Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: Me and Emilio Down by the Schoolyard

Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. If your fantasy team performed as well as mine in week one, you’re probably hoping that the first week of the season is not an indication of how bad your fantasy team is going to be this season. After some late-week heroics by Jason Bay, I thought maybe I could preserve some respectability. However, my pitching staff continued to disappointment with four below average starts from my two horses, Francisco Liriano and Tim Lincecum.

I will say my one brights spot was a very good start from Kansas City SP Kyle Davies. Although I’m not going to focus on him today, Davies is a starter who you should grab immediately if he’s still available in your league. He was awesome down the stretch last season and it seems he has picked up right where he left off in ’08. For right now, let’s take a look at some players you should have on your radar. Contrary to most weeks, I will only focus on “big hits” this week because there were too many good first week performances for me to pick just two or three.

Big Hits

Emilio Bonifacio (2B/3B, FLA): Bonifacio has burst onto the fantasy scene in a big way in ’09. He opened up his season by leading Florida to a sweep of the Nats while hitting a stellar .571 with six runs scored and four stolen bases. If you take a look at Bonifacio’s minor league numbers, you will see a professional career full of sporadic batting averages and a general lack of power. However, one thing that has remained consistent throughout his career is his ability to steal a ton of bases. If healthy, Bonifacio could challenge some of the more well-known speedsters for the stolen base title. Bonafacio isn’t going to help your power numbers but he’s definitely worth a flier to add some speed to your squad. Personally, I always like picking up guys like Bonifacio because outside of his speed numbers, my offensive expectations are so minimal that anything he can do in terms of HRs and RBIs is a plus.

Travis Snider (OF, TOR): In the off-season, one publication described Travis Snider as the most raw power talent in the Major Leagues besides Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce. In an absolutely packed outfield in Toronto, Snider has impressed manager Cito Gaston enough to get the starting nod for the start of the season. Snider has a ton of power potential and it is not out of the question that he may be good for 20-25 HRs. However, like most young homerun hitters, Snider does have the potential to strikeout well over 100 times in ’09. If you’re in a league that penalizes hitters for striking out, you may want to take a pass on Snider. Otherwise, you should keep an eye on him over the next couple of weeks. He may be the cheapest power you can find on your waiver wire.

Daniel Murphy (OF, NYM): Daniel Murphy might be the most comfortable guy in the Major Leagues. I’m not sure a guy could surround himself with hitters better than superstars Jose Reyes and David Wright. Because of his place in the lineup, Murphy is guaranteed to see a ton of good pitches to hit and after he does reach base, I like my chances of David Wright having something to say about him crossing homeplate. Murphy is still blossoming as a power hitter, but in the meantime, he can still hit for a great batting average along with some above average RBI and run production. He’s one of the best kept secrets in fantasy baseball right now but his value is sure to rise over the next couple of weeks.

Adam Lind (OF, TOR): Beside Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria, I’m not sure there was a more impressive fantasy stud during the first week of the season. While I’d love to say I saw this one coming, I was still somewhat leery of Lind in ’09. Lind was very good last season in limited at-bats but I was not sure how it would translate to everyday ABs. Although I’m never a fan of simply jumping on the bandwagon, it looks as though Lind will do just fine with the pressures of playing in a very competitive outfield. He was one of the most added players this past week so if he’s on your radar, you better act fast.

Brandon Inge (3B-C, DET): While Inge may have made more noise than any of the guys mentioned above, I’m still not completely sold on him. Please don’t get me wrong; he was unreal in the first week of the season but I am a little hesitant to throw my hat in the Brandon Inge corner just yet. Some owners predict his move to 3B will have him more comfortable as a hitter and as a result, he will put up career numbers in ‘09. For me, I find it hard to believe a guy will hit .280+ because of a move to a different position when he has spent his eight year MLB career racking up a .237 lifetime batting average. From a fantasy standpoint, the most intriguing thing about Inge is that he does provide you with some positional flexibility. Even with that , I’m still waiting another week or two to see if Inge comes back down to earth.

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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