MLB '09 preview: Holliday among players likely to suffer after moves
Matt Holliday's stolen base total likely to fall in Oakland
J.J. Putz may struggle under pressure of playing for Mets
Adam Dunn's HR production suffers away from Cincinnati
There have been plenty of marquee names on the move this winter. But let's face it, guys like Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Francisco Rodriguez haven't seen their fantasy stock move one way or the other. But here are four players who will wish they had stayed put this offseason (or, at least their fantasy owners will).
Matt Holliday, OF, A's
Let's not go nuts. Holliday isn't Vinny Castilla or Dante Bichette or Ellis Burks or Jeff Cirillo or Jeffrey Hammonds or whatever other subpar talent you can think of who blew up as a Rockie. But if you're walking around predicting first-round production from Holliday in 2009, you might as well be wearing orange footy pajamas and a tinfoil hat while playing your Casio keyboard and telling people how the RAND Corporation is stealing your thoughts.
It's simple, really. Holliday goes from playing half his games in one of baseball's best hitters parks to playing his home games in a pitcher's heaven. Over the past two seasons, Holliday hit .356 with 40 homers in Coors, and .304 with 21 HRs on the road. Even worst, remember that nice surprise he had for owners last year: 28 steals in 139 games? Not going to happen under Billy Beane's watch. Over the past five seasons, no team as stolen or attempted to steal fewer bases than the A's. While Holliday's outstanding SB success rate will earn him a little more freedom on the base paths (28-for-30 last year, 79.5 percent for his career), there's a reason only two A's have topped 20 steals in a season this decade.
The dude can still hit, and with a better lineup surrounding him Holliday could still make a run at 100 runs and RBIs. But between the cavernous home ballpark and superior American League pitching, Holliday slip slides down the rankings as an A.
J.J. Putz, RP, Mets
If you need an explanation as to why Putz's value is clearly down, fantasy baseball isn't for you (unless you're in a league that values holds, in which case fantasy baseball really isn't for you).
Putz is not going to challenge Francisco Rodriguez for saves. That much is clear. But, considering his 100-strikeout season in '06, Putz could certainly have a lot of value in a set-up role. He'll be one of the first -- if not the first -- set-up men off the board in most drafts. But he shouldn't be.
First, don't expect Putz to pick up more than a couple saves in '09. K-Rod isn't an injury risk (at least not more than any other reliever). He's made one DL trip in his six-plus MLB seasons, and he wasn't exactly overworked in recent years (including postseason, he has been between 67 and 73 innings in each of the past four years).
More important, Putz wasn't very good for a large chunk of last season, a large part of it due to injury issues of his own. And there's a difference between pitching meaningless innings for the Mariners and performing in the everyday do-or-die atmosphere of the $150 million disappointment in Queens (and in that regard, having a last name that's Yiddish slang for that certain part of the male anatomy will be delicious fodder for low-brow tabloid headline writers; you thought A-Rod had it bad).
Greg Smith, SP, Rockies
Sending a pitcher to Coors Field used to be the equivalent of sending your sickly 14-year-old terrier to the farm where he'll have all the milk bones he can eat. Maybe that's no longer the case, but for a flyball pitcher like Smith, Coors could be a house of horrors in '09.
Since the Humidor Era (pretty good album name, eh?) began in '02, Colorado has gotten better for pitchers. But make no mistake, it's most certainly a hitters' park. In those seven seasons, Coors has been one of the five most homer-friendly parks five times, and it's never been worse than 11th.
Smith, the young lefty acquired as part of the Matt Holliday trade, is an extreme flyball pitcher. Of the 142 pitchers who threw 100 innings last season, Smith was one of 13 with a groundball-to-flyball ratio below 0.80. A GB-to-FB ratio like that in a park like Coors is what is commonly referred to as a recipe for disaster.
Had he stayed in Oakland, Smith would have been a nice sleeper assuming he cut his walk rate (Smith's 7-16 record was a result of the worst run support in baseball). But while his win-loss record should improve, Smith will have to battle to keep his ERA in the 4.00s.
Adam Dunn, OF, free agent
It's everyone's least favorite 40-home run, on-base machine. But this time, there's reason to be down on the big fella.
Dunn is still floating around on the free agent market, but his three most likely destinations should scare the pants off of any fantasy owner: Washington, Los Angeles, San Diego.
Put your pants back on and have a look at these numbers: Playing at Cincinnati's Great American Launching Pad, Dunn averaged a home run every 11.9 at-bats over his career. At every other ball park, he averages one every 15.6 at-bats. So in a league average park, you're looking at approximately six fewer home field HRs per season.
Of course, neither San Diego nor L.A. have league average ballparks. In those parks, Dunn's 40-home run power turns into 30-home run power. And in Washington? Well, Nationals Park proved to be much friendlier to hitters than the old RFK. And in that lineup, Dunn can enjoy leading the league in intentional walks and solo home runs.