I completed all of my spring training rankings for each position last week. Now that I have done that it’s time to go back and take a look at each set of rankings and see if there are any changes that I would make. Now by changes I’m not talking about one or two spots, I’m talking at least 5 spots, in other words a significant change that either moves a certain player down a tier, or takes him off the list altogether.
If a player was removed from the rankings than I will name the player that would up to take his place. Rankings are always a fluid list, constantly changing, usually because of injury or performance. In an NL only league that I play in, one where the draft was held in late February, I have Chase Utley, Chris Carpenter, and Ryan Madson on my team. Yeah, I’m pretty much a donation in that league. Hard to recover in an NL or AL only league when three of your starters are gone before the season starts, none of us is immune.
Let’s take a look at my changes, players original rank will be in parenthesis.
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis (18): Carpenter has some nerve problems in his throwing shoulder that will prevent him from throwing until at least mid-April. Certainly not good news for his owners. Everyone loved him as a top 20 starter a month ago, now he may not even be in the top 50. Even if everything goes according to plan one has to believe the earliest he would pitch again is June, and there is no guarantee about that or how effective he will be when he comes back.
Michael Pineda, Yankees (21): Pineda doesn’t slip much, but enough not to be a top 25 SP anymore, probably more along the lines of top 30 assuming he makes the Yanks out of spring training. Pineda isn’t throwing with the same velocity he had last year with Seattle although he has still been effective in ST. Pineda reported to camp about 20 pounds overweight, certainly not helping his cause, and the Yankees have to many starters as it is, someone has to either go to the bullpen or be sent to AAA, and the Yanks may elect to send Pineda down to work on his velocity. Keep in mind that even in Pineda does break camp with the team, he could be sent down in a month when Andy Pettitte is scheduled to return to the rotation. Injuries or a trade of Freddy Garcia could change things, but right now Pineda may be the odd man out.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco and Josh Johnson, Miami: These would be the two players I’d bump up to my top 25. Bumgarner might have been a sleeper pick early in March but everyone believes in his skills now, some even believe that he has the best stuff in the rotation, high praise when you’re talking about a rotation that has Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Doesn’t hurt any that he will pitch a ton of games in pitchers ballparks as most starters that play in the NL West will do. The only thing holding Johnson back from being a top 10 starting pitcher is doubt. We all remember that he was shutdown last season after suffering a shoulder injury, an injury he never had surgery for. So there has to be some doubt as to whether or not Johnson can make it through a full season. He has been a forgotten man in drafts so far, might be time to start remembering his name.
Alex Avila, Detroit: I left him off my original ranking. That was an error, thought I had added him when I did not. Once again one year wonder players do scare me, like to see them do it again, but a catcher with some pop and who can help you in average in quite valuable. Not to mention he plays in a great lineup. He would be 6th on my original ranking.
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia (14): Back when I first made this ranking, there was some hope that Howard might be able to play at some point in April. Now it seems the best case scenario would have him back in the lineup in mid-May at that seems unlikely. Have a feeling he may not be himself until July. Certainly can’t draft him as anything more than a reserve at this point in time, perhaps he can help you in the playoffs.
Kendrys Morales, Angels: We go from taking away one injured player to adding someone who has missed most of the past two seasons due to injury. That being said Morales is finally playing again and having a good camp. The Angels may play it cautious with Morales in April and rest him more than usual, but once he proves himself capable of playing every day, he could turn into the bat the team is looking for to hit behind Albert Pujols.
Chase Utley, Philadelphia (5): Doesn’t look like Utley’s career will ever be the same. His knee condition seems to be chronic and debilitating regardless of what he says. He is slated to begin the season on the disabled list which means you would be lucky to have him play 120+ games for you this season. Matter of fact he may have trouble reaching that amount of games played in any season from now until he retires. How often he plays may very well depend upon how much pain he can tolerate. He doesn’t fall off the list, but is no longer a starter in a 10 team league, but a possible MI or even a reserve in deeper leagues.
Marco Scutaro, Colorado (12): Scutaro looked like a nice sleeper going into spring training. Would have 2B eligibility sometime in April which can only help matters, but a slow start in the Cactus League have set some doubts in motion. Hitting in Colorado is nice, but so is hitting at Fenway, so the ballpark shouldn’t make much of a difference. He’s still in the MI discussion, but not one of the first choices anymore, but more like someone you take with the last couple of picks in your draft.
Erick Aybar, Angels: I’ve never been a big fan of Aybar and still aren’t, but someone has to slide into my top 15. My thinking always was that last season was a career year that he would have trouble duplicating, but if he can hit double digit HRs again to go alone with 30+ SBs, than he deserves to be a top 10 player more or less top 15.
Third Base: no changes
BJ Upton, Tampa Bay (19): What Upton does well is give you a nice combination of speed and power, what he doesn’t do well is hit for average. Love the power/speed combo, but combine is average problems, with his attitude problems, and now he is dealing with a concussion that puts him on the DL to start the season and he drops to 25 for me. One thing to remember with concussions is that there really is no timetable to return, you can never be sure.
Carl Crawford, Boston (25): Really hate taking him off this list. This is Carl freaking Crawford we’re talking about. One of the best players in MLB before last season, but there are just to many question marks. Can he recover from a disastrous first season in bean town? Can he get over this wrist injury to become a productive player once again? When does he return to the lineup? Where will he hit in the lineup (certainly won’t be at the top)? Will he run again? I’d rather not take the chance unless he slides into the later rounds.
Jayson Werth, Washington: Another player that needs to prove to the organization and the fans that his first season with the club wasn’t a sign of things to come. I’m not big on Werth, but outfield isn’t significantly deep and Werth does look much more relaxed in his second season with the club. Perhaps he is starting to realize that the Nats have enough offense around him where he doesn’t have to do everything himself. Michael Morse looks like the real thing and Adam Laroche will be back with the team after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.
Designated Hitter: no changes, not really anyone to change but I’m really surprised that Johnny Damon doesn’t have a job yet.
Drew Storen, Washington (5): These next three players are why we always say don’t pay for saves, you just never know. Storen will begin the season on the DL with elbow soreness. Now we all automatically start to think the worst when we think of the elbow, but he has been checked out and there doesn’t seem to be anything significantly wrong, so his stint on the DL could be a short one, but still he drops into the teens in my rankings. Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez are expected to close while Storen is out, not Tyler Clippard.
Ryan Madson, Cincinnati, (7): Tough break for Madson who signed a one-year deal with the Reds as he will miss the entire season after tearing his elbow ligament. Sean Marshall is expected to close in his absence.
Joakim Soria, Kansas City (17): I didn’t have much faith in Soria anyway, wondering if something was wrong after the terrible season he has last year. My fears were confirmed as Soria is also out for the season and will need Tommy John surgery. Jonathan Broxton looks to get the first chance to close, but don’t forget about Greg Holland.
Matt Thornton, White Sox and Javy Guerra, Dodgers: The reason neither one of these made the original list is that neither may keep the job all season. Thornton has Addison Reed waiting for the opportunity and Guerra has Kenley Jansen. That being said, both are slated to begin the season at closer and if they perform well, they will keep the job, if not, than the next man in line gets a shot.
Remember, you can ask any fantasy questions you like on Twitter, @GeorgeKurtz.