So the All-Star break has come and swept us away and now its onto the last 19/32 of the season. The chase for saves is becoming more and more concrete as the season grows, and the closepocalypse of 2012 is just a great conversation starter, just like super storm Sandy. The list of reliable closers with concrete gigs is growing and the rankings this week show a reflection of that. There is a huge have and have not factor going on, it’s either reliable and tried and true or it’s a 2 AM special where you’re trying to convince her to give you a Bryant Gumbel. The top of the list remains stout and the names are fairly consistent, it’s just getting to be a very swanky restaurant and the salad menu is expanded to accommodate more guests…so to speak. So enjoy the ensalade and don’t forget to ask for the endless breadsticks.

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The night was humid in San Diego. Some fans in the front row brought their own Chardonnay, a mix of floral and fruity notes, which could’ve also described the crowd’s apparel. Tommy Bahama as far as the eye could see. One Padre fan stood up, three glasses of wine in, screaming to let Templeton play. Most of the fans that night were there for a picnic that was billed as ‘the best picnic mom’s ever packed.’ One thing these picnickers never expected was to become a part of history. Whispers amongst the Padre fans began in the 1st inning. “It was going to be a long night.” Not because of Tim Lincecum, who began his quest to throw the 700th-something no-hitter in the last ten years. Tonight would drag for these Padre fans because the picnic brie was forgotten at home. Tonight these Padre fans groaned in the first inning because when Lincecum took the mound they thought the game was being preempted for a k.d. lang concert. So, Lincecum wasn’t economical in his 148-pitch no-hitter, walking 4 guys and K’ing 13. He’s the first pitcher to throw more pitches in a no-hitter than he weighs. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Lincecum doesn’t look bad in his peripherals this year. His K-rate and walk rate are pretty close to the numbers he put up when he had a 2.74 ERA in 2011. He didn’t make the top 100 for the 2nd half that is coming tomorrow, but I considered it for a long time (about 25 seconds). The unknown right now is whether or not the 148 pitches is going to tire his arm. Obviously, he’ll have the All-Star break to rest and I wouldn’t be against giving Lincecum a chance on my fantasy team. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
Ones we can depend on

So it dawned upon me that, in the Whodini song, “Friends”, can be replaced by any good word, from your favorite lady parts to my personal favorite, relievers. That’s the hard part, reliability. The reliability of a great conversation with say, and in this instance, a Bartender. Who just happens to be in the news again this week. Tom Wilhelmsen is back, as was inevitable. I mean, come on, Ollie Perez, really? Really? Eric the Wedge has seen the light and by hallelujah from up above realized the error of his ways. Now, he wasn’t laying blame on anyone, though I think it may have been Radames, at least that’s what my boy Bishop was sayin’. So, not if, but when he gets back, what has he learned, walks need to come down, K’s need to come up. Shot specials or a bucket special wouldn’t hurt either. Tom Will needs to forget that month long stretch where he was about as good as a 12-pack of Schafer light. I have some confidence, but the chances will be limited as the Marginers have only had 1, yes I said 1, save opportunity in the last 14 days. Hooray for stats. Stick around for some other tidbits and rankings. Oh and Enjoy the glorious celebration of our nation’s birth.

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So at the middle post of the real year, the ever-changing scenarios that are closers continue to fire on. This week I am going to speculate on some popular names that have been bantered about in trade rumors so far and add in some of my own because that’s what hippies do, we give. This week marks the return of Chris Perez and Rafael Betancourt, soon to displace Rex and Vinnie, so sad. It was so much more fun writing their names than the dog smokers and the pride of Isaac Newton College (True statement — go look it up). Now both of these guys may be coming up later in my trade speculator, because I think they are a good mix of hot garbage and tradeable commodity. Sorta like a great combo of mayonnaise and milk…yum. This year I have a gut feeling there will be a glut of trades involving current teams’ closers making the waiver wire a cavalcade of shenanigans. If nothing else, it leads to some good conversation, some yelling and maybe some new-un-found friendships. So shall we get on with the speculating..I think we shall.

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You wanted to sell R.A. Dickey, but no one was buying. Seeing last year as a fluke. Said he couldn’t do it again. Said you had too much fruit in your tapioca for even drafting him. They told you go fly a kite with Dickey, but not around children or it would be weird. Then Dickey throws a two-hit shutout yesterday with 6 Ks and you showed them that the only good thing that ever came out of being a naysayer is horse whispering. Or did you? Do you know anything more about Dickey than you did two days ago? He says he’s been dealing with cold weather and a sore back and he’s blaming the WBC. Excuses are like Alcides Escobar, everyone has one and they all smell. Did Dickey’s back suddenly clear up? Because he gave up six earned in his last start. Was the weather in his last start cold and Dickey shrunk up? This shutout was against the Rays, who are now 10 for their last 99 against him. They see Dickey and immediately go limp. Finally, your Dickey looks to be pointing in the right direction, but I wouldn’t start writing his name on your underpants just yet. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Yasiel Puig‘s been lighting up the mainframe on the giant computer out of a bad 1950′s sci-fi movie, but he’s not the only Cuban. Leonys Martin also hails from our neighbor to the south that took up residence in Miami. Last night, he hit two homers, is hitting .417 in the last week and has a hit in each of his last ten games with 4 steals during that time. It’s the year of the Cubans, y’all! In all of their pressed hammy, mustardy, cheesy, pickley goodness. Side note: Do pickles seem like something Cubans would put in their food? Maybe Hyman Roth, but he’s not really Cuban or real, for that matter. Somewhere, ex-Cuban pitcher, El Duque, has a little extra hop in his exaggerated leg-kick that he still does, only now he does it before he cleans up tables at Chipotle. “You’re not going to finish your guac?” *leg kick* Leonys Martin should be owned in all leagues while he’s going well, and is the type of player that could have value all year if you’re patient since he could hit 12-15 homers and get 25-ish steals. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It’s been a rough month for Ryan Braun, you guys. A top three pick in the preseason, he’s on pace for career lows in home runs and steals, he could be seriously implicated in this biogenesis business depending on what delivery service he decides to use this time (go with USPS, they guarantee to screw it up), and don’t even mention the Game of Thrones “Red Wedding” to Ryan, because he’s taking it all pretty hard. Braun hits the DL for the first time in his career for his thumb injury, but owners knew this was coming. The move is retroactive to Monday so he could return at the end of June. If he comes back with an comically over sized thumb and hits 20 homers and steals 20 bases going forward, we’ll know everything is back to normal. Logan Schafer went 3-for-5 last night and was one of several Logan’s in this weeks BUY/SELL. He’s available everywhere. As long as Braun’s out Schafer should see plenty of playing time. I will call him Weapon X. Berserker! He’s no Hebrew Hammer, but Schafer’s got some below average to decent power and speed and could be a useful fill in if you need an outfielder while Braun’s on the shelf.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball last night:

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Every good conga line needs a caboose, so the Miami Save Machine is bringing up the rear this week. Feel the rhythm of the beat getting stronger. No? Me either. Moving on. The Midwest is getting mauled by injuries, it’s like that time the flu virus swept through the cast of Laverne and Shirley, you know the one where the Big Ragu, sneezed on everyone and it spread all the way to Squiggy and Pop. Well I guess I am the only one that remembers that stuff. Chris Perez, and not to be outdone, Jim Henderson, both came up lame just in time for the Belmont Stakes, looks like horse meat is back on the menu. Perez’s shoulder came up gimpy after his pitching came undone over the last week. He is expected to take a week off, try to throw and then work on curling his mullet. Vinnie Pestano is the heir in Cleveland, he himself isn’t healthy, and personally I have stashed Cody Allen everywhere in preparation of the H, for hurt.

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On a scale of one to ten for most surprising starters, Patrick Corbin is a one. One being the best. When you beat your high score in Mario Kart you never scream out, “I’m number ten,” do you? Okay, so don’t question my numbering. On a scale of one to ten for how likely it is Corbin keeps this up, it’s around a 5, the number made famous by Short Circuit. Didja know before Short Circuit people would count 1, 2, 3, 4, 6? It’s also why Marilyn Monroe left Joe DiMaggio. Corbin’s not a 1.44 ERA pitcher, but he’s not what he seemed like coming into the year either. His fastball has jumped in velocity, which has helped all of his pitches. I don’t own him, which butters my grr’s. I know most of you must’ve benched him in Coors yesterday for his 10 K, 9-inning, three-hitter gizzem, so I’ll say it for you, sonavabench! Luckily, you own him for the whole season and he looks like he can be a mid-3 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7 K-rate guy, i.e., a fantasy two to three. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Jurickson Profar called up to replace The Ian Kinsler DL Experiment. I’ll wait here while you go add Profar in your league. Okay, back? Good! If you’re not back yet, then you’re not reading this, so let me clear the air, I slept with your sister. Baseballstar Profarlactica is the safest bet from catching the prospect hype virus in the known universe. First (after all those other firsts), let’s see what Scott, our prospect writer, wrote, “Profar brings legit 20-20 potential, along with .300+ AVG, and an OBP north of .350. From shortstop, that sort of production would be enormous. Here’s Grey’s Jurickson Profar fantasy. Also check out my Top 25 Prospects for 2013, where Profar came in at #15. I also slept with your sister.” Damn, hope those other people still aren’t back. I’d grab Profar in every league. Yes, even yours. My guess is he will hit. My 2nd guess is C. Always guess C. That advice can get you into an Ivy League school. I didn’t go to one, ergo, henceforth, vis-à-vis, I had to Google whether or not Ivy League was capitalized. If he hits, Profar could be here to stay with the Rangers saying, “Yo, Profar is hitting so let’s keep him and move Kinsler to the outfield. Or just put a “Hockey sucks” t-shirt on Andrus and drop him off in Winnipeg.” If Profar doesn’t hit, he’ll be sent back down and no one will need to go to Winnipeg. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?