12 innings pitched since inheriting the job, Ronny has surrendered 10 ER on 20 hits with three blown saves in in that time. More like RonaldO-No! Hey, a World Cup pun, how topical. In Belisario’s defense, he did manage eight saves during his stay as closer, but that’s more a testament to Manager Robin Ventura sticking with him this long. Well, Ventura has had enough. Alrighty then, Ventura, who’s your closer now? Jake Petricka finished out the game last night and notched his second save of the season. Petricka has a 2.08 ERA and 1.27 WHIP on the year and looks like the most likely choice to take over the closer role. Javy Guerra, Zach Putnam and Daniel Webb could also be names to watch and see chances were the Sox to go to a committee. Whatever the case, Ronald is out. And although he may not apologize for killing your ratios over the past month, you can drop him now, which is definitely something you won’t have to feel sorry about.

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Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times in one game. Have you people forgotten he walked three times…IN ONE GAME! Yeah, that’s old news for the Sons of Sam Horn. They have a new fish to park in Harvard Yard. There’s going to be a new man in Bo’ town soon. The master of no disaster, the king of that’s a purdy swing, the man who once impregnated a lady by looking at her while he was in the batter’s box, Mookie Betts. Oh, you better, you better, you Betts! I usually don’t get caught up in the thrill of the rookie chase (Ha! Of course I do, I’m a damn fool!), but this one looks like he might be mollywhopping like, well, a middle infielder and stealing bases like, well, a middle infielder. Now, now, no deflating. He does look like he can be special and should have middle infield eligibility, which ups the how’s your father just a bit. He stole 22 bases in 54 games in Double-A, but he was completely overmatching people there. Okay, in Triple-A, he’s doing the same. He’s putting up Atari numbers everywhere he goes in the minor leagues. Hard to imagine it continues in the majors, but, if it did, he’d be a 15-homer, 35-steal guy. Sounds like another Red Sox middle infielder from once upon a time ago (no, not dyslexic Ramon). The one that they shipped off to Florida (Hanley Ramirez). If Mookie is available in your league and you have room, I’d stash him. It sounds like he could be up in the landmark case of sooner vs. later. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The Sciosciapath gave Ernesto Frieri the dreaded vote of confidence the other day, so, of course, he wasn’t there when a save presented itself in the 10th inning of a 3-1 game. Cam Bedrosian entered the game with his 10+ ERA. He’s the one guy I would trust less than Frieri, but not to worry, The Sciosciapath had Frieri come in once Bedrosian was in a jam, and Ernesto promptly gave up a grand slam to Nick Swisher, who is batting .200 this year. Joe Smith would seemingly be used to get all future saves, but The Sciosciapath ties his shoes with Crazy Glue and uses the non-pronged side of the fork to eat and thinks Alan Hunter was better than Martha Quinn and once bought Styrofoam peanuts to snack on and his voicemail is “Siri, how do you leave an outgoing voicemail message?” and he thinks arithmetic is the work of witches, so I have no idea where he’s going the next time the Angels have the lead in the ninth. He says they’ll go to a committee, but I’d own Smith. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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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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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?