Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring Training Fantasy News and Notes: Corey Patterson, Hideki Matsui, Kei Igawa, Francisco Liriano, Randy Johnson

Corey Patterson to the Reds

No flashy headline here. The Reds continued their bargain basement signing of useful veterans have signed center fielder to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training to compete for the CF job. Last season in Baltimore Patterson hit .269 with 37SB, 8HR, and 45RBI in 461 at bats.

Fantasy Impact

I love this signing and will give my full endorsement to Patterson as an excellent sleeper pick. He is only 28 years old, which means there is a very good shot we have not seen the best he has to offer yet. He could be the next Brandon Phillips, though I doubt he will put up number that are as overwhelming as what Phillips has done the last two seasons. He still has the potential to go 20/20, especially considering a) the line up he is in, b) the ball park and c) he is leaving the A.L. East and going to the N.L Central. He is not a great on base option if your league counts OBP, but I feel his strengths can more than outweigh his weaknesses.

Patterson's competition for the job include Ryan Freel, Norris Hopper and top prospect Jay Bruce. Freel has prove t be injury prone and is best utilized by the Reds as an uber utility man. Hopper, could give Patterson a battle for at bats, and might have the best chance of platooning with Patterson. Bruce will probably be optioned to the minors for more seasoning.

Asian Invasion

The Yankees got two bits of good news on Tuesday for their two Japanese players. Hideki Matsui is saying he feels good enough to get back into the batting cage after experiencing neck stiffness while recovering from off season knee surgery. The two injuries are obviously unrelated, but are still something to be mindful of.

eanwhile, mch maligned lefty Kei Igawa managed some success being apart of the Yankees 5 inning perfect game against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Igawa threw two innings, striking out two, and allowing nothing else. This could be a sign that Igawa has turned the corner following his bottoming out on Friday, when he surrendered a grand slam to a college player, who hadn't played a game in 2 years.

Fantasy Impact

Hideki Matsui is a legitimate hitter, who can hit 25HR with 100RBI. He doesn't steal bases, and might himself DHing more this season, to help him stay healthy following the off season knee surgery. He will go later than he should, so keep an eye on him.

Kei Igawa, has been nothing short of a disaster since he has joined the Yankees. He told the Yankees he needed to throw more to stay sharp, and thus far the Yankees have told him to do whatever he needs to do to get ready to pitch major league baseball. Word of advise, stay away. He isn't worth a draft pick until he proves he can pitch in the majors. Two innings the spring does not go to far to prove that, but it is a start.

Lefty Aces on the Mend

One is an aging ace, one of the greatest ever trying to give 300 one last shot before he retires and wait for his Hall of Fame induction call. The other is a young lefty, whose dazzling stuff, and dominating change up remind people of his former teammate, Johan Santana. The former is Randy Johnson, who after a few successful bullpen and batting practice sessions might finally be ready to test his aging back in game action. The latter is Francisco Liriano, the soon to be ace of the Twins, whose rebuild left elbow will be counted on to lead the Minnesota staff this season.

Fantasy Impact

Liriano is your better bet if you are looking to draft on for fantasy. He should be healthier and even if he misses a few starts here and there over the course of the season, should make the majority of his starts. He is a good keeper option to hold onto after this season, and his numbers in the games he will pitch in will be too good to ignore.

Johnson on the other hand has the potential to blow up at any time and call it career. He could pitch well this season, or suffer a back spasm in May and be done for the year, and his career. Don't bother to draft Johnson, I cannot stress the importance of having healthy players in order to win a fantasy league.

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