Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Josh Hamilton, Casey Kotchman, Gerardo Concepcion

by Nicholas Minnix on February 3, 2012 @ 12:11:46 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.

Texas Rangers OF Josh Hamilton reportedly has relapse with alcohol

We knew that, according to witnesses, Hamilton drank alcohol at a Dallas-area pub, and the ballplayer's wife and his organization are aware of the matter. He revealed that he'll fly to New York to meet with the league and discuss the matter. What could come of that meeting isn't clear, although there's no reason to believe that it'll result in punishment.

Hamilton didn't take questions when he addressed the media at Rangers headquarters on Friday, but he did say he understands that he cannot take a break from his recovery. He said multiple times that it related to a personal matter and essentially acknowledged that it was a moment of weakness for him.

Cleveland Indians 1B Matt LaPorta
Running out of chances

This is a somber case. Hamilton appears to be genuine about his desire to make amends with anyone he may have hurt and to rededicate himself to his quest to remain sober. He's always seemed to embrace the attention his story has received and used it to speak about the dangers of abuse, and he's come across as authentic.

Unfortunately, we also have to look at this from a fantasy baseball perspective. This part of the risk always came with the territory. It's easy to forget the kind of demons that recovering addicts still battle every day when we're disconnected from their lives.

Roto players probably tend to overvalue Hamilton just a bit because the great risk doesn't appear to be enough to deter them from the potential reward. He was AL MVP in 2010 despite playing in 133 games, but he didn't play in as many contests in the year prior or afterward. He'll be 31 in May, and his body has been through a lot more than that of your average 30-year-old.

The outfielder has endured thanks to what seems to be an excellent support system, but circumstances have temporarily created a void in it. To the public's knowledge, he's without an accountability partner right now.

Expect that to change. Hamilton will receive plenty of support from family, friends and the Rangers. Hopefully, for his sake, it's more than enough to help him remain on the wagon. Ordinarily, this development should have no effect on his value. If this gives roto owners pause before they use a top-25 mixed-league pick on him, then maybe they have received a message, too.

1B Casey Kotchman signs with Cleveland Indians

The Tribe instantly made Kotchman a bottom-of-the-barrel AL-only first baseman or a solid corner man. The club inked the left-handed hitter to a one-year, $3 million deal that carries an additional $1.75 mil in incentives. Indications are that he'll start, while the disappointing Matt LaPorta appears to be ticketed for Triple-A Columbus.

It's possible that LaPorta, 27, will have a big spring training and change some minds. That's a difficult scenario to imagine considering what he's done with his chances in the last couple of years (.221/.306/.362 in 110 games in 2010, .247/.299/.412 in 107 games in 2011). The right-handed hitter has dealt with injuries in that time, particularly in 2010, to be fair.

LaPorta has nothing left to prove in the minors, regardless, so this statement is either a motivational ploy, a waving of the white flag or both - percentage distribution TBD. He could play his way into a platoon role at first and in left field, if his bat warrants it. Cleveland doesn't need to go that route if he doesn't, though. Carlos Santana will get some ABs at the spot, and Russ Canzler could figure into it as well.

Kotchman, 29 this month, has hit southpaws adequately in his career and was particularly solid against them last year (.289/.340/.369). "Luck" was involved in that and his overall performance (.306/.378/.422) last season, but his propensity to get on base and much sounder ability with the leather makes him the stable piece that the Indians prefer at this stage.

The plus here is that LaPorta will probably be undesirable in fantasy baseball drafts. Something like an AL end-game bid should be enough to take a shot on a talented hitter who may have something to prove. MLB teams were ready to leave Kotchman for dead prior to his resurgence with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, and there's nothing about his track record that suggests he's little more than a get-us-by option for big-league clubs.

Chicago Cubs agree to contract with Cuban P Gerardo Concepcion

The southpaw was the Rookie of the Year in Cuba's Serie Nacional and is either 18 or 19 - news reports conflict, perhaps because there isn't yet a definitive source for his birth date. As the report notes, he went 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 21 games (16 starts) in the league.

It's possible that the Cubs have unearthed a gem here. Concepcion has an advanced understanding of pitching and above-average control, according to some reports.

But that may be about where the good feeling ends. The hurler doesn't sound like anyone about whom keeper leaguers should be excited because he doesn't have impressive stuff. He's probably going to begin this upcoming season in the low minors, and when - or if - he'll make it to the majors is uncertain.

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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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