A look at five pitchers who could be in line for save opportunities in future years.
Joe Borowski, Brandon League, Todd Jones, Kevin Gregg, Frank Francisco, Billy Koch. No, I’m not working on a baseball version of We Didn’t Start The Fire (that you know of). These are all relievers who have ascended to the closer role, whether they deserved it or not. They acquired the closer mystique that allowed them to beef up their earnings and hold on or land jobs long past when they should have. To be clear, I’m of the mind that it’s often helpful to have a Gregg or a Koch at the back of the bullpen—someone who is competent enough to finish most games and allows the use of a more efficient or dominant reliever, a fireman, to enter into the higher-leverage situations.
That opinion belongs to the baseball analyst in me, though, not the fantasy analyst. As a fantasy owner, I’d rather see the most talented bullpen option in the closer role because then I don’t have to roster nincompoops who destroy my ERA and WHIP, all while chasing the dragon save. Of course, being blocked by an incompetent colleague is not the only reason that pitchers get denied coffee. Injuries, a couple of poorly timed blow ups, or a lack of experience can also cost a reliever a shot to use SemiSonic as his entrance music as well. The point of this article, then, is to shine a spotlight on some guys who would be closers, but for a minor flaw, be it in their game or their situations. These are players who could be elite-level fantasy closers if they are presented with the opportunity. The key is identifying them before the opportunity arises.
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While lot of what Jason sees in Arizona doesn't matter, and some of it's just shadows, there's still a lot to report from Surprise.
Day 8: 10:40 PM
It’s late, Patricia, and I’m sorry for not putting fingers to these keys earlier. The sun was magnificent today, like a big, glowing ball of headaches, disorientation, and fire. My eyes starting stinging early, and by noon I realized I was nearing collapse. After the morning workouts and the 1PM game at the big boy stadium–which I will tell you about in a minute–I bypassed a late lunch in order to cool my thoughts in a long shower. I rushed through step three of the showering process because the symptoms of heat stroke were still present and I didn’t feel confident standing in a slippery basin with my eyes closed while negotiating bouts of dizziness. It’s important to avoid cracking your head open.
Day 8: 11:00 PM
I had to drink a glass of flat water with a slice of cucumber gently floating on top. I would have preferred sparkling, but I’ve become particular about my sparkling water and I’m not about to rush into a sloppy water consumption decision just because the selection is limited and my body needs to fight off dehydration. It’s important to stay hydrated, with style when possible. I watched the Royals earlier today, as I tend to do out here in Surprise, and one player in particular caught my eye, as he has every spring since he was drafted. I sat in the scout section behind home plate, allowing the waves of Americana blasting from the stadium P.A. system to crash into my eardrums, waiting to have my eyes opened by a spectacular play or a spectacular player, when from the sky a heroic figure emerged and slowly lowered his human form onto the playing field and picked up a baseball bat. It was Eric Hosmer, and his face was bronze, and his body draped with the cloth of kings, and his skin was wet with the tears of innumerable virgins. His swing was delicious, with a robust finish that was assertive and aggressive, yet tender and passionate.
The Rangers prospects are blue-chip talents with rough edges, but will 2011 see them get sanded or beaten down?
Not so long ago, the Rangers' farm system put the sex in sexy, ranking as the top organization in baseball thanks to an assembly line of talent that ran from the lowest complex leagues all the way up to Triple-A. After a few seasons of major league promotion, attrition, and stagnation, the system has lost some of its mainstream shine. As we head into the 2011 season, the overall depth remains impressive, but depth is a drug without immediate effect. However, if you prepare yourself for the developmental hurdles, embracing a system stacked at the lower levels can be a more rewarding high, assuming of course that following the development of minor-league baseball players gets you high, which—believe me—it does.
For this article, let’s move away from the dreams associated with low-level depth, and take a look at the top five prospects in the Rangers’ system, and how their 2011 seasons might end up breaking a few hearts.
The Ranges' Tanner Scheppers and Angels' Fabio Martinez Mesa are two pitching names to know in AL West farm systems.
Today we're going to look at three teams in the American League West: the Rangers, Angels and Athletics; since the Mariners are essentially 15 games off the pace and everyone seems to think Cliff Lee is headed to a contender by the end of July, those three squads are the primary contenders out west, with the Rangers holding the current edge.
The Rangers' 2009 supplemental first-rounder talks about his time in indie-league ball, a plan to go to Japan, and how hitters think.
Tanner Scheppers is on the fast track to Arlington, but that doesn't mean the 22-year-old right-hander has been taking a shortcut, or even the most direct route. When he signed with the Rangers in September, it was the culmination of a journey that began when he was drafted in the 29th round out of a Mission Viejo high school by the Orioles in 2005. Opting for Fresno State over Baltimore, the young fireballer went on to establish himself as a first-round talent until concerns about his shoulder resulted in him falling to 48th overall in 2008, which is when he was offered a road map to Pittsburgh. Unable to come to an agreement with the Pirates, Scheppers detoured to St. Paul where he pitched for the independent-league Saints while awaiting the June 2009 draft. When Texas took him as a supplemental pick after the first round, and inked him to a contract two months later, it was finally possible for him to draw a circle around a final destination.
One expert's educated guesstimate on how things will go down later today.
This one could be a mess folks, and it's all about bonus demands at this point. Right now, you have as many as four high school pitchers-Jacob Turner, Tyler Matzek, Matt Purke, and Shelby Miller-looking for big, big money, with the first three all telling teams they're looking for Rick Porcello-level deals (or more). This has the potential to blow the first round wide open, and turn it into into a very college-oriented first 30 picks, with numerous top talents falling to later picks than initially expected. One team picking in the top ten I spoke to this morning said he still had very little idea of who was going to be picked ahead of his club's choice.
Troubling trends in starting pitcher usage, the shifting Top 25 ratings, and weekend matchups.
Lost amid the goodwill surrounding Fresno State's Hollywood-like championship run in Omaha last season was the story of Tanner Scheppers. When the Independent League St. Paul Saints open their season this April, Scheppers' name will return to the box scores for the first time in 11 months, as the former Bulldogs' ace seeks to prove that he's healthy and to renew his pro prospect status. However, as with Alex Wilson at Texas A&M, concerns about his previous injury are likely to prevent a return to top 10 overall status, and for that, Scheppers (and Wilson, too) has one thing to blame: his workload.
There's still a lot of turmoil over who goes where in the top ten picks of this year's draft.
It's draft week, so let's get away from the players getting paid and start the week with a different kind of Ten Pack. Here are ten players generating the longest and most heated discussions during the non-stop internal meetings that took place over the weekend.