On Thursday, I returned as one of the guests of co-hosts Jeff Erickson and Chris Liss on RotoWire’s Fantasy Sports Today show on satellite radio, Sirius 211 / XM 147.
These appearances are a lot of fun as who doesn’t like to talk baseball with knowledgeable friends? In the back of my mind, though, there is a little question of the wisdom of disclosing my strategies with two of my toughest league competitors as I compete against both (Heck, it is still worth it!).
There is always inherent risk of another kind, as the conversation, just like any among three guys, could go off in just about any direction. This time, as I joined the show, Jeff and Chris were focused with laser-like precision on third base. We began with general agreement about how shallow the positional pool is in 2011.
The first question on the table was whether I would take Alex Rodriguez as my third baseman over Evan Longoria and David Wright. I replied that A-Rod’s price could be slightly depressed in some leagues because he is entering the gradual late-career decline stage, but for the same money, I still prefer Wright because of his stolen base potential.
The guys suggested steals could also be found elsewhere, which is of course valid, but my take is if you can get it all, why not take it? (For the record, in 15-team mixed formats, we have all three players within a dollar value of each other, in the $27-$28 range. In that kind of situation, I look for upside tiebreakers and steals could be it.)
I went on to say that in my ideal draft, I might let all three of the third basemen pass while I address other needs, such as middle infield and grab Ryan Zimmerman in the third or fourth round of a snake draft. I see him in the next tier along with Adrian Beltre and Michael Young in the low $20s in an auction format.
If these hot corner players are missed, one would drop down to those in the teens. My take is that Pablo Sandoval will get more action than he probably should and as such, I would bow out of the bidding as it gets into double digits. In other words, make sure you don’t confuse how many pounds the rotund fan-favorite supposedly has lost over the winter with his fantasy value.
I was asked about Mark Reynolds, who just happened to have been a stalwart of my 2009 NL Tout Wars title roster. I replied that I was not scared of Reynolds in the mid-teens as he offers the same power-steals appeal as Wright. Of course, the risk is the potential damage to batting average. Liss seemed to want to stay far away from a guy who could hit .200 as likely as .240. My view was that taking that risk could be ok if you were careful with not taking on other potential batting average problems.
The mention of Reynolds led the discussion slightly off-track to first baseman Carlos Pena, who we have in our Mastersball Platinum projections at the same value as Reynolds, $17. Chris tossed out the .196 average while I reminded him that even the Cubs wouldn’t have paid $10 million for one year of Pena’s services if they felt he would repeat his subpar 2010. I am not particularly high on Pena, nor am I overly down on him, either.
Jeff brought up a very interesting name, Jose Lopez, a player I hadn’t thought a lot about recently. He noted Lopez underachieved in Seattle in 2010, his only home as a major leaguer and is now moving to Colorado. He added that Lopez is just 27 years of age and second base eligibility may be coming. I was right with them until Chris suggested he might go in the high teens. My take is under $15 would be fine.
We then began to talk end-game options. After all, we’ve all been in drafts in which that corner infield spot remained open too long with nothing on the table seemingly worth taking.
Speaking of multi-position eligibility, Jeff mentioned Ian Stewart and Chase Headley. I was a Headley backer once, especially enthused by his ability to be slotted in the corner infield and outfield. Same with Stewart at second and third base. Alas, both have since lost that benefit, but you could do far worse with a $1 bid at the end of a mixed draft.
Chris chimed in with his like of Alberto Callaspo. I see potential average, but not enough power. I would prefer either of the previous two in a late-draft bargain bin dive over the Angel.
One final suggestion. I tossed out the name of a real dark horse, St. Louis’ David Freese. The former Padre, traded for Jim Edmonds a couple of years ago, got out of the gates fast in 2010. At the time he was named the NL Player of the Week on May 2nd, the 27-year-old was leading all NL rookies with a .355 average and was second in RBI with 16. His season soon was lost due to a pair of ankle surgeries so there is risk, but also high reward potential. Keep that name in mind at the end of your drafts.
That’s it for the recap of our hot stove, hot corner discussion during a cold winter week. I heard on The Weather Channel that 71 percent of the US is currently covered by snow or ice and Florida is the only continental state not affected.
Just remember that pitchers and catchers report in less than one month!
As a reminder, RotoWire’s Fantasy Sports Today show can be found on Sirius / XM live, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET. The call-in number is 888-XM-FANTASY and listener participation is encouraged. For those on Twitter, you can follow them @SiriusXMFantasy.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.