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Sleepers and Busts
Posted by Chris Liss at 3/9/2007 10:06:00 PM
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  • Rocco Baldelli - once he got healthy, he stayed that way - so I'm not too worried about his health. He went 16/10 in 364 at-bats, hit 300 and is just 25 years old. People know he's good, but he's got 30/20 potential with .300 average. Who cares about his allergy to walks - this isn't real life baseball, it's fantasy.

  • A.J. Burnett - does everything well. Tough pitching in the AL East, but addition of Frank Thomas should mean better run support, and 118/39 in 136 IP (unlucky hit rate). Keeps the ball on the ground. Injury always a concern here. (29 years old - heading into pitching prime).

  • Hank Blalock - Blalock reported to camp early and proclaimed that last year's shoulder problems are a non-issue following off-season surgery. 2003, 2004 - star on the rise at age 22-23 - .500+ SLG, 32 HRs. Shoulder problems to blame. Great park, cut down on the Ks significantly - good for batting average and seeing better counts, better pitches. Just 26 this year.

  • Eric Chavez - (forearm tendinitis last year), healthy now. Plate discipline still there - means good pitches to hit. 29 Years old, power spike possible.

  • Morgan Ensberg - should get his job back. Terrific plate discipline - only a handful of players walk more than they K. Still got on-base at a .396 clip. Still just 31, decent park - upside if his shoulder is okay.

  • Adrian Gonzalez - slugged .500 with 24 HRs in 570 ABs in SD! Won't turn 25 until May. Players don't just go 24, 28, 32. Sometimes they go from 24 to 40, though in that park, it won't be easy. 762 career ABs. means he's got just enough experience under his belt to take the next leap.


  • Chris Burke - nine homers, 11 steals in 366 at-bats in 2006, underwent offseason shoulder surgery to repair damage due to repeated separations. Opening Day center fielder but qualifies at second base this year - 69 2b starts in 2006. Is 27 years old with 696 ABs. Very strong Triple-A numbers in 2004.

  • Ted Lilly - Big time strikeout guy gets out of AL East and into NL Central.

  • Khalil Greene - Defense keeps him in the lineup no matter what. Turns 27. 15/5 last two years, but 400-odd at-bats. Give him 600, and you're looking at 22 HRs and 7 bags. Finger injury still a concern, but seems to be getting better.

  • Matt Murton - Murton fought off a June slump and subsequent benching by then-manager Dusty Baker to finish his first full season strong: he went .319/.390/.522 in 207 at-bats after the All-Star break. He has decent contact skills, will draw a walk and hits for modest power. He'll also steal a handful of bags. Now that he's heading into his third year and has 595 career at-bats under his belt, Murton's a candidate to take a major step up. 25 Years old.

  • Bobby Crosby - 22 HR in 2004 at 24, Very good at Triple-A at age 23. Injuries derailed him - back healthy at 27. If his back is okay by opening day, there's power upside here.


  • Angel Guzman - Stayed largely healthy in 2006 and managed more than a strikeout per inning at Triple-A Iowa and for 56 innings in the majors. But during his stay with the Cubs, Guzman walked too many batters, and gave up too many fly balls and home runs. His ugly ERA and WHIP are partially due to an unlucky hit rate, though, and he actually pitched fairly well at Triple-A. Major upside if command returns.

  • Luke Hudson - K'd 10 in a game last September - how many pitchers Ks 10 in a game? 20 percent? Ground balls, mid-90s stuff. hard sinker. Command is the issue, but great $1 gamble in AL.

  • Dan Johnson - terrible hit rate last year, plate discipline still there, should get a chance to play every day early on with Kotsay out, Bradley moving to CF and Swisher moving to RF. If he hits, he should get at-bats with Bradley injury prone, and Stewart nothing special.


  • Alfonso Soriano - moving to CF, no 2B elig. coming off career high in HRs, and doubled walks. Two off his career high in SBs. Regression to the mean. BA concerns with very high K rate. (160 Ks, poor contact). Got the big contract. Also contrarian. Everyone loves him, stay away. Last year, everyone was saying he'd be terrible leaving Texas, so it was time to buy. Still a top-10 pick, but I'd take Crawford over him in the OF. 31-years old.

  • Jon Papelbon - moving into rotation is tough, plus gives up too many fly balls. Very easy to go from starter to closer - go all out, no pacing yourself, see hitters only once.

  • Jered Weaver - biceps tendinitis - huge flyball rate (.5 GB/FB). Plus threw 200 IP last year at age 23 - 123 in bigs. tendinitis recurring issue, could be more serious this time.

  • Nomar Garciaparra - still a good hitter, but 1B only, power ceiling is about 20-25 HRs, doesn't run, pitcher's park and hugely injury prone. Turns 34 in July. (Could see time at 3B If James Loney beats out Wilson Betemit, though).

  • Dan Uggla - had a great rookie year, but plate discipline is nothing special, he was already 26, so not a great prospect, and not a ton of room to grow. Got caught stealing 6 times and stole 6, so that's not looking like a growth area. Didn't hit a ton of doubles, so maybe more balls just got over the fence. Tough park for hitters. Expect some regression.

  • Melvin Mora - trending steeply downward across the board the last two seasons - slugged just .391 in 624 ABs. If he doesn't steal 9 or 10 bags (and at age 35, it's no guarantee), he's not worth anything in most mixed leagues.


I've heard of the stars and scrubs approach to fantasy drafts but this sounds like burnt toast and leftovers. I guess that fantasy teams can't all be Philip Hughes and Hunter Pence. A good dose of reality helps all fantasy teams. I do realize that these are categorized as "sleepers" and not core players, making me able to swallow my Pepsi when I see Blalock (what if he gets traded and loses his home splits) or Ensberg (goes cold faster than ice for months at a time). Actually, Ensberg is the perfect reserve to plug in while he's read hot and then sit, he's so predictable. Adrian Gonzalez is the lone shallow sleeper without injury concerns. I do like Khalil Greene and Bobby Crosby. I'd let everyone else fight over Ted Lilly, seems like his value is over-inflated. Love to see Dan Johnson carry his minor numbers to the majors. Enough of my Saturday morning dribble.
Posted by jtopper at 3/10/2007 6:08:00 AM
Agree with Chris about Lilly-see Bronson Arroyo, 2006 season, (Josh Beckett, reverse National-American), apparently pitching to a pitcher every 9 batters helps your pitching stats. Wouldn't anchor my team with him but is a solid contributor on a team with a great offense.
Posted by kevinccp at 3/10/2007 7:12:00 AM
I wouldn't advocate trying to "time the market" with Ensberg or anyone else - check out his 2005 season - when he was healthy. And you want to pick guys who will be deeply discounted for injuries from which they might no longer be suffering. Of course, these are not the ONLY players you should draft, and picking a couple of guys on the cheap doesn't preclude you from going stars and scrubs, or using any other draft strategy you like.
Posted by cliss at 3/10/2007 9:13:00 AM
There are certain players you want to play all year and certain ones you want to play only for periods of time. Pujols or even guys like Jason Bay you probably want to play all of the time. Streaky players like Craig Wilson or Morgan Ensberg can kill a team if they're active during one of their extended slumps. Joe Carter always got hot after the All-Star break. If one looks at Ensberg's 2005 then he or she must also look at his disappointing 2004. "Timing the market" gives me flashbacks to the Internet bubble burst.
Posted by jtopper at 3/10/2007 2:34:00 PM
Matt Murton is simply average, and that's his ceiling. I guess if the Cubs are dumb enough to paly him everyday, then he'll be worth it in a fantasy league.
Posted by herbilk at 3/11/2007 1:35:00 PM
I cant stand leadoff hotters who cant steal 25+. Although Rocco had a nice rebound post injury 2005-2006, he falls into that bracket for me. While it increases Crawford's status with him the #2 slot, I still view Baldelli as slightly overhyped regardless of the 'sleeper' stamp. An outfielder who hits leadoff has to hit 30 hr's OR steal 25+ OR have some sort of combination that is clost to both(i.e 25/20 or 20/25) ...anything less is a dissapointment and I dont think Rocco can do it...hope im wrong but that's the way i see it - reminds me if a faster dave magadan
Posted by gturano at 3/11/2007 6:27:00 PM
I think Uggla is so universally panned he becomes a value in some circles.
Posted by spianow at 3/12/2007 9:00:00 PM

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