Dispatches from the Cactus League: Addison Reed vs. J.J. Putz
Because of their trip to Australia to play the Dodgers later this month, the Arizona Diamondbacks were the first team to report to Spring Training this year. The team held its annual Fan Fest at Chase Field Saturday where more than 20,000 fans showed up to buy tickets and merchandise, tour the stadium and clubhouses and even engage in Q & A sessions with Diamondback players.
In one such session, a young fan flat-out asked four members of the D-Backs bullpen: "With the addition of Addison Reed, who will be the team's closer this year?"
It seems like the answer to this one is in the question. Arizona sent Matt Davidson, a promising young player and top prospect, to the White Sox for Reed. The conventional wisdom is that GM Kevin Towers would not have acquired a young closer just to plug him into a setup role. So when this question was posed, one D-Backs reliever immediately gave the obvious answer: "Addison Reed."
Incumbent closer J.J. Putz was not so definitive. Almost backing away from the question, Putz just said, "we'll just have to see about that."
While I'd be surprised if anyone other that Addison Reed starts the season as the Arizona closer, it is worth noting that J.J. Putz is not conceding the role just yet. Workout partner Josh Collmenter said that Putz has looked very good this off-season after an injury-plagued 2013. Add to that, manager Kirk Gibson's preference for veteran players, and maybe Putz still has a chance. And there's always the chance that Reed is ineffective or gets injured himself. If that's the case, Putz is there to pick up the saves.
At the very least, the Diamondbacks' closer situation bears watching this spring as whoever wins the job obviously has value - and the pitcher in the setup role will be virtually useless in anything other than deep leagues or leagues that count holds.
RotoBaller analyst Scott Slezak will be in Arizona for the next few months covering the Cactus League for RotoBaller.com. He can be reached on Twitter @baseballscotty.