Gatherings and meeting dates are quickly being organized in anticipation of the fantasy baseball season this year, as fans across the nation will be drafting the teams they ride throughout the year. Unfortunately, one of the most common errors participants make in these drafts is choosing favorites. I cannot tell you how many times I have been tempted to draft a Cubs player over another at the same position, even though I know in my gut the non-Cub is better. Cubs’ fans: do not fall prey to this temptation. The following are five players (in no particular order) you should consider adding to your roster if you should have the need; however, these are not players you should depend on to be the driving force on your path to victory; the Cubs have no such players.
I was unsure if I had wrongfully convinced myself Marmol had some of the nastiest, dirtiest, most devastating pitches known to man, but after watching him perform last season, I realized I had not; he is the best relief pitcher in baseball. With 38 saves in 43 chances, and an unheard of 15.99 K/9 ratio, there is no argument to how lights out his stuff is. He does walk a fine line with a 7.91 BB/9 ratio, but given his 2.55 ERA last season, it is not unreasonable to turn a blind eye to this. Carlos will be a top pick among relief pitchers, so make sure you are able to part with another player if you want him.
THE LINE: 2-3, 40 SV, 129 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
If you are going to target newly acquired Carlos Pena, then do so knowing you are going to get a player who does only three things: hit homeruns, strikeout, and draw a lot of base on balls. Pena will continue to display dominant power numbers in 2011, but do not look for him to hit .300. Expect him to put up better numbers in Chicago this year, but nothing drastically different from his career averages. He should be available from the middle to later rounds, so wait on him if you are willing to hold back on a first basemen.
THE LINE: .240, 31 HR, 76 R, 96 RBI, 7 SB
A-Ram had a tough 2010 campaign. He never really got going in the first half and then was riddled with injury the remainder of the season. Towards the end of the second half Cubs fans started to see him heat up, but he never became the player he had been in previous years. Yet, look for Ramirez to have a strong rebound in 2011 and put up numbers much more similar to the rest of his career. With slugger Carlos Pena protecting him, Ramirez will be able to lock in on his pitch and drive the baseball. Because of his disappointing 2010 season, Ramirez is going to be available much later than usual, and is a potential steal in all leagues—if he can stay healthy.
THE LINE: .294, 26 HR, 82 R, 105 RBI, 0 SB
Choosing Garza in this spot over opening day starter Ryan Dempster was a tough one, but was one made because it is reasonable to assume Garza will put up great numbers now that he is outside of the AL East. Facing the weaker offenses of the national league will make him a prime target for owners after the aces are off the board. It is hard to say when Garza will go in drafts, but most likely in the middle rounds.
THE LINE: 15-8, 213.0 IP, 156 K, 3.55 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Geovany Soto should be in the back of everyone’s mind on draft day. The Cubs catcher has the potential to easily be a top five backstop in 2011, and will come at a much lower asking price. Look for him to fall through the rounds, allowing you to take more efficient players where you would have normally drafted the likes of catchers Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, and Brian McCann.
THE LINE: .284, 23 HR, 56 R, 70 RBI, 0 SB