Oakland not ideal fantasy fit for Cespedes 

February, 13, 2012
It certainly has been a strange offseason for the Oakland Athletics. They seem to be rebuilding quite nicely, moving several key pitchers for prospects, yet they've also managed to sign the likes of veterans Bartolo Colon and Jonny Gomes. On Monday, the Athletics surprised the baseball world by agreeing to a four-year contract with coveted Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, making the 26-year-old slugger the team's highest-paid player. While it should take years to know whether the substantial financial commitment is wise, fantasy owners want to know what to expect in 2012.

I blogged about the much-hyped Cespedes a few weeks ago, noting that there were two problems in analyzing his immediate fantasy value. One of those has been solved, as we know his destination; he's with the Athletics, not the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs or another team. In sheer terms of what joining the A's means, let's just say it's not even close to the best place for a slugger to land, especially one unproven at the highest level. Josh Willingham managed to smack 29 home runs with the A's last season, but no other Athletics hitter reached 15. Further, O.co Coliseum, home of the Athletics, was one of the toughest ballparks to hit a home run in last season.

[+] EnlargeYoenis Cespedes
AP Photo/Gregory BullYoenis Cespedes reportedly put up a .333/.424/.667 triple-slash line, with 33 homers and 99 RBIs, in 90 games last year in Cuba.
The other issue I wrote about hasn't changed: Determining major league projections for a player who wows scouts in batting practice and statistically in Cuba's leagues can be problematic. Don't even look at the gaudy numbers he has produced in the past. We know this is a player with the potential for power and speed, but he's almost certainly going to need to spend time in the minor leagues. As a result, drafting Cespedes in a 10- or 12-team mixed league becomes just as risky as choosing top prospects such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. They're considerably younger and brimming with potential, but playing time is hardly assured.