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Who will close next season in Oakland?

Dec 28, 2011, 9:28 PM EDT

balfour getty Getty Images

The A’s dealt closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox on Wednesday evening as part of a five-player swap. The trade has all sorts of implications, many of which we’ll analyze over the next few months leading into the start of spring training. But let’s start simple, with a look at the back end of the Oakland bullpen.

A’s assistant GM David Forst told Jane Lee of soon after the Bailey trade was officially announced that there are three primary candidates for the club’s opening at closer: Grant Balfour, Fautino De Los Santos and Joey Devine. They’ll duke it out in camp until a winner emerges.

Balfour, a native of Australia, has registered a 2.38 ERA since the start of the 2010 season and boasts a cool 9.9 career K/9. He seems like the probable front-runner for the ninth-inning job, given that he’d make for the most logical trade chip come July. The A’s are trying to get younger — trying to build a roster that will be competitive by the time they move into a new ballpark. Balfour is 33 years old and is owed $4 million in 2012.

De Los Santos has a sizzling fastball that averaged just under 96 mph this past year, but he’s only 25 years old and has just one year of major league service under his belt. The A’s can build around him. Devine also throws hard, but he’s amassed only 23 innings since the end of the 2008 campaign due to elbow problems.

If De Los Santos proves ready this spring or if Devine builds trust through good health, perhaps one of those two will get the nod. But padding Balfour’s trade value with a decent saves total might be the best route.

  1. thomas2727 - Dec 28, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    Does it really matter who closes on a team that will be over achieving to win 70?

    I keep thinking the A’s are giving players to teams to gain votes needed to get the San Jose territorial rights.

    What’s next Weeks to the Cubs for a yes vote and Anderson to the Rockies for a yes vote?

    • Gonzo - Dec 28, 2011 at 11:07 PM

      If that’s the case, they should sell some players to the Giants, who have the biggest reason to block a move to San Jose.

      • thomas2727 - Dec 28, 2011 at 11:58 PM

        Obviously you don’t seem to understand that a vote of 3/4 of the owners will relieve the Giants of the territorial rights that were given to them by the A’s as a gesture of goodwill.

      • dwishinsky - Dec 29, 2011 at 4:10 PM

        Thomas obviously you don’t understand that your conspiracy theory is asinine. Three top 10 prospects in your system for Gio Gonzalez… yeah, they just GAVE Gio away…

    • akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc - Dec 29, 2011 at 9:54 AM

      Over achieving to win 70? The rate this team is going, they’ll be overachieving if they win FIFTY games. Who’s playing outfield for them in 2012? Where’s the offense coming from? Plus, they’ve traded away 2/5’s of their rotation, Braden is an injury comeback risk, and Tommy Milone is currently listed as their 4th pitcher. They’re in trouble.

  2. simon94022 - Dec 28, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    Who cares? The A’s don’t. The goal is to tank the next several seasons and rack up top draft picks who will be ready to play in the new ballpark. This team isn’t merely willing to lose 100 or more games — that’s what they are hoping to do.

    A side benefit will be watching attendance totally crater in Oakland, thereby justifying the move to SJ among many media types.

  3. nomoreseasontix - Dec 28, 2011 at 10:35 PM

    Who cares anymore? Beane’s putting together another of his AAA1/2 teams.
    Last place again and low attendance figures. Oakland fans are over it, for the most part.

  4. amaninwhite - Dec 28, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    Wow, three comments all basically asking ‘who cares?’. It’s the dead of winter and a team just traded away its closer. This is the perfect time to be analyzing this sort of thing. I tend to agree with Drew’s assessment, though I do feel that if Devine can prove healthy that he’ll be heavily considered. I think that establishing one of their younger guys as a closer will ultimately bring them more value than making Balfour their closer.

    I’m guessing it will be a few years before we stop thinking of A’s players in a way other than how much trade value they have.

  5. professorperry - Dec 28, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    Fuentes? Not that I think he’s any good, just that he’ll get a shot.

  6. siftin thru nonsense - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:26 AM

    Ok, so where is Ryan Madson headed ????

  7. romoscollarbone - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    I saw De Los Santos in person without knowing who he is. Dude throws smoke.

  8. oaklandmojo - Dec 29, 2011 at 3:00 AM

    Lew Wolff and Billy Pitt are a joke. They have systematically destroyed this franchise.

    • Tick - Dec 29, 2011 at 10:46 AM

      I don’t know why this would get a thumbs down. It’s 100% true. I’m bleed green and gold, but every A’s fan has to de disgusted by this POS owners and what he’s done to the team. I don’t buy the story of wanting to make sure they have a contender by the time they get to SJ. Wolff doesn’t care about building a contender. He cares about building a stadium slash entertainment complex. He can field the same sort of crap for the first couple of years in SJ and still get sellout crowds, then sell the franchise for a huge profit. I don’t believe for a second this man cares about what happens on field one iota. He cares about the real estate.

      • APBA Guy - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:08 PM

        This is harshly phrased but there is substantial evidence that the points made are valid.

        Keep in mind that the “systematically destroyed” comment goes back years, to the A’s trades of Haren et al, that have led nowhere. And here we are going into 2012, still on the rat wheel, still running around and round, getting nowhere. It’s convenient to blame Selig and MLB, but Wolff/Fisher did not have to alienate the fans by blaming them in part for the team’s failures. After all, the payroll in Oakland last year was 50% above that in Tampa Bay.

        The situation with the A’s is closer to Baltimore than people outside Oakland are willing to admit, minus the wonderful stadium. Last night on Hot Stove Peter Gammons uttered the word “contraction” in reference to Oakland. Poor Peter. Sometimes he shills for ownership a bit too much. His other word “relocation” is more accurate. The A’s are leaving. My guess is to Vegas, but that’s just a guess. And there may be new owners involved. The team is very profitable now, and is heading towards very, very profitable after they rid themselves of Balfour and Fuentes. Wolff/Fisher will pocket a substantial sales premium and chuckle about the 99%’ers who continued to come to games at Oakland and pay ever increasing prices to see an ever decreasing quality of product.

        Then look for Giants ticket prices to skyrocket.

  9. sharksfan754 - Dec 29, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    Article title should be who will be playing in Oakland next year? Can’t even call us the triple a’s anymore definitely relegated to double A’ status…

  10. psousa1 - Dec 29, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Beane knows they cannot win the division next year so he is going to do what he always does – he is going to make one of these guys the closer he knows there are a ton of guys out there who can get 25 saves (even if they blow 8 of them) and some team is going to say “We need bullpen help and this guy in Oakland has closer experience too!” Beane willl then get what he wants in return. This team will always be 3-4 years on/3-4 years off. If he was the GM in Boston, NYY, NYM, Dodgers or Angels it wouldn’t even be fair.

  11. akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc - Dec 29, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Newly acquired Brad Peacock could be a short term closer solution; as a reliever he featured a 95-96mph fastball to go with a serviceable overhand curve and a change. Given his violent arm action, lots of scouts think he’ll be in the bullpen anyway, so he may do well to just start there.

  12. oaklandmojo - Dec 30, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Billy Beane and Lewis Wolff. Kma.

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