Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Draft Guide: Free Agents

There are a few notable free agents out there, enough that it's worthwhile to put together a mini-Draft Guide. We're not going to bother with a "tier" system, as these folks are clear speculation picks for the end of a draft. They are of primary use in two types of leagues: deep NL or AL-only leagues where teams are actually scrambling to find real-life major leaguers to round out their rosters, and leagues with deep benches.

In no particular order:

Barry Bonds is now talking about playing in Japan. Yeah ... right. When I first began hearing rumors about the Tampa Bay Rays (I think I've been calling them the "Devil Rays" the entire off-season ... until now) being interested, I thought it was a perfect set-up. The chance to catch a Bonds home run is basically the same as playing the lottery. But with better odds. You never know when he'll blow out a knee and be forced to retire -- that final HR ball is suddenly worth at least six figures. The Rays could certainly use an attendance/interest boost, since they're basically a second home stadium for the Yankees and Red Sox at this point.

Averaging about 350 at-bats, Bonds smacked 26 and 28 home runs the last two years. Assuming he goes anywhere, it will be as a DH in the AL. It's hard to believe someone won't get desperate and sign him, despite the public relations fallout. That kind of production is pure gold in the late rounds of a deep AL draft. He's worth a flier. He's real close to 3000 hits (I think he's 14 away), and also pretty damned close to breaking Rickey Henderson's record of runs scored (he's 80 away). There's a few other milestones he probably wants, and I don't see him stepping away until he's exhausted his chances to piss off the public that doesn't want to see him atop MLB records.

Armando Benitez's stats have been going in the wrong direction for a long time. I used to call him the flamethrower for his tendency to douse the infield in gasoline and flick matches/flaming baseballs towards home plate. He's of no use anymore, despite the name recognition.

Roger Clemens... hmm ... if there's a guy who I think wants one more year, just to "prove" something to everyone, it's him. Of course, he may be under investigation through '08, but baseball has shown a remarkable ability to endure such distractions so long as the player is effective. While Clemens K-rate, ERA, and WHIP (.69, 4.18, 1.31) were sub-par last year, he's only a year or two removed from awesome seasons in the NL (when you factor in the limited number of starts). If you're in a deep NL or AL-only league, and have the bench space, take him in the last few rounds and stash him away.

Freddy Garcia's effectiveness has waned over the last four or five years. He had his career year in 2001. I'd avoid entirely, regardless of format. He's coming off shoulder surgery, and even if the Red Sox do end up picking him up he's not worth even a DL spot.

Corey Patterson may end up back with the Orioles, may go somewhere else ... who knows? Over the last two years, in limited time, he's stolen 45 and 37 bases and managed a respectable 16 and 8 home runs. His OBP is god awful, but his batting average is in the .270-ish range and won't hurt standard 5x5ers. His RBI/Runs production is comparable to many other speedsters, when you adjust for at-bats. Corey Patterson can't be ignored in any league format. If you're hurting for steals, he's worthy not just of a final round pick, but think about him grabbing him several rounds before. Maybe the career uncertainty will make him focus more on keeping the bat on his shoulder when the ball is 18 inches off the plate. He's not even listed in Yahoo, so expect him to be an early waiver wire pick-up in many of the web-based leagues. He's also not listed in many draft guides. You can't get much sleepier.

Sammy Sosa won't be going anywhere but an AL team that wants to slot him in the DH when facing a lefty starter and pinch hit him against southpaw relievers. He had a .328/.222 split last year against lefties and righties. Amongst MLBers with at least 125 plate appearances against lefties, that's good for number 38 overall. Assuming some fantasy team picks him up and uses him effectively, he's an incredible AL-only sleeper -- if the selectee is a diligent owner who uses their bench effectively. Grab him in the last round, start him against lefties, and enjoy your very own platoon player. If no team picks him up, then you've lost very little.

Jose Mesa: No.

Kenny Lofton is slightly intriguing. Twenty-three stolen bases in limited at-bats ... interesting. Forty years old ... not so interesting. It appears that he's just a bad teammate, but put him on your waiver-wire watch list.

Mike Piazza's career looks about done. A sad finish for a guy who at least looked like he did it cleanly during the steroids era.


Anonymous said...

Love your site. Wish I read your draft guide BEFORE I drafted Lackey in round 5.

How about some useful SP FA dudes? I can't decide between up and comers like: Slowey, Baker, Marcum, Bonser, Garza, Wandy, Ubaldo, Guthrie, Danks, Cueto, Volquez, Parra etc.

Am I better off with more established dudes like: Meche, Arroyo, Cook, Wolf, Buehrle, Suppan, etc.

Bob Taylor said...

In bigger leagues where you need play six or seven starters, I actually love Scott Baker as a late-late-round draft pick or post-draft FA acquisition this year.

Anonymous said...

I just read that Baker might start the season on the DL. I also had Bailey and he's going to AAA. Not my year for pitching. Thanks for the suggestion anyway. I'll just pick up Meche and watch him get lit up in Detriot on opening day. (2007: Lackey 18W, Meche 9W)

Anonymous said...

I have Bedard, Sheets, Oliver Perez, A.J. Burnett, and Clay Bucholz as my starting pitchers so far. I'm probably picking up Andy Sonnastine and Johnny Cueto.

I feel I should, however, trade Burnett. I'm in a 14 team h2h league where the categories are wins, holds, saves, innings, era, whip, strikeouts Any ideas? I wanna trade Eric Byrnes also (since he might slip this year) and maybe package them in a deal.