Posts Tagged ‘Joel Hanrahan’

Pirates Add A Couple Of Relievers

January 19, 2010

After focusing on improving their offense for the first-half of the offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates have shifted their focus to trying to improve the bullpen.

According to various outlets, the Pirates have signed right-handed relievers D.J. Carrasco and Brendan Donnelly. Carrasco was signed to a minor-league deal and Donnelly was signed a one-year, $1.35 million contract.

Donnelly had a 1.78 ERA with the Marlins in 2009

Carrasco and Donnelly will join a bullpen that already consists of Joel Hanrahan, Steven Jackson, and Donnie Veal amongst others.

Carrasco, 32, was non-tendered by the Chicago White Sox in December. In 2009, Carrasco had a 3.76 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in 93.1 innings pitched. Carrasco’s 89.1 innings as a reliever, led all of baseball in that category.

While Carrasco did sign a minor-league contract, he is almost a shoe-in to land a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen out of spring training.

Donnelly’s deal on the other hand is a little more interesting. Donnelly is 38 and hasn’t pitched more than 30 innings in a season since 2006. Donnelly had Tommy John surgery in 2007 and has only pitched in 39 innings the last two years.

$1.35 million is a lot to give a guy who may or may not make it past the All Star break. If the Pirates don’t make any more moves to their bullpen, Donnelly could be setting up Hanrahan in the eighth inning.

I wonder if the signings of Carrasco and Donnelly eliminate the possibility of the Pirates signing Octavio Dotel? The Pirates have been rumored to be interested in signing Dotel and many thought they would have signed him last week.

Moves like Carrasco and Donnelly are no-harm, no-foul moves for the Pirates. If they work out, perhaps the Pirates can trade them to a contender at the trade deadline for prospects and if they don’t, their contracts won’t be an albatross.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Ten Things We Learned In June…

July 1, 2009

Can you believe it is July 1st already? Maybe I don’t think it is the middle of summer because it rained almost every freakin’ day in the northeast in June. What a terrible month for weather.

Despite the bad weather, there was still plenty of good baseball that was played. The month of June usually separates the pretenders from the contenders, and this year was no different.

Here are the top 10 things we learned about baseball during the month of June…

10. The MLB Draft goes mainstream. For the first time, the MLB draft was on TV and on in prime time on the MLB Network. This was a good job by baseball realizing the increased importance of the draft, and fans should get insight on who their team is drafting.

To nobodies surprise, the Washington Nationals made San Diego State RHP Stephen Strasburg the No. 1 pick in the draft. Strasburg is probably the most hyped draft pick in the history of the draft and if you are a Nationals fan (all 100 of you), you better pray this guy is worth every dime he is going to get.

Speaking of rookies and the draft…

9. Tommy Hanson is good. Tommy Hanson made his debut for the Atlanta Braves on June 7th and since then he has gone 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts.

While his walk to strike out ratio isn’t the greatest in the world (17 walks to 18 K’s), he has wiggled out of trouble, kept his composure, and looks to be the real deal for the Atlanta Braves.

Speaking of the Braves…

8. The trade winds are a blowin’. The Atlanta Braves fired the first shot of the season by trading three prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ All-Star CF Nate McLouth.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were very busy in the month of June. Besides trading Nate McLouth, they traded Eric Hinske to the New York Yankees, and traded Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.

The Pirates weren’t the only NL Central team that was busy. The St. Louis Cardinals acquired perhaps the most versitle player on the market – Mark DeRosa from the Cleveland Indians.

Not only does DeRosa give the Cardinals someone to protect Albert Pujols in the lineup, but they also prevent DeRosa from being traded to his former team, the Chicago Cubs.

While on the subject of the Cubs…

7. Even All-Stars can be benched. The Chicago Cubs benched Milton Bradley, the Philadelphia Phillies benched Jimmy Rollins, and the Detroit Tigers sat down Magglio Ordonez. Kind of a rough month for these former All-Stars.

Did someone say something about former All-Stars being benched?

6. The demise of David Ortiz was premature. David Ortiz hit just .143 in May and everyone thought the Red Sox needed to trade for his replacement. Not so fast.

“Big Papi” wasn’t going down without a fight and Ortiz had a tremendous month of June. Ortiz hit .320 with seven HR’s, 18 RBI, and had a .409 OBP.

Let’s see if Ortiz can keep up the hot streak in July. Staying in the AL East…

5. The AL East is the best division in baseball. The Red Sox ended June with the best record in the AL, the Yankees have won five in a row and the Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in baseball after April.

Throw in the Toronto Blue Jays, who are three games over .500 and the Orioles, whose lineup can hit with anyone, it’s easy to see why the AL East is the best division in baseball.

It appears there will be two playoff spots for three teams.

On the topic of the American League…

4. The American League Dominated interleague play. The American League took the National League behind the woodshed in 2009. The AL had a 137-114 record against the NL.

While the NL has the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team with the best record in baseball, the AL from top to bottom is just a stronger league. If you put the Toronto Blue Jays in the NL, they probably would be the second best team in the league right now.

There was one team that stood out in interleague play. That team was…

3. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are back on top. The Angels had a brutal April and May. John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Vladimir Guerrero, Scot Shields, and Jose Arredondo all missed time for the halos. And of course, they went through the Nick Adenhart tragedy.

However, the Angels used interleague play to turn their season around. The Angels went an interleague best 14-4 and have returned to their customary position of AL West division leaders.

While the Angels were hot…

2. The Rockies were the team of the month. The Rockies fired Clint Hurdle at the end of May, hired Jim Tracy, and then the Rockies started beating teams left and right.

The Rockies lost their first three games in June and then only lost four more the rest of the month. At one point, they won 17 of 18 games, reminding fans of their great World Series run of 2007.

The Rockies are now 41-36 and are just 1.5 games out of a wild card spot. There may be another “Rocktober” in Colorado.

The Rockies were the team of the month, but the players of the month and the No. 1 thing we learned in the month of June was…

1. Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera are first-ballot Hall of Famers. It was a milestone month for Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera, two of the greatest pitchers off all-time.

Earlier this month, Randy Johnson became just the 24th pitcher and just the sixth lefthanded pitcher to win 300 games by defeating the Washington Nationals 5-1. The way the game is played now, Johnson might be the last 300 game winner.

Then later in the month, Mariano Rivera became just the second pitcher to record 500 saves for his career. Rivera now only trails Trevor Hoffman in all-time saves.

In my opinion, Randy Johnson is the greatest lefthanded pitcher of all-time and Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time. Both pitchers put an exclamation point on their already Hall of Fame careers.

That’s a wrap for the month of June. July should be even more exciting, as the July 31st trading deadline is one of the most interesting and exciting days in baseball.

One other thing I wanted to mention. As we all know, the title of my blog The Ghost of Moonlight Graham, was inspired by Burt Lancaster’s character in the movie Field of Dreams.

Well now the real life story of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham has been told. Brett Friedlander and Bob Reising have written the book “Chasing Graham.” It’s a fascinating story about a truly amazing man.

Brett Friedlander is a sports columnist covering ACC football and basketball for the Wilmington Star-News in North Carolina. He also writes for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and the ACC Sports Journal. 

His co-author, Bob Reising is an English professor at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky and is the former head baseball coach at South Carolina, Duke, and Furman.

You can purchase this fascinating book here.

Nationals Trade Lastings Milledge; Elijah Dukes Next?

July 1, 2009

Pittsburgh Pirates GM and fellow UMass Sports Management graduate, Neal Huntington was a busy man today. Hours after trading Eric Hinske to the Yankees, Huntington pulled off a four player trade with the Washington Nationals.

The Pirates traded Juan Pierre clone, OF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to the Nationals for OF Lastings Milledge and RHP and former Nationals closer, Joel Hanrahan. I see why both teams made this trade, but I think the Pirates got the better of this one by a slight margin.

I am not a fan of Lastings Milledge. Never have been and never will be. His act has worn thin with me and apparently to the Nationals as well. However, he is four years younger than Morgan (Milledge is 25 and Morgan is 29) and the potential is there for him to be more productive than Morgan. I still think Milledge can produce at the major league level.

I see what Huntington is trying to do. He wants to be a build a young, athletic outfield, similar to what the Rays have built in Tampa Bay. He is two thirds of the way there with Andrew McCutchen in center and now with Milledge in left (once he gets healthy). Gorkys Hernandez, who the Pirates got in the Nate McLouth trade could possibly play right to complete the super-athletic outfield.

The Pirates also recieved Joel Hanrahan in this trade. I actually like Hanrahan and I am a little surprised the Nationals gave up on him. Last year Hanrahan had a 3.95 ERA, 9 saves, and struck out 93 in 84.1 IP.

This year Hanrahan has struggled with a 7.71 ERA, but still has 35 strike outs in 32.2 IP. That tells me his stuff is there, he just needs to make some minor adjustments. Joe Kerrigan is one of the best pitching coaches in the game and will work with Hanrahan to make those adjustments.

For the Washington Nationals, I kind of see what they are trying to do.  As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs pointed out, the Nationals have the worst outfield defenses in baseball. I have watched them recently against the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees and quite frankly their outfield defense was a joke.

Trading for Morgan gives the Nationals one of the best leftfielders in the game. Morgan can fly and track down balls that Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn or Elijah Dukes can’t get to.

Nationals interim GM Mike Rizzo is trying to make up for former GM Jim Bowden’s neglect of defense. As the Tampa Bay Rays last year and the Detroit Tigers have proved this year, one of the quickest ways to improve your ball club is by improving the defense.

The Nationals received Sean Burnett in this trade as well. Burnett was having a good season as the Pirates lefthanded set-up man. Burnett had a 3.06 ERA and has only given up 22 hits in 32.1 IP. Lefties are only hitting .189 against Burnett this year.

Here is the only thing I don’t understand about this trade from the Nationals perspective. Why trade for a 29-year old in Morgan? The Nationals need to get younger not older. That part is a little puzzling to me. I understand they want to improve their defense, but you can find a guy like Morgan who is younger in most team’s minor league system

While the Nationals got rid of one problem in Milledge, they may be looking to ship out another one in Elijah Dukes. According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, the Nationals are also trying to trade Dukes.

Dukes is hitting only .237 with six HR’s and 30 RBI in 190 AB’s for the Nationals this season. Dukes also comes with a ton of baggage, so the Nationals might find it hard to find a taker for Dukes.

Another National’s Closer…

June 7, 2009

It’s a pretty good sign that your team is not doing so well if they have gone through three closers just 55 games into the season. Such is life for the last place Washington Nationals, as yesterday they named former Royals and White Sox pitcher, Mike MacDougal as their new closer.

First it was Joel Hanrahan, then it was Joe Beimel, then it was back to Hanrahan and now it is Mike MacDougal. This is the same MacDougal that was  released by the White Sox at the end of April because he had an ERA of 12.46 and walked seven batters in 4.1 IP. And this is the same MacDougal who is 32 years old and hasn’t closed games since 2005 with the Royals. These are real desperate times for the Nationals.

MacDougal peaked in 2003 when he had 27 saves and was an All Star with the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately, that was six years ago and MacDougal  offers little value to fantasy owners in 2009. Even if you needed cheap saves, I still wouldn’t pick up MacDougal.

My guess is that MacDougal’s time as closer will be short lived and the Nationals will go back to Hanrahan or Beimel at some point. That is a fantasy owners nightmare – rotating closers.

Stay away from MacDougal for now. If you want cheap saves, try David Aardsma (9 saves, 1.91 ERA) or Andrew Bailey (three saves, 2.03 ERA).

The WBC And The Affects On Pitching Part 2..

May 18, 2009

Back in January, I wrote a post title “The World Baseball Classic And The Affects On Starting Pitching.” I wrote the post to show that most pitchers who pitched in the WBC in 2006 had a worse era that season than they did in 2005. Now that we are over 30 games into the season and the WBC is well behind us, I think is now a good time to see how some of the WBC pitchers are fairing this season.

Cueto is off to a good start

Cueto is off to a good start

Pitcher-Record-ERA

Jose Arredono – 1-0 5.51 era

Johnny Cueto – 4-1 1.93 era

Felix Hernandez – 4-2 3.53 era

Ubaldo Jimenez – 3-4 4.73 era

Rafael Perez – 0-1 15.19 era. Optioned to Triple A in May.

Daisuke Matsuzaka – 0-1 12.79 era. On the DL since April with Shoulder Fatigue.

Ian Snell – 1-5 4.93 era

Roy Oswalt – 1-2 4.50 era

Ted Lilly – 5-2 3.27 era

Jonathon Sanchez – 1-3 5.06 era

Jake Peavy – 2-5 4.30 era

Jeremy Guthrie – 3-3 5.21 era

Scot Shields – 1-3 7.90 era

JJ Putz – 1-2 3.86. Is currently pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow.

Joakim Soria – 1-0 2.08 era and 7/7 in saves. Currently on the 15 Day DL because of a sore shoulder. Royals GM, Dayton Moore wonders if the WBC led to Soria’s issue.  “I don’t think it helps,” Moore told the Kansas City Star. “We couldn’t control his work. If you can’t control a pitcher’s workload and you can’t script their preparation during spring training, it’s a problem.”

JP Howell – 0-2 2.81 era

Joel Hanrahan – 0-1 5.51 era and 3/6 in saves

Jonathon Broxton – 4-0 1.50 era and 9/11 in saves

Matt Lindstrom – 1-1 5.40 era and 7/9 in saves

Heath Bell – 1-0 0.00 era and 9/9 in saves

LaTroy Hawkins – 1-1 2.70 era and 5/7 in saves

Brad Ziegler – 0-0 3.86 era 4/5 in saves

Perez is having a terrible 2009

Perez is having a terrible 2009

John Grabow – 1-0 5.29 era

Oliver Perez – 1-2 9.97 era. Placed on the 15 Day DL because of a knee injury. In reality it was because he is terrible.

So that is 24 pitchers with a combined 37-41 record on a 5.08 era. Now can all these poor starts be solely attributed to the WBC? Absolutely not. That wouldn’t be fair saying that was the case. However, I do believe there is some connection between these poor starts and pitching in the WBC. Out of those 24 pitchers, it seems only Johnny Cueto, Heath Bell and Jonathon Broxton have pitched in the WBC and have pitched exceptionally well in 2009.

There is no evidence to suggest that the WBC is going away any time soon.  So when the next WBC comes around and if you see a pitcher on your favorite team on the roster, don’t expect a good year out of him.

*Please note all stats were calculated prior to Sunday’s games.

You Can Never Have Too Much Depth….

April 29, 2009

In my super competitive fantasy league I thought I had the ultimate bullpen. I had drafted Joakim Soria, Jose Valverde and Joel Hanrahan. Then I picked up Jason Motte because he was getting the majority of saves in spring training and he could be used as trade bait during the season. I was figuring with these 4 closers I would have somewhere in the neighborhood of 125-130 saves. I also figured that this was one area of my team that I would not have to worry about throughout the season. Boy was I wrong.

My fantasy closer. Oy Vey

My fantasy closer. Oy Vey

Motte lost his closer’s role seemingly on Opening Day, Hanrahan has a 8.64 era, Soria has a shoulder injury and has pitched once in the last 2 weeks and now Jose Valverde just landed on the DL because of a strained calf. Soria worries me the most because he has a shoulder injury. You never know if that is the start of something more serious down the road.

So what I thought would be a strength at the beginning of the season is now a weakness. My 2 closers are now Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins. Awesome!!! My point of this post is not to complain about my closer situation but to make a point that you can never have too much depth at any position on your fantasy team. What you think is a strength could turn into a weakness overnight. Injuries and poor performance can kill a fantasy team in split second.

So go out and pick up an extra OF, pick up a Phil Hughes, or pick up a Dexter Fowler. Get yourself some depth so you don’t get stuck with Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins as your closer.

Fantasy Week In Review 4/13-4/19…

April 20, 2009

We are now 2 weeks into the season and we have seen a lot of great and not so great fantasy performances so far from players. For the week of 4/13-4/19, here are the fantasy studs, the possible pickups and the players who have me concerned.

Fantasy Studs

Andre Ethier – .391/4/12. Who says Manny’s presence in the lineup doesn’t matter?

Carlos Pena – .333/4/12. As long as he stays healthy, a 30+ HR season for Pena is a lock.

Kinsler raked this week

Kinsler raked this week

Carlos Quentin – .333/5/9/.429. Quentin could have won the MVP last year. Looks like he is headed for another MVP season this year.

Ian Kinsler – .556/2/6. Anytime you go 6-6 in one game, you are a fantasy stud. I had Kinsler as the #1 2B headed into 2009 and so far he has not disappointed.

Raul Ibanez – .550/3/5. Hit a huge walk-off HR on Sunday and is making Phillies fans forget about Pat Burrell.

Zack Greinke – 2-0 0.00 era with 19 K in 14 IP. My pick for the Cy Young has a 34 consecutive scoreless inning streak going. Right now Greinke is the #1 fantasy pitcher in baseball.

Chad Billingsley – 2-0 2.77 era with 17 K in 13 IP. The ace of the Dodgers staff is off to a great start. Baring injury and with the Dodgers offense, Billingsley should win 16-20 games in 2009.

Heath Bell – 4/4 in save opportunities and a 0.00 era with 4 K in 4 IP. Bell is making the most out of his first chance at being a closer. He has dominated the Mets and Phillies in back to back series this week.

Reason for Concern

Matt Holliday – .286/0/7/.286. The 7 RBI for the week is acceptable but 0 walks and no HR’s is not. Holliday has not yet homered this season and now the question is being asked…is Holliday just a product of Coors field?

Chien-Ming Wang – 61.71 era with 14 H, 16 R in just 2.1 IP. Wang has a 34.50 era on the season. I watched that game on Saturday and Wang has about as much confidence as the employees of GM had in Rick Wagoner. There is talk of putting Wang on the DL just to get him straight.

Joel Hanrahan – 0/2 in save opportunities with a 12.00 in 3 IP. Nothing is more demoralizing to a bad team when they are actually winning and their closer blows a save. Hanrahan accomplished this feat on back to back days. He does have 8 K’s in 5 IP on the season so it seems like it is a control issue rather than a stuff issue.

David Ortiz – .148/0/2. The Monster Formally Known As David Ortiz is off to a real rough start. His bat looks slow and he is fouling off very hittable pitches. Perhaps he will get hot as the season moves on. This year’s Carlos Delgado?

Vladimir Guerrero – Put on the 15 Day DL with a torn pectoral muscle. Anyone who watched Guerrero for the 1st month of the season will tell you he looked like one of those over the hill NBA Centers who look awkward and struggle to get up and down the court. He is now out until May and it clearly looks like his best years are behind him.

Potential Pickups

John Buck – .357/2/7. If need a catcher, Buck might be a good pick up. With the Royals having a tough time scoring runs they need all the offense they can get. Buck is a better offensive player than Olivo and might start stealing some ab’s from him.

Kosuke Fukudome – .333/1/6/.480. Out of Piniella’s doghouse and into the #2 hole in the Cubs batting order where Fukudome should score plenty of runs. Also, if you league value’s OBP, then Fukudome is your guy.

Manny Corpas – New Rockie’s closer. The Huston Street experiment failed and Corpas is now the closer. If he is still available in your league, he will get his save opportunities in Colorado.

Phil Hughes – With rumors swirling that Wang might be headed to the DL, it would be a good idea to pick up Hughes now before someone else does. Hughes would be the logical choice to replace Wang and you could get 3-4 starts out of him.

Recapping My Fantasy Draft….

March 14, 2009

I play in 2 fantasy baseball leagues. One league is mediocre at best and my other league is about as solid as you can get. 12 teams, 12 owners who know the game and it is very competitive. I try to play in no more than 2 because after that players start to really overlap and things get confusing.

So with the completion of my solid league draft, I thought I would give a recap of my team and here what your thoughts were on how I did.

The league is a 12 team, total points, keeper league. The draft is 26 rounds (yes, it’s a long one) and you keep 5 players. When you keep a player, you lose that pick in next years draft. For example, if I decide to keep my first round pick from this year, I lose my first round pick in our 2010 draft. So we added a little strategy to the keeper format.

Here is my team with the round I picked the player and his ESPN fantasy position ranking. I had the 8th pick. And oh, one last thing. I won this league by 1/2 a point last year. Yes, a 1/2 of a point because Joe Mauer struck out (K’s = -.5 points) in the 1 game playoff against the White Sox. Sorry Odie, had to bring it up.

Catchers

Chris Iannetta – 8th round. #9 ranked C

1st Basemen

Albert Pujols – 1st round. #1 ranked 1B

2nd Basemen

Brian Roberts – 5th round. #5 ranked 2B

Shortstops

Miguel Tejeda – 13 round. #12 ranked SS

Elvis Andrus – 26th round. #16 ranked SS

3rd Basemen

Evan Longoria – 2nd round. #2 ranked 3B

I am hoping Gordon can break out

I am hoping Gordon can break out

Adrian Beltre – 17th round. #9 ranked 3B

Alex Gordon – 15th round. #13 ranked 3B

Outfielders

Nick Markakis – 4th round. #7 ranked OF

Nate McLouth – 6th round. #17 ranked OF

Jay Bruce – 9th round. #27 ranked OF

Jayson Werth – 19th round. #39 ranked OF

Rick Ankiel – 15th round. #46 ranked OF

Cameron Maybin – 21st round. #48 ranked OF

Starting Pitchers

Lackey leads my rotation

Lackey leads my rotation

John Lackey – 3rd round. #10 ranked SP

Aaron Harang – 14th round. #40 ranked SP

Clayton Kershaw – 10th round. #47 ranked SP

John Danks – 11th round. #48th ranked SP

Jeremy Guthrie – 22nd round. #60 ranked SP

Manny Parra – 18 round. 64th ranked SP

Dana Eveland – 24th round. 92nd ranked SP

Paul Maholm – 20 round. 97th ranked SP

Kyle Davies – 25th round. 118th ranked SP

Relief Pitchers

Joakim Soria – 7th round. #4 ranked RP

Jose Valverde – 12th round. #6 ranked RP

Joel Hanrahan – 23rd round. #21 ranked RP

My goal was to get at least one top-10 player at each position and I accomplished that with every position except for shortstop. I reached a little for Iannetta in the 9th round but I think I got steals with Maybin (21st round) and Jayson Werth (19th round).

Strengths – Corner IF’s, OF’s and RP’s

I think I did very well at the corner IF spots with Pujols, Longoria, Gordon and Beltre. I am hoping for a nice season out of Gordon. If I can get a .275/20/80 with 10 steals out of Gordon, he would be a steal in the 15th round.

I should be all set with the closer situation with Soria and Valervde. If one of them falters or should get injured, I drafted Hanrahan who will be closing for an improved Nationals team for insurance. Between Soria and Valverde, I am expecting 80+ saves.

My OF might be the best part of my team led by Markakis, McLouth, Bruce and Ankiel. Maybe McLouth takes a step back, but the expected solid seasons from Bruce and Ankiel should make up for it. I like Ankiel this year due to his impending free agency after the season. Boras will have him ready for the season. I was also able to nab a ROY candidate in Maybin in the 21st round. That might be a steal.

Weaknesses – Starting Rotation and Backup IF’s

I went with the Billy Beane philosophy when it comes to starting pitching… Buy in bulk and hope that one breaks through. I am really banking on the progression of Kershaw and a bounce back season from Harang. If neither of those happen, I will be in big trouble. I am also hoping that out of the Maholm, Davies, Parra and Eveland foursome, one of them have a breakout season. Davies is having a tremendous spring (0.71 era in 4 outings) so maybe that will carry over to the regular season. Fingers are crossed.

With so many starting pitchers and outfielders I fell a little short on backup infielders. My only back up middle infielder is Elvis Andrus who is a 20 year old rookie. I am going to need to address this during the season. If Roberts, Pujols or Tejeda go down at any point during the season, I could be in trouble.

So how do you think my draft went? Who did I reach for and who may be a bust?

Team USA Adds Hawkins And Hanrahan…

March 2, 2009

In a follow up to my Team USA Losses Nathan post, it was announced today that Astros reliever LaTroy Hawkins will replace Nathan on the roster.

There is something I never thought I would write. “LaTroy Hawkins replaces Joe Nathan.” I understand Hawkins had a 0.43 era with the Astros last year but LaTroy Hawkins? Really? Team USA must be at the bottom of the barrel for available players.

Hawkins replaces Nathan on Team USA

Hawkins replaces Nathan on Team USA

I don’t see why Team USA felt the need to add another set-up guy to the roster when they already have Howell, Putz, Shields, Ziegler, Lindstrom and Thornton on the roster. I would have used Nathan’s spot on a starting pitcher. How about asking that Halladay guy if he would like to pitch?

In other Team USA news, Washington Nationals Closer Joel Hanrahan will replace BJ Ryan on the roster. Ryan pulled out of the WBC because he felt his “mechanics” weren’t right.

With Brian Fuentes missing the first round of the WBC because of “family issues” and with Joe Nathan and BJ Ryan out of the WBC, look for Team USA to use Jonathon Broxton as the closer throughout the tournament.

Looking At Fantasy Closers In 2009…

January 29, 2009

I have always considered closers like kickers in the NFL. There are 5 or 6 great ones, some very good ones, some good ones and then there are ones I wouldn’t draft for my worst enemy. By using this theory, I have ranked all 30 current closers into different divisions. The guys who you should definitely take and the guys you shouldn’t.  Let’s take a look were the current crop of closers will fall in 2009.

Dennis Eckersley Division

These are your cream-of-the-crop, top closers headed into 2009. These guys are #1 closer material in any fantasy league

1. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets – Krod, who broke Bobby Thigpen’s record for saves with 62 in 2008 with the Angels will now attempt to close out games in Flushing. While many people point to Krod’s diminished strike out rate (declined every year since 04) and his rising BAA (increased every year in the majors), it’s not like Krod had 62 saves with a 4.50 era. Krod’s era was still a dominant 2.24. With the Mets offering their closers plenty of save opportunities (72 in 08), Krod figures to close 45-50 games in 09.

2. Mariano Rivera, Yankees – Many thought the 2007 was the beginning of the decline for the great Rivera because of a 3.15 era (highest since he became a reliever). 2008 proved that was anything but the case. The 39 year old had one of the best seasons of his career, netting 39 saves with a paultry 1.40 era. If all is well from off-season shoulder surgery, Rivera once again will be one of the top closers in 2009.

3. Joe Nathan, Twins – Nathan, one of the most consistent closers in baseball had another stellar year in 2008 with 39 saves anda 1.33 era. You can pretty much pencil in the Stony Brook product 35-40 saves with an era under 2.

4. Joakim Soria, Royals – “The Mexecutioner” burst onto the scene in 2009 for Royals posting 42 saves with a nice 1.60 era. The 24 year old has been practically unhittable since reaching the majors in 2007 as he has only given up 85 hits in 136.1 innings. Soria should be a top 5 fantasy closer again in 2009

5. Brad Lidge, Phillies – Lidge had a season for the ages in 2008, going a perfect 41/41 in save opportunities. While I don’t expect Lidge to be perfect again in 2009, he should once again be one of the top closers in baseball as the Phillies figure to contend in the NL East.

6. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox –The Red Sox closer set a career high in saves in 2008 with 41. Fantasy owners only concern with Papelbon would be he threw a career high 79.1 innings last year including the post season. Look to see what Papelbon does in April. If he is strong through April, then a typical Papelbon season is in order

Tom Henke Division

The next 4 are right under the great closers but will still put up solid numbers for you in 2009

7. Jose Valverde, Astros – Finished 2nd in baseball in saves with 44, high era of 3.38 but lots of K’s with 83

8. Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers –With Saito off to Boston, Broxton takes over as the full-time closer in LA. 35-40 saves with 80+ K’s is more than doable in 2009

9. Francisco Cordero, Reds –With the Reds improved in 2009, Cordero might reach the 40 save mark. Something Cordero has done twice before. Unfortunately, Cordero’s usually high era will leave him out of the top 6

10. Kerry Wood, Indians – One of the better season signings in baseball, Wood gives something Cleveland hasn’t had in a very long time….A LEGIT CLOSER. There is always an injury risk when picking Wood but if healthy Wood is certainly a top 10 closer. I like 35+ saves for Wood in 2009

Jeff Montgomery Division

The perfect #2 fantasy closer. These next 5 guys are perfect #2 closers

11. Bobby Jenks, White Sox – How does a guy who throws 98 mph only strike out 5.55 guys every 9 innings? Just doesn’t make sense.

12. BJ Ryan, Blue Jays – Ryan isn’t the strike out pitcher he used to be but he still knows how to save a game. Pencil in 30+ saves again for Ryan in 2009.

13. Huston Street, Rockies –I am on the Huston Street bandwagon this year. A fresh start with the Rockies and this being an odd year, Street should have a nice bounce back year. Street, like Bret Saberhagen pitches very well in odd years

14. Brad Ziegler, A’s – Ziegler burst onto the scene last year by starting off his career with a 39 inning scoreless streak. I expect Ziegler’s era to increase from 1.06 to around the high 2 mark in 09. With the A’s very much improved expect Ziegler to register 25-30 saves

15. Brian Fuentes, Angels –I am not sold on Fuentes as most people are. He lost his closers role in 07 only to gain in back in 08. With Shields and Arredando looking over Fuentes’ shoulder it will be interestingto see how Fuentes fairs. The Angels offer a lot of opportunities for saves so 30+ saves with an era in the high 2’s is not out of the question

Armando Benitez Division

These guys can get you saves but when you need them the most they will blow a big one in September

16. Brian Wilson, Giants – 41 saves, 4.65 era in 2008

17. Trevor Hoffman, Brewers – It will be weird to see Hoffman in a Brewers uniform. At this stage of his career Hoffman will get his saves, perhaps 25-30 with an era of around 4.50

18. Matt Capps, Pirates – Good for 15-25 saves on once again a very bad Pirates team

19. Mike Gonzalez, Braves – Had 14 saves in 36 games in 2008. High era of 4.28. Injury always a concern with Gonzalez

20. George Sherrill, Orioles –1st time closer in 2008, Sherrill had 31 saves before an injury ended his season. Lots of hits and a high era is something to be wary of in 2009

Al Reyes Division

These closers are usually 8th inning set-up types that are forced into the closers role because the team has no one else. These are the guys you only draft if you desperately need to fill a closers spot

21. Brandon Lyon, Tigers

22. Dan Wheeler, Rays

23. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks

24. Heath Bell, Padres

25. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals

26. Joel Hanrahan, Nationals

27. CJ Wilson, Rangers

28. Tyler Walker, Mariners – With the Heilman trade yesterday, it looks like Walker might get the 1st shot at the closers role. Officially the worst closer in baseball headed into 2009.

Octavio Dotel Division

These are the 2 question marks going into the season. Great as 8th inning set up guys but are now asked to close games. Big difference between the 8th and 9th innings. These guys can either be in the Tom Henke division or the Armando Benitez division

?. Carlos Marmol, Cubs – Only 3 other relievers were in more games than Marmol was in 2008. Will the over use of last year come back to bite the Cubs this year? I am not sure if Marmol has the mental make up to be a closer, especially in Wrigleyville. I will go with 33 saves, an era in the low 3’s and a lot of tums for Sweet Lou

?. Matt Lindstrom, Marlins – As I wrote in my post about the Marlins, Lindstrom is the X factor for the team in 2009. I like Lindstrom more than Marmol because of less pressure in Florida and Lindstrom proved he can do the job by going 5-5 in September. I like 25 saves and an era in the mid 2’s for Lindstrom

Norm Charlton Division

Top set up guys who are waiting in the wings and could fill in adequately if something happened to the current closer

1. Kevin Gregg, Cubs

2. Scot Shields, Angels

3. JJ Putz, Mets

4. Ryan Madsen, Phillies

5. Grant Balfour, Rays

Mark Davis 1989 Division

This is for the one guy who I will think have that ridiculous year, seemingly out of nowhere. Good the year before and this year explodes on the scene

Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers –As I mentioned earlier, I really like Broxton this year. The Dodgers offered their closers 55 save opportunities last year, so racking up saves shouldn’t be a problem for this 24 year old. Playing in the NL West, the worst division in baseball should help Broxton dominate in 2009