Wilson Betemit, Kansas City Royals
Love that production (.297-13-43) in 276 at-bats. On the stinky, smelly, reeking, putrid Royals, PT becomes available. The power is supported, a high average on balls in play is the norm, his K/BB has slowly improved, and the contact rate is acceptable. Betemit looks like a safe low-end buy.
Except for two things: (1) Betemit, 29, has so rarely combined these attributes for a significant stretch; and (2) the PT is drying up.
Aviles isn't going to blast off
KC has no commitment to Betemit beyond his one-year, $1 million deal. The club's envisioned opening day lineup includes Chris Getz (second base) and Mike Aviles (third, where Betemit played most). Kila Ka'aihue is supposed to get a real chance to play first regularly. Billy Butler isn't sitting. The capper: Mike Moustakas will debut before the summer solstice.
It's not that you shouldn't dig some part-time power contribution. But are you paying for the possibility of more of it? Not smart. -Minnix
Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox
Thankfully, fantasy managers are well aware of Viciedo's promise. His 2009 Double-A Birmingham (.280/.317/.391), Triple-A Charlotte (.274/.308/.493) and ChiSox (.308/.321/.519) performances divulge the power potential and his bat's fast track. The 5-foot-11, 240-pounder is a masher who may count batting average as a plus in the long term.
Now, the problems. (Lord Zola addressed them not long ago.) Viciedo will start off in the minors after he heals from a broken thumb. He's a liability on defense. Brent Morel will start at the hot corner. At first, Paul Konerko is back, and DH Adam Dunn has joined him. The latest experiment: left field. What does leadoff man Juan Pierre think? Viciedo is probably a DH, which makes him hard to trade. By the way, he swings at everything.
Last year, for some reason, the South Siders called up the Cuban to be an occasional starter (he has trouble with right-handers) and pinch hitter. In his age-22 season, he'll probably head back to the farm, and not because of his bat. The White Sox have nowhere to put him, barring multiple injuries, and they aren't in a rush to force it. -Minnix
Marco Scutaro, Boston Red Sox
A look inside many AL-only minds: "Man, AL shortstops are top-heavy. Ooh, Scutaro plays for the Sawx. Draft." After all, despite playing through various injuries, the vet had a fine go for Boston last season, hitting .275-11-56 with 92 runs, after 100 scores the year before in Toronto.
One tiny detail missing: He was hitting leadoff in front of that very potent lineup most of the time last year. Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury were DL casualties. Now, they're back, and Carl Crawford arrived, too. Barring more bruises and breaks, Scutaro will park near the bottom.
Scutaro's value has jumped since 2007 because he received 500-plus at-bats in each subsequent campaign. That's in jeopardy thanks to his new lineup spot and the resurgence of Jed Lowrie. The latter likely won't break the lineup out of camp, but Lowrie's 2010 showed what he can do when finally healthy, and there have been rumblings that Boston will consider trading Scutaro.
His clip won't kill you, but even in this slate, Scutaro's demotion detracts from the counting stats based on at-bats. The 6 class in the Junior Circuit isn't special, but there are plenty of upside choices getting less cred than Scutaro - by a wide margin. With a role at the bottom of the order, Scutaro doesn't stand out. -Heaney
Mike Aviles, Kansas City Royals
The batting average-centric commodity smashed six homers last September and stole 12 bags after July. Aviles, 30 this year, only left the yard eight times altogether, though, and his modest fly-ball growth and flashes of power in recent years aren't enough to believe in an explosion.
He's the front-runner for third base work and might slide to second when Mike Moustakas arrives, but that's hardly cemented. At-bats and multi-positional eligibility are valuable in AL-only setups, and sure, Aviles can post a helpful clip with some steals.
But there are more well-rounded options at both second base, where he's eligible, and third base, where many expect him to earn eligibility and are drafting him for it. Besides his .357 BABIP-fueled .325 clip in '08, his peak line wasn't all that good. How much do you want to spend on hope for improvement of a shaky foundation of skills and playing time? -Heaney
Alberto Callaspo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
You should've seen this coming. Maicer Izturis leads off in Mike Scoscia's ideal lineup. Howie Kendrick is entrenched at second; Erick Aybar, at short, is the same; and DH is occupied. Callaspo appears to be out of luck. Izturis' leads the way in Halos with long health records, but all these players are still lead the line.
Maybe you consider it a shame. The Angels may coax him to steal seven or eight bases. Where else might you pick up a .280 batting average and maybe a bit more than a handful of ding dongs? Cripes.
Callaspo won't be without at-bats. But he's not a leading candidate anywhere, and it's not like anyone else is holding down this caged upside tiger. He's not an AL-only starting ... anything, except in extremely deep versions. -Minnix
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.