Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors passed along some links that helped answer some questions regarding the lineup the Phillies plan to use to start to season.
Fantasy flirt, Ty Wigginton, will start the season as the Phillies everyday first baseman (though Jim Thome might get a start here or there). This is great news for fantasy owners looking to find lightning in a bottle late on draft day. Wiggy’s numbers are, for the most part, unimpressive throughout the season, but each year it seems that he picks about one month or so to go on a home run binge and help fantasy owners who are quick to nab him off the wire. Last season, he hit .262 with eight home runs in June. In 2010, Wiggy hit .308 with six home runs in April and followed by hitting .276 with seven home runs in May. The prognosis on Ryan Howard’s ankle estimates that the slugger could return in late May, but that would be a best-case scenario. Give Wigginton a look in the final rounds of your draft and hope that he comes out of the gates like he did in 2010. He’s eligible at 1B, 3B and OF, which would make an early season surge all the more valuable.
Jim Bowden of ESPN was told by Ruben Amaro Jr. that, baring a huge spring by Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix would open the season as a platoon in left field. Joe Lucia of The Outside Corner echoes my thoughts on the matter. Mayberry was a decent prospect, and he crushes lefties, but has historically struggled against right-handed pitching, limiting his fantasy upside. Nix, on the other hand, has good power, but doesn’t exactly “crush” righties. Left-handed batters normally get the lion’s share of at-bats in a platoon, which doesn’t make much sense for a player like Nix, who is more of a fourth outfielder or pinch hitter. No matter how this scenario plays out, it seems that the Phillies brass, for one reason or another, don’t believe in their now 24-year-old prospect. I suspect that there are plenty of teams calling about Brown’s availability.
Brown suffered a broken hand last spring, so we can give him a pass for his sub-par numbers in 2011. Still, I’m a bit concerned with his swing might not translate as well against big-league pitching. At least this season Brown won’t cost fantasy GMs a draft pick in most formats, meaning that you’ll have time to monitor his progress or lack thereof.