Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LaTroy Hawkins? Why not?

I'm filing this blog post under "things I never thought I'd say":

Pick up LaTroy Hawkins.

If you're familiar with Hawkins' work under pressure situations (or were a Cubs fan in 2004), you know what I'm talking about. The reliever - while often excelling in middle relief - has earned a reputation as king of the blown save. By all accounts he's a great guy, but let's just say that time and again he's proven the ninth inning just isn't for him.

So why am I advising you to pick him up? Well, the Houston Astros have placed closer Jose Valverde on the 15-day DL, and apparently Hawkins is their best option to close out games in the interim. That alone makes Hawkins valuable, at least for the short term, particularly in NL-only leagues or wherever saves are at a premium. Hawkins might totally blow up in the role, but if you're simply scraping for saves or are a Valverde owner, it's a logical move. It's kind of like goal-line carries in fantasy football: Whoever's getting save opportunities has value, even if they might stink.

As for Valverde, his strained calf doesn't appear to be a long-term problem at this point, and though he hasn't exactly pitched well so far (0-1, 5.63 ERA, two saves), I'm not ready to punt on a guy coming off back-to-back 40-save seasons. The closer's job is his as soon as he's healthy again.

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