Fantasy Mailbag: Michael Young, Willy Taveras, Jay Bruce

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

Let’s sift through the ol’ mailbag once again. Feel free to shoot questions here.

What’s your take on Michael Young this season? Where does he rank for shortstops in your mind? – Danny

I rank Young as the seventh best shortstop, worse than Carlos Guillen but better than Troy Tulowitzki. However, all three players are within one dollar in my values so it’s pretty much a toss-up. I’m predicting a .301-13-86-88-9 season for Young, which is plenty reasonable.

The Big Three shortstops (Jose Reyes/Hanley Ramirez/Jimmy Rollins) clearly are in tier one. Derek Jeter kind of sits alone as a tier two guy, but the 37th pick is too early for him. Then I’d toss Rafael Furcal, Carlos Guillen, Young, and Tulo all into a third tier as they’re of similar value to me. Young or Furcal in the seventh round is quite solid. Tulo and Miguel Tejada are going too high for my tastes.

If you miss out on all of the above-named shortstops in a 12-team mixed league, you’re in a bad place.

There seem to be a lot of high upside, cheap end-gamers at middle infield this year. Which ones would you gamble on? – Phil

I’m not really seeing that trend at shortstop. In my opinion if you don’t get one of the nine guys mentioned above, you’re getting less than $10 of value from the position.

I like Kelly Johnson in the 14th round; he could be the seventh-best second baseman. Rickie Weeks is a breakout candidate for many, though in the ninth round he’s not a huge bargain. I feel the same way about Howie Kendrick.

Jeff Kent, Orlando Hudson, Aaron Hill, Freddy Sanchez, and Mark Ellis aren’t getting much love. You might find a couple of 20 home run candidates in there. And some believe Ty Wigginton could mash 30 this year.

I read that by bringing up Ryan Braun in May last year, the Brewers effectively delayed his arbitration and free agency years by one year. Do you think that the Reds might consider doing the same thing with Jay Bruce? And what are your thoughts about the practice in general? – Steve

The Brewers may pull off that trick with Braun, but it’s not a lock. ESPN’s Keith Law told me once that mid-June is a safer time to call a guy up if you want to avoid Super Two status.

With Corey Patterson and a slew of other center field candidates in-house, I can definitely see the Reds going this route with Bruce. If I were a Reds fan this would anger me greatly, as the team isn’t putting its best players on the field from day one in a year that they could sneak into the playoffs. Worse yet, the Reds would posture rather than admit they’re trying to save money.

I was just wondering your thoughts on Willy Taveras. It seems to me that he gets no love, yet he is hitting at the top of a potent Colorado lineup and could steal 50 bases. I could see a .300, 100 run, 50 steal season out of him, which would make him a very attractive option, yet he is going in the 15th+ round in some leagues. – Will

I’m seeing Willy going in the 15th round typically. I have him at .299-2-34-74-33 in 455 at-bats, making him the 28th-ranked outfielder. Taveras’ problems are twofold, and they keep him from being the fringe top 10 outfielder he could be.

First, Taveras dealt with quad and hamstring problems throughout ’07, resulting in just 97 big league games and 372 at-bats. You never like to hear a speedster having leg problems. If he returns to his 600 at-bat days of ’05, he could truly sniff the top ten outfielders.

The other problem is that to draft Taveras (or Juan Pierre or Michael Bourn) is to take a deep hit in home runs and RBIs. This makes team construction more difficult. And if you already have a Jose Reyes on your roster, these three don’t have the same value because you don’t need steals as much.

Pretty much in all of drafts so far I’ve been saving the last round for a catcher. So far I’ve been taking Kurt Suzuki as that guy but I’m also hearing good things about people like Ryan Doumit and Mike Napoli. Any thoughts? I know the mantra is don’t pay for saves or catchers and I’ve been trying to stick to that this year. I had good feelings about Russell Martin last year that panned out, but no one’s really jumping out like that at me this year. – Jeff

Kurt Suzuki—ugh. In a shallow mixed league I’d want to do better than that for my second catcher. I don’t buy any kind of “don’t pay for catchers” mantra in a two-catcher league. They’re pretty scarce and unlike closers, good ones don’t necessarily crop up midseason.

That said, catcher does present nice bargains if your No. 1 is a reliable guy. J.R. Towles, Geovany Soto, Carlos Ruiz, Ramon Hernandez, and Doumit all have a shot to jump into the top eight catchers. Soto is probably the worst-kept secret at this point. Towles presents the most risk.

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