Archive for February, 2007

Hoops Scoop

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

We interrupt the extensive baseball coverage for a quick look around the Association:

The Warriors recently became the first NBA team ever to start five players who never went to college. Meanwhile, their long-running playoff drought does not appear to be in serious jeopardy.

Anyone know what Tim Hardaway is up to these days?

Disagreeing with a call made by referee Violet Palmer, who happens to be a woman, Cedric Maxwell, the analyst / sidekick on the Celtics broadcast team, proclaimed “Get back in the kitchen!” Max’s partner, Sean Grande, tried to throw him a lifeline by pointing out that they had both been previously impressed by Palmer’s officiating, but Max continued “Get back in the kitchen and fix me some bacon and eggs!”

Dogged by questions regarding effort, Rudy Gay is really coming on over the last month, averaging 15.8 points, 1.7 3PT, 0.7 steals and 1.1 blocks while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. Make sure he’s not still available on your waiver wire.

Lamar Odom is finally rounding back into form after missing 21 games because of a sprained right knee, nearly posting a triple-double Tuesday night. LA is just 7-10 since his return to the lineup, largely because he’s been rusty and yet to reach 100 percent. Particularly, Odom’s ballhandling has been unusually sloppy. He’s averaging almost three turnovers a game.

The Shaun Livingston injury is as gruesome as it gets. Missing 39 games with a knee injury in the 04-05 season, then 12 more games with a shoulder ailment later that year, followed by being sidelined 21 games with a back problem last season and now this, it’s safe to say the talented kid’s body has failed him. Anyone who has seen the footage knows his career is in serious jeopardy.

Rumblings of accusations that LeBron James simply doesn’t care are getting louder and louder. Honestly, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why, as all it takes is to watch a Cavs game. His body language screams it. He coasts through games on cruise control, and I’m officially worried the vast potential will never be reached. You need to be born with drive and a killer instinct, something glaringly lacking in King James’ game right now. Kobe has it. So does D. Wade. I always argued the other way, but I’d officially rather start my franchise with Dwayne Wade.

Jason Richardson’s hand injury was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed his knee injury to fully heal with proper rest. Especially with Baron Davis sidelined, J-Rich’s fantasy numbers should continue to be big.

Clyde “The Glyde” Drexler is looking to prove that Emmitt Smith has nothing on his dancing skills, joining the new cast for “Dancing with the Stars.” I don’t watch this show, but if I did, I’d be rooting for Billy Ray Cyrus and Steve Sanders.

After John Amaechi came out and Tim Hardaway shocked the nation, Rony Seikaly said he was hit on by a teammate with “very smooth” moves. Awesome. Furthermore – Seikaly’s personal philosophy on sexual preference: “Whatever tickles your bone.”

Coming from someone who lives fairly close to Sacramento, I’d like to take the time to thank Mike Bibby for personally ruining any desire to go watch the Kings play live. As if shooting 39 percent wasn’t bad enough (31 percent from downtown – good thing he attempts nearly six 3-pointers a game), his defense has gone from terrible to atrocious. To make matters worse, word is Geoff Petri signed off on a deal shipping him to the Lakers for picks and expiring contracts, only the Maloof Brothers nixed it because they still consider the Lakers their archrivals. Someone please tell them it’s not 2002 anymore.

The Dallas Mavericks are 45-5 over the last 50 games. Seriously, look at their roster. Is Avery Johnson the best coach in sports?

Who would you rather have, Tyson Chandler or Ben Wallace? Not only is Chandler making far less money, he’s also the superior player and nearly 10 years younger. John Paxson is the worst GM no one talks about.

Third Base Rankings

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

1. Alex Rodriguez – In fantasy terms, A-Rod had his worst year since 1997 last season. And yet, the numbers were still top-5 worthy. There’s no debating he’s still the class of the third base position.
2. Miguel Cabrera – There’s a good debate, however, for who deserves the No. 2 slot. While Wright will produce more steals, Cabrera could best him in every other category. The 26 HRs were an aberration, so expect that number to creep back up this year. Surprisingly, Cabrera is younger than Wright, and it’s only a matter of time before he produces a monster .330-40-130 season
3. David Wright – The same could be said for Wright, who himself is also a future superstar. You can’t make a wrong choice between these two.

4. Garrett Atkins – While Atkins probably peaked as a player last season, there’s also a chance Coors Field produces more runs this year as well. Over the final six weeks of the season, it started looking like the Coors of old, and Atkins is in a nice situation in the heart of that order.
5. Aramis Ramirez – Since coming over to Chicago, Ramirez has turned into one of the game’s premiere hitters, never finishing a season with an OPS below .912 and a stellar 134:185 BB:K ratio over the last three seasons, showing tremendous plate discipline for a slugger.
6. Chone Figgins – After Figgins, a string of third basemen follows each with their own question marks.

7. Eric Chavez – Well, you’ll likely be able to draft him much later than this ranking. His body simply won’t allow him to reach his MVP-type season potential. Still, there remains a significant amount of upside here.
8. Scott Rolen – Like Chavez, Rolen will produce when in the lineup. His shoulder is a source of concern, however.
9. Ryan Zimmerman – It’s probably best not to count on another .323 BA with RISP, so a decrease in RBI is likely. Also, since he was successful on just 58 percent of his SB attempts, fewer steals seem to follow as well. RFK also gives him a 20-25 HR ceiling. Let someone else overpay.
10. Adrian Beltre – I love him. I hate him. After a monster 2004 campaign, Beltre has largely failed to meet expectations in Seattle. Entering June with a .594 OPS, Beltre’s final numbers actually weren’t that bad last year. He seemed to really settle into the No. 2 hole, the spot he figurers to occupy this year. I have an Adrian Beltre addiction, and I can’t stop the habit.
11. Hank Blalock – What a disappointment. After an impressive 2003 campaign, Blalock seems to get worse with each passing year. He supposedly trained hard this offseason (don’t they all), and he’s always an asset when at home. There’s another .290-30-110 season somewhere inside of him.
12. Chipper Jones – Similar to Chavez and Rolen, Jones enters the season as a huge risk/reward pick. Despite his age, he’s actually still one of the elite hitters in the game when not injured. It’s just that his frailty scares me more than Chavez/Rolen, as he has a chronic foot problem and hasn’t approached 500 at-bats since 2003.
13. Edwin Encarnacion – After dominating spring training, Encarnacion didn’t quite have the breakout season some envisioned last year. Still, there was plenty to like, and he possesses unique SB ability for a third basemen. Just 24 years old, this will be the latest you will be able to draft him for years to come.
14. Morgan Ensberg – Again, injury concerns and Phil Garner are the only things preventing Ensberg from vaulting up this list. Third base is very, very deep this year.
15. Troy Glaus – Love the power, hate the average.

16. Chad Tracy
17. Mark Teahen
18. Aubrey Huff
19. Melvin Mora
20. Joe Crede

21. Alex Gordon
22. Mike Lowell
23. Pedro Feliz
24. Akinori Iwamura
25. Andy Marte

26. B.J Upton
27. Shea Hillenbrand
28. Wilson Betemit
29. Brandon Inge
30. Ty Wigginton

Shortstop Rankings

Monday, February 26th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

1. Jose Reyes – There’s a real argument to be made for selecting Reyes No. 1 overall.
2. Jimmy Rollins – Rollins has officially become a tad underrated according to his ADP. Even if a drop off in HRs is likely, the ballpark and lineup around him more than make up for it. He’s much more likely to reach 40 steals than Derek Jeter is.
3. Derek Jeter – It’s best not to expect another .343 average or 34 SBs but that doesn’t mean Jeter won’t be plenty valuable. He’s probably the favorite to lead the league in runs scored.

4. Hanley Ramirez – Ramirez certainly surprised me last year, as I was under the assumption he wasn’t quite ready to contribute at the major league level yet. It’s safest to expect a slight regression this season, and Ramirez is probably someone I will avoid, but his steal potential alone ranks him above Tejada and Young.
5. Miguel Tejada – He’s on the decline. That .168 Isolated Power from last year tells you as much. Still, at a position as thin as SS, he’s a fine second round pick.
6. Michael Young – A consensus top-15 pick last year, I’m not really sure why his stock is falling so much entering this season. Expect a handful more HRs this year, and his value is roughly on par with Tejada’s.
7. Rafael Furcal – Furcal could easily prove to be as valuable as anyone else in this tier, but his BA should drop at least 15-20 points. Having premiere out-maker Juan Pierre batting directly behind him should hurt his run production as well.

8. Troy Glaus – Make sure he’s available at SS in your league, but if so, Glaus’ 40-HR potential makes him quite valuable at a MI spot. Just make sure you can take the hit in BA.
9. Julio Lugo – Most will probably rank Felipe Lopez above Lugo, but the lineup and ballpark is enough of an advantage for me to give Lugo the edge here.
10. Felipe Lopez – Once he called RFK Stadium home, Lopez knocked out just two homers in 274 at-bats. While his power numbers won’t be quite so suppressed this year, his hitting environment suffered dramatically leaving Cincy for Washington.
11. Carlos Guillen – One of the most underrated hitters in the game when in the lineup. Injuries, of course, is the ruse with Guillen. Make sure you are paying for only 450-500 at-bats.
12. Bill Hall – Speaking of underrated, Hall clubbed the quietest 35 home runs in the league last year. If you think he can do it again, go ahead and reach for him.
13. Edgar Renteria – Clearly preferring the Senior Circuit, Renteria bounced back with Atlanta after a sub-par 2005 campaign. Expect more of the same this year.

14. Stephen Drew – When you reach this point, go with the kid with the most upside.
15. Orlando Cabrera – A fine middle tier option.
16. Jhonny Peralta – A great target if you wait on your MI, Peralta’s OPS fell nearly .200 points from the previous season last year. Expect improvement this time around.
17. Freddy Sanchez – There’s a chance he only contributes in one category this year.
18. Bobby Crosby – His injury troubles are a legitimate concern. If he comes discounted enough, he still makes a fine late-round gamble. After all, he was ESPN’s MVP prediction last year.
19. Jason Bartlett – The fact he’s slated to hit ninth curtails his value but not a bad late round filler.
20. Wilson Betemit – A sneaky solid option. A .280-20-80 season is a real possibility.
21. Omar Vizquel – Continues to defy age.

22. Khalil Greene
23. Aaron Hill
24. Juan Uribe
25. Rich Aurilia
26. Troy Tulowitzki
27. Yuniesky Betancourt
28. David Eckstein
29. Angel Berroa
30. J.J. Hardy

Designated Hitter Rankings

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

1. David Ortiz – As previously mentioned, Big Papi’s value increases in Yahoo leagues, where he is also available at 1B. After the top-8, Ortiz seems like the next best choice.
2. Travis Hafner – Fluke injuries have suppressed his counting stats each of the last two seasons, but because he plays DH full-time, it’s safe to assume he’s not a huge injury risk, despite recent evidence to the contrary. He was one of baseball’s very best hitters last year, and if he falls to you in the 2nd round, consider yourself unbelievably lucky. He’s worthy of a top-12 pick; after all, his prorated stats last year look like this – .308-53-147.
3. Jim Thome – Blasting 42 long balls in just 490 at-bats, Thome showed he still has plenty of pop left in his bat last year. While injuries remain a concern, he’s in the right ballpark to make a run at a 45-50 homer season if everything breaks right.

4. Frank Thomas – Entering last year, the Big Hurt made a great buy low candidate, often getting picked in the very last rounds of drafts. This year, he figures to go much, much higher and still enters with injury risks. He’s approaching 40 and has averaged 270 at-bats over the last three seasons. Stay away.
5. Jonny Gomes – Before a shoulder injury ruined his 2006 season, Gomes finished April with a 1.185 OPS and 11 home runs. While his swing is too long to expect anything more than an average in the .250-.270 range, Gomes has the potential to reach 30 homers and 90 RBI. He entered spring training full of muscle and with a healthy shoulder, so he’s shaping up to be a fine late round target.
6. Mike Sweeney
– It’s no coincidence why the names on this list play their position, because the majority cannot even stay healthy in a full-time DH role. There isn’t a player more likely to spend some time on the DL this year than Sweeney, but he’s also capable of bouncing back at the plate after struggling last year even when in the lineup. Remember, Sweeney is still just 33 years old and has a .870 career OPS. Pay for 120 games, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Second Base Rankings

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

1. Chase Utley – There isn’t a bigger discrepancy at any other position than Utley and the rest of the second base class. He should be one of the first six players selected in your draft.

2. Brian Roberts – He should be fully healthy this year after spending most of last season still recovering from an ugly dislocated elbow injury. Roberts approached 40 steals even while dealing with a groin ailment that required a DL stint. He’s somewhat undervalued at this point.
3. Chone Figgins – Only available at second in some leagues, his value increases in such formats since the position is so much thinner than third base. It’s too bad Figgins is slated to hit ninth. He comes with some risk.
4. Robinson Cano – A strained hamstring curtailed his counting stats last year, which were quite impressive when prorated. Still, it’s best you don’t count on another .342 average with such a poor walk rate. He’s still a fine target, however.
5. Jeff Kent – Kent is someone I’ve avoided the last couple of years thinking an injury would eventually strike the aging slugger. Now, he seems to be an afterthought in many fantasy leagues. He worked insanely hard during the offseason, is determined to make the Hall of Fame and will bat cleanup – another run at a 100-RBI season should be expected.

6. Julio Lugo – It’s hard to predict Lugo’s power/speed numbers, which often fluctuate, but it’s not hard to argue his improved situation now in Boston. Forget his stint in LA, where he was miscast in a utility role. As the Red Sox’ lead off man, Lugo should be plenty valuable this season. Boston will let him run more than the public seems to think, as Coco Crisp was given the green light last year.
7. Howie Kendrick – As long as the hype machine doesn’t turn into overkill, Kendrick is an excellent target this year. He has the ability to deserve the three-hole in the Angels’ lineup, and if it happens sooner rather than later, Kendrick could easily finish as a top-3 second basemen. A .315-.330 average isn’t out of the question.
8. Rickie Weeks – If not for injury concerns, Weeks would be even higher on this list. A Gary Sheffield clone in the batter’s box, Weeks has 25/25 potential. The fact his wrist is still sore after an offseason of rest is disconcerting, however.
9. Dan Uggla – This is about as low as you’ll find Uggla on most lists, but I urge you to bid cautiously here. He’s going to produce as the Marlins’ No. 2 hitter, but I expect a slight regression in nearly every category this year. Cliché alert – Uggla is my number one candidate for a “sophomore slump.”
10. Tadahito Iguchi – You know what you’re getting with Iguchi. Waiting while other “high upside” guys fly off the board and nabbing Iguchi a few rounds later could prove to really pay off.

11. Chris Burke – Speaking of high upside guys, Burke is one of my favorite sleepers this year. Finally a full-time player, Burke should approach 100 runs batting atop Houston’s lineup. He also figures to make a run at 20 homers and 20 steals. Ignore last year’s numbers, as he rarely got regular playing time. Go get him.
12. Ryan Freel – Check eligibility. Freel obviously comes with some risk, and he’s likely to spend some time on the DL, but he also appears likely to enter as a regular finally. Health is the only thing stopping him from reaching 50 steals.
13. Ian Kinsler – Don’t forget about Kinsler, who posted a .932 OPS during the first half last year. He’s in the right lineup and ballpark to produce starter-worthy numbers. If he moves up in the lineup during spring training, feel free to reach for him.
14. Brandon Phillips – Once a big time prospect, Phillips finally developed into an everyday player at age 26 last year. While he has 20/20 potential, there are safer options out there. His batting average may very well fall in the .250-.260 range.
15. Josh Barfield – Maybe second base isn’t quite as shallow as we think. A move from Petco Park to the tribe really boosts Barfield’s value.

16. Jorge Cantu – “Post-hype sleeper” alert. Cantu’s season was essentially ruined by a foot injury last year, and don’t forget he’s still only 24 years old. He won’t be an asset in BA or SBs, but a run at 100 RBI is possible.
17. Ray Durham – A 36-year-old coming off a career-season screams stay far away, but as long as Durham isn’t too overvalued in your league, he’s not a terrible mid-to-late round pick. If you only pay for 480-500 at-bats, he’s actually a solid acquisition. Remember, he’s slated to hit fifth, directly behind Barry Bonds.
18. Marcus Giles – Giles has been a disappointment over the last couple of seasons, but he’s still a solid enough option to fill out your MI. A move to Petco will no doubt suppress his power numbers but maybe he’ll do more running as a result.
19. Freddy Sanchez – Ranking the NL batting champ 19th among second basemen could probably be construed as low, but Sanchez is a negative in HRs and SBs and a decrease in BA is not only likely but also certain. He’ll probably eclipse .300 again, but in a weak lineup, his run/RBI totals won’t jump out at you either. Let someone else overpay.
20. Orlando Hudson – Never really living up to his potential, O-Dog quietly put together his best season yet last year, amassing a career-best .809 OPS. He got better as the year went on, and Chase Field is an excellent hitting environment. He has 15/15 upside, with the ability to approach 90-100 runs hitting at the top of Arizona’s lineup.

21. Placido Polanco
22. Aaron Hill
23. Jose Lopez
24. Luis Castillo
25. Jose Vidro

26. Ty Wigginton
27. Mark Ellis
28. Adam Kennedy
29. Kaz Matsui
30. Dustin Pedroia
31. Craig Biggio
32. Mark DeRosa
33. Mark Grudzielanek
34. Jose Castillo
35. Jose Valentin

Apples and Oranges

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

By Robby Wellington – Staff Writer

How valuable are Jose Reyes’ steals? How much does Adam Dunn’s batting average hurt? These are some of the questions that owners must grapple with while drafting their teams and, more often than not, the answer is arbitrary and based on nothing more than intuition. But what if we were to assign values to different stats based on how frequently they occur and then find an overall value for every fantasy hitter? Well, let’s give it a shot…

Runs and RBI are basically worth the same, with home runs being about four times less common and, therefore, more valuable. Steals are about twice as rare as home runs. Factoring in batting average is a bit trickier, but look at it this way. In a league with ten position players, I figure that eight or so dingers is about as valuable as two points in team batting average. Therefore, ten points in batting average is worth five home runs. From these assumptions, we can derive an equation to roughly calculate a player’s value in 5X5 leagues:

(Stolen Bases * 8 ) + (Home Runs * 4) + RBI + Runs + ((BA – 280) * 2) = Player’s Value (let’s go ahead and call it The Robby Rating (RR))

Or, more simply put:

1 Stolen Base = 2 Home runs = 8 Runs/RBI = 2 Points in Batting Average.

Using this formula, Albert Pujols’ stat line from last season (49 HRs, 256 runs/RBI, 7 SBs and .331 BA) nets him an RR of 610 (691 prorated to a full season). Jose Reyes’ season, on the other hand, pulls in an astounding RR of 831, thanks primarily to his league leading 64 steals. Don’t underestimate the value of steals.

Adam Dunn’s .234 average drags his RR down to a mediocre 315, while light hitting Freddy Sanchez boasts an RR of 346 thanks primarily to his .344 average. Granted, these are rough estimates and approximations, but they help to flesh out the more valuable players when comparing apples and oranges.

Catcher Rankings

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

1. Joe Mauer – The more I think about it, the higher I think Mauer should go in two-catcher formats. In those formats, he’s worthy of a top-20 pick. 1-C leagues can afford to wait, but expect Mauer to be gone by round 4 – rightfully so. The power is going to come.
2. Victor Martinez – The drop off from Mauer to V-Mart isn’t quite as steep as most seem to think.
3. Brian McCann – Maybe the most astute move of all would be to wait until rounds 4-6 and nab McCann, who has the potential to enter next season first on this list. He followed a .343 fist half by clubbing 18 homers in the second half, knocking out 24 balls in just 442 at-bats in total. Go get him.

4. Mike Piazza – Piazza’s fantasy prospects haven’t looked this good in years. He can still rake, evidenced by his .332/.372/.564 line when not hitting in spacious Petco Park last year, but injuries remain a concern with the aging backstop. A full-time DH role should help him stay healthy, and hitting cleanup in Oakland’s lineup should help his numbers.
5. Michael Barrett – A split scrotum is never a good thing, but you can use it to your advantage when it comes to Barrett. The injury ended his season last year prematurely, suppressing his otherwise impressive numbers as a result. It’s a contract year for Barrett, and he’ll be a prominent part of a revamped Cubs’ lineup.
6. Ramon Hernandez – Hernandez clubbed 15 homers with 61 RBI during the first half last year but slowed down some after the All-Star break thanks in large part to the Orioles overworking him. Expect similar numbers this year, making him a fine middle tier option.
7. Kenji Johjima – Johjima hit so well his first year in America that he found himself batting third during September. He also showed better power as the year went on.
8. Jorge Posada – Posada has defied the odds by continuing to be productive behind the dish now well into his 30s. Eligible for free agency after the season, expect a motivated Posada to once again remain productive while hitting in such a potent lineup.
9. Pudge Rodriguez – Similar to Posada (both 36 years old and in contract years), Rodriguez has seen his power decline precipitously. Despite batting .300 last year, he slugged just .437, so don’t expect anything more than 15 HRs. Over his last 1,051 at-bats, Rodriguez has taken 37 free passes – his days as a star are in the rearview mirror.
10. Russell Martin – This ranking is probably too low, as Martin has the ability to outperform more than a couple of names listed above. No catcher figures to steal more bases than Martin, who could easily reach 10-15. The fact he’s slated to hit toward the bottom of the Dodgers’ lineup does, however, stunt his value somewhat.

11. A.J. Pierzynski
12. Jason Varitek
13. Paul Lo Duca
14. Gerald Laird
15. Johnny Estrada
16. Jason Kendall
17.Benjie Molina

18. Ronny Paulino
19. Miguel Olivo
20. David Ross
21. Chris Iannetta
22. Josh Bard
23. Gregg Zaun

24. Mike Napoli
25. Javy Lopez
26. Yadier Molina
27. Miguel Montero
28. Rod Barajas
29. Dioner Navarro
30. John Buck

First Base Rankings

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

As promised, RotoScoop is going to start really focusing on baseball. I’ll start it off with some rankings, beginning at first base. I always struggle with placing guys who are eligible at multiple positions, but I’m going to at least attempt to put them into multiple rankings. Just realize you shouldn’t be drafting Howie Kendrick to put in your 1B slot. Additionally, I’ll be using a tier system, which I think is pretty helpful when in the middle of a draft.

FIRST BASE

1. Albert Pujols – In a class by himself. Jose Reyes and Johan Santana have arguments, but taking Pujols No. 1 is the right move. His best season is probably yet to come.

2. Ryan Howard – Because of his extremely high strikeout rate, his average is almost certain to fall .20 points this year.
3. David Ortiz – A DH in most leagues, Yahoo! makes him available at 1B this year.
4. Mark Teixeira – A great bounce back candidate. If he falls to you in the 2nd round, draft him and don’t think twice.
5. Lance Berkman – He may have had the most underrated season of any hitter in baseball last year. If the lineup around him improves with the addition of Carlos Lee, Berkman should score more runs, countering his likely drop off in HR production.

6. Derrek Lee – One of my bust candidate’s last year (an injury counts, right?), Lee enters this season as one of my favorite targets. The 10-15 SBs are gravy; go ahead and nab Lee in the third round.
7. Justin Morneau – It’s best not to count on another 130-RBI season.

8. Paul Konerko – As always, Konerko remains a solid option, but don’t expect the career .283 hitter to bat .313 again. Also, him hitting .366 with RISP again isn’t very likely either. Let someone else overpay.
9. Carlos Delgado – Make sure his elbow is fine during spring training. Delgado hasn’t played 145 games in a season since 2003.
10. Richie Sexson – Sexson proved he isn’t done with a big second half last year. Just make sure you can take the hit in average.
11. Prince Fielder – Although he hit just .235 during August and September, his improved plate discipline (25:40 BB:K ratio) over that time span suggests that number will climb this year. You won’t be able to get him this late for years to come.
12. Todd Helton – Helton’s fall from grace has come hard and fast, but he shouldn’t be completely written off at this point. A .320-25-100 line isn’t out of the question, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
13. Jason Giambi – Unlike base stealers, Giambi is more valuable in real baseball than he is in fantasy. His batting average often suffers at the sake of many walks and extra base hits. A full-time role at DH should lead to improved health, but his career line (.874 OPS at DH, 1.011 OPS at 1B) needs to at least be taken into consideration.

14. Nick Swisher
15. Howie Kendrick
16. Adam Laroche
17. Lyle Overbay
18. Nomar Garciaparra
19. Conor Jackson
20. Adrian Gonzalez
21. Kevin Youkilis
22. Ryan Shealy

23. Sean Casey
24. Mike Jacobs
25. Shea Hillenbrand
26. Dan Johnson
27. Nick Johnson
28. Xavier Nady
29. Rich Aurilia
30. Ryan Garko

San Francisco Giants Preview

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Editor’s Note: The following is a condensed version of an article I wrote for RotoWire. I only cover the Giants, so don’t expect 29 more of these. Additionally, I’m going to really start concentrating on baseball now, so look for some rankings and further columns during this week.

The Giants finished third in a mediocre NL West last year, stumbling to a 1-9 finish over the final 10 games. San Francisco has been playing in “win now” mode for the last few seasons, consistently trading younger prospects for older veterans in hopes of immediate returns. Although mortgaging the future for a team led by Barry Bonds isn’t necessarily a bad idea, the problem is that it hasn’t worked even in the short-term, as the Giants have failed to reach the postseason since 2003.

It was more of the same during the offseason, as GM Brian Sabean again mostly targeted aging vets, with Barry Zito being the key exception. While the length of the deal is highly questionable, a rotation led by Zito, Matt Cain and Noah Lowry at least gives the Giants hope, but in the end, expect a run at the wild card to ultimately fall short.

Major Offseason Moves:

Transaction: Re-signed Barry Bonds to a one-year, $15.8 million deal.

Comment: Bonds found very little interest for his services over the winter and after some language in his contract delayed the inevitable, eventually re-signed with San Francisco for one more year. He finished last season with his lowest OPS since 1991 but seemed to get healthier as the year wore on. Over the last two months of the season, he returned to hitting like one of the very best players in the game, with a 1.080 OPS. After offseason surgery to remove troublesome bone chips from his elbow and also one more year removed from knee surgery, it’s possible Bonds will be a force next year. Just realize he’s only likely to play 120-140 games, and the lineup around him is pretty weak.

Transaction: Re-signed Ray Durham to a two-year, $14.5 million deal.

Comment: At age 34, Durham turned in a career year last season, setting personal highs with 26 homers, 93 RBI and an .898 OPS. His defense is eroding, but the Giants elected to bring him back on a two-year contract. Despite constant leg issues, Durham has been able to approach 500 at-bats for consecutive seasons and has displayed remarkable plate discipline over that time. The fact that he no longer steals bases really curtails his fantasy value, but he’s likely to bat directly behind Barry Bonds next year — a very nice situation to be in.

Transaction: Signed Dave Roberts to a three-year, $18 million deal.

Comment: Roberts seems to be saving his best seasons for late in his career. He followed up a career year in 2005 with an even better campaign in 2006. He set career highs in seven major offensive categories, including steals (49). Roberts does require occasional rest (he has never played more than 129 games in a season), but is a capable base-stealer and leadoff man. He’ll likely start in centerfield and hit leadoff for the Giants, who were in dire need of a base-stealing threat after ranking 26th in the league in steals in 2006.

Transaction: Signed Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126 million deal.

Comment: Zito appears to be a pitcher in decline, with a regressing strikeout rate per nine innings (6.89, 6.74, 6.14) and an increasing walk rate per nine innings (3.42, 3.51, 4.03) over the last three seasons. Still, he’s extremely durable, and a move to the NL with the Giants greatly improves his future outlook. Switching to the NL, AT&T Park and one of the most pitcher-friendly divisions in all of baseball, Zito has an excellent chance to post his best statistical season yet.

Projected Lineups/Rotation/Bullpen:

Lineup (vs. RH/vs. LH):

1. CF Dave Roberts
2. SS Omar Vizquel
3. RF Randy Winn/1B Rich Aurilia
4. LF Barry Bonds
5. 2B Ray Durham
6. 1B Ryan Klesko/RF Randy Winn
7. 3B Pedro Feliz
8. C Benjie Molina

The Dave Roberts acquisition provides a much-needed aspect of speed to a team previously bereft of base-stealing ability. Last year, the Giants hit .259, which amounted to 13th overall. The loss of Moises Alou hurts, but it’s still a lineup capable of scoring runs. The extreme righty/lefty splits of Rich Aurilia and Ryan Klesko allows for quite a bit of tinkering, something new manager Bruce Bochy figures to do throughout the season. Ultimately, it comes down to Barry Bonds, who is still capable of dramatically affecting the way a pitcher attacks the lineup if he can stay healthy this season.

Starting Rotation:

1. Barry Zito
2. Matt Cain
3. Matt Morris
4. Noah Lowry
5. Jonathan Sanchez/Russ Ortiz

Barry Zito has never missed a major league start in seven seasons and will anchor a rotation featuring Matt Morris and youngsters Matt Cain and Noah Lowry. Morris should rebound after suffering a serious rib injury midway through 2006, while Lowry never fully recovered from a strained oblique he suffered early on. Cain had a brilliant second half after faltering early, including a stretch in which he allowed just one run over 42 innings. Expect improvement from all three, although Morris’ days as a star are probably over.

CL: Armando Benitez

The bullpen’s 4.77 ERA last year was second worst in the National League, and San Francisco did little over the offseason to address the weakness. Benitez enters the year as the favorite to resume closing duties but also with plenty of question marks. He has pitched in only 71 games the past two years because of a hamstring injury, a sore elbow and arthritic knees on a less-than-lean body, and he spent the entire offseason rehabbing without even throwing a baseball. He reported to camp early with a good attitude but also overweight. If he gets hurt or traded, Brian Wilson, who impressed the Giants by closing well in winter ball, is the favorite to take over the ninth inning role.

Notes of Import, Fantasy and Otherwise:

As the Giants approach spring training, the biggest questions are:

What can we expect from Barry Bonds?

Bonds will be 43 on July 24, but he had a full winter to lose weight, had offseason elbow surgery to remove bone fragments and reportedly did extensive legwork to build up his lower-body strength after multiple knee surgeries. He started really coming on toward the end of last year, and the fact he is one more year removed from the knee surgery suggests he should be able to get off to a better start this year. He enters 22 homers shy of Hank Aaron’s all-time homer mark of 755 and is the key to the Giants’ season. When in the lineup, he’s still one of a handful of the most dangerous hitters in the game; how often he’s in the lineup, however, may be the determining factor of the Giants making the postseason or not.

Who’s the closer?

For someone with a 3.51 ERA, Armando Benitez had about as much of a maligned season as possible. Most of the criticism was deserved, however, because he pitched rather poorly, posting an awful 31:21 K:BB over 38.1 IP. He also blew nearly a third of his save opportunities, missing eight chances in 25. He’s still only 34 years old and has a career 2.95 ERA, but over the last two seasons with the Giants, he’s been constantly hurt and has a putrid 54:37 K:BB ratio. Benitez is a candidate to bounce back if his troublesome arthritic knees cooperate, but Brian Wilson is seemingly waiting in the wings to take over closing duties.

Wilson is a hard thrower who Brian Sabean says “has the stomach” for the rough closer chore and presumably the arm. Wilson showed his ability during winter ball as strictly a game-finisher. He posted a 3.86 ERA over his last 20 appearances last season, stranding 88.2 percent of inherited runners while holding the opposition to a .100 average with runners in scoring position. Wilson will see considerable duty in Arizona, and it’s possible he breaks camp in the closer’s role.

Who will round out the starting rotation?

A battle looms for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, as former Giants star Russ Ortiz will attempt a comeback after two poor seasons, but he must fight off promising youngster Jonathan Sanchez. Ortiz believes a flaw in his delivery contributed to his precipitous fall and now that it’s corrected, he can go back to being a solid innings-eater. Still, the odds are against him, as his 90:95 K:BB ratio over the last two years suggests a whole lot of work needs to be done. Sanchez, on the other hand, showed promise, posting a 1.37 ERA in nearly 20 innings out of the pen last year. He didn’t fare nearly as well when inserted into the rotation, but he’s just 24 years old and has the stuff to excel. Giants fans should be rooting for Sanchez to separate himself during spring training and enter the season in the rotation.

Strengths

Barry Bonds in the middle of the lineup and the top of the rotation featuring Barry Zito and Matt Cain.

Weaknesses

The bullpen looks like the biggest area of concern entering the year, with major health risks a close second since the team is so old. Also, the farm system is rather barren at this point.

Rising: Matt Cain, only 22, is on the path to stardom. His rookie season was inconsistent, as his command often fluctuated from start to start. Still, he was baseball’s best pitcher for a six-start stretch during August and September, allowing just one run over 42 innings (0.21 ERA), while fanning 43 batters, showing his enormous potential. Command is likely to remain an issue, given his 4.12 walks per nine innings, but Cain enters this year with the upside of a top-20 starter. His stuff is downright filthy.

Declining: Armando Benitez – see above.

Sleeper: Brian Wilson – see above.

Supersleeper: Tim Lincecum, the 10th overall pick from the 2006 draft, has a devastating curve and a fastball that can reach 100 mph. He averaged 14.3 K/9 in college but slipped in the draft because he’s a bit undersized. That certainly didn’t prove to be a problem in the minors last year, where he fanned 58 batters in 31.2 IP and compiled a 1.71 ERA. He projects as a No. 1 starter and could be ready to contribute as early as this year. If Lincecum dominates hitters during Cactus League play the way he has on every other level, the Giants will be tempted to stick him on the opening day roster. San Francisco plans to prepare Lincecum as a starter, but the Giants could also decide to use him as a reliever initially, possibly emerging as a save candidate. Just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, Lincecum makes up for his lack of size by using an unorthodox, highly leveraged delivery. Some scouts say he has the best curveball of any drafted player since Kerry Wood.

New Blog

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

Another cool new blog over at Fantasy Baseball Express is called Greener on the Other Side. Brett’s most recent article regarding DIPS is an especially interesting read.

NBA Saturday Night Predictions

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

We’ll be ramping up the baseball coverage starting this week, but for now, let’s have some fun with NBA’s All-Star Saturday night.

Foot race (Dick Bavetta vs. Charles Barkley) – Unbelievably, oddsmakers have placed Bavetta as the big favorite here (-300). I don’t buy it; Barkley wins it.

Skills Challenge – Really, any of the four could easily win this, and I’m tempted to take Dwayne Wade but instead going with Chris Paul.

Three-Point Shootout – I like bigger guys who don’t have to exert as much energy with so many shots, so despite his arrogance, no way Damon Jones wins this. Arenas probably wants it the most, but Nowitzki is the favorite to repeat. All that said, my pick is Jason Kapono, as the guy is making trey bombs at a 56 percent clip this year.

Slam Dunk Contest – The novelty of seeing tiny Nate Robinson dunk should be worn off by now, and since the NBA disallowed Dwight Howard to attempt to dunk on a 12-foot hoop, I’m predicting a Gerald Green/Ty Thomas final. No one wants to see Thomas win after his collecting a check comment, so I’ll take the favorite here, as Gerald Green takes home the crown.

Drafting Pitching

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

By Robby Wellington – Staff Writer

Is it too soon for my first baseball article of the year? Probably. But one can only talk about Kevin Durant and The Hills for so long. Without further ado…

Baseball is the most involved and complicated of all the fantasy sports, and the draft is no different. Picking what pitchers to draft where depends on a variety of factors and strategies. In fact, in my league, a few of the past winners have incorporated interesting drafting strategies to get to the top. Here are a few…

Heavy Investment in Pitchers – This strategy is advisable in leagues where the innings cap is relatively low compared with the number of starting position players. For example, in a league with 13 starting roster spots and an innings cap of 1800, Albert Pujols will account for approximately 1/13 of your team’s at-bats while Johan Santana will account for more than 1/8 of your team’s innings pitched. However, pitchers tend to be more unpredictable and injury prone than position players, making them riskier picks at the top of the draft.

No Starters Strategy – A rather unique strategy, the owner grabs lower level closers who still offer good ERA and WHIP and then load up on middle relievers at the end of the draft. While this owner has punted two categories (wins and strikeouts) they should win the other three pitching categories (ERA, WHIP and saves) and have a dominant lineup that should be in the top of most categories. Punting two categories, however, leaves little room for error and makes winning very difficult in leagues that lack balance.

Starting Pitching Late & Spot Starting Strategy – Unlike position players, it is an easy and worthwhile strategy to start your pitchers based on matchups. Finding pitchers late in your draft who can get you 120-140 favorable innings (pitchers with good home parks or who perform well at home) and then supplementing them with spot starters throughout the year can yield solid results with a minimal investment in pitching.

A few other pitching issues to consider…

– In a daily league with no innings cap, investing in starting pitching (or decent closers) is laughable; go ahead and grab some low-level closers and then spot start pitchers.

– Middle relievers are valuable commodities; the combined stats of two good MRs can equal or surpass those of a top-10 starter and come at a much cheaper price. The only downside is the extra roster spot that is used up. If you’re in a league with a deep bench, grab a few of these guys late (don’t worry about spending a mid-round pick on Joel Zumaya when you can still get a good MR at the end of your draft, or off waivers).

– Just like you don’t want to be the first person to draft a kicker, you don’t want to be the first person to draft a closer in your league. Saves are unpredictable, so go ahead and grab some solid guys a few rounds later.

Draft Results

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

The results from last night’s “experts” draft can be found here. The following are some notes and observations about it:

To my surprise, I had a choice between Chase Utley and Carl Crawford with the No. 7 pick. Ultimately, I went with the premium on speed as opposed to the scarcity of the second base position. With the outfielder run I then proceeded with, I probably should’ve gone Utley in hindsight.

I normally like to take my sweet time during most drafts, but this one allotted just 45 seconds per pick, making it extremely difficult. Remember, this is a 15-team league, so when and where players are drafted will look quite different than the standard 12-team leagues.

I was pleased to have Garrett Atkins fall to me in the third but could just as easily have selected Jake Peavy there. In the first six rounds, I drafted four outfielders and a third basemen – not exactly attacking the shallow positions. Later nabbing Jorge Cantu and Bobby Crosby, two post-hype sleepers to be sure, wasn’t a bad way to fill my MI slots. Still, there were plenty of OF options later on as well, and it’s probably best to fill MI, C and 1B as soon as possible. Don’t underestimate just how shallow first base is this year.

Aaron Gleeman from RotoWorld swooped about 5-6 of the players I wanted directly in front of me during his 11 chances to do so. It’s always a drag when that happens, but when you have just 45 seconds to scramble for plan B, it’s especially rough. Todd Helton with pick No. 113 qualifies as good value, folks.

I think I’m higher on Cole Hamels than just about anyone right now, but I don’t see anyone else with his kind of upside available in the mid-rounds. The same could be said of perennial disappointment Mark Prior, whom I selected with the 219th pick!

Do not wait on catchers in a 2-C format. It’s safe to say I’m not thrilled with my Molina bros tandem, as cool as that is. Joe Mauer went round 2, to give an indication. Taking V-Mart over Atkins in round 3 would have been another option I could have gone with.

Barry Bonds’ fantasy value, or at least perception thereof, has officially bottomed out. The fact 187 players are picked before him says as much. Realizing his real life value greatly exceeds his fantasy value, I still think he should go earlier than this, especially in daily formats. He’s one more year removed from knee surgery, cleaned out his painful chips in his elbow and still rakes when in the lineup.

Carl Crawford, Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, Rocco Baldelli and Jeff Francoeur form a pretty ridiculous outfield, but like I previously stated, it came at the sacrificing of a questionable MI and a weak catcher tandem. King Felix, Hamels, Zito, Prior, D. Cabrera, Z. Duke is a rotation with some real upside, albeit with plenty of question marks as well. Overall, I’d give myself just around a B here. At least it prepared me for some bigger upcoming money leagues.

“Experts” Draft

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

I am participating in a Mock Draft Central Fantasy Baseball Expert Draft tonight at 8:00 EST. You can sign up and follow the results and even chat with the panel, if you’re into that kind of thing. I’ve been slotted with the 7th pick (15-team league), which I guess is good enough. I’m really hoping one of A-Rod, Santana, Utley or Crawford falls to me, assuming Pujols and Reyes are off the board. Anyway, come check it out if your bored tonight, and if not, I’m sure I’ll go over the results in a post here later this week. Like someone who has been knighted becomes “Sir,” I’d like to be referred to as an “Expert” at all times now. Thank you.

Hoops Scoop

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

How about Jason Kapono? The guy is shooting 3-pointers at a ridiculous 55 percent clip this year, easily leading the league. He’s taking more than three a game, so the sample isn’t that tiny, and it’s not like Shaq has freed him up with wide open jumpers all year also.

As good of a sharp shooter Kapono has been, that’s how bad Eddy Curry is at everything but scoring in the low post. Dude is 6-11, 285 and hasn’t blocked multiple shots in a game since January 3. During a four-game stretch late last month, Curry hauled in a TOTAL of 12 rebounds, all while playing significant minutes. You would think he could accidentally grab more than that. He’s definitely having a breakout campaign in the scoring department and his FG% is quite nice, but he’s not exactly a well-rounded performer.

That Dwight Howard game-winning alley oop was sick, but did you realize the guy is shooting 78.4 percent (57-of-74) from the floor in six games this month?!

Can someone please teach LeBron James how to shoot a free throw? Hard to be King when your making just 68 percent of your freebies.

Other than maybe A-Rod and LaDainian Tomlinson, there hasn’t been a more dominant fantasy player over the last 10 years than Kevin Garnett.

Welcome to the party, Gerald Wallace.

Mike Dunleavy has seen his playing time increase by nearly 10 minutes since joining Indiana. While his numbers haven’t been much better, they figure to slightly improve in time, especially if he continues to see 35 minutes of run each night. He’s a fine waiver wire pick up if available.

One of the best yet quietest seasons is being played by Mo Williams. Seriously, check out his numbers.

One of the biggest busts this year, on the other hand, has to be Jameer Nelson. Showing no improvement at all, Nelson has only regressed during his third year as a pro.

Just when you think there can’t be any more injuries, Elton Brand, Steve Nash and Baron Davis all go down. Admittedly, the only thing surprising about Davis’ injury is that it didn’t happen sooner.

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Here’s a new site that does an excellent job focusing on undervalued pitchers who might be available in free agent pools. Check out the fantasy baseball blog The Waiver Wire.

Take the Padres

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

As a gambling addict, the recent banning of online gaming within the states has taken a major toll on my personal life. My pocket book, ironically, is typically a little thicker, however. Still, a recent trip found me in Reno, Nevada and inevitably streaking to the sportsbook. With football season finished (sorry, I’m not quite at a degenerate level ready to bet on the Pro Bowl), I mostly browsed futures bets. With the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns a little too heavily favored (5/2), I moved along seeking more of a long-shot wager with a potential increased payout. I headed to baseball.

To my surprise, I didn’t agree with many of the posted odds to win this year’s World Series. The Blue Jays at 15-1? I wouldn’t take that bet even if it was for them to finish second in the AL East. Nine teams fell in the 10-1 or lower odds range, including the Cubs (9-1?!). I like what the Braves did to their bullpen over the offseason, so their 30-1 mark was interesting, but the Padres listed at the same 30-1 long shot really caught my eye. Listen, I’m a Giants fan and will be rooting for them this season, but they have no business being favored (10-1) by this much over San Diego. I walked into the casino thinking San Diego as the clear NL West favorites, but apparently, the bookmakers disagreed.

Really, 30-1? This is the same team that won their division back-to-back seasons right? Am I mistaken, or does the rotation not feature Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux, Clay Hensley and David Wells? The bullpen, by the way, consists of Trevor Hoffman, Scott Linebrink and Cla Meredith. They did lose Mike Piazza, Dave Roberts and Josh Barfield but countered with the additions of Kevin Kouzmanoff and Marcus Giles. Terrmel Sledge and Josh Bard arguably are upgrades anyway.

It’s true, San Diego is missing a premiere bat in the heart of the order, but still, Khalil Greene is a breakout candidate (like every year over the past few seasons), and Brian Giles, Mike Cameron and Adrian Gonzalez round out a solid lineup without a glaring weakness. On the surface, Bud Black seems like a more than competent new manager, and let’s not forget, 85-88 wins are usually enough to win the pathetic NL West. The Padres aren’t my World Series favorites, but since they have one of the easiest paths to the playoffs, I would clump them in the top 5-8 range. At 30-1, there isn’t a better futures bet out there. Take the Fathers.

Doctored Baseballs

Friday, February 9th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

Sticking to my recent theme of linking, a recent MLB.COM article has flown somewhat under the radar, when in fact, its impact could be of some significance. Essentially, all teams are now going to be required to store their baseballs in temperature-controlled settings. While this isn’t exactly the same as the Rockies’ humidor, the trend points to eventually having all venues adopt a similar apparatus. While standardization seems like a good thing, clearly Colorado needs to be viewed differently considering their unique environment.

“All 30 clubs will be keeping their baseballs in temperature-controlled settings. In another move toward ensuring that balls stay at specifications set by manufacturer Rawlings, Major League Baseball has adopted a shelf-life rule, MLB executive vice president, baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon said Thursday.”

How Major League Baseball can truly regulate when each team uses what ball is questionable, at best. Then again, so is the actual effect; runs were way down in Colorado last year, but scoring did pick up as the season wore on. Probably not a big deal either way, but it’s at least something to take note of. Personally, I’m not putting too much stock into the Coors Field of last year and would be happy to draft Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins; also, I’d stay away from any Rockie pitcher not named Brian Fuentes, even if there was a good one.

Links of the Week

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

“World cruiserweight champion O’Neil Bell was arrested over the weekend after a sparring partner claimed he heaved a hatchet at him during a training run through the woods.”

LEEDS, Maine – A high school coach who told his players at halftime to reach into their pants to “check their manhood” before returning to the basketball court was fired.

R.I.P. Barbaro

Juan (not) Gone!

A Dutch gym plans to introduce “Naked Sunday” for people who want to work out nude.

R.I.P. Iron Mike

Andy Reid had a bad week.

Charles Barkley vs Dick Bavetta!

Peyton Manning loses a bet.

Agent Zero is still the man.

I’m there opening night.

Take Jose Reyes

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

There seems to be a pretty clear cut top-8 this year, featuring Albert Pujols, Johan Santana, Jose Reyes, Chase Utley, Alex Rodriguez, Carl Crawford, Ryan Howard and Alfonso Soriano. Now, the talent doesn’t fall off a cliff after that, but it does seem to get a bit more muddled. This article, however, is focusing on if you possess an earlier pick in the first round.

Chase Utley is an excellent early option, as there isn’t a bigger discrepancy among positions this year than Utley and the rest of the 2nd base options. He’s clearly in a class all to himself there. I don’t think you can let A-Rod slip too far, and Pujols is the obvious favorite to be chosen first overall. There’s really no way to argue against Pujols going No. 1, as he’s currently baseball’s best hitter, and there’s even a chance he’s yet to post his best statistical season. I also like Santana in the top-3, as he’s similar to Utley in being head and shoulders above the rest of his position. I’ve also previously advocated taking SPs early, although this year once you get past Santana, it looks like you can afford to wait on pitching.

And then there’s Jose Reyes, arguably fantasy baseball’s most valuable player. First and foremost, steals is the toughest and therefore most valuable statistic. Very few players offer more than 50 in that category, and most of the ones that do will be a negative in HRs and RBI. Players that do run that much, however, can influence a single rotisserie category more so than any other. That is to say: 60 steals will often gain you more points in the standings than 30 HRs and 50 RBI. Incidentally, Reyes isn’t a negative in the HR and RBI cats, and in fact, for a middle infielder, he’s actually quite a positive.

After the All-Star break last season, Reyes clubbed 11 homers in 277 at-bats, slugging .495 in the process. His solid K/BB ratio also indicates a repeat in a .300 average is more than doable. Hitting atop a fine Mets’ lineup also affords him plenty of opportunities, as he saw exactly 700 plate appearances last year. The most promising aspect of all, however, is that Reyes is 23 years old. 23! If he improves half or even a quarter as much this year as he did from 2005-2006, literally the sky is the limit.

I’m not imploring you to take Reyes over Pujols and/or Santana, but I am suggesting you consider it. Don’t even think about letting him slip past the No. 3 pick.