Phantasy Philes: Uh-Oh, Closer By Committee

Going from a single closer to a closer by committee situation can greatly affect fantasy teams and send owners into a frenzy. Plus, what should be done with the man that was booted from the closer's role? So, in this week's edition of <i>Phantasy Philes</i> we'll take a look at some of the options Larry Bowa has when it comes to selecting the members of his closer's committee. And, what should owners do with the seemingly useless Jose Mesa. Plus, we've got our non-Phillie of the week.

The first option for Bowa to consider would have to be the only other member of the bullpen crew to be coming off a 40 save season. Though Mike Williams has been anything but reliable for the Phils, he wasn't exactly pitching like Cy Young when with the Pirates earlier this season either, yet he was still able to save 25 games in 30 chances. If you're really desperate for saves, I would recommend Williams for a short term fix above any other possible member of the committee, simply because he appears to be the candidate with the best shot at getting multiple opportunities.

Next on Larry's list of possibilities is Rheal Cormier, who is having one of the best seasons of his career. A quick look at his lifetime stats shows why he hasn't been a closer previously in his 12 year career. Call me crazy, but one save in 18 chances over 12 years doesn't qualify as a success. Two of those blown saves have come in 2003 for Rheal, so the improvements he's made this year haven't translated to closing games. Since he does have the lowest ERA in the pen at 1.36, Bowa may give him another shot at the job, but Cormier isn't one you should add to your fantasy roster at this point.

Though still not great, Turk Wendell has had a considerable amount of success at closing games in his career. A lifetime total of 32 saves in 52 chances, including 18 saves with just three blown in '96, should be enough to warrant a nomination for Bowa's committee. If Cormier has been the best reliever on the team this year, Wendell has been a close second. His record of 2-2 with an ERA of 1.99 has shown Phillies fans that Wendell actually was worth acquiring in that Bruce Chen deal a few years back. Should Williams squander whatever save chances he gets over the coming days, Wendell, and our next possible committee member, seem to be the most likely to get the next crack at notching a few saves.

Like Wendell, Terry Adams has a decent history when it comes to closing games. He has racked up 39 saves in 65 opportunities, including an 18 save season in '97 and 13 in '99. As with the previous two relievers, Adams is having his best season in his brief history as a Phil, with a 1-4 record and 2.38 ERA. As with Turk, it seems like Adams performs best as a closer when he gets double-digit opportunities, which is something neither one will probably see this year. So if it becomes clear that one of the two is frontrunner for the job, be wary of their ability to get their task done effectively.

These four appear to be the most likely candidates for a save here or there in the time that it takes for Mesa to fix his delivery problems and get back in there. That being said, fantasy owners with Mesa should probably just hold onto him since there is a good chance he'll regain his job before too long.

This week's non-Phillie comes to us from Tampa Bay, believe it or not. When asked who is leading the American League in stolen bases, I'm sure many could rattle off a number of big name guesses before getting to the actual leader in Carl Crawford. A fine example of how fantasy owners ignore what goes on down in Tampa, Crawford is actually available on the waiver wire in a good number of leagues, so before anything else, I would suggest checking out your league's waiver wire to see if you hit the stolen base jackpot. After a mediocre first half, Carl's improved greatly since the break, hitting .322 with 11 stolen bases in 11 tries. If Crawford can continue to get on base consistently, don't be surprised if the 21 year old can stay atop the AL standings in steals for the remainder of the season.

Alright, that'll do it for this week folks. If you have any questions of comments for me, send them to qwaz21@aol.com with "PBN" in the subject line. Until next time, I'm out like water fountains at the Linc.


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