A good friend of mine took me to task last Saturday for not mentioning my bachelor party in last week’s column. Generally, I tend not to write about things that I don’t have clear recollections of, but I guess I’ll make an exception today. I’d like to especially thank the organizers and the Brooklyn Brewery, who have probably spent the last two weeks trying to figure out if it’s possible to write my party of ravenous beer mongers descending on their unsuspecting and cordial staff as a tax write off. Temperance has never been the strong suit of my crew, after all. By the way, let me take this opportunity to ask that same friend, who has been married for about nine years – if I come home later and drunker than my fiancé on the night of her bachelorette party, does that mean I’m not ready for marriage? Remember, you’re complicit in this.
…As I prepare to make the jump and change positions from fiancé to husband, I want to take a few minutes to look at a some players who will gain positional eligibility this season that they don’t have at draft time. Roster versatility is an underrated strength in fantasy baseball, especially when you have to make deals. Additionally, players moving from more offensive-heavy positions to thinner and weaker positions always provide a bit extra value that most pre-ranks don’t consider.
Kevin Youkilis. In what is likely the biggest change in positional eligibility among bonafide stud players, the Greek God of Walks will return to the hot corner to make way for Adrian Gonzalez at first. Youkilis will gain 3B-eligibility imminently, as he projects as the full time 3B for the Sox. This move shoots Youk from the 8th highest pre-ranked 1B to the 5th highest 3B. Personally, I’m not as down on the 3B class as some, but it’s plainly obvious that 1B is much deeper, and therefore Youkilis’s projected numbers not only outshine more of the top options at 3B, but his value above replacement receives a nice bump as well.
Martin Prado. Prado is already eligible at 2B and 3B, and to make room for the arrival of Dan Uggla, this utility regular All Star is now moving to the outfield. Prado is probably still most valuable at 2B, but to be eligible as middle or corner infield and as an outfielder is quite rare and extremely valuable.
Lance Berkman. In one of the more bizarre off-season moves, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Lance Berkman with the intent of using him as a full time outfielder. Berkman’s production first tailed a bit in 2009 and then really took a dive last season. However, my biggest concern is whether Big Puma’s body will stand up to the challenge of being a full time outfielder. If Berkman is able to play 140 games, I think he can produce like a fairly good OF3. Projected to hit second in the order, Berkman should be able to take advantage of his stellar batting eye to post a good 90 runs. If he also gives you 18-22 homers and 70 RBI, along with a neutral .270-ish batting average, that’s not a bad package for somebody who doesn’t appear to be on anybody’s radar and would be borderline undraftable in a 12-team mixed league as a corner infielder.
Chone Figgins. The ping pong game knocking Figgins back and forth between 2B and 3B looks like it will continue this year. Figgins looks like he’ll be back at 3B this season. While he’s most valuable as a middle infielder, in addition to the value of versatility, this move opens up a serious speed option at a position that is traditionally lacking in SBs.
Adam Dunn. The Big Donkey loses his OF-eligibility this season, and he will be adopting what will primarily be a DH role. However, it’s possible that he does gain it back, at least in Yahoo leagues. I’d like to think that the White Sox would want to get his bat in their line-up in interleague games without relegating Paul Konerko to the bench. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me if he got a handful of starts at RF in interleague road games, enough to earn OF-eligibility midseason in Yahoo leagues. Looking toward next year, I’d also expect him to get enough starts at 1B to retain that eligibility going forward.
Michael Young. Young’s future is uncertain right now. His preference would be to be traded, but as yet that hasn’t happened. With the signing of Adrian Beltre, Young is no longer the starting 3B in Texas. He’s said that he’s willing to play other positions, including the outfield. However, the Texas outfield is manned by Cruz and Hamilton in the corners, and neither of them is going anywhere. Julio Borbon is holding down CF, and he’s young, inexpensive and the Rangers like him, plus I’m not sure Young would have CF range. As of now, I’d probably consider him a 3B-eligible DH, which doesn’t affect his value at all. However, there is one potential jackpot situation. Ian Kinsler hasn’t once stayed healthy for a whole season, and Young is a former 2B – a dreadful defensive one, but that doesn’t matter to us, right? Further, Texas asked their primary 2B back-up, Andres Blanco, to start developing himself as an outfielder. If Young sticks in Texas, a Kinsler injury and a return to 2B for Young would be great for his value.
Moves to DH. Along with Michael Young, Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez are slated to move to full time DH roles. While the move shouldn’t mean anything for the value of a usually healthy Abreu, perhaps avoiding the field might help Ordonez avoid the DL. Ordonez was on his way to a renaissance season in 2010, until he was cut down by injury. Projected to hit third in Detroit’s order, a healthy Magglio could rack up the RBIs and the runs, with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez there to drive him in. At 37 and bearing some injury risk, Ordonez may not be somebody you want to rely on, but he’s the type of player I love to target late. He boasts an undeniable body of work and performed in line with career norms last season. In my opinion, given his price, the only risk an Ordonez owner undertakes is health. If Ordonez plays 135 games, he will be worth double his draft day price in many leagues.