Eno Sarris

Saves and Steals

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Mellow Deadline, Raucous Pens

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Tier 5: Rollercoaster rides (6) (AKA: The "Ryan Dempster to the Rangers" Tier.)


Jared Burton (first chair), Glen Perkins (second chair), Minnesota Twins
Carlos Marmol (first chair), Shawn Camp (second chair), Chicago Cubs
Steve Cishek (first chair), Heath Bell (second chair), Mike Dunn (third chair), Miami Marlins
John Axford (first chair), Francisco Rodriguez (second chair), Milwaukee Brewers
Wilton Lopez (first chair), Wesley Wright (second chair), Houston Astros
Bobby Parnell (first chair), Josh Edgin (second chair), Jon Rauch (third chair), New York Mets


Now Dempster is a pretty good player. But in Texas, against American League lineups, he's going to have some trouble. Look at Roy Oswalt, who went from credible to kaput there just this year. And there's nobody coming up behind him in his wake, no real exciting pitcher coming up for the Cubs. It's just one of those trades that takes away without giving back. Some of these closers might actually function this way -- Carlos Marmol might be below replacement, and only hurting your team. How badly do you want those saves?


With Steve Cishek and Jared Burton, we're just stuck waiting for their next save opportunity. Their teams are having trouble scoring and don't have great bullpens from top to bottom -- the Twins one is pretty good but not great -- so they aren't getting a ton of opportunities. There's an uncertain future for each. But they're worth rostering unless Greg Holland is still out there.


John Axford should get better. He'd been better since he was moved from the closer's role (five strikeouts and one walk in 6 1/3 innings), so his manager said he'd ease him back into the role. His first try back was disastrous, to the point where fans were wondering if he could get two blown saves for his five-out meltdown. Then he got back in the saddle the next night and finished out a game. If he's on your wire, he shouldn't be, and Francisco Rodriguez, who isn't what he used to be, is droppable.


So we told you last week that Francisco Cordero wouldn't last, and then he went out and blew up, in a bad way. Now he's talking of retiring and the manager has announced that Wilton Lopez has the job. Except that Wilton Lopez has elbow tightness and has had UCL trouble in the past. If they don't shut down Lopez for Tommy John surgery, he'll make for a bottom-tier closer in the Brandon League vein. He'll strike out about three per nine less than a regular closer and that'll cost you just under ten strikeouts the rest of the way versus an average closer. He'll make it work.


Bobby Parnell, or Captain Fastball, can't hump his fastball up to triple digits until about the second or third batter he faces. Maybe he needs some sort of exaggerated warmup routine? It won't matter long, hopefully. Frank Francisco keeps getting nearer to Queens, even with the latest setback. Josh Edgin came up in the last manager's meeting with Terry Collins and he was non-committal. He did like Edgin's work and thought he could send him out there in a high-leverage situation, but he stopped short of calling Edgin the interim closer for now.

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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


Frank Francisco will appear in a couple rehab appearances over the next week and should be in the bigs soon. Andrew Bailey begins his rehab assignment, and it might be a longer one. There's an uncertain role at the end of it, too. But they traded Josh Reddick for him, and they may want to see if he can be their closer in 2013. Sergio Santos is still out for the year, and Matt Capps might follow him down the rabbit hole soon.


The Deposed


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
Jonathan Broxton, Kansas City Royals


Broxton's swinging strike rates told us this was coming a long time ago. Not quite the Brox Ox he used to be.


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The Steals Department


Starling Marte is the hot new toy in Pittsburgh, and since he hit a home run and stole a base in his first week, he's probably being picked up on your waiver wires currently. It's not all rosy with Marte, though. Though he stole 45 bases in Double- and Triple-A combined since the start of the 2011 season, he's also been caught 24 times. That sort of success rate does not usually give a speedster the green light. And though he hit 24 home runs in those 1003 combined plate appearances, he only hit five in the over 500 plate appearances that came before those. His home run power in the majors is a… major question mark. He also doesn't walk, like ever, so he won't be padding his stolen bases after walks. So Marte is interesting, but don't drop an established player for him. He'll probably only hit a couple more home runs and steal a handful of bags.


The Phillies outfield, on the other hand, has a flavor for a league of any size. Shallow mixed? You'll still get some use out Juan Pierre if you sit him against lefties. Deeper mixed league? Domonic Brown was once projected to go 30/30 by Bill James. He doesn't have that kind of speed anymore -- he's probably more like a 15/20 bag thief over a full season -- and the shine has come off his power, too. But if you need someone that could hit .280 and give you a handful of power and speed -- basically Marte-type stats -- Brown will be there for you. Deeper still? John Mayberry Jr. strikes out too much, and doesn't really steal bags, but he'll be available and has some thump. He's probably the new center fielder. And, depending on how the playing time shakes out, you can't forget about Nate Schierholtz. He's going from a terrible park for lefty power and into one that loves lefties. He could steal a couple along with a decent batting average and some power. They traded away all their outfielders, so you know there's an opportunity here for someone to step forward. Of course, if steals and steals alone are your wish, you might look in the Toronto outfield -- Anthony Gose looks like he might be starting most days now that Travis Snider is gone, and Gose stole 78 bases across two levels last season. He's a Burner with a capital B.

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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