Alas, we have reached the end of spring training. This will be the last installment
of the Spring Training Notebook. In this report, we'll be keeping you up-to-date
on the events of spring training. Here we'll answer the following questions:
Who suffered an injury that opened up a spot on the roster? Who is outperforming
his combatant? Who has opened eyes in spring training? These numbers are going
to be from a small sample size. These numbers are also skewed because pitchers
often use spring training to work on new pitches and don't have great command
or velocity. Take the numbers with a grain of salt, but don't discount them
altogether, because whoever impresses coaches enough should win their job.
Spring Battle Notes
- Kelly Johnson defeated Martin
Prado for the Atlanta Braves starting second
base job. Prado will be sent to the minors.
- Victor Zambrano has likely won the fifth
starter's job with the Toronto Blue Jays over Josh
- St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Skip
Schumaker made the team after a great spring. He hit .400 (18-for-45)
with two homers, six RBI and 10 runs scored.
- Atlanta Braves starter Lance
Cormier beat out Kyle Davies for the fifth
spot. Davies was sent to Triple-A
- Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Dan
Kolb was released.
- The St. Louis Cardinals released reliever Ricardo
Rincon. Rincon will make $1.45 million to chill or play for another team
- Surprise, surprise. Chicago Cubs pitchers Kerry
Wood (shoulder) and Mark Prior (sent to
Triple-A) will not begin the season with the team.
- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sure like to keep us
guessing. The three players that were vying for the closer's job entering
camp are no longer with the team. They released Dan
Miceli, also sending down Chad Orvella
and Seth McClung. McClung showed up overweight and struggled, but Orvella
was dynamite! Why send him down?
- The Twins sent down Matt
Garza and handed Sidney Ponson the fifth
starter spot. Garza should steal the job within two months.
- The Angels rewarded reliever Scot
Shields with a three-year, $14.6 million deal. Shields, 31, has been an
unsung hero with the team for a few years now and has earned every bit of
that contract. Does this mean the team is trading K-Rod in the future? While
a bit speculative, the move was nonetheless a curious one.
- The Tigers gave shortstop Carlos
Guillen a four-year, $48 million extension.
- Cleveland Indians starter Fausto
Carmona nailed down the No. 5 starting spot and allowed no hits in six
innings today to improve to 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA on the spring.
- There is talk that Devil Rays second baseman
Jorge Cantu could be sent down to Triple-A
and B.J. Upton would start at second base.
Cantu is a defensive liability (Upton isn't?), and it would be he or Jonny
Gomes being sent down.
Los Angeles Angels third baseman Chone
Injury: Fractured finger
Expected return: May
Analysis: Figgins suffered fractures in his right index and middle fingers
and will miss five to six weeks of action. He will wear a splint on both fingers
and be re-evaluated in three weeks. In the meantime, Robb
Quinlan and Maicer Izturis will split time
at third base for the first month. Quinlan and Izturis have minimal value. Izturis
can steal bases, so keep him on your radar if needed.
Minnesota Twins catcher Joe
Injury: Stress reaction in leg
Expected return: Opening Day
Analysis: Mauer gave the fantasy world a scare when an x-ray revealed
a stress reaction in his leg. A stress reaction is a precursor to a stress fracture.
Mauer is probably out for the rest of spring training. His status for opening
day is probable.
Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Rafael
Injury: Sprained ankle
Expected return: Opening Day
Analysis: Furcal gave fantasy owners another scare the same day as Mauer
when he collided with outfielder Jason Repko
and had to be carted off. He suffered a sprained ankle, and x-rays revealed
it was not broken. Furcal says he'll be ready for opening day. However, don't
expect him to be burning up the base paths until his ankle is comfortable.
Detroit Tigers starter Kenny
Injury: Blood clot in shoulder
Expected return: July
Analysis: News broke today that Kenny Rogers
(shoulder) underwent surgery on his pitching shoulder to remove a blood clot
that had hampered his stamina this spring. Rogers will miss at least three months
and can't begin throwing for six to eight weeks. If you drafted Rogers, plant
him on your disabled list or release him altogether. He's out for so long that
there's not much point in keeping him on your DL if you need it.
New York Yankees starter Chien-Ming
Injury: Strained hamstring
Expected return: Mid-to-late April
Analysis: Wang will begin the season on the disabled list with a hamstring
injury. He should only miss a couple of starts though. A lot of people are really
down on Wang this year (unless KFFL Managing Editor Cory J. Bonini). Sure, he
only struck out a couple of Little Leaguers last year, but he won as many games
as Twins ace Johan Santana
and had an ERA less than 4.00. If he's available, stash him on your DL spot.
Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Freddy
Injury: Sprained knee
Expected return: Early April
Analysis: Sanchez will likely begin the season on the disabled list
with a sprained knee. He has resumed playing and plans to be ready for the second
series of the season late next week. Bench him for now.
Florida Marlins outfielder Alejandro
In a move that definitely opened our eyes, Marlins
manager Fredi Gonzalez named De Aza the starting
center fielder. Speedsters Eric Reed and Alex
Sanchez were also in contention. Reed was sent down, and the team released
Sanchez - who is likely done as a major leaguer. De Aza hit .351 with four RBI,
eight runs and four steals. He's in the Juan Pierre
mold and is a mega steals sleeper this season. If you're playing in a league
with me though, I have likely picked him up!
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Josh
The No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft has come to life this spring. He has
been marred by off-the-field problems for four years, but he is still just 25.
He has new life with the Reds after being selected
in the Rule V Draft in the offseason. He has gone 25-for-62 (.403) with a homer,
eight RBI and six runs scored. The troubled outfielder has created such a buzz
that he will make the team as a backup. He's not worth drafting yet outside
of NL-Only leagues, but keep your eyes on him during the season.
Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Ryan
Braun had a sensational spring going 12-for-34 (.353) with five home runs and
15 RBI. It wasn't enough to steal the third base job though. Third baseman Corey
Koskie is reportedly nowhere close to a return from post-concussion syndrome,
but Braun will not steal the job due to defensive woes. The team plans to platoon
Craig Counsell and Tony
Graffanino at third base to start the season.
Colorado Rockies outfielder Steve
Finley came into spring training as a non-roster invitee and a long-shot to
win a job with the team. He had a good spring hitting .286 with four RBI, eight
runs and two steals. Finley gets a $1 million salary and can earn $350,000 in
performance bonuses for being added to the 25-man roster. Finley has no value
in fantasy leagues, but he is an intriguing option should someone get hurt.
His power in Coors Field could be noteworthy.
Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.