KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Cleveland Indians?
How comfortable should a fantasy baseball manager be with Grady Sizemore?
You're familiar with his 30-30 skill set (plus mediocre batting average). The elbow injury and sports hernia that hampered him in 2009 are basically in the rearview. The 28-year-old's surgically repaired left knee is where the uncertainty lies. Sizemore asked Dr. Richard Steadman, who performed the procedure in June, to do whatever was necessary to ensure his best chance at career longevity with high performance. Result: microfracture surgery.
Will Sizemore size up to the past?
Sizemore's rehab is right on track, with opening day a good possibility, but just because he's playing doesn't mean he's playing like Grady Sizemore. His condition probably isn't as severe as that of Carlos Beltran, five years Sizemore's senior, but a slow return to form (probably diminished) is likely. Sizemore could turn out to be a better keeper investment than a 2011 one. Regardless, a reward will require patience and temperance.
OK, so how worrisome is Carlos Santana's 2010 knee injury?
On the other hand ... Santana's left knee didn't require reconstruction. He has suffered no loss of future stud status. Other than the lost experience, the 2010 injury should have no discernible effect on his 2011 outlook. Fantasy managers won't draft him as if it will, either, though.
It's hard not to be infatuated. His first 150 major league at-bats turned out well (.260-6-22), and they really didn't do his performance justice. He's extremely gifted. Santana still has some growing pains to endure, however. If you think that it'll all show up in 2011, you stand a reasonably good chance of being disappointed.
What about the rest of this club's hopefuls?
Matt LaPorta finally has one position and a commitment from the Tribe. His farm numbers still point toward hope and force projected improvement. From June 27 through Aug. 8, he batted .297 and slugged .516. He could erupt one day. Could. The process could also remain painfully slow.
A healthy Asdrubal Cabrera could easily post something similar to his 2009 line (.308-6-68, with 17 steals) in shortstop dead pool. Michael Brantley was on fire in the season's final two months (.292-2-15, eight steals, 26 runs in 195 at-bats), should play regularly and has 25-steal upside.
Carlos Carrasco has been inconsistent throughout his pro career but seemed to forget that in the second half of 2010. There's moderate K/9 upside for the ground-ball inducer. Strikeout pitcher Justin Masterson made painful progress versus left-handers. If he picks up that pace, he's intriguing.
Save Cabrera, those players will come relatively cheaply. Otherwise, Cleveland wants a reason to give players like impact infielders Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall a chance. Keep your eyes peeled.
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.
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