It’s down the stretch of Spring Training and if you haven’t drafted for your fantasy baseball league yet, you will be soon. So, we give you some last minute details about some high profile players and their latest news.
Chase Utley, Phillies, 2B — It is confirmed that Chase Utley will not be on the opening day roster and Utley has not played all spring. Picking Utley at this point is a big gamble. His start date is still very much up in the air. His value in an auction draft is probably about $12. General Manager Ruben Amaro said that Utley’s return is a “long term process.” Not good words. It looks like Wilson Alvarez may be an everyday player until that long term process is over.
Justin Morneau, Twins, OF — Morneau, recovering from a severe concussion a season ago, has been hitting the ball lately. He was 3 for 4 with 2 doubles on March 26, 2011. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Morneau has an appointment to visit doctors sometime in the near future to possibly be cleared for regular-season play. Gardenhire would not confirm when this appointment will take place. ”Hopefully we’ll get the news Morneau is free and cleared from everything and everybody and go from there,” Gardenhire said. See pictures of Justin Morneau’s wife here.
Craig Kimbrel, Braves, RP — Craig Kimbrel is the epitome of a closer, even though he’s only 22-years-old. He had some eye popping numbers last year with 40 strikeouts in 20.2 innings and 242 strikeouts in 151 minor league innings. The bad news is that he also had 16 walks so he’s a better pick for leagues that use strikeouts as his WHIP won’t help you. Kimbrel enters the season sharing the closer role with Jonny Venters. Kimbrel has experience as a closer; Venters does not. Venters, a lefty, will be used as the closer when the Braves are facing left-handed bats late in the game. It won’t be long, however, until Kimbrel is named the regular closer despite his wildness.
Jason Bay, Mets, OF — Jason Bay had a terrible season in 2010 and it ended with a concussion. Still, he clearly lost his power stroke in ’10. In 2009, he hit a homerun every 14.6 at bats with the Red Sox; in 2010, he hit a homerun every 63 at bats as he saw his round trippers drop from 36 to 6. Thus far this spring, Bay is at .333 and is yet to go yard. Given that he’s hit 30+ homeruns 4 of the past 6 seasons, he’s likely a good value pick in your 2011 fantasy baseball draft.
Yankees Starting Pitchers — The Yankees have named Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia as its fourth and fifth starter for the 2011 season. New York named Garcia over Bartolo Colon despite the fact that Colon did a much better job in the Grapefruit League. Nova had a strong second half last year for the Yankees so his designation as the #4 starter was no surprise. Garcia was a surprising 12-6, 4.64 for the White Sox last year. While Garcia had a nice year last year, he won only 5 games over the past 3 seasons. We view Garcia as a high risk pick and he’ll likely be over-valued based on last year’s 12 wins and the move to the Yanks. It’s hard to believe that the Yankees couldn’t buy somebody better.
Rays Closer — Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano were the closers last year, but both left for free agency. Manager Joe Maddon said that Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta will get the early season saves and the better closer will win the job outright. ”I don’t know how this is going to shake [out],” Maddon said earlier in Tampa Bay’s Spring Training camp. “I really don’t. I’m not kidding. I don’t know. We’ll just play it out and see where we are at the end of camp.”