Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat: John Axford, Brett Myers, more

by Nicholas Minnix on July 17, 2012 @ 15:05:41 PDT's Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat series gives you no-nonsense ratings of performances, injuries and managerial decisions in MLB bullpens. Get your arm loose: Let's find fantasy baseball players in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league who'll get saves.

Job security (JS) score 1 (unstable) to 5 (untouchable)
Health (H) score 1 (injury-prone) to 5 (durable)

Milwaukee Brewers

Closer: John Axford
Understudy/Fill-in: Francisco Rodriguez
Lurkers: Jose Veras, Kameron Loe

Houston Astros RP Brett Myers
What is Myers worth?

After Axford's latest blown save chance, on Monday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, Ron Roenicke wasn't so quick to back his beleaguered closer for future ninth-inning appearances. In fact, the skipper acknowledged that replacing Axford has been a topic of conversation on his staff and will continue to be.

The right-hander's problems have mostly been the result of inconsistent command of his arsenal. Tom Haudricourt's post-game piece essentially lays it out: If he doesn't have command, he probably fails to get ahead, and if he falls behind, he's in trouble.

This has been the issue all season. If Axford hasn't figured out its cause by now, there's no sense in continuing to send him out there with the game on the line and crossing fingers. The Brew Crew's solution, at least for the time being and no matter how optimistic is his case to retain the job based on his peripheral stats, is to make a change.

K-Rod hasn't been significantly better this season. But, as others have probably pointed out, putting him in the closer's role may also appeal to the organization because such a move may add to his perceived value. Rodriguez is still barter material as the deadline approaches.

Veras and Loe each have been no better than Rodriguez. Roenicke will probably turn to the default "experience" reason here. It's probably only a matter of time before the manager uses it.

Job security score: 1
Health score:

Houston Astros

Closer: Brett Myers
Understudy/Fill-in: Brandon Lyon
Lurkers: Wilton Lopez, David Carpenter M

As mentioned on Monday, Myers has been downright OK this season. Last night, the right-hander shut out the San Diego Padres for a frame to notch his 19th save. He's 0-4 with a 3.52 ERA, a 5.87 K/9 and a 1.76 BB/9.

Myers was trade bait before spring training began. That's no secret, and Houston's goal is still to deal him. But with numbers like that, what will he fetch?

According to Cot's Contracts, Myers is making $11 million in 2012 and will cost his final 2012 organization $3 mil to buy him out. Myers is still owed significant dough, which a contender might be willing to take on if the hurler were of the dominant closer variety.

Myers is basically a seventh-inning man somewhere else, especially because of the games-finished clause in his contract (which guarantees his $10 million option in 2013) but also because of the quality of his arm. No team in its right mind would trade even a bat boy for him unless Houston were to kick in a lot of cash, like they did when they sent Carlos Lee to the Miami Marlins.

The franchise is in a financial pickle, although the details seem fuzzy. Perhaps they're willing to do whatever it takes to shed these obligations, even though bleeding a lot of money now is required. It may, in fact, take anything. Or rather, they'll take anything.

When the club asked him to move from the rotation to the bullpen, the guise was that the move would allow the Astros to shore up the bullpen with a veteran and let them test more of their young starters. Of course, Myers was then virtually certain never to hit the performance clause that guaranteed his 2013 option in his reworked contract. As a starter, he probably just had to remain healthy for it to vest.

Some people actually believed that Myers would have more value to the club as a trade chip if he were a closer instead of a 200-inning starter. Just to reaffirm the silliness of that notion, Fangraphs' value metrics certainly suggest otherwise. Those numbers aren't gospel, but they can serve as a rough idea of how many clubs rate a player's worth and how his role can affect it. Last year, Myers was a supposed bum of a starter.

I'm curious about how much actual interest there is in Myers. Even if Houston kicks in most of his owed coin along with him, he can't be an attractive target for a team that has playoff dreams. Lyon, who has pitched better than Myers and also has experience as a closer, makes half of what Myers does. He's on the block, too.

Houston wants to dump these guys no matter what. A smart contender would probably call the Astros only if they had interest in Lyon, so he may be likelier to go. But they can't hang on to Myers; they won't have a reasonable excuse to prevent him from reaching his games-finished mark. They'll try to give him away, even via waivers in August.

Lopez and Carpenter may be the best bets for the Astros' saves after the deadline. What a situation.

Job security score: 4
Health score:

Mound meetings

The Marlins' committee took charge on Monday. Left-handed heat-tosser Mike Dunn, whom the club recalled a few weeks ago, pitched a scoreless ninth against the Washington Nationals to register his first save of 2012.

Heath Bell set up Dunn with a strong eighth. He gave up a hit to start things off but then fanned two of the next three. The right-hander remains in contention for saves, and a few more appearances like that will get him back in Guillen's good graces.

Joe Capozzi wonders how soon that'll happen, however. It might be tough for the skipper to go back to Bell if committee members like Steve Cishek and Dunn keep slamming the door shut.


Danny Knobler has the impression that the Kansas City Royals are considering an attempt to re-sign Jonathan Broxton rather than trade him by July 31. The right-hander has expressed interest in remaining in KC.

If the Royals sign Broxton to an extension, the move would be a bit of a head-scratcher. A one-year gamble on a player who has recovered from a serious injury is understandable, but a longer, costlier commitment to a player like that is an unnecessary risk, especially for a franchise potentially on the rise.

Besides that, Joakim Soria (elbow reconstruction) is due back next season. He'd be on the first of three club options, according to Cot's, and the figures are reasonable.

The righty won't be at full strength immediately and therefore will be unprepared to close, but the club would then have two backend hurlers who have health concerns and eat up a good portion of the payroll. It makes even less sense considering that the strength of this club for nearly two years has been its bullpen full of power arms.

Perhaps KC is again entertaining the thought of converting Soria into a starter, considering their concerns there, but the timing for Soria seems haphazard.

Maybe this talk is just posturing on Dayton Moore's part. It wouldn't be the first time the Royals made an ill-advised personnel decision, however, so don't be so sure. Greg Holland and Aaron Crow may not be the best stashes, if so.

Other Monday saviors

Chris Perez (26), Indians
Rafael Soriano (23), Yankees
Jonathan Papelbon (20), Phillies
J.J. Putz (17), Diamondbacks
Jose Valverde (17), Tigers
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Fantasy Baseball Closer Hot Seat | AL depth charts | NL depth charts

About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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