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The Hump Day Look See 5/30/12 – Panic in pitchertown!

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The Hump Day Look See 5/30/12 – Panic in pitchertown!

Posted on 30 May 2012 by J. Ellet Lambie

The Hump Day Look See is your weekly Wednesday foray into all things fantasy baseball. Sneaky stat lines, rapid risers, trends and tricks to help maximize your roster are all celebrated here. Equal parts analysis and common sense with a splash of humor, served fresh every Wednesday morning right here on Full Spectrum Baseball.

THE END IS NIGH! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

That is, if you happen to own Roy Halladay or Jered Weaver, who were both shelved this week with injuries. Halladay is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, there is not yet a timetable for Jered Weaver to resume his duties on the bump. Also hobbling to the sidelines in the past two weeks: Ted Lilly, John Danks, Danny Duffy and Marco Estrada. LIGHT THE LANTERNS AND HEAD FOR THE SHELTER!

Or….you could look elsewhere on the disabled list to names such as Brandon McCarthy, Jonathan Sanchez and Vance Worley – all three should return in the next week and change. Aces they are not, serviceable stop gaps that could become more? Sure, it’s possible.

And don’t forget to frantically check the free agent pool in all of your leagues for Roy Oswalt, now that he has agreed to join the Texas Rangers. I have to imagine we’re looking at a couple of weeks minimum of stretching him out before he toes a major league rubber, so don’t expect a miracle this week. Also of note, his career OPS against at Ameriquest (Arlington) is .878, with a 4.78 ERA and 9 HR allowed in 52.2 innings pitched. Caveat Emptor my friends.

I had a couple of inquiries following the first HDLS post last week, wondering why I listed the top 10 added and dropped hitters, but not pitchers. A fair question. With a decent percentage of players in ESPN standard 5 x 5 rotisserie leagues streaming pitchers each week, I’ve found it skews the numbers, and paints a confusing picture. So to balance the coverage, I’ll make an effort to highlight pitching options in other ways each week – see above. You can also check out the AL and NL weekly Pitching Planning posts right here at Full Spectrum Baseball.

Top 10 Added Hitters in ESPN Standard Leagues – Last 14 Days:

Player % Add/Drop %
owned
Notes
Dayan Viciedo CWS – OF +52.8 83.2 #4 last week, added +20% since. 22/55 with 7 HR, 20 RBI in last 15 games.
Jeff Francoeur KC – OF +40.1 81.2 Frenchy is too good to have been that bad for that long, .375 with 4 bombs in last 15, hope you bought low.
Jonathan Lucroy MIL – C +34.4 78.4 News of his broken hand will put out this fire, but keep him on your watch list for mid/late July.
Justin Morneau MIN – 1B +33.1 91.3 5 HR and 16 steaks since his return from the DL. If he stays on the field he should stay in your lineup.
Mitch Moreland TEX – 1B/OF +33 87.1 On the fringe last week. Multi-position eligible, power stroke like the weather, getting warmer.
Chris Davis BAL 3B/1B +25 74.4 6th most dropped last week, streaky hitter that will inspire the Yo-Yo effect.
A.J. Pierzynski CWS – C +22.3 85.6 Top 5 among ALL catchers in Hits, Runs, HR, RBI – How is he still available in 15% of leagues?
Jed Lowrie HOU – 3B/SS +17.1 94.6 Health and a change of scenery have done wonders – 1/2 of his HR (4 of 8) in last 15 games.
A.J. Ellis LAD – C +16.5 28.2 Almost June and still hitting .315, smells like a regression candidate to me (.282 career), but he’s extra scrappy.
Michael Brantley CLE – OF +15.8 37.5 Hit safely in 8 straight games, 7 RBI and 6 SB in that stretch.

And the Yang of failure, also known as the 10 most dropped:

Player %
Add/Drop
%
owned
Notes
Cody Ross BOS – OF (DL) -37.3 27.3 Victim of nervous injury drops, might be back in a couple of weeks.
Chipper Jones ATL – 3B (DL) -37.2 47.3 Hopes to return soon, surgery to drain fluid from his leg not an encouraging sign.
Lance Berkman STL – 1B/OF -22.4 49.8 Residual dropping from 6-10 week prognosis of last week.
Miguel Montero ARI – C -21.7 67.9 Missed 5 games with a groin injury, signed a massive new deal, still hitting .248 with only 2 HR’s, but OBP .342 – excellent buy low candidate.
Torii Hunter LAA – OF -13.6 61.4 Hangover droppage from time away for family issues. Returns Tuesday night.
Bryan LaHair CHC – 1B/OF -12.9 87.1 Returned to earth with a miserable week. 3 for 4 Monday, but likely to sit against lefties (3-22 this season).
Emilio Bonifacio MIA – 2B/SS/3B (DL) -11.2 86.7 Oh sweet Emilio, curse your balky thumb. Out for a while but speed doesn’t slump, keep your eyes on him close to his return.
Jon Jay STL – OF (DL) -8.8 29.4 Could be back in 10-14 days, should resume a starting role then. 9 Hits and 8 Runs in final 10 games before injury.
Jemile Weeks OAK – 2B -8.2 51.5 .235 with 3 Runs, 1 SB, 0 HR, 0 RBI in last 15 games. Perhaps track is his forte.
Robert Andino BAL – 2B/SS/3B -7.8 31.4 Ladies and gentlemen, this is what regression to the mean looks like while wearing an orange hat.

And for the value shopper, this week’s 5 Under 50 – five players owned in less than 50% of ESPN standard leagues that can help your roster right now. Last week I recommended Anthony Bass of the Padres, who then proceeded to have his worst outing of the year, arguably. Consider this proof I am not in fact omnipotent. With that being said, stick with the kid, he’s been far more good than bad this season. I also pointed a finger at Joe Blanton, insert joke here. On the upside, Alcides Escobar, J.P. Arencibia and Daniel Nava did not burst into fantasy flames (Arencibia did hit .136, but had 2 HR), so I suppose there is hope after all.

Paul Goldschmidt ARI – 1B 35.4%: He hit a 471 foot HR the other day. Not kidding. 471 feet. The former prized prospect has hit in 7 straight games through Monday, with 4 doubles and 7 runs scored over that span. He’s at least worth a stash if you’re thin at 1B short term.

Michael Brantley CLE – OF 37.5%: As mentioned above in the most added section (#10), he’s been hitting and running and doing all sorts of fun fantasy things. If he keeps it up he’ll be ineligible for this category in no time.

Gregor Blanco SFG – OF 19.6%: 21 runs scored with a .397 OBP in 95 at-bats from the leadoff spot this year. Sustainable long term? Eh, perhaps not, but even with a bit of a slide he’ll remain above average. 6 steals on the year to boot.

Casey Janssen TOR – RP 46.6%: He’s picked up 4 saves since taking over closer duties in Toronto, and boasts a respectable 2.89 ERA and an impressive 0.91 WHIP in that time. Most closers suffer a hiccup here and there, and he won’t be immune, but he should bolster your bottom line more than he hurts it.

Homer Bailey CIN – SP 12.5%: As I type this Bailey just nailed down complete game win, allowing 1 run on 4 hits against the Pirates. That’s 3 straight wins and 4 consecutive starts with 3 or fewer earned runs allowed. He’s walked 5 in those starts while striking out 21.

Your questions and thoughts are welcomed, and encouraged, both here in the comments and on twitter @lembeck451. All stats accurate as of 10 PM EDT 5/29/12. 

 

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Goodbye Kerry Wood, whatever you do…don’t sing.

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Goodbye Kerry Wood, whatever you do…don’t sing.

Posted on 29 May 2012 by Trish Vignola

Has it really been 15 years? Apparently and with that, Kerry Wood said goodbye to his decade-plus major league career on May 18th. My generation’s Nolan Ryan appropriately ended it where it all started – at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

Grant it. How many of you were shocked to know Wood was still even playing?

He fanned White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo on three pitches in the eighth inning and with that, the door closed on a career that included one of the most memorable performances in major league baseball history. On May 6, 1998, a 20-year old Kerry Wood, in just his fifth big league start, struck out twenty and threw a one-hit complete game to beat the Astros 2-0. He was only the third player in major league baseball to do so.

Wait! Are you trying to tell me that Kerry Wood is my age? Man, that cigarette habit he picked up has not been kind to him.

Seriously, Wood had sixteen stints on the disabled list. That’s an astounding 946 days taken from his career. In 2007, he switched from a starter to reliever in order to preserve his arm. Grant it. He was no Mariano Rivera, but he became the only pitcher in baseball history with at least seventy-five wins, fifty saves and ten strikeouts per nine innings.

Although Wood made a significant impact on the modern game, he is not Cooperstown bound. He was on the disabled list way too much. Still, my jaded soul recognizes the rock star Wood was (and is). You have to give it up to the Cubs (and I never give it up to the Cubs). They sent him out in appropriate fashion.

It was Wood’s choice to retire mid-season. There’s no solid answer why, but you can put two and two together. He didn’t have enough left to hang for one full season. Why not go out on top?

The Cubs plan was to get Wood in one last game in a spot he is normally used and afterward the right-hander would walk off into the sunset. Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk (stepping in for a ejected Dale Sveum) ended up improvising. He first thought he would use Wood for consecutive right-handed batters. Then he thought that since the pitcher’s spot was due up sixth after that half inning he might even let Wood get those two outs and go back for more the next inning. But when the opportunity arose in the 8th inning to relieve starter Jeff Samardzija and Viciedo came to bat, the time was now.

After an ending that couldn’t be written better by W.P. Kinsella, Wood partied his retirement into fruition with former Blackhawks player Chris Chelios and actual rock star Eddie Vedder. Viral video captured the trio singing a song by The Band at Lincoln Park’s Stanley’s Kitchen and Tap.

Kerry Wood went out, as he came in to his major league baseball career, in true rock star fashion. I’m sure that any team would welcome him in the future, especially as a pitching coach.

Oh, if you are wondering, even with the addition of Pearl Jam’s front man, karaoke is still pretty lousy.

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The Roster Report – February 15, 2012

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The Roster Report – February 15, 2012

Posted on 15 February 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans. While no MLB players who made an impact in 2011 signed, we did find out that a big-time import will be landing on the West Coast this year. And even though there’s only one big free agent left on the market, a couple of new faces found new places to call home last week. We’ve got all the transactions broken down below, here at the Roster Report.

(Seriously guys, what are we gonna do about this Roy Oswalt thing?)

Yoenis Cespedes

The Oakland Athletics sign Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36MM contract.

What’s left to say about Yoenis Cespedes? If you haven’t heard yet, Cespedes is the hottest thing to come out of Cuba since black market cigars. As an elite athlete (he looks like a NFL running back) who also put up elite stats (20-30 HR per year…in 90 game seasons) at home in Cuba, Cespedes has rare upside. The only question is if he can translate his awesome tools to the MLB game. I actually like this deal for Oakland very much…it is the kind of high-risk, high-reward signing that teams firmly out of contention should do. If Cespedes turns out to be a 2.0 WAR center fielder over the life of this contract, I’d say that’s a fair return on investment, as current metrics usually parse out a dollar value between $4-5MM for one win. If he’s better than that projection, the Athletics have a nice, undervalued asset and you can make a Moneyball joke.

But as an Oakland Athletic in 2012, where does Yoenis fit? The big-money major-league contract would seem to indicate that the Athletics want to see an immediate return on investment, but I wouldn’t rush to judgement yet. Cespedes probably needs more than a Spring Training run to adapt to ML pitching, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start 2012 in Double-A. There he’ll get regular plate appearances, and the A’s brass will be able to evaluate his offensive and defensive talents in game situations. Keep in mind that Oakland sees every player as a trade asset, and wouldn’t want an ineffective Cespedes in the majors, looking like a “bust”.

Unless Cespedes falls apart entirely (or goes nuts and hits dozens of HR), I’m going against the grain and predicting that he’ll probably find his way to Oakland around June or so. Oakland is said to have a logjam in the outfield now…one that I covered a few days ago in this article. Me, I’m not sure that they do. Coco Crisp and Seth Smith are locks for two OF/DH positions, with Smith possibly looking for a platoon partner. Josh Reddick will likely get a long look in RF, as he proved he’s got major league chops last season. And Yoenis isn’t the only player that the A’s need to take a look at. Michael Taylor, Chris Carter, Brandon Allen, Collin Cowgill, and others all need to get ML at-bats to prove their worth. The odd man out, at least for me, is Jonny Gomes. Gomes hits right-handed (same as Cespedes), but has little upside and will only be in Oakland on a one-year deal worth $1MM. While Gomes is a known commodity, the A’s need to see what right-handed hitters Carter and Taylor can do. I doubt the A’s would lose much if they replaced Gomes with Chris Carter for 2012.

So what is Cespedes’s fantasy value? I see him as a very high-risk prospect, a la Desmond Jennings in 2011. He should offer steals and power if everything breaks right, but in a limited amount of AB. And while Cespedes could put up numbers like Jennings did last season, there’s also the possibility that he could crater and provide little or no value for your fantasy squad. Use caution when drafting him, or even just setting your expectations for his performance. In many respects, he is quite a bit like another import: Yu Darvish. Hype and gaudy stats in other leagues could make these players as good as advertised, or they could mean little compared to U.S. competition. Cespedes may be a star, just don’t expect miracles right away.

Kosuke Fukudome

The Chicago White Sox sign Kosuke Fukudome to a one-year, $1MM contract.

It’s back to Chicago for Kosuke Fukudome, who signed a one-year deal to play for the Chicago White Sox yesterday. Fukudome never quite lived up to the hype of his signing in his time in the Windy City, but he’s put up 5.6 fWAR over the last four seasons. Fukudome’s calling card has always been his stellar walk rate, but that fell precipitously from 15.4% in 2010 to 10.1% in 2011. The good news is that his performance improved after a mid-season trade to the Cleveland Indians, and he’ll find himself back in the AL Central again this year. The outfielder, who can play all three positions in a pinch, is entering his age-35 season, so one might expect his already suspect tools to diminish further as time goes on.

Fukudome profiles as the fourth outfielder in Chicago, likely behind Alex Rios, Alejandro De Aza, and maybe Dayan Viciedo. The White Sox don’t really have any other good internal options on the bench, though Brent Lillibridge does a decent job playing the super-sub role. Jordan Danks may be close to contributing, and if he breaks camp with the big club, De Aza (or Brent Morel) may be pushed to the bench and Fukudome moves even further down the depth chart. If Danks doesn’t break with the team, Dayan Viciedo’s fielding deficiencies may cause Fukudome to fill in as a late-inning defensive replacement, even though his defense isn’t particularly good. New manager Robin Ventura may value Fukudome’s patient approach at the plate, but if he can’t get on base, then even he could have trouble hanging around at the ML level.

From a fantasy standpoint, you’ll probably want to stay away from Kosuke. I drafted him in an OBP league and still regret it, as his declining skill at the plate makes him an unimpressive fantasy player. If he gets full-season playing time, he could muster ten homers, but he won’t get that playing time and you’re better off investing in a higher-upside player.

In all honesty, I’m a little surprised the White Sox committed guaranteed money (and a club option for 2013) to Fukudome. He more fits the role of a minor-league contract guy. If Jordan Danks and Dayan Viciedo play as well as expected in 2012, chances are the White Sox will wish they had the money back…but fora million dollars, the team also could have done worse than Fukudome. He’s a fourth or fifth outfielder who won’t kill you, but he won’t provide the pop off the bench that many managers like in a pinch-hitting outfielder.

Luis Ayala

The Baltimore Orioles sign Luis Ayala to a one-year, $925K contract.

Believe it or not, this was the only other “big” signing since our previous edition of the Roster Report. Luis Ayala, coming off a fairly effective 2011, received a low-ball, but guaranteed contract offer. Those aren’t just flying around these days. Ayala managed a shiny 2.09 ERA last season with the Yankees, but don’t be fooled! That ERA belies a 4.19 FIP and 4.15 xFIP. Ayala’s just a league-average reliever who benefited from a huge 85.7% strand rate in 2011. When a reliever is about league average, and his upside is also league-average, then he can be worth a roster spot. But Ayala obviously isn’t a fantasy factor, and is hardly likely to put up shocking numbers for not-gonna-contend Baltimore. I’m not sure if Baltimore would be better served by putting a young guy with upside in their ‘pen, but these are hardly the moves that make or break a team.

Quick Hits

  • The Orioles also added OBP machine Nick Johnson on a one-year, minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Johnson is great when he’s healthy, except he’s not. Nor was he any good last year in Triple-A with the Indians. More than likely, this is the last stop in his career. And even if he does make it to the majors somehow, he’s only fantasy-relevant in OBP leagues.
  • The Cleveland Indians continue to explore starting pitching options after the fallout from the Fausto Carmona / Roberto Heredia controversy. Now they’ve added former White Sox mainstay Jon Garland on a minor-league deal. Garland has been an interesting pitcher over the course of his career: durable, reliable, but not particularly good (4.68 career FIP). Last year, he followed the same pattern, except without the “durable” and “reliable” parts. He only posted 54 innings, but otherwise his rate stats were very similar to his career norms. Garland can’t strike anyone out, so even if he stays healthy he’s unlikely to be fantasy-relevant or anything other than a #5 starter at the ML level.
  • It’s a pattern. Another player who used to be pretty good isn’t so good any more, and is now trying to catch on with a minor league deal. This time it’s Scott LInebrink, and the team in question is the St. Louis Cardinals. Linebrink used to be a pretty solid middle-relief and setup guy, but now he gives up way too many HR to be anything more than just another guy in the bullpen. Though Linebrink might’ve had a respectable ERA last season with Atlanta, he benefited from a strand rate over 80%, and his FIP and xFIP (4.30 and 4.18, respectively) tell a story of mediocrity. A minor league deal isn’t a bad flyer, but with little upside and lots of miles, chances are that we’ll only talk about Linebrink after he gives up a big HR to someone like Ryan Braun.

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The Roster Report – February 4, 2012

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The Roster Report – February 4, 2012

Posted on 04 February 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Welcome back, hardball fans. This edition of The Roster Report features a few minor moves made by non-contenders hoping to move into respectability. With most (but not all) of the big names in this year’s free agent class already under contract, the most recent roster moves are those when teams are trying to fill holes or add depth. Of course, Edwin Jackson is an exception, but we’ll get to him in a moment.

Casey Kotchman

The Cleveland Indians sign 1B Casey Kotchman to a one-year, $3MM contract.

Fresh off the heels of bringing in one former Rays first baseman in Russ Canzler, the Cleveland Indians are doubling down by signing Casey Kotchman to a one-year deal. Kotchman exceeded expectations in 2011, posting his first season since 2007 as an above-average hitter. In addition to posting a wOBA of .351 and 10 HR, the left-handed-hitting Kotchman provided strong defense at first. At a position dominated by elite power bats and gaudy HR totals, Kotchman is an outlier; he provides solid contact, fielding and OBP skills, but little pop even during his good offensive seasons. But aside from 2005, 2007, and 2011, he hasn’t had many good offensive seasons over his career.

The Tribe now has four players of questionable quality at first going into the season. Carlos Santana got a lot of time at first last season, but one could expect that he’ll be moved into a heavier load at catcher, where his bat makes him an elite talent. Russ Canzler and Matt LaPorta, both right-handed hitters, are Triple-A proven, but not exactly sure things. Canzler has never been a premium hitting prospect, and though he’s the reigning International League MVP, he may not have the upside of Matt LaPorta. LaPorta, best known as the prime return in the C.C. Sabathia trade, has but up unreal numbers in the minors, but has yet to get going as a hitter at the major league level. In parts of three seasons with the Indians, LaPorta has never put together an above average hitting season (90 wRC+ for his career), and has been a below-replacement value at  -0.9 fWAR in 2010, and -0.8 fWAR in 2011. Yet he still has potential to be a solid power-hitter, so one could expect the Indians to go with a Kotchman-LaPorta platoon at first to start the season.

Infield defense is sure to be a priority with the Tribe’s collection of worm-burners on the hill, so Kotchman could match up against righties or when Derek Lowe and Justin Masterson take the mound. LaPorta would fit in on days when the Indians face a lefty, or when Ubaldo Jimenez pitches. And since LaPorta also can play the outfield (just not very well), this platoon would still provide the team with some roster flexibility in case of injury or long games. Chances are, the Indians will hold open auditions at first during Spring Training, and if one player shows exceptional skill, then they’ll see the lion’s share of time at first to start the season.

From a fantasy standpoint, Kotchman has a little value in AL-only leagues and as a replacement, but only if he’s a regular at first. Kotchman’s value is almost entirely tied to his batting average (.306 last year, but .268 over his career), and if that slips, he’s useless no matter the park, the lineup slot, or the opponent. Obviously, Canzler or LaPorta could have some fantasy value if they strike on a full-time job and break out, but Kotchman’s presence and the competition he brings causes both of their values to drop in fantasy as well. None of these three players are good fantasy buys.

Edwin Jackson

The Washington Nationals sign SP Edwin Jackson to a one-year contract, worth $11MM.

The next-to-last big-time free agent has finally found a home, as the Nationals were the last team standing in the Edwin Jackson sweepstakes. Though before the season many expected E-Jax to lock in a long-term deal, the pitching market proved saturated and the Scott Boras client took a short-term deal. He’ll re-enter free agency in the offseason. Not only did Jackson put up his best statistical season in 2011 (3.55 FIP, 3.73 xFIP, 4.01 SIERA), but he also helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series as a late-season acquisition. Jackson joins young aces Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, as well as newcomer Gio Gonzalez in an intriguing Nationals rotation. John Lannan appears to be the odd man out, and he’ll find himself on another team or toiling in long relief as a result. Jackson can probably expect to put up numbers close to, or better than his 2011 numbers, due to the Nats playing in a pitcher’s park in the weaker league. This will make Scott Boras very happy when free agency rolls around again next year.

I see this move as a savvy acquisition by the Nationals, who obviously think that they’re ready to compete in 2012. While they may be a year or two (or an offensive piece or two) from really competing in the NL East, this is still a good deal. If everything breaks right, the Nats can ride the foursome of Strasburg-Zimmermann-Jackson-Gonzalez to the playoffs and there, anything goes. But here’s where I blow your mind.

Edwin Jackson will NOT finish 2012 as a National. He’ll head to his eighth major league team, most likely the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees.

If the Nationals are out of contention near the trade deadline, or close, they have a perfectly good trade asset in Jackson and his expiring contract. Any contender can look at Jackson’s solid peripherals, or the fact that he helped the Cardinals lock up a World Series ring last year, and swap a couple of C+ or B- prospects for Jackson at the deadline. A team like the Red Sox would get the benefit of Jackson at the end of the season, without having to pay the full sticker price that the Nats paid this week. It’s a move that will work for every team involved, provided Jackson stays both healthy and productive.

From a fantasy standpoint, Jackson is a solid fantasy starter, good to slot in the middle of your rotation. He doesn’t muster the big-time strikeouts that someone with his stuff should be stacking, but he’s a lock to put up 180 innings, and his FIP has improved every season since 2007. While his WHIP may hurt you a little, he’s above-average and reliable, and in the pitching market, that’s a tough combination to find. Buy, but don’t think he’ll suddenly put up Justin Verlander numbers.

Dan Johnson

The Chicago White Sox sign 1B Dan Johnson to a minor league contract.

The exodus of former Rays 1B continues, as Dan Johnson moves to the South Side on a minor league deal. Best known for two of the most important home runs in Rays franchise history, Johnson has done precious little else to establish himself as a big-league regular. Nearly all of his 91 plate appearances for the Rays in 2011 were terrible, and despite a positive baserunning and fielding adjustment, he was worth -0.8 Wins Above Replacement according to FanGraphs. To do that, Johnson had to rack up a ridiculous .119/.187/.202 slash line, and a wOBA of .181.

Dan’s an elite Triple-A player, but rarely gets plate appearances these days at the major-league level. The underlying reason for this is based on his sub-par hitting for the position, even in years when he’s better than he was in 2011. While Dan has flashed a potent combination of pop and plate discipline in the minors, he doesn’t make great contact on balls that stay in the park. The Quad-A label is frustrating, but in Johnson’s case, it’s probably accurate. Keep in mind that this is a guy with over 1500 major league plate appearances. More than likely we’re seeing Dan’s true talent level in his stats, and that makes him just another guy who is replacement-level at first base.

In Chicago, he’s an injury-replacement player in case Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn gets hurt, and he probably doesn’t break Spring Training with the big club. The Sox are already have enough bad-glove / risky-bat guys in Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo, so unless one of those guys gets moved or badly injured, Johnson will be the regular first baseman in Triple-A for the Sox. There’s very little way he’d be relevant in any fantasy league, unless something goes very wrong for the Pale Hose.

Then again, if the White Sox need a clutch home run near the end of the season, they know who to call up.

Quick Hits

  • Todd Coffey just inked a one-year, $1.3MM with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodger bullpen is already headlined by Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra, but Coffey will add depth and experience.  Over the last four seasons, Coffey has alternated between being very average on even years, and very effective on odd years. In 2011 he managed a 3.62 ERA and 3.41 FIP, both of which were better than league average. He should be a consistent cog in the Dodger bullpen, and comes at a fair price, but he won’t emerge as a serious holds or saves option in fantasy.
  • The Mariners signed UT Carlos Guillen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Guillen has seen his plate appearances diminish greatly over the past four seasons, and he’s nearing the end of the line for his career. If healthy, Guillen provides pop and good plate discipline, as well as some positional versatility, having played 1B, 2B, 3B, and LF in the past few seasons. But Guillen isn’t healthy very often, and his performance has been in decline with his health. Going back to his original team is a nice story, but don’t expect him to stick on the 25-man roster to start the season. And unless he has a monster Spring Training, he has no fantasy value either.
  • The Houston Astros locked in a pitcher capable of giving them 200 innings in 2012 when they signed SP Livan Hernandez to a minor league contract. By signing Livan to a minor league contract, Jeff Luhnow and the Astros have limited their risk, but Hernandez is no longer anything other than average, at best. Last season, Livan managed a 3.96 FIP over 175.1 innings for the Nationals, and that put his FIP just slightly worse than the league average. I imagine that he’ll be the fifth starter to open the season. Hernandez is a great guy to run out there every fifth day, so long as you don’t care whether or not you actually win the game. In that sense, this is a perfect fit for the Astros. (Also, he has little to no fantasy value, as he can’t strike anyone out and may spontaneously combust.)
  • Micah Owings, a rare double-threat as both a pitcher and hitter, has found himself in a place that should help his pitching, but hurt his hitting. The San Diego Padres inked Owings to a one-year deal, worth about $1MM. Owings has been both a starter and, more recently, a reliever with both the Diamondbacks and the Reds in his career. In addition, he puts out a career .286/.317/.507 slash line, which makes him look more like an average corner outfielder than a pitcher at the dish. Moving to PetCo park will limit his worst feature as a pitcher, his propensity to give up home runs. At the same time, it will limit his ability to hit the ball out of the park…which given how infrequently he hits, won’t be a big deal. Owings is a curiosity, and a fun player to watch, but he probably has no fantasy relevance.

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