As Scott mentioned on Thursday, the fantasy staff has spent the past few weeks producing the first-ever Yahoo! baseball preview magazine. This thing has become the Rasputin of editorial assignments. It's been stabbed, poisoned, shot, beaten and tossed in the river, yet it always returns, demanding rewrites on Jorge De La Rosa.
We're thrilled with the final product, though. Additional details will emerge in the days ahead, so prepare for a full marketing effort. We won't try to sell you anything today, however. This is merely the first installment of an as-yet-unnamed weekly feature on saves.
Here's a snapshot of every team's closing situation in advance of spring training, with recent ADP data from Mock Draft Central:
Eventually the column on the far right will include only the elite setup guys and a few darkhorse closing candidates. Right now we're casting a wide net. (If Craig Hansen is in the net, maybe it's too wide). There are still unattached pitchers who could have significant roles in 2009, of course. Juan Cruz comes to mind; Chad Cordero does not. This spreadsheet is really just a conversation starter.
The Mariners' closing situation is the messiest in baseball at the moment. There's no obvious ninth inning choice -- JJ Putz is in New York, and Brandon Morrow would rather start -- so we've penciled in Roy Corcoran and hard-throwing Mark Lowe as threats. You'll notice that there's a pileup of familiar, unspectacular names behind them.
You can expect spring training battles for closing duties in both Colorado and St. Louis (details here and here). You know all about the sordid histories of Huston Street and Manuel Corpas, and Chris Perez was thoroughly hyped last year. Jason Motte hasn't received as much attention, but the 26-year-old struck out 110 batters in just 66.2 innings at Triple-A last season, then he fanned 16 in 11 innings with the Cardinals. Motte actually throws a bit harder than Perez, too. He's the sort of RP who should be on the radar in mixed leagues, regardless of his role.
A's manager Bob Geren has indicated that Brad Ziegler and Joey Devine could begin the season as co-closers. Both right-handers were astonishingly effective in 2008. Ziegler's ERA was 1.06 and his WHIP was 1.16...and Devine was better. His 0.59 ERA was the lowest in history for a pitcher who threw at least 40 innings. They're both draft-worthy if you're assembling a roster today.
But of course it would ludicrous to assemble a fantasy team today. For now, we're just talking, not drafting. Feel free to share your bullpen opinions and spreadsheet criticism in comments...
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