Who to Watch: Brewers, Reds

Shortstop is a thin fantasy position, but the Brewers have a young speedster at short that I want to grab late in 2010 drafts. Alcides Escobar is the main man in Milwaukee with J.J. Hardy now in Minnesota. Escobar brings an outstanding glove to the field, but for fantasy owners he also brings to the plate exceptional speed and the ability the hit for AVG. In 430 AAA at bats last season Escobar stole a whopping 42 bases and was only caught 10 times; good for an 81% success rate. Even in a Brewers system that doesn’t run much, that success rate should help his chances for achieving at least 30-plus steals over a full season.

Though he has good contact skills, Escobar also has a tendency to swing at bad pitches too often. That may hold is AVG back a bit initially, but there is a good chance that he can at least hit around .280 or so given his contact rate and plus speed. As a late round flier, it’s an all reward/low risk pick.

 

The Brewer I am staying clear of in 2010 is Randy Wolf. Despite a tremendous 2009 season, regression seems inevitable for the 33 year old left-hander.

 

Last season Wolf posted a mediocre 6.7 K/9, but displayed great command posting a 2.4 BB/9. Keep in mind however, that his numbers were helped by a low .257 BABIP against. Also, he now plays his home games in a more hitter friendly environment compared to Dodger Stadium. He also will be facing much more advanced inter-division offenses instead of teams like the Padres, Giants and Diamondbacks. He may very well end up being a good match-up play from time to time, but I’ll be looking for other options on draft day.

 

From the Cincinnati Reds it is Jay Bruce that I want on my fantasy team. Yes, he had a miserable AVG last season. Mysterious is one way to describe it. Bruce fared poorly against both right and left-handed pitching, but ended with an extremely low .222 BABIP. Part of that can be explained by a very low 13% line drive rate, then again he did crush 22 home runs in only 345 at bats. Home runs do not count toward BABIP because they land over the fence and not “in play”. His AB/HR rate of 15.7 was among the best in the league and would translate to 35 home runs over 550 at bats. While the AVG may be in question, the power potential is tremendous and worth the price of admission on draft day.

 

The Reds player I am staying clear of in 2010 is Francisco Cordero. Cordero posted a 2.16 ERA last season, but saw a decline in strikeouts for the third year in a row. On top of that he walked over four per nine innings pitched and allowed the highest contact rate of his career. At age 35 in May, Cordero looks like he may be entering his decline. That being said, it’s not so much the ERA or save total I am worried about. It’s the cost on draft day. According to Mock Draft Central Cordero is being viewed as an eighth round pick. With many other closers that can post better strikeout rates going much later in the draft, I’ll pass on Cordero in 2010.

 

Brett Greenfield: Fantasy Phenoms

 

The Brewer you want on your team in 2010 is Rickie Weeks. He missed much of 2009 with a wrist injury, but had nine homers and was on pace to hit over 30. Weeks is entering his age 27/28 season and, while a huge health risk, has always presented tons of upside. He reminds me of Chris Young of Arizona, but since he plays 2B, warrants drafting. You can get him in the teens in your drafts.

 

The Brewer you don’t want on your 2010 team is Casey McGehee. Third base is a position where power is at a premium and McGehee won’t provide more than 20. He didn’t steal a bag last year and isn’t likely to occupy an RBI producing lineup spot. I can’t see him topping 70 runs or 70 RBI.His .300 AVG last year was the highest of his minor league career, so an improvement seems unlikely. Find your CI elsewhere

 

The Reds player you want on your team in 2010 is Drew Stubbs. If you were lucky enough to scoop him up off the waiver wire in September, you already know who he is. Stubbs provided owners with eight HR and ten SB over his 180 AB’s. Stubbs won’t provide you with a great AVG, considering his .260’s AVG last year in both the minors and majors. But, he could steal bases at a high clip. He stole 46 in the minors last year and 10 in the majors, totaling 56. While Stubbs hasn’t shown much pop in the majors, he did hit eight HR last year in limited time. Playing in the Great American Ballpark has done wonders for Drew, as seven of his eight homers did come at home. That bodes well for his chances of hitting 10-15 HR next year. Best of all, you can snag him with the last pick of your draft.

 

Only once in the previous five seasons has Scott Rolen eclipsed 500 AB’s. He’s injury prone and unreliable, to say the least. Most of his damage was done as a Blue Jay next year and it’s obvious that Cincinatti signed him for veteran leadership, rather than stellar production. Rolen has shown little pop in his brief stints of health and in his last 521 AB season, he hit only 21. Expecting more than 15-20 is absurd. Third base is thin, but drafting Rolen as your CI means you have to draft another CI to back him up in case of injury