By Norman Homers
I tend to draft closers differently each year. Most years, I employ “don’t pay for saves” philosophy. Contrarily, last year I decided to get a few elite guys early and lock down the position. I took Jonathan Broxton and Joe Nathan…bad choices. They were both top 5 closers going into 2010. Based on last year’s folly, my advice this year is wait on saves. Neftali Feliz, John Axford, and Bill Wagner are just a few examples of closers that had awesome years and were available late into the draft. This year? I like JJ Putz, Drew Storen, and Chris Perez to fill those roles.
1. Carlos Marmol
Norman Notes: Elite strikeouts from a relief pitcher are a nice bonus. But, I still get nervous every time he pitches. Huge command issues and a high whip are not exactly what I want from my top closer. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Kerry Wood the closer in Chicago to end the year. Be warned.
2. Brian Wilson
Norman Notes: This guy is an absolute nut job, but he will get plenty of save opportunities with the Giant’s pitching staff.
3. Heath Bell
4. Mariano Rivera
5. Joakim Soria
Norman Notes: Unless injury strike, I cant see this trio not finishing in the top 5. Even if Bell or Soria gets traded, what team wold they not close for?
6. Neftali Feliz
Norman Notes: I love Netflix. Read why here.
7. Brad Lidge
Norman Notes: Draft Brad Lidge is your league rewards blown saves. You’d have to be CRAZY to draft him as the 7th closer of the board.
8. Jose Valverde
9. Jonathan Papelbon
Norman Notes: Valverde and Papelbon are both solid guys who could lead the league in saves. Don’t sleep on them. You could do worse.
10. Andrew Bailey
11. John Axford
Norman Notes: I love the Ax Man in Milwauke…and his ironic moustache. He sports a 11.9 K/9 and only allowed ONE homerun in 58.0 innings. Norman sleeper stamp of approval here.
12. Jonathon Broxton
Norman Notes: What the heck happened? Could return to greatness or could be another down year. I’ll let someone else draft him to find out.
13. Huston Street
14. Francisco Rodriguez
Norman Notes: Street and K-Rod are 2 wildcards. Street has elite stuff, except hes often injured. K-Rod is one of the best closers over the past decade, but now has legal issues and contract issues. I don’t like it when there’s financial incentive for the cash strapped Mets club to not let him close games.
15. Matt Thornton
Norman Notes: Reports are Thornton has Sox’ closer job. Keep Chris Sale on Speed dial just incase,
16. Drew Storen
Norman Notes: Attention Bargin City Shoppers: I love this youngster as the new National’s closer.
17. Joe Nathan
Norman Notes: I have faith that he will be back to his old self in no time. Matt Capps aint got nothing on Nathan.
18. David Aardsma
Norman Notes: Don’t draft Aardsma. Norman bust stamp. Take Brandon League instead.
19. Fernando Rodney
20. Leo Nunez
21. Ryan Franklin
22. Francisco Cordero
Norman Notes: Somehow gets it done every year, if you dond mind an inflated whip. 22 is low so if you wait on Cordero, he’ll already have been drafted.
23. Octavio Dotel
Norman Notes: I’m not sure why The Fantasy Man has Dotel is 23. It looks like Frank Francisco will win the closer gig in Toronto (exiled after the birth of Netflix in Texas). Avoid Dotel and take Frank the Tank Francisco instead.
24. J.J. Putz
Norman Notes: Sleeper city. Putz had closer stuff back in Seattle. Really has a sleeper hold on the Arizona job.
25. Joel Hanrahan
Norman Notes: The Pirates only guy. I love closers who have a lock on the job.
26. Craig Kimbrel
Norman Notes: Atlanta is going to win a lot of games and Kimbrel has nasty stuff. I like him to win the job vs Johnny Venters, but he’s no slouch himself. Check back right before your draft to see who wins the closer job. It’s possible they are both used in the 9th, leaving no fantasy owner happy.
27. Brandon Lyon
28. Koji Uehara
29. Chris Perez
Norman Notes: If Chris Perez falls to me as the 29th relief pitcher, I’ll do be doing back flips. Cameramen everywhere are warned. In all seriousness, Chris Perez is a top 15 closer, maybe top 10 (not 29). The argument that he won’t get many save opportunities because he’s on a bad team is flawed. I present evidence example #1: Joakim Soria.
30. Kyle Farnsworth
Norman Notes: I cant see any possible way I would ever draft him. My bet is Jake McGhee wins the closer Job in Tampa Bay. Draft him instead of Farnsworth.
And that concludes Norman Homer’s debut critique of The Fantasy Man’s 2011 preseason rankings. Stay tuned for future more mumbo-jumbo about my weekly takes on fantasy baseball and any advice I can offer.