Posts Tagged ‘Jack Wilson’

Starting Nine: American League West

January 13, 2010

The next division up in our Starting Nine series is the American League West. This division has undergone the most change from top to bottom this offseason, so it will be interesting to see which lineup looks the best headed into the season.

Here are the starting lineups as presently constructed for the American League West:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Erick Aybar, SS

2. Bobby Abreu, RF

3. Torii Hunter, CF

4. Kendry Morales, 1B

5. Hideki Matsui, DH

6. Howie Kendrick, 2B

7. Juan Rivera, LF

8. Brandon Wood, 3B

9. Mike Napoli, C

Quick Take – This lineup will miss Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup to an expect, but despite the Angels’ losses, this lineup is still pretty deep. Any lineup that has Napoli batting ninth should be able to score some runs.

Seattle Mariners

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chone Figgins, 3B

3. Milton Bradley, LF

4. Jose Lopez, 2B

5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH

6. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

7. Casey Kotchman, 1B

8. Jack Wilson, SS

9. Rob Johnson, C

Quick Take – This lineup after the first four hitters is pretty bad. I don’t care how many runs you prevent in the field, you need to score runs to win. The Mariners need a better DH than Griffey Jr.

Texas Rangers

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Michael Young, 3B

3. Josh Hamilton, LF

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH

5. Nelson Cruz, RF

6. Chris Davis, 1B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Elvis Andrus, SS

9. Julio Borbon, CF

Quick Take – I love this lineup. I like Borbon in the nine-hole acting like a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup. The key to this lineup will be health.

Oakland A’s

1. Coco Crisp, CF

2. Rajai Davis, LF

3. Ryan Sweeney, RF

4. Jack Cust, DH

5. Daric Barton, 1B

6. Kurt Suzuki, C

7. Eric Chavez, 3B

8. Mark Ellis, 2B

9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Quick Take – This is the worst in the American League (yes, worse than the Kansas City Royals) and perhaps the worst in baseball. There isn’t a guy in this lineup that would start on the Baltimore Orioles. Michael Taylor better make it to the A’s soon.

Tomorrow, I will dive into the National League and look at the National League East.

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

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Seattle Mariners Officially Sign Chone Figgins

December 9, 2009

A deal that was seemingly consummated weeks ago, was finally made official today.

The Seattle Mariners officially announced the signing of 3B Chone Figgins to a four-year, $36 million contract. The deal also includes a $9 million option for 2014.

Figgins is officially a Mariner

My two biggest free agent bust hitters are now off the market. Marco Scutaro, who signed last week with the Boston Red Sox was the other one.

I know I am in the minority with thinking Figgins is going to be a bust. For me, Figgins is Juan Pierre Part 2.

Do I think Figgins will be good for the Mariners in 2010 and 2011? Yes, I do. Do I think he is going to have the year he had in 2009 ever again? No, I don’t.

It’s going to be in the third and forth years of this deal when he is 34 and 35 that the Mariners are going to regret this deal. I believe in those years that Figgins will be nothing more than a high-priced platoon player/pinch-runner.

The reason Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik was interested in signing Figgins was because Figgins fits into what the Mariners are trying to build right now in Seattle. The Mariners are building a team around speed and defense.

With Figgins at third and Jack Wilson at short, the Mariners have a vacuum on the left side of their infield. They might be the best defensive left side in baseball in 2010.

Offensively, Figgins will hit at the top of the lineup and he and Ichiro should give the Mariners a one-two punch that will put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses and pitchers.

Figgins in 2008 set career highs in runs (114), walks (101), OBP (.395), and strike outs (114). As Figgins gets older, the strike outs will pile up, the speed will decline, and then what do you have?

You have a $9 million player with little speed and little power–you have a $9 million platoon player.

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

Mariners Get Defensive, Ink Jack Wilson To Two-Year Deal

November 14, 2009

I have never met Seattle Mariners’ general manager Jack Zduriencik. As a matter of fact, if he delivered the bacon cheeseburger I ordered from the diner last night to my apartment, I wouldn’t have recognized him.

But I will tell you this–I really like the guy. I like the guy because in a sport where so many of it’s general managers don’t have a plan of attack, Zduriencik clearly does.

Jack Wilson

Wilson is a great defensive shortstop

Zduriencik is determined to build the Mariners around pitching and defense and on Friday he took another step towards executing his plan.

Yesterday, the Mariners signed shortstop Jack Wilson to a two-year deal worth $10 million. The deal cancels out the $8.4 million option Seattle had for Wilson.

The Mariners acquired Wilson from the Pittsburgh Pirates last year along with Ian Snell and Ronny Cedeno for Jeff Clement and three minor leaguers.

Wilson is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game and along with Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez give the Mariners a more than solid up the middle defense.

The biggest reason the Mariners went from 61 wins in 2008 to 85 wins in 2009 was because of defense. Zduriencik replaced Raul Ibanez, Jeremy Reed, and Yuniesky Betancourt from the 2008 team with Endy Chavez, Gutierrez, and Wilson in 2009.

That is a massive upgrade defensively. I mean it’s really night and day.

Chavez is a free agent, but with Zdurienciks’ track record so far, you have to feel confident if you are a Mariners fan that he will find a replacement suitable both offensively and defensively.

I still contest the Mariners need a big bat in the middle of their lineup in order to take the next step, but they are clearly moving in the right direction.

Wilson was a good value sign by the Mariners.

Just another piece in the defensive puzzle for Zduriencik.

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

The Revolving Door Continues: Red Sox Decline Option On Alex Gonzalez

November 9, 2009

Since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in July of 2004, the Boston Red Sox have had a revolving door at shortstop. It looks like in 2010, the revolving door will continue.

The Red Sox have declined the $6 million option for 2010 on shortstop Alex Gonzalez. This was a no-brainer move by the Red Sox as Gonzalez isn’t worth the $6 million salary in this down economy.

This move leaves the Red Sox with two options for filling their shortstop need in 2010.

1. The Red Sox are now free to persue free agent shortstops Miguel Tejada or Marco Scutaro. Jack Wilson could also be a possibility if the Seattle Mariners decline his $8.4 million club option for 2010 (highly likely).

2. They could bring back Gonzalez at a reduced salary. Gonzalez did hit .284 and played solid defense down the stretch for the Red Sox in 2010.

I didn’t mention Jed Lowrie as an option for the starting job in 2010 because I feel the Red Sox believe he is to much of an injury risk. I had high hopes for Lowrie, but wrist injuries have probably taken away what might have been a promising career.

Whoever the Red Sox starting shortstop is in 2010, it’s going to be a short-term solution. The revolving door will continue until 19-year-old Cuban phenom Jose Iglesias is ready to play in the majors.

If you were to ask me to decide between Gonzalez, Scutaro, or Tejada, believe it or not, I would pick Gonzalez. Tejada is more of a third baseman at this point in his career and I feel Scutaro has a free agent bust written all over him.

Gonzalez will be more cost-effective, will play better defense, and will not just completely kill the Red Sox lineup offensively.

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

Seattle Mariners Acquire Jack Wilson…

July 29, 2009

When making trades, I have always believed that you should trade an average or below average known for an unknown with potential. That is what the Pittsburgh Pirates did today when they traded SS Jack Wilson and RHP Ian Snell, “average knowns” for C/1B Jeff Clement, SS/2B Ronny Cedeno, and minor-league pitchers Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, and Nathan Adcock, “unknowns with potential.”

When I first heard the Pirates received five players for Wilson and Snell, my initial reaction was really? Seems like an awful lot, nomatter who the players were for those two.

I know what I am getting with Wilson. I am getting a guy who can’t hit a lick, is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, and since the Mariners are going to pick up his 2010 option for $8.5 million – a guy is over paid in this economy.

I understand the Mariners want to really, really, really, really want to build their team around defense, but sooner or later the Mariners are going to need to find a guy who can drive in runs. Wilson is not that guy.

I also know what I am going to get with Snell. I just don’t see it with Snell. He might have the arm, but when it comes to the mental aspect of the game, well, that’s a different story. I just don’t think Snell has the mental makeup, which is about 75 percent of pitching to make it in the majors as a starter.

Snell is 33-46 for his career with a 4.75 ERA. He was so bad this year, he was sent down to the minors. Maybe Snell just needs a change of scenery? But I think he is an average major-league pitcher.

As for the players the Pirates received, the biggest unknown is Jeff Clement. Clement was the third overall pick in the 2005 draft and was actually taken right before Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun (every Mariner fan just threw up in their mouth).

Clement set high expectations after he hit .375 with two HR’s and three RBI in 19 games for the Mariners in 2007. Clement didn’t live up to those expectations as he struggled in 2008. He hit just .227 with five HR’s and 23 RBI in 66 games.

For Triple-A Tacoma this year, Clement was hitting .286 with 14 HR’s, 66 RBI and a .366 OBP. Clement reminds me a little of Phil Nevin. If you don’t remember Nevin, he was the first overall pick by the Houston Astros in the 1992 draft. He was drafted as a catcher and Nevin never panned out in Houston.

After bouncing around for a couple of years, Nevin found a home in San Diego, converted to a full-time third baseman, and ended up being a very productive player. I am sensing the same thing for Clement.

With Adam LaRoche off to Boston, there is an opening for Clement to step in and be the Pirates’ starting first baseman in 2010. At 26, there is time for Clement to develop into a solid major-league player.

The Pirates also received three low level pitching prospects, none of which were in the top 10 of Mariner prospects according to Baseball America. Pirates GM Neal Huntington has done a good job of restocking the Pirates previously baron minor-league system. These three players will only add value to the Pirates’ system.

As for Ronny Cedeno? He is nothing more than a roster filler. A guy who can play SS, 2B, 3B, and even some LF.

At the end of the day, I like this trade for the Pirates. They gave away two average players for a guy in Clement who has the potential to be good and three pitching prospects.

As July 31st Approaches, What Do The Contenders Need?

July 15, 2009

One of the best days of the year is quickly approaching – the July 31st major league baseball trading deadline. July 31st and the days leading up to that day are the days where your favorite team can make a trade to put them over the top.

However, in the New York Mets case in 2004 when they traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano, it could be a day where your team morgages the future just for a chance to make the playoffs.

The big name on the block for this year’s deadline is Toronto Blue Jay ace, Roy Halladay. If Halladay doesn’t get traded (50-5o at this point), it might be a quiet trading deadline. The main reason for that – parity.

Out of the 30 teams in baseball, only 9 are considered sellers. Those 9 teams would be the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, and the Oakland A’s.

This year we might even see contenders trading with contenders, just to open things up a bit. It’s hard to make trades when there are so many teams who think they have a realistic chance of making the playoffs. However, that won’t prevent me from taking a look at what those 21 contending teams need come the trading deadline.

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.

Hallday is a wanted man

Halladay is a wanted man

The Phillies signed Pedro Martinez today.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Brad Penny

Florida Marlins

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

Potential Targets – Chad Qualls, Juan Cruz, BJ Ryan (free agent), Cla Meredith, Matt Capps, John Grabow, George Sherrill

Atlanta Braves

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

Potential Targets – Freddy Sanchez, David Dejesus, Adam Kennedy

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.

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

St Louis Cardinals

Needs – Starting Pitching. The Cardinals have already acquired Mark DeRosa. They have been one of the most aggressive teams this year in terms of pusuing trades

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Brad Penny, Brian Bannister, Gil Meche

Milwaukee Brewers

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

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Jon Garland, Doug Davis

Chicago Cubs

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

Potential Targets – BJ Ryan (free agent), Joe Beimel, Danys Baez, Jamey Wright

Houston Astros

Needs – Third Base, Starting Pitching. How this team is at .500 and only 3.5 games out is mind boggling. Problem Astros will have making trades is that their farm system is not that good.

Potential Targets – Jon Garland, Brian Bannister, Doug Davis

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 five games out of first in the NL Central.

Potential Targets – Mark Teahan, David Dejesus, Marco Scutaro, Luke Scott, Jermaine Dye

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.

Potential Targets – Joe Beimel, Juan Cruz, John Grabow, George Sherrill, Danys Baez, Ron Mahay

San Francisco Giants

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

Potential Targets – Jermaine Dye, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Matt Holliday, Nick Johnson, Alex Rios, Adam LaRoche

Colorado Rockies

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

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

Boston Red Sox

Needs – Offense. I don’t want to hear the Red Sox are fourth in baseball in runs scored – they need offense. They also need insurance for Mike Lowell.

Potential Targets – Victor Martinez, Mark Teahan, Scott Rolen, Jack Wilson, 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 already traded for Eric Hinske

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Joe Beimel, John Grabow

Tampa Bay Rays

Needs – Bullpen, Right Field. I still think the Rays could use another solid, depandable arm in the pen. They are also looking to upgrade the Gabe Gross/Gabe Kapler platoon in right.

Potential Targets – Jamey Wright, Danys Baez, Cla Meredith, Mark Teahan, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Willingham

Detroit Tigers

Needs – Bullpen. The Tigers have the offense and they have two top of the rotation starters in Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson. I think they could use another arm in the pen to go along with Zumaya and Rodney.

Potential Targets – Cla Meredith, Matt Capps, Ron Mahay, John Grabow, Mike Gonzalez

Sanchez would be perfect for the Twins

Sanchez would be perfect for the Twins

Minnesota Twins

Needs – Second Base. Freddy Sanchez makes so much sense it’s scary.

Potential Targets – Freddy Sanchez, Adam Kennedy

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, 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

Seattle Mariners

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

The Mariners are 46-42 and only four games back of the Angels in the AL West. I 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, 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.

The Pirates’ Jack Wilson Doesn’t Need To Apologize To Anyone…

July 2, 2009

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been wheelin’ N dealin’ lately. Most recently, they traded clubhouse and fan favorite Nyjer Morgan along with Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.

While most experts and myself thought the Pirates did well in this deal, all were not happy in the land of steel. Pirates’ shortstop and longest tenured Bucco, Jack Wilson was none to pleased with this trade.

“It’s tough for the guys who’ve been here and have seen these trades happen and absolutely do nothing,” Wilson said several hours after the deals were made. “I’ve seen these trades two or three times a year and we still haven’t had a winning season.”

Wilson is 100 percent right. He has been on the Pirates since 2001 and every year the Pirates have stunk. If you are him, why would you think these trades would be any different or yield better results than the horrible trades that the Pirates have made in the past?

Wilson signed a three-year extension with the Pirates in February of 2006 in hopes that things will turn around. He wanted to be a Pirate when the worm turned, sort of speak. I would think we all would agree there is no problem with that. A guy sticking with his team in hopes of the front office building a winner? Sounds good to me.

No need to apologize Jack

No need to apologize Jack

But things haven’t changed. The Pirates have been god awful for what seems like 30 years in a row. It’s really been 16 years of futility, but you get my point. Wilson wants to win, and just like any other organization – whether you work for a media company, a law firm, or a clothing store – you need your upper management to make smart, sound, and wise decisions in order to be successful. The Pirates have done anything but.

Wilson, being the “good soldier” issued an apology for his comments. 

“Some of my comments were pretty harsh,” he said. “I definitely don’t want to be the guy who is butting heads with the organization or trying to cause any type of negativity, so I apologize.

“When you are here in the moment and you’re talking to guys and everyone is bummed out, you maybe lose your head a little bit and vent. A lot of the things I said, I thought about … and they were pretty inaccurate,” he said.

Jack Wilson, if you are out there and by the grace of god reading this post – YOU DIDN’T NEED TO APOLOGIZE TO ANYONE. Why should you apologize for wanting to win? Why should you apologize for saying what is on your mind and for all intents and purposes, being right?

Nothing you said was inaccurate. When a team has 16 losing seasons in a row, and you have been involved in 9 of those seasons – you have the right to be critical of management. If a clothing store or any company for that matter was considered failing by their standards, they would be out of business.

You didn’t “want to cause any type of negativity?” Don’t worry, that negativity was already caused when the Pirates drafted Bryan Bullington, a projected No. 3 starter with the first pick in the 2002 draft.

Wilson has a club option with the Pirates for 2010 for $8.4MM. That option will 100 percent not be picked up, thus making him a free agent. Perhaps Wilson will go to a team where he doesn’t need to apologize for wanting to win.

Looking At Fantasy Shortstops In 2009….

March 28, 2009

Let’s take a look at fantasy Shortstops headed into 2009. This group is very top heavy. My strategy is, if you don’t get one of the top three, then wait. There is a Cecil Fielder sized drop off after you get past the big three. So in honor of the of some of the best (and worst) Shortstops of all-time, let’s see who are the best fantasy Shortstops in 2009.

Honus Wagner Division

The best of the best, Wagner is the greatest SS of all-time (Arod doesn’t count because he is a cheater) and these three Shortstops are by far and away the best Shortstops in this fantasy draft.

Ramirez is the #1 SS

Ramirez is the #1 SS

1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. One of the top 5 players in the game, Ramirez will go top 3 in most fantasy drafts. He can do it all. Hit for avg (.301 in 08), hit hr’s (33 in 08), get on base (.400 obp in 08) and steal a base (35 in 08). The only thing you can say he doesn’t do well is drive in runs. That will change in 2009 because Ramirez will be moved down to the 3 spot in the order.

2. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies. After winning the MVP in 2007, Rollins had a very disappointing 2008. I think he bounces back in 2009 and will have a better fantasy season than Jose Reyes. Look for Rollins to put up a .285/20/80 with 40+ sb’s and over 110 runs scored

3. Jose Reyes, Mets. While I question Reyes as a player (I don’t think he is a winner), there is no questioning his fantasy value. Reyes is a look for 110+ runs scored, 15+ hr’s and 50+ rbi

Alan Trammell Division

It’s not that Alan Trammell was a bad player. A matter of fact, Trammell was one of the better Shortstops in the game from 1983-1990. The point is that there is a major drop off from Honus Wagner to Alan Trammell. These next 10 guys are the last 10 guys you want to draft before you have to scramble.

4. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks. I have Drew ranked higher than Jeter and Furcal because 1. He can stay healthy and 2. In Keeper Leagues he is a much better option due to his age (26). Drew seems to be getting better with age and it’s not out of the question that he approaches a 30 hr season.

5. Derek Jeter, Yankees. Jeter’s runs, hits, hr’s, rbi’s, avg and obp have declined in each of the last 3 years. But in the weak category of SS, Jeter still provides value. Expect Jeter to put up a .305/10/65 with 10 sb’s.

6. Rafael Furcal, Dodgers. Furcal was off to a rip roaring start in 2008 before his back gave out. Furcal hit double digit hr’s from 2003-2006 but with a bad back I am not sure he can reach double figures again. The Dodgers should have a very good offense, so 100+ runs and a .300 avg should be expected from Furcal in 2009.

7. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies.I had asked in a post, “Can Tulo Bounce Back?” My answer back then was yes and my answer no is yes. Will Tulowitzki be as good as his rookie year? Probably not but he can certainly put up a .285/20/80.

Don't sleep on Hardy

Don't sleep on Hardy

8. JJ Hardy, Brewers. Hardy has really come on with the power slugging 50 hr’s in the last 2 years. Hardy seems to be underrated in most drafts but he is good for a .280/28/80 in 2009.

9. Michael Young, Rangers. Young will qualify as a 3B and a SS but has move value as a SS. Last year was the first year since 2003 that Young didn’t have 200 hits. Will his switch from SS to 3B hurt his offense? I don’t think it will but his days of 200+ hits and 100 rbi are gone.

10. Jhonny Peralta, Indians. Peralta had a career year in 2008 putting up a .276/23/89 with 104 runs scored. Peralta is tearing up Spring Training hitting .435/3/11 in 46 ab’s. The Indians lineup looks to be improved in 2009 with the returns of Martinez and Hafner, so it’s possible Peralta could improve on his 2008 performance. If only he stole bases he would be much higher up on the food chain.

11. 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.

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.

13. Miguel Tejada, Astros. Tejada looks to be on the downside of his career as his avg, hr’s and rbi’s have declined each of the last 3 seasons. Tejada is going to bat 5th this year so a rebirth in rbi’s is possible. A .280/14/80 should be expected from Tejada this season.

Kevin Elster Division

Elster was mostly a good glove, no hit SS with the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers, Pirates and Dodgers. Elster did have one magical year by his standards in 1996, when he hit 24 hr’s and knocked in 99 runs for the Rangers. Most of these next 19 guys are either good glove, no hit or can marginally help your fantasy team in 2009.

14. Jed Lowrie, Red Sox. Now the starting SS will get you runs scored and a solid obp. Might lose ab’s when Lugo returns from the DL.

15. Orlando Cabrera, A’s. A very consistent player, you know what you are going to get. .280 batting average with 8 or 9 hr’s, 60-70 rbi and 20 sb’s.

16. Yunel Escobar, Braves. Don’t give up on him just yet. He is still only 26 and has has shown good patience at the plate in his short time in the majors.

17. Ryan Theriot, Cubs. Good average, solid obp and will get you 20+ sb’s.

18. Elvis Andrus, Rangers. The new starting SS in Texas, Andrus has good value in Keeper Leagues. He will probably go threw some typical rookie struggles but he can run (54 sb’s in Double A). Expect 25-30 sb’s in 2009.

19. Edgar Renteria, Giants. Clearly on the downside of his career but he is back in the NL where he belongs. Still capable of hitting 10 hr’s and driving in 55.

20. Jason Bartlett, Rays. Zero power what so ever but he will get you stolen bases (53 in the last 3 years).

21. Khalil Greene, Cardinals. An obp killer (.276 combined last 2 years) but leaving Petco should help him get back to the 20 hr mark in 2009.

22. Christian Guzman, Nationals. Will get you a .300 avg and maybe 50 rbi’s and that is about it.

23. Erick Aybar, Angels. 15+ sb potential but will have to hold off Izturis and perhaps Brandon Wood for playing time.

24. Yuniesky Betancourt, Mariners. See Khalil Greene but without the 20 hr potential.

25. Cesar Izturis, Orioles. Very much like Jason Bartlett and will get you 20 + sb’s.

26. Jeff Keppinger, Reds. Will replace Gonzalez at some point during the season. Is a better offensive option than Gonzalez

27. Alex Gonzalez, Reds. After missed all of 2008 with a fractured knee (ouch!!) he will be competing for playing time with Keppinger. Gonzalez could hit 10 hr’s but is an obp killer.

28. Nick Punto, Twins. One of the dubbed “Piranhas,” Punto is a typical good glove, not hit SS. He will get your team 15 – 20 sb’s

29. Jack Wilson, Pirates.At 31, Wilson is headed towards the end of his career. Not that he was any better when he was 26. Wilson might move into a platoon role to make room for Brian Bixler.

30. Adam Everett, Tigers. The only reason he is still in the league is because of his defense. The Tigers version of Jason Bartlett?

31. Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays. A better offensive option than John McDonald and that is not saying much.

32. Luis Rodriguez/David Eckstein, Padres. Uglier and ugliest. Neither of these players add any value to your team.

Keep An Eye On

Brandon Wood, Angels. I didn’t rank Wood because I have no idea what the Angels plan on doing with this guy. He is killing the ball this spring to the tune of .347/4/13 in 49 ab’s but the Angels have Figgins at 3B, Aybar at SS and Rivera at DH. Keep an eye on this situation. If he is able to get playing time over any of the above names, then Wood is a pick up you should make.