Octavio Dotel (CL): Even for a team this bad he’ll get plenty of save chances and he should be able to convert most of them. The Royals had 66 save chances last year and while they probably won’t get quite that many again odd are Dotel should get at least 30-35 saves.
Mark Teahen (OF): Teahen keeps taking his game to the next level and that level is getting pretty high. He’ll probably add a few home runs to his resume and could manage a .300-25-100 season if he plays 150 games.
David DeJesus (OF): If he had some power this guy would rank as a second tier player but he doesn’t that makes his numbers look a lot more like a middle infielders than an outfielder. However if you aren’t looking for power he’s a guy who should contribute in 2-4 categories with RBIs and steals being the weakest of the four. He’s still developing and assuming that he’ll up the power numbers slightly is probably a good bet.
Mike Sweeney (DH): If he still qualifies at first base in your league he’s still probably not all that valuable anymore. There is still a lot of skill with the bat, but his durability is a major issue and another flare up of his back problems will just make the power melt away yet again. If you believe he can stay healthy he’s a great sleeper pick.
Gil Meche (SP): Being mediocre pitcher on a terrible team in the most competitive division in the game isn’t exactly going to inspire a lot of confidence but Meche may actually be playing for a better team than he’s played with in Seattle (hard to believe but true) the last few years. That could lead to a few more wins, but I’d rather gamble on Zach Grienke or Brian Bannister if you must have a Royals starter.
Odalis Perez (SP): See Gil Meche.
Reggie Sanders (OF): He’s 39, he’s suffered from injuries the last couple of years but there is a reason Major League teams keep signing Sanders sadly it’s not because he’s maintained his fantasy value. He still has 20 home run power and he’ll hit in the center of the lineup either as a left fielder or DH for as many games as they can plug him into, but imagining him in more than 120 games is probably a stretch. Basically he’s useful as long as he’s healthy.
Jason LaRue (C): It looks like LaRue will take the starting catcher job from John Buck and happily for those scrounging in the catcher pool LaRue is a slightly better player. He should put up some decent power numbers (12-15 home runs) and hit around .250 with 60 or so RBIs. As with any borderline player, games played will be the key.
Lower Tiered Players who could still have value:
Mark Grudzielanek (2B): He’s a one to two category player who won’t really help you except in terms of average and runs scored. He’s really only suitable as a back up in the deepest of leagues.
John Buck (C): If you need a catcher with power Buck isn’t a dreadful choice. He’ll only hit about .250 with mid range stats in RBI and runs scored, but the catching pool is thin enough that someone may need him. Still there are plenty better to pick from.
Brian Bannister (SP): He’s had limited experience with in the big leagues but he looked good with the Mets and many in New York were penciling him in as a starter for that weak rotation but that didn’t stop the Mets from trading him for reliever at the Winter meeting. Read into that what you will. Bannister looks like a solid number three or four starter at this point, but in the AL Central that could add up to some ugly numbers or he could be a real surprise.
Zack Grienke (SP): As recently as 2004 scouts looked a Grienke and saw one of the best young pitching talents ready to make a splash on the big page. The Royals with little else available called him up and threw him into the fire. In 2004 as a rookie he was solid (8-11, 3.97, 1.17 with 100 Ks in 145 innings, in 2005 he started struggling, likely due to the can’t win attitude pervading Kansas City baseball at that time and he posted an ugly 5-17, 5.80, 1.56 with 114 Ks in 183 innings. Not surprisingly problems were developing. He missed most of last season with personal issues and now he’s back to see if he can harness the talent that made him so highly touted. He’ll take the number three spot in the Royals rotation. His upside is huge and he’s worth a gamble in deep leagues and a watchful eye in shallower ones.
Ryan Shealy (1B): He’s got just 92 games of Major League experience but Shealy looks like he’s really a Major League hitter. However he’s spent a good chunk of his career thus far in Colorado which makes him a little hard to judge. His 51 game stint with the Royals last season produced a .280-7-36-29-1 line. I don’t see him as a .280-24-114 player over a full season but if he is then he’s the best player on this team as far as fantasy value goes.
Emil Brown (OF): Another once highly regarded prospect, Brown has done little thus far in his career since he broke into the league back in 2001. He’s only 23 and he’s shown a lot more the last two seasons including a lot of doubles power (he hit 41 last season and 31 in ’05) to go with 16 home runs last year. He’s young enough that a .280-20-100 season is very possible (.280-15-75 is more likely), but he’s a candidate for a monster breakout season if he gets the playing time. Best of all he’s seriously under the fantasy radar.
Alex Gordon (3B): They are talking about Gordon and George Brett and Albert Pujols in the same breath but that seems premature as Gordon has yet to play a Major League game. He was a AA monster, hitting .325-29-101 in Wichita and he’s been lights out with the bat this spring (hitting .500 in 46 at bats) but hasn’t shown much power yet. Watch him and see, but he’s a worthwhile gamble and a legit ROY candidate.Joey Gathright (OF): It’ll take an injury to an outfielder or two to give Gathright a job but he’s got speed and can hit for average if given a chance. With Mark Teahen moving to the outfield Gathright is the an odd man out (since Emil Brown has more power) but its worth keeping an eye on Gathright.
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