Fantasy Notes: Dice-K vs. Ichiro
I’m having a freakin’ crazy day, so will try to provide a couple of quick notes now and hopefully have time to do a more substantial post later. If not, look for my 2007 preview of the Red Sox tommorow afternoon.
- How stoked will the Japanese media be for next month’s series between the Bosox and Mariners? Daisuke Matsuzaka will likely pitch in the April 10-12 series and go up against Ichiro Suzuki for the first time as major leaguers. Speaking of Ichiro, there are plenty of questions surrounding him this year. For starters, after six straight Gold Gloves in right field, he’ll now try to tackle centrefield in Seattle. Given his experience playing the position in Japan, the 39 games he played there last year, his speed and tremendous arm, I don’t foresee the switch causing him any problems. Ichiro’s body will likely take more of pounding in centre, but the .331 career hitter is in such excellent condition. He’s off to a fine start this spring, batting over .300 through five games, but has yet to record an extra base hit, RBI or steal. A bigger question facing Ichiro: who will he be playing for come the trade deadline? A free agent after the season, Ichiro could be trade fodder if Seattle finds itself out of the race, not at all an unlikely scenario. Expect this story to draw more and more focus as the season progresses if an extension isn’t hammered out.
- Speaking of six-time Gold Gloves winners, the now-retired J.T. Snow is in the Giants’ camp helping Rich Aurilia try to make the conversion from a utility man to a full-time first baseman. With Snow helping him, you’d have to think Aurilia, a long-time middle infielder, would have the athleticism to make the transition defensively, but what about his stick? Yes, he enjoyed a nice power season last year, but note that Aurilia slugged 31 points higher at the Great American Bandbox last season. Still, there was nothing embarrasing about his 10-homer, .500+ slugging performance on the road, so if Aurilia can repeat that, he should provide close to the kind of power numbers you expect out of your first baseman. The only problem is, I don’t expect him to come close to duplicating his 2006 season this year. Aurilia enjoyed a fine game yesterday (3-for-4, homer, two RBI), but if he approaches 20 homers this year, I will be very surprised. His career slugging percentage is .443, and I don’t think he will reach it.