Dodgers Second Base Job
With Alex Guerrero shipped to the minors, this appears to be a platoon between Dee Gordon and Justin Turner, with Gordon seizing the majority of the at-bats. In fact, after Gordon led off and went 3-for-4 in the season's second game in Australia, this could very well be his job outright. In 190 career big league at-bats, Gordon has just a .499 lifetime OPS, so this would seem to make sense, but perhaps he'll get the occasional look versus southpaws. Most intriguing was seeing Gordon leading off in front of Yasiel Puig in the Arizona game, a lineup that if it holds, offers Gordon a chance at immense fantasy value if he can get on base at even a .335 clip. Should be fun to see how this plays out.
A team can never have too much pitching right? So far this spring we have Zack Greinke with a calf injury, Hyun-Jin Ryu with a split toenail, Josh Beckett with a thumb injury, and the latest, Clayton Kershaw with a sore back. You can also add Chad Billingsley's Tommy John surgery recovery (est. May return), so while these aren't all exactly season-ending injuries, it does make us look to those pitchers who could step in if needed. Paul Maholm is still around, but Maholm has a 7.04 ERA this spring, so he's far from a lock to stick around all year. That leaves top prospect Zach Lee as a very viable option. Lee fared well against Team Australia last week with four innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts. Lee had a 3.22 ERA, 8.3 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 last year for Double-A Chattanooga, and though he's just 22, Lee is considered polished and near-major league ready. Look for him to get a look early.
It appears Robbie Erlin has beaten out Matt Wisler for the final spot in the San Diego rotation. The flexor injury to Josh Johnson has opened up this slot, so Erlin should look at this as his chance to stick, as Johnson is tentatively scheduled to return in early May. Current No. 3 and 4 starters Tyson Ross and Eric Stults will also need to fare well so they can secure their spot this year. Erlin posted a 1.46 ERA and 12:3 K:BB in 12.1 innings this spring, and it's also worth noting that in his five late starts for the Padres last August/September, Erlin posted a 1.97 ERA and 24:7 K:BB in 32 innings. He has some nice sleeper potential if he can get off to a solid start and lock down a slot.
Hunter Pence is obviously going to play every day, but we may see some sort of rotation with Mike Morse, Angel Pagan, and Gregor Blanco in left and center field. Pagam n has the big contract, so he is probably in there most days, though an uninspiring .243/.275/.243 spring could have Bruce Bochy considering other options. Gregor Blanco had a .341 OBP last year and offers solid defense, even in center, and he has a .368 OBP this spring. The Giants brought Morse in to provide some pop, but Morse has yet to homer this spring and is coming off a season in which he batted a paltry .215/.270/.381. Look for the Giants to go with the hot hands in left and center, though for now, Blanco appears to be the odd man out.
Rockies Center Field
Due in no small part to nobody stepping forward and grabbing the center field job outright, the Rockies appear poised to keep six outfielders on the Opening Day roster. Drew Stubbs should see most of the time versus LHP and some righties given his decent spring - .333/.404/.452 and toolset. Against right-handers, we have Charlie Blackmon (.212/.250/.346) and Corey Dickerson (.379/.393/.552), with Dickerson seemingly having the edge there on his spring and 2013 (1.046 Triple-A OPS and .775 mark in Colorado) performances. Brandon Barnes is the other guy, and he's hit .340 this spring with a couple steals. All in all, this battle appears poised to bleed into the regular season, where manager Walt Weiss will likely give everyone a chance here and there, with the hope that one or two guys separate from the pack.
Giants second base situation
Marco Scutaro is dealing with a back injury and will open on the disabled list with no definitive timeline for his return. This will slide Joaquin Arias into the full-time second base slot. Arias is a .272/.302/.367 career hitter with very little in the way of power or speed, so he's at best limited to MI NL-only duty. Arias' value is in his glove, and there's no reason to expect him to turn things around at the plate this year, particularly after walking in just 1.7% of his 2013 PA's last year. Ehire Adriazana is at least somewhat intriguing, as he's batted .255/.300/.511 this spring with three home runs. The power there is a bit of a mirage, though he could steal a few bases if given the chance. I'd monitor him in NL-only formats.
Franklin Morales (SP-COL) - The Rockies have yet to make it official, but it would seem that Morales has beaten out Jordan Lyles for the No. 5 starter job. Lyles has a 3.18 ERA, so it's not a given, but Morales has a 2.21 mark in 20.1 innings to go with an impressive 23:6 K:BB. The Rockies already have two lefties in the rotation (De La Rosa, Anderson), so no real advantage for Morales there, but he throws harder and has seemingly more upside than Lyles. The concern with Morales has always been his lack of control given his career 4.5 BB/9, but he's been a little better so far this spring. I'd take the plunge in NL-only leagues.
Drew Hutchison (SP-TOR) - Hutchison is shaping up to be a bit of a sleeper in deeper leagues. Thursday, Hutchison held the Phillies to one hit over 5.1 scoreless innings to lower his spring ERA to 1.80. Over 15 innings, Hutchison posted an impressive 19:4 K:BB with three of those walks coming on Thursday. He'll be a member of the
Toronto rotation. The 23 year-old is a bit of an unknown, but prior to August 2012 Tommy John surgery, he was a fairly well thought of prospect for the Jays, posting an impressive 171:35 K:BB in 149.1 impressive minor league innings in 2011. Now fully healthy, he could be a nice surprise.
Taylor Jordan (SP-WAS) - No resolution just yet on Jordan's battle with Tanner Roark for the No. 5 starter job, but Jordan took a step forward earlier this week, allowing just run over five innings to lower his ERA to 3.92. Even better, Jordan finishes his spring with a 20:2 K:BB in 20.2 innings, and his sinking fastball is really sinking. In nine starts for the Nationals last year, Jordan's K/9 was just 5.1 to go with a solid 1.9 BB/9, but a well above average 57.5% of his batted balls were ground balls, helping him finish with a solid 3.66 ERA. With Doug Fister nursing a lat strain, it's possible this battle continues into April, giving Jordan more time to impress.
Chris Young (SP-SEA) - I'm not really sure what the Mariners are doing this offseason, particularly with the back end of the pitching staff. I get releasing Scott Baker, who posted a horrendous 1:7 K:BB (no I did not transpose those numbers) this spring, but cutting Randy Wolf loose because they may have had to pay him $1 million? Maybe if they only had to pay Robinson Cano $239 million, Wolf might still be on the team. Regardless, Young was picked up Thursday and is expected to be the No. 4 starter, at least until he gets hurt. Young was decent for the Nationals this spring, tossing 10.1 innings of 3.48 ERA ball with a 9:4 K:BB. His extreme flyball tendencies should be at least partially mitigated by his new ballpark, as Young has posted a career 22.3% GB%, including a mark of 18.6% in 2011. Young has usually been serviceable when healthy, but given he's made just 28 big league starts in the past four seasons, he's best-served as a AL-only fantasy guy.
Mike Olt (3B-CHC) - Olt has won a roster as expected, though manager Rick Renteria said Thursday that he would share time with Luis Valbuena. Valbuena has hit just .263, but he's slugged six home runs in just 38 at-bats while Olt has five in 51 to go with a .275 BA. It's safe to say that Olt will be in there against most left-handers given Valbuena hits from that side, but at this point we have to assume this is a 50/50 split until someone (likely Olt) separates himself from the pack.
Grady Sizemore (OF-BOS) - Manager John Farrell said Thursday that "if" Sizemore made the roster,that he would bat in the middle of the lineup. The fact that Farrell said "if" is laughable, as Sizemore is laughable, as he's batting .333/.381/.462 this spring to competitor's Jackie Bradley Jr.'s .158/.213.263. Sizemore of course was once a borderline MVP candidate for the Indians, and though he's a bit of a risk given his health, this is a great story and one that could result in Sizemore having actual positive value.
Alexi Ogando (RP-TEX) - Ogando, and not Neftali Feliz, is scheduled to be the Rangers' primary setup man ahead of closer Joaquim Soria. Ogando has a 5.84 ERA and 9:4 K:BB in 12.1 innings, making it likely that Jason Frasor, who has had the better spring, would be the next closer up should Soria struggle. Ogando could eventually be a rotation option given his history and the Rangers' injuries, but for now at least, he's a reliever.
D.J. LeMahieu (2B-COL) - As expected, LeMahieu has won the second base job over Josh Rutledge, so bump him up your cheat sheets a bit. LeMahieu batted .357 this spring after tallying .280/.311/.361 in 109 games a year ago. He did steal 18 bases in 2013 (3-for-6 this spring), so there is some fantasy upside despite the lack of power. He's probably going to slot in the eight-hole, so that hurts his value somewhat, but if he can get on base at a clip better than whomever wins the CF job, perhaps he moves up as high as leadoff. He'll have to improve last year's 0.28 EYE to do so however, but anyone getting regular AB's in Coors Field is worth monitoring.
Rafael Furcal (2B-MIA) - Slated to be the team's Opening Day second baseman, Furcal will instead open the season on the 15-day DL, opening the door for Derek Dietrich to fill in and perhaps even with the job outright. Furcal was just 3-for-18 this spring while Dietrich batted .349/.408/.558. Furcal of course missed all of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery and he posted OPS's of just .646 and .671 the two years prior with a combined 21 steals and 13 home runs (69 AB/HR). He's a long shot to have significant value outside of NL-only formats this year.
Marcell Ozuna (OF-MIA) - Apparently .164/.284/.364 was enough to convince the Marlins that Ozuna was the best choice over Jake Marisnik (.432/.479/.591) to win the starting CF job. I guess this is the Marlins trying to go with the guy with more upside, but it's definitely a head-scratcher. Ozuna hit 23 and 24 home runs in 2011 and 2012 respectively in the minors, but tallied just three in 291 PA's at the big league level a year ago. Mix in the 0.23 EYE and poor spring, and he could be feeling the heat from Marisnik down in Triple-A in short order. Ozuna is enticing in dynasty and some keeper formats, but in redraft leagues, it's probably wise to temper expectations.