This offseason is shaping up to be quite exciting when thinking about the big name free agents and possible movers heading into 2009. I was on the treadmill at the gym this afternoon bustin' out some calories while watching a report on ESPN about some of the big names who might be looking for new homes. As I am sure many of you may have seen this, I just want to take it a step further and throw in my two cents based on what you should expect for your 2009 fantasy baseball draft.
Possible Teams: Yankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Dodgers
Sabathia will command the most money this off-season. Analysts from all over feel like the Yankees will pull out all the stops and just kill the other bidders to get C.C. and while that's possible, I don't necessarily see it as such a no-brainer as everyone else. We all know I'm a Yankee fan so I can tell you that right now, the 2009 rotation already consists of Chen-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and Phil Hughes. However, we still don't know if Mike Mussina will pick up his option or if Andy Pettite wants to return or not. I think we'll know however in the next couple of days. If either Pettitte or Mussina crap out, you can expect the Yankees to go balls to the wall to get Sabathia. I don't see the Red Sox getting him at all, the Brewers probably won't pony up as much dough as the Yankees and the Dodgers actually have shown some interest but we have to see what the Dodgers do about Manny first.
The Fantasy Man says: There is a lot of hype with Sabathia for the 2009 season as he was lights out down the stretch for the Brewers. Some in fantasy circles have already said they think he is better than Johan Santana. I have to disagree. Yes, you can compare 2008 numbers but you'd have to be a fool to draft someone who was playing in a contract year over the consistency of a Johan Santana. Period! Expect Sabathia, Santana, Peavy, Hamels, and Lincecum to all be gone by the end of the 3rd round at the latest in a 12 team mixed league draft. If you ask me right now, I'd say Johan Santana is the safest 2nd round pick of that bunch, hands down. C.C. has only pitched 200+IP in only two years in his major league career (2002 & 2007). I'm not saying to pass on Sabathia, but be cautious when jumping the gun because once he gets his dough, I don't think he'll repeat his 2008 numbers with a new team in 2009, especially if he moves back to the American League. So I'd rather take Santana or Lincecum before I jump on Sabathia.
C.C. Sabathia 2009 Projection: 17W/200K/3.20ERA/1.15WHIP
Possible Teams: Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Angels
The Yankees will lose Jason Giambi and their only decent first baseman. I'm sure the Yankees could afford both Sabathia and Teixiera being that Giambi carried quite the salary that they could easily just swap Giambi with Tex. If the Yankees got Santana, they would have paid him while paying Giambi last season so I can see them getting both players. The Red Sox already have Kevin Youkilis at 1B while David Ortiz atDH and Mike Lowell at 3B. But with Lowell and Ortiz nursing injuries this year, there is talk that Tex could fit in the picture, but I don't think the Red Sox will get serious other than trying to drive up the price for the Yankees. Tex is from Maryland and Baltimore wants Tex bad, but again, you have to beat out the Yankees. I don't see the Angels keeping Tex.
The Fantasy Man says: No matter where Tex ends up, you should expect the normal .300/30-35/120+ with a late 1st round early second round draft pick. You should also expect a slow start as Tex is a perennial second half player!
Possible Teams: Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, Mets
Did you know that Manny is from the Bronx? This one is the biggest mystery so far this off-season. Where will Manny go? I think the Dodgers will keep him, just a gut feeling. I would love Manny on the Yankees but if they go for C.C. and Tex, there is no way they get Manny. If they miss on C.C. or Tex, then yes, the Yankees could be an option. There is also talk that Manny could be persuaded to move to Philadelphia and reunite with old hitting coach Charlie Manual. However, out off all the teams that need Manny, I feel the Mets would be the best suitor and benefit the most, but Jon Heyman, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer, said on WFAN's Mike Francesa show, that the Mets are a "longshot".
The Fantasy Man says: Last year we all thought Manny Ramirez was on the decline, so we waited until as late as the 4th or 5th rounds to draft Manny. Now, with an amazing second half and all the hype of a new contract, we may draft Manny as early as the late second round as some experts did here in this CBSSports.com League of Champions Slow Mock Draft. I love Manny, always have, but I feel like we'll be disappointed if we jump too high on Manny. I can justify a 3rd round pick considering his age but early to mid 2nd round is still to early for me, especially since now he won't be playing for a contract, and we all know Manny likes to be Manny....and I'll leave it at that. This means I might be passing up players like Santana, Fielder, Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran and others who are usually late 2nd round type players. Manny obviously can hit with these guys, but they are all younger all won't have just gotten paid with a brand new contract.
Manny Ramirez 2009 Projection: .290/32/120
Possible Teams: Angels, Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals
I just threw the Cardinals in there for fun, why not?? They would be perfect, but I am sure they probably won't spend the money. I don't think the Yankees would be in the running. I say the Dodgers because even though they have Broxton, we saw in the post season that maybe he can be replaced. I happen to think Broxton will be the closer for the Dodgers in 2009. That leaves the Mets and the Cardinals. The fans of New York's sports talk radio are already ranting and raving that K-Rod should be on top of their list, along with the rest of these guys. To be honest, I can't see the Angels wanting to let go of K-Rod so I think he stays. Otherwise, he'll be a Met.
The Fantasy Man says: Mets or Angels, he's not breaking his record. He'll get his money and then he'll come back to earth and save maybe 40 - 45 games again and be your typical K-Rod, simple as that. In normal mixed league drafts, he'll be gone by the late 4th round, which is usually when a top closer will go. K-Rod will be the first off the board, over Jonathon Papelbon.
Possible Teams: Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox
Peavy is not a free agent this year but there is talk that Peavy is willing to waive his no-trade clause for the right team. Most are saying he'd most likely go to the Dodgers but I just can't see the Padres making a deal with a team in the same division. Plus, they'd probably have to give up some of their young players which include Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Blake DeWitt, etc. We don't know yet if he'd waive it to go to New York but a trade to the Bronx for say Melky Cabrera and Ian Kennedy sounds like a great idea. Heck, give them Robinson Cano if you want. If the Yankees miss out on Sabathia, this seems like a no brainer to me if Peavy allows it.
The Fantasy Man says: Any trade to a better team instantly puts Peavy back in the second round of your mixed league draft with Johan Santana and now C.C. Sabathia. Otherwise, if he stays in San Diego, he'll probably slip into the late third where you might think about scooping him up. Problem is, if he stays in San Diego, a third round pick seems a bit of a stretch since he won't win much. If you're in a H2H league that counts losses, then fugetaboutit....
Jake Peavy 2009 Projection: In SD - 14W/3.10/1.20 - Elsewhere - 18W/2.90/1.10 (Playing for a contract!)
Possible Teams: Yankees, Mets, Angels
The trade talks are popping up again and Jon Heyman (see the link above) mentioned that the Yankees are talking internally about Holliday, and why wouldn't they? Holliday would be a great fit in New York and it's about time they go after some top-notch younger players. Why not give the Rockies the Melkman and Ian Kennedy? Let's make it happen! The Mets are also desperate for corner outfielders and a trade to Queens makes sense as well. If a trade happens, it's to New York, no question about it.
The Fantasy Man says: Whether Holliday lands in New York or stays put, he's still a late first round - early second round pick. If he lasts later, your league mates are idiots and you'll win your league by a mile! Holliday was a top 5 pick in 2008, had a decent year but power was down as he nursed some injuries. Look for Holliday to redeem himself this year as he'll be somewhat of a bargain as compared to last year. You can take that to the bank. Coors or no Coors, Holliday is the real deal no matter where he ends up and he shouldn't last past the 15th pick, period!
Matt Holliday 2009 Projection: .320/30/110/20
Other Notables Today:
- 1B Mike Jacobs was traded to the Kansas City Royals today for Pitcher Leo Nunez. When thinking about your fantasy draft and sleepers, there is now an open corner spot in the Florida infield which you can look at for a sleeper. Before the trade, Jorge Cantu and Jacobs clogged the corners while Dallas McPherson was busy having a fantastic year in Triple-A batting .274/42/98 with a .379 OBP and 76 BB in 448 AB. What's alarming though is the 168 K's. It looks like McPherson and Cantu are the two corner guys going into 2009 as of now but I wouldn't be too concerned with the K's. If you want to take a chance on McPherson, which I think is only a moderate risk with a ton of power potential, I'd say you can grab him sometime after the 17th round in a 12 team mixed league draft. For best results, expect a season of .265/25/80 with potential at 28 years old to break out and go .275/30/95+. Think of him as an Adam Dunn with a slightly better batting average.
- Edgar Renteria's contract was not renewed by Detroit and it will be interesting to see where Renteria could end up. I actually think Baltimore would make a great destination as they haven't had a real SS since Miguel Tejada left. Some other teams that need shortstops are the Twins and maybe the Reds. The Twins don't usually spend money and who knows what the Reds are planning to do in this off-season. If I had to guess today, I'd say the Orioles. Add Mark Teixiera and all of a sudden Baltimore has a studly looking offense with Nick Markakis, Aubrey Huff and Adam Jones. If Baltimore were to sign Tex, the value of Nick Markakis in fantasy leagues would most likely rise a round or two.
GET READY!!! The Fantasy Man's 2009 Fantasy Baseball Advice is coming!
Tune in to The Fantasy Man's 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Day Extravanagnza Podcast choc' full o' free fantasy advice to help you win your 2009 fantasy baseball league to included 2009 Sleepers, specific draft strategies, and much more. Go to iTunes or your favorite Podcasting website and search "Fantasy Baseball" or "The Fantasy Man"!