Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Closing Conundrum

While reading MLB Trade Rumours I found a link to Roto Authority that talks about the 2010 Blue Jays closing situation. I, like many others, play fantasy baseball and while I am drafting relief pitchers in search of saves I will certainly try by best to avoid any of the Blue Jays closing options. There is not likely to be one featured closer like we have seen is some previous seasons (Accardo and Ryan) and the Jays are not projected to have a lot of save situations. There will likely not be a lot of late-inning lead situations and comebacks are not likely with the Jays offence.

The Jays, in general, do not project to have many fantasy studs with the exception of Adam Lind and Aaron Hill. Also, most fantasy "experts" are not expecting Hill to put up similar numbers in 2010. I have read that Edwin Encarnacion is a sleeper for the upcoming season mainly because of the lack of third base depth around the majors and his power and run-producing potential.

To get back to the closing situation though, the Jays have three pitchers who could close adequately, but not to the levels of a Joe Nathan or Jon Papelbon. Those pitchers are Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and newly signed Kevin Gregg. Gregg has the most experience and probably has the upper-hand because of Cito Gaston's tendency to go with the proven commodity.

As mentioned in the article, both Downs and Frasor are entering their walk years and may be moved at the deadline or let walk at the end of the year for draft pick compensation. This may push them to have better seasons as we have seen so often. Downs and Frasor both had better peripheral pitching statistics compared to Gregg and they accomplished those numbers in the much tougher AL East.

Gregg has been heard saying that he is finally healthy from bumps and bruises that have hampered him in the past and looks forward to competing in Spring Training for the job. I feel as though the job will be his, rightly or wrongly, regardless of his spring numbers.

So I could see Gregg being a fantasy pick-up either somewhere in the late rounds or off the waiver-wire for those who are in need of saves and strikeouts. According to Marcel, which predicts stats for MLB players, Gregg is expected to post numbers like this:


  1. Not sure I agree that the Jays will be unable to mount comebacks in games anymore than I'm not convinced that Lind can't play LF. By keeping Lind in the lineup in 3rd position and having R Ruiz as DH, almost every Jay is capable of winning or tying games with hits and HR's. The real question is can anyone actually close games. Closing likely will be a team effort of 3. For this reason, having Gathright in the OF does not make a lot of sense. Can't see that he is any better fielder than Lind and certainly not a game changer like Ruiz can be.

  2. Thanks for commenting. I'm sure the Jays will make comebacks, but you cannot say there offence will be among the most threatening in the league. Yes, they have good hitters, but with no quality on-base guys at the top of the order and some guys like Gonzalez and Buck at the back-end there are much better lineups out there (three other teams in the AL East are more likely to rally for a win).

    Secondly, I believe Lind can play LF adequately, but the manager probably doesn't feel that way.

    In my opinion, the Jays would be best off to move one of the three closing options and should set the other two up as set-up and closer so as not to confuse roles. When players know their role they are more likely to succeed (Scutaro last year as a prime example). There would be no reason to switch things up unless the performances forced the managers hand.

    Also, if you can make Gregg look nice with a big save total then other teams are more likely to pony up and send quality prospects at the deadline.

    I don't know if you have ever watched Gathwright, but he is a MUCH better fielder than Lind and the stats back that up (Lind is a -5.9 UZR/150 in LF for his career and Gathwright is a 17.8 UZR/150 in LF for his career. I'm not saying he deserves to take playing time from Lind (or Snider or Wells), and I never mentioned it anywhere in this post or others, but he could adequately fill in as a pinch runner or late-inning defensive replacement.

    Ruiz would be a good candidate in the DH spot, but the organization doesn't seem to want to give him an opportunity to show that he doesn't belong.