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2013 Draft Prep: Al Melchior's Busts

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We all have players that we never, ever draft. For me, it's Alfonso Soriano, and it's because of my irrational fear that he will never live up to his draft value. If I had put that preconceived notion aside last season, I could have had a top 30 outfielder for a late-round pick.

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The point in bringing up my aversion to Soriano is to provide a reminder that identifying busts is a process that has to be repeated every year. Someone may have been overrated once upon a time, but while the Fantasy world usually adjusts the changes in a player's actual value, sometimes we don't adjust to changes in perception.

While Soriano is no longer a bust, there are plenty of other players whose recent trends don't seem to justify their current level of popularity, at least as measured by average draft position. I have picked out 12 of these players. In some cases, there are warning signs of impending decline that aren't easily spotted from a scan of last season's Fantasy stats. Some players made this list, not because they are due for a decline, but rather because too many owners expect more improvement than their recent stats would suggest is coming.

Just because a player is a bust doesn't mean he is completely undraftable. It just means that you will probably need to give up too much on Draft Day to make the acquisition pay off. However, every league is different, so if yours is a Rotisserie league where Austin Jackson is still available after Alejandro De Aza and Chris Davis have come off the board, then Jackson should be a welcome addition to your roster, even though he is generally being overrated. That's just not how things are playing out in a typical CBSSports.com league.

Note: The numbers in parentheses reflect average draft position (ADP) on CBSSports.com, assuming a 12-team league.

Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies (Roto: Rd. 7, H2H: Rd. 11)

Rosario's power-driven rookie performance was completely legitimate, and it was good enough to make him a Top 5 catcher in Rotisserie and Top 10 in Head-to-Head. It's just that many owners seem to be expecting Rosario to take a big leap this season, especially in Head-to-Head, where he currently ranks seventh in ADP. Maybe, as a 24-year-old, Rosario can cut back on strikeouts, but it's hard to imagine him having a better power-hitting season than he did in 2012, when he blew away his level of production from his most recent minor league campaign at Double-A Tulsa. In points leagues, make sure both Monteros (Jesus and Miguel) are off the board before you use a pick on Rosario.

Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Angels (Roto: Rd. 7, H2H: Rd. 8)

What I just wrote about Rosario also goes for Trumbo. Rotisserie owners aren't going overboard for Trumbo, but his homer-happy approach only takes him so far in standard Head-to-Head formats. If he carries over the poor plate discipline that re-emerged during the second-half of last season, Trumbo could actually have a substantially worse season this year than last. Even in Roto leagues, you might get better value going for a player with a more well-rounded skill set like Desmond Jennings or Carlos Gomez, both of whom will at least provide steals.

Danny Espinosa, 2B/SS, Nationals (Roto: Rd. 15, H2H: Rd. 16)

Espinosa's combination of power and speed is tailor-made for Rotisserie, but owners in Roto and Head-to-Head formats alike are drafting the fourth-year player as a solid second base or shortstop option in standard mixed leagues. As a Top 12 second base option in both formats a year ago, it's understandable that owners would expect a similar level of production from him again, but a dropoff could be in store for 2013. Espinosa has yet to show that he can be even a decent contact hitter, and last season, he relied on a .193 BABIP on flyballs to muster a .247 overall batting average. The major league average flyball BABIP was just .131, so there's a good chance that Espinosa' batting average will dip, and that could mean fewer opportunities to steal bases and produce runs. Let someone else take the risk that he will maintain or improve on last season's stats.

Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays (Roto: Rd. 10, H2H: Rd. 11)

I do see the allure of going after Lawrie in the middle rounds, as owners are hoping he will recapture the magic of his 2011 rookie season. He was a much more aggressive hitter in his sophomore season, though, and the results were not particularly flattering. Maybe Lawrie can adjust, but even if he achieves markedly better power numbers, he may not have enough clout to keep up with Will Middlebrooks and Pedro Alvarez in Rotisserie value. His contact skills give him more of an edge in Head-to-Head, but again, his current draft position only makes sense if he has a significant rebound. Granted, Lawrie is far from the only unproven third baseman likely to be available in the middle rounds, but with so many promising young players at the position, there's no reason to reach for him either.

Josh Willingham, OF, Twins (Roto: Rd. 11, H2H: Rd. 12)

A career-high 145 games plus an unprecedented burst of home run power made for a career year for Willingham. Owners aren't drafting Willingham like the Top 15 outfielder that he was in 2012, but he is still going a little earlier than he needs to. He should hit roughly 30 home runs, but he could lose some run production unless he can repeat an unsually good line with runners in scoring position (.287/.424/.535). Willingham's power is legitimate, but it's not enough to elevate him above more well-rounded producers like Alejandro De Aza or Norichika Aoki.

B.J. Upton, OF, Braves (Roto: Rd. 7, H2H: Rd. 10)

Upton has become an increasingly impatient hitter, and it showed up in his .298 on-base percentage last season. That was also his OBP through Aug. 10 last season, and with just 10 home runs and a .378 slugging percentage at that point, there wasn't much upside to Upton's aggressive approach. Owners who stuck it out from mid-August on got a huge payoff, as Upton went bananas with 18 home runs over a 50-game span. While that hot finish could signal the beginning of a breakout, it could just as easily be a random hot streak. Given that Upton is already in his peak years and that he has a much longer history of moderate power and declining plate discipline, I feel safer assuming that we'll see the pre-August version of Upton in 2013.

Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers (Roto: Rd. 9, H2H: Rd. 11)

I actually buy into the power breakout that Jackson experiened last season, and he has clearly established himself as a 100-run scorer, yet I don't see him as a Top 30 outfielder in Rotisserie, as he is currently being drafted. Maybe some owners are expecting Jackson to take another big step forward, but it's hard to see him making more than incremental gains on his home run and strikeout rates, and he could even stand pat or regress slightly.

Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants (Roto: Rd. 12, H2H: Rd. 9)

After last season's meltdown, owners are no longer treating Lincecum like a staff ace, but they're also not leaving him outside of the Top 80 starting pitchers, even though that's where he finished in 2012. By drafting him among the Top 40 starters, owners are basically splitting the difference, and maybe that's where Lincecum will wind up. Then again, he has had three straight years of eroding command and efficiency, so counting on anything more than a marginal rebound may be too high of an expectation. Maybe he can return to being a Cy Young Award contender, but I'd rather use a pick in the early portion of the middle rounds on someone whose numbers are moving in the right direction.

Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox (Roto: Rd. 12, H2H: Rd. 8)

To his credit, Lester is having a fine spring, but then again, so did Francisco Liriano, Jake Westbrook and Blake Beavan a year ago, and those performnces didn't portend great things for the regular season. That trio had not been as dominant as Lester has been in his five Grapefruit League starts, but the bigger point is that spring stats are not always a harbinger of what is to come. The plunge in Lester's swinging strike rate over the last two seasons is still a concern, so owners investing a pick within the first half of the draft may not be happy with the return they get from the lefty.

Matt Harvey, SP, Mets (Roto: Rd. 14, H2H: Rd. 12)

With a double-digit K/9 rate and a sub-3.00 ERA in his first 10 major league starts, why not take a chance on Harvey in the middle rounds? Well, there are a few reasons. Even if Harvey can maintain a higher strikeout rate than he had in the minors -- which is a pretty big assumption to make -- walks could present a problem, and he is likely to be more homer-prone than he was last season. Also figuring that he won't strand 79 percent of his baserunners again, Harvey looks due for a fall for the coming season. While Harvey should be better than a mid-round option long-term, it's far from a lock that he'll provide that type of value this year.

Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics (Roto: Rd. 18, H2H: Rd. 16)

Parker's strong finish in 2012 helped to boost his value in drafts this spring, but don't be too quick to dismiss the first four-plus months of his rookie season. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Parker threw only 61 percent of his pitches for strikes through the end of August, and if not for a highly favorable home run-to-flyball ratio, Parker's ERA could have easily come close to 4.00 instead of landing at 3.47. Though he was a highly-touted prospect, it's not as if Parker didn't have his struggles with command at times in the minors. Unless he can carry over his September success for the better part of a season, Parker may not prove to be a reliable standard mixed league option, at least not just yet.

Joel Hanrahan, RP, Red Sox (Roto: Rd. 13, H2H: Rd. 13)

Because of their limited innings, relievers' stats can be volatile from year to year, but last year's slippage in Hanrahan's walk and ground ball rates are particularly troubling. Struggles with control and keeping the ball down are not new to Hanrahan, and if he doesn't get back to his 2011 form (1.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 54 percent ground ball rate), he could get punished, now that he no longer calls PNC Park home. Having Andrew Bailey in the wings as a potential replacement doesn't help to bolster Hanrahan's job security as the Red Sox's closer.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Report: Padres continue to talk to Braves about Justin Upton
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:15 am ET) The Padres continue to talk to the Braves about outfielder Justin Upton, according to Bleacher Report's Scott Miller.

Despite the fact that the Padres acquired both Matt Kemp and Wil Myers on Thursday, the team may not be done yet. It's unclear where Upton would fit into the team's plans, but he would be a clear upgrade over whoever the club is planning to start in center field. If the team were to acquire Upton, one of that trio would be pushed into action in center. While Kemp has experience at the position, he's not considered a strong defender. 

The 27-year-old Upton is coming off a season in which he hit .270/.342/.491 over 566 at-bats.


Report: Rangers showing interest in Brandon Beachy
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Rangers have shown interest in pitcher Brandon Beachy, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Beachy is coming off Tommy John surgery, but multiple teams are said to have interest in signing him. The 28-year-old has a 3.23 career ERA over 267 2/3 innings, but underwent his second Tommy John surgery in March. Beachy's representative, Robert Martin said Beachy has multiple offers, but doesn't believe a decision is imminent. 


Report: Athletics sending Derek Norris to Padres
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Athletics have agreed to trade catcher Derek Norris to the Padres, according to the New York Daily News.

After dealing Yasmani Grandal to Los Angeles in the Matt Kemp deal, the Padres were in need of a new backstop. It didn't take long for them to replace Grandal, as the team acquired Norris shortly after the Kemp deal went through.

Pitcher Seth Streich will also head to the Padres in the deal, according to FoxSports.com The 23-year-old posted a 3.16 ERA over 114 innings in High A last season.

The 25-year-old Norris is coming off a season in which he hit .270/.361/.403 over 385 at-bats. Norris is under team control through the 2018 season.

The Athletics are expected to receive pitchers Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez in the deal, according to Yahoo! The 24-year-old Alvarez posted a 1.25 ERA over 43 1/3 innings at Double-A last year.

Hahn, 25, posted a 3.07 ERA over 73 1/3 innings in the majors last year. He was excellent in Double-A, posting a 1.91 ERA in 42 1/3 innings before being called up.


Padres, Rays and Nationals complete Wil Myers trade
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Padres, Rays and Nationals have completed a trade that will send Wil Myers to San Diego, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The deal had been in the works for a few days, but was finally agreed to late Thursday night. Myers, 24, will head to the Padres in the deal. He hit .222/.294/.320 over 325 at-bats with the Rays last season. Myers also missed time due to a wrist injury. 

The Padres will also receive catcher Ryan Hanigan and pitchers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo in the deal. 

Tampa Bay will receive outfielder Steven Souza and pitcher Travis Ott from the Nationals. Souza, 25, hit .345/.427/.577 in 357 at-bats spread over three levels last year. 

The Rays will also receive catcher Rene Rivera, first baseman Jake Bauers and pitcher Burch Smith from San Diego.

Washington is set to acquire pitcher Joe Ross from San Diego. The team will also receive infielder Trea Turner in the deal. Turner was a 2014 draft pick, and cannot be traded until midseason, so he's currently considered a player to be named later.


Phillies to send Jimmy Rollins to Dodgers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Phillies have completed a trade that will send shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. News that the deal was finally going through was initially reported by Yahoo!

The deal has been in place for some time, but was dependent on a separate Dodgers deal going through. The Dodgers will send pitcher Zach Eflin to Philadelphia as part of the Rollins trade, but first needed to acquire Eflin from the Padres in the Matt Kemp deal. The Dodgers and Padres finally reached an agreement late Thursday night, meaning Eflin could finally be sent to Philadelphia. The 20-year-old Eflin posted a 3.80 ERA in 128 innings at High A last year.

Rollins, 36, hit .243/.323/.394 over 538 at-bats last season. He's in the final year of his contract, and is set to make $11 million next year.


Dodgers complete Matt Kemp deal with Padres
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Dodgers and Padres have agreed to a deal that will send outfielder Matt Kemp to San Diego, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. News that the deal had finally come together was first reported by Yahoo!

The trade has been in the works for some time, but was dependent on Kemp passing a physical. It was reported early Thursday that Kemp's physical revealed arthritic hips. The Padres had to to figure out insurance on the contract, which is why it took so long for the deal to go through.

Catcher Tim Federowicz will also head to San Diego in the deal. The Dodgers will send $32 million over as well. 

In return, Los Angeles is set to receive catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitcher Joe Weiland and Zach Eflin. Eflin is expected to be flipped to Philadelphia for shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

The 30-year-old Kemp hit .287/.346/.506 over 541 at-bats last year. Kemp is set to earn a little over $21 million in each of the next five seasons. 


Rockies seeking veteran right-handers to fill out rotation
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Rockies are looking at a number of veteran right-handers to fill out the rotation, according to MLB.com.

Kevin Correia, Aaron Harang, Josh Johnson and Kyle Kendrick have all been considered by the club. With Johnson reportedly signing a deal with the Padres, that leaves the other three as options for the club. Though the team is said to be interested in all three players, it has not engaged in serious conversations with any of them. 


Cubs agree to sign Anthony Carter
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Cubs have signed reliever Anthony Carter to a minor-league deal, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.

Carter spent last season in Japan, pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He posted a 3.97 ERA over 45 1/3 innings. 


Padres to sign Josh Johnson
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) The Padres are set to sign pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year deal, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Yahoo initially reported the two sides were on the verge of a deal.

Johnson will make a base salary under $2 million, but can earn as much as $8 million due to incentives. Given his recent injury issues, it's assumed those incentives will revolve around both his numbers and his ability to remain healthy. Johnson signed with San Diego last season, but was unable to pitch after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The team declined his option during the offseason, but showed interest in re-signing Johnson to a lesser deal.

Johnson posted a 6.20 ERA in 81 1/3 innings with Toronto in 2013. 


A's C Stephen Vogt expects to be ready for opening day
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/18/2014) Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt believes he'll be ready for opening day, according to MLB.com.

Vogt had foot surgery in October, but had his walking boot removed Thursday. Vogt admitted that he may not be 100 percent by spring training, but said he expects to be ready for opening day. After playing multiple positions due to the injury last season, Vogt said he's eager to get behind the plate again. 

The 30-year-old Vogt hit .279/.321/.431 over 269 at-bats last year. 


 
 
 
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