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NL Relievers: Day Eleven
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.

Ian Snell105.141.6034244342
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23P:R    B:R-2-3-1.20

Simply posting an 11-3 record and a 3.70 ERA on a 104:23 K:BB in 112 IP with 90 H, 14 HR, and a .88 G-F for AAA Indianapolis(IL) essentially demanded a mid-season promotion for Snell to fill one of the gaping holes in the Pirates' staff. Unfortunately, while his elevated ERA as a starter quickly pushed him to the bullpen, his poor command as a reliever suggests additional struggles in his future. Yet Snell appears set to break camp in Pittsburgh's rotation despite mediocre skills this spring, so don't be surprised if an extended bout of ineffectiveness forces him to the minors by summer. I still see plenty of long-term upside here due to his generally strong control, but I don't view the 2006 Pirates as the right situation for him to fulfill his potential.

Manny Aybar006.041.502773125.1
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33P:R    B:R-2-3-3.5-2.8

Aybar continues to succeed in the minors and then combust in the majors, mostly due to skyrocketing hit and homer rates. Respectable command suggests he could succeed in the right circumstances, but until he you actually see him posting decent stats somewhere, don't risk rostering him anywhere.

Brandon Puffer0010.291.571297
SF Giants4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29P:R    B:R-2-4-4.6-4.6

Limited dominance leaves Puffer little chance to reemerge as a viable big league reliever. He only managed a 5.03 ERA on a 48:23 K:BB in 73.1 IP for AAA Fresno(PCL), along with 84 H and 9 HR. Anyone with this profile needs a superb defense to counteract the number of balls in play, so given the plethora of alternatives, don't risk adding Puffer to your team.

Valerio de los Santos106.141.6816122522
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32P:L    B:L-2-3-3.3-3.3

While de los Santos spent a couple of months as the Marlins' lefty specialist, his unimpressive command resulted in poor qualitative stats. The Nationals cut him earlier today, so despite the upside hinted at by high strikeout rates earlier in his career, he appears a long way from succeeding in the majors at this time.

Mike Johnston0036.004.002041
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:L    B:L-2-4-3.8-3.8

Pittsburgh's surprising acquisition of Damaso Marte drops Johnston to fourth on the club's lefty depth chart, behind closer Mike Gonzalaez, Marte, and John Grabow. The club optioned him to the minors over a week ago, likely looking at his 52:30 K:BB in 57.2 IP at AAA Indianapolis(IL) last summer rather than his 2.65 ERA. Johnston appears on the cusp of a long big league career if he ever improves his control, but due to the obstacles present on the Pirates, he clearly needs a change of scenery to capitalize on his potential.

Mike Matthews1010.802.602495
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31P:L    B:L-2-4-3.6-3.6

Matthews wore out his welcome with the Mets before the end of April, and after watching his command erode during his peak years, he may not return to the majors in the near future. Even if he does appear this summer, nothing in his recent performance suggests he'll deserve any fantasy consideration.

Adam Bernero406.511.5537126147
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:R    B:R-2-3-9.2-7.9

Landing with the Braves allowed Bernero to post mostly solid skill ratios, only sabotaged by a high hit rate that destroyed his ERA. Moving to Kansas City for 2006 gives him an even better opportunity, so despite his demotion earlier this week, he almost certainly will receive a shot in middle relief later this summer. Given the club's incredibly volatile bullpen, he even might sneak some save opps., although right now that scenario doesn't appear over likely.

Randy Choate009.001.864587
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30P:L    B:L-2-3-3.5-3.5

Despite little upside and relatively mediocre skills, Choate's continued success in the upper minors earns him annual shots to retire left-handed hitters. Of course, his struggles this year after signing a two-year contract don't surprise me considering his problematic control in past years, and he stands an equal chance of reemerging as the Diamondbacks' best southpaw reliever this summer following Terry Mulholland's inevitable struggles. Yet regardless of when he appears in Arizona, Choate's performance certainly won't merit a look on your roster in any league.

Roman Colon205.581.4947218269.1
Age: 26P:R    B:R-2-4-5.7-3.8

Dealt to Detroit at the deadline with Zach Miner for Kyle Farnsworth, Colon continued struggling in relief yet managed a 3.27 ERA on an 18:7 K:BB in 33 IP over 7 GS. While his minor league stats suggest he belongs in the bullpen, his big league numbers, highlighted by his impressive control with the Tigers, instead place him in line to seize any starts if one of Detroit's southpaws or youngsters encounters difficulties. Don't draft Colon now, but if he continues developing, he might help your team by mid-season.

Cliff Bartosh005.491.7315112319.2
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26P:L    B:L-2-3-1.4-1.4

Acquired by the Cubs at the end of camp in a foolishly short-sighted deal for pitching prospect Bear Bay, Bartosh only lasted ten weeks with the Cubs, never emerging as more than a tertiary option in the bullpen. While he owned intriguing skills prior to 2005, he even stumbled after heading to AAA Iowa(PCL), posting a 5.08 ERA on a 26:16 K:BB in 28.1 IP with 40 H and 3 HR allowed. I still expect Bartosh to emerge as a decent big league reliever at some point, but the Cubs simply weren't a good fit for the young southpaw at this point in his development.

Jimmy Journell0010.382.545564.1
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:R-2-3-2.9-2.8

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

Randy Williams306.841.7521133326.1
Age: 29P:L    B:L-2-4-6.2-6.2

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Colorado for my comments on Williams.

Buddy Carlyle008.361.431341614
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:L-2-3-5.9-5.6

Solid numbers in Colorado Springs in 2004 caught the Dodgers' collective eye, resulting in a spring training NRI, surprisingly solid work during exhibition games, and a highly unexpected spot on the Opening Day roster following Wilson Alvarez's injury. Unfortunately for Carlyle, his tendency to allow longballs left him stranded in middle relief, so while he partially rebounded after his demotion to AAA Las Vegas, he didn't return to Dodger Stadium after May. Brought into camp this spring in the Marlins' reliever cattle call, I don't expect him to see much time in the majors after a weak camp.

Scott Dohmann206.101.6835193331
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:R-2-3-4.5-4.5

While Dohmann broke camp in the majors after a solid 2004 camapaign, a bad start led to another three-month tour of the PCL with AAA Colorado Springs, where he managed a 4.38 ERA on a 53:16 K:BB in 39 IP with 41 H and 5 HR allowed. He offered the Rockies far better numbers upon his return in August, compiling a 2.59 ERA on a 29:15 K:BB in 24.1 IP over the last two months of the season. Dohmann now appears certain to spend 2006 in Denver, and although I don't envision him supplanting Brian Fuentes or even earning positive roto value, his development to date suggests he at least should emerge as a key member of the club's rebuilt bullpen.

Ryan Wagner306.111.6039175645.2
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23P:R    B:R-2-3-6.7-6.7

Wagner looks like a worse first rounder with each passing year as he now appears closer to spending 2006 in the minors than as the Reds' closer. Danny Graves' departure surprisingly didn't lead to many save opportunities for the youngster, and after shoulder problems destroyed his second half, Wagner may not even break camp in the majors next week. While his long-term future remains reasonably bright, I see no reason to even invest a Dollar Days' pick in him until his big league performance improves.

Tom Martin0019.293.430262.1
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35P:L    B:L-2-4-4.1-4.1

A slow start for Martin led to his release from the Braves after only four appearances, a move of shocking impatience from generally conservative franchise. He didn't merit a mid-season call-up after joining the Astros, and although he appears set in the Rockies' bullpen due to his solid work this spring, Martin's career will be in jeopardy if he fails to take advantage of this opportunity. Given his inconsistency and limited upside even when pitching well, definitely don't roster him as long as he pitches for Colorado.

Travis Smith006.752.06951710.2
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32P:R    B:R-2-4-2.4-2.1

Registering a solid 4.04 ERA on a 73:31 K:BB in 104.2 IP over 17 GS(18G) with 107 H and 12 HR for AAA Albuquerque(PCL) earned Smith a look in Florida, but allowing an abnormally high number of baserunners quickly ended each of his four brief call-ups. Although signing with the Braves could lead to a more significant role, Smith currently appears fairly buried on both the club's rotation and bullpen depth charts, leaving him bereft of any fantasy value.

Joey Devine0012.602.203565
ATL Braves4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22P:R    B:R-2-4-4.7-4.6

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

Tim Hamulack0023.143.432172.1
NY Mets4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:L    B:L-2-4-5.2-5.2

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

Logan Kensing0011.122.4743115.2
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 23P:R    B:R-2-4-4.3-4.2

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

National League Reliever Reviews continue tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Future closers Joey Devine and Ryan Wagner still might create the most buzz among today's pitchers, but both youngsters appear a long way from successfully saving games in the majors. If you want to gamble on somewhere here, gamble on Ian Snell. He certainly appears a risky pick-up, but unlike Devine and Wagner, Snell's minor league numbers at least warrant him a chance in the majors right now. Feel free to spend a couple of bucks on him in any league where you need starters and can reserve him if he struggles.

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