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Ryan Franklin Out As Cardinals Closer: Some Fantasy Options

Here in St. Louis the Cardinals' decision to remove Ryan Franklin from the closer's role he's inhabited for most of the last three years is being viewed primarily in terms of the impact it will have on the Cardinals' ability to win games—positive, I think—but elsewhere it just might be true that fantasy baseball players are more interested in who might pick up the slack saves-wise. So far as I can tell there are three avenues the Cardinals might explore—and they might explore all three of them. Miguel Batista, Mitchell Boggs, Jason Motte; pick your save-generating poison. 

Miguel Batista is the worst option, on this list because Tony La Russa loves veterans and he once spent a season as closer for a team that apparently didn't know better. Batista is a crafty veteran who behaves exactly like a twenty-something thrower-not-a-pitcher; he can't really find the strike zone, except on accident. 

Mitchell Boggs was, in a past life, a pitch-to-contact starter. Since moving to the bullpen his fastball sits around 96 miles per hour and he matches it up with an occasionally outstanding slider that he has trouble locating. He's off to a hot start in 2011, which makes him the logical candidate for a closer audition. Which doesn't make him the most likely candidate, necessarily. 

Jason Motte is the dark horse on this list. He was briefly and unofficially anointed the closer to start 2009, after a stunning season at AAA Memphis, before an opening day meltdown sent the Cardinals back into the arms of Franklin. His 2010 was a significant improvement, though in 2011 he hasn't quite distinguished himself. He has a converted-catcher fastball that occasionally flirts with triple-digits, strikingly good command of it, and a tendency to pretend he has other pitches, which is a bad idea. 

Any of these guys could be the Cardinals' next closer; it's not an incredibly difficult job. As to who it'll be—that's anybody's guess.