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AL Shortstops: Day Three
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Shortstops 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.

20.  Oswaldo NavarroSEA MarinersAge: 21B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Seattle for my comments on Navarro.

21.  Erick AybarLA AngelsAge: 22B:S   T:R

Quite possibly the Angels' best fantasy prospect headed into the year, Aybar split the season between batting leadoff for AAA Salt Lake(PCL) and rotting on the big league bench. He registered an uninspiring .283/.327/.413 performance in the minors, along with 6 HR, 45 RBI, 63 R, a 32/50 SB%, and a 21:36 BB:K in 339 AB, playing much worse in August after his second demotion. Yet given his speed and overall plate discipline, Aybar only needs a starting job to emerge as a double-digit earner for the rest of the decade. I don't understand why he remains stuck on an Angels' squad loaded with infield options, so hopefully a club like the Orioles or Royals finally will accept one of Bill Stoneman's offers for a veteran. Right now I can't recommend Aybar as more than an endgame option, but if he somehow enters the season as a starter, bid to $20 without hesitation given his outstanding speed.

22.  Andy CannizaroNY YankeesAge: 27B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: New York(A) for my comments on Cannizaro.

23.  John McDonaldTOR Blue JaysAge: 32B:R   T:R

Even the newly-signed Royce Clayton remains a better starting shortstop than McDonald, who possesses insufficient power and plate discipline to contribute as more than a reserve. He'll return to his normal limited role on the Jays this summer, though even if Clayton falters, I fully expect Russ Adams to receive another shot. Don't risk owning McDonald unless you're aiming for the cellar in batting average.

24.  Lou MerloniCLE IndiansAge: 35B:R   T:R

Merloni managed to qualify at three positions by playing three games each at short, second, and third, giving him superb flexibility in the vast majority of fantasy leagues. Of course, since he hasn't signed anywhere, might not receive an NRI, and hasn't batted so much as twenty-five times in the majors over the last two summers, qualifying at three positions won't earn him consideration in any fantasy league. At least his .285/.361/.415 performance in 330 AB for AAA Buffalo(IL) suggests he still could help as a backup, but with no power or speed, he won't belong on any roto roster.

25.  Luis OrdazTB Devil RaysAge: 31B:R   T:R

Parlaying two mediocre seasons at AAA Durham into an Opening Day roster slot unfortunately led to a ruined season for Ordaz, who cracked his kneecap during either the Rays' exhibition finale or their season opener. He immediately hit the DL for surgery, lost his 40-man spot in August, and despite decent numbers in three weeks at Durham, appears unlikely to see much time in the majors this year. Like many defense-oriented backups, Ordaz won't belong on any fantasy roster even if fully healthy due to his negligible quantitative upside.

26.  Angel BerroaKC RoyalsAge: 28B:R   T:R

A minute uptick in Berroa's patience stands as the only bright spot from the worst year of his career. His speed vanished, his power remained stuck in neutral, and further batting average degradation completely crashed his averages, resulting in an abysmal .592 OPS. Yet with Andres Blanco and Angel Sanchez failing to offer any real competition, combined with Dayton Moore's inability to acquire a viable alternative, Berroa likely will return for one last shot at reclaiming his Rookie of the Year glory. Since his batting skills largely haven't changed since 2003, any team with a decent BA foundation should feel free to take an endgame flyer in the hope that he'll approach my obviously optimistic 2006 projection during the 2007 season.

27.  Ramon SantiagoDET TigersAge: 27B:S   T:R

Stuck behind both Omar Infante and Neifi Perez on the Tigers' bench, even another round of health problems for both Carlos Guillen and Placido Polanco won't lead to a starting job for Santiago. He failed to reach 100 at-bats despite spending the vast majority of 2006 in Detroit, and returning to a similar role this summer leaves him little hope for improvement. Don't roster Santiago in any league.

28.  Andres BlancoKC RoyalsAge: 22B:S   T:R

Suffering a torn labrum the last week of the season ends Blanco's shot at unseating Angel Berroa during camp. Now he'll struggle to see any time with the Royals before September, though given his .237/.309/.318 AAA output on a 21:41 BB:K in 283 AB, he certainly appeared headed for utility infielder duty even before the injury. Without any power or speed hidden in his skills, Blanco never should earn regular fantasy consideration and certainly doesn't belong on any roster this spring.

29.  Angel SanchezKC RoyalsAge: 23B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Kansas City for my comments on Sanchez.

30.  Ben ZobristTB Devil RaysAge: 25B:S   T:R

For someone who never hit below .304 nor posted an OBP below .400 at any minor league stop, Zobrist's struggles in the majors certainly surprised me. Obtained from Houston with Mitch Talbot in the July trade of Aubrey Huff, Zobrist replaced the subsequently traded Julio Lugo at shortstop, and despite his unimpressive debut, remains virtually certain to hold down the position until Reid Brignac hits the majors in a year or two. The biggest problem for roto players here is that Zobrist possesses scant power and inconsistent speed, so the majority of his value remains dependent on batting average. Yes, he owned outstanding plate discipline throughout the minors, but until we see his strikeouts fall in line with his walks in the majors, gambling more than a minimal ante on Zobrist is a risky move. Thankfully a superb AFL campaign provides further indication that his contact problems on the Rays were a fluke, so if you need a late-round MIF, Zobrist seems a surprisingly safe option.

31.  Russ AdamsTOR Blue JaysAge: 26B:L   T:R

Seemingly established as Toronto's starting shortstop heading into the season, Adams earned a demotion to AAA Syracuse in mid-May after committing nine throwing errors. His awfully slow start at the plate certainly contributed to that decision, and although he managed a solid .311/.374/.404 performance with a 17:23 BB:K in 161 AB, he never returned to the Jays' regular lineup rotation. Now the additions of Royce Clayton and Jason Smith effectively force Adams back to Syracuse once again, placing his young career in surprising jeopardy. Of course, Toronto will reinstate Adams if he demonstrates improvement on both sides of the ball, possibly as soon as spring training. Grabbing Adams either during the endgame or a middle reserve round should net you a small boost in the second half and potentially a great piece of trade bait since I see four-category upside for the youngster if he responds to this challenge from management.

32.  Nick GreenTB/NYYAge: 28B:R   T:R

Although Green nearly returned to his 2004 level of player after the Yankees' purchased his contract from Tampa in May, he didn't impress anyone in the organization, losing his spot on the 40-man roster in October and heading into free agency. Given his questionable plate discipline and merely marginal quantitative potential, Green shouldn't belong on the roster of any competitive fantasy team in 2007.

33.  Tomas PerezTB Devil RaysAge: 32B:S   T:R

Dumped by Philly at the end of spring training, Perez signed with Tampa and proceeded to post a sub-.525 OPS every month of the year outside of July. Of course, nothing here really surprised me considering he posted little obvious offensive skills prior to the year and definitely suffered a severe shift in park effects upon his move from CB Park to Tropicana. With no patience, power, or speed, Perez merits no fantasy attention even if he returns to a hitter-friendly environment.

Shortstop Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Most owners will not want to bother with any of these players, but Zobrist, Berroa, and Adams at least offer decent upside if the last to the end of your draft as expected. Erick Aybar remains the player to target here due to his superb minor league SB totals. As a reserve, he should perform no worse than Maicer Izturis while as a starter, he could blow past $20 if allowed to play every day. Some smart GM really needs to liberate from the Angels' overflowing cache of infielders.

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