Japhet Amador is a giant man, standing at 6-foot-4, weighing in at 315 pounds. In the Mexican League, where he’s played for the last four years, they called him El Gran Burrito. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto once remarked that Amador is welcome at the Presidential Palace anytime, as long as Amador brings his own snacks. When Jose Altuve heard the Astros signed Amador, Altuve was thrilled. No more walking around for Altuve; Amador will just carry him around in a baby bjorn. I watched video of Amador and I’ve never seen such a slow bat through the zone. He looks like a Mexican Meat Loaf in a celebrity softball game. I swear, Amador stopped to eat one of those spicy dried mango candies halfway through his swing. His power is huge, but I’m not sure he’d gonna be able to catch up to anything. Last year in the Mexican League, he hit 36 homers and he’s 27 years old. The Mexican League is supposedly comparable to Triple-A, only instead of buses for transportation, the teams pile into a Toyota Tercel. Right now, he looks pegged for Triple-A, but since the Astros have Robbie Grossman, Marc Krauss, Jesus Guzman and J.D. Martinez vying for everyday ABs, anything could happen. I’d take a flyer on Amador in AL-Only leagues, and wait and see in mixed leagues. Best case scenario, he gets the DH job and hits 25+ homers and .220. The worst case scenario, you draft Altuve and Amador accidentally sits on him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw recently in spring training for 2014 fantasy baseball:
Andy Dirks – Out for 12 weeks for back surgery. That’s a blow for people who like to pick Dirks off waivers and sing the song Dr. Evil sings when he’s doing the Macarena. Dirks wasn’t in my top 400, but this does mean Rajai will be the starter. I’m not giving Rajai more than 366 ABs (which he already had for me), so this doesn’t really change much. LL Donkey will prolly see a few more at-bats too. It should add a bit of confidence for you if you’re a SAGNOF(!) drafter and wanted Rajai. Now there really is no difference between him and, say, Michael Bourn.
Joe Saunders – Rangers signed him to be their 4th (5th? 6th? 7th?) starter. Symmetry is defined as “harmonious with beautiful proportion and balance, except for Joe Saunders’s 5.26 K-rate and 5.26 ERA last year.” Some people were hypothesizing that Tanner Scheppers would see time in the rotation, but I never took that seriously. Scheppers is too valuable out of the bullpen, or for carrying schmatas.
Trevor Rosenthal – Threw against hitters for the first time since he tweaked his groin. Sounds like all systems go for Rosenthal to be ready for the season and overpriced in drafts. You say Rosenthal, I say how about that Nate Jones guy? Last year Jonesy (that’s what I call him) had a 10+ K-rate and a 3.00 walk rate. His xFIP was 2.77 (Rosenthal’s was 2.34). Jones had 12 saves in the minor leagues in 2011; Rosenthal has 4 in his professional career. Rudy’s Steamer projections has Jones for 25 saves; Rosenthal for 30. Want a guy that could go from being drafted around 220 overall this year to around 120 next year? Jonesy!
Jake Peavy – Might begin the year on the DL. He’s a go-getter, crossing off one of four yearly DL stints early!
Cole Hamels – Could throw in a game next week. Rudy drafted him the other day and told me Hamels’s shoulder tendinitis is no big deal because Rudy had shoulder tendinitis once throwing a Wiffle Ball without proper warm-up and it healed in no time. I’m not sure if Rudy (or Hamels) got tendinitis throwing his Dipsy-Doodle or Dropsy-McCutter.
Mike Minor – Threw a bullpen session as he rebounds from an operation on his urethra. He said he was able to locate a lot better (in the bullpen and urinal).
Trevor Bauer – Touched 98 MPH in his outing the other day, and consistently lived in the 93-95 range. Walking off the field, he tossed a ball to a fan three states over. Still a chance here for Bauer to turn into something terrific for fantasy, but I don’t see how he fits into the rotation until there’s an injury or two.
Cameron Maybin – Out 2-3 months with a ruptured biceps. If two to three month DL stints were taffy, Maybin would be 400 pounds with diabetes.
Huston Street – Nursing a slight groin strain. If day-to-day injuries were taffy, Street would be Honey Boo-Boo’s mom on national TV sticking her finger in her mouth to try and dislodge candy from her bicuspids.
Johan Santana – Signed with Orioles. The Orioles should be called the Dubya Tee Eff O’s. They will sign anyone with a heartbeat. Above the O’s clubhouse door, it reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Your decrepit, cheap or wretched free agents.” In a 12-team AL-Only league, I took Johan Santana for a free waiver claim. That makes his value around a negative five dollars. It’s okay for a flyer in a league that deep, but don’t even think about it in a mixed league at this point. Ain’t nobody got time for dat!
Jonathan Schoop – Showalter said he could win the 2nd base job. Well, he said, “Hey, yeah, I wanna Schoop, baby,” but Showalter might be saying that to motivate some of the schmohawks in front of him or because he’s a big Salt-n-Pepa fan.
Mat Latos – Threw a bullpen session without incident as he comes back from a tear in his knee. He told reporters, “No stiffness, no pinch.” Sounds like he’s describing the virtues of sweatpants.
Manny Machado – Cleared for side-to-side work. Too bad Giuliani cleared New York of all squeegee guys, Machado could’ve done some valuable drills.
Jeff Locke – Has an oblique issue, but he says it’s no big deal. Locke is no, uh, lock for the rotation, so he might be downplaying his concern, but he’s gonna be on a long ferry to Bumblewhoknows if he doesn’t watch out. Somewhere, Edinson Volquez laughs evilly, then throws a scrap paper five feet wide of a trash can.
Casey Janssen – I’m officially concerned. There’s too many updates about his shoulder in March. Seven updates on a pitcher’s shoulder + a solid setup man = Egg Drop Soup. Okay, math’s off there since it should equal ‘danger for fantasy.’ I’ve officially pushed Sergio Santos into my top 400 and he’s a must draft at this point. In other top 400 news, I bumped down Alexander Guerrero. I don’t want him, even if he wins the job. Too many question marks, or marques if you’re French. I moved up Soria’s saves projections, due to Feliz not making the Rangers too feliz, bumped up Nate Jones and bumped down Matt Lindstrom.
Cody Ross – Ran the bases at 60-70 percent. Now if MLB can just change the bases from 90 feet to 54 to 63 feet, he’s all good!
Chris McGuiness – Pirates are happy with him so far, and don’t think they’ll need anyone else to platoon with Gaby Sanchez. The Pirates GM said, “When you’re setting the bar at Gaby Sanchez, you’d be surprised how easy it is for others to jump over it. Or maybe not surprised. I always confuse those two.”
Zack Greinke – Pitched a bullpen session yesterday. If you remember last year, there was some injury concerns in the spring, which caused him to come at a discount in drafts, and then he pitched admirably. He is still not a 9 K-rate starter, his velocity has fallen recently and he’s thirty years old. I don’t love him, suddenly, but I could see a value pick if he falls into the 90’s overall in a draft.
Matt Kemp – Did agility drills, then Mattingly proceeded to twist the English language on its head when he said after the game, “Part of the plan is not to have a timetable, as far as throwing a date out there, so you guys (the media) can say ‘April 1.’ Then we get to April 1 and he’s not quite ready so now he’s off schedule. If something happened, he had ‘a setback.’ The more he does, the more he steps forward, continues to do more without having setbacks, the more he continues to do and that tells us where we’re at.” Reminds me of last year when he said Kenley wasn’t the closer, unless he was the closer, but you can’t know that until he’s closing games. Mattingly gets my Hall of Fame vote for gibberish.
James Paxton – Due to injuries to Hisashi and Taijuan, Paxton should have a rotation spot to start the year. He’ll be in the first Buy column of the year in a few weeks. Mos Def, Ms. Fat Booty. No Doubt, Gwen Stefani. Pho Sizzle, restaurant by me. I like Paxton a lot, but there’s a few things standing in his way. Once Hisashi returns (prolly end of April) Paxton will be bounced from the rotation, unless Taijuan (who should be back early April) has a set back. Definitely still worth taking an end-game starter flyer on Paxton. Best case scenario, he’s around all year and is a mid-7 K-rate, mid-3 ERA starter. Most likely scenario, he’s in the bullpen or the minors by May 1st.
Ian Stewart – Almost had a broken nose when his daughter struck him. It was the first time in recent memory a Stewart has hit anything on the nose.
Rick Ankiel – Retired from baseball. His team isn’t sure whether to throw him a wild party or a swinger party where most of the invitees strike out.