Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes have ripped up the fantasy baseball advice world after signing new deals at this years Winter Meetings. With Pujols gone to the American League and Reyes in a new situation in Miami, this should continue to be an interesting off-season. This has big effects for NL only leagues but other things happened at the winter meetings that effected the National League.
- Lance Nix signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. Nix had a nice 2011 and served his NL only owners well with what I would call a great complimentary year. If you get this kind of production from the last three or four hitting spots in your 14 man lineup your doing well. Nix can play a little 1B but mostly will play OF. Right now the Phillies don't have a true starting LF with Ibanez now gone so if Nix produces like last year he should find himself 300 AB's and help NL only owners.
- Aaron Harang signs two year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After terrible seasons in 08, 09 and 2010 (especially in 2010) Harang bounced back in 2011 with a respectable year in Petco Park. He had a 3.05 ERA in Petco in 17 starts, his ratio was still a bit high and his strikeouts are nowhere near what they once were. But he is going to Dodgers stadium which is also a good pitchers park. I am not the biggest believer (I want to see it again) but for a cheap price and to slide in at the back of rotation Harang's not bad.
- Jerry Hairston Jr and Adam Kennedy - Both super UP hitters signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both should give you great roster flexibility with their position eligibility if not on draft day then by early May. If each guy can hit above .250 I like them in terms of rounding out your hitting roster.
- Kevin Slowey - Traded to the Colorado Rockies. While 2011 was a disaster could be a great draft day sleeper especially if you can grab him in the reserve rounds. Should benefit going from AL to NL. Not a lot of K's but could give you low double digit W's with slight plus ratio and ERA around 4. A great pick for the reserve draft.
- Houston Street / Rafael Betancourt / Matt Lindstrom - Street got traded to the San Diego Padres to take over the closer role in SD. Street has one year to go on his deal with a team option. San Diego is in future mode so if they can get something good for Street come July he will be traded so keep that in mind. Street had 29 saves, pretty good numbers and spent time on the DL. This sounds like a typical Street year and now goes to a lesser team and could be a big traded come summer. The early word by people is Betancourt will become the closer in Colorado. Betancourt had a great year last year as setup man. Betancourt can get on very hot and cold streaks which is not great for a closer. Matt Lindstrom who use to close for the Astros throws very hard and had a solid 2011. If Betancourt stumbles Lindstrom is a prime candidate to get the 9th inning. Lindstrom would be another great reserve pick.
-Heath Bell signed with the Miami Marlins. I had a recent discussion with a friend and he told me you know his K's are down and his fly balls are up and now he is out of Petco. I understood his points and they were valid but going into next season the top 3 closers in the NL in no particular order is Bell, Wilson and Papelbon.
- Nate McLouth comes back to Pittsburgh Pirates. I bought McLouth cheap at the end of last years draft hoping the former speed / power OF could find himself again. He didn't. McLouth has been a bad player since July 2009.
- New York Mets Bullpen. The Mets signed Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch and traded for Ramon Ramirez. It appears Francisco will be the closer as he got a two year deal at $6 Mil per. Rauch has closed before so keep that in mind and Francisco has been inconsistent. Ramirez is the best pitcher of the bunch but hasn't close before other than a one off save.
- Angel Pagan to San Francisco Giants. If you watched Angel Pagan everyday you would say last year was a bad year for him that included missing most of May with an injury (oblique). Word is he dealt with it all year. But Pagan final stat line still included 32 steals and decent R and RBI. he could get new life in SF and he is a free agent after next season so he should be motivated. Anders Torres after a very impressive 2010 just crashed in 2011. The Mets have no CF's at this time in their organization so he is going to get every opportunity to play every day and maybe even hit lead off.
- Pittsburgh Pirates sign Erik Bedard. His 2011 stats were pretty good but he is always injured and word is has a bad attitude.
- Alex Gonzalez signs with the Milwaukee Brewers. Expect more of the same with a couple more HR's. Remember what I said about bad average hitters who don't make a significant impact.
- Mark Buerhle goes to the Miami Marlins. Four years $58 million. Buerhle knows how to pitch and should benefit greatly by going to the NL. His K's aren't great otherwise he would be an excellent choice as your #3 starter. I would call him a #3A starter in your rotation which means not good enough to be your #3 but an awesome #4.
- Ian Stewart and Tyler Colvin traded for each other between the Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies. Colvin should get AB's in Colorado as a part time guy and a change of scenery should help get over a disastrous 2011 (I had him last year so I know). Colvin has pop and remember did have a good 2010. Could be a sleeper. Same could be said about Ian Stewart. I do worry about these guys hurting your batting average even if they are productive secondary power guys. Stewart much bigger upside as he will start the season as the everyday 3B.
- Lyle Overbay stays in the desert. He is a bench player / insurance policy for Paul Goldschmidt.
NL King - C.Lizza @ TheNLKing