Fantasy Articles
Hello to all you fantasy fanatics. This is the second installment of the fantasy mailbag. While I’ve taken it over, it’s still the same exciting and informative format. I look forward to passing on my fantasy baseball expertise to all of you loyal readers. Let’s get things started!

Hey MC,
I just finished drafting my team in a 16 team league, and I think it’s a pretty well-rounded team. In your expert opinion, how would you rate my team?

C- Brian McCann
1B- Richie Sexson
2B- Aaron Hill
3B- Ryan Zimmerman
SS- Orland Cabrera
OF- Carl Crawford
OF- Ichiro Suzuki
OF- Adam Dunn
Util- Jeremy Hermida
Bench- Wily Mo Pena
Bench- Austin Kearns

SP- Justin Verlander
SP- Ted Lilly
RP- Mariano Rivera
RP- Rafael Soriano
P- B.J. Ryan
P- Chad Billingsley
P- Jon Garland
Bench- Chris Capuano
Bench- Ervin Santana
Bench- Jake Westbrook
Bench- Tim Wakefield
Bench- Kevin Millwood
Bench- Andy Sonnanstine
Bench- Livan Hernandez

Well Ryan, after looking over your team extensively, and weighing the fact that it’s a 16 team league, I’ve decided that I really like the way you built your team. Your lineup has a really great mix. You’ve got really nice speed with Crawford, Suzuki, and Cabrera, so you should be very good when it comes to steals and runs. You also counteracted what those guys lacked with picks like Dunn, McCann, Sexson, Zimmerman, and Pena. I feel like you’ll be very competitive in every offensive category. A pick that I really love is Jeremy Hermida. After all the hype around him the last two seasons, I think he’s poised to finally take the next step. His excellent second half in ‘07 bodes well for ‘08. He’s a great power/speed combo who can help you in every category.

While the offense is undoubtedly the strength of your team, your pitching has a lot of great aspects to it as well. Justin Verlander should fare very well as your ace and anchor your pitching staff. I like what you did with the rest of your staff by compiling a conglomeration of guys who will eat innings and all have the potential to turn in great performances. Chad Billingsley is a guy who I think has the ability to step up big time this season. If he can handle the load of a full season, he’ll be a big lift to your staff.

Your stable of closers that includes Rivera, Soriano, and Ryan, should win you saves and keep your ERA/WHIP low with great regularity (assuming Ryan bounces back from injury). All around, your team is rock solid, and without seeing the other teams, I think you have a great chance to do damage

Dear MC,
My fantasy draft is coming up next week and while I was setting up my rankings, there was one area that perplexed me. I was looking over the catcher rankings, and a question came to me. We all know the top tier guys (V-Mart, Martin, Mauer, McCann, Posada) but who are some guys to target if you don’t like to pounce on a catcher early in the draft. I usually try to wait on them, but I’m not really sure who to go after this year. Please help me.

This is a great question Bill. When I first started doing my rankings, I had a similar thought myself. When I looked further, there were a couple guys who I came across who I feel can provide great value.

For one of them you have to look no further than Chicago. Geovany Soto of the Chicago Cubs is definitely primed to break out. Soto came out of nowhere late in ‘07 to tally a .389-3-8 line in just 18 games. The problem with Soto is that many fancy him a sleeper this season, so he may be overvalued.

Another guy who I really like that is getting less attention is Mike Napoli of the LA Angels. Napoli struggled mightily with injuries in ‘07, playing in only 75 games. He was able to smash 10 homeruns and drive in 34 in just half a season. He also improved his batting average from his rookie year in ‘06 where he also showed great power potential. If Napoli can stay on the field, I expect him to be able to hit 20-25 homeruns and drive in 70-75 runners in ‘08. That’s a lot of power from a position that’s generally weak in that area, and at a bargain price.

What’s up MC,
My keeper/auction league is going to be starting back up soon and I have a bit of a quandary. We keep five guys and I’ve already made a decision of four of them. My fifth keeper spot is in question, and I’ve been considering hanging onto Francisco Liriano. I picked him near the end of last year’s draft and got him for just $1. At the time I thought that it was worth the risk. Now I’m not sure if it would be wise to keep a guy with so many question marks. Would you keep him or maybe keep a more sure thing at a higher price such as Ichiro or Carlos Zambrano? What should I do?

Well Eric, that does seem to be quite the predicament. Now I’m not sure who your other keepers are, but my honest opinion regardless is that Liriano is worth the risk. Sometimes to win a fantasy league, you have to take a calculated risk. Now with that being said, if your other keepers all come at a low price, you may be better off with Ichiro or Zambrano since they’re pretty sure things. However, if you have some pricier keepers, I think Liriano is a great option. All signs are that Liriano should be close to 100% by opening day, and as we all know, pitchers often times come back stronger from Tommy John surgery. Now, it’s hard to fathom Liriano being better than he was in his rookie campaign, but if he’s even a fraction as good, he’s a huge bargain at $1. If the press was put on me to make a definitive decision regardless of other factors, I’d say to keep him. If you let him go, and somebody else gets him at a relative bargain, I have a feeling you’ll be kicking yourself. While Liriano may start off slow due to rust, I think he should have a great overall season.