StrategyMay 8, 2009

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Closer Complex: Think Before Leaping

By Matthew Robertson

Before I get into the closer situations I want to talk about, let’s first recap some of the past entries from Closer Complex. Currently, Huston Street is pitching the 9th inning for the Colorado Rockies at the expense of the ailing Manny Corpas. The ineffectiveness of Corpas seems to stem from an apparent mechanical flaw that might see him demoted to Triple-A. I’m still thinking Street will get traded this season, and Corpas still looks like the heir there if that happens closer to the trade deadline and Corpas fixes himself.

Another closer role we’ve touched on multiple times has been the Washington Nationals’ lack of worthy late inning relievers. Their last hope before they do something drastic, like trading or converting a starter, comes in recently-activated Joe Beimel. In all honesty, I think this will also blow up in their faces, as Beimel is nothing more than a good lefty setup man and really only excels in that role. Expecting him to succeed in this role is a lofty gamble. The Mike MacDougal acquisition is interesting and should be followed. That being said, Joel Hanrahan’s value isn’t completely gone until a closer is found.

Now, moving on to the happenings at hand. As many others and myself predicted, Baltimore closer George Sherrill is now the former Baltimore closer, which gives added value to Chris Ray and Jim Johnson. This spot is Ray’s to claim if he feels healthy enough to do so. Those in keeper and dynasty leagues can feel comfortable picking up and sticking with Ray, as he is Baltimore’s best option in the pen. Jim Johnson will be the backup plan for the Orioles if Ray isn’t currently healthy, but all indications are Ray is quickly getting better and feeling more comfortable as he recovers from the Tommy John surgery that forced him to relinquish his closer role in the first place.

Another case that bears attention is the Pittsburgh Pirates situation and the recent lackluster performance of Matt Capps that has led many people clamoring for a replacement. Before one declares Capps in trouble, you should look at the Pirates bullpen and notice the lack of talent, or should I say consistent talent within. Yes, John Grabow is good at what he does (Wolverine reference) and that is being a lefty setup man. The Pirates were reluctant and forced to insert Grabow into the interim-closer role last year, after trying a few other relievers first to no avail when Capps went on the DL. I think they would prefer not to lose his versatility to the 9th inning unless they have too. The young, hard-throwing, and inconsistent Craig Hansen is on the DL, while Tyler Yates has struggled more than anyone in the Pirates pen, so Grabow might still be an option. Still, it will take an injury to Capps and more than a few bad performances for him to lose his job, as his security is very high.

Matthew Robertson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Matthew in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Havok1517.
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