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MLB Notes
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 3/13/2008 3:59:00 PM
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There isn't anyone getting consistently overdrafted more than Javier Vazquez. I've always liked Vazquez's stuff, dating back to his days as an Expo. However, the fact remains 2007 was the first season he finished with an ERA under 4.42 in four years. He's always a help in WHIP, and the strikeouts are legit, but Vazquez is an extreme flyball pitcher who plays in one of the most homer-friendly ballparks in baseball. Last year, his groundball/flyball ratio actually decreased from the season before, when he posted a 4.84 ERA. The glaring difference? His strand rate jumped from .640 in 2006 to .720 last season. I wouldn't count on it happening again.

I view Jeff Francis similarly, as prospective fantasy owners are focusing way too much on last year's 17 wins and too little on the underlying peripherals when overdrafting the left-hander. Coors Field is still a very undesirable place to pitch, and 4.22 ERAs are rarely accompanied by 1.38 WHIPs. Expect him to finish this year with something resembling his second half numbers from 2006. He's not a top-60 fantasy starter in my eyes.

I'd like to apologize to Rocco Baldelli, my personal whipping boy ever since he killed numerous fantasy teams of mine over the past couple of years. There's a joke somewhere to be made regarding the fact his career is over due to "fatigue," but I've made enough at his expense. The guy's life may be in jeopardy for crying out loud. Farewell, Rocco Baldelli.

I really don't understand why catchers aren't more heavily targeted. There is a clear-cut top-4, and then a precipitous drop off. If you are playing in a 2-C league, there are some pretty awful options if you wait too long, whereas even the 80th outfielder can produce decent enough stats. This is the one clear position that needs to be addressed early based on scarcity.

I always preach not to draft based on last year's stats, but if anyone's 2007 is under the radar, it's Mark Ellis'. Here's a second baseman who basically finished with a line of .275-20-10-80-80 while missing more than 10 games. I doubt he'll do it again, but as one of the game's best defensive players, he's pretty valuable to the A's. Aaron Hill also had a very effective and under the radar season last year.

Conor Jackson is one of my favorite mid-to-late round targets. Slated to bat third in the Diamondbacks' lineup, Jackson has a very favorable home park and quietly hit .308/.371/.555 after the All-Star break last season. He doesn't have light-tower power, but eight homers over his final 130 at-bats in 2006 suggest it's developing. His 50:53 K:BB ratio last season also portends a future .310-.320 type hitter.

Shane Victorino has to be one of the first 25-30 outfielders taken in drafts. While most speedsters contribute very little in the power department, Victorino can chip in 15 bombs, and his remarkable 90 percent success rate (37-for-41) on the basepaths last year means plenty more running should be in his future. The only real difference I can find between Carl Crawford and him is about 25 points in batting average.

If Michael Cuddyer finds himself batting between Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Delmon Young, he's going to end up as a serious bargain in fantasy leagues. Part of last year's drop in slugging can be blamed on injury, and yet he still finished with respectable numbers despite missing 20 games. He's also 11-for-11 on stolen base attempts over the last two seasons, so he could probably swipe 15 bags if he wanted to.

Billy Butler is an excellent end-game pick, especially those who play in Yahoo leagues, as he's first base eligible. Butler's power is still developing, and he certainly needs to improve against right-handed pitching, but he more than held his own as a 21-year-old in the majors last season and could really break out in 2008. He's a legitimate .300 hitter and eventually all of those doubles are going to turn into homers.

I've developed an unhealthy man-crush on Lastings Milledge. It's simply impossible for me to draft this guy too high. In fact, I recently picked him in the 12th round of one league. I guess I have a soft spot for head cases, but this is a pretty unique talent with both legitimate power and speed. One should largely ignore spring stats, but I've stupidly been fixated by his line of .389/.476/.583 with five steals in 36 meaningless at-bats.


I've seen Milledge going for $20+, which is far too much. I like the guy a ton, but what happens if he's hitting .230 in May and Dukes is tearing it up in Triple-A? I'd put Posada at the bottom of the first tier of catchers, though yeah some risk there due to age.

Good stuff as always Dalton.
Posted by vtadave at 3/13/2008 4:52:00 PM
Good read. Crawford will have more RBI than Victorino, but I see the point. Interesting comparison.
Posted by MPStopa at 3/13/2008 5:28:00 PM
The reason people don't like to target catchers is two fold: (1) Fewer at-bats and the demands of the position means less upside. Martinez, Mauer or Martin could all be good, but how good? Certainly their ceilings are lower than an Upton or a Weeks or a Markakis. And (2), catchers are more likely to wear (or break) down as the season goes on. It's almost impossible for them to avoid nagging injuries (foul balls off the hand, for example) completely.

Don't get me wrong, I tend to take catchers early for the reason you say, but they're kind of like tight ends in football - your first two picks are almost always QB, RB, WR even if TE were the scarcest position on the board (which sometimes it is, though not lately).
Posted by cliss at 3/13/2008 5:37:00 PM
TEs NEVER equal catchers....that's a first. Billy Butler isn't a secret anymore. Difference between Vazquez and Francis, Francis is younger, more upside, if/when he gets traded even more value. Conor Jackson=Daric Barton=(who I like even more, Casy Kotchman). Milledge, I got to think the Mets knew something about him the Nats don't, whatever it may be (steroids, HGH, attitude). But again, love your blogs, PLEASE KEEP POSTING!!!
Posted by kevinccp at 3/13/2008 5:53:00 PM
Dave - Posada is def. my 5th ranked catcher, but I have him a solid tier below the top-4 b/c last year is highly unlikely to repeat (BABIP, etc.). His normal years are good, but a notch below that tier 1's upside....Dukes has really struggled this spring, but that's a good point. There's a guy with massive potential right behind Milledge.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 3/13/2008 5:58:00 PM
Stopa - Victorino was on pace to score more runs than Crawford last year, but you're right, Crawford has him beat in RBI pretty decently.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 3/13/2008 6:07:00 PM
Liss - I get your point and agree. However, the difference b/w a tier one catcher and the no. 24 catcher (or no. 30 catcher, like in NFBC) could very easily be greater than a first round offensive pick and an outfielder I draft in round 20.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 3/13/2008 6:12:00 PM
Kevin - Those are great comps for C-Jax. I like Kotchman very much this season as well...Maybe the Mets have the same inside info on Milledge that they had on Scott Kazmir...
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 3/13/2008 6:13:00 PM
Right, but why not get Pudge and Ramon Hernandez? Those guys will be fine, and you don't pay a lot. One could argue the key is not to spend too much on a high risk position and not to get caught with zeroes, either. (That said, I've been getting Mauer in a couple leagues, but I'm not sure that was the wisest move - other than I like Mauer to bounce back this year).
Posted by cliss at 3/13/2008 6:59:00 PM
Yea Milledge is an absolute beast and I bet he provides enormous value for everyone who drafts him. (Not at $20 though). I wonder who will have a better fantasy season- Schneider, Church or Milledge?
Posted by djm1144 at 3/13/2008 7:00:00 PM
I agree with your analysis on catchers, Dalton. I think everybody knows how I feel about that. As for the Mets knowing something about Milledge, I'll simply point to their trade of Scott Kazmir a few years ago and say "I doubt it."

DJM, are you being serious? If Church or Schneider earn 70% of what Milledge does, I'd be shocked.
Posted by MPStopa at 3/13/2008 7:12:00 PM
Marc- Im kidding, Ive been an anti Willie/Omar Mets fan for awhile now. And your absolutely right, the Mets know nothing about Milledge- Minaya has no clue as to what type of player he can become and I doubt they have any real "dirt" on Milledge.
Posted by djm1144 at 3/13/2008 7:20:00 PM
For another late-round value, consider Kevin Kouzmanoff. Granted, Petco isn't Chase, but like Co-Jack he's also coming off a strong second half and been penciled in for the three-hole.
Posted by Jaycees67 at 3/13/2008 8:03:00 PM
I don't put Kotchman there with Jackson or Barton because of the presence of Quinlan and Morales. With the 4 outfielders using up the DH spot, their (Quinlan and Morales) AB's will mostly come at 1st. Rivera will need some AB's, too, and I feel that Kotchman will end up being the guy who loses out.
Posted by thepearl-673 at 3/13/2008 9:04:00 PM
I like Kouzmanoff too...Kotchman has ridiculous plate discipline, can hit both lefties and righties and plays terrific defense. If he stays healthy - something he hasn't been able to do - he's got to see 600 at-bats this season.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 3/13/2008 11:52:00 PM
3D- Francis isn't a top 60 pitcher??? Does he have cancer?? lmao I think you will be wanting that prediction back....60 is a little crazy...lmao
Posted by Zenguerrilla at 3/14/2008 2:48:00 AM
I agree with the Liss take on the catchers.

Great read as usual, Triple-D.
Posted by spianow at 3/14/2008 8:11:00 AM

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