When it comes to my Tout Wars Mixed Auction league, FAAB might as well be renamed CLAB, as speculative closers have routinely dominated the proceedings. Being that there’s a finite supply of saves and guessing right can result in immediate points gained in the standings, this is totally understandable. On the other hand, guessing wrong could put you at a serious FAAB (or CLAB) disadvantage for the remainder of the season. Anyway, just out of curiosity, I reviewed the archives. And I wasn’t surprised by what I found. The five most expensive purchases so far in 2014 have been closers, or more accurately, relievers who would receive an opportunity to pitch in the ninth inning and would maybe hold onto the job long-term. Maybe. In hindsight of course, let’s grade these pickups.
1. Joe Smith (Purchased for $50 by Paul Singman on 4/28)
Isn’t vickrey bidding fun? Even though Paul actually placed a bid of $86 for Smith’s services, he likely did not expect to shell out 50 bucks. At the time, it did seem like Smith had a decent chance of holding onto the Angels’ closer job for awhile, but all Paul got from his pricey investment was four saves. Ernesto Frieri is now back to closing full-time and Smith is back on the waiver wire. Look, there’s value in four saves, but 50 FAAB dollars worth of value? Not quite.
2. Francisco Rodriguez (Purchased for $34 by Cory Schwartz on 4/7)
34 FAAB bucks is a lot to spend on any one player, but in the case of K-Rod, it’s been well worth it, as Cory has been rewarded with 19 saves to go along with a 2.30 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Heading into the season, Rodriguez was completely off the mixed league radar, but Jim Henderson’s spring training struggles resulted in K-Rod receiving the save chance on opening day, and it’s pretty safe to say that barring injury, he will hang onto the job for the rest of the year. Oh, and Henderson has been sidelined for more than a month with a shoulder injury.
3. Jenrry Mejia (Purchased for $25 by Nando DiFino on 5/19)
Mejia certainly has the stuff to be a quality big league closer, but after getting off to a strong start in his new role, his ERA in June is 11.25. To make matters worse, he’s now dealing with a back injury. The good news is that the injury isn’t considered serious, and it’s not like the Mets have many other appealing ninth inning options. Plus, Nando has already gotten five saves from Jenrry. That’s one more save than Singman received from Joe Smith, at half the price.
4. Ronald Belisario (Purchased for $24 by David Gonos on 5/26)
You’re probably better off not watching Belisario pitch these days. Trust me, you don’t need the added stress. But he has converted each of his last three save chances, tossing a perfect inning in two of those appearances. Belisario is clearly Robin Ventura’s preferred option to handle stopper duties, and he could very well get on a roll and remain the closer for the rest of the season. As of now, however, his leash isn’t long, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this eventually turns into a committee situation involving Belisario, Daniel Webb and Jake Petricka. And for fantasy owners, there are few phrases more irritating than “closer by committee.”
5. Zach Britton (Purchased for $22 by Scott Pianowski on 5/19)
On May 9th, Tommy Hunter picked up his 11th save in 12 chances and sported a 3.29 ERA. Less than a week later, he was out as the Orioles closer, and Britton has taken full advantage since notching his first career save on May 15th, converting seven of his eight save opportunities while allowing just one run over 14 1/3 innings. Not too long ago, Britton was a high-end starting pitching prospect, but he could never quite figure things out at the big league level. Moving to the bullpen seems to have done the trick. He should continue to be a reliable source of saves the rest of the way. Factoring in the prices, a case could be made that Britton was an even better pickup than K-Rod, but Rodriguez’s extensive track record does count for something.
Sure, not properly addressing saves on draft day is a mistake that can be remedied to a degree during the season through FAAB. But as this balanced grade distribution suggests, there’s plenty of luck involved. All we can do is make the best decision possible using the information we are given at the time.
So, to my fellow Tout Mixed Auction owners, please don’t take these grades too seriously.