Eric Mack
Tuesday January 18th, 2011

Apparently the Cubs couldn't help themselves with the added depth in their rotation. They just had to sell a piece of it off in Tom Gorzelanny.

The Nats added him to their rotation, but he's relatively worthless for fantasy owners outside of a stopgap when the matchups are right in a two-start week. After all, he's no Stephen Strasburg, who won't be there to help us in fantasy this year either.

Nationals pitchers not named Strasburg -- he will be throwing soon -- just don't carry much wait in fantasy. Strasburg reportedly will be brought along slowly and not be allowed to pitch in the majors this season. Bummer.

But, hey, we have Gorzelanny to look forward to, right? Maybe not.

The Nationals have plenty of depth in their rotation, even if it isn't really fantasy-worthy.

Washington Nationals outlook

Projected lineup

1. Nyjer Morgan CF 2. Ian Desmond SS 3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B 4. Jayson Werth RF 5. Adam LaRoche 1B 6. Ivan Rodriguez C 7. Roger Bernadina LF 8. Daniel Espinosa 2B

Top bench options

R Mike Morse OF R Rick Ankiel OF R Jesus Flores C

Projected rotation

1 Livan Hernandez RH 2 John Lannan LH 3 Jordan Zimmermann RH 4 Jason Marquis RH 5 Tom Gorzelanny LH ALT Chien-Ming Wang RH Top bullpen arms

CL Drew Storen RH SU Tyler Clippard RH RP Sean Burnett LH RP Doug Slaten LH RP Ross Detwiler LH

The Nats say now Wang (shoulder) is going to be 100 percent going into spring training. If that is the case, Gorzelanny might not even be able to crack the starting five. Marquis has a contract almost guaranteeing him a spot, while Hernandez pitched too well to not throw out there. The young arms Lannan and Zimmermann might be the best on the staff.

So much for Gorzelanny being a draft day sleeper. He is more of an in-season waiver pick-up now. Wang could actually be the late-round sleeper all over again.

Behind those six starters named above, there is rare depth in Washington with Detwiler and Cuban rookie Yunesky Maya. Retreads J.D. Martin, Luis Atilano, Collin Balester and Craig Stammen have started games, too.

It is mostly those names that have created the stigma of the Nationals starter. Perhaps this year will be different. Free-agent additions Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche might be an upgrade for an offense that lost Adam Dunn.

The Nats at least won't be the last pick in the NL East. Because ...

No team did less to upgrade this winter than the Mets. It makes them a dangerous locale to harvest fantasy picks, especially if you're looking for power and run production. No one has proven capable of slaying the CitiField beast, save for David Wright last season.

New York Mets outlook

Projected lineup POS

1. Jose Reyes SS 2. Angel Pagan CF 3. David Wright 3B 4. Carlos Beltran RF 5. Jason Bay LF 6. Ike Davis 1B 7. Ronny Paulino C 8. Luis Castillo 2B

Top bench options

R Daniel Murphy UTL R Willie Harris OF R Josh Thole C

Projected rotation

1 Mike Pelfrey RH 2 Jonathon Niese LH 3 R.A. Dickey RH 4 Jenrry Mejia RH 5 Dillon Gee RH ALT Johan Santana LH Top bullpen arms CL Francisco Rodriguez RH SU Bobby Parnell RH RP Taylor Buchholz RH RP Chris Capuano LH RP Oliver Perez LH

The Mets have potential, but their offense is slowed by age and a pitching-friendly park. And their pitching staff doesn't even look as good as the Nats, if you include the bullpen.

Santana, like Strasburg, is nearly ready to throw, but unlike Strasburg there is some hope he will contribute for fantasy owners this season. Santana is recovering from surgery to repair a torn capsule in his shoulder. Shoulder injuries are far more difficult to come back from than elbow ligament replacements, but the target date to return is June.

Santana is worth a late pick -- more than Brandon Webb or Wang were last year -- because at least his issue wasn't the labrum or rotator cuff. The Mets will try to get by with a spare parts rotation behind developing Pelfrey and Niese. Save for the surprising knuckle-balling Dickey, it didn't work out in the second half last season.

Andy Pettitte reportedly is telling the Yankees to not count on him this season, as he is leaning toward retirement still. Boy does that make moving Joba Chamberlain back to the rotation a lot more necessary now.

The Yankees didn't have as quiet of an offseason as the Mets, but it was close. They retained their Hall of Fame shortstop, but lost out on Cliff Lee and actually considered free-agent starter Kevin Millwood -- yeah, the one that couldn't stick in the O's rotation with his 5.10 ERA.

Millwood would actually become a viable late-rounder with the Yankees -- or the Mets -- because those teams each have a far better history of making something out of nothing with pitchers in fantasy.

But the Yankees did do something recently that makes re-inventing the Joba Rules a consideration, if not a likelihood. They bought a bullpen in former Rays closer Rafael Soriano and former Mets lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano. Chamberlain is far less of the Pitch-22 now. (Pitch-22 is the catch-22 of pitchers: Good enough to start, but too valuable in relief.)

New York Yankees outlook

Projected lineup

1. Derek Jeter SS 2. Nick Swisher RF 3. Mark Teixeira 1B 4. Alex Rodriguez 3B 5. Robinson Cano 2B 6. Jorge Posada DH 7. Curtis Granderson CF Top bullpen arms 8. Russell Martin C 9. Brett Gardner LF

Top bench options

R Ramiro Pena UTL R Francisco Cervelli C

Projected rotation

1 CC Sabathia LH 2 A.J. Burnett RH 3 Phil Hughes RH 4 Joba Chamberlain RH 5 Ivan Nova RH ALT Sergio Mitre RH Top bullpen arms CL Mariano Rivera RH SU Rafael Soriano RH RP Pedro Feliciano LH RP David Robertson RH RP Damaso Marte LH That bullpen will still be good without Joba, while the rotation would look far more tantalizing to fantasy owners if two of Nova, Mitre or Millwood don't have to occupy the last spots. Chamberlain four and Millwood five would make the Yankees a five-deep fantasy-worth rotation in standard leagues. There are very few of those around.

That lineup is aged, but Cano has become the fantasy star of the bunch, passing even Big Tex and A-Rod in the first round this spring. It is that run production that makes having those Yankees starters -- whoever they may be -- so important.

And which Cub picks up for Gorzelanny?

We still cannot figure why the Cubs decided to do away with some starting pitching depth for a pack of prospects -- although Michael Burgess can be a pretty good, multi-category fantasy outfielder in a few years.

Perhaps, the talk of moving lefty James Russell into the rotation a la Ryan Dempster is more than just a thought. It might be a reality.

We already looked at the Cubs last week, but here is an updated peek:

Projected rotation

1 Carlos Zambrano RH 2 Matt Garza RH 3 Ryan Dempster RH 4 Carlos Silva RH 5 Randy Wells RH ALT James Russell LH

Top bullpen arms

CL Carlos Marmol RH SU Kerry Wood RH RP Sean Marshall LH RP Andrew Cashner RH RP Jeff Samardzija RH

It now appears Wells, Russell, smoke-throwing prospect Cashner, Samardzija and perhaps even retread left Marshall will compete for the final rotation spot. All of them figure to make the roster out of spring training, save for the long-term guys like Cashner or Samardzija.

Cashner has the best stuff and most potential of that bunch with his mid-90s heat, but the jury is still out on whether he will be a late-inning reliever or starter. Perhaps trading Gorzelanny opens the door for him.

Eric Mack writes contributes weekly for You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.

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