2016 Fantasy Baseball: AL West Roster Moves
Like most of the divisions in baseball last season, the AL West was a hotly contested division that had three of the five teams in the playoff hunt all the way down to the last week. Another tightly contested race is expected this season. As you might expect, health might be the key factor for the three or four teams that hope to be there at the end. Some of those teams have already experienced injury trouble before the end of spring training.
Others simply went in different directions at some positions than what was expected. Simply put, when you know the end result will be decided by a few games either way, you make decisions early on before the situation festers. The AL West may not be the best division in baseball, but it could be the most exciting division to watch this season with as many as four teams in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Baseball has seen a rash of arm injuries from young fireballers in the last several years. So, it really shouldn’t be that surprising that Lance McCullers Jr. went down with an arm injury in camp. Sure, it is officially labeled as forearm discomfort, but we’ve seen this before. Discomfort turns into something else more often than not. Officially, he is out until at least mid to late April, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to think that it could end up lasting a lot longer. Astros fans are hoping for the best and are thankful they didn’t deal Scott Feldman in the offseason.
One name for fantasy owners to keep an eye on is Michael Feliz. Feliz officially made the team as their long reliever, but he is also in line to enter the starting rotation in case of injury or ineffectiveness. He has a good power arm and could end up being a nice middle reliever this season or a surprise starter down the line. He almost certainly went undrafted in most leagues, so he could be yours for a song.
Verdict: Keep an eye on Michael Feliz. If he pitches like he did in Spring Training he could be a valuable asset.
Los Angeles Angels
Like with the Astros, the Angels are having injury issues in their rotation. For the time being, they have enough arms to cover it, but they could both be hurting if they have additional injuries. In the Angels case, it is Head and Shoulders boy C.J. Wilson on the shelf. Like with McCullers, it doesn’t appear to be serious, but there is no telling how long he will actually be out. In his place, the club has nabbed Matt Shoemaker from the pen and inserted him back in the starting rotation.
Verdict: After a brilliant 2014 campaign, Shoemaker struggled last season. He could be an intriguing bounce back candidate.
Jerry Dipoto garnered a negative reputation in Anaheim because he spent a ton of money on three players (Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and C.J. Wilson) that didn’t pan out. He’s changed his approach somewhat in Seattle by adding a number of smaller pieces designed to fill holes. In particular, he has almost completely turned over a bullpen that was decent enough, but not brilliant. Carson Smith and Tom Wilhemsen went packing (Smith already is having arm problems) and in came Steve Cishek and Joaquin Benoit. Dipoto added one more arm before leaving camp. He traded for Nick Vincent and signed Joel Peralta.
Vincent’s career 2.63 ERA is impressive looking, but it also came in Petco Park. He might be a decent middle reliever and good for some holds in leagues that count them. Peralta led the league in games pitched back in 2013, but appears to be slowing down. He probably is more accurately called a mop up guy now. He’s the guy that pitches in low leveraged situations and absorbs innings so the other guys can be used in more crucial situations. Yet, the funny thing about relievers is that you never know what can happen from season to season.
Verdict: Vincent is a good guy to keep an eye on. He probably won’t get closing opportunities, but could pitch some int he seventh and eighth inning.