Fantasy Baseball Thoughts: Mariano Rivera, Ryan Howard and Others

Finally, pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training, and that means we will have spring training games to talk about in a few weeks. Well, one of those weeks I will be in Dublin, Ireland, but plan to have my laptop with me to stay on top of things. I am going with my brother for 5 days and 4 nights of jumping from one Irish bar to another the week of March 12th.

I have it on good word that John Sickels will be posting his Top 100 Prospect Rankings for the first time ever this Friday over at Minor League Ball. I, for one, am looking forward to his rankings.

Anyway, there was some interesting news reported yesterday, and probably the biggest news was Albert Pujols reporting to Angels camp in Tempe, Arizona. Well, at least that's what some of the networks want you to believe. Seriously, it isn't news that Pujols reported to camp. It is news if he did NOT report to camp. Or that he was caught driving under the influence, or hanging out with some hookers. That would be news. But to report that he made it to spring training on time, is, well, expected, and NOT news.

The real big news story of the day was speculation that Mariano Rivera has decided what he is going to do after the 2012 season, the last year of his contract with the Yankees. What we don't know is what his decision is. This news is important for keeper league owners who currently own, or can draft, either Rafael Soriano or David Robertson on draft day, as they are the two most likely candidates to replace Mo as the Yankees closer in 2013.

More fantasy baseball thoughts after the jump:

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was filmed taking grounders at first base yesterday, but don't get too excited. Jim Salisbury from Comcast Sportsnet Philly reported that Howard walked with a noticeable limp and appeared heavier than usual. It is not a surprise that Howard is heavier at this point in his rehab as he has been limited as to what he can do. But, this is the first time we have heard that he is walking with a limp. Now, this may be normal at this point in his rehab, but it sounds like he still has a ways to go to being in game shape. The current target is the middle of May, but I have a feeling it will be a bit longer than that.

It was reported yesterday that the Rockies have a hand shake agreement to extend manager Jim Tracey for a number of years. Why? He guided a team that lost 89 games last year.

The Indians announced that the competition for the starting third base job will last the entire spring. The candidates battling for the job are Lonnie Chisenhall and Jack Hannahan. Chisenhall has the better bat and is younger, while Hannahan has the better glove. I recently traded for Chisenhall in my AL-Only keeper league, but it does not matter to me if he starts the year in AAA as my team won't compete this season anyway. What I would look for is for him to get a May call up and for his bat the thrive once he gets back to the big leagues. This assumes he does not win the third base job out of spring training.

A fellow fantasy league owner and I were trading text messages yesterday regarding Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon. He was trying to trade me Juan Uribe for one of my minor league picks as he was trying to get some value for Uribe since he is slated to be Gordon's backup, and the Dodgers backup plan should Gordon struggle in his sophomore season. He made a few points about his inability to take a walk, get on base and his slight build resulting in zero power. My response to him was he makes plenty of contact, has an off the charts work ethic and his OBP isn't far from league average. To confirm that assertion, I checked FanGraphs and saw that the NL league average OBP last season was .319. Gordon's OBP in his 224 at bats was .325. Not great, but above league average. And he is one player who can turn plenty of weak hit ground balls into singles, and weakly hit line drives to left field into doubles. I have seen him do it.

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