Los Angeles Dodgers


More Good Vibes On Furcal

As someone who has drafted Rafael Furcal early (sixth round) and often, I'm pleased to read articles like this.  So many things going for him: contract year, return to health, spring SLG more than .200 over his career mark. 

Furcal is my fifth-ranked shortstop, behind Reyes, Ramirez, Rollins, and Jeter.  But two things on that.  First, Jeter goes too early so I'd rather have Furcal.  Second, I fully expect Furcal to beat my .280-11-54-99-28 in 589 ABs projection.  Lots of people are taking Troy Tulowitzki before Furcal, and I think it's a mistake.



2008 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Hiroki Kuroda

One starter who is catching my eye in my recent drafts is Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers.  I love the upside he provides as someone you can draft in the last three rounds of a mixed league.

My projection calls for a 4.07 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with 112 Ks in 171 innings.  But such projections are all numbers, no feel.  Sometimes in fantasy baseball you have to make some gut calls.

Read this Rosenthal article about Kuroda.  I think the word "bulldog" appears eight times.  Plus, he throws a shuuto.  Incidentally, I used to toss one of those in Little League but decided to focus on my gyroball.  Last year's slightly disappointing Daisuke Matsuzaka and massively awful Kei Igawa both pitched in the AL East.  Who's to say Kuroda won't run the table in the weaker league?  No projection system predicted 142 innings of 1.77 ERA ball from Takashi Saito, but that's his career thus far.

I could see Kuroda coming in and baffling the NL for a while.  Two months, two years, I'm not sure.  But a low hit rate and high strikeout rate could definitely happen here.  It's just kind of unpredictable and mysterious.  So instead of taking Mark Buehrle, Tom Glavine, Andy Pettitte, and Barry Zito, I'm taking Kuroda.  The worst that can happen is wasting your 25th round pick.



Loney Nights At First Base

I'm noticed various outlets recommending Dodgers rookie James Loney as a good NL-only pickup while Nomar Garciaparra is out.  I'm not so sure.

It's true that Loney, a left-handed first baseman, will get most of the ABs against righthanders in April.  Maybe it's because I have never seen him play in person, but I can't understand why anyone would be high on him.  Last year in Double A Jacksonville, Loney hit .284/.357/.419 in 504 at-bats.  Granted, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville rates as one of the best pitchers' parks in the Southern League.  But just 11 HRs in 500+ Double A at-bats can't be explained away by park effects.

At least he'll hit for average in L.A., right?  Well, no.  As a player with a contact rate of about 83% and a walk rate of 10%, Loney looks like a .270 hitter at best for the time being.  And that's .270 if his minor league skills don't erode in the bigs.

Loney still hasn't hit his 22nd birthday, so he gets plenty of points in prospect rankings for holding his own at a young age.  Think Adrian Gonzalez circa 2003.  Loney has battled finger and wrist injuries in recent years.  His .438 spring average was nice, though he didn't homer in the 32 ABs.  He sounds like a good kid and he's a defensive whiz.  But in what kind of fantasy league can a no-hit rookie first baseman be an asset?   

(Watch, he hits .350 with 5 HR in April because of this post).

If you owned Nomar and you were strangely playing him at first base in a 12 team NL-only league with 5-deep benches, Loney might be the only guy out there who will actually get playing time.  So I guess that's the situation in which he has a little bit of value.   




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