Fantasy Mailbag: Kemp, Braun, Cedeno, Parra

Tim Dierkes writes a daily fantasy baseball blog called RotoAuthority. If you enjoy this column, check it out.

Feel free to send fantasy mailbag questions here.

What are your thoughts on Matt Kemp’s potential value this year in a crowded Dodgers outfield? – Mike

I am a huge Kemp fan. I have him ranked 14th among outfielders, with a .300-18-76-82-22 line in 522 at-bats. Even with the outfield logjam in L.A., that doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Kemp will lose some at-bats, but I can’t see Joe Torre playing a Pierre/Andruw/Ethier outfield too often. It’s Ethier and Pierre whose fantasy value will suffer the most.

On average, Kemp is being drafted in the 10th round, 33rd among outfielders. Don’t let that average draft position lull you into a false sense of security though. I have seen him go as early as the seventh round in more competitive leagues. Don’t be afraid to take him there; true five category players are hard to come by.

I want to pull the trigger in the first round on Ryan Braun, any thoughts? – Greg

I wouldn’t object to the move. Braun is typically picked around 12th, right on the border of the first and second round. Statistically I have him as the seventh-best position player, though he carries more risk than anyone above him except for Albert Pujols. I’m giving Braun a reasonable projection of .303-37-102-106-17 in 559 at-bats. There’s no reason he couldn’t fly past that and match or exceed David Wright’s value. It’s just that Braun does not have the track record of most first rounders, and carries some extra risk because of it. If you’re picking 12th and 13th, you can minimize your risk by pairing Braun immediately with a safer pick. If you take him earlier, you’re increasing both your risk and possible reward. That’s a personal preference.

Do you like Ronny Cedeno as a deep middle infield sleeper on the chance that he gets traded to Baltimore? – Dave

Definitely. Cedeno with 550 at-bats could even have mixed league value. If he played that much he could certainly go .275-15-65-65-10. Cedeno has a lot going for him—about a full season’s worth of at-bats at Triple-A with an OPS over .900, and a year under his belt taking his big-league lumps in ’06.

What do you think of Manny Parra this year? Will he make the squad as a reliever or in the rotation? And do you see him contributing to a deeper mixed league roster? – Ryan

With Chris Capuano and Yovani Gallardo hurting, the final three rotation spots in Milwaukee have four competitors: Claudio Vargas, Dave Bush, Carlos Villanueva and Manny Parra. Of the four, only Bush has had a poor spring. Parra has been lights out in 14 innings.

Working against Parra and Villanueva is that they have options remaining and can be sent to the minors. If he can stay healthy, Parra is likely to settle in as a solid #3 starter according to Baseball America. I find mixed league value unlikely this year (4.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP perhaps); Parra seems more likely to fully arrive in ’09. A full-time opportunity should be there next year as well.

I never draft closers early, as I much prefer to pick up lesser-valued surprises on the waiver wire or late in the draft (e.g. Valverde last
year). Who’s 2008′s Jose Valverde? – Ellis

Good strategy. The problem with finding another Valverde is that you can never predict a 47-save season. But are there any late-round closers capable of a 2.66 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 78 Ks?

I could see the following pitchers approaching the above numbers: Huston Street (11th round), Rafael Soriano (13th round), Joakim Soria (13th round), B.J. Ryan (17th round), Jonathan Broxton (20th round), Rafael Betancourt (25th round), and Heath Bell (23rd round). They might not reach Valverde’s rate stats but I’m also a fan of Matt Capps (13th round) and George Sherrill (19th round).

Now, Valverde was a 16th round pick last year. So Ryan and Betancourt seem the most likely to be 2008′s Jose Valverde.

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