The term “tool” has multiple meanings around here. A major league baseball player can have up to five tools. A fantasy sports writer can be a tool — like when he recommends the wrong next in line to closer for the Rockies (that’s me). Rudy Gamble makes tools — like the SAGNOF tool I talked up last week that gives you some insight on the best base stealing match-ups and like our DFS (daily fantasy) tools available here. A commenter pointed out last week that “Using the (SAGNOF) tool, Venable (FA) faces Nelson who ranks #25…pretty stealable. Problem is, Nelson has been in top form lately so tough to get on base. I’m gonna give Venable a shot nevertheless.” At this point I felt compelled to remind him and the rest of you that by using the tool “You can put the odds in your favor, but a one game result is ultimately a total crapshoot.” Well, everything with such a small sample size is a crapshoot, so what I meant was that putting the odds in your favor is a good thing and something that you need to try to do consistently when it comes to managing your last few roster spots. What happened that game? Venable stole a base against Nelson.
For this week in Steals Ain’t Got No Face, the player I’m most excited about is Byron Buxton. He is playing rehab games and should be back with the Twins this week. Remember Buxton? He’s a top prospect. We’ve talked about him here before. He can possibly put up numbers that would pace him for 20 home runs and 40 stolen bases, I think that’s about his ceiling. It’s a mighty high ceiling. Speaking more realistically, Steamer has him projected for 3-7-.241 in 36 games, which is a nice and productive 14-32 full season pace. Looking elsewhere, there are so many options in the outfield. Michael Bourn and Carl Crawford have taken up thievery recently, turning the clock back 5 years. Rusney Castillo has been playing well and is a potential 5 category performer. And speaking of multiple category performers, Michael Taylor is one, (though not a 5 category performer because he doesn’t hit for AVG) and his 10 home runs and 14 stolen bases in 95 games played put him on a 17-24 full season pace.
SAGNOF recommendations for stolen bases: Byron Buxton, Rusney Castillo, Michael Taylor. You may also want to look at the MLB standings/schedule as a tiebreaker when making close decisions on who to roster. Favor players on the teams with the most games still to play. And with so many options just sitting in free agency you might want to steam them using our SAGNOF tool as a guide.
Saves Ain’t Got No Face
The Boston Red Sox have suffered a loss at the closer position where Junichi Tazawa could be poised to take over for the injured Koji Uehara but the Red Sox haven’t let on as to the extent of the injury. Uehara may only miss another game or two, or he could head to the disabled list. We should know the answer by Tuesday. Jean Machi and Alexi Ogando both appear to be candidates to close but it looks like it will be Tazawa, even though, according to the Rotowire news blurb: “Red Sox manager John Farrell said he plans to limit Tazawa’s usage over the final weeks of the season, the Boston Globe reports. “Where we are right now, probably going to bring him in games where we’re either tied or ahead. Not to say we wouldn’t use him down a run, but we’ve got an opportunity to manage his usage a little bit more,” Farrell said.” Oh and Tazawa and Machi both made appearances in the Red Sox latest win yesterday and both entered when the score was 7-2, Tazawa in the bottom of the 8th and Machi in the bottom of the 9th. So I don’t know what to take away from that because Tazawa should be the closer, in theory, but he has struggled recently.
Tommy Kahnle is the new Rockies closer and that’s something apparently everyone predicted except me. If Steamer projections are correct he may not keep his job for very long because his rest of season ERA projection stands at 3.87, which is actually low for a player with a 1.40 WHIP so far this season. The WHIP will come down, the ERA up. Fortunately for those hanging onto Justin Miller, he’s one of the more ownable next in line players right now.
The Detroit Tigers’ closer in waiting, Bruce Rondon, notched a save. He’s waiting, we’re waiting everyone’s been waiting for Rondon to finally arrive as the closer and it doesn’t look like it has happened yet. Alex Wilson is apparently still the closer but at least Rondon may have moved past Blaine Hardy in the pecking order. I hope so.
Edward Mujica’s short time as the closer may very well be done after he allowed three runs without recording an out in his most recent outing. Drew Pomeranz is the Oakland player I’d be taking a chance on right now. Fernando Rodriguez, Evan Scribner and Dan Otero should be monitored closely as well. (That’s basically everyone in the A’s pen..) Remember, Sean Doolittle is looming as he makes his way back from injury. He may return in late August, whether he closes immediately is a different story.
SAGNOF recommendations for Saves: Tommy Kahnle, Drew Pomeranz, Junichi Tazawa, Justin Miller, Bruce Rondon. Sorry for my lack of decisiveness on some of these situations. I just don’t have enough information as of this writing to make a confident decision on some of these situations.