It was another fantastic day here in Arizona and another double-header to attend in the Cactus League. This afternoon, I went back to Salt River Fields to see the Oakland A's at the Colorado Rockies. A.J. Griffin started for Oakland and got torched for three runs in the first inning.
A.J. Grffiin was one guy I was on the fence about. He has some value as an innings-eater who was good for 14 wins, a 1.12 WHIP and 170 strikeouts last season. He keeps the ball over the plate, walking only 54 men in 200 innings. Griffin's main problem is that he is extremely prone to the long ball, leading the majors with 36 homers allowed in 2013 - in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Good thing for fantasy owners that HR allowed is only a category in the more exotic leagues.
I have read elsewhere that Griffin is a "breakout" candidate this season. I'm not buying it. I don't think his stuff is good enough to be around the plate as much as needs to be, as evidenced by the beating he took today. While his fantasy stats were solid last year, I'd expect a dip in strikeouts and an increase in WHIP. Proceed with caution.
Josh Beckett: In the evening game, I drove out to Glendale to watch the Mariners and Dodgers. Josh Beckett had his first start of the spring and got beat up pretty good too, allowing five runs, including three homers. The wind was blowing out and the ball was flying of the park, but it's not a good sign for Beckett - who is slated to take the fifth spot in the Dodgers rotation, but will see pressure from Paul Maholm and, eventually, Chad Billingsley.
Jesus Montero: Montero started at first base, and while he couldn't handle a ground ball, he did hit two home runs. The Mariners should just permanently take his glove away and make him a DH forever.
Joc Pederson: I was impressed with the pop from Dodgers' outfielder Joc Pederson, who launched a long home run and just missed on another to straight-away center. He's making a strong push to start the season as a bench player and could see extended at bats given the injury history of the starters.
Dee Gordon: I know I've written about it before, but I like what I've seen from Dee Gordon. The second-base candidate had another two hits Saturday night and stole two more bases, giving him seven total for the spring. If he manages to take a starting job, he will be among the league leaders in steals.
Danny Farquhar and Fernando Rodney: The game ended on an ugly note with the Mariners' Danny Farquhar on the mound. The former closer walked two, uncorked two wild pitches and really struggled to find any semblance of control. With Fernando Rodney in town, he won't earn much value with saves - and with control like that, I wouldn't draft him in any format.
Stay tuned for more daily updates from Arizona as RotoBaller Scott Slezak provides your daily Cactus League fantasy baseball analysis.