How to handle the closer position? That's the question that fantasy baseball owners dread the most. Leagues can be won and lost based on how owners handle the saves category, and its unpredictable nature makes endless research a must. It's why baseball writer Tim Dierkes has his own Closer News twitter and endless columns are penned on a team's closer situation -- just to find that slight edge in saves so readers can get a leg up in their respective leagues.
The reason is simple: the turnover among closers seems higher than any other position on the field. The Royals are the perfect example of that, with Joakim Soria the only "sure thing" on an uncertain Royals team. While the future is bright in KC, the present has also been quite dim to this point with Soria's performance the lone light for Royals fans to look to -- especially on the pitching staff. Yet as we've analyzed and detailed, Soria himself fell apart just in the last few weeks.
Enter Aaron Crow, the Kansas City first-round draft choice from 2009. He surprisingly made the major league club out of spring training despite middling minor league stats the previous year, and he's made good on Ned Yost's call to keep him up. Crow has certainly surprised many and the Royals are the better for it, but anyone who claims they know that Crow is going to provide any level of certainty at closer has no idea what they are talking about.
Besides a few names like Mariano Rivera or Heath Bell, there are really no sure things in the closer position, and the Royals are exhibiting that very reality for fantasy owners from year to year. The owners who picked up Soria in the offseason most likely believed they had at least one great closer to count upon for 30-plus saves. Now, they're scrambling the waiver wire just like the rest.
Even worse, the questions still linger. Can Joakim Soria come back and reclaim his role? Certainly a few blown saves don't negate the performance of the last few years? Did he have a meltdown a la Rick Ankiel? Will Aaron Crow's inexperience show up at the wrong time? Will someone else, like Louis Coleman for instance, end up as the closer after all? Those are the issues facing fantasy baseball owners and the choices before them. Not enough roster spots exist to keep every option in play, so owners are taking risks with every transaction they place (or fail to place).