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Wednesday, August 14, 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 daily picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner.
Today’s weather watch
The weather is all clear across the board today.
Today's class has a few of the top waiver wire picks but isn't deep.
Pitcher (to start): Sonny Gray is an option against the Astros. He's an interesting prospect in that he can strike out his fair share while limiting walks, but I wouldn't be overly aggressive about adding him outside of deep keeper leagues. If he gets additional work, we can probably expect an ERA north of 4.00.
Dan Haren has been pitching well, which mostly means that he's limiting home runs. Tomorrow he faces the Giants, so the match-up is there to continue using him.
Tony Cingrani faces the Brewers tomorrow. He has posted a higher walk rate since returning to the rotation in late June, but has otherwise continued to succeed with his fastball heavy approach.
Zack Wheeler appears to be working to get his walk rate under control, which is a big reason why he's someone to avoid for neutral or difficult outings. He's paired against the Padres, so he's a reasonable waiver pick. Do note that his decent 3.63 ERA belies a 5.14 FIP.
Alex Cobb returns to the mound tomorrow to face the Mariners. He's 70 percent owned, so it appears that he was stashed on the disabled list in most leagues. It's hard to know what to expect coming back from such a gruesome injury.
Pitcher (bum): I would suggest that Andre Rienzo versus Mike Pelfrey could yield quite a few runs, but the White Sox and Twins feature two very weak offenses.
Ryan Vogelsong was not sharp in his return from the disabled list last week, but he did survive the outing. Of particular concern is the reduced velocity on his fastball, which registered about 2 mph slower than his usual average. This time around he faces the Nationals.
Hitter (power): Chris Young could be worth a try against Erik Bedard. On the other side of the match-up, Robbie Grossman may be able to take advantage of Gray.
Jonny Gomes will face Mark Buehrle.
Brian Dozier continues to hit well for an up-the-middle asset. His eligibility at shortstop and second base can be a boon.
Hitter (speed): Jonathan Villar is back in the lineup and has shown a willingness to steal in bunches.
Will Venable has a decent chance to steal some bases against Wheeler and the Mets.
Pitchers to come
Friday: Continue to target Alex Wood against the Nationals.
Saturday: I may have been too critical of Jenrry Mejia when he originally arrived in the big leagues. He's succeeded in large part due to an unprecedented, excellent walk rate (1.11 BB/9). While that rate is almost certain to regress, it's conceivable that it will remain far enough below his career norms to make him a solid fantasy option. He faces the Padres on Saturday.
Sunday: Sunday features several adequate options like Ricky Nolasco in Philadelphia or Hector Santiago against the Twins. Keep an eye out to see if a better name emerges from the pack.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 6:13am
Dear Waiver Wire Pals (hey, that's you!),
I am writing today's column on my birthday, Aug. 13. Birthdays are generally good times to take stock of your life, reflect on where you are and where you're going, blah blah blah. I must say, however, as I sit here writing some stuff on baseball to be read by you cool ladies and gents, that I am very appreciative of my opportunity to do so. I have a generally incredible life, despite whatever self-deprecating humor I may employ to imply otherwise, and you're all a big part of that.
So thank you for being here, thank you for making The Hardball Times an awesome place to hang out and talk about baseball, and thank you for having me. It's pretty rad that I get to do this, and that never really escapes me.
Enough sap. More waiver wire please!
Welington Castillo | Chicago Cubs | C | ESPN: 1.4 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 10 percent; CBS: 21 percent
YTD: .278/.359/.380 in 335 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .272/.352/.382 in 448 plate appearances
I know, I know, Castillo has appeared here before. A few times. I can't help myself.
The Cubs' backstop is on my mind again (wait, he left at some point?) because he's quietly been putting together a very good season. Before we dive into that, a brief recap of his time here in the Waiver Wire:
Still loved him!
Almost telepathically caused him to draw a walk!
Love starting to falter!
The love I once shared with Welington Castillo, a special brand of love you have never truly experienced, a brand of love I will likely never share again ... that love is gone, my friends, and it is never coming back.
Well, actually, about that last part. The love being gone, yada yada, not coming back, etc., etc. The thing is, I can't stay mad at Castillo, and I wouldn't want to. Life is too short for such animosity. And Castillo quietly has been posting the kind of good-but-not-great season he was capable of all along.
Among catchers with at least 300 plate appearances this season, Castillo has the 10th-highest wOBA. His walk rate (8.3 percent) is particularly remarkable when considering the fact that he didn't draw his first free pass until April 29 and didn't draw his second walk until May 23. Since that point, he's ripped off (ripped off?) 25, including a span of six consecutive games drawing a base on balls.
The biggest glaring weakness for Castillo right now, in fact, is his lack of power. That's a very strange thing for a player who was billed as a catcher with a big arm and good pop as he rose through the professional ranks. Because of that, and because fly balls are leaving the yard at half the rate that seems reasonable (just 5.2 percent), I'm bullish on his chance to tick his ISO higher than his current mark of .101.
It's possible he's sacrificed power in favor of the walks, and it's possible he just doesn't have the kind of muscle we once thought he would have, but it's equally possible (and perhaps more likely) that he's been unlucky in that facet and will improve the only area of his offensive profile holding him back from elite status.
When he does, watch out. I'm going to be an emotional mess.
Recommendation: Playing time won't be an issue, and he's been sneakily good this season (despite the roller coaster of emotion he's put me through). He's owned far less than players he's performing better than, and is worth a shot in mixed leagues and certainly in NL-only formats.
Scooter Gennett | Milwaukee Brewers | 2B | ESPN: 0.2 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 1 percent; CBS: 3 percent
YTD: .270/.313/.460 in 68 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .274/.309/.415 in 190 plate appearances
There are things Scooter Gennett is, and things Scooter Gennett is not. Things he is:
1. A professional baseball player.
2. A professional baseball player who happens to be rather short, at just 5-foot-9 (by professional baseball standards, that is; this particular fantasy baseball writer also happens to be 5-foot-9, and that is in no way unusual for his line of work).
3. A human with an unusual, quirky nickname. Scooter. Ha, I wonder how he got that name! Bet that's a story!
4. A guy who is kind of tearing the cover off the ball right now.
Things he is not, but may have led you to believe he could be:
1. A power hitter.
2. The publishing magnate behind Scooter Geek.
Gennett made his major league debut last month, and the results have been mostly impressive in the 25 games he's played for the Brewers. His wOBA among players with at least 60 plate appearances (and admittedly made-up number whose sole purpose is to include Gennett in this sample) would be tenth among all players who qualify. Still, that's just behind Neil Walker and just ahead of Ben Zobrist, and that's kind of impressive.
The problem, of course, is that this is
Prior to this current run at the game's highest level, in which he's posted an impressive ISO of .190, Gennett's top mark in the minor leagues was the .154 he tossed up as a 20-year-old in Single-A ball for the Brewers in 2010. He posted a .144 mark in the Arizona Fall League in 2011 but since then has hovered around .100 in stops at High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. Believing that he has all of a sudden discovered his power stroke now, in the major leagues, seems foolish.
Gennett doesn't walk much, either, as his 5.9 percent walk rate with the Brewers is more or less in line with his minor league marks. And his defense doesn't appear to win many fans, either. So why in the world is he being written about here?
Well, he can hit, and he doesn't strike out much. And the Brewers probably will ride him a lot the rest of the way, both to see what they have and because with Rickie Weeks done for the season, they simply have no better alternative at the moment.
Gennett has shown an ability to make contact at all of the minor league stops where he proved he wasn't a power hitter. He hit .311 in 2010, .411 during the Fall League, .299 at High-A in 2011, .293 at Double-A in 2012, and .280 at Triple-A to start this season. He also never struck out in more than 17.3 percent of at-bats at any of those stops.
He can play, and he can be useful, but we need to be clear about what he is and what he is not, because unfair expectations are the surest path to disappointment.
Recommendation: Don't buy in on Gennett expecting him to be what he's shown during his initial 25-game foray into the major leagues. But if you're looking for a guy who will play a lot the rest of the season, put up a decent average, and get as many opportunities for counting stats as a guy playing on this awful Brewers team can get, Gennett is your guy. (See what I did there? Can get + Gennett? This is exactly why I get paid to write.)
Posted by Jack Weiland at 3:08am
Many fantasy baseball leagues use an auction bidding process to determine waiver-wire and free-agent acquisitions. Sure, there are still some old-school leagues that employ the "first-come, first-served" approach to transactions, but free agent auction bidding ("FAAB") is quite popular in leagues of any format.
A lot of strategy goes into the bidding process because most leagues set a finite amount of fake money for each team to use. There are many other rules and regulations that leagues implement with their own FAAB process, including the roster status of players.
I recently decided a case for Fantasy Judgment in which a league submitted a dispute over a commissioner's decision to revoke a FAAB acquisition because the player being acquired was not technically on a major league roster at the time. This league's rules explicitly required that only players on a major league roster can be acquired, and the determining factor of whether a player has been promoted to the major leagues is the transaction page on the major league team's official website.
Monday, the team known as the V-Men bid $3 on Andrew Lambo and won him. As of 8:28 a.m. on Tuesday, Lambo still had not been called up according to the Pirates’ transaction page on MLB.com. The commissioner determined that Lambo was not eligible to be bid on and removed him from V-Men’s roster, thus restoring Cliff Pennington, whom he had cut to make the transaction.
The owner of the V-Men has challenged this decision, arguing inconsistency in the commissioner’s decision-making process. However, this was not the first instance of a situation like this arising in this NL-only roto league.
On Aug. 6, the Urban Achievers acquired free agent Wilmer Flores. The night before that, the commissioner noted that the Mets announced they would be promoting Flores for the next day, but it was not yet listed on their transaction page. When the commissioner woke up the next morning at 7:30, he checked the transaction page, and it was listed.
No one involved knew exactly what time the transaction was posted, as these are not time stamped. However, CBS posted the following at 12:16 a.m. on Aug. 6:
The Mets officially promoted third baseman Wilmer Flores from Triple-A Las Vegas Monday. He has had a great year at Triple-A with a .322 batting average, 15 homers and 86 RBI over 106 games.
Based on the fact that an exact time couldn't be determined, the commissioner determined that he couldn't—and shouldn't—invalidate the transaction. This determination was not challenged despite the V-Men initially having concerns but later dropping the issue. While the V-Men initially raised an issue, he later that day determined that he no longer had a concern.
The V-Men now argue that, "Whatever logic you used to determine Flores was in play last week should apply to Lambo." However, the commissioner argues that this is not a comparable issue in that Lambo is still not on the Pirates' roster. He argues this is more analogous to a situation earlier in the year with Zack Wheeler.
On June 25, Victoria’s Secret bid on Wheeler and won him. At that point, he had started one game for the Mets on June 18 but was sent back down and was to be recalled to start again on June 25. He had not been recalled as of Monday night/Tuesday morning June 25, and so it was determined that he was not eligible to be bid on. As a result, he was returned to the free agent pool.
The V-Men sought a reversal of the commissioner’s decision and requested that Lambo be added back on to their roster.
The issue presented to the Court was straightforward, but it also required a delicate balancing of strict rule interpretation and allowing a league commissioner the flexibility to make a judgment call. The commissioner is empowered with the tasks of creating the league’s rules, settings, and guidelines (Bryan La Hair Club For Men vs. League Commissioner, 4 F.J. 26, 28 (April, 2012)).
He can achieve this goal either by writing a constitution or clearly laying out the parameters of the league within the host site’s settings. But no matter how meticulous or diligent a commissioner tries to be, he cannot reasonably foresee every possible issue or situation that can arise during a season. To hold them to such a standard would be unfair. See Z Wolves, et al. vs. League Commissioner, 3 F.J. 212, 216 (Nov., 2011).
The FAAB settings used by this league are standard for CBS leagues where the auction runs overnight and as frequently as the league desires. However, it is up to each individual league to determine the eligibility of free agents and whether they are permitted to be acquired.
Here, the rules are clear that a player must be on a major league roster. The league uses a team’s transaction page as the deciding factor whether a player is on a major league team.
The commissioner does not need to justify or validate his reasoning for having such rules in place, but it is clear that the Angerthal League is within its right not to permit minor league players to be added as free agents. See A New Hope vs. On the Juice, 1 F.J. 4, 7 (Sept., 2009), (holding that it can be important to understand the theory and rationale behind certain rules).
It is apparent that there have been at least two previous scenarios in which a minor league player was on the brink of being promoted during the time a team attempted to acquire him via the FAAB. Given there were shades of gray in these instances, the commissioner was required to make a judgment call in deciding whether the transactions should be approved.
The commissioner did not allow Wheeler to be added because he was not promoted back to the Mets at the time the FAAB ran on June 25. On the other hand, the commissioner did allow Flores to be added on Aug. 6 because it could not decisively be determined exactly what time the Mets announced his promotion.
Despite having different conclusions, it is clear that the commissioner was consistent with the criteria he used to reach both decisions. Commissioners should have a certain amount of autonomy to make decisions within the league. See Flemish USA vs. League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 35, 36 (Oct., 2010), (holding that league Commissioners are entitled to arbitrarily make decisions that do benefit the league as a whole).
But just as importantly, the Court recommends that commissioners enforce all rules and guidelines consistently. If the Commissioner makes an exception for someone, it should be explained thoroughly. See Machine vs. Fantasy Football League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 1, 3 (Sept., 2010). It is apparent that the league commissioner did explain his rationale behind both previous decisions.
In this case, Lambo technically was not promoted to the Pirates before the FAAB ran in the early morning hours of Tuesday. This is evidenced by the fact Lambo still was not listed on the transactions page later that morning.
This is distinguishable from the Flores incident because at least CBS had a time-stamped update about Flores' promotion at a time before the FAAB ran. Plus, he clearly was added to the Mets roster by the time the commissioner awoke the next morning. Here, Lambo is still not listed on any transaction on the Pirates’ website at the time of the Court’s decision.
Typically, the Court will uphold a commissioner’s decision so long as it is in the best interests of the league overall and absent any self-serving motivation. Fair and Balanced vs. League Commissioner, 5 F.J. 1, 2 (Jan., 2013). The Court agreed with the commissioner’s thought process and decision to reject the acquisition of Lambo.
It is unfortunate that there are shades of gray in determining whether a player can be acquired because of the reliance on a major league baseball team’s announcement of a transaction. But that is the way the rules are written and should be enforced consistently. Based on this, the Court affirmed the commissioner’s decision to remove Lambo from V-Men’s roster, as the present case was analogous to the Wheeler situation as opposed to that involving Flores.
Posted by Michael Stein at 3:07am
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