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Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Yesterday saw the mainstream break of MLB’s punitive vision surrounding the Biogenesis PED fiasco, the lead actor in which is Ryan Braun who will supposedly be targeted for a 100-game suspension. As fantasy analysts, it is important to look at major events that re-order, or risk the re-order of the baseball landscape as opportunities. And, if you want to turn this headline into an opportunity, the earlier you attempt to act the better.
My recommendation to teams languishing at the bottom half of the standings: go buy Ryan Braun. Rarely does a “dice roll” with this level of stakes come around at a potentially highly discounted price.
You want my opinion on the overall story in a nutshell? If I was presented with 2:1 odds to take the bet that MLB doesn’t successfully suspend a single player for a single game when all is said and done, I’d take it. …I don’t think adding Ryan Braun to a fantasy team is really much of a risk, especially if you are currently a non-contender.
The story of the potential 100-game suspensions for marquee names like Braun and Alex Rodriguez will first attract a lot of moral grandstanding and rash pronouncements, but eventually cooler heads will prevail, and when they do, the panic level of Braun owners will likely get dialed back. Let’s think about this case rationally for a moment, so we can try to objectively project the extent and timing of the fantasy damage to ensue.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that MLB does go ahead and issue suspensions. Well, we do not know when that will happen. Conventional wisdom, or crowd sourced speculation, suggests this won’t actually occur for a few weeks. The reason for this delay is most likely that MLB is continuing preparations for the subsequent appeal that will be filed by the players' union. That appeal process itself is known to take months. So, even assuming for the sake of argument that the suspensions stick, it could very easily be a matter of months before they take effect; successful suspensions are likely to impact players in 2014 more than they are in 2013.
The realistic schedule of a successful suspension is a strong enough argument to largely disregard the noise if you are a Braun (or Jhonny Peralta, or Nelson Cruz, or Robinson Cano, etc.) owner. But, it’s worth further questioning the likelihood of a suspension sticking at all, especially for those in keeper leagues.
The penalties for PED use are clearly defined, as are the methods by which such use can be detected. In this case, MLB does not have a single positive test, and certainly not one conducted under the protocol of their (self-professed, world class) testing program. We know nothing about the timeline for the alleged violations that Anthony Bosch will present evidence to support, and it seems like these suspension threats amount to trumped up charges that represent a mixture of double jeopardy situations (Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Melky Cabrera), and wishful second bites at the apple for big fish who have previously gotten away (Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun).
My intuition is that the likelihood of a player who has never been suspended previously receiving a 100-game suspension seems extremely low. Further, the likelihood of the suspensions not holding up to appeal and subsequently getting overturned seems quite substantial as well. We’ve seen how effective the attempted prosecutions of “dirty players” have been when they’ve relied on the evidence of would-be convicts turned informants in the criminal cases against Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. At the end of the day, I’m more worried about MLB pulling some sort of illegitimate power play (knowing that MLB can ill-afford another embarrassing whiff in the PED hunt) than I am about the evidence that will be presented.
The points laid out above are a much more measured and nuanced take on this situation than fantasy owners will see on the back page of their local tabloid or hear from the screaming pundits on mainstream sports news outlets, and I’m certainly not the first or only voice of this perspective. I anticipate that it will be a few days before this kind of perspective pushes out the lowest common denominator hysteria. However, information travels fast and the window to nab these players amid their owners’ panic is small, so be proactive.
There is no guarantee that this situation plays out in the manner I’ve hypothesized. It’s certainly possible that the outcome is one that is much more detrimental to owners of Braun and the like. Ultimately, owners must decide if acquiring these players is a chance they are willing to take and is sensible given their individual situation. But, if I’m in your shoes, I’m rolling the dice. I’m also a Braun owner in one of my leagues, and I assume I’ll get offers, but I will approach them as if I’m getting 145+ games from my first rounder in 2013.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 12:31pm
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 daily picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner.
Pitcher (to start): Dan Haren has the best stream start if he's available in your league. Bartolo Colon is a solid second choice, although his low strikeout totals can be damaging.
Alexi Ogando versus John Lackey is an interesting match-up of stream-worthy starters. It's hard to make a recommendation for either given the strength of their respective lineups, but they're worth mentioning.
Pitcher (bum): The A's strike me as a lineup that can systematically pick Yovani Gallardo apart.
R.A. Dickey isn't the same pitcher he was last season. He's been making adjustments to continue pitching rather than taking a stretch of time to recuperate.
Dallas Keuchel will have trouble keeping the Orioles off the scoreboard.
Hitter (power): Scott Hairston will face Jason Vargas, who is coming off some strong outings.
Brandon Belt will see Dickey.
I still have a feeling that the Cardinals will work Matt Adams into the lineup today against Wade Miley. It's just a hunch.
Hitter (speed): On the other side of that Cardinals match-up, Gerardo Parra has a strong match-up against Joe Kelly.
Drew Stubbs doesn't have an easy assignment against CC Sabathia, but he does turn into a usable hitter against lefties.
Pitcher (to start): Miguel Gonzalez could be an interesting gamble for daily fantasy owners. He'll face the Astros.
Shaun Marcum is showing signs of finding his groove. Be wary against the Nationals.
Andrew Cashner is relatively available at 33 percent owned.
Pitcher (bum): Mike Pelfrey versus Wade Davis spells r-u-n-s. Runs. Lots of them.
Tyler Cloyd and Wily Peralta are in the same spelling bee as Pelfrey and Davis.
The Yankees and Dodgers both have TBA listed for tomorrow.
Hitter (power): Ryan Doumit has played well lately and is up to 37 percent owned. He's a solid option to hold at catcher.
Hitter (speed): Craig Gentry will face Jon Lester, who has been inconsistent lately.
Try Aaron Hicks against Davis or Lorenzo Cain against Pelfrey.
Will Venable faces contact-oriented Jhoulys Chacin.
MLB is supposedly pushing for roughly 20 suspensions in connection to the Biogenesis scandal. This strikes me as a bit of a witch hunt and making the move in-season is rather damaging considering that there is only circumstantial evidence available. I hope this is a case of the media overreacting and that the commissioner's office has the good sense to act over the offseason.
Thunderstorms are possible at the Grind Headquarters in Atlanta. Games in St. Louis and Kansas City could also see rain. The risk is currently below 50 percent in all cases.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:39am
Good morning, Ryan Braun owners. Sorry about your Ryan Braun.
This is clearly a story with bigger implications than the fantasy ones, but news of potential suspensions to Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez could/will rock the fantasy baseball landscape. A-Rod is one thing, since he's been injured this whole season and is mostly unowned, but Braun owners will likely (and rightly) be blindsided by this loss. Braun owners must feel like I did back when David Price went down, although this could have a much more lasting impact than that particular injury. (Hurry back, David! I miss you!)
This is exactly what brings us together here. Let us not share in our collective pity parties (only I am allowed to do that), but instead dig through the trash to find some fantasy baseball excellence. First, a look at some players who have recently appeared in this space.
Roy Oswalt's second Double-A rehab start went much better than his first. He'll still need one more before joining the Rockies, but when he does, he might be a steal.
Corey Kluber had a superb 10-strikeout effort against the Red Sox, and he's still available in 75 percent of CBS leagues. Go get him.
I opened my stupid mouth about Rafael Betancourt avoiding stint on the disabled list, and of course the next thing that happened was Rafael Betancourt ended up on the DL. Grab Rex Brothers if you're in need of saves.
Tyler Chatwood left his last start with an injury as well, but is hoping to avoid the DL. He was cruising against the Reds at the time, so it's unfortunate his momentum was jammed.
Yasmani Grandal has two hits in the five games since his return from suspension. It's just five games, but I'm concerned.
Juan Francisco landed with the Brewers, and should see time at both first and third base. I'm still buying him, particularly if the rumors about a potential Ryan Braun suspension are true.
Today let's look back at one scorching hot pickup, a player on the other side of the waiver equation, and a young pitcher returning to The Show.
Yasiel Puig | Los Angeles Dodgers | OF | ESPN: 69.1 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 58 percent; CBS: 82 percent
YTD: 1-4 in four plate appearances
Steamer projection: .241/.294/.381 in 296 plate appearances
Hey, did you guys hear Yasiel Puig got called up by the Dodgers? Apparently you did, because the L.A. outfielder's ownership rates skyrocketed this week. I guess that is bound to happen when one's manager elicits comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr., Fernando Valenzuela and Mike Trout with regards to said call-up.
But, the thing is, hold on. Not so fast. There's a lot to like about Puig, and he has immense long-term potential, but will he dominate right out of the box? Is he even here for good? Hardball Times resident Prospect Soothsayer (official title) Jeff Moore covered the call-up at his personal site here:
Puig will undoubtedly flash us with displays of brilliance during this stretch in the majors, which could last just 11 days until Matt Kemp is slated to return from the disabled list but could also become a permanent address for the young Cuban. Between Andre Ethier's tenuous relationship with manager Don Mattingly and his utter lack of production, it's not hard to envision Puig performing well enough over the next two weeks to remain in the lineup even upon Kemp's return, especially after Mattingly's name-dropping of Trout as a possibility for the type of impact Puig might have on the moribund Dodgers.Fantasy owners needing outfield help were right to jump at the chance to speculate on Puig's call-up, but those expectations need to be tempered. Making the jump to the major leagues is incredibly hard, and there are reasons to be concerned about Puig's readiness.
Recommendation: If you picked him up, enjoy the ride. If you didn't, do go crazy trying to trade for him.
Brandon McCarthy | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP | ESPN: 21.7 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 29 percent; CBS: 37 percent
YTD: 2-4, 5.00 ERA in 66.2 innings pitched
ZiPS projection: 7-9, 4.44 ERA in 154 innings pitched
At the Waiver Wire desk, we're always monitoring roster trends across the fantasy baseball universe. That means both players being added in bulk, but also players being dropped like hot potatoes. In doing so, it was somewhat surprising this week to find Brandon McCarthy was the most dropped player on CBS this week, going from 63 percent to just 37.
Good news, bad news, which do you want first? The bad news? Great, that's where I was going anyway.
After being a preseason favorite of many (me), McCarthy has been a giant, steaming pile of garbage for the Diamondbacks. He's simply not helping fantasy teams right now—and that was before he landed on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, an injury he's had in each of the past four seasons.
That's all bad news (like you couldn't tell).
The good news is McCarthy has not been nearly as bad as his ERA suggests. His strikeouts are down modestly from his career average (13.5 percent this year versus his career K rate of 15.9 percent), but his walks are down as well (3.5 percent this year, 6.6 percent career). His velocity was actually up prior to this latest injury, averaging 91.5 miles per hour, his highest average at any point of his major league career. His O-Swing percentage is just under his best career mark at 33.8 percent, and his F-Strike percentage is actually at a career high level in 2013 (68.3 percent). He's mostly been victimized by a high BABIP (.335 vs. career rate of .287) and a strand rate below his normal range (66.1 percent vs. 71 percent career). His FIP and xFIP are significantly lower than his ERA (3.76 FIP, 3.95 xFIP).
That's all good news.
More good news: McCarthy is so familiar with this injury that there's reason to believe he won't be sidelined too long. Arizona Republic reporter Nick Piecoro spoke with McCarthy about the injury this week:
“One thing I have learned with this is that it’s better to take care of this when it needs to be taken care of than trying to come back a few days too early and then it’ll just happen again in a few weeks,” McCarthy said. “As long as I get rid of it and I’m good to go and it’ll just kind of stay that way.Recommendation: Zig where others zag. If McCarthy was dropped in your league, add him now and enjoy a solid starting pitcher down the stretch. If you can't have a broken body taking up a roster spot, at the very least monitor his recovery closely and be ready to strike when he's close to returning.
Jacob Turner | Miami Marlins | SP | ESPN: 0.6 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 3 percent; CBS: 12 percent
YTD: 1-0, 7 IP, 0 ER, 3K, 1 BB
ZiPS projection: 4-5, 4.57 ERA in 79 innings pitched
Jacob Turner made his 2013 major league debut this week, blanking the Mets. It seems easy to forget that Turner is just 22 years old, especially considering this will be the third major league season he's played in.
It's just one good start, and these are still the Mets, but there's a lot to like here. Turner's four-seam fastball and sinker Friday were thrown with more velocity than in his previous major league stints, and with more movement.
His statistics during his 10 minor league starts this year provide less optimism, with middling strikeout and walk rates of 14.5 and 5.8 percent respectively, making this one a bit of a toss-up.
Recommendation: It's impossible to say where his season will go from here, but as a waiver wire dumpster diver, I'm always open to the possibility of a post-hype player becoming a gem among throwaways. If you have room, Turner is undervalued right now and certainly worth a look.
Posted by Jack Weiland at 3:12am
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