As far as baseball mysteries go, one of the biggest was solved this week, when Robin Ventura enlightened the masses and revealed Hector Santiago as his closer. It was one of the biggest questions entering the season, and no less than four names were thrown in the mix as potential closer candidates. But it looks like two of the pitchers who were, at certain points, favorites to win the role -- Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain -- were more valuable to Ventura in middle relief. So Santiago wins the role, and everyone runs out to get him.
|1.||Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox||49|
|2.||Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays||38|
|3.||Alfredo Aceves, RP, Red Sox||37|
|4.||Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals||30|
|5.||Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals||28|
|6.||Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners||25|
|7.||Jeff Samardzija, RP, Cubs||24|
|8.||Jake Arrieta, SP, Orioles||22|
|9.||Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals||22|
|10.||Zack Cozart, SS, Reds||18|
Or, at least, most people did. Santiago is still only owned in 52 percent of leagues, and I think this may be a result of people not realizing that Ventura named him the closer. It's almost a "fool me twice..." situation, with Fantasy owners having been burned in the last week by Mark Melancon and Joel Peralta red herrings. Santiago, however, will close until he implodes, so he's a safe -- and, apparently, still shrewd -- option for a waiver wire add.
Now, on to the rest of the Roster Trends ...
Most Added Players
Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox
Jump in ownership: 48 percent (from four percent to 52)
Reason for the jump: Named closer for the White Sox
Why you should join the crowd: If he's still a free agent in your league, you should run and grab him. Santiago has been named the closer, so there's no chance for a Melancon-type backfire, where everyone ran out and grabbed the wrong Red Sox closer based on the most logical guesswork.
Devil's Advocate: Fine, Santiago is the closer, but is he any good at it? If he turns out to be terrible at the job, he may do more harm than good for your team.
Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays
Jump in ownership: 37 percent (from six percent to 43)
Reason for the jump: He's gotten both of Tampa Bay's saves this season
Why you should join the crowd: Joel Peralta, the heretofore favorite for the closer's role in Kyle Farnsworth's absence, is manager Joe Maddon's favorite 8th-inning toy, and Rodney has a history of being an effective (with flashes of some wildness) closer. Mix it all together -- a skilled pitcher who has excelled in the role before, taking over for a pitcher with recurring elbow soreness -- and it's a recipe for a sly waiver wire pickup.
Devil's Advocate: Farnsworth is only supposed to be out for 4-6 weeks at this point. When he returns, Rodney could lose that role and be just another middle reliever. On top of that, Joe Maddon is known for his quirky strategies and could swap Rodney out for Peralta based on the situation. Keep in mind that Rodney's saves have both been of the one-out variety.
Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals
Jump in ownership: 29 percent (from 33 percent to 62)
Reason for the jump: Furcal is batting .435 with two steals and three runs scored, through Monday
Why you should join the crowd: There may be life left in those legs! Manager Mike Matheny has Furcal taking more pitches and trying to get the ball on the ground more often. He stole 22 bases in just 97 games in 2010 and sports a .283 career average. He could be a cheap source of speed at a relatively shallow position and he does have a little bit of power, although it could be mitigated by the ground-pound strategy.
Devil's Advocate: The last time he played in 162 games was ... never. In the last three years, Furcal has averaged 111 games played with just 14 steals. He's also 34 years old and hit just .231 last year.
Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners
Jump in ownership: 25 percent (from 16 percent to 41)
Reason for the jump: Figgins is batting .381 with a steal and four RBI so far his season
Why you should join the crowd: He's already played four games in the outfield; one more gives him the dual eligibility in most leagues. In points leagues, his triple and double are already paying off for owners. Before 2011's disaster, Figgins had seven straight seasons of 30-plus steals, five of which he stole 40 or more.
Devil's Advocate: He's 34 and showed his age last year, when he hit .188 in 81 games. Seattle's offense isn't going to drive him in as much as they should and once Mike Carp returns, he may get squeezed for playing time if Kyle Seager (whose ownership has jumped from seven to 21 percent) remains hot.
Mark Melancon, RP, Red Sox
Drop in ownership: 18 percent (from 44 percent to 26)
Reason for the drop: Melancon is 0-2 with a 36.00 ERA in one inning pitched so far this season.
Why you should join the crowd: Melancon seems like the living embodiment of a DirecTV commercial, where one bad bit of news begets another. He went from "likely closer" to "Boston anti-hero" at an incredibly accelerated rate.
Devil's Advocate: Even though Alfredo Aceves got the save Monday night, he's still far from a reliable closer; Melancon is a very good pitcher and could hit a groove in middle relief, while Aceves still falters. With the Red Sox reassuring everyone that Daniel Bard will remain a starter, Melancon is -- by process of elimination -- the next in line to be closer if Aceves falters.
Ben Revere, OF, Twins
Drop in ownership: Five percent (from 32 percent to 27)
Reason for the drop: Revere has had just six at-bats so far this season
Why you should join the crowd: Revere looks to be caught in the middle of the Minnesota outfield mess. With Josh Willingham starting in left field and Denard Span in center, Revere is staring down a possibly season-long rotation that features Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, and Ryan Doumit. Without much playing time, his Fantasy value plummets.
Devil's Advocate: Revere hit .267 last season -- with 34 stolen bases -- in 450 at-bats. Plouffe and Doumit can play at a bunch of other positions defensively, so if Revere can get hot, he may eventually hammer out more starts for himself and push the other two to time-shares elsewhere.
Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies
Drop in ownership: Four percent (72 percent to 68)
Reason for the drop: Fowler is off to a horrific start, with one hit in 11 at-bats
Why you should join the crowd: You shouldn't. But if you need a reason to do it, consider that Tyler Colvin, a former top prospect with the Cubs, played center field in place of Fowler on Sunday. Combine that with the way the Rockies demoted and called up Fowler in the past, and there's an argument. It's a bit of a stretch, and I don't necessarily believe in it -- Colvin is more of a corner outfielder/first baseman -- but it's the most likely scenario in which Fowler would lose playing time.
Devil's Advocate: It's the first week of the season and Fowler is probably just off to a cold start. While his ownership is a bit high for a career .260 batter with a ceiling of about 20 steals, dropping him now puts his owners squarely in the "panic" category.
Players with deep league appeal
Both Lucas Harrell and Tommy Hunter have nudged their "owned" levels up to nine percent with some stellar debut performances. Harrell, who is eligible as a reliever in most leagues, struck out four in seven innings against the Rockies, while Hunter struck out three in seven innings against Minnesota. The two pitchers are strikingly similar -- both have low strikeout rates, both are in their mid-20s (Harrell is 26; Hunter is 25), and both switched organizations last July. Hunter has tended to be more of a flyball pitcher in the majors, while Harrell relies on more grounders. For now, they're both deep options, but mixed leaguers would be smart to throw them on the Scout Teams, as a couple more solid starts could signal good things to come with their new organizations.
Just like last week, the "most traded" list is riddled with prospects and youngsters, who are likely being dealt in keeper leagues as teams try to address holes and lack of depth in 2012. A veteran popping up in the top 10, however, is Toronto's Adam Lind, who is batting .188 so far this season, with just one run batted in. Lind has averaged 28 home runs over the last three seasons, but has a career average of just .266. His 2009 season, in which he hit .305 with 35 home runs, remains his ceiling, but it seems to be a more unobtainable one as we get farther away from it. His strikeouts don't help points leagues, but his power potential makes him a relatively cheap, buy-low trade target, or a crafty throw-in as part of a larger deal.
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