Posts Tagged ‘Matt Lindstrom’

Houston Astros Sign Brett Myers

January 9, 2010

Back in January of last year (actually almost one year to the day), I wrote a post “Looking at 2010 to predict 2009.” The idea was to see which players would have a big year in 2009 based on their free agency status after the season ended.

I called this big year the “Adrian Beltre year.”

The pitcher I had targeted to have a big year or an “Adrian Beltre year” was the Philadelphia Phillies’ Brett Myers. Here is what I wrote about Myers last January:

Myers gave up a lot of HR's in 2009

“After being summoned to the bullpen in 2007, Myers had a descent 2008 by going 10-13 with a 4.55 in 190 innings. Like Blalock, there are a couple of things I like about Myers this year.

1. It seems like Myers has been in the majors forever but he is still only 29 years old. The ages of 28 and 29 is usually when a pitcher comes into his own.

2. This will be the first time Myers will be pitching for a free agent contract.

3. Myers will be pitching once again on a good team with a solid bullpen which won’t blow leads for him late in the game.”

Well, things always don’t work out the way you think they would.

Myers struggled in April and May giving up 17 home runs in 63.2 IP, went on the disabled list, ended up having hip surgery, and returned in September only to find himself in the bullpen. Even my thought that the Phillies would have a solid bullpen in 2009 didn’t hold true.

Overall on the season, Myers went 4-3 with a 4.84 ERA, gave up 18 home runs in 70.2 innings, and had his lowest K/9 ratio since 2004 (6.4).

Despite having a rough season in 2009, the Houston Astros are hoping Myers can bounce back in 2010. According to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggert, via Twitter, the Astros have signed Myers to a one-year, $5 million deal. The deal also includes an option for 2012.

One of the reasons that Myers signed with the Astros is because the Astros offered him a spot in their rotation. Myers will be the Astros No. 3 starter heading into 2010 behind Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez. Bud Norris and Felipe Paulino should round out the rotation.

I have my doubts as to whether or not Myers can improve on his gopher ball habits pitching in Minute Maid Park. However, considering the Astros started the 2009 season with Russ Ortiz and Brian Moehler in the starting rotation, Myers does represent an upgrade in 2010.

Myers is the third acquisition the Astros have made to bolster their pitching staff this offseason. Earlier in this offseason, the Astros signed Brandon Lyon and traded for Matt Lindstrom.

Despite their acquisitions to the pitching staff, the Astros still strike me as a fourth or fifth place team in the NL Central. I expect the Astros to finish behind the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and perhaps the Cincinnati Reds in 2010.

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

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Houston We Have A Major Problem; Astros Sign Brandon Lyon To Thee-Year Deal

December 10, 2009

I am going to call Barry Meister this morning and ask him to represent me at my next salary negotiation at work.

Meister is the agent for Brandon Lyon and right now is the smartest guy in the room. For those of you who are not aware, Lyon signed a contract with the Houston Astros last night. Lyon signed a three-year, $15 million deal with the Astros.

This is a great day for Lyon and a sad, sad day for Astro fans.

How quickly do you think Meister and Lyon signed this contract? Five seconds? Two seconds?

Lyon will be a mess in Houston

This is the single worst deal of the offseason so far. What are the Astros thinking? To give Lyon three years to be their closer, when this guy can’t close is absurd.

Here is what I wrote in my free agent primer:

“Biggest Free Agent Relief Pitcher Bust: Brandon Lyon. If a team signs Lyon as an eighth inning, set-up guy, I have no problem with that. But if a teams signs him to be their closer, all bets are off.”

And here is what I wrote about Lyon when the Detroit Tigers signed him to a contract last offseason:

“Bottom line: Brandon Lyon can’t close. There are certain pitchers who are made for the 8th inning and there are certain pitchers made for the 9th inning. Lyon falls into the category of 8th inning pitchers.  The proof is in the pudding.

All you need to do is look at Lyon in 05 and 08 when he was a closer….

Year    IP       H       K       SV       ERA       BAA

05: 29.1    44      17     14       6.44       .341

08: 59.1    75      44     26       4.70       .301

…..And when he was a set-up man in 06 and 07

Year IP      H       K      HLD      ERA      BAA

06: 69.1    68       46     23        3.89      .258

07: 74        70      40    35        2.68      .251

“Eric Karabell set the bar at over 30 saves for Lyon. I will take the under on that bet. Even if Lyon does win the closer job, the chances of him keeping it for the entire year are slim. If Lyon couldn’t close out games in the NL, what makes anyone think he can close in the AL?”

All bets are off now with Lyon and the Astros in 2010. He was signed to be their closer. Good luck with that.

I fully expect this to be a disaster and midway through the season Lyon will lose his job to the newly acquired Matt Lindstrom.

Lyon is just another bloated contract and a team full of them.

This is a bad signing by the Astros.

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

Astros Add Bullpen Help, Acquire Matt Lindstrom

December 10, 2009

On a day when the Houston Astros lost relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins to their division rival Milwaukee Brewers, the Astros moved quickly to replace him.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting the Astros have acquired RHP Matt Lindstrom from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguers RHP Robert Bono and INF Luis Bryan.

Lindstrom, who is 29 and made $410 thousand in 2009 is a first-year arbitration eligible player, which is why the Marlins were looking to trade him.

Lindstom was traded to the Astros

After posting solid seasons in 2007 and 2008, Lindstrom had a disastrous 2009. Lindstrom was hurt for over six weeks with elbow inflammation and posted a 5.89 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP.

Despite his dreadful 2009, I actually like this move for the Astros. I believe Lindstrom will have a bounce back year in an Astros’ uniform.

My reasoning? There is no World Baseball Classic in 2009.

Lindstrom pitched in the event and got hurt during the game with the Netherlands. For those of you who don’t remember, Lindstrom almost started a bench clearing brawl that game.

Lindstrom never recovered from that injury.

Now that Lindstrom will go back to his normal routine, I expect to have a similar year like he had in 07′ and 08′–low three’s ERA and a WHIP around 1.35.

What role Lindstrom will serve in with the Astros is still up in the air. The Astros have two roles to fill since Jose Valverde and Hawkins departed for free agency.

Lindstrom could fill Valverde’s role as the closer or if the Astros acquire another closer (they are in the mix for Rafael Soriano), Lindstrom could fill Hawkins’ role as the eighth inning set-up man.

The prospects the Marlins received for Lindstrom are nothing special. According to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, via Twitter, both Bono and Bryan wouldn’t have made the Astros’ top-30 prospects in 2010.

It’s universally known across baseball that the Astros have the worst farm system in baseball. If you can’t crack the Astros top-30, I am not sure how much of a future you have in baseball.

The Marlins in this deal also acquired the Astros’ pick in tomorrow’s Rule 5 Draft.

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

Fantasy Week In Review, June 22-28…

June 29, 2009

The last full week of June means an end to interleague play and a return to normalcy in baseball. Last week was a really interesting week for fantasy baseball. How interesting? Two words – Chad Gaudin.

That’s right, Chad Gaudin was a fantasy stud last week. Here are the other players who were studs last week, along with players who are cause for concern, and a couple of players who might be worth picking up.

Fantasy Studs

Hanley Ramirez – .385/3/15. Even if Josh Beckett helps the Red Sox win 10 more World Series, Theo Epstein would still rather have Hanley Ramirez.

Alex Rodriguez – .368/2/9/.571. Getting lap dances from Kate Hudson in Miami has really rejuvenated the “fatigued” Arod.

Ramirez had a monster fantasy week

Ramirez had a monster fantasy week

Lance Berkman – .389/2/7 with two SB’s. The “Big Puma” has finally decided to join us this year.

Aaron Hill – .346/4/8. If the season ended today, Hill would be in the top five in MVP voting.

David Ortiz – .333/2/5. All of a sudden I don’t hear anyone saying the Red Sox need a DH anymore.

Aaron Cook – 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and eight K’s in 15 IP. Sooner or later, this guy should get the credit he deserves. He is a very good pitcher.

Chad Gaudin – 2-0 with a 1.20 and 20 K’s in 15 IP. Gaudin threw a one-hitter over eight innings in Texas. I don’t care who you are, that is impressive.

Francisco Liriano – 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA and 12 K’s in 12 IP. It’s good to finally see Liriano get back on track. His seven walks last week were not welcomed, but fantasy owners will take the wins from Liriano.

Reasons for Concern

Adrian Beltre – As I wrote earlier today, Beltre will have surgery to remove bone spurs in his shoulder. Beltre will be out six to eight weeks, thus pretty much ending his fantasy contributions this year.

Beltre is expected back in late August/early September.

Josh Outman – Outman was placed on the 60-Day DLand will visit Dr. James Andrews today. See you in 2011 Mr. Outman.

Mike Lowell – Lowell is getting an injection in his ailing hip today. That just sounds painful. If Lowell doesn’t respond to the injection, there is a chance Lowell could land on the DL.

Lowell is having a good year so far with a .282 average, 10 HR’s, and 41 RBI. Keep an eye on this situation, because losing Lowell for any period of time would be hurtful to your fantasy team.

Matt Lindstrom – Lindstrom is out for six weeks because of an elbow sprain. Lindstrom was shaky at best as the Marlins closer (6.52 ERA and walked 20 in 29 IP), so it’s not like he was pitching like the second coming of Bruce Sutter.

John Maine – Maine was supposed to start Saturday night in Brooklyn, but had to be scratched because of shoulder discomfort. Maine expects to be back after the All-Star break.

“After the All-Star break” in Mets language means Maine won’t be back until September.

Possible Pickups

Leo Nunez/Dan Meyer – Meyer has a 2.03 ERA and is a much better option at this point than Leo Nunez and his 4.01 ERA. However, with Lindstrom on the DL, both of them figure to get an opportunity to save games for the Florida Marlins.

I would wait to see how Fredi Gonzalez plays this. Once he makes his decision as to who is going to get the majority of the saves, pick up that option. Nunez or Meyer should get you some cheap saves, if you need them.

Carlos Carrasco – Carrasco is expected to be called up from Triple-A to face the Braves on Thursday night. Despite not having the greatest year in Triple-A (4.92 ERA), Carrasco has long been one of the Phillies’ top prospects.

It might good a idea to pick Carrasco up now before someone else does. With the Phillies starting staff struggling, if Carrasco pitches well, he might find himself with the Phillies longer than expected.

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.

The “Key” Player For Each MLB Team…

March 3, 2009

Every year each fan takes a look at their favorite team and says…”If this guy can come back from a poor year or come back from an injury, then my team has a chance.” Every team has that “key” guy that can make a difference in the season. The guy that, if he steps up, can be the difference between being  just another team or a playoff contender.

In part 1 of this column we will attempt to identify the “key” player for all 16 National League teams. Part 2 of this column will be posted tomorrow and will cover all 14 American League teams.

Teams are listed by division.

NL East

Braves – Jeff Francoeur. Francouer was pretty dreadful last year hitting .239/11/71/.294. The Braves need Francoeur to return to the 25 hr, 100 rbi guy he was in 06 and 07 in order to contend with the Phillies.

Lindstrom anchors the Marlins pen in 09

Lindstrom anchors the Marlins pen in 09

Marlins – Matt Lindstrom. Lindstrom takes over as the Marlins Closer and they need him to anchor the bullpen in order to have a chance. Nothing is more demoralizing to a young team than a blown save.

Mets – Luis Castillo. I don’t think there has been a player hated this much by Mets fans since Gregg Jefferies. If Castillo can give the Mets anything this year, there lineup will have a lot more depth. If not, there will be a huge void at 2B for the second straight year.

Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman. It’s hard to find a “key” for a team expected to finish in last place. However, Zimmerman is the face of this franchise and the Nationals need him to regain is 06 .287/20/110 form in order for them to have any hope for the future.

Phillies – Chase Utley. Utley is coming off of hip surgery which monitors watching in April. If he can regain his 07 first half form (.291/25/69), then the Phillies will back in the World Series mix once again. If not, then they have a HUGE hole in the middle of that order.

NL Central

Astros – Mike Hampton. Hampton returns to the team that gave him the most success back in the late 90’s but without the spacious Astrodome. The Astros are going to need Hampton to give them at least 20 starts this year because after Oswalt, the Astros starting rotation is mediocre at best. If the Astros can get 20+ starts out of Hampton, they might be able to make there annual 2nd half run in the NL Central.

Brewers – Manny Parra. I have no doubt that Gallardo can handle the pressure of replacing Sabathia, so Parra becomes the key for the Brewers. If Parra can step up, handle his control issues (75 bb in 166 IP) and go from 10 wins in 08 to 14-15 wins in 09…the Brewers will be in business once again.

The Cardinals need Carpenter to bounce back

The Cardinals need Carpenter to bounce back

Cardinals – Chris Carpenter. After the Cardinals grossly overused Carpenter in 05 and 06 (463.1 IP), he has only made 4 starts in 07 and 08.  Early returns on Carpenter have been positive, so if the Cardinals can get 20-25 starts from their former ace, they will challenge the Cubs in the NL Central.

Cubs – Milton Bradley. As I have written several time before, I am not a fan of the Bradley signing. However, with DeRosa and Edmunds absent from the Cubs lineup, they need Bradley to stay healthy and produce. If not, the Cubs lineup all of a sudden looks very weak.

Pirates – Craig Hansen. Why is Hansen, a middle reliever the “key” to the Pirates this season? Because the former 1st round pick out of St Johns was one of the key players in the 3-way trade between the Red Sox-Pirates and Dodgers last season. Hansen needs to develop in order for Pirates fans to believe that they didn’t give away one of their star players for nothing once again.

Reds – Aaron Harang. After Reds Manager Dusty Baker decided to use Harang for 4 innings on 3 days rest in a meaningless game against San Diego in May, Harang’s season went downhill. If the Reds are to contend in the NL Central, Harang has to return to his 2007 16-6 form.  

NL West

DiamondBacks – Max Scherzer. The 11th pick in the 2006 draft out of Missouri will start the year as the Diamondbacks #5 starter. If Scherzer can give the DBacks 170 innings and 8-10 wins, they will be a serious contender in the weak NL West.

Kershaw is the key for the Dodgers in 09

Kershaw is the key for the Dodgers in 09

Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw. Regardless of what Manny Ramirez does, the Dodgers still need someone in their starting rotation to step up. Kershaw might be that someone. With 100 big league innings and 21 starts under his belt, Kershaw has all the talent and ability to be a #1 starter. If Kershaw can get to 150+ innings and 25+ starts, the Dodgers will have a nice 1-2 punch with Kershaw and Billingsley.

Giants – Pablo Sandoval. The Giants need all the help on offense they can get and if Sandoval can hit like he did in his 41 game audition last year then the Giants will have a much better lineup. Sandoval hit .345/3/24 in those 41 games last year.

Padres – Chase Headley. With the Padres in rebuilding mode, they need some of their young talent to start producing. Headley is a great young talent who spent most of 2008 learning how to play the OF. If Headley can start to realize his potential, the Padres will have a nice trio of A. Gonzalez-Kouzmanoff-Headley to build on.

Rockies – Troy Tulowitzki. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when Tulowitzki went down last year with multiple injuries, the Rockies went down with him. If the Rockies want any chance of competing for a playoff berth, they need Tulowitzki to return to the .291/24/99 form he showed in 2007.

So there you have the “key” player for each NL team in 2009. Do you agree? If not, who do you believe is the “key” player for your favorite team?

Team USA Loses Nathan….

March 1, 2009

It’s been a bad weekend for Team USA. On Friday they lost their starting CF in Grady Sizemore, on Saturday they lost starting RF Brad Hawpe and today they lost their Closer, Joe Nathan.

Nathan will miss the WBC

Nathan will miss the WBC

According to MLB.com Minnesota Twins Closer Joe Nathan will miss the WBC because of a sore shoulder. No replacement has been named yet for Nathan but there is no replacing Joe Nathan. Nathan, in my opinion is the best closer in the game not named Mariano Rivera. Team USA will now turn to either Brian Fuentes, BJ Ryan or even Matt Lindstrom to close games.

I will post who has replaced both Hawpe and Nathan as soon as Team USA makes the announcement.

Looking At Team USA’s Roster For The WBC…..

February 25, 2009

As I have written several times I am not a fan of the WBC. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t root for Team USA as I feel it is always important to route for your country any time you can. Tonight on the MLB Network, the final rosters were announced for the WBC. Let’s take a look at Team USA’s roster and what are there strengths and weaknesses.

Starting Pitchers

Jake Peavy, Ted Lilly, Jeremy Guthrie, Roy Oswalt

Relief Pitchers

JP Howell, Jonathon Broxton, Scot Shields, Brian Fuentes, Brad Ziegler, Matt Lindstrom, JJ Putz, BJ Ryan, Scott Thornton, Joe Nathan

Catchers

Chris Iannetta

Brian McCann

Infielders

Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins, David Wright, Chipper Jones, Mark DeRosa

Outfielders

Brad Hawpe, Grady Sizemore, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson

 

Potential Lineup

1. Grady Sizemore, CF

2. Derek Jeter, SS

3. Chipper Jones, DH

4. Ryan Braun, LF

5. Kevin Youkilis, 1B

6. David Wright, 3B

7. Brian McCann, C

8. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

9. Brad Hawpe, RF

 

Stengths

1. Bullpen – Team USA has put together a who’s who of top set up guys and closers. This is a smart move by Team USA because of the new pitch count rules for starters. Starters in the 1st round can only throw 70 pitches, 85 in the 2nd round and 100 in the semi-finals and finals. Knowing starters can only throw a certain amount of pitches in the WBC, Team USA built their team around it’s bullpen. They can match up against lefties late in the game with Fuentes and Thornton, if they need a strike out in the 7th inning they can bring in Lindstrom or Shields and if they need someone to close the game they can turn to either Broxton or Nathan. No team in the WBC has the bullpen Team USA does

2. Team Speed – Sizemore, Jeter, Pedroia, Granderson, Wright, Rollins and even Ryan Braun can steal a base. I think team speed is important in any type of baseball game but in particular an international game. Pitchers from countries such as Japan, Cuba, Venezuela, etc… usually take a little longer to get a pitch to home plate. Team USA can take advantage of this.

 

Weakness

1. Starting Rotation – I have no issues with Oswalt and Peavy, but is Ted Lilly and Jeremy Guthrie really the best Team USA can do?? Where is Lackey, Halladay, Lincecum, Lester, Haren, Webb or Greinke??? I understand there is a deemphasis on the starting rotation due to pitch counts but this is ridiculous. Lilly and Guthrie might not even get to 70 pitches. If Team USA doesn’t win, the starting rotation will be the reason.

 

Overall Analysis

This team from top to bottom is much better than the one that took the field in 2006 and they are determined to give a better showing than they did that year. Team USA will have their hands full with Venezuela, but at the end of the day I think they will win their group and go on to compete with Japan, Cuba and the Dominican Republic for the right to win the 2nd annual World Baseball Classic.

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

Marlins Looking For Another Playoff Run….

January 26, 2009

There are a lot of things you can buy for $32MM. You can buy this Miami Penthouse for $22MM and have $10MM left over for furniture, you can buy Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Marmol for 1 year or if you are a really big racing fan you can buy Jeff Gordon.  But for the Florida Marlins $32MM might buy them a division title in 2009.

$32MM is the projected 2009 payroll for the Marlins in 2009, by far the lowest in baseball. However, despite the lack of payroll the Marlins may be competing for the NL East division title with the Mets, Phillies and Braves. The Marlins are looking to build off of their solid 84-77 record in 2008 but like every team in baseball, the Marlins have their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s look at the 2009 Marlins

Strengths

Power – In 2008 the Marlins ranked 2nd in the NL in hr’s (208), tied for 3rd in slugging % (.433) and 5th in runs (770). Despite the loss of Mike Jacobs and his 32 hr, the Marlins should have no problem hitting the long ball in 2009. The 2009 version of the Marlins lineup could feature 6 guys who could hit 20+ hr’s. Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu, Jeremy Hermida and Dallas McPherson all could pop 20+ hr’s this year

Starting Pitching – The next wave of young flame throwers developed by the Marlins is upon us.  Led by Ricky Nolasco the Marlins rotation this year goes 5 deep and all their pitchers have tremendous potential.

Ricky Nolasco – The staff ace, Nolasco enjoyed a breakout year last year going 15-8 with a 3.52 era in 212.1 innings

Josh Johnson – Power throwing righty returned from injuries in 2008 and went 7-1 with a 3.61 era

Chris Volstad – The 16th pick of the 2005 draft, Volstadwent 6-4 in his rookie year in 2008 with a 2.88 era in 14 starts for the Marlins

Anibal Sanchez – Career 14-9 record with a 3.86 era. Threw a no-hitter against the Diamondbacks in 2006

Andrew Miller – The key pitcher in the Miguel Cabrera trade, the former 1st round pick may have more potential than anyone on the staff

Weaknesses

Defense – To say the Marlins are bad defensively would be an understatement. They ranked 2nd in the NL in errors with 117 andfinished tied for last in fielding % with a .980 mark. Things don’t expect to get better in 2009 with an infield of Cantu, Uggla, Ramirez and McPherson all below average defenders.

Contact – No team in the NL struck out more than the Marlins did in 2008. The Marlins failed to make contact with 2 strikes, 1,370 times. By far and away the most in the NL. Teams that have trouble advancing runners, working pitchers and getting runners home from 3rd with less than 2 outs because of strike outs, usually have a tough time winning baseball games

X-Factors 

Cameron Maybin – If Andrew Miller was the key pitcher in the Miguel Cabrera trade, then Cameron Maybin WAS the key. The 21 year old former Futures Game Selection will be given every chance to be the Marlins starting CF in 2009. In a brief cup-of-coffee with the Marlins in 2008, Maybin hit .500 in 32  along with 4 stolen bases. Bill James projects Maybin a .276/16/58 hitter with 32 stolen bases and 86 runs scored. If the Marlins get this from Maybin in 2009, watch out

Matt Lindstrom – Lindstrom takes over the Marlins closing role after last year’s closer, Kevin Gregg was shipped to the Cubs. After Gregg melted down in August (0-4, 10.13 era), Lindstrom was made the closer in September and responded. Lindstrom in a small sample size in September went 5-5 in save opportunities with a 1.74 era. If Lindstrom can have continued success in the closers role, it will stabilize the rest of the pen

Outlook

The Marlins are built more like a beer league softball team with bombers and poor defense rather than a division winner. The difference however is the Marlin’s pitching staff won’t be serving up softballs in 2009. The 2009 Marlins will only go as far as their starting pitching and defense will take them.

Look for the Marlins to battle with the Phillies for the NL East title.

Not bad for $32MM.