Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Before I get started today, I would encourage everyone to check out the Hit Counter on the left-hand side of this page. Sometime today, I should pass the 100,000 hit marker! That is just a crazy number and I don't know how I got that many. I have gone from hoping that maybe 30 people would read the site, to getting almost 700 hits a day the past week or so. So, thank you to all the readers. I do appreciate your patience with me and your willingness to tell me what you're thinking as well. I want to thank the many bloggers out there who have linked to my site from time to time. It all helps, and hopefully I have been able to help you as well. 100,000 is great, but now we might as well go for more, right? Be sure to tell all of your friends about this site! (or, if you prefer reverse psychology... don't tell anyone about this site!) Thank you to everyone!
American League West Hitters
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be providing a team-by-team look at many of the major league players from a fantasy baseball perspective. I want to do this for a couple of reasons. First, I love fantasy baseball and love discussing what I think of certain players. Second, I know that many people who take the time to read baseball sites like this one participate in fantasy baseball leagues as well.
However, I do understand not everyone gets into fantasy sports, and thatís OK too. I do not think that my "analysis" will be too "statty" so it should be enjoyable for any baseball fan to read.
Another point to mention before getting started is that there are many forms of fantasy baseball. There are the traditional rotisserie leagues, 5x5 leagues, head-to-head, simulation, keeper leagues, American League Only, National League only and many more. Most leagues probably vary in subtle ways. I am not going to try to analyze for any specific variety. I will just give my opinions on the players. When I project a round-range where the player could be drafted, it will be based on a 30 round major league draft.
If you have any questions or comments about what I write here, or regarding your league, 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.
If you missed any of the other divisions, check them out here.
Part 1 - American League Central Hitters
Part 2 - American League East Hitters
Part 3 - American League West Hitters
Part 4 - National League Central Hitters
Part 5 - National League East Hitters
Part 6 - National League West Hitters
Part 7 - American League Central Pitchers
Part 8 - American League East Pitchers
Part 9 - American League West Pitchers
Part 10 - National League Central Pitchers
Part 11 - National League East Pitchers
Part 12 - National League West Pitchers
Part 13 - Rookies and Prospects
PART 3: AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST HITTERS
Today, we will be discussing the American League West. Last year, it took until the final day of the season for the division to be won (by Anaheim). This division could be wide open again. Oakland has question marks with their pitching but return much of a decent lineup. Seattle added a couple of huge bats, but they have a lot of ground to make up. Anaheim wasnít quite as busy this offseason, but they will again be very tough. Texas should score a lot of runs again, but how often will they outscore their opponent on a given day? I know this division probably isnít quite as strong as the AL East, but it is not far behind. Also, how many straight seasons has the AL MVP come from the AL West? So, letís 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.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
C - Bengie Molina
Molina has been in the big leagues since 1998. He hit .276 with 10 homers and 54 RBI last year, but played in just 97 games because of a broken finger. But also, his brother Jose Molina has earned more playing time (specifically being Bartolo Colonís personal catcher). Because I think that Jose will continue to play and Molina isnít a great fantasy player anyway, I would wait until the last round or two to draft Bengie.
1B - Darin Erstad
2005 will be Erstadís 10th season with the Angels. He is a Gold Glove centerfielder who was moved back to 1B last year to try to prevent injury. Well, he won a Gold Glove at 1B. Erstad is the prototype for the type of player that every team needs, but it doesnít transfer into statistics. Although, he doesnít put up bad numbers by any means. Last year, Erstad hit .295/.346/.400 with 29 doubles, 7 HR and 69 RBI. He stole 16 bases. Unfortunately, he missed another 37 games with an injury. Erstad is on the trading block because of Casey Kotchman, but also because of Cuban defector Kendry Morales. Wait to take Erstad until the last round, if at all.
2B - Chone Figgins/Adam Kennedy
Figgins played six positions for the Angels last year (92 at 3B, 54 at CF, 20 at 2B). He may continue in a utility role, depending on Adam Kennedy, but I think Figgins earned the full-time gig. He did everything, hitting .296/.350/.419 with 22 doubles, 17 triples, 5 homers, 60 RBI and 34 stolen bases. Thatís pretty impressive, especially in a 5x5 fantasy league. I think the 27 year old is worth drafting in the 15th round, but be sure to monitor the teamís plans in training camp. Why? because Kennedy hit .278/.351/.406 with 20 doubles, 5 triples, 10 homers, 48 RBI and 15 stolen bases. So, this is going to be an interesting situation to follow.
3B - Dallas McPherson/Robb Quinlan
24 year old McPherson was the Angels 2nd round pick in 2001 out of The Citadel. Since then he has become a big-time power hitting prospect. Last year, McPherson had an incredible season the culminated in a call-up to the Angels (with a postseason roster spot). It started at AA Arkansas, where in 68 games, he hit .321/404/.660 with 17 doubles, 20 homers and 69 RBI. He moved up to AAA Salt Lake where, in 67 games, he hit .313/.370/.680 with 19 doubles, 20 homers and 57 RBI. In 16 games with the Angels, he hit .225/279/.475 with a double, 3 homers and 6 RBI. So, for the season, he hit 37 doubles and 43 homers and drove in 132 runs. The team announced right away that they would let Troy Glaus leave, opening the position for McPherson. The players are similar. Big power hitters. Lots of strikeouts (McPherson combined for 186 Ks, including 17 in 40 big league at bats). McPherson probably has the ability to hit for a higher average. Based on potential, take McPherson in the 12th round. Minnesota native Robb Quinlan in insurance at 1B and 3B. Last year, in 56 games and 160 at bats, he hit .344/.401/.525 with 14 doubles, 5 homers and 23 RBI.
SS - Orlando Cabrera
After the Red Sox decided on Edgar Renteria, the Angels grabbed Cabrera with a 4 year, $32 million contract. Now, defensively, Cabrera is great. Offensively, he is a very average SS. He will probably hit about .275 with 12-15 homers and a lot of doubles. He doesnít walk a lot, but doesnít strike out either. He has averaged about 20 stolen bases the past four seasons, and I would suspect Mike Scioscia will give him some freedom to run. To me, in this lineup, he would be worth a 14th round pick.
LF - Garrett Anderson
After a year in centerfield, Anderson will move back to left. The 32 year old is remarkably consistent. No, he doesnít walk much, but he is a hitter, especially against right-handed pitching. Last year, he missed 50 games and really played in pain much of the season. He still hit .301/.343/.446 with 20 doubles, 14 homers and 75 RBI. In this lineup, heíll drive in and score a lot of runs. Iíd still take him in the 9th round.
CF - Steve Finley
The Angels signed the 39 year old Finley to a two-year deal worth $16 million. Seems like a lot of money and years, but Finley played in 162 games in 2004 and won a Gold Glove. The Angels defense is already strong, Finley makes it even better. Heíll help the offense too. Last year, he hit .271/.333/.490 with 28 doubles, 36 homers and 94 RBI between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. I would predict that he will hit about .280 with 30 doubles, 22 homers and 90 RBI. Thatís good for a 10th round pick.
RF - Vladimir Guerrero
The ALís reigning MVP hit .337/.391/.598 with 39 doubles, 39 homers and 126 RBI. He even stole 16 bases. And, heís got the best outfield arm in baseball! Take a look at his numbers per 162 games played for his career. He hits .325/390/.589 with 37 doubles, 38 homers, 116 RBI and 19 stolen bases. And, he has averaged 152 games a year over the last seven years (and that includes 2003 when he played just 112 games. Heís a definite first round pick!
DH - Jeff DaVanon/Juan Rivera
Tim Salmon has been a very good hitter for about a dozen years. But last year he played in just 60 games. DaVanon got 285 at bats in 108 games. The 31 year old hit .277/.372/.418 with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 7 homers and 34 RBI. He also stole 18 bases. Heís a well-round player who I think will have the first shot at the DH job. If he does get that job, heís worth a 13th round pick in 5x5 leagues, and a 23rd round pick in other leagues. However, Juan Rivera comes to the Angels from the Nationals (in the Jose Guillen deal). In his first starting season last year in Montreal, he hit .307/.364/.465 with 24 doubles, 12 homers and 49 RBI. Those are good numbers. He could still get plenty of playing time with the Angels. I probably wouldnít draft him though.
One 2 Watch Ė Casey Kotchman/Kendry Morales
In 2001, the Twins took Joe Mauer with the first overall pick. The Angels took Kotchman with the 13th pick and some thought is was just as much a "homer" pick since his father works in the Angelsí organization. But Kotchman has hit everywhere in the minor leagues. His only problem has been injuries. In 2003, he hit .350/441/.524 in 57 games at Rancho Cucamonga before getting hurt. In 2004, he started at AA Arkansas and hit .368/.438/.544 in 28 games before Darin Erstad was hurt and Kotchman was called up to the Angels. He played 38 games with the big club and hit .224/.289/.276 with six doubles and 15 RBI. When Erstad was healthy, Kotchman went down to AAA Salt Lake and hit .372/.423/.558 with 22 doubles, 5 homers and 38 RBI. I would expect him to be a Mark Grace-type player, and I do mean that as a compliment. The Angels signed Morales to a six-year contract as a 21 year old who at 6-1 and 220 pounds was a hero for the Cuban national team for a few years. In all likelihood, Morales will spend the season at AA honing his skills, but his future is bright.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Guerrero, Anderson, Finley, the futures of McPherson, Kotchman and Morales.
The Bad - There arenít many weak spots on this team (you could argue 1B and C), including depth.
The Questions - When will Kotchman be called up? How many homers (and strikeouts) will McPherson have? Can many members of the team stay healthy? Who will DH?
C - Jason Kendall
Jason Kendall is a very consistent hitter. He hits for high average. He takes a lot of pitches at the plate. He hits for very little power. Last year, he hit .319/.399/.390 with 32 doubles, 3 homers and 51 RBI. He walked 60 times and struck out just 41 times. For his nine season career, he has hit .306/.387/.418 with an average of 29 doubles and seven home runs and about 15 stolen bases. Expect more of the same in Oakland, well, minus the stolen bases, Iíd guess. Take him in the 20th round.
1B - Scott Hatteberg
Hatteberg had arguably his best season in the big leagues in 2004. He his .284/.367/.420 with 30 doubles, 15 homers and 82 RBI. He walked 82 times and struck out just 48 times. He took 4.0 pitches per plate appearance. For his career, Hatteberg has hit .270/.359/.412. In other words, even with his best year, he isnít a great fantasy option. I also expect his numbers to drop dramatically in 2005. Wait until the 25th round to take him.
2B - Keith Ginter/Mark Ellis
Rapid City native, Mark Ellis was my sleeper pick in 2003 and he flopped, hitting just .248. Last year, he missed the entire season with a right shoulder injury. It is uncertain if he will be back, so Billy Beane went out and acquired Keith Ginter from the Milwaukee Brewers. Ginter has primarily been a utility player in the big leagues for the past three seasons, but I picked him up for my fantasy team last year. In 113 games, he hit .262/.333/.479 with 23 doubles, 19 homers (and I remember Lew Ford robbed him of another) and 60 RBI. He is a "Moneyball" type of player which would bode well for him in Oakland. Even if Ellis plays, Ginter can play all three infield positions. If heís a starter, heís worth the risk in the 26th round. If not, you donít want him.
3B - Eric Chavez
In 2004, Chavez hit .276/.397/.501 with 20 doubles, 29 homers and 77 RBI. And he did all that in just 125 games (and won another Gold Glove). To me, Chavez is as good as any 3B in baseball (with the exception of A-Rod). In his four, full, injury-free seasons, Chavez has essentially been a .280 hitter with 30 homers and 110 RBI. The who believe in the Age 27 factor can expect numbers higher than these. I think Chavez is a great pick in the 3rd round.
SS - Bobby Crosby
"To expect Crosby to completely replace Miguel Tejada this season would be unfair. It would not be unfair to say that Crosby is a leading candidate for American League Rookie of the Year." Thatís what I said last year at this time. Crosby did win the Rookie of the Year Award, but didnít have a great year. He hit .337 in June, but didnít hit above .261 in any other month. For the year, he hit .239/.319/.426 with 34 doubles, 22 homers and 64 RBI. Not quite Tejadaís numbers!! But I would expect Crosby to have a better average in 2005 to go with some already decent power numbers. As a SS, consider taking Crosby by the 18th round.
LF - Eric Byrnes
Well, Bobby Kielty ended up not being too good. Eric Byrnes took over in LF early in the season and played great all year. He ended the season hitting .283/.347/.467 with 39 doubles, 20 homers and 73 RBI in just 143 games. His name has come up in many trade talks this winter. I would look at him similar to the White Sox Aaron Rowand. It is like their teams liked what they were capable of, but always wanted something better. Both players just played, and played well, and have earned their jobs. I would expect Byrnes to put up similar numbers in 2005. Because heís an outfielder, I would wait until the 21st round to take him.
CF - Mark Kotsay
I thought that Kotsay would be a solid contributor to the Aís as an OF and leadoff hitter. He was a career .280 hitter. Well, he had the best season of his career. In 148 games, he hit .314/.370/.459 with 37 doubles, 15 homers and 63 RBI. In 2005, if he stays healthy, I can see a .300 season with 30 doubles and 14 homers. But, wait until the 23rd round to take him.
RF - Nick Swisher/Charles Thomas
Swisher was the Aís first first-round pick in 2002 out of The Ohio State. Although he displays all of the Moneyball characteristics, Swisher also displays all the tools that conventional scouts like too. The 24 year old has shown his patience at each minor league stop, but has not hit like would be anticipated. Even in 2004, at AAA Sacramento, he hit just .269, but his on-base percentage was .406 due to his 103 walks in 554 plate appearances. That earned him a late-season call-up to the Aís. In 71 plate appearances, Swisher hit .250/.352/.417 with four doubles and 2 HR (8 walks). Swisher will be given every chance to play every day from the start of the season. Thomas was not a big prospect with the Braves. It took him four years to get out of Class A, and he was light-hitting there. Then he moved up to AA in 2003 and hit .324. Last year, he hit .358 in 61 AAA games. The Braves called him up and he played well for them in 88 games. He hit .288/.368/.445 with 8 doubles and 7 homers. Can he repeat his 2004 season? Well, he is just 25 and maybe he has turned the corner. He is a good 4th outfield option. Consider Swisher by the 24th round. Donít draft Thomas unless Byrnes is traded.
DH - Erubiel Durazo
Durazo has always had great patience at the plate, leading to great isolated on-base percentages. However, it wasnít until 2004 that he finally had the type of season that fans have been waiting for since he came up in í99 with the Diamondbacks. Despite missing 20 games, he hit .321/.396/.523 with 35 doubles, 22 homers and 88 RBI. I like to think his increased production comes from swinging more aggressively. Is that true? I donít know. Aís fans hope that the 30 year old will do whatever he did in 2004. Assuming he can, he could be drafted in the 7th round.
One 2 Watch Ė Dan Johnson
Johnson put up some incredible numbers in two seasons at Nebraska (OPS of 1.331 and 1.259) and was taken by the Aís in the 7th round of the 2000 draft. He has been moved up the ladder consistently and he has progressed nicely putting up both power and patience numbers. In AA in 2003, Johnson hit .290/.365/.504 with 26 doubles, 27 homers and 114 RBI in 139 games. Last year at AAA, Johnson hit .299/.403/.534 with 29 doubles, 29 homers and 111 RBI in 142 games. He also walked 89 times and only struck out 93 times. The 25 year old from Coon Rapids is ready for the big leagues. Heís just being held up currently by, ahem, Scott Hatteberg. Donít draft him (except in keeper leagues), but watch this situation.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Chavez, Kendall, the futures of Swisher, Crosby and Johnson.
The Bad - Question marks for me on the right side of the infield.
Question Marks - Can Crosby hit for a better average? When will Dan Johnson (finally) get a chance? How will Kendall adjust to a new league?
C - Miguel Olivo
Olivo came to the Mariners mid-season in the Freddy Garcia trade. The 26 year old has so much potential, I just donít think that we have really seen it yet. It seemed like he was just starting to get it before the trade. But once he was traded, he fought some illness and injury and hit just .200 in 50 games with the Mís. Overall last year, Olivo hit .233/.286/.439 with 15 doubles, 4 triples, 13 homers and 40 RBI. He also stole 7 bases. Not great numbers, but I do predict big things for Olivo and this might be the year that he starts showing it (although Dan Wilson is still around). His potential power/speed combination could be huge at the catcher position. For this year though, wait until the 19th round to gamble on him.
1B - Richie Sexson
Before last year, Sexson had never really missed a lot of time due to injury. His power is remarkable. When he was hurt early last season, he was leading the major leagues in homers. But, the shoulder injury happened and he missed the rest of the season. Still, the fact that in the four previous seasons, he had combined for 150 homers, the Mariners are banking ($50 million worth of bank) on his health. If that is the case, Sexson is capable of 40 homers and 110 RBI. That makes him worth the risk by the 4th round.
2B - Bret Boone
From 2001-2003, Boone was as good as any 2B outside of Alfonso Soriano. Last year, he reverted to the type of player he was the first nine seasons of his career. In 2004, he hit .251/.317/.423 with a still impressive 30 doubles and 24 homers (to go with 83 RBI). Apparently Boone is another of the names that Jose Canseco discusses in his controversial book. Are the allegations true? I hate to think so. However, I am sure I am not the only one out there who hasnít wondered, just based on those three seasons. What to expect from him in 2005? Well, my honest thought is that he will raise his batting average a little bit, but that the power numbers will remain the same. However, that is still excellent for a 2B, meaning he should be gone by the 8th round.
3B - Adrian Beltre
How perfect is Beltreís situation? Coming off a monster year and becoming a free agent at the age of 25Ö who could ask for anything more? Previous to 2004, Beltre was considered a flop by many. He was a very good player, but because of his skill set, much was expected from him. A typical year for him before was .260 with 20 homers and 70 RBI. But last year, Beltre exploded with a .334/.388/.629, 32 double, 48 homer, 121 RBI season for the Dodgers. His OPS was 1.017. His previous high was .835. So what will Beltre do in 2005? Itís so hard to say. Safeco is not a great hitterís park, but neither was Dodgers Stadium. Was it just another example of using a free agent year to get a contract and now that heís got $64 million guaranteed, heíll relax? I think it would be hard to expect another season like this from Beltre, especially switching leagues, but I think a .290 season with 30 homers and 100 RBI should be expected, and that makes him a 5th round pick (although he will probably go in the 2nd or 3rd).
SS - Pokey Reese
I will just say right away that in a fantasy league, you do not want Pokey Reese on your team. Heís in that Luis Rivas, no offense category. However, I like this signing for the Mariners because he solidifies an already strong infield. Offensively, Reese is a career .248/.307/.352 hitter. Last year, in 96 games with the Red Sox, he hit .221/.271/.303 with 7 doubles, 2 triples and 3 home runs (surprisingly two in one game, one inside-the-park). But yeah, donít draft him.
LF - Randy Winn
The media made it sound like Winn had this awful 2004 season. They want him traded, etc. In reality, in 157 games, he hit .286/.346/.427 with 34 doubles, 6 triples, 14 homers and 81 RBI, with 21 stolen bases. That is a very solid season, particularly for a center fielder. In seven big league seasons, he is a career .284/.344/.411 hitter. Not spectacular, but certainly not bad, or even disappointing. I would draft Randy Winn in the 14th round in a 5x5 league, 23rd round in a standard league.
CF - Jeremy Reed
Reed also came to the Mariners from Chicago. The White Sox took him in the 2nd round in 2002 out of Long Beach State. He immediately hit, but 2003 was a huge year for him. He started by playing 65 games in Hi-A, hitting .333/.431/.477 with 27 stolen bases. He was moved up to AA Birmingham and hit an astonishing .409/.474/.591 with 17 doubles, 7 HR and 43 RBI with 18 stolen bases. Many thought the White Sox should have broken training camp with him as their CF, but he went to AAA. He played in 73 games with Charlotte before the trade, and another 61 games at Tacoma (where he hit .305). He was called up in September and in 18 games hit .397/.470/.466 with four doubles and 3 stolen bases, an excellent showing. I think that Reed will be able to hit for high average, but not with a lot of power. The stolen bases could make him valuable in 5x5 leagues. In those, take him in the 15th round. In standard leagues, wait until the 27th round.
RF - Ichiro Suzuki
Unfortunately, Ichiroís record-breaking year came in such a bad year for the Mariners. Ichiroís 262 hits broke George Sislerís long-time record. On the year, he hit .372/.414/.455 with 24 doubles, 5 triples, 8 homers and 60 RBI. So what do we seem to know about, or should we expect from Ichiro? We know heíll score more than 100 runs, have over 200 hits, hit at least 8 homers, drive in over 50 runs, hit well over .300. The 31 year old also steals at least 30 bases a year. I would expect his batting average to drop, but his extra-base hits, runs and RBI to increase. I would consider taking Ichiro by the 4th round.
DH - Raul Ibanez
Another player that I think gets worked too hard, Ibanez played in just 123 games last year. However, he still was able to hit .304/.353/.472 with 31 doubles, 16 homers and 62 RBI. These numbers are close to what he had done in 157 games in KC in 2003. If he can stay healthy, I expect him to have a very good season. He may be a sleeper in the 17th round.
One 2 Watch Ė Jose Lopez/Yuniesky Betancourt
Lopez is a 21 years old from Venezuela who hit .232 in 57 games with the Mariners last year. Betancourt is 22 years old from Cuba. With Pokey Reese signed for just one year and Bret Boone playing out the last year of his contract, I would suspect that Lopez and Betancourt will play the season at AAA Tacoma. One will play SS. The other will play 2B. And I am sure the Mariners would like to bring them up late in 2005, and hope that they will become the keystone combo in Seattle for years to come.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Sexson, Beltre, Ichiro.
The Bad - Reese on offense.
The Question Marks - What can Beltre and Sexson do under the pressure of the big contracts? Can Randy Winn and Raul Ibanez please the Mariners fans? How does Ichiro follow his 2004 season? Can Boone get back to what he was?
C - Rod Barajas/Gerald Laird
Laird started the season last year as the Rangers starting catcher. However, a torn ligament in his catching thumb curtailed much of his season. Barajas took over and even when Laird came back, he kept catching. Although he hit just .249, the 29 year old Barajas hit 15 homers and drove in 58 runs. The .227 lifetime hitter had been in Arizona as a reserve the previous five seasons. I still think that the future is big for 25 year old Laird though. In 49 games last year, he hit just .224, but his track record is better than that of Barajas. In any case, I donít think that either is really worth drafting as I would predict a near 50/50 playing time split.
1B - Mark Teixeira
The debate among Twins fans is always whether they should have taken Joe Mauer or Mark Prior. I wonder why Mark Teixeiraís name isnít mentioned. Teixeira was drafted after Joe Mauer, Mark Prior, Dewon Brazelton and Gavin Floyd in the 2001 draft. In 2003, he was given a major league roster spot, without a position. He spent time at 3B, LF, RF, 1B and DH. He started out slowly, but he ended his rookie season with a .259 average and 26 home runs and 84 RBI. Last year I wrote, "I would expect Teixeira to really put up some huge numbers in 2004. He could hit 40 homers." Well, in 2004 he was the primary 1B, and he hit .281/.370/.560 with 34 doubles, 38 homers and 112 RBI. Teixeira is a remarkable hitter and, at just 24 years of age, should just continue to get better. I would consider drafting him by the last 2nd round.
2B - Alfonso Soriano
We constantly hear about the demise of Alfonso Soriano, about how his numbers have dropped the last two seasons, about how the Rangers are looking to trade him. Now, letís look at how he did last year in 145 games with the Rangers. He hit .280/.324/.484 with 32 doubles, 28 homers and 91 RBI. He won the AL Silver Slugger for 2B. A surprising number is that his stolen base total dropped down to 18. So yeah, his numbers werenít quite up to snuff, but they were still, by far the best by a 2B in baseball. Consider drafting him late in the first round, or by the 2nd round.
3B - Hank Blalock
Blalock had his breakout season in 2003, but he was even better in 2004. In 159 games, the 24 year old hit .276/.355/.500 with 38 doubles, 32 homers and 110 RBI. I actually think that this is the type of season to expect from Hank the Tank. His sweet swing may increase his average toward .300, but he also strikes out so many times, which may hurt him. Either way, I would take Blalock by the 5th round.
SS - Michael Young
The 28 year old Young became an All-Star 2B in 2003 (.306, 33 doubles, 14 HR, 72 RBI), and was even better as an All-Star SS in 2004. Last year, he hit .313/.353/.483 with 33 doubles, 9 triples, 22 homers and 99 RBI. It certainly seems that with consistent playing time, Young has become a star player. I would expect him to be the consistent member of this incredible offensive infield that the Rangers have. Take him in the 9th round.
LF - Gary Matthews, Jr./David Dellucci
I really have never understood why Gary Matthews has never really been given a full-time job. Heís excellent defensively with great range for such a big man. And he has a solid, powerful bat. It seems like when he is given consistent playing time, he has been a .275 hitter with some power. Last year, in 87 games with the Rangers, he hit .275/.350/.461 with 17 doubles, 11 homers and 36 RBI. But, the 30 year old was successful for the Rangers in this role, and I assume heíll split some time with David Dellucci. The 31 year old OF just signed a 2 year deal with the Rangers at $1.8 million, so he will likely play a bunch. Last year, he hit just .242 but hit 17 homers to go with 61 RBI in 107 games. Combined these two will put up solid numbers. However, neither is probably worth drafting, but both should be watched throughout the season.
CF - Laynce Nix
Laynce Nix is one of those 5-tool kinds of prospects. I will never understand why there is a "y" in his first name, but the 24 year old had a solid first full season. Unfortunately, he missed about 50 games because of a sprained shoulder suffered running into the wall (he is often compared to Darin Erstad, with more power). He hit .248/.293/.437 with 20 doubles, 14 homers and 46 RBI. The lone problem is that he struck out 113 times and walked just 23 times. Nix is still a late round pick, but he could easily become a huge steal. Consider him starting in the 24th round.
RF - Richard Hidalgo
In my mind, this was kind of a wasted signing. The Rangers have plenty of offense. They need pitching. However, it is almost impossible to get a decent free agent pitcher to choose to come to Arlington. So, instead, the Rangers signed another basher! Actually, Hidalgo has not been terrible. Fact is, he just signed a ridiculous contract that he wasnít able to live up to. Last year, splitting time between Houston and the Mets, he hit .239/.301/.444, but did hit 26 doubles and 25 homers, and he drove in 82 runs. Also, this lineup is pretty left-handed, so another powerful right-handed bat shouldnít hurt. I actually fully expect Hidalgo to hit well in 2005 (heís still just 29), and think that he should be taken in the 14th round, but because of his past, he should fall closer to the 20th round.
DH - Kevin Mench
After a solid rookie season in 2002, 2003 was an injury-filled season for Mench. But 2004 was a great season for the 27 year old Mench. He played in 125 games and hit .279/.335/.539 with 30 doubles, 26 homers and 71 RBI. That type of play should garner him even more playing time in 2005. In other words, 30-35 homers and 100 RBI are not out of the question. Draft Mench in the 15th round and be thrilled with it!
One 2 Watch Ė Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez was drafted by the Florida Marlins with the #1 overall pick in 2000. It seems as though he has been around forever, and yet, he is just 22 years old. He was traded to the Rangers in the Ugueth Urbina trade in 2003. Gonzalez spent 123 games at AAA in 2004. He hit .304/.364/.457 with 28 doubles, 12 homers and 88 RBI. Very good numbers. He spent 16 games with the Rangers and hit .238/.273/.381 with 3 doubles, a homer and 7 RBI in just 42 at bats. He should not be drafted, and I donít really know where he would play on this team unless there is an injury to Teixeira, but heís worth watching.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - That infield of Teixeira, Soriano, Young and Blalock.
The Bad - No weaknesses in this lineup, except at catcher.
The Question Marks - How will the roles of the OF play out? Will Mench become a huge star? Will Young, Teixeira and Blalock continue to move upward? Will Soriano remain on this team?
Well, that is it for Part 3 of my Fantasy Baseball Preview. I hope youíve enjoyed it. The same format will be used for the rest of the teams in baseball. Next up, I will discuss the National League Central Division hitters. Please let me know what you think. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed! E-mail me.
Here are just a few other sites that I noticed over the past few days:
My brother sent me this link. It is about bloggers who have lost their jobs because they have given too much information about the company they work for, or shown pictures that the company would not want shown, and other reasons. It is actually quite interesting. I know that is why I don't write about my job!
Barry Quickstad was the Twins 18th round pick in 1999 from Waseca, MN. By 2002, he was the Twins 12th ranked prospect. And then, he couldn't hit anymore, couldn't field, and was soon released. Last week, he signed a letter of intent to play football at Division I, North Dakota State University. Here is an interesting article by the Fargo Forum's Mike McFeely about Quickstad.
McFeely also writes an article on the NHL's Jason Blake feels with the strike and the impending cancellation of the season.
Patrick Reusse compares Terry Ryan to Anna Nichole Smith. VERY interesting!
ESPN's continuing 'best-of' features continued with the naming of Doug Mientkiewicz as the best defensive first baseman. No surprise to me, or any other Twins fans who saw him play defense over there for all those years.
And on that note, I wish you a great Wednesday. If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read above, please e-mail me. Have yourself a great rest of then week!
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