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Woody at the head of a bullpen of horrors?

The Cleveland Indians signed closer Kerry Wood to a reasonable contract: two guaranteed years at $20.5 million with an option year that only vests if he finishes 55 games in one of the two years. They protected themselves against an albatross of a contract in case his shoulder blows out again, and they got him below market rates: both things that a small market team needs to do.

Along with trading for Joe Smith, and previous holdovers Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Perez, Masa Kobayashi and Jensen Lewis, the Indians bullpen looks, on the surface, like a revamped and solid bully that could become a strength for this team.

So why the headline? Why does this seem so futile? Why does every GM count the bullpen as an area needing improvement in the offseason? Why do some bullpens that look good going into the season turn into bullpens of horror?

Because the bullpen is the single most volatile sector of any team. Why don’t we go down the list of bullpen candidates in Cleveland and detail their dark side?

Click to continue reading Exercise in Futility: Building the Cleveland Bullpen

Read More | Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Chase Utley

Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley will rehabilitate from hip surgery for a significant amount of time.  How significant will be determined by what the surgeons see this week when Utley undergoes his surgery, but it’s pretty much a given that he will miss the beginning of the 2009 MLB season.  If the surgery relieves Utley of pain, a month won’t matter much for, arguably, the Phillies’ best player (with others arguing for former MVPs Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins).  It’s hard to choose who Philadelphia’s best player is, but considering Utley’s last four season averages (.305 BA; 28.8 HR; 103.5 RBI; 110.3 R; 13.5 SB) at a thin position, you’re not going to find stats like Utley’s, which makes him very valuable.  However, the Phils won’t have him to start, but they probably only care that he finishes the season with them… as late as late October 2009.

Fantasy Baseball Impact: Luckily, in fantasy baseball, there is such a thing as the disabled list in real baseball, which Utley will surely go on.  So, if you draft Utley, you can stash him on your team’s DL and wait for him to get back on the field and wreck havoc at the plate like he has been the past several seasons.  However, the question is, where do you draft Chase Utley?  Well, we’ll have to wait and see how long he’ll have to rehab, but depending on the size of your league, you will probably have to “stretch” for him in the second round, especially if he’ll only be out a month of the regular season.  If, worst case scenario, Utley doesn’t come back until June, somewhere in the late third/early fourth round sounds about right.  Crazy, isn’t it?  To grab a guy who could be out three months in the third or fourth round?  But, that’s how good Utley is.

Read More | Delaware Online

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