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NL Relievers: Day Eight
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National 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.

Amaury Telemaco004.220.8484510.2
PHI Phillies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31P:R    B:R-1-10.90.9

While Telemaco pitched respectably in two brief stints with the Phillies, he failed to report back to the minors after his second demotion, which seemingly places his career in jeopardy even though he just turned 33 in January. I still expect to see him back in the majors at some point, but given his current lack of an NRI, I don't anticipate him joining any big league bullpen this summer.

Todd Coffey414.501.6426118458
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-1-234.6

Promoted for good in May after a brief stint in the majors in April, Coffey emerged as the Reds' set-up man by the end of the year and enters this season as the closer-in-waiting, lacking only Jerry Narron's approval to begin closing games. With a 2.11 G-F nicely compensating for his lack of dominance last year, I expect Coffey to trend toward his more impressive minor league numbers over the next couple of years, eventually emerging as a top endgame option. For now, consider him an excellent buy around $5, particularly in any keeper league.

Roberto Novoa404.431.6147254744.2
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:R    B:R-1-12.73.9

Acquired from Detroit with Scott Moore and Bo Flowers for Kyle Farnsworth a year ago in February, Novoa spent the majority of the summer in Chicago, where he posted an impressive strikeout rate accompanied by surprising control issues. Unfortunately for Novoa, he missed most of this spring with Valley Fever, the same affliction that led to Steve Stone's first departure from the Cubs' booth. Novoa needs to open the year in Iowa, though while he should rejoin the big league bullpen before long, he appears quite risky as more than roster filler for you.

Mike Burns004.941.192082931
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:R-1-2-0.1-0.1

Registering a 2.10 ERA and 13 saves on a 34:4 K:BB in 30 IP with 22 H and 4 HR for AAA Round Rock(IL) earned Burns an extended look in the majors. While he pitched fairly effectively, Houston still left him available for the Reds to claim on waivers in November. Now Burns appears in a dead heat with Ryan Wagner for the last spot in Cincy's pen, so even if breaks camp in the majors, he appears highly vulnerable to demotion whenever the Reds want a different look. Given his minimal chance of seeing any save opportunities, Burns probably doesn't belong on anyone's fantasy roster this summer.

Mike Adams012.701.6514101213.1
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:R-1-23.73.7

Adams opened the year as the Brewers' closer, ceded the job to Derrick Turnbow after less than three weeks, and then slipped into the minors by the end of May to work on his control issues. While his skills improved, highlighted by his 45:12 K:BB in 36 IP, an unlucky 5.75 ERA kept Adams at AAA Nashville(PCL) all year. He again appears in the bullpen mix this spring, though while he certainly could contribute as roster filler at some point, Adams appears too risky for fantasy ownership at this time.

Mike Koplove205.071.3728204849.2
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29P:R    B:R-1-2-0.9-0.9

Opening the year as one of the Diamondbacks' setup duo couldn't prevent Koplove from a June demotion, and while he returned after a week for another two months, Arizona dropped him from the 40-man roster completely in mid-August. Right now he barely ranks among the ten relievers most likely to break camp in the majors. With declining dominance and a wealth of options the Diamondbacks apparently prefer, Koplove shouldn't attract any fantasy attention in the near future.

Darrell Rasner003.680.954257.1
WAS Nationals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24P:R    B:R-1-21.11.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Washington for my comments on Rasner.

Ryan Vogelsong204.431.5052408281.1
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:R    B:R-1-157.2

Moving to the bullpen prompted an ERA drop of more than two full points for Vogelsong, though with weak overall skills, he remains an amazingly risky pick in any league. Thankfully he appears certain to remain in the bullpen, but despite the outward improvement, Vogelsong looks like little more than a AAAA pitcher.

Chris Oxspring003.751.25116912
SD Padres4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:R    B:L-1-21.72.1

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: San Diego for my comments on Oxspring.

Chuck James001.591.245345.2
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23P:L    B:L-1-22.32.5

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Atlanta for my comments on James.

Nate Bump004.031.4518124338
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29P:R    B:R-1-24.25.2

A torn labrum ended Bump's season in July, following a first half mostly spent in Florida, where he pitched effectively despite limited dominance. While he currently appears healthy and on the cusp of breaking camp in the majors, Bump barely belonged in the majors when fully healthy. He certainly isn't someone to deploy on a fantasy team.

Kelly Wunsch104.561.4422142023.2
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33P:L    B:L-1-211

The long-time lefty specialist on the White Sox, Wunsch earned an Opening Day roster slot last spring training and pitched decently in his limited role before ankle surgery terminated his season in July. He currently appears in competition with Tim Hamulack and Hong-Chih Kuo for one of two southpaw bullpen slots, and after a rough spring, Wunsch isn't a favorite for the job. Of course, given his virtually non-existent upside, Wunsch isn't a viable fantasy option in almost any format.

Felix Heredia000.000.752112.2
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30P:L    B:L-1-31.61.6

Heredia missed nearly the entire season after circulatory problems led to the discovery of an aneurysm in his left shoulder. October brought the revelation of a positive steroid test for Heredia, so whenever he returns to the majors, he'll miss the first ten games due the suspension. Today's demotion to Arizona's minor league camp leaves him a long way from receiving that chance, as well as impacting anyone's fantasy roster in a positive fashion.

Jorge Vasquez103.001.7895119
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:R-1-22.12.1

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Atlanta for my comments on Vasquez.

National League Reliever Reviews continue tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Most of these relievers barely belong in the majors, forget about a reasonably competitive fantasy team. However, two of these guys possess fairly impressive potential, with Todd Coffey the most intriguing option due the solid chance of him emerging as Cincy's closer in the near future. Atlanta's Chuck James ranks as the next best sleeper. He should open the year in the Braves' bullpen before moving into the rotation at some point this summer, making him a superb keeper pick, as well as a respectable value in any NL league.

Click here to read the previous article.

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