Saturday, March 27, 2010

7 things to know for draft day

You don't want to be that guy at the table.

The one who doesn't know that Joe Nathan is out for the year. Or that Cliff Lee is battling abdominal pains. Again.

So before you embarrass yourself by being uninformed, here are 10 things you should definitely know, headed into your draft.

1. Lance Berkman: The first-baseman who is on the downside of his career gave owners another reasons to shy away: arthroscopic surgery on his knee to clean out debris. He'll start the year on the DL, but may only miss a week or two. Still, this guy has been living on reputation for quite some time. The 1B position is too deep to waste on this guy.

2. Cliff Lee: The Mariners have shut Lee down for five days, hoping that his strained abdomen heals. If this isn't a red flag, it's certainly orange. Move Lee a couple rounds down on your draft board and $7-10 in an auction draft. He's had history with these types of injuries and you don't want to pay too much for possible damaged goods, regardless of the upside.

3. Brian Roberts: Finally, the Orioles 2B took the field on Friday without much fanfare: 0-for-3, with 3 Ks. Roberts has been dealing with a bad back all spring and is showing signs of aging. Throw in the fact he went 50-40-30 in steals the last three years, Roberts is no longer elite. Although a shallow 2B keeps his value up. I'd personally take Martin Prado over him.

4. Jason Heyward: Nov. 9, 1989: Remember where were you were when the Berlin Wall fell? Heyward probably didn't. He was 2 months old. Yup, still just a pup, the 20-year-old has broken Braves camp as their starting RF. This isn't shocking news. Heyward has been very impressive this spring (hitting .366), but he has less than 1,000 minor league ABs. Despite the legendary batting practice bombs that broke sun roofs out in the parking lot, Heyward's minor league numbers project a low-20-HR guy this year, who hits around .300. Worth owning? Absolutely. Worth a top 10-round pick? Only if you're drinking the Kool-Aid. Or in a keeper league.

5. Derek Lee: First it was the Sammy Sosa sneeze. Then, the Carlos Zambrano e-mail elbow. Then the Ryan Dempster celebration toe injury. You can add Derek Lee's chair collapse during a pre-game meal to the list of freak Cubs injuries. Hopefully this one won't keep him out long, but he has a history with back problems and this should be taken into account, if only slightly. Translation, if you were baking off Lee with Justin Morneau, Billy Butler or Adam Dunn, this could be the tie-breaker.

6. Phil Hughes: If you're looking for that sleeper pitcher to round out your staff -- and by the draft's 3rd hour, who isn't -- you might be looking at your draft book, trying to decide between Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, but missed the announcement that Hughes won the 5th starters job. Small detail, but it could end up having huge fantasy implications. Unless your team has holds -- and yes, I'm in one of those, somehow -- Joba's value has plummeted worse than Palm smart phones.

7. Jose Reyes: Thyroid problem? Yes, it's true. Diagnosed at the beginning of spring training, Reyes has taken three weeks off of all activity to get his THS levels under control. Never before has the Thyroid been such a talked about organ in sports circles. Believe me, as one who has a thyroid condition -- hypothyrodism to be exact -- this is nothing to be alarmed about. Shoot, I've had doctors who barely want to talk about it. Controlled by a little blue daily pill, once it's regulated, it's no big deal. What is a big deal is Reyes being inactive for three weeks and trying to be ready for opening day with limited swings or running. This should take 10-15 percent off his value, but don't slide him down too far, as just a year ago folks were debating this guy as a No. 1 overall pick. The real gamble is on his health, but if you can stomach that, take him in the 4th or 5th round and cross your fingers. Might not hurt to get those THS levels checked while you're at it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mauer, Twins agree to $184 million deal

Recession? What recession?

In a win-win-win deal that all parties desperately wanted, catcher extraordinaire Joe Mauer agreed to an 8-year, $184 million deal on Sunday.

The fourth-largest deal in baseball history is a big deal for all fans living in and around the Twin Cities. Mauer, a local prodigy, is revered as almost a cult figure and letting him go to the Red Sox or Yankees would have soured the Minnesota fan base.

Ironically, the announcement came on the same day that the club announced star reliever Joe Nathan will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss all of the 2010 season.

Does Mauer deserve $184 million in this economy? That can be largely debated. But considering it was widely known that Mauer had a strong desire to stay with the Twins, $23 million seems a little steep on a mid-market team.

Although the Twins are moving into new Target Field this year, which should provide additional revenue streams for years to come.

And yes, Mauer is an absolute hitting stud, a career .327 hitter, who ran away with the batting tile with a .365 average last year, while launching a stunning 28 home runs despite not playing all of April.

Still, 2009 was by far a career year for Mauer, who had never hit more than 13 home runs in any other season. Plus, he's battled injuries throughout his early career and at 6-foot-5 with quad issues, Mauer may end up being forced to switch to first or third base, somewhat minimizing his value as a catcher.

But I applaud the Twins for not being cheap, for locking up their homegrown star. It's a rarity in this day and age.

Fantasy spin: Ouch on the Nathan news. Not that it's surprising. Jon Rauch, who has closed for 40 innings, has to be the front-runner to take over, but Pat Neshek isn't a bad late-round option. As far as Mauer's prospects, it's hard to believe he's suddenly a 35-HR guy after no signs of this his previous five major league seasons. The average will always anchor your team and he's clearly the best catching option, but think low 20's in the power department when you're drafting this year. He'll probably go for low-to-mid $30-dollar range in auction drafts. Late first or early second should be the earliest you'd consider him in conventional drafts, unless you have strong Minnesota ties, in which case, take him first overall and enjoy the ride. Why not.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Top 100 (with auction values)

(Auction values based on a $260 budget)

1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals ($42)
2. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins ($39)
3. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies ($37)
4. Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers ($37)
5. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees ($36)
6. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants ($34)
7. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers ($34)
8. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers ($32)
9. Joe Mauer, C, Twins ($31)
10. Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies ($31)
11. Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays ($30)
12. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies ($29)
13. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees ($29)
14. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers ($28)
15. Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals ($27)
16. Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners ($26)
17. Zack Greinke, SP, Royals ($26)
18. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees ($24)
19. Carl Crawford, OF, Rays ($24)
20. David Wright, 3B, Mets ($24)
21. Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians ($23)
22. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers ($23)
23. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies ($22)
24. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres ($22)
25. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers ($22)
26. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox ($22)
27. Justin Upton, OF, Diamondbacks ($22)
28. Dan Haren, SP, Diamondbacks ($21)
29. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals ($21)
30. Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees ($19)
31. Adam Lind, OF, Blue Jays ($19)
32. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox ($19)
33. Jason Bay, OF, Mets ($19)
34. Johan Santana, SP, Mets ($18)
35. Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox ($18)
36. Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees ($18)
37. Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins ($18)
38. Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees ($18)
39. Mark Reynolds, 3B, Diamondbacks ($18)
40. Cliff Lee, SP, Mariners ($18)
41. Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels ($17)
42. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies ($17)
43. Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals ($17)
44. Victor Martinez, C, Red Sox ($17)
45. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants ($17)
46. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds ($17)
47.Josh Johnson, SP, Marlins ($17)
48. Brian McCann, C, Braves ($17)
49. Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox ($17)
50. Aaron Hill, 2B, Blue Jays ($17)
51. Chris Carpenter, SP, Cardinals ($16)
52. Jose Reyes, SS, Mets ($16)
53. Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers ($16)
54. Manny Ramirez, OF, Dodgers ($16)
55. Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners ($16)
56. Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners ($16)
57. Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles ($16)
58. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds ($16)
59. Jayson Werth, OF, Phillies ($15)
60. Josh Beckett, SP, Red Sox ($15)
61. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Indians ($15)
62. Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers ($15)
63. Javier Vazquez, SP, Yankees ($15)
64. Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers ($15)
65. Mariano Rivera, RP, Yankees ($15)
66. Bobby Abreu, OF, Angels ($15)
67. Carlos Lee, OF, Astros ($15)
68. Ben Zobrist, 2B, Rays ($15)
69. Jonathan Broxton, RP, Dodgers ($14)
70. Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Rockies ($14)
71. Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs ($14)
72. Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves ($14)
73. Shane Victorino, OF, Phillies ($14)
74. Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles ($14)
75. Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers ($14)
76. Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Red Sox ($14)
77. Adam Dunn, 1B, Nationals ($14)
78. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs ($13)
79. B.J. Upton, OF, Rays ($13)
80. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers ($13)
81. Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox ($13)
82. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies ($13)
83. Jason Bartlett, SS, Rays ($13)
84. Lance Berkman, 1B, Astros ($12)
85. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates ($12)
86. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals ($12)
87. Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins ($11)
88. Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox ($11)
89. Matt Cain, SP, Giants ($11)
90. Adam Jones, OF, Orioles ($11)
91. Torii Hunter, OF, Angels ($11)
92. Hunter Pence, OF, Astros ($11)
93. Carlos Quentin, OF, White Sox ($10)
94. Gordon Beckham, 3B, White Sox ($10)
95. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles ($10)
96. John Lackey, SP, Red Sox ($10)
97. Garrett Jones, OF, Pirates ($10)
98. Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies ($10)
99. Carlos Pena, 1B, Rays ($10)
100. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves ($10)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Knights to host White Sox in exhibition

Welcome Paul Konerko.

And you too, Juan Pierre.

Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, Gordon Beckham ... lemme get the door for you.

Yes, the parents are coming to town (aka the Chicago White Sox) to scrimmage your very own Charlotte Knights. On April 1 at 7 p.m., you'll be able to watch big league baseball right here in Charlotte.

Well, Fort Mill. But it's so close, you won't know you've crossed the state line.

And who knows, you may even catch Jake Peavy on the mound, although being the Thursday before opening day, it will probably be one of Chicago's back-end rotation guys.

It's only the second time the ChiSox have come to Charlotte to play the Knights. In 1999, to kick off their new affiliation with the Knights, Chicago came down for a friendly. The last time MLB held an exhibition game was 2001 when the White Sox played the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) in front of over 12,000 fans.

Tickets are $12-$19 and can be bought at or at 704-357-8071.