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Grant Balfour, not Brian Fuentes, named A’s closer

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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Grant Balfour gets the gig (Getty Images)

As position battles go, Balfour-vs.-Fuentes was essentially like a purse-fight between two old ladies. Both combatants have delivered miserable spring stats, inspiring little confidence. Oakland manager Bob Melvin needed to simply declare a winner and end the skirmish. On Tuesday, he finally made his choice: Grant Balfour gets the nod.

As Susan Slusser notes, the decision was "mostly based on [Balfour's] performance last year."

Balfour posted a 1.03 WHIP and 2.47 ERA over 62 appearances in 2011, saving two games and earning 26 holds. He's been a useful non-closing reliever over multiple seasons, and certainly has the stuff to handle the ninth. Fuentes is much too dangerous to start in fantasy if he's not collecting saves, so mixed leaguers need to just leave him alone. If there's a sleeper in this bullpen, it's Fautino De Los Santos, a strikeout-machine who has the look of a future closer — for now, rank him above Fuentes.

But again, Balfour has the gig to begin the season. If you're a public league player drafting today, he's the only Oakland RP you need to consider.

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