bronxxbomber wrote:Gonzalez is a good guy to have. You'll get him on the cheap and you'll get about 35 saves. Don't worry about him losing opps to Torres.
That is true...but the guy you may have to worry about is Roberto Hernandez. The Pirates picked him up in the off season, and if Gonzalez struggles, he might get the ball. Right now I think Gonzalez will go in as the closer.
Torres rocks the house in the set-up role. He's been the 8th inning guy for two years now, and he really does a great job getting people out. I highly doubt he'll be removed from that role.
OK, here's the knowledge! In my watching of the Pirates in the past 5-6 years, it seems as though they always start out fairly well, then drop off the table for four months, and then randomly pick it up at the end of the year. I think the cold weather gives their pitchers the advantage on the hitters early on, and they always end up winning a bunch of 3-2 type games. The Pirates closer always has a bunch of work in the first several weeks and barring major stinkiness, he racks up about 10-15 saves in 4-6 weeks' time. Then in August, the young pitchers/hitters from the minors who don't have books against them come up late and help the team win some more games. Opposing teams don't know how to pitch or hit against them. Go back and look at the stats from '02-'04 - you'll find that Pirates' closers saved around 25 games in the first and last six weeks of the year and about 15 in the middle 24 weeks. Last year didn't follow the trend, but that was because Mesa totally imploded and they were left with noone with closer experience.
Anyway, the returns start to drop off especially the middle of the season starting in mid-May. The Pirates normally fall into lulls where they lose 5-6 games in a row several times, and the closer rarely gets any work in. This leads to more late inning blowups and less consistent stats to be had for us fantasy types.
I'll tell you this - if the Pirates manage to win more than 70 times this year, at least 35 and probably closer to 45 of them will be save situations because they aren't going to club teams. They will win with good pitching and defense. If Gonzalez keeps the job, that's great production...but be warned that half of his production could come in the first and last month and a half of the year. If you are a realist like I am, you'll know that the chances for even a 70 win season for this team is high end, so asking for 40 saves out of the kid is probably too much for now.
One suggestion I might make (if you like to trade) is to draft and use Gonzalez until mid-May and then try to sell him off to some other owner for another of the random low-tier closers that actually plays for a team that has a chance of playing good baseball in the early summer months. Ride that guy in the middle of the year. Then near the end of the year (say late August), you can try to reacquire Gonzalez for a lower price since the Pirates will have stunk for the last few months, he probably wouldn't have been getting much work, and he might be blowing more games. For whatever reason the Pirates attempt to become respectable near the end of the year, and the closer once again gets plenty of chances to pick up saves.
I can't say this will work to perfection, but if you look at the stats, there definitely is a trend at work here. Up until last year, Pirates' closers had saved over 40 games for three straight years. We know Tracy likes to play small ball like McClendon did, so I have no reason to think things will change.