This time last year, we knew Roy Halladay as a model of consistency. With a fantastic 2.98 ERA from 2001-2011, it was hard to find a better bet for your fantasy dollar. However, coming off a season where the 35-year-old posted a 4.49 ERA in 25 starts and missed six weeks with a shoulder strain, he has quickly evolved into one of the toughest calls for fantasy owners.
The good news is that Halladay is saying all the right things this spring and the results have backed him up. He has a 2.16 ERA (two earned runs allowed) and a 7/2 K/BB ratio in 8 1/3 innings over his first three Grapefruit League starts, including four shutout frames Wednesday afternoon against the Nationals.
Unfortunately, that hasn't done much to silence those who believe all those innings have caught up to him, most notably one scout who told CBS Sports' Danny Knobler that Halladay is "not the same guy." This was based in part on his velocity, which sat in the 86-88 mph range yesterday. For what it's worth, Halladay averaged 90.6 mph on his fastball and 88.9 mph on his cutter last year, a couple ticks below where he was in previous seasons. It's still early in the spring, so this is hardly the time to panic, but we might as well get used to his velocity being a topic of conversation moving forward.
You'll likely see a wide range of rankings for Halladay depending upon where you draft this spring. And given his lengthy track record of success, the opportunity for a bargain is there if he falls far enough. I'm more optimistic than pessimistic at this point, but be careful about counting on him as the top starter on your staff in a mixed league.
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Off the Mark
You know how many complained about the Yankees relying too much on the home run ball last season? Well, they won't have that to worry about anymore. At least to start the season, anyway.
After Mark Teixeira withdrew from the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday because he felt a "pop" in his right wrist, the news got even worse on Wednesday. It turns out that he's dealing with a strained tendon in the wrist and will need 8-10 weeks to get back on the field. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman compared it to the injury that Blue Jays' slugger Jose Bautista had last year, which isn't exactly encouraging considering that he eventually required season-ending surgery.
The plan calls for Teixeira to be idle for four weeks before he begins his rehab. If all goes well, the hope is that he'll be ready to return somewhere around early-to-mid May. For what it's worth, our own Matthew Pouliot has dropped Teixeira from 11th to 18th among first baseman and 86th to 135th in the overall top 250, so keep that in mind if you are thinking about stashing him in a DL spot.
The in-house alternatives for the Yankees? Well, they aren't great. Juan Rivera makes sense, but he also figures to be needed in the outfield because of Curtis Granderson's forearm fracture. Dan Johnson, even with his penchant for late-season heroics, hasn't done much in the majors since 2007. Kevin Youkilis has experience at first base, but that would likely mean a combination of Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez at third base. And while I like what Nunez can do from a fantasy perspective, the Yankees seem opposed to using him anywhere other than shortstop. But they might not have a choice any longer.
We'll probably hear a lot of chatter about familiar names like Carlos Lee, Aubrey Huff and Scott Rolen in the coming days, but they might not be any better than the underwhelming in-house options. A trade can't be ruled out, but we're unlikely to see anything until we get closer to the start of the season. As of now, things look pretty grim, both for the Yankees and fantasy owners.
In case you were wondering, yes, Kyle Lohse is still out of a job. And it appears that he can cross one possible landing spot off the list.
Some speculated on the Rangers as a fit after Martin Perez suffered a forearm fracture when he was hit by a comebacker on Sunday, but T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com was told by a Rangers' source yesterday that it isn't going to happen.
"We are not going to sign Kyle Lohse," said Sullivan's source. "I can't be clearer than that."
Lohse finished eighth in the National League Cy Young Award balloting after posting a 2.86 ERA and 143/38 K/BB ratio over 211 innings last season, but so far nobody is willing to surrender the draft pick it will take to sign him. He's keeping in shape by throwing to college hitters in simulated games, so he could be ready for the season if he finally finds a home in the coming days. Lohse has overperformed relative to his xFIP in each of the past two seasons, so he's not someone I would have on my radar in fantasy leagues right now.
As for the Rangers, Robbie Ross is quickly emerging as the favorite for the fifth starter job. The 23-year-old southpaw allowed one run over four innings Wednesday against the Cubs and has a 3.00 ERA over nine innings this spring. After posting a 2.22 ERA and 47/23 K/BB ratio over 65 innings out of the bullpen last season, Ross might be worth the extra buck in AL-only leagues if he gets the gig, even with Colby Lewis (elbow) slated to return later this season. By the way, the Rangers signed Derek Lowe to a minor league deal on Wednesday, but he's being looked at as a long reliever.
Johan Nears Debut
We heard earlier this week that there's "almost no chance" Johan Santana will start the season on time, but there's increased optimism that he's nearing his Grapefruit League debut. Mets manager Terry Collins said Wednesday that he's aiming for Santana to pitch in a game next Thursday or Friday.
Santana is still in the process of building strength in his shoulder, as he had an unusually light workload during the offseason. The veteran southpaw has thrown lightly off the mound twice in recent days and will have to complete a bullpen session and live batting practice before being cleared for game action.
As of now, Santana projects to only get three starts before Opening Day, so the most likely scenario is that he begins the season on the disabled list in order to get some extra preparation time. It's the smart play, as a healthy and effective Santana could make for an interesting trade chip in his walk year. Of course, the Mets would likely have to pay a chunk of his remaining salary to get anything of value in return. He also has the ability to veto any deal.
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