James Quintong
Thursday February 3rd, 2005


Sosa's move is one of the last big ones to take place before camps open in a couple of weeks. Another one was Florida's signing of Carlos Delgado, who was very quiet on the free-agent market for the longest time until Carlos Beltran landed with the Mets. Delgado could've and should've been a more highly sought-after commodity, but injuries limited him to just 128 games and he failed to crack the 100-RBI mark for the first time since 1997. Plus, his other numbers (.269 BA/.372 OBP/.535 SLG/.907 OPS) were down significantly compared to recent years.

However, Delgado is only 32 and has a few more good years left in him, even if it is in less than hitter-friendly Pro Player Stadium. He does fill a hole at first base left by the Marlins' trade of Derrek Lee for Hee Seop Choi, who never really panned out before going to Los Angeles. Delgado should get plenty of attention in NL-only leagues.

But if you can't spend on Delgado, there's always Doug Mientkiewicz, who will take over at first base for the Mets (and return that World Series ball to the Red Sox). Mientkiewicz is a poor man's version of John Olerud -- decent average (although not last year), solid on-base percentage, great defense, very little power for a corner infielder. He might be worth a couple of bucks or a very late draft pick, but after last season, there probably won't be any issue with him being overrated anymore.

Finally, with Sosa being dealt and Burnitz taking his place in Chicago, the one marquee free agent still left on the market is Magglio Ordonez, whose knee injury last season has shied many teams away from signing him to a long-term deal. Before last season, Ordonez could be counted on for a .300 average, 30 homers and 100-120 RBIs.

He comes at a higher risk for both regular and fantasy teams than Delgado, but he could provide similar production when healthy. It obviously depends on where he lands. Detroit seems to be the front-runner for his services, which would mean less than good news for his power production, even despite all the adjustments being made at Comerica Park. Like Sosa, he comes at a big risk wherever he ends up. But the reward could be pretty good as well.

Also of interest to fantasy owners is the news that Barry Bonds will miss most of spring training recovering from knee surgery. That shouldn't impact Bonds too much if he's back by Opening Day, but just remember that in fantasy circles, he is a bit overrated unless you count walks and/or on-base percentage/OPS. Sure, he'll hit 45 homers, but he doesn't necessarily get enough at-bats to make a huge impact on team batting average. And with the knee surgery, don't expect him to run too much, although he hasn't had more than nine steals in the past three years.

In fact, there's some major issues with some of the top fantasy players entering the season. Albert Pujols said he won't have surgery on a foot problem that's plagued him since last year. Carlos Beltran is probably the top overall fantasy player entering this season, but there's that uncertainty as to what Shea Stadium will do to him. And you never know what the Bronx could do to a marquee player -- this time, Randy Johnson.

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