Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Down and Out in Oakland

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (7) (AKA: The "Carlos Boozer" Tier.)

1st Chair: Frank Francisco, 2nd Chair: Jon Rauch, Toronto Blue Jays
1st Chair: Ryan Madson, 2nd Chair: Jose Contreras, Philadelphia Phillies
1st Chair: Kevin Gregg, 2nd Chair: Koji Uehara, Baltimore Orioles
1st Chair: Fernando Salas, 2nd Chair: Eduardo Sanchez, St. Louis Cardinals
1st Chair: Mark Melancon, 2nd Chair: Wilton Lopez, Houston Astros
1st Chair: Grant Balfour, 2nd Chair: Brian Fuentes, Oakland Athletics
1st Chair: Matt Guerrier, 2nd Chair: Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Carlos Boozer is not a terrible player. He's very useful. But this year in the playoffs, he's been shooting about 44% from the field, which means that a team that has had a hard time scoring has had a hard time turning to him for points on a consistent basis. Considering that's the best part of his game (definitely not his defense), that's bad news. Most of these closers are bad news in some way or another, but they're also still useful.

  • Frank Francisco looks like the Jays closer right now, but let's wait for a scoreless week before we move him up in tiers. Strikeouts have not been his problem (he has 15 in 12 1/3 innings so far), but he has been struggling with the other two facets of his game. Those eight walks and four home runs allowed are a problem. Watch those categories for some zeroes before you run to trade for him, especially after his blown save against the Yankees Tuesday night.

  • A few weeks after his GM and Manager mocked his ability to close in public, the two are now talking about Ryan Madson as a closer even once Brad Lidge returns. That's too quick a turnaround to trust. Jose Contreras is back now, and any mis-step from Madson might mean he could lose the job before Lidge returns. Don't drop Madson, but trading for him is also very risky.

  • Kevin Gregg hasn't officially blown a save in the past week, but giving up two runs to the Nationals in a blowout loss does not inspire confidence. He still has only two more strikeouts than walks on the year, and Koji Uehara is sporting a 23-to-five ratio in that department. Uehara makes for one of the better speculative adds if saves are your goal.

  • His stuff is not spectacular, but it works. Fernando Salas is looking solid in the closer role in St. Louis. He has walked only two guys in May and has good strikeout punch as well. No home runs on the year is a nice way to get Tony LaRussa's attention too.

  • Mark Melancon has decent stuff, but hasn't struck out as many as Salas, walked as few, or shown as many clean slate innings recently. He could still end the year as the Astros closer, though, because Wilton Lopez has lost the plate when compared to his excellent control from last season. Melancon has two straight saves and should be owned in all leagues that score saves.

  • In Oakland, Brian Fuentes has been doing an okay job, but the last week has brought four straight appearances in which he's been scored upon. He's also walked three against no strikeouts in those four games. He's also attacked his manager in the media. He's also out of the role. Grant Balfour got his manager's seal approval and Andrew Bailey only needs another rehab appearance or two and he'll be back. You can drop Fuentes now without much risk.

  • Down south in Los Angeles we have our Mess of the Week. Matt Guerrier is probably still the steady-eddy closer, but we've noted before that he doesn't get strikeouts like a closer should, walks too many, and is a fly-ball pitcher. That's probably why the team gave Kenley Jansen a shot on Monday… but it didn't go well. Jansen blew the game wide open for his first blown save of the year. The converted catcher still has the oomph to be a closer, but he needs to find the plate and work on his secondary offerings. Expect Guerrier to get the next chance, although it's possible (not probable) that Mike MacDougal gets a shot. Javy Guerra, after getting the save Tuesday night, is obviously in the mix, but it doesn't seem like he's the closer with the capital C yet either. Exciting starter prospect Rubby De La Rosa is a better bet than MacDougal or Guerra if his manager gives him the ball in the ninth.

  • * * * * * * * * * *


    Jose Contreras, Philadelphia Phillies (elbow)
    David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners (hip surgery)
    Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics (forearm tightness)
    Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies (shoulder)
    Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers (elbow)
    Brandon Lyon, Houston Astros (shoulder)
    Vicente Padilla, Los Angeles Dodgers (forearm)

  • Jose Contreras should be activated today but will probably set up. Brad Lidge hopes to return in about three weeks, and could set up or close depending on what Ryan Madson does in that time span. Andrew Bailey will be activated by the weekend and will definitely close.

  • David Aardsma says he'll definitely pitch again this season or something will have gone wrong. Well, hip surgery and a strained elbow is already 'something going wrong,' but I guess he means more surgery. It'll be hard to hold on to him for two months depending on your roster size, but at least you know that when he comes back he should close, which is not necessarily the case for Brandon Lyon, who is only now throwing on flat ground.

  • Jonathan Broxton is throwing some, but has no timetable. No timetable for Vicente Padilla, either, as he was given an injection into his surgically-repaired forearm. Either could return to be the closer.

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

  • Not much to report here. Joe Nathan is getting better, but three earned in his last three innings isn't quite beating down Matt Capps' door.

  • * * * * * * * * * *

    The Steals Department

  • His current stats don't look nice, and his rehab stint did not go well, but Angel Pagan will be back from the DL Friday and he can surely swipe bags. There are also some mitigating circumstances to his production so far. For one, he's had terrible luck on batted balls. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in the major leagues was .164, and in the minor leagues, during his .208/.296/.417 rehab stint, was only .211. Once that number bounces back closer to .300, which is the batting average on balls in play across baseball, he'll make for a good speed pickup. Power? Who knows, he doesn't have an extensive history with which we can evaluate his power. But stolen bases he should be able to manage.

  • Jason Bartlett also has a terrible-looking line (.255/.306/.297), and his BABIP looks almost exactly neutral (.300). But that stat is different for every player even if it's .300 across baseball. Ichiro Suzuki has a lifetime BABIP of .355. Bartlett is speedy and hits ground balls more often than fly balls, and these are both things that can lead to a better BABIP. The Padres shortstop could easily hit .270 going forward, with 15-20 steals, and that should not be on your deep league waiver wire. Especially given his position.

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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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