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NL Relievers: Day Nine
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.

Craig Breslow002.201.7114131516.1
SD Padres4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:L    B:L-1-25.55.9

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

Jay Powell000.001.501413.1
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33P:R    B:R-1-322

The journeyman right-handed only saw brief action with the Braves, spending two weeks in the majors in July before a fractured humerus forced him to the DL for the balance of the year. Despite his relatively young age and previous success in the majors, this injury apparently leaves his career in jeopardy as he hasn't landed an NRI this year. Don't expect Powell to post positive fantasy value any time soon.

Travis Driskill000.001.002011
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34P:R    B:R-1-30.60.6

While Driskill pitched just fine in the one appearance the Astros allowed him in the majors, he apparently didn't impress the club despite his respectable 4.37 ERA on an 84:32 K:BB in 101 IP over 3 GS(47G) for AAA Round Rock(PCL). He signed with the Devil Rays, though a bad spring resulted in his demotion a few days ago, leaving him just one of a menagerie of available options when Tampa turns to Durham for help during the summer.

Tommy Phelps014.631.5914122523.1
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31P:L    B:L-1-20.81.5

Phelps didn't pitch badly for the Brewers, but the club turned to Dana Eveland in the second half, exiling Phelps to Nashville for the balance of the year. He landed with the Reds this spring, though Cincinnati already cut him, leaving Phelps unlikely to see the majors this summer thanks to the presence of Kent Mercker, Chris Hammond, Brian Shackelford, Mike Gosling, and a few others ahead of him on the club's left-handed depth chart.

Dae-Sung Koo003.911.5223132223
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 37P:R    B:L-1-22.92.9

The Korean import spent most of the summer in New York but apparently impressed no one, as the Mets declined his 2006 option and then sold him to Hanwha in Korea at the beginning of this month. Koo appears highly unlikely to return to the majors.

Matt Capps004.501.253054
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22P:R    B:R-1-30.20.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Pittsburgh for my comments on Capps.

Gabe White002.161.8011148.1
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33P:L    B:L-1-12.82.8

Apparently White's failure to find a club that needed his services in the second half disenchanted him with the game. Despite signing a minor league deal with Minnesota, the veteran southpaw retired from baseball at the beginning of this month, ending a quietly productive career that never reached the heights suggested by his strong skill foundation.

Sergio Mitre205.371.4137236260.1
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24P:R    B:R-1-3-3.4-1.7

While Mitre again struggled in Chicago due to surprisingly weak dominance, his move to Florida in the Juan Pierre deal virtually insures both a rotation slot and an excellent opportunity for him to blossom into a consistently effective starter. His minor league track record, buoyed by his 4.33 ERA on a 55:22 K:BB in 70.2 IP with 72 H, 5 HR, and a sterling 2.97 G-F for AAA Iowa(PCL) last summer, suggests that the rushed prospect will flourish in the right environment. I see no reason he shouldn't succeed in Florida, so plan to bid a few bucks in Mitre during the endgame when filling out your staff.

Lance Cormier705.111.6363438679.1
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-1-2-1.80.3

Cormier nearly claimed a share of the closer's role in Arizona, but he instead slipped to the back of the bullpen by season's end. The Diamondbacks dispatched him to Atlanta with Oscar Villarreal in a deal for Johnny Estrada, so despite his control issues, don't be surprised if the fireballer challenges Chris Reitsma for save at some point. While I consider Cormier a risky pick-up for now, he could emerge as a surprisingly useful member of the Braves' rather sparse relief corps.

Scott Strickland006.751.002044
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29P:R    B:R-1-3-0.9-0.9

Still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Strickland exercised a contractual clause to depart the Mets for the Astros after New York declined to promote him in mid-May. He compiled an impressive 2.37 ERA on a 20:4 K:BB in 19 IP for AAA Round Rock(PCL), earning a late-season look in Houston and then an NRI with Pittsburgh this spring. He currently appears on the cusp of breaking camp in the majors and could reemerge as a viable fantasy option in the near future if he continues dominating most of his opponents.

Tyler Johnson000.002.254332.2
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24P:L    B:S-1-31.61.6

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: St. Louis for my comments on Johnson.

Frank Brooks000.003.000010.1
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:L    B:L-2-20.20.2

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

Macay McBride115.791.792271814
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22P:L    B:L-2-3-1.5-1.1

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

Armando Almanza002.252.002354
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32P:L    B:L-2-31.31.3

Signing a minor league deal with the White Sox isn't working out too well for Almanza, who now finds his theoretical roster spot usurped by a Boone Logan, an A-ball pitcher prepared to jump virtually from Rookie-ball straight to the majors. Of course, Almanza's general inconsistency indicates a significant chance that he'd struggle if given another opportunity after he managed merely a 4.79 ERA on a 38:15 K:BB in 35.2 IP in 2005 split between four different minor league affiliates. He won't help any fantasy team this year.

Jermaine Van Buren003.001.833926
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-2-31.41.4

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Chicago(N) for my comments on Van Buren.

Marcos Carvajal005.091.3847215253
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 21P:R    B:R-2-2-1.10.3

A 2004 Rule 5 pick from the Dodgers, Carvajal pitched surprisingly well for the Rockies, even adding a 1.53 G-F to his otherwise solid skills. He could have cleared an ERA near 4.00 in a pitchers' park, so we were shocked when Colorado dispatched him to Seattle in the Yorvit Torrealba deal. Now Carvajal finds himself in a far friendlier situation, where the Mariners can allow him to spend the summer gaining seasoning in the upper minors before rejoining the club in September to audition for a 2006 job. Don't bother drafting Carvajal now, but also don't ignore the promising youngster when he reappears on free agent lists later in the year.

Josh Johnson003.651.7010101112.1
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 21P:R    B:L-2-31.92.3

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Florida for my comments on Johnson.

Rheal Cormier405.891.5234165647.1
PHI Phillies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 38P:L    B:L-2-2-5.7-5.7

Cormier appears particularly ill-suited to CB Park as his ERA rose from 1.70 in 2003 to 3.56 in 2004 before last year's disastrous campaign. At age 38, the lefty specialist stands little chance of reemerging in any sort of significant role. Don't risk owning Cormier in any league, especially since he ranks behind both Arthur Rhodes and Aaron Fultz on Philly's southpaw depth chart.

Bryan Bullington0013.501.501111.1
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-2-2-1.4-1.4

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Pittsburgh for my comments on Bullington.

Antonio Alfonseca104.941.5716142927.1
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33P:R    B:R-2-3-0.1-0.1

Elbow problems forced Alfonseca to the DL from mid-April until mid-July, essentially eliminating his value and leaving him to sign a minor league deal with Texas. Of course, even if breaks camp with the Rangers, Alfonseca will possess no roto value due to his limited dominance unimpressive command, and overall lack of upside as a middle reliever.

Matt Childers004.502.002354
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:R    B:R-2-30.20.3

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

Jose Santiago003.182.1232105.2
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30P:R    B:R-2-31.21.2

Registering a 7-6 record and 4.26 ERA on a 61:40 K:BB in 122.2 IP over 17 GS(29G) earned Santiago a brief shot with the Mets, but he ever slipped into Willie Randolph's regular rotation. He hasn't impressed in camp this year, and given his poor dominance, appears unlikely to post positive value even if he receives another shot this summer.

Bill Pulsipher006.751.751254
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31P:L    B:R-2-3-0.9-0.8

Still best known as one of the Mets' anointed future aces a decade ago, Pulsipher hasn't enjoyed anything resembling a successful big league career and hadn't seen the majors since 2001 until last summer. However, while he broke camp with the Cardinals, another run of injuries forced him to AAA Memphis(PCL) in May, where he at least managed a decent 4.56 ERA on a 96:29 K:BB in 123.1 IP over 18 GS(25G). Of course, since St. Louis didn't extend him another NRI, Pulse will need to impress another club sometime soon to receive another shot in The Show.

National League Reliever Reviews continue tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: A few of these rookies interest me, particularly Josh Johnson, Jermaine Van Buren, and Matt Capps, but Sergio Mitre remains the only experienced pitcher from above that belongs on your draft list. The Marlins' rebuilt rotation offers him a superb opportunity to forget his difficulties in Chicago, and given his solid numbers in the Pacific Coast League, he could flourish in Florida, making him a great endgame gamble in any NL league.

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