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AL Relievers: Day Eleven
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.

Jon Switzer006.753.005754
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:L    B:L-3-3-1.1-0.6

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

Britt Reames009.532.1242105.2
OAK Athletics4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32P:R    B:R-3-3-3.5-2.8

With only four big league appearances in the last three seasons, Reames appears headed back to the minors even after joining the unsettled relief corps in Pittsburgh. Of course, he compiled a 3.28 ERA on an 86:35 K:BB in 93.1 IP with 92 H and 3 HR over 7 GS(43G), so he certainly fits the profile of pitches previously rehabilitated into quality bullpen components by the Pirates. Wait until Reames remains in the majors for an extended stretch before considering him anywhere.

Jeremi Gonzalez206.111.4328166456
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30P:R    B:R-3-2-10.5-4

While Gonzalez continues to bomb in the majors, lines like his 2.61 ERA on a 62:14 K:BB in 69 IP over 11 GS for AAA Pawtucket(IL) keep earning him that annual opportunity to bomb. Signing with the Mets at least improves his odds for success, but with the club surprisingly deep in potential starters, I neither expect Gonzalez to see many innings in Shea or perform particularly well when given that chance.

Kevin Gregg105.041.5452297064.1
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:R-3-2-3.63.9

Gregg's six-week demotion simply shocked me given his very impressive all-around skill set in 2004. He truly only saw slight deterioration in those stats as inconsistent control proved the major culprit in his downturn. Unfortunately, despite solid second-half work and no need for additional seasoning, he appears poised to lose his roster spot following the acquisitions of J.C. Romero and Hector Carrasco. Perhaps the Angels will cut Esteban Yan, but given that they can option Gregg, thereby keeping him available in case of injury, maintaining that level of depth gives them a nice advantage which they won't ignore just because Gregg deserves a spot in their bullpen.

Jaime Cerda106.631.6818112119
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:L    B:L-3-3-4.8-4.8

Two unimpressive months forced Cerda to AAA Omaha(PCL) by the end of May, where he compiled a 5.26 ERA on a 47:21 K:BB in 49.2 IP with 48 H and 6 HR over the balance of the season. Somehow those numbers prompted Colorado to claim him off waivers, and now the developing southpaw appears set to open the year in the Rockies' bullpen. Fantasy owners therefore need to avoid Cerda even more than usual this year. While his improving strikeout rate hints at a bright future, he certainly won't emerge as a great option in Coors.

Jason Standridge204.591.8619174533.1
Age: 26P:R    B:R-3-303.9

Although Standridge managed a solid 4.06 ERA with the Reds, his 1.74 WHIP and a 17:16 K:BB in those 31 NL innings suggests plenty of downside for the failed starting prospect. The addition of veterans Rick White and Chris Hammond insure that Standridge won't break camp with Cincinnati, and unless his skills improve, he easily could spend all season in the minors.

Felix Rodriguez005.011.6418203332.1
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33P:R    B:R-3-3-1.7-1.7

Departing the NL for New York prompted the complete collapse of FRod's command. While he hadn't held a good walk rate in years, his diminished strikeout rate and the second-worst ERA of his career kept the Yankees from shedding any tears when knee surgery cost him over two months of action. Fortunately for Rodriguez, he landed a one-year deal with Washington prior to the start of camp, and if he rebounds as I expect, he'll like a great mid-season target as roster filler in standard leagues.

Scott Cassidy108.311.691231913
Age: 29P:R    B:R-3-3-6-6

I fully expect Cassidy will break camp with the Padres following his very impressive ten-game trial last September. His improving work in the upper minors over the last few seasons similarly reinforces his potential, and if given the necessary opportunity, he could blossom in similar fashion to Scott Linebrink. When looking for roster filler early in the year, feel free to grab Cassidy if he owns the solid ERA and K:BB that I anticipate him posting.

Chris Demaria109.002.11115149
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:S-3-3-4.9-3.9

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

Doug Creek006.851.521872722.1
DET Tigers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 36P:L    B:L-3-3-6.3-6.3

Creek always could return to the majors given his qualification as a tenured LOOGY, but given his flyball problems and the fact he couldn't maintain a spot in the Tigers' unimpressive bullpen, he doesn't resemble anything close to a fantasy asset. Do not roster him even if he soon signs somewhere and earns another promotion.

Kevin Walker009.002.1455107
CH White Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29P:L    B:L-3-4-3.8-3.8

Registering a 53:21 K:BB in 46.1 IP with 49 H and 7 HR for AAA Charlotte(IL) generally results in good stats, but Walker instead earned a 5.24 ERA to accompany his 1.51 WHIP. He needs to echo his impressive 2003 skills in the near future or risk slipping into the AAAA fodder bin rather than the veteran lefty specialist credentials he probably deserves. Of course, regardless of his upside, Walker won't help anyone this summer after signing a minor league deal with the Rangers.

American League Reliever Reviews continue tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: While no one should select any of today's pitchers prior to Dollar Days, Gregg, FRod, and Cassidy possess perfectly respectable skills and play in strong pitchers' parks. Rostering any of this trio when necessary, especially Cassidy, should prove a welcome addition to your qualitative base.

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