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March 20, 2005

ESPN Column

Soriano Still Ailing
ALFONSO SORIANO’s silent spring continues. After missing several early games while recovering from his hamstring injury, he missed several more with the flu. Through Saturday, he is batting 2-for-22 with one homer and ten strikeouts. He’s also played atrocious defense (even for him). Normally, I preach that spring stats don’t mean anything, but in this case his are an indication of his overall health. If you’re drafting this week, knock him down a few slots and let someone else take that risk. As I mentioned last week, the first round is not where owners should take risks. If you’re drafting next week, keep a hawk’s eye on his progress. I’ll update his situation as it develops and will answer emails about him and others at tex05@scottlucas.com.

Scouting RICHARD HIDALGO
2005 PROJECTIONS: Position: RF. Spot in Batting Order: Probably #5. Plate Appearances: 600. Batting Average: .265. Runs: 85. Homers: 27. RBI: 85. Steals: 5. On-base Percentage: .340. Slugging Percentage: .500. Upside: Moderate. Hidalgo batted .310 with good patience just two years ago. Downside: High. He batted .239 with no patience just last year, and .235 three years ago. Injury history: Murky. Hidalgo hasn’t reached 600 plate appearances in five years because of a variety of minor injuries.

Meet the most difficult player to project in Major League Baseball. In addition to his seemingly randomly generated stats, he has surpassed 600 plate appearances only once in his career and averaged 568 over the last five years, so my prediction of 600 might be slightly generous. I think potential owners should pretend his unparalleled 200 season (.314-118-44-122-13) never happened, as he’s never come close to repeating it. Take out that season and what does he offer? An erratic batting average, 70-90 runs and RBI, never more than 28 homers, a small handful of steals. In a ten-team mixed league, he a generic outfielder. Hidalgo has considerable upside moving to Arlington, but remember that he spent much of career in hitter-friendly Enron/Minute Maid Park.

Scouting KEVIN MENCH
2005 PROJECTIONS: Position: LF. Spot in Batting Order: Probably #6. Plate Appearances: 575. Batting Average: .280. Runs: 75. Homers: 25. RBI: 80. Steals: 1. On-base Percentage: .340. Slugging Percentage: .500. Upside: Moderate. Mench hit 26 homers in 438 at-bats last year and slugged .540. Downside: Moderate. Troublesome injury history, had minimal power in 2003. Injury history: Annoying. Every year, Mench suffers from some malady that cuts into his playing time.

Mench was second on the team in slugging percentage last year to Mark Teixeira. An everyday player early and late last season, Mench missed a few weeks with an oblique pull in May and was demoted to platoon status for two months afterward. This year, he’s the everyday left fielder, though I think he’ll miss another 20-30 games with another injury and/or some dubiously conceived semi-platooning by management. Mench and Hidalgo project fairly similarly, both having hit for average (but only sporadically) and considerable power (same) in the past. As Hidalgo is the “name,? he’ll be drafted well before Mench. I think an intrepid owner could pass on Hidalgo, draft Mench several round later, and get essentially the same production.

Cordero Healing and Other News
Closer FRANCISCO CORDERO finally will face real competition on Sunday, albeit in a minor-league game. Cordero had suffered from a sore shoulder and is combing back slowly to be on the safe side. I own him in a keeper league and am not too worried about him. Setup man FRANK FRANCISCO, a potentially useful reliever in AL-only leagues, probably will begin the season on the DL. He has not progressed beyond throwing in the bullpen. The Rangers are passing around a severe case of the flu to each other, so don’t be shocked if some familiar names miss a few consecutive spring games.

More Rangers
Read my Rangers preview for The Batter’s Box here. I also wrote previews for Houston and Colorado that you can find in the archives. The Box holds several fine writers including A’s correspondent John Gizzi, former Toronto correspondent Kent Williams, former Yankee and Ranger correspondent Mick Doherty, and a host of others.

Posted by Lucas at March 20, 2005 01:32 AM