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AL Starters: Day Six
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Starting Pitchers without Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
P = Pitches.  B = Bats.  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.
W = Wins.  S = Saves.  ERA = Earned Run Average (ER*9/IP).
WHIP = (Walks + Hits)/IP aka Ratio.  K = Strikeouts.  BB = Bases on Balls aka Walks.
H = Hits.  IP = Innings Pitched.  
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 whether a pitcher qualified as a starter in Scoresheet fantasy baseball .

We ranked players 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 each player in the league where he started the season.

79.  Shane KomineOAK AthleticsAge: 25P:R   B:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Oakland for my comments on Komine.

80.  Carlos SilvaMIN TwinsAge: 27P:R   B:R

Another likely victim of the WBC, Silva watched his walk, hit, and homer rates skyrocket as one of the sole players who didn't benefit from the Twins' summer surge into playoff contention. An abysmal April forced him into the bullpen by mid-May, and although he soon returned to the rotation, he sandwiched ERA over 6.50 in June and July between solid performances in June and September. Given a winter of rest, I suspect Silva at least can echo his 4.88 ERA from the second half, especially with free agent riches beckoning in the fall. Even four straight seasons of a falling ground-fly rate can't keep me from recommending Silva for a few bucks.

81.  Seth EthertonKC RoyalsAge: 29P:R   B:R

In one of the strangest transaction sequences of the last year, Etherton signed a minor league deal with the Royals in November of 2005 but then headed to San Diego a month later as a Rule 5 pick. He failed to make the Padres, wasn't reclaimed by the Royals, and headed to AAA Portland(PCL), where he proffered a 4.38 ERA on a 49:14 K:BB in 49.1 IP over 9 GS, which apparently attracted more attention from the Royals, who traded at PTBN or cash to the Padres in May for Etherton. The journeyman started two games for Kansas City, allowed eight runs in 7.2 IP, and then spent the rest of the summer at AAA Omaha(PCL) compiling a 6.49 ERA on a 29:13 K:BB in 34.2 IP over 6 GS(10G). He still hasn't found a team for 2007, though considering Etherton never posted positive value in any of his four big league seasons, the 30-year-old likely never will qualify as more than desperation roster filler under the best of circumstances.

82.  Mike SmithMIN TwinsAge: 29P:R   B:R

The former Blue Jays' prospect lands with the Twins last summer and spend most of the year AAA Rochester(IL), where he registered a 3.88 ERA on a 110:57 K:BB in 150.2 IP over 24 GS(28G). He started one game in early August for Brad Rake and then returned to the minors for the balance of the season. While Smith technically found a great opportunity in 2007 by signing an NRI with St. Louis, I just don't see him succeeding on the Cardinals in any capacity.

83.  Matt GarzaMIN TwinsAge: 22P:R   B:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Minnesota for my comments on Garza.

84.  Kyle LohseMIN/CINAge: 27P:R   B:R

After a few seasons of contributing generally respectable stats on the Twins, Lohse imploded last spring by posting an abysmal 8.84 ERA over his first eight starts of the year, earning himself a deserved trip to the minors. Four strong starts later he returned to Minnesota's bullpen, and although he enjoyed a respectable July that indicates a potential future for him in relief, he headed to Cincinnati at the trade deadline for Zach Ward. Lohse began his Reds' career with an excellent series of starts, compiling a 2.78 ERA on a 29:8 K:BB in 32.1 IP over 5 GS(6G) in August. Of course, he unsurprisingly collapsed once again in September yet still enters 2007 as Cincinnati's fourth starter after avoiding arbitration for $4.2M. Despite Lohse's respectable command and frequent flashes of promise, I just can't see him excelling with the Reds, so only even roster him during Dollar Days if you can reserve him as needed against every team with a decent offense.

85.  Jason WindsorOAK AthleticsAge: 24P:R   B:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Oakland for my comments on Windsor.

86.  Denny BautistaKC/COLAge: 26P:R   B:R

Sent with Jeremy Affeldt to Colorado as the compensation in Kansas City's heist of Ryan Shealy, the Rockies view Bautista as a potential power reliever, a welcome role change after his failure to develop as a starter after his initial rush to the majors. The good news for Bautista is that after pitching worse for AAA Omaha than Kansas City, he rebounded in AAA Colorado Springs(PCL) with a 4.50 ERA on a 35:16 K:BB in 36 IP with 46 H and 2 HR. With his high groundball rate and strikeout potential, the 24-year-old also possesses the skill set to succeed in Denver. While you can't count on him for any fantasy purposes right now, Bautista belongs on the short list of pitchers likely to succeed Brian Fuentes as Colorado's closer.

87.  Scott BakerMIN TwinsAge: 25P:R   B:R

Essentially competing with Matt Garza, Sidney Ponson, and Glen Perkins for only one open rotation slot in Minnesota, Baker's lack of dominance probably makes him the worst choice of the bunch. Despite impressive numbers in previous seasons, lofty hit and homer rates destroyed his qualitative stats, though at least Baker managed a 2.67 ERA on a 68:25 K:BB in 84.1 IP over 12 GS once returned to AAA Rochester(IL). He still clearly could succeed in the majors with a little luck, but thanks to the Twins' wealth of hard-throwing youngsters surging through the system, Baker appears far more likely to remain in the majors as a reliever. Regardless of his role, I can't justify more than a minimal bid on him at this time despite solid long-term potential.

88.  Bobby KeppelKC RoyalsAge: 24P:R   B:R

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

89.  R.A. DickeyTEX RangersAge: 31P:R   B:R

A respectable spring allowed the knuckleballer to claim the last spot in the Rangers' rotation, which lasted all of a single start before his demotion after Dickey allowed six homers in less than four innings of work against Detroit. He didn't far measurably better at AAA Oklahoma(PCL), managing just a 9-8 record and a 4.92 ERA on a 61:49 K:BB in 131.2 IP over 19 GS(22G) with 134 H and 17 HR allowed. Considering his increasingly poor performances in the majors, Dickey may tour the boondocks for a while, a journey he'll begin this year with Milwaukee after signing a minor league deal. Perhaps he'll fill Jared Fernandez's old role for the Brewers, but I instead don't expect to see him see more than a token appearance at Miller Park this summer.

90.  Kameron LoeTEX RangersAge: 25P:R   B:R

Demonstrating intriguing skills in the upper minors hasn't translated into big league success for Loe, who opened last year as the Rangers' fourth starter, impressed no one for ten weeks, and then spent six weeks on the DL with a bone bruise. He returned form the injury as a reliever, posting a 9.13 ERA on a 21:13 K:BB in 22.2 IP over 3 GS(13G) for AAA Oklahoma(PCL), a performance that unsurprisingly didn't earn him another shot in Texas during September. While he remains on the 40-man roster, Loe currently appears a long way from contributing anything to the Rangers or fantasy teams as a high groundball rate alone doesn't qualify someone to pitch in the majors.

91.  Dustin MoseleyLA AngelsAge: 24P:R   B:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Los Angeles(A) for my comments on Moseley.

92.  Rodrigo LopezBAL OriolesAge: 30P:R   B:R

Lopez headed to the Rockies last month for minor leaguers Jim Miller and Jason Burch in a move that cost the Orioles a few million bucks following the revelation of Kris Benson's injury and the subsequent signing of Steve Trachsel, who simply lacks Lopez's upside at his age. Yes, Lopez really struggled last summer, but with high hit rates the primary saboteur for his respectable command over the past two seasons, he certainly could rebound under the right circumstances. Colorado unfortunately lacks the necessary welcoming environment, though if Lopez doesn't win a rotation spot, he at least looks like a decent long man. He really only needs a move somewhere on the west coast to reemerge as a respectable fantasy option, a qualification he currently lacks as a homer-prone starter headed to Coors.

93.  John RheineckerTEX RangersAge: 27P:L   B:L

Swiped from Oakland last spring with Freddie Bynum for Juan Dominguez, Rheinecker then spent most of the summer bouncing between AAA Oklahoma, the Rangers' rotation, and the Texas bullpen. Posting a 2.52 ERA on a 68:24 K:BB in 93 IP with 93 H and 5 HR over 15 GS for Oklahoma(IL) indicates he needs no more seasoning, but the southpaw's lack of dominance also makes him a bad fit for the Rangers. He possesses the most immediate potential as a lefty specialist, and considering his difficulties as a big league starter, Rheinecker won't post positive value in 2007 regardless of his role.

94.  James JohnsonBAL OriolesAge: 23P:R   B:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Baltimore for my comments on Johnson.

95.  Doug WaechterTB Devil RaysAge: 25P:R   B:R

Despite possessing plenty of promise when shooting through the Rays' system in 2003, Waechter badly stagnated over the past three seasons, allowing a high hit rate to destroy his numbers even when he otherwise demonstrated decent command. He lasted just two months in Tampa last spring, compiled a 1-12 record and an 8.32 ERA on a 45:24 K:BB in 79 IP with 129 H and 7 HR over 15 GS(17G) for AAA Durham(IL), and then finally discovered after the season that he required shoulder surgery to repair his torn labrum. Considering he never owned great skills prior to the injury, Waechter appears highly unlikely to reemerge as a viable big leaguer any time soon, certainly not in 2007 as the minor league deal he signed with Tampa merely gives him someplace familiar to rehab rather than offering any real promise of another shot with the Rays.

96.  Matt ClementBOS Red SoxAge: 32P:R   B:R

Rather than rebounding from a mediocre 2005 campaign, Clement collapsed to truly terrible numbers last summer. He staggered through the first two months of the season, eventually landed on the DL in June with biceps spasms. Weeks of unproductive rehab eventually led to September shoulder surgery to repair his rotator cuff, which should sideline him until the second half. He appears in a particularly bad situation with Jon Lester already stuck outside the projected Boston rotation, so the veteran starter either will head elsewhere at the trade deadline or likely require a short-term, make-good contract next winter. Consider Clement nothing more than a decent late-round option for a couple of bucks with the intention of swapping him to a rebuilding team.

AL Starting Pitcher Week concludes tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Carlos Silva ostensibly qualifies as the primary sleeper here as a potential free agent with nominally limited upside and the #2 starter's job in Minnesota. However, his fantasy potential pails in comparison to the quartet of impressive rookies listed above, specifically Rookie of the Year candidate Matt Garza, James Johnson in Baltimore, and Oakland teammates Jason Windsor and Shane Komine. Feel free to target any of these guys once they reach the majors, paying special attention to Garza as one of the best pitchers in the minors.

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