Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
There is less than one month to go until pitchers and catchers report (hallelujah), yet there are still some pretty good fantasy players who have yet to find a home for 2009.
You could put together a pretty good outfield with free agents Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn. OK, make that a pretty good HITTING outfield because these three ballplayers frequently need to be "introduced" to their gloves.
Everybody knows Manny's story. He was unhappy in Boston and forced the team into trading him. Manny went to Los Angeles and under the "laissez faire" management style which is Joe Torre, thrived. For the season Manny hit .332, with 102 runs scored, 37 HRs, 121 RBIs and a .601 slugging percentage. He was ranked as the second-best outfield at season's end.
Ramirez has been pursued primarily by the San Francisco Giants and the Dodgers. Both teams desperately need his power in their lineup as both teams have solid pitching and just need a minimum of hitting to make a playoff run.
Manny would probably be a better fantasy player if he stays in LA with the likes of Rafael Furcal, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, James Loney and Andre Ethier around him than in northern California where it's hard to name much of their lineup and Bengie Molina batted cleanup in 2008.
Abreu has always been a consistent fantasy player, likely a better fantasy player that in the "real" world. He has knocked in 100-or-more runs in six consecutive seasons, scored 100-or-more runs in eight of the last 10 seasons and has a lifetime batting average of .300. Yet in the supposedly powerful Yankees lineup, the right fielder has failed to live up to expectations.
In the fantasy world, who wouldn't want an outfielder who could give him 100 runs, 100 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and bat .300, (ranked 10th overall) but apparently in the "real" world his defensive deficiencies and high salary are making him a tough sell.
Adam Dunn does two things very well - hitting home runs and knocking in runs. He has hit 40-or-more home runs and knocked in at least 92 runs in each of the last five seasons. Unfortunately in fantasy baseball, there are usually five offensive categories. And that's where Dunn's weaknesses overshadow his strengths. Dunn has never batted better than .266 and has a lifetime batting average of .247. He hasn't stolen double figures in bases since 2002 and strikes out at an incredible rate (averaging 177 K's per season over the past five years). Still, fantasy owners are always enamored with the long ball and he will be drafted in your league even if he starts the season without a team.
Ramirez, Abreu and Dunn...as a fan you wouldn't want them as your starting outfield on the hometown team (first of all your entire pitching staff would probably boycott the season), but in the fantasy world they could sure get you some pretty good stats.
| Manny Ramirez