Saturday, March 19, 2011

Early Closer Report

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 risky 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: I think we have the ability to potentially move that last out or last two outs around, based on left-handed or right-handed hitters." Jake McGee has the promise to eventually take the job and has mentioned he would like the closers job. It should be noted that Joel Peralta and Juan Cruz have not been scored upon this spring.
Orioles - Koji Uehara & Kevin Gregg will battle for the closer spot. I’m now leaning towards Gregg after Uehara received cortisone shot in his pitching elbow in early March.
Blue Jays - Frank Francisco is front runner. Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel will also be given chances to earn the closer's role. 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 re-signed 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 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 Chris Sale and Thornton have the skills to close but with Thornton’s new 12M contract I think the decision has been made for the next 2 years.
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 in a month. Still, it should be Nathan who you are drafting this week.
Tigers - José Valverde – No competition but will be on a pitch limit this year. After a 60 pitch outing post All-Star break Valverde went downhill. May want to hand-cuff him to one of the best set-up men in Joaquín Benoit, that is if you have the roster space.
Angels - Fernando Rodney,  Francisco Rodriguez,  Kevin Jepsen and now Jordan Walden lurking. The Angels are as uncertain about their closer as they have been at any time during Mike Scioscia's reign as manager. Avoid this group if you are currently drafting…wait to pounce once the season starts. If must draft one, Rodney is the nest in the bullpen. Take Jason Frasor out of the mix , he will be on DL with broken toe.

A’s - Andrew Bailey has been diagnosed with a forearm sprain but nothing structurally is wrong, Could be out a few days to few weeks. If you draft Bailey package him with Brian Fuentes at this time.
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. Remember, there is no telling how effective Aardsma will be when returning. He couild be shipped out of town come trade deadline. I would avoid this entire group come draft day unless you have no other alternatives.
Rangers - Neftali Feliz - forget the rumors he moves to the starting rotation. Until I hear this coming the boss, Nolan Ryan, it means nothing. He will toss a 3 inning session, then a four, and then a five. Just remember that they sent Francisco to the great white North.
Nationals - Manager Jim Riggleman has waited all spring for one of Drew Storen, Todd Coffey, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett or Henry Rodriguez to emerge, and none of them has. And so it seems more and more likely that those three, along with left-hander Sean Burnett, will form a kind of closer-by-committee.
Phillies - Brad Lidge is the leader but has a slight case of bicep tendinitis. Next in line, as in the past, is Ryan Madson.
Mets - Francisco Rodríguez – No completion but still completing anger management classes. He also has an incentive clause for games finished so the cash strapped Mets might hold him out of some 3 run league games.
Marlins - Leo Nunez lost it to Clay Hensley late last year; both will compete for it this year. Nunez is the frontrunner draft him with confidence.
Braves – Manager Fredi Gonzalez will give both Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters a shot at closing—and he means once the season starts, not simply in spring training. Gonzales likes the versatility of having both a righty and lefty closer. Kimbrel is a small favorite at this point. Recently completed a pert draft were Venters went 4 picks before I drafted Kimbrel
Cubs - Carlos Marmol – No competition.
Reds - Francisco Cordero  - No competition. GM Walt Jocketty recently stated Chapman could be  a frnt end starter or an elite closer…just not this year.
Brewers - John Axford – No competition.
Astros - Brandon Lyon – No competition and I mean NONE. Their bullpen is that bad.
Pirates - Joel Hanrahan,   Manager Clint Hurdle just announced that Joel Hanrahan will open the season as the team's closer. Evan Meek should still be hand-cuffed. Though Hanrahan has struggled this spring, Meek has not been any better.
Cardinals - Ryan Franklin – No competition.
D’Backs - J.J. Putz – No competition.
Dodgers - Jonathan Broxton has been officially named the team’s closer. If he falters, Kuo gets first crack at the job, and he excelled last year.
Giants - Brian Wilson - No competition but back on Twitter, you need to look at this nuts tweets.
Padres - Heath Bell – No competition. Could still be trade bait come July.


  1. You didn't mention the Colorado Rockies or their closer, Huston Street.
    Any reason why?

  2. Oversight on my part. Thanks for pointing out the mistake. Street is man in Mile High and with no competition at this time. he has been dominating this Spring and if you own him he could a top 10 value for you.