Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (6) (AKA: The "Heathcliff Slocumb" Tier.)
Jared Burton (first chair), Glen Perkins (second chair), Minnesota Twins
Carlos Marmol (first chair), Shawn Camp (second chair), Chicago Cubs
Francisco Rodriguez (first chair), John Axford (second chair), Milwaukee Brewers
Steve Cishek (first chair), Heath Bell (second chair), Mike Dunn (third chair), Miami Marlins
Bobby Parnell (first chair), Jon Rauch (second chair), New York Mets
Francisco Cordero (first chair), Wilton Lopez (second chair), Wesley Wright (third chair), Houston Astros
You already know what's coming, but it's so legendary it needs to be said again. In 1987, the Red Sox traded Heathcliff Slocumb to the Mariners for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Yes, those two weren't well-regarded prospects, but wow. Slocumb was walking as many batters as he struck out. He wasn't worth any lottery tickets, let alone two of them that turned out to be winning tickets. Speaking of lottery tickets, every member of this tier is a long-shot lotto ticket for rest-of-season closer value.
Jared Burton and Glen Perkins were a tandem, but managers don't really like lefty closers, and Burton has more of the saves recently. Are they just keeping the seat warm for Matt Capps? Maybe, but Capps' shoulder issues are not getting better. Burton is a good pickup if he's on your wire.
Carlos Marmol is doing it ugly. Francisco Rodriguez is doing it ugly. Carlos Marmol has nobody to worry about in his pen. Francisco Rodriguez has the cheap, long-term asset with great stuff and a mustache to boot behind him -- John Axford. Axford has found the zone a little more since his demotion, and Rodriguez has been a shadow of his former self. This little pen shakeup should get shook back up again soon.
Miami is harder to figure out. Steve Cishek is a good pitcher, and Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) now has a hurt elbow. But Heath Bell has been a little better recently, and we've seen Ozzie Guillen tell his beefy closer that he believes in him (in his own special way), so Bell might get a third chance at the role this year. One thing we know -- nobody is trading for Bell.
Bobby Parnell is just keeping the seat warm for Frank Francisco, who is now ready to rehab. Trades could bring a new closer to town, but the Mets are one of those teams that should probably stand pat and see how the wild card race goes. The wild card is not a full playoff seat -- it's only half of one, really -- so mortgaging any of their future for an extra game of revenue is probably silly.
Francisco Cordero just showed up in Houston, but with Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers gone, he was suddenly the guy with closing experience. He's also a worse pitcher than Wilton Lopez. And he blew his first chance with the Astros Tuesday night. That's quite the first impression. Lopez is the guy I'm buying, but I'm just skipping over all the grief in the meantime. Co-Co Cordero ain't what he used to be, but he's the closer right now. It's a pick'em.
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Frank Francisco (oblique), New York Mets
Andrew Bailey (thumb), Boston Red Sox
Sergio Santos (shoulder), Toronto Blue Jays
Matt Capps (shoulder), Minnesota Twins
Sergio Santos had some shoulder issues and now he's down for the year. Matt Capps has had some shoulder issues, and he might be headed in the same direction. On the other side of the spectrum are Frank Francisco, who should be back any day, and Andrew Bailey, who is ready to head out on rehab any day.
Jordan Walden, Los Angeles Angels
Hector Santiago, Chicago White Sox
Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics
Brian Fuentes, Oakland Athletics
Javy Guerra, Los Angeles Dodgers
Sean Marshall, Cincinnati Reds
Henry Rodriguez, Washington Nationals
Brandon League, Seattle Mariners
Rafael Dolis, Chicago Cubs
Brett Myers, Chicago White Sox
We'll call Sergio Santos an injury thing. He'd probably be closing if he was healthy. Brett Myers was fun while it lasted.
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The Steals Department
Ichiro Suzuki in New York is a little more interesting -- the park is much nicer, the lineup around him will give him runs, and his team believes in him again. On the other hand, he's probably not on your wire, he's 38, and his bat has slowed. If Juan Pierre is on your wire, he'll do about the same thing for cheaper. On the other hand, if you need a little steals boost in the infield, try Steve Lombardozzi maybe. Danny Espinosa is more exciting, but Lombardozzi is more available, and now he's playing every day while Ian Desmond is out. He could steal bags at a 20-steal pace while he's in, all while putting up a decent average and hitting a dinger or two. Depends on who's on your wire, after all.
In the deepest of leagues, none of these guys is out there. If Save and Steals tout Alexi Amarista is gone -- he's playing every day, everywhere on the field -- maybe you could take a look at Josh Rutledge in Colorado. Rutledge is playing every day and has the skills to hit for a decent batting average, with power and speed. Maybe he's a .280 20/20 guy over a full season. He doesn't walk, and maybe his defense isn't superb at shortstop, we'll see, but the good news for dynasty players is that Rutledge was given a vote of confidence -- if he plays well, he should take over second base next year or later this year. He's worth a look at least while Tulowitzki is out.