There are two factors that put players on my fantasy-baseball hot seat — age and injury history. It's not too difficult to conclude...
There are two factors that put players on my fantasy-baseball hot seat — age and injury history.
It’s not too difficult to conclude a 35-year-old is likely to be in decline or headed that way and that a player with an injury-hampered past is likely to get hurt again. But, season after season, owners can’t avoid tempting what seems like obvious fate.
I always try my best to avoid drafting the old and injury-prone, but it seems there are always a few who slip to a spot where it becomes nearly impossible to pick someone else. I mean, it probably would have made sense in this year’s draft season to pick Chipper Jones (he’ll turn 35 later this month) in the 12th round if you didn’t already have a No. 1 third baseman.
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What doesn’t make sense is not having a contingency plan and not looking to trade the Jones-type player as soon as he goes on a hot streak.
So, if you have a Jones-type but are without a capable replacement, it’s time to go to the waiver wire and find one. That way you have someone to fill in when the Jones-type misses time — and he will — or when you convince some instant-gratification-leaning owner to trade for him while he’s healthy and going well.
Here are some other players to prepare for replacing and/or getting rid of:
• C Jason Varitek, Red Sox: He endeared himself to me forever when he shoved that catcher’s mitt into Alex Rodriguez‘s face a couple of years back — easily one of my top-10 sports moments this century — but in fantasy it’s always business, never personal. The ex-Mariners draft pick played just 103 games last season — batting .238 — and will be 35 on April 11. Don’t let him near your roster unless at a supreme discount, like off the waiver wire.
• 1B Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers: He’s coming off his first productive season since 2003, but the 33-year-old’s fantasy value was solely based on eligibility at shortstop and third base. He can play only first base this season, making him unworthy of a roster spot in all but National League-only leagues.
• 2B Ray Durham, Giants: There’s no way the 35-year-old will repeat the 26 home runs and 93 runs batted in of 2006, but you might be able to get someone to overpay in trade because second base is such a thin position. Deserving of a spot in deep leagues, but I’d rather have a younger guy as my No. 1.
• Jones, Braves: Can still rake when he’s on the field, but I don’t see him playing more games than the 109-½ he has averaged the past two seasons.
• SS Bobby Crosby, Athletics: I hope none of you drafted him to be your No. 1 (he has averaged 90 games the past two seasons), but his talent makes him deserving of a roster spot. Just don’t trade your top shortstop to make room for Crosby.
• OF J.D. Drew, Red Sox: I am not against trying to go the long haul with the perpetually banged-up outfielder, because he’ll be hitting behind David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, but I’d still try to deal him if he has a hot start.
• OF Torii Hunter, Twins: Always an underrated fantasy performer, but his all-out defensive style makes him a collision with a wall from a season-ending injury like the one he had in 2005.
• OF Scott Podsednik, White Sox: I’m not a big fan of this ex-Mariner even when 100 percent healthy — lifetime .275 batting average and .342 on-base percentage leave a lot to be desired from a leadoff hitter — and he’s coming off sports-hernia surgery while dealing with a balky groin. Not good for someone whose value is solely tied to base-stealing.
• OF Rocco Baldelli, Devil Rays: Came back strong after missing all of 2005 and the first two months of 2006 with various ailments, and has been a popular pick this draft season — too popular. I’ll reconsider if he becomes a real threat to steal 35-plus bases.
Got questions about fantasy baseball? Send them to Jerry Faull: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jerry Faull, Seattle Times Sports, 1120 John St., Seattle, WA 98109. His look at fantasy baseball will appear each Wednesday during the season.