May 01, 2009

News:Street takes closer's role back

Views: Another episode of "When Managers Get Bored." Clint Hurdle had no reason to make the switch from Huston Street to Manuel Corpas two weeks ago. And he has little reason to switch back to Street now. Neither pitcher has blown a save as the closer. But all indications are that, the next time the Rockies have a save situation, Street will get the call. Corpas has struggled in non-save situations since nailing down his first save opp as closer, while Street has been lights out since losing the job. He's simply the better pitcher. However, keep in mind that Street is homer-prone (a flyball pitcher in Colorado) and Corpas had similar early-season struggles last year (6.59 ERA through May 31, 3.44 after that). And since he's arbitration eligible after this season, Street is less likely to be in Colorado for the long haul than Corpas, who is signed to a reasonable deal through 2011 (with expensive club options for '12 and '13). If the Rockies (currently 5.5 back in the NL West) decide to look beyond '09, it makes little sense for Street to keep getting the ball.

Verdict: This one isn't over yet, but today Street is clearly the Rockies reliever to own. Street owners must get Corpas as insurance though.

News:Josh Hamilton still not ready, Andruw Jones '09 = Andruw Jones '00

Views: It looks like Hamilton owners will have to wait until at least the middle of next week to get their top outfielder back from his rib injury. He's off to a disappointing start, but there's no reason to think Hamilton's .533 OPS at his hitter-friendly home park is anything but a total fluke. He'll drive in 100 runs hitting behind Ian Kinsler and Michael Young. Meanwhile, Andruw Jones continues to swing it like Jimmie Foxx circa 1938, OPSing 1.304 so far this season. Ron Washington might have no choice but to keep him in the lineup after Hamilton comes back, awfully bad news for Marlon Byrd (or anyone who has stomached David Murphy so far).

Verdict: It's probably too late, but you might as well take at least a flier on Jones in all leagues. Byrd owners should definitely be looking to sell high ASAP. Chris Davis owners should be a bit nervous too. While his power is there, he's on pace to shatter Mark Reynolds' single-season strikeout record of 204 (he has 34 so far, putting him on pace for an absurd 262 Ks).

News:Dontrelle close to return

Views: It's been so far so good for Willis, who is expected to make another rehab start on Friday night. He's not overpowering hitters (he hasn't done that since 2006), but he's throwing strikes and keeping the ball down. Considering the Tigers currently have Zach Miner throwing batting practice every fifth day, and Rick Porcello belongs at Toledo learning how to miss bats rather than in the bigs developing into the next Jon Garland, there's a real chance Willis could be in the rotation by June 1. His name will outweigh his production, but if Willis can keep throwing strikes for five or six innings most nights, he could win 10 with the run support the Tigers will provide.

Verdict: Shallow mixed leagues need not apply. But AL-only leaguers in need of wins (and preferably with some bench space) might as well take a flier now.

News:Nats turn to closer by committee

Views: Tired of watching Joel Hanrahan squander the few leads the Nationals actually handed him, manager Manny Acta finally pulled the plug and has turned to the dreaded "closer by committee." And from now until September, there could be literally multiple save opps available for the Nats closer. Middling lefty Joe Beimel, once he returns from the DL (hip flexor) next week, figures to head the committee. The pride of Duquesne (go Dukes!) is the dictionary definition of mediocre. Of course, that still makes him a better option than Kip Wells and his Kip Wells-ian 3-to-7 K-to-BB ratio over 7.1 innings and propensity for pitching like Kip Wells. Julian Tavarez is their best option (well, aside from Hanrahan getting it together), though Thursday night's ninth-inning implosion likely knocked him to the back of the committee.

Verdict: Look, any big league pitcher could string together a couple of one-inning outings and therefore be a successful closer. So if you can't help but get in on this, grab Beimel today and wait until he comes back middle of next week. Wells is so terrible that I refuse to write another word about him. In the long run, the 27-year-old Hanrahan should re-gain his job since he's the most talented of this bunch.

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