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AL Catchers: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Catchers without Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.  B = Bats.  T = Throws.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2005.
Age = Player's Age as of October 2, 2005.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement in 2005; Adjusted RAR = RAR modified to
consider a player's 2005 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players in order from the highest draft value in a 4x4 league to the lowest. As the majority of fantasy leagues allow you to keep anyone traded to the other league, we listed each player in the league where he started the season.

Paul Phillips6718.2691906C
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R00-0.6-0.6

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Kansas City for my comments on Phillips.

Adam Melhuse9724.247212011C
OAK Athletics4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:S    T:R00-1.1-1.4

A terrible performance at home dragged Melhuse's averages from mediocre to downright scary. Although he managed sufficient power production to offset his weak BA, he contributed nothing to roto teams, failing to push his average to the Mendoza Line until the second half due to growing contact problems. With plenty of youngsters surging through the system ready to replace him on Oakland's bench, Melhuse needs an unlikely rebound at the plate to remain in the majors. View him as no more than roster filler in any save the deepest of leagues.

Chris Widger14134.241411018C
CH White Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34B:R    T:R00-2.4-2.4

Despite failing to outht nominal backup Ben Davis during spring training, Widger broke camp with the White Sox, emerging as a competent alternative to A.J. Pierzynski. Widger continued to struggle against right-handers after spending 2004 in the minors, but his .237/.284/.474 performance versus southpaws offsets the loss of Pierzynski's power when the starter sits for a game. Although Widger lacks any overly impressive skills and doesn't generally belong on a fantasy roster, he also won't hurt as roster filler and just might earn you're your buck if needed as a second catcher.

Wiki Gonzalez4512.2670207C
SEA Mariners4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R-1-1-0.2-0.5

Gonzalez missed the middle of the season with hamstring problems yet still managed a .313/.374/.466 performance with a 16:13 BB:K in 176 AB for AAA Tacoma(PCL) while healthy. Consistently impressive plate discipline helps offset his somewhat limited power. However, he doesn't look like a logical candidate to win the Nationals' backup job over Mike DeFelice and Alberto Castillo, so even if Gonzalez breaks camp with Washington, he doesn't belong on NL fantasy rosters.

Jeff Mathis31.3330001C
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22B:R    T:R-1-100

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Los Angeles(A) for my comments on Mathis.

Eli Whiteside123.2500101C
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:R    T:R-1-1-0.7-0.7

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Baltimore for my comments on Whiteside.

Gerald Laird409.2251407C
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:R    T:R-1-1-1.3-1

I just don't understand Buck Showalter's dissatisfaction with Laird given his obvious gifts at the plate. Nearly dealt to a variety of teams this winter, he looks like no more than the backup for Rod Barajas right now and still could begin next season in another organization. Unfairly demoted to AAA Oklahoma(PCL) in favor of Sandy Alomar, Laird registered a .306/.377/.569 performance with 18 HR, 55 RBI, a 12/14 SB%, and a 28:61 BB:K in 281 AB. His bat ranks in the second tier of young catchers behind only Victor Martinez, Joe Mauer, and maybe Brian McCann. Scouts also generally express admiration for his defense, so Laird's failure to secure a starting job somewhere continues to baffle me. He absolutely deserves an everyday lineup slot in 2006, and if an off-season transaction places him in position to see plenty of time, Laird merits no less than a few bucks in any league given his $20 upside.

Tim Laker10.0000000C
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35B:R    T:R-1-1-0.2-0.2

The long-time Buffalo Bison and Cleveland Indian headed to AAA Durham(IL) this summer after only a week in the majors during April prior to Tampa's acquisition of Charles Johnson. Laker posted another weak .226/.305/.385 line with a 37:80 BB:K in 327 AB, unsurprisingly re-signing with Cleveland two weeks ago as insurance against a Josh Bard trade. With few remaining skills at the plate and no more than minimal upside as a big leaguer, Laker only belongs on the teams of the most desperate owners in all of fantasy baseball.

Shawn Wooten10.0000000C
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:R    T:R-1-1-0.2-0.2

Remaining relatively healthy for AAA Pawtucket(IL) helped Wooten rediscover some of his lost power as he managed a .264/.326/.430 performance with 17 HT, 60 RBI, and a 35:72 BB:K in 428 AB. He headed to Minnesota as a potential replacement for Matt LeCroy this month, and due to his catcher qualification and quantitative potential, Wooten merits and endgame pick-up in most standard leagues if the Twins purchase his contract by draft day.

Raul Casanova51.2000000C
CH White Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:S    T:R-1-2-0.4-0.4

Chicago's third catcher desperately deserves a serious look in some spring camp after another impressive minor league season. Casanova compiled a .266/.325/.489 line with 13 HR, 42 RBI, and a 20:29 BB:K in 233 AB for AAA Charlotte(IL). Although a weak BA limits his roto usefulness, Casanova's power potential belongs on a big league bench far more than the bats of perhaps a dozen likely 2006 reserves. He certainly could help in sim leagues if he spends next summer in the majors.

Andy Dominique20.0000000C
TOR Blue Jays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R-1-2-0.3-0.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Toronto for my comments on Dominique.

Josh Paul377.1892404C
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:R    T:R-1-2-1.6-1.5

Perhaps the biggest goat in the last Angels' history next to ill-fated Donnie Moore, Paul's failure to tag A.J. Pierzynski on the blown strike three call by Umpire Doug Eddings instantly joined the list of great post-season blunders. The Chicagoland native effectively ceded the ALCS to the White Sox as he failed to see further action in the fall following that awful inning. Now he receives a fresh start on Tampa's bench after the Rays dealt minor leaguer Travis Schlichting to the Angels for Paul, a move that places him in competition with Kevin Cash as Toby Hall's caddy. Perhaps the change of scenery will result in Paul rediscovering his seemingly lost speed skills, but since Angels' bench coach Joe Maddon joins Paul as the new Rays' manager, I don't envision the journeyman backstop contributing to successful fantasy teams.

Wil Nieves40.0000000C
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R-1-2-0.6-0.6

Weathering the winter as the only other catcher on the Yankees' 40-man roster next to Jorge Posada virtually insures Nieves a long look during spring training. Of course, I still expect Kelly Stinnett to break camp in the majors as Nieves merely managed a mediocre .289/.313/.395 performance with 4 HR, 37 RBI, and a 13:38 BB:K in 380 AB for AAA Columbus(IL). He appears unlikely to help either the Yankees or fantasy teams in 2006.

Chris Heintz255.2000201C
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R-1-2-1.3-1.4

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Minnesota for my comments on Heintz.

Catcher Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: An unfortunately unimpressive day of talent leaves me few logical draft targets. Only Jeff Mathis and Gerald Laird merit more minimum bids in any league. Despite the marginally respectable skill sets of a few of these veterans, none of them belongs on winning roto rosters as more than short-term roster filler.

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