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AL Relievers: Day Eight
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Relief Pitchers without Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
W = Wins.  S = Saves.  ERA = Earned Run Average (ER*9/IP).
WHIP = (Walks + Hits)/IP aka Ratio.  K = Strikeouts.  BB = Bases on Balls aka Walks.
H = Hits.  IP = Innings Pitched.  P = Pitches.  B = Bats.
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 whether a pitcher qualified as a starter 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.

Rafael Soriano002.450.959167.1
SEA Mariners4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-1-21.92.8

Soriano's Tommy John rehab concluded in September, whereupon he immediately began dominating AL hitters. With another winter of rest behind him, Soriano appears likely to break camp in the Mariners' bullpen, possibly even as Eddie Guardado's set-up man. Despite potential competition from J.J. Putz and Clint Nageotte, right now Soriano looks like the logical candidate to grab any extra save opportunities, as well as the frontrunner to replace Guardado no later than 2007.

Jonah Bayliss004.630.94104711.2
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-1-2-0.11.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Kansas City for my comments on Bayliss.

Mike Stanton304.641.5027154942.2
Age: 38P:L    B:L-1-1-0.3-0.3

While we certainly understood why New York cut Stanton, as well as the rationale for Washington signing the veteran, I doubt we'll ever see an acceptable explanation for why the Red Sox dealt a couple of A-ball prospects so that Stanton could pitch one game in a Boston uniform. His return to the Nationals this year again leaves him in his customary role, though given his general skill decline as he approaches forty, Stanton only belongs on your roster as no more than short-term roster filler.

Jake Woods104.551.372083027.2
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24P:L    B:L-1-20.13.3

Moving to the bullpen led to welcome improvement for Woods, who overcame a high homer rate to manage passable qualitative stats. His 5.89 ERA on a 36:17 K:BB in 36.2 IP with 50 H and 7 HR better reflects his AAA Salt Lake(PCL) home rather than any severe skill deficiency. Moving to Seattle in December gives Woods an even better opportunity to secure long-term big league employment, so if he emerges with the Mariners as expected, don't be afraid to employ him as roster filler whenever necessary.

Jason Davis404.691.5932204440.1
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-1-1-0.54.2

Despite a steady stream of grounders and the upside suggested by a rising strikeout rate, Davis appears indefinitely stuck in long relief at the end of Cleveland's loaded bullpen. Yes, Davis also managed a 4.61 ERA on a 77:27 K:BB in 95.2 IP with 106 H and 9 HR over 16 GS during his extended sojourn to AAA Buffalo(IL), but he just doesn't look like anything more than a middling starter at best. He instead could develop into a very useful reliever, so although I don't expect him to accrue positive fantasy value this year, he retains plenty of long-term promise.

Ricardo Rincon104.341.4527203437.1
OAK Athletics4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35P:L    B:L-1-11.11.1

Awarding Rincon a two-year deal may backfire for St. Louis if his skills keep sliding. Of course, Tony LaRussa will have no problem using Rincon as a specialist, and since most AL southpaws experience immediate improvement upon switching leagues, I see very little downside for him right now. Don't be afraid to deploy Rincon whenever you need low-risk roster filler, especially if your league counts holds in any capacity.

Kaz Tadano002.251.001044
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-1-21.11.6

Tadano remains near the leading edge of Cleveland's pitching depth. Despite his presence in the upper minors for the past few years, he only turns 26 next month and added a solid 4.39 ERA on an 86:22 K:BB in 96.1 IP over 8 GS(32G) to his statistical history last summer. All Tadano needs now is a big league roster spot to begin moving towards the late-inning role that seems inevitable.

Esteban Yan104.591.4445306666.2
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30P:R    B:R-1-1-0.1-0.1

Despite moving into a seemingly preferable situation, Yan badly backslid upon departing Detroit for Los Angeles. Almost all of his skill ratios headed in the wrong direction as he barely maintained his roster spot all season long. Yet while he essentially will spend spring training competing with Kevin Gregg for one bullpen slot, Yan's $1.25M guarantee insures his continued presence in the majors. Expecting mild improvement from the veteran seems logical since the improved Angels' pitching depth should result in Yan facing generally weaker hitters.

Santiago Casilla003.001.001123
OAK Athletics4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22P:R    B:R-1-20.60.6

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Oakland for my comments on Casilla, known through last season as Jairo Garcia.

Andrew Good005.401.007145
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:R    B:R-1-2-0.50.1

Good's 3.68 ERA on an 89:42 K:BB in 134.1 IP with 129 H and 18 H over 23 GS for AAA Toledo(IL) last summer certainly indicates he still possesses a bright future in baseball. However, given his perpetually high homer rate and his general lack of dominance, Good looks like a much better fit as a reliever. I don't expect him to see much success in the majors until he completes that conversion.

Buddy Groom114.831.5420125141
Age: 40P:L    B:L-1-2-1.3-1.3

Although not technically retired, Groom heads toward his forty-first birthday this summer with little chance of pitching meaningful innings in the majors. Given his unimpressive work in both league last year, I doubt the fourteen-year veteran reliever sees more than a final, brief cup-of-coffee in 2006.

American League Reliever Reviews continue tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Rafael Soriano easily laps this pack in terms of both immediate and potential value. Yes, Woods, Yan, and especially Rincon qualify as respectable roster filler, but only Soriano appears on the cusp of totaling significant roto value if he simply avoids injury and outpitches the less dominant closer alternatives currently sharing a bullpen bench with him.

Click here to read the previous article.

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