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March 29, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

Brad Wilkerson's MRI came back negative, but like last year he may have to play through pain much of the season. Erase the "something special" potential I'd projected last week. Fellow outfielder Gary Matthews will start the season on the DL, and Laynce Nix will be the fourth outfielder. Neither has any value except in very large AL-only leagues. Texas released Erubiel Durazo and optioned Jason Botts, leaving Phil Nevin alone as the DH. I discuss him below.

Adam Eaton will start the season on the DL with a strained finger tendon. He had little value anyway. His absence makes R.A. Dickey the fourth starter, followed by... Juan Dominguez? A trade acquisition? Gaylord Perry? Just avoid Dickey and the fill-in fifth starter, whoever it is..

Last of the Predictions

Phil Nevin
.261/.324/.445, 52 runs, 16 homers, 67 RBI, 2 steals

Nevin could be the Comeback Player of the Year or the 2006 version of "Dead Bat Dick" Hidalgo. The above statistics are an ugly average of the two. He hit 26 homers with 105 RBI just two years ago, but he also collapsed prior to last year's midseason trade (.256/.301/.399). Nevin should start the season batting cleanup for Texas, about as choice a location as exists in fantasy baseball, so he has the opportunity to be the steal of the draft. Larger mixed-league owners could pick him in the last round, and he merits a late-middle round pick in most AL-only leagues. I don't expect greatest, but he’s worth a flyer.

Kevin Millwood
12 wins, 4.55 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 145 Ks, 195 innings

Like Kenny Rogers, Millwood has the mental toughness to succeed in the hot, windy climate of midsummer Arlington. Unfortunately, that by itself won't make him a top-tier fantasy pitcher, and my view of Millwood is on the pessimistic side. Last year's AL ERA champ is moving from a pitcher-friendly park to a decidedly pitcher-angry one. He also held opponents to a .195 average with runners in scoring position, a feat unlikely to reoccur. He won't have much value in ten-team mixed leagues.

Adam Eaton
10 wins, 4.90 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 130 Ks, 170 innings

Eaton left Wednesday's Spring Training game in the second inning with a strained tendon in his finger. A torn tendon sheath in the same finger limited him to only 128 innings last year. Healthy or no, Eaton has a career ERA of 4.34 in the best pitching environment in the National League. You don't need a computer or even an abacus to understand how his flyball tendencies should translate to the AL and Arlington. Assuming his injury is short-lived, his wins and strikeouts can help AL-only owners, and he is pitching for his next contract. Still, given his uncertain present situation, I'd just avoid him.

Vicente Padilla
9 wins, 5.05 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 100 Ks, 170 innings

Padilla pitched quite well for Philadelphia in 2002-2003, but injuries wrecked his most recent two years. Like Eaton (well, like just about anyone), Padilla's statistics don't translate well to Arlington. He's worth following in AL-only leagues case he shows evidence of recapturing his '02-'03 form.

Kameron Loe
10 wins, 4.55 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 95 Ks, 170 innings

In 2005, Loe was a more effective version of Ryan Drese, striking out few batters but inducing a million ground balls. He has a career minor-league strikeout rate of eight per nine innings, so perhaps he can improve on the 4.4 per nine he offered last year. Again, worth a late-round shot in AL-only leagues. Loe has never surpassed 163 innings in a season.

Fifth Starter

No. Just no.

Francisco Cordero
5 wins, 40 saves, 3.30 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 75 Ks, 66 innings.

Part of a large second tier of closers. Not an elite like Rivera or Lidge but a safer pick than Wickman or Jenks. Cordero is a low risk in terms of ability and potential for losing his job.

Posted by Lucas at March 29, 2006 06:14 PM