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2010 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: Top 10 Closers in Waiting

April 4, 2010 | By Tim McLeod | comment on this post
Jason Motte could be saving games for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jason Motte could be very valuable soon if Ryan Franklin continues to falter.

We’re back with more of the 2010 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit as we release another of our Top 10 Lists Fantasy Owners Always Wanted But Were Afraid to Ask For. So while the Jays finally give a long-term deal to the right outfielder (Adam Lind), let’s check out some players who could be earning saves before 2010 is up.

The saves category accounts for 10 per cent of the counting categories in most Fantasy leagues and will generate 90 per cent of the counting grief. Never will so few be the cause for such high levels of anxiety for so many. As we head towards Opening Day 2010, bullpens throughout the land are in shambles.

Joe Nathan is gone for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Kerry Wood is sidelined until at least early-May with a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle. Huston Street suffered a setback this week and is dealing with shoulder woes that have him looking at a mid-May return. David Aardsma is dealing with a groin issue. Andrew Bailey is suffering through tennis elbow. Brad Lidge just received a cortisone shot for his elbow with mid-to-late April the earliest prognosis on his return. Mike Gonzalez is dealing with back problems and a drop in velocity. The list just keeps growing and growing.

Minnesota Twins Gear

All in all, it has been a horrendous start to the year for ninth inning guys – probably the worst we’ve seen in a long time. For those that drafted early this year, the waiver wire has been your friend. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the potential purveyors of the save.

1. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals: Incumbent Ryan Franklin is starting the 2010 season in much the same fashion as he ended the 2009 campaign. Seven earned runs in 11 1/3 IP this spring doesn’t qualify as a confidence builder. At 37 years young, can the early success achieved by Franklin in 2009 be repeated? Motte should be a solid handcuff pick for those investing in Franklin this season.

2. Brian Bruney, Washington Nationals: Matt Capps , in 10 2/3 IP this spring, has allowed 16 hits and seven walks on his way to an 8.44 ERA. Closer-in-waiting Drew Storen is Double-A Harrisburg bound, where he’s set to hone his skills. Bruney, meanwhile, has allowed only two earned runs in his last eight appearances and should be first in line for save opportunities when the Capps experiment draws to a close.

3. Juan Gutierrez, Arizona Diamondbacks: In eight IP this spring, Gutierrez still hasn’t allowed a hit, with only two free passes on his record to blemish an otherwise perfect run. In 2009, he managed nine saves down the stretch subbing for the injured Chad Qualls, and he has the potential to roll right into the closer role this year should Qualls stumble.

4. Danys Baez, Philadelphia Phillies: Lidge isn’t bouncing back after the off-season surgeries and just this week received a cortisone shot in his right elbow. It appears as if Ryan Madson has the gig heading into the regular season. That would be the same Madson that had six blown saves in 16 opportunities last year and has shown no ability to get the job done in the past. If you’re looking for potential saves, keep Baez’s name handy. The odds are very good that he will get the opportunity.

5. LaTroy Hawkins, Milwaukee Brewers: Trevor Hoffman isn’t getting any younger and even though he has maintained great production over the past several years, there will be times when a day off will be necessary. Hawkins filled in more than admirably last season in Jose Valverde’s absence, earning 11 saves for the Astros. A bench slot should be reserved for Hawkins if you’re planning to invest in Hoffman this year.

6. J.J. Putz, Chicago White Sox: How can anyone be confident in Bobby Jenks at this stage of his career? In 5 2/3 IP this spring, Jenks has allowed nine hits, four walks, and is sporting a bloated 11.12 ERA. Putz this spring has allowed seven hits, four walks, with eight strikeouts in 7 1/3 IP. More importantly, his surgically-repaired right elbow seems to be holding together. Matt Thornton is also a possibility for save opportunities, but the White Sox would benefit more with the southpaw in a set-up or situational role.

7. Luke Gregerson, San Diego Padres: The verdict is in — no bobblehead night for Heath Bell, no full season of closing in San Diego. The 25-year-old Gregerson amassed 93 strikeouts in 75 IP last season, making him the clear-cut favourite for saves when incumbent Bell is eventually moved to a contender.

8. Esmailin Caridad, Chicago Cubs: The shoulder injury suffered by Angel Guzman has vaulted Caridad up the charts in Chicago and into the principle right handed set-up role. Carlos Marmol will obviously have a long leash as demonstrated by the way Lou Piniella handled the Kevin Gregg situation in 2009, but should Marmol falter, Caridad has the potential to be a decent option for the Cubbies in 2010.

9. Chris Ray, Texas Rangers: In 2009, incumbent Frank Francisco managed three separate trips to the DL. Neftali Feliz, who was virtually unhittable last fall, is looking very human this spring. C.J. Wilson is moving to the starting rotation. Maybe before it’s all said and done the Orioles will be wishing they had given Ray a bit more time in his return from Tommy John surgery? In 5 2/3 IP this spring, Ray has allowed seven hits, one walk, is sporting a great 1.59 ERA and has tossed in seven strikeouts for good measure. Don’t be at all shocked to see Ray garnering some saves in 2010.

10. Last Man Standing, Baltimore Orioles: Mike Gonzalez was rewarded by the Orioles with a two-year, $12 million deal for converting 10 of 17 save opportunities in 2009. His career high of 24 saves was set way back in 2006 and he’s already dealing with a bad back and drop in velocity. Health and Gonzalez in the same sentence is oxymoronic, isn’t it? Jimmy Johnson couldn’t get the job done in 2009. Koji Uehara can’t find a way to stay healthy. The O’s moved him from the rotation into the pen in an attempt to alleviate the health issues he experienced in 2009, but he’s already suffering from a strained hamstring. I’m just about ready to think that Cla Meredith might have real value in Baltimore before 2010 is in the books. This bullpen has the potential to be in turmoil most of the season. If…err…when Gonzalez struggles, the hot and/or healthy hand in Baltimore will be the benefactor.

Honourable Mentions

Brian Sanches, Florida Marlins: He was having a great spring until landing on the DL; crappy timing because Leo Nunez is struggling this spring.

Matt Guerrier, Minnesota Twins: He’ll get the next kick at the can for the Twins should Jon Rauch stumble.

Sammy Gervacio, Houston Astros: In 13 IP, he’s given up five hits and three walks while racking up 16 strikeouts. Wow!

Kevin Gregg, Toronto Blue Jays: Jason Frasor insurance?

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