Tropicana Field Park Factors: Hits 101; Runs 97; HRs 81
(100 is average, under 100 is favorable to pitchers)
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $5
Gonzalez made the Cubs rotation in 1997 at the age of 22 and held his own (Hit Rate = .88; K/BB Ratio = 1.35; HR Rate = .111), but he regressed the following year (Hit Rate = 1.13; K/BB Ratio = 1.71; HR Rate = .118) and didn't made a major league re-appearance until 2003. He did a creditable job in 25 starts after getting an early season call-up. His plate command ratios aren't very good but his hit rate is certainly noteworthy. I'd be hesitant to bid very much for him given the limited recent history and mixed ratios, but he could be a good end-of-the-rotation gamble.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: $10 2002: -$5 2003: $2
After washing out as a position player in the Yankee system, Zambrano progressed through the Tampa Bay minors as a pitcher working almost exclusively out of the bullpen. He was inserted into the rotation in late 2002, pitched better there and was a starter for most of last season. I saw him in a brief relief appearance after his call-up. He changes speeds off his fastball, which tops out at 95, has a curve and possibly a splitter. After pitching well in a set-up role with the D-Rays in 2001, Zambrano struggled in 2002 but rebounded somewhat last year. His hit rate improved 17% but he still struggled with his command, leading the AL in walks, wild pitches and hit batters. He's past the prospect stage at 28, but given his late conversion, it's possible he could still improve his control. Worth a gamble.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: $7 2003: -$7
After flashing some promise in limited duty in 2002, Hendrickson didn't fare as well when the league had more exposure to him last year. Hendrickson is a former basketball player and stands 6'9. He has a fastball that tops out at 90, a curve and slider. He tried to keep the ball down in the game I watched and was hurt with pitches he left up. His hit rates through the minors have tended to be high and his walk rates low, suggesting potential usefulness as long as he hits his spots. Overall his ratios are terrible, but he did show some effectiveness against LH batters. Although he was used strictly as a starter, I suspect if there's a future here, it's in relief. No fantasy value. Hendrickson is apparently being viewed as the probable #3 starter.
Values ~ 2000: $8 2001: $8 2002: -$9 2003: -$2
Abbott missed the second half of 2002 following labrum surgery but battled back to the majors last year. The ratios are not too far off his pre-surgery numbers. When I saw him pitch, there wasn't a radar gun but the fastball didn't appear to be exceptionally fast. However, Abbott throws with a short-arm delivery which may help get the ball on top of hitters more quickly. He relies heavily on a changeup which he buries in his hand like a palmball and grips with his knuckles. He gets a big downward drop with the pitch. His ratios have been good, not great, but they have been fairly consistent. He gets another chance here with his manager on the Mariners, Piniella. At 36 and with a lesser team, I'm pessimistic he'll recapture his value from those days. Abbott's spring has apparently given him the inside track for the #5 starter job.
Moss fell under Glavine's wing in 2002 and pitched to spots with very good success. Last year he got off to a strong start, but appeared to lose confidence when he began to struggle and was almost completely ineffective after the trade, eventually losing his spot in the rotation. Moss isn't overpowering but has good break on his curve and is very tough to hit when he mixes his stuff and locates. I've seen him both when he's on his game and when he can't spot his stuff and the difference is night and day. The fact that his plate command last year was virtually non-existent is a key indication of the challenge that lies ahead of Moss. He can be effective if he regains it and hit his spots, but after 2003, that's a big if. Moss has had a rough early spring, may be pitching himself off the roster and is the subject of trade rumors.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $3
Gaudin has developed a reputation for being a bulldog and was promoted quickly by the D-Rays. His minor league numbers have been very good, featuring a very low walk rate, however, he had only three appearances above A ball before his call-up. Gaudin's fastball is 89-92 and he mixes in a slider and an occasional change. Hitters apparently had trouble picking up his delivery as he missed a lot of bats with his fastball in the start I watched, and he didn't use his other pitches very much. However, he lost his command the second time through the order and was lifted in the fifth despite a lead. I'd feel better about him with more experience and a better mix of pitches.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: -$1 2002: $0 2003: -$3
I haven't seen him pitch. He's a former first round pick and is said to have a mid-90's fastball, effective curve and change. His ratios at both AAA and with the big club were nothing special and of particular concern is a pattern of very low K rates. He's supposed to compete for the fifth starter job this spring but I'm not recommending him. Standridge is returning from offseason surgery and opened the season on the DL.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: -$5 2003: -$3
Sosa is a Rule former V pick who had 60.2 professional IP (at A ball) after being converted from being a position player before the D-Rays selected him and who has spent most of the succeeding two years trying to get major league hitters out. He's worked in both the rotation and the bullpen and hasn't pitched very well in either role. He really should have been at AA or AAA last year; now that he's 27, he's pretty much reached a make-or-break point without appearing to be adequately prepared. Pass.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: $10 2002: $3 2003: $18
Baez struggled in the closer role last year and lost it by season's end but after Cleveland set him free he signed here and has the closer tag heading into the season. I saw him briefly in a relief appearance and I apparently got a misleading look at him. His fastball topped out at 94, a shade below the 97 it's reputed to hit, but he had difficulty locating it and it looked pretty straight. He also threw a curve and an occasional splitter, but he was roughed up pretty well in this outing.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: $7 2003: $21
Carter blew out his elbow following the 2000 season and had Tommy John surgery for the second time. Prior to that, Carter had posted impressive ratios working out of minor league bullpens after failing as a starter. His fastball is said to be below average; he relies on changing speeds and throwing strikes. His ratios last year at AAA were very good (Hit Rate = .84; K/BB Ratio = 7.50, but with just a .68 K Rate; HR Rate = .114). Although he appears to be headed for a set-up role, he's worth a few extra bucks for the saves he may get.
Values ~ 2000: $1 2001: $3 2002: $4 2003: $0
He's a finesse lefty with a very low K rate, relying on a high 80s fastball, sinker, change and breaking pitch. When I watched him, he worked a lot to the outside corner, coming inside just to keep hitters honest. His approach is to get batters out with few pitches, using his control to get ahead in the count and make batters hit his pitch. He's pretty much shown he doesn't belong in the rotation (5.22 ERA and 1.29 Hit Rate over the last three years vs. 2.52 and .86 in relief) over the years. He gets another chance with former manager Piniella but your decision is clear: absolutely not if he starts and probably not if he relieves.
Values ~ 2000: -$5 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $3
Miller was almost unrecognizable last year, improving upon his career hit rate and K/BB ratio by 30% and 28% respectively; and this after being stuck in AAA the previous two years. In truth, he pitched better at AAA in 2002, posting the first hit rate under 1.00 since the early 90's; still he worked primarily as a situational lefty last year and thus offers little chance to build fantasy value.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $1
McClung has a mid 90s fastball and killer curve, but lacks an off speed pitch. He's dominated A level hitters but was ineffective after a 2002 promotion to AA (Hit Rate = 1.21; K/BB Ratio = 1.21; HR Rate = .105). Nevertheless he opened the season with the big club last year and worked as a swingman until he went on the DL with an elbow problem that required Tommy John surgery. He'll be able to pitch in July at the earliest.