Fantasy Baseball Rundown: The Winter Meetings

The GooseCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2008

With the Winter Meetings finally behind us, I wanted to give my opinion on the fantasy ramifications of a few recent signings which include A.J. Burnett, Raul Ibanez, and the less talked about Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce trade. 


A.J. Burnett Rundown


A.J. Burnett threw 221.1 innings last season in Toronto with 18 wins and 231 strikeouts. While people may point to his 4.07 ERA as a major negative, Burnett dealt with a career high .327 BABIP.


With a career .293 BABIP, you can expect his WHIP and ERA to decrease, even though the Yankees currently are not a great defensive team.


But let’s not forget that he is going to have a better offensive team, replaces the Yankees with the Blue Jays on his schedule, and gets out of the surprisingly, hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.


All of this adds up to a positive fantasy value bump for Burnett in New York, not quite the size a move to Atlanta would have produced. As always, Burnett can be a No. 2 fantasy starter if healthy. Everyone knows his health issues, so no need to rehash them. 


If he does repeat his 2008 season, you will likely benefit, but if he's out with injury again your fantasy rotation may struggle. Your call, because I have no idea what will happen.



Raul Ibanez Rundown


Raul Ibanez has been a very consistent fantasy producer over the last few years—I will admit that—but I believe his move to the Phillies will cause people to overvalue him in 2009. My first thought is his defense, usually virtually irrelevant in fantasy baseball.


Raul Ibanez is a bad left fielder, no one can argue that, thus there will be some ABs lost when he is replaced in the outfield late in games. Also, there is no DH anymore to use as a pseudo “off day” like he could in Seattle.


These reasons, grouped with his age (turns 37 in June) and a likely drop in the lineup, makes me think he loses 60-80 plate appearances minimally. Sure, the Phillies are a better offensive team than the Mariners, but if he bats lower in the lineup or behind Howard, several RBI chances will be gone.


Ibanez is a fine No. 3 OF in most leagues; just don’t think this move to Citizens Bank will help him significantly, if at all. 



Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce Rundown


If you are in a league where this trade doesn’t matter, quit immediately and find a new league. Edwin Jackson posted a career high 14 wins last season, a breakout year, right? 


Well, here is what scares me about Jackson: He played in front of the best defense in baseball and still only managed an average .301 BABIP. Now he is moving to a team that is poor defensively, in a spacious stadium. Never a good combination.


You might also think that a move out of the A.L. East may help, but instead of the Red Sox, Yanks, and Orioles; you have the other Sox, Indians, and Twins.


He is still only 25, even though it seems he has been around forever, so maybe there is a chance this past season was not a fluke, but I don’t see it. He is a match-up play at best, and in the A.L. Central, those are few and far between.


Matt Joyce was a decent call-up with the Tigers last season, posting a .252/.339/.492 line in 242 ABs playing both corners in the outfield. He strikes out a lot, which is always a negative and had an average BABIP of .297, so what you see in average is what you get, a guy who hits in the .245-.260 range. 


Also, his HRs may be a touch inflated as a high 14.1% HR/ fly ball will likely come down, especially in the less homer prone Tropicana Field. Let’s also not forget about his struggles against left-handers.


Facing righties gives him the positive side of his likely platoon, but I see a .250-16-50 season at best. Useful in deeper leagues.