Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Andrew Bailey, Josh Reddick, Adam Wainwright, Oakland Athletics closer

by Nicholas Minnix on December 29, 2011 @ 12:33:34 PDT


Your fantasy baseball draft isn't far off.'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.

Boston Red Sox acquire RP Andrew Bailey, OF Ryan Sweeney from Oakland Athletics for OF Josh Reddick, two prospects

St. Louis Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright
One of the biggest risk-reward SPs

There's nothing to be concerned about, skill-wise, for Bailey. Although the relocation from Coliseum is likely going to have a noticeable effect on his numbers, as Fangraphs' Chris Cwik notes, he should receive plenty of save chances - assuming that he's healthy.

The right-hander could be a low-end No. 1 mixed closer in Boston, but the shoulder and elbow problems that have plagued him in the past two years are a bit worrisome. The new uniform could jack up his price a bit, but the combination of mildly worsened marks and health risk don't make him worth paying it. It'll be interesting to see how the market treats the move.

Reddick posted a fine .280/.327/.457 slash line in 278 plate appearances this past season. He adopted a more selective approach that paid dividends in 2012. There's still reason to doubt that he'll be anything more than a strong-side platoon player, but he hits the ball hard and has 20- to 25-homer power. In Oakland, it's probably more like 15- to 20-homer power, however, and despite the improvements he made, he's still a potential BA liability. He's likely to have little competition for PT in Oaktown, so he should be a fine AL commodity and could have short-term mixed value on occasion.

Sweeney, 27 next season, isn't a bastion of roto value, but his counting-cat contributions could be more meaningful because he's a reserve or part-time outfielder for the BoSox. Much depends on what else Boston does in free agency or the trade market and how well Ryan Kalish has recovered from surgery to repair a bulging disc in his neck, which developed after he avoided surgery to fix a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Neither Miles Head, 20, nor Raul Alcantara, 19, has played above A ball and won't be a fantasy factor for a couple of years, at least, if ever. Head is an underrated hitter who had a breakthrough season in 2011, and Fangraphs' David Laurila suspects that keeper leaguers shouldn't lose track of him.

St. Louis Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright remains ahead of schedule

Waino, 30, is one month into a throwing program that is designed to get him in shape for spring training just as he would be before any other season. He underwent elbow-ligament replacement surgery just 10 months ago, but he's snapped off a few breaking balls - perhaps without a ringing endorsement from the folks who are overseeing his rehab.

It sounds like things couldn't be going better. But fantasy baseball players have to approach such news with a degree of skepticism. He may, at some point, have to deal with a setback, like when the scar tissue breaks up. He may struggle with his command in competitive situations. He may have trouble hitting his spots right away.

Considering all that, the right-hander still has a reasonable shot at posting mixed-league No. 2 fantasy marks - or better in 2012. Wainwright is a terrific competitor, and it's clear that he expects nothing less from himself.

As optimism about his condition pervades the rotosphere, expect the discount to dissipate. Perhaps that setback, sometime in ST, would be the best thing for his roto cost. Its occurrence would likely scare off some competition, but considering that it'd be somewhat expected, it could help him to remain a value play.

RPs Grant Balfour, Fautino De Los Santos, Joey Devine to compete for Oakland Athletics' closing job

Balfour, 34 tomorrow, has the strikeout stuff and experience, albeit limited, to be the favorite, easily, heading into spring training. He's maintained a highly improved control rate for two straight seasons, and his fly-ball-coaxing repertoire is ideal for Coliseum's spacious boundaries. He'll be the safest bet.

The A's might prefer to see one of the other two righties take the reins, it should be noted, because of their ages. Each of them has the kind of nasty stuff that preordains relievers for closer-hood and invites roto investors. Don't count either of them out; be willing to take a shot. Each has demons that seem likely to prevent him from staying on top, though.

De Los Santos, 26 in 2012, can strike out more than a batter per inning in his sleep thanks to his upper-90s heat, but he hasn't been able to shake the walks. Devine, 28, is one of the most talented relievers to come along in the past decade. He missed 2009 and 2010 because setbacks delayed his recovery from TJS, however. He finished this past season on the DL because of a rhomboid strain on the right side of his back.

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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.

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