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Vanglorious’ Fantasy Corner, Vol. 1

March 26, 2010

THE CLOSER CAROUSEL

 

Teams throughout the American and National Leagues are paying their tokens to take a ride, and the Closer Carousel has begun spinning much earlier than usual this season.

The most notable early passenger of the Closer Carousel is Joe Nathan of the Minnesota Twins.  Arguably the best relief pitcher in the game (behind Mo Rivera), Nathan has had at least 36 saves in each of his last 6 seasons (47 last year). That’s obviously not happening this year.  Nathan will miss the entire 2010 season after receiving Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

Who will be the closer for the Minnesota Twins in 2010?

I believe it will be a mixture of Jon Rauch and Matt Guerrier.  Jon Rauch will most likely begin the season as the closer , especially because Guerrier is the Twins best “lefty specialist”.  On the other hand, Rauch sucks and has already failed in the closer role for multiple other teams. Gardenhire is probably better off going with anyone over Rauch.

 

Other Passengers Aboard The Closer Carousel:

Huston Street- Colorado Rockies- 15 Day D.L.(at least) with an ailing right shoulder.

Replacement- Franklin Morales

Kerry Wood- Cleveland Indians- Out for at least the first month of the season with a mildly strained back.

Replacement- Chris Perez

Brad Lidge- Philadelphia Phillies- Out for the first week (or two) of the season recovering from minor off-season knee surgery.

Replacement- Ryan Madson

Bobby Jenks- Chicago White Sox- Injured calf, but should be ready for the start of the season.

Replacement- No replacement necessary, but Matt Thornton’s name has been thrown around and he’s performed really well over the past 2 seasons (2.71 ERA, 165 K’s, 139 IP past 2 seasons combined).

 

Roles In Question:

Toronto Blue Jays- Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, or Scott Downs?

Of the 3, Scott Downs looks by far the best in Spring Training.  Having said that, I’m leaning towards Kevin Gregg to start the season as Toronto’s closer.  Simply because of the fact that Gregg has more experience in the role.

Philadelphia Phillies- Brad Lidge or Ryan Madson?

I know Lidge is injured at the moment, but even when healthy, I don’t think he’s 100% guaranteed the job.  He’s had one good season since 2004, and last year he was freakin’ terrible(0-8, 7.21 ERA)!  On the other hand, Madson has been near unhittable of the past three seasons.  If I was Charlie Manuel(which I’m not, because I’m not a fat hick moron), I’d cement Madson as the Phillies closer as soon as possible.

Tampa Bay Rays- Rafael Soriano or J.P. Howell?

Rafael Soriano is guaranteed the job to start the season and J.P. Howell is on the D.L.  I know that doesn’t seem like much of a competition, but considering Soriano’s in a contract year(mid-season trade bait for the Rays) and the fact that Howell has proven he has what it takes to be an elite closer(2.44 ERA, 171 K’s, 155.3 IP over the past 2 seasons combined), the closer situation in Tampa Bay should get very interesting this season.

 

  • These are all examples of reasons why Fantasy Baseball drafts are much trickier and take a lot more strategy than most would think.  The closer(or relievers in general) you draft and when you draft them can make or break your team. 
  • Strategy #1- Some think you should draft “proven beasts” as your closer, which means you would need to begin drafting closers as early as rounds 6-9.  This strategy is great when it comes to expected performance and projections, but if you catch an injury bug and you’re closer goes down, you just wasted your 8th pick(and that sucks).
  • Strategy #2- Others(like Vanglorious) think you should wait until the end, or not draft a closer at all. Therefore picking them up on waivers.  There’s very little risk involved in this strategy, especially compared to Strategy #1, but it has its negative aspects. One being, Strategy #2 takes a ton of work and can be very tedious. You have to keep a hawkeye on the waiver all season because you’ll most likely be adding and dropping relievers as frequently as Derek Jeter receives fellatio from Maxim models(and that’s a lot).
  • No matter which strategy you choose, always remember fantasy teams with solid closers don’t just benefit from the saves, they usually get a low ERA and WHIP out of it as well. Consistently commanding those three categories will win you many a matchup throughout the season. Although widely considered the least important position in fantasy baseball, the closer position can be the difference between a Fantasy Baseball Championship and finishing in last place, so pick a strategy and make it work. 

 

 

 

 

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9 comments

  1. Very good post, altho I dont think the closer position presents that much value to a fantasy team.

    I think the Phillies closer job will be very interesting this season and could prevent them from winning the division (Im big on the Braves this year.)


    • I’m lovin the Braves pitching staff this year, and to be honest I meant to include Wagner and Saito in the “roles in question” portion.
      Saito’s been a monster this spring and we all know how Billy can crumble.
      As for the rotation, Hudson’s a huge question mark. Lowe will be his consistantly medicore self. Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are both young up
      and comers, both with “beast” potential.
      Bobby Cox’s final year should be an interesting one, to say the least.


  2. It is obvious you do not have a clue about Twins baseball, Matt Guerrier, is not left handed he throws right handed…and Rauch only really closed for the Nationals and did a decent job before he got traded to Az. You really should do some reasearch before you make yourself look like some sort of dick head!
    Go Twins!


    • Whoa Joe… I’m pretty sure you need to relax. I was definitely incorrect about Guerrier, chalk that up to bad sourcing on my part. As for Rauch, he’s a bum and if you’re actually going to tell me, as a Twins fan, you’re happy with him as your closer, then you’re the dickhead. Enjoy your season not making the playoffs, or in you’re lucky getting swept by the best team in baseball, the New York Yankees.


  3. Hey, Vango, how could any Twins fan be happy with losing Nathan and how would you feel being a Yankee fan if you lost your closer for the year? Your guess is as good as mine as to who the closer will be for the Twins, but why do you take shots at our players that might have a shot at filling his big shoes. Its is obvious that you have a hard-on for Rauch but when he came to the Twins at the end of August 2009 he ended up winning 5 games lost 1 with an ERA of 1.7 in 17 games pitched. Did DC have a great team when Rauch pitched? Gee I think a 2.98 ERA and 17 of 22 save opportunities in 2008 doesn’t look that bad to me. Especially, for a pitcher that filled a role because the team’s regular closer went down with an injury. By the way why dont you check the stats when the Nats/Jon Rauch played the Yanks, let everyone know what the results were from
    your qualified sources…Jon Rauch is a bum,yeh right, but he sure kicked the Yanks ass that weekend.


    • I remember that weekend quite well, the Yanks were having a bad stretch and easily could’ve gotten swept by the Nats. I agree, losing Nathan is tough, as it would be for any team with a closer of that stature, but I still strongly feel that Rauch is a bum (and no stats will make me feel otherwise) Other than that, I actually like alot of the Twins players, and I would love to see Liriano have a bounce back year. Guess we’ll just have to see how the season pans out for the Twinkies and Rauch, but I’m leaning towards Rauch gettin lit up and losing the job pretty quickly.


    • Sorry, I also completely forgot to mention Rauch has been on my fantasy team the past 2 years and although last years team sucked either way, he sure as hell didn’t help. Besides our little disagreement about your teams replacement closer, me and the rest of the writers at TONY Sports really appreciate your reading.


  4. Vango, if you had Rauch on your fantasy team when he was with Az(Last two years), I now can understand why you are bummed out on the big guy! He did pitch very well(for several months), before he was traded to the Twins. I hope Rauch proves you wrong and he has a fantastic year as the Twins closer. The Twins and Yanks play a few times this year, it will be fun to watch. Good Luck with your Yankees!
    Go Twins!! Hope to see you in the playoffs!
    Joe


    • I hope he proves me wrong to, especially for your and the Twinkies sake, but also because I don’t wish failure on any athlete(unless they play in the New England region)

      I forgot to mention, Gardenhire is by far my favorite manager in all of baseball. He not only manages a baseball team, he manages a group of grown men and does a damn good job of staying humble and keeping them humble as well. As for the rest of the team, I think the new venue will only help Mauer and Morneau’s stats(shorter left field wall). Also, like I said earlier, I hope Liriano bounces back this season(and I think he will). I also love Denard Span(he’s on all 3 of my fantasy teams this season) he’s got a ton of upside, if the Twins can put some runs on the board this year.

      I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, but I must say, I love your passion for your team(I could really tell when you referred to me as a dickhead).

      Hope to keep in touch, and talk baseball throughout the season.

      Thanks for your great insights Joe.



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