Tag Archives: closer

The all-contract year team

Every year there are a few guys who are in a contract year that put up crazy numbers that land them a large contract (Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson come to mind). Sometimes, they are just guys who already produce while others are coming off poor seasons (or careers) and need to rebound (badly). But no matter what they did last year, everything they do this year will be watched and scrutinized, giving them extra incentive to have a huge year. Keep an eye out for these guys:

C: Dionar Navarro

Once the one of the top prospects in the Yankees system, Navarro has fallen on hard times and had a terrible season in 2010. However, he is poised to become the Dodgers starting catcher and may finally tap his talent to prove he can stay in LA for the long haul. He is playing for his major league life and might respond well to the pressure.

1B: Prince Fielder

This is an obvious choice in early rounds but he could put up even bigger numbers this year than he did last year. He has a lot of pressure on him after signing a record arbitration contract, but also has a lot to prove. He is out to prove that he is not an after thought in the 2012 first baseman free agent class which could include Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez. Pujols and A-Gon are primed for huge seasons (and contracts) no matter what but Fielder is the real wildcard. He needs to show constant improvement especially after his down year last year in order to get the 7-10 year deal Scott Boras will be looking for.

2B: Rickie Weeks

Looking to build on his solid fantasy season last year, Weeks is in a great position to land a pretty big contract in the offseason. Weeks needs to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and that he can be an elite second baseman in the league. He played more games that he has in any other season with the Brewers and his durability will be a factor. Rickie will want to put to bed any doubt that he is a soft player who can put up mediocre stats. If last year is any indication, he will rise to the occasion.

SS: Jose Reyes

Remember when this guy was a one of the top players in all of fantasy? I do too and it wasn’t that long ago. Like Weeks, Reyes put up solid fantasy numbers after a year plagued by injuries. At 27, Reyes is entering his “prime” and will want a contract that will reflect that. Look for him to be a bright spot on an otherwise pretty bad Mets team.

3B: Aramis Ramirez

Yes, he is 32. Yes, he had a bad year last year. But the contract he signs next offseason could be his last professional contract and he will want to make it count. The Cubs should be improved this year which will help him, and the addition of Carlos Pena to the line up will also do wonders. I am not saying you should draft him early (or at all), but look for him to put together a streaky season and pick him up while he is on a hot-streak. As I said before, he is 32 and he knows he has an expiration date, he needs to show teams he hasn’t already past his. This should motivate him to a better season than last year.

OF: Jose Bautista

Another guy who will go early in drafts but also another guy who has a lot to prove. Can he put up the same numbers he did last year or will come back down to earth. (Also, just a note, he is recovering form offseason hernia surgery so keep an eye out for his recovery from that.)

OF: Grady Sizemore

The Indians have an option for Sizemore for $8.5 million or a buyout of $500,000 in 2012. Sizemore needs to prove his worth to the Indians or he might be facing free agency a year early. Especially after two down seasons (including one almost completely lost last year) Sizemore has to come up big. He was once the next can’t-miss superstar, but now he is looking like almost the exact opposite of that. This is a make or break year for him, and he knows it.

OF: Josh Willingham

This should be an interesting season for Willingham who will have to adjust to a new league and a new coast. Other than Navarro, he has to most to lose this season. If he puts up big numbers, he will get a large contract. A real boom-bust guy.

SP: Edwin Jackson

Another guy who is entering his “prime” Jackson has a lot more questions than answers. He can throw the ball nice and fast but can he improve his ERA and WHIP?  There have been other pitchers who had control problems who put together a solid contract year season (see Wright, Jaret) and Jackson could be poised to do just that.

CL: Jonathan Papelbon

Talk about a guy who is pitching with a chip on his shoulder. Pap has more than enough motivation to rebound after last season’s subpar performance and especially after it was reported he would have been non-tendered had the Red Sox signed Mariano Rivera this off-season. This guy is really pitching for his contract because it looks like Daniel Bard (or Bobby Jenks) is poised to take over the Sox  closer role after next season. Paps will come out on fire and put together an extremely impressive fantasy season.

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Big Z to the ‘pen

I guess I messed up one too many times, huh?

As I am sure you have heard by now, the Cubs have elected to move Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen making room for Ted Lilly in the starting rotation. While this may come as a surprise to some, many could see this move coming. Z has been on the decline over the past few years and this year he has gotten off to a pretty bad start going 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA. The Cubs say he is going to start out as a set-up man and work him back into the rotation after they can trade for a bonafide stopper and my advice is to keep him on your team on a trail basis. He may be one of those guys who thrives in the ‘pen because he only has to pitch one inning and go 100% the entire time. I know Carlos Marmol has been killing it, but what if he goes down or goes into a funk? Would Lou have enough faith in Zambrano to have him close? Stay tuned, this may get interesting.

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I Brings Da Ruckus

I GETS MINE, LARRY

Pickup in all leagues, people.  Assign to closer positions.  Get ready for some K’s.

Ok, so if you haven’t heard of Neftali yet, it’s about time you upgraded from that little rock you’ve been under to one with WiFi.  His stuff, simply put, is outstanding, and that is not a word I take lightly.  Out.  Stand. Ing.  And he has looked dominant to open year, not reading  too much into this but it was this time of Texas when a young Johnny Paps made his debut as closer.  Just saying.

(p.s. I realized it wouldn’t necessarily obvious, so this ALSO means go get Rauch, Frasor, Perez or some other scrap if you’re going that thin… )

-W

(p.p.s. JJ Putz.  Just have a feeling.  Honestly, have only seen him a handful of times but I’ve grown confident in him due to his outstanding facial hair.  Down the middle of his face… kidding, I just  don’t care how much weight fatso Jenkins loses, he’s bound to suck)

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UPDATE: Rauch is Twins’ Closer

Updating a previous item, it took Ron Gardenhire only 5 days to change his mind and name Jon Rauch the Twins’ closer.  It was just this past Sunday that Gardy had stated his intention to use Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, and Jesse Crain as closers-by-committee to begin the 2010 season.  Obviously at this point it would be a good idea to take whatever Gardy says with a grain of salt, but if Rauch starts off the regular season hot then it will become safer to drop the other “committee members.”

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The Twins Closer Situation

Gardy today gave a little clarity to the Twins closing situation in the wake of  Joe Nathan’s season ending Tommy John surgery, saying that Jon Rauch will NOT be the Twinkies’ primary 9th inning guy.  Instead, each of Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, and Jesse Crain will get opportunities early in the season.  This is contrary to reports that the Twins were after Blue Jays closer Jason Frasor, although the report never mentions the possibility of the trade. still coming to fruition.  Additionally, while Gargenhire had previously stated that Francisco Liriano was a candidate due to his dominating stuff, Liriano publicly stated his desire to be a starter and Gardy seems to have acquiesced to his request.  Right now, I would handicap the closer priority list as Rauch, Mijares, Guerrier, and Crain.  Rauch pitched well last year but lacks the overpowering stuff Gardy looks for in a closer (since he’s been spoiled for years by Nathan).  Mijares has the stuff and will definitely be the go-to guy when an opponent’s order is lefty-heavy in the 9th (.83 WHIP vs. lefties in 2009), but struggled against righties last year (1.55 WHIP), most likely limiting him to platoon duty.  Guerrier really lacks the power stuff (5.54 K/9) but gets results, and would make a Ryan Franklin-style closer.  Crain brings a good fastball/slider combo (94.7 MPH on the FB), and was once called the Twins’ closer of the future, but fell out of favor last year and was even optioned to AAA at one point.  In a deep league, grab as many of these guys as you can afford to roster until the situation becomes more clear.  In a shallow league though, I would still go with Rauch, based on the mythical “experience” in the closer role and intimidation factor he offers (6’11” and tatted out of his mind).

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Blue Jays Tab Frasor as Closer- Fantasy Implications

Gaston has tabbed Jason Frasor as the closer for Toronto.  This is a very interesting move for several reasons.  First, the Jays signed Kevin Gregg this offseason. Second, Scott Downs was very effective in the 9th inning last year.  All signs indicated to Gregg getting the job or the Jays going with a closer by committee.  Naming Frasor as the closer is clearly a move to showcase him for a trade.  He was very solid last season in relief and certainly has the stuff to close.  Ever since Joe Nathan went down, the Twins have been in the market for a closer.  Frasor is certainly a man of interest for Minnesota.  Make sure to watch this situation as a trade could also increase the value of Gregg and/or Downs.

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