FANFOOD FB’13 – Position Battles


I know what you are thinking?  Why should I care about players that are in a battle for a starting job?  I’m not going to draft one of those players. You are right most of the time, but all I can say is, just like identifying the next potential breakouts, studying up on all the position battles is an important part of your draft preparation.

The players that win this battle could be an asset to your fantasy team.


Here are over 20 positions that are up for grabs…who I think will take the gig…who I think you want to target…followed by a recipe for Salmon & Bacon Kebabs with Tarragon Sauce.



2013 MLB Position Battles



Bold = FANFOOD pick




Arizona Diamondbacks



Tyler Skaggs

Patrick Corbin

Randall Delgado

Josh Collmenter



Top prospect Tyler Skaggs is the front-runner for the job, but Patrick Corbin, Randall Delgado and Josh Collmenter are in the running as well. Skaggs has the highest ceiling of the group in the running but I think that Patrick takes the job to start the season. The 23 year old is having a nice spring. Monitor this situation closely and possibly spend one of your last draft picks on one of them.



Atlanta Braves

Position: THIRD BASE


Juan Francisco

Chris Johnson



With the Larry and Martin show over in Atlanta, the hot corner is up for grabs.  Juan Francisco was thought to be the heir apparent, but Johnson is having another of his big springs, having hit .322 with eight homers in 62 at-bats in 2010 and .355 with five homers and seven doubles in 62 at-bats last year. It looks like he’s at it again this year with eight hits in first 19. I think CJ wins the job, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the dreaded platoon all year long. Neither is worth drafting at this point, but they are ones to watch as a waiver wire addition down the road.




Baltimore Orioles



Jair Jurrjens

Zach Britton

Brian Matusz

Jake Arrieta

Steve Johnson



The first four spots in the Orioles rotation appear to be set, with Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez locked into their roles.The last spot will come down to the players above.  Out this group, I like the potential that Zach brings, though I am routing for Jair, only because of his name.  Matusz has always been one that that people have talked about, but he is better served out of the bullpen. Arrieta is another decent option, though you really don’t want any of these guys.  So if I have to bold one of them, it’s going to be Britton.



Chicago Cubs



Nate Schierholtz

Scott Hairston



Unlike the situation in Atlanta at third base, the options in right field are not as good in Chicago for your fantasy team. The Cubs signing of Scott Hairston has changed some things in the outfield in the windy city, and Nate Schierholtz was the one that that seemed to get hurt the most. Nate is an overall better hitter, but most likely we will see a platoon.  I wouldn’t want either on my team unless I’m in a deep NL only league.



Chicago Cubs

Position: THIRD BASE


Jeff Keppinger

Conor Gillaspie

Luis Valbuena

Ian Stewart

Brent Morel



After trading Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu to the Rockies for Ian Stewart, the team wound up giving Luis Valbuena the bulk of the at-bats when Stewart went down with an injury. Jeff Keppinger was signed to a three-year, $12 million deal. He’ll have every chance to be the everyday guy despite being a utility player for much of his career.

Though Valbuena hit just .219 last season, he showed solid plate discipline with a .310 on-base percentage and he seems to be a favorite of manager Dale Sveum. Out of all these options, the one you should target is Keppinger, but nothing more than a late round bench player.



Cincinnati Reds

Position: Starting Pitcher #5


Aroldis Chapman

Mike Leake



Aroldis Chapman has be given the every opportunity to win the job as he transitions from reliever to starter. But Dusty Baker is not so sure. ”I’d like to make a decision in the next week or so, so I can get my team together,” he said. “The decision is not only mine, it’s ours. But I got my opinion.” Word is that Baker would prefer Chapman in the closer role, but he might not get his way. If the Reds determine that Chapman will stay as closer, Mike Leake would get a rotation spot while Jonathan Broxton would slide back into a set-up role. Monitor closely.



Milwaukee Brewers

PositionBattleStarting Pitchers #4 & #5


Chris Narveson

Wily Peralta

Hiram Burgos

Mark Rogers



With Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf gone from last season’s Opening Day rotation, the Brewers have some question marks beyond ace Yovani Gallardo entering the season. Marco Estrada and Michael Fiers figure to have spots locked up after Gallardo, but from there, Chris Narveson, Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Hiram Burgos and Mark Rogers are all vying for the final two spots. Of the above mentioned group, both Narveson and Rogers are out of options, so they figure to be on the roster one way or another. Narveson is my pick for the No. 4 spot. He battled injuries last season, but won 23 games in 2010 and 2011 combined and is the only other real veteran option.

The fifth spot will likely come down to the wire, but Peralta is not too far removed from being the team’s top prospect. He looked good in his debut last season with 2.48 ERA over 29 innings. He is the one you want to target out of the group.



Cleveland Indians



Carlos Carrasco

Corey Kluber

Trevor Bauer

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Scott Kazmir



This one will come down to the wire as both Matsuzaka and Kazmir have been impressive so far after signing minor league deals. I like Bauer and Carrasco better, however it is hard to make a case for any of these pitchers to be on your squad. Terry Francona is now the one calling the shots, and if he plays favorites, he’ll go with Dice-K, but I won’t.



Colorado Rockies

Position: THIRD BASE


Jordan Pacheco

Chris Nelson

Nolan Arenado



Nelson is the better defensive player and the Rockies are going to give him a long look. Jordan is the better hitter, as he has shown this spring. He is working on his skills behind the plate as well as getting some work in at first base. Arenado had a disappointing season at Double-A in 2012 and is likely to start the year back in the minors, but the Rockies haven’t ruled out him cracking the Opening Day roster. There’s no question Arenado has been the most impressive of the group thus far as he’s gone 7-for-17 with four home runs and eight RBI. However, he’s yet to play above Double-A, and Nelson really earned the Opening Day job last season, as he hit .301 with nine home runs and 53 RBI in 345 at-bats. Nelson will win the job, and this position is one to watch if only because of Coors Field and the thin air.



Detroit Tigers

Position: CLOSER


Bruce Rondon

Joaquin Benoit

Octavio Dotel

Al Alburquerque

Phil Coke



After letting Jose Valverde walk in free agency, the Tigers opted against signing a free agent to fill the ninth-inning role, instead going with an in-house competition to fill the void. Flame-throwing prospect Bruce Rondon was viewed as the front-runner entering camp and he hit 101 on the gun recently. He starting off the spring not so good, leaving Jim Leyland to say the chances of Rondon being part of a closer by committee, “possible”. “That’s a very good question, and that’s a very good answer. Possible, and that only means possible”.  He went on to say, “Is he in the mix as a closer? Yes. Is he in the mix to make the team possibly as another pitcher you close with occasionally, Yes. Is is possible that he is not ready yet, Yes.” 


I hope that clears it up for you.



Kansas City Royals



Johnny Giavotella

Chris Getz

Christian Colon



Just as it was last season, it’s between Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz. Giavotella was once viewed as the future at second base for the Royals, but he has failed to break through over the past few seasons. This year shortstop/second base prospect Christian Colon was invited to camp so I’ll put him in the mix as well. For the time being, Getz is the team’s best option after he hit .275/.312/.360 and stole nine bases over 189 at-bats last season, but he is not an option for your team.




Miami Marlins



Justin Ruggiano


Chris Coghlan

Bryan Petersen

Kevin Mattison



Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Justin Ruggiano has “still got to earn” the starting center field job. Ruggiano batted .313 with 13 homers and 36 RBI in 91 games last season for the Marlins and entered camp as the clear favorite to start in center, but he’s been slowed by a back injury. “He did a nice job last year but he’s still got to earn it,’’ Redmond said. “What you did last year, it does count, but at the same time it’s, what have you done for me lately in a way, right?’’ Ruggiano is facing competition mainly from Chris Coghlan, who is hitting well in spring training. “He’s definitely making a case for himself,’’ Redmond said of Coghlan. Gorkys Hernandez, Bryan Petersen and Kevin Mattison also are in the mix. Gorkys  Hernandez was acquired from the Pirates at the deadline last season for Gaby Sanchez. He also impressed this winter while playing in Venezuela, hitting a league-best .367 over 226 at-bats. I think the job remains Ruggiano’s to lose although the position will be used as a time-share/platoon.  All that said, you can ignore the team’s position for your squad.




Minnesota Twins Position Battle: Center field



Aaron Hicks

Darin Mastroianni

Joe Benson



Unlike the marlins, you cannot ignore what’s going on in center for this team. With the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason, the question is, who will start alongside left fielder Josh Willingham? Center field, is wide open. I have been writing about Hicks all spring and he is the one that you want to target.  His power is not what you will be looking for, but with enough ABs you could see 30 steals. After a down season in 2011, Hicks put himself back on the top-prospect radar with a strong season in Double-A last year, as he hit .286/.384/.460 and stole 32 bases.




New York Yankees

Position: CATCHER


Chris Stewart

Francisco Cervelli

Austin Romine



Nothing to see here, move on.



Oakland A’s



Scott Sizemore

Jemile Weeks

Jed Lowrie

Hiroyuki Nakajima

Adam Rosales



The A’s middle infield has yet to be determined.  Second base comes down to Sizemore and Weeks, and short is a toss up between Nakajima and Lowrie. Jed was originally thought to get the Super Utility role, but A’s management may plug him into shortstop because they are worried about Hiroyuki’s lack of MLB experience. Weeks is a talented former first-round pick is hoping to prove to A’s management this spring that he can be relied on as an everyday second baseman. Sizemore is coming of injuries and is the better hitter.  If you were to gamble on any of these guys, I like Jed.



Philadelphia Phillies

Position: LEFT FIELD


Darin Ruf

John Mayberry

Domonic Brown

Laynce Nix



Ruf got off to a rough start this spring but keep in mind that he went deep 38 times in Double-A last season. I think he will earn a bench role and could surprise. Domonic Brown is having a nice spring and will most likely win the job. Either left or right, I think Dom will start everyday in the Phillies outfield and makes a good addition to your team.




Pittsburgh Pirates



Jose Tabata

Travis Snider

Garrett Jones

Jerry Sands

Alex Presley



After signing a six-year extension, Jose Tabata looked to be a key piece of the team moving forward. But he has struggled to duplicate his rookie-year success. Snider, once among the most promising prospects in the game, never really figured it out in Toronto and was traded to Pittsburgh at the deadline last year. He’s never been given a full season of at-bats to prove what he can do, he hits right handed pitchers well and I think will man the grass versus them, or everybody. Gaby Sanchez could take the first base position and then the Bucs would slide Garrett Jones into the everyday right field job. This is one to keep an eye one. If you were to draft just one of these guys, I would select Jones.




San Diego Padres



Logan Forsythe

Jedd Gyorko

Alexi Amarista



Unless you live under a rock, you have heard of the Padres prospect Gyorko. There has been a lot written about him and for good reason.  He is having a great spring. Logan Forsythe has been struggling with a case of plantar fasciitis and receiving injections. He has a history of foot issues, as he had the sesamoid bone in the ball of his left foot surgically removed last spring and had the same bone in his right foot removed during his college days. With Forsythe out of action for a while, Jedd has his chance to stake claim to the second base job. Gyorko’s defense still needs some work, but he could be doing enough for now to hold the position. Gyorko has the highest upside but will struggle at times this year.  There are better options out there for your second base position.



Seattle Mariners

Position: FIRST BASE


Justin Smoak

Michael Morse

Kendrys Morales



The Mariners had a busy offseason, bringing in Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay to bolster their offense.The biggest question right now seems to be whether Justin Smoak can lock up the everyday first base job after back-to-back disappointing seasons. If he can’t, Morales could move from DH to first and open up everyday at-bats for Ibanez at DH. Morse can also move from LF to the position. The power is there, as Smoak had 19 home runs in 483 at-bats last season. The trouble is the rest of his offensive game, as he hit just .217/.290/.364. He might be worth a late round pick, but I would rather have Morse out of this group.



St. Louis Cardinals



Daniel Descalso

Matt Carpenter

Ronny Cedeño



All three will make the club with Cedeño backing up shortstop. Matt Carpenter and Daniel Descalso’s competition at second base is expected to continue into the season with performance and need dictating the starter. Carpenter has proved to be a quick study at second base and should ultimately see the most starts at the position this season, but Descalso will still see his fair share of playing time and is a likely late-inning defensive replacement. I think that Carpenter is clearly the superior option. He batted .294/.365/.463 with six homers over 296 at-bats during his rookie season and is hitting pretty well so far this spring.




St. Louis Cardinals



Shelby Miller

Joe Kelly



With Kyle Lohse gone in free agency and Chris Carpenter sidelined indefinitely, the Cardinals will need to take advantage of their pitching depth more than ever this season. The decision for the fifth rotation spot will come down to either Shelby Miller or Joe Kelly. Both are slated to pitch on March 14th , with Kelly making the start, though the order isn’t necessarily an indication of where they are leaning. The Cardinals are making the decision this week so that the winner can get three starts in preparation for the regular season. Miller is naturally more appealing from a fantasy perspective, but the Cards could opt to give him some more time in the minors. The Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss is predicting that the Cardinals will make Kelly their fifth starter and send Shelby Miller down to Triple-A, Though Joe could eventually get bumped back to middle relief by someone with more upside, whether it’s Miller, Michael Wacha or Carlos Martinez.



Toronto Blue Jays



Emilio Bonifacio

Maicer Izturis

Mark DeRosa



In Toronto, the second base job will be an open competition between Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio with Mark DeRosa getting a bench role. As manager John Gibbons sees it, both are excellent candidates, and his decision may take a while. “It’s going to come down to the wire, and … we may end up playing both of them a lot there,” Gibbons said recently. “They’re both having really good camps and they’re both proven big league players.” Gibbons acknowledged that Izturis “probably has the edge,” but the Jays aren’t going to promise him anything. Bonifacio can also play shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions, so he shouldn’t struggle for playing time this season, even with an unclear role.

Izturis, who was picked up via free agency this offseason, has nine years of Major League service under his belt, including 231 games at second base. While the 32-year-old’s defense has been fairly steady this spring, his bat has been cold until recently.

But Gibbons isn’t concern about that. “I saw Izzy play a number of years out in Anaheim with the Angels, and the one thing he always did was play the game the right way,” said Gibbons. “If you needed to do something on the field — get a runner over, bunt, big hit, have a great a bat, make a great play on defense — whatever it is, he always does the right thing.”I’ve seen him do really well in the past, so we can expect him to be a big boost and do those things for us.” Bonifacio, who was brought to Toronto as part of November’s blockbuster trade between the Blue Jays and Marlins, has played only 72 of his 476 big league games at second base. The 27-year-old is batting .290 with four RBIs and four steals and has committed four errors. That all said, I think Izturis is the one that will get most of the ABs from the second base position with Bonifacio being the super-utility player with his fair share of ABs.  The only one your should draft for your team is Emilio, with his better average and speed,  oh yeah, he has multiple eligibility also.



Washington Nationals

Position: Starting Catcher


Wilson Ramos

Kurt Suzuki



After hitting .267 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI to finish fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2011, Wilson Ramos was expected to be the Nationals’ long-term answer at catcher. However, a torn ACL ended his 2012 campaign after just 25 games, and as a result, the Nationals traded for Kurt Suzuki at the deadline to fill the void. Ramos is expected to be ready to go for Opening Day, but he may not be at full strength until later on in the season. he started behind the plate last week for the first time since knee surgery. The 25-year-old will begin the season as Kurt Suzuki’s backup, but his workload will likely increase as the season moves along. Neither one should be drafted though keep an eye on both, they could be a good injury replacement down the line.





 Salmon & Bacon Kebabs with Tarragon Sauce



12 oz salmon steaks, cut into about 30 cubes

8 bacon slices

8 cherry tomatoes

2 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs balsamic vinegar


Tarragon Sauce:

3-5 shallots, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tomato, diced

1 Tbs fresh tarragon, chopped or 3 Tbs dried

1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup fish stock

Smoked Sea Salt

Fresh Ground Black Pepper



To make the sauce, combine half the shallots with the garlic, wine tomato, tarragon, and parsley in a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes until reduced to about 2 tablespoons of liquid.

Add the stock and continue to cook over high heat until it reduces again to about 4 tablespoons.

Strain, and let cool.

Prepare your grill.  if using wood skewers, soak in cold water for 30 minutes.

Thread the skewers, using 1 slice of bacon and 3-4 cubes of salmon per each skewer. Alternated the bacon and the salmon, winding the bacon from the end of each so that it bastes the salmon as it cooks. Place a cherry tomato at the end.

Lay the skewers on a plate and sprinkle with the remaining shallots, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of the Tarragon Sauce. Leave for 10 minutes or until ready to cook.

Place the skewers over the hot coals and cook quickly, turning several times, until the bacon is well browned and the salmon is cooked through, about 6 minutes.

Drizzle each skewer with a little of the remaining sauce and serve.



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