Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Philadelphia Closer Situation

Brad Lidge had "minor" knee surgery yesterday that certainly doesn't help his chances of being ready for Opening Day.  It's not so much this surgery as the bone chips procedure he had done right after the 2009 season ended that truly jeopardizes his status.

Today's reports were the first I had heard "Danys Baez" and "saves" mentioned in the same sentence as I would have expected, and still do, that Ryan Madson would be the primary backup to Lidge.  Thus, a Phillies club without Lidge would presumably go with Madson as their closer to start the season.  It's not just Lidge's health status that had us forecasting Madson to pick up 10+ saves in the latest forecast set.  It's that Lidge was so shaky in 2009 that he's going to be on a very short leash this year.  There simply aren't that many closers who can post an ERA over 7.00 in year one and have strong job security in year two if they start with a similar ERA.  So, while I entirely believe that Lidge suffered a terrible season that's unlikely to repeat in 2010, he still has to show early that he's better than that if he's to hang on to the closer's job here.

As for Baez, while he does have a lot of closing experience, he hasn't had more than 3 saves in a season since 2006 and hasn't topped 10 saves since 2005.  He's a much better pitcher than he's appeared to be with Baltimore the past couple of years, this thanks to some pretty miserable luck last year where his ERA should have rightfully been about a run better per nine innings.  Still, I wouldn't be rushing out to pick him up in your fantasy league, even if there's a legitimate threat for a few saves in April.