Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Making Moves in Minny

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (5) (AKA: The "Farmer Tan Sunburn" Tier.)

1st Chair: Fernando Salas, 2nd Chair: Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals
1st Chair: Frank Francisco, 2nd Chair: Jon Rauch, Toronto Blue Jays
1st Chair: Joe Nathan, 2nd Chair: Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins
1st Chair: Mark Melancon, 2nd Chair: Wilton Lopez, Houston Astros
1st Chair: Javy Guerra, 2nd Chair: Blake Hawksworth, Los Angeles Dodgers
1st Chair: Antonio Bastardo, 2nd Chair: Michael Stutes, Philadelphia Phillies
1st Chair: David Hernandez, 2nd Chair: Aaron Heilman, Arizona Diamondbacks

  • It's totally acceptable to burn that portion of your arm that only shows up when you wear your shorter-armed t-shirts. Even better if you hide it with business attire. Just don't move your arms much.

  • Fernando Salas is back in good graces. He hasn't allowed a run in four straight and has three strikeouts, no walks and one hit in those 4 2/3 innings. He survived Ryan Franklin's release and a couple blown saves in a row. Give him a week and he'll be back up out of this tier.

  • Frank Francisco? Maybe he'll move up. Sure, he's had the last five saves for the Blue Jays. And he has the strikeout rate of a closer - 29 in 24 1/3 innings. And his control has gotten better recently. But he also blew a save on the first, and has five walks in his last ten outings. All you can do is hold on to him and hope he has more outings like his three-strikeout, no-walk, one-hit almost-Kimbrel against the Red Sox on the fourth.

  • Okay, time to tackle this Matt Capps situation. Capps has been removed from two straight save opportunities, otherwise known as the kiss of death. His manager claims he's still the closer, but his actions speak louder. In both cases, Glen Perkins got the save. But also, in both cases, Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless eighth. Nothing has been announced yet - that should be made clear. But the Twins strike me as a loyal organization, and a loyal organization would probably give their old dominant closer the ball again in the ninth. Don't you think?

  • Mark Melancon is in the middle of a stretch that could lose many closers their jobs - he's given up runs in four of his last five, and had a spectacular five-run blown save the other day. He's also walked seven against three strikeouts in his last four outings. But Wilton Lopez behind him is more of a groundballer with a bad platoon split. They'll probably give him more chances.

  • A trio of injury-related closers finish up the tier, so we'll leave their updates for the injury section. All three have limited shelf lives, though, so don't get too comfortable.

  • * * * * * * * * * *


    David Aardsma, Seattle Mariners (elbow)
    Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies (shoulder)
    Ryan Madson, Philadephia Phillies (hand)
    Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers (elbow)
    J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks (elbow)

  • J.J. Putz has played catch two straight days without a problem and he wants to throw a bullpen this weekend. He might return on July 16th, the first day he's eligible, without a rehab assignment. David Hernandez might get another three saves or so. Brad Lidge is also close to returning - he threw his first rehab appearance on the fourth. He didn't strike anyone out and might need a few more before returning. Ryan Madson also threw a bullpen and might go out on rehab this weekend. Who returns first might actually mean something.

  • Still no real news about the rest. Jonathan Broxton is still shut down for three weeks. David Aardsma owners are wondering how long they should wait, but the fact that his last update came so long ago should be considered good news. It means that a new update has to be coming soon, and that it should determine much of Aardsma's fate this year.

  • The Deposed:
    Fernando Rodney, Los Angeles
    Ryan Franklin, St. Louis
    Brandon Lyon, Houston
    Matt Thornton, Chicago A.L.
    Vicente Padilla, Los Angeles Dodgers

  • This list contains one pitcher that was supposed to be good this year. Can you spot him?

  • * * * * * * * * * *

    The Steals Department

  • Really, this is Emilio Bonifacio at his peak. He's so flawed at the plate - he only walks at an average rate and yet strikes out way too often for a speedster - and his glove is so bad at most premier positions, that he's not a great every-day starter. But his team needs help everywhere on the diamond, so he probably qualifies at shortstop, third base and every outfield position in your fantasy league. He won't hit for a better average than he has now, but he's a burner, and especially in H2H leagues he can help as a fill-in bench piece.

  • Don't confuse Alex Presley with a hot prospect. He's a couple weeks away from 26 and he didn't show elite power or speed in the minor leagues. His callup was mostly based out of need - the Pirates were headed to interleague play while missing Jose Tabata and needed help. Right now, though, he's playing well enough to keep his job. He's getting lucky on batted balls and doesn't have power like he's shown so far, but he could easily manage a .270 average with a handful of home runs and stolen bases going forward. He did have 18 stolen bases in Triple-A this year, with a good success rate.

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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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