Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - NL

by Nicholas Minnix on December 3, 2009 @ 11:00:00 PDT

 


Also see: Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - AL

KFFL delivers the fantasy baseball spin on each Major League Baseball Hot Stove deal that matters in your fantasy baseball league. Check back for frequent updates to the Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove!

Catchers

Brian Schneider, Philadelphia Phillies (signed)

Injuries have taken him apart in the past season and a half. The 33-year-old will get some reprieve from the daily grind that comes with wearing the tools of ignorance; at best, he'll platoon with mainstay Carlos Ruiz, who handles Philly's staff well.

Schneider has a little pop in his bat - not evident last season - but he should occasionally take advantage of his new home's short right-field porch. A desperate owner could do worse than this left-handed hitter as a second catcher in NL leagues that require two in the lineup.

Jason LaRue, St. Louis Cardinals (re-signed)

The right-handed bat's power has slowly drained from the cell. Any value he'd gain from increased PT if Yadier Molina were to go down would probably result in more hindrance (to your average) than help (a few dingers). Maybe his batting eye will improve with age. Check back then.

Chris Coste, New York Mets (signed)

Philadelphia Phillies 3B Placido Polanco
Be careful not to overvalue Polanco

Coste is strictly backup material. The veteran will probably beat out either Omir Santos or (more likely) Josh Thole for a 25-man spot, and the Mets' second catcher is always a candidate to receive noteworthy at-bats. That may not be a great thing for Coste, whose batting average skills have declined since he debuted in 2006 - at the age of 33.

Third basemen

Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies (signed)

Apparently general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has already forgotten the lessons of last offseason. Polanco, 34, inked a three-year, $18 million deal to play the hot corner, where he hasn't patrolled in a game since 2005. He's a solid player but could easily be overvalued, at least in AL formats, simply because of the move.

In Polanco's first stint as a Phillie, he spent one and a half seasons (661 at-bats) at Citizens Bank Park. In that time, he hit .303 with 20 homers and 75 RBIs. Those numbers are from five years ago, and several indicators suggest his power was on the decline before he transitioned to Motown. His average may not be far behind. The slope is gradual, and the move to the NL can offset the onset. He'll be a solid fantasy player, but that's about it.

Infielders

Alex Cora, New York Mets (re-signed)

Cora has little fantasy relevance, no matter how much playing time he gets, because of his inoffensive skills. His deal includes incentives based on games started, and given the Mets' injury woes in the middle infield, he'll have a chance to hit them. If he has a job, he's a $1 player.

Outfielders

Dewayne Wise, Philadelphia Phillies (signed)

This could be a solid acquisition, but it'll probably be a better baseball move than a fantasy one. Wise will be the fifth outfielder at best. Ben Francisco is first in line behind Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. All can be considered prone to injury to varying degrees. Wise could end up being a decent short-term add given the Phils' somewhat aggressive nature on the bases. He'd probably be exposed with regular time.

Relief pitchers

Billy Wagner, Atlanta Braves (signed)

This is an intriguing fantasy baseball development. The Braves haven't had much luck with closers, other than John Smoltz, who didn't want the job anymore. Wags was impressive (nearly 15 K/9, three earned runs allowed in 15 2/3 innings) in his brief big league stint after Tommy John surgery.

Control was a problem, but many post-TJ patients have it. Velocity and health will tell the tale. The former was as good as one could expect in 2009; the latter is the X factor. The Braves haven't generated a ton of save opps in the past couple of seasons, but Wagner should deliver in them. He'll come with a lot of risk but also the potential to be - at least - a No. 2 closer.

Also see: Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - AL

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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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