Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Starting Pitcher Rankings

How early should you draft starting pitchers in fantasy baseball?

The answer you get to that question will probably vary quite a bit from person to person, but there is a fairly consistent strategy I've used in drafting my teams. Typically, I will look to add one elite pitcher, a top-five (or so) starter, within the first five rounds. After I draft my "ace," I will look to find one or two solid values in the 10-12 round range (or so) and then a few guys with lots of upside late in the draft.

Here are my top 40 starting pitchers for fantasy baseball in 2011:

1. Roy Halladay, Phillies: In the past three seasons, Halladay has posted sub-3.00 ERAs, struck out 200-plus batters and thrown nine complete games each season. During that span, Halladay has won 58 games, which doesn't include a post-season no-hitter in his first ever post-season start last year.

2. Tim Lincecum, Giants: Through four seasons, Lincecum has struck out 907 batters in 811 innings pitched. That's a career K/9 rate of 10.07. Lincecum, who's averaged 252.3 strikeouts per year over the past three seasons, is 248 away from tying Tom Seaver's record for most strikeouts in a pitcher's first five years during the modern era.

3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners: "King" Felix, who is more like a 2(a) in these rankings, won the A.L. Cy Young last year despite finishing with a 13-12 record due to poor run support. Hernandez struck out 232 batters and posted a 2.27 ERA in 249.2 innings last year.

4. Cliff Lee, Phillies: In 2010, Lee walked a total of 18 batters in 212.1 innings pitched, which was a league-best 0.76 walks per nine innings. Not surprisingly, Lee, who struck out 185 batters, led baseball in K/BB ratio (10.28) last year as well. In fact, Halladay, his new teammate, finished second in the category (7.30) while Jered Weaver finished third (4.31).

5. Jon Lester, Red Sox: Similar to Lincecum and Hernandez, Lester and Yankees' ace C.C. Sabathia are 5 and 5(a) in these rankings. In the past three seasons, Lester has posted an ERA under 3.50 each year while compiling a record of 50-23 during that span. In addition, he has struck out 450 batters in 411.1 innings over the past two seasons.

6. C.C. Sabathia, Yankees: By limiting the Cap'n Crunch this off-season, Sabathia was able to shed 25 pounds. Regardless, Sabathia has a 40-15 record in his two seasons in the Bronx with ERAs of 3.37 and 3.18, respectively.

7. Justin Verlander, Tigers: With the exception of 2008 (11-17 and 4.84 ERA), Verlander has won 17-plus games with a sub-4.00 ERA every year since 2006. He has 488 strikeouts in the past two seasons and posted a career-best ERA of 3.37 in 2010.

8. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw, who just turned 23 years old earlier this month, has finished with a sub-3.00 ERA for two consecutive seasons in addition to setting career highs in wins (13) and strikeouts (212) last year. The sky's the limit for the former high school teammate of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

9. Tommy Hanson, Braves: Hanson, who is only 24 years old, has put up solid back-to-back seasons. In his first full season, Hanson struggled a bit in the first half last year, but he finished strong (2.51 ERA after the All-Star break).

10. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: While 2007 and 2008 were wiped out due to injury, Carpenter has finished with an ERA under 3.50 in his other five seasons with the Cardinals. In the past two seasons, Carpenter has compiled a record of 33-13 and finished with ERAs of 2.24 and 3.22, respectively.

11. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies: In his first 14 starts last year, Jimenez allowed more than two earned runs only once (three earned runs vs. the Blue Jays on June 11th). Before the All-Star break, Jimenez won 15 of his 18 starts and posted an ERA of only 2.20. After the break, he finished with a record of 4-7 and 3.80 ERA. That said, he made year-over-year improvements in strikeouts, wins and ERA in the past two seasons.

12. Josh Johnson, Marlins: Johnson led all of baseball in home runs allowed per nine innings with a ratio of 0.34. Johnson only started 28 games, however, because he was shut down for the last month of the 2010 season. That said, he posted career bests in ERA (2.30), K/9 (9.11) and BB/9 (2.35).

13. Cole Hamels, Phillies: Hamels bounced back nicely in 2010 by posting a career high in strikeouts (211) and a career low in ERA (3.06). And he was even better after the All-Star break (2.23 ERA and 9.68 K/9) and in the post-season (1.20 ERA and 10.20 K/9).

14. Dan Haren, Angels: Haren actually had better splits after he was traded to the American League last year. In 14 starts with the Angels, Haren finished with an ERA of 2.87 and a WHIP of 1.16 (versus 4.60 and 1.35, respectively, with the Diamondbacks). That said, his K/9 rate dropped from 9.00 in Arizona to 7.18 with Los Angeles.

15. Francisco Liriano, Twins: Last year, Liriano bounced back with career highs in wins (14) and strikeouts (201). While switching to Target Field may not be a welcome move for the team's hitters, it helped Liriano set a career low in HR/9 of 0.42, which was the fourth lowest in baseball.

16. Jered Weaver, Angels: Last year, Weaver finished sixth in baseball in K/9 ratio (a career-high 9.35) among qualified leaders. Weaver also set career bests in innings (224.1), strikeouts (233), BB/9 ratio (2.17) and HR/9 ratio (0.92).

17. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers: Gallardo, who turned 25 in February, has recorded 200-plus strikeouts and sub-4.00 ERAs in back-to-back seasons.

18. Roy Oswalt, Phillies: After Oswalt was acquired from the Astros, he was 7-1 with an ERA of 1.74 and WHIP of 0.90. While his peripherals were good before the trade (3.42 ERA and 1.11 WHIP), Oswalt was only 6-12 in 20 starts with Houston.

19. Matt Cain, Giants: Who was the "dark horse" candidate for N.L. Cy Young by Yahoo!'s Steve Henson? Considering where I'm asking this question, you surely know the answer (whether you or I agree with Henson or not). Despite having a career ERA of 3.45, however, Cain has an all-time record of 57-62 and has yet to win more than 14 games or strike out more than 186 batters in a season. In other words, I can see Cain finishing with about 15 wins, 180 strikeouts and and ERA of 3.25 (but no Cy Young).

20. Zack Greinke, Brewers: The good news is Greinke should have much better run support when he pitches in 2011 in addition to getting the opportunity to pitch to pitchers (and boost his strikeout rate). That said, we will have to wait to see that as Greinke, who will begin the season on the disabled list, might be out for all of April.

21. David Price, Rays
22. Mat Latos, Padres
23. Max Scherzer, Tigers
24. Brett Anderson, A's
25. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
26. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros
27. Jonathan Sanchez, Giants
28. Matt Garza, Cubs
29. Tim Hudson, Braves
30. Shaun Marcum, Brewers
31. Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays
32. Gio Gonzalez, A's
33. Ted Lilly, Dodgers
34. Madison Bumgarner, Giants
35. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
36. Brett Myers, Astros
37. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
38. Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
39. Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks
40. John Danks, White Sox

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

See our fantasy rankings for everyday players: C - 1B - 2B - SS - 3B - OF

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Outfielder Rankings

Our top three fantasy outfielders in 2011 are the same top three fantasy outfielders that most other sites have in their top three. However, I've seen all three in the top spot at a relatively even split. In an ideal world, I'd like to get my No. 1 outfielder as the third outfielder off the board.

Here are our top 50 outfielders in fantasy baseball for 2011:

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers: Although Braun hit a career-low 25 home runs in 2010, he has 90-plus runs, 97-plus runs batted in and 14-plus steals every year. Plus, he has hit .300-plus in three out of four seasons.

2. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: What a breakout season it was for Gonzalez! Despite missing 15 games, he finished with a line of .336-111-34-117-26. As solid as he was across the board, CarGo played much better at Coors Field (.380, 26 homers, 76 RBIs) than on the road (.289, eight homers, 41 RBIs) in 2010.

3. Carl Crawford, Red Sox: Crawford set career highs in runs scored (110), home runs (19) and runs batted in (90) last year in Tampa. In the past five years, Crawford has hit over .300 four times. And with the exception of his 109-game season in 2008, Crawford has stolen 46-plus bases every year since 2003.

4. Matt Holliday, Cardinals: Excluding his .290 batting average in his rookie season (.290), Holliday's full-year batting averages have been .300-plus every year. While he's unlikely to ever steal 28 bases again (as he did in 2008), Holliday will help in all counting numbers to the tune of roughly 95-100 runs, 100-110 runs batted in, 25-30 homers and 10-15 steals.

5. Matt Kemp, Dodgers: Other than a small year-over-year increase in home runs (26 to 28), Kemp's numbers declined across the board in 2010 from 2009. After three straight seasons hitting .290-plus, his average plummeted to .249. In addition, he saw year-over-year declines in runs scored (97 to 82), runs batted in (101 to 89) and stolen bases (34 to 19).

6. Josh Hamilton, Rangers: When projecting Hamilton's fantasy value, the first thing you need to take into consideration is the number of games you expect him to play. Even so, he can be highly productive when he misses plenty of games as he proved last year by being named the A.L. MVP despite missing almost 30 games.

7. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: In 2010, three players hit .300-plus, hit 20-plus home runs and stole 20-plus bases: Florida's Hanley Ramirez, Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Choo. For Choo, he's done so in back-to-back seasons (his only two where he has played 100-plus games).

8. Nelson Cruz, Rangers: Over the past two seasons, Cruz has missed 88 games but he still managed to hit 55 home runs and steal 37 bases during that span. That's a 162-game pace of 37 home runs and 25 steals.

9. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Upton, the number one overall draft pick in 2005, is still only 23 years old and undoubtedly has plenty of upside. Over the past two years, Upton have averaged 21.5 home runs and 19 steals despite averaging only 135.5 games. With good health, Upton should easily reach 20-20 with the potential for 30-25.

10. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: Like Justin Upton, McCutchen was a high first-round pick in 2005 and has plenty of upside. As a 23-year-old, McCutchen finished with a line of .286-94-16-56-33. Since he'll start the season batting third in the Pirates' lineup, McCutchen should see his RBIs increase by a significant amount over last year's 56.

11. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: Since Ichiro won't help you in home runs and runs batted in, his value is tied to how well he performs in the batting average and steals categories. Over the past four seasons, he's had two seasons with .350-plus batting averages and two seasons with 40-plus steals. Only if he could do both in the same season (which he hasn't since 2001 and likely won't) ...

12. Jayson Werth, Nationals: Werth will play half of his games in Washington instead of Philadelphia, which is a bit of a concern, in 2011. That said, I can see a season of .275-100-25-100-15 (or close to it) for Werth.

13. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: Although there's virtually no chance that he duplicates his 54-homer performance from 2010, Bautista could hit 35 or so homers with 100 runs batted in. Even better, he also has position eligibility at third base.

14. Jason Heyward, Braves: Heyward, who will turn 22 years old in August, hit .301 after the All-Star break in his rookie season last year. This spring, Heyward has been hitting the ball well (.356 average over 18 games). I see a line of .290-90-25-90-10 for Heyward in 2011.

15. Hunter Pence, Astros: Pence set career highs in runs scored (93), runs batted in (91) and stolen bases (18) in addition to tying his existing career high in home runs (25) in 2010. With a solid average (career .287 hitter), Pence should help in all categories at a very fair price.

16. Alex Rios, White Sox: There were 38 outfielders that hit 20-plus home runs in 2010. There were 15 outfielders that stole 30-plus bases in 2010. There were only two that did both -- Rios and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs. The worry about Rios is his inconsistency and 15 (of his 21) home runs and 23 (of his 34) stolen bases came before the All-Star break.

17. Andre Ethier, Dodgers: Ethier got off to a hot start (.392 average, 11 homers and 38 runs batted in through 33 games) before fracturing his right pinky finger, which he feels bothered him after he came back too soon from the injury. He still managed to finish the season with a .292 average, 23 home runs and 82 runs batted in despite missing 23 games.

18. Mike Stanton, Marlins: Between Double-A and the Marlins, Stanton hit 43 home runs and 111 runs batted in combined. Stanton has big-time power and could come close to hitting 40 homers in his first full season in the big leagues. (Take our poll on how many home runs Stanton will hit in 2011.)

19. Jay Bruce, Reds: Bruce, who will turn 24 in April, hit .281 -- .338 from August to October -- with 25 home runs last season. As's John Schlegel points out, Bruce has hit more home runs (68) than any other player his age and he ranks 41st all-time for most home runs in his first three seasons.

20. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: As the Red Sox leadoff hitter, Ellsbury should hit for a good average and rack up a ton of steals and runs. If you're a glass-half-empty kind-of guy, he won't do much to help in the power categories.

21. B.J. Upton, Rays: In the past two seasons, Upton has hit .241 or less. On a positive note, however, Upton has stolen 40-plus bases for three consecutive seasons. In addition, he hit 18 home runs last year while setting a career high in doubles (38). Had a couple of those doubles been homers, he would have been the only 20-40 outfielder last season.

22. Delmon Young, Twins: Young, baseball's top overall draft pick in 2003, hit nearly .300 (.298, to be exact) while setting career highs in home runs (21) and runs batted in (112) last year.

23. Chris Young, Diamondbacks: Young set career highs in runs scored (94), runs batted in (91), stolen bases (28) and batting average (.257) while belting 27 home runs. Provided the composition of your team will help you withstand the negative impact Young will have on your team's batting average, Young will help you all other categories.

24. Shane Victorino, Phillies: From 2006 to 2009, Victorino hit .281 or better every season. Although his batting average slipped to .259 in 2010, it was also the only season since 2006 in which his BABIP was below .300. Expect a bounce-back in average for the Flyin' Hawaiian, who has averaged 92 runs, 14 homers and 33 steals over the past four seasons.

25. Drew Stubbs, Reds: While Stubbs won't help any in batting average, Stubbs was one of only two outfielders to hit 20-plus home runs and steal 30-plus bases in 2010, as noted above.

26. Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
27. Corey Hart, Brewers
28. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
29. Nick Markakis, Orioles
30. Carlos Lee, Astros
31. Torii Hunter, Angels
32. Bobby Abreu, Angels
33. Adam Jones, Orioles
34. Michael Bourn, Astros
35. Ben Zobrist, Rays
36. Juan Pierre, White Sox
37. Carlos Quentin, White Sox
38. Vernon Wells, Angels
39. Brett Gardner, Yankees
40. Nick Swisher, Yankees
41. Aubrey Huff, Giants
42. Grady Sizemore, Indians
43. Jason Bay, Mets
44. Rajai Davis, Blue Jays
45. Michael Cuddyer, Twins
46. Carlos Beltran, Mets
47. Chris Coghlan, Marlins
48. Denard Span, Twins
49. Manny Ramirez, Rays
50. Tyler Colvin, Cubs

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

See our fantasy rankings for infielders: C - 1B - 2B - SS - 3B

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Third Basemen Rankings

Third base isn't exceptionally deep, but a couple of solid options (Boston's Kevin Youkilis and Seattle's Chone Figgins) will earn eligibility at the position in April.

Here are our top 15 fantasy third basemen for 2011:

1. Evan Longoria, Rays: Everywhere you look, Longoria will likely be the top-ranked fantasy third baseman and you'll likely need a top-five to have the chance to draft him. As the third-overall pick in the 2006 draft, Longoria is still only 25 years old with plenty of upside. In other words, a season of .294-100-33-113-15, which are his career highs, (or better) is certainly possible in 2011. (And hopefully there won't be any more stolen AK-47 stories this year.)

2. David Wright, Mets: After a disappointing 2009 season, Wright was shy of a 30-20 season by exactly one home run and one stolen base. By hitting a career-low .283 last year, Wright ended a streak of five consecutive seasons of hitting .300-plus. In other words, if things fall into place, Wright has as good of a chance as any third basemen to finish with a line of .300-100-30-100-20.

3. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals: Zimmerman missed 20 games last season, but he set career highs in home runs (33), runs scored (110) and runs batted in (106) while playing 157 games in 2009. Although he won't steal many bases, he will provide a boost in all of the other four categories.

4. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: A year older? Who isn't, right? Granted, A-Rod is nowhere near the all-around fantasy stud he once was and he hasn't played more than 138 games in any of the past three seasons. That said, Rodriguez has posted 30-plus homers and 100-plus runs batted in every season since 1998 including in the past three seasons. In my opinion, he's sliding to a point where he could out to be a bargain in most drafts.

5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Although he's not yet eligible at third base, he will be at some point in April depending on your league's eligibility requirements. Here's what I wrote about Youkilis in our first base rankings, where he's No. 7: "Over the past five seasons, Youkilis has not played more than 147 games in any year. Provided he stays healthy for a full season, Youkilis could/should put up around or more than 100 runs, 100 runs batted in, 30 homers while hitting .300."

6. Adrian Beltre, Rangers: Beltre, who turns 32 years old in April, is now entering his 14th season in the big leagues. Only twice in his 13 years has he hit over .300 with 28-plus home runs and 100-plus runs batted in. Coincidentally, both of those seasons happened before getting a big contract. While he has the skills to do it a third time in his career in 2011, I'd like to see back-to-back strong seasons from Beltre before I'm a buyer at these prices.

7. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: Bautista led all of baseball in home runs last year with 54, which is nearly equal to his home run output from 2004 to 2009 (59 home runs total). While a repeat performance is highly unlikely, there's a good chance that he can follow up last year's league-leading performance with 35-40 homers in 2011.

8. Casey McGehee, Brewers: Only two other third basemen -- Longoria and A-Rod -- have more runs batted in than McGehee (149) since July 1, 2010. While he won't steal bases, like most third basemen won't, McGehee will help in the other four statistical categories in standard 5x5 categories at a very reasonable cost.

9. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: Last year, Ramirez hit only .241, which was lowest batting average since 2002. From 2004 to 2009, Ramirez hit .289 or higher every season including .300-plus in four out of six seasons. Although Ramirez only played 124 games last year, he drove in 100-plus runs in all five seasons in which he has played 125-plus games since 2003. Provided he can stay healthy, a bounce-back season seems reasonable.

10. Pablo Sandoval, Giants: Sandoval broke out in 2009 -- hitting .330 with 25 home runs and 90 runs batted in. Although he had a disappointing season in 2010, Sandoval is only 24 years old, lost a substantial amount of weight in the off-season and shortened his swing. Based on his average draft position of 127 from Mock Draft Central, Sandoval seems to offer more reward than risk this season.

11. Pedro Alvarez, Pirates: There's no doubt that Alvarez has tremendous upside and potential. Although Alvarez struck out in 34.3 percent of his major league at bats last year, he combined for 29 home runs and 117 runs batted in between Triple-A and the big leagues.

12. Martin Prado, Braves: Prado, who played mostly second base and some third base last year, is moving to left field for the Braves and soon will be eligible at three fantasy positions. In a career-high 140 games last season, Prado hit .307 and 15 home runs with 100 runs scored.

13. Michael Young, Rangers: Young, who is a career .300 hitter, hit 20 home runs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 2004 and 2005 seasons. While he may or may not hit 20-plus homers in three straight seasons for the first time in his career, Young is one of the more consistent hitters in the game.

14. Mark Reynolds, Orioles: The good news? Reynolds is the only player in baseball to hit 100-plus home runs and steal 40-plus bases during the past three seasons. The bad news? He's hit .234 during that span while striking out an average of 213 times per season.

15. Ian Stewart, Rockies: Stewart isn't going to win a batting title any time soon and missed about a quarter of the 2010 season. But with good health, Stewart has the power to hit 25-30 home runs in an offense that features two of baseball's elite hitters: Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

See our other fantasy rankings for infielders: C - 1B - 2B - SS

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Shortstop Rankings

The top two fantasy shortstops are two of the best options in all of fantasy baseball, regardless of position. After Florida's Hanley Ramirez and Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki are gone, however, major question marks exist with many of the rest.

Here are our top 15 fantasy shortstops for 2011:

1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins: Ramirez has hit .300-plus and 20-plus home runs in each of the past four seasons. In addition, HanRam has stolen 30-plus bases in four of five seasons. The ceiling? A season of .342-125-33-106-51 (BA-R-HR-RBI-SB) would tie all of his career highs.

2. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: Tulowitzki is one season removed from a 30-20 season. Despite missing one-quarter of last season, Tulo still managed to hit 27 home runs with 95 runs batted in while hitting .315. While he's the second-rated shortstop on our list, Tulowitzki could be one of the top three or four overall players selected in your draft based on average draft position from Mock Draft Central.

3. Jose Reyes, Mets: From 2005 to 2008, Reyes stole 58-plus bases per season while missing only 15 games during that four-year span. Over the last two seasons, Reyes has stolen 41 bases in 169 games. With a new contract on the line, how many steals and games will we see from Reyes in 2011?

4. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Over the past three seasons, Rollins has missed 106 games. While he likely won't duplicate his 2009 numbers (21 homers and 31 steals), it wouldn't surprise me to see Rollins finish with 15 home runs and 25 steals (or better).

5. Derek Jeter, Yankees: The good news? Jeter posted double-digit homers and steals for the 15th consecutive season. The bad news? Jeter hit only .270, his lowest average during that 15-year span, and only ten home runs, which ties a low during that span. Jeter will likely score more runs and hit for a higher average than Rollins while Rollins will likely hit more home runs and steal more bases.

6. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox: Through his first three seasons, Ramirez has been remarkably consistent in the five standard categories in 5x5 leagues. Career lows for Ramirez: .277 average, 65 runs, 15 home runs, 68 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases. Career highs: .290 average, 83 runs, 21 home runs, 77 runs batted in and 14 stolen bases.

7. Elvis Andrus, Rangers: In each of his first two seasons, Andrus has stolen 30-plus bases. But hamstring issues slowed him down last year as he had 18 of his 32 steals in the first two months of the season.

8. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks: At a position with a scarcity of power, Drew is one of a handful of shortstops with 20-homer potential and he had double-digit steals last year. If you're league rewards for triples, Drew has finished in the top three in the category in each of the past three seasons.

9. Rafael Furcal, Dodgers: Over the past three seasons, Furcal has missed a total of 203 games including 65 of them in 2010. On a positive note, Furcal stole 22 bases, which is his highest output since 2007 (25 steals) and he enters a walk year.

10. Starlin Castro, Cubs: As a 20-year-old, Castro hit exactly .300 in his rookie season. Through 20 spring games, Castro is hitting .344 with four home runs and 15 runs batted in. Although he has four homers this spring, he hit only three in 125 games (463 at bats) last season.

11. Ian Desmond, Nationals: In his first full season with the Nationals, Desmond had double-digit home runs and steals with ten and 17, respectively. Desmond hit higher after the All-Star break (.283) than before it (.255) so a season with a .280 average, 15 home runs and 20 steals seems reasonable.

12. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: Cabrera failed to play 100 games last season due to a broken forearm, but he's having a great spring, for what it's worth. Through 17 spring games, Cabrera it hitting .385 with three home runs, 12 runs and four steals. He won't help in homers, but when he played 131 games in 2009, he hit .308 with 81 runs scored, 68 runs batted in and 17 steals.

13. Erick Aybar, Angels: Aybar won't help much at all in the power categories, but he stole a career-high 22 bases last year and hit a career-high .312 the year before that. If he hits .300 with 20-plus steals, he's a solid value at this spot.

14. Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays: Escobar entered 2010 as a career .301 hitter while coming off career highs in runs (89), home runs (14) and runs batted in (76). However, last season was mostly a year that Escobar would like to forget as he posted career lows in batting average (.256) and home runs (four) while driving in only 35 runs. Perhaps a higher post-trade average in Toronto (.275) over his average in Atlanta (.238) bodes well for a bounce-back in 2011.

15. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: Although Peralta is struggling this spring (.206 with no home runs or runs batted in through 21 games), you can do worse than get 15 homers and 81 runs batted in from a late-round shortstop as he put up last season. In addition to shortstop, he's eligible at third base, another talent-scarce position. Since 2005, Peralta has driven in 68-plus runs every season with 81-plus in each of the past three. During that same span, he has belted 20-plus homers three times.

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

Mat Latos to start season on DL

Padres general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed that pitcher Mat Latos will start the season on the disabled list.

He’s turned a corner on this thing,” manager Bud Black said Monday, per Don Norcross of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Our medical staff feels good about where this is.”

Latos, who last pitched on March 21st and experienced shoulder pain two days later, will go on the DL retroactive to March 22nd, which means he will be eligible to return as early as April 6th.

Per Norcross, Latos said that his shoulder has felt good the past two days and he'll throw tomorrow.

Last year, Latos finished with a 14-10 record and an ERA of 2.92 and 189 strikeouts. However, he lost his last five starts and allowed 20 earned runs in 22 innings during that span.

Previously, the Padres announced that Tim Stauffer would start Opening Day against the Cardinals on Thursday.

Who stole Evan Longoria's AK-47?

With the departure of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Jason Bartlett in the off-season, the Tampa Bay Rays lost a lot of (proverbial) firepower.

Apparently, Evan Longoria, the team's biggest star, lost some firepower, literally. Well, technically, he didn't lose it.

It was stolen.

When the house that Longoria, David Price and Reid Brignac were renting was robbed over the weekend, one of the items stolen was Longoria's AK-47.

"It's a personal item," Longoria said, per Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. "Obviously they're going to say things that are taken. I think everything within the house is personal and we'll just leave it at that."

According to Topkin, the sheriff's department says the rifle is "perfectly legal" so it doesn't appear that Longoria will be in any legal trouble.

Longoria, who is the consensus top third baseman in fantasy baseball, hit .294 with 22 homers, 104 runs batted in and 15 steals in 2010.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Matt Holliday (toe) was a late scratch vs. Mets Sunday

In today's game versus the Mets, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday was a late scratch with a sore big toe.

"It's not worth playing," Holliday said, per's Matthew Leach. "I could have played if it was a game that meant something. But I figured since I've played 17 out of the last 18 games, I could stand to sit one."

Per Leach, manager Tony La Russa won't necessarily rush Holliday back into the lineup for the team's exhibition games on Monday and Tuesday. La Russa's main concern is for Holliday to be available for Opening Day (Thursday against the Padres).

In his first full season with the Cards, Holliday hit .312 and 28 home runs with 103 runs batted in last year.

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Second Basemen Rankings

The biggest question at second base heading into the 2011 season is what will fantasy owners get from Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.

When healthy and at his best, Utley is elite. He has posted career highs in the standard five rotisserie categories, as follows: .332-131-33-105-23.

The problem is the health, or lack thereof, of Utley's knee, which will likely land him on the disabled list to start the season. From a fantasy perspective, the bigger worry is that improvement in his knee seems to be moving a snail's pace. How soon will he be back? Will the injury linger and affect his performance when he's back on the field?

Here are our top 15 fantasy second basemen for 2011:

1. Robinson Cano, Yankees: With the exception of stolen bases, Cano puts up elite stats across the board at a relatively weak position. Cano, who set career highs in home runs (29) and runs batted in (109) in 2010, has the second-most hits in all of baseball over the past two seasons.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: In addition to hitting over .300 for his career, Pedroia gives fantasy owners the potential for a 15-20 season. Despite missing half of last year, Pedroia ranks tenth in the majors in runs scored (286) from 2008 to 2010.

3. Dan Uggla, Braves: At a position where power hitters are less common, Uggla has a been a model of consistency when it comes to power. In each of the past four seasons, Uggla has hit 31-33 home runs and has driven in 90-plus runs including a career-high 105 last season. But will you get his career-low .243 (2009) or career-high .287 (2010) batting average? Although he's a career .354 hitter in his new home ballpark (Turner Field), the answer likely falls somewhere in between that range.

4. Ian Kinsler, Rangers: The biggest knock on Kinsler is playing time (123.6 games per season over past five years). If healthy, Kinsler has the potential to put up elite numbers. For example, when he played a career-high 144 games (2009), Kinsler hit 31 homers and stole 31 bases.

5. Brandon Phillips, Reds: For the first time in four seasons, Phillips failed to have a 20-20 season. In 2010, he finished with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases. The majority of Phillips' at-bats in 2010 came at one of the top two spots of the lineup after mostly batting cleanup in 2009. The effect? His runs batted in dropped from 98 in 2009 to a five-year low of 59 in 2010.

6. Chase Utley, Phillies: Two seasons removed from a 30-20 season, Utley will most likely begin the 2011 season on the disabled list after missing a total of 47 games last year. If he were healthy, Utley would be second on this list.

7. Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Speaking of health, Weeks played an average of 95 games per season from 2005 through 2009 before playing a career-high 160 games last year. Naturally, he set career-highs in runs scored (112), hits (175), home runs (29) and runs batted in (83) in 2010. The only way he approaches those numbers again is if he can stay healthy for two seasons in a row. Before last year, he hadn't done that for one season in a row.

8. Martin Prado, Braves: Prado, who played mostly second base and some third base last year, is moving to left field for the Braves and soon will be eligible at three fantasy positions. In a career-high 140 games last season, Prado hit .307 and 15 home runs with 100 runs scored.

9. Gordon Beckham, White Sox: After hitting 14 homers with 63 runs batted in over 103 games in his rookie season, Beckham seemed poised for a breakout season last year. The eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft got off to an incredibly slow start in 2010, but he picked up the pace as he hit .310 after the All-Star break. Beckham, who will bat second for the White Sox this season, is a guy I've targeted in most of my drafts this year.

10. Ben Zobrist, Rays: Like Prado, Zobrist has multi-position eligibility as a second baseman and outfielder (and first baseman in Yahoo! leagues). After a breakout season in 2009 (.297-91-27-91-17), Zobrist really struggled down the stretch last season. After the All-Star break, Zobrist hit only .177 and hit .200 or lower per month from July to October. On a positive note, Zobrist stole a career-high 24 bases in 2010 and will likely have even more base-stealing opportunities as the team's leadoff hitter.

11. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays: Not only did Hill have the lowest BABIP (.196) of his career, it was the lowest in all of baseball. Even with the horrible BABIP and batting average (.205), Hill still managed to hit 26 home runs in 2010.

12. Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks: In his first season with the Diamondbacks, Johnson set career highs in runs (93), hits (166), home runs (26), runs batted in (71) and stolen bases (13) in 2010. Johnson hit .311 with 16 of his 26 home runs at Chase Field last year.

13. Howie Kendrick, Angels: The direction of his batting averages over the past four seasons isn't what you'd like to see: .322 (2007), .306 (2008), .291 (2009) and .279 (2010). That said, he set career highs in several counting statistics: runs scored (67), runs batted in (75), stolen bases (14) and tied his career high in home runs (ten).

14. Chone Figgins, Mariners: Since 2004, Figgins has stolen 30-plus bases every season. In five of the past six seasons, he has stolen 40-plus bases. Figgins is having a good spring (.349 average and four steals in 16 games).

15. Brian Roberts, Orioles: When healthy, Roberts has provided fantasy owners with lots of runs and stolen bases and a decent batting average. Before missing 100-plus games in 2010, Roberts stole 30-plus bases for four consecutive seasons although he went from 50 (2007) to 40 (2008) to 30 (2009).

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 First Basemen Rankings

Without question, first base is the deepest position for everyday players. The top seven or eight first basemen will likely be drafted in the first two rounds of your 12-team league.

Some players on our list played 10-19 games at first base in 2010, which means the player may or may not qualify as a first baseman in your league. For example, Yahoo! leagues require a player to appear in at least ten games at that position in the previous year. For ESPN leagues, the requirement is 20-plus games.

Based on lower eligibility requirements, first base is even deeper for participants in Yahoo! leagues than those participating in ESPN leagues.

Here are the top 20 fantasy first basemen for 2011:

1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals: Through ten seasons, Pujols has had career lows of .312 batting average (2010), 32 home runs (2007) and 103 runs batted in (2007). While that is the worst-case scenario, a typical (average) season for the career .331 hitter is 41 home runs and 123 runs batted in.

2. Joey Votto, Reds: While first base is loaded with talent, Votto finished no lower than top-five in all five standard rotisserie categories. The reigning N.L. MVP set career-highs in runs scored (106), home runs (37), runs batted in (113), steals (17) and batting average (.324) as well.

3. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: During his five years as a Padre, Gonzalez hit .267 and 57 home runs (one per 24.7 at bats) with 201 runs batted in at home. On the road, however, Gonzalez hit .307 and 104 home runs (one per 15.1 at bats) with 300 runs batted in. The change of scenery can only do Gonzalez some good despite finishing 2010 with an average of .298, 31 home runs and 101 runs batted in.

4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: Over the past three seasons, only two first basemen have hit over .300 with 100 home runs and 350 runs batted in: Cabrera and Pujols. If it weren't for his alcohol problems highlighted by his run-in with the law in February, Cabrera would have been ranked ahead of all first basemen not named Albert Pujols.

5. Mark Teixeira, Yankees: Teixeira, who hit a career-low .256 in 2010, hit .280-plus every season and over .300 three times from 2004 to 2009. With seven consecutive seasons of 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs, you know what you'll get in the power department from Teixeira. But will Teixeira hit .256, .280 or .300?

6. Prince Fielder, Brewers: Last year, Fielder set a four-year low in home runs (32) and runs batted in (83) while hitting a career-worse .261. The year before, Fielder set career highs in runs batted in (141) and average (.299) while posting the second-highest homer total (46) of his career. Splitting the difference would be 39 home runs, 112 runs batted in and a .280 average. Sounds good to me.

7. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Over the past five seasons, Youkilis has not played more than 147 games in any year. Provided he stays healthy for a full season, Youkilis could/should put up around or more than 100 runs, 100 runs batted in, 30 homers while hitting .300. His bigger value will come once he gains eligibility at the much more talent-scarce position of third base.

8. Ryan Howard, Phillies: Over the past five years, no player has more home runs (229) or runs batted in (680) than Howard. In addition, Howard leads the majors in strikeouts (922) during that span.

9. Adam Dunn, White Sox: From 2004 to 2010, Dunn has hit 38-plus home runs and driven in 100-plus runs six times (the 'off' season of 2006 was 92 RBIs). Trading in a half-season of games in Washington for U.S. Cellular Field can't hurt Dunn's power production and it wouldn't surprise me to see Dunn lead baseball in home runs. However, will he hit .260-plus for a third straight season?

10. Justin Morneau, Twins: Although he hasn't played a regular-season game since suffering a concussion in July, a full season from a healthy Morneau would make him a huge bargain at this spot. Morneau played exactly one-half of a season (81 games) last year and hit .345 with 18 home runs and 56 runs batted in. Before last season, Morneau drove in 100-plus runs for four straight years and hit 30-plus homers in three of those seasons.

11. Buster Posey, Giants: As one of the top three catchers in our fantasy rankings, however, you will more likely use Posey as your team's catcher despite his eligibility at first base. Manager Bruce Bochy has stated that Posey will get full days off when he's not catching, which means a season of around 135 games. That said, Posey should hit around .300 and 20 home runs in 2011.

12. Billy Butler, Royals: If there's one thing you can bank on from Butler, it's his strong batting average. Whether we see a power surge from Butler remains to be seen, but he's only 24 years old and has hit the most doubles (96) in baseball over the past two years combined. If only he could turn a few of those doubles into homers ...

13. Pablo Sandoval, Giants: With 11 games logged at first base in 2010, Sandoval may be eligible at first base in your league. He disappointed in the follow-up performance to his breakout season of 2009 (.330 average, 25 homers, 90 runs batted in). Sandoval, who is only 24 years old, could be primed for a bounce-back season after losing weight in the off-season and shortening his swing.

14. Paul Konerko, White Sox: It's unlikely that Konerko will duplicate his 2010 numbers (.312 average, 39 home runs and 111 runs batted in). Then again, only five other players hit .300-30-100 or better last season. Three of those other five were first basemen: Pujols, Cabrera and Votto.

15. Kendry Morales, Angels: Morales, who will begin the 2011 season on the disabled list, hasn't played a game since May 29th. In his only full season or close to it (152 games), Morales hit .306 with 34 home runs and 108 runs batted in.

16. Carlos Lee, Astros: Ending a four-year streak of hitting .300-plus, Lee posted a career-low batting average (.246) while hitting only 24 home runs (lowest total since 2001) with 89 runs batted in (lowest since 2002). Considering Lee also had his lowest BABIP (.238) of his career in 2010, an improvement over last season seems reasonable.

17. Aubrey Huff, Giants: Last year, Huff hit .290 with 26 home runs and 86 runs batted in. Huff, who is a career .283 hitter, should hit relatively close to .290 again although I would be surprised to see him exceed his home run total from 2010.

18. Carlos Pena, Cubs: The good news? Pena will go yard in one out of every 13.4 (or so) at bats, which was his average during his four years in Tampa. The bad news? He got a hit in less than every five at bats last season. (Take small consolation in the fact that only Aaron Hill had a lower BABIP in all of baseball than Pena last year.) The moderate news? He was tied for 11th in baseball in walks (87) last year so his on-base percentage isn't horrible if that helps you.

19. Adam Lind, Blue Jays: After a breakout season in 2009 (.305 average, 35 homers, 114 runs batted in), Lind disappointed fantasy owners in 2010 (.237-23-72). Not only did he hit .174 and .156 last May and June, respectively, but he hit only one home run in 90 at bats during June. Perhaps his better second-half performance and solid spring (hitting .341 through 16 games) bodes well for Lind.

20. Adam LaRoche, Nationals: LaRoche is a career .295 hitter that hits a homer every 18.3 at bats. In the second half, that is. LaRoche is notorious for his poor first-half performances (career .252 hitter and homer every 24.8 at bats before the All-Star break) and his (relative) strong performances (noted earlier) after the break.

As we noted above, first base is exceptionally deep. Players outside our top 20, such as Gaby Sanchez (Florida), Ike Davis (Mets), Mitch Moreland (Texas) and Brandon Belt (San Francisco) as a few examples, of players with upside that are viable fantasy options.

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Catcher Rankings

Year in and year out, catcher has often been a talent-scarce position when it comes to fantasy baseball.

In 2011, that's not necessarily the case.

In my opinion, the top four fantasy catchers are head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, but there are plenty of options as you go deeper into the draft that can help (or, at least, won't hurt) your team.

Here are the top 15 catchers for 2011:

1. Joe Mauer, Twins: Although Mauer is the top option at catcher in fantasy baseball, the power he exhibited two seasons ago (28 home runs) was nearly wiped out by the team's move to Target Field. Mauer, the 2009 American League MVP, hit only nine home runs -- even worse, only one in 239 at bats at home -- in 2010. That said, Mauer has won 60 percent of the A.L. Batting Titles over the past five seasons.

In our opinion, who should be the No. 2 fantasy catcher is less clear-cut, which led us to set up this poll question and this discussion thread so let your voice be heard.

2. Victor Martinez, Tigers: Martinez, who was in Boston last year, led all catchers in runs batted in (79) while hitting over .300 (.302, to be precise) in 2010. Now that V-Mart is with Detroit, he is expected to see lots of, um, action as the team's designated hitter, which should boost his number of plate appearances.

3. Buster Posey, Giants: Posey, last year's NL Rookie of the Year, hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 runs batted in. Last season, Posey played 30 games at first base, but manager Bruce Bochy says that Posey will get a "complete day off" when he's not catching in 2011.

4. Brian McCann, Braves: During the span of the past three seasons, McCann leads all catchers in runs batted in (258) and is second in home runs (65) to Mike Napoli. That's the good news. The bad news is his batting average has slid in back-to-back seasons (.301 to .281 to .269).

5. Geovany Soto, Cubs: In the past three seasons, Soto has hit .280-plus twice with a sub-.220 season in between. During that span, Soto has averaged only 116 games per season and has hit one home run per 22.5 at bats. If he stays healthy and gets close to 500 at bats (as he did in 2008), a realistic line for Soto is .275-60-20-75.

6. Carlos Santana, Indians: A top ten prospect by Baseball America in 2010, Santana was called up in June and hit .345 with four homers and 15 runs batted in over 18 games that month. After June and before getting hurt, however, Santana hit only .207 with two home runs and seven runs batted in over 28 games. The sky's the limit for Santana, but there may be some bumps along the way for the young catcher.

7. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks: Montero missed roughly half the season in 2010 and hit only .222 (35 for 158) from August to October. In the previous season (2009), however, Montero hit .294 with 16 home runs in 128 games.

8. Matt Wieters, Orioles: In many instances, folks overreact to the hype. While Wieters has generally disappointed since being called up, he's still under 25 years old. There is time for him to develop into an elite fantasy catcher and he might actually be somewhat under the radar heading into 2011.

9. Mike Napoli, Rangers: Over the past three seasons, no catcher has hit more home runs (66) than Napoli, who lands in Texas (via Toronto) this off-season. After a couple of seasons with a respectable batting average (.270-plus), Napoli regressed last year to .238 (his lowest average since his rookie season). Although he hit over .300 versus lefties (.305), he hit only .208 against right-handers.

10. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics: Last season, Suzuki hit a career-low .242 although he ranked fourth amongst catchers in runs batted in (71). This off-season, the A's made a few free-agent acquisitions that should help take some pressure off Suzuki and help him bounce back. The question is how much? If it's to 2009 levels (.274 average with 15 home runs and 88 RBI), he's a huge bargain at where he's being drafted.

11. Jorge Posada, Yankees: The addition of Russell Martin will help Posada, who has played only 282 games over the past three seasons, keep from wearing down in 2011 as he's expected to mostly be the team's designated hitter. I expect his batting average to bounce back closer to his career average (.275) and excluding the 2008 season when he played only 51 games, Posada has hit 18-plus homers every year since 2000.

12. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: It's not too often that you get (nor do you look for) stolen bases from your catcher, but Molina has 17 of them over the past two seasons. Molina's batting average declined to .262 last year, but his cumulative batting average over the past three seasons is .286. Molina is a guy that likely won't hurt your roster while giving you something that you would least expect from this position.

13. Chris Iannetta, Rockies: Iannetta is the anti-Mauer. He's not going to win a batting title anytime soon, but he's close to a lock to provide you with 20-plus homers from the catcher position with the full-time job, which he now has. In 154 games over the past two seasons combined, Iannetta has hit only .216 but he also hit 25 home runs (in 477 at bats). That's one home run per every 19 at bats.

14. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays: Arencibia is another guy that will likely hurt you in batting average but help you in the power categories. Between Triple-A and a few games with the Jays last year, Arencibia hit a total of 34 home runs in 496 at bats.

15. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: Ruiz is the Adam LaRoche of the catcher position. In other words, his splits before and after the All-Star break tell a completely different story. Over the past three years, Ruiz has hit only .237 before the break, but he has hit .285 after the break. The contrast wasn't as great in 2010 (.283 and .316 splits, respectively).

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

Rangers name Neftali Feliz as its closer for 2011

Although he was scheduled to start against the Padres today, Rangers pitcher Neftali Feliz will instead come out of the bullpen.

Despite pitching well enough this spring to earn a spot in the rotation, manager Ron Washington believes Feliz will be of greater value to the team as its closer.

"That's exactly what I told him," Washington said, per T.R. Sullivan of "Right now, for our organization, we're better off with him in the bullpen. We haven't closed the door on him being a starter. We're just not ready yet."

The Rangers starting rotation will be C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland.

Feliz, who was named the A.L. Rookie of the Year, finished with 40 saves last year.

As expected, Chase Utley likely to begin season on DL

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is dealing with an assortment of issues with his right knee: patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation.

As most had expected, the team's general manager has confirmed that Utley will most likely begin the season on the disabled list (DL).

"We haven't seen him on the field yet and we're a week away," Ruben Amaro Jr said, per's Todd Zolecki. "It's likely he's not going to be making our club, at least not right now."

Even worse, it continues to appear as though his recovery will be on the longer side.

"Nothing new," Amaro said [of Utley's improvement]. "I think he feels better. We'll see. It's kind of a long-term process. It's not going to happen overnight."

Utley, who missed 47 games last season, is only two seasons removed from a 30-20 season in 2009.

And during the five-year span of 2005 to 2009, Utley had 100-plus runs and 100-plus runs batted in four times. (The two exceptions were 93 runs scored in 2005 and 93 RBIs in 2009.)

In ESPN fantasy baseball leagues, Utley has an average draft pick (ADP) of 63.9, which has dropped 10.6 spots over the past seven days.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Brian Wilson out with strained oblique

San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson has been shut down until at least Monday with a strained left oblique, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News.

Wilson, who will be reevaluated on Monday, said he expects to be ready for the season opener, which is less than two weeks away.

"I feel a lot better than I did Thursday and I'll feel a lot better tomorrow and Monday and we'll take it from there," Wilson said. "I wouldn't imagine the team is worried about me. They know the situation ... they know I'll be ready."

According to live draft results in ESPN fantasy leagues, Wilson is the first closer off the boards with an average draft position of 64.2.

As pointed out by Pavlovic, Giants manager Bruce Bochy listed Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo as the top candidates for save opportunities if Wilson isn't ready for Opening Day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Opening Day status in jeopardy for Kendry Morales?

The Major League Baseball season opens up two weeks from tomorrow for 12 teams including the Los Angeles Angels.

Who's on first for the Angels when the season opens remains to be seen.

Kendry Morales, who suffered a broken lower leg last May, was unable to run curves on the outfield grass on Tuesday as initially scheduled. However, manager Mike Scioscia refused to describe it as a setback.

"It's not a setback; there are just some plateaus guys hit," Scioscia said, per Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. "You can't force things. He's going to keep working, keep moving forward."

Until Morales is able to run the bases, he won't appear in spring games. And if Morales doesn't appear in games by this weekend, it's likely that he will begin the season on the disabled list (DL) with Mark Trumbo at first base.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A's closer Andrew Bailey to visit Dr. Andrews

Oakland A's closer Andrew Bailey left yesterday's game with discomfort in his right elbow and forearm and he'll pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday.

"Anytime you see someone leave the game with tightness, it's concerning," [A's manager Bob] Geren said, "but we'll reserve judgment until after he gets checked out."

That said, it's typically not good when a player makes a visit to Dr. Andrews.

Over the past two seasons, Bailey, who had surgery near the end of last season by Dr. Andrews, has a cumulative 1.70 ERA and 51 saves.

As Jane Lee of points out, if Bailey isn't ready at the beginning of the season, it's likely that Brian Fuentes would close until Bailey can. Fuentes led all of baseball with 48 saves in 2009.

[Update: Bailey has a forearm strain and no ligament/joint damage, per ESPN's Buster Olney.]

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wandy Rodriguez to miss Tuesday start with shoulder tendinitis

Per Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle, Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez has been scratched from his start on Tuesday due to a mild case of shoulder tendinitis.

It's not known when he will next pitch.

And as Levine points out, starting on April 2nd could become jeopardized if he doesn't heal quickly or if his rehab is thrown off schedule.

Last year, Rodriguez finished with a record of 11-12, 3.60 ERA and 178 strikeouts.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Andrew McCutchen left Friday's game with a sore wrist

Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen left yesterday's game against the Rays with a sore wrist.

James McDonald, the team's No. 3 starter, left the game with pain in his side within an inning of McCutchen.

Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, manager Clint Hurdle won't speculate on either injury, saying "We don't know. I don't talk about injuries. Normally, information doesn't get accurate until later on. I'm not a doctor."

Based on average draft position (ADP) from Mock Draft Central, McCutchen is the 12th outfielder and 42nd player off the boards in fantasy baseball drafts this year.

Last year, McCutchen hit 16 home runs and stole 33 bases while scoring 94 runs and hitting .286.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Zack Greinke to start season on DL

After an MRI revealed a hairline fracture in one of his ribs and a bruise in another, Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke is expected to miss the next two to four weeks and start the season on the disabled list.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted that Greinke will miss the first three starts of the season.

Greinke, who has made a couple of spring training appearances, suffered the injury a couple of weeks ago while playing basketball.

"I've been doing this for a couple of years now and people always said, 'You're going to get hurt.' It finally caught up to me, playing basketball," Greinke said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I was going up for a rebound and fell on the side. I was hoping it was just bruised. I had a lot of fun doing it but it wasn't worth it."

Greinke won the 2009 AL Cy Young award, but he finished with a record of 10-14, an ERA of 4.17 and 181 strikeouts last year. His ERA the All-Star break (4.72) was a full run higher than what it was before the break (3.71). Despite posting an ERA of 2.16 and striking out 242 batters in 2009, Greinke won only 16 games that year due to a lack of run support.

With the transition to the National League and to a team that should provide greater run support than he received in Kansas City, Greinke should bounce back in 2011 when he returns from injury.

According to Mock Draft Central, Greinke is currently the seventh pitcher and 46th player off the board in fantasy baseball drafts. If folks overreact to the injury news, however, it's possible that Greinke could become a bit of a bargain.