Spring training is finally in full swing and we get to see the start of players working out all the kinks and pains from the off season – this usually leads to multiple instances of fantasy owners hearing about every little ache and strain and thinking it’s the end of the world…only to see things all fine a couple days later. All part of the fun as we all start framing up our draft cheat sheets - let’s get to it!
Some News and Notes from the NL:
- Shelby Miller, SP, STL: Miller had a setback after his first BP session experiencing shoulder tightness. Anything shoulder is bad and upsets fantasy owners a lot, but for some reason I don’t think this is going to end up being that kind of bad, the STL organization also agrees. Miller was cleared Friday to begin throwing on flat ground with plans to get cleared to throw off the mound in the near future. I think we are still safe to draft Miller as planned, but keep an eye on his progress to be sure.
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA: Stanton stepped into the batter box and took the first pitch off the back of his melon at 95 MPH. A scary scene where Stanton walked off and had ice on his neck and back of his head later on. Sounds like there is no worry of concussion and he was feeling fine the day after. I bet next time he sees that poor kid on the mound he hits one 700 feet…
- Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN: Phillips is looking forward to hitting lower in the potent Reds lineup now that Shin-Soo Choo will handle lead off duties. Being the Reds most versatile hitter of late he would ideally like to hit 3rd, but I doubt that happens much with Votto back. Either way, if he hits 2nd thru 6th, he will have ample RBI chances and see a lot of pitches – all good for his fantasy potential.
- Russell Martin, C, PIT: The Pirates catcher is doing whatever he has to for his country… which includes playing short-stop of all positions at the WBC. Don't expect the transition to take very long. Martin was drafted as a third baseman by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002 before being converted to catcher. He's surprisingly blunt about how he feels about squatting for nine innings. ''I'm not a catcher, I'm an athlete,'' he said. ''I can play anywhere.'' For some reason I expect him to show up at catcher for PIT…
- After picking Matt Gamel as a deep sleeper in the NL when he had a shot at playing time while Corey Hart recovers, it all came crashing down for Gamel as he tore his ACL again. The tear appeared to be in the middle of the repaired tendon, which is bad, and he will miss the entire 2013 season. Who will step in now to fill in for Hart is up in the air, but it doesn’t really matter to fantasy owners as the production from it will carry no fantasy value.
- Bryce Harper showed up to camp weighing a beefed up 230 pounds – that’s a 20-pound gain compared to the end of 2012. Harper says he plans to lose 10 pounds by the end of spring training, so I don’t think this is bad in any way. Moving from center to left field after the Nationals acquired Span to roam center will help keep the wear and tear on Harper's body to a minimum as well. He should have the solid sophomore year everyone is predicting, but he is still being drafted too high in non-keeper leagues… for now anyway.
- Troy Tulowitzki looks good so far this spring after resting the ailing groin that plagued him in 2012. Tulo is always a high risk-high reward guy with top-five potential, but a top flight injury risk. As always, draft high if you feel confident he will have a 2009 type season, draft lower if you expect a 2012 season. Personally I expect a season something like his 2010 year, close to .300-90-25-90-15 is he plays 140 games.
- Both Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford won’t see full game action until early in March according to Manager Don Mattingly. Both guys are recovering from injuries, Kemp with a hamstring and Crawford from Tommy John, and Mattingly says he won’t have either do much more then DH until medical tests clear them for playing full speed. Drafting Kemp in the top 5 overall is likely a safe bet, but I am still scared of Crawford.
Rants and Ramblings:
- First real day of spring training is here and gone and we had:
- First hit was from Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves in their 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
- First grand slam was hit by San Diego Padres infielder Jedd Gyroko in a sixth-run first inning for the San Diego Padres against the Seattle Mariners, a game the Pads won 9-3.
- Seattle Mariners pitcher Hector Noesi, who gave up those six runs (four earned) in two-thirds an inning, was the first pitcher to get shelled.
- First walk-off win came from the Cleveland Indians who put up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Cincinnati Reds 11-10.
- Joey Votto had two hits and an RBI. If you weren't thinking about drafting him early, you might want to…
Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez told local media Friday that he had in fact taken blood and urine tests two days after the Miami New Times linked him to Anthony Bosch, who reportedly supplied PEDs to professional athletes. Gonzalez says he received word from the Major League Baseball Players Association that the results from those tests were negatives. "Like I said before, I've never taken performance enhancing drugs and I never will," Gonzalez said. "Two days after the story broke, I was tested for blood and urine. Both came out negative like I expected. Throughout my entire career, it has been like that. I look forward to handling this with MLB and putting this behind me, and I'm looking forward to the season." It’s not like Gio is a cheater like, say, Ryan Braun or anything…
So, I am now in four fantasy baseball leagues in Yahoo alone, picking up a third keeper league from a manager in another league who needed to fill two vacant teams. Of course, me being me, I took on the “stinker” team, as he put it, as a project – this team has 3 of the first 12 picks after the 10 keeper rounds are done and then 2 of the second 12 picks… how bad could it be? Well, it is bad. Not end of the world bad, there is something to build on, but it is bad. The top ranked hitter on the team is Jose Altuve and the top pitcher is Doug Fister. I will end up keeping 7 pitchers (6 SP and 1 RP) and 3 hitters and go into the first two rounds of the draft with 5 of the top 24 picks, but this will be a project for a couple years no doubt. Always be mindful of what you take on in fantasy leagues… sometimes pride can get you into trouble.
Michael Phelps took batting practice with the O’s the other day too – not sure, but I think Phelps has pretty much showed up everywhere and tried everything he can possibly try in as many sports as he can since the Olympics.
Don’t forget to check out the DobberBaseball fantasy guide for 2013 - here.
Catch me on twitter @CanuckHoppy