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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Brad Lidge, Jason Bay, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Other Spring Training Thoughts

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The Phillies announced yesterday that closer Brad Lidge will be out for 3-6 weeks with a partially torn rotator cuff, and could be more. Well, now it is more. Lidge stated later last night that "he hopes to be back for the second half of the season". Grab Jose Contreras quickly.

Jose Contreras will get the ball in the 9th inning for the Phillies until Lidge comes back, but Ryan Madson is a nice backup. Contreras had a nice K rate-around 9.00/9 innings and solid BB rate-roughly 2.5/9 innings last year, but he benefitted from a healthy 77% strand rate, which could regress to the normal 70% range in 2011. Just something to ponder on draft day, or if you are considering picking him up.

Mets outfielder Jason Bay may start the season on the DL due to a rib injury. It appears Scottt Hairston and Willie Harris may share the LF job should Bay land on the DL. Boy, this contract is already looking pretty bad for the Mets, who just got rid of two contracts in Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, and Johan Santana could make it a quartet.

ESPN's Adam Rubin on Bay this morning:

@AdamRubinESPN Jason Bay has been sent to NY for tests. #mets 5 minutes ago

Nationals reliever Drew Storen go rocked yesterday, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits in 2/3rds of an inning. This came after 3 solid relief appearances in a row. Sean Burnett appears to be the favorite for saves in Washington, but Storen still holds value in keeper leagues. But, if you are playing for this year, look elsewhere.

Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner will be the Yankees leadoff hitting in 2011, so this should increase his value in AL-only and mixed leagues as he will have more opportunities to steal bases and score runs in the Yankees potent offense. Derek Jeter will hit second and should stay there unless he repeats his 2010 performance at the plate. Should he repeat 2010, I can see Jeter getting moved down in the lineup.

More spring training thoughts after the jump:

Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury may be moved to the leadoff spot this season. He's another whose value will increase with a move to the top of the order. He could lead the majors in runs scored leading off for the new Big Red Machine in Fenway.

The Rockies may put third baseman Ian Stewart on the DL to start the season as he is battling a knee and hamstring injury. Ty Wigginton would replace him at third base in the Rockies lineup. I think Wigginton gets more at bats than Stewart and Todd Helton this year.

White Sox starter Jake Peavy retired all 13 minor leaguers he faced yesterday, but the White Sox will take it easy with him and have him start the season in extended spring training. I think the White Sox can win the AL Central this season, and Peavy could be the guy that puts them over the top if he can return to the ace he was two years ago.

The Nationals announced that starter Jordan Zimmermann will be limited to 165 innings in 2011. I think this is a good move for the team, but certainly not good for fantasy owners. Draft accordingly.

Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier made statements yesterday that inferred that 2011 will be his last year with the Dodgers, even though he is signed through 2012. Could he be traded this year? Time will tell, but I doubt it. The Dodgers did approach Ethier's agent this offseason relating to an extension, but talks didn't go too far.

Braves GM Frank Wren said that it is possible that top pitching prospect Julio Teheran could start the season at AAA Gwinett. This is surprising as Teheran has only pitched a handful of games at the AA level. But, this news certainly speeds his ETA to Atlanta to later this year or early 2012.