Wow, a flurry of moves as we get ready to ring in the New Year, a couple of which having a fairly significant fantasy impact, so I wanted to make sure I touched on them all in one shot here:
- According to Adam McCalvy of mlb.com (click here for the article), the Los Angeles Angels have signed closer Brian Fuentes to a 2-year contract, which also includes an option for a third season. After losing his closers job for the Rockies in ’07, Fuentes regained the role last season after Manny Corpas struggled, earning 30 saves for the third time in his career to go along with a 2.75 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. He also brings a good K rate to the table, striking out 82 in just 62.2 innings. It’s about as good a job as fantasy owners could have hoped for. Unfortunately, this means that both Jose Arrendondo and Scot Shields will continue to pitch in a set-up role, as opposed to battling to succeed Francisco Rodriguez as the team’s closer. That means there value for fantasy owners is limited to leagues that value middle relievers.
- In what comes across as an effort to further reduce payroll (with the Jason Marquis rumors also out there), the Chicago Cubs traded Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for three minor league pitchers, according to Anthony Castrovince of mlb.com (click here for the article). The three pitchers were Jeff Stevens (RHP), Chris Archer (RHP) & John Gaub (LHP), none of which cracked the Top 10 in Baseball America’s Top 10 Indians prospects. Stevens reached Triple A in ’08, posting a 3.94 ERA in 19 relief appearances. Archer posted a 4.29 ERA at Single A as a starter, while Gaub was a relief pitcher at Single A and posted a 3.38 ERA. Doesn’t seem like an impressive haul for DeRosa, who the article suggests will play 3B for the Indians. He is coming off a solid season (.285, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 103 R), and with eligibility at multiple positions he certainly has value, though it is unlikely that he will have any value as a corner infielder for fantasy owners. As a 2B, however, he should still be looked at as a viable option in all formats, especially if Victor Martinez & Travis Hafner can regain their old form allowing him to score some runs. Read more
Adrian Beltre has got to be considered an interesting name as fantasy drafts inch closer and closer. We all know his history. With the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, his walk year, he put up unbelievable numbers, hitting .334 with 48 HR, 121 RBI and 104 R. He parlayed that into a huge 5-year, $64 million contract with the Seattle Mariners where he has never come close to living up to the contract. He enters another walk year in 2009, where he is due $12 million, and at 30-years old (he’ll turn 30 in April), he’ll be in a position to cash in another big contract.
Will anyone actually pay him, given his rather mediocre last few seasons? That’s an issue for another day. The question for fantasy owners, though, is if he can have another big season with the money on the line? There are also concerns since his season ended early thanks to a torn ligament in his thumb, but that is not expected to affect the start of his 2009 season.
Before we get too far into this, let’s take a look at the numbers he posted last season:
556 At Bats
.266 Batting Average (148 Hits)
25 Home Runs
8 Stolen Bases
.784 On Base Percentage
.457 Slugging Percentage
.279 Batting Average on Balls in Play Read more
In all honesty I don’t see there being any chance that Lance Niekro, formerly of the Giants & Astros, catches on with the Braves and makes an impact in the major leagues as a knuckleball pitcher, but I thought the story was interesting and wanted to open it up for discussion here. Niekro, the son of Joe Niekro and nephew of Phil Niekro, has signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves where he will transition into a pitcher, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (click here for the article).
The second round pick of the Giants back in 2000 was a 1B who even had a chance to win the everyday job with the Giants, but failed to capitalize on it. He retired last season after being released by the Astros, but now is back in the game and working with his uncle on his knuckleball.
He has thrown it before, having even gotten into a game at the Triple A level, so this is not something that is completely foreign, but an experiment just the same. The Braves’ director of player development, Kurt Kemp, was quoted by Schulman as saying, “We all feel it’s definitely one of those things like, what have we got to lose? We surely aren’t looking at it as a novelty, but as something nontraditional. We’re legitimately going to set a course of action to develop his knuckleball and give him a chance to pitch through spring training and see where we are”.
Like I said earlier, I find it hard to believe that Niekro makes any type of an impact, but I guess stranger things have certainly happened. What do you think? Is there any chance that Lance Niekro becomes anything as a pitcher at age 30?
As we move closer to draft day, I want to make sure I’m touching on all the players you want to get my insight on. Because of that, I ask the question to all of you, who would you like to see me do a future Quick Hit on? Please feel free to list as many different players as possible and I will try to get to all of them as quickly as possible.
Thanks again to everyone for their continued support. You are the reason that Rotoprofessor is around and successful.
I’m happy to unveil our first Ask the Expert of the new season, as I was given the opportunity to pose 5 questions to Kat O’Brien of New York Newsday. For those who are new to the site, in the Ask the Expert series I interview beat writers from around the coverage in order to give you an insiders look and insight into a team’s thought process. O’Brien, who does a tremendous job covering the New York Yankees (you can read her blog by clicking here), gave us her thoughts on Joba Chamberlain, what to expect from Jorge Posada & Robinson Cano, who has the inside track on the #5 starters spot and so much more.
I want to thank Ms. O’Brien for her participation and without further adieu, let’s see what she had to say:
1) If the Yankees opt not to import another starting pitcher, who do you think has the best chance to fill the #5 rotation spot and why, Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy?
Kat O’Brien: I think Phil Hughes would have a big leg up on Ian Kennedy if those were the choices for the No. 5 spot. Hughes didn’t slip a huge amount in the Yankees’ eyes, though they’re obviously concerned about how susceptible he may be to injuries. Kennedy didn’t perform, and also gave reason to think he might have a little attitude of entitlement. He seemed to straighten up, but I still think Hughes leads there.
2) What should we look for early on from Robinson Cano to determine if it will be another slow start? Have you heard anything surrounding him that leads you to believe that he’s ready to put together a strong full season?
Kat O’Brien: I think Robinson Cano will bounce back in a big way. He seemed humbled by his rough season and I really think he will play well in 2009. Read more
It’s that time of year to kick off our positional rankings. We’ll kick things off with the first baseman, and what is there to really say? As allows, first base is one of the deeper positions available to fantasy owners, though there is a lot of debate about the order starting at about #10 to the bottom of the list. Let’s take a look at how I ranked them:
- Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
- Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
- Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies
- Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees
- Lance Berkman – Houston Astros
- Justin Moreneau – Minnesota Twins
- Prince Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers
- Adrian Gonzalez – San Diego Padres
- Kevin Youkilis – Boston Red Sox
- Chris Davis – Texas Rangers Read more