- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
There was some general upheaval when it came to various big-name National League closers and my saves projections for this season. But my saves predicting is not complete. Here are my American League projections:
Baltimore Orioles: Right-hander Tommy Hunter apparently owns the closer role for now, but he must do better against lefty hitters or he'll make O's fans yearn for former closer Jim Johnson. Or Tippy Martinez. I can't see Hunter keeping the job, but this is a team likely to look elsewhere for help because there don't appear to be awesome internal options. Projection: Hunter saves 13, Ryan Webb nine, Darren O'Day four and Jonathan Papelbon is acquired July 30 and OK, perhaps that's wishful thinking. Actually, here's a more reasonable hint for those thinking long-term: Free agent Joel Hanrahan signs with Baltimore in mid-April, is ready to pitch in games by July and he saves 13 games. You know, because he has been a closer before and stuff, and apparently that's most important on the resume. Just ask Kevin Gregg.
Boston Red Sox: The other day on "Baseball Tonight," I was asked why the magical Koji Uehara isn't ranked better than he is (he's going seventh among relievers in ESPN live drafts). After all, he's coming off one of the best relief pitcher seasons ever.