D.J. Short

Spring Training Daily

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Feliz Feels Fine

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Happy Opening Day! Well, sort of.

The big news in the baseball world yesterday had nothing to do with anything that happened on the actual field. A little after 11 p.m. ET last night, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported that a group led by Magic Johnson and former Braves and Nationals president Stan Kasten has agreed to purchase the Dodgers. The Wall Street Journal reports that the price tag checks in at the stunning sum of $2.15 billion, which shatters the previous record for a professional sports franchise.

This is wonderful news for the Dodgers and their fans, as the most popular sports figure in Los Angeles will be involved in the ownership group. Of course, this also means that outgoing owner Frank McCourt stands to make hundreds of millions in profits even after paying a divorce settlement to his wife. What a world.

While one wonders if the Dodgers will make a play for Matt Cain or Cole Hamels this winter, here are some more noteworthy items from around the big leagues.

Feliz Feels Fine

Neftali Feliz put quite a scare in the Rangers after being pulled from a start against the Cubs last week due to shoulder soreness, but he declared himself good to go for the regular season after throwing 68 pitches over four innings Tuesday night against the Royals' Double-A team.

Feliz gave up three runs (one earned) while striking out three and walking just one.  His velocity wasn't an issue, as he topped out at 96 mph with his fastball. The Rangers will likely keep the 23-year-old right-hander on the minor league side until they are absolutely sure he'll be ready for the season. This way, they could backdate a potential stint on the disabled list. But things are looking good at the moment.

Feliz is making the transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation this spring, so there's an unknown quantity factor here, but he's a hard-thrower with plenty of strikeout potential. He should be useful in mixed leagues this season, even with a projected innings-limit.

For more rankings and analysis, along with projections, cheat sheets and prospect information, check out Rotoworld's Online Draft Guide.

Niemann Wins Rotation Battle, Davis To Bullpen

As expected, Rays manager Joe Maddon announced yesterday that Jeff Niemann has won the fifth spot in the starting rotation and Wade Davis will move to the bullpen.

Niemann was the favorite entering Grapefruit League play, as he had a 4.06 ERA and a 105/37 K/BB ratio over 135 1/3 innings last season to go along with a career-high 46 percent ground ball rate. Meanwhile, Davis had a mediocre 4.45 ERA and 105/63 K/BB ratio over 184 innings in 2011 and has seen his strikeout and swinging strike rates decline significantly since breaking in as a rookie in 2009.

Davis has a chance to be a legitimate weapon out of the bullpen, but the pressure will be on Niemann if he gets off to a slow start. He had some back issues last year, but his strong second half (3.75 ERA and 72/23 K/BB ratio over 81 2/3 innings) is enough for me to target him in AL-only and deeper mixed formats.

Aviles Wins BoSox Shortstop Job

We heard some rumblings over the weekend that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was lobbying for Jose Iglesias to win the starting shortstop job, but the slick fielding youngster was sent to the minors yesterday, which effectively anointed Mike Aviles as the starter. I'm not sure why it was ever really a debate.

Iglesias batted just .235/.285/.269 with a .554 OPS last season with Triple-A Pawtucket, so he likely would have been the weakest hitting regular in the majors. Bobby V has a history with all-glove, no-hit shortstops, but it's best for all involved that he gets more seasoning in the minors.

Aviles is a .288 career hitter and has a little bit of speed and pop so he's worth a flier in AL-only and deeper mixed leagues in this lineup. Valentine has discussed the possibility of using him out of the leadoff spot, but that would probably be a mistake, at least against right-handers. The 31-year-old owns a lousy .318 on-base percentage in the big leagues.

Indians Option Chisenhall to Minors

Our final big roster decision of the day had Lonnie Chisenhall being sent down to Triple-A Columbus and Jack Hannahan winning the starting third base job. It appeared that Chisenhall would get the chance to sink-or-swim up until a few weeks ago, but it appears that the Indians value Hannahan's glove with their ground ball-heavy staff in the short-term.

It's probably the right move, as Chisenhall was likely rushed to the majors last season. While he had 20 extra-base hits (seven home runs) in 223 plate appearances, his 49/8 K/BB ratio shows that his plate discipline is a work in progress. However, I'd still target him in AL-only leagues with a midseason promotion in mind. Hannahan batted .250/.331/.388 with eight homers, 40 RBI and a .719 OPS over 366 plate appearances last season, but he doesn't offer much upside for fantasy owners.

Lind Sidelined With Bad Back

Adam Lind was scratched from Tuesday's lineup against the Yankees due to tightness in his lower back. This is a bit of a concern, as it's the same issue that sent him to the disabled list for nearly a month during the first half last year. Blue Jays manager John Farrell admitted that it's a situation that will need to be monitored throughout the year, so I'm hardly optimistic about him getting back to the elite potential he showed in 2009.

The current plan calls for Lind to be shut down for the next three days, so it's unclear whether he'll be ready for Opening Day. David Cooper, who was recently sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas, could return to the major league side if he requires a stint on the disabled list.



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
Email :D.J. Short



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