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More ABs For V-Mart?

Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal reports some fantasy-relevant comments made by Indians manager Eric Wedge recently:

"This year, we need Hafner to play a little more first base, so Victor can be the (occasional) DH.  Victor also is taking more ground balls at first, so he can play a little there. It's tough to take his offense out of the lineup."

Owners of these two players just let out a collective "BOOYAH!"  Well, maybe not, but it can only be construed as a positive.  Think about the ramifications:

1.  More at-bats for Victor Martinez.  Most owners of V-Mart barely thought this possible after he tallied 547 ABs in 2005.  But if Martinez continues to catch a ton of games and spends additional time at first base and DH, he could certainly snag 580 at-bats.  Now, such a jump would only mean maybe a 5% bump in his counting stats, but it pulls him even further away from Joe Mauer as the best offensive receiver in the game.

2.  V-Mart gains first base eligibility.  I've never known an owner to have a catcher surplus, and it would be downright silly to use Victor anywhere else.  However, there could be a long-term benefit here to his keeper league owners.  Maybe the Tribe hangs on to Kelly Shoppach, who would make a very capable Major League regular right now.  Martinez continues to catch a decent share of games but severely decelerates the typical catcher decline by switching to a much easier position for half his games. 

3.  Hafner gains first base eligibility.  When I picked Hafner up in the second round in my RotoWorld draft, I was accepting a lack of maneuverability with my DH slot for the rest of the season.  Hafner only played one game at first in 2005, so I can't use him at a corner.  But maybe he starts playing 15-20 games at first base now, giving my team all sorts of options when I start making transactions later.  Hard to pin a dollar amount on position eligibility, but this could theoretically put Hafner slightly above David Ortiz.

4.  Kelly Shoppach stays in Cleveland.  This is actually a negative in my book.  Not only is Jacobs Field a pitchers' park, but a lack of a trade damages Shoppach's fantasy potential.  He's not taking over full-time catching duties from Martinez.  Shoppach bashed 26 HR in 371 Triple A at-bats in 2005, and a park like Citizens Bank would inflate his homers by 20%.  The Phils have a known interest in Shoppach, and such a deal would be the best fantasy scenario for him outside of Coors.    


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