FLB: Rankings Update
CATCHERS: Original rankings from Nov. 3
It took a few more years than expected, but Piazza's move from behind the plate finally happened, when he signed with the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 8. He'll take over the designated hitter duties from Frank Thomas, who moved on to Toronto, and in the best-case scenario could be a Thomas-like impact bat. I was a bit surprised at how well Piazza performed in San Diego, and now that I'm a little higher on him as a DH, maybe it'll mean he goes the other direction this time and disappoints. Piazza's a .340 hitter with a 1.005 OPS in his career during interleague play (146 games), and .304/.892 as a DH (49 games), so the American League and the less-taxing DH spot should do him some good. Don't count on those kinds of numbers, but he could easily top the 123 games he has averaged the past three years and be a top-10 fantasy catcher. Look for .275-25-80 numbers with a little more upside, and move him up to eighth, in A.J. Pierzynski's spot. ... Pierzynski drops about five spots after the White Sox signed Toby Hall as a backup. Pierzynski/Hall should be an ideal straight platoon, though I'm thinking it's more of a 450/200 split in at-bats in Pierzynski's favor. ... Bengie Molina drops a couple of spots after signing with the Giants, where he's less attractive as a National Leaguer in a bigger ballpark. ... Rod Barajas at least chose a comparable role and ballpark to the one in Texas the past two years, retaining his appeal as a solid No. 2 fantasy option now that he's the Phillies' likely starter. ... Those changes in mind, I'd alter the Nos. 8-16 catchers as follows:
8. Mike Piazza, Athletics
9. Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers
10. Russell Martin, Dodgers
11. Jason Varitek, Red Sox
12. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
13. Paul Lo Duca, Mets
14. Gerald Laird, Rangers
15. Bengie Molina, Giants
16. Rod Barajas, Phillies
Finally, I'd drop Estrada down between Josh Bard and Mike Napoli now that he'll be sharing some of his at-bats with Damian Miller in Milwaukee, John Buck off the list due to the acquisition of Jason LaRue in Kansas City, and I'd slot in Gregg Zaun right behind Estrada now that he's back as Toronto's starting catcher.
FIRST BASEMEN: Original rankings from Nov. 8
Not much has changed here, surprisingly, with No. 15 man Nomar Garciaparra re-signing with the Dodgers, keeping him right at that same spot. The first change is Nick Johnson, who drops back two spots behind Conor Jackson and Kevin Youkilis due to concerns that he might miss a month of the 2007 season recovering from the broken leg he suffered in September. ... No. 23 man Shea Hillenbrand signed with the Angels and No. 25 Sean Casey re-signed with the Tigers, but neither one changes in the rankings. ... Though I initially listed Doug Mientkiewicz amongst the "you don't want 'em" crowd, I'd consider him as a late-round AL-only type now that he'll earn a good share of at-bats at the bottom of that deep Yankee lineup. ... Also, Wes Helms is an NL-only sleeper as a member of the Phillies, as he could quickly earn a noticeable chunk of the third-base at-bats.
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