Trade Deadline Buy/Sell: National League Closers

July 12, 2012

SPECIAL UPDATE: TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL (PART 1 OF 2)

Glossary
BUY+: This player has a large chance of becoming a closer by the trade deadline.
BUY: This player has a small chance of becoming a closer by the trade deadline.
SELL: This player has a small chance of losing his closer job by the trade deadline.
SELL+: This player has a large chance of  losing his closer job by the trade deadline.

TLDR Version
BUY+: Brandon Lyon, Francisco Rodriguez, Luke Gregerson.
BUY: Jose Veras, David Hernandez, Dale Thayer.
SELL: Frank Francisco, John Axford, Jason Motte, J.J. Putz, Huston Street.
SELL+: Brett Myers.

Atlanta Braves – Atlanta is still in the playoff hunt and could look to add an arm down the stretch.  This is unlikely to mean much to their bullpen hierarchy, however, as no one they could possibly acquire could threaten Craig Kimbrel.  BUY/SELL: None. 
Miami Marlins – The Marlins need bullpen help, but are several games under .500 and are unlikely to make any moves either way.  They have former closer Juan Oviedo (Leo Nunez) returning from suspension soon, and will hope to rally with the staff they have.  BUY/SELL: None. 
New York Mets – The Mets may look to add an arm in the bullpen– Grant Balfour’s name has been bandied about– and that’s actually bad news for their current crop of relievers.  Frank Francisco, due to return from the DL after the All Star Break, has been far from solid, and any new acquisition could push him for the closer’s job.  BUY: None.  SELL: Frank Francisco. 
Philadelphia Phillies – Despite the Phillies’ struggles, they’re unlikely to sell off any valuable bullpen assets.  Jonathan Papelbon has a long term contract, and they value Antonio Bastardo too highly to move him.  BUY/SELL: None.
Washington NationalsEven without Drew Storen– who is expected back in a few weeks– the first place Nats have one of the strongest bullpens in the NL.  They’re unlikely to make any moves that would affect their hierarchy.  BUY/SELL: None.

Chicago Cubs – The Cubs are selling anything and everything, but they may not have many takers for the top arms in their bullpen.  Carlos Marmol has a big contract and is far too volatile to generate any interest.  Meanwhile, Shawn Camp, James Russell and Rafael Dolis are unlikely to affect the 9th inning role if they do end up landing anywhere else.  BUY/SELL: None.
Cincinnati Reds – Aroldis Chapman, despite some recent road bumps, is locked in to the closer role for the remainder of the year.  Sean Marshall has also been rock solid in the 8th inning role.  If the Reds look to make a trade, it won’t affect the bullpen.  BUY/SELL: None.
Houston Astros – The Astros are looking to move Brett Myers, whose has a $10 million option that will kick in if he finishes 45 games.  This makes him an interesting trade acquisition, as cash-strapped teams may be reluctant to move him into the closer role if they acquire him.  Unfortunately, this also hurts his value, as it further decreases the chance that he’ll close wherever he lands.  Brandon Lyon would inherit the job if Myers is dealt, which seems likely at this point.  BUY+: Brandon Lyon.  SELL+: Brett Myers.
Milwaukee Brewers – Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he would like to see how the team performs in the weeks after the break before deciding to sell.  But if they do, they have several players in the bullpen that could interest contenders.  John Axford has blown a handful of saves this year, and like most closers on bottom feeders, could see his value drop if he is dealt and moved into a set-up role.  Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Veras have also been mentioned in trade talks, though their values are likely to rise if they (or Axford) is moved.  BUY+: Francisco Rodriguez.  BUY: Jose Veras.  SELL: John Axford.
Pittsburgh Pirates – The first-place Pirates are buyers, but most media reports have them seeking a bat, not an arm.  Even if they were to tack on in the bullpen, an acquisition would probably inherit the 7th or 8th inning role, as Joel Hanrahan has been solid all year.  BUY/SELL: None.
St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals need some bullpen help, as Jason Motte has been shaky for much of the season.  The St. Louis Dispatch reported on Tuesday that Huston Street could be an option, and Street expressed the desire to close if he moves elsewhere.  Such a deal could hurt Motte’s value.  BUY: None.  SELL: Jason Motte.

Arizona Diamondbacks – They haven’t performed as well as expected, but the Diamondbacks are only four games out of first.  But as of right now, they’re sellers, reportedly listening to offers to Justin Upton.  J.J. Putz is an interesting trade target, and though his name hasn’t surfaced in trade talks yet, but he’s in the last year of his contract (the D’Backs have a club option) and could generate interest from contenders.  However, this might be more likely to hurt his value than help it, as he could land with a team that puts him in a set-up role.  David Hernandez would inherit the role if he gets traded.  BUY: David Hernandez.  SELL: J.J. Putz.
Colorado Rockies – ESPN’s Buster Olney has reported that the Rockies would have to be overwhelmed in a deal for either Rafael Betancourt or Matt Belisle, so there isn’t much chance that either will move before the trade deadline.  At 32-51, the Rockies are obviously not buyers, either.  BUY/SELL: None.
Los Angeles Dodgers – The Dodgers’ bullpen is solid, with Kenley Jansen still racking up strikeouts at an absurd rate.  They’re unlikely to be factors in the bullpen market at the deadline.  BUY/SELL: None.
San Diego Padres – Huston Street is a great bet to move somewhere else before the All Star Break, and a trade would either cause his value to rise slightly (if he goes to a contender and continues to close out games) or plummet (if he becomes a set-up man).  But a definite beneficiary is Luke Gregerson– or possibly Dale Thayer– who could see saves once Street lands elsewhere.  BUY+: Luke Gregerson.  BUY: Dale Thayer.  SELL: Huston Street. 
San Francisco Giants – The Giants proved last year that they’re willing to make a splash at the deadline, but they’re unlikely to make any moves, bullpen-wise, as they have two solid top-tier relievers in Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo.  BUY/SELL: None.

Steve Cishek to lead closer by committee in Miami

July 10, 2012

Miami Marlins – Ozzie Guillen told The Dan LeBatard Show today that he would use a closer-by-committee after the All Star Break.  Steve Cishek is the best candidate for saves, while Mike Dunn could see some opportunities against lefty-heavy lineups.  Juan Oviedo (nee Leo Nunez) will also be in the mix when he returns from suspension.  Hierarchy change: Steve Cishek to Closer, Heath Bell to Set-up, Juan Ovideo to Set-up (Suspended). 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedMIA |Cishek |Bell |Dunn |Bell |7/10/12 |Oviedo(SUSP)|Mujica(DL) |

Heath Bell on the verge of losing his job again

July 9, 2012

Arizona Diamondbacks – Patrick Corbin picked up a 3-inning save on Sunday.  He does not factor in to Arizona’s normal late-inning plans.  No hierarchy change. 

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedARI |Putz |Hernandez |Shaw |Putz |7/9/12

 
Miami Marlins – Heath Bell blew his 10th save of the season on Sunday.  After the game, Ozzie Guillen told the Miami Herald that he stood behind Bell, but in typically cryptic fashion, also said that “I have to make a decision, a solution, it will be drastic. But I will do it. We’ll wait until the All-Star break, and I will pick whoever is better out there to do the job.’’  Should Bell get demoted, Steve Cishek stands to inherit the job.  Juan Oviedo, the man formerly known as Leo Nunez, could also get a shot at his old job when he returns from his suspension later this month.  Heath Bell to Hot Seat.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedMIA |Bell |Cishek |Dunn |Bell |7/9/12 |Mujica(DL) |

Matt Thornton and Scott Downs get saves

July 8, 2012

Los Angeles Angels
– With two lefties due up in the 9th, the Angels went to Scott Downs.  He pitched a perfect inning for his 8th save.  Ernesto Frieri is still the closer but Downs will continue to get saves if both continue to get the job done.  No hierarchy change.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedLAA |Frieri |Downs |Hawkins |Walden |7/8/12

 
Chicago White Sox – Matt Thornton picked up the save yesterday as predicted in the vulture save watch.  Addison Reed is still the closer and was just given the night off after pitching in the previous three days.   No hierarchy change.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedCHW |Reed |Thornton |Jones |Reed |7/8/12 |Crain (DL) |

 
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Joaquin Benoit, Detroit Tigers – Jose Valverde had a rough outing yesterday and pitched in three straight games so he will likely get the day off on Sunday.
2. Jared Burton, Minnesota Twins – With the Twins employing a true platoon, Jared Burton could get the save opp if there’s a righty-heavy ninth inning due up.
3. Mike Adams, Texas Rangers – Joe Nathan threw 36 pitches in two innings yesterday.  This was the first time all season that Nathan had pitched more than one inning so he could be given the day off on Sunday.

Sergio Romo picks up another save

July 7, 2012

San Francisco Giants – Sergio Romo picked up his 5th save of the season last night as Santiago Casilla was unavailable due to a blister.  Manager Bruce Bochy said before Friday’s game that he was not considering a change at closer, and Romo came out after the game and also said that the closer job was still Casilla’s.  However, Casilla has struggled lately, giving up 6 runs and 11 hits over his last 4.1 innings.  Romo could see more save opportunities going forward, but it is unlikely that he would ever become the full time closer this season, as the Giants are limiting his workload to keep him from reinjuring his knee or elbow. He’s only pitched on three consecutive nights once this season.   Hierarchy change: Sergio Romo to Set-up, Jeremy Affeldt to 2nd in line.

 |Closer |Set-Up |2nd In Line |2013 Closer |UpdatedSF  |Casilla |Romo |Affeldt |Wilson |7/7/12 |Wilson(DL) |

 
VULTURE SAVE WATCH
1. Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins – Heath Bell has pitched in four straight games and six of the last seven.
2. Jared Burton, Minnesota Twins – With the Twins employing a true platoon, Jared Burton could get the save opp if there’s a righty-heavy ninth inning due up.
3. Matt Thornton, Chicago White Sox – Addison Reed has pitched in three straight games.