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Fantasy Baseball: Pirates To Decide Between Joel Hanrahan And Evan Meek For Closer

Ah, fantasy baseball, the one place it really, deeply matters who a team's closer is. The Pirates haven't yet decided whether Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek will close this year, but it looks like they'll decide well before the season starts:

"We have talked in generalities of choosing one or the other for those specific roles. We have talked in generalities of using both. Clint and I need to spend some more time, in the future, talking about this because I know both guys, Evan and Joel, are hungry to pitch."

Huntington solidified one thing, though.

"This is not something that we have to answer right now, but this is something that we want to have an answer to before spring training," he said. We won't have a competition for the closer ... during spring training. Whoever is our closer, is our closer."

It's also still possible that the answer could be neither of the above - the Bucs' acquisition of Octavio Dotel last offseason was a success, and they've made noises this offseason about making a similar signing of someone like Brian Fuentes. They aren't supposed to be in the market for Fuentes anymore, though, and the relief pitching market is quickly drying up.

If they're stuck with Hanrahan or Meek, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, either for the Pirates or for your fantasy team. You don't want to spend a high draft pick on either of them because the Pirates simply won't win that many games, so their closer can't rack up saves. But the example of Joakim Soria in Kansas City shows just how much fantasy value a good closer can have even when playing for a bad team.

Hanrahan and Meek aren't as good as Soria, but they aren't too far off, either, and Hanrahan in particular would be a very valuable fantasy chip if the Pirates make him their closer - he struck out 100 batters last year, which not many relievers can do.

As a Pirates fan, I hope the closer will be Hanrahan, if only because Hanrahan is a bit older and thus the more likely of the two to be traded soon. Making him a closer and then trading him could increase his value on the trade market, as a few teams always seem willing to pay extra for "proven" closers.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.