By Mike Dietrich
Welcome to the first installment of the JetNation fantasy baseball column.Â I have been playing this for over 20 years and would like to share my knowledge and experience with everyone at JetNation.Â In our first article we will review the players to watch for each National League team in spring training.
New York Mets
All of the position spots are filled but take a look at the young pitchers (Perez, Pelfrey, Humber).Â Their stats will matter since they are competing for a spot in the best offense in the N.L and could provide cheap value.
Watch the catcher competition (Rod Barajas or Carlos Ruiz).Â Whoever gets the job will be a great source of cheap power in their home ballpark.Â Shane Victorino has put up great numbers in small doses and could be productive in this environment.
They have two open spots in the lineup at 1st and 2nd base.Â The Braves want Scott Thorman and Kelly Johnson to win these jobs but Thorman has a possible platoon partner in Craig Wilson behind him and Kelly Johnson has never played 2nd base.Â Watch the box scores.
Christian Guzman is coming off major surgery and they just signed Ronnie Belliard and could move Felipe Lopez to SS to accommodate him.Â Also keep an eye on Nook Logan who could get 50 steals with an everyday job.
Alfredo Amezega is a dark horse for the CF job.Â He came through in a part time role with 20 SBâ€™s last year.Â Jeremy Hermida was a preseason ROY before last season.Â He had a bunch of injuries but it is way too early to give up on him.Â Monitor his health.
Brad Lidge (5.28 era) had an awful year so watch his outings and if he looks the same, watch Dan Wheeler who could end up being the closer.Â Morgan Ensberg should bounce back and regain his 2005 form, keep an eye on his power numbers
The closer situation is interesting. Ryan Dempster (4.80 ERA 1.51 WHIP) was average at best last year and now Kerry Wood if healthy, and that is a big if, could be a dominating closer.
St Louis Cardinals
The health of Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion is key to their whole outfield.Â Also watch Jason Isringhausen, if he does not bounce back, Adam Wainwright showed last year he can be a dominant closer.
The closer situation is up in the air with Solaman Torres or Matt Capps being the favorite.Â Having a closer on a bad team is still good for 30 saves so watch this battle.Â Chris Duffy is another low average speed guy trying to win a job.
They have 2 outfield jobs open but I see Corey Hart as a 20/20 starter and a platoon between Kevin Mench and Geoff Jenkins producing 35 HRâ€™s.Â Dave Bush is a great sleeper since he ended the season on a high note last year and had a great WHIP (1.14).
They do not have a closer with Eddie Guardado being out until midseason.Â Keep an eye on Todd Coffey who pitched pretty well in that role last year.Â Ryan Freel is also one of the top base stealers who would flourish with 500 at bats.
Chris Young in CF has the job to lose.Â He is a future 30/30 player unless he flops in the spring.Â Also Stephen Drew at SS was a top pick a few years ago but might be a year away.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The RF spot is up for grabs between Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and James Loney.Â Ethier is the favorite but all are very good prospects.Â Also the closer Saito is 37 years old and Jonathon Broxton is waiting in the wings.
Kaz Matsui revitalized his career and could finally fulfill his expectations in a pressure free environment at 2nd base.Â Also keep an eye on Jason Hirsh who could blossom and pitchers in Colorado are now draft-able due to the humidor.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are pretty set at all positions but Armando Benitez is older and more fragile.Â Keep an eye on Brian Wilson and Kevin Correia
We will be back next week with a look at the American League.Â Discuss this in the JetNation baseball forum.