Who will close for this club?
The Astros entered the offseason in need of (if that's how they want to look at it) a setup man as well as a closer. A favorite for one of those roles is the man they reportedly targeted all along with the first overall pick of the Rule 5 Draft, which kind of sums up their bullpen situation.
Joshua Fields, 27, was a second-round pick in 2007 (but didn't sign) and went 20th overall in 2008. The power-armed right-hander was pretty much a bust until late in 2011, when he began to improve his control. He enjoyed a fine 2012 in the Boston Red Sox's system, and it's surprising that he didn't receive a call-up considering the parent team's problems in the bullpen.
Houston signed veteran righty Jose Veras to fill the role, but really, he's a tertiary fallback plan for most other clubs. A franchise with both eyes on the future would almost certainly be thrilled to see Fields, fellow hard-throwing right-hander Rhiner Cruz or both step up and claim backend jobs.
It's unwise to write off any situation as one devoid of fantasy hope. Fields and Cruz beg for an end-game call, maybe even more for the former. But the Astros generated a meager 31 saves, more than only two other clubs, in 2012. A dark-horse candidate, like lefty Wesley Wright or reclamation project Sam Demel, may emerge to thieve a couple of closures. If you try to squeeze blood from these turnips, you'll probably just end up bloody.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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