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The 2012 fantasy baseball rankings have reached the next to next to next to last stop with the top 20 closers for 2012 fantasy baseball.  These top 20 closers are different than all of the other rankings.  The closers on the top of this list you should not draft and there are closers that aren’t on this list that you should be targeting.  Shortly, there will be a list of every team’s closer and setup man.  I’m thinking this afternoon.  Monday funday!  The projections are also a bit wonky since you can’t predict saves.  It’s a fool’s errand.  If fool’s errand means what I think it does.  Some well-known projectionists (not the pimply kid unspooling Albert Nobbs) don’t even attempt to predict saves.  Saves come down to opportunity.  This is yet another reason why you shouldn’t draft the top guys.  Nevertheless, my projections are listed along with where I see tiers starting and stopping.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 closers for 2012 fantasy baseball:

1. Craig Kimbrel – This is the first tier.  This tier goes from here until Storen.  I call this tier, “Young, dumb and full of speed gun.”  To illustrate further why you shouldn’t draft a top guy, the top three closers when rankings came out last year were Carlos Marmol, Neftali and Soria.  I wasn’t bonkers with a side of delusional when I put those three at the top.  It just shows you the fickliosity (Made Up Word of the Day!) of the closers.  The good news is the guys I told you to target later are now on the top of the rankings.  Sure, I’d love to get Kimbrel.  Like I’m Samuel Gerard.  Just don’t think it’s happening.  2012 Projections:  5-2/2.20/1.08/110, 40 saves

2. John Axford – I love the fact that he accepted K-Rod coming to the Brewers, took a dump in his locker* and kept on saving games.  (*Unsubstantiated claim that K-Rod assumed was his father-in-law.  K-Rod and his father-in-law are now thick as thieves and have decided to settle all arguments with a round of laser tag.)  2012 Projections:  5-1/2.40/1.16/90, 38 saves

3. Drew Storen – You want a donkeycorn?!  You can’t handle a donkeycorn!  Cause they’re wild, bucking animals.  You should get a lamb.  They’re peaceful.  2012 Projections:  4-3/2.50/1.04/75, 38 saves

4. Mariano Rivera – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Putz.  I call this tier, “Not young, not dumb, but will get the job done.”  These guys are not flashy names anymore.  Well, maybe Mo a little, but for the most part there’s no shine on these guys.  Whatever, you just want saves.  Stop being so greedy.  2012 Projections:  2-3/2.40/0.95/55, 40 saves

5. Jonathon Papelbon – Whatever junk Papelbon was smoking in 2010 when his ERA was 3.90, he stopped smoking it in 2011 when his K-rate was 12+ and his ERA was 2.94.  Or maybe he wasn’t smoking in 2010 and was smoking in 2011.  Or maybe he wasn’t smoking either year, but standing near Terry Francona when he was smoking.  Either way, Papelbon now faces the NL and not the Yankees for 18 games a year, 17 of which are televised.  2012 Projections:  4-3/2.65/1.00/80, 37 saves

6. Jose Valverde – Everyone is picking the Tigers for the World Series, so naturally Valverde is going to be five kinds of wonderful with a side of “This is better than sex!”  Then again, the Cards and Rangers’ closers weren’t so good last year, so, yeah, it makes little difference.  Not to say I don’t like Valverde, just putting shizz into perspective.  2012 Projections:  3-3/3.00/1.22/65, 35 saves

7. Brian Wilson – He had a bit of a junky season last year.  Yet, he still had 36 saves and a 3.11 ERA.  You could’ve done worse *cough* Soria *cough* 2012 Projections:  5-3/2.90/1.32/70, 35 saves

8. J.J. Putz – I struggled with whether to put Putz (almost stutterer!) in the next tier of guys that I’m wary of or if I should say he’ll be fine in this tier.  After battling with myself over this Putz for about fifteen minutes, I worried I might go blind and just ranked him here.  He is a bit of a one man MASH unit, which makes sense since his full name is Jamie Jfarr Putz.  2012 Projections:  4-3/2.75/1.00/60, 32 saves

9. Heath Bell -  This is a new tier.  This tier goes to Hanrahan.  I call this tier, “High ranked closers that I’m a bit wary of.  Not enough to kick out of bed, but enough to wonder why I’m in bed with them.”  The factory underneath Petco that produces middle men that become all-world closers released a report after Bell signed with Miami.  “Miami has a team?  Oh, Florida!  We’re sorry to see Heath Bell leave our organization.  He was a valued member of our bullpen.  But, really, anyone can close games in Petco.  Have you seen our fences?  Trick question.  You haven’t seen the fences because they’re three miles from home plate.  Good luck in Miami!”  2012 Projections:  4-3/3.25/1.18/50, 37 saves

10. Carlos Marmol – I usually tell you to ignore potential trades and that other foolishness, but Epstein is dead set on shaking up the Cubs and putting his stamp on the club, so I could see Marmol setting things up for a playoff contender by mid-summer.  I know if I was headed to the playoffs I’d love to have Marmol in the 8th inning.  2012 Projections:  5-3/3.50/1.35/100, 25 saves

11. Joakim Soria -  Could totally bounce back, but why am I risking it if he doesn’t?  There’s no other closers?  Of course there is.  If I can avoid risk with a fairly high ranked closer, I am.  2012 Projections:  3-2/3.35/1.25/65, 35 saves

12. Joel Hanrahan – Hanrahananananan is a bit of wild card.  I think he can save 40 games again with a 9 K/9 and a sub-2 ERA or he can save 25 games and a high-3 ERA.  Plus, drafting him is a bit like OD’ing on tryptophananananananan.  Snooooooooze.  (BTW, after this blurb, my spellchecker quit on me.  Just got up and walked out of the room.)  2012 Projections:  2-4/3.35/1.20/65, 34 saves

13. Ryan Madson – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Street.  I call this tier, “I’ll probably own these guys on multiple teams; this tier name doesn’t rhyme and isn’t pithy.” You want guys that can become the top four for (stutterer!) next year.  Here’s your tier, snitches!  Assuming Madson doesn’t stumble for any extended period of time, he’ll be more valuable than this ranking.  The only big issue is Dusty waking up with his toothpick on the wrong side of his mouth and deciding Madson’s no longer his closer.  2012 Projections:  5-2/3.00/1.22/60, 32 saves

14. Kenley Jansen – I have a bit of a soft spot for high upside mid-tier closers.  Or is that a hard spot?  It’s why I ended up with Kimbrel and Axford on multiple teams last year and will be eying Jansen this year.  As of right now, he’s not officially the closer, but I think it happens.  If you want him, you’re gonna have to draft him around here.  I say do it.  2012 Projections:  1-3/2.25/1.00/85, 25 saves

15. Jason Motte – I’m hoping with La Russa’s Feathered Hair moving on to grayer pastures that the Cards bullpen will be a lot more stable.  If I had Madson, Jansen and Motte on every team as my only closers, I’d be so happy I’d cancel all future shrink appointments, except the ones on Tuesday because I stepped on a sidewalk crack last week.  2012 Projections:  3-4/2.50/1.10/65, 27 saves

16. Huston Street – If you hold what I said about Heath Bell in the mirror, that’s what I have to say about Street and why I like him this year.  Of course, he can’t stay healthy without the help of magical potion or whatever it was that Ryan Braun took.  2012 Projections:  2-4/3.00/1.10/50, 30 saves

17. Andrew Bailey – This is a new tier.  This tier goes from here until Thornton.  I call this tier, “Closers that I’m probably going to miss out on, but SAGNOF tells us saves are saves are saves so I could draft one of these guys.”  A few things separate Huston Street from Andrew Bailey.  1.) Tougher home park.  2.) Tougher league. 3.) There’s no 3.  4.) Bailey’s going much higher in drafts than Street.  2012 Projections:  3-1/3.30/1.10/50, 34 saves

18. Sergio Santos – If someone said they were a time traveler and they just returned from 2013 and Santos is now the top closer, I wouldn’t be surprised though I would wonder why they used their time traveling ability for something so trivial.  My problem with Santos is his walks and he has a capable closer behind him.  A few screw ups and he’s out.  I did flip-flop on Santos since the last time I wrote about him.  A girl and Grey have a right to change their mind.  I do know what I was thinking with that post.  Ks, Ks, Ks… And more Ks.  Now, I’m getting cold feet.  Stupid poor circulation!  2012 Projections:  3-5/3.70/1.24/80, 25 saves

19. Rafael Betancourt – Maybe once and for all he can shake the Cuddle Boy label.  Maybe I don’t want to risk it on my team to find out.  Fairly wellesley, Dame Betancourt!  2012 Projections:  4-2/3.50/1.10/65, 25 saves

20. Matt Thornton – He’s 35 years old and he has 20 career saves.  By season end, Hawk says about Thornton, “He gone!” and the White Sox try out Addison Reed or Jesse Crain.  2012 Projections:  5-4/3.75/1.22/65, 20 saves

After the top 20 closers, there’s a lot of names you should draft and I’ll go over all of them.  Here’s three that stand out:

Chris Perez – Coming off a season with a 5.88 K/9 and a 3.92 BB/9.  That’s the new blech.  Again, I would take any closer that had a job, but don’t let Perez’s 36 saves last year cause you to overpay.  2012 Projections:  2-5/4.00/1.28/45, 25 saves

Joe Nathan – When he went to the Rangers, I wrote my Joe Nathan fantasy.  If you hold it up to a mirror, it’s very difficult to read.  2012 Projections:  3-4/3.75/1.18/45, 30 saves

Juan Abreu -  Who?  Did I mean to type Joan Abreu, Bobby’s loving Momsie?  I think I might’ve.  And I think Bobby’s Momsie is the favorite to get saves in Houston.  Whatever!  SAGNOF!  If someone’s getting saves, draft them!  2012 Projections:  1-4/2.70/1.28/70, 20 saves

64 Responses

  1. Steve says:
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    Anyone here a chance to bust out like Kimbrel did last year? Jansen perhaps?

    • Wake Up says:
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      @Steve, Ssssshhh…how to make gravy was good

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Steve, That tier…

  2. Andy says:
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    Back from a night of celebrating the Gmen victory! Trying to stay up for 2 hours until work. This should be fun.

    Too bad NY baseball looks gloomy this season. Jeter and Arod are old and Andruw Jones is not the answer at DH. A few questions. Which team will have the worst lineup for fantasy: Cubs, Astros or Padres?

    Has any major sports site offered you a writing column or podcast gig? Or is too much money tied up in bad long term deals to Berry and that annoying guy who pushes Adam Jones and other mancrushes every season?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Andy, Padres lineup is terrible always because of the park. No sports site has ever offered me a writing job.

      • Assner says:
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        @Grey, Thats bull, a scrub like berry can get money, while a dude that bout 90 % is right bout predictions can’t? Berry is a dumbass

  3. Tom Thumb says:
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    Grey, great stuff as always. I am specifically targeting Paps, Jansen and Addison Reed. Anyway, got a SS question. You seem less enthused about Dee Gordon than most. Not that anyone is too excited. Do you think that a winning team could have him as starting SS? I mean, he is pretty much a 1 or 2 cat. guy but if you draft power-heavy early in the draft, he wouldn’t be so bad, right?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Tom Thumb, Thanks!Yeah, I’d grab Gordon. ~50 steals from SS is more than acceptable.

  4. Curt says:
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    Keeper League—Would you keep Kipnis as a 12th rd or Belt @ 22??

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Curt, Belt

  5. TheNewGuy says:
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    Nice job Grey, mid-tier and lower-tier closers are the way to go. I like Madson and Motte the most for their cost this year (could see Donny keeping Guerra as closer after the job he did last year, causing a lot of Jansen owners to let out a prolongued DOH!).

    Keeper question for ya. Jay Bruce, acquired him in a combo deal (Fielder: “Did someone say combo meal?”) so must keep him. Current cost is $22, can keep for 1 yr ($25) or 2 yrs ($28), which you fancy? Some peeps can see him improving so worth 2 yr deal, whereas some think he is what he is so 1. What say you sir? 10 team keeper league, keep up to 8, OBP league.

    • Wake Up says:
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      @TheNewGuy, Guerra was very lucky…Jansen is the closer of the future

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @TheNewGuy, 2 years

  6. Papa don't Preach says:
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    Reflections on Walden? Jordan, that is…
    Is he to shaky to be trusted? His first half was good, but he hurt me down the stretch.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Papa don’t Preach, He’ll be okay… Not too worried.

  7. Bourne says:
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    I also had kimbrel and Axford (and Madson) in all my leagues. I like where marmol and Nathan so far in drafts. Cust Kayin

  8. chata says:
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    ” If I had Madson, Jansen and Motte on every team as my only closers, I’d be so happy …”

    geez , you only want 3 of the top 15 closers on your team ?
    doesn’t leave too many for the other 11 owners in your league .

    of course , the mathematical probability of being able to draft all 3 of them
    on any one team isn’t very high .

    drafting from the #1 or #12 position , i suppose , you could start a run ,
    but it would entail some reaching .

    according to MDC , their top 10 is very similar to yours , with only a couple of flip-flops .
    the biggest difference is that they have marmol @ #15 ,
    and in mocks that i’ve seen , marmol is being drafted well after guys like hanrahan and bailey .
    rightfully so , imo .

  9. Dingbat says:
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    No Jordan Walden? I’d expected Grey to drool over his sexy K rate and Pujols-aided lineup.

    • Wake Up says:
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      @Dingbat, 10 BS + a Sciosciopath = ???

  10. Billy says:
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    really funny post today… i’m all about Santos this year, i personally think he has a long leash considering he was traded for a pretty good prospect..

    • Wake Up says:
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      @Billy, that won’t matter after a couple walk-off BB’s for blown saves and Coco sitting there in wait…

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Billy, Thanks for the kind words! You could be right about Santos.

  11. KeeblerMN says:
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    First legit question I have for the year:
    12 team, 5×5 h2h, keeper auction, keep guys at previous year’s auction value +$5, $240, 24 roster slots.
    Which of these closers do you keep? (2011 auction price)

    Axford – $12 ($7)
    Paplebon – $15 ($10)
    Marmol – $11 ($1 2010, kept $6 2011)

    For reference here is what a few went for at auction last year
    Bell – $13
    Wilson $12
    Soria – $12
    Rivera – $12
    Feliz – $10
    Valverde – $7

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @KeeblerMN, Axford

  12. Wake Up says:
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    Do you think Javy Vazquez is an elite closer this year?

  13. The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
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    Love the post, nothing like any other closer rankings i’ve seen thus far… (which is why I read this site). Plus the laughs… oh, the laughs.

    In AL, I’ll be targeting guys like League, Cordero, Melancon, etc…

    NL – Hanrahan, Guerra / Jansen, Abreu, Betancourt.

    SAGNOF is all about getting guys on the cheap… forget the top 20.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, Thanks for the kind words!

  14. Wake Up says:
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    disregard the above…i’ve been up for 2 1/2 days, sitting in a coffee shop in indy…good night…

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Wake Up, Ha

  15. royce! says:
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    Attention fantasy razzballers! Guthrie is now a Rockie!

    • royce! says:
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      @royce!, actually, come to think of it, joining the Rockies might be offset by not having to face the AL East. Carry on.

    • The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
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      @royce!, I still think he’s a bit more valuable then he was on Baltimore. Orioles received absolutely nothing for him!!! Lindstrom and Hammel! What a joke!

      Lindstrom a darkhorse for saves?

  16. doghat says:
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    5×5 roto, 12 team, 1 C, 4 OF, I UI, 1 DH, 5SP, 3RP, 1P. Keep 15, roster 32: Which 15 would you rather have?
    Team A
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    Joey Votto
    Paul Goldschmidt
    Prince Fielder
    Ian Kinsler
    Danny Valencia
    Jhonny Peralta
    BJ Upton
    Mike Morse
    Bryce Harper
    Cliff Lee
    Yu Darvish
    Anibal Sanchez
    Cory Luebke
    Heath Bell or JJ Putz

    Team B
    Joey Votto
    Paul Goldschmidt
    Ian Kinsler
    Adrian Beltre
    Danny Valenica
    Ian Desmond
    BJ Upton
    Mike Morse
    Bryce Harper
    Cliff Lee
    Yu Darvish
    Anibal Sanchez
    Cory Luebke
    Heath Bell
    JJ Putz

    Biggest difference is A has Fielder, 1 closer, Salty and Peralta. While B has Beltre, 2 closers, and Desmond.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @doghat, Fielder

  17. captainpyper says:
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    I call this tier, “Screw you, Liriano.” LOL from no-no to oh-no

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @captainpyper, Hehe

  18. Ian says:
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    Thought you’d be higher on Betancourt. Gotta love that K-rate and BB-rate.

    To me, there are 3 closer tiers. The top 5 or 6 that will get drafted too high, the bottom 4 or 5 that are awful (Hi Matt Capps and Kevin Gregg), and the middle 20 that I like as long as I don’t have to reach for them.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Ian, Don’t think Gregg is even the closer. Isn’t it Jim Johnson?

  19. Limping Gibson says:
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    Where’s Waldo? High K, Sub-3 ERA, & I heard the Angels got a new 1b who’s might be good. Is his walk rate what has you ranking him outside the top-20? Love your writing, BTW … freakin’ hilarious!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Limping Gibson, Thanks! He had a terrible end of the year, but he’s fine, serviceable. He’ll be ranked this afternoon.

  20. Nate says:
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    Hey Grey, 10 team H2H, keep 3, already keeping Votto and J-Up.

    Verlander or Hanley as #3?

    Thanks!

  21. JoeC says:
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    Did you know that Betancourt has saved 27 games in his career and blown 34 saves? (he was 8 for 12 last season)

    That’s some major suckitude there!

    • RandomItalicizedVoice says:
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      @JoeC, And I bet the vast majority of those “blown saves” were of the technical variety…aka not actually closing a game.

      • JoeC says:
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        @RandomItalicizedVoice, Wut?

        That makes no sense. Whether he pitches in the 8th or the 9th makes no difference. He’s come into the game in a Save situation 61 times and failed 34 of those times. That is… not good.

        Now this doesn’t mean he can’t be a successful closer. He walks no one and strikes out a bunch of guys… but I’d just be a little wary of a guy who’s demonstrated a propensity to blow leads.

        • RandomItalicizedVoice says:
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          @JoeC, Obviously it makes a difference.

      • JoeC says:
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        @RandomItalicizedVoice, Although I guess you’re right in the sense that I should count his Holds in the equation, since he wouldn’t get credit for a Save if he held the lead in the 8th and Street pitched the 9th. But there’s no “Blown Holds” category, so I guess we can’t really look at that either.

  22. Eddy says:
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    What’s up, Grey. Wanted to throw this mock roster your way and see what you thought. Weakness? Strengths? 12-team, Yahoo style, picked 5th.

    C- Matt Wieters (9th)
    1B- Joey Votto (1st)
    2B- Howie Kendrick (8th)
    3B- Pablo Sandoval (4th)
    SS- Zack Cozart (20th)
    OF- Andrew McCutchen (2nd)
    OF- Jay Bruce (3rd)
    OF- Drew Stubbs (6th)
    Util- Colby Rasmus (14th)
    Util- Jose Tabata (22nd)

    BN- Vernon Wells (17th)
    BN- Alex Rios (16th)
    BN- Adam Dunn (21st)

    SP- Madison Bumgarner (5th)
    SP- Dan Hudson (7th)
    SP- Yu Darvish (11th)
    SP- Ubaldo Jimenez (12th)
    SP- Mike Minor (19th)
    SP- Jonathan Sanchez (23rd)

    RP- Jose Valverde (10th)
    RP- Kenley Jansen (13th)
    RP- Joe Nathan (15th)
    RP- Jim Johnson (18th)
    RP- David Carpenter (24th)

    Notes: Because I picked 5th, there were a few reached whenever I had my long wait (Bumgarner, Sandoval). Was it too much of a reach?

    Because the created mock had an extra OF for some reason, I drafted both Rios and Wells. Would probably drop Rios if it were regular.

    Chance that D.Carpenter is Astros closer by end of season?

    I really love my offense, but I think my SP is very volatile.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Eddy, I like your team a lot. Don’t think the pitching is that volatile. Since your hitting is so good, it makes up for it.

      • Eddy says:
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        @Grey,

        Sweet. Bumgarner and Pablo too much of a reach, or reasonable reaches? Greinke wasn’t on the board in the 5th round. Would have been my choice.

        Also, any thoughts on D.Carpenter?

        Side note: Verlander is up to 8th ADP. Da fuq?

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          @Eddy, Those are bit of reaches, but it worked out fine. Carpenter could get saves at some point, no real reason to draft him unless he’s named closer in the spring. That’s crazy on Verlander… Seriously?

  23. Mr2Bits says:
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    Good afternoon Grey. Thinking about my keepers and need your help. I am in a 10 team league that uses QS and OBP instead of W/BA. I can keep 8 players total but only 2 in rounds 1-5, 2 in rounds 6-10 and 4 throughout. If I don’t keep 2 in the lower tiers, I can take 3 or 5 in the others. With that said, who do you like as keepers as I have my preliminary choices below.

    Roy Halladay – 1st round – Keeper
    Jered Weaver – 2nd round
    Dan Haren – 3rd round -Keeper
    Victor Martinez – 5th round
    Josh Hamilton – 7th round -Keeper
    Joel Hanrahan – 11th round
    Roy Oswalt – 11th round
    James Shields – 15th Round – Keeper
    Kevin Youkilis – 15th round – Keeper
    Chris Young – 21st round
    Jose Bautista – 23rd round – Keeper
    Neftali Feliz – 23rd round
    Josh Collmenter – FA
    Ryan Vogelsong – FA – Keeper
    Emilio Bonifacio – FA
    Lance Berkman – FA – Keeper
    Howie Kendrick – FA – Keeper
    Josh Willingham – FA
    Kyle Farnsworth – FA
    Javy Guerra – FA
    Jim Johnson – FA
    Greg Holland – FA

    • Mr2Bits says:
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      @Mr2Bits, Wanted to also add I am keeping Doc because I will have the last pick in the 1st round due to me winning it all last year.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Mr2Bits, I’d keep Bonifacio over Vogelsong.

      • Tom Thumb says:
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        @Grey, Don’t like Neftali in round 23?

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          @Tom Thumb, Not really, but it’s okay.

      • Mr2Bits says:
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        @Grey, Actually wont be able to keep either as Voge gives me 9.

  24. Grey

    Grey says:
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    *****THERE’S A NEW POST****

  25. Larkin Cunningham says:
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    no love for League or Walden? Both of them seem like they’d be safer bets than Chris Perez.

  26. Larkin Cunningham says:
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    I like your rankings a lot better than ESPN’s. So I was hoping you could give me your opinion on my fantasy team. I play in a 10-team roto league on ESPN.com. (If you’re wondering how I managed 3 top-10 players, it’s because i traded for Cano and Pujols)

    C – G. Soto
    1B – A. Pujols
    2B – R. Cano
    3B – K. Youkilis
    SS – S. Castro
    1B/3B – A. Gonzalez
    2B/SS – D. Jeter
    OF – H. Pence
    OF – M. Stanton
    OF – J. Bruce
    OF – B. Upton
    OF – J. Heyward
    UTIL – N. Walker

    SP – C. Sabathia
    SP – D. Haren
    SP – R. Romero
    SP – M. Bumgarner
    SP – J. Johnson

    RP – H. Belk
    RP – J. Putz
    RP – B. League
    RP – G. Balfour

    Personally I think my team is pretty loaded. Some fool in my league traded Pujols to me straight up for Prince Fielder. And I was able to get Cano and Heyward in exchange for Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs.

    But I was still hoping you could give me your personal opinion? Anyone you especially like/dislike? Any significant improvements i need to make?

    I appreciate any input you can give me.

  27. John Armstrong says:
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    What difference does a League Change (like Papelbon) make when you’re talking about a closer? If anything, the NL may be worse. Should a closer face the P spot (which would have been the DH in the AL), there will be a PH who comes in–who will almost certainly be opposite-handed as opposed to the DH who may be either-handed. I understand how a SP or even a RP would benefit from the AL-NL move, but not the CL.

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