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NL First Basemen: Day Four
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National League First Basemen 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.

Doug Mientkiewicz27566.24011290361
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:L    T:R01-4.8-1.2

I really want to hate Mientkiewicz's contract with the Royals due to his obviously limited upside, but his presence appears important for the development of the relatively young duo on the left side of the club's infield. Kansas City also should be able to swap Mientkiewicz for no less than a decent pitching prospect in July when a few clubs will go looking for defensive depth, thus allowing Justin Huber to finish acclimating to first base with the rest of the infield more settled. Of course, Mientkiewicz adds little to fantasy teams considering he moves to a park even worse than Shea for hitters, so unless you are desperate for any quantitative boost, generally ignore the veteran eyechart even if you see a short-term improvement in his performance upon his return to the AL Central.

Brad Eldred19042.22112271231
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:R    T:R-1-1-5.2-5.2

Pittsburgh sent Eldred back to AA Altoona(EL) in April and watched him hit .333/.387/.869 with 13 HR, 27 RBI, and an 8:25 BB:K in 84 AB. He then progressed to AAA Indianapolis(IL), compiling a .282/.336/.590 line with 15 HR, 48 RBI, and a 14:57 BB:K in 195 AB. His July call-up to the Pirates resulted in a rather sharp drop from those levels, including a meager 13:77 BB:K in his 190 AB, which negated a .63 G-F. Management correctly decided that Eldred needed more seasoning, and although I do not like the idea of dealing Dave Williams, acquiring Sean Casey at least buys Eldred more time in the minors. Unfortunately, I do not know that Eldred can develop into more than a .250/.300/.500 slugger, which looks decent at a glance but adds far less value to a club than even an overrated option like Casey. Only owners that heavily prefer power potential to BA/SB upside even should bother rostering Eldred at this point.

Prince Fielder5917.288210021
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 21B:L    T:R-1-20.40.4

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Milwaukee for my comments on Fielder.

Jeff Bagwell10025.2503190111
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 37B:R    T:R-1-2-0.5-1.4

A first ballot Hall of Famer and the second best player in club history behind longtime teammate Craig Biggio, Bagwell no longer appears capable of playing every day. His severe shoulder problem prevented him from throwing a baseball even upon his return for the stretch run, and no current report suggests he can field first base. The Astros plan to submit an insurance claim on Bagwell's $17M salary, further increasing the chances that he will miss much of the year. I really want to recommend him given he still owns impressive plate discipline, but his injury risk and BA downside render his limited power potential largely unplayable. Bidding more than a few bucks makes little sense for anyone other than Astro fans eager to roster their hero for one last season.

Chris Duncan102.20013021
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:L    T:R-3-4-0.3-0.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: St. Louis for my comments on Duncan.

Tomas Perez15937.2330221171
PHI Phillies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:S    T:R-3-3-10.8-6.2

Leagues with 10-game minimums per position qualification markedly increase Perez's usefulness by allowing him to play both third base and shortstop. Of course, the addition of Abraham O. Nunez will cut into Perez's playing time, and Perez's production already appeared in freefall despite little change in his skills. I no longer can recommend employing him in any capacity.

Jose Offerman10524.2292130111
Age: 36B:S    T:R-3-4-4.9-4.9

This veteran journeyman appears on his way back out of affiliated baseball after flopping rather terribly in Philadelphia and failing to contribute to the Mets' playoff push in any meaningful way. Offerman owns no speed, no power, and no chance of earning more than a buck at best. Only an unexpected contract with Colorado could prevent him from returning negative fantasy value on any investment in his future.

Jim Thome19340.2077300261
PHI Phillies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35B:L    T:R-4-3-5-6.5

Although we despise Chicago's decision to cut ties with Frank Thomas regardless of any perceived extenuating circumstances, Thome ranks as an intriguing replacement for his fellow future Hall of Fame 1B/DH. Kenny Williams paid far too much for the veteran slugger after this turkey of a season, but that decision only affects White Sox fans, not fantasy participants. Moving to Chicago places Thome in one of the only places that offers a noticeable improvement on his home hitting environment. Batting in front of Paul Konerko also provides a welcome cushion and should mitigate the number of southpaws Thome faces. Realistically, the value of Thome to your club rests entirely on the condition of his back this year. Anyone looking to draft him needs to monitor his health situation very closely, since while he appears fully recovered, I see a pretty hard range of $5-20 for his fantasy value. Do not bid into the teens unless absolutely desperate for anyone with his 40/100 upside.

Brian Myrow204.20000021
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:L    T:R-4-5-1.3-1.3

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

Scott McClain142.14301011
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:R    T:R-4-5-1.5-1.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Chicago(N) for my comments on McClain.

Brian Daubach253.12013041
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:L    T:R-5-5-1.7-1.9

Posting a .325/.426/.554 performance with 16 HR, 62 RBI, and a 62:68 BB:K in 345 AB for AAA Norwich(IL) indicates that Daubach remains capable of contributing in the majors. Signing a minor league deal with St. Louis provides an intriguing opportunity for him to emerge as John Mabry's replacement with a good spring training. Of course, Mabry added relatively little in most fantasy leagues, so unless you grew extremely enamored with his limited production, Daubach will not deserve your attention on drafty day.

Conor Jackson8517.20028081
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23B:R    T:R-5-5-5.2-5.2

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Arizona for my comments on Jackson.

Wil Cordero516.11802021
WAS Nationals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:R    T:R-7-7-7.3-7.3

The least valuable NL position player that did not catch in 2005, Cordero missed a couple months with a knee injury, earned his release from Washington with this horrendous "contribution" to the Nationals, and then departed AAA Norwich after only eight games without even informing his manager. Two straight seasons below the Mendoza line effectively sealed Cordero's fate in fantasy baseball even before his inability to perform adequately last year may have ended his professional career. Do not risk rostering him anywhere.

AL Outfield Week begins tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: The risk/reward ratio on Bagwell and Thome seems so bad in leagues that count BA that I strongly recommend you instead aim for youngsters like Fielder and Jackson, who possess tremendous upside and the skills to contribute immediately. Jackson in particular could slip in many drafts due to his poor 2005 BA, but with his exceptional plate discipline, only Tony Clark stands between him and a $20 season.

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