Olympic Stadium Park Factors: Hits 105; Runs 115; HRs 111 (100 is average, under 100 is favorable to pitchers)
Hiram Bithorn Stadium Park Factors: Hits 105; Runs 133; HRs 181
Values ~ 2000: $10 2001: -$18 2002: -$5 2003: $17
Hernandez has an impressive repertoire, which includes a fastball with movement, an outstanding curve, a slider and a changeup. He works very fast and pitches to both sides of the plate. Hernandez is a big guy (his past problems with his weight induced by overindulgence with fast food has been well documented). Hernandez has always thrown a lot of pitches and has been at the top of the list among those who expect injuries to occur to pitchers who have high pitch counts. Last year Hernandez gave up fewer hits than innings pitched for the first time since 1997 and had both his lowest walk rate and highest strikeout rates for his career. Despite the fact that Hernandez is a workhorse who can be counted on to deliver 200+ innings for his MLB team, he is a less reliable fantasy commodity as his values over the last four years indicate.
Values ~ 2000: $6 2001: -$10 2002: $13 2003: -$1
Ohka works his 90-92 fastball high in the zone and uses it to set up his splitter and change which come in on the same plane and then drop out of the zone. His plate command ratios last year were fairly similar to 2002, but he had a 16% higher hit rate and his HR rate increased similarly. Ohka was hurt in part by starting 6 of the Expos 22 games in hitter-friendly Hiram Bithorn Stadium where his ERA was a run and a half higher than at Olympic Stadium. When I've seen him pitch, he's been effective. I think he should return some value and would consider him as a mid/end of the rotation starter.
Values ~ 2000: $6 2001: -$1 2002: -$1 2003: $6
Armas was off to a tremendous start last year when he was shut down after just 5 starts with rotator cuff and labrum tears that later required surgery. He has a fastball with downward movement in the 92-94 range, a slider and change. He used to have a curve, but switched to the slider because he slowed his delivery on the curve, making it easy to pick up. He keeps his pitches down for the most part and when I saw him, had very good control, getting ahead of hitters and making them hit grounders off sliders off the plate. If healthy, I think he's got a lot of upside, but that's a big if. Armas' return this spring has been cautious and he's not expected to be ready for opening day.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: $5 2003: $0
Day was injury-plagued throughout 2003, hampered initially by blisters and a cyst on his knee, then sidelined with a torn rotator cuff, and struggling with a sore back. His first half produced good results even though his ratios weren't all that good, so perhaps it wasn't surprising that he was less effective in the second half. Day has a sinking fastball in the low 90s, a 4-seam fastball, a good curve and change. His minor league numbers indicate better control than he showed last year. His strikeout rates have been mediocre since reaching the upper levels, however, he is a very extreme groundball pitcher. Day probably has the potential to deliver a modest value if he can locate better than he did last year and force batters to swing at his pitches intended to induce ground balls. I'm not inclined to have him on my list but I will watch to see how healthy he is this spring.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $0
Vargas made some very solid starts early but struggled in July and missed most of the last two months with shoulder tendinitis. When I saw him pitch, he was primarily throwing a two-seam fastball with good tailing movement which he changes speeds on (87-94). He mixes in an occasional slider but only threw one change that I saw. He's supposedly not very effective yet against LH batters due to the lack of an off-speed pitch but he had some success in this game locating fastballs under the hands and his splits for the season aren't conclusive. Vargas will need to develop his secondary pitches to improve.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: $4 2003: -$8
Patterson had elbow reconstruction and missed most of 2000. After struggling through 2001, he pitched better the following year at AAA and during a call-up, showing much better plate command. However, he struggled with Arizona last year and despite a midseason demotion, never did get on track. Patterson has a low 90's fastball, an excellent curve and a developing change, and it may be the lack of the off-speed pitch that is Patterson's problem. He's working both on that this spring plus a cut fastball. Speculative buy, but if you jump, be prepared for a possible ERA hit.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: -$6 2002: $1 2003: -$4
His stuff is supposed to be good - a mid-90's fastball, change and curve - and his strikeout and walk rates have been good as he's moved up through the Red Sox' system. However, 2003 was a disappointment as he posted only a .63 K rate at AAA and was ineffective during limited innings in Montreal. Still a prospect but the light has dimmed.
Values ~ 2000: -$3 2001: -$4 2002: $1 2003: $13
Biddle took advantage of Stewart's injury last spring to assume command of the Expo closer role and was effective in it for the first four months. However, batters tuned up Biddle for a .340 average in the last two months. It's possible that knee and back problems mentioned in late July played a role. Biddle had knee surgery in November but is expected to be ready to go. Biddle's name came up in offseason trade talks since he can go to arbitration and get a nice salary increase this year. While I'm inclined to attribute the second half on his knee, his hold on this job might be tentative and Biddle owners may want to consider contingencies.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $15
Ayala received late buzz as a closer possibility in Montreal last year based on the fact that he closed in the Mexican League and his strong spring performance in which he did not allow a run. However, he worked primarily as a set-up man. His 5 saves, however, all came in the second half, most while Biddle was struggling, so he's at least worth placing on your speculative closer list.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $5
Cordero was a first round pick last year, which was probably a stretch, but was able to provide immediate bullpen help. He throws a low 90s fastball and slider and will mix in a change. There's some speculation he could eventually close. While that may be premature, it will put him on draft lists.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: $9 2002: -$7 2003: $1
Fikac returned from 2002 surgery to have a cyst removed from his hand to pitch extremely well at AAA; he also won a spot on the the ill-fated USA Olympic team. I haven't seen him pitch, but he's said to rely on a curve but to not be overpowering despite posting high K rates working out of the pen. Could help here but may not build much fantasy value.
Values ~ 2000: $1 2001: -NA 2002: $3 2003: -$2
Smith has a history of unimpressive minor league ratios working primarily as a starter. He did a creditable job out of the Expo bullpen in 2002 but was disappointing last year before being shut down midseason to have rotator cuff surgery. His return this spring has been slow.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: NABentz is a good human interest story. Born without a full-developed right hand, he has made the majors as a left-handed reliever. He throws a fastball, cutter and curve. His ratios at AA last year were: Hit Rate = .85; K/BB Ratio = 1.44; HR Rate = .047. He'll need better plate command than indicated by his K/BB Ratio to succeed.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: -$4 2002: $13 2003: $4
Veteran journeyman lefty reliever who delivered unexpected and unheralded value out of the Montreal pen in 2002 but who reassumed a more mediocre level of performance last year. When I saw him pitch, he primarily relied on a slider and occasional fastball. Eischen will miss 4-6 weeks after having bone chips removed from his elbow this spring.