Casey McGehee could prove to be a valuable pickup for the Pirates.
As spring training approaches, almost every player looking for a bounce-back season claims to be in the best shape of his life. Pirates infielder Casey McGehee is no exception; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Bill Brink tweeted on Thursday that the first-year Bucco has lost nearly 25 pounds and “cut [his] body fat in half.” The premise may be as clichéd as any in baseball, but there is reason to believe that McGehee is not whistlin’ Dixie.
The 29-year-old McGehee will begin the 2012 season with his third NL Central organization in the last five years. A 10th-round pick of the Cubs in 2003, he was claimed off waivers by the Brewers after a cup of coffee in 2008, and unexpectedly took off when handed the keys to the third-base job midway through the next season. McGehee hit .301/.360/.499 in his first year with Milwaukee, then followed that up with a .285/.337/.464 campaign in 2010, contributing 2.0 and 2.6 WARP in those seasons, respectively. But the wheels came off last year, and he was traded to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras in December.
What to make of fantasy players shifting across the diamond? Michael looks at the fallout of the Fielder signing, plus potential position moves by Miguel Cabrera, Mark Trumbo, and the already-certain moves of Hanley Ramirez
For fantasy owners, the difference between first- and third-base eligibility is huge—at least in leagues that ignore defense. That defensive liability can still have repercussions in real-world baseball, however, which trickles down to fantasy if a player can’t stick at the hot corner. Last week’s news featured several players going from the right side of the diamond to the left, but not all of those moves may be permanent and not all may be beneficial.
Armed with a plan to play Prince Fielder at first base and Miguel Cabrera at third, the Tigers might field one of the worst defensive infields in recent memory.
It's no hyperbole to say Prince Fielder's nine-year, $214 million deal with the Tigers shocked the baseball world. The Tigers certainly weren’t on the list of likely suitors given their sizable commitment to the sizable player occupying his position: Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera was the AL's most valuable first baseman in 2010 and 2011 according to WARP, and is under contract for another $86 million through 2015. Even with the designated hitter slot open due to Victor Martinez's season-ending torn ACL—the catastrophe that triggered Fielder’s signing—the team plans to play the new guy at first base and shift the incumbent to third base. It’s a position Cabrera hasn't played regularly since 2007, but one that he nonetheless calls "his natural position." Paired with Ryan Raburn at second base and Jhonny Peralta at shortstop—two players moved to less demanding defensive positions years ago, only to shift back to harder ones—the Tigers are threatening to field one of the more terrifying infields in recent memory.
In the final week of the season, Michael looks at near-term and long-term return for his Value Picks.
As the season (and Value Picks) draws to a close, I’ll look at what my VPs are likely to deliver in the next week, as well as their future for keeper leagues. Every year, one of my league championships has gone down to the final day, so there’s every reason to keep your roster current with fresh blood, even in redraft leagues. If you’re out of the money, keep the leaders honest by playing spoiler, scrapping for one more steal, one more homer, one more point of batting average. Because after Wednesday, it’s six months before fantasy baseball comes around again. Make this last week count!
Shifting to Friday, Michael makes up for the hiatus with several VP changes and a long turn at Playing Pepper, including a bunch of Brandons.
Now appearing on Fridays, I’m back to prepare you for your weekend fantasy games. Several developments have happened in the ten days since my last column, and I’m jumping to adjust the VP list accordingly. Fortunately, many hot corner infield commodities are available to help your fantasy squad.
Just because many third basemen are failed shortstops does not mean there isn't an abundant supply of talent at the hot corner.
Leader of the Pack (Present): Anthony Rendon (Nationals) The case for: Even though he has yet to play a professional game, Rendon’s combination of tools and polish make him the face of the position. At the plate, the native Texan (another plus attribute) is able to generate tremendous bat speed; his hands and hips work at near elite levels, and his raw strength is above average. Rendon’s hit tool projects to be plus-plus (70 grade)—which should allow him to become a perennial .300 hitter—with the overall approach to work counts, set up favorable hitting counts, and reach base at a high clip. His power potential ranges from average to plus, with a swing that some believe is better suited for gap-to-gap power, rather than a swing with the necessary loft and backspin to produce 25-plus homers per season without selling out his approach.
In the field, Rendon projects as an above-average defender at third, with both the leather and arm grading out as plus tools, and the instincts necessary to bring the physical package together. Speed isn’t a part of Rendon’s game, but his feet aren’t heavy, and he shows good first-step quickness and reactions. Despite not being a physical force, Rendon has all the attributes necessary to become an All-Star talent at the hot corner, with the ability to hit for average, reach base, hit for some power, and play above-average defense. It remains to be seen if Rendon ends up at third base for the Nationals, but that’s a byproduct of organizational depth, not a developmental deficiency in Rendon’s skill set.
Value Picks shoots off some fireworks of its own on the Fourth as Michael blows up three VPs to make room for more young talent and offering the latest news on marginal players in Playing Pepper.
As I expected, rising young talent lets me cut some struggling VPs as the All-Star break approaches. At this point, it’s tough to find Roman candles to light up your lineup, but a few skyrockets can help you avoid limp sparklers or M-80s that demolish your stats.
The Mets and White Sox call on veteran minor-league mashers, a faded prospect regains some luster in the desert, the Giants search for answers at third base, and the Yankees add a southpaw from the scrapheap.
Michael plays a little pepper with a few marginal players while highlighting some newly healthy Value Picks
This season is still at that awkward tweener stage: too soon for prospect call ups, but too late find any overlooked regulars. It’s also too soon to believe in some guys, with whom I’ll play some pepper at the end.
Brian Bogusevic, Alex White, and two Giants infielders make the most of other people's injuries, the Dodgers swap backup catchers, the Snakes switch futilitymen, and the Padres ponder their first base future.
Reviewing the qualifications of Tram and Larkin, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile, and Edgar Martinez.
Having kicked off this year's JAWS series and addressed the Hall of Fame candidates on the right side of the infield on Monday, we can now turn our attention to the left side today. It's a pretty fair crop, to say the least.