Dan takes his first offseason look at keeper-worthy closers for the 2013 season.
Greg Holland | Royals Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): Fringe AL-only (60 Keepers): Fringe Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
Greg Holland has arguably been the Royals’ best reliever the past two seasons, and although he finally got a chance to close in the second-half of 2012, a couple major dominos had to fall for that to come to fruition. First, Joakim Soria was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery during spring training. Then, Soria’s replacement, Jonathan Broxton, was dealt to the Reds in a July trade. Finally, Holland became the man, and he handled the promotion with aplomb, presumably setting himself up nicely for first dibs on the ninth inning in 2013.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The reliever arm of Value Picks returns this week with Frieri, Reed, and Mujica
Readers, the relief pitcher edition of Value Picks returns this week, and with a new author! I'm happy to introduce you to our new bullpen expert, Dan Mennella. You may recognize Dan from his work at RotoAuthority. Welcome to the Baseball Prospectus Fantasy team, Dan! —Derek Carty, Fantasy Manager
Torii Hunter's suggestion that Mike Scioscia should have had the Angels bunt does not make sense.
After the Angels lost at Tampa Bay last Wednesday, right fielder Torii Hunter suggested that his manager, Mike Scioscia, had not done everything possible to put the team in a position to win. This is the sort of problem that arises when you enter a season with astronomical expectations and then stumble badly out of the gate.
After losing on a walk-off homer by Oakland castoff Brandon Allen the following afternoon and on a walk-off single by Asdrubal Cabrera in Cleveland the next night, the Angels found themselves nine games behind AL West-leading Texas, the largest deficit of any team in baseball. The off-season signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson were supposed to take last year's 86-win team to the proverbial next level. Instead, the Angels have skidded in the opposite direction, leading some folks to panic.
Where will CJ Wilson's next contract take him, and how much money can he expect?
With CC Sabathia staying put, this winter's free-agent market for starting pitchers is a particularly thin one, no pun intended. Unlike last winter, there's no rotation ace equivalent of Cliff Lee, nor is there even a frontline starter who offers the track record that the 2009-2010 winter's belle of the ball, John Lackey, did—a reminder that big-ticket items carry big-time risks. The pitcher drawing the most interest is 31-year-old lefty C.J. Wilson, who has spent all of two seasons in the rotation, converting following a rocky tenure in the bullpen that included some time spent as a very hittable closer.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including a new AL West superpower.
With nearly 40,000 in attendance at their final 2011 home game on Wednesday night, Mike Scioscia's Angels went out with a resounding bang—but not of their own doing, unfortunately. The Halos found themselves on the receiving end of a torturous game-winning blast by the slugger who had played out his entire pre-2011 career in an Angels uniform. I would make some kind of remark about Mike Napoli's two-homer game being tantamount to adding insult to injury for the Angels, but the problem is that Napoli had already taken care of that the previous night when he clubbed two more homers during a 10-3 drubbing of his former team.
And during the intervening hours between his team's final two games, Scioscia found himself in the awkward position of simultaneously defending Napoli's chops behind the plate and assigning responsibility for the consummation of the Napoli-for-Wells deal: "The issue was [Kendrys] Morales was expected back, and we needed to get better in the outfield, so some decisions were made by Tony [Reagins] and Arte [Moreno] as to what the team would look like." If I really wanted to make this article about the Angels, I'd point again towards Ken Rosenthal's recent assertion that the real power in the Angels organization lies with Scioscia and Moreno, and maybe wonder out loud about Scioscia's apparent fingering of Reagins and Moreno as the lone parties responsible for shaping the Napoli trade... but this article is less about the Halos, and more about the team that ultimately ended up steamrolling its way to the division crown.
A look at the 2011 Angels, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their chances at making the playoffs.
Back in mid-May, when we were all younger and more handsome, if not smarter, I predicted that the Rangers would pull away from the Angels—who led the AL West by a game and a half at the time—once injured sluggers Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz returned to the lineup. The two teams stayed close, but when Texas opened up a five-game lead while reeling off a 12-game winning streak that carried through the All-Star break, the division looked to be in their control. The Halos have refused to go quietly, however, and they remain in contention. They came to the Bronx last night just a game and a half out of first place and took the series opener from the Yankees in dramatic fashion, with Bobby Abreu socking two homers—including a two-run ninth-inning shot off Mariano Rivera.
The once-proud Angels bullpen bottoms out, while the Rangers and Yankees project to top the league.
Once upon a time, the Angels' bullpen was the envy of baseball, with skipper Mike Scioscia appearing to have an innate ability to manage the stable of live arms his team's front office assembled, often on the cheap. Anchored by closers Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez and setup man Scot Shields, the Angels ranked among the top three in Reliever Expected Wins Added (WXRL) five times in a seven-year stretch from 2002-2008. During that span, the team won a world championship and reached the playoffs four other times, with the bullpen’s performance helping the Halos set a record for the margin by which they exceeded their third-order Pythagorean projection.
The Angels didn't get what they wanted, but does that mean they're going away?
Los Angeles gives one the feeling of the future more strongly than any city I know of. A bad future, too, like something out of Fritz Lang's feeble imagination. --Henry Miller Usually, criticisms of the state of affairs in Southern California hone in on well-worn complaints, like superficiality in achievement or personality, or a strangling inability to get anywhere despite all sorts of expense, or its lack of a coherent, organizing center. Or diseased bats that menace all who come in contact with them. And that's just the Angels.
Consider general manager Tony Reagins' lot as we head towards pitchers and catchers and the opening of camps in just a few short weeks. After all sorts of speculation, and after so many busy winters in past seasons, the Halos wound up with no Carl Crawford, and no Adrian Beltre. There was no late, spoiling cameo as the mystery third contestant in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. There were -- initially -- no major trades for major stars who were on the move, not for Dan Uggla or Zack Greinke or Adrian Gonzalez. Up until a very short time ago, even the Dodgers, purportedly prostrated by McCourt squabbling, managed a more dynamic winter by re-inking Ted Lilly and adding Juan Uribe to their infield. In contrast, the Angels settled for letting people leave, while inking a pair of veteran lefty relievers to not-inconsiderable contracts. Between that and the anticipation that Kendry Morales would come back and bop, it made for fairly thin fare to make it through the winter with.
Trading for Dan Haren didn't solve all the Halos' problems.
The Angels' basis for acquiring Dan Haren was the future, not the 2010 season. However, considering they shouldn't write off this year, they went in the wrong direction. While a starter would help, they needed to improve their offense and bullpen first, and then move their focus to starter.