Written by Justin Zeth
Published: 12 April 2007
The anticipated moment has finally arrived! You've all been on the edge of your seats all spring, waiting, waiting, but knowing that when that day finally comes, oh, how glorious it will be! And now it's here! That's right:
THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES 2007 FANTASY PREVIEW!
The bad news is, we didn't make it to press with this much-demanded preview in time for your fantasy draft. The good news is, even if you lost your left hand in a tragic garbage-disposal accident, you still have enough fingers to count the number of members of the Pittsburgh Pirates who went for more than $8 in your auction, so not much lost. You may be interested to see which guys are buy-lows, which guys are sell-highs, and which guys shouldn't be touched with an 80 foot pole. So here it is:
TOP FANTASY VALUES
Ronny Paulino, catcher. Tell you what: Look up Ronny Paulino's numbers from last year, noting that he's 26 and last year was his rookie campaign. Then see if you can name ten catchers in the major leagues likely to provide more fantasy value. See? You just learned something new. A lot of the guys in your league probably haven't learned it yet. See if you can get Paulino thrown in to some innocuous trade or another. You may be happy with the results.
Jason Bay, left fielder. In leagues where you actually draft LF, CF, and RF, Bay will go early, because it's obvious even to the unlearned that Bay is one of the best LFs on the board. But if you just draft OFs, Bay tends to slip further than he should in those kinds of leagues, and can often be had at a discount price, because few people have any idea how productive he is, and it's not like your league has any Pirates fans in it. Bay is flat-out one of the best hitting outfielders in baseball, and he even swipes a few bases. See if you can trade Carl Crawford or somebody for him. You'll be happy with the results, unless you play in a particularly speed-oriented league.
Ian Snell, starting pitcher. Caveat: Snell turns into a pumpkin around the sixth inning, pretty regularly, which only exacerbates the already-high difficulty of recording wins pitching for the Pirates. But if you play in a league where having many strikeouts and few walks is valuable, Snell could be a nifty little pickup for you.
TOP FANTASY LEMONS
Freddy Sanchez, second base?. Sanchez' entire offensive game is batting average, and he won't get within 25 points of the .343 he hit last year. That leaves you with a thoroughly mediocre second baseman, or a third baseman that isn't exactly the stuff championship teams are made of. He's off to a good start, so if you have him, now's the time to try to foist him on somebody else (maybe for Ronny Paulino!)
Tom Gorzelanny, starting pitcher. I'm the vice-president of the Tom Gorzelanny Fan Club, because baseball really needs more guys with names like "Gorzelanny." But in reality, I've seen Gorzelanny coming off draft boards before Ian Snell, and that just isn't rational. If you have Gorzelanny around, you could do worse than to see if anybody in your league values him a tick too much and see if you can't swipe a John Maine or something. That's really it; the Pirates don't exactly have a roster stocked full of guys with high fantasy expectations to begin with. If Jack Wilson's on your fantasy team, either you're playing in a 16 team league, you weren't present at the draft and Yahoo! helpfully picked him up for you, or you're wondering why every year at the end of the draft, your league buddies are saying things to you like "Thanks for the $200!"
GUYS ONLY A CRACKHEAD WOULD ACTUALLY PLAY ON HIS FANTASY TEAM
Sorry if that was too blunt. I needed a category to put Jose Castillo and Nate McLouth into. Kids: Friends don't let friends put Jose Castillo on their fantasy teams. Or their real teams, for that matter, Mr. Littlefield.
NIFTY LITTLE POTENTIAL VALUES
Rajai Davis, center field. Thanks to the usual amount of Pirates front office do-derring, Rajai's in Indianapolis, watching taped Colts games to learn how to be a champion or something. But if Chris Duffy falters and something happens to Nate McLouth (like Littlefield sobers up and realizes he's Nate McLouth), Davis is a guy you will want to snap up if he wanders into a starting gig and you need speed. Rajai has serious speed, and might actually get on base enough to take advantage of it. In particular, keeper-league owners will want to keep an eye on this guy.
Xavier Nady, right field. In deep leagues, Nady could provide a decent value for a team, for a guy that was largely ignored in drafts. In some leagues he has nice positional flexibility, and he hits enough to justify playing in an outfield corner. For waiver bait or an afterthought trade throw-in, Nady could prove a nice little asset.
A little wrap-up for some of the guys unworthy of their own comments:
Expect Adam LaRoche to be a merely OK fantasy first baseman. Remember that RBI are going to be hard to come by in Pittsburgh and temper your expectations accordingly... Chris Duffy is a decent enough bench guy in really deep leagues, nothing more... Zach Duke is a boom-or-bust guy... if 8-14 with 115 strikeouts doesn't sound tasty to you, Paul Maholm is not your guy... Nobody in the Pirates bullpen is worth having on your team, but you already knew that, right?
Now you're armed and dangerous. You're a lion. You're unstoppable. Get in touch with me at the end of the year about the 20% of your fantasy winnings that I get for this wonderful advice, OK?