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April 25, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

Patience Rewarded
After ten games, Kevin Mench had a sore toe, zero homers and zero runs batted in. Ten days later, Mench has a new pair of shoes, four homers and fourteen RBI. Unfortunately, more than one-half of his mixed-league owners had decided to cut bait just as he began to wallop the ball. Such is the price of compacting a player’s potential into two weeks of box scores. Certainly, each fantasy league’s winner will have made tough evaluations and bold moves in the early days of the season, but the keys are patience and thoughtfulness. If a player is struggling, his owner shouldn’t consider whether a potential replacement will outhit or outpitch him for the rest of the season, not just next week. That seems obvious, but watching your #7 pick offer yet another zero-for-four can test your resolve. Always take a couple of deep breaths before making a roster move with only modest upside.

Patience Revisited
Francisco Cordero partially absolved his previous sins by getting an easy, quiet save against Seattle one night after his low point as a reliever. Over the weekend, he promptly committed the mortal sin of blowing a three-run lead in the ninth against the Devil Rays. Cordero had never before entered a game up by three and lost the lead. Nevertheless, Cordero will get as much slack as possible to correct himself. He did have shoulder problems in the spring but his arm and velocity seem fine. I’d suggest Akinori Otsuka would be a 2:1 favorite to get some save opportunities if Cordero loses his job. Antonio Alfonseca is a 2:1 underdog.

Kevin Millwood’s ownership percentage in mixed leagues sits at 66.7%, which feels just about right. Millwood doesn’t have much value in smaller leagues. He pulled his ERA down to 4.20 with a rough but fairly run-free performance, and for the second consecutive start the bullpen coughed up his lead. For fantasy purposes, he’s Kenny Rogers with more strikeouts. Kameron Loe allowed six flu-ridden runs against Tampa Bay Friday and sickened a portion of his owners in the process. Loe is a decent pitcher but shouldn’t do more than tread water in ERA and WHIP. Add his K rate of four per nine innings, and what does he really offer? Mostly wins; he has none at the moment although he’s pitched well enough to win twice. Wins are awfully fickle, so when a pitcher’s most valuable fantasy attribute is wins, his value is pretty dubious.

John Koronka: Mr. Popularity?
A Ranger pitcher – a rotation member – is the most added player in ESPN’s AL-only league. On the heels of his eight inning, eight strikeout performance on Sunday, Koronka dropped his ERA to 3.75 and his WHIP to 1.17. Nice story, but I think his new owners should exercise extreme caution. In 550 innings spread among AA and AAA, Koronka has an ERA of 4.39, a WHIP of 1.49, and 3.7 walks and 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Which is to say, he hasn’t exactly dominated the minors. He’ll start next against a Cleveland squad averaging six runs per game. I understand the land rush on any pitcher who shows a glimpse of usefulness, but don’t expect much from him.

The Rest
If you really want to test your patience, keep holding on to Brad Wilkerson. I still think he’ll contribute fantasy value in mixed leagues. --- As mentioned last week, Gerald Laird won’t start more than once per series in the short term, but owners in AL-only leagues should keep an eye on him in case Rod Barajas’s season-long slump doesn’t abate. Laird belted seventeen homers in 75 AAA games last year. – Newcomer Drew Meyer started two consecutive games at second in place of D’Angelo Jimenez. Jimenez should get most of the starts and provide a stopgap in AL-only leagues.

Posted by Lucas at April 25, 2006 11:55 PM