Fantasy Baseball: Team Previews

By Jason Fukao

Pittsburgh Pirates

Projected Line-Ups

CF: Chris Duffy

SS: Jack Wilson

3B: Freddy Sanchez

1B: Adam LaRoche

LF: Jason Bay

RF: Xavier Nady

2B: Jose Castillo

C: Ronny Paulino

Projected Rotation

Zach Duke

Ian Snell

Paul Maholm

Tom Gorzelanny

Shawn Chacon

Closer: Salomon Torres

Player Spotlight

1B: Adam LaRoche – This budding young star joins his new team in Pittsburgh after playing three seasons with the Atlanta Braves. Last season, he hit 32 homeruns, drove in 90 runs and hit at a respectable .285 clip. Each of the last three years his power numbers have increased, and don’t be surprised if he jacks 30+ homeruns again this season. He will be protected by Jason Bay in the Pirates’ lineup and hopefully, Freddy Sanchez can consistently get on base like he did last year. The talent at first base is very deep this year, but make sure you keep an eye on LaRoche. His power numbers are not something that you can pass up.

SP: Ian Snell – Here is an example of a strikeout pitcher. In the second half of last season, Snell struck out 88 batters in only 85.1 innings. For all you mathematically handicapped, that is better than one K per inning. However, that seems to be the only bright spot for this 25 year old. He had a fat ERA of 4.74 and WHIP of 1.46 last season for the Pirates, and pitching in Pittsburgh isn’t going to translate to many wins. If you need a cheap source of Ks, Snell is your man, but be wary of everything else he’ll bring to your team.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Projected Line-Up

CF: Rocco Baldelli

RF: Delmon Young

LF: Carl Crawford

1B: Ty Wigginton

DH: Greg Norton

2B: Jorge Cantu

3B: Akinori Iwamura

C: Dioner Navarro

SS: Ben Zobrist

Projected Rotation

Scott Kazmir

Casey Fossom

James Shields

Jae Seo

J.P. Howell

Closer: Seth McClung

Player Spotlight

3B: B.J. Upton – When is this highly regarded prospect going to get his break in the major leagues? If you are hoping for it this year, you might have to wait until at least the middle of the season. The Devil Rays brought in Akinori Iwamura from Japan to fill the void at third because they didn’t think that Upton was ready yet. It looks like he will begin the season down at Triple-A, but he should find his way to the bigs sometime in 2007. Frankly, I don’t know what the big deal is with this second overall pick from the 2002 draft. He has yet to produce for the Devil Rays based on his numbers from his two brief stints in the majors. He also strikes out way too often for a guy who doesn’t have power. Don’t expect Upton in the lineup unless someone goes down with an injury.

RP: Seth McClung – Seth finished the season last year as the D-Rays’ closer, recording six saves in August and September. As of right now, he is penciled in as the opening day closer, but the team has said that they might use a closer-by-committee if McClung struggles. Keep an eye on Chad Orvella and Dan Miceli, both who have capabilities to finish games.

LaRoche image courtesy of AP Photo.
Upton image courtesy of Getty Images.

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