The Latest Fantasy Buzz

2014 Fantasy Baseball Position Battles -- White Sox & Cardinals

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

Slide 1 of 2 2014 Fantasy Baseball Position Battles -- White So | Slide - 1 FantasyAlarm.com

Chicago White Sox

If Abreu Starts, What Happens With Dunn and Konerko

It’s no secret that this is a swan song year for Paul Konerko. Since 1999, he’s been a staple at first base on the South Side, putting together some masterful seasons, including two 40-homer years and another five with 30-plus. But all good things must come to an end and age, recurring back problems and a slew of other bumps and bruises over the years have helped mark 2014 as the final season of his esteemed career. But while Paulie wants to play one more, the real question is, do the White Sox even want him to? With Konerko, Adam Dunn and the newly-acquired Jose Abreu all vying for playing time, there’s now a logjam at first base and the designated hitter spot that manager Robin Ventura will have to spend this spring sorting out.

While I wrote in the Prospects section of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide that Abreu may have trouble finding at-bats, the White Sox brass has since come out and said that he will, in fact, be their full-time first baseman. He impressed hitting coach Todd Stevenson during a three-day mini-camp for hitters in January and his track record in Cuba is impeccable. Translating numbers from Cuba can be difficult and he may need the spring to adjust to major league pitching, but the raw power and talent is going to be impossible to ignore. The team will give him every possible chance to excel.

That leaves Konerko and Dunn as the two competing for playing time as the White Sox designated hitter – two men who are obviously on the decline. Konerko’s drop-off, however, has been much more drastic. While appearing in just 126 games last year, Konerko hit just 12 home runs and posted a .111 ISO, a career-low. His walk rate was the lowest since 2002 and while he still managed to avoid the strikeouts, his contact rate was down and the contact he did make was relatively weak. Dunn, on the other hand, is still mashing (75 home runs over last two seasons), but as he’s gotten old, he’s striking out considerably more, posting a K-rate in excess of 30-percent in each of his last four seasons. With a diminishing walk rate as well, the batting average and on-base percentage are not looking good at all.

It could be an easy fix for Ventura as a simple lefty-righty platoon can be instituted here. Konerko is a career .298 hitter against left-handed pitchers and while Dunn is batting just .246 against righties, 311 of his 421 home runs have come against them. Together, they could form one of the more potent tandems at the DH-slot, even if it’s just for one year. They would be playing to their strengths and it would allow Abreu the opportunity to blossom on his own without having to look over his shoulder should he find himself in a slump of some sort. We’ll know more as the spring progresses, but for now, it looks as if Abreu is the guy to draft while Dunn remains a late-round pick when you’re just looking for first base depth.

As for Konerko, well, not every swan song can be music to your ears.

================================================================

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.

Slide 2 of 2 2014 Fantasy Baseball Position Battles -- White So | Slide - 2 FantasyAlarm.com

St. Louis Cardinals

Where Does Taveras Fit In?

Whether you’re talking fantasy or reality, there’s no denying that Oscar Taveras is a major prospect. His 2013 season was a veritable nightmare, a throw-away season if you will, thanks to an ankle injury that limited him to just 46 games for Triple-A Memphis. Had it not been for that injury, he would have almost assuredly made his major league debut at some point in 2013. As it is though, he’s still a hot, up-and-coming commodity with developing power and some decent speed. His plate discipline is strong and he makes excellent contact. But the biggest problem is that there is seemingly no place for him to play.

The Cardinals were fine letting Carlos Beltran walk away as they had themselves plenty covered at the major league level. Without even having to consider Taveras, the Cardinals had Allen Craig ready to move into right field while the emerging Matt Adams would handle first base.  Craig showed outstanding power potential in the minors but has yet to exhibit it on the major league level due to a rash of injuries that have hindered his development. Adams has also shown strong power potential and last season’s 17-home run, .220 ISO over just 319 plate appearances was impressive.

In addition to those two and Taveras, the Cardinals traded third baseman David Freese to the Angels in exchange for underutilized outfielder Peter Bourjos. He’ll compete with Jon Jay for the center field job, and the loser of that battle will try and stay in the mix as a fourth outfielder.

So where does Taveras figure in all of this?

While many fantasy owners are champing at the bit waiting for Taveras to break into the bigs, his time may not be now. If they all hit well this spring, then Taveras will sit in the minors until he is needed or, at the least, until after the two months have passed so that his arbitration clock doesn’t start immediately.  If Craig gets hurt, then Taveras should probably get the call, but only if he A. had a good spring and B. is tearing it up in the minors again. If not, then Jay will likely just shift over into right. Now, if Adams somehow forgets how to hit this spring and Taveras does well, the team could simply move Craig to first and let Taveras open the year in right field. They could wait, but they’ve had success with letting rookies start the year in the bigs before, right?

The most likely scenario has Taveras opening the year back at Triple-A though with Craig and Adams firmly entrenched in right and first respectively and Jay and Bourjos fighting it out for center. How long that configuration last though is going to be interesting to watch. Springtime is almost upon us, so it doesn’t appear that it will take too long for us to find out.

================================================================

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.


COMMENTS

Leave a Comment