Mmmm, San Diego. Drink it in … it always goes down smooth. Unless you’re looking for fantasy hitting numbers, which are sort of mediocre, like the second-ranked ratings of Wes Mantooth’s Evening News Team.
Key additions: SP Josh Johnson, RP Joaquin Benoit, OF Seth Smith
Key losses: RP Luke Gregerson, 1B/OF Jesus Guzman, IF/OF Logan Forsythe
You know that Cabrera was on pace for close to 60 steals before getting suspended for Biogenesising, right? Another speedy year should be coming. Why do people like Elvis Andrus so much better than Cabrera? … Venable shifts to center field in the wake of Cameron Maybin’s biceps injury. Venable went 20-20 in 2013, and while the power might dip this time around, he’s still a low-end OF4 … Maybin hopes to return as soon as late April. His undetermined absence pushes him out of 12-team mixed league consideration, but keep an eye on his recovery progress. From May 1 forward, he could be as good as a lot of guys drafted in the OF5 range … I’m more bullish than most on Headley, as I think he’ll end up somewhere in the middle of his 2012 and 2013 numbers. Since middle ground would be about 20 homers and a dozen steals, he’s a top-10 3B on my board … Quentin is a nice power hitter, but can’t stay on the field. Stay away unless you’re in an NL-only league … Alonso will hit for a good BA and accumulate some counting stats because of regular playing time, but he has no power at all … Gyorko should again hit close to 25 home runs with a subpar batting average and no speed. He’s 2B13 on my board … Smith and Denorfia figure to platoon until Maybin returns and/or Quentin suffers his first inevitable injury. Both are decent, part-time NL-only options … Hundley will hit for some power and a terrible average, and probably slot behind Yasmani Grandal when Grandal returns from his 2013 knee surgery. That could happen less than a month into the season, and you should keep an eye on Grandal’s progress. His minor-league track record suggests that he can hit.
Cashner took a big step forward in 2013, and even though his K rate improved in the second half, you’d think a guy who throws as hard as he does would miss more bats. He’s on everyone’s breakout list, and I wonder if I’m being too pessimistic by having him in the SP5 range. I do like all the ground balls … Johnson is always a health risk, and his line-drive rate has been awful over the last two seasons. PETCO Park makes him an interesting bounceback candidate, but in deeper leagues … Ross was really good after rejoining the rotation in July – every bit as good as Cashner, as a matter of fact. I’ve got him at SP51, but I’m seeing ADPs in the 60s. Nice value here, folks … Can PETCO help Kennedy’s fly-ball ways? He’s only had one good year out of four as a full-time starter, so my expectations are tempered. Kennedy shouldn’t be drafted in 12-team mixed leagues, but he could be an interesting streaming starter when pitching at home … Ditto for Stults – though he’s less interesting – but Erlin could be decent if/when he sticks in the rotation.
Street is a pretty good closer, but he hasn’t pitched more than 60 innings since 2009 because he can’t stay healthy, so he can’t be trusted as more than a low-end second closer. Newcomer Joaquin Benoit figures to be the fallback option, and 8-10 saves seem likely for him. At the end of your 12-team mixed league draft, if you’d rather take an elite setup man with the chance for saves than a mediocre starter, Benoit could be your guy.
Sleeper: Johnson is tempting due to his talent and past success, but let’s go with Ross here. He’s not flying under everyone’s radar, but he sure is underappreciated.
Austin Hedges, C – Hedges is viewed as a big-time defensive prospect, but not much of a hitter. He’ll probably have the starting job in San Diego by this time next season, if not sooner.
Matt Wisler, SP – Wisler is also a pretty good prospect who should have a regular role by 2015. He’s an interesting dynasty league pick, even if he isn’t a future star. Good stuff, good control, plenty of Ks.
Rymer Liriano, OF – Liriano missed all of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery, but showed good speed before that, with 97 steals in 2011-12. Don’t draft him unless you’re in a dynasty format (many keepers), but keep him on your radar.