Fantasy GMs finally got what they waited all winter for. We got to see footage of players lightly throwing baseballs, running laps, stretching and generally milling around. Spring Training is upon us and for relievers it means its time to jockey for positions, hope for good health and generally wait out the clock until April rolls around. The time for random speculation is over and the time for slightly less random speculation has begun.
The biggest news out of spring training this week was the bullpen shakeup announced by the Houston Astros. Brett Myers will get the first crack at saves in Houston. The Astros took a look at their bullpen and decided that Myers is a better option in the ninth inning than Brandon Lyon and the Replacement Players.
Myers hasnâ€™t pitched out of the bullpen exclusively since 2007, but he was solid when he did. In 2007, Myers racked up 21 saves and posted the highest K/9 of his career. It feels like Myers has been around forever, and he turns 32 in August. The average velocity on his fastball has been in a three-year decline, but it wouldnâ€™t be a shock to see Myers regain some velocity with a much lighter workload.
Without a closer job, Brandon Lyon has little to no fantasy value. Wilton Lopez has slightly more fantasy value in leagues that count holds. Lopez has proven that he’s a solid middle relief option and he’s capable of posting a 7.00 K/9 ratio. He won’t post great numbers, but there are much worse options available.Â
To the surprise of no one, Joel Zumaya will undergo yet another surgery. Zumaya was trying to resurrect a once promising career with the Twins, but heâ€™ll get a trip to Dr. Andrews instead. He could have had some upside in a Twins bullpen that is really short on power arms. It sounds like this could be the end for Zumaya. The man once known as “Zoom” claimed he wanted to become a professional fisherman. That might not be a bad idea if he put down a non-refundable deposit on an apartment in Minneapolis. He could get some early practice in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.Â
Chris Perez will miss 4-6 weeks with an oblique strain. Who has two thumbs and has been trying to warn you off of Chris Perez for the last few weeks? This guy! Four to six probably means Perez will have to start the season on the DL while making a few tuneup appearances. Vinnie Pestano is in line to get the first crack at saves early in the year. Any chance Chris Perez will replace Wally Pipp as the go to guy when discussing players who were replaced due to injury? Probably not. â€œWally Pippedâ€ rolls off the tongue much better than â€œChris Perezed.â€
There hasnâ€™t been much movement on the Aâ€™s closer front and there likely wonâ€™t be until the games actually start. Oakland manager Bob Melvin called Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes â€œobvious candidates.â€ Melvin must not have actually seen Fuentes pitch last year because if he had, Melvin would know that Fuentes was an â€œobvious candidateâ€ for mop-up guy. Fernando Rodney got dustbinned last year and Kevin Gregg is on the way out in Baltimore. Fuentes could be the crappy closer that somehow stumbled ass-backwards into saves in 2012.
Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey suffered a lat pull while doing drills this week. He played long toss on Monday and should be good to go either when Grapefruit League play starts or shortly thereafter. This isnâ€™t a concern at this point in camp.
Odds-on favorite for saves in Baltimore Jim Johnson has thrown a pair of bullpen sessions since having back issues early in camp. Heâ€™s about a week or so behind schedule and isnâ€™t scheduled to throw BP until March 10th. Baltimore says that he should be 100 percent when the season starts, but this could open the door a crack for Matt Lindstrom or (cue scary piano music) Kevin Gregg to pull ahead of Johnson on the depth chart.