How different could the National League West look this season after the offseason the Padres had? Only Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko will return from the Opening Day lineup last year, as there are many new faces in SoCal…
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San Diego Padres
The corner infield spots in the Padres’ lineup are two to keep an eye on. While Alonso will get his run at first, how much of a threat is Carlos Quentin to his playing time? With Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers in the outfield, along with Cameron Maybin and Will Venable as reserves, most of Quentin’s playing time will come at first base.
At third, it’s a battle between Yangervis Solarte and recently acquired Will Middlebrooks. Solarte had fantasy relevant spurts last year, but Middlebrooks has the potential power at the hot corner that the Padres want.
Relevance: Neither Alonso or Quentin are worth owning in anything other than a NL-only league. Keep an eye on the third-base battle, as Middlebrooks should ultimately win the job. For now, he’s a sleeper corner infielder in mixed leagues and a late-round option in NL-only leagues.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Look, Andre Ethier wants to either start or be traded, and his only competition for a job is Pederson, but it’s not much of one. Of course, Carl Crawford could pull a Crawford and get hurt, allowing both men to start.
Aside from the Yasmani Grandal, A.J. Ellis battle at catcher, I’m keeping an eye on the Dodgers outfield for what seems to be the third straight spring. Wasn’t trading Kemp supposed to make this easier?
Relevance: Don’t touch Ethier. For Pederson, he isn’t being drafted with the Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Gregory Polanco and Jorge Soler crowd, which makes him a bargain buy. If he’s guaranteed that centerfield job, he’s instantly mixed league relevant as a fourth or fifth outfielder. For the record, I have Grandal as my No. 12 catcher, so take a long, hard look at him, too.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants have seven pitchers vying for five rotation spots right now, but here’s hoping that Yusmerio Petit finds his way into one of them. It’s rumored that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Well, Tim Lincecum being pulled from the rotation is up there, too.
Relevance: You’re drafting Madison Bumgarner early, but the rest isn’t so clear. Can Hudson return to his early 2014 form? When will Petit take over? Grab Petit in the late rounds of mixed leagues and NL-only leagues, and don’t forget about Matt Cain, either. He’s one of my favorite comeback pitchers this year, as people don’t realize how long it takes to fully recover from that type of injury.
What do you know, another battle of sub-par closers in Arizona. Addison Reed is slated to be the closer when the season begins, but his 2014 numbers were less than stellar. He posted a 1-7 record, while allowing 11 home runs with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, while saving 32 games. Brad Ziegler will be pushing Reed, and had slightly better peripherals last year.
Relevance: Let someone else draft Reed, please. Ziegler should have the job midway through May.
While in Pittsburgh, the Fort, as he was nicknamed by broadcaster Bob Walk, was a fan favorite and showed signs of power potential, making the most of his at bats.
Relevance: Even if Rosario is dealt and McKenry is given the majority of the time behind the plate, he’s not mixed league relevant. He would make an interesting No. 2 catcher in a two-catcher league, though.