Francisco Liriano | Signed with Pirates | SP
I see a lot of similarities between this signing and that of A.J. Burnett last season. Unfortunately, because of Burnett’s success and the similarity of their situations, Liriano may not come at quite the bargain Burnett did (or at least figured to before his eye injury lowered his value further). And Liriano’s context-related improvements are definitely smaller than Burnett’s.
The biggest difference is that, while Burnett was coming from an extreme hitter’s park in Yankee Stadium, Liriano is coming from a pitcher’s park in Target Field, which is slightly more pitcher-friendly than PNC. We also have to consider PNC’s strikeout-dimming effects, although like Burnett, Liriano can stand to lose a few and still be great in that department. His ultimate success is going to come down to limiting the walks, and having Russell Martin as a battery-mate could definitely help this, as he’s a sizeable step up from Drew Butera, who was Liriano’s personal catcher for most of last season. And, of course, the league change is the biggest boon to his value. All told, while Liriano will be risky for both performance and health reasons, and while the possibility of everyone having him on their sleeper list could make him too expensive, it’s possible Liriano becomes a steal this season, particularly in NL-only leagues.
Charlie Morton and Jeff Karstens | Pirates | SP
With Liriano now on board, Morton and Karstens figure to be the main contenders for the fifth-starter role, as opposed to both being penciled into the rotation. They each figure to net a healthy amount of starts no matter what, but the Liriano signing definitely diminishes both of their expected totals.
Scott Hairston | Signed with Cubs | OF
It had been seeming like Hairston would either re-sign with the Mets or go across town to the Yankees, but the Cubs surprisingly swooped in to sign him yesterday. He’d likely have gotten everyday at-bats for the Mets, or something close to that, but in Chicago he figures to be a platoon bat, playing only versus lefties. It’s a shame, since he has quietly been a very valuable NL-only league player of late. With regular at-bats, he could have been a nice value.
Nate Schierholtz | Cubs | OF
Ugh. Just when you start getting excited about getting a player, something comes along to ding his value. That something, in this case, is Hairston, which will probably leave Schierholtz with at-bats only against righties. Plus, Brett Jackson and company still loom. I may still target Schierholtz this year, but it’ll be strictly in deep leagues, and my price point will be lower.
Delmon Young | Signed with Phillies | OF
Young is helped slightly by the league change and slightly more by leaving Comerica for Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia’s home park is much better for lefties than it is for righties like Young, although he did show more opposite-field power last season than he ever has in the past, so that will help if it continues. Playing the field will also help him a bit, assuming he stays skinny enough and isn’t a complete albatross so he can stay in the lineup. He’ll probably bat sixth or so, which isn’t a great spot, but Young isn’t really a great player, either, so overall this move seems like a small value upgrade.
Domonic Brown, John Mayberry, Darin Ruf, and Laynce Nix | Phillies | OF
With Young looking like the everyday right fielder and Ben Revere locked into center, there’s just one open outfield spot and lots of players hoping to carve out at-bats. Not a good situation for any of these guys.