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November 3, 2011

Resident Fantasy Genius

Midwest Rumbles

by Derek Carty

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Carlos Marmol | Chicago Cubs | CL | Under Contract | Staying on in the Ninth

Hoyer told "Chicago Tribune Live" he doesn't envision Carlos Marmol losing his closer's role, despite a league-leading 10 blown saves. Hoyer pointed to Marmol's dominance in 2010 and said the Cubs have to find a way to "fix" his slider.

It’s good news for Marmol owners that the Cubs’ closer has gotten new management’s seal of approval. There likely wasn’t much to worry about in the first place, but things can get crazy when a team undergoes a front office and dugout overhaul like the Cubs are undergoing this offseason. They don’t have a new manager yet, but it seems likely that if Epstein and Hoyer want Marmol closing, he will be.

While Marmol’s 4.01 ERA this season is worse than what you’d like to see out of a closer, it’s not unstomachable, and his 3.54 FIP indicates that the results should have been better anyway. He still boasted his trademark high strikeout and walk rates, though there are questions about his stuff that could diminish the strikeouts going forward. Hoyer mentioned the need to “fix” his slider, and Marmol also lost nearly 2.5 mph off his fastball this season.

Overall, as long as Marmol starts the year with the job, he’s a good bet to keep it all year. Those strikeout totals will be incredibly tasty for fantasy owners, especially if he can get his top stuff back.
Potential Value Change: Gain for Carlos Marmol

Joe Nathan | Minnesota Twins | Free Agent | RP | Twin Cities?Big Apple?
Twins:

Yesterday the Twins made the obvious call of declining Nathan's $12.5MM club option, but they have interest in re-signing the righty.

Mets:

The Mets have needed a closer ever since they traded Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee in July, and they might be a good fit for Nathan, who grew up in Pine Bush, N.Y. (Orange County). Asked if he would entertain an offer from the Mets, Nathan said, "We're definitely not counting any teams out. But obviously, the Mets are going to be on my radar. It's a team I followed growing up around this area. That would be exciting.''

Nathan made the rumor mill when he expressed his desire to close, even if it means taking less money. Now we’re starting to hear about some places he could get the chance to do so. One destination wouldn’t require much of a move at all: Minnesota. It makes a lot of sense for Nathan to return to the Twin Cities since he’s been there for the past seven seasons and they’re in need of a closer. Glen Perkins would likely close if the season started today, but it seems unlikely the Twins don’t bring in someone to close over him.

Another option would be Nathan’s hometown team: the Mets. After trading Francisco Rodriguez at this year’s trade deadline, the common thought was that the Mets could hand in-house option Bobby Parnell the closer’s role in 2012, but he would be far from a sure thing to succeed, and if a cheap, high-quality closer comes along, I’m sure New York is going to listen. Nathan isn’t what he was in his heyday, but he’s still very good and capable closer.

Minnesota would be the better spot because of Target Field (decreases homers by 20 percent) and since the Mets are going to make some changes to Citi Field to make it more hitter-friendly. Since it only decreased homers by about seven percent as it was, it could become a downright hitter’s park. The only benefit of Citi Field would be that it inflates strikeouts by about three percent compared to Target’s deflating them by six percent. Either way, though, Nathan would be the clear-cut closer, and that’s the main thing.
Potential Value Change in Minnesota: Huge Gain for Joe Nathan; Small Loss for Glen Perkins
Potential Value Change in New York: Gain for Joe Nathan; Huge Loss for Bobby Parnell

Mark Buehrle | Chicago White Sox | Free Agent | SP | DCor Chi-Town?
Nats:

But the Nationals may be more likely in the market for a less-splashy, stabilizing veteran starter, and not just a minor upgrade like Jason Marquis two offseasons ago. Some individuals with ties to the Nationals believe they will pursue Mark Buehrle, 32, a left-hander who has spent all 12 of his major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

Cubs:

Hoyer did point to the pitching staff as an obvious area of concern. One source said the Cubs would be interested in White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle if the price tag and years aren't astronomical.

Buehrle will be an attractive name this offseason for a team in need of an inexpensive, innings-eating starter who doesn’t suck. While we’re bound to hear his name connected to any number of teams, the Nationals and Cubs are two that have recently come out.

Buehrle will be aided just in getting away from U.S. Cellular Field—baseball’s worst home-run park for pitchers—especially if he lands in a friendly National League stadium. While Wrigley Field and Nationals Park are more neutral than anything else, they’d still help Buehrle:

Park

HR/CON

K

BB

BABIP

U.S. Cellular (White Sox)

1.29

1.07

1.04

0.98

Wrigley Field (Cubs)

1.02

0.95

1.02

1.04

Nationals Park

0.98

0.96

0.99

0.98

He’d lose a bit in strikeouts either across town or in DC, but fantasy owners aren’t drafting him for strikeouts in the first place, and the drop in homers would more than offset the strikeouts in terms of run prevention. Washington would be a bit better than Wrigley, but there isn’t a big difference.

It’s hard to comment on the Nat or Cub offense/defense since the Nats could be players in the free-agent market this winter and since the Cubs could undergo a bit of an on-field shakeup given their new management, but it seems unlikely either club would be ideal in terms of offensive or defensive support. Both teams were roughly league average with both this past season, and a significant shift away from that is doubtful.
Potential Value Change with Cubs: Small Gain for Mark Buehrle
Potential Value Change with Nationals: Small Gain for Mark Buehrle

Victor Martinez | Detroit Tigers | Under Contract | C/1B/DH | Losing Catcher Eligibility?

Martinez will be fulltime dh and Tigers will seek back-up rh catcher, Dombrowski said.

I’ve talked about Martinez once already this offseason, back when he said that he’d be able to catch next season, but there was no comment from the club at the time. Now we have a comment, and it seems as though Martinez’s days as a catcher-eligible fantasy player are going to come to an end after the 2012 season. Keeper league owners, it might be a good idea to shop him while you have the chance. He’ll still be valuable as a utility-only player, but not nearly to the extent he was as a catcher, especially if he can’t build upon his August/September power bounceback. Of course, there are scenarios in which Martinez picks up enough games at catcher this season to remain eligible there past next season, but it’s not looking good.
Potential Value Change: Big Loss for Victor Martinez  

Related Content:  Chicago Cubs,  Carlos Marmol,  Mark Buehrle

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