And back we are, pretty much on our regular schedule through the end of the season. Meaning we meet here, every Monday.
Today promises to be an auspicious one, as tonight is the Bloomberg Sports Experts League Draft, which is open to the public for viewing. Bloomberg has assembled a fun collection of players from around the globe with a handful of my brethren within the industry. Check the forum and Mastersblog for the exact URL, but for now, try Realtime Sports.
Which makes it a busy weekend, as Saturday was my marathon Scoresheet draft (35 rounds worth, although most teams did fill the first eight rounds of their teams with keepers), and this coming weekend I head for Las Vegas and the first weekend of the NFBC drafts.
Such a busy time, and I will report on Vegas, and then Tout in the next few weeks. So, today I thought I would like to give a last minute list of sleepers and sliders, and why I think one particular way or another about these players.
So, let's get to it.
Cliff Pennington (SS, Athletics): I am not so sure Pennington still holds sleeper status since I wrote about him in our magazine (Fantasy Baseball Guide 2010, Professional Edition, on sale now all over the place) and hyped him at both First Pitch and on our forum, but, in a deep league of any format he is a great middle infield addition. With a great glove and good speed, not to mention the exodus of Bobby Crosby to Pittsburgh (where he is having a hot spring), Pennington is likely to keep the job all season. Not much power should be expected, but Cliff will hit at the bottom of the order and should be able to hit around .265-3-45 with 60-plus runs and 20-25 swipes. He could hit for a higher average, but I also think those stats are doable and well worth the $5 or less he should cost in most formats. Sleeper.
Marco Scutaro (SS, Red Sox): Going from the current Oakland shortstop to a former one, Scutaro has made himself into a pretty good ballplayer, and even more than earned his starting job in Boston with his .282-12-60 in 2009 ("who knew?" as my friend Andy Regal would ask.) And, Scoot has developed a selective eye as well, but, I just don't see him repeating those offensive numbers, especially in Boston where the pressure is different, and where Scutaro is coming off his best season at the age of 35, the time most players start to slow down. Slider.
James McDonald (P, Dodgers): There are a lot of reasons to like a particular player, and one thing I like about pitchers is when they are developed by the Dodgers, who really do the best job of shaping future star hurlers. McDonald functioned some last year as the #5 starter, but with mixed results. He started four games, going 1-1, with a nasty 8.16 ERA, only lasting into the fifth inning once for a 6-5 win over Colorado. After that, McDonald spent time in AAA (1-0, 3.26 over six starts) and 41 bullpen appearances in LA (4-4, 2.71). He is also one of those gangly (6'5", 185 pounds) guys who throws a handful of pitches, all with pretty good control. With a little over a year in the majors now, what is not to like? Watch him realize he belongs and step forward. Sleeper.
Chris Davis (1B, Rangers): Talk about ouch, last year Davis walked 24 times while whiffing 150, and his average dropped 47 points (.285 to .238), OBP the same 47 (.331 to .284) and SLG 107 points (.549 to .442). Just in terms of OPS, .726 will not cut it on this high flying and scoring team, especially with super prospect Justin Smoak in the wings. Let's see who drops off the face of the earth first, Davis or Russell Branyan, a statistical soul mate. Slider.
Skip Schumaker (2B, Cardinals): Eerily consistent since earning a full time job in 2007, when he notched a solid .333-2-19 season over 177 at-bats, and then converted to second base, and that sort of makes Schumaker under the radar, especially when you think of the great gaggle of first-tier second-sackers populating the majors right now. But as with Pennington, in a deep format a guy who can hit .300 and knock in 60 while scoring 75 is just fine. Sleeper.
Garrett Jones (OF, Pirates): I have actually seen Jones picked early in mock drafts--as in before guys like say Juan Rivera--and, that should not happen. Jones had his 15 minutes of fame, but that .972 OPS has anomaly written all over it. Jones' OBP, for example, jumped to .371 last year after 1038 games with a .311 OBP (3817 at-bats). That does not just happen, and I have to think that Jones had hits fall in and, now that there is a major league book on him, it will be back to .311 and that will not be good enough to hold a job. Even in Pittsburgh. Slider.
Nate Schierholtz (OF, Giants): With .307-80-400 totals, with 41 swipes, over 626 minor league games, not much more Schierholtz can prove in the minors, and going into the spring he looks like the starting right fielder at ATT Park. Schierholtz does have a smooth left-handed swing and can actually help his team with some pop and defense in right. He could use some plate discipline (85 whiffs to 21 walks as a major leaguer, a trend which has followed) but Schierholtz hits down on the ball well and makes good contact, and that, with experience, bodes well. Sleeper.
Jason Kendall (C, Royals): There was a time when Kendall was pretty much a staple on my teams, but, no more. In fact we had a pretty good discussion on our forum around the value of Kendall, even in a deep AL league. Does .241-2-43 over 452 at-bats (note there were seven swipes and 48 runs) help more, for example, that Landon Powell's .229-7-30 (19 runs, no swipes) over 140 at-bats? Because Powell was up so many fewer times, despite the low average, it does not entrench like Kendall's, and for power, no question. But it is intriguing that a full-timer can give more grief than a part-timer. Especially on the Royals, I would avoid Kendall in all but the deepest formats. Slider.