Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - AL

by Tim Heaney on December 23, 2009 @ 00:00:00 PDT


Also see: Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - NL

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!


Mike Rivera, New York Yankees (signed to minor league deal)

In the last few years Rivera proved to be a marginal deep NL rental in backup duty with the Milwaukee Brewers. He'll receive an invite to Spring Training but is chiefly insurance, in case Francisco Cervelli (or Jesus Montero?) can't cut it as the Yanks' backup backstop.

Corner infielders

Nick Johnson, New York Yankees (signed)

The Yanks brought back this homegrown product to serve as full-time DH. Johnson, 31, gives them a top-tier on-base threat who'll probably hit second against lefties - and potentially versus everyone if Curtis Granderson fits better down in the order.

Caveat: when healthy. Johnson is a frequent DL flyer. You can't bet on him recapturing his 15-homer potential, but if you don't mind leaning toward RBIs, runs and batting average at your deep mixed CI spot, have at 'er.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim RP Fernando Rodney
Rodney: the new guardian Angel?

Ryan Shealy, Tampa Bay Rays (signed to minor league deal)

Stuck in Quad-A purgatory, Shealy hasn't played in the bigs since '08 and is coming off a knee injury. If Carlos Pena (finger) falters in his rehab, Shealy may get at least a cup of coffee.

He has flashed power potential and hit .354 in 87 Triple-A at-bats last year, for what that's worth. He is back-pocket AL material. Even if Pena hits the sidelines, the unreliable Shealy would be contending with sometimes reliable Willy Aybar, and who knows who else on this versatile team.


Milton Bradley, Seattle Mariners (traded from Chicago Cubs)

Let's try this again, he says. Bradley's new home won't aid his bat; he'll miss Wrigley Field. In yet another injury-filled season, his BABIP normalized. Hope you weren't caught in the quicksand.

This doesn't mean he can't be serviceable in the middle of an M's order that now boasts Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins at the top. Bradley is a low-end No. 5 outfielder in mixed setups and a potential No. 3 in ALs, as long as you keep in mind his typical risks.

Brian Anderson, Kansas City Royals (signed)

He'll contend for the starting center field spot with Mitch Maier and possibly Willie Bloomquist. Anderson hasn't proven himself when given long-term chances. Even if Anderson wins this battle, asking for anything more than miniscule runs and stolen base contribution in AL leagues is expecting too much.

Johermyn Chavez, Seattle Mariners (traded from Toronto Blue Jays)

Chavez clubbed 21 homers with 90 RBIs while hitting .283 at Single-A Lansing in the Midwest League last year. He was highly touted when he was signed out of Venezuela. The 20-year-old should be on your long-term watch list.

New York Yankees 1B Nick Johnson
Nick the Stick: back in the Bronx

Ryan Langerhans, Seattle Mariners (re-signed)

Langerhans will chip in with some part-time duty and could grow into an in-season rental for AL-only fantasy players. Not much excitement, though, so move along.

Starting pitchers

Javier Vazquez, New York Yankees (traded from Atlanta Braves)

The Bombers gain a pitcher prone to giving up ... bombs. However, that has dissipated in recent years and is outweighed by his ability to eat innings, whiff a ton of batters and temper his walks. Don't write him off based on his '04 Yanks stint; he had a severe second-half dropoff while fighting through shoulder issues, and he understands his body more now that he's older. 

Of course, he's more of a roto liability in the AL. We expect a slight decline in his new home park, but he's a high-end No. 2 starter with No. 1 upside in mixed leagues, as well as a passable low-level ace in ALs. Don't expect another career season.

Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays (traded from Seattle Mariners)

Maybe if he's placed on an uninterrupted path, he can succeed. Toronto plans to slide him into the rotation to replace the departed Roy Halladay. Morrow has drool-inducing K ability (career 9.29 per nine in the bigs), but he also carries a headache-producing walk problem (5.83 BB/9) and injury history.

His upside remains, however. He heads to a slightly less pitcher-friendly atmosphere. Hopefully he can regain his off-speed prowess as a starter. You'll be relatively safe if you make him no more than a deep mixed rotation capper and a risky middle-tier AL starter.

David Pauley, Seattle Mariners (signed to minor league deal)

There's some intrigue behind Pauley, who despite posting a 4.37 ERA in Triple-A Norfolk last year had a workable 2.40 K/BB. Pauley was once a moderate prospect for the Boston Red Sox and stands as another reserve option for Seattle's back end. Put him on your AL watch list, but don't expect him be anything special.

Relief pitchers

Toronto Blue Jays SP Brandon Morrow
Morrow's another day with the Jays

Fernando Rodney, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (signed)

Brian Fuentes' presence by no means eliminates 'Do-Rod from save chances. Fuentes was flawed last year, and Anaheim used Kevin Jepsen in the late innings often as a security blanket. Rodney, who closed out 37 of 38 save attempts last year, will at least pluck some opps. This may transform into a tandem.

Not-so-crazy speculation: Maybe the Angels don't want Fuentes to meet his vesting option for 2011, which sticks if he finishes 55 games, and eventually decide to run with Rodney. Either way, Rodney could be tabbed at the end of deep drafts and could turn into a No. 3 closer if he's sharing chances. Given the team's generosity to closers and Fuentes' shaky history, the newest Angel could easily surpass that value.

Brandon League, Seattle Mariners (traded from Toronto Blue Jays)

The M's gain another saves-potential reliever. League's heat sits in the mid-90s. He transformed into a nearly exclusive fastball-changeup pitcher last season to splendid results: League recorded 9.16 K/9 last year, his MLB single-season best, and he slashed his control rate to just 2.53.

Plus, League reunited with his former Double-A pitching coach, Rick Adair, who's now Seattle's pitching coach. As intriguing David Aardsma insurance, League will earn plenty of speculation in deep mixed and ALs.

Darren Oliver, Texas Rangers (signed)

Oliver is coming off a career season as a reliever (2.81 ERA, 8.01 K/9, 81.5 percent strand rate, 2.95 command). A normalization of his strand rate may prompt other stats to taper off, but the 39-year-old could round out your AL-only draft if your saves speculation hits a wall.

Also see: Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - NL

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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