February 2010

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Second Baseman Rankings

Time for RotoAuthority's second baseman rankings for 5x5 12-team mixed leagues using 14 hitters (including a 2B, SS, and MI) and 9 pitchers.  These are subject to change.  Average draft round in parentheses.

  1. Chase Utley (1) - $22.83
  2. Ian Kinsler (2) - $20.29
  3. Dustin Pedroia (4) - $16.64
  4. Brandon Phillips (3) - $16.08
  5. Brian Roberts (4) - $14.50
  6. Ben Zobrist (5) - $14.25
  7. Robinson Cano (4) - $13.16
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera (13) - $12.63
  9. Aaron Hill (5) - $10.46
  10. Dan Uggla (8) - $9.70
  11. Ian Stewart (11) - $9.55
  12. Jose Lopez (11) - $7.61
  13. Kelly Johnson (28) - $7.28
  14. Martin Prado (23) - $6.00
  15. Howie Kendrick (12) - $5.29
  16. Rickie Weeks (17) - $5.03
  17. Placido Polanco (22) - $4.12
  18. Clint Barmes (26) - $3.49
  19. Akinori Iwamura (28) - $0.83
  20. Orlando Hudson (17) - $0.38
  21. Adam Kennedy (28) - $0.18

Zobrist lacks the track record, but he could be a bargain in round five.  That's with a .273-26-80-91-15 projection.  We're projecting Cabrera at 600 ABs currently, and if he gets there he could be a 13th-round steal.  If Hill comes back to Earth and hits a respectable 25 HR, you may regret making him a fifth-round pick.

Stewart could be a poor man's Uggla, and I'd add $5 to his projection if he gets 600 ABs.  Former teammates Johnson and Prado look like bargains, with Johnson getting a 530 AB projection for the D'Backs and Prado 600 ABs for the Braves.  Kendrick and Weeks are both in the 450-460 AB range, and they'd jump up the list with healthy 600 AB seasons.  Both still have top five potential, and you can get Weeks pretty late.

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Closer Report: Cleveland Indians

Kerry Wood enters the 2010 season as the Indians' closer.  He's being drafted in the 21st round, which presumably reflects his past health issues and the possibility of a midseason trade.

I'm not too worried about Wood's health, as he managed at least 55 innings in each of the last two seasons.  One consideration is that Wood's $11MM option for 2011 vests with 55 games finished, and the Indians would probably prefer for that not to happen.  Wood finished 50 in '09 and 56 in '08.  The Indians can't get too cute with Wood's role or DL trips, though, or they'll risk a grievance.

There's a good chance Wood is traded midseason, and there's no way to predict whether he'd close for his new team.  While Tony Sipp and Jensen Lewis could merit consideration as his replacement, Chris Perez is my current favorite.  Perez, who came over in the Mark DeRosa trade, had a 10.7 K/9 in 57 innings.  He'll need to improve his walk and home run rates, however.

Closer Report: Chicago White Sox

The White Sox will once again employ Bobby Jenks as their closer.  He's being drafted in the 14th round, which isn't too pricey.  Jenks had sharp peripherals in 2009, aside from a 1.5 HR/9.  He did post the highest flyball rate of his career, so that will be a mild concern entering 2010.

The other concern is that Jenks could be traded.  He's earning $7.5MM, and has been named in past rumors.  If Kenny Williams pulls the trigger, keep an eye on J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton.  Putz has the closing experience, but hasn't been dominant since '07.  Thornton is the whole package, but sometimes teams don't like to use lefties in the closer role.  I consider Putz the mild favorite, but it really depends on how each are throwing at the time of a Jenks trade.

First Baseman Rankings

Our tentative first baseman rankings, for a 12-team mixed league using AVG, HR, RBI, R, and SB and 14 active hitters.  These are subject to change, and I'm open to arguments in the comments.  Current average draft round is in parentheses.

  1. Albert Pujols (1) - $32.49
  2. Miguel Cabrera (1) - $23.44
  3. Prince Fielder (1) - $22.23
  4. Ryan Howard (1) - $21.80
  5. Mark Teixeira (1) - $20.69
  6. Joey Votto (3) - $20.62
  7. Mark Reynolds (2) - $17.80
  8. Kevin Youkilis (3) - $14.58
  9. Adrian Gonzalez (3) - $14.46
  10. Pablo Sandoval (4) - $14.18
  11. Lance Berkman (6) - $13.26
  12. Justin Morneau (4) - $13.06
  13. Kendry Morales (5) - $12.05
  14. Adam Dunn (5) - $10.30
  15. Derrek Lee (8) - $10.04
  16. Carlos Pena (7) - $9.16
  17. Garrett Jones (13) - $8.86
  18. Billy Butler (8) - $8.83
  19. Adam LaRoche (21) - $8.23
  20. Michael Cuddyer (10) - $7.22
  21. Chris Davis (14) - $6.46
  22. James Loney (20) - $6.10
  23. Jorge Cantu (15) - $4.81
  24. Paul Konerko (20) - $4.21
  25. Garrett Atkins (25) - $3.20
  26. Nick Swisher (22) - $2.97
  27. Todd Helton (19) - $2.39
  28. Aubrey Huff (28) - $0.77

Cabrera, Fielder, Howard, Teixeira - I value all four similarly.  Cabrera wins right now because he's the only one projected to hit over .300.  With 575 ABs Votto could be right there with them, and he could be the one swiping more than five bags.  As a third-round pick he's a mild bargain.

Berkman in the sixth round is another potential value pick, as he could match several guys picked in the third.  With a poor batting average but 12 projected steals, Jones is someone to consider at CI.  But he deserves to be in the 13rd round range until he proves 2009 wasn't a fluke.  Butler is going pretty early, in the 8th round.  You probably won't regret the pick, yet taking him that early means paying for a level of performance he hasn't reached yet.  I was among many fantasy owners burned by Davis last year, and he's dropped eight rounds.  The 30 HR potential remains if you can stomach a questionable AVG, though Justin Smoak is knocking on the door.

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Catcher Rankings

It's time to bust out our tentative catcher rankings for two-catcher, 12-team mixed leagues using AVG, HR, RBI, R, and SB.  These are subject to change, and I'm open to arguments in the comments.  Current average draft round is in parentheses.

  1. Joe Mauer (2) - $30.33
  2. Brian McCann (4) - $23.19
  3. Victor Martinez (3) - $20.43
  4. Matt Wieters (9) - $17.41
  5. Russell Martin (12) - $16.85
  6. Mike Napoli (15) - $15.67
  7. Geovany Soto (13) - $13.65
  8. Kurt Suzuki (12) - $12.72
  9. Ryan Doumit (18) - $10.80
  10. Jorge Posada (10) - $10.30
  11. Bengie Molina (14) - $9.91
  12. Miguel Montero (13) - $9.55
  13. A.J. Pierzynski (22) - $8.26
  14. Chris Iannetta (16) - $8.16
  15. Yadier Molina (20) - $7.75
  16. Kelly Shoppach (27) - $5.52
  17. Ramon Hernandez (26) - $5.44
  18. Carlos Ruiz (23) - $5.02
  19. John Buck (28) - $3.88
  20. John Baker (27) - $3.53
  21. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (27) - $3.38
  22. Gerald Laird (27) - $1.52
  23. Nick Hundley (28) - $1.20
  24. Gregg Zaun (not drafted) - $1.00

The problem with projecting a lot of these guys is figuring out playing time.  How many ABs will Napoli, Doumit, Posada, Montero, Iannetta, Shoppach, Hernandez, and Baker get?  Right now we can only guess; the projections will be refined if managers are revealing during Spring Training.

We're calling for a bit of a bounceback for Martin, and he is the one real SB threat, but I'm still wary.  If you decide to take a pass on the Big Three, I'd attempt to get Wieters and/or Soto in rounds 9-13.  Those two could enter McCann/V-Mart territory depending on their spots in the batting order.

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Closer Report: Blue Jays

The Blue Jays currently have a three-man competition at closer, with Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, and Scott Downs duking it out.  Gregg is a recent free agent signee, while Frasor and Downs are entering their walk years and are trade candidates.  Since all three pitchers are being drafted in the 26th round or later, Toronto presents a nice fantasy opportunity if you pick right.

Right now all we know is that Gregg signed in part because he'll get a shot at closing, and manager Cito Gaston will make the decision (MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reporting).  According to Mock Draft Central, fantasy owners are currently voting for Downs (311.73), Frasor (323.34), and Gregg (327.29) in that order.

There is reason to believe Downs won't be the guy.  The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin notes that Downs is not the lights-out type for the ninth inning.  That's understandable; Downs is a southpaw who averages about 90 mph on his heater.  Frasor throws harder and he's right-handed.  Downs and Frasor both had better peripherals than Gregg in 2009, though they lack his closing experience.  Of the three, only Downs had a strong groundball rate.

So while you could make a case for any of the three, I'd be surprised to see Downs get the nod with two capable righties also in the mix.  If you're drafting now, take Gregg.  Unlike Frasor, Gregg's not a spring trade candidate.  And I'm guessing Gaston will choose the experienced closer even if Frasor stays.

Roundtable: Adam Jones, McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez

This week's roundtable asks:

Who do you take first - Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen or Carlos Gonzalez?

Fantasy Phenoms has our answers.

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Yahoo Fantasy Baseball Opens

It's always an exciting day when Yahoo makes their fantasy baseball service available.  They're going all-out this year, adding free live scoring, FAAB budgets, an iPhone app, and auction leagues.

That begs the question: should we start ditching snake drafts?  I've done a million snake drafts online, and they have their charms.  I've only done a handful of online auctions.  In-person fantasy auctions are a blast, though.  In either case I do enjoy the increased control over one's roster provided by the ability to bid on any player.  Is there anything better about snake drafts, aside from familiarity?

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Drew Silva's Mock Draft

RotoWorld's Drew Silva recently hosted a several-day mock draft over at CouchManagers.com.  Click here to see team by team results.  I drafted fifth.  12 teams, typical roto categories.  My squad, with the draft round in parentheses:

C - Brian McCann (4)
1B - Derrek Lee (6)
2B - Ian Kinsler (2)
SS - Jimmy Rollins (3)
3B - Aramis Ramirez (5)
OF - Ryan Braun (1)
OF - Andrew McCutchen (7)
OF - Torii Hunter (8)
DH - Vladimir Guerrero (12)
P - Ubaldo Jimenez (9)
P - Ricky Nolasco (10)
P - Matt Garza (11)
P - Kevin Slowey (14)
P - Rafael Soriano (13)
Bn - Chad Qualls (15)
Bn - Jonathan Sanchez (16)
Bn - Kerry Wood (17)
Bn - Matt Capps (18)

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Closer Report: Rays

The Rays acquired Rafael Soriano from the Braves and will pay him $7.25MM in 2010.  He is unquestionably their closer.  If healthy, he'll put up strong numbers.  He provides good value at his current 14th round average draft position.

Soriano is in another contract year, so he might hold it together.  But he does have a notable injury history, including ulnar nerve surgery transposition in August of '08.  You'll want to be aware of his backups.

Basically, J.P. Howell is the one you want.  He saved 17 last year with a 10.7 K/9, though he walked 4.5 per nine.  Technically, he blew 8 saves in 25 tries, but the majority of those were not typical save situations.

After Howell it's Grant Balfour or Dan Wheeler.  Balfour is more in the classic closer mold, and I'd take him assuming he's going well.

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