This offseason, we’ve seen some fantasy studs swap unis (A-Gone, Adam Dunn, Crawford etc). Some very smart people have written about these moves. The other side of the ball has seen its share of moving parts as well, from Cliff Lee all the way to, sigh, Aaron Harang (the bane of my fantasy existence for several years). There are several pitchers still waiting to move (Carl Pavano, Jeff Francis) who could be made more fantasy relevant based on where they land, but for now, here are some of the most interesting movements of the offseason from the rubber, in no particular order:
The Brewers have really revamped their starting rotation and pitching in general this offseason. Yovani Gallardo, Greinke, and Marcum is a pretty stellar 1-2-3. What to say about Greinke? He was an absolute stud two years ago and suffered from bad luck and a bad team last year. Suddenly he’s on a team that is notorious for scoring runs in bunches in a league decidedly easier on a power pitcher like Greinke. Say what you will about AL-NL, it is easier when you have stuff like Greinke to face a pitcher than the likes of Thome or Ortiz. Greinke figures to see an upturn in production and certainly will be on the books for a handful more wins now that he has escaped Kansas City. While he is not on the level of a Lee or Halladay, he could be in line to have a monster year in the weaker NL. Marcum has a similar story. Escaping a mediocre team in the brutal AL East, Marcum should see his numbers take a turn upwards with the bonus of facing a pitcher and not a DH. Look at the numbers he put up for a mediocre Toronto team that hit lots of homers. Now imagine his pitching for a stronger lineup in the weaker league and I think we can agree, the guy’s going to have a good year. He’ll be available later in drafts and could prove to be a serious fantasy contributor when it comes to the season’s end. I’m targeting him in all leagues and you should draft him accordingly.
Every year since 2007 I’ve drafted Aaron Harang, telling myself – ‘this’ll be the year he straightens it out and dominates again.’ He, in a few words, inevitably, does not. While he can still be useful for the innings he eats up, this stat is generally more useful to real GMs than fantasy ones. His declining K/9 rate is cause for concern, but he also was victim to a very high BABIP the past couple years, leading me to believe a change of scenery to the spacious PETCO park could be just what the doctor ordered. He has excellent career numbers at PETCO, with a 1.22 WHIP and 38 K’s in 38.2 innings. I’m taking a flyer this ONE LAST TIME on Harang, as I believe in the healing power of PETCO. Besides, when it comes down to your last few picks, you could do a lot worse than a guy with a history of success heading to a notorious pitchers’ park, right? Sigh, I’m trying to buy into this wholeheartedly but he’s broken my heart so many times. I could write a country song.
Bill James projected Webb to go 12-8 this year. I think he can do better. Texas is a good team, so even if he’s a bit messy I can see him stumbling into a few wins. As for the stadium, while it is often a difficult park for pitchers, the types who succeed are ones who either strike lots of guys out or keep the ball on the ground. When he’s on, Webb does both. I don’t think he’ll have trouble with the park. The only trouble with Webb is how his arm will hold up. To this concern, I look at the fact that Nolan Ryan knows what he’s doing. If the staff in Texas was confident they could work with Webb, then I am too. Let’s not forget this is a guy 3 years removed from winning 22 games. If he can work his way back, by the end of the year you could be looking at one of the absolute late round steals of your draft, as many owners are overlooking Webb when selecting pitching.
Honestly, what can I say about Cliff Lee? He’s a superstud on a great team with other great pitchers around him. My philosophy this year is to wait on pitching but if Halladay, King Felix, or Lee lands on my lap, I’m snatching them up. Lee is a top flight pitcher on a top team. Draft him if you can.
There you have it, an abbreviated look into some of the pitchers who are in new (or renewed, in Lee’s case) places. I really do like what the Brew Crew are doing and you should monitor that whole team, let alone the pitching staff. It’s a new year, we’re that much closer to pitchers and catchers reporting! Stay tuned for updates on these posts as the final Free Agents start finding teams.