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NL Relievers: Day Thirteen
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.

Chris Booker0031.505.002462
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:R    B:R-3-4-6.6-6.5

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

Joe Valentine008.162.029111814.1
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25P:R    B:R-3-4-5.7-5.7

Not only did Valentine continue struggling in the majors due to poor command, he carried those problems with him in the minors, registering a 5.70 ERA on a 44:39 K:BB in 53.2 IP for AAA Louisville(IL). Persistently high walk rates leave him little chance of contributing in the majors any time soon, so even if he spends some time with the Astros this summer, he won't possess any roto value.

John Franco007.202.131692315
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 45P:L    B:L-3-4-4.2-4.2

With his tremendously high WHIP despite barely appearing against any right-handers, Franco no longer experiences sufficient success to warrant a roster spot. His release from the Astros in July should signal the end of his 21-year career, and although he earned four All-Star berths and ranks third on the all-time save list, he never truly dominated for any extended stretch of time. Franco doesn't warrant more than token Hall of Fame consideration.

Scott Erickson106.021.5715256255.1
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 37P:R    B:R-3-4-7.5-6

Although we agreed with the vast majority of Paul DePodesta's moves, employing Mr. Lisa Guerrero for any length of time appeared ridiculous from the moment he signed until his DFA at the end of July. Erickson hasn't possessed anything resembling acceptable command for nearly a decade, and he probably cost Los Angeles more wins last year than anyone except the guy with all of the Dodgers' Voodoo dolls. I won't completely fault the Yankees for inviting him to camp, but if Erickson sees even half as many innings in New York as he pitched in 2005, Boston will celebrate a division title at the end of September.

Jorge de la Rosa204.462.0342384842.1
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24P:R    B:R-3-42.43.5

De la Rosa spent the year with the Brewers due to his lack of options, and although his strikeout rate still suggests plenty of upside, his control problems make him an extremely risky bet right now. While he seems set to open the season as Milwaukee's only lefty reliever, I don't envision him experiencing much success in that role. Until his walk rate drops, he likely won't post good qualitative stats in any role, so despite my belief that he'll eventually develop into a quality pitcher, don't gamble on him until you see his skills improve.

Kevin Gryboski105.521.9710204131
Age: 31P:R    B:R-3-4-2.3-2.3

Losing Luis Ayala for the year could create opportunities for a host of relievers in DC this summer, and given Gryboski's experience, he should see some time with the Nationals. Unfortunately, after a few seasons of posting decent qualitative stats for the Braves despite questionable skills, his struggles with the Rangers shouldn't surprise anyone. Yes, Washington provides a fairly welcoming environment for the soft-tosser, but unless he somehow ends up closing, he won't possess any roto value.

Ben Weber008.032.35892012.1
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35P:R    B:R-3-4-4.7-4.7

A bulging disc in Weber's neck cost him most of 2005, although given his deteriorating command over the past two years, he probably helped the Reds more by not pitching. Signing with the Blue Jays may result in another chance in the majors, but barring an unlikely skill rebound, I just don't see him succeeding in Toronto.

Mike Remlinger006.581.5935174639.2
Age: 39P:L    B:L-3-4-8.1-8.1

Dealt to the Red Sox in August for minor league pitcher Olivo Astacio, Remlinger lasted just three weeks in Boston before the club dumped him. Returning to Atlanta on a minor league deal for 2006 gives him a great chance to add a couple more years to his career, and since his skills remain respectable, he should merit some consideration when you need in-season roster filler.

Javier Lopez1211.022.2712112616.1
Age: 28P:L    B:L-3-5-12.3-12.3

While Lopez enjoyed one of the best season of any Colorado pitcher as a Rule 5 pick in 2003, he combusted in 2004 before slipping out of the organization and then into the minors last year. At least he managed a 2.22 ERA on a 16:12 K:BB in 24.1 IP with 17 H, 0 HR, and a 3.50 G-F over 27 G for AAA Tucson(PCL), which suggest he could regain his lost effectiveness in the majors. Unfortunately for Lopez, he appears the primary victim of the newfound White Sox organizational fetish with A-ball refugee Boone Logan. Lopez will head to the minors, and although he supposedly will return whenever Logan or Matt Thornton struggle, I don't expect him to finish the season with positive value regardless of how many innings he pitches for Chicago.

Jose Acevedo216.471.5931168664
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27P:R    B:R-3-4-12.2-10.5

Long-time Rotohelp favorite Acevedo continues to struggle in Colorado, and his return to the Rockies on a minor league deal for 2006 leaves him little chance to improve this year. The good news is that he pitched fairly good out of the bullpen, compiling a 4.87 ERA on a 20:9 K:BB in 41.2, albeit while allowing 53 H and 10 HR. Acevedo's main foe remains the longball, so if he ever lands in a forgiving pitchers' park, he still could emerge as a nice bargain a club like the Pirates or Royals.

Randy Messenger005.351.8629303937
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24P:R    B:R-3-4-2-1

Messenger spent much of the summer on the Albuquerque-Miami shuttle, mostly struggling for the Marlins but registering an impressive 3.88 ERA on a 35:17 K:BB in 48.2 IP with 46 and only 5 HR for AAA Albuquerque(PCL), home of one of the minors' worst parks for pitchers. Simply remaining with Florida gives the youngster a good chance to see plenty of action in the majors this summer, and if he walk rate improves, he could emerge as surprisingly reliable roster filler. Keep an eye on his progress since he just might sneak some save opportunities.

Wes Obermueller105.261.6933367465
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:R    B:R-3-4-2.7-1

Atlanta bizarrely acquired Obermueller for Dan Kolb in December and then non-tendered him two weeks later. Of course, he immediately re-signed and now could see plenty of action if injuries strike the Braves, but unless you see his skill rebound nearer his minor league marks, he won't merit any fantasy consideration the vast majority of leagues.

Dennys Reyes305.152.0435325743.2
SD Padres4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28P:L    B:R-3-4-1.3-0.1

The former Dodgers' prospect continues to struggle with his command despite spending the summer with the Padres. San Diego cut him in July, and after considering offers from multiple AL clubs, he opted for elbow surgery in the hope of rebounding this year. Although he still suffers from a high walk rate, decent dominance and an unexpectedly superb 4.09 G-F offer some hope that Reyes could contribute on the Twins. With the club's sole current lefty reliever, Francisco Liriano, nearly certain to head to the rotation at some point, expect Reyes to spend at least half the season in the majors, although not in a capacity to offer much help to most fantasy teams.

Kerry Ligtenberg0013.972.0754169.2
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34P:R    B:R-3-5-10.8-10.8

Following five straight seasons in the majors, Ligtenberg landed in Arizona and spent most of 2005 at AAA Tucson(PCL), compiling a 3.24 ERA on a 50:8 K:BB in 50 IP with 51 H and 4 HR. While those numbers earned him a month with the Diamondbacks, his awful performance in Phoenix quickly forced him back to the minors. Now with the Marlins, seemingly in a good situation, his limited upside may lead the club to turn to more youngsters in the bullpen, especially with Joe Borowski and Matt Herges already offering some veteran leadership.

Randy Keisler206.271.6443286456
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29P:L    B:L-3-4-9.3-7.8

Keisler enjoyed a solid first half at AAA Louisville(IL), registering a 2.88 ERA on a 46:13 K:BB in 56.1 IP with 54 H and 6 HR, earning himself an extended audition with the Reds. While elbow problems interrupted his summer for a couple weeks, he spent the second half in Cincinnati, even finishing the year in the rotation despite unimpressive numbers in both roles. His performance earned him his release in December. Now with the Athletics, Keisler appears no higher than the fourth on the club's depth chart of lefty relievers.

Ricky Stone006.751.791574830.2
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30P:R    B:R-3-5-6.9-6.9

Consistently high hit rates seemingly limit Stone's value regardless of his supporting cast. While he continues to compile solid numbers in the minors, his increasingly unimpressive stats in the majors render him useless to fantasy teams, so don't roster him anywhere.

Antonio Osuna0042.436.860792.1
WAS Nationals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32P:R    B:R-3-5-10.8-10.8

Shoulder problems sidelined Osuna for nearly the entire year, however despite his lost season, his performance in previous years virtually guarantees he'll receive another shot in the near future. Unfortunately, given his lack of save opportunities since departing the White Sox after 2002, he appears a long way from earning positive fantasy value at this time.

Brandon Duckworth0011.021.901072416.1
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29P:R    B:R-3-5-12.3-11.8

The former Phillies' prospect landed in Pittsburgh on a minor league deal after failing to impress as the most visible acquisition by Houston from the Billy Wagner. He managed a 4.62 ERA on an 89:37 K:BB in 115 IP with 138 H and 17 HR for AAA Round Rock(PCL), suggesting that he certainly could contribute to the Pirates if given an opportunity. Duckworth's solid spring may not guarantee him that needed rotation slot immediately, but given the inherent fragileness of the club's young pitchers, he certainly should see some time in the majors this summer. Consider FAABing him upon his inevitable promotion if his minor league stats warrant the gamble on Duckworth.

National League Reliever Reviews conclude tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: On a day replete with aging southpaws and journeymen relievers, few pitchers warrant a second glance in most leagues. While de la Rosa, Acevedo, and Duckworth possess more than minimal upside, the former two appears in terrible situations given their skills. Only Duckworth appears particularly likely to merit a spot on your roster at some point during the season.

Click here to read the previous article.

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