A first-round loss by .32 points! That’s how my fantasy football season came to an end a couple weeks ago as the only one of my three teams that actually made the playoffs choked when it mattered the most. No back-to-back titles for me, but fortunately I’ll get to unload that annoying trophy.
So I’ll officially shift gears to baseball now, and with the past week chock full of fantasy-relevant trades and signings, there’s no shortage of things to talk about.
Kudos to the Mets for getting what I consider to be an Amazin’ return for the reigning NL Cy Young award winner. Now was clearly the right time to trade Dickey. The Mets aren’t contending in 2013, the 38-year-old knuckleballer isn’t getting any younger and you’ve got to think that his stock cannot possibly get any higher. Dickey tossed one-hitters against both the Rays and Orioles last season, so to say that he’ll all of a sudden fall off a cliff in the AL is unfair. But his move to the AL East can’t be a good thing. I’m simply unwilling to pay an ace-level price for a guy who can very easily be a big-time disappointment.
D’Arnaud is widely viewed as an All-Star in the making. He can hit, he can field, he can do it all, and the Mets were in dire need for an offensive upgrade over Thole. Even if D’Arnaud doesn’t make the club’s opening day roster, it won’t be long before we’ll see him in the big leagues, and once he gets called up he’ll be here to stay. He’s definitely worth a late-round pick in standard mixed leagues. As for Syndergaard, he’s only 20 years old but is coming off a dominant season in the Minors and has top of the rotation potential, though he probably won’t make his big league debut until 2014.
Tigers re-sign Anibal Sanchez for five yrs/$80 million
I'm a big Anibal fan, but this contract seems a bit excessive, don't you think? But then again, A.J. Burnett got five years/$82.5 million from the Yankees a few years back, so maybe this isn't so crazy after all. I tend to be hesitant to draft career-long National League starting pitchers who are making the transition to the AL, but in this case we have a two-month body of work to look at (three if we include the postseason) and the results were strong. Yeah, Sanchez’s strikeout rate took a hit following his trade to Detroit, but he actually improved his ERA. Many owners will be scared off by the AL factor, but let’s also note that he will be pitching in a pitcher-friendly park and U.S. Cellular is really the only hitter-friendly ballpark in the AL Central. Despite the hefty contract, I could actually see Anibal being undervalued heading into drafts. I like him at the right price, figure a low-end #3/high-end #4 starter in 12-team mixed leagues.
Cubs sign Edwin Jackson for four yrs/$52 million
After coming up short in the Anibal Sanchez sweepstakes, the Cubbies were aggressive in their pursuit of Jackson, and relatively speaking I think they did well. I mean, is Anibal really one year and 28 million bucks better than E-Jax? Nope. An ugly September (7.92 ERA) put a small damper on what was, on the whole, Jackson’s finest season in the big leagues. I’d be perfectly happy drafting him as my #4 or #5 mixed league starter. The one cause for concern though is that Wrigley Field is a very home run-friendly ballpark and Jackson served up 23 homers last season despite making 15 of his 31 starts at pitcher-friendly Nationals Park. For this reason, pitching to an ERA below 4.00 this year will be a challenge.
Yankees re-sign Ichiro Suzuki for two yrs/$13 million
It sounds like the Yanks were forced to go two years on Ichiro since he had a couple of other multi-year offers on the table, but despite him being 39 years old, I don't really have a problem with this move. Getting traded to the Yankees seemed to rejuvenate Ichiro, as he batted .322 with five homers and 14 steals in 67 games with the Bombers. While he's not someone who I'll be actively targeting on draft day, you can do a lot worse than Ichiro as your fourth or fifth outfielder in a standard mixed league. A .285 average with double-digit homers and 30 steals is a very reasonable expectation. The bottom line is that he still has something left in the tank.
Red Sox sign Ryan Dempster for two yrs/$26.5 million
This contract could look very bad very quickly. How exactly will a 35-year-old who got lit up in his first taste of the AL (5.09 ERA, 1.43 WHIP in 12 starts for the Rangers last season) adapt to the AL East? And to Fenway Park? Sorry, I'm not touching Dempster with a ten-foot pole.
Rangers sign A.J. Pierzynski for one yr/$7.5 million
Pierzynski’s failure to secure a multi-year contract is a little surprising being that he’s coming off a 27-home run season, but the reality is that he’ll turn 36 next week and some teams, including the Yankees, were reportedly wary of his defense. For fantasy purposes, A.J. could not have found a better new home than in Texas. With Geovany Soto backing him up, Pierzynski will get the bulk of the playing time behind the plate, and another 20-plus home run campaign is a virtual lock as long as he stays healthy. Despite his advanced age, I’d feel comfortable drafting A.J. as my #1 catcher in a mixed league should I decide to pass on the top-tier guys, which is more than likely.
2012 turned out to be a solid bounce back season for Morales after a freak leg injury sidelined him for a year and a half. Moving to cavernous Safeco Field won’t do him any favors and he will be hitting in a far weaker lineup, so expecting him to return to the 30-plus home run level is unrealistic. But Kendrys did launch 22 homers in just 134 games last year. In a full season, 25 home runs is by no means a stretch. Add in a strong AVG and I think Morales offers a great deal of value as a starting CI in a mixed league. As for Vargas, he remains a back end of the rotation guy in deeper mixed leagues.
Red Sox sign Stephen Drew for one yr/$9.5 million
I've never really been a big believer in Drew. Outside of his '08 career year, he just hasn't been anything special, and injuries have plagued him throughout the past few seasons. That said, Boston is a great place for him to boost his stats, provided that he stays healthy and can handle the media scrutiny. Plus, he's still just 29 and will be extra motivated to land a new multi-year contract. While I'm not enamored with the idea of drafting Drew as my starting MI in a 12-team mixed, I reluctantly will if I have to. Seriously though, there's definitely upside potential here.