If you're really quiet, you can almost hear him, whispering it into the wind
"Never pay for saves."
It only took two days' worth of games, but Matthew Berry is vindicated yet again as the news of J.J. Putz being put on the DL slowly permeates the fantasy baseball universe with the stench of desperation and longing for the answer to the question: Who will close in Putz's stead?
Pulling a closer out of thin air is a lot like medicine. OK, it's nothing like medicine, but the first golden rule doctors and fantasy bullpen managers must live by is the same: First, do no harm. Don't go dumping a top performer like Heath Bell or Jonathan Broxton for a lottery ticket which is just as likely to add half a run to your early-season ERA as it is to net you a handful of saves. However, if you've got the bench room and the intestinal fortitude to step up to the closer roulette, here's who I'm gunning for, in order.
Mark Lowe. He has the stuff to close, though he's not overpowering, and you have to be worried about his health, too. He pitched a total of 12 1/3 innings in 2007 due to an elbow that bothered him all year. He had surgery to remove some bone spurs late in the season, and apparently, he's fit. He's also the best option the Mariners have in their major league bullpen right now.
Sean Green. Green has a bit of closer experience, earning 14 saves at Double-A San Antonio in 2005. However, the 53 strikeouts he put up in 68 innings last season were tempered with 34 walks. Then again, Morrow was worse.
Arthur Rhodes. Remember him? He last pitched for the Phillies in 2006 and was, well, terrible. But he's still around, and he's only 36, so he's not quite Jesse Orosco yet. He can still bring the K's, and he has 30 career saves scattered all over his resume. He's Tacoma-bound with the rest of the Rainiers, and the Mariners chose to call up Roy Corcoran instead of him, so he's clearly being held in reserve. Still, I don't think we've seen the last of him.
Chris Reitsma. Now we're digging deep into the desperation bin. This is Cinderella-doesn't-have-a-dress-to-go-to-the-ball stuff, and even though this is fantasy baseball, fairy godmothers are in short supply. However, the Canadian righty, just 30 years old, has been a closer twice in his career -- with Cincinnati and then with Atlanta -- and is bound for Tacoma along with Rhodes. He hasn't accepted the assignment, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if he did, now that the path back to relevance has been made that much clearer. I still wouldn't waste much more than a fifth bench spot in an AL-only league.
Miguel Batista. This was actually Matthew Berry's call, and I heed it only because he was dead on in calling Brett Myers a closer-in-waiting the day he was demoted to the bullpen last season. Batista was pressed into closer duty when the Blue Jays got desperate in 2004 and 2005. It's a long shot that the Mariners would pull a 16-game winner out of the rotation and into the bullpen just to fill the closer role, but if he were to get demoted on his own merit (Editor's Note: Batista did indeed get the save on Wednesday night, but he is still ticketed for the No.5 spot in the rotation.)
Pete Becker is Senior Editor for ESPN.com Fantasy Games.