Tag Archives: Brian Fuentes

Season Preview: AL West


Time to move to my own team’s division, as I take a look at the AL West. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East and AL Central.

Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101

Notable Additions

Los Angeles – Vernon Wells, Hisanori Takahashi

Oakland – Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, Josh Willingham, Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy

Seattle – Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust

Texas – Adrian Beltre, Arthur Rhodes, Mike Napoli, Brandon Webb

Notable Losses

Los Angeles – Mike Napoli, Juan Rivera, Hideki Matsui, Scot Shields

Oakland – Rajai Davis, Vin Mazzaro

Seattle – Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez

Texas – Cliff Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Francisco

Continue reading

Season Preview: AL Central


With Spring Training well under way and the first games already in the books, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made. Today’s group is the American League Central.

Last Year’s Records
Minnesota – 94-68
Chicago - 88-74
Detroit – 81-81
Cleveland – 69-93
Kansas City – 67-95

Notable Additions

Chicago - Adam Dunn, Lastings Milledge

Cleveland – Orlando Cabrera

Detroit – Victor Martinez, Brad Penny, Joaquin Benoit

Kansas City – Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Vin Mazzaro

Minnesota – Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Notable Losses

Chicago – Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Freddy Garcia, J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, Scott Linebrink

Cleveland – NONE

Detroit – Johnny Damon, Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Armando Galarraga

Kansas City – Zack Greinke, David DeJesus, Brian Bannister, Gil Meche

Minnesota – J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Brendan Harris, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes

Continue reading

Fantasy Rankings in Review – Relief Pitchers


Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. The last position up for review is the relief pitchers, and you can find my preseason rankings here. Note that I have removed any starting pitchers who appeared in these rankings due to previous season qualifications.

Yahoo’s Top 15 Relief Pitchers

1. Billy Wagner
2. Rafael Soriano
3. Heath Bell
4. Brian Wilson
5. Neftali Feliz
6. Carlos Marmol
7. Joakim Soria
8. Mariano Rivera
9. Hong-Chih Kuo
10. Matt Capps
11. John Axford
12. Chris Perez
13. Joaquin Benoit
14. Francisco Rodriguez
15. Andrew Bailey

Of my top 15 preseason ranks, Jonathan Broxton (1), Huston Street (8), Brian Fuentes (12), Francisco Cordero (13), Trevor Hoffman (14), and Ryan Franklin (15) all finished out of the top 15. Continue reading

Original Draft Series: #3 – Seattle Mariners


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #3: Seattle Mariners

General Managers(since 1994)

Woody Woodward (1994-1999):458-445
Pat Gillick (2000-2003):393-359
Bill Bavasi (2004-2008):359-451
Jack Zduriencik (2009):85-77

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 0 4 3 4 5 4 0

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Jason Varitek 1994 – 1st Rd (14) 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to SEA – 7/31/97
1B Raul Ibanez 1992 – 36th Rd 8+5 986 gm, .284/.346/.464, 127 HR, 547 RBI, 21 SB Left via Free Agency – 12/21/00, 10/30/08
2B Jose Lopez
Int’l FA – 2000 10 1 All Star Appearance
853 gm, .266/.297/.399, 77 HR, 422 RBI
Currently with Org.
3B Alex Rodriguez 1993 – 1st Rd (1) 7 4 All Star Appearances, 4 Silver Sluggers
790 gm, .309/.374/.561, 189 HR, 595 RBI, 133 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/30/00
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Int’l FA – 2002 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CLE – 6/30/06
LF Shin-Soo Choo Int’l FA – 2000 6 14 gm, .069/.182/.103, RBI Traded to CLE – 7/26/06
CF Adam Jones 2003 – 1st Rd (37) 4 73 gm, .230/.267/.353, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 5 SB Traded to BAL – 2/8/08
RF Ichiro Suzuki
Int’l FA – 2001 10 2001 AL MVP and Rookie of the Year, 10 All Star Appearances, 9 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers
1564 gm., .331/.376/.430, 89 HR, 550 RBI, 88 SB
Currently with Org.
DH David Ortiz Int’l FA – 1992 4 No Major League Appearances Traded to MIN – 9/13/96
SP Felix Hernandez Int’l FA – 2002 8 1 All Star Appearance
69-51, 3.23 ERA, 1124.1 IP, 1019 K, 347 BB
Currently with Org.
SP Brandon Morrow
2006 – 1st Rd (5) 3 8-12, 3.96 ERA, 197.2 IP, 204 K, 128 BB Traded to TOR – 12/23/09
SP Joel Pineiro 1997 – 12th Rd 11 58-55, 4.48 ERA, 996 IP, 658 K, 327 BB Left via Free Agency – 12/12/06
SP Derek Lowe
1991 – 8th Rd 6 2-4, 6.96 ERA, 53 IP, 39 K, 20 BB Traded to SEA – 7/31/97
SP Gil Meche
1996 – 1st Rd (22) 10 55-44, 4.65 ERA, 815.1 IP, 575 K, 363 BB Left via Free Agency – 10/31/06
RP Damaso Marte
Int’l FA – 1992 8 0-1, 9.35 ERA, 8.2 IP, 3 K, 6 BB Left via Free Agency – 10/18/00
RP Matt Thornton 1998 – 1st Rd (22) 7 1-6, 4.82 ERA, 89.2 IP, 87 K, 67 BB Traded to SEA – 3/20/06
RP Rafael Soriano Int’l FA – 1996 10 4-8, 2.89 ERA, 4 SV, 171 IP, 177 K, 53 BB Traded to ATL – 12/7/06
RP Ryan Franklin 1992 – 23rd Rd 13 35-50, 4.34 ERA, 811.1 IP, 427 K, 238 BB Left via Free Agency – 12/21/05
RP J.J. Putz 1999 – 6th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance
22-15, 3.07 ERA, 323 IP, 337 K, 104 BB
Traded to NYM – 12/11/08
CL Brian Fuentes 1995 – 25th Rd 6 1-1, 4.63 ERA, 11.2 IP, 10 K, 8 BB Traded to COL – 12/16/01
BN Omar Vizquel
Int’l FA – 1984 9 1 Gold Glove
660 gm, .252/.309/.303, 6 HR, 131 RBI, 39 SB
Traded to CLE – 12/20/93
BN Greg Dobbs Amat. FA – 2001 5 100 gm, .257/.291/.351, 2 HR, 32 RBI Selected off waivers by PHI – 1/15/07
BN Yuniesky Betancourt Int’l FA – 2005 4 588 gm,. 279/.302/.393, 27 HR, 202 RBI, 24 SB Traded to KC – 7/10/09
BN Jeff Clement 2005 – 1st Rd (3) 4 75 gm, .237/.309/.393, 7 HR, 26 RBI Traded to PIT – 7/29/09
BN Luis Valbuena
Int’l FA – 2002 6 18 gm, .245/.315/.347, RBI Traded to CLE – 12/11/08

June Amateur Draft

The Mariners have actually not been as active in the draft as I thought they had been. Clearly, the retirement of Ken Griffey Jr in the middle of the season removed him from this team, although to be honest he probably would have only been a bench player like he was in real life. The Mariners are unfortunately not seeing nearly as much success as they be expected to considering the quality level of the players listed here. Alex Rodriguez has clearly been the best player to this point overall, at least coming out of the draft. But the story for a lot of these players has been that they achieved their greatest success while with other teams. Morrow is very rapidly turning into a top starting pitcher, Lowe and Varitek were both traded short-sightedly to the Red Sox for a reliever, and of course the group of players who were dealt to acquire Erik Bedard (Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, among others).

International Free Agency

The Mariners have clearly done their best work in the international market. Ichiro, while not an amateur free agent, has clearly been the cream of the crop and has helped to define the organization ever since he arrived. But there have been so many other excellent players that were brought in by the Mariners as well, with King Felix Hernandez probably providing the most to the team while on the team. They have had some solid players go through the organization via this method as well, but unfortunately the story is very similar to the amateur draftees. The two that stand out to me are Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, who were traded for a pair of platoon first basemen in Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard. Both were just prospects when they were traded, but have turned into at worst solid major league regulars.

Overall Grade

A. The Mariners are one of the few teams where I had to ignore quite a few players. There were probably another 10-15 players that could very well have ended up on the rosters of other organizations further down the list. I think that they did receive quite a bit of production from these players, and clearly the one who retired (Griffey) also helped the team stay in Seattle practically. They had an All-Star closer in J.J. Putz, a clear Ace in Felix Hernandez, and a future Hall of Famer in Ichiro Suzuki. Every position has someone who has become a major league regular, as well as players on the bench who have in some capacity as well. The pitching staff has 5 pitchers who have closed for at least some time in their careers, and a solid pitching rotation as well. Overall, they were immediately on my mind as one of my top teams overall.

Week in Review – August 23 to August 29


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (79-50) vs. Texas Rangers (73-57)
Minnesota Twins (75-56) vs. New York Yankees (80-50)

Philadelphia Phillies (73-57) vs. San Diego Padres (76-53)
Cincinnati Reds (75-55) vs. Atlanta Braves (75-55)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Josh Hamilton (TEX) .356
Runs – Mark Teixeira (NYY) 95
Home Runs – Jose Bautista (TOR) 42
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) 107
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) 51

Wins –  C.C. Sabathia (NYY) 18
Saves – Rafael Soriano (TAM) 38
ERA – Clay Buchholz (BOS) 2.21
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) 200
WHIP – Mat Latos (SD) 0.98

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Jeff Clement, Scott Feldman, Guillermo Mota, Stephen Strasburg, Ross Ohlendorf, J.J. Putz, Matt Thornton,

Return from the Disabled List:  Geovany Soto, Matt Treanor, Wade Davis, Kevin Cash, Carlos Gomez, Jeff Niemann, Matt Watson, Jim Johnson

To the Minors: Wellington Castillo, Sam Fuld, Taylor Teagarden, Travis Buck, Mike Ekstrom, Anthony Slama, Matt Watson, Mike Minor, Glen Perkins,

Called Up: Casper Wells, Micah Hoffpauir, Chris Valaika, Matt Carson, Fernando Salas, Ryan Roberts, Cameron Maybin, Sam LeCure, Collin Balester, Scott Maine, Alex Cora, Franklin Morales, Jordan Zimmermann, Juan Francisco

Other Roster Moves:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • The biggest story in the sport this week, unfortunately, was the injury to phenom Stephen Strasburg. After it was all said and done, it sounds like he’s going to need the dreaded Tommy John surgery, and will miss 12-18 months. I do find it interesting how much grief that the Nationals have received related to this, and I don’t believe that there is anything that they could have done any differently. I also find it interesting the amount of chatter about whether or not he may not pitch in the Majors ever again. To me, this seems almost ridiculous based on the success rate that has been achieved on this surgery in the past. Time will tell, but I think he’ll come back and should be good to go by 2012.
  • Indians’ prospect Hector Rendon is going to be needing the dreaded surgery as well, and I know I had viewed him as a potential keeper for my deep fantasy league until this came up. Check back on him in 2012 also.
  • Deadspin ran a group of posts in which they had managed to get their hands on the financial statements of a few of the “poorer” teams in the Majors, notably the Marlins and the Pirates. There’s been a lot of flack aimed at both of them, and it sounds like it may also end up costing the Marlins some extra money as the city of Miami is unhappy with the amount of profit the team is making considering they are publicly financing a new stadium for the team. There’s a great writeup of an interview with a CPA by PiratesProspects (via MLBTradeRumors), and Kristy Dosh over at It’s a Swing and a Miss had a great writeup about it as well.
  • Jose Bautista continues to hit homeruns at a rather ridiculous rate considering his past performance, and of course was “accused” of being on steroids last week. I find it extremely interesting, and tend to agree with Jeff Sullivan’s post over at Lookout Landing: why do we initially jump to this conclusion, and why is it not as big of a deal when a reporter with a newspaper makes the accusation?
  • The Twins acquired closer Brian Fuentes from the Angels on Friday, and Fuentes took his parting shot on the way out of town. I think that the fact that they booed him had more to do with the fact that he didn’t pitch well, not the fact that they didn’t like you. 6 losses, 3.76 ERA, and 42 walks in 93 innings generally don’t make anybody all that happy with their closer, regardless of how many saves (71) they record in 2 seasons.
  • Johnny Damon was claimed by the Red Sox, and there was some debate whether or not he would waive his no-trade clause to return to Boston. Well, he didn’t. Probably better for everyone involved that didn’t happen.
  • Roy Oswalt ended up playing in the outfield in an extra-inning game this week after the Phillies ran out of position players and Ryan Howard was ejected. Wezen-Ball had a very interesting write up of the last few times that a pitcher has played the field.
  • It was finally determined on Sunday evening, most likely after his ejection after seeing one pitch in the game, that Manny Ramirez would simply be given to the White Sox after being awarded their waiver claim for him. Ought to be interesting to see him and Ozzie interact.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday: I’ll be continuing on with the Original Draft Series, posting team #7

Wednesday: Month in Review for the month of August.

Saturday:  I’ll be starting a month-long (once a week) series on the group of trades that were made by the Firesale Marlins from the end of their championship run in 1997 through the following season. Part 1 will be up on Saturday.

One Other Thing

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:

Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign.  Now we need your
help!

‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby.  ’Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.

Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:

* Go to  www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
Baseball from the drop down list.
* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support

Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website

The Week in Review – April 12-April 18


It’s been a pretty busy week, what with a 20 inning game, a no-hitter, and some really excellent performances.

If the Playoffs Started Today (Which Clearly, They Don’t)

Tampa Bay (WC) vs. Minnesota (C)
Oakland (W) vs. New York (E)

St. Louis (C) vs. Philadelphia (E)
Florida (WC) vs. San Francisco (W)

Last Week’s Top Performers

Shin-Soo Choo (CLE) – .579/.680/1.211, 3 HR, 11 RBI, SB, 5 R
Jose Guillen (KC) – .462/.500/.885, 3 HR, 5 RBI, SB, 7 R
Brett Gardner (NYY) – .385/.529/.385, 5 R, RBI, 4 SB
Denard Span (MIN) – .381/.552/.524, 8 R, 3 RBI, 3 SB
Ty Wigginton (BAL) – .348/.385/.913, 6 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI
Derek Jeter (NYY) – .500/.500/.955, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Ivan Rodriguez (WAS) – .476/.500/.714, 7 R, 7 RBI, SB
Dan Uggla (FLA) – .464/.484/.821, 7 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Chase Utley (PHI) – .333/.481/1.048, 8 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI
Matt Kemp (LAD) – .333/.414/.875, 8 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, SB
Andre Ethier (LAD) – ..423/.464/.769, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI

Adam Wainwright (STL) – 17 IP, 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 2 W, 16 K
Matt Garza (TAM) – 16 IP, 0.56 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 2 W, 10 K
Ricky Romero (TOR) – 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, W, 18 K
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – 12 1/3 IP, 2.19 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, W, 16 K
Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, W, 7 K (no-hitter)
Felipe Lopez (STL) – 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP

Roster Movement and Job Changes

The biggest changes involved all the disabled list movement:

  • Chris Getz of the Royals was placed on the disabled list, and Alex Gordon was activated to take his spot on the roster.
  • Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies was placed on the disabled list, with Juan Castro replacing him in the lineup. Rollins should be out a few weeks.
  • Esmailin Caridad of the Cubs was placed on the disabled list
  • Aaron Rowand of the Giants was placed on the disabled list.
  • Brian Roberts and Felix Pie of the Orioles were both placed on the disabled list. It sounds like Roberts may be out for an extended period of time.
  • Kelly Shoppach of the Rays.
  • Aaron Hill of the Blue Jays
  • Brian Fuentes of the Angels was placed on the disabled list, and Fernando Rodney immediately filled the closer’s role for him.

Also of some note last week was that 2nd year pitcher Brett Anderson signed a contract extension that could take him through the next 6 seasons. Risk on both sides, but I think that the A’s have probably locked up an ace for these next 6 seasons at minimal cost.

Top Rookie Performers

Jason Heyward continues to be the story, as he is now hitting .302/.423/.581 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in just the first two weeks of the season. He finished up last week with a 3-rbi day yesterday, including a walk-off 2 run single. At this rate, I would be shocked if anyone was able to keep up with him for the Rookie of the Year. Jamie Garcia of the Cardinals had a good outing as well, throwing 7 shutout innings during Saturday’s 20 inning matchup.

In the American League, Austin Jackson of the Tigers has gotten off to a hot start, hitting .340/.389/.500 with 9 runs and 5 rbi. Of some concern is the fact that he has struck out 15 times to only 4 walks so far, but he is producing well at the top of the lineup to this point.

Top Stories and This Week’s Links

  • The biggest story of the week was the first no-hitter of the season, thrown by Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies on Saturday. He did this in spite of walking 6 batters throughout the game. And apparently on Sunday he went for a 6 mile jog to help clear his mind for his next start.
  • The Cardinals and Mets put on a clinic in poor lineup and bench management on Saturday. Their game went 20 innings, during which time the Mets ran out of players, warmed up their closer nearly every inning from the 8th onward, and had the starter from 2 days’ prior come on to get the save. However, the Cardinals won the award for the worst performance, as they ran out of pitchers after the 17th inning. So come the top of the 18th inning, 3B Felipe Lopez was called on to pitch, and managed to get through the inning without allowing a run. So in the 19th, they moved Lopez back to 3B and put the new 3B Joe Mather in for the next 2 innings, where he gave up 2 runs and ended up taking the loss.
  • Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports has a really good article about what a simulated game is. It’s a really interesting read for anyone who has heard the term but wasn’t sure what it meant exactly.
  • Vin Scully marked his 60th year with the Dodgers. He is retiring at the end of this season, and even though I’m not a Dodger fan, it is truly remarkable that Scully has continued to work with the Dodgers for all these years.

    Fantasy Preview – Relievers


    Today is the last of my fantasy positional rankings today with the reliever rankings.

    A note about my rankings: I am assuming a standard scoring league (5×5) with the following categories:

    R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, ERA, K, WHIP

    Also, I have done a lot of statistical analysis in the past, but I’m not ready to start calculating my own projections statistically. So for me, a lot of this is based entirely on gut feel (which of these 2 players would I want), and looking at previous performance. All statistics are from the 2009 season.

    My top 15 Relievers for 2010

    1. Jonathan Broxton – LAD
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    7 2.61 36 114 0.961
    Broxton is probably the most dominant strikeout reliever in the Majors right now. He’s going to get a lot of save chances, and has about as strong of a lock on the position as is possible. The win total seems unlikely to be repeated, but he’s going to give you a lot of saves and a very good ERA and WHIP as well.
    2. Mariano Rivera – NYY
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    3 1.76 44 72 0.905
    Rivera is as stable as it comes. He’s going to get you a sub-2 ERA, 40+ saves, and a WHIP right around 1. There’s not a whole lot to be said about him other than he’s also extremely safe as well.
    3. Jonathan Papelbon – BOS
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    1 1.85 38 76 1.147
    Papelbon is another closer who’s going to get a lot of save opportunities and strikes out more than batter per inning as well. I can see him getting over 40 saves this season as well
    4. Joakim Soria – KC
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    3 2.21 30 69 1.132
    Soria has  posted a few really good seasons in a row, and is also locked in as the closer for the Royals. He struck out more than 11 per 9 innings last year, and will post solid ratios as well.
    5. Heath Bell – SD
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    6 2.71 42 79 1.12
    The only real concern I have about Bell is whether or not he gets moved by the Padres. But it seems likely to me that if he does get moved, he’s probably going to be closing for whomever he goes to, since he’s still under team control for another 2 seasons. High strikeouts, low ratios, and a lock on the job as long as he’s in San Diego.
    6. Andrew Bailey – OAK
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    6 1.84 26 91 0.876
    Bailey was an epiphany last season, taking the closing job in early May and never looking back. He should post a high strikeout rate and low ratios, although the ERA is unlikely to remain as low as it was last season.
    7. Brian Wilson – SF
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    5 2.74 38 83 1.203
    I’ve never been a huge fan of Wilson, but I think that has more to do with him being on the Giants than anything. But he’s got a lock on the Giants’ closer job, and is going to provide strikeouts and good ratios as well.
    8. Huston Street – COL
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    4 3.06 35 70 0.908
    Street came into the 2009 season having been traded to the Rockies, and without a guaranteed closing job. But he quickly took over the job, and returned to the form that had won him the Rookie of the Year award. I have to imagine that unless he struggles pretty mightily, he will remain the closer and I wouldn’t be concerned about the fact that he’s in Colorado.
    9. Francisco Rodriguez – NYM
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    3 3.71 35 73 1.309
    The walks are a real concern. But this is a trend that has been going on for the last 3 seasons, and a lowered strikeout rate as well. The Mets are committed to him for another 2 seasons at another $25 M total, so I think he’s going to have to struggle pretty badly for him to lose his job. But the Mets seem unlikely to get a massive amount of save opportunities, and all in all makes Rodriguez a bad value to me.
    10. Rafael Soriano – TAM
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    1 2.97 27 102 1.057
    The concern here is health. He pitched excellently last season, and provides an extremely high strikeout rate. I think he’s going to see a slight increase in his ratios due to pitching in the AL East now, but he still seems likely to post a sub 1.2 WHIP and sub 3 ERA.
    11. Billy Wagner – ATL
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    1 1.72 0 26 1.021
    Wagner did very well this offseason, and all signs point to him having an excellent season. The health is still some concern, but as long as he stays healthy he should be a lock as the closer for the Braves. He posted an excellent strikeout rate, and could conceivably provide top-5 closer value if he is healthy all year long.
    12. Brian Fuentes – LAA
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    1 3.93 48 46 1.40
    Fuentes and his lower strikeout rate concern me, as does the walk rate. He did lead the league in saves, but for when you will have to take him, I’ll pass. The fact that there’s a closer in waiting in that bullpen does not persuade me otherwise.
    13. Francisco Cordero – CIN
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    2 2.16 39 58 1.32
    Cordero, quietly, continues to post solid, if not amazing seasons in Cincinnati. His walk rate remains a concern, which has elevated his WHIP. 2009 saw a drop in his strikeout rate, but it is still a respectable 7.83. A good second tier closer.
    14. Trevor Hoffman – MIL
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    3 1.83 37 48 0.907
    Hoffman remains a good source of saves. He’s not going to strikeout a lot of batters at this point, but the only way I can see him losing his job as the closer is to injure himself.
    15. Ryan Franklin – STL
    W ERA SV K WHIP
    4 1.92 38 44 1.197
    Franklin had what was easily his best season last year, posting career bests in ERA and WHIP along with the 38 saves. He’s going into this season with the closer job sewn up, but I think that he’s going to see some regression. The hard part with Franklin is that he’s not going to provide a lot of strikeouts for the innings he pitches, but the saves are still worth something. Just don’t go looking for this season to go as well as last did.

    After my top 15, there’s a lot of closers still available. I generally tend to be of the mindset that saves come into the league, so I think it’s important that if you’re going to look for saves to keep an eye on strikeout rates. There’s a lot of unsettled jobs as of these rankings (WAS, PIT, FLA, MIN) as well to watch during Spring Training.

    There are a lot of relievers that can provide some value in deeper leagues, even if they are not providing saves.

    Tomorrow I will continue on with my team previews, as I review the National League East this week, starting with the Atlanta Braves.

    Team Preview – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim


    Roster Makeup
    Lineup Pitching Staff
    Pos Name Role Name
    C Mike Napoli SP 1 Jered Weaver
    1B Kendry Morales SP 2 Scott Kazmir
    2B Howie Kendrick SP 3 Joe Saunders
    3B Brandon Wood SP 4 Joel Pineiro
    SS Erick Aybar SP 5 Ervin Santana
    LF Juan Rivera Bullpen
    CF Torii Hunter CL Brian Fuentes
    RF Bobby Abreu RP Fernando Rodney
    DH Hideki Matsui RP Scot Shields
    Bench RP Rich Thompson
    C Jeff Mathis RP Sean O’Sullivan
    IF Maicer Izturis RP Sean Palmer

    Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

    Off-Season Transactions
    Key Additions Key Losses
    Pos Name How Pos Name How
    RP Fernando Rodney Free Agency DH Vladimir Guerrero Free Agency
    DH Hideki Matsui Free Agency SP John Lackey Free Agency
    SP Joel Pineiro Free Agency 3B Chone Figgins Free Agency

    Top Prospects: Trevor Reckling (P), Hank Conger (C), Peter Bourjos (OF), Mike Trout (OF)

    2009 Review

    The Angels were the class of the AL West last season, winning the division by 10 games. They were led on the offense by Torii Hunter (.299/.366/.508, 22 HR 90 RBI, 18 SB), Bobby Abreu (.293/.390/.435, 15 HR, 103 RBI, 30 SB), and Kendry Morales (.306/.355/.569, 34 HR, 108 RBI). The pitching staff was led by Jered Weaver (16-8, 3.75 ERA), Joe Saunders (16-7, 4.60), and John Lackey (11-8, 3.83). The Angels met the wild-card Red Sox in the division round of the playoffs, and swept them pretty handily. This led them to the AL East Champion Yankees, and unfortunately were eliminated in 6 games.

    Morales finally showed the promise that had been talked about, and actually performed similarly to the man he replaced in Mark Teixeira. Free agent signee Bobby Abreu brought another solid performance as well, and first-year closer Brian Fuentes led the league with 48 saves. Late season acquisition Scott Kazmir rebounded from his poor performance while in Tampa with a 2-2 record and 1.73 ERA in 6 starts.

    Team Outlook for 2010

    The Angels needed to address some rather glaring holes during the offseason, most notably with free agents John Lackey and Chone Figgins signing with other teams. They started before the season even ended by acquiring SP Scott Kazmir from the Rays. I think that they did very well to get DH Hideki Matsui to replace some of the production of outgoing DH Vladimir Guerrero, and adding Joel Pineiro to their rotation should also give them some solid innings toward the back-end of the rotation.

    The one need that I think that they didn’t really address was the loss of Chone Figgins. Brandon Wood is currently slotted in to replace Figgins at 3B, and should provide some excellent power now that he’s being given the chance to play full time. But I don’t think that the Angels have really got a player that can hit at the top of the order and provide that type of production like Figgins.

    The pitching staff is now led by Jered Weaver, and slots in solid started behind in Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, and Joel Pineiro. The bullpen I believe will be the same strength, as they have signed Fernando Rodney to help fill the innings that Jose Arredondo was throwing, and could potentially close if something were to happen to Brian Fuentes.

    I don’t think that they will see a lot of promoted prospects from their top lists, as many of their best prospects are still at AA or below. Brandon Wood should be really exciting to see with full-time playing time, and has the potential to hit 30 homers at some point.

    Fantasy Outlook for 2010

    Top players for the Angels for fantasy purposes include 1B Kendry Morales, C Mike Napoli, CF Torii Hunter, RF Bobby Abreu, and SP Jered Weaver. In deeper leagues, SS Erick Aybar, 2B Howie Kendrick, and DH Hideki Matsui should all provide some value as well. The Angels have two high-upside players available in my opinion: SP Scott Kazmir and SP Ervin Santana. Both of them have the potential to strikeout a batter per inning, and post solid numbers. They have both done it in their past, and could definitely do it again.

    Prediction for 2010

    The AL West has gotten better, and while it hasn’t been a huge jump forward, that coupled with the slight step back of the Angels, leads me to think that this division is really wide open. The Angels have become known for outperforming the Pythagorean expected win-loss record, so it wouldn’t really surprise me for them to outperform it again. I think that they will finish extremely close to the top, if they don’t win it all. As of right now, I think the Angels will finish 2nd, but it’s going to be extremely close.

    86-76, T-2nd in the AL West