Last season I began a series entitled “Phantasy Impact” where I would discuss, well you guessed it, fantasy baseball. Clever title I know.
I received a lot of feedback from readers that they enjoyed it and so I decided to bring it back again for 2009. This year won’t be as sticky for me since my main league is a dynasty league and I won’t have to worry about tipping off any of my draft secrets. So I can share with you whilst not showing my hand to the league. Everybody wins.
Normally this series will cover a main fantasy article along with people you should add, drop or keep an eye on as well as other little tips and tricks of the trade that hopefully will help you win your league. Or at the very least help you beat your rival team so you can rub it in their face. Think of it as a consolation prize.
To start off our fantasy coverage I figured I’d give everyone a list of players I love and hate and players I think are ready for breakouts or breakdowns. I hope you enjoy this and if you feel so inclined, share your fantasy rosters or draft day wins in the comments section below.
Let’s do this.
The Keepers/Sleepers (who I love and think will shine)
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: No, not the psychotic Adam Jones with the goofy nickname, this Adam Jones actually has a lot of potential. Jones was thrust into a spot last season and given a chance to run. While his numbers weren’t captivating, he learned a lot. I see Jones taking the next step and possibly reaching his 20/20 status. Plus he’s working with Brian Roberts on his steals. Not a bad mentor.
Jon Lester, P, Red Sox: This man right here is Boston’s real ace. Look for him to take the reigns in 2009 with 15+ wins and an ERA hovering above 3.
Jose Lopez, 2B, Mariners: It’s funny no one knows who he is since he’s not flashy and plays on a bad team. He’ll give you .295/20/80 at a shallow position. Remember the name. Draft the name.
Xavier Nady, OF, Yankees: Want to know who is going to benefit most from A-Rod’s boo-boo? Yup, this guy. Nady will most likely get bumped up in the order and is their second best offensive weapon after Tex. I’m looking at a .300/25/100 year from him if he doesn’t lose time due to the old guys getting play in the outfield (which I don’t see happening). I really hope he gets dealt at some point since I like him and hate the Yanks.
Gil Meche/Zack Greinke, P, Royals: Meche over Greinke, but both pitchers quietly had fantastic years last season for a mediocre team. Now that the Royals are better, these two will be better in turn. You’ll get wins, ERA and K’s which are extremely valuable.
Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers: I liked him BEFORE Manny signed, but I LOVE him after (that’s a lot of capitals so you know I mean business). He has grown a lot and now doesn’t have the weight of the team on his shoulders with Manny in town. He will he give you a 30/30 season (with 40/40 potential someday) and a .300 average. He’s a stud and to prove my dedication to him, I just completed a trade in my dynasty league for him. I can’t afford to be wrong!
Travis Snider/Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays: Both are young. Both are Blue Jay outfielders. Both will give you a .280 average, 20 homers and 80+ RBI this year. Both are awesome. That’s all.
Alexei Ramirez, 2B, White Sox: Second base is a very shallow position and Ramirez had a very impressive start to his career last season. I personally don’t see him getting much better that his nice line last season, but I don’t see him getting worse either.
Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks: Should automatically be taken after Hanley and Reyes are off the board. No questions asked. If you draft Jeter over him you should have your fantasy card taken away from you. .310/25/80 is realistic. Plus he’s not a wuss like his brother.
Francisco Liriano/Scott Baker/Kevin Slowey/Nick Blackburn/Glen Perkins, P, Twins: In that order. I’ve said it before, I see Liriano competing for the Cy Young this year and Baker putting up 16+ wins. All have the potential to have double digits in wins and below 4 ERAs. One of the best top to bottom rotations in baseball.Jason Giambi, 1B, A’s: In case you don’t get a first baseman until late, he’s a great option. He’s back home in Oakland and out of New York. How could that hurt him?
Chris Davis, 1B, Rangers: Another guy who not many people really realize how good he’s going to be. He’ll give you 30+ homers and 100+ RBI. Plus he’ll be eligible at both first and third base. Love him.
Ricky Nolasco/Josh Johnson/Chris Volstad, P, Marlins: They will be pitching their club into the post season. Will they do the same for your team? If you draft them they will.
Rich Harden, P, Cubs: Damn it, one of these years he’ll stay healthy. When he is, he’s a top five pitcher in baseball. Take a chance as he’ll drop pretty low.
Yovani Gallardo, P, Brewers: In the next couple of years you’ll be debating whether to take him or Lincecum. He’s that good and some people are afraid to draft him due to his injury last season. An injury to his non-driving knee from a freak accident. Thankfully people are dumb which enables the rest of us to get players like this.
Manny Parra, P, Brewers: I somehow was able to add him as a free agent this off season. He’ll get you some wins and will get you a lot more strikeouts.
The Upton Brothers, OF, Diamondbacks/Rays: Look out kids, they are ready to pop. Justin will give you 25+ homers with increased plate discipline and BJ will give you 40+ stolen bases with increased power.
David DeJesus, OF, Royals: You probably think I’m nuts for this one and are ready to close your browser, but wait! He’s not going to explode for any ridiculous numbers, but if you are in a deep league and need some depth in the outfield, this guy will give you a .300ish average, double digits in homers and stolen bases as well as 120+ runs created. Sure that’s not going to make the papers, but wouldn’t you want a guy like this on your team to fill the gaps?
The Weepers (players I’m not fond of and will disappoint)
Cliff Lee, P, Indians: Do you really see Lee putting up 22 wins and posting a 2.54 ERA again? I sure don’t. I’m not saying he’s not a good pitcher, but he’s not 22 wins good, more like 14 or so. Plus I’m annoyed with him for wussing out and faking an injury for list last start of the season just so he could keep his ERA crown. Pretty low if you ask me.
Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs: When Bradley’s healthy, he’s an incredible hitter. The problem is he’s never healthy and I don’t see how a move to the NL where he will be forced to play in the field everyday will be a good thing. He’ll hit .330 this year but you won’t get 100 games out of him so draft him with caution.
Luis Castillo, 2B, Mets: Blah.
Gavin Floyd, P, White Sox: Talk about lucky. This guy somehow skirted by last season with stuff that got hit around a lot. I don’t see him doing anything this year other than getting crushed all over the place. Stay away especially if your league counts WHIP.
Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees: I just don’t get why people continue to draft him so high every year. The only thing he brings to the table is batting average and even that has been on a steady decline (he’ll hit .280 this year). I don’t like him and I think he is an overrated fantasy player and an overrated baseball player. I hate Derek Jeter. There I said it.
Khalil Greene, SS, Cardinals: Ugh, a guy who will get you double digits in homers but hit in the low .200’s. Might as well throw Richie Sexson out there.
AJ Burnett, P, Yankees: Chronically injuried. A ton of money. Small market pitcher to the biggest market of them all. This has disaster written all over it. Wasn’t Mike Hampton available?
Edgar Renteria, SS, Giants: Bad signing for the Giants, bad draft pick for you. He’ll get you a .265 average with 8 homers.
Jon Garland, P, Diamondbacks: See Gavin Floyd.
Travis “Pronk” Hafner, DH, Indians: Plagued by injury and a loss of power. I don’t like using the “s” word to accuse players but it seems fitting here of someone who was on it and is now off it. I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with “pteroids.”
Nick Swisher, OF, Yankees: The only reason I say Swisher is because he doesn’t seem to have anywhere to play. The outfield is overcrowded by big names and big contracts and first base is out of the question now since the Tex signing. It’s like they signed him and then forgot about it until after their spending spree. I honestly can’t predict any stats for him because I don’t know how often he will see action and it’s too bad. Maybe he can learn third base to fill in for The Liar until his return.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: For starters, I don’t know how healthy he’ll be. But the main reason is his numbers are declining and is only eligible at DH. Most leagues use a utility position over a DH spot so really you can plug anyone in there. Another guy not to draft too high.
Jeff Francoeur, OF, Braves: I honestly can’t tell you if he remembers how to hit or not. He could hit a line of .220/.290/.350 with 10 homers and 60 RBI just as easily as he could hit .280/.330/.450 with 30 homers and 100 RBI. The problem is I don’t think there’s much of a happy medium here and it will be one extreme or another. Let’s hope it’s not another Andruw Jones situation. Speaking of…
Andruw Jones, OF, Rangers: I know some of you are trying to catch lightening in a bottle, but look elsewhere because his career is done. He can’t hit anything at the plate as his approach has gone from bad to worse. You won’t see him in the majors this season so don’t waste the roster spot.
Any Detroit Tigers Pitchers: I don’t like any of their starters and I don’t like any of their relievers. Don’t agree? Prove me wrong. Good luck as not one has done anything in the past year and a half worth owning. Go on, try it.
Barry Zito, P, Giants: Because a.) he sucks and b.) he is/was dating Paris Hilton. I honestly don’t know which reason is a better one for you to keep him off your team. But either works.
By Matthew Whipps
“The Diamond Cutter“
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist