Posts Tagged ‘Felipe Lopez’

The Five Best Free Agent Hitters Left On The Market

February 6, 2010

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than two weeks. Can you believe it!!! It seems like yesterday the World Series was being played.

Despite the fact that spring training starts in less than two weeks, there are still a lot of quality major league hitters who still have not found a home. Due to the economy, teams are trying to wait out players as much as possible (unless you are the Houston Astros, who gave $15 million to Brandon Lyon).

Everyone is looking for a bargain these days.

Here are the five best free agent hitters remaining on the market.

Hitters

1. Johnny Damon, OF. Damon hit .282 with 24 home runs, 36 doubles, 12 stolen bases, and .365 OBP in 143 games for the New York Yankees last year. Damon priced himself out of New York and now his options are limited.

Damon is a terrible defensive outfielder and his power numbers were just a product of playing in a ballpark perfectly suited to his swing. His agent Scott Boras is trying to get the Detroit Tigers to bite on Damon, but I see the Atlanta Braves as a darkhorse for his services.

2. Felipe Lopez, 2B. It’s pretty remarkable that a guy who is only 29-years-old and is coming off a season where he hit .310 with 9 home runs, a .383 OBP, and played outstanding defense (7.8 UZR) can’t find a job. That is the dilemma that Lopez is facing right now.

Lopez should find a home soon

You don’t hear too many teams in on his services, but this guy is too good not to have a starting job in the major leagues. The St. Louis Cardinals might be a landing spot for him, if they don’t feel comfortable with David Freese at third.

3. Hank Blalock, 1B/DH. Blalock hit .234 with 25 home runs and a .277 OBP in 123 games in 2009 for the Texas Rangers. The 123 games were the most Blalock played in since 2006.

Blalock can hit a home run, but other than that, he doesn’t do anything else particularly well. He doesn’t get on base, he is injury prone, he is not a good defensive player, and he faded in the second half last season.

He did hit 19 of his 25 home runs off of right-handed pitching, so maybe a team can use him like Mike Scioscia did 2003 All Star Game. That being a left-handed power hitter off the bench.

4. Russell Branyan, 1B/DH. Coming off of a career year, Branyan thought he would finally get paid. So far this has not been the case.

Branyan could end up with the Marlins

Branyan hit 31 home runs last year in just 116 games, but teams have been mostly scared off by Branyan’s back. A 34-year-old with a bad back and no track record prior to 2009 is not attractive to most teams.

I thought he would end up back with the Seattle Mariners at some point, but now it looks like the Florida Marlins might be interested in him.

5. Jermaine Dye, OF. Dye has finished in the top-15 in American League MVP voting two out of the last four years, but his market has been really quiet this winter.

Dye hit .250 last year with 27 home runs and a .340 OBP. Which isn’t the worst hitting line in the world. However, there are a couple of things working against Dye this offseason.

He is 36-years-old, he can’t field a lick anymore, and he is coming off a second half where he hit .179 with just seven home runs. His options are limited, so he might end up on a team as a fourth outfielder or DH-type player.

Tomorrow, I will cover the five best remaining pitchers on the free agent market.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Cardinals To Go With David Freese At Third Base

January 8, 2010

Instead of going after free agents like Miguel Tejada or Felipe Lopez to play third base for them in 2010, the St. Louis Cardinals will go with an in-house option instead.

In an interview with KSLG 1380 radio in St. Louis, Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak said the plan right now is to go with David Freese at third base in 2010. These are the type of options you have to go with when you have almost half your payroll tied up into three players (Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, and Chris Carpenter).

Freese will start for the Cards in 2010

So now that it appears Freese will be given every opportunity to win the Cardinals’ third base job in 2010, lets take a look at just who he is.

Freese was a ninth round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2006 and a year later was traded to the Cardinals for Jim Edmonds (I’ll check that one off as a win for the Cardinals) Edmonds was useless in San Diego and was released in May after only hitting .178 in 26 games.

Freese on the other hand, has impressed at every stop in the minor leagues.

In four minor league seasons, Freese has a career .308 average and a .384 OBP. In 2008 for Triple-A Memphis, Freese hit .306 with 26 home runs and a .910 OPS in 131 games.

That is pretty impressive.

Freese’s 2008 season in Triple-A was so impressive that he earned a spot on the Cardinals’ opening day roster in 2009. Freese however, struggled at the major league level in April hitting only .158 in 22 AB’s.

Freese was sent down and once again tormented Triple-A pitching. In 56 games, Freese hit .300 with 10 home runs. He was called back up in September and hit .583 with a home run in 12 AB’s.

Defensively, based on his minor league stats, Freese should be an above average defensive third baseman in 2010. He also has some experience playing first base if the Cardinals should ever decide to give Pujols a day off.

Going into 2010, Freese ranks fifth amongst the Cardinals’ top-10 prospects according to Baseball America.

In order for the Cardinals to compete at a championship level now and in the future, they need low-cost prospects like Freese, Daryl Jones, and Colby Rasmus to step up and make solid contributions.

Rasmus made a solid contribution to the Cardinals in 2009 by hitting 16 home runs and playing a very solid center field. There is no reason to think Freese can’t follow in Rasmus’ footsteps and make a solid contribution for the Cardinals in 2010.

Freese will go into 2010 as an early National League Rookie of the Year candidate.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

A Steal For The Twins: Acquire J.J. Hardy From Brewers

November 6, 2009

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a big JJ Hardy fan. I have always liked the way he has played. So when I found out that he was traded to the Minnesota Twins today from the Milwaukee Brewers for OF Carlos Gomez, I thought “Wow, what a steal for the Twins.”

For the Twins to get a shortstop of the caliber of Hardy for a fourth outfielder who manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to strangle half the time is a steal in my opinion.

Hardy

Hardy is a steal for the Twins

I know Hardy stunk last season and yes, he was so bad at one point he was sent to the minors (that wasn’t all about performance). But I am convinced last year was just an aberration for Hardy. In the two years before last season, Hardy had OPS’s of .786 and .821.

Hardy is a perfect fit for the Twins. He is a low-key guy, who can play defense. Since Hardy will be under the Twins control for the next two years, he will give the Twins some stability at short.

Now the Twins can feature a lineup that might look something like this:

1. Span, CF

2. Hardy, SS

3. Mauer, C

4. Morneau, 1B

5. Cuddyer, RF

6. Kubel, DH

7. D. Young, LF

8. N/A, 3B – Twins still need a third baseman

9. Punto, 2B

Regardless of who they get to play third, that is a tremendous lineup for the Twins. That is a lineup that could win them another Central Division crown in 2010.

As for the Brewers, the acquisition of Gomez officially ends the Mike Cameron (one of the more underrated players in baseball) era in Milwaukee. I know the Brewers had a need in centerfield, but I feel they could have gotten more for Hardy.

Gomez is a fast runner and a great defensive player. Other than that, he can’t do anything else. He certainly can’t hit–yet. In three years in the majors, Gomez has a .246 average and a .292 OBP.

I say yet because he is still only 23-years-old. However, he just strikes me as a guy that a team would bring in for the eighth inning as a defensive replacement.

You can have all the speed in the world, but if you don’t use it wisely, it doesn’t matter. Look at Derek Jeter. He is not the fastest guy in baseball, but he is the best baserunner in baseball. Sometimes that is better than speed.

This move also tells me the Brewers are going to back off asking Rickie Weeks to play centerfield in 2010. If Gomez is the Brewers’ starting centerfielder in 2010 and Weeks is going to play second, then the Felipe Lopez era is also over in Milwaukee.

Top prospect Alcides Escobar is expected to be the Brewers’ starting shortstop in 2010, which made Hardy expendable.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

As July 31st Approaches, What Do The Contenders Need Update..

July 28, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on what do the contending teams around baseball need at the July 31st trading deadline. With already a couple deals taking place and the trading deadline just a couple of days away, I thought I would update this post.

Here are the needs of the 21 contending teams and who they could potentially target.

Philadelphia Phillies

Needs – Starting Pitching. The Phillies are going for it again and are looking for a big time pitcher.

The Phillies signed Pedro Martinez.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Brad Penny, Cliff Lee, Jarrod Washburn

Florida Marlins

Needs – Bullpen. With Lindstrom out, the Marlins need help in the pen.

Potential Targets – Chad Qualls, Juan Cruz, Matt Capps, John Grabow, George Sherrill

Lee is very popular these days

Lee is very popular these days

Atlanta Braves

Needs – Leftfield. The Braves have already traded for Nate McLouth and Ryan Church, but their offense could use another bat.

Potential Targets – David Dejesus, Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff

New York Mets

Needs – Leftfield, First Base, Starting Pitching. The Mets should not be contenders, but in New York, there is no such thing as sellers.

Plus, after Omar Minaya’s press conference yesterday, it’s official – Omar Minaya is out of his mind.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Adam Dunn, Nick Johnson, Luke Scott, David Dejesus, Aubrey Huff

St Louis Cardinals

Needs – The Cardinals acquired Mark DeRosa and then acquired the best hitter on the market in Matt Holliday. The Cardinals also acquired Julio Lugo from the Boston Red Sox

I don’t think the Cardinals have any prospects to deal to make another trade.

Potential Targets – None

Milwaukee Brewers

Needs – Starting Pitching. The Brewers’ starting rotation has fallen apart recently. Offense is not the issue with this team.

The Brewers have already acquired Felipe Lopez from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Jon Garland, Doug Davis, Jarrod Washburn, Ian Snell

Chicago Cubs

Needs – Bullpen. The Cubs just need the players they already have to play better. They could use another arm in the pen.

The Cubs have signed BJ Ryan

Potential Targets – Joe Beimel, Danys Baez, Jamey Wright

Houston Astros

Needs – Third Base, First Base, Starting Pitching. The Astros are now in the thick of the NL Central and Wild Card race. With Lance Berkman going on the DL, the Astros could now use a solid bench player for insurance.

Problem Astros will have making trades is that their farm system is not that good.

I love Mark Teahen for the Astros. Can play 1st, 3rd, 2nd, and the outfield.

Potential Targets – Jon Garland, Brian Bannister, Doug Davis, Bobby Crosby, Mark Teahen

Cincinnati Reds

Needs – Offense. With Jay Bruce now out six-to-eight weeks with a fractured wrist, the Reds are desperate for offense. They should really be sellers, but they are still only 7.5 games out of first in the NL Central.

Potential Targets – Mark Teahan, David Dejesus, Marco Scutaro, Scott Rolen

Los Angeles Dodgers

Needs – Bullpen. With Roland Belasario out with an inflamed elbow (it was only a matter of time before Joe Torre blew someone’s arm out) and Jonathon Broxton suffering from a toe injury, the Dodgers could use some insurance in the pen.

The Dodgers have also been linked to ace’s Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

Potential Targets – Joe Beimel, Juan Cruz, John Grabow, George Sherrill, Danys Baez, Ron Mahay, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jarrod Washburn

San Francisco Giants

Needs – Offense. The Giants can use all the offense they can get.

The Giants acquired Ryan Garko from the Cleveland Indians last night.

Potential Targets – Jermaine Dye, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Nick Johnson, Alex Rios, Josh Willingham

VMart could be traded

VMart could be traded

Colorado Rockies

Needs – Bullpen, Starting Rotation. Everyone thought the Rockies would be sellers at this point, but they are the leaders of the Wild Card race. As usual, the Rockies could use some pitching help.

The Rockies acquired Rafael Betancourt from the Cleveland Indians.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Ian Snell, Matt Capps, John Grabow, Takashi Saito, Danys Baez, Miguel Batista

Boston Red Sox

Needs – Offense. I don’t want to hear the Red Sox are fourth in baseball in runs scored – they need offense.

The Red Sox acquired Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chris Duncan from the St Louis Cardinals last week.

Potential Targets – Victor Martinez, Mark Teahan, Jack Wilson, Orlando Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Roy Halladay

New York Yankees

Needs – Starting Pitching, Bullpen. The Yankees are having back of the rotation issues right now and they could use another arm in the pen. The Yankees have been linked to Halladay, Cliff Lee, Washburn and Bronson Arroyo.

The Yankees have already traded for Eric Hinske

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Joe Beimel, John Grabow, Cliff Lee, Bronson Arroyo, Jarrod Washburn, Ian Snell

Tampa Bay Rays

Needs – Starting Pitching, Catcher, Right Field. I still think the Rays could use another solid, depandable arm in the pen, but they seem to have targeted Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

They are also looking to upgrade the Gabe Gross/Gabe Kapler platoon in right and also at the catcher position. Dioner Navarro has been disappointing this year.

Potential Targets – Jamey Wright, Danys Baez, Mark Teahan, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Willingham, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez

Detroit Tigers

Needs – Bullpen, Offense. The Tigers have two top of the rotation starters in Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson. However, after watcing them versus the Yankees, I think they could use another bat

I also think they could use another arm in the pen to go along with Rodney. Joel Zumaya recently landed on the DL.

Potential Targets – Matt Capps, Ron Mahay, John Grabow, Mike Gonzalez, Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn, Jarrod Washburn

Minnesota Twins

Needs – Middle Infield. Freddy Sanchez makes so much sense it’s scary.

Potential Targets – Freddy Sanchez, Adam Kennedy, Orlando Cabrera, Marco Scutaro

Where will Doc land?

Where will Doc land?

Chicago White Sox

Needs – Starting Pitching. Kenny Williams already tried for Jake Peavy, will he go after Roy Halladay?

The White Sox have already acquired reliever Tony Pena from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Needs – Bullpen, Starting Rotation. For the first time in a long time, the Angels offense is not the problem. The Angels need bullpen help in the worst way and of course, they might be in on Roy Halladay.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Scott Kazmir, John Grabow, Arthur Rhodes, Joe Beimel, George Sherrill

Texas Rangers

Needs – Starting Pitching. Isn’t it always about pitching with the Rangers? The Rangers have the farm system, but do they have the money? That is the question with the Rangers.

The Rangers bullpen might get a boost with Neftali Feliz. He has been pitching from the stretch recently and is preparing for a bullpen stint with the Rangers for this year.

Potential Targets – Doug Davis, Brad Penny, Brian Bannister, Ben Sheets (free agent), Takashi Saito, George Sherrill, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee.

Seattle Mariners

Needs – Third Base, Leftfield, Shortstop. The Mariners might hold the key to the trading deadline. The have potentially one of the most desirable pitchers on the market, if the Mariners should pack it in – Jarrod Washburn.

Erik Bedard picked the worst time to go on the DL for the M’s.

The Mariners are 51-47 and 7.5 games back of the Angels in the AL West. They have dropped 3.5 games in the standing since this original post. I still see them trying to add instead of giving up players.

They have already acquired 3B Jack Hannrahan from the A’s.

Potential Targets – Garrett Atkins, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jack Wilson, Marco Scutaro, Orlando Cabrera, David DeJesus

So there are the 21 teams and the players they might be interested in. Who do you want your favorite team to target? Let’s discuss.

Felipe Lopez Traded To The Milwaukee Brewers…

July 20, 2009

When I first heard that the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks got together and made a trade, I would have bet my bottom dollar that Doug Davis would have been involved in the trade. Well, I wouldn’t have my dollar anymore because Davis was not involved.

Today the Arizona Diamondbacks sent second baseman Felipe Lopez to the Milwaukee Brewers for two minor-leaguers: Outfielder Cole Gillespie (sounds like he should be a Formula One racer) and pitcher Roque Mercedes.

Lopez is headed to Milwaukee

Lopez is headed to Milwaukee

I like this move for the Brewers. Since Rickie Weeks was lost for the season, the Brewers have been mostly using 38-year old Craig Counsell at second base. I like Counsell a lot. I think every team needs a Craig Counsell on their roster. But Counsell is 38 and is more of a utility man at this point in his career.

Lopez should take over as the full-time second baseman and provide some nice offense to an already potent lineup . Lopez was hitting .301 with six HR’s, 25 RBI, six SB’s, and had a .364 OBP.

I like this trade for the Brewers, but as I mentioned in my article last week what do each of the contenders need? I still think the Brewers really need a starting pitcher to put them over the top.

2009, The Year Of The Second Basemen…

May 14, 2009

Normally, when I am drafting my fantasy team I like to take a top 2nd baseman early because there are so few good ones out there. That strategy has been blown out of the water this year because it is looking like 2009 will be the year of the 2nd baseman. Has anyone else noticed the depth of the 2nd base position this year? There are 15 to 16 2nd baseman right now who are having legit fantasy seasons and that doesn’t even include 4 other 2nd baseman who have the potential to be in the top 10 at the position.

Look at these fantasy numbers put up by 2nd baseman so far in 2009….

Aaron Hill – .357/9/30

Orlando Hudson – .343/3/20/.424 and 4 sb’s

Felipe Lopez – .328/4/9/.390 and 4 sb’s

Alberto Callaspo – .327/2/12

Ian Kinsler – .326/9/28 with 8 sb’s

Dustin Pedroia – .320/1/12 with 4 sb’s

Luis Castillo – .318/0/11/.392

Asdrubal Cabrera – .318/1/17 with 6 sb’s

Freddy Sanchez – .317/3/11

Robinson Cano – .313/6/18

Chase Utley – .294/10/23/.419

Brian Roberts – .281/4/13 with 4 sb’s

Akinori Iwamura – .277/0/12 with 7 sb’s

Rickie Weeks – .274/8/22

Brandon Phillips – .265/6/22 with 4 sb’s

Those are some pretty impressive stats through the 1st month and a half of the season. How about the performance of Aaron Hill so far? He has carried the Blue Jays and it looks like the side effects of the concussion he suffered last year have seized. Do I think he can keep up this pace? Probably not. I mean, he is on pace for Ruthian 50 Hr’s and about 163 RBI. I can see the average being there at the end but, it’s more likely Hill will end up with 25 HR’s and 80-85 RBI.

That list doesn’t even include 4 guys who are off to slow starts and have the ability to be a top 2nd baseman…

Howie Kendrick – .241/4/19

Kelly Johnson – .235/3/11

Dan Uggla – .193/4/20/.310

Jose Lopez – .248/3/19

Poor Dan Uggla, he really hasn’t been the same since that disastrous All-Star Game performance last year at Yankee Stadium. He hit .226 in the 2nd half last year and is off to a .193 start this year. I wonder if that game did permanent damage to Uggla mentally? It would be a shame if it did.

As you can see, you should have no excuse finding a quality 2nd baseman this year for your fantasy team.

Also, you may have have noticed a new Link Category to the right called MLB Memorabilia. The folks over at Bigflysports.com, who are fans of The Ghost of Moonlight Graham are happy to offer a 10% discount to all my readers.

Simply click on the link to Big Fly Sports and enter the Promo Code:  ICGHOSTS

Diamondbacks vs Giants…

April 20, 2009

With the news that Randy Johnson is working on a 3rd no-hitter, I thought I would jump in and do a live blog of the Big Unit’s attempt at making history yet again. We pick up the game with the Giants leading 1-0 in the top of the 7th inning.

Game – Diamondbacks vs Giants

Date – 4/19/09

Starting Lineups

Diamondbacks

1. Ojeda, SS

2. Byrnes, LF

3. Lopez, 2B

4. T. Clark, 1B

5. C. Young, CF

6. J. Upton, RF

7. Roberts, 3B

8. Snyder, C

9. Scherzer, P

Giants

1. Lewis, LF

2. Burriss, 2B

3. Winn, RF

4. Molina, C

5. Rowand, CF

6. Sandoval, 3B

7. Ishikawa, 1B

8. Renteria, SS

9. Johnson, P

Top 7th

So we pick up the game in the top of the 7th. Johnson has thrown 65 pitches threw 6.

Can you freakin believe this?? The first pitch Johnson throws to Augie Ojeda, Ojeda hits a double down the left field line. Unreal, talk about a jinx.

Byrnes lays down a beautiful bunt down the third base line but Sandoval is there to throw him out. The bunt moves Ojeda to third.

With the infield playing in, Lopez hits a sharp grounder to Renteria. Renteria holds the runner a 3B and gets the out at first.

After falling behind 2-0, Johnson throws 3 wicked sliders to Clark and strikes him out.

I really can’t believe as soon as I start to cover this game, Johnson loses the no-hitter.

Johnson was going for no-hitter #3 on Sunday

Johnson was going for no-hitter #3 on Sunday

Bottom 7th

Fred Lewis goes down on strikes. Giants still lead 1-0. I feel every game they have is either 2-1 or 1-0. I guess that should be expected when your cleanup hitter is Bengie Molina and your home ballpark has a CF fence that is 600 ft away from home plate.

Burriss lines out to right, 2 outs. That brings up Randy Winn. I have always liked Winn, one of the more underrated players in the game. I am on point today because just as I write this, Winn whiffs on 3 pitches.

I am definitely not playing the Lotto today.

After 7, it is still 1-0 Giants

Top 8th

I just flipped on the Royals vs Rangers game and Kyle Farnsworth blows another one for the Royals. Someone should just punch Trey Hillman in the face when he says “warm up Farnsworth.”

Bobby Howry in to replace the Big Unit. The Dbacks must be thrilled that Johnson is out of the game. 7 innings, 1 hit and 7 K’s for Johnson. Not a bad day at the office

Chris Young pops up to Renteria at short. 1 out

Howry just threw a wicked slider to Upton, 1-2. Upton works the count to 3-2. They just showed a panoramic view of AT&T Park. Man, is that stadium beautiful. Upton whiffs on a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner. 2 outs.

Chad Tracy comes to the plate as a pinch hitter for the pitcher Rodriguez. Tracy pops up to 3rd to end the inning.

3 up, 3 down and we head to the bottom of the 8th with the Giants still leading 1-0.

Bottom 8th

Jon Rauch is in to the game for the Dbacks and is promptly greeting by a Molina single to left.

2 batters faced by Rauch, 2 singles as Rowand singles to left. Bob Melvin makes the signal to the pen to bring in the lefty Schoeneweiss. Every Mets is laughing right now.

Up comes Pablo Sandoval and he comes to the plate with “Shipping up to Boston” playing in the background. Huh? Sandoval rips a single to left. Bases loaded with nobody out. 3 batters and 3 singles to left.

Bob Melvin out again to make another pitching change. Shocker games last 3 and a half hours now a days.

Tony Pena comes into the game. Kind of begs the question why didn’t Pena start the inning?

Aurillia who was pinch hitting for Ishikawa hits into a 6-4-3 double play. Molina scores and makes it 2-0. That ball was hit hard enough where Ojeda, even though he was playing back,  could have gotten Molina at home.

Well Pena does his job as Renteria grounds out to Ojeda to end the inning.

But the Giants do add a run to make 2-0 heading into the 9th inning.

Top 9th

Brian Wilson is on to close the game for the Giants. This is Wilson’s 3rd game in a row so it wouldn’t shock me if Wilson wasn’t sharp today.

Wilson strikes out Snyder and a great fastball on the inside corner. Nothing Snyder could do there, just a perfect pitch.

Mark Reynolds flies out weakly to right. 2 outs

Ojeda grounds to SS to end the game. Well, Wilson was anything but not sharp. He just mowed down the dbacks hitters in the 9th.

So the Giants win 2-0 and improve to 4-8 and the Diamondbacks fall to 4-8. But the story of the game was Randy Johnson and his attempt at a 3rd no-hitter. Johnson pitched 6 innings of no-hit baseball but gave up a hit to Ojeda in the 7th. Johnson settles for the win and this is win #296 in the career of Randy Johnson.

Looking At Fantasy 2nd Basemen In 2009…

February 23, 2009

It’s time to look at who are the best fantasy 2nd basemen headed into 2009. I always like to take the top 2B or SS early because finding a top hitting middle infielder is a hard to come by. They are few and far between.

In honor of latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, I have broken down this years 2B class by swimsuit model. Enjoy

Like this year's cover girl, Bar Refaeli these are the best of the best

Like this year's cover girl, Bar Refaeli these are the best of the best

1. Ian Kinsler, Rangers –Kinsler was tearing up major league pitching last year until a sports hernia injury ended his season in August. I like Kinsler a lot this year. He is the most complete 2B headed into 2009. He will give you hr, rbi, avg, obp and sb’s. If he can stay healthy for the whole season than a 25 hr/25 sb/90 rbi season is not out of the question.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox –The reigning AL MVP heads into 2009 as the 2nd best 2B on the board. The reason I have Pedroia 2nd is because I expect a little dip in his power numbers numbers (hr & rbi) from last year. Look for the heart and soul of the Red Sox to have a .320/14/75/.380 type season.

3. Chase Utley, Phillies –Any other year Utley is by far the #1 2B on the board. But because of offseason hip surgery, Utley’s ranking dips a little. The Phillies are optimistic about Utley being ready for Opening Day but you never know how someone is going to come back from hip surgery. April is key for Utley. If he looks healthy in April, then a typical Utley year of .295/28/95 is in order.

4. Brandon Phillips, Reds

not the cover girl, but like Brooklyn Decker these are the next best thing and nobody is complaining

not the cover girl, but like Brooklyn Decker these are the next best thing and nobody is complaining

 5. Brian Roberts, Orioles

6. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox – Alfonso Soriano part 2. A tall, lanky 2B who has all the potential in the world? Sounds like Alfonso Soriano part 2 to me. Ramirez had a solid rookie year putting up a .290/21/77 in just 480 ab’s. Now moving over to SS, Ramirez still will qualify at 2B for fantasy purposes which raises his stock even more. The only stat Ramirez hurts you in is obp (.317 last season) but a .300/25/90 with 10+ sb’s is not out of the question for Ramirez

7. Dan Uggla, Marlins – Most fans remember Uggla for his horrific performance in last years All-Star game which is unfortunate. Uggla is a terrific player and one of the most consistent producing 2B in the game. 3 straight years of 25+ hr’s and 85+ rbi proves that. Uggla had career highs in hr (32), rbi (92) and obp (.360) last year so similar numbers should be expected again in 2009.

8. Robinson Cano, Yankees –I don’t think Cano will ever again hit .342 like he did in 2006 but his power numbers and rbi totals should keep Cano a top 10 2B for years to come. 15+ hr’s and 80 rbi is realistic for Cano this year

9. Jose Lopez, Mariners

I would never kick Jessica Hart out of bed and you shouldn't kick these 4 guys out of your fantasy drafts

I would never kick Jessica Hart out of bed and you shouldn't kick these 4 guys out of your fantasy drafts

10. Mark DeRosa, Indians –DeRosa will qualify at 2B, 3B and OF but has the most value at 2B. DeRosa had a career year last year hitting .285 with 21 hr and 87 rbi for the Cubs. Leaving Wrigley will hurt DeRosa’s numbers a bit but 17 hr’s and 75 rbi is realistic for DeRosa in 2009

11. Howie Kendrick, Angels – Can this guy ever stay healthy?? Every year the Angels have depended on him to stay healthy and every year he has let them down. Kendrick has never played in more than 92 games in a season but I think this year Kendrick stays relatively healthy and plays in 130 games. If Kendrick can get to 130 games then .315/10/65 with 15+ steals is doable

11. Kelly Johnson, Braves

 12. Mike Aviles, Royals –Aviles qualifies at SS and at 2B but has more value at the 2B position. The New York native burst on to the scene last year and hit .325 with 10 hr and 51 rbi in just 102 games for the Royals. I like Aviles to hit .300 again but not .325. Look for a .310 avg with 15 hr and 60 rbi from Aviles in 2009

Alison Preston isn't a swimsuit model but she made the issue, these next 4 guys can play on your team too

Alison Preston isn't a swimsuit model but she made the issue, these next 5 guys can play on your team too

13. Rickie Weeks, Brewers –One of these years Weeks is going to break out. He has too much talent to be this mediocre for so long. I think he breaks out this year. By breakout, I mean .260/21/55/.375 with 20+ sb’s. It’s not much but it will do for now

14. Placido Polanco, Tigers

15. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers – You know what you are going to get from Hudson, .285 – .290 with 10 – 13 hr and 55-65 rbi. Going from Chase Field to Dodger Stadium might hurt his power #’s but if the Dodgers re-sign Manny then Hudson will benefit in the runs scored category.

16. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates

17. Mark Ellis, A’s

Shanon Lersch helped round out the Swimsuit Issue and these 4 guys will still help you round out your fantasy team

Shanon Lerschhelped round out the Swimsuit Issue andthese 5 guys will still help you round out your fantasy team

18. Kaz Matsui, Astros –Matsui will give you some value in the sb department but that is about it. He has only played in more than 100 games twice in 5 seasons so don’t count on him too much.

19. Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks –  Want a sleeper for 2009? Take a look at Lopez. He will go into the season as the starting 2B and is playing in a good hitters ballpark. In 2005 he put up a nice .291/23/85 and in 2006 he stole 44 bases while hitting .274. A bounce back season in 2009 might be in order. Keep an eye on Lopez in April, if he gets off to a good start, snag him before someone else does.

20. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays

21. Akinori Iwamura, Rays

22. Clint Barmes, Rockies

Seeing Star Jones in a bathing suit is not pretty and neither is havin these guys on your fantasy team

Seeing Star Jones in a bathing suit is not pretty and neither is having these guys on your fantasy team

23. Mike Fontenot, Cubs –Fontenot will get you avg and obp but that is about it. A good “baseball player” but not a good “fantasy player”

24. Alexi Casilla, Twins

25. Edgar Gonzalez, Padres

26. Luis Castillo, Mets – Castillo enters the 2nd year of a ridiculous 4 year $25MM contract and boy do Mets fans hate this guy. Castillo only played in 87 games last year and hit a measly .245. At this point if Castillo is still the starting 2B by May (big if) then he might have some value in the runs scored category.

27. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

28. Emmanuel Burriss, Giants

29. Edgar Gonzalez, Padres

30. Chris Getz, White Sox – With Alexei Ramirez moving to SS, Getz gets first crack at winning the 2B job

31. Anderson Hernandez, Nationals – Hernandez is officially your worst 2B option headed into 2009. No power, no speed and little potential for scoring runs.

So there you have the 2b rankings headed into 2009. As I mentioned I always like to draft a middle IF early because there are few good ones. Good luck and next up will be fantasy 3B.