Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
With a little over a week remaining until the umpire yells "play ball" for the first time in 2010, we'll travel around the six divisions and look for interesting players and fantasy situations.
Let's start in the National League East.
Philadelphia Phillies - The Phillies have five "star" players who will be taken very early in the draft: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and newcomer Roy Halladay. The more interesting fantasy stories will come from Cole Hamels and Raul Ibanez. In the case of Hamels, it's whether he can reclaim the form he showed from 2007-08 (29-15, ERA 3.22, WHIP 1.101) . For Ibanez, it's whether last year's early season production can be repeated (22 HR, 60 RBI 1.015 OPS before All-Star break), or whether the "post All-Star Ibanez" is the one we are drafting this week (12 HR, 33 RBI .774 OPS).
Florida Marlins - Obviously, Hanley Ramirez will go either No.1 or No.2 (Albert Pujols being the other option), but most of the Marlins' starting lineup doesn't get much respect. I see a nice opportunity to use a late-round selection on outfielder Cody Ross. With his ADP (Average Draft Position) of 212.5, an 18th-round pick, he could again produce 24 HR and 90 RBI as he did in 2009. That level of production usually comes from players drafted in the 10th-11th round like Ryan Ludwick (ADP 124), Johnny Damon (ADP 130) or Brad Hawpe (ADP 142).
Atlanta Braves - The Braves don't have many "glamour" names on offense anymore other than catcher Brian McCann who is going No.3 at the position behind Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez. However, don't overlook Yunel Escobar (89 runs, 14 HR, 76 RBI .299 season) at shortstop, Nate McLouth (.256, 86 runs, 20 HR, 70 RBIm 19 SB in an injury-plagued season) in center or rookie outfielder Jason Heyward in keeper leagues.
New York Mets - Living in Philadelphia, it's the team I love to hate, but there are bargains to be had. Francisco Rodriguez had an off year last year as did the entire Mets team, but being drafted in the 10th round makes him a bargain waiting to happen. Even with all that went wrong with the team, he still collected 35 saves. While I believe David Wright (ADP 16) and Jose Reyes (ADP 32) are being drafted slightly too high, Jason Bay (ADP 50.8) is being ignored too long, probably because of the bias against the Mets' pitching- friendly ballpark. People...the man hit 36 HR, knocked in 119 runs and scored 103 runs last season and is still available in the fifth round?
Washington Nationals - The Nationals will be a better club in 2010 than 2009, although when you go 59-103 that's not a bold prediction. But with the addition of Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate and pitchers Jason Marquis, Chien-Ming Wang and eventually young phenom Stephen Strasburg the staff should be improved to the point where you can add them to your roster. The Washington offense could produce four quality fantasy players in Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham and Nyjer Morgan.