Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Future...

posted by Jon Williams
As the off-season approaches I think it is important to first address preparation. I believe it is never too early to start looking at the next year’s possibilities. I have no doubt that things will change during the winter months to make some of our ideas no longer feasible. On the other hand, I also believe that to understand the impact a free agent signing or trade will have on a particular player you must also have an understanding of the organization as a whole. Because I believe this is true, I will be writing a series of articles that examine each of the major league teams and the possible impact of players in their minor league systems. The organization reports will appear (every few days) during the week. On the weekends I’ll be writing my theory and strategy articles. The occasional very short article about a particular player or event will fill in the gaps. You can expect the first organizational report on Friday (the Diamondbacks) and an article on off-season preparation on Sunday.

A few random ideas:

As hard as this may be to believe there are fantasy owners out there that still don’t believe that Jason Giambi is back. If you have such people in your leagues jump all over any opportunity to get Giambi at what is most likely a bargain price. Believe me, Jason Giambi is just as good as ever. I don’t believe he is any more susceptible to injury than any other player. His plate patience is amazing and his power is still great. The Yankee lineup will continue to provide plenty of protection and plenty of baserunners to drive home. He is the best first baseman in the AL.

At the same time I would be very cautious about owning Barry Bonds. I wouldn’t want to own him at anything close to full price. He is old and getting older which isn’t a good compliment to suffering serious knee injuries. I do expect he’ll play and show the same great patience at the plate and when healthy he’ll show great power as well, I just don’t believe he’ll be healthy enough to play everyday. When his knees and legs bother him his power will also suffer. Barry Bonds is a great player and I hope he finishes his career on an up note I just won’t be owning him in any fantasy leagues.

Jeremy Reed will bounce back and start to approach the solid outfielder his minor league experience suggests in 2006. He probably won’t ever be great and has done little to suggest he might be. He has shown himself to be capable of getting on base at a decent but not spectacular rate. He has a little pop in his bat but not the sort of power that fantasy leaguers are seeking. He has speed but isn’t a great base stealer. Unless the Mariners make some changes his defense should keep him in the lineup batting second and playing center field. He’ll steal a few bases and hit a few homeruns and score a decent number of runs dependent on the lineup behind him. Although what I’ve written may seem to suggest he is a better real player than fantasy player (and that is true) I think Reed is a player you should consider acquiring cheaply especially in 5x5 leagues that use runs as a category.

Dontrelle Willis is having a very good season. I think D-Train is just one element short of becoming a fantasy superstar. Oh, don’t mistake me for thinking he isn’t already very popular and worthy of a spot on almost any fantasy roster. It’s just that his strikeout rate is falling as he improves his control. In 2003 Dontrelle had a strikeout rate of 7.9 for every 9IP and a walk rate of 3.25 for every 9IP. He looked amazing most of that season because his strikeout rate made up for any control problems he may have had. In 2004 I believe he spent the year attempting to pitch with greater control. He wasn’t altogether successful although his walk rate dropped to 3.15bb/9IP. His attempts to pitch in the strikezone resulted in a greater number of hits allowed and fewer strikeouts (a rate of 6.4k/9IP). This season Dontrelle has improved his walk rate dramatically (2.15bb/9IP) and has allowed only 186 hits in 209 innings. The only real problem I see is the still falling strikeout rate (6.1k/9IP). I don’t have any grand conclusions to draw about this I merely point it out as something to watch. If his strikeout rate falls any further I’ll start to worry. I actually think he is likely to increase his strikeout rate back to around 7k/9IP. His minor league strikeout rates were consistently greater than 7k/9IP. At 23 years old Dontrelle is still learning to pitch. If he gets his strikeout rate up he’ll be worthy of a 1st round pick in 2007.

That’s all for now.

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