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Fantasy baseball advice: New venues change players’ games

Secrecy, betrayal and the usual soap opera shtick of the last three months of baseball’s offseason made “The Young and Restless” look like a 3-year-old’s innocent fantasy of what it’s like to be a grown up.
With players changing homes and feelings hurt on a daily basis, it’s understandable if you are a little confused about the new whereabouts of critical fantasy players.
These new teams or roles can make or break your team’s standing in your league.
From Curtis Granderson to Brandon Lyon, tens of players switched ballclubs and I will help you sort through all of this.
The first name mentioned above, Granderson, will be arguably the player most affected by the offseason.
By moving from one of Major League Baseball’s largest stadiums in Comerica Park to homer-happy Yankee Stadium, experts are speculating that Granderson could reach 40 homers.
Even though the short porch in right field should help him hit more longballs, 40 might be a reach. Granderson doesn’t exactly have power stature at only 6-foot-1 and 185 lbs.
And even though he hit 30 homers last year in spacious Comerica, he also hit only .250. He will probably look to shorten his swing and bring that average up significantly, which will probably keep his power numbers out to their current pace.
Another facet of Granderson’s game that could be affected is his extra base hits. Two years ago, Granderson and Jimmy Rollins famously had 20 steals, homers, triples and doubles in the same season.
In Yankee Stadium, he should see those numbers cut because there’s not much room in the outfield to leg out doubles and triples.
Granderson’s average draft position, according to Yahoo!, is 52nd, which puts him around the likes of Justin Morneau and Jayson Werth. 
His addition to the high-powered Yankee offense will make him more valuable in terms of RBI and run totals, but beware of the player you are drafting.
Another offseason acquisition with benefits from a venue change is Cliff Lee.
Now that he’s playing with the Mariners, his third team in two years, he will likely see great results from switching from the bandbox named Citizens Bank Park to cavernous Safeco Field.
Lee posted fantastic numbers last season, which he split his playing time between the Cleveland Indians and the Philadelphia Phillies.
His 3.22 ERA was good enough for 14th amongst ERA-title eligible pitchers last season. Now that he’s going to make half his starts in one of baseball’s biggest parks, his homer numbers could drop to below his monster 2008 season in which he allowed only 12 dingers.
Also pitching behind Felix Hernandez, which will match him up against other team’s second best starters frequently, could give him the opportunity to reach the 20-win plateau for the second time in his career.
The last player who could see an improvement in his fantasy value is one of Lee’s new teammates, Chone Figgins. The former Angels’ third baseman surprised the baseball community by signing with the Mariners and more importantly jilting the Angels.
His new digs will open up his speed game and give him more opportunities to do what he does best. His .298 average, 30 doubles and seven triples could see significant improvement.
The learning curve for Figgins should also be smaller than usual for new acquisitions because he never left the AL West, the division he was brought up in.
He’s skipping the first stage of getting accustomed to his new division and getting right down to business.
But not all players are going to see great results because of a scenery change.
Javier Vazquez turned in a career year in his only season with the Atlanta Braves and parlayed that into the Yankees reacquiring the 33-year-old pitcher for Melky Cabrera.
Javy’s going to have one of the best offenses behind him and he will pitch in the fourth slot, which will make him one of the best pitchers that deep in the rotation. In terms of wins, Javy could easily see an improvement over the 15 he had last year, but every other category could see a spike for the same reasons listed above about Granderson and the new Yankee Stadium.
If he can keep his groundball rate up like he did last season, he shouldn’t have any problems. But last season, his GBR was a bit inflated over the usual clip he pitches at.
Before you spend the 72nd overall pick on him over the likes of up-and-coming starters like Tommy Hanson and Clayton Kershaw, be wary of the possible inflation of his stats.
After more than a year of unemployment, Ben Sheets finally found a taker for his services.
The Oakland A’s are giving the electric pitcher, who started the 2008 All-Star Game for the National League, a chance to prove that his recent history of injury problems is over.
Sheets’ move to Oakland Coliseum could help him out because of its size and very large amount of foul ground that allows infielders the opportunity to make plays other parks wouldn’t normally permit them to make.
But take all of this with a grain of salt, Sheets is injury prone.  He is slotted as the 179th player on Yahoo! right after Carlos Zambrano and right before fellow DL inhabitant Brandon Webb. His potential output will make him an extreme bargain at 179, much like Chris Carpenter last year.
But if he has injury problems, he could weigh your team down. Draft him with caution.
The last major free agent to find a new home was Johnny Damon, who left the defending world champion Yankees to play for the Detroit Tigers. And at 36, many questions have been raised about his durability to play the outfield everyday.
It looks very likely that, with the way he played over the course of his career and because it’s hard to just turn that part of your brain off, he may break down with injuries or just tire out at the end of the season. His aggressive and hard-nosed play was very productive for the Red Sox in their magical run to the 2004 World Series, but it may come back to bite him now.
The move to Comerica Park probably won’t help him either. He will have to cover more ground in Detroit’s spacious outfield, which will expose his recent defensive struggles and his notoriously weak throwing arm.
The space also won’t help his cause at the plate. Last season, no one benefitted more from the very short porch in right at Yankee Stadium. Damon will now have to find another way to contribute offensively at Comerica.
His legs do not lend to his prior ability to leg out doubles, and without fly ball-turned home runs, his offensive output could decrease exponentially.
Damon’s projected as the 131st player in all of baseball after he turned a season in which he was the 58th player for the Yanks. Be careful about drafting ahead him ahead of players like Gordon Beckham.
When you gear up for your draft, make sure to take note of players changing environments and the possible effects each player could experience.
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