New York Yankees
How well can you trust a Super-Nova in 2015?
Ivan Nova began 2014 in the worst possible fashion. He suffered a season ending Tommy John injury, which has cost him the last 12 months of baseball. Today, Nova will take his first step back to baseball relevance with throwing a 45 pitch bullpen session. In 2013, it appeared Nova was ready to take the next step forward towards being a top tier starting pitching option He was bordering on striking out 20% of the batters he faced (19.8%) while inducing an advanced ground ball rate (53.5%). His injury has clearly set him back, but he is worth keeping an eye on in 2015. He should be back on the field in late May to early June, which means 20 or so starts is not out of the question. Clearly, he shouldn't be picked up immediately as even prior to injury he wasn't a must own player, but he could end up having value especially if his ability to induce ground balls doesn't show significant deterioration due to his injury. AL-Only owners and deep mixed leagues need to keep an eye on his progression as he could have value especially given the Yankees rotational injury questions.
Who exactly is the Yankees future second baseman?
Today the Yankees made one of the more unpopular decisions of the spring by assigning Robert Refsnyder to their minor league camp. Refsynder is clearly one of the Yankees better upper level offensive prospects. He has consistently hit for average at every level of the minor leagues while showing advanced plate patience whenever he is given extended plate appearances (15.4% BB Rate in High-A and 12.3% in Triple-A). Offensively, there is little question that Refsynder is ready for the Major Leagues. Defensively, the Yankees do not believe he is ready for the prime time. With that being said, it is worth noting that he was one of the final cuts by the team. The Yankees are not so deep offensively as to be able to ignore Refsnyder for long especially if their regular double play combination (Didi Gregorious and Stephen Drew) is either hurt or ineffective. Keep tabs on Refsnyder because he could end up being a very relevant fantasy second baseman by the end of the season.
New York Mets
The Mets have answered the centerfield question for the next four years.
On Thursday, the Mets and Juan Lagares agreed to a four year extension. Lagares is an interesting player for the Mets because of his advanced defense. For fantasy purposes, his relevance is almost entirely in NL-Only leagues in need of deeper outfield positions. Lagares has the ability to hit for some average, but his .341 BABIP in 2014 does not project exceptionally well for 2015. It is reasonable to expect at least some negative regression in his batting average if not an extensive dip from the .281 number he posted in 2014. He could offer some value in steals where he has an outside chance to post 15-18 steals in 2015, but given the batting average regression, I would suggest that there are better options to accumulate steals in most leagues. Overall, Lagares' real life value significantly out performs his fantasy value due to his defense. In fantasy, he is almost assuredly worth leaving on the wire.
The Grandyman can.... Or can he?
No good news came out of Mets camp on Thursday when it was revealed that Curtis Granderson had swelling in his knee. Granderson is already a borderline fantasy asset at best. Granderson's .265 BABIP is too close to his averages in 2010-2012 to expect any real positive regression in his average to increase his value in that category. At age 34, it is highly unlikely that Granderson will see any increase from his 20 home run total in 2015. Basically, Granderson can serve as a solid 3 or 4 outfielder in a NL-Only League or a very deep mixed league, but he should be left on the wire in all other formats.
Boston Red Sox
What's the over/under on donut ads in New England?
OK, so maybe I'm piling on Pablo Sandoval for coming into camp in even worse shape than expected. With that said, Sandoval is a fair bet to keep up with his recent numbers despite his less than athletic stature. The good news is that this means Sandoval's production should continue to be somewhat steady. The bad news is that, despite his move to a far more productive lineup, it is unlikely that Sandoval will see much gain outside of nominal increases in RBI's and runs. Overall, Sandoval is a fine mid-tier third baseman, but you should not overdraft him based on his new team.
Can Wade Miley find value in Boston's rotation?
Wade Miley is one of the more interesting names in Boston's new rotation. Miley's best trait for Boston is his consistent ability to generate ground balls (50%+ in each of the past two seasons). There is no reason to believe this trait will not translate to the American League. The bigger issue will be what will happen with his strikeout rates. Miley was at a career high 21.1% in 2014. If that rate continues to trend upwards, he will have significant value in Boston. If it reverts to a les than 20% rate, he becomes a much less enticing option for fantasy owners. It is key to keep an eye on his first 3 or 4 starts in 2015 to get an idea of where his value will like moving forward.
Around the League
Archie Bradley- SP, ARI- Archie Bradley is one of the most interesting prospects in the game. As of Thursday, it was announced that Bradley would begin the season as the D'Backs 5th Starter as they traded Trevor Cahill to the Atlanta Braves. His value obviously takes a fairly large step forward for the beginning of 2015 although it is worth mentioning that owners should be cautious with their expectations. Bradley's strikeout total still wasn't as elite as you would want in Triple-A in 2014. At a 20.4% K Rate at Triple-A, the D'Backs young ace is still not necessarily the best bet to be an elite starter right off the bat.
Alex Cobb- SP, TB- Alex Cobb's injury situation seems to be improving by the day. On Thursday, he played catch, and it seems like he isn't suffering from any structural damage to his elbow. Cobb is one of the best pitchers in the game when he is healthy. He is an elite ground ball artist averaging over a 55+% ground ball rate each of the last three seasons. When combined with his 20+% K Rate, Cobb makes for one of the more solid bets in fantasy. If you can jump on him at reduced value, he could make for a bargain as long as you can take him being out the first couple weeks of the season.
Ryan Braun, OF, MIL- Ryan Braun returned to the Brewers lineup on Thursday after having a bit of a minor hamstring issue earlier in the week. Braun is a solid bet to bounce back from an under-performing 2014. Braun's home run rate is on a three-year decline, but he was suffering from a thumb injury that appears to be completely healed.