KANSAS CITY ROYALS RED HOT
1st Chair: Mike MacDougal
2nd Chair: Jeremy Affeldt, Ambiorix Burgos
Skinny: Not a fan of bullpen committees, new Royals manager Buddy Bell went ahead and named MacDougal his closer last week. Up to the task, the former All-Star responded with three saves in as many chances, two at the expense of the Yankees. Not a bad turnaround for a guy who was demoted twice last season. MacDougal walked 25 batters in 32 minor league innings in 2004. Affeldt returned to action on Saturday and is saying all the right things. He wants his old job back, but understands that MacDougal has the hot hand right now. GM Allard Baird told MLB.com that Affeldt will "get an opportunity to close out again." Clearly, Baird realizes what fantasy owners have come to learn over the past two years – MacDougal can't be trusted over the long-haul.
I don't think it'd be safe to say MacDougal has a long-term lock on the job. Affeldt started the year as the closer, and by most accounts is simply a better pitcher than MacDougal. It's not totally surprising that the Royals are giving Affeldt some opportunities in non-save situations to get some work in, considering he just spent two months on the DL and needs to face some ML hitters again. But I just have a tough time believing the Royals have any long-term confidence in MacDougal, especially once Affeldt proves he is healthy and a viable option. Burgos has proven he is not an answer.