Choosing these players too soon could doom your fantasy team
C—Jorge Posada, NYY — This is taking nothing away from the fine career that Posada has had in New York. It really only takes two things into consideration: his age, and the great year he had in 2007. It is funny how guys seem to have such dynamite seasons when they are playing for a contract, and that’s exactly what Posada did last year. His batting average jumped almost 60 points, and kept his power numbers almost the same from 2006. However, Posada will turn 37 before the end of the year, and all those miles on those legs have got to catch up with him eventually. Now that he has gotten paid, expect a downswing in his numbers across the board.
1B—Carlos Pena, TB — Is anyone else not buying into this Cinderella story? It was a nice run for Pena last year, but there is no way that it is happening again. This guy was thrown on the scrap heap and forgotten, and now, 46 HRs and 121 RBI later, I’m supposed to believe he can do it again? As Jack Nicholson said, "go sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here." Expect a fall back to earth for Pena, more along the lines of 24 HRs, 80 RBI, which is nice, but don’t draft him and expect a repeat performance of ’07.
2B—Dan Uggla, FLA — Uggla will probably remain in the potential bust lists until he finally does have the bad season that everyone expects each year. Although his power numbers remained consistent, Uggla’s batting average fell almost 40 points while his strikeouts rose by over 40. Uggla will have to improve on his batting eye if he is going to continue to have a decent major league career. His minor league numbers suggest that he will be an inconsistent player, so don’t be surprised if you see his power numbers drop a year after his average fell off the table.
SS—Michael Young, TEX — Not that long ago, Young was one of the top shortstops in fantasy. Recently, his power and batting average have slowly started to dwindle. However, the reason he has slid down the shortstop rankings isn’t because of a huge drop in production, it is the fact that the position has become so much deeper and Young remains available much later in drafts. I expect his home run numbers will remain around the nine he hit last year, and his batting average will creep farther down closer to under .300. He still might have another good year or two left in him, but his fantasy relevance is slipping away.
3B—Mike Lowell, BOS — Hmm, another guy who was playing for a contract in his mid-30s had a great 2007 season???? What a shocker! Known for being a first half player, Lowell finally put together a full season of consistency and helped propel the Sox to the division crown. Lowell had career highs in hits, RBI and batting average and secured himself a $37 million contract. As he enters his mid-30s, you can expect those numbers to come back to where the rest of his career has been (.275/20/85). Again, not a bad player to have on your roster, but if you are counting on him to repeat last year, you will be disappointed.
OF—Aaron Rowand, SF — Do you see a pattern forming here? In the final year of his contract in Philly, Rowand set career highs in almost every category. The Giants threw a ton of money at him, and Rowand’s value should decrease dramatically for several reasons. First, most players don’t blossom into a whole different level player at the age of 31. Second, he will have absolutely no protection in the Giants lineup. Can you name me two other Giants hitters? I’ll give you a few: Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia, Omar Vizquel... a real murderers row there in San Francisco. Last, he moves out of one of the best hitters ballparks in baseball. Expect Rowand to come back to earth, to the tune of .270/15/72 in 2008.
OF—Hideki Matsui, NYY — Matsui has been a model of consistency since he arrived in the United States, but in the last couple of years, you can see that he is starting to wear down. The Yankees outfield/DH situation has started to get crowded, and unless Jason Giambi can prove that he can play the field, I don’t think that you can mark Matsui in the New York lineup everyday. No one is saying that he’s going to play 80 games, but the Yankees have a bunch of guys who they need to DH to either keep them fresh or keep their glove out of the field. Matsui is also start to get a little older (turns 34 in June), and his numbers will start to suffer. Expect his average to stay below .300, his homers to fall below 25, and RBI total to be under 90 in 2008.
OF—Manny Ramirez, BOS — Manny wasn’t exactly Manny at the plate last year, and this could be an indication that his years as a run producing machine are coming to an end. Ramirez is in the middle of a potent lineup in a stadium that helps him perform, but he has been getting some nagging injuries, and his numbers dropped off drastically in 2007. Most likely, Manny will still be effective this upcoming season, but if you are expecting a .315 average with 40 jacks, and 125 ribeyes, do yourself a favor and draft someone else.
SP—Dontrelle Willis, DET — The D-train has gone from one of the bright, young stars in the league, to on the cusp of becoming just an average pitcher. This move from the National to the American League won’t help his cause either. Willis set a career low with only 10 wins in ’07, along with a career high 5.17 ERA. Control seems to have become a problem as he set new marks for walks, as well as gopher balls. Detroit is counting on him to rebound and have another great season, you, as a fantasy owner, should not.
SP—Roy Oswalt, HOU — There have been a lot of innings put on his arm in the last seven seasons. Although he has averaged over 200 innings for his career, Roy’s statistics have been starting to go in the wrong directions. His wins and strikeouts have dropped in consecutive years, and at the same time, his ERA has risen (although not drastically) during that same time frame. There will be extra pressure on Oswalt to perform this season, as the rest of the Astros’ pitching staff is very weak. An injury might be looming for a guy who has thrown that many innings, but even if that isn’t the case, look for another subpar season by the standard Oswalt has set for himself.
SP—John Smoltz, ATL — Smoltz has had one of the more remarkable careers, as he went from exceptional starter, to dominating closer, back to exceptional starter again. However, he is now 40 years old, and cannot possibly continue to post the numbers that he has been producing. Even at his advanced age, Smoltz has been incredibly durable, he has pitched 200+ innings in each of the three seasons since he came back from the bullpen. Very few pitchers remain effective this late into their careers, and Smoltz must begin to take a step back.
RP—Eric Gagne, MIL — I won’t continue on my tirade of how he got the Brewers to give him a $10 million a year contract, I will just restate that Gagne’s years as a dominant closer are over. His years as an effective closer may also be over. After missing most of two seasons with various surgeries (including his second Tommy John), Gagne looked like he might be returning to form in Texas. It all fell apart after being traded to the Red Sox, and that signaled that the Eric Gagne that we once knew no longer existed. He may still save 25 games for Milwaukee, but the lights out days have passed, Gagne will make you hold your breath whenever he steps on the mound.
As always, your questions (adds, drops, trades, draft questions, etc) and comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. I guarantee a response within 18 hours.