The Cardinals exercised their option on first baseman Albert Pujols but will need to agree on terms on a new contract for the 2012 season, so the team made a limited amount of moves this offseason.
Fantasy Baseball:Ā National League Central Preview
Key Arrivals: 1BĀ Carlos Pena, RHPĀ Kerry Wood, RHPĀ Matt Garza
Back for 2011: CĀ Geovany Soto, LHPĀ Sean Marshall, LHPĀ Tom Gorzelanny
Key Departures: N/A
Fantasy Impact: After trading awayĀ Derek Lee prior to last yearās trade deadline, the Cubs needed to fill their void at first base.Ā Carlos Pena was signed this offseason and will be looked to solidify the middle of the Cubs batting lineup.Ā Wrigley Field is a hitter-friendly ballpark so Pena should be able to hit a good amount of home runs but will probably still have a low batting average.Ā The additions of Matt Garza and Kerry Wood will help out a rather poor performing pitching staff from a year ago.Ā Garza will have immediate fantasy impact in the fact that he is moving from the American League East to the National League Central.Ā Expect to see a higher strikeout total and a lower ERA out of Garza this season making him a solid sleeper to outperform his average draft position.Ā Though Kerry Wood still have the ability to save games, the closing job in Chicago is safely owned byĀ Carlos MarmolĀ so donāt expect to get Wood to fill your closer role.
Key Arrivals: OF Jeremy Hermida, SSĀ Edgar Renteria, LHPĀ Dontrelle Willis
Back for 2011: 1BĀ Joey Votto, OF Jay Bruce, CĀ Ramon Hernandez, RHPĀ Bronson Arroyo
Key Departures: SS Orlando Cabrera, RHPĀ Aaron Harang
Fantasy Impact:Ā The Reds made it to the post season last year for the first this century and it was because of quality home-grown talent.Ā Joey Votto exploded onto the fantasy scene a few years ago, but became a solid first-rounder after last yearās performance.Ā If you canāt get a guy likeĀ Albert Pujols orĀ Miguel Cabrera in this yearās drafts, Votto is a great fantasy player that can only get better.Ā Along with Votto, Reds outfielder Jay Bruce finally came out and powered his way into fantasy lineups across the fantasy world.Ā Bruce is a solid home run hitter that with a better batting average could become one of the top fantasy outfielders in the game.Ā The Reds pitching staff is also full of solid fantasy players led by youngsterĀ Johnny Cueto who recorded one of the highest winning percentages in the National League last season.Ā This year will be Cuetoās fourth season in the majors so look for him to mature into even more of a fantasy stud.Ā The loss of Aaron Harang opened up a spot in the starting rotation that will likely be filled byĀ Homer Bailey.Ā Bailey is another player who has yet to fully blossom, but should be drafted in most fantasy formats due to his upside.
Key Arrivals: INFĀ Clint Barmes, INF/OFĀ Bill Hall
Back for 2011: OF Jason Michaels, OFĀ Michael Bourn
Key Departures: RHP Matt Lindstrom, RHPĀ Felipe Paulino
Fantasy Impact: The Astros had a quiet offseason, but did enough minor moves to make their team more respectable this year over last season.Ā Ā Clint Barmes struggled last year in Colorado, but a lot of that had to do with playing time, which will not be an issue this season as he is slated to be the starting shortstop for the Astros this year.Ā He has the ability to hit a lot of home runs for shortstops, hitting 23 in 2009, but isnāt known for having a good batting average.Ā The departure of Matt Lindstrom locks up the closer role forĀ Brandon Lyon in 2011.Ā Lyon finished the 2010 season on a high note and can be a cheap option for saves this season.
Key Arrivals: SSĀ Yuniesky Betancourt, RHPĀ Zack Greinke, RHPĀ Shaun Marcum
Back for 2011: 1BĀ Prince Fielder, OFĀ Carlos Gomez
Key Departures: SSĀ Alcedes Escobar, CĀ Gregg Zaun, RHP Trevor Hoffman, LHPĀ Doug Davis
Fantasy Impact: The Brewers pulled of a huge deal this offseason bringing on the 2009 American League Cy Young winner to lead the starting rotation.Ā Along with Greinke the Brewers traded for Shaun Marcum giving the Brewers a solid starting rotation going into Spring Training.Ā Both Greinke and Marcum were solid fantasy players in the American League, so they should see increases in fantasy production now that they are in the National League.Ā With every big trade there is a good side and a bad side.Ā The bad side of the Greinke trade for the Brewers was that they had to trade away shortstop Alcedes Escobar.Ā Though Escobar didnāt have much fantasy impact last season he still provided some speed on the base paths.Ā Yuniesky Betancourt will now be the starting shortstop, but has very minimal fantasy value.Ā The ninth inning role will now beĀ John Axfordās to lose after the retirement of Trevor Hoffman.Ā Axford did a decent job last year when he was the Brewers closer so look for him to be a cheap option to get saves this year.
Key Arrivals: INF Josh Fields, 1BĀ Lyle Overbay, OFĀ Matt Diaz, RHP Kevin Correia, LHPĀ Scott Olsen
Back for 2011: SSĀ Ronny Cedeno, LHP Jeff Karstens, RHPĀ Joel Hanrahan
Key Departures: LHP Zach Duke
Fantasy Impact: Just like every other season the Pirates picked up a bunch of bargain players to fill out their roster.Ā Their biggest addition on the offensive side was the addition of first baseman Lyle Overbay.Ā Overbay hammered 20 home runs for the Blue Jays last season and will get enough playing time this year to be able to do the same, although his better years are past him.Ā The Pirates also signed starting pitchers Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen to round out their starting rotation for 2011.Ā Correia was a solid low-tier fantasy option last year and is still young enough to improve.Ā Olsen is coming off of another injury-plagued season and is looking to save his career in the majors and could become fantasy relevant by mid-season but isnāt worth drafting.Ā The Pirates closer role is up in the air going into Spring Training with Joel Hanrahan with the early lead for the spot.Ā All-Star Evan Meek is the Pirates best relief pitcher, but serves better in a setup role so the job will likely end up with Hanrahan who has closing experience from when he played on the Nationals.
St. Louis Cardinals
Key Arrivals: 1B/OFĀ Lance Berkman, CĀ Gerald Laird, INFĀ Ryan Theriot, LHPĀ Brian Tallet
Back for 2011: 1B Albert Pujols, RHPĀ Jake Westbrook
Key Departures: INFĀ Brendan Ryan, 3BĀ Pedro Feliz
Fantasy Impact: The Cardinals exercised their option on first baseman Albert Pujols but will need to agree on terms on a new contract for the 2012 season, so the team made a limited amount of moves this offseason.Ā The addition of Lance Berkman and Ryan Theriot sure up some of the problems they had last year in both the infield and outfield along with both playerās fantasy values.Ā Berkman was traded to the Yankees last season before the trade deadline and was used in backup role, which decreased his fantasy value.Ā Now that he has a secure starting spot in the Cardinals outfield he should once again produce solid fantasy stats as long as he stays healthy.Ā Theriot will be the Cardinals starting shortstop this season and should return to his 2009 form in a good lineup.Ā The only reason why Theriot had a poor fantasy season in 2010 was because he was hitting in the Dodgers and Cubs lineups which underperformed all season.Ā The pitching staff for the Cardinals will be a lot like last season and includes Jake Westbrook who had resurgence once he joined the club last year.Ā Westbrook was a solid fantasy option last season once he became a Cardinal and could be a real steal given a full season with the club.
*All transactions as of January 18, 2011
Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him atĀ email@example.com.Ā Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information.
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