Rickie Weeks presents an interesting dilemma; on one hand, heís a mid-round selection whom I could see becoming a top-10 pick next season. He has 35/35 upside. However, heís no secret, and my ďmid-roundĒ proclamation keeps getting higher and higher. As does his price tag in auctions. Heís officially starting to become an expectant cost, rather than speculative. His walk rate soared last year and his final six weeks were flat-out ridiculous (11 homers, 15 steals). However, injuries and batting average remain concerns. Heís never had more than 409 at-bats in a season and has hit better than .300 in just two of the 16 months heís played in the big leagues. Still, he has to be considered a top-5 fantasy second baseman right now.
Few, if any, pitchers in baseball have better stuff than Rich Harden. However, the guyís body has simply failed him, and his unwillingness to pitch through pain means eventual surgery may be the only resolution. The fact he has already complained of pain and required a cortisone shot canít be good signs. Maybe heíll put it all together one season, and heís becoming cheaper and cheaper in fantasy leagues after burning so many past owners, but Harden has to be considered one of the bigger disappointments in baseball over the past few seasons.
Instead of always going for the young, high upside pick, sometimes itís better to land an under the radar veteran in the right situation. Thatís why Iím targeting Ryan Church in NL-only leagues. After posting a solid .886 OPS over the second half last season, a move out of RFK Stadium can only help, as does joining the potent Metsí lineup, where he should actually have plenty of job security, as least versus righties. Iím expecting a .275-23-90 season.
No oneís fantasy value went up more than Clay Buchholzís recently. I would be shocked if Curt Schilling throws another pitch during his career, leaving 180 innings for Buchholz. Sure, there will be some growing pains, and throwing in the AL East limits his ceiling, but this kidís stuff is for real. Last yearís 22.2 innings pitched was obviously a small sample size, but that they resulted in 22 strikeouts, zero home runs allowed and a no-hitter suggests big things to come. If forced to choose, Iíd rather Joba Chamberlain long-term, but thereís really no wrong answer between those two.
With Kelvim Escobar suffering his yearly injury already, Iíd strongly advise avoiding him, no matter how much he slips because of it. Escobar has the talent to win a Cy Young someday, but heís another hurler who simply cannot stay healthy for a long stretch of time. And yes, this makes Ervin Santana worth a late-round flier yet again. Maybe once everyone has finally given up, thatís when heíll turn the corner. Maybe.
Speaking of underachievers, donít forget about Carlos Quentin, whose 2007 season was ruined by a shoulder injury. He gets a fresh start in Chicago now, where heíll be batting in one of the most homer-friendly parks in the game. He could prove to be a steal this year. Also, the White Sox in general have a much better team than most realize. Their lineup is legit, and I wouldnít be surprised if they finish ahead of the Indians in the AL Central this season.
Roy Oswalt will be appearing on exactly zero of my fantasy teams. A rising walk rate combined with a sinking K rate is a recipe for collapse. He actually turned in a very solid second half last season, but with his body type, he never figured to be a horse into his 30s. Iíd take Matt Cain over him in a heartbeat.
If youíre searching for a deep sleeper, look no further than Dallas McPherson, who is entering the ďpost-hypeĒ phase of his young career. Back problems and ugly strikeout rates have failed him so far, but new surroundings in Florida may lead to some of that potential finally being reached. Thereís legitimate power here.