Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: Corey Hart Wears His Sunglasses At Night


Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. I hope you enjoyed our fantasy positional analysis which I concluded last week with the Starting Pitchers. By this time, many of you have already drafted your team and are now anxious for the start of the 2009 season. For those of you who are still waiting for draft day, please be sure to check out our positional breakdown.

Regardless of whether you’ve already drafted your team or not, I figured a useful article today would be about some players that are making some noise in Spring Training. While I know Spring Training is not always the best indicator of the upcoming season, I’ve found that trends that begin in Spring Training often do carryover into the regular season. With that being said, today I’m going to focus on a player at each position that is opening some eyes in Spring Training. While they may not merit an immediate waiver move or even a late-round pick, it’s never too early to try and grab this year’s Nate McLouth. Let’s get started and take it right around the horn.

Starting Pitcher

Sean Marshall (SP, Chicago Cubs): Marshall finds himself in a battle with Aaron Heilman for the fifth spot in the Cubs starting rotation. Both have pitched well in the spring but I expect Marshall to get the call to the rotation. He pitches for what should be a great team this season and his WHIP has decreased each year. Additionally, in most leagues he is still listed as a relief pitcher and because of that, you might be able to steal some starts from your reliever position.

Relief Pitcher

Manny Corpas (RP, Colorado Rockies): Much to the dismay of Rockies management, it seems as though Corpas has already pulled away as the favorite to serve as the Rockies closer. I hate to ever criticize a move by a GM but I saw this one coming a mile away. When healthy, Huston Street is an above average closer. The problem is that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for several years now. Even if Street does win the job out of Spring Training, it’s unfortunately only a matter of time before he finds himself on the DL again.

Catcher

Pablo Sandoval (C, San Francisco Giants): If you’re like SportsJudge founder Marc Edelman and have already done your homework, you’ll realize that Yahoo Sports is one of the few fantasy outlets that are still allowing Sandoval to have catcher eligibility. If you’re lucky enough to have Sandoval as your backstop, you are going to be able to steal some great numbers from the catcher position. Sandoval has picked up right where he left off in ’08 with an impressive Spring Training average. The power will continue to come but for right now, Sandoval is definitely a candidate to hit somewhere around 14-16 HRs.

First Base

Kendry Morales (1B, LAA): Morales enters the ’09 season as the Angels’ starting First Baseman. He has been very mediocre in the past but he may flourish as an everyday player. Throughout his minor-league career, he had above average power numbers and it may only be a matter of time before they translate to the big leagues. Right now he’s not worth a waiver move but be sure to keep an eye on him. As a side note, you may have to search for Morales as an outfielder because he has not obtained 1B eligibility just yet.

Second Base

Alexi Casilla (2B, MIN): There are reports that Casilla may still be involved in a platoon situation at 2nd base so do some research before you use a draft pick or a waiver move on him. The battle between he and Brendan Harris could carryover into the season but if Casilla continues to stay hot, he may not leave the Twins coachng staff with much of a decision. Because he is still very much unproven, you may want to wait till the regular season to take any action on Alexi.
Third Base

Andy LaRoche (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates): Just when you thought we might get through an article without some Pittsburgh favoritism, I had to bring up Andy LaRoche. LaRoche enters the ’09 season as the Buccos starting third baseman after finishing last season hitting a dismal .152 with Pittsburgh. The Pirates have some nice third base prospects in Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez but LaRoche himself was a heralded prospect at one time. LaRoche claims he is finally healthy heading into this season and it might finally be the time for LaRoche to break out with a 15-20 homerun season. If he continues to stay hot into April, he might be worth a waiver wire move depending on your needs.

Shortstop

Khalil Greene (SS, STL): As I did the research for this article, one thing became extremely clear to me. Khalil Greene might be one of the most polarizing fantasy players in MLB. On one side, his critics argue that he peaked at Clemson and he’ll never be the prospect he was expected to be. They also argue that his career batting average tells you everything you need to know about him. To the contrary, some believe that Greene was burdened by a tough hitter’s park in San Diego and the change of scenery to an organization like the Cards will be beneficial to Greene. If Spring Training means anything, then put me somewhere in that second group of people. Regardless of where you stand in this debate, I do believe one thing is clear. Greene is not going to make or break your fantasy season but if you did lose out on the top 5-7 shortstops, Greene might be a nice sleeper pick later in your draft.

Outfielder


Corey Hart (OF, MIL): Hart came into last season as a player that was predicted to break out and become a top 10 fantasy outfielder. Instead, Hart’s delivered an ’08 season that left his owners wanting more. While he did increase his RBI output, his homerun numbers decreased and his batting average took a significant hit down to .268. It seems as though he took last season to “heart” because reports out of Spring Training are that he is bigger than ever because of an intense off-season workout program. Additionally, Hart has been dominating pitching this spring and I predict that this will be the year that Hart breaks out. If you haven’t drafted yet this season, don’t be afraid to take Hart. If you have drafted, it might be a good idea to throw some trade offers towards the team that owns Hart. Most owners don’t place too much emphasis on Spring Training success and they still may be questioning him from his disappointing '08 campaign. I wouldn’t wait too much longer because after a couple of April homeruns, you’re not going to be able to pry Hart out of their hands.

As with any SportsJudge articles, please feel free to post any questions or comments. Until next time, keep your ears open for the Buzz Around the Bullpen.





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2 comments:

Marc Edelman said...

Scott:

I really enjoyed this post, even if not for the kind words about my Sandoval pick.

It is very rare that I change my picks from reading someone's column. However, you managed to get me to bump K. Greene up a couple of slots on my list. Petco really is not exactly a hitter's paradise!

Scott said...

Marc:

Thanks for the comment and yes, I really did like your Sandoval pick. I think you are going to get some really nice numbers out of him catcher position.

As far as Greene, if you look at the shortstops that are available after the top echelon guys are gone, it really is a "crap shot". Greene's batting average does scare me but he has the potential to provide you with some pop at the SS position. In really his only full season in '07, Greene had 27 HRs and 97 RBIs. If only he could improve on his .248 career batting average, he would be an above average option at short.

Thanks again for the comment.