Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spring Training Fantasy News and Notes: Atlanta, New York (Yankees), New York (Mets), Baltimore, Anheim, Boston

We once again look at all the websites to find the news and notes that will help you prepare for your fantasy season.

Yunel's Year

The Braves showed their confidence in Yunel Escobar this off season when they traded veteran Edgar Renteria, to Detroit, and handed him the SS job. Last year in 319 atbats Escobar hit .326AVG with 5HR, 5SB, 28RBI and 54R. Braves' hitters have commented early in camp about how Yunel looks bigger an stronger in camp, and will hit for more power this season.

Fantasy Impact

I checked out Yunel's minor league stats and didn't find anything overwhelming that would tell me he is going to be the stud the Braves predict him to be. He never hit for much power, or stole an overwhelming amount of bases. That being said, the Atlanta Braves are a much better evaluator of talent than I am. Draft Yunel as a SS in your league, who should also have 2B eligibility, and enjoy a player who will get a ton of hits (if your league counts Hits as a stat), and what could max out at being a .300AVG with 15HR and 15SB.

Keying In On Kei

Yankees manager and pitching coach Dave Eiland are encouraged by the early work of Kei Igawa early on in Yankee camp. Igawa said he needed to throw more, to keep a better feel of his pitches and where they are going, and how to control them. So, the Yanks are going to let him throw as much as he wants. This looks like more then just Yankee hype. There were rumors of Igawa being asked for in various trades all winter, so other teams believe in his stuff and his ability to get hitters out on the major league level.

Fantasy Impact

Igawa could be a fantasy sleeper this season. Draft him late, and see what he can do for your team. The Yankee rotation is very delicate, and with youngsters like Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy along side Mike Mussina, who struggled to great degrees throughout last season, Igawa could find himself back in the starting rotation. Remember the Yanks are dedicated to easing Joba Chamberlain into the rotation later in the year, making Igawa the first guy they would go to if someone got hurt, was ineffective, or needed more seasoning in the minors.

Eyeing Reyes

The Mets are going to keep a closer eye on Jose Reyes this season, in an attempt to keep him fresher down the stretch. The Mets say they plan on communicating with Reyes more, and have asked veterans to assist Reyes in getting through the many ups and downs of the long baseball season. Reyes was awful in the second half last year, and was one of the many reasons for the Mets' historic collapse down the stretch.

Fantasy Impact

Generally, when a team says they plan on resting a player more during the season, it is reason to downgrade a player's value. In this case the occasional day off early in the season will probably be good for Reyes, if it keeps him fresh, later in the season. You would probably sacrifice the occasional Sunday start from Reyes in May and June if it meant he would be more effective in the month of September. Head to head owners, take note of this change, and keep an eye on days when the Mets may want to give Reyes a breather

Oriole's Closer Hex Continues

George Sherrill, the early favorite to land the closer's gig in Baltimore sat out Saturday's practice to receive treatment on an ailing hamstring. O's manager Dave Trembley said Sherrill was day to day but expected him to be ready for their Spring Training opener against the Marlins on Wednesday.

Fantasy Impact

Last season the Orioles lost closer Chris Ray, and then his replacement Danys Baez to Tommy- John surgery. By season's end Jamie Walker was the closer by default, and actually did pretty well. The O's will want to make sure that Sherrill is completely healthy before he gets out on the mound again, that being said, these hamstring injuries have a bad tendency to stick around longer than they expect to. You shouldn't draft Sherrill with the hope that he will definitely be the closer, keep an eye on Walker as well as he could be inline for saves as well

Angel's SS Platoon

It looks like early indication out of Angel's camp has Erick Ayabar and Maicer Izturez sharing SS duties this season. Manager Mike Scioscia said, "They may play 80 games each during the season. There's nothing we're ruling out at this point.

Fantasy Impact

I really don't like Erick Ayabar, as a fantasy sleeper, like many other people do. Please do not draft him, he won't be that good at all. The only stat he offers a better than average skill at is SB and the Angel's already have plenty of speed in their line up, so they won't need a SS hitting .250AVG, to add another 30SB to the total.

Julio Lugo Ready To Go

Lugo had an awful season in 2007, and was much maligned in both reality and fantasy. Lugo knows he struggled last season, and is looking forward to putting his struggles behind him and playing with more confidence in 2008.

Fantasy Impact

Lugo did manage to hit .280AVG in the second half last season, and aside from AVG posted solid numbers for a SS. He hit 8HR (not great), but had 73RBI, 71R and 33SB. Lugo really bottomed out last season, so expect better numbers in 2008, especially hitting in a potent Red Sox lineup. He is a GREAT sleeper candidate who will go much later than he should in a draft. He is going to be a top 10 SS at season's end, and probably will around later then he should.

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