Players who will, and won't, enjoy new baseball surroundings in '12
It is very easy to get lost in baseball's long, cold winter, particularly if you're a football fan who gets engrossed with the playoffs. It wasn't a mild winter for baseball player movement, like it has been on the thermometer.
You are aware Albert Pujols has flown to (Anaheim), Prince Fielder will be getting fed (Detroit like his big papa) and Jose Reyes will be sambaing (Miami); yet, you might have missed Carlos Quentin going to San Diego, Trevor Cahill in Arizona or Ryan Doumit in Minnesota.
There are still the likes of Roy Oswalt and Vladimir Guerrero on the market, but now is as good of a time as any to review the stock watch of the offseason player movement before those magical four words are officially uttered this weekend: Pitchers and catchers report.
You can debate the health of Pineda's arm amid those reports his high-90s heat became low-90s meatballs down the stretch in Year 2, but you shouldn't debate how much his profile jumps with the move to the Bronx. He won't be getting that Seattle pitcher's park to hide his mistakes, but it will be a lot easier to pitch with those three-, four-, five-run leads he will be getting from that still potent Yankees lineup. He can win a lot of games for fantasy owners, even if you don't like sophomore pitchers who are injury risks.
He has not been healthy for a full season, fitting right in with the Red Sox infirmary the past few year, and has yet to save 30 games, but he could be a candidate to save 40-plus games in Boston. Closers are a crapshoot year to year, but Bailey's career line should be still significantly slanted upward.
Cincinnati paid a hefty price, particularly since he leaves arguably the biggest pitcher's park for the smallest, but Latos is in position to be a big-time winner behind the Reds offense. Latos is still roughly in the category of a third-year starting pitcher, which tends to be the time a young arm finally cracks 200 innings and becomes a fantasy ace. Latos was in a decent situation in San Diego, but a Cy Young-type one in Cincy.
Some things just fit perfectly, like a rum runner in Key West -- sorry, it's 80 degrees here in Florida and tough to concentrate with those on my mind. Doumit is a frozen rum runner in Minnesota, if they drink those there. As a DH and part-time backup catcher, Doumit has the potential to be an elite fantasy catcher, finally. He has not put a full season together, mostly due to injury, but the low impact of DHing can be just the cure.
Alonso went the opposite direction of Latos -- a hitter's park to a pitcher's park -- but he gets out from under Joey Votto's shadow and has a legit shot at playing everyday at first base over Kyle Blanks and Jesus Guzman in Petco. Alonso has gap power and can be productive enough to be used in mixed leagues this season. Don't overpay for him on draft day, because the position is so deep with better slugging types, but he's a good value now as a sleeper.
While picking up the power potential of Quentin might be a coup for the Padres, it is a bad thing for his fantasy value. He leaves homer-friendly Comiskey Park for the cavernous Petco. It makes Quentin little more than a late-round pick in mixed leagues. Hitting 25-to-30 homers is tough to do in San Diego, but it is what you need out of the .252 career-hitting outfielder.
When we say the stock falls here, it falls from merely being the best value on the market to being more of an uncertain thing. Pujols has left his comfort zone of St. Louis with Tony La Russa and heads to the AL and a new city. Big-time free agents rarely hit it big in their first year in their new homes, even if Pujols is one of the few who could do it. There was already some career decline last season. Don't allow Pujols to fall past the third overall pick. He just isn't the surefire No. 1 overall pick he has been for the better part of the past decade.
We are criticizing some very good players here, but really only with regard to where they should be drafted now. Fielder no longer belongs in the first round of drafts now, since he will have to slug in a pitcher-friendly Comerica Park. Left-handed hitters don't jack homers out easily in their 81 games. Fielder can still reach 30 homers and 100-plus RBI, but those are levels better slotted in Round 2. Milwaukee was a real homer-friendly place for him.
You can love Montero's new promise of full-time at-bats between DH and catcher in Seattle, but he was going to get that in New York, too -- even if the at-bats had to mostly come at DH over catcher. The problem is Montero leaves a great lineup and hitter's park in the Bronx for one of the tougher pitcher's parks in baseball and a lineup devoid of true thumpers. Montero can be a star as a slugging fantasy catcher right away, but it is more likely he disappoints and winds up on All-Bust Teams when it is all said and done.
Acquiring Iannetta is a lot better news for the Angels than it is his fantasy owners. Iannetta was ready to bust out as a slugging star in the rare Colorado air. Instead, he is down close to sea level in Anaheim and going to remain about steady in terms of his projected numbers. We could have seen Iannetta go .260-20-75-65-5 (.375-.475) with the Rockies. Now, a .240-15-65-55-5 (.360-.450) line would be a great season out of him in Anaheim.
Phillies: Jon Papelbon, Ty Wigginton
Yankees: Michael Pineda
Reds: Mat Latos, Ryan Madson
Tigers: Prince Fielder
Diamondbacks: Trevor Cahill, Jason Kubel
Angels: Albert Pujols, Chris Iannetta, C.J. Wilson