Dollar specials

In this article I’ll be looking at a few end gamers who can provide some good value for 2009. By end gamers I mean players you can get for $1 near the end of your auction or at the end of your draft. One thing to keep in mind when taking these players is that often times one ends up evaluating these players based on a limited sample size. For example, you may have cut a player like Jason Kubel early last year only to end up seeing him put up a pretty solid season. This is a topic for another article some time but is something to keep in mind.

Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas: Cruz is a very interesting case. He gets really good projections by pretty much every projection system out there and is slated to start on opening day for Texas. However, part of me feels that he may be overvalued come draft day. There’s a little bit of uncertainty around his projections and a lot of owners out there will be looking for the next Ryan Ludwick. Cruz figures to be one of the more popular picks to be that guy. Despite this, if you can get him for cheap or towards the end of your draft, I would highly recommend it.

Joey Devine, RP, Oakland: Brad Ziegler is likely to be Oakland’s closer come opening day. However, look for him to face some regression to the mean. Meanwhile, Joey Devine figures to get the first crack at a closer’s job should Ziegler falter. Devine displayed a very good skill set in his first season in Oakland. While we have a bit of a limited major league sample size on him, Devine’s scouting reports tend to back up his performance from 2008.

Boof Bonser, SP/RP, Minnesota: Look past the ERA from his last two years. Bonser was troubled by a lot of bad luck over the the past few years, including a ridiculously low 57.9% LOB. He has displayed solid skills over the past few years and should see some better luck with his more dependent pitching statistics. The Twins’ rotation could be tough to crack but you never know what could happen with injuries. You figure this would be a perfect opportunity for a major league team to buy low and trade for Bonser as well, which would improve his fantasy stock tremendously.

Yusmeiro Petit, SP, Arizona: Petit has always put up some pretty good minor league numbers. However, scouts have always questioned how well his minor league stats would translate to the majors. Petit struggled initially in his first few major league appearances but showed glimmers of some upside in 2008. There are concerns with his flyball rate but if Petit keeps his skills growth up, there is some solid upside here.

Gary Sheffield, OF/Util, Detroit: Sheffield had a pretty brutal year, on the surface at least. However, he had some bad luck with a poor hit rate, granted that he did have pretty low line drive rate. Sheffield still does have a solid set of secondary skills, with solid walk and strikeout rates while maintaining decent power skills. Look for him to bounce back this year. While he does have some potential to collapse, you can deal with that sort of risk if you commit to him during the end of a draft or for cheap at an auction.

Russell Branyan, 3B, Seattle: Branyan has a decent chance to start on the right side of a first base platoon for Seattle. You know what you’re going to get with Branyan: a mediocre batting average but very good power. If gets consistent playing time, Branyan can really help with your power numbers. However, you’ll need to get some additional batting average support from somewhere else.

Cha Seung Baek, SP, San Diego: Baek was a nice pick up from Seattle last year. His lack of a true out pitch limits his upside potential, but he showed a solid skill set last year. Of course, it helps to be pitching in PETCO park. Baek should be a solid addition to the end of a fantasy rotation, though he might not be able to help much with your win totals.

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  1. JT said...

    What are you talking about?  Nelson Cruz at the end of a draft for $1?  I like how you say “If you can, I recommend it”  OBVIOUSLY!  Even after you specifically state that he is being over-valued, you’re saying if you can get him at the end of a draft for cheap, take him?  Okay, if you can get anyone with value at the end of a draft cheap, take him.  How hard did you have to look to find that valuable information? 

    And Joey Devine?  He’s competing for the closer role heading into spring training, how is Ziegler likely to be the closer?  If anyone has a leg-up, most would say it’s Devine! 

    This is awful.  I hate to say it but Derek Carty is the only knowledgeable fantasy writer on this site.

  2. Victor Wang said...

    Hi JT,

    Thanks for chiming in.  A lot of auction strategies depend on the dynamic valuation of players which depends on other owners that are in your league.  Cruz is a kind of guy who could go for a fairly high amount if your league members follow baseball pretty deeply while he could go for pretty cheap if you’re in a league with more casual members.  Depending on your situation, you could get Cruz for really cheap or might have to pay more than one would like.

    Given Ziegler’s success last year in the closer’s role, I would have to say he has a leg up.  Also, ESPN’s depth charts have Ziegler currently listed as closer.

    And I agree, Derek Carty is a very knowledgeable fantasy writer smile

  3. D Wrek said...

    JT, its ok to disagree.  We all disageee, thats why we play the game.  Why ramble on like an idiot and bring nothing to the table except being a jerk?

    Ziegler clearly had more save opps in the 2nd half, by a wide margin.

    To say Devine has a leg up is fine, I actually agree with you, but why not provide something productive?  If someone ends the seaosn as a closer, I think a case can be made that they have a leg up.  You brought nothing to dispute the articles claim.

    However, you win.  You baited us in, and we bit hook line and sinker.

    I just dont understand why some people cant disagree with a topic and debate it, but instead have to go off the deep end as if grandma has never let them out of the basement to face diversity.

  4. Phil said...

    Cruz I was surprised to see on this list.  But you’re point about casual vs. knowledgeable leagues is a good one, but i think its more the difference between money and no money(or little $$) leagues. 

    Anyway, Sheff is definitely a guy to target late, so is Posada, who could bounce back with 400 ABs at least. 

    Devine or Zeigler, really who cares?  The A’s are bad, they’ll probably split saves, and both their 2008 seasons are not going to be repeated.  But as a $1 or late round pick?  why not.

  5. Jason M. said...

    !  A little harsh, huh JT?  I actually see your points, but like D Wrek said, relax a bit and come up with some evidence.

    I’m not sure though how that makes sense that Cruz would be cheap at the end of a draft.  If you’re saying your league doesn’t follow baseball, you can mention 30-50 players who have small names and big numbers who can go for “cheap”.  I think what JT was trying to convey, even though he clearly handled it the wrong way, is that the article seems a little pointless, no offense.  These are supposed to be players who can add value and that, in most leagues, should go under the radar and be cost efficient. 

    Joey Devine was in 2008, according to Buster Olney (, “the most difficult pitcher in the majors against whom to square the baseball”.  His numbers tell the story and I just don’t see how someone with that kind of dominance, 49 K in 45.2 innings, 0.59 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, could be a “dollar special”.  The A’s already said the two will compete for the closer spot in spring training and, although Ziegler’s run was impressive last year, scouts seem to agree that Devine has much more dominant stuff.  Even if Ziegler did win the job though, Devine still has great fantasy value, and again, I doubt you can find this guy for a dollar. 

    “JT” gave a pure example of how not to handle a situation and act like a naive moron, but thankfully, most fantasy baseball players have respect and intelligence. 

    Nelson Cruz is batting clean-up for the Rangers by the way, to give you another reason why you should draft him smile Ron Washington announced it in December. 

    Thanks for the article though, I understand what you were trying to do, with all do respect though, I think you could have done it a little more carefully.  As always though, thanks for the info.

  6. Finn said...

    You’ve gotta imagine that in a league where Nelson Cruz can go for $1, managers are not going to waste their time drafting the useless Boof Bonser (he has no real upside in any category) at auction.

  7. Derek Carty said...

    It looks like a lot of people have already come to Victor’s defense, but I’ll throw my two cents in as well.

    Disagreement is perfectly fine.  We actually encourage readers to speak their opinions here at THT.  That’s one of the reasons we added the on-site commenting recently.  If you’re going to disagree, though, we’d definitely appreciate it if you back it up with some sort of logical basis so that we can respond.  Dialogue is a great means of learning new things from one another, if conducted appropriately.

    As to your specific objections, JT, I think Victor covered the Nelson Cruz question.  While in some leagues Cruz is going as high as round 10 or 11, it wasn’t long ago he was going in the 18th and 19th round, and there are still leagues where he’ll be a late round pick.  I’m not quite sure anyone will be able to get him for a $1 except in the shallowest of leagues, but I think Victor acknowledged that.  We try to provide content here that everyone can apply to their own league by reproducing the logic in their own specific environment, but we can’t tailor every article to every reader’s league.  It’s just not possible.

    As to the A’s closer, none of us can say for sure who it will be.  I prefer Devine, but it’s entirely possible Ziegler starts the year with the job.

    As far as me being the only knowledgeable writer here, I have to disagree wholeheartedly.  I think we have one of the best teams of writers on the Internet, covering topics that few others cover.  I’m very glad to have all of these guys writing here now, and hopefully most of the readers feel the same.

    If you ever have any specific complaints/suggestions/whatever, JT, feel free to send me an e-mail and explain why.  And that goes for anyone.  If you think there’s something we can improve upon, we’d like to know.

  8. Will said...

    Re:  Cruz & Shallow leagues

    I don’t think the managers of teams in leagues where Cruz would be going for $1 or in late rounds would be reading THT.  Same with Devine.  One might think that a list of players in an article like this would be similarly valued, and thus considered by the author to be undervalued at said price.  Not V-Dub’s finest work.

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