National League - FAAB - 4/1/12
Nathan Eovaldi - This is more of a speculative pick as Eovaldi is not expected to break camp with the team as Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are the fourth and fifth starters. However, if either one struggles, likely Harang, given how he was a product of pitching at Petco Park and had a poor second half, Eovaldi could be back up by midseason. Eovaldi, who just turned 22 in February, pitched 103 innings at Double-A and skipped Triple-A entirely last season to pitch in 10 games with the Dodgers. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (pure speculative pick);
Livan Hernandez/Kris Medlen/Randall Delgado/Julio Teheran - I wrote the Medlen, Delgado and Teheran piece Thursday night before Houston dumped Hernandez and he signed with Atlanta. The expectation now is that Hernandez now will serve as a long reliever/spot starter and could be the Braves' fifth starter until Tim Hudson is ready, but don't expect much from him. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Thursday before adding Hernandez that the Braves haven't decided for sure that Medlen will be in the bullpen and not the rotation. Randall Delgado was still expected to join the rotation over Julio Teheran and Medlen while Tim Hudson is out in April with a back injury. Meanwhile, Medlen missed most of the season after recovering from Tommy John surgery, but did return to make two impressive outings with the Braves. While he's pitched well out of the bullpen, he looked like a future star once he joined the rotation in 2010 with a 3.86 ERA and 62:16 K:BB ratio in 84 innings over 14 starts. Now, with Hernandez there, he will pitch out of the pen, but I could see him starting at some point during the year. Both Delgado and Teheran should now start the season in the minors, though nothing is set in stone right now. Hernandez - Mixed: $1; NL: $5; Medlen - Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (go higher if you think he will be a starter sometime during the year); Delgado - Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Teheran - Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (both speculative bids).
Brad Lincoln - Lincoln, who registered a 4.72 ERA and 1.469 WHIP in 47.2 frames for the Pirates, likely wasn't going to start the season in the team's rotation. However, injuries to both A.J. Burnett (orbital bone) and Charlie Morton (hip) may open the door for him to be the fifth starter to open the season. Morton may not miss much time and Burnett is expected back May 1, so Lincoln's tenure with the Pirates could be short. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
John Lannan - Manager Davey Johnson confirmed earlier in the week that Lannan will be the Nats' No. 5 starter to start the season. Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury played a part in that call, but Lannan gets the nod for now, but Wang might be back by mid-April. Our outlook gives you all you need to know on Lannan. “Lannan had the best season of his career in 2011 as he registered a 4.28 FIP and 4.24 xFIP in 184.2 innings. He relied on his three off-speed pitches (slider, change-up and curveball) more frequently, and as a result had the highest swinging-strike percentage of his career (7.6 percent). In addition, his average fastball velocity of 89.8 mph was also the highest of his career. His high walk rate is a concern, and he is more likely to finish with an ERA north of 4.10 as a member of the rotation in 2012.” Once Wang comes back, if he is able to remain healthy, or if Ross Detwiler, who will pitch out of the pen continues to excel, Lannan could be dealt elsewhere. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Lance Lynn - Lynn has been excellent this spring as he prepares to take Chris Carpenter's spot in the rotation. He's struck out 12 and walked just four in 20.1 innings and has a 2.61 ERA and 0.970 WHIP. Carpenter is dealing with a nerve issue in his neck and could be sidelined for several months, opening the door for Lynn to hold on to his rotation spot. Lynn moved from starting to relieving during the year last season, so the switch back to starting should not be that difficult for him. If he does struggle, the Cardinals could promote their top-pitching prospect Shelby Miller, if he is pitching well at Triple-A Memphis, so Lynn's hold on the job is tenuous. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Mike Minor - Minor entered last spring as the favorite for the fifth starter job given his pedigree (seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft), but lost out to Brandon Beachy and bounced between Triple-A and the Braves the rest of the season. Minor was dominant in Triple-A again with a 3.22 ERA and 99:27 K:BB ratio in 100.2 innings. His results were not as spectacular in the majors, but he still posted a 4.14 ERA and strong 77:30 K:BB ratio in 82.2 innings at age 23. He also had a strong September once he settled into the rotation with several starters out due to injury as he posted a 3.67 ERA with a 25:11 K:BB ratio in 27 innings. He also reduced his home runs allowed, which had been a worry in his brief time in the majors in 2010. Minor has had a strong spring, and that, coupled with injuries to several Braves' starters, means that he will enter the season as Atlanta's No. 4 starter, where he should post solid across-the-board numbers. Mixed: $7; NL: $17.
Drew Pomeranz/Jamie Moyer - Pomeranz, the centerpiece of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal last year, has all but locked up a rotation spot in Colorado, though he will be skipped the first time through. He received four major-league starts last season and came to camp penciled into the rotation. Despite dealing with an abrasion on his pitching thumb and tightness in his right hip, Pomeranz has shown enough of his low-to-mid-90s fastball, plus-curveball and change-up to earn a spot, but his first start won't come until April 15. He projects to be a future ace, who averages a strikeout an inning, but he will be capped at 170 innings this year, so keep that in mind in single-year leagues. Moyer, coming off Tommy John surgery, has had a strong spring, going 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. His main competition in Tyler Chatwood has not performed well over the last several weeks, opening the door for Moyer to secure a spot in the rotation. It's all but certain Moyer has the final rotation spot to begin the season, and he will be relied on, along with Jeremy Guthrie, to provide some veteran leadership to what is mainly a young staff. Pomeranz - Mixed: $4; NL: $11; Moyer - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Jeff Samardzija/Chris Volstad - Samardzija, who has pitched primarily in relief for the Cubs since he was drafted in 2006, was named on Thursday as the team's No. 3 starter, following Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Volstad and Paul Maholm round out the starting five. Other than one poor start, Samardzija had a solid spring, earning the starting job. He mixes a mid-90s fastball with a improved slider as he transitions back to starting from relieving. Volstad did post a career-best GB/FB rate of 1.97 last year for Florida but couldn't get the grounders when he needed them, and once again gave up too many hits and too many homers. He came to the Cubs this off-season for Carlos Zambrano and will get a fresh start in Wrigley, though that's a downgrade in park and only a minor upgrade defensively, with the Cubs playing Alfonso Soriano in left field. Samardzija and Volstad - Mixed: $5; NL: $16.
Johan Santana - Santana, who underwent surgery on September 14, 2010 to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, basically missed the entire 2011 season. His return to action was pushed back several times with gaps between his two-rehab starts at High-A St. Lucie due to shoulder soreness and fatigue. This spring, Santana has shown enough to break camp with the Mets and is penciled in as the Opening Day starter. There is some thought that the Mets may use a six-man rotation to give Santana additional rest when needed, and given his past injury history, counting on him for 30 starts may be foolish. That said, despite the slight drop in velocity, Santana has enough to retire hitters and should be counted on for 25 starts. Mixed: $7; NL: $18
Kyle Weiland/Jordan Lyles - The release of Livan Hernandez on Friday coupled with that of Zach Duke earlier in the week nearly guarantees that Weiland and Lyles will break camp as the Astros' fourth and fifth starters, though Lucas Harrell is still in the mix. Weiland had a strong Triple-A campaign for Pawtucket last year, but struggled in his brief stint with the Red Sox. He was acquired by Houston along with Jed Lowrie in the Mark Melancon deal and has a good spring for the Astros. Weiland likely would benefit from some additional minor-league season, but the lack of other true options pretty much paves the way to him opening the season with Houston. Lyles received on-the-job training in Houston last season, landing in the starting rotation probably a bit before he was ready to do so. He faded in the final two months with a 7.76 ERA after Aug. 1 but overall the results weren't all that terrible: 4.41 ERA, 1.292 WHIP and a 2.72 K/BB. Lyles needs to do a much better job of keeping the ball in the park to have success and he projects to be a number-three starter down the road. Weiland - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Lyles - Mixed: $3; NL: $9
Carlos Zambrano - Zambrano, who wore out his welcome in Chicago, got a fresh start with his trade to Miami. Zambrano has long been a favorite of new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, and in the right situation and possibly support, should do a better job of controlling his emotions, which might lead to better numbers on the mound. In addition, he seems to have found a bit more life on his fastball, giving him strong sleeper value compared to the past few seasons. Mixed: $4; NL: $13.
Anthony Bass - Padres manager Bud Black is considering using Bass out of the bullpen to start the season, rather than as a starter at Triple-A Tucson. Black said that he believes Bass can handle the nature of being ready to pitch every day on an as-needed basis. Given the quality of the prospects the Padres have ascending through the high minor, using Bass out of the bullpen would potentially open the door for someone like Joe Wieland to make it to the big league rotation sooner, if Bass flourishes out of the bullpen and the Padres decide not to stretch him out should the need for a starter arise. That said, given how poorly Clayton Richard has pitched this spring, Black could change his mind the last week of spring training and have Bass start. Stay tuned. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Santiago Casilla - If Brian Wilson (elbow) is not ready to start the year, Casilla may be next in line to close for the Giants. Casilla posted a 1.74 ERA and 1.123 WHIP last season, even recording six saves when Wilson was out with an injury. He still struggles with control and just 2.6 percent of his flyballs went for homers, so he was a bit lucky, but clearly he's tough to hit. Wilson looks like he will be ready for the start of the regular season but Casilla, along with Heath Hembree, who is in the minors, are names to keep in the back of your mind on draft day just in case. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Ross Detwiler - Detwiler has had a strong spring, going 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 17:5 K:BB ratio in 16.2 innings but he is caught in the Nationals' rotation logjam and will begin the season in the bullpen. He features a fastball that averaged 92.2 mph last season, a change-up (his best pitch) and a curveball. Detwiler did benefit from a low BABIP (.272) that offset a high 24.2 line drive rate, so a regression could be in order. That said, if he pitches like he did this spring, Detwiler work his way into a more prominent role, and his talent could enable him to produce some interesting numbers. In deep leagues, he's a name to consider stashing on your bench. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Rafael Dolis - Dolis has made the Cubs, where he will pitch in middle relief but could be third in line to close behind the control-challenged Carlos Marmol and oft-injured Kerry Wood. Dolis shifted from the rotation to the bullpen in 2011 and embraced the change, throwing 72.2 innings with a 3.22 ERA and 17 saves at Double-A, He needs to work on his K:BB and BB/9 ratios, but his power sinker generates a ton of groundballs, which helps him get out of trouble. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Sean Marshall/Nick Masset/Joe Arredondo/Bill Bray/Aroldis Chapman - With Ryan Madson out for the season and requiring Tommy John surgery, Reds manager Dusty Baker hinted that he'll use a closer-by-committee initially to start the season. Among the alternatives include the loser of the fifth starter battle between Homer Bailey and Aroldis Chapman, Nick Masset (once he returns from the DL), Jose Arredondo and maybe even Bill Bray. Marshall appears to be the best suited and favorite for the role, but all bets for now are off given the possible use of a committee. At 6-foot-6 and left-handed, Marshall's picked up his velocity of late, (average fastball was 91.3 mph), has excellent command (79:17 K:BB in 75.2 innings) and keeps the ball on the ground (2.6 GB/FB ratio, one home run allowed), which will help at Great American Ballpark. Masset and Bray are returning from injury while Masset and Arredondo have control issues. Chapman is transitioning back to starting, but the Reds could shift him back to the bullpen, where he then might be the top option to close. Marshall - Mixed: $4; NL: $13; Masset/Arredondo/Bray - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Chapman - Mixed: $3; NL: $11 (if he starts, bump a bit if he closes)
Kenley Jansen - Despite a minor heart ailment, Jansen had a breakout 2011, setting a single-season big league record with a 16.10 K/9IP (96 strikeouts in 53.2 innings) for pitchers with a minimum of 50 innings pitched. The converted catcher functioned primarily as a setup man for Javy Guerra last year, and is slated to fill a similar role this year. Many believe that Jansen will eventually supersede Guerra, who had a middling K/9 and BB/9 ratios, as he has the talent to be a top-five closer if given the opportunity. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Brad Lidge/Henry Rodriguez - Lidge, who posted a 1.40 ERA and 23:13 K:BB ratio in 19.1 innings with the Phillies last season, was bought out of his 2012 contract by the team and signed with the Nationals in January. He has had a strong spring, allowing just one earned run on five hits and no walks while striking out 11 in nine innings. Arm and shoulder problems have taken a toll on Lidge's velocity and forced him to rely heavily on his slider, so he has taken to throwing two variants of his slider in order to maintain some effectiveness. While Drew Storen works his way back from an elbow injury, manager Davey Johnson is having Lidge and Rodriguez close, instead of turning Tyler Clippard, preferring to keep Clippard in his setup role as well as use his ability to throw multiple innings during the week. Rodriguez has put together an excellent spring, tossing 10 shutout innings and allowing just four hits while carrying a 9:2 K:BB mark. Walks have been an issue for Rodriguez in the past, but he offers a big arm for the late innings in the Washington bullpen. Johnson may turn to Lidge first due to his closing experience, but Rodriguez offers the more tantalizing and power arm in the pen. Lidge - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Rodriguez - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Brett Myers/David Carpenter - The Astros decided at the end of February to shift Myers from starting to the closer's role, displacing Brandon Lyon and preventing Carpenter from earning the job. Myers has some experience closing, filling that role for the Phillies, before shifting back to starting. Houston reworked the vesting component of Myers' contract, so it's possible he will vest that 2013 option. Even if he does, given that Houston is going nowhere, it would not be surprising to see Myers dealt during the year with Carpenter filling his spot in the bullpen pecking order. Carpenter pitched well in his stint in the majors last year, using his mid-90s fastball to rack up strikeouts and just needs to limit his walks to have even greater success. Myers - Mixed: $4; NL: $14; Chapman - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Bobby Parnell - Parnell has had a strong spring and gone from possibly to not making the team to what could be a significant role in the bullpen. Parnell struggled mightily last year, especially after getting moved to closer as his lack of a secondary pitch and late movement on his fastball was readily apparent. This spring, Parnell has made huge strides with the curveball he learned from Jason Isringhausen, giving an off-speed option to all his hard stuff, and it has made a world of difference. If Frank Francisco's, Jon Rauch's and/or Ramon Ramirez's spring training struggles carry over to the season, Parnell could find himself closing once again. Mixed: $1; NL: $4
Jason Castro - Castro, who is returning from a torn ACL and December foot surgery, caught back-to-back games for the first time this spring this past week. The December surgery cut short his Arizona Fall League campaign and was supposed to sideline him three months. Castro has made a faster than expected recovery, but Houston will limit his workload the first month of the season until he is truly 100 percent. Castro, a former first-round pick, profiled as a strong offensive catcher, but his lack of production in 2010 coupled with his injuries have taken the bloom off the rose. Still, it should only be a matter of time before he takes over the starting job from Chris Snyder. Mixed: $2; NL: $7
Steven Clevenger - Clevenger won the backup catching job for the Cubs. Geovany Soto will obviously see the majority of at-bats, but Clevenger should start 1-2 times per week. He has hit for average the last three years in the high minors and shown a little power. Mixed: No; NL: $1.
Tony Cruz - Cruz beat out Bryan Anderson for the backup catcher job in St. Louis. He won't get much playing time playing behind Yadier Molina, but at least Cruz can say he made a major-league roster on Opening Day. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
A.J. Ellis - Despite an average spring, all indications point towards Ellis being the Dodgers' starting catcher come Opening Day. Matt Treanor would back up Ellis with Tim Federowicz being the catcher-in-waiting and probable best option at the position in Triple-A. Ellis doesn't offer much for fantasy owners unless OBP is a category. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
Devin Mesoraco - Mesoraco spent most of 2011 at Triple-A Louisville, where he posted solid numbers across the board. Cincinnati made room for him by letting Ramon Hernandez go the Rockies, but that doesn't mean Mesoraco will start right off the bat. Look for Ryan Hanigan to get the bulk of the starts early on, thanks to his defensive prowess. Mesoraco's bat appears to be ready now - it's just a matter of manager Dusty Baker getting comfortable with his ability to call a game behind the plate. That focus on defense early on might hurt Mesoraco's production out of the gate, but he should take over as the starter sometime during the season. Mixed: $7; NL: $18.
Mike Nickeas - The Mets sent Rob Johnson and Lucas May to Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday, meaning that Nickeas has won the backup catching job. Nickeas came to camp needing to prove only that he could hit Major League pitching. He didn't quite do that, entering Thursday's play with a .200 average in 13 games. But the Mets could not ignore Nickeas' 3.01 catcher's ERA last season, which was significantly better than that of Josh Thole or Ronny Paulino and earned him the spot on the major-league roster. He will likely see spot duty, starting against tough lefties. Mixed: No; NL: $0
Wilin Rosario - Rosario had had a strong spring, all but locking up the backup catcher role in Colorado. Rosario has the physical tools - raw power and a big arm - that make him a prized prospect in the Rockies' system. He swatted 21 homers at Tulsa over 405 at-bats before getting a taste of Colorado down the stretch. The Rockies signed Ramon Hernandez to help pave the way for Rosario while the latter works on improving his plate discipline and polishing his defense behind the plate. Eventually, possibly after the All-Star break, Rosario should take over as the starter. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (much higher in keeper leagues)
Hector Sanchez - Sanchez has had a strong spring and may have leapfrogged into the Giants' backup catcher spot. Sanchez has hit four home runs to go with 10 RBI and a .405 average this spring after jumping from High-A to the majors last year. It's very possible he could push Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart off the big league roster. Sanchez, if he does make the roster, could see more than expected playing time if SF plays Buster Posey periodically at first base as they have done a few times this spring. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Yonder Alonso - After a slow start, Alonso has turned it on and is now hitting .299 with a home run and 11 RBI. The Padres acquired Alonso in the Mat Latos deal this offseason, which finally removed Joey Votto as a roadblock to playing time at first base. Now that “lack of position” is no longer a part of his scouting report, Alonso is a nice sleeper after delivering a .943 OPS in limited duty as a 24-year-old for the Reds last season. He will likely experience growing pains in his first full season as an MLB regular, despite his ceiling as a potential high average gap-hitter with 15-20 home-run power. Mixed: $4; NL: $13.
Brandon Belt - Belt has had a big spring, batting .397/.435/.651 with three home runs and eight RBI, all but forcing the Giants to have him on the Opening Day roster. The current school of thought is that Aubrey Huff would start at first base with Belt in left, or vice versa, forcing Melky Cabrera to right field and Nate Schiernoltz to the bench. Nothing is yet set in stone, but Belt is clearly the Giants' best prospect and would likely be the team's third-best hitter if they left him alone and gave him a full-time job in 2012. Bid accordingly, but be prepared that SF could opt to send Belt down to start the season. Mixed: $3; NL: $11 (up bid if sold that he starts the season and remains on the active roster)
Mat Gamel - The departure of Prince Fielder to Detroit has opened the door for Gamel to be the Brewers' starting first baseman. In 2011 Gamel hit .310/.372/.540 with 28 home runs while taking great strides to improve his contact rate. There still are concerns about not only his ability to make contact, but also his hitting ability against left-handed pitchers, which could mean that Gamel's hold on the job may not be that tight or Milwaukee could platoon him with Corey Hart, sitting Gamel against tough southpaws, which would give Norichika Aoki more playing time. That said, Gamel will be given every chance to succeed and replicate his minor league numbers. Mixed: $4; NL: $13
Matt Hague - Hague's chances of breaking camp with Pittsburgh improved Thursday after the reassignment of Jake Fox and news that the team intends to place Charlie Morton on the DL when the season starts. Hague, Yamaico Navarro and Josh Harrison, the latter two in the middle infield, are all expected to serve as backups for the first couple weeks. Hague has had a tremendous spring, hitting six home runs, and could earn playing time early in the season, especially against tough lefties, with Pittsburgh needing some power in the lineup. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Bryan LaHair - LaHair crushed Triple-A to the tune of .331/.405/.664 last year, hitting 38 homers in just 461 at-bats. And he more than held his own in a 58-at-bat cup of coffee in the majors down the stretch. Despite a so-so spring, LaHair held off Anthony Rizzo to open the season as the Cubs' starting first baseman. LaHair should see regular at-bats and hit in the middle of the order for at least a couple months. If he's still struggling come June, and Rizzo's tearing it up at Triple-A, at that point, the team might make a switch. If LaHair is hitting well, Chicago could switch him to left field with Rizzo sliding in at first base. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
James Loney - Loney held off Jerry Sands to open the season as the Dodgers' starting first baseman. Sands had a horrific spring, which made the decision easier, plus Loney hit .320/.380/.534 in the second half last year. The knock on Loney is his lack of power, as he has averaged just 12 homers the past four seasons, so his window to hold on to the job if he struggles and Sands tears up Triple-A is slim. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Jim Thome/Ty Wigginton - With Ryan Howard still recovering from Achilles' surgery, the Philles are expected to use Thome and Wigginton at first base. Thome should play maybe two or three times a week at first, given his age and fact that he has been solely a DH the past several seasons while in the American League. His main usage with Philadelphia is expected to come as a lefty pinch-hitter off the bench. Wigginton spent time at three positions while generating a familiar slash line over 401 at-bats with the Rockies last season. He signed with the Phillies this off-season, where he is expected to see most of his early season playing time at first base filling in for Howard, but he will also see time at second, especially early with Chase Utley sidelined, and third this year and get between 200-400 at-bats John Mayberry, Jr. and Laynce Nix will also see time at first while Howard is sidelined. Thome - Mixed: $1; NL: $5; Wigginton - Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (mainly due to second base eligibility).
Emmanuel Burriss - Burriss should open the season at second base for the Giants. Freddy Sanchez had a cortisone shot on March 26 and has been placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to that date, while Mike Fontenot was released and Ryan Theriot may be on the trade block and hasn't done much to secure his hold on a roster spot this spring. Burriss can offer cheap speed, but his career .250/.311/.281 line should serve as a reminder of his very limited upside beyond that categorical assistance. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
Brooks Conrad/Cesar Izturis - Conrad beat out Tyler Green because he switch hits and can bat right-handed while all of the other bench players hit left-handed. Conrad will mainly be a pinch-hitter and backup infielder. Izturis will make the Brewers' roster as a utility infielder; primarily as a defensive replacement at second or third and as the backup to Alex Gonzalez at shortstop. Conrad/Izturis - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Daniel Descalso/Tyler Greene - Descalso, who filled a utility role last year, has had a strong spring training and is expected to lead off and play second base on Opening Day for the Cardinals. This move could put a dent in the values of both Rafael Furcal, who was expected to lead off this year, and Greene, who until just recently, was expected to man second base. This may be a lefty-righty swap, as Descalso may leadoff vs. righties and Greene lefties, while Furcal, who has had a horrible spring, hits eighth and may lose playing time to Greene. Descalso, who may only qualify in some leagues at third because he played just 18 games at second, has the better batting eye while Greene has more power and speed, and their roles will likely change when Skip Schumaker is over his oblique injury and ready to return in about a month. Descalso - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Greene - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Matt Downs - Downs should the fill the role of super-utility player for the Astros this year. Look for him to back up Carlos Lee at first base, Jose Altuve at second and Jed Lowrie at shortstop while also possibly seeing time at third and in the outfield. Downs has some pop in his bat and makes a nice end-game player in NL-only leagues. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
Freddy Galvis - Galvis improved significantly last season, hitting a combined .278/.324/.392 with eight home runs and 23 stolen bases between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He had been considered an all-glove prospect when the season began and now he has shown signs of being something more than that. Galvis was slated to open 2012 back at Triple-A, but the injury to Chase Utley has opened the door for him to start at second base to begin the season. There is currently no timetable for Utley's return. His right knee, which bothered him last year, feels great and that the left knee has been the problem this spring. Obviously, the longer Utley is out, the more time Galvis will get, though if he doesn't hit, Ty Wigginton could replace him at second base. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.
Steve Lombardozzi - The demotion of Andres Blanco is a good sign that Lombardozzi will break camp on the 25-man roster. There's been no official nod yet from Nationals manager Davey Johnson, but Lombardozzi continues to see regular action in Grapefruit League games and now leads the Nats in spring hits. If Mike Morse begins the year on the DL as expected, Lombardozzi could even be the Opening Day left fielder. In addition, if Danny Espinosa's struggles carry over into the season, Lombardozzi, who posted a .309/.360/.430 line with 30 stolen bases in both Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, could replace him at second base. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Daniel Murphy - Murphy, who suffered a "high-grade" MCL tear in his right knee that sidelined him for the year in July 2010, had a brilliant spring training to break camp with the Mets. Once again, Murphy is listed as the starting second baseman and his health and ability to handle the defensive rigors of the position will likely drive his playing time. When he does play, Murphy may hit second and be a decent source of batting average and runs while also qualifying also at first and third. Mixed: $4; NL: $14.
Everth Cabrera/Andy Parrino - Cabrera and Parrino probably will both break camp with the Padres. Cabrera has struggled lately due to a sore shoulder, but benefits from the injury to Orlando Hudson (hip) and placing of Logan Forsythe on the disabled list due to a foot injury. Parrino has been getting significant playing time this spring and it looks like he will open the season as the starting second baseman due to Hudson's injury and placing of Forsythe on the disabled list. Parrino's main value in him his ability to draw a walk, as he doesn't hit for power and 27 stolen bases over five seasons doesn't scream burner, by any means. When Hudson returns, Parrino should stick as a utility player. Cabrera - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Parrino - Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Jack Wilson - Wilson, who hurt his calf early in spring training, made his spring debut on Tuesday and it looks like he'll be ready for Opening Day. He was brought in to be the backup to Tyler Pastornicky, but there's a chance he could see a few more at-bats with Pastornicky having a mediocre spring at the plate. Though having Wilson get more at-bats won't necessarily help the Braves' offense, though he is solid defensively. Mixed: No; NL: $0
Willie Bloomquist/John McDonald - Just like last season, Bloomquist should get the Opening Day nod at shortstop for Arizona with Stephen Drew nursing an injury, Last year, it was a strained oblique muscle; this year, it's his recovery from fractured ankle and surgery to repair a sports hernia. Drew is making good progress and looks like he may beat the original projected return date of late-April, early-May. In the interim, Bloomquist will see most of the action at shortstop backed up by McDonald, who will serve as a utility infielder. Bloomquist provides some speed as a middle infield option, which also has outfield eligibility albeit at the cost of a weak OBA and SLG. Bloomquist - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; McDonald - Mixed: No; NL: $1.
Zack Cozart - After starving for offense from the position between Paul Janish and Renteria in 2011, the Reds are crossing their fingers that Cozart is the answer. While Cozart held his own in his brief trial before an elbow injury ended his season, he didn't draw a walk in his 37 plate appearances. His minor league numbers suggest he's not a terribly patient hitter, either. While he'll outproduce what the Reds got from the position last year, Cozart also has a limited offensive ceiling. Mixed: $4 NL: $11.
Jed Lowrie/Marvin Gonzalez - Lowrie was acquired along with Kyle Weiland in the Mark Melancon deal. Lowrie got off to a good start for the Red Sox last year, before fading offensively and struggling defensively with the more playing time he got. Despite that, Lowrie is slated to open the season as Houston's starting shortstop and possible second-place hitter. He is nursing a right thumb injury, which might sideline him early in the season. If that does happen, Gonzalez, who is a defense-only shortstop would likely fill in, though Brian Bixler or Angel Sanchez could get the call. Lowrie - Mixed: $4; NL: $13; Gonzalez - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Tyler Pastornicky/Andrelton Simmons - Pastornicky improved in his second season at Double-A by hitting .299/.345/.414 with 20 stolen bases in 90 games. He then was promoted to Triple-A where he hit a scorching .365/.407/.413 in just 27 games. Simmons had a breakout season at High-A Lynchburg by hitting .311/.351/.408 with 26 stolen bases. While he doesn't draw a lot of walks, he makes great contact with few strikeouts (29:43 BB:K ratio in 517 at-bats) and is excellent defensively. The shortstop battle between Pastornicky and Simmons remains officially undecided, but Pastornicky seems to have pulled ahead the past week, especially with Simmons nursing a sore left side that has sidelined him a few days. The odds have always been high that Pastornicky would win the job, given his lack of power, but both have struggled at the plate and Simmons has drawn raves in the field. Even if Pastornicky wins the job, he may not have much job security early in the season, however, especially with Jack Wilson there and Simmons viewed as the possible future starter in Atlanta. Pastornicky - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Simmons - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Ruben Tejada - The beneficiary - if one could use that term - of Jose Reyes taking his talents to South Beach is Tejada, as he is slated to open the year as the starting shortstop. Tejada has shown he can handle the position defensively, with the main question centering on how much he will hit. He made strides in that department the second half of last year and has carried over that development into the spring, where he has been better than expected with the bat. Tejada won't hit for much power but he could provide a decent batting average and runs scored total. He will be backed up by Ronny Cedeno, and if he gets off to a slow start and Jordany Valdespin continues to rake in the minors, he could find himself back at Triple-A Buffalo. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Matt Carpenter - With the release of Alex Cora last Sunday, it looks like Carpenter is going to head north with the Cardinals. Carpenter will likely back up David Freese at third base, but he could play corner outfield spots in a pinch. Mixed: No; NL: $0
Mark DeRosa - DeRosa, who has battled wrist injuries the past two seasons, could see semi-regular starts at first base this season, as Nationals manager Davey Johnson is thinking about platooning him with Adam LaRoche. LaRoche, who is also dealing with a bone bruise in his foot, could change Johnson's mind in a hurry if he hits well at the start of the season, but for the moment it appears as though DeRosa will start against southpaws. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Casey McGehee - McGehee put together one of the worst offensive seasons in the majors during 2011. He hit just .223/.280/.346 in 546 at-bats before the Brewers pulled the plug. He was traded to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras in December and Pittsburgh viewed him as insurance for Pedro Alvarez, who also had a miserable 2011. It's looking more and more likely that the team will need to cash in on its McGehee policy with Alvarez struggling this spring. In addition, McGehee could see time at first base, spelling Garret Jones against left-handed pitching, though the at-bats ratio will likely be 65/35 or so in favor of Jones. There's also the chance Jones could see time in the outfield should injuries strike, which would give McGehee more time at first. Mixed: $3; NL: $9
Chris Nelson/Jordan Pacheco/Brandon Wood - The release of Casey Blake has left a three-headed battle for the starting third base job in Colorado. Granted, whoever gets the job is likely a space filler until Nolan Arenado is ready, but a starting job is still a starting job, regardless for how long. Nelson has seen time in the majors the past two seasons, playing both second and third base. His low walk rate along with middling pop is not the normal recipe for a starting corner infielder. Pacheco is having a strong spring at the plate, but defensively he is struggling at third base, which may lead to him being in a super-utility role in 2012; his original projected role. That would enable him to see time at both corner spots as well as behind the plate. Wood, a ballyhooed prospect who flamed out in Anaheim, rebuilt his swing this offseason and got off to a hot start this spring. He has come to back to earth lately, and may be the third-man in on a two-man platoon. Nelson is out of minor league options so the Rockies must make a decision on his future in the coming days. They may opt to platoon Nelson and Pacheco to start 2012 until Arenado is promoted. Nelson - Mixed: $1; NL: $5; Pacheco - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Wood - Mixed: $0; NL: $2
Rick Ankiel - Ankiel was added to the Nationals' 40-man roster Friday. While Ankiel is considered questionable for Opening Day due to a quad injury, he obviously showed the coaching staff enough to make the team either way. It remains to be seen if Ankiel will be placed on the disabled list, or if he will simply play off the bench, if his quad is still not 100 percent when the regular season begins. Last season was Ankiel's best year in the field in terms of defensive analytics, and he can play three outfield positions. His career strikeout rate is too high (25.5 percent) and OBP is too low (.309) for him to be considered an everyday player, and he will mostly likely be a fourth outfielder in 2012. In addition, with Bryce Harper expected to be up sooner rather than later, Ankiel or Roger Bernadina are likely the two players most in danger to be demoted when that occurs. Mixed: No; NL: $0
Norichika Aoki - From 2005-2010, Aoki was Japan's consensus top contact hitter, hitting .344 or higher four times and drawing Ichiro comparisons. With the introduction of a new pitcher-friendly ball last season, Aoki's batting average dropped to .292 and the Ichiro comparisons came to an end. His power also declined as he had slugged over .500 in three of the previous four years, and .509 in 2010, but could only manage .360 with the new ball. Aoki still hit .292, and reached base at a .358 clip. He still showed a good batting eye, walking 51 times while striking out 55. He'll likely be a Juan Pierre-type: some singles and on-base skills, not a lot of power, and a few stolen bases. Aoki's expected playing time took a huge hit when Ryan Braun won the appeal of his suspension. Now, Aoki will be a fourth outfielder and could open the season as the starting right fielder with Corey Hart expected to miss the first week as he recovers from his knee surgery. Mixed: $1; NL: $4
Roger Bernadina - Bernadina has had a strong camp, putting him in line to start in center field for the Nationals on Opening Day. His greatest asset continues to be his speed, as he stole 17 bases with the Nationals last year, but his strikeout rate has hurt him in terms of his OBP. Bernadina hasn't shown much patience at the plate in the big leagues, but his ability to hit for some power (career 9.1 percent HR/FB ratio) is one reason why he continues to get chances. He likely will share time with Rick Ankiel, and both are just placeholders until Bryce Harper is ready. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Brian Bogusevic/J.B. Shuck - Bogusevic finally got a shot at extended playing time last year, and the former first-round pick took advantage, posting a .287/.348/.457 line through 164 at-bats, fueled largely by a strong second half. As of now, Bogusevic has been penciled in by manager Brad Mills as the starting right fielder on Opening Day. He is not a power hitter, but could be a decent source of cheap speed if he can keep the job. Shuck profiles as and should fill the role as the Astros' fourth outfielder. He plays hard in the field and exhibits good on-base skills, but with no power and not much speed. If Jordan Schafer's hand injury sidelines him early or during the season, Shuck would be in line for more playing time than originally expected. Bogusevic - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Shuck - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.
Mike Baxter - Baxter earned the backup outfield job with the Mets as Adam Loewen was one of six players the Mets cut on Thursday. Baxter will mainly see time as a pinch-hitter and back up at both corner outfield spots, though he did increase his versatility by playing a little center field this spring. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Brett Carroll - Carroll seems to have won a spot on the Nationals' bench. Nothing's set in stone yet but Carroll has done everything he can to impress the coaching staff, including doing some work behind the plate as an emergency catcher. Depending on Mike Morse's health, Carroll, who has bounced between several organizations the past few years, might even see a start or two in left field in the early part of the season. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Chris Coghlan/Austin Kearns - With the demotion of Bryan Petersen, Coghlan has made the Marlins' 25-man roster. He'll back up left field and likely center field despite his struggles defensively there last season, and might even see occasional action back in the infield. Depending on the status of Logan Morrison's knee he could get a few starts in left in the early part of the season, but it would take a serious injury to a starter for Coghlan to have a chance at real significant playing time and fantasy value this season. With the release of Aaron Rowand, Kearns won a spot on the Marlins' 25-man roster. He'll be Miami's top righty off the bench and back up the corner outfield spots, but like Coghlan, Kearns isn't likely to see enough at-bats on the season to have significant fantasy value. Coghlan - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Kearns - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Tyler Colvin - Colvin, who came to Colorado in the Ian Stewart deal this offseason, is trying to cement his place on the roster as the Rockies' fourth outfielder. His chances have increased due to his solid spring along with the toe injury that is sidelining Charlie Blackmon. Colvin had a strong rookie season but flopped last year; though he does have some power and can play multiple positions in the outfield. Mixed: No; NL: $3.
Allen Craig - Craig (November knee surgery) will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. It's likely that the Cardinals will backdate Craig's DL stint, and he could be activated the second week of April. The 27-year-old put up a .315/.362/.555 slash line with 11 home runs in just 219 plate appearances last season. It's possible this DL stint will hurt Craig's value, so he's a potential buy-low candidate, especially since he should see time at first base as well as right and center field. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
Chris Denorfia/Jesus Guzman - Both Denorfia and Guzman benefit from the knee injury to Carlos Quentin that will sideline four-to-six weeks, as each should see some additional early at-bats. They are also aided by Kyle Blanks' shoulder injury, as they may not enable him to be ready for the start of the season. Denorfia has more outfield experience while Guzman has the better bet, so it will be interesting to see who manager Bud Black calls upon if Blanks is sidelined the first week of the season. Blank also may give Mark Kotsay some time and these injuries likely opened the door for Kotsay to make the team. Denorfia - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Guzman - Mixed: $0; NL: $4
Blake DeWitt/Joe Mather - DeWitt and Mather have apparently made the Cubs' 25-man roster. DeWitt, who lost out on the starting second base job last year to Darwin Barney, can back up second and third base as well as the corner outfield spots. He has shown in his history to be better against southpaws than righties, despite being a lefty, so he could see action against southpaws. Mather has a little pop in his bat and can play first base, third base and both corner outfield spots. DeWitt/Mather - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Matt Diaz/Eric Hinske/Jose Constanza/Luis Durango - With Martin Prado replacing the injured Chipper Jones (knee) at third base, Diaz will open the season in a left field platoon with Hinske. Diaz figures to start against lefties, so his playing time will be dictated by the opposing teams' rotations. He will see extra at-bats early on, but on the lesser side of the platoon, it will be tough to own him outside of deeper leagues with daily lineup changes. Chipper may be back by mid-April, at which time, Prado will shift back to left field. Given Jones' propensity for injuries, Diaz and Hinske likely will see more at-bats than expected with Prado handling third base. In addition, Diaz could see some at-bats in right field with Jason Heyward sitting against tough lefties while Hinske has some additional value since he also qualifies at first base. Constanza and Durango are in a battle to be a reserve outfielder. Diaz - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Hinske - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Constanza - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Durango - Mixed: NL: $0.
Scott Hairston - Hairston saw most of his action as a righty pinch hitter and occasional starter in the outfield last season. He signed a one-year deal with the Mets and is expected to fill a similar role this season. If Andres Torres' calf injury sidelines him and Hairston's oblique is healthy, he could open the season as the team's starting center fielder. If Torres is sidelined long-term, Kirk Nieuwenhuis is probably in line to fill in for him, but a short-term absence would give Hairston more playing time initially. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Erik Komatsu/Shane Robinson - Both Komatsu and Robinson won spots on the Cardinals bench with Adron Chambers getting sent down and Allen Craig opening the season on the disabled list. Komatsu, a Rule 5 pick from Washington, should steal a few bases as the fourth or fifth outfielder. Robinson has had strong springs in the past, but has never been able to translate that into success in the majors. His stint may be brief as he is the likely candidate to go down when Craig returns. Komatsu - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Robinson - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
John Mayberry/Laynce Nix/Juan Pierre - Mayberry is slated to open the season as the team's starting left fielder. Mayberry hit well last season, and with Domonic Brown sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start the season, Mayberry has a chance to keep the job with a strong performance. Nix, who hits lefty, could carve out more playing time if Mayberry struggles against righties while he is in the lineup. In addition, while Ryan Howard is out, manager Charlie Manuel could play both Mayberry and Nix, moving one to first base while shifting Ty Wigginton to second or third. Pierre beat out Scott Podsednik for the fifth outfielder role, though Manuel indicated that Pierre could see more time than that. The Phillies have the option to play Mayberry or Nix at first base, which will open up playing time for Pierre in left. He'll also serve as the primary backup for Shane Victorino in center and his main value is his speed. Mayberry - Mixed: $3; NL: $11; Nix - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Pierre - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Geraldo Parra - The acquisition of Jason Kubel this offseason has relegated Parra to fourth outfield status. Parra has spent extra time working on his defense in center field this spring to increase his opportunities for playing time when the season begins. Heading into the spring, there was some thought that Parra might earn extra time spelling Chris Young against right-handed pitching. However, Young has made two mechanical adjustments in order to increase his ability to make more contact and deliver better numbers against right-handed pitching, which will go a long way in determining how much time he might lose to Parra this season. If Young does hit well, Parra's playing time will drop, which should be factored in if bidding on him. Mixed: $1; NL: $6.
Alex Presley/Nate McLouth - Presley hit .330 in 348 Triple-A at-bats last season before the Bucs recalled him for an interleague play stint. Presley responded with two or more hits in nine of his first 17 games. A nerve issue in his left thumb sidelined him for the next month and he hit only .276 the rest of the way, compiling an overall slash line of .298/.339/.465 in 215 at-bats. Presley has had a strong spring, solidifying his hold on the left field job, despite the presence of McLouth. McLouth, who is making a return trip to the Pirates, is expected to serve as the team's fourth outfielder, spelling Presley against tough lefties while also seeing some time in right. If both players struggle, Pittsburgh may opt to call up Starling Marte earlier than expected, though Marte could eventually end up in right field. Presley - Mixed: $4; NL: $13; McLouth - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Juan Rivera - Rivera, with the demotion of Jerry Sands, is all but certain to be the Dodgers' starting left fielder and No. 5 hitter on Opening Day. After being designated for assignment by the Blue Jays last July, Rivera landed with the Dodgers and received significant playing time in left field and at first base, batting .274/.333/.406 with five home runs and 46 RBI for his new club. If he holds on to the role, Rivera should hot close to 20 home runs and drive in 75 runs and also brings the benefit of first base eligibility, where he could play if Sands is called up and James Loney is given a day off. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.