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2014 Fantasy Baseball Position Battles

A look at all the position battles fantasy baseball owners will see during 2014 spring training

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With 2014 spring training nearly upon us, it’s time to start looking at some of the position battles we’ll be seeing around camp this year. Some of them might be more obvious than others as managers give a few youngsters a casual look, but others are definitely not going to be as cut and dry. In this series, we’ll take a regular look around the MLB world and identify which jobs could potentially be up for grabs this season. As a fantasy owner, you should be on top of them, but on the chance that something slipped through the cracks, we’ll give them all to you.

For today, we’ll start with two teams in the AL East and over the next several days we should have everyone covered. Once camp begins, we’ll keep going with steady updates to help you with some of those tough draft day decisions.

Baltimore Orioles 2B

Jemile Weeks vs Ryan Flaherty vs Alexi Casilla

When the Orioles finally rid themselves of Brian Roberts and his perpetual time spent on the disabled list, they appeared ready to pass the baton to Flaherty who spent 85 games at the keystone for them last season. But Flaherty doesn’t quite carry the stick the Orioles would like, nor does he offer them much in the way of speed. He batted just .224 with 10 home runs and two stolen bases over 271 plate appearances and posted a 22.9-percent strikeout rate. Not exactly the numbers upon real or fantasy dreams are built.

So the O’s made somewhat of a bold move in the offseason and dealt away two-time, 50-save closer Jim Johnson to the A’s and received Weeks who had a reasonably decent debut in 2012, but failed to produce during spring training the following year and spent the majority of the 2013 season at Triple-A where he showed minimal growth. His plate discipline isn’t all that bad, but he continuously mashes the ball in the dirt and is forced to try and leg ‘em out on a regular basis. He’s got great speed, but not enough to find his way on base often enough with nearly a 50-percent GB-rate.

To keep a fire lit under both their asses, the Orioles also went and re-signed veteran Alexi Casilla who appeared in 62 games for them last year, but did nothing on the offensive front -- .214 with one home run and nine stolen bases over 125 plate appearances. He’s got a decent enough glove, but there’s nothing enticing about his game.

In an ideal world, the job will go to Weeks with Flaherty staying on as a utility infielder. Casilla, who actually signed just a minor league deal, should be out of luck. But that’s an ideal world. A lot will depend on how Weeks performs this spring. If he can hit with some consistency, there’s a lot of potential, but if he falters, we’re looking at Flaherty again with a possible splash of Casilla…and no one really wants that.

Of course….they could all just be keeping the position warm for Jonathan Schoop, but we’ll get to him another time.

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Searching for answer for the 2014 fantasy baseball season? Turn to a trusted source to enlighten you – Fantasy Alarm – and pick up your very own copy of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide. After reading the 200 pages of information you will be ready to dominate the competition in the coming season on your way to a fantasy baseball championship.

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Baltimore Orioles LF

David Lough vs Steve Pearce vs Nolan Reimold

This one is actually a little easier to look at as it’s actually three guys competing for two jobs with the designated hitter spot sitting open as well. All three will likely remain with the Orioles, but they’re certainly going to go to the mattresses to see who gets the bulk of the playing time. Lough, acquired from Kansas City, is a 28-year old career minor leaguer who plays sound defense and is about average with the bat. He could stand to walk more which would help bring up that woeful .311 OBP he had last year.

Reimold had shown some power promise in the minors, but injuries have gotten the better of him over the last few years and he really hasn’t done much with the limited opportunities he’s had. His strikeouts tend to go through the roof because he is obviously pressing at the plate from the onset, clearly trying to make a good impression but failing miserably. His glove and arm are fine for left field, but until he proves that he can stay healthy, he’ll always be stuck in a platoon.

And then there’s Pearce, another guy who’s been toiling in the minors for most of his career. Realizing that he’d never be the power-hitting first baseman they thought they once had, the Pirates finally gave up on him. He bounced to the Astros and the Yankees, but didn’t show either of them much and then he picked up with the O’s shortly after that. There’s probably not much left in the “potential” department, given that he’ll be 31-years-old in early April, but the Orioles will at least give him a crack at one of their vacancies.

In all likelihood, Lough will earn the left field job with Reimold and Pearce platooning at DH. Reimold may get a handful of starts, but, in truth, it’s unlikely that he gets some big boost in playing time. This should probably be a situation for fantasy owners to avoid.

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Searching for answer for the 2014 fantasy baseball season? Turn to a trusted source to enlighten you – Fantasy Alarm – and pick up your very own copy of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide. After reading the 200 pages of information you will be ready to dominate the competition in the coming season on your way to a fantasy baseball championship.

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Boston Red Sox CF

Jackie Bradley vs Grady Sizemore

Bradley was all the rage last year as many had him listed as a potential sleeper who would thrive in the Red Sox outfield thanks to a .419/.507/.613 slash line during camp. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as he started off the first reasonably well but it all went downhill from there. He spent most of the year at Triple-A before getting a late-season call-up in which he didn’t really look much better. He’s got light-to-mid power and average speed on the bases, though his instincts for the game seem to allude that he could be a better base-stealer without having game-breaking speed. If he repeats his spring, he’ll likely be handed the job, but if he falters at all, he’s going to open the door for his competition.

To give Bradley a run for his money in center field, the Sox signed Sizemore with the hopes that he could potentially recapture the magic that made him one of the more coveted 20-20 players in the game. He hasn’t played since 2011 when he tried to make his way back from a knee injury suffered the season prior. But things like micro-fracture surgery on one’s kneecap take quite a toll and he hasn’t come close to hitting the field over these last two years. The Sox had nothing to lose by giving him a shot and it should be interesting to see how he fares this spring. He certainly has the deck stacked against him, but at least the opportunity is there.

Of course, there’s always the chance that neither does enough to hold down the job which would mean the Sox would have to do some maneuvering and put Shane Victorino into center while using Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes over in right field. But rather than speculate that awfulness, let’s just see how it plays out between Bradley and Sizemore first.

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Searching for answer for the 2014 fantasy baseball season? Turn to a trusted source to enlighten you – Fantasy Alarm – and pick up your very own copy of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide. After reading the 200 pages of information you will be ready to dominate the competition in the coming season on your way to a fantasy baseball championship.

 


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