To all of our readers of the female persuasion, (unofficial) Sadie Hawkins Day is today. Well, at least according to one source it is.
• If Mike Napoli can be considered a full time catcher going forward, then he is most likely the best fantasy catcher that is a free agent. I say that with all due credit to David Ross and his new hitter friendly home at Fenway Park. Even though Napoli is unlikely to repeat his crazy 2011 season, even in a down year last year he managed to his 24 home runs and put up an above league average wRC+. The Boston Red Sox — among other teams — have shown interest in Napoli thus far. There is also up-and-coming Ryan Lavarnway in their system as well. On the face of it, with both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the newly signed Ross on the roster, it may seem unlikely that the Red Sox pursue Napoli. However, the Sox may deal Salty, as a platoon of sorts Napoli and Ross could make for a very strong receiving corps. Another option would be to have Napoli play first base and catch on occasion. Really, anything that keeps Napoli’s catcher eligibility is the key here. Calling Fenway home would be a near ideal situation. With his right-handed power and fly-ball tendencies, one could expect his HR/FB rate as well as extra-base hits to both climb. For what it’s worth, despite normally punting catcher, I would draft/bid on Napoli if he became a Red Sock.
• While on the topic of catchers, it seems as though A.J. Pierzynski may seen the last of his days in a Chicago White Sox uniform. The public endorsement of Tyler Flowers from General Manager Rick Hahn combined with the age and contract requests Pierzynski seem likely that Flowers will get the nod come opening day. In some ways this is surprising; in others not so much. Despite coming off of a career high in home runs, runs, ISO, and SLG, Pierzynski is going to be celebrating his 36th year on earth soon. Aging catchers coming off of a career year do not bode well in my book. That being said, A.J. was probably drafted low enough — or not drafted at all — that he could make a for a decent keeper, even with a heavy dose of regression. While he did hit 66% of his home runs at home, his nine dingers away from Chicago was also a career high. His power may not be an illusion. I’d keep a close watch on the White Sox’s catcher saga as both Flowers and A.J. present options in deep leagues.
• The Los Angeles Dodgers have a big pile of money to burn, apparently. They have won the bidding rights to negotiate with South Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu. Being only 25 years old, that makes his seven Korean Baseball Organization All-Star Game appearances even more impressive. He has lead his league in strikeouts five times, including last season. If a deal can be agreed upon in the next 30 days, the Dodgers would have themselves an immense talent on their hands. How that talent translates to facing major league hitters is the question. A high 80’s to low 90’s mph fastball with a curveball, slider, and a change-up complete Ryu’s repertoire. His change-up has been rated as his out pitch and is apparently major league ready. The KBO isn’t the same as MLB — or the NPB for that matter — but Ryu’s talent is undeniable. I’ve added him to a prospect list in one of my keeper leagues in the hope that he pans out. A lefty that can sit in the low 90’s with a plus change-up seems like a solid addition to me.
• Nick Swisher has declined the Yankee’s offer and has elected for free agency. Although he will turn 32 in just over a week, Swisher still figures to sign a favorable multi-year deal. He is coming off of four straight years of having a 120 wRC+ or higher and over 20 home runs and 80 RBI’s. With a strong walk rate, above average power and the ability to play a solid right field, Swisher will be a highly coveted player. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Swisher become the back up plan for teams who are leery to give Josh Hamilton too many years. Swish is a valuable commodity in both real life and fantasy and I expect him to continue that in the future.