Zach’s Musings (12/8)

Hey everyone,

A ton to cover here as the time since my last post has been jam-packed with key free agent signings and trades. In fact, it’s so much to cover that I’m splitting it into two posts. Today, we’ll look at the pitching side. Next week, we’ll talk hitters.

Also, be sure to check out our latest podcast. It’s a special Winter Meetings edition where Cory discusses a bunch of these moves in-depth. Here are the links to access the podcast:

iTunes Audio: http://tinyurl.com/32346q8 

iTunes Video: http://tinyurl.com/268r7gz 

MLB.com Podcast Page: http://tinyurl.com/6xk6cx5

Alright, let’s get to my analysis.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angeles

Dan Haren signs with Nationals for 1 yr/$13 million

I can safely say that Haren will be on at least one of my teams next year. I love this signing and love the fact that he will be pitching with the extra motivation of both proving that he’s healthy and proving that he’s worthy of a new lucrative contract. The injury questions will significantly lower his draft day price tag but the skills are still there. Note that Haren pitched extremely well down the stretch last year, posting a 3.07 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in September. The Nats are a talented and young team that should once again be in the thick of the postseason picture and the NL East is a pitcher-friendly division. I won’t hesitate to draft Haren as my No. 2 starter in a 12-team mixed league and if I really go cheap on pitching, there are few better ace-upside gambles.

Mariano Rivera re-signs with Yankees for 1 yr/$10 million

For the first time in his career, there are legitimate questions concerning Rivera as we head into a new season. Will he be the same Rivera, the greatest closer of all time? Who knows, but I’m fairly certain that he’ll once again be a top-tier fantasy stopper. Mariano fell to the 14th round in a recent 15-team mixed industry mock draft in which I participated, and if I wasn’t looking to address other positions at that point, I would’ve gladly scooped him up before then. I usually don’t go out of my way to draft players who are returning from significant injuries, but usually it’s all about the price, and 14th round sounds good to me!

Andy Pettitte re-signs with Yankees for 1 yr/$12 million

Although a broken ankle limited him to just 12 starts last season, Pettitte proved that he can still be a highly effective big league pitcher, posting an ERA under 3.00 for the first time since ’05 while striking out nearly a batter per inning. Despite being 40 years old, I can’t see Pettitte all of a sudden falling off the map. He’s at the very least a back end of the rotation mixed league starter.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies

Tommy Hanson traded to Angels for Jordan Walden

Now this is an interesting one. Hanson’s numbers have steadily regressed since his sensational ’09 rookie campaign. Last year, his career path hit a new low as he allowed more than a hit per inning while serving up a whopping 27 homers in just 174 2/3 innings. Not to mention that he’s dealt with shoulder issues of late. That said, I would not be afraid to take a risk and draft him as my No. 4 or No. 5 starter in a 12-team mixed league if the price is reasonable. And I think there will be enough skeptics out there that the price will be very reasonable. As for Walden, his days of closing games are obviously over but he could very well emerge as the Braves’ lockdown eighth inning man. Walden struggled out of the gate last year and quickly lost the Angels’ closer job, but take a look at his end of season stat line. It’s pretty good. For fantasy purposes though, he’s strictly an NL-only option primarily as injury insurance for Craig Kimbrel owners.

Ryan Madson signs with Angels for 1 yr/$3.5 million

Madson will look to re-establish himself as one of the game’s elite relief pitchers after missing the entire 2012 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. He overcame his closer demons in 2011 as he saved 32 games for the Phillies and has recorded a sub-3.00 ERA and better than a strikeout per inning in each of his last two seasons. I expect him to do just fine as the Angels’ new stopper and view him as a high-end No. 2 mixed league closer who could easily perform like a No. 1. The only risk with drafting Madson is that there’s a slight chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day but it sounds like he’ll be good to go as long as he avoids any setbacks.

Jonathan Broxton re-signs with Reds for 3 yrs/$21 million

Broxton bounced back nicely last year following a nightmarish 2011 season, though his 6.98 K/9 rate represented a significant drop from his career mark. Still, it seems like he has learned to compensate for his declining velocity and the Reds were clearly pleased enough with his performance to offer him this new contract. Broxton’s return to Cincinnati’s bullpen will allow the club to move Aroldis Chapman into their starting rotation, an idea that sounds great but could backfire. Keep in mind that Chapman has yet to make a single big league start, so it’s not like he’s a guaranteed top of the rotation starter. Should Broxton struggle, the Reds will wish that they had left Chapman in the closer role, and don’t rule out the possibility that we’ll see Chapman saving games again at some point. It’s not likely, but it’s possible! To me, Broxton is no better than a low-end No. 2 mixed league closer.

Joakim Soria signs with Rangers for 2 yrs/$8 million

Soria is aiming for a May return as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. When he does come back, he’s expected to set up for closer Joe Nathan, giving the Rangers quite the 1-2 punch at the back end of their bullpen. For fantasy purposes, he’s merely a speculative $1 flier for AL-only leaguers.

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