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Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Answers from the Weeds

Fantasyman drags himself aways from his draft preparation to provide info on bargain pitchers.

In order to be successful at Fantasy Baseball, you have to be able to sniff   out bargains. In auction style drafts, you have to find those players who go   for $3 but produce $20 results. Straight drafts require a few steals at the   late portion of the draft. This is where championships are won.

Pitching is as difficult to come by in fantasy as it is in reality. Once you   get beyond the top six or eight pitchers, it becomes a crapshoot. Honestly,   can you predict beyond a reasonable doubt who will have a better season: Tom   Glavine or David Wells? Can you say with certainty that either will have a great   year? There are the new strike zone concerns for Glavine. Wells has to deal   with waistline concerns and will be 38 in May. I have always been of the mind   that you can count on hitters remaining more consistent year-to-year than pitchers,   so I?d rather spend my budget, or use early drafts picks, on big hitters and   roll the dice with pitchers.

Ideally, you?d like to get pitchers from teams who are supposed to be contenders.   That is unless they pitch for Houston or Colorado. (Repeat after me: Never take   a pitcher from Houston or Colorado.) Focus on the 2-3-4 pitchers of contending   teams and the aces for the poorer teams and you should do OK. The tough decision   is which number 3 pitcher is going to step up. Here are a few gambles that I   like:

Matt Morris-STL: Yes he is coming off a significant injury to his pitching   arm. Still he is slotted as the Cardinals number 3 guy and if he stays healthy,   which I think he will, he could end up as their ace by season?s end.

Dustin Hermanson-STL: This guy had a terrible year last season in a   terrible baseball city. Now that he has been liberated, look for him to rejuvenate   his career. Hermanson is not required to be the ace in St. Louis but he should   put up great numbers. He shouldn?t have to grow funky sideburns to get attention   anymore.

Osvaldo Fernandez-CIN: The non-knuckling Fernandez in Cincy has been   lights out this spring. This is on the heels of an impressive, though shortened,   season in 2000. He has had injury woes also, but he threw extremely well in the   second half last year and it appears he has gotten over the hump. Hernandez   has a similar upside to Morris: he either will be hurt(and not hurting your   ERA) and he will be an effective pitcher.

Javier Vazquez-MON: Vazquez should be the ace of an up-and-coming Expos   squad. He was a horse last year and posted a very respectable 4.05 ERA. He?ll   be 26 in July and I see no reason why he will not be even better this year.

Kris Benson-PIT: Benson is not exactly a sleeper. He was even touted   as a Cy Young candidate last preseason. Yet, he still has not stepped up to   that next level. I think this could be the year. He has had 2 years in a row   of less hits than innings. He is hitting that prime age where things usually   come together for pitchers. I think he will avoid the dead arm period that   has plagued him the last two years and really break out. [Ed. Benson is expected to miss the first three weeks of the season due to a strained elbow ligament.

Kerry Wood-CHI: I am including him only because he has kind of been   forgotten. He has a full season under his belt after the surgery. He should   be ready to go full throttle in 2001. An especially good pick in leagues that   count strikeouts. Of course, he plays for the Cubs so wins may be hard to come   by.

Omar Daal-PHI: Are you going to let one very forgettable season scare   you? No! Daal was super in 1998 and 1999. Look at his second half numbers last   year(not the record though). He ERA was almost 2 and a half runs lower with   Philly after the trade. I am willing to gamble that Daal will return to form.   Wins may be difficult to come by seeing he is with Philadelphia, but he should   have a decent ERA and WHIP.

Glendon Rusch-NYM: Rusch grew by leaps and bounds last year. He plays   for a good team and is slotted to be the third or fourth pitcher. Rusch?s ability   exceeds that of many teams’ number 4 guy so, at least in the early going, he   could rack up so easy victories. He?s 27 years old and could be ready to take   it up a notch.

Jeff Weaver-DET: First, he pitches in a great pitcher?s park. Second,   the Tigers are a team on the come (losing Juan Gonzalez won?t hurt them because   he didn?t produce much for them anyway). Third, he has good stuff. This will   be his third full season and he won?t be 25 until August. Weaver has a bulldog   mentality to go along with his arsenal of pitchers and very well could become   one of those elite pitchers. Maybe not this season, but soon.

Paul Wilson-TB: Yes he is the same highly touted Paul Wilson from the   Mets. Now, seemingly over his arm woes and pitching for the Devil Rays, Wilson   appears to be on the verge of fulfilling his potential. In very limited action   late last season, Wilson sparkled. His talent leaves no questions. His durability   does however. That he is stuck in Tampa will hurt his win figures but everything   else should be fine.

Eric Milton-MIN: Acquired from the Yankees in the Knoblauch trade a   few years back, Milton has really blossomed. Yet he still makes the weeds list   because he works in Minnesota. The Twins could surprise some people this year.   That is not to say that Cleveland of Chicago should be worrying, but Minnesota?s   starting pitching depth is among the American League?s best. Really. Stop laughing.   Milton is another young lefty reaching the prime years of his career. He plays   in a shoebox so his ERA is not as low as it could be, but the Twins will be   competitive this year. My concern for Milton is getting run support. David Ortiz   is not exactly a potent cleanup hitter.

Tomo Ohka-BOS: Ohka was very impressive in his 12 starts for Boston   last year. He will be in the rotation from the onset in 2001, perhaps as the   number 2 pitcher behind some Pedro guy. Ohka won?t get you many K?s but he keeps   hitters off balance. The Red Sox figure to beat up on the East, except NY, and   Ohka will be the beneficiary of the run support.

Well, as you can see, there are more pitchers from the National League than   the American League on this list. That is because the American League pitching   is either really good(The Yankees, Pedro, Colon) or very mediocre. If you play   in an American League only league, grab one of the ?really good? pitchers if   you want something that resembles a sure thing. Once they are gone, go after   some sticks. If you are forced to grab mediocrity, take it from a contender.   At least you have a better chance to get some wins that way. The National League   has a little more to choose from. When the going gets tough at the end, and   names like Darren Oliver are tossed out, you will pass. You will be armed with   the knowledge of the weeds.

The Original Gary Posted: March 28, 2001 at 06:00 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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