Tagged: Joakim Soria

Break It Down: Relief Pitcher Free Agent Pool

Moving on in the 3U3D breakdown of the 2012 free agent crop to the relievers.  You can check out the starters here.  Let’s get right into it.

The Big Catch

Rafael Soriano turned down his option with the Yankees in order to test the free agent market. How could you blame him after taking over the closer’s role for the Yankees and running with it in Mariano Rivera’s absence. He wants a place he can be the closer and can get a long-term contract. Would not be surprised if he lands on the team that knocked him from the 2012 playoffs in Detroit. I will not include Rivera on this list sure he’s a “free agent”, but you’re kidding yourself if he’s going anywhere that doesn’t start with “B” and end in “ronx” in 2013.

The “Big” Catch

I know, I know I made a fat pun, but Broxton is the only other healthy player that has been a solid closer in the past.  Unless you want to deal with the mess that is Jose Valverde.  He may not close though if he stays in Cincinnati, which he is open to doing.

The Tommy John Tier

Two pitchers that have been solid closers in the past. Two pitchers that missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery. I think I would be more comfortable taking a chance on Madson who is a little more advanced in his recovery. I doubt Madson will get the same amount of money that he got in the one-year deal from the Reds. If healthy though, these closers could be a steal for a team looking for one.

The Mystery Tier

We’ve seen a lot of success in Japanese closers coming over and being effective MLB relievers;  Kaz Sasaki, Koji Uehara, Hideki Okajima (at least for a little while), and Takashi Saito all come to mind.  Kyuji Fujikawa might be next in the lineage. He’s never had an ERA over 2.01 in his eight years in Japan.  If he lands on the right team in a closer role, he’ll be a trendy fantasy baseball sleeper.

Top Set-up Tier: Right-Handed Edition

The Rangers have a lot of the bullpen to rebuild if both Mike Adams and Koji Uehara take their services elsewhere.  That might be why the rumors are flying that they’re in on Fujikawa.  Adams has been one of the top set-up men for years now and should get a good contract if teams aren’t worried about his surgery for thoratic outlet syndrome. Uehara is coming off his best season and will expect more than the $4 million he made in 2012.  The same goes for Jason Grilli who found his niche finally in a set-up role in Pittsburgh with a 2.76 ERA and 1.16 WHIP the past two seasons.  He’ll get a raise over the $1.1 million he made last season.

Top Set-up Tier: Left-Handed Edition

Jeremy Affeldt is going to get paid after his perfect postseason performance for the Giants.  In my opinion, he’s been one of the most underrated relievers in the game.  Sean Burnett and J.P. Howell both picked good times to bounce back after worse 2011’s, especially in Howell’s case.  I would prefer Burnett to Howell because of the lesser injury risk, but both are good signings in the $3-5 million a year range.

What relievers would you want your team to go after this offseason?  Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The Tommy John Epidemic

On the podcast this week, we had a new segment called “This Week in Tommy John” it was just meant to be a joke really on how many players it seems are going to go under the knife this season.  With Kyle Drabek’s official announcement that he would have to get the surgery for a second time, we have now reached TWENTY pitchers since the start of 2012 Spring Training that have had to have work done on their elbow.  Braves Brandon Beachy and Blue Jays Drew Hutchison could be victims #21 and #22 in just a matter of days.   Last season there were just 14 players in the Majors that were subjected to Tommy John surgery.   Here’s a complete breakdown of the pitchers that are missing the rest of this season, in order of undergoing surgery.

Joel Zumaya, Twins

No surprise that Zumaya who has had an injury-plagued career was the first on the list this season way back in spring training.

Arodys Vizcaino, Braves

Joakim Soria, Royals

This was a huge blow to the Royals as they were looking to contend with a quality bullpen.  Jonathan Broxton has filled in admirably in the closers role for Kansas City, but having Soria with Broxton, Greg Holland, Tim Collins, and Aaron Crow would’ve possibly been the best bullpen in the American League.

Sergio Escalona, Astros

Ryan Madson, Reds

A free agent signing for the Reds in the offseason.  Madson will possibly never pitch in a regular season game for Cincinnati as he was signed to just a one-year deal.  Like in Kansas City, Cincinnati potentially had a great bullpen before the injury.

Jose Ceda, Marlins

Joey Devine, Athletics

The perpetual “closer of the future” Devine’s injuries have kept him away from the Majors.

Michael Kohn, Angels

Scott Baker, Twins

Baker was the ace of the Twins pitching staff with a 3.14 ERA in the 2011 season.  This has helped lead to a depleted Twins rotation that has had to rely on three rookies and Francisco Liriano.  Helps explain why they’re in the basement of the AL Central.

Brian Wilson, Giants

The 3rd closer on this list.  Thankfully, Wilson’s beard doesn’t have a UCL to tear.

Mike Pelfrey, Mets

George Sherrill, Mariners

Tsuyoshi Wada, Orioles

Danny Duffy and Blake Wood, Royals

The Royals have been hit the hardest with three players needing Tommy John surgery so far this season.

Cory Luebke, Padres

Big things were expected out of Luebke in San Diego after a breakout 2011 season.  Instead, we’ll see if he can bounce back in 2013.

Marcos Mateo, Cubs

Andrew Carignan, Athletics

Charlie Morton, Pirates

Morton had changed his game to emulate Roy Halladay in 2011 and had his best season in the Majors.  It’s possible that changing his strategy helped contribute to this injury.

Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays

That’s the whole list of twenty pitchers.  Beachy and Hutchison are waiting in the wings to be added to the list.  The three words “Dr. James Andrews” and the three letters “UCL” are quickly becoming the scariest things in the game of baseball.  What do teams need to do to help prevent this from occurring?

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)