If you missed the news, Jonathan Papelbon is headed back to the bullpen for the Red Sox. That's great news for fantasy owners. As Childs and I discussed in our two marathon podcasts this week, several closer situations around the league are utter disasters. Papelbon was unbelievable last year with 35 saves and a 0.92 ERA. Plus he has the closer mentality. Check out what he told the Boston Herald: "This is something I want to do for the rest of my career. Hopefully, what (Mariano) Rivera did for the Yankees, I can do for the Red Sox."
And now on to the second baseman rankings:
1. Chase Utley, Phillies
This is one of those positions where there's no question about who the top guy is. Utley led everyone at the position in '06 with 32 homers and 102 RBIs. Nobody in the National League scored more runs (131). Oh, and he hit .309 and had 15 stolen bases. The 28-year-old signed a seven-year, $85 million deal in the offseason.
2. Brian Roberts, Orioles
Nine of his 10 home runs came after the All-Star break last season, and Roberts led all AL second basemen with 36 steals. He'll give you solid production in several categories.
3. Robinson Cano, Yankees
The 24-year-old hit .342 in '06 with 15 homers, 78 RBIs and 41 doubles. While he looks like he can hit over .300 every year, last year's mark will be difficult to match. Can he be selected over Roberts? Sure. But the O's second baseman gets the edge here because of speed. Cano stole just five bases last year.
4. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
His ability to put up numbers across the board make Kinsler a popular sleeper pick for '07. As a rookie last season, he hit .286 with 14 homers and 11 stolen bases in 120 games. Expect big things.
5. Julio Lugo, Red Sox
Look for a big year from Lugo, who will hit at the top of Boston's lineup after signing a four-year, $36 million deal in the offseason. He's had at least 20 stolen bases in three straight seasons and hit 12 homers in 122 games in '06.
6. Dan Uggla, Marlins
One of last year's biggest surprises, the 27-year-old set a rookie record for second basemen with 27 homers to go along with 90 RBIs. Uggla also hit .282 and scored 105 runs. A repeat performance is probably too much to ask for.
7. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
He missed time last year with a wrist injury, but still managed 19 stolen bases and 73 runs in 95 games. If he stays healthy, Weeks is capable of hitting between 15-20 homers with 25 stolen bases and 100 runs scored.
8. Howie Kendrick, Angels
Look for the talented 23-year-old to put up big numbers now that he'll be in the lineup everyday. Kendrick hit .285 in 72 games with the Angels last year and is having a monster spring.
9. Josh Barfield, Indians
He hit .280 with 13 homers and 21 stolen bases as a rookie with the Padres in '06. He now moves to a more hitter-friendly park. Barfield is just 24-years-old.
10. Jeff Kent, Astros
He drove in at least 100 runs in eight of nine seasons beginning in 1997, but those days are likely over for the 39-year-old. Kent was slowed by injuries last season, but still managed to hit .292 with 14 homers and 68 RBIs in 115 games.
And the rest:
11. Brandon Phillips, Reds: 17 homers, 75 RBIs and 25 SBs in '06
12. Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox: Pretty easy to project for '07 -- .280, 16 homers, 70 RBIs, 12 SBs
13. Ray Durham, Giants: Set career-highs with 26 homers and 93 RBIs in '06, but is 35-years-old
14. Marcus Giles, Padres: Coming off down season where he hit .262 with the Braves
15. Jorge Cantu, Devil Rays: Batting average dropped to .249 last season after monster '05
16. Luis Castillo, Twins: A good bet to hit around .300 with 20 stolen bases
17. Jose Lopez, Mariners: Hit one HR post All-Star break in '06 but is only 23-years-old
18. Orlando Hudson, Diamondbacks: Hit .315 post All-Star break in '06
19. Placido Polanco, Tigers: Will get you a .300 average but nothing else
20. Jose Castillo, Pirates: 14 homers, 65 RBIs in '06
- Boston Red Sox
- San Diego Padres
- Robinson Cano
- Howie Kendrick
- Ian Kinsler
- Dan Uggla
- Chase Utley
- Rickie Weeks
- Jonathan Papelbon
- National League
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Cincinnati Reds
- Detroit Tigers
- Minnesota Twins
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
- Texas Rangers
- Chicago White Sox