Blog Entry

Late spring surprises

Posted on: April 2, 2009 6:34 am

I missed a couple days of blogging, so forgive me if I touch on some outdated events.

I want to start with the one player whose performance at this late date in spring training might actually mean something. No, not Alex Gordon, though he fits that same criteria. I'm referring to Travis Hafner, who homered for the second straight game Wednesday, showing the kind of power outburst not seen from him since early in 2007.

But it's two days -- two days -- so I don't want to look too much into it. Then again, I don't want to look too little into it either. For as gone as his power was last year, his shoulder damaged beyond repair, and as little as he has seemed to progress this spring, the Indians sure do show a lot of confidence in him, with manager Eric Wedge already committing to batting him third or fourth in the lineup -- as in the two spots normally reserved for the team's two best hitters.

Wedge has to know something I don't know, doesn't he? He has to.

If nothing else, the two homers mean you should start paying attention to Hafner again. I recently dropped him for Pablo Sandoval in a 12-team mixed league, and I have to admit I feel a little uneasy about it today.

Not so much for the Sandoval part, though. With the recent news that he'll serve as the Giants backup catcher, meaning he'll have to move over from third base to spell Bengie Molina behind the plate from time to time, I couldn't be more thrilled. He will gain catcher eligibility, and as a catcher, he rates right alongside Ryan Doumit and Chris Iannetta. He has the potential to rank ahead of them, even, because you have to figure he'll play more than 150 games. Third basemen don't need days off the way catchers do.

I can't understate my surprise when I heard the Phillies named Chan Ho Park their fifth starter over J.A. Happ. Just what do they hope to gain by that maneuver? Happ has legitimate upside, and Park hasn't had a WHIP below 1.39 since about the time I hit purberty. I actually liked Happ as a nice, low-cost sleeper in NL-only leagues. I suppose I'd still take Park in an NL-only Head-to-Head league, where anyone who pitches has some value, but in a Rotisserie league, forget it. I don't need him bringing down my WHIP.

In another surprise move, the Tigers named Fernando Rodney their closer over Brandon Lyon. At least that one makes sense. Rodney, by my estimation, has slightly more ability than Lyon. Quite frankly, though, I don't think either has the ability to finish the year in the role. If you want to make a preemptive move in an AL-only league, my money's on Ryan Perry.

Category: MLB
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