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THT's Fantasy Archives
Monday, May 18, 2009
The Los Angeles Dodgers were rolling with an outfield of Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Either. All three were producing like elite outfielders, and there was no room for anyone else. The player most despised by the sabre-punditry, Juan Pierre, was finally the sunk cost it vociferously advocated for,and his value in fantasy baseball was zero.
Then Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games due to steroid usage. Pierre zoomed from nothing to potentially becoming the player he had always been: a high contact, no power, all speed hitter.
With doubts present, Pierre has proven everyone wrong and hit over .400 since being given the chance to earn his $9 million salary. In addition to hitting for a high average, he is stealing bases and getting extra-base hits. There is little question that Pierre has recovered his fantasy value after sitting on his owners’ active roster for a month and contributing little.
The question one wants to ask is who is the next player to go from zero to sixty and increase his fantasy value like Pierre did. The top two players right now are Minnesota Twins outfielder Carlos Gomez and Texas Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden.
Both entered the season as platoon players (Gomez with Delmon Young, Denard Span and Michael Cuddyer and Teagarden with Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and both had the advantage of being considered better defensive players than their competition, making the expectation that Gomez and Teagarden would receive their fair share of at-bats reasonable.
Unfortunately, both players have been relegated to back-up status. Gomez appears to be the victim of Denard Span’s plate discipline, Michael Cuddyer’s veteran-ness and Delmon Young’s future trade value. Teagarden appears to be sitting so that Saltalamacchia can get a last chance to prove his value as a hitter and improve his trade value.
Gomez and Teagarden should both still meet expectations if they can get playing time. Gomez is still an excellent defender with tantalizing speed. Full-time at-bats makes him a 30-plus steal player, and Teagarden still has the power and plate discipline to be a 15 home run, .260 average catcher. Like the unforeseen Manny Ramirez suspension that made Pierre a legitimate fantasy contributor, all that is needed is an unforeseen event to make them valuable once more.
Here are a few other players to watch along the same lines:
1B/2B/3B Ronnie Belliard, Washington Nationals: Injuries all over the Nationals infield in 2008 allowed Belliard to prove his value and qualify at three positions for 2009. His teammates' continuing good health stand in his way of doing the same in 2009.
2B Edgar Gonzalez, San Diego Padres: As a 30-year-old rookie, Adrian’s older brother hit .274 with seven home runs in 325 at-bats. The Padres decided to add veteran middle infielder David Eckstein and shift him to second full-time. Whether the money spent outweighs the marginal improvement in defense seems immaterial given the Padres’ mandate to go cheap in 2009.
2B/OF Eugenio Velez, San Francisco Giants: The speedster was part of a three-headed spring competition with Kevin Frandsen and Emmanuel Burriss. Burriss has received all the playing time at second while Velez has languished on the bench.
Last Week: I advocated not panicking on established players who have struggled so far. The debate turned towards a hypothetical sell high of Michael Young for Jhonny Peralta. From Sunday to Saturday, Young went 11-for-22 with a steal and two RBIs, and Peralta went 13-for-27 with six RBIs.
Posted by Eric Hinz at 1:53am
Player Pool: Mixed
No. of Teams: 12
Categories: Traditional 5x5 with OBP replacing Avg.
Scoring Type: Head-to-Head
Other notes: none
C: A.J. Pierzynski
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Ian Kinsler
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Rafael Furcal
OF: Carlos Lee
OF: Andre Ethier
OF: Matt Kemp
UT: Adam Lind
BN: J.D. Drew
BN: Yunel Escobar
BN: Scott Rolen
SP: James Shields
SP: Erik Bedard
RP: Scott Downs
RP: Mike Gonzalez
P: Joe Beimel
P: Roy Oswalt
P: Jon Lester
BN: Ricky Nolasco
BN: Edwin Jackson
DL: Ervin Santana
It should be noted that Alan recently acquired Lester and Bedard. I have to say that I love the acquisition of Lester, as he is a great buy-low candidate right now. His BABIP is a ridiculously high .389, he is striking out a ton of hitters (10.34 batters per nine innings) and his 3.06 BB/9 rate is in line with last year's rate (2.82 BB/9). He’s giving up a few more fly balls this year (39.4 percent FB%) and an astounding number of those fly balls have turned into home runs. While HR/FB rates tend to hover around 10 percent, Lester’s HR/FB rate this year has been a whopping 18.5 percent (compare that to his career rate of 9.3 percent).
I do like Bedard but I am actually trying to trade him in one of my leagues. While I definitely like his skill set, I am a little concerned about his inability to stay healthy for an entire year. He has thrown over 175 innings only twice in his career, and over 140 innings only three times. In fact, he has already missed one start due to an injury, and though the injury wasn’t pitching related and isn’t considered serious, it still serves as an example of his fragility. I can’t imagine his value being any higher than it is right now, so my advice would be to trade him as soon as possible, before a seemingly inevitable trip to the disable list.
Another guy I would look to trade is Shields. His 3.98 ERA looks a little better than it really is, as his strikeouts are down and his walks are up, and his FIP is currently at 3.79. On the other hand, I like Nolasco, as his BABIP is at .387 and his FIP is nearly 4.5 runs lower than his ERA.
It looks like this team is doing fairly well in the power department, especially with A-Rod back. Its pretty clear, though, that stolen bases is a category this team will have difficulty winning on a weekly basis. I’d check the waiver wire for guys like Juan Pierre, Michael Bourn and Randy Winn. While I may not play them all the time, its still nice to have that speed option when you are up against a team who is also struggling with stolen bases.
For the hitters, I would try to trade Lind. He’s shown improvement this year, but it looks like he has nowhere to go but down. He is currently sporting a .366 BABIP, and ZiPS is projecting 13 more home runs for him. I’d try to trade him now as it seems like unlikely that his value will be any higher than it is now.
This team isn’t bad, and I’d expect this team to compete every week. When this roster was emailed to us 10 days ago, it was sitting in fourth place. It has some nice trade bait, and I think with the proper trades, this team could eventually work its way towards the top.