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April 17, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

Ownership Society

A look at ownership percentages of Ranger hitters in ESPN’s mixed and AL-only leagues, plus a word on the closer situation:

BRAD WILKERSON (72% mixed / 99% AL)
Wilkerson has endured an atrocious start and a demotion to the seventh spot in the batting order. I’ve written about his surplus of 0-2 counts and struggles with his few good counts here. Though he’s at .185/.214/.315, I wouldn’t drop him in any league yet. At least wait for some improvement against the weak staffs of Seattle and Tampa Bay. The drop in the order will cost several runs but could help his RBI.

KEVIN MENCH (48% mixed / 100% AL)
Mench missed several games with a sore toe but returned on Sunday. He has one run and no RBI in nine games. Except in small mixed leagues, I expect most owners will regret dropping him. He might be available in yours. Give him a chance.

GARY MATTHEWS (1% mixed / 92% AL)
Buck Showalter has handed Matthews the center field and leadoff positions in favor of Laynce Nix and Wilkerson, respectively. Matthews is nothing special but will provide decent returns to any AL-only league. He might offer a spurt that gives the appearance of usefulness in mixed leagues, but remember that his career bests are a .276 average, 72 runs, 17 homers and 55 RBI.

LAYNCE NIX (0% mixed / 55% AL)
On April 2nd I suggested Nix was worth a flyer in AL-only leagues. Now, not. Drop him.

D’ANGELO JIMENEZ (0% mixed / 76% AL)
Jimenez was expected to be the wrong end of a temporary platoon with Mark Derosa while Ian Kinsler healed. Derosa’s own problems have forced Jimenez into an everyday role. He can provide modest short-term value in AL-only leagues. His shelf-life is short.

IAN KINSLER (43% mixed / 100% AL)
The ESPNers have this right. Despite his fantastic start, I don’t expect Kinsler to be a worthwhile fantasy player in most mixed leagues. Very few rookie hitters are. Still, AL-only owners should hold on. Kinsler is why you have an extra DL slot. If you also own Coco Crisp, tough it out.

MARK DEROSA (0% mixed / 14% AL)
Derosa’s persistent ankle troubles have prevented him from starting in place of Kinsler or getting outfield at-bats against lefties, against whom he hits quite well. Texas might have to DL him. He’ll have very modest value in AL-only leagues upon his return, probably as a starter against many lefties.

GERALD LAIRD (0% mixed / 14% AL)
Laird has caught three of the last seven games after watching the first six. It’s possible that if he continues to hit well and Rod Barajas continues to falter, Laird could usurp the majority position. For the short and medium term, however, don’t expect Laird to catch more than one game each series. If you’re grumbling about your current catcher, keep one eye on Laird.

Francisco Cordero hasn’t pitched well, blowing one save and terrifying teammates and fans in two other appearances. The concern is whether a sore shoulder that truncated his spring is legitimately affecting his pitching. I don’t know, but I think it’s unlikely. He’s still lighting up the radar gun, and he also missed much of last spring to minimal effect. More likely is that just slumping. Cordero has always struggled with control, steadily walking about four per nine innings during the last three years. Times of exceptionally bad control lead to bad results, thus, his current situation. If in fact the worst comes true, Akinori Otsuka should get the save opportunities, though Antonio Alfonseca has an outside shot.

Posted by Lucas at April 17, 2006 11:25 PM