You should all know the Spin Doctors rules by now: Two members of the Yahoo! fantasy team debate the merits of two similarly ranked fantasy assets, then readers get to tell us both how horribly wrong we are in comments. And then everyone gives a thumbs-down to Fitzy. Today, we're discussing Toronto's Brett Lawrie (Yahoo! ADP 54.4) and New York's Alex Rodriguez (45.9), which would have seemed ridiculous just 12 months ago. But times change, and so we spin...
Behrens begins: If you want to accuse me of drinking the Lawrie Kool-Aid, fine. I'll accept your abuse. If you think I'm naively paying a hopeful price on a guy who might be great in the big leagues, but hasn't done it yet, well ... yeah, OK. Fair enough.
The fact is, I don't make a habit of drafting very young players (he's 22) with very early picks (he's No. 29 in my ranks) unless I think I'm getting an absolute star, a player with the potential to deliver first-round value. Lawrie, to me, looks like a five-category beast. He was basically unstoppable at Triple-A last season, hitting .353/.415/.661 at Las Vegas with 18 home runs over 69 games, plus he was 13-for-15 on stolen base attempts. When he made the jump to the majors, he continued to produce: .293/.373/.580, nine homers, seven steals in eight attempts. If you're worried about the risk associated with this kid, then by all means leave him for me. I'll take him.
Lawrie went 27/20 across two levels last year in just 112 games, reaching base at an excellent clip. I won't be surprised if he delivers something close to a 30/30 season in 2012. It's tough not to like Toronto's lineup, and the home park is friendly. I'll gladly reach for a player ahead of his ADP if the skill-set and team context looks like Lawrie's.
Of course A-Rod will do his hitting in a better lineup this season, in an incredibly friendly park. He gets the edge if we're only talking about surroundings. But let's also remember that Rodriguez turns 37 in July, he hasn't delivered a .280 average since 2009, he's no longer a threat to run (four steals in 2011, four in 2010), and he's spent time on the disabled list in each of the past four seasons. It was a meniscus tear last year, a calf injury the season before, a hip issue in '09, and a quad in '08. It's always something. He's an aging player with his best years (and his healthiest years) behind him. There's little doubt he can still be a useful fantasy commodity, but A-Rod is no longer a horse. Um...so to speak.
Pianowski responds: I understand that I'm probably set up to fail with this Rodriguez defense. Every non-Yankee fan seems to hate the guy, for one thing. Rodriguez has been around long enough to get on everyone's nerves. Lawrie is the fresh kid on the scene, the newborn puppy you get on Christmas morning.
Rodriguez is clearly in his twillight years, we all see that, but careers don't always decline in a linear fashion. He was a monster in 2011's first half, posting a tasty .295-53-13-52-4 line, elite numbers. A troublesome knee problem took over in the second half and Rodriguez was a washout down the stretch, fine. It doesn't mean he can't have a strong 2012 season. Early rehab reports have been positive.
Okay, I can't be that vague about A-Rod's health: we've got an issue to discuss. Rodriguez headed to Germany in late December to have an experimental procedure done on his knee. I know, sounds dicey — leaving the country for an experiment. But the Orthokine treatment was recommended by A-Rod's pal Kobe Bryant (who had it done a few months ago), and we can all see Kobe's current stats are terrific. Here's to science.
There's a solid lineup in the YYZ, but The Bronx is the safest place to invest — the Bombers ranked second, first and first in MLB runs over the last three seasons. For all of Lawrie's glittering skills and rookie stats, he's played all of 43 games in the show. Remember how Buster Posey, Jason Heyward and Brian Matusz ruined your life last year? Do you remember Chris Coghlan and Andrew Bailey regressing after winning 2009 hardware? Be careful when it comes to pricing in improvement with those buzzy sophomores. (I know, I know, this is a recording.)
Sometimes the boring vet is the way to go. Alex Rodriguez, the devil you know.