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Late signings and their fantasy value

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In the last few weeks, baseball teams have been finalizing their rosters for spring training which is just around the corner. Most of the recent contracts have had little effect on fantasy values, but there have been about half-a-dozen worth evaluating.

The latest signing is between Baltimore and Vladimir Guerrero who got together on a one-year deal which will put him in the middle of an improving Orioles lineup.

Although "Vlad the Impaler" will be 36-years-old on Wednesday, and has a lot of wear and tear on his body, he is coming off his best season in four years. In his one season with the Rangers, Guerrero hit .300 with 29 HRs and 115 RBIs. He played in 152 games and got 593 official at-bats, which indicates he was healthy for most of the year.

He will join other newcomers Derrek Lee, J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds to give the Orioles more long-ball power than they have had in years. Added to the nucleus of Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Luke Scott and this team should be able to score a lot of runs.

The loser in the Guerrero signing is likely to be Felix Pie as Scott should move from DH to the outfield. Pie has never had much fantasy value, lacking power, the ability to hit for average and speed on the bases.

The loss of Andy Pettitte (retired) will open up a valuable spot in the New York Yankees rotation, because even an average pitcher can put together double-digit wins when teamed with the Bombers' offense. While the first three spots in the rotation are set (CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett), the final two positions may not be on the Yankees current roster. Rumors abound that the Yankees are looking at Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders and Gio Gonzalez among others. As fantasy owners, you must watch this situation closely, because whoever starts in the No.4 and No.5 spots could be useful and relatively cheap to obtain on Draft Day.

Two former Red Sox teammates have re-united in Tampa Bay - Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez. Though they have both been around for a long time, they should help rebuild a Rays offense that was hurt by the loss of Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli. Crawford had just completed the best season of his career and Pena, though struggling with his batting average, still protected Evan Longoria in the Rays lineup with his threat of the long ball.

It will be Manny's job to protect Longoria and that should provide him with plenty of RBI opportunities. Beware, he's definitely lost some bat speed and is vulnerable to the fastball. If he can't protect Longoria, it could effect the All-Star third baseman's statistics because the team doesn't have anyone else who appears capable of doing the job.

The addition of Mike Napoli to the Texas Rangers lineup could ease their loss of Guerrero. Napoli has hit 20-or-more homers in each of the last three seasons and done it in an average of 354 at-bats per season. As a catcher/first base/DH, Napoli could get more than 500 at-bats this year which could yield 30 homers and in the solid Texas lineup be worth 100 RBIs.

Toronto received Frank Francisco in the deal for Napoli and his value could be as a closer or setup man. At the moment, the Blue Jays have three pitchers capable of closing - Octavio Dotel, Jason Frasor and Francisco. Most likely the closer role will be filled with Dotel or Francisco, but you will have to watch spring training to get the answer to this question.

Many of the other signings were veteran major leaguers to a minor league contract. That means their spot isn't assured on the 25-man roster. Guys like Jim Edmonds, Eric Chavez, Randy Winn, Justin Duchscherer and Mark Kotsay don't figure to have much fantasy value at this time.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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