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Andy Behrens

Closing Thoughts: Turmoil in the saves market!

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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We're rolling out Closing Thoughts one day early, because the weekend was incredibly messy. There's panic in the saves market right now. All the major indices are down.

In fact, when Chris Perez(notes) issued his third walk on Sunday it nearly triggered the Borowski Rule, which would have resulted in an automatic one-hour suspension of add/drops. The trading desk is like a war zone.

"Blue Horseshoe loves Jim Johnson(notes)! Buy! BUY! … Wait, no. He had that elbow thing. Sell! SELL! … No, not SNELL you [expletive]! SELL! S-E-L-L. SELL!"

It's madness. Below you'll find an updated snapshot of every team's bullpen situation, followed by the usual collection of player notes. Please try to remain calm during this period of upheaval. There are always buying opportunities.

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Trevor Hoffman(notes), baseball's all-time saves leader, did not have an easy series against St. Louis. He blew saves on Friday and Sunday, allowing five earned runs and three homers in the process. "It's embarrassing," he later said. Albert Pujols(notes) and Matt Holliday(notes) went deep in consecutive at-bats against Hoffman on Sunday, so that was clearly a degree-of-difficulty save situation. He still lucked into the win, too, so his owners got something for their pain. There are no job security issues with Hoffman, of course. When they install a countdown banner in your home park, you're safe. The Brewers would almost certainly send Hoffman to the DL with a make-believe injury before turning over the ninth to LaTroy Hawkins(notes). Milwaukee gets the Cubs and Nats this week, so the immediate setup is favorable.

Baltimore's Michael Gonzalez(notes) has allowed five hits, four walks and four earned runs in two innings of work so far this season. Manager Dave Trembley basically gave Gonzalez a timeout on Sunday. Jim Johnson is next in line to close for the O's, but — as Scott Pianowski pointed out on Friday — Gonzalez has a two-year, $12 million deal, so he won't simply be kicked to the curb. Koji Uehara(notes) (hamstring) could be a dark horse saves candidate here when he returns from the DL. Gigantic minor leaguer Kam Mickolio(notes) (6-foot-9) is an option, too. The Baltimore Sun wants readers to select the next O's closer, which doesn't really seem like the worst idea.

If you caught either Sunday's Closing Time or Saturday's Weekly Rundown, then you already know about the Frank Francisco(notes) implosion. He's off to a brutal early start — 2.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB — and has been relieved of closing duties, at least temporarily. Flame-throwing Neftali Feliz(notes) is the interim closer. Rangers manager Ron Washington has expressed confidence in Francisco publicly, but I really think Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News has it right when he frames the situation this way: "In reality, though, the job is likely lost until Feliz proves he can't do it." Francisco's velocity has been in the 90-92 range, a few ticks below where he was in 2009.

Kevin Gregg(notes) picked up a pair of saves at Baltimore on Friday and Sunday, while Jason Frasor(notes) closed out wins on Thursday and Saturday. When you have save situations in every game, this sort of thing happens. Frasor hasn't lost his job; there's just a lot of closing work to go around in Toronto right now.

We mentioned Chris Perez's multi-walk performance above, so we should probably discuss the details down here. He was a mess on Sunday when asked to record a four-out save. Perez walked three batters, allowed three hits, and only found the strike zone on just 17 of his 37 pitches. His wild pitch allowed the winning run to score. (Although in fairness to Perez, Lou Marson(notes) has to block that ball. Video here). No one's threatening Perez at the moment, but Kerry Wood(notes) is playing catch, and a mound session isn't far off.

Huston Street(notes) has been performing "strengthening exercises" (great euphemism), and should begin a throwing program later this week. Franklin Morales(notes) has saved two games in Street's absence thus far, though he hasn't managed to strike anyone out yet.

Brad Lidge(notes) (knee, elbow) made a rehab appearance at Single-A Clearwater on Saturday, and he was rocked. He allowed three doubles and a walk in two-thirds of an inning, striking out no one. His fastball velocity was reportedly 89-91 mph. Lidge is scheduled to pitch again on Monday.

Here's a name to file away: Sergio Santos(notes). He's a converted infielder with an absolute cannon (95-98 mph). On Friday, Santos entered a tight game for the White Sox with the bases loaded and two outs, and he K'd Delmon Young(notes) on a rather nasty slider. "This kid has no fear," said Ozzie Guillen.

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