I’ve been polishing the projections in the software, and going through some of the playing time issues on various team. What follows are some thoughts as things start to get real:
Considering the disrespect shown to Jim Johnson, none of the other Orioles relievers is getting much CIW status. Pedro Strop is the obvious name here, while Darren O’Day is probably the best arm. That said, Steve Johnson has control issues, but also throws a ton of strikeouts (and bases on balls, and home runs). All should be available in the reserve rounds unless soomeone in your league has a similar thought. Note that Johnson is working as a starter in spring training.
The Orioles have a lot of live arms and veterans with some success competing for the fifth rotation slot. Arrieta, Britton, Matusz, Bundy and Jurrjens, might contribute, especially given Buck Showalter’s usual success with pitchers. Any one of them could be a reserve pick winner.
Brian Roberts has looked healthy. Given his age and his time on the shelf he’s not going to bounce back to former glory, but has a chance to outearn his price if he stays healthy. Alexi is the obvious go to if he doesn’t, but Ryan Flaherty survived a year on the big league roster last year as a Rule 5 draftee.
BOSTON RED SOX
John Lackey has been showing health if not exactly effectiveness this spring.
The presence of Andrew Bailey obscures the presence of Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara, who promise to at least throw lots of outs, if not any saves.
I bumped up Mike Napoli a few bucks, though still to less than CBS/LABR paid. If you can stand the BA risk he could prove very productive.
Pedro Ciriaco is the likely backup at 2B, SS and 3B, which given Drew’s solidity and Middlebrooks’ limitations could lead to beaucoup AB. He’s a source of steals and his BA should not hurt, if he plays.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
There’s nothing wrong with Chris Sale except his age. I’m not a believer in the Verducci Effect, but young arms that throw a lot of innings are always at risk. I’m not predicting it, but I’m not bidding him up to the first tier either.
Jeff Keppinger is a good hitter, but has no speed and little power, plus he’s not a defensive plus. If he plays all the time he can be productive if you pay $10 for him, but there are plenty of reasons to think his playing time will be limited.
Scott Kazmir is surprising everyone in camp. The fifth starter battle is multi-headed. I like Carlos Carrasco but he’s not proved himself any more than Kazmir.
I’m downgrading Drew Stubbs, who has athletic skills but can be replaced usually by other talents on this team.
CBS/LABR paid a ton more for Max Scherzer than he’s ever earned. I don’t really understand that given some of the other pitching prices, though of course we all love his strikeouts, but I’m not going to say they’re absolutely wrong.
Closer in Detroit is anyone’s guess. My strategy is to buy the cheapest one, who might be Al Albuquerque, though Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel are strong, too. I see zero chance that Bruce Rondon will hold the job because of his control problems.
Jared Cosart has the skills to close now, but he’s seen as a starter in the long term, once he stops walking so many guys. He’s already been sent to the minors, but has a live arm.
The more you pay for Carlos Pena the bigger a problem you’re going to have. He’s virtually all floor, no ceiling, if his price pushes his projection. CBS/LABR are pushing Chris Carter higher, but in my book he has a lot to prove.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Greg Holland is the closer, but his backup, Kelvin Herrera is just as good. If he comes at a stiff discount he’w worth targeting.
I like Salvador Perez and my projection likes him, too, but so do a lot of other people, too. I wouldn’t push him much past he last year’s earnings. He’s young and still has to show he can adjust.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
Ryan Madson is working his way back slowly. Very slowly.
Andrew Romine is looking like the utility guy, a role that has had some value in recent years, though he is not a big power or speed guy.
Glen Perkins did a fine job closing last year, despite throwing from the port side. Jared Burton is the likely CIW.
There are a lot of starter possibilities, but none of them are very good.
I like Josh Willingham’s talent, but I don’t like guys in their mid 30s coming off a career year.
Unless he wins a regular job Darin Mastroianni won’t cost too much and should steal a lot of bases whenever he plays.
NEW YORK YANKEES
How can you not pay Mariano Rivera as the best closer in baseball, though obviously his age is risky.
Edwin Nunez could get plenty of playing time, but his defensive weakness may limit his chances. He is fast and can hit, if he drops to the endgame.
If Travis Hafner is healthy he could thrive with the long ball in that park.
Don’t forget Austin Romine on reserve. Cervelli and Stewart are not going to block him if he’s ready.
Andy Pettitte made his spring debut this week.
I don’t like Dan Straily this year. Make him a pick to miss.
Stephen Pryor is the hot arm, but he may well not be ready yet.
Kendry Morales is going to be a test of the shorter fences.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
It’s time for Desmond Jennings to break out, if he’s going to break out. I have doubts, but the market is betting on the come.
Matt Joyce is a platooner who could earn nicely and not cost too much. But you’ll be frustrated by the cold stretches and days off.
Jason Bourgeois is another speedy guy who could get swipes if he plays. But might not play.
Lance Berkman will DH as much as he’s able to, but he has to be considered a high-risk high-return buy this year. Definitely don’t want to ignore him, but you don’t want to chase him either.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Josh Thole should be cheap, might get regular at bats.