Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fantasy Funkhouser: Oscar Taveras is Here. A Nation is Relieved.

Oscar Taveras is coming to town. (cbssports.com)
Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

After months of speculation, debate, and mathematical breakdowns of what exactly the Super 2 deadline is Oscar Taveras is on his way to St. Louis. The Cards have been floundering a bit all year up until a recent hot streak saw them pull close to the division leading Brewers only to go on another 3 game slide. Clearly some offensive consistency is needed and Taveras is a spark plug that can ignite the top of the Cards' lineup.

Taveras' credentials are pretty extensive and impressive. He's been near to top of every prospect rank since he was 19 years old. He was expected to get the call last year at 20 before ankle injuries cost him important at bats. But now, Taveras has been ripping Triple A pitching to the point where some scouts felt he was bored with the lack of challenges in Triple A to the tune of a .325 AVG with 7 HR and 40 RBI in 49 games. Some snooze-fest, huh?

As for what Taveras can bring to the table fantasy wise, it's mainly tied to two things ... his playing time and his spot in the batting order. While Taveras is regarded as a more talented offensive player than previous call-up extraordinaire George Springer, Taveras' skill set isn't easily translatable as Springer's power and speed combo. Taveras can hit, but it's unclear for how much power. He needs to be put in a position where if he is lacing doubles all over the place, someone needs to be on base. Should his power develop then he can reach his potential of Vladimir Guerrero without the speed. That's something that doesn't come along often.

Playing time wise, the Cardinals wouldn't have made the call to bring up Taveras unless he was going to get a shot to play everyday. Not coincidentally, this move corresponds with current 1B Matt Adams going on the 15-day DL with a hamstring strain. This allows Allen Craig to slide back to 1B, put Taveras in RF, and platoon CF duties between Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, and fellow Triple A prospect Randal Grichunk. Ideally for the Cards and fantasy owners, Taveras shows he can hang and Adams can be a bench/platoon player moving forward. 

Taveras will have more than enough time to settle in. Again, similarly with Springer, who struggled mightily his first month in the bigs needed time, Taveras will cetainly have his at bats. I do not expect him to have as big a learning curve as Springer did, but at the same time, without the power/speed combo to really generate fantasy value, it's hard to see him having as big an impact as Springer.

Now, if they plop him 2nd in their order, then that would be giving him a chance to bat .300 and drive in a lot of RBI. Taveras is an actionable add in all formats. I've been sitting on him for a month in my keeper league so I'm invested in him. I view him as a better prospect this year and going forward than Gregory Polanco, who should be up in 10 days or so anyway, so don't be hesitant to spend some FAAB or worry about whether you should wait for Polanco.

Taveras will be in the lineup today against San Francisco and he may not be leaving it for a long time. 

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