Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Vogelsong, Fernando Martinez

by Tim Heaney on January 12, 2012 @ 10:41:46 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.

Washington Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg to throw 160 innings in 2012

The Nats protected promising youngster Jordan Zimmermann, limiting him to 161 1/3 innings in 2011, his first full campaign following Tommy John surgery. They're aiming to do the same with their ace, who'll consistently fall among the top 20 mixed starting pitchers in drafts.

San Francisco Giants SP Ryan Vogelsong
Giants invest a bit in Vogelsong

You know what Strasburg offers; he teased a tantalizing 2012 with his scorching five-start stint to close out last season (24 K's, two walks, 1.50 ERA in 24 innings). The limit on frames is merely an asterisk that comes with his elite profile. Even with the extra protection, Stras' 160 frames, in all likelihood, will be better than many hurlers' 200; you can easily backfill the difference.

San Francisco Giants sign SP Ryan Vogelsong to two-year pact

Full circle: San Fran avoided arbitration with Vogelsong, their 1998 fifth-round draft pick, and agreed on a two-year, $8 million deal with a club option for 2014. The right-hander earned it with one of the most unexpected career revivals in recent memory during his first MLB season since 2006.

His left-on-base percentage will come down, but the output wasn't a complete fluke following a spring invitation. Vogelsong's two-seamer highlighted his five-pitch arsenal, per Pitchf/x, which saw more use of his off-speed stuff. Some months of high grounder percentages showed he made key adjustments to induce safe contact.

He benefited from AT&T Park but wasn't disastrous on the road. San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti probably had a hand in Vogelsong's late blooming. They've known each other since the hurler's early days in the bigs.

There'll be significant regression, sure. He threw more than 250 innings last year between American and Venezuelan winter ball and, despite still boasting a hard fastball, isn't fanning many hitters.

Still, a step back won't make him fantasy trash. Vogelsong's pitching environment remains one of the best in baseball. He'll be a more stable NL-only frames source than many will give him credit for, and he could be a deep mixed final-rounder if upside commodities are thin.

Houston Astros claim OF Fernando Martinez off waivers

Houston used its No. 1 priority to give the former teenaged international signee a second chance. Martinez's plodding farm growth and chronic knee problems squashed his former hype. In all fairness, he was hurried through the minor league levels by the previous New York brass and hasn't done much in his 131 MLB at-bats and extensive bench time with the big club.

His new squad holds a glut of outfielders (with varying degrees of promise) and should give him time to rediscover his once glossy potential. In 2010, he clubbed 12 homers in 257 at-bats for Triple-A Buffalo - his second full season at that level - but he has had trouble sustaining the batting-average skills he showed in his 2009 Class AAA season (.290). The toolsy 6-foot-1, 205-pounder is simply looking for the right belt to hold all of them.

Even with his arthritic knees jeopardizing his long-term mobility, bringing him aboard was a reasonable dice roll. Right and left field are hardly solidified. The outside chance of the 23-year-old coming to the bigs in 2012 deserves NL-only attention, maybe with a speculative draft dollar or two. He'll have to play his way into mixed relevance.

Dynasty managers should keep an even closer eye on his progress. This project will require patience and can't have any strings attached, but don't cast him off as quickly as the Mets did.

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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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