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NL First Basemen: Day Four

by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National League First Basemen 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.

22.  Mark SweeneySF GiantsAge: 36B:L   T:L

Signed to a two-year deal last winter and given a chance to win the greater half of a first-base platoon, Sweeney amassed the most of at-bats of his career yet also posted his worst stats since 2002. His formerly excellent patience collapsed, also driving down his power potential. However, an improved contact rate gives him an excellent chance for a rebound, so while he still isn't a particular fantasy asset, he certainly won't hurt you even if needed as roster filler for extended periods.

23.  Lance NiekroSF GiantsAge: 27B:R   T:R

The signings of Rich Aurilia and Ryan Klesko leave Lance Niekro without a starting spot and probably without any roster slot altogether in San Francisco. While he managed a .319/.349/.660 performance with 14 HR, 34 RBI, and a 7:23 BB:K in 144 AB for AAA Fresno(PCL) last summer, he once again contributed little at the plate, along with missing time due to shoulder and groin injuries. Even if Niekro enjoys a solid spring and reclaims a platoon role at first base, he hasn't demonstrated anything in the majors to make me think the he'll post more than minimal fantasy value, making him no more than a reserve-round afterthought in 2007.

24.  Jason WoodFLO MarlinsAge: 36B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Florida for my comments on Wood.

25.  Ryan KleskoSD PadresAge: 35B:L   T:L

Though Klesko contributed very little to the Padres' playoff push last year for his $10M salary, he honorably agreed to reject an arbitration offer, thereby at least giving San Diego an extra supplemental first-round pick in the June draft. He lost the season to a left shoulder injury that required major surgery in April and didn't return until the middle of September, however he apparently attracted the Giants' attention during the playoffs as they gave him a one-year deal to move up the coast to San Francisco. Klesko could serve as a platoon first baseman with Ryan Klesko, though he also appears first in line to sub for Bonds whenever the Giants' left fielder can't play. Trading PETCO for AT&T Park also should buoy his offensive stats nicely, providing Klesko at least a decent chance to return to double-digit value. Since I don't expect him to cost half that price in most leagues, he looks like a nice high-upside option for anyone needing a decent cornerman in the endgame.

26.  Chad SantosSF GiantsAge: 25B:L   T:L

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

27.  Scott MooreCH CubsAge: 22B:L   T:R

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

28.  Travis IshikawaSF GiantsAge: 23B:L   T:L

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

29.  Robby HammockARI DiamondbacksAge: 29B:R   T:R

Hammock missed almost all of the 2005 season following surgery to repair a torn labrum, but he re-signed with the Diamondbacks and posted a .290/.342/.515 performance for AAA Tucson(PCL) with 20 HR, 65 RBI, and a 24:59 BB:K in 369 AB. Arizona purchased his contract in the fall and appears likely to keep him as the third catcher behind Miguel Montero and Chris Snyder, as well as a general backup at all four corners. However, with the Diamondbacks determined to let all their youngsters play every day, Hammock shouldn't see too many at-bats, leaving him at little more than roster filler until he regains his catcher qualification.

30.  Brian JordanATL BravesAge: 39B:R   T:R

Re-signing with the Braves led to Jordan winning a platoon job at first base last spring, but he didn't hit and slipped onto the DL in June with a bruised collarbone, only briefly returning to sit on the bench in December. The 39-year-old former NFL star hasn't contributed on offense since 2003, and although he hasn't announced his retirement, he shouldn't return to the majors at this point. Jordan leaves the game with respectable .282/.333/.455 career averages in 5160 AB, along with four shots in the playoffs and a token All-Star appearance in 1999.

31.  Randall SimonPHI PhilliesAge: 31B:L   T:L

Simon hadn't played in the majors since 2004 and spent most of the summer with Tijuana in the Mexican League, registering a .348/.422/.635 output with 18 HR, 69 RBI, and a 29:18 BB:K in 233 AB that caught the Rangers' attention. Texas signed him to a minor league deal to play at AAA Oklahoma in early August, and he apparently then caught the Phillies' collective eye since Philadelphia bought Simon from Texas on September 1st. He served as Ryan Howard's backup last month and could return that role this fall, though with Chris Coste and Greg Dobbs both hoping to find at-bats in a similar capacity, Simon's chance of earning more than minimal fantasy value appears quite small.

32.  Ryan DoumitPIT PiratesAge: 25B:S   T:R

Seemingly prepared for the Pirates' starting catching job after surging through the minors in 2005, Doumit only lasted two weeks before a strained left hamstring sidelined him for two years, allowing Ronny Paulino a chance to emerge behind the plate. Continued hamstring issues led to his return to the DL in early June when doctors discovering a complete tear of the hamstring. Pittsburgh didn't activate him until the last week of August, by which point he longer stood any chance of displacing Paulino. This month's acquisition of Adam LaRoche similarly bounced Doumit from first base, so while the switch-hitter likely will break camp in the majors, he only looks like the back-up to Paulino, LaRoche, and possibly right fielder Xavier Nady. He may possess as much offensive upside as almost anyone in camp, but unless an injury creates a job for him, Doumit looks like no more than a decent endgame flyer. Perhaps the best strategy here involves grabbing him at UT, rostering any low-risk $1 catcher, and then grabbing a decent backup outfielder in a reserve round, positioning yourself to activate your bench player and move Doumit to catcher once he requalifies at his old position.

33.  Tony ClarkARI DiamondbacksAge: 34B:S   T:R

Clark returns for one more season as the primary obstacle to an everyday lineup slot for Conor Jackson. After simply flopping as a part-time player in the first half, Clark headed to the DL right after the break with shoulder problems that eventually necessitated labrum surgery in September. Perhaps he'll reemerged as a decent pinch-hitter for a team prepared for a serious playoff push, but Clark's general contact issues appear primarily a product if irregular playing time. Yes, he'll add a dozen homers to your ledger, but unless he moves to a team with a clearer need for a 1B or DH, I don't expect him to post a sufficiently high BA to move beyond $6-8 of fantasy value.

34.  John MabryCH CubsAge: 35B:L   T:R

Ostensibly considered a solid pinch-hitter despite his woeful .220/.302/.378 performance in that role over the past few years, Mabry nevertheless remains employed on big league benches despite his negligible speed, mediocre defense, and unimpressive power. Of course, the career-worst numbers posted by Mabry in 2006 apparently convinced plenty of teams that the 36-year-old doesn't merit a guaranteed roster spot since he only managed to land an NRI with Colorado last week. While the club wanted a left-handed bat for the bench and Mabry should supply superficially decent stats, he isn't an asset to the Rockies and might not last the season in the majors. Treating him as more then palatable roster filler would be a mistake.

AL Outfielder Week begins tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Ryans Klesko and Doumit pace this pack of rebound candidates, though the only other players that even look like decent endgame picks are Tony Clark and Mark Sweeney. No one here even appears particularly likely to push toward double-digit value. However, if either Klesko or Doumit receive a fairly full complement of at-bats, they at least possess the power necessary to reach both double-digit homers and mandatory fantasy ownership in all NL leagues.

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