Nathan Grimm
Now that the offseason has officially begun, Matthew Pouliot takes a look at the top 150 free agents

The Top 150 Free Agents

Now that the offseason has officially begun, Matthew Pouliot takes a look at the top 150 free agents


The number of baserunners in a perfect game. The amount of calories in diet soda. My score on the Wonderlic test, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Zero is also the number of home runs Brewers hitters have produced from the cleanup spot in the lineup through 27 games.

All told, Brewers cleanup hitters have a .183/.271/.260 line through Thursday's game, and the RBI spot in the lineup has driven in just nine runs in 104 at-bats. The .531 OPS is the lowest of any of the nine spots in the lineup, 15 points lower than the pitcher's spot, even.

The good news -- if you can call it good news -- is that of those 27 games, only four have been played by Aramis Ramirez. The Brewers third baseman and cleanup hitter left the game on April 5 with what turned out to be a sprained left knee, an injury that has kept him out for nearly a month. In his absence, the Brewers have turned to the likes of Yuniesky Betancourt, Jonathan Lucroy and even Alex Gonzalez to hit behind Ryan Braun.

But Ramirez will return to the lineup on Friday, and while nothing's certain, it's a good bet that Ramirez will return and immediately be inserted into the fourth spot in the lineup. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has already said he will ease Ramirez into action, so in daily leagues he will have to be monitored regularly for the first few weeks. But Ramirez has been a remarkably consistent hitter in recent years, so assuming his bat is in game shape he should provide production right out of the gate for fantasy owners.

Headed for the mountains

After months of speculation about his prospects for pitching in 2013, Roy Oswalt signed a minor league deal with the Rockies on Thursday.

It was reported in March that Oswalt was "waiting for the right offer from a contender," and apparently he views the Rockies as such. The Rockies certainly view themselves that way, as they've now signed Oswalt and promoted their top prospect, third baseman Nolan Arenado, all within the past week.

Given their aggressiveness and the state of the team's rotation -- four of the five starters have an ERA of 4.18 or higher -- it won't take long for Oswalt to join the Rockies, either. What to expect once he gets there is anyone's guess. Oswalt was underwhelming last year with the Rangers, posting a 5.80 ERA in 17 appearances, but those were split between starting and relieving. His career numbers at Coors Field also don't lend much information, as Oswalt's made just five starts in the Mile High City. Still, in a limited sample size the right-hander has a 2.25 ERA at Coors.

There's no reason why a 35-year-old who says he feels better than he has in years can't find some success, so it's probably worth taking a flyer on him in deep mixed leagues. But he'll probably be a matchup play -- those matchups being anytime he pitches away from his home park -- in the early going.

Tricky Ricky

Ricky Romero will make his first start of the season for the Blue Jays on Friday in place of the injured Josh Johnson. On the heels of a season in which he went 9-14 with a 5.77 ERA, Romero stayed in extended spring training to get some extra work after the team went North. He finally made his first start at High-A Dunedin this past Saturday, allowing just one run -- and more importantly, no walks -- over seven innings.

Romero was a useful fantasy pitcher as recently as 2011, so the impulse may be to grab the lefty based on name recognition only. But Romero was absolutely lost in 2012, and his extended stay in Florida suggests his struggles weren't confined to last season. It's best to take a wait-and-see approach with the 28-year-old until we know which Romero we're getting.

National League Quick Hits: Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring) will be activated by the Nationals prior to Friday's game. Anthony Rendon will be optioned to Double-A Harrisburg to make room for Zimmerman ... Jason Heyward (appendectomy) is scheduled to take "dry" swings on Saturday. The progress could mean Heyward will be back earlier -- though not dramatically earlier -- than initially speculated ... Jayson Werth left Thursday's game with hamstring tightness. He'll likely miss a few games, but a DL trip probably won't be necessary ... Jake Westbrook won his second game of the season on Thursday despite leading the NL in ERA. The sinkerballer now has a microscopic 1.07 ERA through five starts ... Dan Haren allowed just one run over eight innings against the Braves on Thursday. It was easily Haren's best outing of the season thus far ... Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez is expected to report to High-A Brevard County next week. A work visa had kept Francisco out of the country, but once he returns he could be the answer to the Brewers' eighth inning problems ... Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) was shut down after experiencing a setback. The right-hander had been expected to begin a rehab assignment this week ... Kyuji Fujikawa (forearm) threw his second bullpen on Thursday. When he returns, he will likely be second in line behind Kevin Gregg for save opportunities.

American League Quick Hits: Jered Weaver (elbow) was scheduled to play catch from 120 feet before Thursday's game. Weaver is still not close to returning, but he should be back by month's end if he continues to progress ... John Danks (shoulder) allowed two runs over seven innings in his first rehab start at Double-A Birmingham. He'll likely need a few more starts before he's ready to return to the White Sox ... A second opinion confirmed Gavin Floyd has a torn flexor muscle in his right elbow. If needed, surgery would be of the season-ending variety ... Joel Hanrahan earned a save in Andrew Bailey's absence on Thursday. It's still expected that Bailey will earn the next opportunity, given that his right biceps is healthy ... Alberto Callaspo (calf) could be activated as early as Friday after missing two weeks with calf tightness ... Ryan Madson recently underwent a minor procedure to remove some scar tissue from his right elbow. The setback is minor, however, and Madson still has a shot at being back with the club before the end of the month ... Colby Lewis (elbow) could begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Round Rock on May 9. That would likely put him on track to be back with the Rangers by the end of the month ... White Sox manager Robin Ventura is hopeful Jake Peavy (back) will be able to start on Sunday. Peavy was scratched from his Thursday start due to the injury ... Shane Victorino (back) should return to the lineup Friday. Victorino hasn't played in over a week due to lower back inflammation ... Chris Tillman threw eight shutout innings against the Angels. He's now allowed just three runs in his last three starts ... Brad Peacock was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City by the Astros. The 24-year-old had a 9.41 ERA in 22 innings.

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