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NL Catchers: Day Four

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.

42.  Justin KnoedlerSF GiantsAge: 26B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: San Francisco for my comments on Knoedler.

43.  Wiki GonzalezWAS NationalsAge: 32B:R   T:R

Opening the year with the Nationals guaranteed Gonzalez nothing as he slipped off the roster by mid-April and only briefly returned for another two weeks a month later. However, his .298/.384/.488 performance with a 9:9 BB:K in 84 AB for AAA New Orleans(PCL) suggests he still could succeed in the right situation. If he sneaks into the majors somewhere next year and doesn't struggle too badly, he just might emerge as decent short-term roster filler despite his general difficulties at the plate over the past few years.

44.  Todd PrattATL BravesAge: 39B:R   T:R

Other than a year spent with the Cubs, Pratt hasn't left the NL East since reaching the majors in 1992, enjoying three summers in Philly, that one year in Chicago, 4+ seasons with both the Mets and Phillies, and finally this campaign in Atlanta. Departing Philadelphia unsurprisingly gutted his roto value as Pratt posted his worst average since 2001. Considering the veteran backstop turns 40 in February, he will not reemerge as a viable fantasy option regardless of his home in 2007.

45.  Geovany SotoCH CubsAge: 23B:R   T:R

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

46.  Matt TreanorFLO MarlinsAge: 30B:R   T:R

Other than the two weeks he spent on the DL dealing with shoulder issues likely stemming from the 2005 surgery he needed to repair his torn labrum, Treanor posted a remarkably similar stat line to the previous year's campaign. Most of his averages eked upward and he offered a little more power, but his upside remains as low as almost any backup's ceiling in the league. Unless Treanor soon begins echoing his AAA numbers, even the prestige of owning Mr. Misty May on your fantasy team won't provide sufficient incentive for you to roster him.

47.  Carlos MaldonadoPIT PiratesAge: 27B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Pittsburgh for my comments on Maldonado.

48.  J.R. HouseHOU AstrosAge: 26B:R   T:R

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

49.  Eric MunsonHOU AstrosAge: 28B:L   T:R

Although Munson clobbered the ball in May to the tune of a .393/.469/.607 output in 28 AB, he failed to break a .200 average in any other month, eventually losing his roster spot altogether in mid-August. The Astros re-signed him to a minor league deal, but given his meager BA over the past few years, I see no reason to expect a return to positive fantasy value. Only power-desperate owners willing to ignore Munson's average should bother even considering him as roster filler

50.  Sal FasanoPHI/NYYAge: 35B:R   T:R

Three respectable months with the Phillies couldn't keep Fasano on the roster once Chris Coste and Carlos Ruiz began contributing. The veteran hit the DL with knee inflammation in early July, and after three weeks on the sideline, headed to the Yankees for Hector Made. Fasano performed even worse in New York, posting a meager .143/.222/.286 output far removed from his established skill level. Hopefully he'll return to a favorable hitters' park since Fasano's solid power potential makes him one of the more intriguing $1 catcher options when not in a situation that virtually guarantees a BA below his .221 career norm.

51.  Brad AusmusHOU AstrosAge: 37B:R   T:R

Seemingly set as the Astros' starter and Craig Biggio's veteran companion as long as the latter plays for Houston, Ausmus posted one of the worst years of his career this summer abrupt regression of his plate discipline ruined any chance of him echoing his 2005 surge. Ausmus possesses no power potential, very little speed, and really offers no reason for you to risk him dragging down your BA for another season. Avoid him everywhere in 2007.

52.  J.D. ClosserCOL RockiesAge: 26B:S   T:R

Completely supplanted by Chris Iannetta on the Rockies, Closser nevertheless registered a .298/.384/.480 performance with 8 HR, 30 RBI, and a 31:38 BB:K in 225 AB for AAA Colorado Springs(PCL). Looking to catch lightning in a bottle, the Brewers claimed Closser off waivers in October, though unless he wallops the ball during spring training, he appears unlikely to see many at-bats in Milwaukee with Johnny Estrada, Damian Miller, and Mike Rivera ahead of him on the depth chart. I certainly still see some upside in Closser's skills, but until he actually converts his solid minor league stats into big league success, he really won't belong on anyone's fantasy squad.

53.  Jason LaRueCIN RedsAge: 32B:R   T:R

David Ross's emergence left LaRue without a job on the Reds, who dealt the veteran to Kansas City last month for a PTBN. Of course, the deal makes no sense for the Royals given John Buck's youth and consistent development at the plate, so hopefully Buddy Bell will limit LaRue's playing time. Conversely, Kansas City isn't paying LaRue a couple of million to sit on the bench, so if Buck doesn't respond to the challenge by improving significantly, LaRue will reemerge as no worse than a part-time starter. Owners willing to carry a below-average BA at catcher in exchange for double-digit homers should consider LaRue a solid option for a buck or two.

54.  Mike DiFeliceNYNAge: 37B:R   T:R

The odd man out of the Nationals' catcher derby last spring, DiFelice eventually landed with the Mets, spending two months at Double-A before joining New York as Ramon Castro's injury replacement in August and September. However, the 36-year-old barely played and still posted his third consecutive sub-.125 BA. I see no rationale for rostering DiFelice under almost any circumstances.

55.  Doug MirabelliSD/BOSAge: 35B:R   T:R

Yes, the Red Sox stole Mark Loretta from the Padres last winter for Mirabelli, but after watching Josh Bard allow ten passed balls in April, the club hilariously overpaid to reacquire Mirabelli, sending Bard, Cla Meredith, and cash to San Diego. Mirabelli predictably contributed little at the plate, and while he re-signed for 2007, George Kottaras will spend next summer catching Charlie Zink at AAA Pawtucket to gain the experience to supplant Mirabelli no later than 2008. After two increasingly woeful offensive performances, he simply no longer merits a roster spot in any fantasy league.

56.  Chad MoellerMIL BrewersAge: 31B:R   T:R

Moeller seemingly never adjusted to the switch from Arizona to Milwaukee, first losing his starting job to Damian Miller in 2005 and then ceding his bench job to Mike Rivera for the second half this year. While he only managed a .220/.307/.311 output with a 15:28 BB:K in 132 AB for AAA Nashville(PCL), he apparently demonstrated enough upside to convince Wayne Krivsky to give him a major league deal to serve as the Reds' third catcher. He almost certainly should return to positive fantasy value thanks to the park shift, but Moeller remains a very risky choice as more than roster filler following three seasons of surprisingly awful stats from someone once touted as Arizona's catcher-of-the-future.

57.  Humberto CotaPIT PiratesAge: 27B:R   T:R

Even registering the worst year of his career didn't result in a non-tendering for Cota, though with Ronny Paulino established as the starting catcher and Ryan Doumit pushing for a bench slot, the Pirates' likely backup catcher needs a good spring to retain his roster spot. He simply imploded at the plate this summer as his averaged tumbled more than fifty points, accompanied in that dive by his power potential as Cota smacked just one extra-base hit. Perhaps he'll develop into a decent hitter over the next few years, but he doesn't belong on any fantasy roster in the near future.

58.  Yadier MolinaSTL CardinalsAge: 24B:R   T:R

Molina started as slowly as anyone in the majors before finally posting decent stats in June. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion at the end of the first half, and then missed time with a strained elbow in August, completely the sabotage of his season. The good news is that he demonstrated increased power potential while otherwise registering the same batting skills that resulted in a .252 BA last year. I still see a bright future for the National League's best defensive catcher, especially since he'll spend the next few years under the tutelage of Albert Pujols. Anything less than a rebound to no less than a couple bucks of positive value would shock me given Molina's age and development to date.

59.  Danny ArdoinCOL/BALAge: 32B:R   T:R

Although Ardoin opened the year in Colorado's catcher rotation, he didn't hit in the spring, spent the first month of the summer on the DL with a strained knee, faired even worse upon his return for August, and then headed to Baltimore on waivers at the waiver deadline. He lasted all of a week with the Orioles before slipping out of the majors completely, and while he signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in November, he isn't likely to spend any extended time in Washington next season.

Shortstop Week begins tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Most catchers that post fantasy value this low aren't going to rebound to more than minimal positive value at best. Only a few of these guys even belong on your draft board, but despite his rather terrible 2006 campaign, Yadier Molina continues to intrigue me. Bidding a couple of bucks on the Cardinals' starter just might net you a surprising profit if he overcomes the problems that caused his sophomore slump.

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