Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Ryan Ludwick, Joel Pineiro, Francisco Rodriguez
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.
And just like that, the right-handed hitter shapes up as an interesting bargain play in deep leagues. Ludwick, 33, has posted two straight (.251/.325/.418 in 2010, .237/.310/.363 in 2011) campaigns of relative uselessness, but there'll be reason to invest in 2012.
The fly-ball lofter with a mediocre contact rate will be a cog in a quality lineup rather than something close to a centerpiece on a bad team. Oh, to escape the clutches of the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates...
Ludwick isn't going to repeat his signature season - 2008, when he batted .299 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs - but something like his 2009 log (.265-22-97) is within reach. That's asking a lot, especially if his plate-discipline marks are part of a downward trend. But, considering the probable price and the improved run environment, he's worth a stab to see how this year goes.
This signing is more than likely going to have an adverse effect on Chris Heisey's opportunity to play regularly. Reds management went out of its way to answer Tim Heaney's question-inside-a-question, not long after he'd asked it. He was obviously onto something - Heaney, not Heisey. Bummer.
As rates of strikeouts per nine innings go, it doesn't get much worse than 3.83. In 2011, that was the right-hander's mark, which could barely cover his 2.35 BB/9. Pineiro, 33, lost some juice from his ordinarily ordinary fastball, which he also threw with less conviction. So, maybe, in fact, it was the other way around.
In any case, his 2011 output was a far cry from that of 2009, or even 2010, both years in which he generated ground balls considerably more often than 50 percent of the time. The effectiveness of his sinker-slider combo deserted him. Pineiro had to be injured, had to have experienced mechanical problems or has to be toast.
At the beginning of August, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim expunged him from the rotation. He worked on his delivery on the side and while pitching out of the bullpen. By the end of the month, injuries created a need, so Pineiro was back. He made six starts (34 1/3 stanzas) to close the year, going 2-1 with a 4.46 ERA, 16 K's and seven walks while displaying signs of his previous grounder-coaxing form.
The Phils have a full rotation, but an opportunity will almost certainly arise at some point. Pineiro doesn't promise a big-time bonus, but he could deliver plus value in an NL league as a reserve.
No bidding on a K-Rod who's become reacquainted with the closer's role for some middling franchise. Instead, awhile back, he accepted arbitration because his market wasn't to his liking. He'll make $8 million to set up John Axford - assuming that the Brew Crew doesn't deal him prior to opening day.
For the past few years, the right-hander has made a living by living on the edge. His heater has dropped a few ticks in that time, but he's leaned on his off-speed stuff more and learned more about pitching patterns. That has enabled him to maintain a healthy K/9.
NL-only Axford owners should consider making K-Rod a priority, in case of an injury. His probable cost will be easier for them to justify. Anyone who drafts Rodriguez will hope for a trade, regardless. The value of his name may prompt an extra bid or three, making a fruitless chase a bit costlier.
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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