Tag:Kyle Farnsworth
Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Closer watch: Franklin, Nathan, Thornton out

By C. Trent Rosecrans

John AxfordAs we're getting deeper into the first month of the season, some of the "small sample size" arguments are losing their luster and managers are getting itchy. There's no position in baseball that causes more consternation than the closer's spot -- and few are easier to change. 

On Tuesday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Ryan Franklin was out as his closer, joining Ozzie Guillen and Ron Gardenhire in making changes in closers already this season, a common April occurance.

Here's a look at where all the closers in baseball stand at this moment:

Out -- Ryan Franklin (Cardinals), Joe Nathan (Twins), Matt Thornton (White Sox).

We won't know who the replacement for Franklin is until it comes to a save situation (Matt Snyder took a look at who may get the call -- and I'll agree that Mitchell Boggs gets the first shot) and even then, we'll have to have a few save situations until we get there.

Matt Capps has taken over for Nathan, who is not back 100 percent from Tommy John surgery, in Minnesota.

Thornton may get the call if the White Sox get in a save situation, but Ozzie Guillen has no confidence in anybody in his bullpen and has said he just doesn't have a closer.

Hanging by a thread -- John Axford (Brewers), Sean Burnett (Nationals), Kevin Gregg (Orioles).

Axford (pictured) started his season off by blowing a save in Cincinnati and added another Monday night. He's struggled with his command this season, but the Brewers don't have too many better options.

The Nationals have gone from no closer, to Burnett back to no set closer. After Burnett blew a save on Friday, Drew Storen closed with two innings on Sunday against the Brewers. The two are expected to share the job, but Burnett's not "out" because he's still half in.

Hand wringing -- Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers), Joakim Soria (Royals), Francisco Rodriguez (Mets).

These are three marquee names, but there's plenty of worry surrounding the trio.

Soria has struggled and has a 5.59 ERA, blowing one save, while Broxton hasn't blown a save, but has given up plenty of runs. He has an ERA of 6.14 and his manager's vote of confidence.

K-Rod, well, he's got plenty of issues, including a contract with a vesting option that the Mets aren't really interested in seeing him meet. That said, it's not like he's getting a lot of chances to close out Met victories for the team with the National League's worst record.

Nobody's perfect --  Brian Fuentes (Athletics), Carlos Marmol (Cubs), Jon Rauch (Blue Jays).

Rauch has been good, converting all three of his saves this season, but the return of Frank Francisco complicates things for him in Toronto.

Solid -- Mariano Rivera (Yankees), Heath Bell (Padres), Neftali Feliz (Rangers), Huston Street (Rockies), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates), Leo Nunez (Marlins), Chris Perez (Indians), Brian Wilson (Giants), Craig Kimbrel (Braves), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jose Contreras (Phillies), Jose Valverde (Tigers).

Sure, Rivera blew a save last night. I think Joe Girardi may give him another shot.

If a save falls in a forrest -- Francisco Cordero (Reds), Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox), Brandon Lyon (Astros), Brandon League (Marienrs), Kyle Farnsworth (Rays), Jordan Walden (Angels).

If the rest of the closers are in a "small sample size" argument right now, these guys have a "tiny sample size."

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 10:42 pm
 

Rays don't have a closer

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe MaddonIt's less than 48 hours until the 2011 Major League Baseball season kicks off, do you know who your closer is? 

Joe Maddon doesn't.

"Well, there isn't one," the Rays manager told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune "and I'm not going to declare one, because I think if you are not absolutely certain, then you shouldn't do that, because you're only setting yourself up for problems later on."

Maddon said he was happy with his rebuilt bullpen with just one holdover from last season, Andy Sonnanstine. He'll be joined by Jake McGee, a September call-up a year ago, along with Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Juan Cruz, Cesar Cabral and Adam Russell. The team will also add J.P. Howell in May.

It appears Farnsworth is as close as the team will have to a conventional closer, but Maddon may not save his closer for the ninth inning and obvious save situations.

"What I've learned over the last couple of years is that it's really about the leverage of the moment," Maddon said. "Why permit the game to get away in the seventh or eighth inning and have no chance to win it in the ninth and then you're using somebody entirely different anyway. I'm going to do my best to parcel out the work nightly and match them up as well as we can, try not to abuse anyone by warming them up and not putting them in the game."

Just the use of the word "leverage," Maddon is going to get a lot more fans in the sabermetric world. In hypothetical baseball, the prevailing theory is that a closer isn't needed, but no team has really tested that since the 2003 Red Sox, and that was abandoned during the season. Maddon doesn't have much of a choice, there's no lights-out closer sitting in the Rays' pen -- there may not even been a dimmer switch -- but he's got to try something. It will at least be something interesting to watch as the season goes along.

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Posted on: February 7, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 5:21 pm
 

Braves, Rays pinning hopes on closer by committee

KimCould the closer by committee be making a comeback?

Everyone remembers the last time a team attempted a closer by committee, to the scorn of many fans and pundits. And indeed, the attempt failed miserably by Boston back in 2003, necessitating a trade for the Diamondbacks' Byung-Hyun Kim (pictured) in May.

The problem back then was that the personnel wasn't right for Boston and the public tide of opinion was against having a closer by committee even as Boston's true intention was to deploy a closer, just as a relief ace instead. After all, don't you want your best relief pitcher pitching in the most important part of the game if it's earlier than the ninth? Jonathan Papelbon can make a bigger difference getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth than nailing down three outs in the ninth on a three-run lead.

Indeed, Boston would later sign Keith Foulke to close and deploy him as a relief ace in the 2004 run to the World Series. The Red Sox also developed Daniel Bard, who functioned as a relief ace in 2010. Skipper Terry Francona has talked often about how he loves having Bard to deploy where the team needs, not where the label of closer dictates.

But since Boston's aborted 2003 effort, closers by committees have existed only in lieu of a closer that has gotten injured.

But the concept may come roaring back in 2011, as two teams appear to be readying for a closer by committee.

The Rays have had to completely revamp their bullpen, and one byproduct of this is no clear-cut closer. Kyle Farnsworth is probably the pitcher with the best shot at emerging as closer given his longevity and pedigree. But even his closer's record is spotty as he has just 27 career saves (the most on the Rays, with J.P. Howell second at 20). Farnsworth, however, has only one save since 2006. Howell or rookie lefty Jake McGee seem likely to emerge as long-term closer, but for now, Tampa doesn't have much of a choice.

"We have some really good candidates," skipper Joe Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times. "Some good arms, some guys I don't really know that well that we've got to check out and see what they're capable of doing."

But even Maddon -- the king of innovation these days in baseball, sounded skeptical of the closer-by-committee approach.

"I have to prepare myself mentally for that because it's really different," Maddon said. "To have the one guy at the end of the game allows you to do certain things to get to the ninth innings whereas when you don't, there's different things you have to consider all the time. So it's quite a mental exercise."

Another team following in Tampa's footsteps are the Braves, who may split closer duties between Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. New manager Fredi Gonzalez pointed to the Mike Gonzalez/Rafael Soriano arrangement the Braves went through in 2009 as an example for Kimbrel and Venters.

However, while both duos share a similar handedness split (Gonzalez and Venters as lefties, Soriano and Kimbrel righties), the 2009 comparison leaves out one important distinction: the Gonzalez/Soriano tandem was over by the All-Star Break. In the first half, Gonzalez nailed down nine saves, Soriano 12. But after the first half, Gonzalez got just one save while Soriano would go on to notch 15. Granted, the same thing could happen again in Atlanta if a clear-cut closer emerges for Gonzalez.

Closers are increasingly being marginalized as teams are no longer willing to pay exorbitant amounts in free agency. Even Rafael Soriano got less than he was hoping for, and despite his massive three-year, $36 million commitment, is no more outrageous than Joaquin Benoit's three-year, $18.5 million deal. Along with the pullback in closer salaries is coming increased understanding of the volatility of closers. Perhaps one day, relief aces will supplant closers. Until then, however, each closer-by-committee situation figures to be hotly monitored and debated. How Atlanta and Tampa approach and fare in this regard will impact the future of bullpen philosophy, just like teams re-entrenched themselves with closers after Boston's failed gambit.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 12, 2011 11:53 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Rays sign Farnsworth

Kyle Farnsworth Well, nobody said rebuilding a bullpen would be easy -- and the Rays have proven that, signning rigth-hander Kyle Farnsworth to a one-year deal with an option, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets .

According to Olney (via Twitter ), Farnsworth will make $3.25 million and could be worth $6 million over two years.

The Rays will be Farnsworth's sixth team. He pitched for the Royals and Braves last season, going 3-2 with a 3.34 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings. Farnsworth is a hard-thrower, but hasn't shown the ability to pitch in his 12 seasons in the big leagues.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 2, 2010 5:01 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 5:43 pm
 

Braves pick up options on Gonzalez, Infante

Alex Gonzalez The Braves have agreed to a one-year deal with right-hander Scott Proctor and exercised their options on shortstop Alex Gonzalez and infielder Omar Infante, the team announced.

Both options for Infante and Gonzalez (pictured) are worth $2.5 million.

Proctor was arbitration-eligible.

The Braves declined their options on Kyle Farnsworth (a $5.25 million option with a $250,000 buyout) and Rick Ankiel ($6 million with a $500,000 buyout).

The team also has an option on closer Billy Wagner, who has repeatedly said he's going to retire. When asked Tuesday morning by MLB.com's Mark Bowman if he'd changed his plans, Wagner "emphatically" said, "No."

UPDATE: The Braves are interested in keeping free agent Eric Hinske around, David O'Brien of the Altanta Journal-Constitution writes.

"There still can be a role on the club for him, even though he’s left-handed," GM Frank Wren told O'Brien. "There are still areas where we can use him. We think he was a valuable part of the team last year and we still have interest in him."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 11, 2010 6:31 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:33 am
 

R.I.P. Royals: Help is on the way

As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Today: The Kansas City Royals

Oh Royals, through the 70s and 80s, the team was the model franchise. Since the turn of the century, the team's only been a punchline. That wasn't much different in 2010.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Yuniesky Betancourt Ewing Kauffman died in 1993. That's been the reason for the last 17 years of failure.

Oh, on the field? This year? Beyond Yuniesky Betancourt (pictured) being the team's shortstop? OK, Zack Greinke took a step back from his Cy Young 2009. Worse, he looked like another guy in a Royals uniform -- and that's not a good thing. Greinke went 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

How about Bruce Chen? Chen was 12-7 with a 4.17 ERA (the same as Greinke) -- but if you're looking long-term success, you're not betting on Chen.

Other positives? Joakim Soria may have been the best closer in the game, even if he didn't have too many games to close. Soria finished with 43 saves, a 1.78 ERA and 71 strikeouts and 16 walks in 65 2/3 innings.

The team also got rid of overpaid veterans like Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Guillen, Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel.

HELP ON THE WAY

Oh, is there ever.

Mike Moustakas The Royals have the deepest minor league system in the majors. Of Baseball America's 15-man Minor League All-Star Team, a full third were Royals.

The Royals are deep in position players (first baseman Eric Hosmer, catcher Wil Myers and third baseman Mike Moustakas (pictured)) and pitchers (lefty starters John Lamb and Mike Montgomery, reliever Tim Collins).

That's the good news, the bad news is with all this talent, it's still not ready for the big leagues in 2011, maybe 2012.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

Same as they always are in Kansas City -- grim. As noted, there's help on the way and maybe some of those guys can make their debut late in the season, but this won't be the season for the Royals to make a move. There is a brighter days ahead, but they aren't in the 10-day forecast.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

Don't raise ticket prices, because it's going to be another long year.

Greinke has started griping about not wanting to wait around for the Royals to get better, but he's still under contract through 2012. There's no reason to trade him this offseason, his value is lower than it should be and the asking price will be better in 2011 -- either at the trade deadline or after the season.

The Royals have already picked up the $6 million club option for outfielder David DeJesus, and he'll certainly bring something at the trade deadline next year.

There will certainly be plenty of suitors trying to pick up Soria, who is under team control through 2014. Listen, but unless bowled over for a deal, he's too valuable and under control for too long to move.

No fan is going to want to hear that they need patience, but there is actually hope for the Royals after so long without it. If half their prospects turn out as expected, they'll be the new Rays.

2011 PREDICTION

Same as it ever was. The Royals will be out of the picture by the All-Star break, and Ned Yost may even worry about his job. The only drama in September will be whether this team loses 100 games. But this time next year, there may be some excitement for 2012.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Posted on: October 9, 2010 1:55 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:11 pm
 

Braves' win avoids four-sweep scenario

Rick Ankiel
Until Atlanta's wild comeback victory (if you're holding a parlay ticket for Ankiel/Glaus/Farnsworth on a Vegas "postseason heroes" futures bet, you're rich!), it looked like baseball could be headed for uncharted territory: an all-sweep first round. The Rangers, Yankees and Phillies all have 2-0 leads, and the Giants came within five outs of joining them.

In the division series era (since 1995), never had all four series ended with 3-0 results. We have come within one game of it twice, both in the past three years. In 2007 the Yankees got one win against the Indians while the Red Sox swept the Angels, the Diamondbacks swept the Cubs and the Rockies swept the Phillies. Last year, the Rockies got a win against the Phillies while the Yankees swept the Twins, the Angels swept the Red Sox and the Dodgers swept the Cardinals.

In fact, you have to go back to 1975 to find any playoff round (short of the World Series) that was a sweep of sweeps. That year the Red Sox swept the Athletics in the ALCS and the Reds swept the Pirates in the NLCS.

At the very least, the Braves have eliminated the potential of a four-day lull between rounds, something baseball would not have liked.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: July 22, 2010 6:43 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:27 am
 

Angels get Royals' Callaspo


Alberto Callaspo The Angels have found a third baseman, getting Alberto Callaspo from the Royals for right-hander Sean O'Sullivan and minor league lefty Will Smith.

Callaspo, a switch-hitter, has played second and third this season, but also has logged games at shortstop and in the corner outfield spots in his big league career. He's hitting .275/.308/.410 with eight home runs and 43 RBI.

In return, the Royals get O'Sullivan, who got the win for the Angels on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, going six innings, allowing two hits and two runs, walking three and striking out four. Overall, in five appearances this season, he's 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings. His previous four appearances were in relief.

Smith was demoted to Double-A Arkansas, where he's 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA. He was 2-5 with a 5.60 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A Salt Lake.

The Royals, as they should be, are in full-out sell mode. Look for reliever Kyle Farnsworth and outfielder David DeJesus to be next out the door. before next weekend's trade deadline.

The team activated Rick Ankiel from the disabled list before Thursday's game with the Yankees and will make another move when O'Sullivan joins the team. Wilson Betemit is starting at third base in Callaspo's place in Thursday's game in New York.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.







 
 
 
 
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