Here are some of the best places to drop bait in the National League Central. The division seems as weak as the NL West. There are bound to be many more opportunites as teams shake-up mediocre squads in search of those two extra wins that make the difference between Wild Card contention on 5th palce.
If economic conditions play out in baseball the way they have throughout the country, this means teams may go with available talent in their systems. Given the Central's focus in the Rust Belt, I'm not afraid to conclude this as sure a thing as a Republican who thinks tax cuts work all the time or a Democrat who thinks a bigger Welfare State does.
St. Louis Cardinals, 2B: Reports have the Cards' manager Tony LaRussa hoping 29-year-old outfielder Skip Schumaker can successfully convert to 2B. That tells me their are no obvious options amongst the Cards current crop of 2B.
Any chance one of the Cards minor league 3B could pull a Jeff Baker and qualify at 2B? Either Allen Craig or David Freese would offer fantasy players great value if it were possible.
Chicago Cubs, 2B: The Cubs really don't have anywhere to look for fantasy sleepers the same way most clubs do. The team is strong across the board. However, its depth behind any player is wafer theen.
At 2B, the scraptastic Aaron Miles brings $4.9 million reasons to keep Mike Fontenot from getting the 500 ABs fantasy leaguers want. How can we not pro-rate Fontenot's 9 HR and 40 RBI in 243 Abs to 18 and 80?
Milwaukee Brewers, C and starting rotation: Jason Kendall has one remaining skill - he gets ABs. While his back-up Mike Rivera offers little, Southern league Batting Champ fire hydrant Angel Salome does. At 5'7, one would normally think "spark plug", but 200 lbs says otherwise. As does a .360 AVG with 45 XBH and 33 walks against 57 Ks.
The starting rotation offers last season's disappointing sleeper Manny Parra along with rarely-rosterable Jeff Suppan and the exception to pitching peripherals rules Dave Bush. Without pitching coach Mike Maddux, I'm not sure who excites me, but someone will.
Pittsburgh Pirates, OF: The three-year contract for CF Nate McLouth means there are two openings in the outfield to fish for sleepers. Speedster Nyjer Morgan looks promising as a cheap steals play. Steve Pearce may offer cheap HRs. Maybe Brandon Moss will finally break through. If not, minor leagues Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata are knocking on the door at AAA.
Houston Astros, 3B: Is Geoff Blum a serious candiate to play 3B all season long? I don't think so. I noted minor leaguer Chirs Johnson in my 2008 Baseball America Prospect Book. In 2009, he ranks 5th in an organization with no other options at 3B.
Cincinnati Reds, LF: Who gets the bulk of ABs, the Phoenix-esque Jerry Hairston Jr or 26-year-old rookie Chris Dickerson who slugged over .600 in 100 or so ABs last season? Maybe former first rounder Drew Stubbs uses his defense and speed to force his way on to the major league club.