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AL Starters: Day Seven
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.

97.  Kyle SnyderKC/BOSAge: 29P:R   B:S

The more than half-dozen pitchers added to Boston's 40-man roster this winter leave Snyder little chance to breaking camp with the Red Sox, a fair situation since Snyder's difficulties in 2006 prompted the club's pitching binge. Last spring he registered a solid 3.88 ERA on a 43:9 K:BB in 60.1 IP over 9 GS(10G) for AAA Omaha(PCL), failed to impress Kansas City in a single spot start, and then headed to Boston on waivers. He spent most of the balance of the season in the Red Sox rotation, allowing his high hit and homer rates to overwhelm his solid strikeout and walk rates. Snyder still could emerge as a reliable option in a good pitchers' park, making him an excellent target for the Nationals and a worthy end-round pick in the NL, but Boston's current pitching depth renders him useless to AL fantasy teams.

98.  David PauleyBOS Red SoxAge: 23P:R   B:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Boston for my comments on Pauley.

99.  Brandon DuckworthKC RoyalsAge: 30P:R   B:R

The Royals liberated Duckworth from the Pirates minor league system last June for cash after watching him register an 8-3 record and a 2.42 ERA on a 57:23 K:BB in 74.1 IP over 12 GS. Duckworth unsurprisingly struggled on the Royals, and after six uninspiring weeks, he hit the DL for the remainder of the season due to minor elbow surgery. While he remains in camp this year, Duckworth needs an excellent spring to beat out Brian Bannister, Zach Greinke, and a host of other candidates for the final spot in the Royals' rotation. Don't expect him to contribute to any successful fantasy teams in 2007 unless he finally shifts to the bullpen for good.

100.  Shawn ChaconNYY/PITAge: 28P:R   B:R

Sent to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline for Craig Wilson in the silliest acquisition by any rebuilding team, Chacon immediately missed time with knee problems, continued to demonstrate no semblance of command, and yet still convinced the Pirates to tender him a contract. He signed for $3.825M only weeks before the club inked Tony Armas for $3.5M guaranteed to fill Chacon's spot as the club's sixth starter, providing another great reason why Dave Littlefield doesn't deserve his job. Perhaps a return to the bullpen will improve his performance, but unless some pitching coach fixes the flaw that causes Chacon's walk rate to roughly equal his strikeout rate each year, Chacon won't belong on any team's roster, including the Pirates.

101.  Edinson VolquezTEX RangersAge: 23P:R   B:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Texas for my comments on Volquez.

102.  Jason JohnsonCLE/BOS/CINAge: 32P:R   B:R

Few pitchers burned us as badly as Jason Johnson, who returned somewhere around $10 of profit on no less than three of our teams. His complete lack of dominance burned him in Cleveland before growing to a problem of outlandish dimensions in Boston. Somehow his move to Cincinnati translated into a couple of decent outings, but he still compiled one of the most disappointing fantasy seasons of the year. The one-year deal he signed with Seibu in Japan thankfully removes Johnson from within range of our roto wrath until 2008.

103.  Joel PineiroSEA MarinersAge: 28P:R   B:R

A combination of injuries and increasing ineffectiveness rendered Pineiro nearly useless to the Mariners, who watched his ERA rise by at least a half point for the fourth straight summer before non-tendering him in December. However, Pineiro posted a 4.81 ERA on a 20:10 K:BB in 24.1 IP with 19 H and 3 HR allowed over 15 games out of the bullpen. Also taking into consideration both his career-best 1.61 and the fact that he didn't turn 28 until September allows us to envision a scenario in which he thrives after signing a one-year contract with the Red Sox, ostensibly to serve as the club's closer. I see no reason he can't succeed in relief, so while you certainly shouldn't expect a Papelbonian savoir to emerge in Boston, Pineiro's promise justifies bids into the low double digits assuming Terry Francona clearly identifies Pineiro as the closer prior to your draft. The lack of such an announcement should halve his projected value for you, leaving you better off spending your closer money on Octavio Dotel and possibly even Seth McClung.

104.  Jason HammelTB Devil RaysAge: 24P:R   B:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Tampa Bay for my comments on Hammel.

105.  Runelvys HernandezKC RoyalsAge: 28P:R   B:R

New Boston assistant Allard Baird almost certainly recommended Hernandez despite the headaches caused by the frequently rotund pitcher in Kansas City. Hernandez only managed a 4.88 ERA on a 42:26 K:BB in 62.2 IP over 11 GS(12G) for AAA Omaha(PCL) last year, numbers which suggest very little upside for the hurler. While I once viewed him as a decent gamble, the general degradation of his skill set makes Hernandez a terrible fantasy option and currently barely worthy of a rotation slot at Pawtucket. Do not risk rostering Hernandez until you see him compile several solid outings in the majors.

106.  Josh TowersTOR Blue JaysAge: 29P:R   B:R

Landing a two-year contract for $5.2M prior to 2006 proved a godsend for Towers, who completely collapsed upon entering his third season as one of Toronto's primary starters. He at least pitched for AAA Syracuse(IL), registering a 5-5 record and a 4.00 ERA on a 76:11 K:BB in 101.1 IP over 15 GS, though his 121 H and 12 HR allowed help illustrate his limited upside. Towers almost certainly won't return to positive fantasy value as long as he remains with the Jays, and exercise plenty of caution when he finds a change of scenery since he'll continue flailing without a superb defense or at least great luck supporting him.

107.  Hayden PennBAL OriolesAge: 21P:R   B:R

Replacing the injured Kris Benson with Steve Trachsel once again leaves Penn as no more than the Orioles' sixth starter, a reasonably appropriate role considering he only turned 22 in October and just pitched terribly in the majors last year. However, he also compiled a 7-4 record and a 2.26 ERA on an 85:27 K:BB in 87.2 IP with 71 H and 5 HR over 14 GS for AAA Ottawa(IL), so he probably won't need much more seasoning. Penn also appeared perfectly ready to succeed in the majors when promoted in May, but an emergency appendectomy scuttled those plans and effectively set him back a year. Expect him to rejoin Baltimore whenever any o the veteran starters hits the DL, quiet likely emerging as the club's long-term fourth starter behind Bedard, Cabrera, and Loewen by year's end. Consider Penn an excellent mid-round reserve pick or even a Dollar Days option depending on your league's rules.

108.  Joe MaysKC/CINAge: 30P:R   B:S

Perhaps best known as the pitcher whose contract extension in Minnesota prompted the Twins to pass on Mark Prior to select Joe Mauer, Mays departed Minnesota for the $1M offered by the Royals, and after breaking camp in the majors, lasted all of five weeks before his release. Cincinnati signed him to a minor league deal, and although he again struggled when recalled, Mays at least managed a 6-3 record and a 3.07 ERA on a 40:13 K:BB in 67.1 IP over 10 GS(11G) for AAA Louisville(IL). The minor league contract Mays signed with the Dodgers this winter places him in the best situation of his career, although if he fails to break camp with Los Angeles, he could watch his continue to flag given the inhospitable pitching environment at AAA Las Vegas. Regardless of his team or role in 2007, Mays hasn't succeeded in the majors since 2001, making him one of the few players I can't recommend in any format.

NL Starting Pitcher Week begins tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Few pitchers with this little fantasy value generally rebound in the following season. Jason Hammel and Hayden Penn look like the best long-term options here, although neither of the youngsters merits more than minimal fantasy attention at the moment. Joel Pineiro easily laps the field in potential value as Boston's nominal closer, but until he actually wins that job, I don't recommend spending more than about $5 on any middle reliever with somewhat questionable skills and very limited bullpen experience.

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