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Friday, March 30, 2007

Mailbag: Pick Up Hermanson?

Here's another Mailbag question from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. Make your opinion on this known by commenting!

This person writes:

I just discovered your site; really impressive work. If this year's f-ball blogs were second basemen, yours would be Chase Utley.

First a tip -- Dustin Hermanson has been quietly added to the Yahoo! player list and I believe is clearing waivers in most leagues tonight.

Now my question. Who will most likely close in Cincy this year?

In a deep 14-team mixed 5x5 keeper, my droppable pitchers are Dave Weathers, John Maine, and Josh Johnson. My hope with Johnson was that the Marlins would place him on the DL sooner so that I could stash him, but they are taking their time about it. Should I drop one of these guys to put a waiver move on Hermanson?"

I responded:

Great to hear you enjoy my blog. This is a good question. Bill Bray will be on the DL, so he is completely out of the running for now. This leaves Todd Coffey, Mike Stanton, David Weathers, and Dustin Hermanson as the options. Coffey I sincerely doubt will close, even though he is just as capable as the other guys. Early on the talk was that Stanton and Weathers would share the duty. Then Weathers became more of the frontrunner to take the brunt of the work. Then Hermanson was signed, and there were whispered that if he impressed in Spring Training he could quickly slide into the closer role. Since then there have been more whispers that he will soon be named the closer. There has not been an official announcement yet, but if the season opened today I would think Hermanson is the most likely to close. Whoever gets the job in Cincy will be on a very short leash, but in a 14-team league these guys are still worth roster spots.

That being said, you seem to have a slight dilemma. Dave Weathers seems the most obvious guy to drop, but he could just as easily be closing on Sunday, so it could backfire on you. Let's take a look at Maine and Johnson. Health issues aside, I think Johnson is the slightly better pitcher in that he has more room to improve. Both have K rates a little over 7 and BB rates in the mid-to-high 3s. Johnson though has the higher GB Rate, 45% to 37%. Assuming Johnson and Maine won't be your keepers, I think this leaves either Weathers or Johnson to be dropped. While Johnson is slightly better, he will provide much less value than Maine because he will not pitch as many innings as Maine will, provided Maine stays healthy.

So, Weathers or Johnson? Or neither? This depends a little on how many guys like Akinori Otsuka or Mike Gonzalez or Joel Zumaya are on waivers. In a 14-team league, chances are these guys are gone. If they are, then I think you need to get Hermanson. If a lot of these types of guys (guys who have a shaky closer ahead of them) are available, I don't see it necessary to rush to get Hermanson as there will be better, safer options popping up throughout the year.

It also depends on your Starting Pitching. Can you afford to lose Johnson and not get him back? How good is the rest of your staff? If a guy like Jamie Shields or Philip Hughes or Oliver Perez is still on waivers, I think you can afford to lose Johnson. But then we think about the debate over SPs vs. RPs. It is much worse to lose a decent SP than it is to miss out on a so-so RP. Will Johnson be picked up right away if dropped? Would you be able to get him back again to stash on the DL once Yahoo! makes him DL eligible?

This is a very tough decision, but I would probably lean towards dropping Weathers and grabbing Hermanson, then cross your fingers for him to close. He is a better option than Weathers; let’s just hope the Reds realize this. This is the safest move to make; you won't lose your SPs and you will have the closer most likely to get save opps early on in Hermanson. If Weathers is named the closer, you may even be able to scoop him back up on Sunday.

I hope this advice helps, and I hope I am steering you in the right direction, but the Reds have been so hush-hush on this it's difficult to tell."

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