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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Gather up your jackets, move it to the exits

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It's our last entry of the fantasy baseball season, a chance to say thanks and congratulations; a chance to swap war stories and swigs of Yoo-Hoo. I felt our regulars deserved a present on the way out and I couldn't get any Brad Evans memorabilia to raffle off, so here's the next-best thing: preliminary 2009 rankings.

Full disclosure, these are more for fun than anything; I'll wash my hands of these quickly as the hot-stove news comes down and we'll start from scratch in February. But it's always interesting to look ahead and speculate, and I invite you to come along for the ride. Your intelligent and respectful disagreement is always welcome.

Thanks to everyone who had a hand in Closing Time 2008 - the writers, the editors, the readers, the commenters, the Washington Nationals. It's been a blast.


Starting Pitchers

  1. Johan Santana
  2. Tim Lincecum
  3. Jake Peavy
  4. Cole Hamels
  5. CC Sabathia
  6. Brandon Webb
  7. Roy Halladay
  8. Dan Haren
  9. Josh Beckett
  10. Chad Billingsley
  11. Francisco Liriano
  12. Scott Kazmir
  13. John Lackey
  14. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  15. Cliff Lee
  16. Carlos Zambrano
  17. Felix Hernandez
  18. Adam Wainwright
  19. Ervin Santana
  20. Justin Verlander
  21. Rich Harden
  22. James Shields
  23. Josh Johnson
  24. Jon Lester
  25. Roy Oswalt
  26. Ricky Nolasco
  27. Edinson Volquez
  28. Joba Chamberlain
  29. A.J. Burnett
  30. Chris Young
  31. Aaron Harang
  32. Ryan Dempster
  33. Derek Lowe
  34. Matt Garza
  35. Matt Cain
  36. Ted Lilly
  37. Kevin Slowey
  38. Chien-Ming Wang
  39. Erik Bedard
  40. Brett Myers
  41. Clayton Kershaw
  42. Ben Sheets
  43. John Danks
  44. Yovani Gallardo
  45. Zack Greinke
  46. Ubaldo Jimenez
  47. Manny Parra
  48. Gil Meche
  49. Oliver Perez
  50. Joe Saunders
  51. Javier Vazquez
  52. David Price
  53. Johnny Cueto
  54. Max Scherzer
  55. Brandon Morrow
  56. Phil Hughes
  57. Mike Mussina
  58. Jered Weaver
  59. Paul Maholm
  60. Justin Duchscherer
  61. Fausto Carmona
  62. Bronson Arroyo
  63. Scott Baker

Comments: New landing spots matter more for pitchers, in my opinion, than hitters. There could be significant movement for some of these free agents, depending on where they sign . . . The Yanks say Chamberlain will be a full-time starter in 2009, at least this week that's the story . . . Ervin Santana's emergence was one of the more under-reported stories of 2008 . . . I bet you can get Wainwright a lot later than where I've slotted him. The KC guys should be a good value, too, they always are.

Relief Pitchers

  1. Jonathan Papelbon
  2. Joe Nathan
  3. Francisco Rodriguez
  4. Mariano Rivera
  5. Brad Lidge
  6. Joakim Soria
  7. Bobby Jenks
  8. Jose Valverde
  9. J.J. Putz
  10. B.J. Ryan
  11. Francisco Cordero
  12. Matt Capps
  13. Kerry Wood
  14. Brian Wilson
  15. Matt Lindstrom
  16. Mike Gonzalez
  17. Frank Francisco
  18. George Sherrill
  19. Trevor Hoffman
  20. Joel Hanrahan
  21. Joel Zumaya
  22. Jonathan Broxton
  23. Huston Street
  24. Brian Fuentes
  25. Jensen Lewis
  26. Joey Devine
  27. Troy Percival
  28. Chris Perez

Comments: If there's any position where it's almost pointless to rank the guys now, it's right here. You know how closer turnover goes . . . It doesn't really matter where I rank K-Rod, I know someone will want him more than I do in all of my leagues . . . Every so often you here whispers about Soria joining the rotation, but it looks like he's staying put for now . . . I'm curious to see how Joe Maddon plays things if Percival can't come back next year. Grant Balfour has the profile of a dominant closer, but Wheeler has the proven vet card that managers seem to like . . . Oakland might have the best bullpen in the league next year. Devine's numbers are almost too good to be true . . . Kevin Gregg almost certainly won't be back with the Marlins next year, so Lindstrom has the job to lose entering spring training.


First Base/DH

  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Albert Pujols
  3. Ryan Howard
  4. Mark Teixeira
  5. Prince Fielder
  6. Justin Morneau
  7. Lance Berkman
  8. David Ortiz
  9. Adrian Gonzalez
  10. Carlos Pena
  11. Kevin Youkilis
  12. Derrek Lee
  13. Joey Votto
  14. James Loney
  15. Aubrey Huff
  16. Carlos Delgado
  17. Casey Kotchman
  18. Conor Jackson
  19. Adam LaRoche
  20. Paul Konerko
  21. Chris Davis
  22. Ryan Garko
  23. Billy Butler
  24. Chad Tracy
  25. Mike Jacobs
  26. Jason Giambi

Comments: Cabrera's stats mostly came in garbage time, but wow, what a second half . . . Imagine the season Gonzalez will have when he finally escapes from San Diego . . . Kotchman leaves me cold, always has, probably always will . . . Delgado was gold for four months, and I don't know what we do with that.

Second Base

  1. Chase Utley
  2. Ian Kinsler
  3. Brian Roberts
  4. Brandon Phillips
  5. Dustin Pedroia
  6. Dan Uggla
  7. Alexei Ramirez
  8. Robinson Cano
  9. Howie Kendrick
  10. Kelly Johnson
  11. Jose Lopez
  12. Rickie Weeks
  13. Placido Polanco
  14. Mark DeRosa
  15. Orlando Hudson
  16. Akinori Iwamura
  17. Mark Ellis
  18. Aaron Hill
  19. Felipe Lopez
  20. Kazuo Matsui
  21. Alexi Casilla
  22. Asdrubal Cabrera
  23. Freddy Sanchez
  24. Emilio Bonifacio
  25. Jeff Kent
  26. Clint Barmes
  27. *Daniel Murphy
  28. Eugenio Velez

Comments: Ramirez's profile has "second year slump" written all over it, but I'll listen to the pro side from you, below . . . I think I'm over my Weeks fascination, finally . . . Ellis can be a sneaky multi-cat guy if he's healthy and in the right lineup . . . Murphy was exclusively an outfielder for the Mets this year, but it wouldn't surprise me if they give him a shot at the second-base gig.


Shortstop

  1. Hanley Ramirez
  2. Jose Reyes
  3. Jimmy Rollins
  4. Troy Tulowitzki
  5. Stephen Drew
  6. Michael Young
  7. Derek Jeter
  8. Ryan Theriot
  9. Rafael Furcal
  10. Jhonny Peralta
  11. Orlando Cabrera
  12. Miguel Tejada
  13. J.J. Hardy
  14. Yunel Escobar
  15. Mike Aviles
  16. Cristian Guzman
  17. Yuniesky Betancourt
  18. Jason Bartlett
  19. Jed Lowrie
  20. Bobby Crosby
  21. Khalil Greene
  22. Jeff Keppinger
  23. Erick Aybar
  24. Edgar Renteria

Comments: Drew grew up in a hurry in the second half . . . You want to rank Jeter higher be my guest . . . The Tigers already announced they're not picking up Renteria's option. He's about to hit the cliff.

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Third Base

  1. Alex Rodriguez
  2. David Wright
  3. Evan Longoria
  4. Aramis Ramirez
  5. Ryan Zimmerman
  6. Garrett Atkins
  7. Chipper Jones
  8. Chone Figgins
  9. Alex Gordon
  10. Hank Blalock
  11. Kevin Kouzmanoff
  12. Jorge Cantu
  13. Mike Lowell
  14. Ian Stewart
  15. Carlos Guillen
  16. Adrian Beltre
  17. Edwin Encarnacion
  18. Melvin Mora
  19. Mark Reynolds
  20. Troy Glaus
  21. Joe Crede
  22. Casey Blake
  23. Omar Infante
  24. Mat Gamel

Comments: Give Zimmerman a full year of health and we'll see a tasty line go up . . . Chipper is great for the 125 games you can expect from him, but he's not a six-month play . . I'd like to see more contact from Stewart, but he's firmly in their 2009 plans.

Outfield

  1. Ryan Braun
  2. Grady Sizemore
  3. Matt Holliday
  4. Josh Hamilton
  5. Alfonso Soriano
  6. Carlos Quentin
  7. Carlos Beltran
  8. Carlos Lee
  9. Nick Markakis
  10. B.J. Upton
  11. Carl Crawford
  12. Vladimir Guerrero
  13. Curtis Granderson
  14. Alex Rios
  15. Manny Ramirez
  16. Jason Bay
  17. Jacoby Ellsbury
  18. Nate McLouth
  19. Magglio Ordonez
  20. Bobby Abreu
  21. Hunter Pence
  22. Ichiro Suzuki
  23. Torii Hunter
  24. Matt Kemp
  25. Vernon Wells
  26. Corey Hart
  27. Brad Hawpe
  28. Elijah Dukes
  29. Andre Ethier
  30. Shane Victorino
  31. Milton Bradley
  32. Adam Dunn
  33. Jermaine Dye
  34. Johnny Damon
  35. Chris Young
  36. Ryan Ludwick
  37. Xavier Nady
  38. Jayson Werth
  39. Lastings Milledge
  40. Pat Burrell
  41. Delmon Young
  42. Jay Bruce
  43. Rick Ankiel
  44. Jeremy Hermida
  45. Randy Winn
  46. Adam Jones
  47. J.D. Drew
  48. Eric Byrnes
  49. Denard Span
  50. Justin Upton
  51. Shin-Soo Choo
  52. Mike Cameron
  53. Nick Swisher
  54. Raul Ibanez
  55. Aaron Rowand
  56. Hideki Matsui
  57. Jack Cust
  58. Chase Headley
  59. Willy Taveras
  60. Jose Guillen
  61. Michael Bourn
  62. Michael Cuddyer
  63. David DeJesus
  64. Cameron Maybin
  65. Nelson Cruz
  66. Jeff Francoeur

Comments: Maybe it's just me, but I don't see as many exciting studs here as we're accustomed to, and that's even with Braun sliding to the outfield . . . I probably won't get a good price on those power-speed Nats, but you will. Big profit potential . . . I never know where to rank Dunn, let's just put that out there . . . Damon keeps beating the clock nicely and filling the line A to Z . . . The Braves did the right thing demoting Francouer, but he came back too quickly. Did the player really heed the message and learn the lesson?

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Catcher

  1. Russell Martin
  2. Brian McCann
  3. Joe Mauer
  4. Victor Martinez
  5. Geovany Soto
  6. Chris Iannetta
  7. Ryan Doumit
  8. Jorge Posada
  9. A.J. Pierzynski
  10. Bengie Molina
  11. Kelly Shoppach
  12. Dioner Navarro
  13. Chris Snyder
  14. Yadier Molina
  15. Pablo Sandoval
  16. Jeff Clement
  17. Jesus Flores
  18. Jason Varitek
  19. Gerald Laird
  20. Ramon Hernandez
  21. Kurt Suzuki
  22. Mike Napoli
  23. Matt Wieters
  24. Kenji Johjima
  25. Brandon Inge
  26. Ivan Rodriguez
  27. Taylor Teagarden

Comments: The Indians have an interesting position with two hitting catchers; a trade makes sense, but I'm not sure what the defensive expectations are for Martinez . . . It's never a question about Doumit's bat, it's the durability . . . Even in two-catcher leagues I'm done with Pudge for good. It was a heck of a ride . . . The Yankees have to regret that monster extension they gave to Posada a year ago; if he's not healthy enough to catch, you're not really getting a plus player . . . Check your position eligibility rules on Sandoval; he played more games at first and third than he did at catcher, but in some formats we can slide him behind the plate in 2009. It wil be interesting to see how the Giants use him.

It's been fun, amigos. Here's your exit music. Hope we helped you grab a pennant.

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