Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Hit The Road, Matt Thornton?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


  • Another couple of notes: Fernando Rodney got the save Sunday, but his manager said that Jordan Walden had thrown too many pitches the night before and is still his closer. Ryan Franklin is still the Cardinals' closer, but he had a tough week, and Jason Motte had a much better strikeout rate last year (and even hit a home run Monday).



  • Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (9) (AKA: The "Manny Ramirez" Tier.)



    Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays
    Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros
    Brandon League, Seattle Mariners
    Jose Contreras, Philadelphia Phillies
    Brian Fuentes, Oakland Athletics
    Jon Rauch, Toronto Blue Jays
    Sean Burnett / Drew Storen, Washington Nationals

    Comment:
  • Manny left the league at the very nadir of his career. His exit was so bad it's the new platinum standard. His name is now synonymous with walking away from wrongdoing in order to avoid punishment. You might (*might*) want to walk away from some of these closers because they'll just give you heartburn.

  • The upper portion of this tier is mostly filled with capable closers that have an expiration date. By talent alone, they could all be Question Marks, but you have to acknowledge that they'll only be around until the head honcho returns from rehab.

  • Drew Storen: the velocity is there, but he isn't using his curveball. Then again, in his last four innings he has four strikeouts and one walk and only one hit. You know the team wants him to win out in the end, if only to justify his draft position. On the other hand, Burnett is no slouch and hasn't walked a guy this year. You'll just have to handcuff those to each other for a while.

  • Brandon Lyon is not a great pitcher, and he looked absolutely terrible throwing high 88-MPH cutters in the first game of the season. But since blowing that save, Lyon hasn't given up a walk or a run. He might last all year despite being so mediocre. Wilton Lopez gets groundballs and doesn't walk people, but has a platoon split. Mark Melancon might actually next in line to be the closer, so watch his usage.

  • You might say the same thing about Kyle Farnsworth as you do about Brandon Lyon. Flawed pitcher, but it looks like the save chances are his for the time being. Jake McGee is scuffling and may not yet be ready for the job.


  • * * * * * * * * * *



    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:
  • Frank Francisco is on his rehab assignment - good. Frank Francisco is getting shelled on his rehab assignment - bad. Apparently, he's down more than a couple MPH on his fastball, and it might take a little more time before he's back up garnering saves.

  • David Aardsma is throwing bullpens and fielding grounders, but doesn't have an official timetable yet. He's ahead of Andrew Bailey, who hasn't thrown a scheduled bullpen session yet, and Brad Lidge, who is still talking about the All-Star break.


  • The Deposed:
    Fernando Rodney, Los Angeles

  • No-one here for now, and hopefully we won't see Matt Thornton here soon.


  • * * * * * * * * * *


    The Steals Department

  • He doesn't have any power really, and he's not a speed demon, but the most important thing about Maicer Izturis is that he's playing virtually every day. He's appeared in eight of ten games so far, and now with Erick Aybar on the disabled list, he should appear in even more going forward. With eligibilities all over the diamond, he could be a plug-and-play bench player in any league deeper than a 10-team mixed league - but even then he's a decent injury replacement. Sure, he's never topped 14 stolen bases in a full season since he was an Expo in 2004. He's also never topped 437 plate appearances. But he'll steal you a couple bases and have a decent batting average while Aybar is out. If you're in a deeper league, or have an injured shortstop, consider him in the short term.


  • Two deeper league options this week. Sam Fuld was a hit short of the cycle on Monday night, so he's a newsy option. But power is not his game - getting on base and flashing wheels is more his deal. His yearly average in the minor leagues suggests that he could steal as many as 30 bases if given a full slate of at-bats in the major leagues. That used to be a problem, but with Manny Ramirez gone, DH at-bats can now go to Johnny Damon. Matt Joyce moves to the outfield, and there's Sam Fuld looking at everyday duty. If a decent batting average (or OBP) is what you need, Fuld is a good long-term pick up in deep leagues - and even has more upside than our first entrant in the Steals Department, despite being owned in about a quarter as many leagues. Guess he doesn't play the infield.


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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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