Tim Dierkes

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Free Agent Leftovers

Monday, January 08, 2007


It's that time of year – the time when teams start signing players from the bottom of the free agent barrel. The big names are off the board, aside from that Clemens guy. All we have left is the tired, the poor, the refuse of baseball. By that I mean the injured, the ineffective, and the formerly retired. Let's run through the remaining free agents from a fantasy point of view.

Tony Armas Jr. – He's just 28, so there will be a little interest despite his 5.03 ERA in Washington. We spent all these years calling him a sleeper, waiting for him to stay healthy for a season. Armas made 30 starts in '06, but he was far from a fantasy asset. His first half was actually tolerable – a 4.44 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. That's about league average these days, so keep him on your NL-only radar.

Ron Belliard – It looks like this year's Bengie Molina Reward for the surprising free agent nobody wanted will go to Belliard. He's usually a reliable source for a .280 average and 15 homers, though his bat died upon a trade to St. Louis in '06. At this point no team has a real need for a second baseman, so he probably won't snag 500 at-bats. You can do better in a mixed league.

Bruce Chen – Chen was insanely bad for the Orioles in '06. Just a year earlier, though, he posted solid ratios and 13 wins. Get this man to the NL, stat! As a flyball pitcher, Chen could regain the "magic" in a pitchers' park. He's a sleeper if he lands in RFK or Shea.

Roger Clemens – The Rocket is playing a familiar game, stringing us out about whether he'll play, for how long, and for which team. It's especially annoying for fantasy baseball speculators. Right now here's what seems likely: he plays, he plays half a season again, and he pitches for the Yankees. His value depends on your league – can you draft him and stash him until June? Clemens will probably be among baseball's best while he's active.

Cliff Floyd – Remember Ken Griffey Jr.'s 2005? He somehow managed almost 500 at-bats and resembled the Junior of old. Big-time fantasy bargain. Then injuries and age caught up with him again. Floyd had a similar resurgence that same year, and injuries got him again in '06. There's no reason to expect him to stay healthy in '07, unless maybe he finds an open DH spot somewhere. Maybe he ends up a platoon player for the Cubs or A's, but he's a poor fantasy option at this point.

Mark Mulder – The Rangers and Indians have offers on the table, and the Cardinals have a chance to match them. Mulder will probably choose a team this week. For his ERA's sake, he should choose St. Louis. Despite the name value, 25 starts of Mulder is probably worthless in a mixed league. Even if his rotator cuff was fully healed he wouldn't come recommended. His strikeout rate is miniscule, and his control is just OK.

Tomo Ohka – People are talking about Ohka as a potential free agent bargain in this pitching-crazy market. They should keep in mind that A) he's a hothead and B) he's pitching with a rotator cuff tear. Ohka's velocity was down upon returning from shoulder rehab in '06. Perhaps he can provide the Mets or some team a half season of respectable ratios, but he's quite risky. I'd rather gamble on a young guy in my NL-only league.

Ramon Ortiz – Ortiz's fifth starter type work in Cincinnati and Washington the past few years isn't generating much interest. If he couldn't hack it in a pitchers' park, he probably can't hack it anywhere. Stay away in all leagues.

Chan Ho Park – There was some talk a few weeks ago of Scott Boras trying to convince the Red Sox to try Park as their closer. The Sox appear to be taking that route with Joel Pineiro instead. Park actually had a respectable first half for the Padres in '06 (4.29 ERA, 1.28 WHIP). He could become a bullpen weapon and surprise closer for the Devil Rays or Marlins.

Mark Redman – The lefty shows up for work, but he appears to have nothing left. That still qualifies you as the best pitcher on the Royals. Prior to that, the Pirates didn't want him. Even a move back to the NL won't help Redman enough to make him useful in fantasy.

Shannon Stewart – He's now devoid of power or speed. If you're looking for a decent average in limited playing time, Stewart might be your man. The Orioles are flirting with him, hoping to clog their LF/DH situation even further.

John Thomson – The 33 year-old had elbow soreness and a mild labrum tear in '06. He was a solid innings eater in 2003-04, but expectations are low for '07.

Steve Trachsel – Mets fans know that it was a miracle that Trax won 15 games in 2006. Strikeouts were down, walks were up. While he was a sleeper in 2003-04, Trachsel is probably washed up.

Jeff Weaver – Weaver is again trying to wait out the free agent market. This time, he'll probably top one year and $8 million despite an awful 2006. Not long ago, he was a decent strikeout/WHIP guy for the Dodgers. It's not a huge stretch to see Weaver getting back to that level for some NL team. He's worth a one dollar investment.

David Wells – Boomer could pitch his age 44 season for the Padres. He's quite hittable and his strikeout rate is weak, but his pinpoint control helps compensate somewhat. Back in San Diego, he might be able to tally 180 innings of decent work and win 10-12 games.

Craig Wilson – Once again, it looks like Wilson will be without a full-time job. He should really try that catcher's gear on again. If he somehow stumbles into a regular role for some team, the 30 year-old still has 25 HR pop. Wilson could be a very affordable source of power at 1B or OF in AL/NL-only leagues.

Preston Wilson – I thought Wilson would take advantage of the Crawford Boxes in Houston, but he slugged just .405. He did have 17 longballs on the year, including eight in just 111 bats for the Cards. If he returns to St. Louis, he'll split time with Chris Duncan and both will see their fantasy value reduced.


Tim Dierkes contributes to Rotoworld's Fantasy Baseball Coverage. He also runs a fantasy baseball blog at RotoAuthority.com
Email :Tim Dierkes


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