Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Injured Closers Abound

Tuesday, March 29, 2011



  • The situation in Baltimore is not so clear-cut. Kevin Gregg is not the best pitcher, but he's okay. He's although been dealing with some nicks and bruises this spring. Koji Uehara has an awesome strike-to-walk ratio, but also is an extreme flyballer in a hitter's park. Uehara looks like the better pitcher overall, but Gregg is the expensive import. This is a tough one to handicap, and usually in these cases the best thing is to go with the better pitcher and hope the manager sees it eventually.


  • Most of the rest of this list consists of committees filling in for closers that will begin the season on the DL. The oft-injured Frank Francisco and Andrew Bailey left some okay pitchers in their roles as they left, but it's Jon Rauch who's probably the sole closer while number one is away. In Oakland, it looks like a lefty-righty platoon with Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour. Brandon League is a good pitcher, but David Aardsma's strikeout punch is preferable once he's healthy. Ryan Madson is a better pitcher than Jose Contreras, but ask a Phillie phan and they may tell you that Madson doesn't have the gumption for it. That may be the case in San Francisco, too, where Sergio Romo is great but sometimes unpredictable, and the manager may go with Santiago Casilla.


  • Last and least on the list is the Tampa Bay situation. The team continues to affirm that it's a committee, which makes it hard to pick up any of the options. Adam Russell looked like a good pickup once he came over in an offseason trade, but hasn't looked that great this spring. Joel Peralta is an extreme flyballer with some iffy splits, but he may figure in from the right side. Kyle Farnsworth is a head-case with surprisingly solid numbers - who knows what he'll do. Jake McGee, however, is the upside pick in the bunch. He is a lefty, meaning he'll probably get at least the lefty-heavy saves, and he's also a fireballer with immense strikeout ability. If he shows he can handle the mental aspect of the role, he'll probably win out in the end.


  • * * * * * * * * * *



    Injured


    Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants (strained oblique)
    Frank Francisco, Toronto Blue Jays (strained pectoral)
    David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners (hip surgery)
    Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics (forearm tightness)
    Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies (shoulder)

    Comment:
  • There is some good talent on the shneid to begin the season. Stashing them on your DL for a boost later in the year would make for good strategy.


  • Brian Wilson, Frank Francisco and Andrew Bailey should be back after the minimum. Francisco and Bailey are already playing catch, and look ready to join their teams in mid-April.


  • Brad Lidge and David Aardsma are different stories. Lidge is scheduled for an MRI on his shoulder that will determine the length of his stay in club DL, and Aardsma is in the middle of a long rehab process. He may be back in the second month of the season.


  • The Deposed:

  • None… yet.


  • * * * * * * * * * *


    The Steals Department

  • Mixed leaguers might find Dexter Fowler on their wires, and they shouldn't. Last year, Fowler improved his work against righties - which was important because he used to be known as a lefty-killer. He also improved his overall strikeout rate by three percent and improved his power numbers. He still hasn't gotten the handle on efficient basestealing (he's been successful on 67.8% of his attempts), but he's obviously a fast dude with average power. Most importantly, Fowler is the sole owner of center field in Colorado. Given that full slate of at-bats, Fowler could easily hit double-digit home runs, steal close to thirty bases, and put up a middling batting average. Think Shane Victorino, but at a much lower cost.


  • In deeper leagues, there's a move that might take some courage waiting for you on your waiver wire. Notorious 'hothead' Nyjer Morgan has been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, and is being summarily dropped because Carlos Gomez is supposedly the incumbent in charge. The thing is, Gomez is one of the worst hitters in baseball. He walks at a below-average rate, strikes out more than the average player, has little power, and despite wheels, can't get on base to save his life. If he didn't own a plus-plus glove, he wouldn't have a job in baseball. Morgan, on the other hand, doesn't deserve the hothead label for one day late last season, strikes out much less than Gomez, and has similar wheels. He's been an elite defender before, too. If he can show good glove with his new team, he'll steal that starting role.


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    Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
    Email :Eno Sarris



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