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March 21, 2007

ESPN Fantasy Column

Outfielder Update
I’d talked last week about Brad Wilkerson lacking the platoon issues that cut into the value of guys like Kenny Lofton and Frank Catalanotto. As it turns out, manager Ron Washington has hinted that Cat may get at-bats against lefties despite his well-established track of mediocrity against them. Since Wilkerson has done little to encourage management this spring, and I don’t peg Nelson Cruz for more than 400 appearances anyway, I’d guess that Cat’s extra at-bats would come mostly at Wilkerson’s expense.

So, downgrade Wilkerson some, and upgrade Catalanotto a tiny amount. In any case, neither is draftable in most mixed leagues. The Ranger outfield situation is very fluid and ought to change throughout the season, another reason to look dimly upon all possible draftees. Sammy Sosa is batting .417 with three homers. I put no weight in Spring Training stats as an indicator of future performance, but he has definitely cemented a significant role on the team to start the season. I remain skeptical of his fantasy potential. You know, “a foolish consistency? and all that.

Teixeira Returns, Young On The Way
Mark Teixeira returned to action Sunday showing no ill effects from his bruised knee. Texas will attempt to get him as many at-bats as possible during the next ten days since he has always begun the season slowly. He probably will again, but don’t sweat it. Michael Young should return Thursday or Friday after having sutures removed from his left ear. He required surgery after being hit on the ear. He should be fine; don’t adjust his value based on this mishap.

Eric Gagne pitched in an “A? game for the first time this spring and allowed a solo homer in one inning. It was also his first appearance after only one day of rest. Texas will handle him with care early on, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Akinori Otsuka get a save chance if Gagne’s pitched the previous two days. All the more reason to have Aki as a fallback in AL-only leagues, and he’s a decent late-round pick in mixed leagues.

Third and Fourth Starter
As is stands, Brandon McCarthy with be the #3 starter followed by Robinson Tejeda. Both have mean stuff and potential, but neither has any value in mixed leagues. I project McCarthy as a poor man’s Kevin Millwood: 10 wins, 140 strikeouts, 4.80 ERA, and a 1.36 WHIP in 175-180 innings. The strikeouts and WHIP are respectable, but his penchant for homers will drive up that ERA.

As for Tejeda: 8 wins, 105 Ks, 5.20 ERA, 1.60 WHIP in 155 innings. That’s an ugly line, but that’s what the computer tells me. The problem is that Tejeda pitched 52 of last year’s 73 innings on the road and was also outstanding with runners in scoring position. A more even distribution of innings and typical RISP performance will not help his fantasy production.

Battle For Fifth Starter
Hah, just kidding! I’m not writing about the Rangers’ fifth starter in a fantasy column. Just don’t draft him.

Posted by Lucas at March 21, 2007 01:20 PM