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Baseball Hot Stove!
Joe Crede, Colorado Rockies (signed)
Crede, 32, capped off his 2009 season with back surgery; he missed all of 2010. He'll vie for a bench spot. What if he shows the Rockies something in the Cactus League? Could he be lefty-swinging Ian Stewart's platoon mate? More? Crede's glove is always welcome, and Coors Field is a great place to recapture your power stroke. He could probably play a little first, too. Just make sure to watch.
Jorge Cantu, San Diego Padres (signed)
Cantu was signed to give the Friars a right-handed hitting complement to Brad Hawpe at first base. Cantu is also insurance for Chase Headley at third and Orlando Hudson at second. Last year was a tale of two halves for Cantu; he excelled in a full-time role with the Marlins, yet had just one homer in 98 at-bats with Texas in a part-time gig. With another utility role in store, Cantu is, at most, a reserve corner infielder in NL-only leagues.
Jerry Hairston Jr., Washington Nationals (signed)
Where does Qualls fit?
Hairston found his way to more than 900 plate appearances in the past two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres thanks to his versatility. He can hit double-digit homers and steal double-digit bases with that kind of time. Hairston will back up the spots up the middle. That tidbit is notable because of Danny Espinosa's inexperience and questionable plate discipline, two things that won't help him if the Nats go forward with him at the leadoff spot. In deep NLs, Hairston could be a low-upside reserve.
Nick Punto, St. Louis Cardinals (signed)
Punto, 33, will back up at second and short, but he's also considered additional insurance for David Freese (ankle), on whom the Cards don't feel certain they can count for a full season. This .247 hitter doesn't warrant attention, unless you're desperate for playing time earners: Tony La Russa has stuck with worse at St. Louis' revolving door.
Scott Hairston, New York Mets (signed)
This Hairston hit 17 round-trippers in both 2008 and 2009. The Mets' outfield has a health concern or two. Unfortunately, so does Hairston, usually. He could still be an interesting penny stock in NL-only formats if he wins the fourth outfielder's job.
Marcus Thames, Los Angeles Dodgers (signed)
Thames' advantage heading into ST: He's right-handed; no other Dodgers outfielder besides Matt Kemp is. At worst, Thames is a bench bat. At best, he takes advantage of an opportunity some doubtable left-field candidates leave him and he hits 15 homers in 350 at-bats. Definitely lean toward the former.
Willy Taveras, Colorado Rockies (signed)
It's tough to look past Taveras' abysmal batting average - he will likely be
ticketed for the minors. Colorado's outfield is crowded, but if a spot opens
up, he could be a quick source for stolen bases in NL-only leagues, provided
he can get on base.
Jeff Suppan, San Francisco Giants (signed)
Unless Dave Duncan is influencing Suppan to post a WHIP you can choke down to get to decent ERA, a few W's and (literally, just a few) K's, you probably pass.
Chad Qualls, San Diego Padres (signed)
The right-hander had a tough, injury-affected close to 2009 and endured a miserable 2010, but he has a fine environment in which to get back on track. He brings closer experience, which is significant only because the Friars could deal Heath Bell. Luke Gregerson and Mike M. Adams initially ensure that Qualls isn't next up (or worth a bid), but circumstances can always change.
Armando Galarraga, Arizona
Diamondbacks (traded from Detroit Tigers)
Galarraga, 29, is not a lock for the rotation, but would seem to be a favorite for the No. 5 spot. Inconsistency, elbow problems and a move to one of the most hitter-friendly parks in all of baseball spell trouble for Galarraga. A move to the bullpen at some point this year seems a distinct possibility.
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.