Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Carlos Pena, Rafael Betancourt, Jonny Gomes

by Nicholas Minnix on January 20, 2012 @ 12:04:49 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.

Tampa Bay Rays agree to terms with 1B Carlos Pena

Pena isn't quite the asset on defense that he was in his first stretch with Tampa Bay, but the Rays have their 2011 Casey Kotchman - plus some power. And, of course, minus the adequate - or even quality - batting average and the cost of a minor league deal.

Colorado Rockies RP Rafael Betancourt
Betancourt's trial extended

Pena, 33, bounced back to a degree in 2011 with the Chicago Cubs, but there has to be growing concern about his decline in power production. With just 28 bombs in each of the past two seasons, his ISO has failed to come close to the .300 threshold. It's becoming more difficult to trade the hit in BA for the home run and RBI totals.

The relocation to a neutral ballpark will only hurt that trend. Fangraphs' Steve Slowinski gives a nice breakdown of the risk of Pena. As his notes would suggest, perhaps a saving grave will be a platoon situation, which the Rays can accommodate.

He sees fewer and fewer fastballs each year, and they're more and more the sinking or cutting variety. The four-seamer is about the only pitch he hits well. Couple his sub-70 percent rate of contact with dipping power, and you have an unattractive target in AL leagues. In deep mixed leagues, it's much more tempting just to leave him to his fate on the waiver wire. He should still be an asset in OBP leagues, though.

RP Rafael Betancourt agrees to contract extension with Colorado Rockies

The Rockies decided to reward their expected 2012 closer with a deal that suggests he'll be there backend man in 2013 and 2014 as well. He's been outstanding, particularly in the control rate department, during his stint in Denver, where free passes will haunt you like nowhere else.

The deal may easily turn out to be a bargain, but it takes him through his age-39 campaign. Betancourt wasn't the sharpest in save situations while he was with the Cleveland Indians. The right-hander coaxes a ton of infield flies, but he's prone to yielding bombs because he lives in the air.

A somewhat similar batted-ball index contributed to the much younger Huston Street's difficulties. Those problems plus his greater financial commitment made him expendable in Colorado's eyes. But is Betancourt really that much sounder a pitcher in which to invest, based on one post-break stretch of exceptional work (a 0.33 ERA) in save circumstances? He registered a 4.84 ERA in the first half.

Dynasty league managers couldn't have thought of him as future keeper material, anyway. Betancourt should be a fine No. 3 or No. 2 mixed-league reliever, but he does come with some risk.

Oakland Athletics agree to terms with OF Jonny Gomes

Ideal right-handed bat for platoon situation (with Seth Smith, probably, or at the DH spot) plus Coliseum (not exactly Great American Ball Park) plus likely low-cost major league deal (if the depth chart alone wasn't an indicator, the contract will spell it out) equals fantasy baseball value sucked from Gomes' soul.

Gomes, 31, should still crush left-handed pitching, and his bombs still travel great distances, so the platoon should benefit his output per plate appearance. The likely lack of PT makes him no more than a No. 4 or No. 5 outfielder type in deep AL leagues, however. Righteous. Justice.

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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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