Fantasy Baseball Thoughts: Yu Darvish, Jed Lowrie, Josh Willingham and Others

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Josh Willingham #16 of the Oakland Athletics hits a sacrifice fly that scored Coco Crisp #4 of the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of their game against the Kansas City Royals at O.co Coliseum on September 7, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Twins signed outfielder Josh Willingham to a 3 year contract yesterday and Baseball Nation's Rob Neyer wrote about how good a fit he will be hitting in Target Field for the next 3 seasons. Willingham hit just .246-.332-.477 with 29 HRs and 98 RBI last year hitting in Oakland, but that may have been a career year for him last year. With that said, Willingham is a cheap source of power you can grab late in mixed league drafts, and in the middle rounds of AL-Only league drafts.

The Astros traded closer Mark Melancon to the Red Sox for infielder Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland. Melancon may or may not close in Boston, as they are apparently still talking to the A's about closer Andrew Bailey and Phillies 2011 closer Ryan Madson is still on the market. If I was a Red Sox fan, and I am not, I would not be comfortable with Melancon coming in to close a game vs the Yankees or Rays.

Per this tweet from ESPN and SiriusXM's Jim Bowden, we could hear who won the Yu Darvish sweepstakes today:

JimBowdenESPNxm JIM BOWDEN
Rangers, Blue Jays, Yankees & Cubs all submit bids for Yu Darvish...MLB expected to announce winning bid on Thursday Morning

More on Yu Darvish and others after the jump:

In the Melancon deal, the Astros received Lowrie who will be their starting shortstop in 2012. Lowrie, who is injury prone, hit .252-.303-.383 with 6 HRs, 36 RBI and 40 runs scored in just over 300 at bats last year. Lowrie could be one of the few Astros worth owning in 2012, as he has the potential to hit double digit homers in 2012.

Getting back to Ryan Madson, what the heck happened to the market for him? Madson was ranked as the best closer option on the market this offseason by some, and he still doesn't have a job. Lucky for him, he has the best agent in baseball, and Scott Boras usually has no problem signing his clients to lucrative contracts. I can see the Reds jumping in and signing him this offseason, as their 2011 closer Francisco Cordero is also a free agent.

The deadline to bid on Japanese starting pitcher Yu Darvish came and went yesterday at 5pm EST, and now we wait to hear who won the bid. My money is on the Rangers. But reports are that the Cubs, Blue Jays, Yankees and possibly the Nationals have bid on him. The Rangers have to make a splash to respond to the Angels signing C.J. Wilson last week.

One report last evening had the Nippon Ham Fighters, Darvish's team in Japan, were very excited by how large the bid they received. As soon as I read that, I figured it had to be the Rangers or the Nationals. Another report had the bid as sky high. It will certainly be interesting to see how high the bidding went for Darvish's services.

In 2011, Darvish won 18 games with a 1.44 ERA, and a 0.82 WHIP with 276 strikeouts in 223 innings. What can he do in the majors in 2012? Robert published his early 2012 starting pitcher rankings last week and ranked him as his 25th best starter, and here are his thoughts on Darvish:

25. Yu Darvish - Nippon-Ham Fighters/Free Agent

It's safe to say that Darvish will divide opinion if and when he is posted - just look to the comments on yesterday's piece, where one commenter said he would rank him no higher than 50, while another said Top 15. Part of the trepidation with Darvish is going to be his status as a Japanese pitcher. Here's an important point: Yu Darvish is not Daisuke Matsuzaka or Akinori Otsuka, anymore than Clayton Kershaw is Chris Young, even though they graduated from the same high school. The fact is that Darvish had a historic season for the Nippon-Ham Fighters in 2011, and it's not his first taste of success. If we accept that Darvish has a chance to succeed in Major League Baseball, then what can we expect? There are people out there suggesting that he could put up a 10 WAR season, based on MLE (Major League Equivalency) calculations they've done, and while I would reject those out of hand, I wouldn't be shocked to see a K/9 approaching 9 with an ERA in the low 2s and a WHIP that is above average. Of course, a lot depends on what organization he ends up with (if he does come over), but for now, 25 seems right...to me, at least.

I don't have a problem with Robert's ranking here, and think he could be a few spots higher by year end.

Fake Teams reader dudedudedude and I were haggling over Mike Stanton in this fanpost last night

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