Move for Ramirez, Damon has potential to benefit Rays, players
Fantasy owners have learned in recent years Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are part-time pieces in their starting lineup. The Rays figure putting both of them together can make one good LF-DH.
Ramirez and Damon joined the Rays recently to help replace the offseason departures of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. They won't replace the speed and power, but they just might provide more runs if they can stay healthy with their split roles.
Ramirez will be a full-time DH for the first time in his career and it will help him stay healthier during the season. One of the greatest right-handed hitters of our generation has three kinds of hits: Laser singles, stand-up doubles and home-run trots. There will be no more running around in left field out of shape, leading to sore or pulled hamstrings. Playing the field has limited Ramirez to 104 games in 2009 (although he did have a 50-game suspension in there) and just 90 last year.
Let's consider Ramirez around the 35th-rated outfielder in fantasy at this point. He can still hit .300 with 20-plus homers and near 100 RBI in a lineup that looks a whole lot better now than it did a week ago.
Damon helps, even if he will be splitting time in left, DH and coming off the bench. He is still a threat to get on base and score runs, especially with what he will have behind him now.
We already took a capsule look at the Rays, but let's revisit it with the new additions:
1. Johnny Damon LF
R Kelly Shoppach C
Zobrist becomes a full-time first baseman and will retain eligibility at second base and outfield, one of the more valuable multi-position options in fantasy (see below). That leaves Rodriguez and Brignac, last year's second-base platoon, full-timers at second and short now.
In the outfield, Joyce figures to be the choice to start in right alongside Upton so Desmond Jennings can head back to start the season in Triple-A, where his numbers were a bit mediocre a year ago. Jennings will be up before June 1, though, and sharing starts around the outfield and potentially moving Damon to a part-time role.
Damon is barely in the top 60 among fantasy outfielders this spring. That makes him a bench option in Head-to-Head formats and one of the lowest-end of the starters in Rotisserie.
Leagues with limited transactions or bench spots value multi-position eligibility highly. Zobrist will be a gem with 1B-2B-OF versatility.
Here is a look at all the multi-position eligible players on draft day. This list outlines all those with at least 20 games at these positions last season, a relative standard in fantasy. FPTS is their scoring in a standard league last season.
Uribe, now slated to start at second for the Dodgers, will be the most valuable of these with his triple-eligibility. "All-Star" Infante, now with the Marlins, is close behind.
The Angels passed on making Ramirez their DH -- apparently he isn't fit for a halo? -- so they immediately turn to the Blue Jays to get Vernon Wells. The decision was a function of defense, because manager Mike Scioscia loves pitching and defense.
The Angels now have 12 gold gloves flanking young go-getter Peter Bourjos in the outfield. Bobby Abreu becomes a full-time DH as opposed to playing left if they had signed Ramirez.
Here is a capsule look at the Angels:
1 Erick Aybar SS
R Maicer Izturis UTL
1 Jered Weaver RH
CL Fernando Rodney RH
Rodney will start as the closer, but it could wind up a committee or solely in Jepsen's hands before the end of the season. Jepsen is a nice sleeper in leagues that draft true middle men.
The Blue Jays mostly sold this winter and won't have hitting guru Cito Gaston as manager anymore. It should be an interesting year with the Blue Jays in fantasy, but you have to figure Jose Bautista, last year's homer leader with 54, will be a big, fat disappointment, if not a total bust.
1 Rajai Davis CF
R J.P. Arencibia C
1 Ricky Romero RH
CL Octavio Dotel RH
Lind and Hill are the cautionary tales for Bautista lovers. They just didn't match their '09 seasons a year ago. They could rebound as sleepers this go-around, along with Escobar and a breakthrough of Snider.
This team is still about pitching, and they have a pretty solid, young rotation despite some losses. Drabek could be an AL ROY candidate, but in the AL Beast, you cannot expect any of these starters to be much better than a .500 pitcher, no matter how well they throw.
Dotel opens as the closer, but a still-deep bullpen will have plenty of fallback candidates if he falters.
The Padres have written the book on how to patch a strong pitching staff together. Now, they will try to patch a lineup together, too, after sending Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox for prospects that don't figure to contribute this season.
1 Jason Bartlett SS
R Jorge Cantu 1B
1 Mat Latos RH
CL Heath Bell RH
Cantu's signing this week gives them an option at first base, if not a platoon with another acquisition, Hawpe. The Padres are littered with choices in the corner outfield and at first base, the most interesting of which is the power but raw Blanks. He was originally the one that made trading Gonzalez seem reasonable.
The bullpen dealt off some arms, but still should be lights out, while the rotation is anchored by burgeoning Cy Young-caliber talent Latos, who needs to stretch out to 200 innings for the first time this season. Latos will go in the top 20 among SPs, but he could perform in the top five if he can stretch out.
Eric Mack writes contributes weekly for SI.com. You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter