Winter time can only mean one thing: baseball! Other than football, basketball, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, bowl games and family, it’s time for baseball teams to make a buch of dumb moves that fantasy baseball owners can overanalyze because there is nothing else going on. I hope to keep up with the pace of this offseason. Here is what has happened thus far:
James Loney (signed with the Rays) — Remember when the Rays pulled Fernando Rodney off of the scrap heap last season and adjusted his placement on the pitching rubber? He went on to be one of the most dominant closers in the league. I feel like once the Rays put their crack team of scientists (or whatever they have) with Loney, they are going to adjust something and make him productive. This guy never lived up to his hype and never developed any power, but if he is ever going to be productive, the Rays will find a way. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think he is going to be an All-Star, but he intrigues me as an end of the draft pick-up. He’s a guy to watch during spring training to see what happens.
Denard Span (traded to the Nationals) — I like this trade for Washington, which was more like a hijacking than an actual trade. Span is an OBP guy with speed, and with Werth, Zimmerman and Harper hitting behind Span, he should be good for a 100 runs next season.
Dan Haren (signed with the Nationals) — Nothing like signing a top-notch pitcher to an already deep starting rotation. Last season, Haren’s velocity took a dramatic drop. Coupled with injuries, that suggests he should bounce back a bit from a subpar 2012 season. I think coming back to the NL, as well as being the third or fourth starting pitcher, could only help Haren’s numbers improve. Expect double-digit wins, 190 Ks and an ERA around 3.50 for Haren.
Tommy Hanson (traded to the Angels) — At one time, Hanson was on the cusp of elite starting pitchers. Now, after a couple of injury plagued seasons, he has been sent packing to the Angels. He may not be completely done, but until his velocity returns (which has dropped in each of the past two seasons) and he can show that he can stay healthy, he will be a definite stay-away for me. For the Braves rotation, this trade opens the door for Randall Delgado to now claim the fifth starting job.
Mike Napoli (signed with the Redsox) — You are probably going to draft Napoli as a catcher, but hopefully he does not see one pitch at catcher next season in Boston. This should keep him on the field more than we saw last season and, hopefully, he will be able to find his 2011 form (ya know, the whole reason he was the preseason #1 overall catcher last season). An interesting stat from Buster Olney: In 73 plate appearances at Fenway, Napoli has a career 1.107 OPS.
B.J. Upton (signed with the Braves) — Even though this should be a lateral move for Upton, I would not be surprised if his stolen base attempts drop this season. Atlanta had 133 stolen base attempts (22nd) whereas Tampa Bay had 178 stolen base attempts (fourth) last season. This would definitely hinder Upton’s value a bit.
Jordan Walden (traded to the Braves) — if Walden has any fantasy value next season, something has gone awfully wrong for the Braves. This is just a guess, but I would say if Craig Kimbrel went down, Walden would have first crack at the saves job. Usually teams like to keep their set-up men in place and Walden has closer experience.
Shane Victorino (signed with the Redsox) — So far, as a whole, I am amazed at what the Red Sox are doing. Though they completely overpaid for Victorino, they have him on a three-year contract that does not restrain them financially in the foreseeable future (See: Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez). As for Victorino, I envision a .270 average with 30 SB, 95 runs, 60 RBIs and 12 HR, which is respectable. The bigger take away from this signing is sitting left-handed pitchers against the Red Sox. The Sox pose a serious threat to those guys.
Yunel Escobar (traded to the Rays) — This is a better baseball trade than is a fantasy trade. Escobar is an OBP guy with very little pop and very little speed. You could see more stolen base attempts from Escobar because the Rays like to run. This also opens the door for Adeiny Hechavarria to take the full-time shortstop position for the Marlins; however, keep your eye on Derek Dietrich. Hechavarria may have some competition sooner rather than later.