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NL Second Basemen: Day Three
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National League Second Basemen with 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.

Rickie Weeks36086.239134215562
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23B:R    T:R99-0.11.6

The #2 overall pick in 2003 posted fairly unimpressive stats for AA Huntsville(TL) in 2004 before exploding for AAA Nashville(PCL) last spring. Weeks registered a .320/.435/.655 output with 12 HR, 48 RBI, 43 R, a 9/10 SB%, 14 2B, 9 3B, and a 28:51 BB:K in 203 AB. Although he performed increasingly worse each month after his June promotion to Milwaukee, Weeks still demonstrated good patience and plenty of power potential. Perhaps the most intriguing stat here is his 24/27 SB success rate, indicating five-category upside as he matures into his considerable talent. A torn thumb ligament also bothered him most of September, artificially deflating his final numbers. I see no reason we should not consider Weeks the best young second baseman in the game, worthy of bids to $20 and higher in almost any standard league.

Jose Castillo37099.26811532492
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:R    T:R780.75.6

A strained oblique forced Castillo onto the DL for most of April and then a torn MCL ended his season early in mid-August. He experienced rapid month-to-month changes, posting an .857 OPS in May, flopping respectively to .591 and .685 marks in June and July, and then jumping back to an .812 for three weeks of August. Improved contact and ground-fly rates accounted for much of his overall development, however Castillo also just turns 25 in March as he enters his third year as a starter. I see plenty of room for growth in these numbers, suggesting he certainly merits bids in the high single digits due to the possibility of him emulating Jack Wilson's 2004 breakout within the next two seasons.

Hector Luna13739.28511810262O
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:R    T:R652.55.9

A .228/.297/.335 performance in 224 AB for AAA Memphis(PCL) indicates plenty of downside for Luna, and he might even return to the minors if he cannot beat out Aaron Miles for the last infield job behind the four starters and Deivi Cruz. Only Luna's SB upside keeps him anywhere near draft lists, and unless you can risk a negative BA contribution to net a dozen steals, he does not belong on your roster for any extended period.

Aaron Miles32491.2812284372
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:S    T:R66-5.5-3.4

Acquired by St. Louis with Larry Bigbie for Ray King in a seemingly lopsided trade, Miles looked like the Cardinals' starting second baseman for a couple weeks until the club signed Junior Spivey, leaving Miles in competition with Hector Luna for one spot on the bench. Of course, considering Miles possesses negligible power, limited speed, and could not break a .700 OPS in two seasons with the Rockies, he belongs in the majors even less than the one-dimensional Luna. Even accounting for Miles fighting injuries for most of 2005, nothing here indicates he belongs on the Cardinals, forget about anyone's fantasy roster. His best hope involves the coaching staff confusing the 5'7" Miles with the vertically-challenged starting shortstop in St. Louis.

Jerry Hairston38099.2614308512O
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R56-6.5-4.8

Possessing a history filled with plenty of plate discipline and mildly intriguing SB totals somehow could not keep Hairston in the lineup over Neifi Perez, effectively dooming the Cubs' defense despite Hairston owning an OBP at the top of the lineup roughly 50 points higher than that of Perez. Now Hairston looks like no more than a platoon partner for Neifi in Chicago, largely limiting his value to no more than an acceptable source of a half-dozen steals. Given my near certainty that Dusty Baker will deploy Hairston as rarely as possible, do not bother bidding more than a couple bucks here despite his $20 upside if allowed to play every day.

Miguel Cairo32782.25121913312
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R55-9.8-13

Hamstring problems bisected Cairo's season yet did not prevent him from batting ineffectually throughout the year. Excelling in April emerged as a clear outlier for Cairo given his reverse platoon split and the fairly awful stats produced as his playing time increased. He now switches boroughs again, returning to the Yankees as the club's primary reserve infielder, a logical role albeit not one designed for him to emerge as an important contributor. Nevertheless, I cannot completely discourage you from owning him due to his continued SB output, which renders Cairo an acceptable Dollar Days' MIF candidate for anyone seeking cheap steals.

Pete Orr15045.300187322
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:L    T:R551.92.5

Even an unimpressive spring performance did not prevent Orr from earning the last spot on Atlanta's bench, as he joined Wilson Betemit to provide surprisingly strong support for the Braves' regular infielders. Although Orr possesses little patience or power potential, respectable speed and a .85 contact rate translated into a solid debut. He also crushed left-handed pitching in a couple dozen at-bats, so while he lacks any obvious upside in his skills, Orr also should not hurt as roster filler, will add at least a few steals to your team, and just might emerge as a regular big league reserve for the next decade if he continues to echo this performance.

Marlon Anderson23562.26471963121O
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:L    T:R440.43.4

Registering a .321/.406/.375 line in 64 pinch-hit appearances nicely depicts Anderson's upside. He even added power to that production as an outfielder, though it collapsed when he was asked to man first or second. Fortunately, he should not face that problem in Washington given the club's abundance of infield options. Anderson possesses the all-around talent to return to double-digit value if he focuses on his performance at the plate, making him a perfectly respectable Dollar Days' pickup, adding even more value to your team with his position flexibility. The reasonable possibility of a BA drag due to RFK does not outweigh his quantitative upside.

Jose Vidro30985.2757320382
WAS Nationals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:S    T:R446.92.1

Owning Vidro fairly continuously this decade in various leagues provides us a somewhat unique perspective on the veteran second baseman, one that normally involves a multitude of colorful metaphors upon learning of his annual injury. He dropped approximately a hundred at-bats for the third straight season in 2005 while registering his worst averages since earning a full-time job in 1999. I now would not be shocked to see him move to left field while leading off to accommodate Alfonso Soriano, an awful idea given Vidro's extensive ankle, knee, and leg injuries in recent seasons. The only good news is that he remains a disciplined hitter who posted a career-best 1.30 G-F, confirming he retains a solid skill foundation that could enable a return to the $20 level if he just avoids the DL. Since we cannot guarantee more than a few hundred at-bats for him, I instead recommend halting your bids in the low teens, which still might net you a player somewhat correctly viewed as a one-dimensional BA resource due to the constraints of his home park.

Kazuo Matsui26768.2553246312
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:S    T:R22-5.7-1.3

Bret Boone and Chris Woodward do not belong in the second base conversation here, and I also cannot see Jeff Keppinger winning the starting job, which sends Matsui back out to the keystone in 2006. While the club still might move for someone like Julio Lugo or an even better fit in Todd Walker, Matsui deserves one more chance after a terrible sophomore season and a mediocre 2004 debut. Multiple minor wounds culminated in a summer knee injury that limited him throughout the second half, but a strong September performance portends a possible breakout as he heads into the last year of his contract. Assuming Matsui looks like the starter when you draft, consider him a definite bargain anywhere in single digits based on his BA/SB upside.

Junior Spivey25960.2327249372
Age: 30B:R    T:R23-3.4-1.7

Expect a welcome improvement on Mark Grudzielanek's performance when Ernest Lee Spivey arrives in St. Louis this spring. While Spivey certainly did not warrant Tomo Ohka from Washington, especially after breaking his wrist during batting practice in July, Spivey looked like a better fit for the Nationals than Alfonso Soriano. The Cardinals again took advantage of a foolish non-tender to add a solid veteran next to David Eckstein, however all of Spivey's upside rests in his performance against southpaws. He rarely posts acceptable stats against most pitchers, giving him plenty of downside. Conversely, Tony LaRussa generally maximizes platoon advantages and Spivey owns impressive base skills, including a 4.05 #P/PA and a .88 G-F. With the added benefits of batting between Eckstein and Albert Pujols, Spivey appears set to echo his 2002 All-Star campaign. Bid into the low double-digits with impunity.

Eddy Garabito8827.307183152
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:S    T:R2124.1

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Colorado for my comments on Garabito.

Eric Bruntlett10924.2204147192O
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:R    T:R10-1.60.8

One of the quietest fantasy players available, Bruntlett crushes lefties and possesses sufficient speed to emerge as a major roto asset if an Adam Everett injury clears at-bats for the utilityman. Bruntlett fortifies his skill foundation with somewhat intriguing power potential and decent patience, lacking only consistent contact, which would make him an automatic Dollar Days' pick-up. Owners in standard leagues still should consider him during the endgame, since Bruntlett heads into his prime, tantalizing us with double-digit upside if his BA rebounds and his playing time increases, both likely scenarios with Jose Vizcaino departing the organization.

Second Base Week concludes tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Several players jump out as good pick-ups, beginning with the obvious choice of future All-Star Rickie Weeks. Jose Castillo, Junior Spivey, and even Jose Vidro and Kaz Matsui all look like sleepers to various extents, and then Eric Bruntlett and even Marlon Anderson could fortify your roster in the closing rounds of the draft.

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