Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Ryan Franklin Out as Closer

Wednesday, April 20, 2011




Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (9) (AKA: The "Vince Naimoli" Tier.)



Matt Capps, Minnesota Twins
Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros
Jose Contreras, Philadelphia Phillies
Frank Francisco / Jon Rauch, Toronto Blue Jays
Sean Burnett / Drew Storen, Washington Nationals
Brian Fuentes, Oakland Athletics
Brandon League, Seattle Mariners
Mitchell Boggs / Jason Motte / Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals
Sergio Santos / Jesse Crain / Chris Sale / Matt Thornton, Chicago White Sox

Comment:
  • Vince Naimoli was once pulled over for a DUI. Among his first words to the officer was the age-old refrain: "Do you know who I am?" Well, no, the cop didn't, and no, you probably wouldn't be able to spot most of these guys on the street either. At least they have some short-term value, which is more than we can say for the former Rays owner.

  • Joe Nathan, whose velocity is not all the way back since his surgery, volunteered to give up his closer role to the more effective Matt Capps for now. Nathan is the superior pitcher if he has his stuff, though, so this is still in flux. A few good appearances and Nathan could move up the ranks pretty quickly.

  • Frank Francisco is back! Don't drop Jon Rauch just yet, though. Frankie Frank, a name you'd never forget after his own chair-throwing run-in with the law, was terrible in his rehab stint, and Rauch has been dealing. Just another situation where both relievers need to be owned in most leagues.

  • The bottom of this tier is just a mess. Sean Burnett and Drew Storen are splitting save opportunities for now, but it's probable that Storen wins out in the end. He has the pedigree and the four-pitch mix going for him. Also, although they've both locked down saves in the past week, Burnett gave up runs in both of his two appearances and also blew an opportunity. Brandon League has been doing fine, but David Aardsma is on his way back.

  • The worst situation in the league, however, belongs to Ozzie Guillen in Chicago. The only pitcher in his bullpen that could close but hasn't been removed during a blow save opportunity is Sergio Santos. And Santos converted to pitching last year. Last year. This bullpen is so crazy that it's almost impossible to figure out who is going to close in the future. Ozzie himself said he had no closer. Matt Thornton had the best fastball in the league last year (and the year before), but he's getting hit around. Chris Sale, also a lefty, is young and still figuring out how to use his arsenal (and is also getting hit around). Jesse Crain is pitching well but he is throwing his fastball only 40% of the time and doesn't *seem* like a closer. Throw a dart, pick up a White Sox reliever, and cross your fingers.

  • Joining the White Sox as a mess is the Cardinals' bullpen. Manager Tony La Russa says that he's removed Ryan Franklin from the role for now, but didn't announce who would get saves in the meantime. Given his proclivity for veterans (ask Colby Rasmus how TLR feels about rookies), it probably won't be young fireballer Eduardo Sanchez. Jason Motte, who owns a straight but rapid fastball and nothing else, is probably the best option if you look past this year's stats. But it'll probably be Mitchell Boggs for now, because he's found a way to boost his strikeout rate in the young season. In the end, La Russa hinted that Franklin's removal was temporary when he said he'll treat his former closer as a slumping hitter. Franklin may be back shortly.


  • * * * * * * * * * *



    Injured


    David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners (hip surgery)
    Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics (forearm tightness)
    Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies (shoulder)

    Comment:
  • David Aardsma is starting his rehab assignment this week. If he's on your waiver wire, it's time to pick him up and stash him for saves later on this month. Andrew Bailey is throwing but doesn't have a schedule yet.


  • The Deposed:
    Fernando Rodney, Los Angeles
    Joe Nathan, Minnesota

  • Expect the newest member of this list to jump off the graveyard and back in to the land of living before long. He just needs to find his old control and stuff - it might just take another month or so. Tommy John is major surgery, we can forget that fact sometimes.


  • * * * * * * * * * *


    The Steals Department

  • Dexter Fowler is available in a half to two-thirds of the leagues out there, but he has the upside to be valuable in all leagues. Over the past three years, he's made improvements in his strikeout rate - if he can carry that success over into this year, he could improve on his .260 batting average. He also has shown league-average power in his young career, if not so far this year. He is a beast against lefties, but playing every day for the most part. He's not without his flaws - he does need to continue to work at his strikeout rate, which has been poor so far in this young season - but how many other players on the waiver wire could hit better than .275 with double-digit home runs and 30 stolen bases? It's like a free Jose Tabata! Maybe.


  • Jarrod Dyson is pretty much universally un-owned, and that's for a multitude of reasons. He's in a crowded outfield in Kansas City, competing with Melky Cabrera and Mitch Maier for playing time in center field. It's also unclear how much contact he can make, as he struck out in about a fifth of his minor league at-bats (and more in the major leagues). That's not a terrible rate, but it's not great since he also has no power at all. On the other hand, he does take walks, and he might be the fastest player in the big leagues. He also started twice over the weekend, and has stolen five bases even though he's only been on base five times. That kind of speed, even from a flawed hitter, might be worth picking up in your deep league.


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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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