Greetings to my inaugural byline for FantasyPros911! And that is the last exclamation point youâ€™ll ever see me use.
Jason Mastrodonato here, and itâ€™s a pleasure to be joining the crew this year after three great years at Mastersball.com, where I competed with and against some of the brightest players in the industry.
Iâ€™ll give you guys a quick background about myself, because if youâ€™re anything like me, you want to know who the schmuck is behind the keyboard telling you how to run your fantasy team.
Iâ€™ve been playing the game since my family first bought a computer in 1998 and have been writing about it since 2008. Iâ€™m not much of a sabermetrician, though I do appreciate the work that the math nerds do for us and I try to incorporate some into my articles at times, but Iâ€™m more of a real baseball guy.
Iâ€™m a business-major-turned-journalist, having graduated from Northeastern University in Boston last May. And now for the cool part: I spent every day of the 2011 baseball season inside the locker room of the Boston Red Sox! Well, not every day, but I was there for 77 of the teamâ€™s 81 home games, covering the team as an associate reporter for MLB.com. Iâ€™ve talked to Major League players, coaches, managers and general managers on almost every team in the American League, so if you ever wanted dirt on someone, shoot me a DM on twitter (@JMastrodonato) and Iâ€™ll see what I can come up with.
Some of you may know me from the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Radio Show here, and in addition to that, Iâ€™ll be doing a transaction analysis during each week in the preseason. So letâ€™s dive right in with one of my favorite players of all time, Juan Pierre, the newest member of the Phillies.
First off, sorry if you drafted him last year. Who would have thought a 33-year-old one-trick-pony would disappoint? Sarcasm? Nah, I was seriously surprised. Pierre had stolen 68 bases during his first year with the White Sox and was promised every-day playing time in 2010, but suddenly he forgot how to run. Not only were his 27 stolen bases a premier disappointment, but he was caught stealing 17 times.
The Phillies only signed him to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said he expects Pierre could be a very useful player. John Mayberry Jr. is still expected to get the bulk of the time in left field, with Laynce Nix jumping in as well (and Dominic Brown left to rot in Triple-A), so at best, Pierre will simply be a role player and pinch-run specialist. And frankly, itâ€™s about time a team realized a .330 OBP with zero power wasnâ€™t beneficial to scoring runs.
But weâ€™ve seen guys in this position succeed in the past. Hell, even Jarrod Dyson stole 11 bases in 26 games with the Royals last season. But considering Pierre had a hard time swiping bags with every-day playing time last year, itâ€™s tough to imagine heâ€™ll be useful in any capacity this season. The sudden drop of speed suggests to me that something was bothering Pierre physically, perhaps a hamstring or calf issue. But because he is 34 years old now and on a team that wonâ€™t have a lot of playing time to offer, itâ€™s tough to endorse Pierre as a viable fantasy option in any format. Pay a dollar or two for him in an NL-only league, but thatâ€™s about it.
–The Orioles are finally making a splash in the free agent market (kidding), signing Armando Galarraga, Pat Neshek and Wilson Betemit. Betemit is the most interesting of the bunch, flashing a little power over the last couple years and striking out a whole lot. Heâ€™s only making $1 million in 2012 (I had a tough time saying â€œonlyâ€ in that sentenceâ€¦ lucky bastard), so you can tell right there what the Oâ€™s think of him. But with Nolan Reimold the main guy that new GM Dan Duquette believes will be the left fielder, itâ€™s safe to say that playing time will be available in Baltimore.
Luke Scott departed for Tampa Bay and itâ€™s not looking like the Orioles are going to waste any more money on the DH position, so it could be Betemitâ€™s job to lose. Itâ€™s a weak lineup, sure, but Betemit hits very well against right-handed pitching and could really excel with 400 at-bats in a platoon situation. I like this pickup for the Orioles, and I like it more in AL-only leagues.
Meanwhile, donâ€™t totally discount the signings of Galarraga and Neshek. Neshek was an elite reliever four years ago with the Twins, but elbow problems have hurt the funk submarine-thrower since. Heâ€™s supposedly healthy though, and while it seems irrelevant, he could be someone that gets into form by May or June and turns into a valuable asset in a deeper AL-only league. Plus, with Kevin Gregg as the closer, saves should be up for grabs.
Galarraga, meanwhile, could be a cheap source of innings, but youâ€™d have to stream those very carefully. Heâ€™s actually had some success against the weaker teams in the American League, so if he does get time in the rotation, he might be worth a look during a week when the Mariners are in town. Or if the Astros decide to change leagues a year early, that would work too. Other wise, well, yeah, you get the point.
–Jeff Keppinger signed a deal with the Rays and is expected to get playing time all over the diamond against left-handed pitching. He makes for a nice look in AL-only leagues and you know the Rays are diligent about splits, so that could help Keppingerâ€™s value.
–The Blue Jays signed Omar Vizquel, but, even if you live in Toronto, I have a hard time believing anyone really cares about that one.
–The last news of the week comes from Oakland, where Jonny Gomes signed a one-year deal. Now, this is a really nice story of a hometown kid who almost died when he was 22 (read here), but as far as Gomes goes, this is not the park you want to see him playing in. Itâ€™s too bad too, because Gomes has averaged 18 home runs the last three years in limited playing time, and with the uncertainty in the Aâ€™s outfield and DH position, it could be a nice fit.
Instead, you can think of him as a Jack Cust replacement. Maybe he hits a home run every now and then, or maybe you want to cry every morning when you wake up to see he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Again. And again. And again