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NL Catchers: Day Three

by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National League Catchers without 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.

21.  Damian MillerMIL BrewersAge: 36B:R   T:R

Perhaps my best projection from 2006, Miller's stats noticeably retreated across-the-board in the second year of his three-year deal with Milwaukee. Clearly recognizing that he just didn't possess the same upside as all the youngsters in the lineup, the Brewers dealt for Johnny Estrada last month, relegating Miller to a likely platoon role. Ironically, limiting his at-bats should improve Miller's performance, especially if he continues to play against most left-handers. He still possesses decent pop and patience, so although he isn't someone overly worth targeting, Miller also should clear $2-4 after not costing you more than a buck or two on draft day.

22.  Sandy Alomar, Jr.LAD/CHWAge: 40B:R   T:R

Seemingly on his way out of baseball each of the past four seasons, this year Alomar defied expectations by leaving the White Sox for the Dodgers, although after Chris Widger flopped in his old job, Chicago dealt B.J. LaMura in July to reacquire Alomar from Los Angeles. Of course, Alomar also isn't assured of even landing a backup job in 2007. With a declining at-bat total prepared to slide under 100 next year, he unfortunately won't post positive value even if spends a few months in the majors. I see no reason to roster Alomar in any fantasy format.

23.  Rob FickWAS NationalsAge: 32B:L   T:R

Wisely retained by the Nationals earlier this month with a minor league deal, Fick seems an especially useful player for the 2007 Washington squad since Rule 5 pick Jesus Flores, straight from A-ball, requires a roster spot the entire year. If Flores can act as the defensive backup, Fick looks like a great choice as a pinch-hitter and roster multiplier since Manny Acta shouldn't hesitate to pinch-hit as needed for Brian Schneider with Flores available to catch and Fick then able to sub at the plate for Flores later in the game. Of course, Fick really needs to avoid the multiple injuries that slowed him this summer, but given his decent power potential and overall upside, consider him a solid option during Dollar Days for your second catcher slot.

24.  Brandon HarperWAS NationalsAge: 30B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Washington for my comments on Harper.

25.  Carlos RuizPHI PhilliesAge: 27B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Philadelphia for my comments on Ruiz.

26.  Chris IannettaCOL RockiesAge: 23B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Colorado for my comments on Iannetta.

27.  Rob BowenSD PadresAge: 25B:S   T:R

Minnesota waived Bowen in March despite his respectable performance over the past few years as their third catcher. Detroit claimed him with the intent of slipping him through waivers to Triple-A, but San Diego instead foiled that plan by reclaiming Bowen right at the beginning of the season. While he spent almost the entire season as the Padres' third catcher, he rarely saw the field and doesn't seem a sure bet to succeed as Josh Bard's caddy in 2007. However, he demonstrated decent patience and a little pop in the minors, so unless he encounters further contact problems, Bowen at least shouldn't hurt you as either an initial second catcher or in-season roster filler.

28.  Humberto QuinteroHOU AstrosAge: 27B:R   T:R

Despite a couple of strong seasons for Quintero at AAA Round Rock(PCL), including the .298/.352/.425 he posted there this summer with a 19:48 BB:K in 292 AB, the Astros appear less than enamored with his qualifications as a backup backstop. While he remains on the 40-man roster, Quintero needs an excellent spring to break camp in the majors and won't possess any roto value until he proves he can echo his minor league stats during an extended stay in Houston.

29.  Miguel OjedaCOL/TEXAge: 31B:R   T:R

Generally employed as a third catcher since departing the Padres in 2005, Ojeda opened the year as Colorado's backup for two months before slipping into the minors, spending a month with Mexico City, and then switching to the Rangers for a month in Oklahoma and September in Texas. He currently seems set to back up Gerald Laird on the Rangers next season, and while I don't consider him someone to target, anyone with Ojeda's respectable skill set who plays in Texas qualifies as no less than solid roster filler in any standard league.

30.  Brayan PenaATL BravesAge: 24B:S   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Atlanta for my comments on Pena.

31.  Einar DiazLA DodgersAge: 33B:R   T:R

Stuck in the minors for the first time in several seasons, Diaz only managed a .218/.267/.318 output with a 14:23 BB:K in 220 AB for AAA Buffalo(IL). The Indians sold him to the Dodgers in August, but he barely played with Los Angeles as he no longer possesses much value to big league or fantasy teams. While he signed a minor league deal with the Pirates earlier this month, he appears behind Ronny Paulino, Humberto Cota, and Ryan Doumit on the depth chart, so don't expect to see him in Pittsburgh serving in any capacity other than September roster depth.

32.  Ramon CastroNYNAge: 30B:R   T:R

A strained oblique sidelined Castro from the end of July until the weekend before the playoffs, costing him the opportunity to push his fantasy value to the positive side of the ledger. He returns as Paul Lo Duca's caddy for 2007, though despite possessing decent patience and power, he appears unlikely to claim the starting job if the Mets opt not to re-sign Lo Duca when he hits free agency. If you're willing to suffer a small BA drag to add a half-dozen homers and a couple dozen RBI, consider Castro a decent Dollar Days option for your second catcher slot.

33.  Matt LeCroyWAS NationalsAge: 30B:R   T:R

LeCroy's terrible work behind the plate led the Nationals to cut their backup after watching him flail in the field for four months. He still possesses a decent bat and could contribute, particularly if he lands with an AL club with an ironman starter and a need for a right-handed DH, with the Mariners appears a particularly intriguing destination. However, given his weak BA and uncertain playing time, LeCroy looks like nothing more than Dollar Days roster filler barring an unexpectedly positive shift in his circumstances.

34.  Paul HooverFLO MarlinsAge: 30B:R   T:R

Promoted to the majors for the first time since 2002, Hoover still sent most of the year at AAA Albuquerque(PCL), where he registered a .278/.351/.414 performance with 6 HR, 41 RBI, and a 33:71 BB:K in 302 AB. He again appears likely to serve as the Marlins' third catcher, waiting at Albuquerque for injury to strike Miguel Olivo or Matt Treanor, although realistically Hoover offers very little offensive upside even if he receives a longer look in 2007.

35.  Miguel MonteroARI DiamondbacksAge: 23B:L   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Arizona for my comments on Montero.

36.  Jose A. ReyesCH CubsAge: 23B:S   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Chicago(N) for my comments on Reyes.

37.  Alvin ColinaCOL RockiesAge: 24B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Colorado for my comments on Colina.

38.  Mike RoseSTL CardinalsAge: 30B:S   T:R

Rose initially reached the majors last year with the Dodgers, though a poor performance at the plate allowed the Devil Rays to claim him off waivers in October of 2005. He failed to win the backup job in camp and then earned his release in May after posting an awful .104/.164/.209 output in 67 AB for AAA Durham(IL). However, the Cardinals quickly signed Rose and watched him compile a .258/.358/.494 performance with 15 HR, 36 RBI, and a 40:83 BB:K in 271 AB for AAA Memphis(PCL), earning another cup-of-coffee in September. Dismissed as expected from the 40-man roster in October after securing a World Series ring on the basis of his nine fall at-bats, Rose signed with Cleveland to start at AAA Buffalo, as well as serving as the automatic replacement if Victor Martinez or Kelly Shoppach hits the DL. Despite his unimpressive stats in the majors to date, Rose has a bright future as a big league backup and shouldn't hurt you if you need an extra catcher after the Indians recall him next summer.

39.  Mike MathenySF GiantsAge: 36B:R   T:R

Post-concussion syndrome drove Matheny to the DL at the beginning of June. Nearly seven months after the injury, Matheny still has not resumed baseball activities, and given his age and health issues, likely will not return to the game. His four Gold Gloves and a reputation as perhaps the premier NL catcher of the last decade only partially compensate for his unimpressive .239/.295/.344 performance in 3877 big league at-bats, mediocre averages at any position that left him with scant fantasy value throughout the majority of his career.

40.  Gary BennettSTL CardinalsAge: 34B:R   T:R

Re-signed to a one-year deal in November that keeps him with one franchise for the first time since the 1999-2000 campaigns, Bennett watched his patience continue to disappear even as he hit a couple of extra homers this summer. However, with limited additional power potential and virtually no chance of posting an acceptable batting average, Bennett doesn't belong on anyone's roto roster.

41.  Hector GimenezHOU AstrosAge: 24B:S   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Houston for my comments on Gimenez.

Catcher Week concludes tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Among the trio of young catchers here poised to start in 2007, Chris Iannetta easily appears the safest investment, followed by Carlos Ruiz and then Miguel Montero, who's skipping from Double-A to the majors as opposed to compiling the solid AAA numbers of the other two. I see little reason to invest in most of the other players discussed above, but if you need a cheap second catcher, Damian Miller should rebound toward as much as $5 while Robs Fick and Bowen also aren't bad initial targets, though you'll want to upgrade soon if you need to roster either of them.

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