Just when you think the closer position couldn't have sunk any lower, its 2012 struggles reach a sublime, legendary level. Even the infallible, ageless Mariano Rivera cannot be spared fate's wrath.
When you read "Rivera tears ACL shagging batting practice flies," you know now no one is safe at the position. It is Closer's (not Murphy's) Law: What can go wrong, will.
"Do I like having a deep bullpen, just like every other manager? Yes," manager Joe Girardi told
Rivera is done, perhaps for his career; the Giants Brian Wilson (Tommy John elbow surgery) is done, perhaps for his career as a closer; Joakim Soria (TJ elbow surgery) is done for the year and perhaps as a Royal; Red Sox Andrew Bailey (thumb surgery), Nat Drew Storen (elbow), Jay Sergio Santos (shoulder) and Ray Kyle Farnsworth (elbow) still heal.
The carnage doesn't end there, either. Even presumably healthy closers like Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol and Jordan Walden have bee too ineffective for the last-inning role thus far.
Is there anyone who can do what Jonathan Papelbon and Fernando Rodney can? (To think their former teams just didn't like those two early-season standouts enough to keep them.)
It is a mess, but we will try to sort through it team-by-team this week (again) in the Friday pitching report.
"I'll sleep on it," Girardi told The Post. "We've got two guys who I feel are very capable in [David] Robertson and [Rafael] Soriano. If we took the lead Robby was going to close (Thursday night). But I'll sit down with my coaches and we'll talk about it. I'll make that decision [Friday]."
The Yankees thought enough of Robertson to make him their eighth-inning guy over Soriano. He was clearly their second-best reliever with his 0.00 ERA and 0.909 WHIP with 18 strikeouts in 11 innings. The numbers made him more dominant than the Rivera himself thus far this season.
The question is whether the Yankees want to weaken their eighth inning to stopgap their ninth? Barring a trade for a closer (see below), Robertson is a must-add in all fantasy leagues immediately. It is probably already too late, even if the mere 54 percent ownership on CBSSports.com suggests otherwise. Add Robertson in 100 percent of leagues and if you miss out ...
If you missed out on Robertson, you might as well give Soriano a shot. He has more experience in the closer's role, but being a closer in New York is a different beast; ask Armando Benitez. Maybe the Yankees side with experience so they don't mess with Robertson as a lights-out setup man.
Also, if the Yankees do consider a trade, perhaps they would prefer keeping Robertson is in accustomed setup role.
Right now, the answer lies within Girardi and his coaching staff. Soriano can be a Top 10, if not a top five, fantasy closer in his own right, but Girardi has already technically chosen Robertson over Soriano when weighing the setup question (and the Thursday night fill-in after Rivera went down in batting practice).
The Yankees have the money and prospects to do anything they desire. The Astros wouldn't mind dealing Myers. It adds up to a match made in ... uh, well, a potential match at least. (Myers couldn't handle Philly, psychologically, and was arrested for abusing his spouse in Boston.)
Brian Fuentes of the A's is always among the trade possibilities, but Myers is the most available and the most intriguing of the potential trade targets. The Yankees bullpen is strong and deep enough without Myers, or Fuentes, but we figured we have to measure those alternatives to Robertson and Soriano as well.
It is not the Yankee Way to be unable to make a decision like some teams, but perhaps Girardi goes with the hot hand as closer. In that event, we have to add the likes of lefty Boone Logan (0.87 ERA), righty Cory Wade (1.46 ERA) and starter Phil Hughes (once Andy Pettitte proves ready for the rotation) to the potential mix for saves.
Logan and Wade are long shots and Hughes is a wild card, particularly since he would first have to transition to a relief role and prove effective in the middle innings. Again, we want to present all options here, even the improbable ones.
• Angels lefty
• The Marlins' Bell has been rung once too many times.
• The Red Sox are spot-starting
• Marmol was removed, a la Bell, from his closer's role with the Cubs on Thursday, giving way to
If you have a struggling closer, the following are under-owned/undervalued in CBSSports.com's leagues right now:
1. Rodney, Rays (89 percent)
Every one of these guys are going great and should be owned in all leagues immediately. H-Rod and Robertson are real gems that need to be picked up. Rodney and Perez should be trusted even in the smallest of formats, too.