Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Calamity for Your Closers

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (9) (AKA: The "man jeggings" Tier.)

Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros
Sergio Santos, Chicago White Sox
Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals
Darren Oliver, Texas Rangers
Ryan Madson, Philadelphia Phillies
Frank Francisco / Jon Rauch, Toronto Blue Jays
Brian Fuentes, Oakland Athletics
Brandon League, Seattle Mariners
Jonathan Broxton / Vincente Padilla / Hong-Chih Kuo, Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Look, we know the world's jeans have gotten tighter. And that's fine. But when they get so tight that they are just leggings that look like jeans, then you're doing it wrong. And in this tier, it's the closers wearing the jeggings and looking silly.

  • Mitchell Boggs might be the guy that holds his job all year, at least it looked that way until Tuesday night's blowup. And really, Tuesday night was a comedy of errors, where passed balls, wild pitches, muffed grounders and a bunch of singles did him in - it could have just been one of those days. We did say that Tony LaRussa could easily return to his veteran Ryan Franklin, but Boggs has shown plus velocity this year, and it's possible he's finally figured out relieving. He only switched to the pen full-time last year, so maybe the work he's doing now is sustainable. Don't drop Ryan Franklin just yet, but another couple of bad appearances in middle relief will cement his doom.

  • Sergio Santos got the first White Sox save in what seemed like forever, and who knows if he'll keep the job past the second opportunity that he converted Tuesday (thanks in no small part to Brent Lillibridge and his two amazing catches). He does have electric stuff, but he's basically in his second year of pitching - ever. The converted shortstop may or may not hold on, so don't drop Matt Thornton just yet, unless you really face a roster crunch.

  • Jonathan Broxton is in much hotter water if it can be believed. He's lost his velocity, and therewith his elite strikeout rate. Now his control is gone, too. He blew a save on Monday and was relieved of his role Tuesday, at least according to some sources - his GM and manager now disagree about his role, publicly. Hong-Chih Kuo is due back this weekend and it might be Vincente Padilla taking save opportunities for now. We still love Kenley Jansen long term because of his strikeouts (20 in 12 1/3 innings) but his control problems lurk (seven walks). He could be the closer long-term, with Kuo taking over from Padilla until the lefty gets hurt again. Anything could happen in this pen, including Broxton figuring it out. Don't drop the big guy just yet.
  • P.S.: Brandon Lyon is still a mediocre pitcher. Mark Melancon is a great speculative play.

  • * * * * * * * * * *


    Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers (shoulder)
    Jose Contreras, Philadelphia Phillies (elbow)
    David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners (hip surgery)
    Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics (forearm tightness)
    Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies (shoulder)

  • The Rangers are hopeful that Neftali Feliz will miss the minimum, but shoulder soreness is not good. Jose Contreras' injury is worse, though, because there's an actual strain in his elbow. A strain is a tear, just a mild one, so this one could take up to a month and Ryan Madson, who Philly fans swear cannot close and has been ridiculed in public by his manager and GM, is now the closer.

  • On the good news side of this ledger is David Aardsma, who is already rehabbing and due back any day. Andrew Bailey is throwing, and looking good, but the team hasn't announced a schedule yet.

  • The Deposed:
    Fernando Rodney, Los Angeles
    Joe Nathan, Minnesota
    Ryan Franklin, St. Louis

  • Of all the pitchers on this list, I like Joe Nathan's chances of rejoining the land of the living closers. I think he's just getting some cobwebs out of his elbow. Jonathan Broxton is probably the next one on this list (he may already be here), and HIS velocity drop is more worrisome because there's no ready explanation.

  • * * * * * * * * * *

    The Steals Department

  • He's still around in shallower leagues, but Chris Coghlan is disappearing off of waiver wires because of his two-home-run game on Monday. He does have some power, but he's more interesting for batting average and steals help. He's striking out a little too much right now - he never once struck out close to 20% of the time in the minors and is now at nearly 23% - but even at this rate, his batting average is relatively safe. He's not a speed demon, but he once stole 34 bases in 565 Double-A plate appearances. There are some "buts" here, but you could pencil him in for double-digit home runs and as many as twenty steals going forward. He's a great fourth outfielder in most leagues.

  • Just like with Jarrod Dyson last week, this week's deep league recommendation is flawed. Heck, anyone on a deep league waiver wire is most likely flawed. So we come to Emilio Bonifacio, who has many many flaws. One, he strikes out way too much for a guy with absolutely no power. That's one home run, career, in close to 1000 plate appearances, and almost 200 strikeouts. As with any player with these flaws, he needs to get on base in order to flash his wheels, but he walks at a below-average rate, too. But you know what? The Marlins have no choice but to turn to Bonifacio regularly. Their third basemen are just as flawed, if not worse, and half of them are hurt right now anyway. And Bonifacio is also the primary outfield backup. Given four hundred plate appearances - reasonable given the circumstances on the team - he could hit .270 with 20+ steals going forward. Not so bad for a free pickup.

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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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