Monday, February 18, 2008

Offseason moves: Outfielders

If you've spent the past few months immersed in football like I have, you may have missed a baseball transaction or two. Now, as your baseball radar just begins to heat up after a long period of dormancy, you start prepping for your draft and start coming to little realizations like "hey, the White Sox got Scott Linebrink!" or "When did Mark Prior become a Padre?"

That's why it's always a good idea to start familiarizing yourself now with all of this offseason's major moves and their fantasy impacts. I've even done you a favor and put together this handy little guide. Today, we'll start with outfielders:

OF Andruw Jones to Dodgers: He went through a painful 2007, batting a paltry .222 and hitting his fewest homers (26) since 1999 while playing with a sore elbow. The pressure of a contract year is off him, however, after he signed a two-year, $36 million deal. Plus, he's still in his prime (30 years old), and I expect him a big bounce back in '08.

OF Aaron Rowand to Giants: The 30-year-old gamer reached career highs in homers, RBIs and runs last year in the Phillies' bandbox in a very good lineup. Now he's in a pitchers' park in a not-so-good lineup. You do the math.

OF Torii Hunter to Angels: He's on the wrong side of 30 now (32 to be exact), but his running and batting skills haven't diminished yet (.287, 28 HRs, 107 RBIs, 18 steals last year). Hunter's still worth a starting OF spot.

OF Mike Cameron to Brewers: Cameron's days as a major fantasy contributor are well behind him, right? Maybe not. He'll never win a batting title (career .252 hitter), but he was a 20-20 guy two years ago in pitcher-friendly PETCO Park and came two steals shy of repeating that feat last year with the Padres. His 25-game suspension for performance-enhacement will be a tough pill to swallow to start the season, but if you can survive that, he could end up paying dividends.

OF Josh Hamilton to Rangers: The former first-round draft pick's comeback from drugs and alcohol was impressive - and even moreso when you consider he's a recovering Devil Ray. Various ailments limited him to just 298 at-bats in his rookie season with the Reds, but it was still an impressive one: .292, 19 HRs, 47 RBIs. The 26-year-old now moves to a home ballpark that once made Kevin Mench a viable fantasy player. I have high hopes for Hamilton if he can stay healthy this year.

OF Nick Swisher to White Sox: This move puts the blossoming slugger in the middle of a potent lineup and in a much better hitter's park. Expect a spike in Swisher's HR and RBI totals.

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