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December
26th
2006
Your Daily Fantasy Rx
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AL Catchers: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Catchers with Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
B = Bats.  T = Throws.  Age = Player's Age as of October 1, 2006.
Proj. = Rotohelp's projected 2006 stats and fantasy values for each player.
2006 = Each player's final 2006 stat line and fantasy values.
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2006.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement; aRAR = RAR adjusted to
consider a player's 2006 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players by position 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 all players in the league where they began the season.


11.  Gerald LairdTEX RangersAge: 26B:R   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.17547.269619221C435.97.7
200624372.296722346C787.39.6

Finally guaranteed the starting job after the Rangers dallied with Rod Barajas for a couple of years, Laird appears primed to emerge as a double-digit value behind the plate after a solid 2006 campaign as the club's backup backstop. He destroyed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .400/.414/.600 performance, and although he only managed a .241/.291/.405 output against right-handers, his minor league success and generally solid plate discipline insure he won't hurt you for about $8.


12.  Mike RedmondMIN TwinsAge: 35B:R   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.15042.280016014C21-0.2-1
200617961.341023020C765.24.6

Few Dollar Days players returned more profit than Redmond, who managed a career-best batting average despite most of his skill suggesting an impending collapse from .311 BA in 2005. Perhaps his .292 career BA merits more than a draft afterthought, especially given the apparent upside here if Joe Mauer ever suffers a significant injury, but with his limited power and questionable plate discipline, Redmond realistically doesn't deserve a roto salary of more than a buck or two. The two-year extension he signed with the Twins simply insures his role remains unchanged in 2007


13.  Gregg ZaunTOR Blue JaysAge: 35B:S   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.20050.250527027C1112.50.9
200629079.2721240039C669.76.7

Ready to return as Toronto's starter in 2006 until Ben Molina fell into the Jays' laps, Zaun slipped into the backup role yet still managed to post the best overall numbers of his career while continuing to demonstrate excellent base batting skills. After Rod Barajas reneged on a two-year deal with the Jays last month, Zaun, seemingly on his way out the door to somewhere like San Francisco, quickly accepted the same contract offered by Barajas, virtually guaranteeing another solid campaign for the veteran switch-hitter. With only Jason L. Phillips and minor leaguers Robinzon Diaz and Curtis Thigpen to provide depth, Zaun again should clear the 400 AB level for only the second time. Some BA regression seems inevitable given wider exposure to right-handers, but Zaun also should produce solid power numbers, making him a very strong pick almost anywhere under $10.


14.  Vance WilsonDET TigersAge: 33B:R   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.15036.240420118C00-1.1-1.1
200615243.283518018C32-2.3-1.9

Some backups simply don't see many at-bats, and considering IRod remains a horse behind the plate, Wilson's value should seesaw somewhat violently due to his limited playing time. Of course, with his plate discipline virtually vanishing this summer, I definitely anticipate regression toward his awful .197/.275/.283 averages from 2005. Even gambling on Wilson as endgame catcher filler appears overly risky due to his extremely limited upside.


15.  Rod BarajasTEX RangersAge: 31B:R   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.37589.2371751046C231.75.1
200634488.2561141049C34-4.7-1.6

The Rangers' commitment to Gerald Laird correctly prompted them to allow Barajas to depart this fall as a free agent, a move that should pay immediate dividends for Texas after his OPS dropped sixty-four points from his career-best .772 mark a year ago. An improved contact rate at least suggests some chance of further improvement, but after a rather bizarre off-season, Barajas appears as risky an investment as ever. A month ago Barajas seemed signed with the Blue Jays, but he reneged on the two-year offer, reportedly due to familial concerns about living in Toronto. He instead landed in Philadelphia last week, placing himself in another situation where a promising young prospect appears nearly set to emerge as a long-term solution behind the plate. Barajas doesn't look obviously superior to Carlos Ruiz or even Chris Coste, and although I don't fault the Phillies for opting for veteran insurance, I see a lot more upside in grabbing Ruiz for a few bucks than risking the BA damage Barajas likely will cause. Only power-desperate teams should bother anteing more than a token bid for this undisciplined journeyman.


16.  Toby HallTB/LADAge: 30B:R   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.37596.256537023C22-5.5-0.9
200627872.259831017C22-5.8-1.7

Apparently watching Hall's BA collapse to a .231 mark last spring proved the final straw for the Rays, who eagerly dispatched him with Mark Hendrickson to the Dodgers in late June for Dioner Navarro and Jae Seo. While Hall performed much better in Los Angeles, he barely saw any playing time at all as Russ Martin solidly claimed the starting job. The Dodgers non-tendered Hall earlier in the month, though instead of finally acting upon his mid-season whining by finding a starting job somewhere, he instead signed a two-year deal last week with the White Sox to caddy for A.J. Pierzynski. Spending 2007 in a swell hitters' park could lead to welcome improvement for Hall, but given the low likelihood that he'll garner more than a couple hundred at-bats, he doesn't deserve more than minimal bids in any standard league.


17.  Mike NapoliLA AngelsAge: 24B:R   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.255.2001404C-2-2-0.4-0.4
200626861.2281642247C234.64.6

An afterthought in the Angels' system prior to last May, Napoli took full advantage of the terrible April performance of Jeff Mathis to overtake him as the club's catcher of the future. Napoli reached Los Angeles in early May, homered in his first at-bat, and proceeded to register a .286/.412/.579 performance in 140 first-half at-bats. Yet he couldn't supplant Jose Molina as the club's unquestioned starter, and despite impressive skills highlighted by a 4.54 #P/PA and a .66 G-F, Napoli collapsed down the stretch with a .164/.303/.320 output after the break. I see no real reason he shouldn't improve in his sophomore season considering his minor league stats and solid plate discipline, however Napoili's contact problems cause him far more problems in roto than in sim play. Even pushing toward $10 appears unwise in standard leagues due to the BA issues created by his contact problems.


18.  John BuckKC RoyalsAge: 26B:R   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.425105.2471549141C450.72.4
200637191.2451150037C12-7.8-6

Kansas City's acquisition of Jason LaRue hopefully will just inspire Buck to continue developing offensively rather than providing Buddy Bell a reason to bench the youngster. Buck won't turn 27 until July, still owns impressive defensive skills, and nicely boosted his walk rate, contact rate, batting average, and OBP last summer. Yes, he won't start any All-Star games in the near future, but I see a lot to like here and expect him to finish much closer to $10 in 2007 than $0. Acquiring him for any fee around $5 seems a good investment on someone who should keep appreciating as he matures.


19.  Jason VaritekBOS Red SoxAge: 34B:S   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.425111.2611550354C9914.914
200636587.2381255146C12-3.3-3.7

After three seasons in which his OPS didn't fall below .850, Varitek couldn't boost his output over .790 in any month of 2006. He missed all of August due to arthroscopic knee surgery and then posted his worse month of the year upon his return in September. However, Varitek's overall skill set remained in line with his previous performance, so although I don't anticipate a surge back into double digits, I see no reason we shouldn't expect a respectable rebound from the Boston captain. Any price under $10 appears fairly reasonable here.


20.  Javy LopezBAL/BOSAge: 35B:R   T:R
ABHBAHRRBISBRPos  4x45x5RARaRAR
Proj.425117.2751659053CD121213.49
200634286.251835036CD12-7.1-10.1

Back and neck problems slowed Lopez for much of the first half, though despite continued power erosion, he didn't really collapse until the latter months of the year. Jason Varitek's injury prompted the Red Sox to deal Adam Stern to acquire Lopez, a move that backfired immediately when Lopez not only offered a meager .190/.215/.270 output before his September release but unsurprisingly contributed nothing behind the plate. With few facets of his former All-Star skill still obvious, the 36-year-old free agent appears closer to retirement than a return to double-digit fantasy value. Perhaps he could contribute in the right situation, but I generally see little reason to gamble more than a couple bucks on Lopez unless his new club offers him no serious obstacle to reclaiming a starting job.


Catcher Week continues tomorrow.


Today's Fantasy Rx: Both Gregg Zaun and Jason Varitek could emerge as solid sleepers in some leagues, but if you don't want to allocate the funds necessary to obtain an established masher behind the plate, spending $10-15 to obtain both Gerald Laird and John Buck offers plenty of upside. Both youngsters should reach double-digit homers, and despite some general BA concerns, they each appear vastly superior values compared to far higher profile options like Jorge Posada and Jason Kendall.


Click here to read the previous article.

Please e-mail your comments to tim@rotohelp.com.
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