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Kicking Rocks: Closer Frustrations & Injuries

As much joy as the game of fantasy baseball brings to most of us, it can also bring an enormous amount of frustration and anxiety.  They say you shouldn’t keep that sort of stuff bottled up inside you, unless, of course, you enjoy the taste of bile and all the other stomach acids that a bleeding ulcer provides.  You need to get it out.  But what are you going to do, bitch to your girlfriend?  Try to gain sympathy from your fellow owners?  Doubtful.   Her level of care is reciprocal to your level of interest in her best friend’s latest relationship disaster and deep down, your fellow owners are wishing this kind of stuff on you.

But not us.  We’re here for you.  Kicking Rocks is a new weekly column dedicated to the venting of your fantasy lamentations.  Aggravated by a manager’s choice to suddenly platoon one of your outfielders?  Frustrated that a particular strategy hasn’t worked in your favor?  Ended up with the short end of the stick in a trade?  Whatever the case may be, bring it to the table here and hopefully we’ll be able to get you through it.  Consider it your fantasy support group.

But since the season has yet to begin and there hasn’t been time for much in the way of regrets, I’m going to start things off by venting my frustration over something that is causing many of us some serious angst.  Whether you’ve already drafted or you’re about to, the abundance of unsettled closer situations and late Spring Training bullpen injuries are killing us.  You’re either spending far to much time re-working your draft day depth charts, or worse, you’re already scouring the waiver wire looking for replacements when there hasn’t been a single regular season game played. It’s like a nightmare, isn’t it?  And it just keeps getting worse and worse.

Take the situation in Washington right now.  Most expected Drew Storen to be the Nationals go-to guy, but with a sub par Spring, we’re now looking at a committee that includes him, Tyler Clippard, and Sean Burnett.  Sure, there are some advantages to holding a middle reliever or two on your roster, but how many roster spots are you going to hold to glom the saves from one team?  Most competitive leagues have a very limited bench and your reserve spots are are likely to be more useful if they supply better depth at other positions.

RotoGraph’s writer Mike Axisa pointed out the equally frustrating situation in Atlanta the other day, and Mike Podhorzer and I have yet to find common ground on the Tampa Bay situation.  He likes Joel Peralta, I like Jake McGee, and both of us are going to be forced into using up roster spots on handcuffs if we need to use the Rays bullpen.  And let’s not forget about the Kevin Gregg/Koji Uehara debate or the “up in the air” status of Neftali Feliz.  Both are equally aggravating this close to the season.

Then there are the injuries that are biting us in the ass.  There’s the Frank Francisco injury that opens the door for Jon Rauch and Octavio Dotel, Brad Lidge’s biceps, Andrew Bailey’s forearm, and now Brian Wilson’s oblique.  With each bump, bruise, strain, and tear, bulging veins are popping out of foreheads everywhere.

What’s worse is that, due to all of this, your options become extremely limited.  If you’ve already drafted, you can either ride out your situation or resign yourself to a season of wasted waiver priorities and spending far too much of your free agent dollars on short term solutions trying a patch together a bullpen.  If not, then you either have to assume that you’re going to either go through the same revolving door of free agents or be forced into investing more than you’d like on a closer you can only assume will have better job security and/or health.  People who don’t want to struggle with relievers all year are now starting to drive up the prices on players like Carlos Marmol, Mariano Rivera, Joakim Soria, and Heath Bell and it’s taking up more and more of your budget to land someone that comes with less of a headache.  Either way you go, the closer situation is becoming far more tenuous than it has been in the past and is causing some serious fantasy agita.

How about for you?  What’s driving you crazy already?  Chase Utley’s knee?  The 1B platoon situation in Arizona?  Your rookie sleeper heading back to the minors?  Let us know here and we’ll try to help you get through it