Welcome to the official start to the 2012 MLB season. That’s right. At 6:00 AM (eastern) the Mariners and the A’s dueled in Japan for 11 innings with Seattle walking away with a 3-1 victory. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still fantasy drafts coming! The A’s and M’s will play one more overseas and then the rest of baseball kicks off early next week, so there are still plenty of drafts still to come. If you’re one of those that still has to draft then you should be studying up on all the latest news form spring training to make sure you have the best and most current information on hand. Checking in with the ADP Trend Report will also help as position battles will be decided, roster cuts will be made and players will move up and down the draft rankings the closer we get to Opening Day in the States. But be careful -- just because someone is climbing up the ADP ranks doesn’t mean that they are going to be worthy of a draft spot in your league. Know your league specifications and figure out if a player on the rise is right for you or if he’s trending upwards for some unusual reason. Here are a few to watch…
Rafael Soriano, RP NYY (+32.4%) – First and foremost, no, there is nothing wrong with Mariano Rivera. Soriano remains a primary set-up man alongside David Robertson and if, for whatever reason, Rivera can’t close out a game, manager Joe Girardi will likely play the matchups. The reason for his spike in ADP rank (+28.3% in just the last week) is likely due to an increase of drafts for leagues that use holds and K/9 as categories. Relievers like Soriano often become highly coveted commodities late in drafts due to their high strikeout rates and late game help in more unconventional roto categories. It does not mean that they are players to be sought out in standard leagues.
Brian Fuentes, RP OAK (+21.7%) – Fuentes’ climb is actually two-fold. First off, yes, his climb can be explained by everything we just covered in the Soriano blurb above. But his situation in Oakland is obviously different from Soriano’s in New York. While the A’s have tabbed Grant Balfour as their closer, Fuentes probably isn’t that far behind, especially given his closing experience in the past. Neither pitcher has had a very good spring and the only real reason that Balfour go the job was because the team need Fuentes’ lefty arm in more situational moments between the 6th and 8th innings. However, the leash on Balfour probably won’t be that long, so keeping Fuentes on your radar might actually be a good idea.
Vladimir Guerrero, OF/DH FA (+28.9%) – Look at that. Just one workout with the Cleveland Indians and suddenly Guerrero is climbing up the charts. It doesn’t seem like a great fit in Cleveland, given the fact that Travis Hafner is already their DH and is relatively incapable of playing the field, but there does seem to be some interest. Does it warrant this kind of jump though? Probably not. Guerrero’s agent has already said that his client would play in Japan if he couldn’t get a deal with an MLB club, so the Tribe will have to pony up something worthwhile and that probably doesn’t make sense for the team. Even if Guerrero did land with an MLB club, his upside these days is incredibly limited and you could probably do a lot better drafting some youngster with a little more long-term upside.
Freddy Sanchez, 2B SF (+77.6%) – There must be some super deep leagues drafting right now to give Sanchez that type of an increase in the ADP rankings. Not only that, but it’s been a steady climb as well with a 46.5% increase this past week after a 21.2% increase the week before. Strange though, as Sanchez has yet to take any sort of infield practice thi spring and just received a cortisone shot in his shoulder. He will inevitably begin the season on the DL and few people are speculating when he may actually return to game-action. Even if his return is sooner rather than later, it’s hard to trust someone who’s body is apparently made up of eggshells.
Josh Thole, C NYM (+17.5%) – This is actually the first time this spring that Thole has seen any sort of a noticeable increase in the ADP rankings. The likelihood of the increase is due to more two-catcher leagues drafting, because Thole hasn’t done anything this spring to grab the attention of fantasy owners. He’s been sharing time with Rob Johnson and Mike Nickeas all spring and hasn’t really done anything to separate himself from them stat-wise. His defense and rapport with the pitching staff is likely his saving grace but as far as drafting him goes, maybe super-late as your second catcher. That’s probably the most you can expect from him. He’s just not a primary guy.
Manny Ramirez, OF OAK (+30.2%) – Manny Fever is back as evidenced by his somewhat unusual 24.9% spike in just the past week. It’s hard to imagine that so many people are interested in him enough that they are using a draft spot for him, but sure enough, that’s what is happening. For the last two and a half weeks, ManRam has been getting his at-bats in minor league games so that the A’s had a chance to look at more legitimate and immediate DH candidates to start the season. The clock on his 50-game suspension began with the play of this morning’s game, but he still has a long way to go to prove himself. There’s not even a guarantee that he gets a call-up when his suspension is over as the A’s seem plenty stocked with corner outfielders and designated hitters. Save yourself the roster space and leave Manny to the waiver wire. He’s not going to be the player he once was. Probably not even close.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including Rotowire, FanGraphs and The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By MaineSkin, 3/28/2012 2:43 PM
All I hear is how Trumbo is a great athlete while progressing better than thought at 3B. He'll end up with 3B, OF and 1B eligibility on a team that has plenty of support. Why is he going so low? The guy will steal 12 bases as well and will be lead by Pujos who knows 3B. The same with Gamel, why no reports on his SB this spring? Yes, he will not steal at that clip, but 10-12 SBs is pretty major for that ADP position when your already receiving 25 HRs, right?
By Howard Bender, 3/30/2012 12:24 PM
I agree that Trumbo should be getting a little more draft love here. Perhaps people are still concerned about playing time if he does struggle at third once the season starts. I know his bat in the lineup is big, but with a manager who loves defense like Scioscia, it's hard to believe he wouldn't be inclined to using Maicer Izturis a little more if Trumbo struggles.
Hard to endorse Gamel and his spring speed, especially when we don;t know how he'll stick over there at first. The club is definitely going to use Corey Hart there which could limit Gamel's service time and 25 HRs is a tall order for a guy who hasn't been able to stick in the bigs yet.