St. Louis Cardinals’ Jason Isringhausen will be a free agent at the end of the
2008 season. Izzy is coming off a
fantastic bounceback year during which he converted 32 of 34 saves and posted an
ERA of 2.48. But the Cardinals’
career saves leader will turn 36 during the season and has been hampered with
injuries the past few years including hip surgery during the 2006
Chris Perez is the heir apparent, but he has been hampered with control issues and may
not be ready to assume the role in 2009.
If the Cardinals look outside the organization for Izzy’s replacement,
they will find that there is quality and some depth in the free agent relief
Joe Borowski - Cleveland
may get it done ugly, but he does get it done. The 36-year-old saved a career-best 45
games in 2007 as well as being charged with a career-high eight blown
saves. The much-traveled Borowski
has played on seven teams in 11 seasons and has 125 career saves, 81 of them the
past two years.
Brian Fuentes - Colorado
soft-tossing lefty lost his closer’s role to Manny Corpas so he may be looking
to get back to saving games somewhere other than
Colorado. Fuentes did save 20 games in 2007 but
seven blown saves cost him his job.
Over the past three seasons, the 32-year-old has logged 81 saves.
Trevor Hoffman - San
highly doubtful that the career saves leader will leave
Diego. But Hoffman is 40 and if he does
struggle during 2008, the Padres may decide to go in a different direction. 2007 saw Hoffman get his usual
forty-plus saves but he was charged with seven blown saves, his highest total
Brad Lidge - Philadelphia
recently dealt to the Phillies, how will Lidge’s value be affected in the
Park? Once one of the dominant closers in the
National League, Lidge has struggled, blowing 14 saves the past two
seasons. In 2005 and before the big
blast he allowed Albert Pujols during the National League Championship Series,
Lidge logged 42 saves and an ERA just over two. Lidge’s slider is still one of the most
wicked pitches in all of baseball and he has used it to strike out 561 batters
in 401 career innings.
Joe Nathan - Minnesota
the Twins seemingly in a rebuilding mode, Nathan may be available for trade now
and could have a new team and a new contract before becoming a free agent after
the upcoming season. Since coming
to the Twins from the San Francisco Giants, he has established himself as one of
the most consistent closers in the game.
In his four years with the Twins, Nathan has notched 160 saves while
striking out 355 in 282 innings.
Francisco Rodriguez - Los Angeles Angels
has electric stuff and will most likely command the most expensive contract of
any player on this list. Rodriguez
has 146 career saves and he will not turn 26 until January. In 2007, he logged 40 saves with a 2.81
ERA. Dominant is the best way to
describe his career as he has 510 career strikeouts in just 383 career
innings. The Venezualan burst on
the scene during the Angels’ 2002 World Series run with 28 strikeouts in 18.2
Dan Wheeler -
2007, Wheeler saved a career high 11 games for the Houston Astros before being
traded to the Tampa Bay Rays to serve as Al Reyes’ set up man. Before 2007, he had been the bridge from
the starters to closer Brad Lidge.
As the Astros’ primary set up man in 2005 and 2006, Wheeler posted ERAs
in the twos while appearing in 71 and 75 games, respectively.
names that could be on the market include Luis Ayala, LaTroy Hawkins, Rafael Soriano, and Derrick Turnbow.
Octavio Dotel may also be on this list if he does not sign more than a
one-year deal this offseason.
Dustin Mattison can be reached via
email at email@example.com.
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