Tag Archives: Jackson

The all-contract year team

Every year there are a few guys who are in a contract year that put up crazy numbers that land them a large contract (Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson come to mind). Sometimes, they are just guys who already produce while others are coming off poor seasons (or careers) and need to rebound (badly). But no matter what they did last year, everything they do this year will be watched and scrutinized, giving them extra incentive to have a huge year. Keep an eye out for these guys:

C: Dionar Navarro

Once the one of the top prospects in the Yankees system, Navarro has fallen on hard times and had a terrible season in 2010. However, he is poised to become the Dodgers starting catcher and may finally tap his talent to prove he can stay in LA for the long haul. He is playing for his major league life and might respond well to the pressure.

1B: Prince Fielder

This is an obvious choice in early rounds but he could put up even bigger numbers this year than he did last year. He has a lot of pressure on him after signing a record arbitration contract, but also has a lot to prove. He is out to prove that he is not an after thought in the 2012 first baseman free agent class which could include Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez. Pujols and A-Gon are primed for huge seasons (and contracts) no matter what but Fielder is the real wildcard. He needs to show constant improvement especially after his down year last year in order to get the 7-10 year deal Scott Boras will be looking for.

2B: Rickie Weeks

Looking to build on his solid fantasy season last year, Weeks is in a great position to land a pretty big contract in the offseason. Weeks needs to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and that he can be an elite second baseman in the league. He played more games that he has in any other season with the Brewers and his durability will be a factor. Rickie will want to put to bed any doubt that he is a soft player who can put up mediocre stats. If last year is any indication, he will rise to the occasion.

SS: Jose Reyes

Remember when this guy was a one of the top players in all of fantasy? I do too and it wasn’t that long ago. Like Weeks, Reyes put up solid fantasy numbers after a year plagued by injuries. At 27, Reyes is entering his “prime” and will want a contract that will reflect that. Look for him to be a bright spot on an otherwise pretty bad Mets team.

3B: Aramis Ramirez

Yes, he is 32. Yes, he had a bad year last year. But the contract he signs next offseason could be his last professional contract and he will want to make it count. The Cubs should be improved this year which will help him, and the addition of Carlos Pena to the line up will also do wonders. I am not saying you should draft him early (or at all), but look for him to put together a streaky season and pick him up while he is on a hot-streak. As I said before, he is 32 and he knows he has an expiration date, he needs to show teams he hasn’t already past his. This should motivate him to a better season than last year.

OF: Jose Bautista

Another guy who will go early in drafts but also another guy who has a lot to prove. Can he put up the same numbers he did last year or will come back down to earth. (Also, just a note, he is recovering form offseason hernia surgery so keep an eye out for his recovery from that.)

OF: Grady Sizemore

The Indians have an option for Sizemore for $8.5 million or a buyout of $500,000 in 2012. Sizemore needs to prove his worth to the Indians or he might be facing free agency a year early. Especially after two down seasons (including one almost completely lost last year) Sizemore has to come up big. He was once the next can’t-miss superstar, but now he is looking like almost the exact opposite of that. This is a make or break year for him, and he knows it.

OF: Josh Willingham

This should be an interesting season for Willingham who will have to adjust to a new league and a new coast. Other than Navarro, he has to most to lose this season. If he puts up big numbers, he will get a large contract. A real boom-bust guy.

SP: Edwin Jackson

Another guy who is entering his “prime” Jackson has a lot more questions than answers. He can throw the ball nice and fast but can he improve his ERA and WHIP?  There have been other pitchers who had control problems who put together a solid contract year season (see Wright, Jaret) and Jackson could be poised to do just that.

CL: Jonathan Papelbon

Talk about a guy who is pitching with a chip on his shoulder. Pap has more than enough motivation to rebound after last season’s subpar performance and especially after it was reported he would have been non-tendered had the Red Sox signed Mariano Rivera this off-season. This guy is really pitching for his contract because it looks like Daniel Bard (or Bobby Jenks) is poised to take over the Sox  closer role after next season. Paps will come out on fire and put together an extremely impressive fantasy season.

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Filed under catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, second base, shortstop, third base

Ol’ (Or Young) McDonald has an Arm…

 

Back after clearing waivers (Dave was trying to clear some cap space), but like Mikey Lowell, I’m putting the past behind me and moving on with professionalism.  An bitchin through the media…. (be quiet, Mike).    Ready to hop back on the post train- let’s roll, I’ve got a thought:

 

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald adjusts his cap during the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010.

E-I-E-I-O

 

James McDonald, let us first start off by saying, is built like a pitcher.  At 6’5”  195, the lanky righty has the look of a kid who would whip the ball (he does).  It has always been a matter of him putting his makeup together.  But if simply looking like a player was enough, Gabe Kapler would be the highest paid player in the league.  Alas, Gabe the Babe is just an excellent reserve outfielder and McDonald is a “flameout” prospect who’s only 26… so I’m not giving up yet, and neither should you.  Scouts, for the most part, are not dumb.  If they say a kid has good stuff, he has good stuff, or at the very least the signs of good stuff.  So I have collected some scouts with a far deeper knowledge of prospecting than I and their thoughts on Ol’ McDonald:

Here’s scout.com’s take

Minorleagueball’s scout profile

milb’s player page

video of his sparkling buccos debut

I realize there is not as much there as some of the other guys we’ve hyped, but that’s part of the point- they stopped hyping him 2 years ago (they meaning the ‘baseball intellectuals’), having given up on this kid.  But I was convinced by that Pittsburgh debut.  Watch it.  His stuff is electric.  So let’s look at what he has done to date.  Here’s his fangraphs page.  Look at any of his numbers and say what you will, but what sticks out to me is the K/9.  You’re looking at a guy with pretty solid 8-10 K/9 potential.  His numbers in the minors (an 11+   K/9 ?!?!?!) show his stuff, his rates in the majors show it translates, even if not to that degree.  The big thing with McDonald is having guys on base.  He has a staggering strand rate, due mostly to his 4+ walks per 9 innings rate.  This is too too too many walks.  I liken McDonald to Edwin Jackson.  They actually have similar stuff and makeup.  Their stuff is so good it’s hard for them to harness it in on the Major League scale.  A change of scenery (or two or three) and harnessing control of his pitches made Edwin a really solid pitcher (and an enticing fantasy player).  I’m saying get in on the McDonald farm early, and reap the benefits of an early planting season (ouch).

 

 

Poorly crafted farm terminology over,

enjoy the black keys,

 

-w

 

 

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

Floppy, Floppy, Floppy Llama: Second Half Letdown (Pau Gasol’s XXX Name)

NOM NOM NOM

Since there is no accurate yang to the ying that is Adam Laroche’s second half yang-ing (the Alex Gonzalez All-Stars doesn’t have the same ring), I have taken the opportunity to make fun of Pau ” no-I-did-not-forget-the-‘L’ ” Gasol, who I could only like less if he were a Yankee.

But seriously, folks, enough tomfoolery.  There is fantasy BASEBALL to be discussed.  Coupled with the studs going forward in the second half, there are the unfortunate duds.  As I articulated in our post about guys to pick up (like, say Aramis Ramirez, who homered THREE TIMES LAST NIGHT!!!), no matter the statistics, no matter the human element of the game, baseball is a long season and therefore a game of averages.  This is also true for that guy on your team tearing it up right now, even though you were skeptical in May.  If a guy is a .200 career hitter and he’s hitting .300, you better believe those stats are going to be somewhere in the middle at season’s end.  With a newfound statistical friend in FANGRAPHS, I present to you some guys headed for various levels of downturn, to look out for, to sell high.  Without further pomp and a significan lack of circumstance, I present to you the Alex Gonzalez All-Stars (still doesn’t do it for me):

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Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner is the 50th ranked player in Yahoo leagues.  As in, ‘Brett Gardner is a top 50 fantasy player.’  If you said this to begin the fantasy season, congratulations, the men in the white coats are here to help you.  I do not mean this as a knock against Gardner, I swear.  He is the type of gritty, hard-working player I want on my team (think the anti-J.D. Drew).  However, he is not a top 50 fantasy player.  Gardner clearly has made an adjustment to the pitching in the majors and kudos to him for doing so.  He has proven he is a major league hitter.  He is also very, very fast.  Both of these positives are turning, though.  He still has issues with lefties (.258 average) and is batting .208 in July.  Pitchers learn too.  Of more concern fantasy-wise, Gardner’s steals (his most useful contribution) have consistently tailed off month to month (10,8,6,2 this month).  Gardner boasts a .351 BABIP,  far exceeding what anyone would expect from him and hits a TON  of  ground balls (51% of the time).  You can see all these stats on the aforementioned Fangraphs.  All of these factors, and the fact that he is not used to being such an everyday player, leads me to believe Gardner is bound to tail off this second half.  I’m not boisterous enough to say he won’t be a top 100 player to end the season, but I certainly can’t see him being a top-50 player going forward.

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Adam Dunn

Disclaimer: I would still and always do want Adam Dunn on my fantasy team.

Adam Dunn is hitting .283.  Read that again.  If you follow baseball, this should seem off.  Adam Dunn is an excellent player, but batting over .265 is generally unheard of.  Looking deeper, you can see that Dunn’s raised average is largely due to his staggering .363 BABIP.  This is a great number, but not Adam Dunn.  He generally is  closer to the .280-.300 BABIP range (career .279), meaning his average is bound to see a drop off soon.  Forget the peripherals and just think for a minute.  Adam Dunn has been in the league for a while.  So when I tell you that in 10 seasons, his 162 game average is as follows: .252 BA, 40 homers and 98 RBIs.  Look at his stats.  He more often than not arrives at these numbers for a season.  My point is, Adam Dunn is what he is.  Dunn will hit 40 homers and drive in 100. He will walk 100 times (ish) and strikeout about 100-200 times.  But he will likely not hit above .280.  A cold streak is in order.  And if you have the opportunity to trade him for superior value (as in, some less aware fantasy owner thinks he will be getting a .285 hitter), do it.  Adam Dunn’s stats will regress to the mean, to get all mathematical on ya’ll.  I by no means am advocating getting rid of Dunn, just highlighting an opportunity.

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Josh Hamilton

It’s tough to write up a ‘he’s-going-to-fall-off’ piece on a guy when he’s hitting .400 for a month and a half, but that’s exactly the point.  Josh Hamilton is not, I repeat NOT, going to continue to hit .400 on a month to month basis.  First, due to past history.  Look at his 2008 season. As I said with Gardner, pitchers make adjustments and guys get tired.  Even if Hamilton is a good hitter, something we can all agree on, we still don’t expect him to hit .400, or even .380.  He’s a power hitter, he’s good hitting around .300!

Which leads me to that nifty stat, BABIP.  Hamilton trails only Austin Jackson (a fantasy ticking time bomb) in  BABIP, with an average of .397 currently.  That is high for anyone. Hamilton should be closer to .300, meaning these statistics should correct themselves one way or another.  He is the definition of a trade-high candidate, as the stats and history all point to a drop off from his absurd production right now.

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Corey Hart

whoops, wrong guy.

Having been thrice scorned, I must remind you, Corey Hart is still Corey Hart.  Even if he’s not that Corey Hart.  He streaks more than a drunken exhibitionist.

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Jaime Garcia

No matter how many times you call him ‘Jamie,’ Garcia has been extremely effective for the Cards…. somehow.  He has a 2.27 ERA.  This is an undeniable stat.  Only relievers can truly fool you with their effectiveness via ERAs.  The man isn’t allowing a lot of runs.  But let us look at some other numbers.  Garcia has a 1.301 WHIP.  This is mediocre at best.  Going deeper, you will find he has allowed a .301 BABIP.  SO HOW IS GARCIA KEPT MEN FROM SCORING?  Well he has a good K/9 rate despite not having dominant stuff (7.3 K/9) and plays in the National League.  In my town the pre-little league league is called ‘the National League.’  I’ll leave it at that.  Garcia also benefits from being a newcomer.  In today’s game, so many players are students of video, they’re like walking encyclopedia’s of guys’ stuff.  So when a control pitcher comes up, they often experience immediate success as the hitters in both leagues adjust to them.  The learning curve seems poised to smack Garcia right in the head.

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Phil Hughes

Hughes has recieved an AVERAGE of 8.07 runs scored per 9 innings in his starts.  That is a full run better than the next guy on the list.  That is a lot of runs.  Look at his splits, he has gotten worse every month.  He has a 46% fly ball rate and pitches in a banbox called Newyankee Stadium (right?  that’s what they’re calling it?).  Seriously, it’s approximately 285 feet down the right field line (give or take…).  Hughes is a young guy and a new starter, he looks as though he is getting tired-and fast.  Last night he got shelled by the Angels, continuing his spiral towards a DL stint with something like ‘shoulder fatigue.’  Or maybe he can sneeze and hurt himself too, like Mat Latos.  Hughes is slipping and will likely need to rest soon.  He can still be a valuable asset, but for the time being he scares the crap out of me, fantasy-wise.

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Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson has been great this year.  He’s also getting older.  Hudson has a crazy .232 BABIP against him this year.  He also has pitched to an insane 66.7% ground ball rate.  Look over his career stats and you see that the ground ball rate is slightly elevated from his normal averages, but fairly consistent.  The BABIP is out of control, though. His career BABIP is .286 and in more recent years, it has hovered around .300.  Some statistical correction is due and that never bodes well for older guys.  Hudson is one of my favorite players, but a drop off is coming.

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Ubaldo Jimenez

OK, OK, calm down.  I’m not saying he’s going to be bad (though his last starts haven’t been ‘good’  by any means.).  I am merely saying that he is leaving a lot of men on base (80% strand rate), and I don’t think he’s going to post a sub-2 ERA in the second half.  Relax.  But he is an excellent sell-high candidate going foward, especially as the fantasy trade deadline comes nearer.

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So there you have it, guys I did some reading up on.  I was right, oh so right, about my pal Aramis, so hopefully I’ll catch lightening in a bottle twice with one of these fellas.  Until next time, enjoy this outstanding throw by Melky Cabrera

-w

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Filed under Cajones, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts

2010 Injury Comebacks

We will spare the big names here.  There are updates and outlooks on Grady Sizemore, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Johan Santana all over the internet.  In this post we will have a little back and forth about some serious low-risk/high-value guys.  These are players that are seriously undervalued considering the numbers they are capable of putting up.  Enjoy.

Will: Jay Bruce- OF, Reds ADP 120.64 you’re caught in that mid-round conundrum of trying to grab an OF in addition to your (hopefully) already productive initial 3 (we tend to play 4 OF, I’m talking about the rounds where your in between starters and that guy off your bench you have a good feeling about this year… (you’re little cheat-sheet starred ‘STEAL OF THE DRAFT’).  This phenomena, it should be noted is not exclusive to OF, just specific to this argument (more to follow about other value picks).  Here’s the situation sitting  on the board are two not so different players – Jay Bruce and Carlos Quentin.  From which of these prospective picks do you chase value? I vote that Bruce is superior player in several ways.

America….Heck Yes.

For starters, I’m going to go ahead an cut down the argument that ‘While he has tremendous upside, take Quentin because Bruce can’t hit lefties.’   False. Bruce, vs lefties: 2008–> .190 BA, 46 K in 67 AB (v. 11 BB), .299 SLG 2009–>.210 BA,28 K in 52 AB… v. 15 BB (that’s good, right?), .330 SLG Quentin, vs left-handed pitching AS A RIGHT HANDED BATTER 2006–> .171 BA, 8K :4BB in 41AB, .415 SLG 2007–> .172 BA, 16K:7BB in 64 B, .313 SLG 2008–> .246 BA, 22K:25BB in 130 AB, .562 SLG 2009–> .213 BA,  14K:14BB in 94 AB, .383 SLG interesting, I think. I also think Bruce is too good a player to not at least settle down that lefties average in the .250-.260 range?  And Quentin’s had longer to figure it out!  He doesn’t really seem to be learning?  Why is it unreasonable to think Bruce (only 23!) isn’t in a fairly normal 3rd year upgrade?  Quentin, while surely not old (28), has had his time to build something but seemingly has the injury bug.  Bruce, on the other hand hurt his wrist sliding for a ball.  He is young.  He will heal.  Unless some awful nomar luck strikes Bruce, he would only have  worked that much harder coming into the spring, prepping him for  a stellar year. I say Bruce’s potential is large (recognize:  check his minors stats, the kid will mature).  The question is how many of his talents do you think he’ll have ‘click’ at the same time?  Regardless, is a 20-15 season the worst case scenario if he doesn’t break out fully?  Good basement, I say.  But some predicted 40 homers for Bruce. What if he plays a fully healthy year in a healthier Cincy lineup and belts 35?  40?  This intrigue intrigues me… This round(s) of picks is the perfect time to pick up someone with the potential stardom while still being a reputable fallback option as well.  Take Bruce.  Or he’ll get angry. And you won’t like him when he’s angry… Honestly, Quentin could be playing at a high level for all I care, I see a serious potential gain  taking Bruce instead.  I’ll gamble here, knowing I’ll have minimal loss even if I’m wrong. But who knows.  Maybe Dave does know better. Gooch, haters.

Side Note: Our very own Andrew Nilsen met Bruce at a Miami of Ohio party and says that he was macking on some J. Crew U. girls.  Bruce also said that he never felt    comfortable at the plate last year and is very excited for the 2010 season.

Dave: Carlos Quentin- OF, White Sox ADP 101.64  

Remember when Quentin was leading the majors in homers in 2008 before getting pissed off and fracturing his wrist with his bat? Did anyone notice how he had 8 homers in 75ab in April?  Quentin’s down year was a fantasy disaster for those who reached early.  Take my word though.  2009 was a fluke (you can also throw out his Rookie stats 2006 and his torn labrum year in 2007. Cough Cough Will) .  Quentin was slowed by plantar fasciitis in 2009, a foot injury that can be easily overcome if treated properly.  He came back in October to slug 2 hrs in 11 abs and has gotten in his hacks this spring.  His AVG, BB:KK, lineup and everything else point to Quentin being a superior player. His upside:ADP ratio screams a mid-round steal.  Get him on your team and watch a healthy Quentin compete for the AL HR crown.

Will:Ryan Ludwick- OF, Cardinals ADP 167.63 

Ludwick’s appeal lies in the lineup he’s in.  Behind Pujols and Holliday, even something between last year (‘down’) and his breakout year will yield substantial results.  In this injured, ‘down’ year, Ludwick still hit 22 homers with 97 RBI.  C’mon, even with low expectations and that lineup, I’d snag Ludwick.  Add to all that a Felipe Lopez- Colby Rasmus progression, this has potential to be a very formidable NL lineup.  Love the ADP,people.  Embrace it.

Will: Conor Jackson- 1B, OF, Diamondbacks ADP 309.24

WTF Valley Fever? Rarely has a potential sleeper star gone on the DL with a more Clueless-reference inducing injury or illness (like, totally, Conor… what.ever.)  Jackson is  of serious value if you believe in him and believe me that good batters have good eyes.  That doesn’t mean K:BB HAS to be a determining factor in selecting hitters (Vlad being king here), but its useful with good batting average/ OBP players like Jackon.  So his K:BB ratios starting in 2005 (only 40 games, but look, all the ratios prove my point, regardless of number of at bats; (BONUS: minors- 32:69 K:BB) 11:12, 73-54, 53-50, 61:59, 16:11.  This is a promising trend, and Jackson is young enough to be entering some prime years.  The homers may not spike, but is Jackson with an ADP of 311.63 at MockDraftCentral going to that greatly underperform someone like James Loney, who goes out at an ADP of 181.88?!??!  Take  flier on James Loney lite at worst, and don’t forget that IF/OF eligibility .


Dave: Ryan Doumit- C, Pirates ADP 192.2           

After grabbing some attention in 2007 with respectable offensive numbers at a light position, Doumit broke onto the scene in a big way in 2008 compiling 15 homers with a .318/.357/.501 line in 431 abs.  The injury bug struck again last spring as a fracture wrist derailed the majority of his season.  Doumit looked to have regained his form by September, hitting 2 bombs with a pretty .346/.424/.481.  I have heard this guy called the Josh Hamilton of catchers.  I agree. He could put up numbers to rival Vmart this year (whose OPS is .150 pts lower when a full-time catcher) minus about 30 RBIs.  Target Doumit once the top 5 catchers are off the board and smile knowing you will get similar production from a late rounder. 

Dave: Kevin Slowey- SP, Twins ADP 210.15

Expectations have always been high for Slowey.  Before injuries put his pitching on hold, Slowey and Scott Baker were developing into a nice combo in the Twins’ rotation.  Unfortunately, several injuries cut short Slowey’s hot start to 2009 (10 wins despite a 1.41whip in 90.2ip).  Many people are scared away by the permanent screws in his wrist, but don’t worry.  His numbers have been filthy this spring, allowing 1er in 16ip with 15ks.  This is a pitcher who absolutely owned the minor leagues with a 0.85 WHIP.  Supported by the best offense in a weak division,  Slowey  is worth the gamble and could emerge as a serious top-of-the-rotation starter.

Will: Ben Sheets-SP, A’s ADP 232.8   

Now know this: we write this as Sheets has gotten sheeted-on this spring (8.2 IP, 20 H, 16 ER, 5 BB) and had a ho-hum turn at Triple A at the time of us posting.  I own Sheets in our Champions league, but I’m planning on him sitting him til he proves himself settled (which I honestly believe, between whatever magic hot tub Beane has and a plus pitcher-friendly ballpark) and hope he’ll be  dominant #2/2a by the trade deadline (I’m thinkin’ with you here, Mr. Beane).  Sheets isn’t a name sneaking up on too many people in drafts, so we’re really talking about a risk/reward play here.  For his ADP, you are potentially getting the dominant #2 guy from 2008, a (hopefully) healthy year away from surgery.  Just a reminder of some of Sheets best years, he has pitched over 190 innings 4 times, each year submitting  fantasy-relevant (if not superior) season (2002-2004, most excellent.). 2008, his last healthy year, he had 5 CG and 3 SHO, just sayin’. A 158:47 K:BB ratio (the guy’s developing in his pitcher smarts….).  If you’re a patient player, like me, or at least have a long-term view, bite on Sheets, too much value to leave sitting there.  P.S. I own the man, so I’m not just hyping, I swear.

Dave: Chris Young- SP, Padres ADP 331.5          

Being 6’10”, you would figure that the guy hits his head enough.  Well Pujols doesn’t believe in such thing as “enough” so decided to smash Chris Young in the face with a line drive in 2008.  2009 brought more problems in the form of (the more baseball-relevant) arm troubles.  After offseason surgery, Young has looked solid this spring and is working on a new splitter.  Given the not-too-distant success of the Padres’ ace and a spacious park, 2010 should be a nice bounceback campaign.

Stash on the DL:

Dave: Erik Bedard- SP, Mariners ADP 232.12 

By now we get it: if Bedard is healthy, he puts up ace numbers.  But with only 164ip in the last 2 seasons and never over 200ip in a season, that is an IF.  If someone reaches because he thinks he’s getting 2007 Bedard minus 5 starts, let him go.  Otherwise, Bedard is worth targeting in the final rounds and stashing on the DL until further notice.

Dave: Edinson Volquez- SP, Reds ADP >500

Volquez is expected back soon after the break.  His 2008 was no fluke.  With his kind of stuff and ADP, how can you not take him in the last round and just stash him on the DL?

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