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Most fantasy baseball leagues will have finished their drafts by this weekend, and now that spring training is almost over, it's time to assess what we might have learned from the last few weeks of non-competitive competition and a little thing called the World Baseball Classic.
More specifically, I need to reassess my earlier sleepers, since some of them didn't survive the spring. Regular readers will remember that back on March 7, I posted my earlier sleeper picks for 2009 at every position. And now for some adjustments:
C: Chris Iannetta. I decided to stay off the Matt Wieters bandwagon, and Wieters ended up getting sent to the minors. The funny thing is that I'll now add Wieters as a second sleeper after Iannetta, because he probably will re-surface before the All-Star break, and could be this year's Evan Longoria.
1B: Pablo Sandoval. He lost the 1B job to Travis Ishikawa, who I think is a tad overrated -he's poked five homers this spring, but looks more like the next Chris Shelton than the next Big Papi. My new pick is Adam Dunn. I know, he's hardly a sleeper - as an outfielder. He'll have 1B eligibility this year and probably will play many of his games there. Yet, he's not listed in the top 20 1B ranks at Yahoo! I think he will lead first baseman in home runs.
2B: Mike Fontenot. Finally, I can keep one of my original sleeper picks. Still on track for maybe 175 hits, 100+ runs, 15 HRs and 40 doubles.
3B: Dayan Viciedo. He gone! So, Viciedo didn't make the cut for the White Sox, and Josh Fields is looking very good, possibly even good enough to lead off. What the heck, Fields is our new sleeper pick. 30 HRs, 20 SBs, here we come. Also, keep an eye on Sandoval, who may end up at third.
SS: Jason Bartlett. Basically, still a solid pick, but kind of boring. Emmanuel Burriss, on the other hand, will have 2B/SS eligibility in San Francisco, and could still 30+ bases with regular playing time. Still, Burriss would best be played as a final rounder for your friends to scratch their heads about.
OF: Cameron Maybin, Denard Span, Elijah Dukes. Al Kaline loves Maybin, but all three have been fairly vanilla this spring. I love SBs out of the OF slots, and Brett Gardner, the new CF for your New York Yankees has 40 SB potential, and could score more than 100 runs for this Yankee iteration. Also, Kendry Morales, RF/1B for the Los Angeles Angels, would be the MVP of spring if there was such a thing, and if anyone cared enough. He's hitting .400 right now, and of course won't do that, but how about .325, 20 HRs?
SP: Chris Carpenter, Max Scherzer. I'll stick with these guys. Carpenter looks fantastic, and though Scherzer's role still seems in flux, his Ks are too good to pass up. I'll add Hiroki Kuroda - all too familiar to Cubs fans from last fall, but otherwise underrated. Kuroda hadn't walked anybody this spring as of earlier this week, and is now the Dodgers' Opening Day starter. And what about Sean Marshall?
RP: Joey Devine, Jason Motte. Devine fizzled out early with an injury, and could be a factor this year, but no longer seems like a draft pick to me. Motte, on the other hand, looks like the closer in St Louis. Great stuff, lots of strikeouts - and now saves, too.
Oh, I almost forgot about the WBC. What did we learn from the WBC? Absolutely nothing, except that Japan is still better than anyone when it comes to pitting oddly-built teams against one another in meaningless games.
Around the horn:
* Gordon Edes of Yahoo! Sports has the skinny on several position battles going on around the major leagues, like that battle for Cubs closer. Carlos Marmol may still get the job over Kevin Gregg (we'll probably find out by Friday), but between his WBC fiasco and his shaky outings since, he has probably pitched himself out of the ranks of top 10 relief pitchers, where I had him earlier this month. Right now, I'd say he's a No. 2 RP in just about any fantasy league.
* FantasySourceFastball at the Sporting News has a fun item looking at last-round picks. The best sort of last-round pick, like the above-mentioned Burriss, is an enigma who leaves other owners rifling through their draft paperwork trying to figure out what they missed. Burriss made the FantasySource list, and so did a Baltimore Orioles pitcher whose name I heard exactly once before I read the FSF post: Koji Uehara.
* What, you want more sleepers? A site I just viewed for the first time, Fake Teams, has some quick sleeper picks. The only one I disagree with is Nick Swisher, who probably will not see much playing time as a Yankee.
* Meanwhile, feel free to take a second look at some of my position-by-position recommendations from the last several weeks or so if you are heading into a draft this week.
Fantasy Basketball Round-Up
The playoffs have begun in the world of fantasy hoops, and since I'm fortunate enough to have earned first-round playoff byes in both of my leagues, I'll use the time this week to take a look at a possible first round list for next season:
1. LeBron James. Could have his best season yet auditioning for new employers - not that ne needs to.
2. Dwyane Wade. He's again one of the top 3 players, but maybe has the best-balanced stats of the three.
3. Chris Paul. Assists and steals galore, and outstanding field goal percentage. Will continue to improve.
4. Kobe Bryant. Nothing to complain about, just not better than fourth against the previous three.
5. Kevin Durant. His second year is priming everyone for his third - 2000 points-plus next year?
6. Dirk Nowitzki. He'll be 31 next year, but consistently ranks as a top 5 player in Yahoo! Slump-proof.
7. Yao Ming. Amazing what an almost full season can show you. Well-rounded big-man stats.
8. Pau Gasol. A big-man who dishes assists to Kobe is almost as good.
9. Brandon Roy. Has become an elite scorer, and is on the cusp of greatness with an improving team.
10. Chris Bosh. Sorta fell apart this year, but could fulfill top 10 promise next year.
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