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Monday, February 02, 2009
On draft day, one of the primary goals of all fantasy owners should be to acquire value. While the theoretical definition of value is a discussion for another time, and while the strategy you're using will alter who you select, it will be very difficult to win a competitive league without hitting on a couple of high-upside players.
While there are different categories of high-upside players, one such category that can pay high dividends is players with injury risks. I talked about this a bit last offseason, but I'd like to expand on it a little today.
The basic premise
Late in a draft, you'll likely see an owner select a player like Rickie Weeks or Gary Sheffield. Both are far from locks to play even 120 games, but both also have good underlying skills. If either manages to reach 150 games or more, they could provide significant value to their owners. This is the allure of players like these: if they get injured in May, they'll be easy to drop because the cost was maybe an 18th-round pick. If they stay healthy though, an owner can continue riding them out and collecting those stats.
This is a pretty simple concept, and seeing as how you're reading The Hardball Times Fantasy, you are probably already familiar with it. Today's discussion is more of a theoretical one, discussing which category of high upside player is preferable. Before we get into it, what's your initial impression? Late in a draft, would you rather select a player with significant injury risk or a healthy player with skills upside?
Injury risk or skills risk?
Take a look at these two lines. They represent the (hypothetical) absolute true talent levels of two players. Ask yourself which is better:
+----------+------+-----------+-----------+ | PLAYER | BA | HR/500 AB | SB/500 AB | +----------+------+-----------+-----------+ | Player A | .300 | 25 | 20 | | Player B | .265 | 13 | 10 | +----------+------+-----------+-----------+
For simplicity's sake, we'll say both are corner outfielders. Obviously, Player A is superior to Player B. However, it is not inconceivable that both players would be drafted in the same round of your fantasy draft. If we imagine that Player A has a reputation for being fragile and injury-prone, and that Player B is young and has a lot of perceived upside, the draft day value of these two could be very similar.
What we need to ask ourselves, though, is which would make the better draft choice. Is there a difference? Both will have marginal value—at best—if nothing changes. Player A will only reach 300 at-bats and Player B will reach 550 at-bats with sub-par skills. If either is to have value, therefore, it will be because he reaches (or comes close to reaching) his upside.
How far away is the upside?
The question then becomes, what's more likely, that Player A reaches 550 at-bats, or that Player B's true talent level rises enough to match the value of 300 Player A at-bats?
To put things in perspective, by plugging these numbers into my player value calculator (for a traditional 12-team mixed league), we get the following results:
In other words, to reach his upside, Player A would need a 183 percent increase in at-bats. Player B would need a 192 percent increase in home runs, a 250 percent increase in steals, and a 113 percent increase in batting average (plus the associated RBI and run gains).
Deciding which of these two things is more likely to happen can be a somewhat subjective exercise (and is dependent on circumstances not mentioned in our hypothetical example). Holding all else constant, though, personally (and keep in mind that I have not done any detailed studies on this subject), I'd bet on the injury risk player. To me, it seems that one player is more likely to stay healthy than another player is to see his true talent level rise so drastically.
Even if you disagree, though, there is one consideration that I haven't yet mentioned that really pushes the tide in favor of the injury risk player. There is a hidden value to injury risk players—and a very big one at that. Unfortunately, you're going to have to wait until Wednesday to read about it.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:05am (6) Comments
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
In sports, there are various levels of thinking. Whether we’re on the playing field, in the film room or watching from the stands or couch, we’ve all taken notice of the various behaviors exhibited in front of us. These behaviors often consist of patterns and tendencies and, in competition, we often can use these observations to formulate strategies and manipulate our opponent’s behavior to help achieve our goals.
Before delving into how human behavior can be applied to fantasy baseball, I want to quickly introduce the first stage of memory, the encoding stage (with storage and retrieval being the last two stages). This is the level where memories are formed, and research studies have shown that memories can be enhanced by selective attention. Research also shows that some of the most vivid memories tend to be of emotional events. Well, I think it’s safe to say that the most emotional time of year in the baseball season is the postseason.
I’m sure many baseball fans, especially Yankees and Indians fans, remember Game 2 of the 2007 American League Division Series, also known infamously as “the bug game.” I was watching this game at a bar with a good friend, who happened to be a fellow league manager and a big Indians fan. Living in Connecticut, we were surrounded by Yankees and Red Sox fans; the Yankees fans rooting for the Yankees and the Red Sox fans rooting, out of spite, for the Indians. This made for a tense and exciting atmosphere, and I can still picture my friend sitting on the edge of his seat for nearly the entire game.
Now, while many outsiders may not be able recall the game in detail (aside from those gnats, of course), my Indians buddy, to this day, can still recite Fausto Carmona’s line from this 2-1 Indians victory:
IP Hits ER K Fausto Carmona 9 3 1 5
Throughout the season, this same friend was raving about how 2007 was the Indians’ year, how they were bound for the World Series and more specifically, how good Fausto Carmona was, and “the bug game” and the big game atmosphere seemed to solidify that last notion for him. In his defense, Carmona was having a brilliant year, and ended with a 19-8 record with a 3.06 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. But, this is where selective attention and emotional memories came into play.
You see, while emotions can enhance memories, they also can prevent other details from the same event or series of events from being processed or retained. Numerous studies show that memories for emotionally neutral events decrease over time but memories for emotionally arousing events are more likely to stay the same or improve.
So yes, Carmona did have a great year in 2007, and he did pitch well in that playoff game. What my friend seemed to forget, though, was that Carmona got shelled by the Red Sox in the ensuing American League Championship Series. Etched in his mind were images of Carmona undeterred by the mass of winged insects flying around him while Joba Chamberlain struggled to find his command.
Let’s fast-forward to draft week, 2008. I remembered how emotionally invested my friend was in Carmona and that game, and I wanted to remind him of it. So I name-dropped throughout the week, hoping to remind him of that impressive ERA and WHIP Carmona had in 2007. Never mind the mediocre 5.93 strikeouts per nine innings and the 3.99 expected fielding independent pitching statistic, or the 3.90 ERA and 1.31 WHIP that Bill James’ system projected for 2008, I just wanted to make sure he remembered how Carmona withstood the weirdest of distractions to overcome the Evil Empire.
I wasn’t the biggest believer of Carmona’s, but my hope was that my friend would assign a value based on that specific memory and overlook the objective measurements that showed Carmona wasn’t as good as his 2007 numbers made him out to be. Basically, I wanted him to overvalue this player. And I suppose it worked to some degree because on draft day, he took Carmona with the 64th pick in the seventh round. This was ahead of Roy Oswalt, John Smoltz, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, James Shields and Scott Kazmir—guys who were all projected by various statistical measures and systems to perform better.
That pick might not have given me a huge edge, but it did increase the quality of the player pool I had to pick from at that time (I picked Lincecum at No. 65, for what it’s worth). This essentially increased the value of my team if only because my friend decreased the value of his. He let these emotional and biased memories affect his decision-making, and picked Carmona at least two rounds earlier than the market deemed appropriate, as Carmona was, on average, selected at pick No. 85 in ESPN leagues.
Most of us are baseball fans first and fantasy baseball managers second, so there are certain players we probably like more than others, and we probably each hold very specific memories involving these particular players. But, as a fantasy manager, it’s up to you to value each player objectively and not let these emotions and memories dictate the way you manage your team. When others do, you can use this type of information to your advantage.
Posted by Marco Fujimoto at 1:01am (2) Comments
Josh Fields was recently named the new White Sox starting third baseman by manager Ozzie Guillen, who said it was his job to lose. With third base becoming one of the trickier positions to draft, having a backup sleeper you feel comfortable drafting is important if your first choice gets taken. Let's see how comfortable we can be with Fields as a late-round option in 2009.
+--------+-------+-----+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+-----+ | Season | Level | Age | PA | R | HR | RBI | SB | AVG | K | +--------+-------+-----+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+-----+ | 2005 | AA | 22 | 560 | 76 | 16 | 79 | 7 | 0.252 | 142 | | 2006 | AAA | 23 | 526 | 85 | 19 | 70 | 28 | 0.305 | 136 | | 2007 | AAA | 24 | 249 | 28 | 10 | 37 | 8 | 0.283 | 60 | | 2007 | MLB | 24 | 418 | 54 | 23 | 67 | 1 | 0.244 | 125 | | 2008 | AAA | 25 | 318 | 41 | 10 | 35 | 8 | 0.246 | 98 | +--------+-------+-----+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+-----+
Fields was the 18th overall pick in the 2004 draft by the White Sox. Selected out of Oklahoma State University, Fields was a two-sport athlete earning honors in both baseball and football. Ultimately he chose to accept the White Sox $1.5 million offer to play baseball.
In 2005, he started the season in Double-A and had an average year, batting .252 with 16 home runs and 142 strikeouts in 560 plate appearances. Nevertheless, in 2006 the White Sox moved Fields up to Triple-A ,where he flourished. Posting a .305 batting average with 19 home runs, he appeared to complement his healthy power game with the ability to hit for average. However, Fields still displayed contact issues—striking out in 29 percent of his plate appearances—and was aided by an inflated .397 BABIP.
Still, the now-25-year-old Fields was firmly entrenched behind major league starting third baseman Joe Crede, who was coming off a career year in which he batted .283 with 30 home runs. Then, in early June, it was announced Crede would be out for the year with a back injury, and the opportunity presented itself to Fields. For a rookie, Fields played admirably, batting .244 with 23 home runs. Alarmingly, though, he struck out in 34 percent of his at-bats—the fourth highest mark in the majors—but also hit home runs at the ninth best rate in the majors in terms of home runs per fly ball.
Going into 2008, people did not know what to make of the White Sox third base situation. In fantasy leagues, Fields was drafted almost universally, on average at 190 overall, while Crede, in the six percent of leagues he was selected, was taken not much further down at 204th overall. Both ended up being bad picks: Crede missed more time because of his recurring back injury and was generally ineffective when playing, and Fields played poorly in Triple-A and was bothered by nagging injuries.
Now Crede has left the White Sox via free agency, leaving Fields the frontrunner for the starting gig. His competition: Wilson Betemit, acquired in the Nick Swisher deal, and 19-year-old Cuban defector Dayan Viciedo, who signed a four-year, $10 million contract this offseason.
Signing Viciedo surely shows a lack of confidence in Fields on the part of the White Sox front office, but Fields still will get his fair chance to prove himself in the majors this year. I would not worry about Betemit stealing the job from Fields this year either. as long as Fields plays decently and stays healthy.
Now we are back to the original question of whether you can feel comfortable with Fields as either your starting third basemen or back-up. Let's see what we can expect from him in 2009, and where we can expect to take him.
Despite his relative lack of major league experience, Fields is almost guaranteed to hit between .250 and .260, and blast somewhere around 15 to 25 home runs given enough playing time. Tack on five to ten steals, and you've got a capable starting third baseman, or a more than adequate back-up.
The best part about Fields—get ready for it—is that you probably will be able to wait for the last round to take him. When people are filling out their rosters with third basemen at the end of the draft, players like Kevin Kouzmanoff, Melvin Mora, Hank Blalock and even Eric Chavez and Dallas McPherson sometimes get taken before him. If you select Kouzmanoff or Blalock, I could not argue with you, but Fields would be my selection late in the draft.
In shallower leagues, Fields should not be your starting third baseman, but in deep or AL-only leagues he makes for a cheap, serviceable option at third. I am not expecting any sort of renaissance from Fields; he is simply a better late-round option than some other third basemen.
You will notice that the Yahoo! article linked to at the beginning of this article says "Fields has been astute in his offseason training...." Just a caveat: Never let bits of information about a player's offseason like that influence you. They are right about 50 percent of the time.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:02am (6) Comments
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
On Monday, I talked about why high-upside players make good late round draft picks and began to discuss why I prefer injury risks to players who have skills upside. Today, I'd like to finish giving you my thoughts on this matter.
This is actually a topic I haven't discussed since I was writing at my original blog — an article I'm sure most of you have never seen. A recent discussion with Mike Podhorzer of Fantasy Pros 911, though, made me realize that I've never brought it up at THT before. Thanks, Mike!
Changing the way we think about draft picks
When most fantasy owners think about drafting, they think about each selection as picking a player. While this is what appears to be happening on the surface, what you're actually doing with each selection is filling a roster spot. When you select Alex Rodriguez, you aren't selecting Alex Rodriguez. You are selecting a set of stats, which will occupy the "3B" spot on your roster.
What happens, though, if A-Rod sustains a season-ending injury in the first game of the year? 0 at-bats, 0 hits, zeroes across the board. Did you just spend a first round pick on those stats, those zeroes? Not unless you leave A-Rod sit in the "3B" spot all season. More likely, you'll drop him and pick up a replacement level third baseman.
We need to think about that first round pick as being spent on the "3B" spot, not on A-Rod. That "3B" spot will be filled by the combination of whoever was orginally selected to fill the "3B" spot — in this case, A-Rod — and whoever you pick up to replace him. You're drafting a comprehensive "asset," not a single player.
By now, some of you can probably see where I'm going with this. While the above example is an extreme one, let's now look at one that's more realistic.
Rickie Weeks is a guy whose underlying skills I really like, but he can never manage to stay healthy for a full-season. As such, we must dock his stats. Marcels has him projected for 450 ABs, and we can assume that the missing at-bats can be accounted for by his usual time on the DL. Are those 450 at-bats of production all we'd be paying for, though?
If you've followed my logic thus far, you'll be shaking your head "no" right about now. Are you going to let Weeks sit in your "2B" spot while he sits on the DL, or are you going to put him on your DL and pick up someone to replace him? The latter, I would hope.
Below is a chart listing the THT projected value of Weeks, extrapolated to 450 at-bats. I've also listed Mark Ellis, a replacement level player who you could pick up off waivers once Weeks gets hurt, extrapolated to 150 at-bats (the name of the player is unimportant — again, it's the stats that matter). The third line gives their combined totals.
+-------------+-----+------+----+-----+-----+----+------+ | LAST | AB | BA | HR | RBI | R | SB | $ | +-------------+-----+------+----+-----+-----+----+------+ | Weeks | 450 | .251 | 15 | 44 | 81 | 19 | $ 7 | | Mark Ellis | 150 | .253 | 4 | 15 | 21 | 3 | -$20 | | Weeks+Ellis | 600 | .252 | 19 | 59 | 102 | 22 | $17 | +-------------+-----+------+----+-----+-----+----+------+
Over 450 at-bats, Weeks would be worth just $7. Over 150 at-bats, Ellis would be worth -$20. But because the selection of Weeks isn't the selection of just those 450 at-bats, we combine them with 150 replacement level at-bats and, ta-da! His value jumps ten dollars! While Weeks himself is worth just $7, selecting him is akin to selecting an asset that is worth $17 to fill your "2B" spot.
Helping to understand
I understand that this may be a very difficult concept to wrap your head around at first. After all, we've always been taught that a replacement level player is such because he has zero marginal value (for some discussion on replacement level, if you're not familiar, check out Paul Singman's article here). This player is available to all teams at no cost, and therefore, provides no advantage whatsoever.
So how can you combine his -$20 value with Week's $7 value and get $17? How can you take a $7 player and combine him with just a portion of a replacement level player and have that $7 actually rise? Again, very difficult to comprehend.
To help understand why this occurs, we must first understand that projected value is extremely reliant upon playing time. Look at the below chart, which shows how the value of Rickie Weeks and Mark Ellis would change based on the number of at-bats accrued.
And it's like this for every player in baseball. The more at-bats, the higher the value. As you can see, though, it takes quite a few at-bats before a player even starts having positive value, which is why a 150 at-bat Mark Ellis is worth -$20. It's also why those first 150 at-bats don't appear to be very valuable, but once you are in the positive range, simply adding at-bats — even a small amount of replacement-level at-bats — causes that value to rise a good amount.
The dark blue line represents Ellis's line affixed to Weeks's line at the 450 at-bat level. While the line, from that point forward, isn't as good as Weeks's, it still adds a good amount of value (just as our tables above showed).
Back to the injury risk vs. skills upside question
Relating this back to our discussion from Monday, we can clearly see, now, that an injury risk is much more valuable than a player with skills upside because he is tying up fewer of his roster slot's at-bats, even if their surface value is identical. He does not have to take a single step toward fulfilling his upside in order for you to receive more value than he alone is worth (and more than the player with skills upside is worth). And if you're lucky, he will fulfill that potential and you'll get even more value out of the deal:
+-------------+-----+------+----+-----+-----+----+------+ | LAST | AB | BA | HR | RBI | R | SB | $ | +-------------+-----+------+----+-----+-----+----+------+ | Weeks | 600 | .251 | 20 | 58 | 109 | 25 | $20 | +-------------+-----+------+----+-----+-----+----+------+
As you can see, if Weeks were to stay healthy and get 600 at-bats, he would be worth $20 — more than the Weeks/replacement level combo but not so much that you'll be terribly disappointed if he never reaches this level... if you understand this concept, anyway.
Finally, we must consider that when we draft a $7 skills upside player, he needs to see a legitimate skills/production increase of $13 in order to reach his $20 upside. For a $7 Rickie Weeks to reach his $20 upside, though, he only need gain $3 in value because selecting by selecting a $7 Weeks you're actually selecting a $17 "2B" asset.
All else being equal, the injury risk is the far, far better choice.
As this article ran longer than anticipated, I'll be posting a third part in the coming days discussing some of the players who would be worth targeting if you're planning on using this strategy.
And as always, if you have any questions, comments, ideas, whatever, feel free to post a comment or e-mail me.
Posted by Derek Carty at 1:40am (16) Comments
Thursday, February 05, 2009
In trying to set up the first keeper league I've ever been a part of, I'm a little daunted by the challenges it presents. I've tried to stick to the most common settings out there (standard BA, R, HR, RBI, SB, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP, $260 per team) to help increase my chances of being able to blatantly rip off someone else's rule set. But I've still come up empty so far.
In my eyes, the perfect keeper league must do the following:
That's it. Two constraints—should be easy, right? If only it were.
I've heard a number of ideas so far. One is that each manager can keep up to X players, and those players constitute his or her first X picks in next year's draft. If all but one manager keep at least two players, that final manager will have the only first round pick and the only second round pick, from which he can take any available player. The problem here is that if your 2008 draft contains a poor first round pick, you'll have a hard time keeping anyone else because your first player kept counts as your first round pick in 2009.
If you grabbed Prince Fielder in the first round of 2008 and Lance Berkman in the second round, and wanted to keep only Berkman in 2009, he'd occupy your first round slot. He's not a bargain there at all—actually a poor choice—but if you could keep him as a second rounder, you probably would. For this reason, I think Keeper Rule No. 1 is violated by this rule set, and therefore I don't see it as optimal.
Another classic keeper rule is that each manager can keep players for the next season's draft by using their draft pick one round sooner than they were picked in the current year. So if you picked Manny Ramirez in the fourth round in 2008, you could keep him as your third round pick in 2009. Might not be a bad idea, if you think he will be properly motivated this year. The problem, however, is that for truly low-round prospects that are gambled on, the payoff can potentially violate Keeper Rule No. 2.
In 2006, I drafted Jonathan Papelbon in the 14th round—a reasonable gamble, as he had very good call-up stats but it was uncertain whether he'd be the closer or a fourth or fifth starter. Even if it was a keeper league that forced me to draft him two spots sooner each successive year, he'd have been a 12th rounder in 2007, and 10th rounder in 2008, and probably would continue to be a bargain through at least the 2010 season. That, I believe, is a little too much value gained on an errant 14th round pick one season, and the advantage gained from that one fortunate draft pick would probably seem excessive to most.
What about auction drafts? Typical auctions allow for a budget of $260 to be spent on 26 players, with a minimum of $1 to purchase a player. One keeper rule I've heard is that the price to keep a player the following year is simply what you paid this year plus some fixed amount (such as $5). Much like the rule above, this ensures you won't get to keep a bargain forever. However, given the range of typical player values ($1 to about $50), it can take many years for one lucky pick to stop giving outlandish benefits to its manager. Papelbon may have cost $4 in 2006, thus making him a $9 steal in 2007, a $14 robbery in 2008, and so forth. This rule, like the one above, seems to me to violate Keeper Rule No. 2.
One could also auction each player each year, with the previous season's owner getting the right of final purchase. If you owned Alex Rodriguez in 2008, he would be up for auction amongst the other players in your league for 2009. Whenever that auction found a winning bid, you as the current owner would have the right to match that price to keep him. If you decide to do so, there is no further bidding; your price has been set by the "market" of other managers. If you decline, the highest bidder gets him.
In this rule set, I find it hard to imagine too many players would be kept, because an efficient market (the other players in the league) would typically be willing to pay a player's expected value each successive year. Or perhaps more, since in an auction the winner typically overpays for the good for sale; the current owner would have no reason to ever keep someone. This would violate Keeper Rule No. 1— benefit would be afforded to those making good decisions in the past.
However, one could add a discount to solve this. Imagine the current owner got to keep a player at 15 percent less than the other managers' final bid price. In such a case, it would almost universally be in the interest of the current owner to keep his player. Other ramifications would follow, however: managers could theoretically overbid for a player by 10 percent, knowing that once 15 percent is knocked off of the final value, the current owner is still getting a slightly good deal and would benefit from picking up the player at ever so slightly below his actual value. For this reason, I believe this rule set still violates Keeper Rule No. 1, in that it actually does not afford enough advantage to managers making good decisions.
Finally, we come to the actual league rule I've found to best mix the interests of Keeper Rule No. 1 and Keeper Rule No. 2. It's predicated upon an auction format with standardized categories for which many projections and price guides exist. The league decides on a publicly-available price guide, from which player values are derived. Each season, managers can keep as many players as they wish, with their next season's price being equal to the average of each season's price guide value during which he or she owned the player.
For players whose value doesn't change much over time—Albert Pujols for example—no advantage is derived by keeping him. He typically costs around $40, he's typically worth around $40, and his price guide price is typically around $40. For prospects, I believe the system still works. If you picked up Papelbon for $4 (his price guide value) in 2006, his price guide value before the 2007 season would reflect his new value as an elite closer with one season of great numbers - say, $20. Your price to keep him for 2007 would be ($4 + $20) / 2 = $12. When he put up tremendous numbers in 2007 once more, he would likely have been valued around $24 going into the 2008 season. Your price to keep him then would be ($4 + $20 + $24) / 3 = $16.
There's still a very large benefit to finding great players who are underrated for a season—as you can see, in 2008 Papelbon was likely a $20+ player who could be kept for $16—but he is one of the stronger examples of coming out of nowhere one season to become an elite player. And, as opposed to the system in which price goes up by a fixed amount each season, this system more quickly aligns a player's cost to his true value.
The point of this article was to present some ideas about how to construct the "perfect" keeper league. I'd love to hear some feedback about what you've seen or heard of that might work better than any of these—specifically if they're better than the final rule set, because that's what I'm leaning towards at the moment.
Posted by Michael Lerra at 3:48am (32) Comments
Friday, February 06, 2009
What do you think is the optimal requirement for positional eligibility, both preseason (the player had to spend a set amount of time at that position last season to have eligibility there for this season) and midseason (if the player spends a predetermined amount of time at a position that is different than his current eligibility, he gains the new position's eligibility)? Should it be determined by innings played at the position, or games played at the position?
There's no one right answer to your question but here are some of the things you can consider when making the decision for yourself. I believe there is no real benefit to having really short preseason eligibility requirements. Low requirements mean that some players who don't really play a certain position like catcher can count there anyway. Most everyone is going to know who those Brandon Inge-type players are, so including them means that you diminish the richness of having different positions in the first place.
So, I would set the requirements fairly high—at least 20 games played at the position the previous year in order to count.
During the season, requirements are slightly different. The fact that there are some players the may have extra value because of their versatility can be nice. Ideally, the requirements will be set such that flukes and windfalls are minimized—one game requirements are just ridiculous. I'd go at least five and maybe 10 appearances.
In a dream world, it would be nice to re-allocate eligibility at least once a year, at perhaps the All-Star break. If a player who had dual eligibility coming into the season hadn't played enough games at one position by then, he could lose eligibility at that position (until he met the during-season eligibility requirements).
- Jonathan Halket
It looks like both Erik Bedard and Chris Young are slipping going into ’09 Both are definitely not without questions, but in your opinion(s), who do you think is a better bet to contribute to my fantasy team this year? Mostly wondering for standard 5x5 roto and/or H-2-H leagues.
Both Young and Bedard struggled in 2008, but both also have a history of good performance, backed up with good skills. Young has a big red flag with his ground ball percentage, which fell to 21.7 percent last year. He also has had troubles staying healthy. Bedard also has a caution with his poor injury record. On a pure skills and talent comparison, I would give the edge to Bedard. However, Young does play in the NL and in PETCO Park.
Both players look to struggle getting wins. Bedard does have a much improved defense behind him. Given the durability problems with both pitchers, there is a lot of risk involved with either. In cases like this, I generally say to go with the player with better skills, who in this case would be Bedard.
- Victor Wang
I am in a 10-team keeper league that eventually will turn into a dynasy league within the next two years. (Standard head to head format, 5x5) We currently keep 10 players. We draft them the first 10 rounds and the first pick is actually round 11 and this is not going to be a snake draft.
My keepers are Teixeira, Reyes, Morneau, Lee, Phillips, Alexei Ramirez, Volquez, DiceK, Joba, Liriano.
My problem is what to do with my MI. Obviously Reyes is staying on the team. However, Phillips has been going in mocks around the third or fourth round as the second or third second baseman taken. Ramirez is going only a few picks later in the early-to-mid fourth. And he is consistently the fourth second baseman taken.
My question is this: Which one of my second basemen should I trade? And what should I expect in return?
I was hoping to at least get an 11th-round pick for him (that would be a first-round pick due to keepers). But I don't appear to be getting any takers. I cannot use them both with two power-hitting first basemen playing 1B and UTIL.
Sounds like you have three options: Trade Ramirez, trade Phillips, or trade one of your first basemen to make room at Util.
Ask yourself how much playing time you think Ramirez is going to get. Phillips projects better for 2009 largely based on his getting more playing time than Ramirez; I'm not familiar enough with his situation to know if this is the case. I'm also leaning toward Phillips because you really have no other speed among your keepers. Is Ellsbury available in your league? He could be a good way to make up those steals, and he's assured a full-time starting spot on the Red Sox... possibly even at the top of the lineup.
Still, my answer would be to try to trade Morneau or Lee. At this point, I think both are a little overvalued due to their name and past performance. Lee is never going to hit 40 homers again, and might not even see 30 again. Morneau is still looked upon highly due to his Most RBIs Award (er, I mean, MVP award... they wouldn't give the only major hitting award every year to the guy who happens to have the most RBIs, right?). But, Lee is 35 this year and is in a pretty steep decline phase. See if you can trade him based on his name.
- Michael Lerra
Posted by THT Fantasy Mailbag at 1:01am (3) Comments
Last season, Colorado’s Jeff Francis dealt with pain in his throwing shoulder that eventually landed him on the DL. At the time, it was considered to be nothing major, but even after he returned from the DL, he was never the same, and ended up back on the shelf. Now it is being reported that he may undergo “exploratory surgery” on the same shoulder.
While Francis is not a stud fantasy pitcher, he can be very useful in NL-only and deep mixed leagues. Managers in such leagues are going to want to know what to expect from him in 2009, because he is a good source of wins and serviceable ratios and strikeouts.
So, what is going on with Francis, and what kind of production—if any—can you expect in 2009? In a situation like this, it makes most sense to look at the past, and see how it relates to what is going on in the present.
Rewind to 2008
Last season, he was put on the DL in June, and after three rehab starts, he returned to the Rockies in August, only to succumb to persistent shoulder pain toward the end of the month. He ended the season with a dismal 5.01 ERA and a 4-10 record, logging only 24 starts.
Last year, manager Clint Hurdle said, “He’s been suffering from an inconsistent arm slot since Opening Day…I don’t think he’s felt the inflammation since then, but it’s become more a part of the problem.” Unless Francis had been trying to alter his arm slot intentionally, you can figure that something was causing him to do so.
If pain from raising his arm and shoulder higher made him change his delivery, it probably indicates some form of rotator cuff-related pathology.
Progress is slow in 2009
Francis is still in the phase of his throwing program where he is throwing only on flat ground, and is currently throwing from 120 feet. He is behind schedule if he plans to be back by Opening Day. He had announced in January that he would not pitch in the World Baseball Classic for Canada.
When I hear the phrase “exploratory surgery,” I usually fear the worst. The term usually is used when it is uncertain what is causing a particular set of symptoms. He already has gone the route of rest, rehabilitation, cortisone injections and throwing programs. A recent MRI revealed the increasingly used “no structural damage.” Though this phrase is sometimes correct, it does not mean that nothing is wrong. Not in the least.
More concerning to me is when I read things like, “If it turns out that Francis does require surgery, he wants to have it as soon as possible so that it won't affect his 2010 season.” What this means to me is that it is possible that those close to the situation fear that the surgery will reveal damage that will require season-ending surgery. A simple arthroscopic debridement would not end his season. A repair of the rotator cuff and/or labrum certainly would.
So, what is taking so long? Everything seems to be pointing to some form of rotator cuff pathology.
Francis has been quoted as saying, "I've done a lot of shoulder strengthening of the decelerator muscles. I had some instability and some weaknesses there. That's what we've been working on the last three or four months.” The decelerator muscles are the rotator cuff muscles, primarily the external rotators (infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and teres minor).
In addition, Francis’ agent, Jim Lindell, has said that there is fluid build-up in the front of Francis’ shoulder and that it is “sore all the time.” These are not good signs. Fluid retention and pain in the area—especially after having a Cortisone injection—could indicate that the damage is more on the serious side.
If the problem is not structural, i.e. cartilage or bone, then the cause of the swelling must be ligament, tendon, joint capsule or muscle. It is anyone’s guess at this time, but we should find out soon enough.
I would not expect the results of an exploratory surgery to lean in his favor. If he has yet to respond to conservative treatment, it is likely because more invasive intervention is necessary. Given his symptoms, this might not be a good thing. If I were an NL-only or deep mixed league manager who has yet to draft, I would put Francis on my “avoid” list—just take him off your draft board entirely. Even if he is able to return to action in ’09, he probably won’t start enough games to warrant a selection on draft day.
Posted by Chris Neault at 2:34am (0) Comments
I participated in a couple of external discussions lately, so here are the links.
Fantasy Baseball Roundtable
Those who've hung around these parts for a while probably remember the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable from last year. If you're new or haven't heard of it, a collection of writers and bloggers from around the internet get together each week to discuss a fantasy baseball topic.
This week, Fantasy Pros 911 hosted and the question was:
What was your biggest fantasy disappointment from 2008? What is your goal for 2009?
You can find responses from each of the participants (including me) here.
Sons of Sam Horn Chat
This past week, the guys at Sons of Sam Horn have hosted a chat in conjunction with the release of the THT Season Preview 2009. SoSH readers spent the week asking questions, and yesterday I posted my answers to all of them. For the next week or so I'll be fielding follow-ups, so it's not too late if you want to head over there and participate or if you just feel like reading another 5,000 or so words from me
THT Fantasy Mailbag
Finally, as this post pushed today's THT Fantasy Mailbag off the front page, make sure you don't miss it.
Posted by Derek Carty at 3:05pm (10) Comments
Monday, February 09, 2009
Nelson Cruz is an interesting player for 2009. He had a stellar year in the minors and with Texas last year, and he gets great projections from most projection systems. However, I've claimed in the past that Cruz could be an overvalued commodity in 2009 given that many owners will be looking for another Ryan Ludwick. Let's take a look at Cruz's profile and see what you should expect from him in 2009.
YEAR AGE TEAM AVG PA CT% UBB% ISO GB% FB% LD% BABIP HR/FB% 2006 25MIL 3A0.297 418 73 10 0.226 37.3 41.7 21 0.36 19.4 2006 25TEX 0.223 138 75.3 5.1 0.162 45.90.41912.2 0.247 13.5 2007 26TEX 3A0.352 188 79 10.6 0.346 38.8 41.919.4 0.36 23.1 2007 26TEX 0.235 333 0.72 6.5 0.15 37.6 46.316.1 0.299 8.9 2008 27TEX 3A0.342 448 77.3 10.7 0.352 34.8 46.118.7 0.359 22 2008 27TEX 0.33 133 75.7 11.3 0.278 40.2 37.921.8 0.388 21.2
System AB AVG OBP SLG HR RBI R SB Bill Jame 443 0.278 0.352 0.533 28 84 74 18 CHONE 491 0.271 0.347 0.495 27 87 78 12 Marcel 271 0.258 0.324 0.435 10 39 35 4 Oliver 518 0.277 0.34 0.51 30 0 0 0 ZIPS 471 0.282 0.354 0.531 31 92 78 14
The first table is Cruz's past three years of performance at the major and minor leagues. The second table is Cruz's projections for 2009. Note that Oliver does not offer projections for RBIs, runs, or stolen bases. Marcels easily has the most pessimistic projection. This is because Marcels does not include minor league data. Cruz has struggled during his time in the majors, excluding 2008, which leads to Marcels not giving Cruz a very good projection.
Cruz has had no problem hitting for power. Expect this continue, especially with him hitting in Texas. In December, Ron Washington stated that Cruz would hit cleanup behind Josh Hamilton. This offers Cruz a big time RBI opportunity. Cruz also provides some decent speed, as scouting reports had him with plus speed as he was coming up through the minors. We'll have to see how much Ron Washington lets Cruz run, but he has the potential to add 10-15 steals.
Cruz struggled in 2006 and 2007 in the majors because of his plate discipline. Cruz still struggles to make consistent contact which puts his batting average production at risk. Even during his stellar 2008 season, his average was inflated by a high BABIP. Given this is his main concern, Cruz should still put up good power and add in some decent speed. With his skills and projections, Cruz looks like a nice sleeper outfielder. Let's look at what risk he brings.
Experience: Medium risk. Cruz has about a seasons worth of major league plate appearances. This is offset somewhat by his minor league sample size.
Playing Time: High risk. Ron Washington did say that Cruz would be his cleanup hitter for 2009. However, Cruz has only really had 133 good plate appearances in the majors and might have to fight the Quadruple-A hitter tag. If he starts to struggle out of the gate, Cruz would be at risk of getting sent down. Additionally, with Josh Hamilton moving to right field, Texas might look to give Marlon Byrd a few more at bats given his experience in center field.
Skill Risk: Medium risk. Cruz has shown pretty good power skills which should be fine for next year. However, he hasn't really made any gains with his contact skills, and this keeps him as a batting average risk.
Age: Very low risk. Cruz will be 28 next year and should be at his peak right now.
Burnout: Low risk. Cruz really hasn't had any noticeable injury problems.
Overall Risk: Medium risk. Cruz has two main risk concerns. The first is how much playing time he will get. However, if Cruz hits like his projections say he can he should be able to secure consistent playing time. Cruz's second main risk is with his batting average. A low contact rate and his tendency to hit fly balls leave him with a chance to hurt your batting average.
If you draft Nelson Cruz this year, you should get above average power with decent speed. Additionally, he has the potential to help a lot with RBIs if he hits cleanup. However, he does bring risk in a few areas. When it comes to acquiring Cruz, a lot will depend on your league. More in depth leagues should be aware of Cruz, and he will likely be fairly priced. Don't expect a Ryan Ludwick season unless Cruz gets lucky with his line drive rate and BABIP. However, Cruz does bring a solid skill set and would be a fine player to fill out the end of your outfield.
Posted by Victor Wang at 1:10am (3) Comments
If you haven't yet ordered The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009, now is the perfect time, as it is shipping starting today. You can read more about it here, and order here.