We’re three days into free agency and the Titans haven’t overpaid for anyone. There’s a bit of panic by the fan base since there is all this cap room and someone has to get it. I really wonder if the Titans are OK with just franchising Haynesworth. Here’s the theory. Haynesworth has always had the talent. He just hasn’t been consistent. He had a great year when his contract was expiring. If he’s franchised, he’ll have the motivation again, even if it means the Titans don’t sign him next year.
While it’s cliche to talk about players getting the money and then letting up on the competitive fire, it applies to defensive linemen because of their incredible bulk. Can you imagine how hard it is to maintain your body when 320 pounds is in shape? I don’t know how Haynesworth kept himself conditioned with the hamstring injury. Giving big bucks for a defensive lineman is a risk. Let’s not forget his stomping on Andre Gurode two years ago. Off-the-field issues have a tendency of disappearing when a player performs
I’m thinking that I might do a bit of positional analysis for fantasy baseball. When I think about fantasy baseball positions, I try to compare it to fantasy baseball. Most of the time the comparisons don’t work, but it’s fun to have a point of reference.
Catchers are like tight ends. A good tight end in football is a “two way” player who blocks like a tackle and catches like a wideout. That would be a wideout not on the Titans. The blocking part is useless for fantasy purposes. That’s why Mike Piazza was the perfect fantasy catcher. His defense was inadequate, but he hit like a first baseman. Note that two of the best catchers, Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer, are such good hitters that there’s talk of moving them to another position. Victor Martinez played more than 20 games at first base last year. There’s talk about Mauer moving to third.
Since catchers aren’t offensive wonders, does it make sense to punt the position and get A.J. Pierzynski in the 15th round? Pierzynski will give you 15ish home runs, a .260 batting average, and maybe 60 RBIs. Forget about stolen bases. While Victor Martinez had an incredible 114 RBIs, he averaged 87 RBIs in the previous two years. Is that worth a ten-round premium? Actually Russell Martin might be a better deal. He’s the ubiquitous young guy with upside. Last year he had 19 home runs and 21 stolen bases, and getting any stolen bases from the position is gravy. I’d have to give up a fourth round pick for him, probably. Is it worth it? I can get a 20/20 guy in the outfield for a much lower pick. Last year I drafted Ramon Hernandez in the 11th round. Hernandez spend half the year on the DL. Actually it would make sense for me to draft him since guys who are terrible on my team tend to bounce back the following year.
Catcher is kind of like tight end in that more teams have guys who are two-way players now. I wouldn’t call catcher a deep position, though, since I ended the year with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Like Martinez, he has eligibility at two positions. Unlike Martinez, he doesn’t have a certain spot in the lineup. Ben Broussard is the first baseman for the Rangers, so it’s possible that Salty ends up catching a couple of days a week and playing first base a couple of days a week. That’s not what you’re looking for in a daily league. Salty is routinely ranked in the top ten of catchers.
In the dynasty league, there’s one catcher theory that works. You’re allowed to post a backup player, and it’s cheap and sensible to get a catcher’s actual backup as the position backup. The year I had Mauer and Mark Redmond, his backup, was excellent. That was Mauer’s one year without injury, and Redmond hit better than .300. A lot of teams have catcher platoons, and you can get 20 homers from such a seteup. Heck, the Royals have John Buck, who hit 18 taters in 347 at bats. His new backup is Miguel Olivo, a former Sox prospect who hit 16 homers in each of the past two years. There was talk of allowing Olivo to play another position, like left field, but that’s probably out.
Where was I going with this. . . oh yeah, draft a good catcher or you will suffer. Don’t get too worked up about the position since even the best guys play maybe 130 games. Having a rotation in a daily league makes sense if you know when your guy is going to sit, but that’s a slot on your roster that won’t go for that extra outfielder with upside (hello, Dave Roberts). Sadly there are only three catchers with other positional eligibility, and one of them is the top guy in the position. One of the others (Salty) might start the year in AAA and the other (Ryan Doumit of the Pirates) may not play catcher at all and could be a part-time player. Doumit has played first base, outfield, and catcher. His career high in games played is 83, so he’s a late-round pickup at best.
I may continue with the thrilling catcher position tomorrow, or I might talk about how the Titans are saving their cap room to pay for Jeff Fisher’s divorce.