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AL Outfielders: Day Five
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Outfielders 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.

Jody Gerut17043.253114115O
Age: 28B:L    T:L00-1.2-2.5

Gerut returned from rehabbing his torn right ACL at the end of April, spend two weeks crushing AAA pitching, and then rejoined the Indians in mid-May. While he posted the best OBP of his young career, two months later Cleveland dealt him to the Cubs for Jason Dubois in the club's search for right-handed power. Dusty Baker unsurprisingly failed to give Gerut much playing time, prompting Jim Hendry to dispatch Gerut to Pittsburgh two weeks later for Matt Lawton. A recurrence of knee problems then ended Gerut's season in August despite respectable overall numbers for this comeback. Unfortunately for the sudden journeyman, the Pirates foolishly wasted money on Jeromy Burnitz rather than employ a platoon of Gerut and Craig Wilson in right field, which offers more offense for far less money. Instead Gerut heads into camp as the club's fourth outfielder and a fantastic fantasy sleeper due to his double-digit upside in both homers and steals, plus solid plate discipline that mandates a useful BA in the friendly environs of PNC.

Chris Singleton5916.27101109O
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:L    T:L000.20.2

Landing a spot on the end of the Rays' bench resulted in a respectable .271/.348/.356 performance, but limited playing time and a need to deploy superior rookies quickly pushed Singleton off the roster. Contract confusion then led to his departure from the organization, and his de facto retirement gained official recognition upon his acceptance of a job as the White Sox's radio color commentator. Given that he never experienced much success outside of his three-year tour in Chicago from 1999 to 2001, then moved to Baltimore in the deal that netted the White Sox Willie Harris, Singleton landed a perfect job, providing a comfortable coda to his unimpressive playing career.

Jeff Fiorentino4411.2501517O
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22B:L    T:R00-0.6-0.6

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

Gabe Gross9223.25017111O
TOR Blue Jays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:R00-1.1-1.6

Spending much of a third year at AAA Syracuse(IL) resulted in a virtual repeat of his previous stats as Gross registered a .300/.383/.444 performance with 6 HR, 49 RBI, and a 52:83 BB:K in 390 AB. Only the addition of a 13/15 SB success rate proved at all noteworthy, and I doubt Toronto hesitated before dispatching their former top pick to Milwaukee in the Lyle Overbay deal. Gross again finds himself in an uncomfortable situation with the Brewers with Geoff Jenkins going nowhere and prospects like Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz merely at the top of the list of likely replacements for pending free agent Carlos Lee. Yet he appears assured of joining Hart on the big league bench, and as long as Gross owns a solid OBP, he just might replace Brady Clark in center within the next couple of years. Consider Gross as an excellent target for your last outfield slot if you can land him for a few bucks.

Gabe Kapler9724.24719115O
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:R    T:R00-2.4-2.8

A couple of miserable months spend in Japan merely pushed Kapler back to Boston by July, where he battled back problems for a couple months before suffering a ruptured left Achilles in mid-September. The rehab for that injury may prevent him from beginning the year with the Red Sox, but once healthy, his .314/.306/.571 output in 35 at-bats against left-handers aptly demonstrates his usefulness as Trot Nixon's platoon partner. Adding Kapler during Dollar Days should net a small profit by year's end.

Jason Botts278.2960304O
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:S    T:R0-1-0.1-0.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Texas for my comments on Botts.

Ryan Ludwick419.2204508O
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:R    T:L001.21.1

Ludwick contributed little with Cleveland before heading to AAA Buffalo(IL), where he faired even worse, posting a meager .191/.272/.330 performance with 4 HR, 16 RBI, and a 17:48 BB:K in 188 AB. A broken wrist completed this disastrous outing, which pushed him off the Indians and onto the Tigers via a minor league deal. Of course, I don't see him seeing more than a handful of at-bats with no less than eight players ahead of him in the competition for no more than seven roster spots, rendering Ludwick useless in 2006 barring a return to the skills he demonstrated in the Rangers' system earlier this decade.

Chris Snelling298.2761104O
SEA Mariners4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23B:L    T:L0-10.50.5

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Seattle for my comments on Snelling.

Sammy Sosa38084.2211445139OD
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 36B:R    T:R01-6.1-10.3

Five hundred and eighty-eight home runs, fifteen hundred and seventy-five RBI, and the eternal goodwill of MLB accountants all failed to result in a single big league contract for Sosa this winter. Exiled from Chicago due to a horrendous failure on the part of Cubs' management, he hit acceptably for Baltimore in April before foot problems sidelined him for much of May. Sosa completely collapsed in June, his usual breakout month, only gradually improving over the course of the summer until toe problems ended his season in late August. However, Sosa's skills haven't budged in any significant way from recent years as only dramatic difficulty with right-handers kept him from registering positive value. The future Hall of Famer still should succeed when given the opportunity, especially if he can accept reduced at-bats. Most reports indicate he'll land with Washington by Opening Day, although a role as a platoon partner for Trot Nixon or Cliff Floyd would offer more upside to fantasy owners that correctly gaze at Sosa with an extreme degree of skepticism regarding his ability to return to double-digit value.

Mike Ryan11727.23121317O
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:L    T:R0-1-4.4-4.4

An unexpected career-high in at-bats for Ryan failed to translate into any value either for fantasy participants or the Twins. His poor BA destroyed his overall averages, and his .283/.343/.461 performance with a 15:34 BB:K in 152 AB for AAA Rochester(IL) similarly failed to echo his superlative numbers from 2002. I no longer consider him so much as viable roster filler, and even a move to Atlanta this winter doesn't offer much hope for Ryan seeing many big league at-bats this summer.

Ramon Nivar134.3080101O
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:R    T:R-1-1-0.7-0.6

With a .207/.239/.270 line in 111 AB for AAA Ottawa(IL) ceding to a similarly pitiful .240/.305/.307 performance in 150 AB for AA Bowie(EL), Nivar no longer belongs anywhere near the majors. He possesses poor baserunning instincts, and although signing with the Cardinals could create another opportunity due to Tony LaRussa's preference for highly flexible bench players, Nivar's weak BA prevents him from contributing to successful fantasy reams.

Reggie Taylor224.1820122O
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:L    T:R-1-1-1.1-1.1

Traipsing from Colorado Springs to Durham, Tampa, and eventually Memphis left Taylor with below-average stats on four clubs, nicely demonstrating his negligible likelihood of succeeding in the majors. A minor league deal with Detroit virtually insures an extended tour with AAA Toledo due to the Tigers' surprisingly respectable outfield depth, leaving little room for Taylor even to see big league at-bats, forget about positing positive value.

Shane Costa8119.23527013O
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23B:L    T:R-1-1-2.5-2.5

I frankly can't believe Costa lost his rookie eligibility. The unfortunate youngster performed adequately in the California League in 2004, but his .274/.340/.435 performance in the first two months at AAA Wichita(TL) resulted in his promotion to the majors despite the availability of vastly preferable options like Aaron Guiel and Adrian Brown. Costa spent seven weeks with the Royals, didn't start every day, and then returned to the minors, where he finished the year with a .282/.349/.448 line and a 24:23 BB:K in 277 AB, numbers which suggest he'll peak as a fourth outfielder. He didn't deserve this level of abuse and hopefully will reemerge as a quality big leaguer if given the additional development time he requires.

Jamal Strong205.2500206O
SEA Mariners4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:R    T:R-1-1-0.2-0.2

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Seattle for my comments on Strong.

Adam Stern152.1331214O
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:R-1-1-1.9-1.9

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Boston for my comments on Stern.

Keith Reed51.2000101O
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R-1-1-0.3-0.3

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

Brian Anderson346.1762313O
CH White Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:S    T:R-1-1-2.1-2.1

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

Juan Gonzalez10.0000000O
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35B:R    T:R-1-1-0.2-0.2

On May 31st, Carlos Silva induced Gonzalez to ground out to Mike Cuddyer on the third pitch Gonzalez saw in 2005. Forced to miss the first two months of the year with hamstring problems, he reinjured his hamstring while running to first on that play, left the game without playing even an inning in right field, and then returned to the DL for the rest of the season. With two injury-plagued campaigns interrupted only by 149 unimpressive at-bats, Gonzalez absolutely requires an outstanding WBC performance to continue playing baseball. Of course, given his difficulties staying on the field over the past four years and the skill deterioration he demonstrated even when healthy, I see no reason to roster him in any league barring a completely unexpected NRI from Colorado.

Kevin Reese10.0000000O
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:L    T:L-1-1-0.2-0.2

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: New York(A) for my comments on Reese.

Napoleon Calzado51.2000000O
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R-1-2-0.4-0.4

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

Kevin Hooper51.2000000O
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R-1-2-0.4-0.5

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Detroit for my comments on Hooper.

Alejandro Machado51.2000004O
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:S    T:R-1-100

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Boston for my comments on Machado.

Marcus Thames10721.196716011O
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R-1-1-2.5-2.7

An early slump pushed Thames back to AAA Toledo(IL), where he crushed the ball for the second straight season, registering a .359/.443/.714 performance with 24 HR, 59 RBI, and a 42:59 BB:K in 273 AB. He certainly seems capable of echoing those numbers with the Tigers, so although I don't envision him breaking camp in the majors, expect a recall upon an injury or the approaching trade of Dmitri Young. Thames looks particularly interesting in Ultra leagues where he'll only cost a mid-round reserve pick yet could add $5-10 of value during the year

Midre Cummings20.0000000O
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:L    T:R-1-2-0.3-0.3

Returning to the International League resulted in a respectable .284/.372/.473 output from Cummings, along with 12 HR, 40 RBI, and a 36:69 BB:K in 264 AB for AAA Ottawa(IL). He only saw the briefest of looks in Baltimore, but given his skill history, he shouldn't you if you ever need low-risk roster filler.

Chris Prieto20.0000000O
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:L    T:L-1-2-0.3-0.3

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

Mike Vento20.0000000O
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:R    T:R-1-2-0.3-0.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: New York(A) for my comments on Vento.

Andres Torres193.1580112O
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:S    T:R-1-2-1.7-1.7

While Torres spent a month in Texas as injury filler for Gary Matthews, shoulder problems prevented him from accumulating even a hundred at-bats. Of course, he still owns impressive speed, so his minor league deal with Minnesota just might result in a few bucks of positive value for clubs looking for mid-season SB boosts.

Melky Cabrera194.2110001O
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 21B:S    T:L-1-2-1.6-1.6

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: New York(A) for my comments on Cabrera.

Alexis Gomez163.1880102O
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:L-1-2-1.3-1.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Detroit for my comments on Gomez.

AL Outfielder Week concludes tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Only Gerut and Kapler appear reasonably likely to earn positive value this summer. Anderson and Botts possess the most upside, Stern and the currently unemployed Strong possess enough speed to steal a base a week as long as they remain in the majors, and finally Gross and Thames look like the truest sleepers here given their expected roles and skill histories. I can't quite place Sosa in any of those categories, merely recognizing that he remains a lock for no less than a 20/80 season if he lands an everyday job and spends no more than a month on the DL.

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