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NL Catchers: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National 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.

Todd Greene12632.254723010C
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34B:R    T:R0-13.31.5

A strained hammy forced Greene to the DL for two months, a fortunate circumstance for the Rockies, who watched J.D. Closser blossom in the second half. While the youngster still needs more experience, Greene won't return to Colorado after his failure to reach double-digit homers for the fourth straight year. He appears most likely to settle for an NRI, though unless he winds up in a mildly comparable offensive environment like Texas or Philadelphia, Greene may not merit a roster spot again due to his normally weak BA.

Dioner Navarro17648.273314021C
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 21B:S    T:R004.74.1

I truly want to endorse Navarro as the next great young catcher, but he faces dual problems in the unhelpful hitting environment in Dodger Stadium and an onrushing prospect in Russ Martin with as much upside as Navarro. The new Los Angeles regime also has no loyalty to Navarro, especially after only watching him post a .266/.366/.390 performance with 6 HR, 29 RBI, and a 38:24 BB:K in 241 AB for AAA Las Vegas(PCL). Of course, he still owns outstanding plate discipline, and nothing here indicates he should post anything under a .700 OPS thanks to a 3.94 #P/PA, 1.27 G-F, and a .88 contact rate. Navarro easily could emerge as an offensive force over the rest of the decade, yet due to the reasonable likelihood of him departing the organization within the next year, bidding more than a few bucks on his upside ranks as a definite mistake.

Todd Pratt17544.251723017C
PHI Phillies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 38B:R    T:R003.80.5

Somehow Pratt reached a career-high at-bat total in his thirteenth season, though after signing with the Braves, I don't envision him seeing this much playing time over Brian McCann and Brayan Pena. He barely seems assured of a roster spot at all, especially since departing Philadelphia for Atlanta places him a far worst park for hitters. At least Pratt still owns decent skills, but don't count on him as anything more than roster filler due to his obviously limited upside.

Jason Phillips39995.2381055038C1
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R01-2.7-4.2

An unsurprising non-tender casts Phillips into free agency after a bizarre year in which he occasionally started at first base over Hee Seop Choi. Yes, he hit adequately against left-handers, but he essentially collapsed at the plate following an intriguing .302/.365/.413 performance with a 7:5 BB:K in 63 April at-bats. Jim Tracy apparently missed that Phillips generally hit terribly over the rest of the year, yet I don't blame Phillips for his unfairly elevated playing time. The journeyman remains a reasonable choice as a backup catcher with the potential to reemerge as a viable starter due to decent plate discipline and some power potential. Spending a buck on Phillips certainly shouldn't hurt you if he lands somewhere like Pittsburgh for 2006.

Humberto Cota29772.242743029C
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R000.6-0.3

Receiving a chance to play every day just didn't agree with Cota, who clearly profiles as no better than a platoon option on a good team. Thankfully Ryan Doumit pushed him back to the bench as the year progressed, though given Cota's historical stats, he still could blossom into an interesting option. Although I don't view him as a solid choice for your team at the moment, Cota won't hurt you as roster filler and just might add several more homers if unexpectedly awarded another opportunity.

Henry Blanco16139.242625016C
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34B:R    T:R-1-112

Slated for one more season in Chicago before Geovany Soto emerges as Michael Barrett's caddy, Blanco produced his best numbers in years despite general skill degradation. I certainly don't expect another BA far above his .219 career mark, so unless truly desperate for any extra homers over the summer, even employing Blanco as roster filler is a bad idea due to his significant downside.

Kelly Stinnett12932.248612015C
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35B:R    T:R-1-23.12.3

The new Yankees backup unsurprisingly reemerged after failing to win an Opening Day roster spot. Stinnett even saw some time as the starter over the summer, although his offensive output seemingly decreased with the additional at-bats. A move to New York just might result in 200 at-bats for the first time since 2000, however after his failure to post positive value in Arizona, Stinnett seems a poor bet to improve his roto value while striking lazy flies to Death Valley.

Danny Ardoin21048.229622128C
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R-2-2-0.9-1.7

I completely fail to understand why a rebuilding team, blessed with a young catcher with J.D. Closser's upside, instead starts this minor league retread in over a third of the club's games. Yes, I realize that Ardoin pushed PCL pitching over the past few years, registering a commendable .338/.438/.577 performance in 142 AB for AAA Colorado Springs in the spring, but general contact problems rendered him worthless against right-handed pitchers. He deserves no more than a platoon job, and after his failure to post positive value this summer, Ardoin won't belong on any fantasy roster in 2006, especially with Yorvit Torrealba likely taking his spot on the Rockies.

Dave Ross12530.240315011C
Age: 28B:R    T:R-2-3-0.1-0.2

Entering 2006 as the Padres' primary starting catcher, albeit set to platoon with Doug Mirabelli, hopefully places Ross on a less interesting path for the new year. He concluded this spring by losing his roster spot on the Dodgers to Jason Phillips, quickly followed by a sale to the Pirates. Ross then emerged as the Pittsburgh starter following Benito Santiago's injury only return to the minors at the Break. Three weeks in Nashville resulted in a trade to San Diego for J.J. Furmaniak, yet Ross couldn't even stay with the Padres, heading to Portland for two weeks around the beginning of September. Of course, two consecutive impressive seasons push his 2003 breakout further into the past, so while he retains some power potential, the strong likelihood of Ross sticking you with a hurtful BA negates any quantitative upside he offers to the vast majority of fantasy teams. Hopefully San Diego just will sign Ben Molina and prevent anyone from drafting Ross in the spring.

Josh Willingham237.3040403C
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R-2-30.60.5

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Florida for my comments on Willingham.

Catcher Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Only Navarro, Phillips, Cota, and Stinnett merit more than the briefest glance, and the latter duo appear unlikely to receive any real chance at more playing time. Phillips similarly needs to find a club before we consider him more than a late-round Ultra option, leaving Navarro as the sole catcher here worth more than a buck in any auction.

Click here to read the previous article.

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