Coco, Beware: What's in my wallet, 2011

Scott Pianowski

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I'm in too many leagues, let's just establish this up front. I wasn't even sure of the exact count until I went through today's exercise. It's seven, in all.

When you go through the draft and auction car wash that many times, you're going to wind up with a few common thread players. For better or for worse, these players will be a large defining point to my season. (Players are listed by the number of times I selected them.)

Coco Crisp(notes): No one has a problem with his skills, it's a matter of staying on the field. He's the Rickie Weeks(notes) of center fielders. If Crisp can stay out of harm's way for even 120 games, he's a major profit guy. If he can't, it's not the end of the world – outfield is fairly deep and you get a replacement for two months.

Derek Jeter(notes): This doesn't count all the mocks I selected him in. Regression isn't always linear. The womb of the Yankees lineup provides a nice floor. Jeter was still a useful player last year even when he hit .270 – go look at the counting numbers again – and I'd venture anything his average improves in 2011.

Francisco Cordero(notes): I'm forever going ugly at closer, and the buzz of Aroldis Chapman(notes) made Cordero a good, cheap option this spring. I'm banking on two things: closing really isn't that hard to do, and Dusty Baker is patient with his veterans.

Cole Hamels(notes): A possible No. 1 at a No. 2 price. A smidge undervalued with Doc and Cliff getting so much attention.

Ryan Braun(notes): If I were walking into a new mixer today, he'd be No. 3 or No. 4 on my overall board. No downside, giant upside, every category gets filled.

Carlos Zambrano(notes): When the Cubs put him back in the rotation last year and left him alone, he was fantastic. I don't need Zambrano to be an ace, just someone worth using every week as a support guy.

Brett Gardner(notes): Please let him bat leadoff most of the time, Joe Girardi. Do the right thing. Gardner vs. Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) could be a dead heat in 2011, and Gardner came much cheaper in all formats.

David Murphy(notes): He probably should be platooning but here's hoping Ron Washington doesn't see it that way. Nice line-drive hitter, some pop and speed, and Arlington is a blast in the summer.

Jake Westbrook(notes): Dave Duncan and ground balls. Hopefully he's not done in by the new St. Louis defense.

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Juan Uribe(notes): We're all going to miss that San Francisco chant. I'm a sucker for a three-position grab, and don't overlook how important 20-25 homer sources are in today's power-depressed game.

Aaron Hill(notes): Split the difference of the last two years, make profit.

Bill Hall(notes): A sneaky power/speed guy. Peter King hated on him most of last summer, which made me appreciate Hall more. The Astros have no choice but to play Hall every day. Have fun with the Crawford Boxes.

A.J. Pierzynski(notes): Generally I don't go with designer catchers. AJP will play, and there's no personality risk in our made-up game.

Carlos Pena: I'm just asking him to hit .240. That's not asking too much, is it?

Clayton Richard(notes): Petco covers up a lot of mistakes. Not a strikeout ace, but he's not Jamie Moyer(notes), either.

Derek Holland(notes): A stab at pedigree, and left-handers have a better chance of beating that park.

Hideki Matsui(notes): An Ibanez All-Star, and a 20-80 possibility means a lot more today than it did 5-10 years ago.

Kelly Johnson(notes): Strong second half validated his fast start. I'm a sucker for guys who bat in the top three in their lineups, especially if they're in a hitter-favorable park.

J.J. Hardy(notes): The park switch and a healthy wrist could lead to 18-22 homers. Idiotically, I dropped him in one league where I had no business doing so.

Mark Teixeira(notes): There's not a lot of difference between him, Ryan Howard(notes) and Prince Fielder(notes), value-wise, though they're all good at different things. Being parked in New York makes Teixeira a safe play.

Mike Aviles(notes): Multiple positions, cheap speed, small-market screen.

Ryan Franklin(notes): The world can hate him, so long as Dave Duncan and Tony La Russa don't.

Shin-Soo Choo(notes): His haul from the last two years is almost identical, and there's something to be said for knowing what you're paying for in the third round. Choo no longer has to worry about pending military service.

I thought Jonathan Papelbon(notes) (misunderstood 2010) and Matt Garza(notes) (fly-ballers are not death sentences) would be on a lot of my clubs, but I only got them once each. And I kept missing Gio Gonzalez(notes), who everyone is obviously in love with.

Some notable players that I didn't draft (or purchase) at all:

Jay Bruce(notes): America's reach. He has to improve for everyone to break even. That's not how I play.

Joe Mauer(notes): Winning smile and line drives, but he's given us one power season. Doubles are not a roto category.

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Robinson Cano(notes): I've seen some discussing him as a Top 5 player; that's too pricy for my liking. No speed. Good power, but it's not elite. Worrying about position scarcity in Round 1 of a mixed league doesn't make sense to me.

Matt Wieters(notes): I don't accept that he's a post-hype guy – to me, that term means you're getting a massive discount. Alex Gordon(notes) is a post-hype player. People are still paying for Wieters to do things that he hasn't done yet.

Josh Beckett(notes): Career ERA at Fenway: 4.59. Career ERA against the Yankees: 6.26. There goes more than half of the schedule.

Mike Stanton(notes): Generally I'm not going to pay for buzzy sophomores – someone always wants them more than I do. At the end of the day, it's a game of value.

Grady Sizemore(notes): I don't want to chase the medical noise for two more months.

Rickie Weeks: His sticker price expects a full season. Good luck with that one.

Mariano Rivera(notes): Never buy a closer from the team you root against the most. You can own their hitters all you like, but owning the closer is rooting for wins where you don't want them.

Albert Pujols(notes): Not my fault – his ADP might as well be 1.0.

And for what it's worth, here's the 2010 edition of this column.


Image courtesy Associated Press