We are going to take a break from the closenado news to bring the middle-reliever news and updates for those of you that are in Holds and NSVH leagues. While it’s not as sexy as the closer news that you usually expect, it is still fundamental in forming a well-balanced pitching staff. It has been a bizarre season, as far as Holds go, and no one person is showing their stoutness and running away with being “that guy”.  The usual candidates are lying in the weeds [Ed. Note– you haven’t smoked it all?] waiting to jump out and show you how to make balloon animals. So here are some snippets that I’ve noticed so far this year, though the season is still short ‘n sweet. There’s a long ways to go my friends. So be patient when it comes to the dudes who pitch after the dudes, but before the dudes that really matter.

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First off, I would like to say Eric Sogard should be the Face of the MLB; that vote was rigged in David Wright’s favor.  Baseball needs more nerdy-looking, glasses-touting, Bernie-leanin’, jive-walking players.  But without further ado, here is the AL West Spring Training Showdown. (You can check out the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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In the spring of 2013, Astro fans celebrated through the streets of Houston, shooting guns in the air and playing Houston’s own, Mind Playing Tricks On Me and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits, because her last name hailed from there. Those fans (all 17 of them) were celebrating the Astros’ National League exodus. “Let my people go, NL!” That’s what they chanted for years. “We need a fresh start like our entire body is covered in deodorant.” That’s what they told each other. Unfortch, no one explained to them that they wouldn’t just be able to play split squad games in their own league, they would have to join the AL. Yesterday, the Sawx destroyed them for 15 runs. Jacoby Ellsbury hit two homers (6 & 7), scored four runs, knocked in three and went 2-for-4. David Ortiz went 4-for-4 with 2 runs, 2 RBIs and one big belly laugh at what A-Rod is going through. Shane Victorino went 3-for-5 with 4 runs and even walked once in honor of Jackie Bradley Jr. Jonny Gomes hit a homer and knocked in four runs and he didn’t even start. This was also a reminder to not go near any Lastro pitcher. A sad, sad reminder. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Why don’t I have Yu Darvish on any teams? Why don’t I have him on every team? It’s not like I ranked him low in the preseason. Maybe not crazy high, but I should’ve drafted him once. In ten leagues, you would’ve thought it had to happen. I wanna find a Japanese man and feed him grapes and tell him, “Yu are beautiful.” I wanna walk five paces in front of a Japanese woman and tell her how much I love Yu. He just jazzes me up so much I wanna do weird shizz with Japanese people! Something that takes my mind off not owning Yu in fantasy and transports me to living in some kind of weird fantasy with Yu surrogates. Cradle me in your arms, Japanese surrogate that I found on the street, and tell me Yu love me too. So, yesterday, Yu was dazzling again. This was his fourth game with 14 strikeouts as he went seven strong with zero earned runs and only five baserunners, resurrecting the Diamondhacks. After yesterday’s game, Arizona now wants to close all borders. It’s a little early to be talking about this, but I want Yu Darvish in every fantasy league in 2014, but I know now I won’t be able to afford him. Come here, Japanese surrogate, you fill in for Yu. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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You wrote a letter to your leaguemates, but before you sent it to them, you asked me to proofread it but not share it. Too bad, here it is, “Yo, what’s up, snitches?! I have six closers and am sticking it to the rest of the league in their whole bum, then acting that out like Knight from MTV’s The Challenge. I don’t need no one! All I need is Huston Street, Kevin Gregg, Ernesto Frieri, Joaquin Benoit, Brad Ziegler and this chair, I need this chair. I got saves for days! Open up your ‘kitten-playing-with-motherf**king-yarn’ calendar and mark September 28th down for the day when you concede the championship to me. Use your rainbow-colored pencil. Is it okay to use that word? Any the hoo! Rather than recount all of that SAGNOF g’dness, let me take this time to instead ask you if you watched the most recent Top Chef Masters. I’m lonely and looking for friends.” Solid letter, I probably wouldn’t put single quote marks around kitten-playing-with-motherf**king-yarn but it’s fine to send it off as is. The only other problem is you might also lose more than half of your closers in less than a week. This is also the last week when you and your opponents can gain major saves if you’re hurting in that category. On July 31st there could be as many as 10 new closers. At no point from now until October do you have a chance for this much turn over. Guys that could move into the closer role in under a week includes, but is not limited to: Luke Gregerson, Blake Parker, Ryan Webb, James Russell, Antonio Bastardo, Carter Capps, Dale Thayer, John Axford (still even with Henderson taking over the job), Jose Cisnero, Pedro Strop and Antonio Alfonseca, because he has six fingers on each hand and you can’t ever count him out, at least not without removing your pants and a shoe. Granted, guys like Huston Street or Tom Wilhelmsen or Glen Perkins might be traded and stay in the closer role on their new team, but that means someone else would lose their job. Or maybe Huston Street will go to the Yankees and become the 8th inning man and Robertson moves to the 7th. Or maybe Jonathan Papelbon goes to the Tigers and Benoit owners have to call the Ben-wambulance. A lot could happen in the next few days or nothing, but I’d absolutely stash as many middle relievers as I could right now. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Phew! The fantasy baseball DT’s have finally subsided. It was touch-and-go for a while with many Trainspotting-like moments. Choose life. Choose a job. Choose Razzball. We are 90 games in and while I’m not so good with the math (look I spelled “boobs” on my calculator) me thinks that’s more than half-way through this fantasy season. If you were one of the lucky ones that drafted Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis or Carlos Gonzalez good for you. If you happen to own all three, I tip my turban in your general direction. But for the rest of us that drafted Jason Heyward, Matt Kemp and Brett Lawrie, we have some ground to make up. Hurry, everybody in the El Camino and let’s cruise over to the waiver wire flea market. While sifting through Mexican blankets, Blue Oyster Cult 8-tracks and old Playboys (Jaywrong, put that down! Oohh, Suzanne Somers), we might just find the player that catches fire in the second half and sends us to a fake baseball championship. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose to jam it or cram it.

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Chad Gaudin shut down the Diamondbacks last night, pitching seven innings, surrendering no runs while giving up just three hits, walking none and striking out eight for his fourth win. Throwing just 92 pitches, he could have easily come out for the eighth but Manager Bruce Bochy opted to go with four relievers instead, because, well that’s the most Bruce Bochy thing ever. Anyway, hello there, Gaudin. Have we met? You say you shook my hand while I was unconscious? Strange, but I’ll allow it. Poor Chad seems like an easy target ever since the news broke that he was arrested for lewdness in Vegas after groping an unconscious woman on a stretcher. That doesn’t sound that…bad….right? Errr. I don’t know the whole story, but perhaps he was trying to resuscitate her? Besides, we all get a case of “the honks” every now and again, amiright, fellas? Despite his inability to keep his hands to his sides, Chad Gaudin has been able to pitch incredibly effectively since stepping into the rotation. Since June 2, Chad has allowed two runs or fewer in six of his seven starts, with a 2.16 ERA and 35/9 K/BB ratio in that span. Gaudin is still under 20% owned in RCL leagues and he gets a good test versus the Reds next week at home. With a 0.55 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 33.0 innings at AT&T Park, Chad Gaudin is definitely worth a pick up in all leagues where you need help with starting pitching, at least until he gets suspended for groping Pablo Sandoval in the locker room.That’s sexual harassment, Panda!

Here’s what else happened last night 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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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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Happy Fourth of July, unless you own Yasiel Puig, then you’re wondering if A) He’s healthy B) Where was Carlos Quentin during this? If you haven’t seen it, here’s another look of Puig crashing into the wall. Why do I suddenly want to buy a Subaru? This comes the same day he won Player and Rookie of the Month honors. That’s the first time a player has won Player of the Month honors their first month in the majors. It’s not the first time a player has won Rookie of the Month honors in their first month. If that’s surprising, you should take your medication. After crashing into the wall, Puig originally stayed in the game and he’s a cyborg, so I think he escaped without anything serious happening. Right now, he’s listed as day-to-day with a bruised hip and thigh. Let’s hope it heals quickly because I just sold my Cougar’s engagement ring for 3,000 Yasiel Puig rookie cards. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?