Sometimes it's more important to ask "why not?" when others are asking "why bother?" And that's how the Emilio Bonifacio pitch will begin.
Bonifacio's punchless offensive game and spotty defense have drawn plenty of ire through the years; heck, my buddy Mike Salfino pretty much mocked me for a mid-round Bonifacio pick last year. Mike had the loudest laugh while Bonifacio scuffled in Toronto (.218/.258/.321,12 piddly steals over 94 games), though Bonifacio redeemed himself somewhat in a late-season trial with the Royals (.285 average, 16 bags in 18 attempts).
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Now the Cubs are Bonifacio's employer, and they might be thin enough to actually give him a semi-regular gig. Bonifacio was all over the place in Monday's opener at Pittsburgh, collecting four hits (three singles, one double) and a steal as Chicago's leadoff man. It's just one game and Bonifacio has a history of Opening Day magic (Andy Behrens for the win), but that doesn't mean we discard the story out of hand. Remember Bonifacio's nifty season with the Marlins in 2011? A .296 average, .360 OPB, 40 steals - those numbers will play anywhere. He's still fairly young, turning 29 in a few weeks. He qualifies at three positions in the Yahoo game: second, third, outfield.
Bottom line, the barrier of entry is fairly low when it comes to fantasy specialists, and everyone loves a Swiss Army Knife. If Bonifacio is playing regularly and running a lot, he's worth owning in most fake-baseball pools. Even after 24 hours of spirited pickup, Bonifacio is still available in 81 percent of Yahoo leagues. Feel like chasing a silly rabbit?
• You can dismiss spring training stats all you want, but here's one reason why they'll always have some meaning - baseball clubs will make some decisions based on them. The Brewers didn't like how Jim Henderson was throwing the ball in March (five walks over nine innings), and that resulted in a surprise on Opening Day. When the handshake assignment came calling, old hand Francisco Rodriguez got the call (and had a fairly painless conversion, striking out two of four batters).
Okay, Ron Roenicke, time for an explanation. Here's more from Adam McCalvy's post-game story:
"We had a conversation about Henderson [Sunday], and until we feel like he's throwing the way he can and was last year, we're going to put him in a role that we can give him a couple outings to get his stuff back and his confidence going," Roenicke said. "That's just a decision we had to make. I talked to him about it and I talked to Frankie today about closing. We feel good about it."
Henderson did not allow a run in any of his final four Spring Training appearances, but pitched with diminished velocity and "life," to the point Brewers officials were concerned. Rodriguez also had an uneven spring, missing time in March after he stepped barefoot on a cactus and then allowing at least a run in each of his final three outings.
Rodriguez pulled four more cactus spines from his foot on Sunday, but he is now pitching without pain, and while Roenicke indicated he would eventually like to restore Henderson to the role, Rodriguez is Milwaukee's closer until further notice.
"Definitely, I was surprised," Rodriguez said. "Especially [because] coming out of camp, 'Hondo' was supposed to be the guy who was throwing the ninth inning. At the same time, it's a challenge that I'm looking forward to."
They don't call it the Cactus League for nothing.
I've got one fake team with both Henderson and Rodriguez, something I hate to do (wasted resources, no major upside). If I had to pick one of these guys for the rest of the year, I'd slightly favor K-Rod. Possession of the baton is a major part of the saves chase, and let's not forget Rodriguez's lights-out work in Milwaukee last year (1.09 ERA, 26 Ks in 24.2 IP) before he was shipped to Baltimore. But there's a good chance both of these guys wind up with double-digit saves. Take the pain away, Bernie Brewer.
• If you came here for White Sox bullpen angst, I direct you to Behrens, my esteemed colleague. That's his department and he's covered it here. I don't expect Matt Lindstrom to last, either, but he's got the baton and one handshake to his credit, so maybe he can get some momentum going. If Nate Jones was dropped in your league and every save is contested, I'd consider making an immediate pickup, even if it costs you FAAB or some other resources.
• The Red Sox added Grady Sizemore as a luxury wait-and-see play a few months back, but the set-up has changed significantly since then. With Shane Victorino landing on the DL (beware the thumb in addition to the hamstring), Sizemore is all of a sudden needed in Boston. He's going to play as much as his star-crossed body will allow.
Sizemore earned his Opening Day start through a snappy camp (.310/.356/429), though he had just one homer and didn't attempt a steal. His Monday debut was a feel-good story, with a sharp single and a solo homer in the loss to Baltimore. The Red Sox view him as a middle-of-order man; he batted sixth on Monday.
I've snapped up a bunch of Sizemore shares through the last few weeks, as much for sentimental reasons as anything else. Given his history, it's difficult to imagine him playing more than 100 games (and maybe that number is too optimistic). The Red Sox probably won't tax him on the bases; I don't see more than the occasional steal here. But if Sizemore can hit around .280 with some pop in this deep Boston lineup, that's certainly worth owning.
• If you happen to see Kirk Gibson in the greater Phoenix area these days, tread lightly. The Snakes manager can't be in a jovial mood after the messy way Arizona has opened the fresh season.
The Diamondbacks were part of the contrived MLB opener in Australia, where they went 0-2 against LA and had to swallow both losses as "home" games (the club was likely compensated for this, but that probably doesn't make Gibson feel any better). Then Arizona retuned back to its normal stomping grounds on Monday, promptly blowing a four-run lead in a choppy 9-8 loss to San Francisco.
Addison Reed took Monday's loss, getting the standard tie-game-at-home closer work in the ninth inning (a save can no longer come about for the home team at that point). He's certainly not the first reliever to get dinged by Buster Posey (game-winning homer) and he won't be the last, but I'd keep close tabs on this bullpen situation anyway. There's no obvious saves vulture in place (Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler have their own fleas as set-up men), but if Arizona gets off to some horrid start, perhaps Gibson will feel the need to make some changes.