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?

So with the arrival of February comes the arrival, or “un-hibernation” of Smokey.  I was just getting comfy, curled up in my crochet loogy-blanket that my grandma made me, dreaming about what else? Bullpens, of course.  So this first post of the year is to bring you up to speed on my drafting advice for the upcoming year as it relates to the closers/holds and guys who will help you do everything but start the games.  I will be here every week, to update you on the chicanery that is the MLB bullpen picture.  So sit back, relax, and just think, it’s only four more weeks of me talking about bullpens and closers…Can you feel the excitement?  If you hate me now, you will probably wanna hold my hand by week 20 and maybe go see Jared by September 1st.  Here’s my thoughts on draft strategies for saves in the upcoming year of 2015…

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We now get to the ugly step-sister of rankings and the waiver darling position that we all chase.   The relief pitcher is by far the most debated position on who to draft, where, and when.  For the most part, I agree with you (with whatever you think), but the guys you want…if you get them where they are being drafted, usually beat or exceed value.  Injuries suck and do happen, you just can’t prevent them. You just have to be in a position of favor and hope that you land his replacement.  Sucktitude, i.e see Joe Nathan last year, is just a roster burden and usually drags you down all season because he isn’t someone you can just drop, but he makes it awfully hard to roster.  It’s a catch-22, to stat or not to stat.  Last year saw an unforgivable 10 closer changes in the first six weeks. That is not something you can pad your roster with enough save-cuffs for.  So let’s get to the first set of rankings of the year.  I will get into draft strategies for them, and as always, cover holds in the countdown to the season.

Note: Don’t forget to come visit me on the new Razzball Fantasy Soccer home everyday of the week. If you’re not familiar with the format, NBD, relax, you got us. Ralph and I are giving you the best Fantasy Premier League coverage out there. If you haven’t tried fantasy EPL, you’re missing out…

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Man do I hate the end of the year. People chasing saves are all into it, while the ones that are dead in the water couldn’t care less. And let’s be honest, they were prolly dead in the water all year when it came to saves. The end of the year chase is starting to show casualties, like the fall from grace of Glen Perkins. Glen is the kinda guy that I like, home-grown guy, pitching in his home state, took a nice friendly contract from the team. He can totally date-my-sister type. Unfortunately, he is staggering to the finish with an unimpressive last few weeks. I personally feel bad, because I own Perkins in a lot of places. I have so many teams, that I actually counted and the only closer I don’t own is David Robertson. Yes, every other single closer on this list is owned in some way shape or form by yours truly. So back to Perkins… his ERA and his K/9 rate have seemed to morph into some sort of Jeff Goldblum fly concoction of fantasy uselessness. Overwork and or an injury are the only things I can think that are the problem. He is/was a semi-elite guy until the wheels fell off. So if you’re still chasing, Jared Burton and Casey Fien look to be the guys lost likely to take the helm until Perkins rights the ship…which will prolly be next year. Only two weeks to go and we will get one Bullpen Report and one more Closer Report to end the year. The last will be a souped up version with lot’s of 2015 treats and stuff. So stay tuned or don’t. Your choice.

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Shields’s season proves one thing. He doesn’t answer to you, he doesn’t answer to anyone. Not today, not tomorrow, not even on Cinco de Mayo. Then Shields steals a knot of hundreds from a drug dealer, nurses a drug addict mother back to health and then kills a criminal only to cover it up. Shields, the anti-hero. Oops, I was watching a best of The Shield, and Vic Mackey had me feeling dirty, like a renegade cop! The renegade cop — fun on TV or movies; pain in the ass in real life. In September, James Shields has a 0.00 ERA, rolling off of yesterday’s 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 8 Ks with his ERA down to 3.13. His season has really been all over the map from month to month. On the bad side of things, May ERA 4.69 and June ERA 4.88. On the good side of things, July ERA 2.63; April ERA 1.60; August ERA 2.95, and the aforementioned September. Maybe the Royals knew something when they traded away Wil Myers. Or maybe we can at least pretend they did for this year. “I got short term eyes, not to be confused with short eyes like Elmore Leonard.” That’s Dayton Moore. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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This late in the year, Big Head Bochy minus his monsters goes and has to be all “I am changing it back to the way it used to be when all was being drafted and confidence in February Grey was at an all-time high.”  So the news that Santiago Casilla will now be in a co-starring role this late in the season just sucks for all parties involved.  Sergio Romo gets back into the fray as the closer situation is all muddled now in the city by the bay. Whoa, whoa, whoa-o.  Even Steve Perry hates this idea. Don’t believe me? Go ask him, as he seems like he’s over Sheila and prolly all good in the wits department.  Now I can see if Casilla was pitching awfully, which he wasn’t… well not completely, but come on Bruce.  You can’t do this and actually sleep at night knowing you torture fantasy line-ups the way you do, and I for one am writing a letter. No, an email, screw that a petition!  You hear that Bruce? A petition… so get yourself ready, I may even sue you. Smokey smash. So if you saw the writing on the wall from this, you already had Romo stashed. Let’s see what the jumbled up rankings look like with the injuries, demotions, and the rigmarole that is involved in the Saves of Thrones.

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Hello, I’m Keith Morrison of Dateline. Today’s story is about a young closer who had the life that we all dream about — money, girls, Tony La Russa’s private phone number to find out if a product used animal testing. What Trevor Rosenthal didn’t have, his shut ‘em down stuff. We pick up the story right after Rosenthal took the mound on April 7th. He was in for his third save, but there was something wrong. Could it have been he lost his control? Or was something else lurking deep in his past — perhaps a high school sweetheart who assumed the identity of Rosenthal’s favorite Starbucks barista, who was putting Visine in his favorite latte drink. Visine that has been known, when digested, to cause runs. Coming up later, Rosenthal can’t find the strike zone for three months, he blows numerous saves, Pat Neshek looks incredible in a setup role and Matheny groans. This is the story of The $12 Salad That Became A Brain Freeze. So, the Cards have been patient with Trevor Rosenthal, even while he hasn’t looked good for the majority of the year, but recently he’s been hideous. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cards go to Neshek, who has a 0.86 ERA, 0.57 WHIP and four saves already. Yesterday, Seth Maness (no relation to Brandon Guyer) got the save, but that was more because Neshek had thrown already in the game. As for the title, you may not stay…for Trevor stung! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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It’s way too quiet in here… I need a sniper to take out a closer or something. Maybe a team of trained Labrador assassins [Jay’s Note: Everyone knows that Labradoodle assassins are better.], no one would expect that.  The “Seeing Eyes of Terror” would be their name. Speaking of which, I want to concentrate this week on the under-ratedness of Huston Street. The trade that helps him, the new ballpark that allows his team to actually score runs, and the ability to be that close to Mike Trout. So we are going to venture back through time and space, steal some plutonium from some Libyans, and go back to stats for 2012 to the present day. Confused? Good, me too. So, since 2012, Huston St. is top-10 in saves (86), tops in save % with only 4 BS in 3 years, at a 95.3% clip. And he also has had a resurgence in K Rate to push it over 9 K/9, but for a better perspective, he K’s batters at a 26.5% rate. Hold on, I’m not done yet. He is also one of only four RP with a K rate of over 9 and a walk rate under 2.1.  Add all that up, and I love Street for this year, and next year well he will probably be over-drafted based on this post alone. Catch you all on the flip-flip, meaning comments.

Psyche! Before you go further, you should take me on in our Fantasy Football RCL’s for chances at some really neato prizes! (Or commish one for a chance at a Best Buy gift card!)

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Well, I guess enough was enough in Detroit.  It’s always nice to waltz around with a security blanket like Linus, and have the ability to add a closer to back-up a closer that is making 10 mil a year.  Joakim Soria walks into the room dressed like Lloyd Christmas and is all tops and tails.  Great starting pitching and an actual winning team that he can back up.  For the Rangers this year, he had 17 saves for a 40 win club.  Turn that around, and he went from being on a 21-games-under-.500-team to a 14-games-over one.  His only problem is that he is flirting at the Sadie Hawkins dance with the date that Brad Ausmus brought, and Nathan has a some pull there.  My take is it’s not going to be long before the settle in on “The Mexicutioner”.  So I have them ranked mid-table until the dust settles and we see what’s what. I mean, all Soria has to do is show some kind of consistency, and boom, you have a top-8 closer for the rest of the year.  You can think what you want, but Detroit is a 90 win team all day and a bag of chips tomorrow, however that expression goes…  In Texas, Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz as of now look like the two heads of the class for minimal save value in Arlington.   So the closer-thon to cure save depravity has begun, adjust your rosters, operaters are standing buy to take your recent waiver wire donations.

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Joaquin Benoit (+23%) was the most added player this week after Huston Street was traded to the Angels. Benoit was scooped up by those looking for saves obviously, but he’s a decent pitcher all around. Can he be trusted going forward? The big question isn’t whether we should pick up Benoit. That’s a no-brainer in the short term. No, the big question is will he actually remain with the Padres as their closer or will he be shipped out at the deadline to a contending team in need of bullpen help. I do not have the answer to that particular question, sorry. Teams like the Indians, Tigers, and Pirates (among others) have been linked to trade talks with the Padres regarding Benoit. Should he head somewhere and close it’s no big deal, but if he lands somewhere in a different role, it could kill some or even all of the saves value that makes him attractive target right now. To sum up, he’s a treasure if you need some cheap saves, but he could quickly turn to trash depending on how things shake out over the next two weeks and quite frankly, how many saves is he really going to rack up with the worst offense in baseball anyway? Here are this week’s other big adds and drops in 2014 fantasy baseball…

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