Here is my take on the current state of closers. I will list Division-Team-Closer-competition, if any. This list will be dynamic throughout the season with updates when changes are necessary.
We have a few recent remarks from some managers; deciding on a closer or deciding to leave it up to a committee. Then we have a new strategy by Toronto GM Anthopoulos.
Yankees - Mariano Rivera - No competition.
Red Sox - Jonathan Papelbon - No early competition.
Rays – With the new contract signed by Kyle Farnsworth that includes "finished games" incentives, I have to put him as the early front runner. This from Maddon earlier in the week: Don't know if we'll have a specific closer, "pretty much fully expecting" to use committee approach.
Blue Jays - Octavio Dotel with Jason Frasor and now Frank Francisco in the mix as the front runner. I see the Blue Jays GM Anthopoulos yielding a new strategy this year. He will give numerous RP closing chances to artificially inflate their number thus making them type A free agents come next year. Then when they are not resigned and go elsewhere the Blue Jays get compensated with two draft picks. This is a bold and risky maneuver but could yield numerous draft picks for Toronto and lead the closer to position to get a makeover league wide. Let’s see how it plays out. Remember you heard it here first.
White Sox - Matt Thornton - It's clear that both Sale and Thornton have the skills to close. Thornton's experience should give him the edge initially. It was announced Sale will start the season in the bullpen.
Indians - Chris Perez - No competition.
Indians - Chris Perez - No competition.
Royals - Joakim Soria – No competition.
Twins - Joe Nathan if “completely” healthy, Matt Capps if not. Nathan will likely begin the season in a set-up role to Matt Capps, but could take back the closer role later in the summer. This week Nathan made remarks about how good a closer Capps has been which leads me to believe Capps will start the season as the closer.
Tigers - José Valverde – No competition.
AL WESTAngels - Fernando Rodney, Scott Downs and now Kevin Jepsen lurking. Statement from Scioscia this week. "We've got some power arms on the right side and some balance on the left and really any one of five guys do have the ability to come in and get the last out of the game."
A’s - Andrew Bailey – As long as he stays healthy, Bailey will close for the A's in 2011.
Mariners - David Aardsma is expected to return to the Seattle bullpen in early May now. You should hand-cuff him to Brandon League to start the season. New to the mix is former Orioles closer Chris Ray
Rangers - Neftali Feliz - forget the rumors he moves to the starting rotation. Until I hear this coming the boss, Nolan Ryan, it means nothing. Remember they just sent Francisco to the great white North.
Nationals - Drew Storen: it’s the 23 year olds job to lose. Next in order: Sean Burnett Tyler Clippard and Todd Coffey.
Phillies - Brad Lidge – No completion.
Mets - Francisco Rodríguez – No completion.
Braves – Open for any of these three to win. Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, George Sherrill. New Braves Manager Gonzales likes the versatility of having both a righty and lefty closer. Look for this to be a two man platoon going forward. Yesterday even Venters acknowledged that Kinbrel has the upper hand on closing calling his "stuff" super crazy.
Cubs - Carlos Marmol – No competition.
Reds - Francisco Cordero - No competition. Caught some flack over not giving Chapman any chance to win the position. The reason being is…he has no chance. Dusty reaffirmed this mid week by saying "There is no closer situation controversy, Cordero is our man."
Brewers - John Axford – No competition.
Astros - Brandon Lyon – No competition.
Pirates - Joel Hanrahan, Manager Clint Hurdle just announced that Joel Hanrahan will open the season as the team's closer. Evan Meek could still be hand-cuffed.
Cardinals - Ryan Franklin – No competition.
D’Backs - J.J. Putz – No competition.
Dodgers - Jonathan Broxton has been officially named the team’s closer. It wouldn’t hurt you to handcuff Kenley Jansen.
Giants - Brian Wilson - No competition but back on Twitter, you need to look at this nuts tweets.
Padres - Heath Bell – No competition.