Fantasy Notes: Don’t Overlook Wolf
October 9, 2006 | | comment on this post
- Continuing with yesterday’s theme of Phillies starters, Randy Wolf’s 4-0 record masked the fact that he really struggled in a dozen starts after coming back from Tommy John surgery this year. His command was nowhere near as sharp as it normally is, and really, that’s not much of a surprise. Wolf, who would have been the odd man of the playoff rotation had the Phils made it, should be back to full strength in 2007, making him somewhat of a sleeper. Plenty of people will forget that Wolf was one of the NL’s better lefties before running into injury issues the past three years. At the age of 30, I’d be willing to bet the free agent has plenty left in the tank, so don’t overlook him on draft day.
- Still with the Phils, they will soon have an overload of center field possibilities. Aaron Rowand, who’s propensity to literally run through walls cut his season short and limited him to just 405 at-bats, is looking like the second coming of Lenny Dykstra. No, he doesn’t get hurt as much, but he’s not as good, either. The Phils have a $5 million option on Rowand next year and even if they chose not to exercise it, he holds a $3.25 million option. Expect him back because the two possibilities to replace him — Chris Roberson and Michael Bourne — don’t look ready yet. But by 2008, I expect Bourne to take over the job. Rowand has some speed and a bit of pop, so he provides a little help across the board — but only when he’s actually in the lineup.
- Randall Simon’s return to the big leagues proved successful and may get him a bench job somewhere next season. He started the season in the Mexican League and was signed to a minor league deal by Texas in August. After hitting almost .310 with a homer and 10 RBI in 24 games between the Rangers’ Arizona League team and Triple-A, Texas sold him to Philly, where he helped solidify the bench down the stretch. In his first taste of the Show since 2004, Simon proved he can still hit something besides sausages, so there’s a chance the 31-year-old could land a role in 2007. At the very least, the free agent should get a minor league deal and invite to spring training with someone.
- After 13 seasons in a Phils’ uni, it looks like the end of the line for catcher Mike Lieberthal in the City of Brotherly Love. The 34-year-old had surgery last week and heads into free agency with little chance of returning to Philly. The team plans to give Carlos Ruiz every opportunity to win the job and look for Chris Coste to back him up. Johnny Estrada is a possibility as well; the D’Backs plan to get rid of him and his original team is said to be intrigued about the possibility of getting him back. As for Lieberthal, he was strong while he was healthy (785 OPS, his best since 2003), and big months of August (.290) and September (almost .420) should help him land somewhere. The Jays might be looking, if they can’t re-sign Gregg Zaun, but I doubt they can afford Lieberthal, despite the fact that he’ll probably be willing to settle for less than the $7.5 million he earned this year. Lieberthal is apparently willing to take much less money to stay in Philly and he’d be okay acting as a backup to Ruiz and Coste. But I think, despite his popularity with fans, Lieberthal’s time has come.
- Veteran Jon Lieber will back next season, although he didn’t have a banner year. Even the vaunted Phils’ offense couldn’t bail him out given the numbers of runs he gave up. On the plus side, Lieber, shopped at the deadline, upped his K rate in 2006 and reached 100 strikeouts for the eighth time. Also, he enjoyed a better second half, going 6-5 with great command (56 strikeouts, 14 walks in 95 2/3 innings).
- Let’s not completely forget about Gavin Floyd (even if it appears the Phillies have). He pitched horribly in the majors this year, tossing up stuff that was far too hittable (70 hits in 54 1/3 innings) and was banished to Triple-A at the beginning of June, never to resurface. But Floyd is still just 23, pitched well at Triple-A (7-4, 4.23, striking out 85 in 115 innings), particularly in the second half (5-3, 3.57), and it’s hard to believe that he won’t make his mark yet given how talented an arm he has. Even though the Phils did not bring him up last month when rosters expanded, Floyd should not be discounted. There’s a chance that when Philly tries to peddle Pat Burrell, the team that gets stuck taking Pat the Bat’s contract will want Floyd included to help ease the pain.
- Well, I suppose we can’t overlook Brett Myers (at least not in the same way the legal system did). Despite his troubles this year (or should we say how troubled he showed he was), Myers’ numbers were pretty equitable to his breakout 2005 campaign. He stumbled in August, but was dynamite over his last six starts. Last week, Myers was let off the hook for his spousal abuse charges when his wife decided she did not want charges brought against him. It takes a big man to beat up his wife, but unfortunately those kind of punchouts don’t exactly raise his fantasy value. What shocks me is that in his 74 plate appearances this season, Myers wasn’t plunked once. Wouldn’t you expect some pitcher to earn some points with his wife, girlfriend or both by rearing back and putting Myers on his ass with some chin music?