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AL Relievers: Day Ten
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.

Eric DuBose205.521.6017192829.1
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29P:L    B:L-2-3-3.40

A DUI bust prevented DuBose from pitching at Ottawa, so he instead spent most of the year at AA Bowie(EL), where he unsurprisingly dominated. DuBose posted a 3.25 ERA on a 114:29 K:BB in 122 IP with 113 H and 10 HR over 20 GS(21G), however his command returned to his normal mediocre level while in the majors. We rarely like to see someone's skills diminishing as they head into their peak years, but nothing here indicates that DuBose will regain his lost promise any time soon.

Jeremy Guthrie006.001.833296
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:R    B:R-2-3-1.1-0.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Cleveland for my comments on Guthrie.

Ryan Jensen307.111.501873125.1
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30P:R    B:R-2-3-7.9-4.9

Somehow Jensen's 2-11 record and 7.29 ERA on a 57:41 K:BB in 91.1 IP with 127 H and 14 HR over 18 GS for AAA Ottawa(IL) earned him two separate stints with the Royals. Jensen bombed in both, further demonstrating his minimal skills, and then earned his release from Baltimore less than a month after signing with the Orioles in February. He absolutely does not deserve a return to the majors until he finally completes his move to the bullpen and starts looking like an effective pitcher in the upper minors.

Jorge Julio305.901.4058247671.2
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:R    B:R-2-2-11.7-11.7

Given to the Mets with John Maine for Kris Benson in a mutual salary dump, Julio easily could emerge as New York's closer if Billy Wagner encounters further injury problems. Julio just turned 27 a couple of days ago, and now that joining the Mets provides him with a less homer-friendly environment and an excellent defense, we should see a rebound toward his 2002 skill levels. While I just can't recommend targeting Julio due to his obvious downside, settling on the erstwhile closer during Dollar Days could net you a significant profit with a little luck.

John Parrish103.122.0825171917.1
BAL Orioles4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:L    B:L-2-23.13.1

Parrish required Tommy John surgery last July, so expecting anything from him in the first half of 2005 seems foolish. Of course, considering his limited AAA experience and generally poor command even when healthy, he certainly doesn't merit much fantasy attention in any league.

David Sanders0013.502.001132
CH White Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:L    B:L-2-3-2.2-2.2

With a 2.96 ERA at AAA Charlotte(IL) effectively unsupported by his 50:32 K:BB in 67 IP with 68 H and 10 HR, Sanders doesn't appear close to receiving any extra time in the majors. The primary indication that we won't see him with the White Sox any time soon is that Kenny Williams spent the winter acquiring AAAA southpaws at every turn, moves which just might force Sanders to begin 2006 as low as AA Birmingham. He won't be a fantasy factor this summer.

Alex Graman0013.503.750231.1
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:L    B:L-2-3-1.5-1.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Cincinnati for my comments on Graman.

Brian Tallet007.711.932364.2
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:L    B:L-2-3-1.8-1.3

Tallet effectively completed his recovery from Tommy John surgery back in August of 2003. After missing the majority of 2004, he nearly broke camp in the majors last year before instead returning to the rotation at AAA Buffalo(IL). He managed a 4.05 ERA on a 61:25 K:BB in 97.2 IP with 98 H and 17 HR over 17 GS(22G), but his general lack of dominance portends a permanent move to relief. Cleveland dealt him to Toronto in July for Bubbie Buzachero, placing Tallet behind another deep pitching corps and severely reducing his chances of emerging as a quality big leaguer in 2006.

Franklin Nunez1010.801.802455
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:R    B:R-2-3-3.8-3.8

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Tampa Bay for my comments on Nunez.

Wayne Franklin006.391.501081112.2
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31P:L    B:L-2-3-2.8-1.4

With a 3.61 ERA on a 50:11 K:BB in 42.1 IP with 36 H and 4 HR over 46 G for AAA Columbus(IL), Franklin effectively completed his move to relief in 2005. His minor league deal with Tampa should insure he receives at least one chance to carry those skills to the majors, however I don't anticipate him developing into anything more than viable roster filler under a best-case scenario.

Justin Thompson0021.602.401041.2
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32P:L    B:L-2-3-3.5-3.3

Thompson finally finished rehabbing and returned to the majors for the first time since 1999. His 2.31 ERA on a 24:9 K:BB in 35 IP with 33 H and 3 HR over 21 G for AA Frisco(TL) suggest he still might carve out a nice big league career, and signing a minor league deal with Milwaukee could create that opportunity. However, I only expect another round of injuries if Thompson returns to starting, and he certainly doesn't deserve any fantasy consideration until he demonstrates some ability to remain both effective and healthy in the majors.

Jorge DePaula008.101.653386.2
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:R    B:R-2-3-2.9-2.1

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

Justin Miller0015.432.142052.1
TOR Blue Jays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:R    B:R-2-3-3.1-2.8

Shifting to the bullpen proved pleasantly productive for Miller, who yet again excelled for AAA Syracuse(IL) by compiling a 2.32 ERA on a 56:14 K:BB in 50.1 IP with 39 H and 3 HR. Toronto thankfully cut him loose after the season, and he landed an NRI with Tampa that just might restart his career. Don't be surprised to see him emerge as a key middle reliever in the relatively near future.

Tim Harikkala006.391.58741612.2
OAK Athletics4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34P:R    B:R-2-3-2.8-2.8

The Athletics really sidetracked Harikkala's career by claiming him off waivers from Colorado. Yes, perhaps the Rockies wouldn't give him another chance, but after his respectable 4.74 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in Coors in 2004, he deserved one more chance in that environment. Shifting to AAA Sacramento proved mockably simple for Harikkala, who departed Oakland after his brief stint with the club in late spring. Given his age, he really needed to land a promising NRI to emerge as a viable reliever, yet now he might never even return to the majors.

Michael Tejera0013.503.002152
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:L    B:L-2-3-2.2-2

Although Tejera predictably flopped in Texas given his 3.79 ERA on a 52:29 K:BB in 59.1 IP for AAA Oklahoma(PCL), he remains relatively young and might rebound after signing with San Francisco. Of course, until we see his control improve, his qualitative downside prevents me from recommending him in any capacity.

Abe Alvarez0015.432.571062.1
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22P:L    B:L-2-3-3.1-2.8

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

Scott Proctor106.041.4136174644.2
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:R    B:R-2-2-8.1-8.1

Compiling a 4.22 ERA and 14 Saves on a 54:11 K:BB in 42.2 IP for AAA Columbus(IL) leaves little doubt that Proctor needs no more seasoning. Yes, he allows too many homers, but his strikeout rate and overall command suggest plenty of long-term upside. While rostering him this spring seems overly risky, Proctor certainly could merit a gamble by the second half if he continues developing.

Ryan Bukvich0011.252.004624
TEX Rangers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:R-2-3-3.3-3.3

Bukvich missed the majority of 2005 courtesy of May Tommy John surgery. Perhaps he'll reemerge as a useful pitcher, however considering he never demonstrated decent command in the majors, he certainly won't help any fantasy teams as a prospect member of the Rangers' relief corps.

American League Reliever Reviews continue tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: With most of today's pitcher somewhere in the middle of careers as AAAA journeyman, targeting any of them for fantasy teams makes very little sense. Only Julio and perhaps Proctor merit looks right now in even the deepest of leagues due to the harshly limited upside facing everyone else discussed above.

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