Thursday, December 07, 2006

Frenzied Major League Action Part One

posted by Unknown
You might think that taking eight days off from covering baseball moves in November and December before the start of the annual winter meetings would be a safe move. You would be wrong this year. The teams in Major League Baseball seem to be in a hurry to get their teams built this season which has resulted in an exciting and frenzied off-season thus far. But there are a ton of moves to look at and I'm trying to keep up but this may take a couple of posts over the next few days to complete. Some of this was written a few days ago but I'm not going to edit much so please bare with me on any out of date comments.

The Moves Made

It seems like ages ago that the Dodgers signed Juan Pierre to a stunning five-year contract worth $44 million. As a fantasy guy Juan Pierre has some serious value but I still have to wonder why the Dodgers made this move. They already had Andre Ethier established in the lineup and they have center fielder Matt Kemp just about ready to play in the majors. Kemp has been compared to slugger Dave Winfield in ability. J.D. Drew took off to earn a few million extra (most likely from the Red Sox) but the Dodgers have been hot after Manny Ramirez to take Drew's spot in the lineup. So why block Kemp with Pierre when you have his slightly better clone at shortstop in Rafael Furcal when you've already blocked first baseman James Loney who was ready to take over first base from Nomar Garciaparra? The Dodgers may be including Kemp and Loney as well as powerful relief prospect Jonathan Broxton in the trade for Manny Ramirez which I guess would be a decent use of those talents but sort of surprising from a team that could have been both cheap and good in a few years. Now the future of the Dodgers must be right now to take advantage of the prime years of Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez.

The Astros signed Carlos Lee to a huge six-year contract worth $100 million. Lee is a pretty good slugger and should be great for fantasy owners in Minute Maid Park. The Astros needed a big bat in their lineup and this allows the Astros to keep Lance Berkman at first base where he is much better defensively (not that Carlos Lee is any great shakes). Despite what fans are often led to believe the Astros can afford to make moves like this and should Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte decide to return for another season they can afford them too. The Houston Astros are cheap and miserly not poor or as small market as they'd like you to believe.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks hooked up to make a six-player trade. The Brewers sent left-handed starter Doug Davis and left-handed starting pitcher prospect Dana Eveland and center fielder David Krynzel to the D'Backs for catcher Johnny Estrada, right-handed starter Claudio Vargas and set-up man Greg Aquino. My first instinct is to declare the D'Backs thieves and the Brewers robbed.

The Brewers get an upgrade at catcher with Estrada replacing the solid but ordinary Damian Miller and is an obvious defensive upgrade over Mike Rivera who was impressive with the bat in a limited audition late in the season. Doug Davis (excluding the 2006 season) has been a much better starting option than Claudio Vargas. But Vargas has better stuff and look at his numbers outside of Arizona 87.1 IP, 83 hits, 23 walks, 65 strikeouts with a 4.12 earned run average and a 1.22 whip. Those numbers in combination with a superior pitching coach in Mike Maddux and a better home park in Miller Park (Miller Park has a runs factor of 1.004 while Chase Field has a factor of 1.141) serve to make Claudio Vargas a pretty decent sleeper especially if you're only paying for a player that had an 4.83 earned run average and 1.41 whip in 2006. Greg Aquino is also a decent sleeper possibility. Aquino can hit 100 mph on the radar gun and can get big strikeout numbers. His primary problems have been walks and homeruns. Aquino will probably become Francisco Cordero's primary set-up man and could see some saves if Cordero has a slow start as he did last season. Aquino should also come cheap thanks to a 4.56 earned run average and a 1.65 whip.

The D'Backs needed some talent and youth in their starting rotation and Dana Eveland should be capable of providing it. Eveland has put up fantastic numbers at double-A and triple-A the last two seasons. In 2005 at double-A Huntsville Eveland has a 7.93 H9, 0.33 HR9, 3.14 BB9, and 8.09 K9 in 109 innings. In 2006 at tripe-A he had a 6.09 H9, 0.34 HR9, 3.51 BB9, and 9.43 K9. Eveland has been one of my favorite sleepers for a couple of seasons now despite poor showings in brief major league appearances. He also should be cheap in most leagues.

Doug Davis didn't have a great 2006 season but has been a pretty solid starter the last few years. If he can get his walk rate under control he should be a decent innings eater for the D'Backs. The Brewers only traded him because of his increasingly outrageous contract demands.

The St. Louis Cardinals signed second baseman Adam Kennedy to a a bargain three-year $10 million contract. Kennedy isn't a great player but he will provide the Cardinals with solid defense and a decent bat with some pop and some speed. A huge upgrade over Aaron Miles, of that there can be no doubt.For fantasy purposes Kennedy should be just about what he has been the last few years: a good average in the .275-.290 range, 8-10 homeruns, and 15-20 stolen bases.

The Cardinals also took a shot on Kip Wells and gave him a one-year contract. Wells has great stuff, the stuff to be a frontline starter actually but he has yet to attain that level. He is coming off a series of injuries that may scare a lot of owners off. He had a blood clot problem and a broken foot but his arm, shoulder and elbow should be okay which is all that really matters.

Much much more coming very soon including a look at some rule V sleepers.

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Anonymous Fake Teams said...

Nice to see you back. I worried you'd dropped out of the fantasy baseball blogging game.

The Rule 5 sleeper I like is Justin Jones - to contribute in the majors for the Nats as a middle reliever.

He had success at AA New Britian in 2006 so the jump to the majors may be easier for him vs the typical A-ball reliever taken in the Rule 5

Friday, December 8, 2006 at 8:10:00 AM EST  

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