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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Jay’s Note: Seeing as how Smokey’s title has put this song in my head for what will probably be the entire week, I’m happy to include this video to pay it forward.

That’s it.  Shows over.  Please help the rest of the Razz staff by stacking your chairs at the back of the room.  So with there only the same number of days left as fingers on Jason Pierre Paul’s hand (sick football reference!), it is only fitting to do a fun wrap of lots of gimmicky things and fun factoids.  I rented a cool clown horn for that moment, so if you don’t live in a one block radius of me, it was for not.  For the the rest of you, put that horn in your head and add it to the the tumor hum and the slight tinnitus.  So to recap the year, there were a total of 14 closer changes, and that includes teams changing multiple times.  We have 21 closers with 30 plus saves, which my research tells me… this is the new record.  While the overall number and percentage of saves successfully converted is in line with the norm, it just shows that teams are sticking with their guys and the committee approach is fading. Tons more are inside, it’s my last post of the year, so things might get either weirdly informative, or informatively weird.  Suspense!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We have one reader in Nigeria who emails me privately about how I’ve won large amounts of muney (sic), so I don’t need to be working, which means this is more of a PSA, and should be taken even more seriously:  Starling Marte is a God.  There’s Jesus, there’s his Dad, there’s Jehovah, there’s Mormons’ magic underpants, there’s whoever the Jews pray to — Mel Brooks? — there’s Chief Jay Strongbow, there’s the Pope, there’s Allah, there’s Halla, the Arab God for dyslexics, and there’s others, I’m sure.  My God is Starling Marte.  You know how the religious say, “Peace be with you?”  For baseball players, they should say, “May you always hit in Coors.”  Yesterday in Coors, Marte went 4-for-5, 1 run, 1 RBI, which is the rainbow jimmies on the ice cream that has been his season.  He has 18 HRs, 29 SBs and is hitting .288.  Right now, he’s around top 25 on our Player Rater.  For 2016, it’s gonna be hard for me to wait past the top 20 overall.  Yes, he’s that good, and I may just rank him above McCutchen.  Oh, snap!  Don’t need the police to try to save them, your voice will seize, so please, stay off my back or I will attack and you don’t want that.  Hit the bass, hit the anyway and let’s do this!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Late season injuries and minor league call-ups are one thing.   Just not doing your job is an utter disgrace.  Bruce Rondon was sent home, literally, because of lack of effort.  Holy stereotypes.  Because getting out of bed, traveling first class and then having to pitch one whole inning a game in the oft-chance that your team may be winning.  Yeah, that sounds impossible to me to keep up with.  For now the Tigers will roll with a combination of Neftali Feliz and Alex Wilson.  So anyone looking for 3-4 saves til the end of the year can be rewarded with the plight of Rondon and his poor work effort.  I wouldn’t expect a treasure trove of riches, the Tigers rank in the bottom five in saves, save opps., bullpen ERA, blown saves, and believe it or not, balks by the bullpen.   I know that last stat is bupkiss, but when is the last time you ever read a balk stat in a reliever post?  It just happened for the first time in history and I am officially placing a copyright on it. So this is the final rankings for the year for closers I will do an end of the year wrap up next week with lots of zany stuff.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Maybe because The Bastard Executioner premiered last night, but I’m feeling reminiscent for Sons of Anarchy — Jax, Clay, Peg Bundy and that Irish guy I couldn’t understand — and, specifically, to the Season 4 premiere set to Joshua James’s Coal War.  In that spirit, I ain’t cuttin’ my Strasburg till the good Strasburg shows!  Ain’t cuttin’ my Strasburg till the good Strasburg shows!  Ain’t cuttin’ my Strasburg till the good Strasburg shows!  Good Lord, when’s he gonna come!  I hate to give someone a lede soon after I just gave them a lede, but Stephen Strasburg had a line of 8 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hit, 1 Walk, 14 Ks, and I need to make exceptions.  As previously stated, Strasburg’s control and ERA (still at 3.98 on the year) have been all over the map like a drunk Magellan, but, as he showed yesterday, he could easily be a Cy Young candidate for 2016.  I just wish he’d wait until April of next year to show it so we can draft him for cheap.  Likely, most have moved on to fantasy football, so people will see a 3.90-ish ERA from him and under draft him next year.  That’s when we pounce like SAMCRO near an Elvis impersonator that’s not Bobby.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Mariner bullpen has basically been that round-up ride at your local carnival.  It doesn’t look that bad until it totally messes with your vertigo and you end up spewing up kettle corn and other assorted goods for two hours there after.  Last year, the Mariners bullpen had a 2.60 ERA, good for tops in the MLB.  They also saved 51 games to only 11 blown saves.  They were all comfy and coozy like footed pajamas last year, and basically everyone could rely on the decent value of return from drafting Fernando Rodney.  Then the year changes to five and the ship went askew.  Their bullpen ERA is over 4.30 and are on pace to accumulate 45 saves, and, to date, have already blown 18 saves (behind only three other teams for worst).  So let’s just run down the year so far: Rodney was the closer, then he wasn’t the closer, Carson Smith took over, and now it seems as though they are reverting back to 2012 in hopes that Tom Wilhelmsen can right the ship of battered and injured bullpen dreams.  Stick around for some tid-bits and bullpen ranks…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Jorge Soler is likely done for the year with a strained oblique.  This is one of those injuries that comes with a sigh of relief.  Yay, I don’t have to keep running Soler out there and being disappointed.  Disappointment, you are the mistress of expectation, aren’t you?  Soler fascinates me in a car crash that you rubber neck while you pass sorta way.  Here’s a preseason tweet from Peter Gammons, “John Mallee (Cubs hitting coach) says Jorge Soler hasn’t swung at a pitch out of the strike zone all spring.  Scary good.  May be best of Cubs lot right now.”  Cubs committed to playing him, and, by the end of the year, you had to wonder if they should’ve just been committed.  If his year is over, he ends with 7 HRs, 3 SBs and a .265 average in 278 plate appearances.  Worse (yeah, it can get worse), his strikeout rate zoomed, and not in the fun way like Aretha Franklin’s zooming.  On our Player Rater, he was about as valuable as Will Venable, Brandon Moss and Jeff Francoeur.  Or make that, as craptastic as those guys.  In 2016, Soler will be one of those guys that goes in the 150 range that could be as valuable as Pollock this year, or as valuable as the Pollock that parked so close to your car you couldn’t get in your door and needed to climb through the trunk, knock down the backseat and crawl through to the steering wheel.  Time, not the magazine, will tell.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Are the Red Sox grasping at proverbial straws here?  I mean, let’s go to the waiver wire in real life… Grab a reliever, Jean Machi, that has three career saves, and let’s say we’ll think about him being the closer for our team.  It sounds weird and crazy, but then you look at the Sawx record (it’s the worst in the AL by the way), and realize maybe it’s not such a far fetched idea.  Hanley Ramirez has nine freaking doubles all year. NINE!  I just hit four at Fenway the other day, until I realized they were hamburgers.  Okay, back to closers.  So the Red Sox, with the loss of Koji Uehara to the DL, will turn to just about anyone to see if they can close the 8-10 chances they will get the rest of the year.  The front runners are Junichi Tazawa (has 4 blown saves in the last 30 days) and Jean Machi, and the sleeper candidate is the former All-Star closer Ryan Cook.  Who in himself was traded for that spectacular fantasy asset: PTBNL.  The situations for closers is getting bleaker with the bad teams losing actual options and not having a genuine fall-back option that you could tie your waiver wire dollars too.  Best advice is don’t chance saves from all these guys, it will nuke your numbers elsewhere.  Concede that you will only get seven points from saves instead of nine. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk while texting or making waiver claims.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

All the fantasy world was hoping that Jonathan Papelbon would be traded to a team without a reliable closer.  Instead, he goes to a team and kicks in the door swinging with the “I make more money than you” swagger that only comes with wearing Jordache jeans. And then he takes Drew Storen‘s job.  From a relief pitcher standpoint, Papelbon jumps from the worst save-driven team to top 10 overall.  The Phillies generated only 26 save opportunities to the date of his trade.  The Nationals were a far better team, and their record says so with 43 save opportunities.  The Nationals have also had a lead 32 more times than the Phillies, so Storen isn’t a completely wasted roster spot. If you got skunked by this, you need to keep him rostered.  He will still get the off-day save chances, and should pitch in a ton of high-leverage situations based on the bullpen shape of the Nationals, which isn’t a blue ribbon. Papelbon immediately jumps to elite status for me because of his history, and the whole contending team thing. He will easily double his saves total (in less games) to date, which stands at 17.  On the flip side of this trade, it opens up the gates to wunderkid Ken Giles to close in the land of steaks covered in cheese.  Giles immediate value is that of a closer, but with the Phil’s, he’s going to basically have a worse representation of what Papelbon had, but he still has moderate save appeal.  I can see him getting 10 saves the rest of the way.  This is posting a day before the deadline, so things could be in flux. And make sure to check out Ralph and myself over on Razzball Soccer, as the FPL is in full go.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Who was actually good…

Last time, I used ADP data and player values to determine Kyle Lohse was the most under-drafted player of the last five years. Turns out, there are some assumptions in the calculation that could be tweaked, and the result could be a totally different most under-drafted player. Go figure! The methodology was to take the difference between a player’s preseason ADP and his end-of-season rank to determine  “undervalued-ness”. This time we’re still going to take the difference, but it’ll be between the square root of his ADP and the square root of his EOS rank.

Why the square rooting? The reason is to give more weight to better players, which square rooting accomplishes.

For reference, here’s the list from last time (that won one lucky man a Razzball T-Shirt):

Please, blog, may I have some more?