Last year, I wrote a column about solid end-game draft choices. I received a lot of feedback telling me how useful it was, so I figured I’d reprise the column this year in The O-Zone. We’ll take a different position each day, starting with catcher today.
Let me emphasize that these columns are intended for those of you in deeper leagues. Also, let me point out that I’m not predicting superstardom for any of these guys. All I’m saying is if you have a buck and are looking for some upside, these players are reasonable targets.
OK, so Buck’s plate discipline stinks … and he hits for a low average … and he hasn’t hit for a ton of power … and Jason LaRue is in camp to compete with him. There is considerable downside here.
However, there is some potential as well. Buck is 26 years old, so he’s entering his peak years. He also has roughly 1,000 big-league at-bats under his belt, so perhaps he’s gained enough experience and is ready to break out.
Spend a Buck on buck. At least there is some upside.
Hall isn’t a starter anymore; he’s going to back up A.J. Pierzynski in Chicago. Nevertheless, Hall is still worth a buck. He’s going to get some at-bats against lefties, whom he had an .833 OPS against last year. He also should chip in with a few homers, as Chicago’s ballpark treats hitters kindly.
Mathis is coming off a miserable 2006, but there’s still value here. Mathis has some power (21 homers in Triple-A in 2005), and he’s only 23. Plus he could see some big-league time if Michael Napoli fails. Considering Napoli hit .164/.303/.320 after the All-Star break last year, that well could happen.
Phillips will receive some at-bats against lefties. He has a career .271/.347/.418 line against them, so he can do a little damage. Phillips also has a modicum of power -- he should give your team a few dingers.
It looks as though Victor Martinez will be staying behind the plate, killing most of Shoppach’s value. But don’t write Shoppach’s epitaph just yet. He’s only 26 years old, so there’s still a future here. Better to grab a young guy like Shoppach who has a chance to succeed than an old vet who’s already proven he doesn’t.