Sunday, December 10, 2006

The future of B.J. Upton

I decided to take a look at the Devil Rays in today's installment. I am intrigued by the rumors - Baldelli is headed to about 28 different teams (although the Baldelli for Hamels rumor, if that is true, is an indication that the Devil Rays are not really serious right now about moving him); Upton for Olsen (the Marlins apparently offered Nolasco). The real question for fantasy players is: what will this team look like next year and will it have Upton, Baldelli, both or neither?

If the comments that Joe Maddon made a few weeks ago are true, we would be looking at an infield that includes Iwamura at 3B, Zobrist at SS, Cantu at 2B, and Norton/Wigginton at 1B. Gomes would be your DH, with Crawford, Baldelli and Young in the outfield.

Note the individual that does not appear in this lineup: B.J. Upton. Upton, in the minors, hit .269, with a .379 OBP and 46 SB. 89Ks in 398 AB is not horrible (though it isn't so great either); up against 65 walks, its a decent ratio. And, of course, he is only 23. Baldelli, on the other hand, is three years older. He hit .302, but only had an OBP of .339, 16HR, 57 RBI and a 70/14 K/BB ratio. Defensively, of course, he is far superior (probably even at SS) to Upton.

Where does this leave the Rays? Well, Baldelli or Upton has to go, assuming the Rays are not moving Crawford or Young. It is clear Upton cannot play the infield; he's blocked in the outfield. Baldelli has a pretty reasonable contract, so money may not even be an issue here - he does seem to have a much better attitude, that's for sure.

The Rays actually have a lot of options. Cantu could go and Iwamura (assuming he signs), could play second, leaving Upton at third. Gomes could go, but after last year, there really is no value for him as a true DH. Crawford could go, and there would be room for Upton and Baldelli (assuming Crawford was moved for pitching). The best bet right now for those of you sneaking a quick peek at your fantasy rosters is to sit tight. There may be some good value and production from this young lineup - the question to be answered in spring training is who will be the ones producing it?

1 comment:

Mike Gianella said...

My two cents assuming no trade: Iwamura slots in at 1B and Norton/Wigginton head to the bench. I'm not sold on Iwamura, 5'10 and 176 lbs, his size doesn't make me think his 32 HR are going to translate very well.