The early draft date this year makes for some serious guesswork, and some seriously bad concessions of overall talent being bypassed by contenders in need of immediate help. Loading Team Tracker with position players with more than 3.9 offensive runs created per game and more than 19 plate appearances who are owned in fewer than 25 leagues gives this list of suspects:
And their PECOTA projections for 2011:
That is a list which smacks of desperation. Positional backup help cannot even be attained, as Willie Ballgame is only rated as an outfielder and Angel Sanchez only at shortstop. Sam Fuld and possibly Ryan Langerhans could end up carving out enough playing time to have some utility for the rest of the year, but Fuld's speed doesn't help much in Scoresheet (unlike the somewhat glowing recommendation he received for fantasy baseball), and neither got a good enough defensive range rating to sustain their bats. If a team has a position player hole, overpaying somewhat for a filler and using the pick on a good prospect might make more sense than being faced with five months of someone named “Willie” being a lifeline to stay out of the “AAA Player” pool.
An example of such a move by yours truly—upon hearing of Ryan Zimmerman's injury—frees up a pick to draft a prospect who can be kept without using a roster spot while avoiding Jack Hannahan and his ilk:
Of course, this trade holds tons of potential risk, also. Gordon has started hot, after all. But the Mercenaries had an extra outfielder.
Relaxing the criteria a bit (such as owned in fewer than 50 leagues, 2.9 RC/G, more than 14 PA) introduces veterans such as Orlando Cabrera, Wil Nieves, Greg Dobbs, Laynce Nix, and Jason Jaramillo. Nix and Elliot Johnson have shown enough in the past to get within a whiff of adequacy. And catching at-bats are always nice, though Jaramillo may be a better call than Nieves, as Nieves is a “third catcher”, and is constantly in danger of losing his roster spot.
|Enerio Del Rosario||25||6.7||2.70||3||HOU|
The “Desperation Table” for pitchers is less grim, as could be expected from he higher variance in pitching. A dark-horse preseason fave of this author was Brian Tallet, moving from the role of starting in a park which favored righty power (Toronto) for a team which faced some of MLB's best offenses regularly, including a DH… to, well, the tutelage of the best pitching coach in the game, pitchers with bats, and a park which should contain more of his fly balls. Unfortunately, he broke his (non-pitching) hand yesterday, so no immediate help there. Jamey Wright has the ideal park and defense backing him up, and would seem like a very low-risk reliever. Guillermo Mota's fire is back, somewhat, and with Santiago Casilla going down, he should continue to get loads of innings making him the best “upside” pick on this list. Christhian Martinez is thoroughly unremarkable, but plays in a good park for a team with enough other good relievers to keep him from getting into deep weeds. He was the Marlins' Minor-League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, but don't expect greatness.
Glen Perkins, Jason Bulger, and Danys Baez have proven track records, and can be expected to perform at those levels. Pedro Beato and Brayan Villareal, and Marcos Mateo have live arms and are still young enough that improvement wouldn't be surprising. In recent years, the Rays have shown a fantastic ability to ID emerging relievers, and Adam Russell is worth a pick for that reason alone. Neither Phil Humber nor Sam Lecure is worth getting excited about, but given the injury concerns of their teammates, they might be useful backup and “filler” innings.
Different leagues have different prospects available still. The easiest preparation for prospects would be to scan the last week of Kevin Goldstein's articles (starting with Future Shock Blog, April 14 and Monday's Ten Pack). Keep in mind that prospecting for relievers requires a very high level of skill to make a player worth consideration, unless a clear path to helping your team in 2011 is indicated. So, great arms like Phelipe Aumont and Rubby De La Rosa aren't nearly as exciting as they are in real life. However, breakout potential #1 starters, such as April 14-featured Neil Ramirez, are worth jumping all over, regardless of pre-season prospect rankings being less than stellar.
Adding first-pass Scoresheet-based filtering to some of the names Mr. Goldstein presents, some “must-grab” names which jump out (and are not owned in many leagues) are: SP Neil Ramirez, SP Keyvius Sampson, SP Wily Peralta, SP Tim Melville, OF Brandon Guyer (a long shot to become keeper-worthy, but queued up for potential playing time in 2011), 3B Edward Salcedo, 3B Michael Olt (owned in just 15 leagues), Zack Von Rosenberg (cannot forget formerly hyped players, and he's still very young).
More trading advice: If you have a rebuilding team, try to find a contender to trade for one of these picks (and presumably draft one of the good RP available), in exchange for a pick in the June supplemental draft (after the MLB draft takes place and a new batch of prospects enters the scene).