Monday, February 25, 2008

Offseason moves: Relievers

RP Brad Lidge to Phillies: Lidge's struggles since serving up the famous Albert Pujols homer have been well-documented, but the Phils figured a change of scenery would do him good. The problem is he's moved to a ballpark built for home runs, and he just had surgery on his knee Monday, which could force him to not be ready for Opening Day. Draft cautiously.

RP Francisco Cordero to Reds: Cordero sometimes gets a bad rap as a shaky closer, but here are his numbers from last year with Milwaukee: 44 saves, 2.98 ERA, 86/18 K/BB ratio, .218 batting average against. Now, here are Mariano Rivera's '07 stats: 30 saves, 3.15 ERA, 74/12 K/BB, .248 BAA. Not saying you draft Cordero ahead of Rivera, necessarily, but waiting for a guy like Cordero several rounds later wouldn't be such a bad idea.

RP Jose Valverde to Astros: Valverde is a similar guy. Is he volatile? Sometimes. Is he an upgrade from what Houston had previously? Yup. Is he capable of repeating last year's 47-save season? He'll come close.

RP Eric Gagne to Brewers: Gagne apologized for being implicated in the Mitchell Report this offseason. He should apologize to the Red Sox for completely tanking after they acquired him at last year's trade deadline. I don't know if it was the pressure he faced in Boston, his role as a set-up man, or just that he got tired after not pitching a full season since 2004, but none of that should be a problem as he gets a fresh start as Milwaukee's closer. Yes, he's an injury risk, but remember, Gagne was having a great comeback year with Texas before getting traded to the Sox. He might be undervalued at your draft.

RP Troy Percival to Rays: Percival's another veteran closer who was sidelined for a while with injuries and actually retired for a year before making a successful comeback as a middle reliever last year with the Cardinals (1.80 ERA, 36 Ks in 24 innings). He parlayed that into a two-year deal as the closer in Tampa Bay, where he supplants Al Reyes. There's always a chance Percival could blow out his arm, which is a concern, but don't automatically get scared off just because he's the closer of the Rays - Reyes (26 saves in '07) and Danys Baez (41 saves in '05) have been useful fantasy players in that role before.

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