Thursday, January 11, 2007

A.L. Closers

Well, I've got plenty of time to bitch and yell at Toz off-line.

As people are putting their rosters together (and, in some cases, preparing for early February drafts), I thought I'd take a look at American League closers.

The safe closers are Joe Nathan, B.J. Ryan, Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez, Huston Street, and J.J. Putz. Barring injury I have a hard time seeing any of these guys losing the job. Street and Putz I rank lower since they don't have the big time contract, and a moderate streak of ineffectiveness could lose them their jobs. I know there are some Putz detractors who say he hasn't done it before 2006, but his season was impressive enough that I think his job, at least, is safe, even if his Roto value drops a little as his qualitatives do the same.

The next category of closers are guys who should be OK but you shouldn't pay top dollar for. They are Chris Ray, Bobby Jenks, and Todd Jones.

I know a lot of people would stick Ray in the first category. However, his WHIP faded as the year went on, and I can't help but wondering if the Orioles won't trade Ray for help elsewhere, particularly since they signed Baez for so much money. Jenks has the raw stuff, but his WHIP is scary and we know Ozzie goes through phases with his players. Jones is what he is - a puffball pitcher who will have his bad games but will put up the saves. He could lose the job, but he does have the big contract, and Leyland trusts him. I wouldn't be shocked if Jones lost the job. But don't get all paranoid the first time Rotoworld starts whining that the sky is falling for Jones like they started doing last year in early May.

The final category are the guys who are closers now but are risks or could lose their jobs. They are Gagne, Foulke, Timlin, Dotel and McClung.

With the exception of Dotel and McClung, all of these guys could have their names hyphenated with the name of their set-up right behind them. Otsuka, Borowski, Hansack could all wind up getting some saves as well. Gagne has the job if he's healthy, but that's an enormous if. Foulke probably gets the nod over Borowski, but I could see the Indians playing the hot hand. Timlin probably gets the job by default right now, but Hansack or Hansen later on could see some ops as well.

Dotel is a spring training call. I'm not convinced he's healthy. He's also a Royal, and while I know that bad teams can have 30 save closers, the Royals are a team that make me challenge that notion when it comes to plunking down money on Auction Day.

McClung just scares me. I FAABed him late last year because I needed saves and he was very painful to watch. He walks the park, and that's not a good formula for a closer.

Those are your candidates.

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