Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NL King - Analyzing National League West Closers

Arizona:  JJ Putz
The D-Backs started the reclamation project of fixing their bullpen. It's going to be a process as the 2010 D-Backs bullpen, I believe, statistically was the worst bullpen in the history of baseball. The signing of JJ Putz to a two year contract is a good start. Putz had a solid year in 2010 for the White Sox as a setup man and now goes back to closing. Putz hasn't closed since 2008 in Seattle but remember Putz had 76 saves in 06 and 07 combined. As long as Putz stays healthy (has had been bit by the injury bug) Putz can be a solid option for you come draft day and will come a lot cheaper than Brian Wilson, Brad Lidge or Carlos Marmol.
Sleeper Save Candidates - Your guess is as good as mine as no one stands out in that bullpen.

Colorado: Houston StreetWhile 2010 was a battle of injuries for Street he still managed to save 20 games. Keep in mind Street has had a couple of big seasons as he saved 35 games in 09 for the Rocks and 37 saves in 06 for the A's. The Rocks signed Street to a 3 year deal before last season so they are committed to him. If his 2010 injuries
are behind him he can be considered in the top group of NL closers and because of last years drop in stats you probably will get significant savings on Street over a Wilson / Marmol come draft day.
Sleeper Save Candidates - The Rockies traded for Matt Lindstrom in late December. If Lindstrom is past his injuries he can be very dominant. The key to Lindstrom is keeping the walks down. Lindstrom had a great 1st 3 months in 2010 as the Astros closer as Lindstrom had 23 saves last year. If you draft Street as your closer save a slot for Lindstrom as insurance late in the draft

Los Angeles:  Jonathan Broxton??
New skipper Don Mattingly says Broxton will close for the Dodgers as we get ready for Spring Training. Broxton can be dominant but keep in mind as I warned you about Broxton in last years off-season article on the NL closers, Broxton throughout his career has struggled on the road and another failed post season by Broxton could start effecting his overall game. Broxton lost the closers job in early August. If the Dodgers can get Broxton going again there is no reason why he can't regain his form from 08 and 09. It's all between the ears for Broxton which makes him a risk for 2011.
Sleeper Save Candidates - Chih-Hong Kuo / Kenley Jansen. Kuo was finally healthy for a season and you saw what he is capable of doing when healthy. In 60 IP last year had a 1.20 ERA with 0.78 Ratio and 73K's. Throw in 3W and 12 saves and Kuo gave great value to NL only owners. Again the key with Kuo is staying healthy and if Broxton struggles he will get the first shot at closing (only blew 1 save in 13 chances last year). Kenley Jansen was extremely impressive as he got called up last July. Jansen had a 0.67 ERA in 27IP with 41K's and a 1.00 Ratio. Jansan did walk 15 batters in 27IP but he is a kid so let's cut him some slack. To me it's just a matter of when Jansen will get a chance to show he is the Dodger closer of the future. Great guy to get on draft day as a potential future keeper.

San Diego:  Heath Bell
The last two years, Bell has been the best closer in the NL in my opinion. Last two years has 89 saves along with great numbers across the board. Bell is on the last year of his contract and will become a free agent after the season unless he is signed to an extension. Bell turns 34 during the season but it sounds like he wants to stay in San Diego but will the Padres pay Bell the going rate to Bell as a top closer for the next 2-3 years? Or will the Pads move Bell for a prospect package? Don't expect Bell to be traded until after the all star break but because of this Bell is a risk. Makes it very hard to spend huge dollars on draft day for Bell in an NL only league. Again if Bell gets traded to the AL that will kill your NL only team.
Sleeper Save Candidates - Mike Adams / Luke Gregerson - Both have been sensationally the last couple of years, if Bell is moved I expect Adams to get the 1st shot at closing in 2011 however long term if Bell is traded I expect Gregerson to be the closer of the future.

San Francisco:  Brian Wilson
Wilson has 86 saves the last two seasons who along with Heath Bell are in my opinion are the two best closers in the NL not to mention the most reliable closers by a country mile. In fact, the last three seasons, Wilson has 127 saves. The last two seasons, Wilson has put up strong ERA numbers (1.81 in 10 and 2.74 in 09) and Ratio numbers (1.18 in 10 and 1.20 in 09). Not to mention Wilson is an excellent K guy as well and now he is a world champion as well which can only help his confidence. Wilson turns 29 in the spring and I see no reason why Wilson will not continue to be a top closer over the next 5 years
Sleeper Save Candidates - Wilson has an extremely long leash so the one someone else on the Giants staff gets significant saves in 2011 is if Wilson goes on the DL for a while. First in line would be Santiago Casilla who had an excellent 2010 season.

NL King - C.Lizza

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