Tag: Ty Wigginton

Carlos Pena, Ty Winnington, Fantasy Baseball Fallout: Winter Meetings Day 2

While Day 2 of the Winter Meetings were not as busy as the first (at least in terms of action), let’s take a look at the potential fallout from the moves that were made:


The Cubs signed 1B Carlos Pena.

Pena had a terrible 2010 campaign, hitting .196 with 28 HR and 84 RBI in 484 AB.  The fall in power (he had hit 46, 31 and 39 over the previous three seasons) was not due to the number of AB, as he has never had more than 500 AB in a season. 

Part of that is due to his stellar walk rate (he’s been at 14.9 percent or better each of the past four years).  The problem was that his fly ball rate was down to 40.6 percent, after being over 50 percent the previous two years.  A rebound there will certainly lead to another 30+ HR campaign, especially as he takes advantage of the wind blowing out in the summer months at Wrigley.

His average struggled due to a poor BABIP (.222), something you would have to expect him to rebound from.  While he’s never going to be a “good” average hitter, due to a career 31.2 percent strikeout rate, he’s definitely better than he showed last season.

Moving to the NL and the middle of the Cubs lineup, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him hit around .250 with 35 HR and 100 RBI.  That’s not an elite option at a deep position, but it certainly will have value.  Don’t ignore him over his poor 2010.


The Rockies signed INF Ty Wigginton.

With Todd Helton and Ian Stewart starting at the corners, Wigginton appears to be coming in to serve a reserve role.  However, that always seems to be the intention of teams, yet Wigginton always manages to earn regular playing time.  He’s coming off a year where he hit 22 HR with 76 RBI.  Yes, he struggled to a .248 average, but an improvement to his .270 BABIP will help to offset that (he has a career .287 mark).

He spent over 20 games at 1B, 2B and 3B in 2010, meaning he has eligibility at all three positions in the majority of formats.  It would not be a surprise to see him playing four or five times a week as a super utility, spending time across the infield (and at DH when they are playing in AL ballparks). 

With no one having a clear-cut lead in the 2B race, it’s possible he ultimately claims that job.  The bottom line is, in deeper formats, he’s going to be worth owning as a depth option.  Since 2003 he’s had under 400 AB just twice (once was in 2005 when he played in just 57 games).  Somehow he just manages to find at bats and is a source of power at a position you don’t allows find it (2B), stash him away.


The Mets signed P D.J. Carrasco.

When he was traded from Pittsburgh to Arizona, I thought that he could be given a chance to close considering how pathetic the Diamondbacks bullpen was.  While that didn’t happen, he posted another solid season overall, with a 3.68 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.  He’s not going to have fantasy viability, barring something dramatic in New York, as Francisco Rodriguez is currently looking like the closer and Bobby Parnell next in line.


The Mets signed C Ronny Paulino.

He’s being brought in to face left-handed pitching as part of a platoon with Josh Thole.  That’s a perfect role for him, but it doesn’t bring much fantasy appeal.  Thole is the better catcher to own, but even he is going to be restricted to two-catcher formats.  He offers little power and figures to get ample days of rest now that Paulino is in the mix.


The Pirates signed OF Matt Diaz.

It will be interesting to see if he gets regular playing time or not, but Diaz figures to be a platoon player.  He does a solid job against left-handed pitching, but if that’s all he’s used for he’s not going to have value.  At this point in time, it’s better to leave him on the waiver wire unless the plans change.


The Dodgers signed OF Tony Gwynn Jr.

He brings speed, but has hit just .244 in 924 career at bats.  The Dodgers have Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier locked in as starting outfielders and while Gwynn could challenge for the left field job, chances are he serves a reserve role.  Even if he earns a starting job (an unlikely event), he’s only going to have value for those in need of stolen bases.

What are your thoughts on these moves?  Who is the biggest winner?  Who are you now targeting?

Make sure to check out our early 2011 rankings:


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Colorado Rockies Continue To Make Moves, Sign Ty Wigginton

Based on this offseason, I think I am going to start calling Colorado Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd “A Deal A Week O’Dowd.” It seems like every week the Rockies are in the news for something.

First it was trading Clint Barmes. Then the Troy Tulowitzki extension. After that it was re-signing Jorge de la Rosa.

O’Dowd wasn’t done yet as he traded for infielder Jose Lopez. Yesterday, O’Dowd continued to tweak the Rockies roster by signing Ty Wigginton.

The Rockies signed Wigginton to a two-year, $8 million contract with an option for 2013. Wigginton hit .248/.312/.415 with 22 home runs in 649 plate appearances for the Baltimore Orioles in 2010.

That seems like a lot of boxes of ziti for a guy who had a .283 OBP in the second half of last season. It’s also a lot of boxes of ziti for a guy who is a jack of all trades, but master of none.

Wigginton has some pop in his bat, but not great pop. He can play three infield positions, but none of them overly well. He’s been your classic role-player on bad teams throughout his career.

I call those players “Kansas City Devil Pirates” players. Those are the players like Wigginton, who can play on those teams, but not on a big-time team. Lastings Milledge will be on that list soon.

So the question is, what role will Wigginton play with the Rockies?

Wigginton will be the Rockies primary right-handed hitter off the bench and will fill in for Ian Stewart at third or Todd Helton at first against left-handed pitching.

Against lefties, the Rockies could feature a lineup that looks something like this:

1. Young, 2B

2. Fowler, CF

3. Gonzalez, LF

4. Tulowitzki, SS

5. Lopez, 3B

6. Wigginton, 1B

7. Spilborghs, RF

8. Iannetta, C

9. Pitcher

Outside of Carlos Gonzalez, every other position player in that lineup bats right-handed. The damage that lineup will do will be dependent on Lopez and Wigginton. If the Rockies get the 2010 Lopez and the second-half Wigginton, that lineup looks a lot less formidable.

I don’t mind the signing of Wigginton because I can see how he can be used on the Rockies. I just wouldn’t have given him $4 million a year to do it. It seems a little outlandish to me.


You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostfomlg

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Baltimore Orioles: Which Free Agents Should They Keep?

General Manager Andy MacPhail has made it public that he will be aggressive in trying to sign players in an attempt to improve an Orioles team that actually impressed people over the final two months of the season.

That being said, very little is being said about the players that were on the roster last season that are currently free agents and whether or not to sign them.

Here is the list of the seven major free agents the Orioles will be at risk to lose and whether or not they should be in Baltimore next season.

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BaseballEvolution.com: Aaron Hill and the 2010 Dave Kingman Award

When Gus Zernial of the Chicago White Sox and Roy Smalley of the Chicago Cubs won the inaugural Dave Kingman Award way back in 1950, the level of analysis that went into the award was pretty primitive. 

Did they guy hit a lot of home runs? If so, did he have a really low batting average and also a strangely low RBI total? 

Okay, good. Here’s your Dave Kingman Award. 

As baseball enjoyed its statistical revolution of the last 30 years, the Kingman analysis became greatly enhanced. To home runs and on-base percentage we were able to add runs created, OPS, OPS+, adjusted batting runs, WAR, and a host of other offensive statistics, to say nothing of the tacitly present defensive factor, measured by fielding runs, plus/minus, ultimate zone rating, and defensive WAR. 

Indeed, the statistical revolution has brought us into a new era of Dave Kingman analysis, which is really great, because there have certainly been season in which the Kingman candidates have abounded, and simple reference to home runs and on-base percentage haven’t given us the necessary information we’ve needed to parse the Pedro Felizes and the Chris Youngs. 

Where we’ve needed more, we’ve gotten it. 

And so it is, then, that we turn our attention to the 2010 Dave Kingman Award, with an eye towards determining, once again, who in Major League Baseball more than any other player was truly doing the least with the most. 

Let’s have a look: 

Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks 

Reynolds will perpetually be a Kingman candidate because of his traditionally high home run and strikeout rates, combined with his traditionally low batting average. This season was no different for the Diamondbacks third baseman, as he hit 32 home runs, but managed only a .198 batting average with 211 strikeouts. 

After becoming the first player ever to strike out 200 times in 2008, he became the first player ever to do it twice in 2009, and in 2010 became the first player ever to do it three times. 

Reynolds was particularly bad in 2010, however. After driving in 102 RBI and scoring 98 runs in 2009, those numbers dropped to 85 and 79. He also had a 150 hits in 2009, and that number dropped to a shocking 99 hits in 596 plate appearances in 2010. The adage regarding strikeouts being just as detrimental to a player as any other out does not apply, it would seem, to Mark Reynolds. 

Brother needs to put some bat on some balls. 

Nevertheless, Reynolds remains just outside of being considered a Kingman clone for a simple reason: in 145 games, Reynolds took 83 walks in 2010, which raised his OBP a surprising 122 points above his batting average. 

There is value there, and while it is not great, it is enough to keep him out of the inner Kingman circle. 

Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays 

Everything we just said about Mark Reynolds pretty much goes for Carlos Pena. He had the same curious combination of below .200 average and above .300 OBP, he hit a shocking number of home runs for a guy who doesn’t seem to make contact with the ball all that often, and he finished with fewer than 100 hits in 144 games. 

Pena is also a pretty bad defensive player, though this is not his reputation. Nevertheless, in this season, he is too good to win the Kingman. 

Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays 

It is simply unbelievable that Adam Lind could have consecutive seasons as disparate as the ones he had in 2009 and 2010. Lind went from 35 home runs, 114 RBI, and a .305/.370/.562 to 23 home runs, 72 RBI, and a .237/.287/.425 without even seeing a significant decrease in playing time. He scored almost 40 fewer runs in 2010 (93 vs. 57) and had 44 fewer base hits. 

I mean, what in the name of Jonny Gomes 2006 is going on here? 

In any other season, Lind would likely have walked away with the Dave Kingman Award handily with 23 home runs and a .287 on-base percentage. Throw in his -8.65 adjusted batting runs (second worst for any major leaguer with over 20 home runs) and his 0.1 WAR (wow), and he’d be a shoo-in. 

As it is, he isn’t even the best Kingman candidate in the American League, nor is he the best candidate (spoiler alert) on his own team…


Ty Wigginton, Baltimore Orioles 

There are certain things that baseball fans never understand, certain pieces of conventional wisdom that all baseball insiders follow but baseball outsiders can’t comprehend. 

For me, this is that thing: why is it that from time to time a team with no hope of making the playoffs will have a veteran player drastically over-achieve their career performance during the first half of the season and not immediately sell high on that player. 

This year we saw that with two players: when Carlos Silva came out of the gate lights out for the Chicago Cubs, winning his first eight games, the Cubs sat idly by patting themselves on the back for having found such a diamond in the rough. 

Even when it became clear that the Cubs season was going to be a train-wreck (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say mid-May even though, for me, it was mid-March) and they were going to be dealing some players, they held on to Carlos Silva like he was found money. 

Had it been me, as soon as he got to 5-0 and I would have been on the horn with every general manager in baseball offering to give him up to any team willing to take his salary off my hands. When a guy like Silva (career WHIP: 1.397) comes out and looks like the next Derek Lowe for two months, you Sell Sell Sell!!! 

The other player we saw that with in 2010 was Ty Wigginton. Hey look, what do I know? There is a chance that when the 30 year old Wigginton came out and hit .288 with a .934 OPS over the first two months of the season with 13 home runs, 32 RBI, and 23 runs scored on the worst offensive team in baseball, it meant that he had finally figured things out. 

Had it been me, though, again I would have been on the horn with every team in baseball that needed a corner infielder for the fourth, fifth, or sixth spot in their lineup. If you think the Orioles couldn’t have gotten a tasty Double-A pitching prospect, or even a middle infield defensive specialist, in return for the hot hitting Wigginton from a desperate playoff-cusp team, you’re crazy. 

And what, possibly, were the Orioles holding him for? Was the 2011 season going to be built around this guy? 

As it was, the Orioles held on to Wigginton, and enjoyed the business end of a four month stretch from June 1st to the end of the season in which he hit .231 with a .640 OPS and nine home runs the rest of the way. Well play, Mr. Angelos, well played. 

Not only did the Orioles not get anything in return for two months of Wigginton hotness, they also found themselves in possession of a Kingman candidate. 

Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs 

The 2010 National League Dave Kingman Award, and 2010 Major League Baseball Kingman Finalist, must be Aramis Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs. 

Not only did this guy suck on both sides of the ball, but he also $16.75 million to do it. 

As they say in melodramatic action movies when either an infectious disease or an object from space threatens to kill everyone on the planet: 

My. God. 

That Aramis Ramirez didn’t suffer one of the worst full seasons of all time is a testament to his second half. We here at BaseballEvolution.com have an Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award for the player who tails off the most after a great first half; in 2010, Ramirez was the bizarro Alex Gonzalez. 

On July 8 of this season, just days before the All Star Break, Ramirez had a .195 batting average with a .254 OBP and a .350 slugging percentage. To that point, through 59 games, A-Ram had nine home runs, 30 RBI, 18 walks and 52 strikeouts. 

Aramis was downright respectable in the second half, though, hitting 16 home runs, 13 doubles, and a triple while batting .285 with an .880 OPS the rest of the way. 

Imagine: despite that performance, he was still our Dave Kingman Award Finalist for the National League. The reason why is simple enough: on the season as a whole, Ramirez finished with the third fewest adjusted batting runs of any player with over 20 home runs in baseball, and fewest in the National League, with -7.93. He enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) a negative WAR at -0.7, and his .294 on-base percentage was still terrible. 

Indeed, it was a year of which Dave Kingman would have been proud. 

Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays 

Ah, Aaron Hill. I hate to dog an LSU Tiger like this, but Aaron Hill’s 2010 season was a historic one from a “doing the least with the most perspective.” 

Hill’s conventional stats are bad enough on their own to justify giving him the 2010 Kingman Award. Combined with his 26 home runs, Hill had 70 runs, 68 RBI, 22 doubles, 108 hits, and 41 walks. His batting average was a ridiculous .205, and his on-base percentage followed suit at .271. His OPS was a terrible .665, good for a 79 OPS+. 

His more advanced stats were also terrible: 0.8 WAR, -17.5 adjusted batting runs, and 56 runs created. 

But when you go deeper, you realize how terrible these numbers truly are for two reasons. 

First, in 2010 Hill became the sixth player ever to hit more than 25 home runs and have less than -15 batting runs (Hill went 26/-17.5). The other five were Tony Armas (1983), Vinny Castilla (1999), Tony Batista (2003 and 2004), and Jeff Francoeur (2006). 

Important, Armas and Bastista (twice) both won the Kingman Award in their respective years, while Francoeur was the runner-up, to Pedro Feliz, in the controversial 2006 voting. 

But wait… there’s more. 

In 2010, Aaron Hill also became the second player in the history of baseball to hit more than 25 home runs and have an OPS+ under 80, joining only Batista in 2003 (who somehow managed to go 26/73 in 670 plate appearances). 

And there it is: the essence of what it means to win the Dave Kingman Award. A rare combination of home run power and overall valuelessness. At least by this standard, Aaron Hill had the second best Kingman-clone season of all time. 

And for this reason, Aaron Hill is the 2010 Major League Baseball Dave Kingman Award Winner.


Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia and is a co-founder of BaseballEvolution.com.

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MLB Trade Preview: Possible Trade Options For The New York Yankees

The Yankees, Red Sox , and Rays have nearly come to a stand still in the fight for the AL East crown, and likely the best record in baseball.

So who is going to come out ahead?

Well, it is likely that the team that makes the best acquisitions is going to end up on top, making the month of July, more specifically the July 31st trade deadline, the deciding factor in this year’s race in the East.

The Yankees currently sit in first, up by a half a game over the Red Sox and two games over the Rays, but have seen their bullpen struggle mightily and have an extremely young bench, with three rookies presently keeping it warm.

If the Yankees really wanted to put themselves over the top of the other teams in the AL East, then they would go out and acquire a front line stater like Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt , both of whom are both available and are Cy Young capable pitchers, which the Yankees know all too well with Lee.

But it is probably more likely that the Yankees will look to add a veteran bat to the bench and some much needed help in the bullpen, which blew another game Friday against the Blue Jays.

Regardless of who they go after, the Yankees are capable of going out in the trade market and acquiring almost any player they want, with both the talent in the minors and of course, the financial means to afford any contract they might have to pick up.

Some of the players that will draw interest from Brian Cashman this month will be:

Bench/DH: Ty Wigginton, Kelly Johnson, David DeJesus , Josh Willingham , Cristian Guzman, Corey Hart, Cody Ross, and Adam Dunn.

Bullpen: Joakim Soria (wishful thinking), Octavio Dotel , Scott Downs, Shawn Camp, Will Ohman , Alfredo Simon, Rafael Perez, Matt Lindstrom , and Brandon Lyon.

I think Ty Wigginton makes the most sense for the Yankees; he’s certainly available, and at a relatively low price. He’s a very versatile player, who can also supply a lot of power, which the Yankee’ bench desperately needs.

I would love to see Adam Dunn in pinstripes as the DH, he would do a lot of damage with the short porch in right, but he would require more prospects and more money than probably any other player on that list, and I don’t think Cashman will go down that route.

In the bullpen, I think Brandon Lyon would be a great fit.

He has proven that he can perform well in the AL, with a 2.86 ERA with the Tigers last year, and he has continued to pitch well this year for the Astros (currently with a 3.00 ERA and 15 holds).

He also makes sense for Houston to move, he’s due $4.25 million this year, and he’s 30 years old, so he’s not a young prospect.

Two of the key players that might be on the move for the Yankees are Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Laird

Nunez is a shortstop at AAA Scranton who is hitting .312, with 17 stolen bases and 39 runs driven in, but has trouble fielding the ball with nine errors this year. He seems to have the bat that’s ready for the majors, but unfortunately he is behind Derek Jeter , so he could be out of options with the Yankees unless he switches positions.

Laird is a slugging third baseman at AA Trenton who is hitting .291, with an impressive 19 home runs, and 80 RBI. But like Nunez, Laird will soon be out of options for a future in the big leagues with the Yankees as Alex Rodriguez is under contract to man the hot corner until 2017.

I seriously doubt that Cashman deals either of the top two catchers in the minors, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine , unless he goes after Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt .

If they do go after a starter, I would expect them to go after Fausto Carmona, who is 7-6 with a 3.86 ERA and is available along with teammate Jake Westbrook.

CC Sabathia will certainly put in a good word for his former teammates Carmona and Westbrook, but I think the Yankees are happy with the starting five they have now.

The bullpen has been atrocious and needs help now, and the bench could use a veteran presence, so look for the Yankees to be out there seeking to improve those two areas, and hopefully that will be enough for them to capture their second strait AL East crown and eventually repeat as World Series champions.


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MLB Trade Rumors: Roy Oswalt Not Going To Texas Rangers, So Where?

Good day to all of you baseball fans. We still have a little more than a month before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, and the rumors are flowing hot and heavily.

Not only are players moving, but you have Fredi Gonzalez getting fired in Florida because apparently no one is really good enough to manage the Marlins.

A few days ago we found out that the Texas Rangers were all but taken out of the Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee sweepstakes because a judge’s ruling in court over the bankruptcy proceedings.

There’s a ton going on, a lot of rumors to cover, players on the move, and so much more.

Who’s going, who’s staying, who’s going to make the biggest splash, who will be winners and losers, and who will shock us all?

Let’s get to it…

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Top Five MLB Surprises Heading into the Dog Days of Summer

If you’re going to bet on the World Cup , you have to keep your eyes open for surprises as you have only a month to watch. Fortunately, the MLB season is longer.

Over the first two months of the season, there have been a host of surprises on the diamond, and here is a list of the top five to raise eyebrows heading into June.


Jose Bautista, Toronto

Bautista had 13 homers in his first full year in Toronto last season (his career high is 16, set back in 2006 while with Pittsburgh).

Through 52 games, he has already equaled that, and he has locked down the right-field spot in the lineup.

It’s surprising that the Blue Jays are leading the majors in homers, but would you have bet that Bautista would lead the way (as well as in the majors)?  We don’t think so.


Ty Wigginton, Baltimore

Wigginton got into the lineup because of an injury to second baseman Brian Roberts, but the 32-year-old is making the most of his opportunity with 13 homers and 32 RBIs, along with a .288 average. 

Even when Roberts comes back, the Orioles are going to have to find a spot for Wigginton—their biggest power threat—and they need all the runs they can get.

Belmont Stakes betting players know all about riding a thoroughbred to the finish line, and that’s what the Orioles are looking to do with Wigginton. 


Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado

Jimenez has 27 wins over the last two seasons, but he’s been inconsistent. We don’t know if he’s going to keep up his current pace; however, to start the season Jimenez is 9-1 through his first 11 outings with a 0.88 ERA.

That’s right, a 0.88 ERA! 

He also threw a no-hitter down in Atlanta, and almost threw another against Houston recently. 

Jimenez is heading into the prime of his career, and he has to be the favorite to replace San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum as the Cy Young winner.


Corey Hart, Milwaukee

Who leads the Brewers in home runs, Prince Fielder or Ryan Braun?  If you bet on MLB odds and you said either, you’re wrong. It’s Hart, who has 13 dingers and 33 RBIs. 

He’s gotten hot recently with five homers in his last eight outings, and if Hart can continue this trend, that could open up more pitches for Braun and Fielder.


Jason Heyward, Atlanta

Some thought the Braves were rushing Heyward into the first team, but he went deep in his first MLB at-bat and it was on from there.

The 20-year-old prodigy has 10 homers and 38 RBIs with a .292 average—and he looks like he’s only getting more comfortable at the plate. 

The Rookie of the Year award should already have “Jason” inscribed on it, and he could be an online betting dark horse for MVP if the Braves make the playoffs. 

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Ty Wigginton Keeping Baltimore Orioles Alive in Middle of Crisis

In his nine seasons of professional baseball, Ty Wigginton has been somewhat of a journeyman.

Playing on his sixth team, Wigginton was signed two offseasons ago as a utility guy that could be an insurance policy if a starter went down with injury.

Now he is not just a starter for the Orioles, but he is the only lively bat in Baltimore.

When the season began, Wigginton was looked at as a disposable piece. With an infield of veterans like Miguel Tejada, Cesar Izturis, Brian Roberts, and Garrett Atkins/Luke Scott, Wigginton was the odd man out. That sentiment only got worst when the Orioles traded for Julio Lugo.

Because of the acquisition of Lugo, when Brian Roberts got injured, Wigginton wasn’t even the first option. However, he was given the chance when Lugo’s bat was nonexistent and manager Dave Trembley was desperate to try anything new to spark the offense.

Since then, Wigginton has been Baltimore’s sole bright spot at the plate. He leads the team in home runs, RBI, and average. In fact, if he didn’t emerge as a guy who could knock guys in, the Orioles might be looking at an average with RISP lower than the already microscopic .239 it is at now.

Going into this season, I listed about a dozen X-factors for the Orioles offense. This list included Roberts, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Felix Pie, Nick Markakis, and Atkins.

Wigginton was about as far away from that list as the Orioles are to the Rays in the standings. Now, he is the only thing keeping O’s fans from having a full-scale riot.

In a best-case scenario, Roberts could be back by mid-June, but even if he is able to stay healthy (odds are similar to Ken Griffey Jr. speaking to Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune) , it won’t be the end of Wiggy. There is no way Wigginton is kept out of the lineup, especially with the void of production at first base.

As of right now, the Orioles are the only team in baseball that hasn’t had a first baseman hit a home run. Atkins has been a total bust, Rhyne Hughes was just demoted, and prospect Brandon Snyder has struggled in AAA Norfolk. When Roberts returns, it is only fitting that the Orioles fill that void with the one power hitter they have.

If that is able to fix this one particular problem, the O’s can focus on another problem, such as the bullpen, baserunning, or clutch hitting. Notice that starting pitching isn’t on that list for the first time in a decade.

It gets harder and harder to write about the Orioles these days, and Wigginton has kept it bearable for me these last few weeks. Maybe things will get better for a team that seems to have holes bigger than that of the Titanic, but until then, I will hold on to what I can get.

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2010, a Contract Year: Fantasy MLB Players to Buy Low, Sell High, Outright Avoid

One of the great misconceptions of fantasy baseball is that a player is destined for a monster season simply because it happens to be his walk year. Theoretically, if a player has a slow start in a contract year, he may be pressing, and just needs time to get his game together.

The beauty of a 162-game schedule is that even the most frustrated players have enough time from this point forward to turn their season around. If a big contract is at stake, a player destined for free agency in 2010 will play hurt, and is likely to be a model citizen.

That said, it’s not usually not a good thing when a player hides an injury or ailment from his coaches and medical staff in order to stay in the lineup and boost his stats. Eventually, his (as well as your team’s) production will suffer.

I’m not suggesting you avoid players in the last year of their deal, but take the contract year hoopla with a grain of salt. Here are some buy-low players with upside who are in their contract year to make a trade for, as well as some sell-high candidates who you may want to unload in spite of their expiring contract.

Finally, I have enclosed some soon-to-be free agents that you might be tempted to invest in, but should avoid at all costs.

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