|ESPN.com: Fantasy Baseball||[Print without images]|
|Francisco Rodriguez still has plenty of value, but you have to keep the expectations in check.|
Rodriguez wasn't fantasy's top closer in 2008 -- according to our Player Rater, had his save total been in the mid-40s he wouldn't even have been in the top 5 -- and some can make the case, by viewing walk rates and potential arm abuse, the Mets shouldn't go the extra year to sign him, but hey, he's going to save plenty o' games. Moving from the American League to the National will not hurt him, the Mets should be a playoff contender and give him opportunities. Plus, while nobody has played in the Mets' new ballpark, it's unlikely to be like Coors Field.
I ranked Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera and Brad Lidge ahead of K-Rod in my offseason Relief Efforts, and joining the Mets -- which let's face it, I had kinda figured on all along -- doesn't really change a thing. In fact, as long as Manny, Moe and Jack are K-Rod's set-up men instead of Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields, one could consider Carlos Marmol, Bobby Jenks and Joakim Soria better as well. For now, I'll assume the Mets upgrade Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano and Mr. Met for the seventh and eighth innings and someone with a track record is the main set-up guy (Brian Fuentes, maybe?).
As for the Angels, it was presumed all along K-Rod was history, which is why I ranked Arredondo No. 12 in Relief Efforts. Really, he could be the next Rodriguez, and it wouldn't shock me one bit if Arredondo has better fantasy seasons the next few years than the man he replaced.
The bottom line, I suppose, is K-Rod is going to get a lot of saves, and if you're the type who fancies closers as top-50 commodities, he's in the conversation. I make it a point to leave closers out of my top 50, and use the middle rounds on the closer middle class, so if I call Papelbon and Nathan seventh-round selections, let's say Rodriguez is a round or so later.
Eric Karabell is a senior writer for ESPN.com who covers fantasy baseball, football and basketball. He has twice been honored as fantasy sports writer of the year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. His new book, "The Best Philadelphia Sports Arguments," was published by Source Books and is available in bookstores. Contact Eric by e-mailing him here.