CLOSERS ARE just
as indispensable to a fantasy squad as they are to a major league team, so the
big-name firemen are always in demand. Here are a couple of new closers who
might be a little easier to acquire.
Gonzalez (right) has saved only four games in three seasons, but with the
departure of last year's closer, Jose Mesa, he'll get plenty of opportunities
to use his low-90s fastball and wicked slider to finish games. He'll also get
help from an expert: Roberto Hernandez. The righty with 324 career saves will
serve as Gonzalez's setup man as well as his mentor.
The hard-throwing 24-year-old was 18 for 18 in save chances with a 0.64 WHIP
and a 0.96 ERA for Double A Bowie (Md.). He then showed poise--and impressive
stuff--during a stint with Baltimore (2.66 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 43 strikeouts in 40
2/3 innings). With B.J. Ryan and Jorge Julio gone, the Orioles have few other
options, which gives Ray (right) a fair amount of job security.
The Reds are again going with a closer-by-committee approach, meaning neither
David Weathers nor Todd Coffey (or Ryan Wagner or Kent Mercker, for that
matter) will have much fantasy value.... Last year Bob Wickman tied for the AL
lead with 45 saves, but few of them came easy. Should you draft him, also grab
Rafael Betancourt, Cleveland's heir apparent, just to be safe.