Once again, Huston Street’s health a concern

While he proved to be a nice surprise in 2009 by staying relatively healthy on his way to racking up 35 saves, a 3.06 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP, Rockies’ closer Huston Street is once again an injury concern for fantasy owners.

The Denver Post reports that Street felt tightness in his shoulder while recently playing catch and has been shut down indefinitely. There’s now a good chance that he will start the 2010 season on the disabled list, pending the results of a MRI. With Rafael Betancourt also sidelined due to a shoulder injury, Colorado may have to turn to Manny Corpas to close games to start of the season.

How will Street’s injury affect your draft? Well, hopefully you weren’t overvaluing him on draft day solely based on his ’09 production. He was a top 10 closer before the injury, but now you might want to avoid him altogether on draft day. And with his early struggles last year, you might want to avoid Corpas until late in your draft as well.

Given his history and current injury issues, there are plenty of other closers that will be more reliable and offer more upside than Street will. That list includes the Giants’ Brian Wilson, the Cubs’ Carlos Marmol, the A’s Andrew Bailey and the Mariners’ David Aardsma. Any one of those relievers would offer you more value than Street in your draft, with less risk.

For The Scores Report’s official 2010 fantasy rankings of relievers, click here.


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2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Relief Pitchers

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When it comes to drafting relief pitchers, keep in mind that the only thing you care about is saves. Sure, drafting a closer like Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon or Jonathan Broxton will also net you value in other categories such as ERA and/or WHIP, but if saves are your main objective than why overpay?

Chances are, you’ll have the opportunity to draft a starter or decent bat (at least one that will contribute to your team on a regular basis) in the same rounds that Rivera, Papelbon and Broxton are selected in. If you’re head over heels for those guys and want a sure thing, then don’t let us stop you from drafting them. But in the end, we think you’ll get more value in passing on those top closers and targeting the guys that we have listed below. Just remember to nab another pitcher that will get you saves later in your draft or else you will regret not taking Rivera/Papelbon/Broxton when you had the chance.

Heath Bell, Padres
Bell pitches for a team that will be in a lot of close games and that plays in a spacious park. What’s not to like? The Padres also don’t have a quality set-up man to pitch in front of Bell, so owners can draft him in confidence knowing that San Diego will have to use him in later innings if they want wins.

Joakim Soria, Royals
Be careful with Soria, because he’s being overvalued on draft day. He’s a great closer, but he battled shoulder issues last season and he plays on a team that won’t offer him a ton of save opportunities. Draft him with confidence, but don’t reach for him.

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2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Starting Pitchers

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Sometimes it’s difficult to evaluate what kind of production a player will have when he changes teams over the offseason. This is especially true when it comes to starting pitching, because not only can an unfamiliar ballpark play a role in how a starter fairs, but also what kind of offensive production he can expect from his new lineup and whether or not he’ll have a good spot in the rotation.

Below are eight starting pitchers that either changed teams at the tale end of the 2009 season or will be playing for a completely different club in 2010. We’ve outlined some factors that the pitchers will be facing in their new situation and try to project how they’ll fair in 2010. Some players (like Roy Halladay for example) can be counted on to be great no matter what team they wind up on. But what about guys like Jake Peavy (who will now have to pitch in the AL for a full season for the first time in his career) or Max Scherzer (a strikeout pitcher that is moving to a tougher AL after playing the past couple seasons in Arizona)?

Let’s take a look.

Roy Halladay, Phillies
You’re going to draft Halladay for the same reasons the Phillies parted with multiple players (including Cliff Lee and a couple of key prospects) in order to acquire him from the Blue Jays last winter: he’s outstanding. Halladay finished with 47 complete games last season and 14 shutouts, while also ranking 11th in innings pitched. Now that he’s playing in the NL on a team with a potent offense, he should have no problem winning 17-plus games and notching another 200 strikeouts. The only knock against Halladay’s new home is that the Phillies play in a hitter-friendly ballpark. But we’re thinking the veteran pitcher will adjust fine to his new digs.

Cliff Lee, Mariners
Lee felt he was shafted when the Phillies unloaded him in order to acquire Halladay last winter, but he should love his new surroundings. He’s walked fewer than two batters per nine innings in each of the past two seasons and will now have the luxury of having a solid defensive outfield at his back. He’s used to pitching in the AL from his days in Cleveland, so the league change won’t hurt him one bit. Lee is a top-notch fantasy starter.

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2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Outfielders

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What’s great about the outfield position in fantasy baseball is that it’s like Wal Mart: you can get whatever you need and you’ll always be greeted with a friendly smile and a hello.

All right, so you won’t be greeted with a smile when you select outfielders in your draft. In fact, that doesn’t even make any sense so just forget we wrote it. The point we’re trying to make is that whatever you wind up needing for your team on draft day, you can usually find it in the outfield section. Need speed? The outfield has you covered. Need power? It has that too.

Below are a group of players that fit into certain categories based on need. You know that a guy like Ryan Braun is going to get you production across the board, same with Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, Grady Sizemore and Carl Crawford. But the guys we’ve outlined below are players you can target in the middle to late rounds that will give you a boost in certain areas. You’re not going to get production in every category if you draft these players, but hopefully you’ll be satisfied in the specific categories we’ve highlighted.

Power Boosters:

Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Perhaps the most encouraging thing for fantasy owners about Lind’s breakout 2009 campaign, was that he was consistent throughout the entire season and hit right-handed pitching as well as he hit lefties. After hitting 35 home runs and driving in 114 RBI last season, we think Lind will be more apt to match those numbers (or even improve on them) this season than he will be to crash and burn.

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2010 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Third Basemen

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Savvy fantasy drafters realize that the pool for third basemen this year isn’t as shallow as catchers and shortstops, but it isn’t as deep as second basemen either (which may sound surprising to some owners).

What does that mean to you? Well, if you don’t grab one of the top seven or eight third basemen in your draft, then good luck trying to figure out which player after that will exceed expectations.

Drafting third basemen is pretty cut and dry. If you don’t land one of the top 3 (Alex Rodriguez, Evan Longoria or David Wright), then focus on drafting one of the next five 3B’s available or you better hope that Gordon Beckham or Ian Stewart are the ultimate sleepers this season. We don’t need to sell you on why you should take A-Rod, Longoria or Wright, so we’re going to concentrate on the next five rated players on our list, which we’ve highlighted for you below.

Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
There’s a good chance that Zimmerman will plateau at around 30 home runs (which is nothing to scoff at), but it’s hard to argue with what he’ll bring to the table in terms of production across the board. He should hit around .300 (or maybe a little south of that number), with 100-plus runs and RBI, all while stealing 5-10 bases and hitting the aforementioned 25-30 home runs. That’s solid production for your third base position if you happen to miss out on one of the top three guys.

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