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Wishful Thinking: NL players fans secretly wish they didn't have, Part One.

There are players we all know are terrible, and any of us would cringe were we forced to swallow the acquisition of a Russ Ortiz or Josh Fogg, but this post is going to focus on a different kind of horror, the player that some of our compatriot fans, or perhaps even we ourselves like, but probably shouldn't. Every team has at least one of these guys; the Rockies and many other teams probably have a couple: players that the hometown faithful has unreasonable expectations for in the coming season that the rest of the league know to be terrible. That's not to say that none of the following will pan out, or that they'll all be flops, but achtung, my friends, achtung. For each, I'll provide a link to a page of unfounded optimism. Proceed with extreme caution:

Arizona: Livan Hernandez gets my vote for the D-backs, and the reason D-backs fans like him is one of the most common reasons to overestimate a player's value: performing well in a small sample the year prior (see me with Kaz Matsui)

Atlanta: Kyle Davies and Mike Hampton. As Tom at Coors Effect recently put it in his Atlanta preview:

After that... there's Kyle Davies, who pitched so poorly (like, 3-7, 8.38 ERA) and wound up getting hurt.  And, apparently, the Braves are counting on a contribution from Mike Hampton, which, as Rockies fans know very well, is not a very good idea. Surely the Braves have somebody on the farm who can beat out Hampton for the final spot in the rotation. And Davies isn't exactly the solution at #4, but then again, he's just 23 and 2006 may not be indicative of his real abilities.

Youth in this case doesn't translate to promise for Davies. His ceiling at this point seems to be a Jeff Suppan type, but it's more likely he'll fall short of that. I think the Braves would be wise to look for an alternative.

Chicago Cubs: Mark DeRosa. One of the flurry of moves made by the Cubs this offseason, DeRosa probably stole too much of Alfonso Soriano's spotlight. Considering that Chicago has to play the Pirates fifteen times this season, maybe it's not as bad as I'm making it out to be, but DeRosa shouldn't be a primary option versus RHP's with a career OPS of .682 against them. Given how he came back to earth in the second half after a flukishly strong early 2006, I see him as $13 million/3 years utility player.

Cincinnati: There are lots of candidates here, Alex Gonzalez is too easy. Whoever they get to close, or pick as their fourth and fifth starters also, too easy. I could go on. But I'll take a slightly less obvious Scott Hatteberg. This one's a little bit different as Hattberg has a lot of fans outside of Cincinnati and most Reds fans seem to have realistic expectations for what he'll bring to them. The problem is that what he'll bring isn't nearly enough. Let me put it in perspective, here are the other NL Central starting first basemen with their ZiPS projected OPS:

Albert Pujols 1.066
Prince Fielder .871
Adam LaRoche .871
Lance Berkman .972
Derrek Lee .950

Hatteberg projects to have an OPS in the lower end of the range between .750 and .800 this season, which isn't going to help the team gain any ground in this division unless they're making up for it with production up the middle. Unfortunately, they're not. That Hatteberg is going to be taking AB's away from promising Joey Votto is what seals the deal in making me pick him.

Colorado: Kaz Matsui. I mean, I know I'm hoping he keeps up his .345/.392/.504 production for us from late last year...

Florida: Miguel Olivo. The link suggests he's going to be the fifth best catcher in the NL this year for fantasy purposes. I would strongly dissuade people from following that advice. Very Strongly.

Houston: I could go with Brad Ausmus, but most intelligent Astros fans will wisely distance themselves from whoever wrote that linked piece of cretinism that ranks Houston second among NL catchers. Adam Everett is tempting to pick as well. Really any time a player's defense is used to justify shortcomings at the plate it's a warning signal for him being overrated. Wandy Rodriguez might be a decent choice, but most Astros fans seem to be as leery of him as I am. So instead I'll go one step up the ladder in the rotation and pick Woody Williams, who's going to be 40 this year, and has had his IP show the following trend the last four seasons:

2003: 220.3
  1. 189.7
  2. 159.7
  3. 145.3

Los Angeles I'll close out part one with the Dodgers. I think Juan Pierre's too easy, but perhaps so too is Luis Gonzalez. True Blue LA and other more thoughtful Dodger sites realize what a waste of $7.5 million this signing was, but as the link shows, there is a contingent that doesn't see it that way.