Like typical closenado news and happenings, it comes in spurts.  The White Sox, Giants, and the Angels all made changes this past week.  All changes were needed, but only one team, the Giants, look like they will try something new and not return to the original status quo.  Sergio Romo is a proven and decent closer, but he’s overused, predictable, and doesn’t throw very hard.  The change to Santiago Casilla and the cast of Affeldt, Machi or any other Giants RP seems to be temporary.  Casilla has done well in the past with 25 saves in 2012, and a shiny ERA that hasn’t eclipsed 3+ since 2010.  Consistency makes you reliable as a relief pitcher.  I stole that from a German beer ad, or at least I think I did…it was in German and me no sprechen di lingie.  So to continue the look down the road, take a look at the SF bullpen picture for next year and you’ll notice that Romo is a free agent.  So the point is: either Santiago Casilla is the answer there for a one-year stop gap, or should they look to, what is IMO, the best relief pitching group of prospects in baseball.  They have three guys who look to be ready (dynasty leaguers go get a pen!): Stephen Okert, Heath Hembree, and my favorite, Ray Black (public advisory over drop pens). So sit on Casilla if you grabbed him.  It could be a long ride, but big head Bochy, and the monsters of the SF bullpen have a proven closer that will, for all intents and purposes, be back…maybe.  It’s more fun to leave it suspenseful, like Murder She Wrote.

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Yesterday, the Astros had a scare when Jose Altuve was hit hard on the hand by a pitch and he immediately left the game. Because of the nature of Altuve’s hand, a broken bone would’ve been devastating. You know those tiny boats that people use tweezers to put into little bottles? Those people are called tinyshoremen. Tinyshoremen are the only ones capable of working on a hand as petite as Altuve’s. Finding a doctor who is also a tinyshoreman? Good luck with that! Thankfully, X-rays came back negative and he’s day-to-day. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The Yankees are now in the fray to sign Kendrys Morales. A 30-year-old guy who seems to be five years older than he is and can’t play any position? The Yankees are interested in that? C’mon! Next thing you know, the Yankees are going to be linked with trading for Jason Giambi or coaxing Greg Luzinski out of retirement. What’s Ron Kittle up to? Why are the Yanks so interested in ex-White Sox players? Garry Templeton’s got some gams! So, I do think Kendrys will be signed in the next week-plus and now is around the time when you should consider stashing him. He can give a solid prorated season — think 17 homers, decent average and counting stats. I have no idea what kind of shape he’s going to be in or how long he’ll need to play in minor league games to get up to speed, but I’d guess if he signs within two weeks, he’ll be on the field by the third week of June, at the latest. It’s a long time to stash a guy that won’t be able to be DL’d, so keep that in mind. Or stash Greg Luzinski. The Bull’s seeing red! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Hey, hey,  hey, talking relievers on Thursday.  What could be better? Well, maybe ice cream covered in Kate Upton.  Actually strike that and flip it.  That sounds better.  OR exactly the same.  Regardless, the top ‘pens are starting to take shape as we reach the 1/5 part of the season.  The who’s are the who’s and the what the eff’s are, well, what the eff’s.  The MLB average for bullpen ERA is 3.92.  Now, that isn’t exactly something that makes you have confidence in any teams collective bullpens.   That’s why you get to be selective… take who you want and disregard the rest.  It’s like the Chinese buffet down the street– not everything looks edible, and yeah, you will probably get sick from most of it, but there’s some value savings.  Always go with the soup, excellent starter, can’t go wrong with that option.  So, take a look at bullpen arms that are doing these three things: Save situations, games with the lead, and total batters faced (and the percentage of K’s from that).  You have those three things, you have a stout middle reliever.  Yeah, I hear ya dude in the corner with his hand raised, there are other stats that we should look at.  Everyone looks at them, every site pounds you on the simple stats.  Dig deeper, look past the first page of stats and do something different.  Sorry… I was yelling. I get mad when I am hungry.  Food for me, continue reading and comments for you.

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If I am correct on my predictions, the NL pennant race will be a fun one.  I see three teams with playoff potential, and a fourth that is just shy of it.  Sorry San Diego fans, this isn’t your year. [Ed. Note -- JERK!]  Good news though, the Chinese calendar says it is going to be the year of the Tony Gwynn soon. [Ed. Note -- I take it back. Sorta.] (You can check out the AL West Spring Training Preview here, the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and the NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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