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MLB Notes
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 2/13/2008 6:24:00 PM
View more posts by this author


Rickie Weeks presents an interesting dilemma; on one hand, he’s a mid-round selection whom I could see becoming a top-10 pick next season. He has 35/35 upside. However, he’s no secret, and my “mid-round” proclamation keeps getting higher and higher. As does his price tag in auctions. He’s 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. He’s never had more than 409 at-bats in a season and has hit better than .300 in just two of the 16 months he’s 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 guy’s 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 can’t be good signs. Maybe he’ll put it all together one season, and he’s 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 it’s better to land an under the radar veteran in the right situation. That’s why I’m 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 Mets’ lineup, where he should actually have plenty of job security, as least versus righties. I’m expecting a .275-23-90 season.

No one’s fantasy value went up more than Clay Buchholz’s 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 kid’s stuff is for real. Last year’s 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, I’d rather Joba Chamberlain long-term, but there’s really no wrong answer between those two.

With Kelvim Escobar suffering his yearly injury already, I’d strongly advise avoiding him, no matter how much he slips because of it. Escobar has the talent to win a Cy Young someday, but he’s 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, that’s when he’ll turn the corner. Maybe.

Speaking of underachievers, don’t forget about Carlos Quentin, whose 2007 season was ruined by a shoulder injury. He gets a fresh start in Chicago now, where he’ll 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 wouldn’t 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. I’d take Matt Cain over him in a heartbeat.

If you’re searching for a deep sleeper, look no further than Dallas McPherson, who is entering the “post-hype” 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. There’s legitimate power here.


"(Weeks is) officially starting to become an expectant cost, rather than speculative."

Bingo. I'm a believer on Weeks in a vacuum, but not at the current market price. There's so little room for profit, and tons of risk here, tons of downside.

Broader view, this theme ties into a mistake fantasy players commonly make - being so eager to target certain sleeper picks to the point that they take them far too early and flush out all the room for profit. Again, it's the switch from speculative to expectant.
Posted by spianow at 2/14/2008 8:14:00 AM
As a Brewers fan, I'll be happy enough if Weeks stays healthy and has the full breakout season even though I won't own him in most leagues because of the cost.

I'm getting the vibe that Jeremy Hermida has become "too trendy" as well.
Posted by dvr9484 at 2/14/2008 8:34:00 AM
"Upside" is a scary word.

I'm okay with choosing a couple of guys like this, even if you're paying more than you'd like - it's hard to win, esp. in deep leagues, without a little risk. But you have to balance a risk like this with multiple safe, reliable choices. You have too many guys like Weeks on your roster and you'll find yourself trying to avoid the basement.
Posted by MPStopa at 2/14/2008 8:40:00 AM
I've been guilty of reaching for "sleepers" I like too much in the past myself.

I agree about Hermida - he's certainly not under the radar.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 2/14/2008 6:46:00 PM

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