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NL Second Basemen: Day Three
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National League Second Basemen 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.

14.  Marcus GilesATL BravesAge: 28B:R   T:R

Seemingly more like a Drew than a Giles, Marcus suffered a sore shoulder in March, quad issues and a sprained finger in April, continued hand problems in May, a fever in June, a sore thumb in July, a bruised left hand in August, and finished the year with concerns about his heart finally diagnosed as acid reflux. While only one of those injuries truly sticks out, the extensive list of ailments illustrates why his OPS dropped nearly a hundred points despite little shift in his skills. Atlanta seriously erred by dumping him, as did the twenty-eight teams that allowed him to land in San Diego for an absolute pittance of around $8M for two years once the Padres exercise their club option. More importantly, he should slide back to the #2 hole, allowing him to fit in front of his brother for the first time since Wiffle ball. The biggest problem Giles faces is that moving from Turner to PETCO could cut his overall offensive production by more than ten percent, so although I anticipate a welcome rebound near $20, I hold little hope for Giles to exceed that level by any notable margin.

15.  Jose VidroWAS NationalsAge: 32B:S   T:R

Jim Bowden not only dumped Vidro on the Mariners while paying only $4M of the $16M remaining on his contract, clearing second base for Felipe Lopez and short for Cristian Guzman, he obtained Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto, who should play important roles for the Nationals over the rest of the decade. Meanwhile Vidro essentially replaces Ben Broussard and Snelling as Seattle's DH, which downgrades an offense in dire need of help while adding plenty of salary to the payroll. Yes, Vidro's a decent hitter, but injuries limited him to an average of fewer than 395 AB over the last three years and contributed to a five-year OPS decline that leaves him with barely sufficient offense for a second baseman. Moving to a more severe pitchers' park in a new league at a premium offensive position appears an absolutely terrible fit for Vidro. Even exceeding five hundred at-bats courtesy of the reduced stress of DHing shouldn't let Vidro push his value back into the teens.

16.  Alfredo AmezagaFLO MarlinsAge: 28B:S   T:R

One of the year's most unexpected fantasy contributors, Amezaga exploited the Marlins' inexperience and injuries to finish with the seventh most at-bats on the team, which finally allowed him to echo the respectable steal totals he kept posting in the minors. However, despite decent plate discipline and these twenty steals, he emerged as a net negative for Florida due to his dozen caught stealings and general lack of power. Consider yourself lucky if you employed Amezaga last year but don't plan on a repeat anywhere around this production level. I even see little reason to keep him at a $1 in most standard leagues unless you envision all steals at a ridiculous premium in the draft.

17.  Todd WalkerCHC/SDAge: 33B:L   T:R

Rumored in deals throughout the year, Walker instead spent the first half splitting between second and first base as a full-time starter on the Cubs, and after Chicago finally dealt him to San Diego for prospect Jose Ceda, he spent most of the balance of the season as the Padres' third baseman. Unfortunately for Walker, he attracted little attention in a terrible free agent market for second baseman, so he accepted San Diego's offer of arbitration only to watch the club sign Marcus Giles two weeks later. Now he'll head into camp as a $3.95M utility infielder unless the Padres deal him, but even if he stays in San Diego, he'll remain a reasonably useful fantasy player. Walker registered a career-best 49:38 BB:K last summer, which indicates good potential for a BA rebound toward .300 even in PETCO. He similarly only needs a move to slightly less pitcher-friendly environment to return to double-digit homers, but even with this offensive potential and his intriguing position flexibility, Walker still doesn't deserve any bids over $5 in his current situation.

18.  Jose CastilloPIT PiratesAge: 25B:R   T:R

Despite limited overall growth that left the Pirates surprisingly displeased with their starting second baseman, Castillo posted a .279/.334/.443 performance after the break with a 22:50 BB:K in 305 AB. He also only turns 26 in March, leaving him seemingly primed for a breakout campaign if he doesn't lose his job to Jose Bautista. As I doubt he'll cost the $7 he earned last year in most leagues, definitely consider targeting Castillo for your MIF slot since your $4-6 investment just might net you a $10 profit and an outstanding keeper.

19.  Kazuo MatsuiNYM/COLAge: 30B:S   T:R

Essentially a gigantic disappointment to a Mets' organization that expected him to echo Ichiro's performance while solidifying their second base hole, Matsui instead hit so poorly last spring that they dispatched him to Colorado for Eli Marrero. Immediately demoted to AAA Colorado Springs(PCL), Matsui only managed a .278/.328/.391 output there, along with 3 HR, 16 RBI, 3/4 SB%, and a 9:20 BB:K in 115 AB, though he also missed more than a month on the DL with back problems. Yet the Rockies recalled him in August and watched him emerge as their possible second base solution by posting a .345/.392/.504 performance with 2 HR, 19 RBI, 8/9 SB%, and a 10:27 BB:K in 113 AB. While Jamey Carroll should platoon with him at second base, Matsui re-upped for $1.5M and enters camp as the probable starter and #2 hitter. Few second baseman possess Matsui's upside, though even expecting an echo of his 2006 stats seems overly optimistic. Let your league's auction dynamic determine your course of action here since Matsui isn't a bad buy shy of $10 but isn't nearly as safe a pick as Carroll if the utilityman stalls around $6.

20.  Craig BiggioHOU AstrosAge: 40B:R   T:R

Despite ranking among the top second basemen in baseball history, Biggio looks like a shell of his former self as only his pursuit of the seventy hits he needs for 3,000 and an unquestioned place in the Hall of Fame prevents the Astros from installing Chris Burke at second. Right now Biggio really belongs in the #6 hole due to his awful OBP, though he at least mildly offsets the loss of his formerly best skill with welcome power production. He topped twenty homers in each of the last three seasons, however he also turned forty-one last month and likely won't remain an everyday player much past his record hit, especially if the Astros fall out of contention. I look at Biggio and see a probably .250/15/50 player, barely worth $5 and a MIF slot on a good fantasy team.

21.  Jason SmithCOL RockiesAge: 29B:L   T:R

The most bizarre Rule 5 pick in December, Smith signed a minor league deal with the Cubs and then headed to the Blue Jays last month for $50K to serve to join John McDonald as Toronto's utility infielders. Of course, Smith's stats at both Colorado and AAA Colorado Springs suggest he could surprise at the plate. He also appears a better fit on the Jays than on Chicago's restock bench. While Smith's past offensive problems keep me from recommending him at this time, he also shouldn't hurt you if needed as roster filler.

22.  Ramon E. MartinezLA DodgersAge: 33B:R   T:R

Martinez barely landed the last spot on the Dodgers' roster last spring, however unless Andy LaRoche somehow pushes Wilson Betemit into a utility role early in the year, Martinez again seems likely to serve as the Dodgers' primary reserve infielder, albeit deferring to Marlon Anderson at second and first base. The journeyman still owns decent plate discipline, though he no longer really possesses any speed or power. Martinez also appears a likely to post a .280 BA or slump to a .240 mark, so given his extremely limited upside, don't even employ him as short-term roster filler unless absolutely necessary.

Second Base Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Marcus Giles easily tops this second tier of second baseman for 2007, but if other owners in your league also anticipate significant improvement from him, look elsewhere for your starter. Among potential MIF options, both Jose Castillo and Kaz Matsui appear potentially excellent sleepers, though again don't rate either player too highly until you know they'll remain regulars and appear unlikely to lose their jobs with one bad week.

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