Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - AL

by Tim Heaney on December 13, 2010 @ 17:00:00 PDT

 


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

Miguel Olivo, Seattle Mariners (signed)

Typically a decent bet for double-digit homers, Olivo's power will miss Coors Field. Luckily, besides last year, he wasn't reliant on his home for pop. You'll be fine dealing with his streaky play as a No. 2 mixed catcher, especially since he'll have little competition for at-bats.

Matt Treanor, Texas Rangers (re-signed)

Before Bengie Molina arrived last season, Treanor logged frequent at-bats for a while because no one else claimed the job. That could work under the right AL-only circumstances. Yorvit Torrealba is hardly a guarantee to be effective.

Corner infielders

Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox (re-signed)

Though Paulie was slightly fortunate in his batting average production, he stayed in arguably his best possible fantasy situation. His home park and stable plate skills are slowing his decline.

Skepticism of a 2010 repeat may lower his price in some circles; he's heading into his age-35 campaign, after all. Returning to the South Side might boost his ADP in some, as well. Either way, putting the Sox back on sets him up at least to meet his 2009 production (.277-28-88) again - good for a low-end No. 1 mixed option.

Middle infielders

J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles (traded from Minnesota Twins)

A bone bruise on his left wrist and playing in Target Field stripped much of his power in 2010. The streaky 28-year-old bat has renewed deep league intrigue and shallow league upside thanks to his new home. Watch for reports on his wrist.

Brendan Ryan, Seattle Mariners (traded from St. Louis Cardinals)

He'll probably back up Jack Wilson. Even if he lands PT, Ryan's value centered on batting average and double-digit steals isn't helped by moving to this offense. Maybe AL owners could rent him during the season.

Cesar Izturis, Baltimore Orioles (re-signed)

Chicago White Sox 1B Paul Konerko
Paulie returns to his Cell

Izturis will make the club as the backup to J.J. Hardy. Falling into frequent playing time would bring double-digit steals ... but also other ugly peripherals.

Brendan Harris, Baltimore Orioles (traded from Minnesota Twins)

He'll compete for a utility spot and has little offensive upside.

Esteilon Peguero, Seattle Mariners (signed)

By many accounts the top international free-agent talent, the 17-year-old is a dynasty league project. He's a shortstop now but probably will move to second or third. Though Peguero's power hasn't shown up yet, scouts suggest he can grow into it down the road.

Outfielders

Carl Crawford, OF, Boston Red Sox (signed)

The 30-year-old is a cemented first-rounder. Last year he traded some swipes for some more taters - a career-high 19, supported by fly-ball growth. It's hard to expect him to hit many more than that considering his batting average-slanted profile. (Aside, warning sign there: Have you seen his performance against lefties since '07?)

Still, as long as you don't consider Crawford your new homer base, his dominance in the other four categories - buoyed by a dangerous paper lineup - fits his price. Are you willing to pay it?

Jeff Francoeur, Kansas City Royals (signed)

Frenchy steps into a starting gig and will probably hit in the middle of the order. His last two seasons have shown increases in contact rate and fly-ball percentage, but they won't get help from his new home park. Plate discipline still eludes him.

Francoeur's age (27 in January) hints there's upside left, but his profile doesn't encourage it; if he could hit righties for average, it'd be encouraging. Some might take the chance in deep mixed; you're better off sticking to AL-only.

Melky Cabrera, Kansas City Royals (signed)

Another fourth outfielder in starter's clothing, Cabrera doesn't do anything overtly well and isn't worth mixed draft attention - basically KC's new incarnation of David DeJesus. Cabrera would round out an AL-only outfield, at best.

Designated hitters

Jack Cust, Seattle Mariners (signed)

Can he show power in another poor home park? At the outset, he'll get a chance to as the primary DH. Milton Bradley also needs to be appeased, though, so that plan is fluid. Cust isn't outfield-eligible under 20-game rules, so that limits his mixed utility.

Pitchers

Koji Uehara, Baltimore Orioles (re-signed)

Uehara's skills blossomed in the 'pen, and he'll all but certainly stay in relief. He'll probably compete for saves with Mike Gonzalez unless Baltimore finds another stopper type - Kevin Gregg, maybe? Even if that happens, Uehara is the top speculative candidate.

Scott Downs, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (signed)

The skilled Downs is a candidate to close and is worthy of speculation. Unfortunately, so are incumbent stopper Fernando Rodney, Hisanori Takahashi, Jordan Walden and Kevin Jepsen in what could be a messy committee. Mike Scioscia plans on paring down his options. Take note.

Jim Hoey, Minnesota Twins (traded from Baltimore Orioles)

The 28-year-old has reportedly regained his mid-90s velocity after years of injuries. Will regaining command follow? Deep leaguers seeking LIMA-type arms should keep track of this former saves sleeper.

Brett Jacobson, Minnesota Twins (traded from Baltimore Orioles)

Jacobson, 24, excelled at Single-A Frederick last year and will probably hone his craft at Double-A. His ground-ball profile hints at long-term intrigue if he can find a role. He's a bit of a project, though.

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Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove - NL

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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