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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Yankees acquire Curtis Granderson in three-team deal

According to Jon Morsoi of FOXSports.com, the Yankees have acquired outfielder Curtis Granderson from the Tigers as part of a three-team deal that also includes the Diamondbacks.

Here’s how the trade breaks down:

Yankees Get:
Curtis Granderson (Tigers)

Tigers Get:
Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks)
Daniel Schlereth (Diamondbacks)
Phil Coke (Yankees)
Austin Jackson (Yankees)

Diamondbacks Get:
Edwin Jackson (Tigers)
Ian Kennedy (Yankees)

The Yankees and Tigers did very well in this deal. The Bronx Bombers get a five-tool player in Granderson, who can play either center or left field depending on whether or not the club re-signs Johnny Damon this winter. Granderson struggles hitting lefties, but he’s only 28-years old and his potential is still very high.

The Tigers, meanwhile, get financial flexibility by trading Granderson and also hauled in a coup of young talent. Austin Jackson was highly regarded as the Yankees’ centerfielder of the future. He’s 22 and hit .300 with four home runs, nine triples, 23 doubles, 65 RBI and 24 stolen bases in 132 Triple-A games last year. If he continues to develop, he might turn out to be Detroit’s next Granderson.

Scherzer is a 25-year old, hard-throwing right-hander who can eat up innings and is a workhorse. Schlereth was Arizona’s 2008 first round pick and saw some game action late last season and Coke already has experience at the big league level himself.

Not to take anything away from the Edwin Jackson, but this seems like a lateral move for Arizona. Scherzer is just as talented as Jackson (if not more talented), so why part with him and Schlereth to complete this deal? They better hope Kennedy starts fulfilling some of his potential or this might look like a bad deal for the D-Backs in a couple years.


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MLB Daily Six Pack 4/8

1. Nice start for Josh Beckett
This season hasn’t gone the way of the ace so far, with CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander and Tim Lincecum all struggling for their respective teams. But one No. 1 that didn’t struggle in his ’09 debut was Boston’s Josh Beckett, who fanned 10 in the BoSox’s 5-3 victory over the Rays on Tuesday. You hate to make claims that a pitcher is already in midseason form after only one outing, but Beckett’s two-hit, one-run effort against Tampa was impressive.

2. Speaking of Tim Lincecum…
Boy did he struggle yesterday for the Giants. But the good news for San Fran and the reining NL Cy Young winner is that his velocity wasn’t down, it just looked like he had a major case of the yips in his Opening Day debut. He looked too pumped up from the start and just never settled down. Fortunately, Aaron Rowand, Bengie Molina, Travis Ishikawa and the rest of the G-Men offense helped Lincecum out as SF romped the Brewers 10-6. Huh, what a concept – the Giants offense bailing out the pitching for once…who would have thought?

3. Dombrowski better be taking heat today in Detroit
In the offseason, Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski’s answer to solving the bullpen issues in Detroit was signing former Arizona closer Brandon Lyon instead of pursuing other avenues like J.J. Putz (who is now a setup man for the Mets). At least for one day, the decision backfired as Lyon blew Edwin Jackson’s (7.1, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 K) gem in Toronto by giving up three runs on three hits as the Jays knocked off the Tigers 5-4. Granted, Lyon has plenty of time to bounce back but if he doesn’t, the Tigers will be left with mental midget Fernando Rodney to close games, who didn’t necessarily earn the role this spring with a 7.00 ERA. Considering Joel Zumaya may never pitch again due to freak injuries and Nate Robertson (who Dombrowski just gave a 3-year, $21 million deal in January of ’08) is pissed about being taken out of the starting rotation, Dombrowski has quite a mess brewing in Detroit.

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2009 MLB Preview: #12 Detroit Tigers

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Offseason Movement: The Tigers didn’t make a ton of offseason moves, but they did add shortstop Adam Everett, catcher Gerald Laird, pitchers Edwin Jackson, Brandon Lyon and Juan Rincon.

Top Prospect: Rick Porcello, RHP
Porcello, who is widely considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, was selected with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2007 draft. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a slider, changeup and a curve, but it’ll take time for that array of pitches to be mastered. Some believe that the 20-year old is ready now, but there are signs (mostly his K/IP ratio) that another year or two in the minors would do him good. Unless Jeremy Bonderman starts the season on the DL, Porcello will likely start in Double-A this season to gain more experience.

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Hot Stove League: New York, New York (Burnett Officially Signs With Yankees)

I know this was Vegas, which comes with its own set of distractions, but come on. We all expected a lot more to happen at the MLB Winter Meetings this past week than the Yankees giving CC Sabathia the equivalent of a small planet and AJ Burnett significant real estate on said planet (the Yanks made the latter official Friday afternoon with a 5-year, $82.5 million deal), as well as the Mets signing the best closer out there (K-Rod) and trading for a second one (JJ Putz) to be their set-up guy. Unless the Orioles and Reds swapping Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Freel, or the Rays and Tigers trading Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce gets your blood flowing, it was kind of a disappointing week, especially if you live 40 miles or more outside of the New York metro area.

We still have Manny Ramirez without a team, and the very real possibility that he could just stay with the Dodgers. Really, doesn’t that make the most sense for this guy’s, um, easygoing, personality and playing style? Meanwhile, the stakes for Mark Teixeira have been upped by none other than the Washington Nationals, who are believed to be offering the free agent slugger eight years at $20 million per. That sounds to me like agent Scott Boras trying to just be Scott Boras. We all know Tex is going to wind up in Boston, Baltimore, or back with the Angels.

And as if Cubs’ fans haven’t suffered through enough misery lately, GM Jim Hendry decided to pull the plug on the Jake Peavy trade. He just didn’t want to inherit as much salary as the Padres wanted him to, and he surely didn’t want to throw Mark DeRosa on a plane to San Diego as part of the deal. Now, the Angels have been mentioned as a team that might pursue Peavy, and you definitely can’t count the Yankees out either. Oh, and by the way, the Yankees have turned their attention to in-house “old reliable” Andy Pettitte now, and have not ruled Ben Sheets or Derek Lowe out yet. Wow.

Meanwhile, the Mets spent so much on closers that they literally had nothing left to go after Lowe. Instead, GM Omar Minaya is talking to the Cubs about a trade for Jason Marquis, and/or re-signing Oliver Perez or Pedro Martinez.

There could be a lot more moves on the horizon, but in a week expected to have a lot of fireworks, the hot stove fired up in New York and nowhere else. Stay tuned though, because deals are known to happen into January, and some, like Ramirez and Teixeira signing, could lead a domino effect for more moves.

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