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Fantasy Fix: The Cub Who's No. 1

The ranks of relief pitchers are thinner than ever.

Everyone's least favorite fantasy baseball category features last year's American League Rookie of the Year - Neftali Feliz - who by all rights should get top billing, but Texas (and Feliz himself) may be intent on making Feliz a starter.

The good news is that he would earn the vaunted SP/RP classification, so you can slot him as an RP and get extra wins and strikeouts. But that also leaves the question of what to do about saves.

Among other problems in this category, Brad Lidge and Andrew Baiuly are injury-prone; the two Jonathans - Papelbon and Broxton - are increasingly unreliable; and Francisco Rodriguez is - still Francisco Rodriguez.

Into this mess rides a jug-eared, blue-capped hero. With a stellar second half last season, the Cubs' Carlos Marmol is unquestionably the best reliever fantasy money can buy.

Here's my full list (I'm not including Feliz, though Texas at last report was still undecided about his role):

1. Carlos Marmol, Cubs.

He could finish with 150 strikeouts and 45 saves - hopefully not the same number as Cubs' wins.

2. Joakim Soria, Kansas City.

The closest thing to a consistent closer this side of Mariano Rivera (see below).

3. Mariano Rivera, Yankees.

Still doing it well at 41, but the team's addition of Rafael Soriano suggests he could see a lighter workload this year.

4. Heath Bell, San Diego.

Consistent producer could ranker higher with a few more innings, strikeouts.

5. Brian Wilson, San Francisco.

The Beard may be due to be taken down a notch, but he's still got 40-save potential.

6. Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati.

Closing for a great, young team that should win many games is a plus for anyone.

7. John Axford, Milwaukee.

Up-and-comer proved he could close late last season.

8. Joe Nathan, Minnesota.

Coming back from major injury, but has looked good this spring.

9. Houston Street, Colorado.

Injury-prone, but potent when healthy and the Rockies will give him plenty of chances.

10. Jose Valverde, Detroit.

He's fading but in my book is less questionable than Francisco Rodriguez or Andrew Bailey, two guys who didn't make my top 10 because I just don't trust them.

Sleeper: Chris Sale, White Sox: His draft stock has fallen some with poor spring outings, but he'd make a nice late-round, long-term investment.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade has the latest on Neftali Feliz's possible eligibility change. This whole thing has me thinking I need to do SP/RP rankings, too. Stay tuned.

* Bleacher Report has its list of top 30 outfielders. I don't get why Matt Holliday ranks so high in supposed 5x5 rankings when he has on single-digit stolen bases. A mystery for the ages.

* CBSSports.com offers some late-round sleepers, including the White Sox' very own Edwin Jackson. Being on the Don Cooper program will do that for you.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

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