Uncommon Thievery: Changes in Baltimore

Updated: June 20, 2007, 2:23 PM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com
The city of Baltimore may be embracing the change, but I know at least a few fantasy owners who will be sad to see Sam Perlozzo go. After all, Perlozzo is the manager who facilitated Brian Roberts' first 30-plus stolen base season and allowed Corey Patterson to run wild for 45 stolen bases in 2006. Needless to say, Perlozzo was what we in the fantasy industry call a "run-friendly manager." Now that he's gone, it's tough to say how things will shake out in Baltimore. Hopefully they'll just hire Joe Girardi (an equally run-friendly manager) and we'll have nothing to worry about. Just ask Hanley Ramirez where Girardi stands on the stolen base. Or you could ask Alfredo Amezaga, who stole 20 bags for Girardi in 2006, or even Miguel Cabrera, who took nine despite his blatant lack of speed. If the Orioles are in fact able to woo Girardi, you might even see more stolen bases from the Baltimore runners. Roberts and Patterson you know about, but Melvin Mora and Nick Markakis have the potential to nab 15 or more while Freddie Bynum could have some minimal value in deep AL-only formats if he can stick with the club after Jay Payton returns from the disabled list.

If Baltimore's love affair with Girardi doesn't pan out, you won't have much to worry about if you're a Roberts owner. Name me a manager who doesn't run and I'll show you one who does when he has the right players. Dusty Baker, for example, was never a big running manager, but you'd never know it if you looked at Juan Pierre's 58 stolen bases in 78 attempts in 2006. Fact of the matter is, the elite speedsters are going to run regardless of their manager. There are a few exceptions -- like Manny Acta (though it's still early in his managerial career) and whoever's managing Billy Beane's Athletics -- but for the most part, managers will run if they have elite speed at their disposal. It's the fringe speedsters you have to worry about when you have a risk-adverse manager on your hands.

While Patterson's pure speed can hardly be described as fringe; one has to be concerned about his .258 on-base percentage. Given that this has been an ongoing issue throughout his career, it's hard to imagine that he's going to get back on track anytime soon, regardless of the managerial change. Patterson is as high risk as they come, so just realize that you're playing with fire if you decide to take a gamble on him. As for Mora and Markakis, both have seen the benefits of playing for a small-ball type manager this season, and those random steals they provide (five for Mora, six for Markakis) could dry up if Girardi isn't named manager when everything is said and done.


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Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and is a two-time Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year, as named by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.