From: Brian Dorsey <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Ryan Butler <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2011 9:56 AM
Subject: Re: AL EAST email
I figured that since the site is up and running and has a base of articles and most of the rankings are finished, we could start our email discussions. I wanted to discuss offseason moves that we think will have the most impact in the fantasy world.
I think the easiest way to go about this is to do division by division. So what better place to start than the AL East?
The Boston Red Sox made arguably the biggest splash by trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford (not to mention bolstering their bullpen with Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler). I don’t know anyone who is down on Gonzo this year. I’m not either. But I will remind you that he’s coming straight off shoulder surgery, which shouldn’t threaten his opening day status, but is it reasonable to expect a slow start from him? A lot of power is going to come from the range of motion in that shoulder. If he feels discomfort in spring, do you still draft him high? And if he struggles in April, do you target him as a buy low candidate?
Also, does the Gonzo trade take any value away from David Ortiz (the dude is officially just a DH)?
Crawford is going to ball. I can’t imagine him going to Boston and getting worse, although the Sox have been burned by big outfield signings before (i.e. J.D. Drew and Coco Crisp). But Crawford is neither here nor there. My only concern would be that the Red Sox don’t typically run that much. Outside of Jacoby Ellsbury a few years back, the Red Sox aren’t an aggressive base running team. So, if Crawford doesn’t run, he’s not going to have a terrible amount of value.
Let’s talk about what the New York Yankees did, or better yet, what they didn’t do. The Yankees added (drum roll, please)…Russell Martin and Raphael Soriano. Oh, they also re-signed disgruntled employee, Derek Jeter. I don’t think Martin is even microscopically fantasy relevant this year. Soriano might get two saves. Let’s face it, the Yankees didn’t need to change too much. There aren’t a whole lot of unknowns here.
Not to be outdone by the Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays did very little to their roster. This team is a fantasy drag. Vernon Wells is gone. Mike Napoli was a Jay for forty-five seconds and then was ushered back to the AL West for Frank Francisco. I figure Frankie will be the closer here, at least to start the season, but how many games do you give him before he’s hurt and then left for dead? Juan Rivera and Raja Davis are now roaming the outfield, but are you drafting either of these guys in a 16 team league? I think the most interesting thing going on for Toronto this year will be the development of Kyle Drabek. If he makes the rotation in spring, he might be a dark horse candidate and late round sleeper.
While Boston may have made the biggest moves, the Orioles made the most. Talk about a team who had very, very little last year. But this year…there’s a lot of interesting talent on this team and a lot of fantasy relevance. All these guys are slated to start: Mark Reynolds, James Jerry Hardy, Derek Lee, Vladamir Guerrero, and quite possibly one of the greatest one-hit-wonders, Justin Duschscherer. I’m curious to hear what you think about this team. All of these players could put up big numbers under Showalter. It also probably bodes well for Adam “Sleepy” Jones, the often hurt Brian Roberts, and the declining super powers of Nick Markakis. This has to be one of the most interesting teams going into 2011.
Which brings us to the Tampa Bay “Don’t Call Us Devil” Rays. If there ever was a team that could pull off a fire sale and call it “retooling,” it’s this team. Before the team signed Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, Tropicana was a ghost town. Gone are Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, and Jason Bartlett. That leaves Dan Johnson (career BA .243) at first and Reid Brignac (career BA .254) at short. I’m jumping for joy (and I’m not drafting either one). Damon and Ramirez conceivably could have good years, but I would rather appoint the “wait and see” rule with these two. Probable starter Jeremy Hellickson slides into the rotation in Garza’s absence. This kid is going to be good, but I’m not sure I want him this year. His innings cap is going to have him shut down by September.
One last note about the Rays: Their bench is so thin, guess who is their backup first baseman? Don’t look. Just take a guess.
Looking forward to your response, Buttman.
From: Ryan Butler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Brian Dorsey <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, February 25, 2011 1:05 AM
Subject: Re: AL EAST email
The Red Sox really went after it this offseason. No longer can anyone say that they don’t have the offensive firepower to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the redoubtable Yankees. And, if Josh Beckett gets his act together, he could reprise his role as staff ace, and be a great fantasy value, since I don’t see him going very high in anyone’s draft.
Boston is absolutely loaded, and I would be shocked if they don’t end up representing the AL in the World Series. The acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford give them as good a lineup as there is in baseball. A-Gon is going to absolutely kill it in Boston, and I see an AL MVP in his near future. His opposite-field power is second-to-none, and he will be driving balls off and over the Green Monster all season. Couple that with a handful of games in the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium, and a 40-homer season is well within his reach. After all, he already accomplished the feat in 2009, playing half of his games in cavernous Petco Park.
I’m not sure sure where Crawford is going to hit in Boston’s order. I could see him hitting 1, 2, 3, 6, or 7. I like him in the two-hole though. If I were Terry Francona, I would set my lineup like this: 1. Ellsbury 2. Crawford 3. Youklis 4. Gonzalez 5. Ortiz 6. Pedroia 7. Drew/Cameron 8. Saltalamacchia/Varitek 9. Scutaro. No easy outs there. There are a few health questions (Drew, Ellsbury), and some age (Varitek, Ortiz, Cameron), so I like the lefty-righty platoon of Drew and Cameron. I don’t think Varitek is going to play hardly at all, so the catching job is going to Saltalamacchia’s to lose. Frankly, he’s been such a disappointing player up to this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if his performance prompts the Sox to make a trade to fill the position.
Throw in an improved bullpen and a starting rotation replete with fantasy-caliber pitchers, and no one is gonna stop the chowdaheads, they ah gonna be stupid wicked good! Aaah!
Players with the most fantasy value (in order): Gonzalez, Crawford, Youklis, Lester, Papelbon, Ortiz, Beckett(?)
The Yankees are going to be battling for the Wild Card this season. After finishing second in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, NYY failed to address their most glaring weakness: a starting rotation that just isn’t very good. In the 2010 ALCS, the Rangers exposed the suspect Yankee rotation with a metaphorical de-pantsing the likes of which I hadn’t seen since 7th grade gym class. Now, they are entering the 2011 campaign with a rotation of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Sergio Mitre, and Ivan Nova. Sabathia is an ace. Hughes is pretty good. Burnett is an albatross around the Yankees’ neck. Mitre has been awful everywhere he’s been. Nova is an almost completely unknown quantity, with a total of 7 (unremarkable) career starts. If I were a Yankee fan (which I certainly am not), I would be very leery of this motley crew. The addition of Rafael Soriano as a set-up man improves the bullpen greatly, but seriously impacts (in a bad way) his fantasy value, though he will get a good deal of holds. Provided that holds jive with your fantasy scoring criteria, he’ll be worth a late-round selection. I myself am a big fan of The Hold, since in 2005 the Brothers Scot(t) (Linebrink and Shields) helped lead my squad to the inaugural “DLee Fantasy League Championship.”
The Yanks put all their eggs into the Cliff Lee basket, and when he elected to sign with the Phillies, he took their chances of repeating as AL East Champs with him.
Players with the most fantasy value (in order): Cano, A-Rod, Sabathia, Swisher, Granderson, Hughes, Rivera, Gardner, Jeter.
And, speaking of teams that forfeited any chance of winning the AL East because of things they did/didn’t do this offseason, let’s talk about the Tampa Bay Rays. I was pulling for them last season. I really liked the makeup of their club; power at the corners, speed and power in the outfield, a dominant bullpen, and a staff full of good, young arms. Certainly their starting pitching was better than NYY’s, but in the end, Tampa was undone by an inconsistent offense.
Even with the trade of Matt Garza to the Cubs, I still like their rotation. I think it is still the strength of their team, and will help keep them competetive. Their bullpen, which, aside from San Diego was the best in the Majors, bears almost no resemblance to last year’s crew. Soriano, Benoit, Balfour, Wheeler, Choate, are all gone.
On the offensive side, aside from the highly-anticipated loss of All-Star Carl Crawford, veterans Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena have been replaced by Reid Brignac and Dan Johnson. Pena’s batting average was pitifully low last year (.196!), but he still managed to hit 28 home runs. Johnson, though his sample-size is much smaller, looks to be almost a Pena clone, with slightly less power. He might end up being a good waiver pickup. Brignac will be OK. The aging Damon is still a pretty good player, though nowhere near the level of Crawford. Manny Ramirez will do what he does, which is hit, and I like him as a DH.
The Rays will struggle to score runs at times, just like last year. Jeremy Hellickson will help offset the loss of Garza. The losses suffered in the bullpen, however, will be too much to overcome. They will finish third in the AL East.
Players with the most fantasy value (in order): Longoria, Price, Upton, Hellickson, Zobrist, Damon, Ramirez, Johnson.
In fourth-place will be the Blue Jays. I think they will have trouble scoring runs. I applaud them for dumping Vernon Wells’ horrible contract, but they will miss his offense. And, while I understand the need for a closer, I would liked to have seen them keep Mike Napoli (or John Buck, for that matter), rather than trade him to Texas for Frank Francisco. As far as fantasy-relevant players in the outfield, Travis Snider could be very good if he builds on last year’s success. Rajai Davis is a great source of stolen bases, but little else.
I think that Adam Lind and Aaron Hill were drinking from the same glass last season. The right-side of the Toronto infield fell victim to some sort of disease. You know my feelings on Hill by now; he’s going to rebound. If you look at Lind’s career, it’s gone something like this: good, suck, good, good, suck. So, by that logic, he should be due for a decent season. Jose Bautista is the guy we all will be watching to see if he can do anything close to what he did last season. I have my doubts, but he will still be the most productive Blue Jay this year.
The starting rotation should be very good, with Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, and young Kyle Drabek. I expect to see improvement from each of them, as only Romero mangaged a sub-4.00 ERA last year. If Morrow can stay healthy, he will be an excellent fantasy option (love his career 10 K/9).
Players with the most fantasy value (in order): Bautista, Morrow, Hill, Romero, Davis, Lind, Francisco, Cecil, Drabek.
The Baltimore Orioles may climb out of the cellar this year. But probably not. I really like the additions of Derek Lee, Vlad Guererro, Mark Reynolds, and even J.J. Hardy. At least the fans in Baltimore should see some runs scored. Preventing runs from being scored against them could be another story. When Jeremy Guthrie is your No.1 starter, your rotation is in heap-big trouble. Unless Justin Duscherer comes back from his surgery and pitches the way he is capable, which is very good, I don’t see any of their starting pitchers posting an ERA under 4.00. Maybe Brian Matusz, if he continues to progress. The Orioles are going to find themselves in plenty of 8-7 track meets this season.
Their offense contains of plenty of fantasy-worthy players, though not anybody I would take before say, the 5th or 6th round (Adam Jones). Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Reynolds, Lee, Guererro, Jones and Hardy all will find their way onto someone’s fantasy team. The Orioles will finish last. They should be fun to watch though.
Players with the most fantasy value: Pretty much every player in their starting-nine is gonna end up on someone’s fantasy roster. I don’t forsee any starting pitcher, except maybe Duscherer and Matusz, having any fantasy value whatsoever.