This one goes out to the guy – one of the three TB fans that can actually be seen at a game – who was holding up the sign ‘Free Russ Canzler!’ last year. You didn’t see that sign? Yeah I didn’t either, mainly because it wasn’t there but since I don’t have cable I can’t verify that. Can someone please tell me why a team that has been in the playoffs for 3 of the last 4 years doesn’t get more people at the actual ballpark without offering a Zimbear? But back to what I had to say, Canzler was never going to see the light of day in Tampa Bay (How about I just go eat some hay. I could make things out of clay, and lay by the bay…) because he is not good at defense. But this is a fantasy baseball blog, why should we care about defense? Good question, hypothetical reader and the answer is simple: The Rays play real baseball against real teams…sorry, you expected more? Oh, well Canzler has to play somewhere in order to be useful. Their OF is full, the position he played in AAA is covered by Evan Longoria and they found their DH for the year in Luke Scott. Also, the Rays are one of the top fielding teams in baseball. There’s a reason a guy like Casey Kotchman got a shot to start at 1B for them last year and it wasn’t for his bat or his rapier-like wit. They field a strong defensive ball club and Canzler was anything but a strong defender. He racked up 13 errors at third base alone in 2011; fine numbers if he were a Milwaukee Brewer, but not for a utility role in TB.
So as the story goes, Canzler was traded to Cleveland in February for two meat pies and a 6 month subscription to Vibe magazine (every word after ‘February’ is still pending verification). But why should we get excited about a soon to be 26 year old with only five major league plate appearances on his resume? Sing it with me now: Opportunity, opportunity, is knockin at your door…sorry, I started doing the jitterbug there for a second. Russ has a healthy walk rate and has exhibited strong power numbers over the last two years, posting a .279 ISO in AA for the Cubs and a .215 last year in AAA for the Rays. With a minor league K% rate above 20 percent, he’ll most likely saddle you in a totally non-sexual way with a .260 average. That’s a’ight, but the ISO is what has me interested and also that I can’t tell you who is going to bat 6th in that lineup. I can tell you Travis Hafner probably bats 5th when he’s healthy *Snickers*…the laugh, not the candy bar. Sorry, the last time Hafner played in over 130 games was 2007. Plus, Grady Sizemore needs a bench friend to swap funny doctor visit stories with over the course of the year. I also can’t tell you whether Kotchman holds down the job at first all year. I could go into extreme detail, but let’s just say his average from last year had a lot to do with his ground ball rate and how well that played on Tampa Bay turf. He won’t be as bad as he was in Seattle but surely not as good as he was for the Rays. With Lonnie Chisenhall looking more and more like he could use a AAA stint to start the season, the Indians could use a little pop in their lineup. Right now, Canzler is unowned basically everywhere — ESPN, Fleaflicker, Yahoo. If he can get a starting job, he might land in a prime RBI slot. With enough at-bats, 18 HRs and 90 RBIs is attainable. Yeah, I know it’s not that exciting, but wait there’s more! Alright, actually there’s not. I just always wanted to say that.