Oliver Perez: After struggling in his first two outings, Perez looked good against the Nationals on Monday, 5 innings with 1 ER while striking out 5 and walking none. Perez has loads of talents, as evidenced by his 2003/2004/2005/2006/2007 K/9’s of 10.0/11.0/8.5/8.6/8.9. What has tended to get Perez into trouble, 2005/2006 ERA’s of 5.85/6.55, is the bad combination of poor control and allowing to many fly balls, 2005/2006/2007 BB/9’s of 6.1/5.4/4.0 and FB%’s of 50%/47%/50%. While last season was definitely a growth year, 15-10 with a 3.56 ERA, keep in mind that his control got worse in the second half, BB/9 splits of 3.5/4.6 and he benefited from a generous strand rate of 77%. Pitching home games in Shea Stadium will minimize some of the damage from the high FB%. If he keeps the walks in check, he could be in for a big year, just don’t be surprised if he has an occasional blowup when pitching road games in places like Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
Matt Albers: Albers is battling Brian Burres for the Orioles final rotation spot. His skill set, 5.8 K/9 and a 48% GB% in 2007, shows decent potential, but success will not happen until he displays better control, 2006/2007 BB/9’s of 4.2/4.1.
Brian Burres: Burres is battling Matt Albers for the Orioles final rotation spot. Burres’ 2007 K/9 of 7.1 shows some skill, but he will not be able to survive in the starting rotation unless he exhibits better control, 4.9 BB/9 last year.
Nate McLouth: McLouth has easily out-hit Nyler Morgan this spring and should earn the full-time center field job for the Pirates. McLouth had a very impressive second-half last year, 12/52/.272 with 18 stolen bases. He has always displayed speed, but that kind of power is something new. The question of whether it was a fluke or not will be fully answered with full-time play. One thing in McLouth’s favor is that a three-year rising FB% of 29%/35%/53% supports the power growth.
Francisco Rosario: Rosario has a slim chance of being the Phillies fifth starter, but will probably wind up working out of the bullpen. Rosario’s 2007 K/9 of 8.6 in 26.1 relief innings for the Phillies last year, make him worth monitoring, but the poor control, 4.4 BB/9, and high FB% of 45% make him a poor fit to pitch in Citizens Bank Park.
Clay Condrey: Don’t be fooled by Condrey’s 5-0 record in 39 innings for the Phillies last year. It came with a 5.04 ERA and weak skills; 4.9 K/9, 2/9 BB/9, and a 46% GB%. Even if Condrey’s earns a spot in middle relief for the Phillies, his skill set makes him one to avoid in all formats.
Joe Crede: Despite having a poor spring and missing about two-thirds of last season with a herniated disc problem, it looks like Crede will start at third base over Josh Fields. The White Sox could also deal Crede, but so far no team has been willing to meet the White Sox’s asking price. Prior to the back problem, Crede had a career-year in 2006, 30/94/.283. With just a .219 BHIP% and poor plate patience, 5% BB%, Crede’s .283 average was the product of raw power and an exceptional contact skills for a power hitter, 89% Ct%. If fully recovered, Crede, still in his prime years at age 30, should be productive no matter where he plays. He is worth targeting in the later rounds of drafts.
Josh Fields: For now Fields appears to be the odd man out, as the White Sox cannot find a starting spot for him at third base or the outfield. Rather than sit him on the bench, it looks like the White Sox will let him play full-time in Triple-A until a starting spot opens up. Fields had a nice debut for the White Sox last year, 23/67/.244 in 373 AB. He should mature into a patient hitter, 8.6% BB% and 16% BB% in Triple-A, but will be a batting average liability unless he learns to make better contact, 66% Ct% with the Sox in 2007. If you can stand the hit to your team batting average in exchange for some nice power, reserving Fields and waiting for him to get an opportunity could pay some nice dividends.
CJ Wilson: Despite a minor injury, a bicep problem, Wilson appears to be on track to open the season as the Rangers closer. Wilson converted 12 of 14 save opportunities last season. He has a nice combination of K’s, 8.3 K/9, and ground ball inducing skills, 49% GB%, which is needed to survive as a closer in the Rangers’ home park, but he will need to exhibit better control, 4.4 BB/9, if he is going to have consistent success as a closer.
Kazuo Fukimori: There has been some talk of Fukimori emerging as the closer in the Rangers bullpen. Don’t count on it happening. The 31 year-old Fukimori’s skills from Japanese league, which is considered to be strong Triple-A competition, is far from impressive; 8.3 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, and a 4.75 ERA in 2007. Against major league competition, figure that his K’s will drop and the walks will rise. Considering that his walks were already too high and he will be pitching half his games in Ameriquest Field, it is a recipe for disaster.
Andy Sonnanstine: With a solid spring, 1 ER in 9 innings, Sonnanstine should have a spot in the Rays rotation. Even though his numbers from his major league debut last year look rough, 6-10 with a 5.85 ERA, Sonnanstine displayed some solid skills, 6.9 K/0 and a 1.8 BB/9. He was hurt by an inflated strand rate of 58% and a BHIP% of .322. Bid on his skills, not his numbers from last year.
Jason Bay: What happened to Bay’s power? After hitting 32 home runs 2005 and 35 in 2006, Bay only hit 21 last year. This is supposed to be his prime years. With his SB totals down also, 2005/2006/2007 totals of 21/11/4, something physical may have been bothering him. At 29 years of age, he is certainly worth gambling on for a comeback to his 2005 and 2007 numbers.
Ronny Paulino: When Paulino’s BHIP% returned to earth, 2006/2007 BHIP% of .331/.246, so did his batting average, .310/.263. With no speed, a high GB% (47% last year), poor plate patience (7% BB%), mediocre contact skills (83% Ct%), and just average power (11 home runs in 457 AB last year), Paulino is not a .300 hitter or a valuable fantasy catcher.
Skip Schumaker: A hot spring, .354 average and 2 home rund, should land Schumaker a starting role and the leadoff spot in the Cardinals lineup. In 177 AB with the Cardinals last year, Schumaker hit .333, but with little power, just two home runs, and no speed, 1 of 2 in stolen bases. He makes good contact, 89% Ct%, but will need to exercise better plate patience, 4.3% BB%, to occupy the leadoff position. Schumaker will not hurt you with his batting average, but he offers little else.
Juan Uribe: The word is that the White Sox have waived Uribe. Uribe has good, but not great power. His high FB%, 50% last year, helps his power, but really hurts his batting average, .234 in 2007. A poor Ct% of 78% and batting eye of .30, further damages his batting average. His home/road home splits of 15/5 shows that he may need to land with a team with a home stadium as homer friendly as U.S. Cellurlar Field to be of any benefit to a fantasy team.
Joba Chamberlain: Chamberlain will start the season in a set-up role for the Yankees, which will limit his value to AL-only leagues or mixed leagues that have holds as a category. Chamberlain was awesome in 24 innings with the Yankees last year; 12.8 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and a .038 ERA. That sample size is small, but he should rack up plenty of strikeouts. Keep in mind that last year was his first in professional baseball and he threw 112 innings, so the Yankees will not allow a big jump in innings. This should keep him out of the starting rotation for at least two months. His value would rise significantly if he moves into the starting rotation.