Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Dastardly Debuts

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (6) (AKA: The "Alfredo Aceves' first attempt at closing for the Red Sox" Tier.)


Hector Santiago (first chair), Matt Thornton (second chair), Addison Reed (third chair), Chicago White Sox
Chris Perez (first chair), Vinnie Pestano (second chair), Cleveland Indians
Henry Rodriguez (fourth chair), Brad Lidge (second chair), Washington Nationals
Alfredo Aceves (first chair), Mark Melancon (second chair), Boston Red Sox
Fernando Rodney (first chair), Joel Peralta (second chair), Tampa Bay Rays


What a debut. The Red Sox see their vaunted closer head to the other league, and trade for two closers to replace him. Then both of them just straight implode in their debuts. Expect more implosions from this tier, which coincidentally, contains Alfredo Aceves


Hector Santiago is not your typical lefty -- he has a screwball which moves in a way that can help him mitigate any platoon splits. The rookie might be fine if he wasn't surrounded by excellent other options. Addison Reed has blown by every level he's ever seen, Matt Thornton is an excellent lefty, and even Jesse Crain could hold the job down. They all throw pretty hard, too. Don't get too comfortable with Santiago.


Chris Perez may not be missing velocity -- the radar gun in Cleveland that day was down two MPH for everyone -- but that doesn't mean he's not a bad pitcher. He hasn't gotten swinging strikes at an average rate since he came to the American League. He hasn't shown average control, ever. He's an extreme fly ball pitcher. He's even a fastball/slider righty, which means that lefties love him (and lo and behold, his walk rate doubles against southpaw hitters). There's absolutely no underlying peripheral to like about Perez. You can't sell him, but try handcuffing him with Vinnie Pestano at least.


Let's give Henry Rodriguez and his triple-digit fastball velocity the nose over Brad Lidge the longer Drew Storen is out. Both are worth owning, but any time an old pitcher throws his slider 67 percent of the time, you have to be worried. Not only does the pitch put more stress on the elbow, but it's just such a backwards way of pitching that it seems risky. Rodriguez is risky because of his poor control, but he does have three pitches and should be immune to platoon issues. He just needs to corral that ball!


Ah. The Boston Save Massacre. The general manager and the manager both insist that there will be no role changes because of the disastrous first week, but that doesn't mean that there won't be role change later. Aceves is a strange fit for the closer's role -- his best asset is his ability to swing between the rotation and the closer's role. Then again, perhaps focusing on the bullpen will help his stuff play up. His stuff needs some help, as he hasn't managed to garner swinging strikes at an average rate so far, and his control can only take him so far. Melancon has gotten the swinging strikes -- even this year -- and has paired it with average control and above-average ground ball rates so far. You might get laughed at for picking him up, but Melancon seems like just as much of a possibility at closer as Aceves.


Fernando Rodney has gotten two saves, but he only got an out each time. Joel Peralta has started a couple ninth innings, too. Rodney has shown us that his control can disappear for seasons, and the Rays have also shown us that they will think outside the box. Almost anyone in that pen could get the next save.


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Andrew Bailey, Oakland Athletics
Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays
Drew Storen, Washington Nationals


That Bailey surgery sounds pretty intense. He could end up being out into August, meaning the Boston situation will continue on for most of the season. Kyle Farnsworth is only supposed to be out for six weeks, but a strain is a tear, so it's not like he's not hurt at all.


Drew Storen? Oh boy. He's had a setback and is headed for Dr. James Andrews. Hopefully that doesn't mean surgery.


The Deposed


None… yet. Chris Perez has one foot in this spot though.


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The Steals Department

Rafael Furcal is disappearing off of waiver wires everywhere right now, and for good reason. He spent the first week looking healthy, peppering singles and doubles, and stealing two bags in his first five games. Of course, he got lucky on some of those -- half of his balls in play have landed for hits, and that rate is usually one-third. And Furcal has only managed 43 steals over the last three seasons combined, so he's not a great source of speed overall. But picking up steals can be an incremental thing. If he'll steal twice as many bags as Marco Scutaro, for example, that still nets you more than five steals in the final calculation. Without costing you too much anywhere else.


Jordan Schafer was quite the pick last week, let's see if we can keep the bar high in the deep league portion of the steals department. Ruben Tejada is owned in a league or two more than Schafer, but perhaps he can help your middle infield. He'll only steal about 20 or so -- he's no Jose Reyes -- but he's now atop the Mets batting order and still showing the patience he showed in the eight hole. That might stick even once Andres Torres returns from the disabled list, considering that Torres has on-base issues of his own. The problems in New York are many, but the lineup boasts a regular at every position projected to get on-base at a better than league-average rate. The Mets should score some runs -- the question is how many they prevent, or how healthy their thin rotation can be -- and Tejada will be a big part of that, at least in the short run.

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.
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