Every professional baseball team that has a closer with a reasonably intact body should encase him in bubble wrap until the end of Spring Training. Itâ€™s entirely possible that a guy with an early draft could have snagged Ryan Madson, Drew Storen and Kyle Farnsworth. All three will begin the season on the DL and weâ€™re not going to see Madson throw a pitch in 2012. Lesson learned? Don’t pay for saves under any circumstances.Â
The season really canâ€™t start fast enough for some of these guys. Somewhere, Jordan Walden is barricaded in a hotel room and rocking back and forth while muttering, â€œNot me. Not next. Not me. Not next.â€
To the surprise of very few, Bostonâ€™s Andrew Bailey is out because he tore ligaments in his thumb. Estimates on a timetable for Baileyâ€™s return have ranged from the All-Star break to the trade deadline. Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon are the two guys fantasy GMs should target, in that order. Boston has given Aceves the first crack at saves for some reason. A likely scenario is that while Aceves starts the season with the job, Melancon should get the bulk of the saves by the end of the year. Both are worthy of a roster spot until one proves that he isnâ€™t.
Tampa Bay Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth is also headed to the DL with an elbow strain. The picture in Tampa Bay is much less clear than the one in Boston. The guy whoâ€™s next in line should be Joel Peralta. Peralta posted a 8.11 K/9 with a 2.39 BB/9 in 71 appearances last year. Heâ€™s the guy fantasy GMs should target to begin with, but the ultimate saves vulture, Fernando Rodney, is looming along with J.P. Howell. We could be looking at the dreaded â€œcloser by committeeâ€ and we could also be looking at rostering Fernando Rodney if we’re desperate for saves. No one should want to roster Fernando Rodney.Â
Spring Training is over and White Sox manager Robin Ventura extended a giant middle finger to fantasy GMs by not naming a closer. Thanks, Robin. It should be Matt Thornton, but if it is Thornton, why hasnâ€™t he been named? A popular thought around the team seems to be that Ventura is going to do something goofy and use rookie Hector Santiago as his closer, but itâ€™s impossible to know whatâ€™s going to happen. The only thing worse than a â€œcloser by committeeâ€ is the â€œwait and see approach.â€ It looks like the order is Thornton, Jesse Crain, Santiago and Addison Reed, but it looks like it depends how Robin happens to be feeling when a save opportunity rolls around.
Reds manager Dusty Baker finally came out and named Sean Marshall as the closer to start the season. Thanks for doing something you could have easily done weeks ago, Dusty. Aroldis Chapman is a smart handcuff, but thereâ€™s been a prevailing sense that the Reds donâ€™t fully trust him.
The health news this week wasnâ€™t all bad. Mets closer Frank Francisco had his knee drained over the weekend and underwent an MRI. The MRI must have looked good because the Mets proclaimed Francisco good to go for the start of the season. Jon Rauch and Bobby Parnell are the handcuffs for those playing in deep leagues.
Nationals closer Drew Storen will hit the DL with general elbow soreness. Usually, â€œgeneral elbow sorenessâ€ is followed by a trip to see Dr. Andrews. Storen threw a 25-pitch bullpen session this week and appears to be slowly returning to health. Storen could be back by the end of the month if he doesnâ€™t suffer any setbacks. Brad LidgeÂ netted the first save andÂ will close until Storen is able to return or they find someone better.
Baltimoreâ€™s Jim Johnson finally threw on back-to-back days. One was gross and one was less gross. They must be really, really tired of handing the ball to Kevin Gregg in the ninth inning. Matt Lindstrom is also looming, but it looks like Johnson is going to have to blow a few saves before anyone else gets a chance.Â
Kansas City announcedÂ Jonathan Broxton as their closer. Broxton threw eight innings in Spring Training. He posted a 1.13 ERA with a 11:4 K:BB. He never pitched on back-to-back days and could miss out on some saves early, but it looks like heâ€™s going to get the bulk of the work.