Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Jason Heyward, Shaun Marcum
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.
The AJC's Carroll Rogers has the intimate details. It's a BSOML story for the ages ... and there'll be many more to come. The positive here is that, last year, Heyward entered spring training at 256 pounds, and this year, he'll report at something around 235. That should bode well for his strengthened shoulder and back, on which the extra weight probably took a toll.
What results will the retooled swing yield? Of course, it always sounds encouraging when a player who struggled changes something, but only live action will tell the tale. Heyward's ST performance - not necessarily his batting average, just how often he makes contact, whether he drives the ball consistently and what his slugging rate looks like, will help determine where he is.
The right-hander has made conditioning and strengthening his core and legs the focus of his offseason workouts, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Todd Rosiak. His goal has been to incorporate those parts of his body in his windup more than he has in recent seasons, which could give multiple advantages.
In 2011, Marcum, 30, had a quality campaign, but he showed signs of fatigue (or something else) in September and the postseason. He pitched a career-high total of 210 1/3 stanzas, including the playoffs. He's of the mindset that his offseason program will help him release the ball just a bit closer to the plate as well as add a touch more velocity.
How much his fine-tuned lower half and trunk will aid him should begin to become evident in spring training, so monitor reports on his stuff. Marcum, kind of a classic pitcher, has never thrown hard, but he's certainly lost a couple of ticks on his heater since his first couple of seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.
It'd be interesting to explore this possibility, too: Did Marcum's increased reliance on only his arm in some way contribute to the stress on his elbow that eventually forced him to undergo elbow-ligament replacement surgery and miss 2009? He also experienced back problems prior to his successful comeback in 2010 and shoulder tightness last spring.
Roto managers should be cautiously curious about whether Marcum is able to add to his quality command rate and reduce his health risk with these improvements.
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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