News and notes as spring training keeps rolling along...
Yu Darvish- TEX- Darvish made his Cactus League debut yesterday against the Padres. In 2 IP he allowed 2 hits and struck out 3 of the 8 batters he faced. Of his 36 pitches, 26 were strikes. Darvish's mix of pitches was impressive as he showed not only his fastball but an impressive curve ball and slider. Of course the game didn't count, but the performance was a sign that Darvish has a chance of living up to his hype and contract.
Michael Young- TEX- Unlike past seasons there is no position controversy involving Young. He comes into 2012 as the primary DH but with the ability to play at any infield position. Young only played one game at SS last year late in the season but will probably see more action there this year. Depending on your league eligibility rules he will have added value from flexibility. His .338 average from last season isn't likely to be repeated unless he also can get lucky again and come near his .367 BABIP. However even in a down year Young's average won't hurt you and in the Texas lineup he is bound to produce some solid RBI numbers and add double digit homers.
Nick Markakis- BAL- Markakis is recovering from offseason abdominal surgery. He has yet to see Grapefruit League action and won't for at least another week. There is still a good chance that he will be ready by Opening Day but his performance may suffer early in the season. As a reference point, Ryan Zimmerman had the same surgery last year. It kept him out of the lineup for 6 weeks but it was another month before he was producing at his normal pace.
Brian Roberts- BAL- Roberts is still recovering from a concussion suffered last May and it is doubtful that he will see any Grapefruit League action. That makes it likely he will start the 2012 season where he was at the end of 2011- on the DL. At 34 years of age and with a track record of fragility over the past 2 seasons, Roberts is a high risk player without the high reward potential.
Corey Hart- MIL- Arthroscopic surgery on hart's knee found not one but three tears in his cartilage. If he had opted to postpone surgery instead of getting it done now he would have likely suffered more extensive damage. That would have resulted in Hart being lost for 3 or 4 months during the season instead of the 3 or 4 weeks in Spring Training that he faces right now. Hart might not be ready for Opening Day, but if he isn't he will be back in the lineup not long after. His power numbers shouldn't be affected but it might put a damper on the value boost that could come from the Brewers adapting a more aggressive stance on the basepaths. With recent knee problems Hart probably won't be attempting as many steals as he might have without the cartilage issues.
Marco Estrada- MIL- Estrada has some sleeper potential that depends on the health of the Milwaukee rotation. He showed effectiveness in 7 starts last season, mainly as a sub for Zack Greinke. Estrada increased his GB% and lowered his HR/FB ratio, areas where improvement was needed. With Shaun Marcum's shoulder stiffness leaving the Brewers handling the righthander carefully, there might be an early season rotation spot open for Estrada. He is being worked like a starter in the Cactus League for just that reason. If your league values holds, Estrada will be less of a risk as he will be getting work in the bullpen on a regular basis if he isn't starting games.
Chris Iannetta- LAA- In leagues where OBP is a factor, Iannetta has had some value, even when his batting average hasn't been great. He has also contributed some homers. Away from Coors Field now, though, Iannetta's fantasy worth may bottom out. Last year's .321 road OBP was his best in the last three years. Over that span he didn't have a road average above the Mendoza line and only 14 of his 39 homers came outside Colorado. Unless the Angels have some magic way to reverse this trend, Iannetta will be a drag on a fantasy team.
Jordan Walden- LAA- Thrust into the closer role last season, Walden performed well, despite 10 blown saves. His K/9 of 9.99 was the highest of any full season in his professional career and he had the highest average fastball speed in the AL. With the Angels expected to contend this season, Walden will likely increase his save total and a year of experience should help him lower those blown saves.
Evan Longoria- TB- Longoria has been sidelined by a bruised hand. He will be evaluated today with an eye towards setting a target for him to play in Grapefruit League games.
Yoenis Cespedes- OAK- Cespedes went 4-for-5 with a homer in a simulated game yesterday. He is expected to make his Cactus League debut this weekend. If he can do nearly as well he will be on his way to living up to the expectations the A's had when they signed him.
Manny Ramirez- OAK- Manny was scratched from yesterday's game due to back stiffness, instead of batting in the cleanup slot. He is going to have the day off today and probably be back in the lineup tomorrow. With a lot of other things going against Ramirez as he attempts to come back, this doesn't help.
Jeff Samardzija- CHN- Samardzija faced the minimum of 9 batters in his 3 IP yesterday, allowing only a single while striking out 3. Not bad for a guy battling to move out of the bullpen and into the rotation.
Tim Lincecum- SF- Lincecum didn't use any breaking pitches in his outing yesterday. It's only an exhibition so the 7 hits, 5 runs and a walk in 2 IP shouldn't be that worrying yet. Lincecum has carried a heavy workload for the past several seasons so there could be concern that it's catching up with him, but it will take more than just one bad Cactus League outing to push the panic button.
Ricky Nolasco- MIA- The good news is that Nolasco allowed just 1 hit and struck out 3 in 3 IP yesterday, with 22 of his 31 pitches strikes. The bad news is that it was against Florida International University players, not major leaguers. So, the performance means even less than the normal spring training outing. Nolasco's IP has been consistently lower than his ERA over the past 3 years so there is hope that he might still break out at age 29.
Brian Wilson- SF- Wilson threw live batting practice yesterday. That will be the last time he does that before he makes his Cactus League debut on Sunday. He will test out his elbow in game conditions then.
Jake Peavy- CHA- The White Sox weren't worried by the 3 runs Peavy gave up in his 2 IP yesterday as they were pleased by the 25 strikes he threw in 36 pitches and his lack of pain after the outing. It was possibly the first time since he joined Chicago that he didn't hurt after an appearance.