Monday, April 6, 2009 2009 Fantasy Baseball League: Preseason Happenings

This is the first article of the bi-weekly coverage surrounding's 2009 Fantasy Baseball League. To familiarize yourself with the teams, check out Part I and Part II of the draft recap. In the draft recap, you will find all of the league settings the league will utilize in 2009 as well as introductions to the owners and their rosters. Remember, when considering moves, the SportsJudge league may be deeper or more shallow than yours. Fantasy advice can't always be given and received in a vacuum, much advice depends on your specific team needs and league settings. One thing worth keeping in mind is the limited bench we use in our league, it limits speculative moves and makes every move meaningful.

This week we will focus on some of the preseason moves made since the draft occurred leading up to opening day. There have been some interesting developments since the draft nearly a month ago. Much like in other leagues, most of the significant preseason moves have surrounded closers.

The first significant move involved Jordan Zucker, of Girls Guide to Fantasy Football, peeking into the future and plucking Kevin Gregg from the waiver wire. As it turns out, Zucker was right on with this move. At the time of the draft, most assumed Marmol would close in Chicago. However, speculation quickly arose and Zucker jumped all over Gregg. I have my doubts that Gregg will keep the job all year, but, at a minimum, Zucker was able to attain an opening day closer for next to nothing. For now Gregg has the job and its his to lose.

Seeing Zucker's speculation and knowing my closers were my weak spot, I jumped all over Manny Corpas and Jason Motte to help secure my closer needs. At the time, I figured Motte would end up closing, he was just pitching too well and looked too dominant. I had to jump on Corpas because he was at the time blowing Houston Street away for the Colorado job. Since then, Corpas' velocity is slightly down, Street is pitching better and has won the Colorado job. For now, I will hold onto Corpas as my handcuff until I see Street perform. Also, I don't think Motte keeps the closer job in St. Louis. His fastball is hard, but flat, which will eventually spell trouble. I'll get some April saves from Motte, but anything on top of that is icing.

Michael Colligan tried his hand at closers by picking up Carlos Villanueva when it became apparent Hoffman would start on the DL, but dropped him days later for a better move. Colligan was able to pick up Scott Downs as soon as he heard the concerns surrounding BJ Ryan and his loss of velocity. Downs is definitely a better option than Villanueva. Once Hoffman is healthy again, Villanueva won't sniff a save. Ryan's injury sounds worse and he could miss significant time. If Ryan is injured, Downs is expected to get the first shot at those saves. If you can have both, keep Villanueva and Downs, but if you have to choose, Downs has a better upside.

Scott Simon rounds up the closer moves with the best of them all. I must admit, I am ashamed of myself for missing him, but Simon was able to grab Chris Ray from free agency, only two weeks ago. I can't speak for other owners, but I just assumed he was owned. Don't ever make that mistake; always check to make sure. Sherrill will start the year as Baltimore's closer, but I think Ray wins the job by the end of April. Of all the possible closers added in the preseason, Ray has the best season long value.

There were two significant non-closer moves this preseason, both including pitchers, both of which I was waiting to pick up once Lackey was officially place on the DL. Zucker made another excellent move in picking Wandy Rodriguez, who she dropped to pick up Gregg. I love Wandy this year. He continues to improve each season and, with a little luck, could flirt with a K/IP. Many will point to his bad road numbers, but those have also continued to improve each year. He isn't a top 20 pitcher but could crack top 40.

The second move involved Kelvim Escobar. Darren Heitner of Sports Agent Blog snagged Escobar who is eying a probable late April/early May return. He will start the season on the DL, but is easily worth a flyer. Stash him on the DL and let him stay there until you have had a chance to evaluate him. I don't think he returns to be a top 15-20 pitcher, but top 50 is definitely worth that risk.

Check back in two weeks for more moves and the first standings of the 2009 season.

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Anonymous said...

Love the new Fantasy Baseball post! Look forward to more to come. I had a great opening day for my team. Lots of great performances. I was wondering if most of the reader have their drafts online or if they do them @ a bar or something. I saw that on, they're running contest to win a trip to South Florida for a draft party blowout next year. Here's a link in case anyone's interested: