Through the first weekend of the season, a whole bunch of questions have been totally and permanently answered. The Braves and Red Sox are both terrible, the Twins are going to score 243 runs this season, and the NL Cy Young is going to be a tight horse race between Chad Billingsley and Jeff Samardzija.
As laughable as some of those things sound, looking over the most common transfers they’re the type of judgments it seems that some owners are willing to make. I can’t argue much with the most dropped player this week, Alfredo Aceves, not because I think his performance this weekend was indicative of what he’ll do the rest of the season, but because I think Bobby Valentine has lost confidence in him. I’m of two minds about both Jason Hammel and Kyle Lohse, nowhere near sold on either enough to drop someone like Max Scherzer or Daniel Hudson to pick one of them up, but both were added in over 2000 Yahoo! leagues yesterday alone.
Brad Lidge (ESPN: 21 percent owned; Yahoo!: 39 percent owned)
I hate recommending closers that don’t have the job nailed down, but I think Lidge will be worth the grab for those who need saves. The Nationals’ preferred choice at the end of games, Drew Storen, is already on the shelf and appears to be facing a longer-than-expected layoff, which means the saves will be up for grabs for the foreseeable future. The only thing standing between Lidge and a huge batch of saves is the young flamethrower, Henry Rodriguez. Lidge got the first save chance in Chicago and Rodriguez got the second, leading many to believe they’ll simply share the closer’s slot, rendering both far less valuable in a fantasy context.
To be frank, I’m surprised Nats manager Davey Johnson isn’t going with the three-headed monster of Lidge, Rodriguez, and Tyler Clippard, but Clippard hasn’t gotten a save opportunity yet, so it looks like Lidge’s only competition will be Rodriguez. The two are very similar statistically: Both strike out about a quarter of the hitters they face and both walked about 15 percent of the hitters last year, though they get there in very different ways.
My hunch is that Rodriguez’s notoriously shaky control ends up costing him the job, because while they walked about the same percentage of hitters last year, that was an aberration for Lidge. I can’t see Lidge doing worse than maintaining the current job share, which is far from ideal, but better than nothing for those hurting for saves. Once Storen’s timetable is clearer, I believe Johnson will opt to end the closer-by-committee and will stick Lidge with the job with Clippard and Rodriguez back in their normal set-up roles.
Rafael Furcal (ESPN: 60 percent owned; Yahoo!: 54 percent owned)
Furcal is absolutely flying off the shelves right now, as he went from 5 percent ownership on ESPN to 60 percent almost overnight, so while I typically recommend the wait-and-see approach, that option isn’t really available now. His .435 batting average is going to come down — sorry to be the bearer of bad news here — but what intrigues me about his first few games is his pair of steals. Furcal isn’t Dee Gordon or vintage Juan Pierre, but under new manager Mike Matheny, it looks like he’s going to get a chance to run.
I’m certainly aware of just how lousy Furcal was for the Dodgers last year, but a goodly part of those struggles came from his broken thumb and strained oblique, two injuries that can linger even after the player returns from the DL. I love Furcal as an MI option this year, just don’t get irrationally exuberant and trade Starlin Castro for him. At 34, his days of 10-15 HR and 30-40 SB are behind him; he’ll still be valuable this year, but don’t break the FAAB bank to get him.