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Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice for tinkerers and daily fantasy players. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective, including notice of impending weather events, new injuries, and changes to platoon situations. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
The Fanduel picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner. Use the team-by-team TDG eligible players spreadsheet for more detailed information.
The Fanduel Daily League Players of the Day are:
Pitcher (to start): Bud Norris is off to a hot start but so are the A's. His peripherals suggest an ERA just north of 4.00, but the usual small sample warnings still apply.
J.A. Happ isn't the coolest pitcher to stream, but he's showing the same stuff and repertoire that gave him a 4.01 FIP last year, which is a respectable number for a streaming option.
Pitcher (bum): Alfredo Aceves has a fun name to say, but I'm betting against him pitching deep into the game.
Probable rain has ruined my daily fantasy targets in Tommy Hanson and Vance Worley. They may try to squeeze the game in before heavier rain moves in, which will produce unpredictable results. Expect it to be rain-shortened if it happens at all.
Hitter (power): Chris Heisey has the platoon advantage against John Lannan.
Seth Smith has been doing his thing in the early going and will face Norris today.
Hitter (speed): Try Chris Denorfia against Clayton Kershaw if you're desperate about steals. Now is probably a good time to point out that it's way too early to be this desperate.
Pitcher (to start): Jhoulys Chacin is fairly safe to own outright. He's currently on 33 percent of Yahoo rosters. The key to this recommendation is his ability to keep the walk rate below three BB/9. If it reverts to his 4.11 BB/9 career average, he'll be back to waiver fodder.
I'm a big fan of Patrick Corbin, the only real downside is his home in Arizona.
Julio Teheran is down to 38 percent ownership and I'm still a believer.
Zach McAllister is practically ignored at four percent owned. He's far from a must own, but I see him as a future fantasy core performer—the kind of guy you draft for $5 to eat 200 innings without hurting the bottom line.
Pitcher (bum): This is probably the only time I'll have Cole Hamels in this section of the column. He's been having trouble generating whiffs but no problems allowing long balls. It's probably all small sample noise, but there is a chance that he's having trouble with his change-up. Right now, it's his fastball that's getting mashed, but the success of that pitch is based heavily on the change up.
Jeff Locke is going to have a hell of a time against the Braves.
I'm targeting Indians hitters tomorrow because Phil Hughes has looked a mess this season.
Hitter (power): Think about hanging on to Heisey for that Hamels match-up.
Evan Gattis' ownership keeps climbing but tomorrow's a good time to own him if he's still available.
Think about giving both Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs a try against Hughes.
Gregor Blanco is another stolen base threat for tomorrow.
The Rockies and Mets will almost certainly be postponed due to heavy snow and sub-20 degree temperatures.
A Midwest storm could rain out the Angels, Twins, Rangers, and Cubs.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:47am
The space at the top of this column is generally reserved for something topical about what's happening in baseball at the moment, usually with a handful of my trademark stupid jokes™ peppered in. But I'm not going to do that today, because my city was attacked Monday.
My city? No, that's not good enough. My country. My world. My home. My everything.
Lots of amazing words have been poured across the internet since 2:50 Monday, including here, here, and here. I'm not going to try to compete with those, because I cannot. That last one was written, by the way, by my fiance, a contributing editor at WalkJogRun.net.
I was in New Orleans for my bachelor party all weekend and landed at Logan Airport around 3:30. I instantly saw breaking news alerts about the bombing, and realized the last thing she told me was that she was planning to take photos for WJR at the finish line around 3. That was the single worst moment of my entire life. I came from cloud nine straight into the pit of hell. But I'm one of the lucky ones, because she didn't end up going.
The fact that an 8-year-old boy was not one of the lucky ones is impossible to understand. I also coach youth hockey for a city team, and if Martin Richard had lived four more years there's a solid chance I would have coached against him. I would have given him a high five after and said "Good game." But now I never will, and the reasons for that will never, ever, ever make sense. They cannot possibly.
That's the thing about Boston, though. My story is not unique. Boston is a big city that has the size and feel of a small town. Everyone I know could have been at the race Monday, or has gone in the past, or goes every year, and each of them have been in the very spots where the bombs went off. Many, many times. Everyone I know is similarly flattened by this. Everyone I know feels connected to this, because everyone I know is connected to this.
It's hard to fully express how much the marathon means to the city of Boston, but it's our pride and joy. For a city mostly known as New York's Little Brother, it's one of the few times the entire world focuses its attention on us. You may have heard that Bostonians are fiercely proud people, and you heard right. But they're also fiercely loyal, caring, and fun. The marathon combines all of these attributes on one gloriously unique day every year, the unofficial emergence from what are usually brutal winters.
To have that stomped on, instead of jogged over, is an impossible pill to swallow right now. Except we must, because evil can never be allowed to triumph. The world is a big, beautiful place, but sometimes it is immeasurably bad. Boston's story is sadly not unique either, as you are undoubtedly aware. Tragedies unfold every hour of every day, in every nook and cranny of the world. It's part of the deal we make to live in it.
I'm here to write about fantasy baseball because that's what I do. To unwind. To relax. To escape. To have fun. And that's why I'm here today. I urge each of you Internet People (IPs) to do the same. Play fantasy baseball. Take your kids to the park. High five a stranger. Laugh. Cry. Live.
You can, I promise, and you must.
Welington Castillo | C | Chicago Cubs | Yahoo!: 11 percent ownership; ESPN: 1.2 percent; CBS: 19 percent
YTD: .364/.382/.515 in 35 plate appearances
ZiPS updated projection: .260/.320/.414 in 101 games
Waiver wire: catchers edition.
Castillo has been a favorite of mine for awhile, but particularly for fantasy purposes since last year, when it became very clear there was little chance of Geovany Soto remaining in Chicago after the season, and that the rebuilding Cubs would probably give Castillo a nice, long look rather than sign a veteran to be the starter. This was not quite the popular opinion at the time, however. John Sickels (who I am a fan of) said this prior to last season:
9) Welington Castillo, C, Grade C+: .272/.380/.426 for Triple-A Iowa, .206/.270/.353 in the majors. Still has the good defensive tools, likely have a career as a backup.It's easy to go back more than a year after someone writes something and nitpick, but this to me seems to be a bit unfair. For starters, the major league stats above consisted of 21 plate appearances in 2010 and 13 in 2011. So, yes, Castillo's numbers in the big leagues were terrible, but they were from way too small a sample to pull any meaning out of.
Sickels' does point out Castillo's defensive prowess (he was named the best defensive catcher in the Cubs' system after 2007 and 2011 by Baseball America, and the best defensive catcher in the Midwest League by BA in 2007), and that's something that matters because it will help keep him in the lineup. Or, at the very least, it won't pull him out of the lineup in favor of a more well-rounded player. But looking at those triple slash lines I'm struck by another one of Castillo's best qualities: his ability to hit for power. The minor league sample Sickels notes (from Triple-A) is hiding a solid ISO of .154. His major league triple slash line shows a similarly strong .147, despite his horrible numbers overall.
Castillo entered this season still fairly unclear about what his role would be, but it is clear now that the starting catcher role in Chicago is his until further notice. Of the last seven games for the Cubs, Castillo has started six. He's due for some stiff regression due to his currently sky-high BABIP of .458, so he's not going to keep hitting anywhere close to .364, but he also has not walked yet this season, and that will likely help balance some of his OBP drop.
Recommendation: Solid add in all leagues, and a great one in NL-only leagues, ones with two catchers, very deep mixed leagues, or dynasty leagues.
Francisco Cervelli | C | New York Yankees | Yahoo!: 3 percent ownership; ESPN: 1 percent; CBS: 17 percent
ZiPS updated: .250/.338.340
Our friend Mike Axisa featured Cervelli yesterday at Fangraphs, so there's not a ton to add here, other than the fact that I don't quite agree. Axisa notes some of the reasons Cervelli won't keep up his current production, but a couple of others include:
1. His .348 BABIP is going to drop, which will pull his .360 batting average back to Earth.
2. His 37.5 percent line drive rate will drop a ton, like in half, and that will likely drag down his other numbers.
Axisa wouldn't dispute any of that, but he does think that Cervelli can be useful given his solid minor league walk rates (8 percent in the majors and 8.5 percent in Triple-A), and his spot on the Yankees' roster (he's started five of the team's last seven games) means he'll be able to cheaply add some counting stats for fantasy owners. That is true, but what I would ask is this: When Cervelli drops back down to Earth, will his modest walk rate be able to keep him starting this many games? Yes, his competition is Chris Stewart, but it's entirely possible the Yankees add a catcher via trade, or split Cervelli and Stewart more evenly. At that point, he's mostly useless.
Recommendation: I'd avoid him long-term, and would consider using him only in a pinch over the next couple of weeks, where he'll still likely get a number of starts.
John Jaso | C | Oakland Athletics | Yahoo!: 8 percent ownership; ESPN: 1.2 percent; CBS: 24 percent
ZiPS updated: .262/.361.401
Derek Norris | C | Oakland Athletics | Yahoo!: 1 percent ownership; ESPN: 0.2 percent; CBS: 9 percent
ZiPS updated: .219/.331/.360
Last week, I mentioned that I like Seth Smith in part because he's a platoon player for which there is no guesswork involved.
Well, that is not the case here. The frustrating part of that is that both Jaso and Norris could be useful fantasy catchers if either could guarantee the lion's share of playing time.
Jaso had the sixth highest wOBA among catchers with at least 300 plate appearances last year, behind just Buster Posey, Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Lucroy (!), Joe Mauer, and Yadier Molina. That put him ahead of Miguel Montero, Carlos Santana, and Matt Wieters. He posts consistently strong walk rates (above 9 percent in the majors every season since 2010, has decent power (ISOs over .100 during those same seasons) and doesn't strike out a ton (less than 20 percent annually). He's a good, unsexy hitter, who could be a great find. If it weren't for Derek Norris, that is.
It's interesting that ZiPS hates Norris, but that may be reflective of his lack of a track record at the major league level. He has an absurd .500 BABIP right now, so his OPS is going to suffer a massive free fall, and probably soon. Norris can walk, and he can hit, though. As a 22-year-old with the Nationals, the former top prospect walked 18.2 percent of the time, and crushed his way to a .237 ISO in 104 games. The talent is there.
The talent is there for both of these guys, actually, and that is exactly what is causing fantasy owners grief.
Recommendation: Unless you're in a daily league and own both (a situation I am actually in) then it's probably best to avoid until either of these guys separate from each other, or one of them gets hurt. If that happens, they can be nice finds for mixed-league owners.
Note: This column is actually the second Waiver Wire of Week 3. When we changed schedules some nincompoop (me!) labelled the first one wrong. So we're back on track—honest—and Friday's column will correctly be titled: Waiver Wire: Week 3, Vol III.
Posted by Jack Weiland at 3:14am
A sense of entitlement can often inhibit sensible and timely decision making in fantasy baseball. One of my favorite articles from the THT Fantasy archives covers the problems of the endowment effect. An oversimplification of this phenomenon is that one tends to overvalue what he holds and undervalue what others hold. When dealing with crisis management, anything that prevents you from acting decisively and quickly is especially detrimental. In this column I’ll discuss a few strategic and mental pitfalls to avoid when dealing with a crisis.
The young fantasy season has already yielded some injuries that would reach the level of “crisis” for owners. From an owner’s perspective, perhaps the most detrimental injury thus far has been that of Jose Reyes. Not only is Reyes one of the most valuable commodities in the fantasy universe, but he also plays a shallow position and was likely relied upon by his owners to carry a tremendous load in the stolen base category. A player of his nature is among the most irreplaceable assets. Still, Reyes owners are now forced to make lemonade.
The standard endowment effect may even be enhanced in the Reyes situation. In addition to glorifying Reyes and shortchanging other options, an owner may be tempted to anchor his expectations for a replacement to the elite level player he had in the first place. This is a problematic thought to which one must not succumb—you are not entitled to a new superstar simply because you lost one. Following such faulty logic will hurt you in two ways.
It is important to realize that one must, in the immortal words of John Wooden, be quick, but don’t hurry. If you limit yourself to having to find ways to get a Troy Tulowitzki or Starlin Castro to fill that spot, you drastically foreclose your options and lengthen the amount of time it will require to work a deal—presuming you are even able to do so.
The best thing to do is to take a solid player at your deepest position and look to trade him for a solid shortstop. That’s the first manifestation of faulty thinking in a crisis—the longer it takes to act, the longer the crisis will severely impact operations. Acting quickly means minimizing the amount of time you will bear a replacement level player in your active roster. It is also best if you can find a player who approximates the skill set of Reyes—maybe somebody like Elvis Andrus.
This brings me to the other pitfall of miring oneself in the pursuit of another superstar. Other elite level players may be fantastic assets, but they don’t necessarily fill the same role and balance your team as it was originally constructed. Adding Tulowitzki would be fantastic, but it would probably lead your team to having a power surplus without addressing the speed deficiency.
Another strategy might be to take a player who is highly valuable, but not a five-category player and try to redistribute that value more evenly across the shortstop position and the needed categories. I’d guess that the closest Jose Reyes clone out there would be Jimmy Rollins. So, you might want to take one of your best players and try to trade for Rollins, plus a poor man’s version of the player you offer. Maybe Prince Fielder was your first round pick and Reyes your second, and you try to trade Fielder for Rollins and a fifth-to-eighth-round first baseman.
If your options are not so nearly laid out, you may need to retool at multiple positions. This can be necessary at times, but I try hard to avoid relying on plans that add multiple layers of variables. Each trade you require to make your team whole is essentially an assumption that you will be able to execute a trade—and trades can be hard to execute.
So, if you turn a speedy top-of-the-order shortstop into a middle-of-the-order shortstop with no speed, you now are essentially presented with the same challenge again—flip another player in the reverse direction—before you are back where you need to be. Again, sometimes circumstances force us into difficult choices, but a cascade of moves to retool is always harder to execute than you convince yourself it will be.
These are obviously all hypothetical situations, but the underlying idea is that you need to do what is practically most useful as opposed to what you might be tempted to want to do psychologically.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 3:01am
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