Yankee Stadium Park Factors: Hits 94; Runs 94; HRs 101
(100 is average, under 100 is favorable to pitchers)
Values ~ 2000: $31 2001: $17 2002: -$3 2003: $24
Brown stayed healthy last season and, although not as dominant as in the past, returned to the ranks of the best starters in the game. However, he will be 39 to start the season and has had repeated injuries and therefore represents a large risk for fantasy owners. He has one of the premier sinkers in the game, if not the best, and gets a high proportion of ground ball outs.
Values ~ 2000: $19 2001: $26 2002: $15 2003: $23
Mussina's ratios all all improved last year, although not quite to 2001 levels. He throws a wide assortment of pitches - low 90s fastball, knuckle-curve, standard curve and change - and throws them all for strikes. Mussina will be 35 this year; I think he'll continue to be a front-line starter but I wouldn't bid him up to last year's value.
Values ~ 2000: $5 2001: $25 2002: $3 2003: $19
Vazquez rebounded well in 2003 after a hugely disappointing 2002 season. His hit rate declined 19% and his K rate improved 34% - better than a strikeout per IP. He has a low 90's fastball and mixes in both an excellent curve and outstanding change-up and throws all three for strikes. He's still very young -just 27 to start the season - and there has been some concern about the level of work he's been subjected to since some elbow problems have hampered him in the past. I think it's a reasonable risk worth taking for a guy who could be poised to join the elite pitchers in the game.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $10
Contreras was disappointing throughout the spring and was held out of action while he underwent some remedial tutoring with pitching guru Billy Connors and then was DLed with a sore shoulder. He was nursed back into action and was very effective, finally, late in the season. He'll be depended upon to play a much bigger role in 2004.
Values ~ 2000: $11 2001: $22 2002: $6 2003: NA
Lieber has a running 90 mph fastball that he throws to both sides of the plate, a sinker and a very effective late-breaking slider. He's also got a changeup in his arsenal. He works fast, has excellent control and gets ahead of hitters. He'll put a fastball on the outside corner and then have RH hitters lunging at the slider as it tails off the corner. He comes inside enough to keep them honest. Lieber missed 2003 following ligament transplant surgery and will probably have good and bad games as he attempts to come back. Don't go overboard here. Leiber came down with a groin problem this spring and opens the season on the DL.
Values ~ 2000: $13 2001: -$1 2002: $11 2003: NA
Any baseball fan who wants a good book to read is encouraged to get a copy of The Duke of Havana, an account of Hernandez' career in Cuba and the U.S. El Duque is fun to watch. He has a very unusual leg kick, bringing his knee straight up until it practically touches his shoulder, and he throws from a variety of arm angles. He frequently comes almost sidearm to right-handers who are dominated by him. He shows his 90 mph fastball on occasion, but his bread and butter are his breaking pitches and a changeup. He has a late-breaking curve with a vicious break and either an overhand curve or splitter that drops. His change is the old-style one, held deep in the hand against the palm. The game analyst mistook it for a splitter because of the break, but I got a better look using a slo-mo VCR replay. He also throws an occasional slider. Because of his changing speeds, the variety of pitches, the movement he can put on his pitches, the variety of arm angles and unusual delivery, Hernandez is a handful for any hitter when healthy. However, he's coming off a year lost to surgery and is likely to spend the first half of the season on the DL.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: -$3 2003: NAOsborne was signed at a workout where Yankee scouts had gone to watch El Duque. He hasn't pitched in three of the past four seasons, so the notion that he will be in the Yankee rotation seems comical. On the one hand, if you buy him and he doesn't pitch well, you can depend on George not keeping him around long. On the other hand, why bother?
Values ~ 2000: $33 2001: $38 2002: $20 2003: $35
Rivera remained comparatively healthy last year and returned to delivering his customary mid-$30 value to owners. Despite his slight build and slow delivery, when healthy Rivera overpowers hitters with a mid-90's fastball and a cutter which has a late break that leaves hitters swinging at air.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: $17 2002: $1 2003: $16
Gordon has struggled with arm injuries the last few years but stayed healthy last year and turned in a solid season as a set-up man and part-time closer. He has one of the most vaunted curves in the game and the ratios are encouraging. He'll likely set-up here and consequently lose some value unless Rivera needs to be DLed.
Values ~ 2000: $0 2001: $15 2002: $6 2003: $13
Quantrill is a control pitcher who usually has an excellent walk rate with average to below average hit and K rates. He appears to thrive on work, having led the NL in appearances the last three years. His hit rate dropped significantly and his HR rate was much improved while he was in LA. Quantrill throws a sinker and mixes in a slider and change. He gets a lot of groundball outs. I'm expecting some drop in value as he moves out of a favorable pitcher's park.
Values ~ 2000: $22 2001: -$10 2002: $9 2003: $6
White has found his niche in relief after failing as a starter with Montreal. He has a nice assortment of pitches but nothing overpowering so he needs to locate to be effective. White usually has an exceptionally poor HR rate. As the value line shows, White has not been the model of consistency the last few years, but I'd have him on my list as a possible late pickup or, more likely, free agent filler.
Values ~ 2000: $6 2001: -$7 2002: $1 2003: $9
Heredia's career has turned around since getting out of Chicago where he was often in the Baylor doghouse and was used as a situational lefty. He was more effective last year than in the past retiring RH batters and was entrusted with longer outings and more responsibility as a result. His K rate has declined the last couple of years, in part because he's seen more RH batters and his low 3/4 delivery is less intimidating to them. It's noteworthy that his walk rate was 30% lower than his previous career rate. He has a 92-88 fastball and change. Consideration as late round filler but better as a free agent.
Values ~ 2000: $17 2001: $15 2002: $12 2003: NA
Karsay has been injury prone throughout his career. Although he had remained relatively healthy since becoming a reliever, he missed 2003 as a result of shoulder surgery and although he's expected to be in camp, whether he will be ready to pitch at the start of the season is unknown. He's got a good change and curve and can mix in other pitches. He's a quality set-up man when he's healthy. Karsay has been placed on the 60-day DL already and won't see action until June.
Values ~ 2000: NA 2001: NA 2002: NA 2003: $5
DePaula has posted nice ratios in the minors (last year at AA: Hit Rate = .81; K/BB Ratio = 2.92; HR Rate = .063), but was discovered to be older than originally thought, so he's been matched against younger competition. He throws a mid 90s fastball and has an excellent change but his slider is inconsistent and is probably destined for bullpen work unless he can improve the pitch.