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NL Catchers: Day Four
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.

Mike DiFelice172.1180000C
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 36B:R    T:R-5-5-1.7-1.7

With the same number of games played in the majors over the last two years as episodes in a season of 24, DiFelice no longer qualifies as a regular big league backup. He demonstrated decent power for AAA Norfolk(IL), posting a .247/.337/.443 line with 14 HR, 52 RBI, and a 36:72 BB:K, but after a decade of minimal roto value, do not expect more than a neutral performance from DiFelice following his signing with Washington.

Brayan Pena397.1790402C
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23B:S    T:R-5-5-2.8-2.8

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Atlanta for my comments on Pena.

Chad Moeller19941.206723023C
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:R    T:R-5-4-3.9-6.1

Milwaukee simply does not agree with Moeller, who returns as Damian Miller's backup while offering no indication of a return to his Arizona BA. Moeller's mildly respectable skill set hints at more than mediocrity, but barring a couple of spring months of elevated averages coupled with strong skills, he will not belong on any fantasy rosters this summer.

Einar Diaz13027.208117014C
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:R    T:R-5-5-6.1-6.3

I somehow expected Diaz to find more than an NRI with Cleveland, but after two progressively worse seasons supported by perhaps the worst skills of his career, he has not earned a roster spot in the majors for 2006. Given his currently minimal upside, Diaz should spend the year at Buffalo unless the Indians deal Josh Bard in the spring, though even that unlikely circumstance will not elevate Diaz to more than injury filler.

Gary Bennett19944.221121011C
WAS Nationals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:R    T:R-5-5-6.5-8.1

Signing with the Cardinals virtually assures Bennett a full year in the majors barring an extremely unlikely spring decision to give Michel Hernandez the opportunity he deserves. While improving patience and power potential prime Bennett for a career year, do not risk a Dollar Days pick on him. However, if you are desperate for a catcher over the summer, remember Bennett as a reasonably dependable alternative if he rebounds as I expect.

Mike Mahoney6410.1561605C
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:R    T:R-6-6-4.8-4.9

Although the non-tendered minor league veteran certainly might return to AAA Memphis, where he hit .265/.324/.422 with 5 HR, 27 RBI, and a 14:40 BB:K in 230 AB last summer, he almost certainly never will contribute to a successful fantasy team. Limited offensive skill and very little time in the majors generally combines to leave players like Mahoney highly unlikely to see more than brief cup-of-coffee each year.

Yamid Haad282.0710100C
SF Giants4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R-6-6-3.2-3.2

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: San Francisco for my comments on Haad.

Raul Chavez9917.1722616C
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:R    T:R-6-6-6.3-6.2

Since Humberto Quintero somehow hit worse than Chavez last year and Chavez spent the post-season as Brad Ausmus's back-up, Chavez should break camp in the majors despite this awful performance. Of course, he certainly does not belong on a big league bench given his abysmal .172/.210/.263 line in Houston and a meager .252/.299/.319 output in 119 AB for AAA Round Rock(PCL). Consequently, despite the theoretical upside of all Minute Maid batters, Chavez should not spend time on your team if you play fantasy baseball to win.

Matt Treanor13427.201013010C
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R-6-6-5.2-5.6

Primarily known for marrying volleyball gold medalist Misty May, Treanor also spent all season in the majors, though he failed to progress at the plate. While his minor league stats indicate plenty of OBP potential, his continued offensive struggles leave him little chance of winning the starting job despite the wide open competition this spring. Treanor appears headed for no more than another unimpressive season on Florida's bench with his lack of power effectively eliminating any fantasy upside suggested by his respectable plate discipline.

Miguel Ojeda10215.1471918C
Age: 30B:R    T:R-8-7-7-7.3

Ojeda completely collapsed at the plate last year, earning a July demotion to the minors and a subsequent trade to Seattle with Nathanel Mateo in exchange for Miguel Olivo. Six similarly disappointing weeks with the Mariners led Seattle to attempt to slip him through waivers in October. Despite the $375K minimum guaranteed him over the next two seasons courtesy of the two-year deal he signed with the Padres in March, Colorado surprisingly snagged Ojeda. Of course, the Rockies successfully outrighted him two weeks ago, but his removal from the 40-man roster notwithstanding, Ojeda remains in the middle of the competition for a major league job. I thoroughly suspect Colorado will break camp with J.D. Closser and Yorvit Torrealba at catcher, but given Ojeda's respectable hitting skills, he certainly should spend some time with the Rockies, providing a small fantasy boost during the summer.

Chris Snyder32666.202628024C
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:R    T:R-9-7-9-9.6

I absolutely do not believe Snyder belongs down here as the least valuable NL position player, but he clearly failed to rebound from a slow start caused by a thumb bruise near the end of spring training. Despite an impressive debut in 2004, he also failed to earn any confidence from Arizona management, spending the entire summer in a perpetual audition for the starting job he deserved. Now the Diamondbacks have dealt for Johnny Estrada, clearly pushing Snyder into a backup role even though his offensive upside surpasses that of the former All-Star. The good news is that Snyder still registered a strong skill set, including a .12 walk rate, 4.00 #P/PA, and a .73 contact rate that should increase this summer. He also posted a .260/.380/.377 performance against southpaws, so anticipate no less than a platoon job for the youngster. I still expect him to emerge as Arizona's long-term starter, so definitely target him for a buck or two in the spring, watch him earn a decent profit in 2006, and then eagerly keep him as an outstanding bargain in 2007 when he returns to the starting lineup.

Shortstop Week begins tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: When evaluating Chris Snyder, do not forget that he never saw a single AAA pitch and easily could have spent 2005 in the minors. Spending the year on a big league bench should not result in any skill erosion, so please remember to include him in any discussion of young catchers with significant future fantasy upside.

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