Closer news, closer news… We need a musical about fantasy baseball, sorta like Newsies, but with a little Book of Mormon thrown in.  Perhaps a musical adventure of sonnets and mignonettes by Stephen Sondheim.  Come on, everybody loves a musical… he, no.  Okay, it’s just me then.  So drafting season is here, it’s the first and last time you will see over 20% of the guys drafting in your league until… well, never.  Ahh, the internet and its anonymity. So with the games in the land of koala bears and oil cans happening this weekend, baseball is here.  Officially.  I have confirmed with multiple sources and gave them credit for groundbreaking stuff via twitter.  So the week before the fake regular season I have 4 questions that we still need answers to, or was just wondering in my own stoned malaise.

The name says it all, it’s what everyone keeps asking for,  NSVH.  It sounds like a spin-off of CSI, or Law and Order.  Except with really geeky dudes who shouldn’t really have an actual head-shot of themselves for use as their avatar.  We know who they are, and pointing fingers isn’t polite unless it’s the one that I normally get from people at the retirement home I frequent for volunteer duties.  Much love Shady Acres.  So this week we delve into the numbers game, the ones that mimic me and steal my Nutella sandwich.  These projections are highly irregular and tougher than most other stats in the pretend game.  The fluctuation of personnel by teams is mind boggling and makes me look goofy.  So in the chart below I am giving you the top-60 NSVH chaps with some pertinent stats that help all.  During the year, I’ll get into more of the sustaining stats, but since we aren’t there yet, I can’t just make them up.  Those tendency stats that I am referring to (Inherited Runners, Inherited Runners Scored, and Appearances with Lead) are my way of determining both closer and set-up guy efficiency.  How they are used and when they are used.  So those that are looking forward to that, hooray for you.   So without further adieu, here are some projections for the top NSVH guys for this year.

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The closer news is kind of like that pond back in the woods by Me’ma’s house.  You know the one where you and your first “girlfriend” from Canada used to meet up and read scripture.  Stagnant is the term for all you wordsmith’s out there.  Spring training games just literally got started this week and the battles that are going on for unnamed closer spots; Rangers, White Sox and Astros, are still a hmmm situation.  So until someone actually gets hurt, assassinated, or decides that baseball is no longer fun for him… we are at a stand still.  Updates are always good though, and fun.  It’s like Sudoku or the aggravation of doodling little numbers next to each box, stupid little numbers.  They make it look all messy like a 4-year-old is doing it and you get all self conscious and hide it form the guy sitting next to you on the plane.   It’s okay, admitting it is the hard part.  Just say it to yourself and give yourself a wink in the mirror.  So here is the slightly adjusted list of closers, the addition of Fernando Rodney not only adds legitimacy and tilte to the lefty’s swagger.  So have at the list for this week and hopefully we will have some more news or will make up some stuff that’s more interesting in the upcoming weeks.

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To answer your first question, no, I am not dead.  Secondly, sorry to disappoint you.  As we count down the days to draft and when pitchers/catchers report, it’s a virtual ‘pins and needles’ fest for some of the closer battles that could be looming.  Some of these battles are going to be very interesting, ’cause battles are awesome and make fools of everyone.  Let’s dive into some of those battles, shall we? The Cubs and their smoke-show of a bullpen is first and foremost. Jose Veras looks to be the guy, until Pedro Strop‘s me-mah gets all free paella for every manager named Sveum.  The Orioles still really don’t have a closer, and until free agency is kaput, Tommy Hunter is the guy. And the other one to keep an eye on is Colorado… I mean my name is Smokey… so I am firmly entrenched in the bumper crop going on there.  LaTroy Hawkins has been called the “closer” for now.  I have a feeling that the Rockies, at some point, get all nepotistic and gives it to Rex Brothers. The last situation I would monitor is the effectiveness and trust level that Pittsburgh has with Grilli, who is getting back into the saddle.  Mark Melancon is arguably the first non-definite closer for me that is draft worthy over some guys who are low on this list that have the job.  So stay tuned conclusionary fans, it’s early and things are always a changin’.  Like last year, I will be doing an off-week Holds post to keep all things relievers up to date.

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Oh, how we are going to miss Mariano Rivera. I’ve never owned him, but always wished I did. Personally, I’m a Yankee hater, but I always enjoyed watching him work his ninth inning magic like a smooth pick up artist. So now we are left without one of the greatest closers to ever play the game and a permanent fixture on the $12 salad menu. But like all things fantasy, we must move on and start prepping for next season by keeping our minds sharp and our cheat sheets easily accessible. The great mix up called free agency and the winter meetings are just a stones throw away and will hopefully give us some clarity into what comes next.

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Tyler Chatwood continued his red hot play last night pitching seven innings, surrendering just six hits, two runs, and walking none while striking out 11 Brewers for his seventh win. He also went 2-for-2 at the plate with 2 RBI because apparently he is Tyler the Run Creator now. How about that headline, you guys? I woke up in the middle of the night and saw it in bright lights. And as much as I kept telling myself it was really, really bad — sometimes these things are too bad to be denied. Back to Tyler Chatwood. Hello there, strikeouts! Have we met? You’re just visiting for the weekend? Oh, that’s too bad. The Ks may be a bit fluky and that Milwaukee line up is inspiring fear in no one these days, but Chatwood’s success over his past few starts can’t be denied. He lowered his ERA to 2.48 and has allowed 2 ER or fewer in his past four starts. He has also managed to notch three wins in those four starts, with the tough luck loss coming after pitching 8.0 innings of one-run ball. He is a great option on the road and is at criminally under 10% owned in RCL. I’d absolutely grab him for his start in Atlanta next week if you need starting pitching help. He cannot be stopped right now! I better go knock on Chat-wood.

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

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Like Billy Joel, Alfonso Soriano is washed up and in a New York state of mind. Don’t tell A-Rod, Christie Brinkley is his type of gal. Soriano getting traded to the Yankees is the best news for him in some time. That’s the magical elixir calling to fantasy baseballers (<–my mom’s term!). Soriano will now revert back to his younger self — when he was still in his forties — and start mashing the ball, stealing bases and doing an extra springy hop when he catches fly balls. Playing for the Yankees is a youth tonic made of juniper berries and grounded-up mints Steinbrenner hoarded from restaurants. There’s just an air about playing with other guys in their fifties that brings everything to life. It’s a real life Cocoon in the Bronx. Don Ameche will be played by Vernon Wells, Wilford Brimley will be played by Travis Hafner and Alfonso Soriano is Steve Guttenberg! Girardi might be the third youngest guy on the bench. Birth certificates are inconclusive. Or! Soriano is who he is at this point. This second scenario seems more likely. It’s not like Wrigley is a bad hitters’ park. Nothing’s gonna change for him in Yankee Stadium. He could hit a few homers, give you a .260 average and throw out his hip at a moment’s notice. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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