Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Matt Moore, Ian Stewart, Alex Gonzalez, more

by Tim Heaney on December 9, 2011 @ 12:02:07 PDT

 


Your fantasy baseball draft isn't far off. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove surveys free agency, trades, salary arbitration and injuries that will affect your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. You're cleared for your MLB offseason program: The Arizona Fall League, Baseball Winter Meetings, Rule 5 draft and more will shape your fantasy baseball rankings.

Tampa Bay Rays lock up SP Matt Moore long term

The southpaw inked a five-year, $14 million extension with options for 2017, 2018 and 2019. That's one way to circumvent Super Two rules.

New Milwaukee Brewers SS Alex Gonzalez
New Brew Crew 6: Gonzalez

Tampa Bay now has flexibility with Moore's future, instead of letting his arbitration clock dictate his ascension, as they've done with other blue chips. If they find a suitor for James Shields, Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis, Moore will join the rotation early. If they retain those lures, they can keep Moore in the minors for as long as they need.

This sort of financial commitment recalls the Rays' confidence in Evan Longoria, though, and means they would back Moore appearing on the opening day roster. Regardless of timetable, the K-fueled Moore will be one of the more promising middle-rounds mixed pitchers and the subject of a reach in many circles.

3B Ian Stewart, RP Casey Weathers to Chicago Cubs; OF Tyler Colvin, INF DJ LeMahieu to Colorado Rockies

This swap is chock full of projects with potential. The streaky Stewart will start for the North Siders. He was demoted in April thanks to a prolonged slump; he lost the 5 job and scraped for at-bats, along with being shuttled between Denver and Colorado Springs, the rest of his season. After an 18-homer 2010, he failed to hit a single tater in 122 MLB at-bats last year.

His farm output might've been amplified by the Pacific Coast League, a la many a Rox wunderkind. Stewart's swing mechanics probably need more work, and he's a platoon risk. He walks a bunch, but he K's a ton, too. His defense is OK but won't preserve his lineup time during cold periods at the dish.

Still, he hits the ball hard when he's right. Maybe relocating in his age-27 season will rejuvenate him. The mix of latent potential and another favorable hitting ambience would seemingly make him a little more attractive in an NL-only 5 pool that looks to have a vast drop-off, but this is a mixed league dice roll you should only take with a no-strings-attached flier.

There's a little boom hidden in Colvin, as well. His 358-AB, 20-homer 2010 was inflated, but not wildly off base; a productive August, with an avenue for at-bats, teased at a return to that. His lack of walks and abundant whiffs will quell his clip, but his tendency to put balls in the air has found its Shangri-La. Seth Smith is on the trade market, which could open up left field. Deep mixed leagues with expanded outfield lineups should at least keep tabs on Colvin.

Carlos Marmol trade rumors have floated, albeit softly, and Weathers gives Chicago an in-house alternative should they move their erratic but established stopper. Weathers, the No. 8 pick in the 2007 draft, had Tommy John surgery and missed his minors season in 2009. He has been working his way back up the farm ladder since.

At Double-A Tulsa last year, he fanned 48; he also walked that many. His heat hits 97 mph; if he can control it, there's stopper potential here. NL-only drafters could tuck him away just for the hope of K contribution.

The 23-year-old LeMahieu has a modicum of promise, but without much apparent power upside, he most closely profiles as a BA-dependent utility player who would gain only nominal fantasy value if starting work opens up. He's a better commodity in reality than in this dimension.

Milwaukee Brewers turn to SS Alex Gonzalez

It's a one-year pact with a 2013 option. Gonzalez's power-based fantasy stock at a thin position sustains his intrigue, even after he turns 35 in February. He has proven useful in hitter-friendly environs (Boston, Cincy, Toronto). The upgrades over his 2011 Atlanta Braves in home park and lineup (even if Prince Fielder leaves) lines him up for at least one more productive campaign, even if he hardly takes a walk and will struggle to top a .260 batting average.

He has been known to put together some hot streaks, though, which adds to his steady role as an on-again, off-again MI for deep mixed leaguers. More importantly, he could be an attractive profit piece if you don't want to pay for the pricey top NL-only shorty tiers.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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