Closing Machines on the FritzWednesday, April 06, 2011
Jose Contreras moves up because his front office ridiculed Ryan Madson's ability to close publicly this week. Wow. Seems crazy, but maybe there's a reason to mock your player in public that isn't obvious here. I mean, mock Toby Maguire, yes. Mock a perfectly capable bullpen pitcher who has blown some saves in his past? Doesn't seem right.Among the injury replacements in the group, Brandon League is the safest in the meantime. David Aardsma is feeling better in his bullpen sessions, but League is the sole man at the end of that pen in the meantime.Washington is up in the air right now. With four pitches and the pedigree of being a to college closer and draft pick, Drew Storen should be the long-term answer there if he can get it together. In the meantime, both he and Sean Burnett need to be owned, and that's a shame.In Tampa Bay, we're just waiting for more information. The team needs to score enough runs to be in a save chance before we can know how bad the bullpen situation actually is. Might say the same about Oakland, where both Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour have had bad appearances in the young season.* * * * * * * * * *
Injured 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:David Aardsma is doing good but there's no timetable set yet for his return. Frank Francisco is starting his rehab appearance and should be back within the week - if he's on your wire he makes for a great DL stash right now.The news about Andrew Bailey and Brad Lidge is a little bit murkier. Bailey has managed three straight long-toss sessions that went well, but that's just long-toss and nothing else has yet been approved. Brad Lidge has been shut down completely for three-to-six weeks, and his manager thought he might be back by the All-Star break. So that's not great.The Deposed:Fernando Rodney
, Los AngelesFernando Rodney deserves to be here, but it's sort of surprising how quick he ended up on this list. Drew Storen might be on his way here, but it's not set in stone yet.* * * * * * * * * *The Steals DepartmentHe's not Jayson Werth, and he doesn't have the upside of injured rookie Domonic Brown. But Ben Francisco can play. He has 20/20 upside, and even if it doesn't come with the greatest batting average, that will be useful on most teams. He has some platoon issues, but they've been over-rated in the past, and now the team is sort of stuck without anyone else to fill the role. While he's starting every day and running a little bit, he's a great end-of-bench guy in most leagues.Michael Brantley seems to make it on this list every year. Right now, he's playing center field every day with Grady Sizemore on the mend, and he's stealing bases and taking walks. That's a great combination, and he's at least a good short-term add. He's not a bad long-term add either - do you think Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan would keep Brantley down if he was showing plus D and the ability to get on base and flash some wheels? There's a chance Brantley is relevant all year, and doesn't need to return to this list again.