Friday, February 11, 2005
Five More Links
American League Eastern Hitters
Next up in the Fantasy Perspective series is a look at the American League East Division. The Yankees will likely win the division. The World Champion Red Sox will likely win the Wild Card. The Orioles may have the best lineup in the league. The other teams are playing for 4th place. Let’s get to the analysis.
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
Disclaimer: What you read below are simply my opinions. Obviously I have no knowledge of what will happen in the 2004 season, so please take the information for what it is worth (fun). Also, these opinions are subject to change as spring training approaches. All players listed are either projected starters, or starters based on my opinion. I will try to project where each player could be drafted, assuming a 30 round draft.
In case you missed it:Part 1 - American League Central Hitters
PART 2: AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST HITTERS
Today, we jump from arguably the worst division in baseball (AL Central, although I think that is an erroneous assumption) to arguably the best division in baseball (AL East, probably not even ‘arguably’). So, let’s get going on some analysis. If you have any comments, arguments, agreements, questions or anything, please feel free to e-mail me. When this project is complete, I would like to put together a Mailbag issue with many of those comments.
C - Javy Lopez
I figured that there was no way that Lopez could duplicate his 2003 season with the Braves when he hit .328 with 41 homers and 109 RBI (in just 129 games). Now, he didn’t exactly approach those numbers, but by playing in the AL, he could occasionally DH as well, meaning he played in 150 games in 2004. He hit .316/.370/.503 with 33 doubles, 23 homers and 86 RBI, and that was in a new league. Lopez is 34, which is a concern, but I would expect similar numbers in 2005. Take him in the 5th round.
1B - Rafael Palmeiro
Palmiero went back to the Orioles last year and had another strong season. However, he is becoming a more single dimensional player, power-hitter, as his batting average has decreased each of the last six seasons. Sadly, last year, his home run power dropped too. After hitting no less than 38 homers and driving in no less than 104 runs since 1995, he hit just 23 last year and drove in 88. Palmiero will likely continue to play most every day this year, and if he does, I would expect similar production, especially in this strong lineup. Take Palmiero after the 12th round.
2B - Brian Roberts
When I found out that Brian Roberts broke Cal Ripken’s Orioles record for doubles in a season, with 50, I assumed Roberts had a very good year. That is not necessarily the case. He hit .273/.344/.376. Also, it may be important to know that Roberts is in his Age 27 season in 2005. However, he becomes valuable as a fantasy player because of his 29 stolen bases. In 5x5 leagues, consider him in the 8th round. In production leagues, wait until the 17th.
3B - Melvin Mora
Mora was impressive in 2003 when he hit .317 with 15 home runs. However, he played in just 96 games because of a hand injury. My assumption was that it was a career year for him, and he would plunge back down to earth in 2004. Nope! He had an even better season. He hit .340/.419/.562 with 41 doubles, 27 homers and 140 RBI. Now, is some of that success attributed to the strong Orioles lineup? Certainly, but in fantasy circles, who cares, because their lineup is even stronger this year. I would expect some decline. He is only eligible at 3B this year, but I would still consider him by the 6th round.
SS - Miguel Tejada
“Moving into hitter-friendly Camden Yards, I would expect big numbers from Tejada.” I think .311 with 34 homers and 150 RBI would could as big numbers. With the A-Rod defection to 3B, Tejada is clearly now the top SS in fantasy leagues. Hey, even if A-Rod were still a SS, I would consider taking Tejada ahead of him. 30 homers. 130 RBI. And, he’ll play ever day. He hasn’t missed a game since 2000. Mid-to-late first round pick!
LF - Larry Bigbie
After spending parts of three seasons in Baltimore, last season, Bigbie got the full-time Gig(bie?). He spent some time on the DL, but in 139 games, he hit .280/.341/427 with 23 doubles, 15 homers and 68 RBI. Bigbie should put up even better numbers as a 27 year old this year, probably hitting near the bottom of the order. Those numbers will be find for the O’s, but don’t play real well for fantasy baseball outfielders. Take him late in the draft.
CF - Luis Matos
Last year, Matos was my choice for being a sleeper and compared him to Vernon Wells. However, Matos struggled and then at the end up July, he had season-ending leg surgery. In 89 games, he hit .224/.275/.333 with 18 doubles and 6 homers. He did steal 12 bases too. I still think that if he can stay healthy, he can be a great player. Will it happen this year? I don’t know. But I would take a risk on him with a late-round pick.
RF - Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa had a ‘bad’ year in 2004 with the Cubs. Yeah, he hit just .253, but he still had 35 homers, in just 126 games. He missed time with an injury caused by a sneeze. It was just a bad year all-around for Sosa. His numbers have decreased each year since 2001. Of course, he hit .328 and had 64 homers and 160 RBI that year! Will the change of scenery help Sosa return to his glory days? Well, I don’t think that he will ever return to that, that is a lot to ask, especially for a 36 year old. But in this lineup, he should fit in and be very productive. I would consider it a decent pick if Sosa went in the 3rd round.
DH - Jay Gibbons/BJ Surhoff
With Sosa’s arrival, it likely moves Gibbons from RF to DH/1B. His season was cut short by a hip flexor injury, although he wasn’t doing much, so it may not be a bad thing. But when he is healthy, Gibbons has the ability to get on base, drive the ball out of the park and drive in runs. He is a player who could either be incredible (maybe .280 with 30 homers and 100 RBI), or completely flop. I guess that I would wait until round 20 to consider drafting him. Surhoff likely would have done much of the DHing, but now will primarily pinch hit and get some time in LF. Last year, in 343 at bats, he did hit .309. However, don’t draft him.
One 2 Watch – David Newhan
Newhan was a great story in 2004. The 31 year old had not played in the big leagues since he got into 65 games between 1999 and 2001. He came up to the Orioles and hit almost .400 much of the season. In 95 games, he hit .311/.361/.453 with 15 doubles, 7 triples, 8 homers and 54 RBI. Not a bad half-season. Unfortunately, with this lineup, it is also possible that Newhan doesn’t get much playing time in 2005, so don’t draft him.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Tejada, Lopez and Mora.
The Bad - Injuries and age of a couple key contributors.
The Questions - How much does Palmeiro have left? Can Sosa come back in the friendly confines of Camden? Will Matos and Bigbie reach their potential?
Boston Red Sox
C - Jason Varitek
Varitek posted another very solid 2004 campaign. He hit .296/390/.482 with 30 doubles, 18 homers and 73 RBI. Equally impressive, for such a big man, Varitek even stole 10 bases. Now, he is going to be 33 years old much of the year. Somehow, his agent (Scott Boras) got him a 4 year deal worth just over $40 million. That is crazy, knowing the history of catchers over the age of 30, but good for him. That said, I would expect a decline in his numbers over the next couple of seasons. Take him in the 12th round.
1B - Kevin Millar
After a quiet, power-lacking first half, Kevin Millar raked after the All-Star break. Actually, once he heard that the team was looking for a defensive first baseman. He hit .319/.408/.566 with 13 (of his 18) homers and 49 (of his 74) RBI. Well, now that Doug Mientkiewicz has been traded to the Mets, 1B is Millar’s job to himself again. Will he thrive without pressure, or will he play as poorly as he did in the first half last year, before there was pressure on him. Either way, he will not hurt a fantasy team, as long as you don’t draft him before the 19th round.
2B - Mark Bellhorn
If not for Adam Dunn breaking the single-season strikeout record, more people might be talking about Bellhorn’s strikeouts. Bellhorn is almost a poster child of the perception of Moneyball, the high OBP with power, and who cares how many times the guy strikes out. After a couple of frustrating years between the Cubs and Rockies, Bellhorn played in 138 games with the Red Sox. He hit .264/.373/.444 with 37 doubles, 17 homers and 82 RBI. Very solid numbers for a #2 hitter. The strikeouts, to me, are alarming though. I mean, imagine if he played in 155 or 160 games. How many times would he strikeout? Anyway, he’s a 2B with power who gets on base in front of some potent hitters. Take him in the 13th round.
3B - Bill Mueller/Kevin Youklis
In what was almost a surprise move to me, the Red Sox picked up their option on Bill Mueller. He led the AL with a .326 batting average in 2003. He missed over 50 games with injury in 2004, but still had a decent year, hitting .283/.365/.446 with 27 doubles, 12 homers and 57 RBI. I think that Mueller is a likely platoon player in 2005 though, splitting time with The “Greek God of Walks” Kevin Youklis. Sure, in his 72 games (and 202 at bats) with the Red Sox, he hit just .260, but he was on base 36.7% of the time because of 33 walks. That is what he is known for. He also hit 11 doubles and 7 homers. Mueller I would wait until the 23rd round. Youklis, I probably wouldn’t draft until later, if at all, unless walks or on-base percentage matter in your league.
SS - Edgar Renteria
Renteria took some big money and figured if he can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Renteria had made himself one of baseball’s top shortstops with the Cardinals lineup. Well, the Red Sox lineup is just as good, so he should fit in well. There will likely be an adjustment period to the league which could result in a slow start. Last year was a down year for Renteria and yet he still hit .287 with 37 doubles, 10 homers and 72 RBI. Of course, that was down from his career year, 2003, when he hit .330 with 47 doubles, 13 homers and 100 RBI. I would expect him to be somewhere in the middle, maybe .305 with 39 doubles, 12 homers and 86 RBI. That’s good enough for a 6th round pick.
LF - Manny Ramirez
I am no Manny Ramirez fan, but the man can flat-out hit! Last season, he hit .308 with 43 homers and 130 RBI. You pretty much know he will hit over .300 with 35 homers and well over 100 RBI. His OPS has been above 1.000 each of the last six seasons. It has been above .950 each of the last ten seasons. He’s a definite first rounder because defense doesn’t matter in fantasy baseball.
CF - Johnny Damon
I remember looking last fall and doing a double-take and Damon’s numbers. In 2004, Damon hit .304/.380/477 with 35 doubles, 20 homers and 94 RBI out of the leadoff position. He walked 76 times while striking out just 71 times. He scored 123 runs and stole 19 bases. That is a season worthy of a 5th or 6th round pick. But, I would suspect the 31 year old Damon’s numbers to come back to earth a little bit, meaning I would wait until the 10th or 11th round.
RF - Trot Nixon
Last year was a injury-filled season as Nixon played in just 48 games. In 2003, he hit .306 (previous high .280), 28 homers and 87 RBI. The only negative about Nixon is that he can’t hit lefties and the team is smart enough to platoon him. That is probably why his numbers are better. However, platoon situations are not good for fantasy sports. Therefore, wait until after the 15th round to pick Trot.
DH - David Ortiz
One of my favorite former Twins, I was so thrilled to see Ortiz play so well in 2003 (31 homers and 101 RBI in just 128 games). I figured he would be good player in 2004, but the year he put up was amazing. He played in 150 games, easily a career high. He hit .301/.380/.603 with 47 doubles, 41 homers and 139 RBI. He finished 4th in the AL in the MVP race. Assuming he stays healthy, I think that a .950 OPS is a realistic expectation. He has made himself into a solid 3rd round pick.
One 2 Watch – Jay Payton
Payton came to the team from the San Diego Padres where he hit .260/.326/.367 with just 17 doubles, 8 homers and 55 RBI. It was a disappointing year for Payton after two straight .300+ seasons, both in Colorado. In other words, the production of 2004 is likely what we will see from the 32 year old Payton. His role is greatly diminished though in Boston as he will be the 4th outfielder whose primary role will be in a platoon with Trot Nixon. I would not draft Payton, but if there is an injury to any of the Sox outfielders, he’d be worth picking up.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Manny, Varitek, Damon and Ortiz.
The Bad – Bellhorn’s strikeouts. (I have to come up with something, right?)
Question Marks – Can Nixon, Ortiz and Mueller stay healthy? Which Bellhorn will show up? How will Renteria’s transition to the American League go?
New York Yankees
C - Jorge Posada
I had Posada in my weekend-only league last year and was very disappointed by his production. It just seemed like he didn’t get any points. Well, he ended 2004 hitting .272/.400/.481 with 31 doubles, 21 homers and 81 RBI. If you look at his past five years, he has averaged 32 doubles, 24 homers and 92 RBI. He has also walked an average of 86 times and his strikeouts have gone from 143 in 2002 to 92 in 2004. Although Posada will be 33 much of the season, I think he is still worthy of a 4th or 5th round pick.
1B - Tino Martinez
Tino Martinez seems to almost be an afterthought; someone who the Yankees are just accepting as their first baseman in place of Jason Giambi. Martinez is a very professional hitter who walks as much as he walks. He is a career .272 hitter with some power (five of his best seasons came during his previous six-year stint with the Yankees). Last year, in 138 games in Tampa Bay, Martinez hit .262/.362/.461 with 20 doubles, 23 homers and 76 RBI. I would expect similar numbers in 2005, so consider taking Martinez in the 21st round.
2B - Tony Womack
Womack was credited as having a great year last year in St. Louis. He hit .307/.349/.385 with 26 stolen bases. His OPS was still just .734. In his 7+ seasons, Womack is a career .271/.319/.362 hitter. He has no power and doesn’t really get on base a lot for a leadoff hitter. The Yankees liked what he did in 2004 enough to give him a two year deal and give him their leadoff spot. The 35 year old 2B should not be drafted until late, maybe the 23rd round, and only because of his stolen bases and that he should score a lot of runs.
3B - Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod had an off-season, by his standards. By most, he still had a very solid year. He hit .286/.375/.512 with 24 doubles, 36 homers and 106 RBI to go with 28 stolen bases. His OPS (.887) was under .900 for the first time since 1997. I would expect A-Rod to post power numbers more similar to what he had done before. I would expect an OPS approaching 1.000 again. If that’s the case, A-Rod is still a first round pick, but because he is no longer eligible at SS, he isn’t a top choice any more.
SS - Derek Jeter
On May 25 last year, Jeter was hitting .191 and the New York media was going crazy. It is pretty remarkable that Jeter was still able to hit .292/.352/471 with 44 doubles, 23 homers and 78 RBI. Is Jeter paid too much? Absolutely. Does the media give him entirely too much credit? Totally! But I think a lot of people think about that too much. He is a career .315 hitter who hits between 15 and 205 home runs, drives in about 75 runs a year, and usually steals 20-25 bases a year. That’s a pretty well-rounded fantasy player. I would take him after A-Rod, Tejada, but that still makes him a second round pick.
LF - Hideki Matsui
I happen to think that Matsui is one of the most underrated players in baseball. After a very impressive “rookie” season, Matsui was even better in 2004. He hit. 298/.390/.522 with 34 doubles, 31 homers and 108 RBI. And yet he was hardly a blip behind most of his teammates. To me, he is as professional a hitter as there is in baseball. He improved from year one to year two. I would expect him to put up similar numbers as he did last year. That’s worth a 7th round pick.
CF - Bernie Williams
Despite being a really bad centerfielder with no arm, Williams continues to be a solid big league hitter. Last year, he hit just .262/360/.435 with 29 doubles, 22 homers and 40 RBI in 148 games. To me, Williams is one of the most underrated baseball players in recent years. To me, he is a borderline Hall of Famer. In November, when we reviewed the Top 100 players at each position. Bernie Williams was the 12th ranked centerfielder. He won’t play anywhere near 160 games, so I would hesitate to take the 36 year old before the 21st round.
RF - Gary Sheffield
If Bernie Williams is indeed a borderline Hall of Famer, then Gary Sheffield should be a no-brainer! He was absolutely incredible in 2004 despite switching leagues and a very injured shoulder. He hit .290/.393/.534 with 30 doubles, 36 homers and 121 RBI. He also has a career walk/strikeout ration of 1.4 to 1. Remarkable. Sure, there is steroid talk surrounding him, but I expect similar numbers again 2005, assuming health in his shoulder. Take him if he’s still around in the 3rd round.
DH - Jason Giambi
Speaking of steroids, the biggest question marked player might be Jason Giambi. 2004 was a wasted year for Giambi. He fought steroid rumors, injury and major illness, all under the scrutiny of the New York media. In 80 games that he did play, he hit .208/.342/.379 with 9 doubles, 12 homers and 40 RBI. The .720 OPS was a drastic drop from previous years, but again, I would attribute that to the illness. I really believe that if Giambi is healthy, he should maintain his great batters eye and use it to post a .900+ OPS. He will drop in most drafts, but I would consider him a great risk in Round 12.
One 2 Watch – Ruben Sierra
And if Giambi does not play well, or much, then Sierra will likely take over the DH duties. In 2004, the 39 year old Sierra had a very solid campaign hitting .244/.296/.456 with 12 doubles, 17 homers and 65 RBI. Don’t draft him, even after his crushing home run in Game 4 off Juan Rincon.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Posada, Jeter, Rodriguez are all high draft picks.
The Bad – I think that 2B is again a huge weak spot, and centerfield might be becoming more of a hinderance.
The Question Marks - Can Giambi regain any of his prior form? Can Williams stay healthy? Can Womack be the leadoff hitter he was in ’04, or will he be what he has been his whole career… not good?
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
C - Toby Hall
This is a huge season for Hall. It’s funny because he is considered a hitting-catcher, but the fact that he can’t hit makes you wonder how he’s lasted so long. The .683 career OPS hitter hit .255/.300/.366 with 21 doubles, 8 homers and 60 RBI in 2004. The team acquired Kevin Cash this offseason and Cash could see a lot of time. Of course, Cash hit just .193 with a .558 OPS last year, so that’s not much better. Draft Hall in the 28th round. Don’t draft Cash.
1B – Travis Lee
Travis Lee comes back to Tampa after a year on the disabled list with the Yankees. He played in just seven games for the Bombers. In 2003, with the Rays, he hit .275/.348/.459 with 37 doubles, 19 homers and 70 RBI, probably his best season. If he is healthy, he is great on defense, and can be very productive offensively as well. Take him in the 25th round though, with the risk.
2B - Roberto Alomar
I so want Alomar to have a huge year, just one more. I want him to get 3,000 hits. Alomar is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. But he has not been good since 2000. However, he is Roberto Alomar, so he will be given every chance. Last year, he split the season between Arizona and the White Sox (again). Combined, the 37 year old hit .263 with a .713 OPS. I guess he could come back, but I just won’t predict it. He may be a good pick in the 26th round.
3B - Alex Gonzalez
This was an interesting signing for me. Julio Lugo is likely the team’s SS, but Alex Gonzalez is an excellent fielding SS. It will be interesting to see how he handles the transition. Maybe they move Lugo to 2B with Gonzo taking over at SS? I am talking about him regarding his defense because he is not much of a hitter. In 83 games last year (injury and for the Cubs, Expos and Padres), he hit .225/.263/.368 with 18 doubles, 7 homers and 27 RBI. If Gonzalez doubles his games played, he’d double his production, or better. Not bad for a SS, not great for a 3B, but in fantasy he is eligible for both, making him worth a 22nd round pick.
SS - Julio Lugo
The 29 year old Dominican had a solid 2004 hitting .275/.338/.396 with 41 doubles, 7 homers, 75 RBI and 21 stolen bases. His homers were down from 15 in 2003 (in almost 100 less plate appearances). Lugo has been in trade rumors as well. And BJ Upton will play a role in everything. I think he’s worth a 20th round pick.
LF – Joey Gathright
With the recent trade of Jose Cruz and the injury to Rocco Baldelli, it is likely that speedy Gathright will be opening the season in either LF or CF for the Rays. Gathright hit .250 in 19 games with the big club last season (with 6 stolen bases), after he spent time and AA and AAA. At AA Montgomery, he hit .341/.399/.397 with 8 stolen bases. He moved up to AAA Durham and hit .326/.384/.373 with 33 swipes. Speed is his game. In keeper leagues, he’s valuable, especially in 5x5 leagues. However, in standard leagues, take a flyer on him in the last round.
CF - Carl Crawford)/Rocco Baldelli
Crawford became a star last year, and an All-Star. Based on his size, I would predict he will continue to improve. Last year, he hit .296/.336/.450 with 26 doubles, 19 triples, 11 homers, 55 RBI and 59 stolen bases. In 5x5 leagues, Crawford is a 1st rounder because of those steals. In other leagues, he’s probably a 7th round pick. Baldelli is likely out for the first month or so of the year. He wasn’t as good as his rookie year, but in 136 games, he hit .280/.326/.436 with 27 doubles, 16 homers, 74 RBI and 17 steals. He’s a 14th round pick in most leagues. (NOTE – Baldelli, Crawford and Gathright are all just 23 years old)
RF - Danny Bautista
The 32 year old Bautista comes to the Rays after spending 4+ years in Arizona. He has been a big leaguer for 12 seasons. Last year, in 141 games, he hit .286/.332/.401 with 27 doubles, 11 homers and 65 RBI. That was really his first opportunity to be an every day player. He would have been given more shots, but each time injuries got in the way. If he is healthy (a big IF), he could put up a productive season. Bautista could be a 24th round pick.
DH - Aubrey Huff
Huff has been the Rays best all-around hitter the last three years. His best year was 2003, but even last year he hit .297/.360/.493 with 27 doubles, 29 homers and 104 RBI. There are rumors he could be traded. If so, good for that other team! Either way, take him in about the 8th round.
Two 2 Watch – BJ Upton
Might be the biggest question mark around Rays camp this spring. Clearly he is more than ready for the big leagues offensively. The 20 year old just seems to be without a position. A SS throughout the minors, he makes a lot of errors, something apparently Lou Pinella will have nothing to do with. They may keep him at AAA for awhile to try to get better defensively. Maybe he moves to 2B or 3B, or DH. I would say the OF, but they have plenty of those. His bat should be in a lineup. Last year, at 19 years of age, he started at AA and hit .327 in 29 games. He went to the airport, thinking he was going to Tampa, but they changed their minds and sent him to AAA Durham. No problem, there he hit .311/.411/.519 with 17 doubles and 12 homers. He also stole 17 bases. Finally, he made his big league debut August 21. In 45 games, he hit .258/.324/.409 with 8 doubles, 4 homers, 12 RBI and 4 SB. He should be a big leaguer. Depending on what happens in camp, consider him by the 13th round.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Huff, Crawford, the future of Upton.
The Bad – Hall, Gonzalez, Alomar.
The Question Marks – How much fun will that outfield be to watch play? Can Crawford continue to improve? How good can Aubrey Huff be? When will BJ Upton and Delmon Young get called up and what can they do?
Toronto Blue Jays
C - Gregg Zaun/Greg Myers
Gregg Zaun was the Jays primary catcher last year. His previous 9 big league seasons were spent as a backup. In 107 games, he hit .269/.367/.393 with 24 doubles, 6 homers and 36 RBI. But there is obviously a reason that he’s never been a starter much. So, don’t draft him, or if you have to, do it very late. Myers is back on a minor league contract. If Guillermo Quiroz isn’t ready to start, Myers will be Zaun’s backup. Myers can really hit. But don’t draft him.
1B - Shea Hillenbrand/Eric Hinske
Hillenbrand comes to the team from Arizona this offseason. Always mocked by stat-heads because of his refusal to walk, he does continue to hit well. Last year, he hit .310/.348/.464 with 36 doubles, 15 homers and 80 RBI. Those are very good numbers. Hinske was the rookie of the year in 2002, but things have not been good for him since. Last year, he hit .246/.312/.375 with 23 doubles, 15 homers and 69 RBI. Now, one of these guy will likely DH (I would guess Hinske). I would draft Hillenbrand in the 17th round, Hinske in the 22nd.
2B - Orlando Hudson
Hudson seems to be one of those toolsy types of players who just has not yet put it together. Will he? Well, this is his 27 year old season, so if he’s going to, this may be the year. But so far, he’s been no better than average. Last year, he hit .270/.341/.438 with 32 doubles, 12 homers and 58 RBI. Certainly not bad numbers, probably worth a 19th round pick.
3B - Corey Koskie
Yeah, I have written on numerous occasions how terrible the Twins decision not to resign Corey Koskie was. The lone justifiable reason to let him go is because of a fear of injury. That’s a risk the Jays were willing to take. Last year, Koskie was rather inconsistent and hit for a low batting average (.252), but he also hit 25 home runs (easily his best HR rate of his career). I would expect Koskie to play in about 145 games, and if he does that, he should hit about .280. His batting eye would give him a .370 OB%. I can see him hitting 30 homers, 100 RBI and a dozen stolen bases. I would take Koskie in the 8th round.
SS - Russ Adams
The Jays first round pick in 2002 (from North Carolina) will be given the first shot at the SS job in 2005. Last year, at AAA, he hit .288/.351/.408 with 37 doubles, 5 homers and 54 RBI. He got 72 major league at bats and hit .306/.359/.528. He even hit 4 homers. I think you should take a risk with him in the 16th round and hope for Khalil Greene-like production
LF - Reed Johnson/Gabe Gross
28 year old Johnson is the incumbent, but last year he hit just .270/.320/.380 with 25 doubles, 10 homers and 61 RBI in 141 games. 25 year old Gross was the team’s top pick in 2001 out of Auburn. Last year at AAA he hit .294/.381/.454 with 29 doubles, 9 homers and 54 RBI. I think there will be a platoon, with Gross likely getting more time. I probably wouldn’t draft either one of them.
CF - Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells went from very solid major league centerfielder to superstar in 2003. He was solid in 2004, despite missing a month at the beginning of the year. He ended 2004 hitting .272/.337/472 with 34 doubles, 23 homers and 67 RBI. If healthy, I would expect another solid season from Wells. Take him in the 7th round. Take him in the 3rd round.
RF - Alexis Rios
To me, Rios was one of baseball’s best prospects going into last season. After starting the season at AAA and playing 46 games, he was called up to the Jays. In 115 games, he hit .286/338/.383 with 24 doubles, 7 triples and (surprisingly) just one homer to go with 15 RBI. I think that Rios will become a star in 2004, specifically his home run totals. Take Rios in the 23rd round.
DH - Frank Catalanotto
Catalanotto had a rough 2004 season, playing in just 75 games. The Jays just gave him $5.4 million for two years, so you’d think they’ll play him. On the year, he hit .293/.343/.390. Draft him in the last round, if at all.
One 2 Watch – Guillermo Quiroz
Quiroz is just 22 years old, but made his big league debut in 2004. He too is known as a defensively catcher. He hit less than .230 both at the major league level and at AAA. At some point though, the job will be his. In a keeper league, take him in the first couple of rounds.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good – Wells and the futures of Adams, Quiroz and Rios.
The Bad – Hudson and LF.
The Question Marks – How will Hinske and Hillenbrand co-exist? Can Rios make the leap? Can Adams and Gross contribute right away? Can Wells comeback?
Well, that is it for Part 2 of my Fantasy Baseball Preview. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. The same format will be used for the rest of the teams in baseball. Next up, I will discuss the American League Western Division. Please let me know what you think. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed! E-mail me.
FIVE OTHER LINKS/THOUGHTS
What are the highest paying jobs out there? Should I go back to school?
Here is an excellent concept for a blog. It is NFL Cheerleaders Blog. It is about current and former cheerleaders. Lots of pictures!!!
The Maris family is asking baseball to probe the Jose Canseco claims that Mark McGwire used steroids. Not surprising at all. Again, I think way too much is being made out of this!
100 GRAND CONTEST - And finally, if you look on the left side of this screen, you will see the hit counter. It is fast approaching 100,000. I would like to know who it is that is the 100,000th visitor. If it is you, and you send me an e-mail, I will send you a Kyle Waldrop and a Jay Rainville 2004 Bowman Draft Pick rookie cards.
And on that note, I wish you a great Friday and a wonderful weekend. If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read above, please e-mail me. Have yourself a great week!
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