Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions - NL East
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Is SP Tommy Hanson worth his 2010 price?
The Bravos brought this kid along as just the right pace. There's some evidence that a slight regression is in store. However, all indications - the rapid improvement in and sustained level of his command among them - are that the answer is yes.
What am I getting with RP Billy Wagner?
A 38-year-old closer with 16 2/3 innings (including the postseason) in the bigs since Tommy John surgery. Is that bad? Not necessarily. Control was a problem, but that's common post-TJ. His velocity and dominance seem restored. How many chances will the Braves give him? That's probably the biggest concern. Wagner is a potential good value.
Has 3B Chipper Jones' fantasy usefulness dried up?
The dips in some power indicators are alarming, but Chipper was the victim of a little bad luck, too. Obviously, Larry is made of porcelain. He's often coming at a huge discount, though. He's aging, but a .300-plus batting average and 20 homers aren't by any means out of the question.
Why does the rest of this rotation bore me?
Not sure. Jair Jurrjens may be a tad overvalued because his stellar 2009 ERA isn't entirely supported. However, Tim Hudson demonstrated signs that he'll campaign for Comeback Player of the Year ... or at least is a low-risk investment. Is Derek Lowe that bad? The sharp turns hurt, but it's cheap to find out.
Why was SP Ricky Nolasco such a letdown last year?
It was a perfect storm of disaster. Nolasco made a huge innings jump in 2008, so we expected bumps. Misfortune and (by his standards) poor command hurt him initially. Dominance spiked, though, and from June on, he was outstanding. The second half is true Nolasco, so don't be afraid to buy.
How would 2B Dan Uggla look in another uniform?
Svelte, but the rest depends on the location. There are no secrets: Uggla swing hard. Uggla miss a lot. He could take some time to adjust to new surroundings, especially if the philosophy for approach at the plate doesn't mesh with his. His batting average skills may be improving, though.
Is SP Josh M. Johnson fantasy ace material?
In his first full season since Tommy John surgery - really, ever - the right-hander was astounding. The development in his control, in particular, makes one drool. Beware the potential for a Nolasco-like humbling, though. The Fish tried to guard against it, but Johnson isn't out of Fragile Rock yet.
Is it time to give up on OF Cameron Maybin?
In 2008, he didn't break camp with the big club but excelled in a very brief September trial. Last year, he made the team but struggled for a month-plus and then had to take the bus; in a full ninth month of 2009, Maybin impressed again. Bottle that. Anymore growth leads to some relevance in mixed leagues.
What happened to 3B David Wright?
Wright and liners are tight. His .400 BABIP was partly because of the lack of dingers. Blame it on Citi Field? Maybe, but not entirely. Is average is next to go? Wright believes he'll bounce back. You can remain skeptical. Steals are nice, but at the hot corner, that makes him Chone Figgins. None of this adds up; he should be entering his prime. Faith is your biggest indicator.
How does the move to the Big Apple affect OF Jason Bay's value?
Perhaps surprisingly, very little. Bay's homers are lofts, which Citi Field shouldn't affect much and may actually help. It's a little similar to Fenway Park in some respects. The team around him - well, that's a different story. Bay needs healthy mates and patience to harbor the same value.
Is SS Jose Reyes worth the risk?
He should be running at full speed by now. Surgery reportedly revealed no complications and was to clean up scar tissue from his torn hamstring tendon. The situation has put the pre-2006 scare back into folks, though. Without wheels, he's useless. In the third round of mixed league drafts, take a shot.
How concerned should I be about RP Francisco Rodriguez?
It makes one wonder why a pitcher who was experiencing so much success from 2004 to 2007 began heavily experimenting with his arsenal in recent times. His command has nosedived. If K-Rod keeps it simple - four-seamers, please - he can have a good year. Will he? Crystal ball please....
Do I want to draft OF Carlos Beltran?
The nature of Beltran's knee injury seems to remain a bit of a mystery, but rest was reportedly the best solution. He returned and played well in a little less than full-time duty. If he falls into the middle rounds of mixed leagues, why not? Just don't bank on a high homer total.
Was 2009 the beginning of the end for SS Jimmy Rollins?
No. But that's because 2007's 30 jacks are a distant memory. Luck wasn't the only factor in a poor BABIP; Rollins was out of sync at the plate for much of the first half. The new profile still allows for at least a .275 batting average and 35 steals, if less thinking is involved.
Can we call OF Jayson Werth a member of the rotisserie elite?
The platoon split means that he's still a batting average liability. The power was for real - just don't forget that he'll be 31 this year. Minimal drop-offs in speed and homers are likelier than not. He's a great fantasy asset but short of elite. He's not far removed from his injury-prone days.
Isn't SP Cole Hamels supposed to be a frontline man?
See the case of the Nolasco, Ricky, earlier in the program. The playoffs compounded the big innings spike. He was lucky to avoid (so far) serious elbow problems; the Phils used kid gloves. Hit rate normalization (aided by more precision and trust of stuff) should help Hamels rebound.
RP Brad Lidge: More like 2008, or 2009?
Everything went right in the perfect season. Perhaps 2009 was the result of a deal with the devil. Home runs reversed fortunes completely. Control is eroding. However, hit rate correction and renewed confidence in his arsenal could mean a sub-4.00 ERA and 35-plus saves. Ryan Madson lurks, but that makes Lidge extremely cheap right now.
Do I put more stock in pre-injury or post-injury OF Raul Ibanez?
Jimmy Eat World would put him somewhere in the middle. Which is really more surprising from the 37-year-old? The whiff rate implies that he was caught up in his first-half homer binge. He's typically not a health risk, but a sports hernia gives pause. The profile is changing, and age is finally a factor.
What can we expect from "sure thing" Stephen Strasburg?
He's not likely to begin the season in the majors, so you'll be playing the Matt Wieters game. Strasburg has the stuff to succeed right now and is a fast learner. Unfortunately, he has to learn what he'll do wrong against big league hitters first. The hype has died down, though, so the price may be fair.
Nyjer Morgan: Believe it, or doubt it?
His batted ball pattern makes it unclear, but a high average on balls in play has been the norm at all his stops. The batting eye leaves a little to be desired, but he's not Willy Taveras. Expect him to be fairly one-dimensional, but he's a better buy than Taveras was at this price.
Should I bother fishing for saves in D.C.?
What kind of bait are you using? If you bought it at a premium tackle shop, you're wasting your money. If you dig up your own worms, cast your line.
Matt Capps went through a painful growth stage last year. A refocusing on command would make him a steal. Brian Bruney and Eddie Guardado (good luck) want the job. For keeper leaguers, Drew Storen has all the goods and will take over at some point - maybe even this year.
Is there any value in this rotation?
Jordan Zimmermann (elbow) will miss most of the season. John Lannan is a decent split play, with no K's. Craig Stammen, J.D. Martin and Garrett Mock show mild promise but are uninspiring. Scott Olsen signed an incentive-laden deal. If he's really past his shoulder issues, maybe he hits a few of them.
Otherwise, just wait for the kid. If you think Jason Marquis will win 15 games with the Nats, you're crazier than you look.
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About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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