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Thursday, May 05, 2011
Tuesday night, Francisco Liriano pitched the first no-hitter of the 2011 Major League Baseball season, and in doing so offered us an opportunity to marvel at the beauty and peculiarity that is the game of baseball, and thereby fantasy baseball. I’d like to explore Liriano’s no-no from a few different angles, some of which are more fantasy-relevant than others.
KISS strikes again
I trust many of you are familiar with the "keep it simple, stupid" philosophy. While, sometimes hard to employ and justifiable from which to deviate, KISS often comes back to bite those who exercise hubris and try to get too cute with their stratagems. I’m willing to bet Liriano’s performance occurred on many a fantasy team’s bench.
Let me say right here, all those who decided to bench Liriano on Tuesday night made an understandable choice. (His ownership is only 84 percent in Yahoo leagues, and I can’t offer the same consolation to those who chose to drop him outright). At the same time, Liriano’s performance goes to reinforce an important lesson as well. You never really know when a slumping player with a proven track record is going to turn it around, or show a glimpse of the talent that produced his resume. Let me pose a thought exercise here.
Placido Polanco is a player with a proven track record. We know he is a quality hitter with the potential of hitting well into the .300s and putting together some very useful stats for a middle infielder. He’s playing out of his mind right now, unsustainably so.
Imagine yourself a Polanco owner, would you try to jump the curve and guess when the 0-5 is coming? Would you bench him speculatively? Of course not. Most likely, the best strategy is just to ride it out day to day and bank on the right numbers being there at the end of the season, only making a move if you reach a point where you think you have a clearly better option at your disposal.
In one respect, this experiment could be argued to be making the opposite point of my own, that Liriano has stunk and that you shouldn’t try to predict when that streak will end, but rather ride it out—on your bench. But that’s not what I’m saying at all.
Quite simply, if you thought Liriano was going to stay that bad, then you should have dropped him. So, if you didn’t, you’re displaying some faith that the real Liriano will emerge. My point is, it’s a fool’s errand and an act of disillusionment to think you might know when that is going to happen.
Those of you who had him on your bench for that start are now, in one respect, in a worse position with him than you were before Tuesday’s start. Not only have you absorbed what are likely to be several of Liriano’s worst outings of the season, but you’ve also forfeited one of his best. If you’re dollar-cost-averaging, you’ve just increased your holdings of “the bad Liriano.”
The unpredictability of the game of baseball is a primary ingredient of its beauty. The juxtaposition of a game that can be so precisely measured and quantified, yet still manages to shock and awe every day, is part of what makes the sport sublime. Try to outsmart the game on a microscale at your own peril.
Before moving on, allow me to offer one more point here. Although I used Polanco as my counterexample, I do see a difference between hitters and pitchers. (Maybe I should have chosen James Shields for my example here instead.)
A pitcher makes only 30-odd starts a season, at best. It is dangerous to sit a pitcher as talented as Liriano because he has so few chances to help your team, and it really hurts if he comes through big time and it doesn’t count.
I struggled through a season of Aramis Ramirez in 2010, and I hit points where I just benched him. But, as a hitter, short of a Zobristian outburst, one day’s worth of at-bats is unlikely to produce as much positive (or negative, granted) value as an outing from a starter. In fact, I think Ramirez’s 2010 proves my point, too. Regardless of how painful and short of expectation that season was, Ramirez still put up 25 home runs and 83 RBI in 124 games.
Unless you really have a plan, like the top-notch daily fantasy game players do, and a team constructed around platooning and such, you’re playing with fire when you try to cherry pick the innings or at-bats you want from your high-level players.
On the surface, this may seem no different than sitting your borderline pitchers against the highest-octane offenses, but that’s not the case. Sitting a stud pitcher who had few bad outings is not nearly as calculated a move as it looks from the bird’s-eye view.
Unless you have hard evidence-based reason to believe he’s not actually a stud pitcher any longer, you’re basically just randomly choosing to bench a high-quality player because of the outcomes of largely independent trials that previously conducted.
After indirectly extolling the virtues of Liriano (but largely to make a more general point), I’m going look at the underbelly of Tuesday’s start. Men are pigs, and we have several terms for women who look gorgeous from afar, but substantially less so up close. “Forty-footers,” for example. Liriano’s no-no was a forty-footer, and this is more apparent when viewed through the fantasy lens than the mainstream baseball coverage lens.
Though he gave up no hits, Liriano only struck out two, and walked six in the process. He turned in nine scoreless frames to the tune of a 0.67 WHIP, earned a win and chalked up two strikeouts.
Over in Beantown, Jon Lester also earned a win, while giving up one earned run over seven innings on his way to a 1.00 WHIP, and he struck out 11 in the process.
In terms of how well each pitcher pitched, was Liriano any better from either a fantasy or actual standpoint? Going back through Liriano’s career, Tuesday’s outings wouldn’t even rank on the short list of his best outings, as he certainly was better here, here, here, here, and here, for starters (no pun intended).
So, while fantasy baseball takes its share of ribbing for not always mirroring the way the game really works (relying on batting average, overvaluing stolen bases, etc.), sometimes sabermetric justice is served in the fantasy universe, as well. Liriano’s outing (or really, the outcome of his outing) was certainly very good, but it was not incredible.
Keeping it in perspective
A good friend of mine who is a Twins fan remarked to me today that he was taken aback by the tone of some of the coverage of Liriano’s performance. Many reports focused on his recent struggles (and rightfully so—juxtaposition is always a good literary or rhetorical tool), but seemed to define Liriano by them. From this premise, the improbability of this performance was elevated. I agree that this is quite silly, and for two reasons, or maybe even three.
First, Liriano is hardly a nobody, despite what the tiny sample size of his 2011 starts has to say. For the period of time he was a starter in 2006, he was basically the best pitcher in the sport. And last year, back to full health, he was quite good again.
However, and this is the second point, even if he was a nobody, so what? The record book is chock full of mediocre pitchers who have thrown no-hitters. Just last season, Edwin Jackson (Liriano’s opponent on Tuesday) tossed one, and Armando Galaragga pitched what should have been a perfect game.
And you know why else this wasn’t all that improbable? As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t even that great a performance.
Liriano’s outing this past Tuesday is a perfect example of something many of my THT Fantasy colleagues have said in the past when discussing scoring systems for points-based leagues: Don’t give extra awards for no-hitters.
All the evidence we have at our disposal, and the anecdotal case of Liriano, tells us that these events are flukish. Liriano’s outing may have already earned more points in your points-based league than his actual performance was worth in pure merit. Don’t compound it by giving him bonus points, such that his performance outearns Lester’s by leaps and bounds.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 5:11am (12) Comments
Friday, May 06, 2011
Andres Torres | Giants | CF | 28% Yahoo! ownership
Oliver projection: .260/.328/.444
When Derek Ambrosino advised us to make use of our disabled list slots, he had guys like Andres Torres in mind. Before we delve into Torres' virtues, let's define exactly what he is to fantasy owners. In an ideal world, Torres is the perfect replacement level outfielder. If you can say that the first guy off your bench is Torres, you have an enviable offense.
He is such a perfect role player for fantasy teams due to his jack of all trades, master of none skill set. On any given day, you can expect Torres to contribute a little bit across the board, making him useful in daily leagues where he can sub in for the Matt Joyces of the world.
Torres is returning from an Achilles injury and is expected to be activated on Friday. He has spent his rehab stint in extended spring training, so statistics are not easily accessible. At this point he has played at least one full game and has also stolen at least one base, both of which are encouraging signs for this type of injury.
However, playing time could be a concern. The Giants have a full stable of outfielders—Torres will join Aaron Rowand, Cody Ross, Pat Burrell and Nate Schierholtz. He is almost certainly the best of the bunch but his return from injury, the competent play of Rowand and Burrell, and Ross' own recent return from injury may conspire to keep Torres to five games a week in the early going.
Since the veteran members of the outfield are so similarly talented, a slump could eat into Torres' playing time. Finally, Brandon Belt is absolutely murdering PCL pitching following his recent demotion. The Giants brass have indicated that Belt will need to show extended success to earn a call-up, but that probably means only another 10-15 days if he can keep up anything like the otherworldly 1.443 OPS he currently owns. If Belt rejoins the Giants, it will be as an outfielder. which will further crowd the picture for Torres.
The last major concern with Torres is that he will be batting leadoff for a terrible lineup. With Pablo Sandoval out for the next four to seven weeks, the Giants' already bad offense has been effectively reduced to Buster Posey. This means that Torres will find scoring to be difficult no matter how often he reaches base. Furthermore, the bottom of the Giants' lineup is unlikely to help Torres to drive in runs.
With such a long laundry list of concerns, you might be wondering why he's at the top of this week's list. Simply put, his potential to pop 15 home runs and steal between 20 and 30 bases makes him a valuable plug and play option. It's also possible that Torres may be shifted to the middle of the order since he's likely to be the second best bat in the lineup until Sandoval returns. Even if he isn't, he should be given a green light on the bases once his health is ascertained since the Giants will need to manufacture every run that they can. And while he strikes out too often for a player of his skill set (about 25 percent), he walks in close to 10 percent of his plate appearances, has an expected isolated power just shy of .200, and he does a very good job of squaring the ball up at the plate, leading to an elevated average on balls in play.
Recommendation: Should be owned in any league with more than 50 outfielders. Use as a plug and play option in shallow leagues. Deeper leagues can use him at will.
Bud Norris | SP | Astros | 41% Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.03 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 10.85 K/9, 3.03 BB/9
Oliver projection: 4.60 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 4.3 BB/9
Jeff Gross, for whom I'm subbing this week, wants me to tell you that "if you like Brandon Morrow, you have to love Norris." The two pitchers are similar brands of nasty. They both lean on wipe-out sliders that they pair up with high velocity fastballs. They both have swinging strike rates above 10 percent and feature identical 11.1 percent rates for their career. In 2011, Norris has garnered a higher rate of swinging strikes than Morrow. Both pitchers have also been know to get in trouble with walk,s although they appear to be improving in that regard. Norris has a history of being better at limiting the free passes than Morrow.
Then there are the additional factors. Norris plays a boatload of games against light hitting, National League clubs. Morrow gets to face designated hitters and plenty of stacked American League East lineups. Working against Norris is his supporting cast, an indifferent defense and downright bad offense. Morrow at least gets the benefit of an offense that likes to pound the ball and scamper about the bases.
So there's the obligatory comparison to Morrow that Jeff insisted I make.
Moving on to the more savory meat, Norris appears to be trending positively in a couple of crucial controllable skills. His walk rate is hovering near three per nine innings after clocking in at 4.5 per nine last year. His ground ball rate also appears to be creeping up (now 45 percent) which in turn should help limit the damage done by the long ball. It is still quite possible that his early season gains on these two fronts will regress all the way back to his career rates, but if at least some of these gains are real, Norris will not only be a valuable fantasy pitcher, he'll be a borderline ace.
Here's the bottom line. We know that wins are going to be hard for him to come by with an Astros team that figures to get only worse as the season progresses. Their offensive and defensive woes have been mentioned, but the bullpen is also blowing its share of games, particularly closer Brandon Lyon. We also know that the strikeouts will be there. An expectation of a strikeout per inning is fair. The wild card is ERA and WHIP. Norris is sharp right now and if he retains those previously mentioned peripheral skills, he should be able to post numbers somewhere around a 3.40 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. The more regression you expect, the farther north you should push those numbers.
One final note about Norris: He's always been a very match-up friendly pitcher. Start him against bad teams and he'll impress you. Start him against decent teams and he'll be solid. Start him against a thumping offense and he might get shelled. At least that has been my experience with Norris and a glance through his game logs seems to support that notion.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all NL-only leagues, nearly all 12-team mixed leagues, and some but not all 10-team mixed leagues.
Tim Stauffer | SP | Padres | 37% Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.12 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6.49 K/9, 2.08 BB/9
Oliver projection: 3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
A favorite sleeper entering fantasy draft season, Stauffer has bounced back from a couple rough outings to pick up where he left off last season. As noted in the offseason, he's not going to impress anyone with his strikeout rate, nor is he going to win a ton of games with the Padres offense supporting him. What he can do is round out a fantasy rotation while providing an almost ace quality ERA and a respectable WHIP. As a bonus, he's successful both home and away so there is no need to restrict yourself to Petco starts.
Stauffer is about as underwhelming as they come on the mound. One of the keys to his success is to limit walks and make his opponents outhit his strong defense. If he can keep his walk rate down near two per nine innings, he should continue to succeed. If it drifts above three per nine innings, he's going to find himself in too many jams to escape damage.
Stauffer is not for everyone. Owners in leagues with very low innings caps will be hurt by his strikeout rate. However, owners in leagues with hard-to-reach caps can use him at will. An elite strikeout specialist like Craig Kimbrel, Tim Lincecum or Jered Weaver will take the sting out of owning Stauffer.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all NL-only leagues, most 12-team mixed leagues, and all 14-team leagues.
Vance Worley | SP | Phillies | 4% Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
Oliver projection: 5.06 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9
Worley's a fun pitcher to watch if only because of his Eric Gagne style rec specs. He's had a strong start to the 2011 season, posting a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs before getting the call up to step in for Joe Blanton. After Wednesday's spin against the Nationals, Phillies fans are wondering if they actually want Blanton to return from injury.
The Phillies have to be happy with what Worley has turned into. With every level he has improved his stock. Scouts originally talked about him as a back-of-the-rotation or swing man type pitcher, but now most in the business seem comfortable calling him a solid mid-rotation starter. Unfortunately, with the Phillies' well-documented uber-rotation, Worley's only shot at a regular gig is to beat out Blanton or hope for injury.
As a fantasy option, Worley is a useful short-term option. He limits his walks to under three per nine innings and isn't particularly hittable. In nearly 35 innings this year, he's bumped his strikeout rate above one per inning and, given his youth, it is possible that this is fairly sustainable. Then again, in his two 2011 starts, he has featured a mere 4.1 percent swinging strike rate. An abnormally high number of his strikeouts have been of the looking variety. A strikeout rate closer to seven per nine innings seems like an appropriate projection.
Worley should be useful in a wide range of leagues, but the real question is how long he will be with the Phillies. Blanton, who is recovering from elbow soreness, is already throwing off a mound and could be back in a couple of weeks. As such, Worley might have only another two to four starts before he's back in Lehigh.
Recommendation: I am comfortable saying that Worley is much better than his Oliver projection, though he certainly isn't an ace. He should be owned in all NL-only leagues and most 14-team mixed leagues, and cycled in 10- and 12-team mixed leagues.
Allen Craig | Cardinals | LF/RF | 1% Yahoo! ownership
Oliver projection: .279/.333/.457
Consider this your very deep league recommendation. Injuries to David Freese and Skip Schumaker have opened up some playing time for Craig. He was activated from the disabled list on May 2 and pinch hit later that night. The following day, he spot started at third base; he'll get third base eligibility in Yahoo leagues if he starts five games there. His defense at the position is suspect, but the Cards are drawn thin across the infield and may not have much choice. Alternatives like the all glove, no bat Nick Punto aren't exactly desirable.
The main draw to Craig right now is his opportunity to play four to five games a week while contributing a little to every category. His power and speed are middling skills but he does manage to pop the occasional bomb and swipe a few bags. His plate discipline is solid, so he should be able to contribute to the runs and RBI categories. Given the talent on the Cards roster, it appears that Craig's playing time will probably evaporate in about two weeks when Schumaker returns. That will free up Danny Descalso to take more turns at third base. As such, he's nothing more than an injury patch who probably won't hurt you and could surprise you with solid production.
Recommendation: Craig is for those ultra deep leagues. A few 16-team league owners might have a use for him and most 18- and 20-team leagues probably have a home as well. NL-only leagues that use more than 45 outfielders probably have a short term home for him.
Daniel Descalso | Cardinals | 2b/3b | 1% Yahoo! ownership
Oliver projection: .254/.308/.376
Here's another deep league option courtesy of the Cardinals. While Craig is currently benefiting from Freese's demise, Descalso has garnered everyday playing time in Schumaker's stead. Descalso's projected .684 OPS says all there needs to be said about his hitting skills: There isn't much there. Fortunately, he has two things working for him, playing time and a skill set that could improve.
In the minors, Descalso was one of those rare players who walked almost as often as he struck out. If he can inch his strikeout rate down to the 10-14 percent that he featured in the minors, he just needs a little ball-in-play luck to be playable in a wide range of leagues. The key for Descalso is to take advantage of this opportunity. If he can put together a respectable triple slash while flashing the leather, he could easily unseat Schumaker as the regular second baseman. If you're considering picking up Descalso, this is what you are hoping for.
The one wild card to consider—and this goes for Craig too—Tony LaRussa. Who knows what mix and match games will be played once Schumaker returns to the lineup.
Recommendation: NL-only leagues that use more than 30 middle infielders. Any league where you would permanently roster players like Schumaker or Wilson Valdez. Those in only moderately deep leagues should keep an eye on him.
Jason Bourgeois appears to have had enough words written about him this week. Those of you in need of stolen bases in deep leagues ought to give him a spin but I think his one-tool skill set is getting over-hyped at this point. I've seen him picked up in 12- team mixed leagues and that's a big time no-no.
I have more words to say about Mark Melancon than I do about Bourgeois but I'll stick with the basics. He's a solid pitcher who could start picking up some saves. Lyon really shouldn't be a closer since he's so prone to these little runs of awful, but at the end of the day he'll probably get his gig back from Melancon—if he ever officially loses it. Wilton Lopez and Jeff Fulchino could also find themselves with the job when all is said and done. It's a bit of a fantasy quagmire, I have opted to avoid it, but those in deeper leagues will need to wade in and wager on one of these guys.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 4:57am (7) Comments
Eric Hosmer| Kansas City| 1B| 6 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .439/.525/.582 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: No projection
It looks like Dayton Moore's "process" may officially be in full swing with the promotion of Eric Hosmer, who is set to make his major league debut tonight. Unlike the man he's replacing, Kila Ka'aihue, Hosmer's sparkling minor league stats are backed by rave reviews from all major scouting publications. Described as a player who uses the whole field, he also doesn't strike out much, and shows good command of the strike zone working a healthy number of walks, all things that should help him post a solid average at the highest level. Don't be fooled by the low home run output thus far this season. The 2011 Baseball America Prospect Handbook grades his power tool as a 65 on the 20-to-80 scale, and John Sickels describes him as having good pull power.
The spectrum of possibilities when assessing Hosmer's impact this year are vast, and largely hinge on his abilities to make adjustments as the league gets its first look at him. Working in his favor is that he's made seamless adjustments on each of his promotions since having LASIK surgery prior to last season. Looking at fellow Royal Billy Butler's minor league stats, and realizing he takes a pole-to-pole approach hammering balls to the gaps, a solid starting point for prognosticating Hosmer's level of success in the early going would be to look at how Butler has fared.
Every player adjusts to the major leagues differently and displays a different learning curve. That said, owners should be satisfied if Hosmer's rookie year mirrors that of Butler, with anything greater than that being gravy.
Recommendation: Should be speculated on in all but the shallowest of leagues, with the standard warning that most rookies struggle initially.
Travis Snider| Toronto| OF| 24 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .251/.315/.434
Already featured in Waiver Wire once, Travis Snider has since seen his ownership drop, and been demoted to Triple-A. The Blue Jays brass says he was sent down because he needed to work out some kinks in his approach, and take a more direct path to the ball with his swing. A Google search doesn't yield any news as to whether he's showing the necessary changes to his mechanics, but the results since his demotion have been solid. He's struck out just twice in 17 at-bats while walking six times and recording nine hits. Snider's raw power, and the Jays' grip it and rip it approach should pay home run dividends once he's summoned to the parent club. While not the fleetest of foot, Snider was able to swipe five bags while getting caught just once, thanks largely to manager John Farrell's aggressive approach to sending baserunners. That makes for the possibility of continued stolen base contributions, though not at his early season rate.
Those in leagues with shallow benches likely had to cut bait with his demotion, but continue to monitor the situation as Snider isn't a lost cause by any stretch at just 23 years of age. Those in leagues with medium-to-deep benches where he's available should roster him, as the upside is well worth the bench spot. For Snider's sake, I hope this will be the last time he's featured in this column.
Recommendation: Should be owned in medium sized mixed leagues with ample bench spaces, most large mixed leagues, and nearly all AL-only leagues.
Michael Brantley| Cleveland| OF| 11 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .274/.334/.359
In spite of the return of Grady Sizemore to the Indians' lineup and the subsequent drop from the leadoff spot that came with it for speedy outfielder Michael Brantley, he has continued to maintain fantasy relevance. Thanks to his ability to make contact at a high rate, and a batted ball profile that features him slapping line drives and pounding balls into the ground to best use his speed, maintaining a batting average over .300 is a strong possibility. Also able to reach base via a strong walk rate, Brantley should see ample opportunities to steal bases as the season moves along. Because he's power-challenged, Brantley is very much a specialist. Those in need of stolen bases and average help should seek Brantley's services.
Recommendation: Should be owned in leagues that roster more than 50 total outfielders and should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Danny Duffy| Kansas City| SP| Unavailable in the Yahoo! player database
YTD: 2.08 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 11.42 K/9, 2.08 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 4.68 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
If the promotion of Hosmer serves as phase one of the "process," the likely promotion of Danny Duffy sometime shortly after June 1 should serve as phase two. Duffy has already been the recipient of my kind words (insert shameless self promotion here) and is one of the few prospects Yahoo! did not include in its database prior to the season, making him a prime candidate to save a high waiver priority for. A southpaw, he has used his low-to-mid-90s fastball, change-up, and curveball to baffle hitters while throwing from a three-quarters arm slot and piling up strikeouts. Pitching in a favorable home ballpark, and showcasing a history of strong control, Duffy should be able to spare himself some of the growing pains most young starters struggle through, though he'll undoubtedly have some nonetheless. Duffy should be monitored by owners in leagues of all sizes and formats, as he has enough stuff to hit the ground running.
Recommendation: Should be monitored in all but the shallowest of leagues as he has the stuff to make an instant impact upon promotion.
Rick Porcello| Detroit| SP| 5 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.25 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 6.98 K/9, 2.12 BB/9, 51.0 GB (stats do not include his Thursday afternoon game against the Yankees in which he threw seven innings giving up eight hits, two earned runs and two walks, striking out three in picking up a win)
Oliver ROS: 4.42 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 4.9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9
Thanks to the Tigers' decision to have Porcello learn to pitch to contact and pound a sinker in the strike zone while in the low minors, he has largely been an irrelevant fantasy arm since reaching the majors in 2009. That may be changing this season, as his fastball (sinker) usage is down this year for the second year in a row. Using more of his secondary offerings is likely the reason for career best marks in his swinging strike rate to date, and a career low contact rate against as well. Is Porcello finally adding the last piece of the puzzle to his desirable mix of an extreme groundball tendency and tremendous walk rate? Perhaps. The sample size is too small to draw any concrete conclusions, but it isn't too small to generate optimism and provide reason for speculation. It's easy to forget Porcello is just 22 years of age, and unlike many pitchers his age, he's already worked himself up to a 200-plus inning limit. Keep tabs on his pitch usage and results going forward, a new and improved Porcello may be emerging.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most large mixed leagues, and most AL-only leagues.
Erik Bedard| Seattle| SP| 8 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 5.23 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6.34 K/9, 3.58 BB/9, 40.6 GB
Oliver ROS: 4.25 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
Like Snider above, Erik Bedard makes his return to Waiver Wire.After two quality starts in which he's yielded just three earned runs and walked just two over 14 innings, it may be time to begin trusting Bedard once again. The strikeouts haven't been there, and it remains to be seen if this post-surgery incarnation of Bedard can revert to the strikeout machine he previously was, but his favorable upcoming schedule should help answer some questions surrounding him while mitigating some of the risk.
If he were to pitch on normal rest he'd face the White Sox at home in his next turn, followed by the Indians on the road, Angels at home, Twins on the road and Orioles at home. Of those match-ups, only the Indians are a top-15 offense in terms of runs scored at fifth, while the White Sox rank 20th, Angels 16th, Twins 30th and Orioles 25th. Beyond the offenses he'll be facing, the venues are quite juicy: Three of his five starts are at home and one of his road tilts is at spacious Target Field, while the other is his match-up against the Indians in which he should probably be benched anyway. Armed with upside and favorable match-ups, Bedard is an intriguing add candidate for owners in need of pitching help.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most larger mixed leagues, and most AL-only leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 6:29am (3) Comments
Monday, May 09, 2011
After a month-long hiatus that included, among other things, countless hours of baseball watching, I am back to bring you the first installment of what I’m going to call "Hitch, Ditch, or Pitch." The players we’ll discuss over the next several weeks will be players who are, in one way or another, underperforming.
The term "hitch" will be used to indicate that you should hang onto the player mentioned, stash on your bench, or monitor on the waiver wire.
"Ditch" is pretty self-explanatory. These are the guys that I’ll be encouraging you to let go.
Lastly, there’s "pitch," which is probably my favorite category we’ll be exploring. This category will be reserved for trading advice, whether that be advising to trade for/away any certain player. Hopefully, this can be a fun exercise to, at the very least, get your wheels spinning about the future of your fantasy team.
As we enter week six-ish of the baseball season, we should all be pretty acquainted with our rosters. You should know by now the strengths and weaknesses of your own personal ball club. If you don’t, I encourage you to warm up a Hot Pocket and spend some time looking over the stats you’ve accumulated to this point.
As in life, it’s always a good idea to take time-outs where you step away from your team and take a bird’s eye look at the overall picture. I like to seek out the advice of people that have a worthwhile opinion.
For example, my FantasyPros 911 NL-Only expert league team is really starting to suffer from my lack of closers. During the auction, I made the rookie mistake of devaluing the closer spot so severely that it left me without any considerable option. Furthermore, I missed out on Sean Burnett.
With the Cuban Missile (Aroldis Chapman) as my lone reliever, I have found myself in a very desperate place. Overall, my team is playing well, but the ten points I have punted to the rest of the league has started to worry me. I have now begun to question my ability to squeeze enough saves out of the waiver wire to make an impact.
Now we segue into my next point. A weakness is only a weakness if you let it fester. It’s like a tick on a dog. If you find the little bloodsucker soon enough, it can be a relatively painless ordeal. On the other hand, if that tick goes unnoticed, it can cause all kinds of problems—even physical harm—to the dog. It’s time for us all to check our rosters, grab some cauterized tweezers and rid our teams of the "ticks."
Matt Wieters C BAL: Chances are that if you currently own Wieters, you are most likely out of many other catcher options, especially in deeper leagues. You can’t trade him, and you can’t drop him. He has been showing some life lately, and I think his managers should weather the storms that Weiters will undoubtedly bring throughout the rest of the season.
Nelson Cruz OF TEX: Cruz represents the guy you should have traded away when he started off the season with five home runs in five games. Trust me. I pitched this guy all over the league and was unsuccessful in every query. My thought was that Cruz’s value would never be greater than it was at that moment.
Hurriedly, I began throwing out insane offers for Pujols, Braun, and the like. They were all unsuccessful, but I remain proud of myself because I was able to recognize that every player you own should have a price tag. Understanding how to manage value is still key to winning fantasy baseball.
Cruz is now relegated to the 15-day disabled list, and his stats are a shell of what they were. I’m hitched now for better or worse to Nelson.
Ian Desmond SS WAS: I was a Desmond fan going into the season, and I am a Desmond fan here on May 9. With three home runs and 10 steals through 112 at-bats, he’s on pace for roughly 15-17 homers and 50-plus stolen bases over the course of the entire season. Those stats alone prove his value. I don’t care how much he strikes out or how bad his average may be by season’s end. I would even go as far as say that if I were to re-rank shortstops, I would move him into the top five.
Jayson Werth OF WAS: His strikeout percentage is down from previous years. He’s walking at generally the same rate. Werth’s BABIP is a frustrating .261 when he never had a BABIP below .300 previously in his career. I look at his HR/FB rate of 11.4 percent, and I further my belief that Werth is really getting unlucky.
My only concern is his eye-popping 25.5 percent infield flyball percentage. So he’s definitely pressing way too hard to jumpstart his bat. That 25.5 number is ridiculous considering he was a five percent IFFB guy last year. Something that should be monitored.
Carlos Pena 1B CHC: I’m done with you Pena. I loved your value at the beginning of this season, and your three home runs this week have begun to tug at my heartstrings. I advise all those in 12-team leagues and shallower to jump ship and open the door to all the studly up-and-coming talent about to enter the majors over the next month or so (Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt, Mike Moustakas).
Marlon Byrd OF CHC: Maybe I am too harsh on the Cubbies, but when two of your best players are named Darwin and Starlin and weigh a combined 200 pounds, then you should really examine the depth of your baseball team.
I know Alfonso Soriano has rediscovered his inner 2004, but it’s time to cut ties with all these other fringe players. Byrd is one of those guys that I just don’t think has the chops to be an impact player in 2011. I know he’s hitting over .300, and if you can deal him, then more power to you. I just can’t stomach the lack of home runs, steals, runs, and RBIs.
Adam LaRoche 1B WAS: I don’t have time to wait until the second half of the season to cash in on LaRoche. Maybe all you guys out in the THT world can, but I have given up on this guy. There are too many good first baseman out there. Honestly, I would take the slumping Michael Morse over LaRoche. If you have the roster space, the patience, or depth of league, then by all means, wait it out. I’m not.
Miguel Tejada SS/3B SFO: Tejada is done as a viable option in all but the deepest of leagues. There are too many serviceable third basemen to even consider him there, and I would rather salvage my shortstop position off the waiver wire. Grabbing a guy like Tyler Plouffe for example, would make me feel that I am at least working towards bettering my team. If you are rostering Tejada, then you’ve already given up on your shortstop position.
Dan Uggla 2B ATL: I tell you why I’m trading for Dan Uggla. Normally, I’m not one to let my emotions play a huge role in my decision making, but I have always held a grudge against Uggla. I have never been able to obtain his services on my fantasy teams for one reason or another, and he cost me one hundred dollars in the All-Star Game where he struck out twice with runners on base and booted three balls in the field.
Well, needless to say, I’m older now. I don’t bet on baseball anymore—real baseball, anyways. I find myself drawn to this guy. His power is obviously legit. The table in front of him will always be set in Atlanta. I believe he has enough maturity as a hitter to make it through these early-season struggles.
Jason Heyward OF ATL: I’ve always been a Heyward fan. His large, looping bat looks like it’s twice the size when he releases it through the strike zone. I truly feel he will be every bit as good as all the analysts prognosticated he would be in 2011.
As I watch him, I have noticed that he can tilt the head of the bat ever so slightly as it enters the zone, which sometimes causes that uppercut swing that generally doesn’t work well with his bat movement. I don’t think that will linger long, and the time is fading on getting Heyward cheap.
Carl Crawford OF BOS: I would honestly pitch for any of the Boston regulars. I feel they are all representing a decent bargains right now. Some recent trades that I saw involving Crawford were for guys like Francisco Liriano, Brandon Morrow, Heyward, and even an Aaron Hill/Jason Kubel 2-for-1 deal (courtesy of CBS Sports).
That’s downright disrespectful for as valuable a skill set as Crawford has. He’s rocking a .250 BABIP that is a far cry from his .323 career average. With only five steals to his credit, many owners may be over-thinking the injuries, which would definitely work to your advantage.
Derek Jeter SS NYY: I know he finished Sunday with a 4-for-6 day with two home runs and a stolen base, but as I have stated earlier in my preseason articles, I’m a true believer that we are witnessing the twilight of this Hall of Famer. His mechanics as a hitter are shot, and his defense is even worse. There’s nothing the Yanks can do, but you, as his fantasy owner, can jump ship. Sure you’ll be only getting thirty cents on the dollar, but I’d rather have thirty cents than twenty, maybe.
Chone Figgins 2B/3B SEA: Here’s another guy that I wasn’t high on entering the season. For me Figgins was nothing more than a middle infield filler and much lower than even Danny Espinosa in my personally rankings. I don’t think he’s even rosterable in shallow leagues.
His history as a speedster works to your advantage as an owner if you can still get some poor sap to rid you of him. I just don’t think there’s much hope for him, and he’s one or two call-ups from being out of a job. It’s time for the Mariners to usher in the Dustin Ackley dynasty, and you should do the same. I am, of course, assuming you are using Figgins as a middle infielder. If he’s your third baseman, you have bigger fish to fry.
Gordon Beckham 2B CHW: He’s too streaky for me. I’ve always loved his skill set and his hard-hat demeanor, but his two week-long droughts really irk me, especially in my head-to-head leagues. I don’t know if he’ll always be this kind of player where when he’s on, he’s on and when he’s off, he’s off. But I’m beginning to think he is. For head-to-head gamers, it is time to cash in on the "Beckham" name. Ideally, I’d time the trade around the call up of Brett Lawrie.
Adam Jones OF BAL: What player are we looking at with Jones? Is he the future 30/20 guy we all once thought he could be? Or is he the sub-20 homer guy with 10 steal potential that he is perennially showing us he is?
I don’t know what it is about Adam Jones. Some people really like him, and some people have no interest in him whatsoever.
I may be one of the few who remain undecided. I own him in our THT writers Yahoo! league, and I routinely find myself questioning why I continually start him over guys like Ryan Roberts. I say if you can find someone willing to give you 100 percent of his preseason value, I would jump all over it. I see someone like a Neftali Feliz as a preseason equal to Adam Jones.
Lastly, here’s my “Pritch Slap” for week six: It’s never too early to better your team, but it’s always too late to panic.
Posted by Ben Pritchett at 5:11am (11) Comments
THT’s Jeff Gross writes to the Roster Doctor for an in-house call. This is an 12-team “expert league” with standard categories. Jeff’s given me access to his league’s site so that I can see all the teams there.
C – Brian McCann
C – Hank Conger
1B – Freddie Freeman
2B – Michael Cuddyer
3B – Adrian Beltre
SS – Hanley Ramirez
CI – David Wright
MI – Mike Aviles
OF – Milton Bradley
OF – Ryan Ludwick
OF – Jayson Werth
OF – J.D. Drew
OF – Jerry Sands
UT – Chipper Jones
SP – Mat Latos
SP – Brandon Beachy
RP – Brandon Lyon
RP – Darren Oliver
P – Jonny Venters
P – Luke Gregerson
P – Michael Pineda
P – Ubaldo Jimenez
P - Ryan Dempster
BN - Tim Stauffer
BN – Aaron Hill (DL)
BN – Mike Moustakas
BN – Sean Burnett
BN – Hong-Chih Kuo
DL – Joe Mauer
DL – Chase Utley
I’ve been offered Tim Lincecum plus someone like Cameron Maybin for Adrian Beltre plus one of Hill/Cuddyer
I would say your top problems are these:
1) Your offense is weak in runs scored. This is apparent from the standings, where you are second to last in runs. I guessed first that this would be the case after glancing at your roster. There are a few too many bottom of the order players on your team— Drew, Freeman, Sands (isn’t a lineup regular), and even Cuddyer. Only Aviles regularly bats in the top two spots. Of course, since some of your batters are off to poor starts, your runs scored suffer from your low batting average, too.
2) You have three spots for first basemen/designated hitters and only one first baseman and not a very good one at that. You could use the best sluggers in the league at 1B, CI and Util. You’re giving a lot of offense away by having inferior position players in these spots. However, with both Beltre and Wright, you are deep at third base, particularly now with all the injuries.
3) You have about one-half of a closer.
4) Your starters are off to bad starts and there are more than several question marks as to whether they will be like 2010 vintage Josh Beckett or worse. Latos might be fine, but Dempster and particularly Jimenez are real unknowns at this point.
What to do?
Obviously you can’t fix all these right off the bat. I think you are right to look to trade one of your third basemen. The trade you’ve been offered is intriguing and in a vacuum, I’d probably do it. Maybin is looking better this year, with improvements in walk rate and power. You have an extra middle infielder, so giving up one of them wouldn’t be too painful.
The thing is, Beltre/Wright are your best (or even only) real trade chips at this point. There are more than a few teams in your league with major holes at third—Macer Izturis, Pablo Sandoval and Martin Prado are being played by your opponents at third. One team still has Ryan Zimmerman starting.
Try to work the team playing Sandoval and see if he’ll part with Miguel Cabrera since he also has Derek Lee. Or go for the team playing Izturis and see if he’ll part with either Billy Butler or Adam Lind, one of his benched relievers like Koji Uehara and perhaps another small piece for Beltre. Normally I don’t like a two-for-one trade where you give up the best piece, but in this case, I think it might make sense.
In the meantime, I would go with band-aids for your starters and hope and pray you find some closers. There’s a much better chance that the wait-and-see strategy works here than for your offense.
By the way, in general, pick on the owner starting Kevin Youkilis at 1B and Prado at 3B. He seems to be using a player’s multi-position eligibility in the worst way.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 8:00am (8) Comments
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
At this point in the short history of fantasy sports, it is less likely that someone would pay money to participate in a league and then just ignore his team. That is because there is so much time, money and energy invested in playing fantasy sports, an activity in which over 27 million Americans participate. With so many different types of leagues that are customizable to the point where it is virtually impossible to not find exactly what you are looking for, it is unfathomable to think that someone could join a league and then simply abandon his team.
By "abandon" I mean let his team sit idle for several weeks in a row with no changes, transactions or updates to his roster or lineup when it is plainly obvious that changes need to be made (i.e., injuries, demotion to the minor leagues, slumps, etc.). This scenario could elicit a myriad of reactions, depending on what kind of league you are in. But what should a league commissioner do if a league member truly does abandon his team and creates either a "bye" in a head-to-head points league or the automatic floor in a roto league? The commissioner is in a precarious predicament when confronted with such a situation because whatever decision he makes will likely not appease everyone else, and he must also be sensitive to how his own needs are considered by the other league members.
Recently, a case was submitted to Fantasy Judgment with this exact scenario. Below is the official opinion written resolving the issue with guidance and recommendations offered by the Court.
SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
Miguel’s Mashers, et al. v. Detroit’s Finest
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE MOTOR CITY FANTASY BASEBALL LEAGUE
Decided May 6, 2011
Cite as 3 F.J. 19 (May 2011)
A rotisserie fantasy baseball league (hereinafter referred to as “Roto league” or “The Motor City Fantasy Baseball League”) seeks a determination whether the Commissioner can cede control of a team that has been allegedly abandoned. The Motor City Fantasy Baseball League (“MCFBL”) also seeks guidance on what to do with the abandoned team and its players. This is a 12-team, mixed AL/NL keeper league where each team is permitted to maintain up to five players during each offseason with each individual player allowed to be kept for a maximum of three years. Each team is also permitted to keep three minor league players which are in addition to the five players kept. The MCFBL utilized a snake draft and permits transitions through the free agent auction bidding process.
As with many rotisserie leagues, the subject Roto league uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money. For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) home runs; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases. For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves. Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head-to-head games contained within the Roto league.
Detroit’s Finest appears to have abandoned his team or at least has not made any attempts to make improvements through transactions, trades or lineup changes.
The MCFBL was formed in 2004 amongst friends from college. Of the 12 teams currently in the league, only two were not original members from 2004. One of these newer teams is Detroit’s Finest who joined the league in 2009 when an opening was created due to the departure of a league member who recently had a baby. Detroit’s Finest was brought into the league by the Commissioner whom he knew personally for several years. In 2009 and 2010, Detroit’s Finest finished near the bottom of the standings and typically did not make many transactions or engage in trade discussions. He made his league entry fee payments of an undisclosed amount in a timely manner, as did all other members of the league.
Entering the 2011 season, Detroit’s Finest elected to keep Tim Lincecum and Ryan Howard as his only keepers. He participated in the draft and acquired such players as Brandon Belt, Josh Hamilton, and Mariano Rivera. However, after Hamilton was injured earlier in the season, he never made any effort to replace him on his roster and in fact left Hamilton in his starting lineup every week accumulating no statistics as he is on the disabled list. Three separate teams in the league made trade proposals to Detroit’s Finest offering various outfielders to compensate for the loss of Hamilton, but no response was given to any of the proposals. Calls and emails from the league’s Commissioner went unanswered. Additionally, Belt was sent down to the minors yet Detroit’s Finest has not removed him from his starting lineup. The league Commissioner saw Detroit’s Finest in person recently and he evaded questions about his fantasy team.
Detroit’s Finest currently is in last place in the MCFBL’s standings, 18 points behind the next-highest team. Several members of the league have complained to the Commissioner to do something about this. Some suggested solutions have been to abandon the team and redistribute the players in a supplemental draft, as well as to find a replacement owner to take over control.
The Commissioner has elected to do nothing at this point. Members of the league, on behalf of the Commissioner, now seek guidance in how to handle the situation going forward. The MCFBL does have a written Constitution, but it does not contain any provisions for dealing with this specific occurrence.
(1) What should be done to handle an allegedly abandoned team?
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment is a strong advocate for having written Constitutions that govern fantasy sports leagues. See John Doe v. Fantasy Football League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 21, 22 (October 2010). One of the primary reasons behind having a written Constitution is so that all league members are aware of the rules and guidelines in place that govern the administration and function of the fantasy league. See Shawn Kemp is My Daddy v. Fantasy Basketball League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 24, 25 (October 2010). When a league Commissioner writes out the rules and distributes them to the league, it shifts the burden onto the league members to read, understand, and adhere to the rules that are delineated. If a league member has an issue, question or challenge to one of the rules in the Constitution, they are welcome to raise this with the Commissioner before signing it or agreeing to its codification.
First, the Court recognizes the courage of the Commissioner to not make any rash decisions that could potentially call into question his integrity. The Commissioner very easily could have made a decision that somehow benefited him personally, but instead he has patiently sought the advice of the Court for guidance. The Court strongly frowns upon league Commissioners arbitrarily making decisions that do not benefit the league as a whole. See Flemish USA v. League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 35, 37 (October 2010).
On top of the fact that there is no language in the league’s Constitution dealing with this particular issue, there is also no language within the Constitution that discusses what the procedure is to handle an issue of first impression such as this. When a league Constitution is silent, the Court will defer to the default premise that a league Commissioner has the authority and discretion to handle an issue of first impression within the best interests of the league. See George v. LOEG Commissioner, 2 F.J. 42, 44 (October 2010). Normally, the Court does not advocate creating or amending rules in the middle of a season unless there are extraordinary circumstances involved, such as preventing a complete mutiny and subsequent meltdown of the league. See John Doe v. Fantasy Football League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 21, 22 (October 2010). Here, it is clear that several members of the league have requested the Commissioner take action in handling this situation. However, the record is devoid of any references to threats to quit the league or disband.
While it is never a positive scenario when a fantasy owner has purportedly stopped paying attention and managing his team. This leads to an unbalance in the standings because that abandoned team essentially guarantees a floor in a roto league or a bye in a head-to-head league. This obviously affects the standings and potential prize winnings down the road. However, Detroit’s Finest had already paid his league entry fee which will in turn be distributed to the league winners at the end of the season. It is well-established law that teams that pay to participate in fantasy leagues should be given the freedom to manage their teams accordingly. See 4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011). Here, while it is unfortunate that Detroit’s Finest has inexplicably elected not to effectively manage his team, the fact remains that he paid for the ability to do what he pleases with his team, even at his own detriment. It is understood that this methodology does not necessarily comport with basic standards of competition and good faith. However, electing another option poses greater danger to the league in terms of overall fairness.
To take control over Detroit’s Finest through fantasy eminent domain is not an ideal option. Giving control of the team to the Commissioner, another team, or the league overall simply creates more controversy than what already exists. Everyone’s own self-serving motivations would go into whatever decisions had to be made for that team. Disbanding the team and redistributing the players in a supplemental draft is not a good choice either because of the myriad of questions that are created in determining the draft order and comporting with everyone’s already existing roster requirements and limitations. The most ideal scenario is to find someone else outside the league to take over control of the team as it currently stands. Assuming this cannot be done, the Court rules that the status quo is what is best for the league. If Detroit’s Finest is destined to remain at the bottom of the standings, then that is not problematic. No matter what, one team will have to be at the bottom of the standings at the end of the year. In this case, the only difference is that it is likely a foregone conclusion which team that will be.
Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby decides that the Commissioner should not do anything in terms of taking control of Detroit’s Finest. Electing to maintain the status quo eliminates any potential impropriety or the advancement of further issues. It also leaves the door open for the owner of Detroit’s Finest to come back and take over control of his team again at a later date. In the best interests of the league, as well as comporting with the duties and responsibilities of being Commissioner, the Court concludes that nothing should be done in response to the alleged abandonment of the fantasy baseball team in the MCFBL.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Posted by Michael Stein at 1:07am (30) Comments
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Originally, I had intended to write this column in the offseason because it’s more of a musing than an advice column, but since I think that I’m much better at waxing philosophic than offering advice anyway, maybe my silence on the latter is the best I can give and a blessing in disguise.
I have something of an internal inconsistency, a philosophical chasm in the way I view fantasy baseball’s market and financial markets as they apply to my conception of the rest of the word and my overarching economic beliefs. This gulf prompts me to ask a question, the answer to which has the potential to be profoundly troubling to my view of self.
I have no intention of turning this post into a debate of political or economic philosophies, but this conundrum does rest a bit on my views, so let me just get through this very briefly— one sentence even. In economic matters, especially those that deal with the types of complex financial instruments that have such a potentially profound impact on the world’s economy, I’m extremely pro-regulation and unconflicted about my willingness to step on a corporation’s alleged right to make money to protect the masses from potential disaster. While you may be tempted to debate the merits of that philosophy, that is not the point of this post, so let’s not focus on that aspect of this post.
The point of this piece is that my feelings about fantasy baseball are 180 degrees opposite my macroeconomic leanings. In the fantasy baseball marketplace, I almost always prefer the deregulation. I don’t mind if there is no veto structure at all in a league, as long as participants are vetted to some very minor degree. I’m a proponent of the creation of more, and increasingly complex instruments to expand on the possible market transactions in the fantasy baseball universe. Seriously, has nobody at Yahoo proposed the idea of making it possible to propose three-team trades?
If we put aside the obvious differences between Mike Stanton hype and a housing bubble, such as the fact that there are no meaningfully harmful consequences that can result from the collapse of a fantasy baseball league, there’s one key difference that between the two that I’d like to discuss, as I don’t think most fantasy players think enough about it when evaluating the market transactions of others. Let’s begin with an anecdote.
About two weeks ago, in a 12-team mixed league in which I’m a co-owner, a trade ran across the board that sparked the ire of many a team. The trade was Dustin Pedroia for Leo Nunez and Brandon League. Obviously, this was before the news that David Aardsma may have Tommy John surgery in his future, though in the League-acquiring owner’s defense of the move, to his credit, he did speculate that he doubted Aardsma would be back and healthy, and presumed that given League’s performance, the job would actually be his all year.
The message board raged. The league called for a discussion regarding the possibility of instituting a veto system for trades— in its eighth year, there is none, except in a case in which one owner has what he feels to be evidence of collusion. At first look, I grumbled at the trade too, but upon giving it a little thought, I was fine with it, and not just on the philosophic grounds that an owner should be allowed free rein to act in any manner as long as he legitimately thinks such actions are toward the benefit of his team. No, there’s another dynamic at work here: the imperfect and inefficient trade market in fantasy baseball.
This owner needed saves. He was languishing in last place in the category. He had no closers at all, and therefore needed to acquire at least two to hope to be competitive in the category; adding one would have been of little to no value in terms of actual points to be accrued. Right there, the likelihood that he’s going to get near “equal value” for Pedroia is essentially low, if he wants to fill his needs swiftly and in one transaction. Think about how imperfect the market is for what he seeks – he needs to find a single owner who wants a middle infield stud (who is off to a slow start), and who is willing to part with two closers. Who has two closers to trade at once (and this league loves closers too, let me tell ya)? Basically, this owner is forced to take any option on the table that gives him the kinds of pieces he wants; there aren’t going to be many offers from which to choose.
So, he looked at his team, decided which players he owned had enough value to command multiple closers, picked the one for whom he had the best contingency plan according to his estimation and announced, “it’s closing time, ladies, and I’m willing to go home with any two of you, sight unseen, but it has to be a ménage de trois!” What other option did he have?
The idea that this owner could have gotten “fair value” for Pedroia exists only in a vacuum; that is, it exists only if you presume that the form in which the return value comes does not matter to him. Given his situation, clearly it did. One could argue that he should have made these moves step-wise, get one closer and another more valuable asset, then acquire closer No. 2 in a subsequent deal. However, trades aren’t so easy to make, and doing so would take time and effort, which are resources in their own right. He wanted to fill his need quickly and was willing to take a bit of a discount to do so—an entirely rational perspective. He’s further vindicated in that the League half of the equation looks like it will play out in accordance with his prediction, which was ridiculed by many I might add.
So, getting back to the philosophical debate, the point is that if the league were to regulate his actions ex post facto, he would have essentially been handcuffed. It’s reasonable to suggest that no similarly structured offers were on the table, so precluding his ability to make the move he did make would have been tantamount to preclude his right to make any similar move; a clear overreach. For the record, in this situation the commissioner rightly stepped in and announced that this trade would not be vetoed and that the (no-) veto policy was not up for review. Strong, decisive, and in my opinion, correct behavior. Props to you, sir.
The imperfections and inefficiencies of the market (it’s also really a pain to compare offers to make sure you get the best trade, etc.; it’s not like there’s open bidding) regulate the market substantially in the first place, effectively speaking. To then regulate the market after transactions have taken place, and effort had been made to traverse said market inefficiencies, seems excessive—again, provided everybody in the league can be trusted to play without training wheels.
Further, the introduction of a somewhat complex instrument to expand the transaction potential of the market, such as a three-way trade feature, would have increased the efficiency of this transaction and opened new options to the Pedroia dealer that didn’t previously exist. It’s my opinion that for him to have been able to markedly better in this (type of) deal, he would have had to get a third team involved. In fact, if he had been able to do that, I think he probably could have gotten a very nice deal done.
In the Wall Street market, where people and machines trade commodities, futures, and derivatives, the market is theoretically nearly perfect (wait, don’t go to the comment section to disagree yet, I’ll get to what I mean by that). Complex computer systems exist to shave pennies off of prices. So much attention is paid to detail that when the value of something shifts by a penny, warehouses of computers enact prop trades en masse to capitalize on the efficiency, and for those who run these outfits, the pursuit of faster internet connections to get to the “front of the line” when executing these trades is a virtual (no pun intended) arms race.
When I say the markets are perfect, I mean that anything you can possibly want, you can get. There’s a well-established market for it, and the price you pay for something is precise, even if not always commensurate with its true value.
Now, when we talk of complex financial instruments, it is my belief that, contrary to the proposition of their existence in fantasy baseball, many of them exist primarily to deceive and obfuscate the essential currency of the marketplace, value, risk, etc. Again, this is just my interpretation.
All of this is to say that in the real world, not only are the consequences of failure ever more dire, the need to expand the latitude of what market actors can do is non-existent. The character of these new expansions seems disproportionately skewed toward those who turn the market from a way to more efficiently distribute capital to promote widespread economic growth to a big casino with lots of new games with rules that the pit bosses (and gaming commission) don’t even understand.
Another item worth noting here is that the form of currency is quite precise in a real market, but much less so in terms of fantasy baseball. This is an imperfection, though an inescapable reality, that makes the trade market difficult. If we have a potential trade, and I’m off on my side by 8 percent, unless I have a player who is exactly 8 percent more valuable than the guy I’m slated to include, it is very difficult to reconcile this difference. “You don’t have change for a Jimmy Rollins?” “No, sorry, all I have is this Ryan Braun and I don’t want to break it.”
The way I reconcile my differing opinions hinges on the relative market imperfections and inefficiencies of the fantasy baseball aftermarket. I believe the de facto regulation imposed by that dynamic is substantial enough that additional regulation is not needed. What is needed, however—in both systems—are firm and well thought out parameters regarding the types of behavior that are and are not permissible.
But, there is another possibility here, the one that forces me question myself. I make no bones about my socialist-leaning political tendencies and because of them I don’t really participate in the investment market, even though I feel understand it better than the vast many who do. Perhaps my desire to regulate it is a much more selfish decision… I do participate in fantasy baseball, and I’m pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.
Could it be that I am really no different than the hot-shot trader who doesn’t want regulation because it will hamper his ability to personally thrive, even though such regulation may offer greater protection to the mass? The typical argument against regulation in financial markets is usually that those involved are smart and sophisticated and that we shouldn’t infringe on their ability to exercise those smarts in creative ways. Well, when thinking about how I’d like to be treated in the context of my fantasy leagues and my latitude to make moves and implement unconventional and perhaps excessively risky strategies, I’d say that sentiment applies.
I like to think my conviction is real, and the proof is that despite having an active interest in understanding how the economy works and even how people make fortunes off ruining the economic futures of others, I’ve never been tempted exploit any of that knowledge for my own financial gain. I’ve deemed that game something I’m not interested in playing. So, maybe actions speak louder than words and ultimately, I’m voting via my participation, because when it comes to fantasy baseball, I emphatically say, “Play Ball!”
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:33am (12) Comments
Friday, May 13, 2011
It is a tough week out on the waiver wire. Some holdovers from the last few NL Waiver Wire pieces remain on the market, but new blood is thin in the value pool.
Chase Utley | 2B | Phillies | 94% Yahoo! ownership
Oliver RoS: .281/.379/.490
This is just a friendly reminder that the former top second baseman is due to come off the disabled list on May 18. If anyone is in those six percent of leagues that don't own him, snap him up. Others may want to attempt to trade for him. His chondromalacia is not something that heals, but the pain is now manageable for Utley. He's a gamer so expect him to remain on the field once he returns. Be prepared for Charlie Manuel to occasionally bench him, especially right before scheduled off days.
As far as production, wipe the steals projection to zero and do not be surprised if there is a decrease in power. His contact skills and plate discipline should remain consistent with past results. Altogether, he should be one of the top second base options for the remainder of the season.
Recommendation: Acquire where possible.
Domonic Brown | RF | Phillies | 24% Yahoo! ownership
Oliver RoS: .268/.329/.453
Brown was sidelined early in spring training after an injury to his hamate bone—similar to the injury recently sustained by Pablo Sandoval. Brown is back in minor league action and mashing. Across two levels, he has posted a .358/.426/.642 slash with four home runs over 59 plate appearances.
The top prospect's recovery couldn't come at a better time for the Phillies, who recently entered one of the toughest stretches in their 2011 schedule. While Raul Ibanez has briefly turned around his early season woes at the plate, he is on a short leash. In the meantime, Ben Francisco seems to have stepped in as the resident slumping outfielder. Brown should be close to taking time from both veterans while starting most games in right field.
Oliver expects fairly average production out of Brown and it is tough to guess exactly how much playing time he will get or where in the order he will bat. It safe to say he will play more often than he sits and that he'll bat somewhere toward the middle of the lineup, but narrowing things down beyond that is a fool's errand.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all NL-only leagues and most leagues that employ more than 50 outfielders.
Will Venable | OF | Padres | 5% Yahoo! ownership
Oliver RoS: .240/.309/.395
Venable is fun to watch. He's one of the most athletic players in the majors yet he's also one of those guys who doesn't have a full shed of baseball skills to go with his tools.
After slumping through much of the early going, Venable has picked up the pace, posting a solid batting average over the past two weeks while flashing his plus speed on the bases. His skill set leans heavily towards the stolen base category since his high strikeout rate guarantees a low batting average. He also gets few RBI opportunities though he should be able to post neutral numbers in the home run (expect about 10) and runs scored categories.
He's best used by owners who have one or more elite power hitters like Joey Votto to balance out his low average and middling power. Those in linear weights based leagues can generally ignore Venable. His main skill—steals—isn't highly prized in such formats and his on-base and slugging skills are matched by a small army of outfielders.
Recommendation: Must own in NL-only leagues due to the scarcity of stolen base threats. Consider owning him in any league with more than 60 outfielders.
Fred Lewis | OF | Reds | 1% Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .250/.250/.625 (8 PA)
Oliver RoS: .266/.343/.417
Lewis always seems to find himself involved in some kind of roster crunch despite being a perfectly adequate, roughly league average outfielder. This year is no different. Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce have two of the Reds outfield slots locked down on most days, leaving Lewis to battle with Jonny Gomes and Chris Heisey. Like Lewis, both Gomes and Heisey are roughly league average outfielders.
Lewis has one leg up on his competition though: his lefty bat. Both Gomes and Heisey bat from the right side, so Lewis should end up seeing roughly 60 percent of the starts once they work him into the rotation. So far, Dusty Baker has given Lewis one start and four pinch-hit appearances since he was activated on May 4, so it isn't guaranteed that he will end up with the strong side of a platoon, but those in sufficiently deep leagues may want to speculate on the possibility.
Recommendation: Should be owned in NL-only leagues with more than 45 outfielders and watched closely in mixed leagues with more than 70.
James McDonald | SP | Pirates | 7% Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 5.65 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 6.87 K/9, 4.66 BB/9
Oliver RoS: 4.40 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 4.1 BB/9
This pick is for all those out there who like to ride the hot hand. McDonald got off to a terrible start this season, allowing 21 earned runs in his first 18.2 innings. Since those first four starts, he has settled down with three straight quality starts, allowing just two runs over his last 18 innings. Those starts came against three of the worst offenses in baseball, the Giants, Padres and Astros, so take those numbers with a grain of salt. Neither bucket of stats is representative of McDonald, but he has shown the ability to piece together an unexpected run of brilliance in the past.
If we get right down to true talent level, McDonald isn't particularly good. He's made worse for fantasy purposes by an indifferent defense and lineup. He has some room for growth in the strike out column. Currently, his swinging strike rate is at 6.3 percent, which is by far the lowest of his short career. He managed to get an 8.3 percent whiff rate in 2010. Walks are a problem with McDonald and it's more than likely that they will come back to haunt him frequently over the season.
As a fantasy starting pitcher, McDonald simply isn't a guy you hope to own. However, under the right conditions he could potentially help your team. Given his recent success against bad offenses, it might be worthwhile to try to pick him up for specific match ups.
Recommendation: Most NL-only leagues probably have a home for him. He can be used as a spot starter in 12-team mixed leagues but should be owned only on the day he is pitching. This holds true for all but the deepest leagues: He's pitch-able, but not worth rostering for the four days he rests. Roto owners struggling in the WHIP column should avoid him.
If you need saves, continue to keep an eye on the closer situations in St. Louis, Houston and Los Angeles. The Dodgers situation seems the simplest, Padilla is the closer but probably won't be used on back to back nights. Hong-Chih Kuo is the best reliever in LA but he is currently having some trouble coming all the way back from his most recent injury. In Houston, Mark Melancon seems to have a temporary firm grip, but other guys could quickly come into play. If you can make heads or tails of the Cardinals' mess, congratulations.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 4:57am (5) Comments
J.J. Hardy | Baltimore | SS | 10 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .263/.323/.420
Two seasons removed from his last year eclipsing 20 home runs, J.J. Hardy largely became a fantasy afterthought. It's hard to blame fantasy gamers for souring on Hardy; between the injuries and his struggles when healthy, both in his last year in Milwaukee and his lone season in Minnesota, there was little to like. The beginning of his tenure with the Orioles has been much the same, seeing Hardy land on the disabled list in early April. Healthy now, Hardy has hit the ground running since being activated and warrants attention.
When healthy and playing to his talent level, Hardy is capable of hitting 20-plus home runs with an average in the high-.270s-to-low-.280s with a full season's at-bats. Numbers like those are playable at the shortstop position, and gravy coming from a middle infield slot. With so few plate appearances, no firm conclusions can be drawn about his approach at the dish, but it is promising to see that he is laying off pitches outside the strike zone, and making more contact than last season. Playing his home games at Camden Yards, a home run-amplifying ballpark, should aid Hardy's cause in channeling his 2007 and 2008 self.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all mixed leagues using a MI slot, most mixed leagues of 12-teams or larger that don't use a MI, and all AL-only leagues.
Mitch Moreland | Texas | 1B/OF | 35 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .278/.345/.475
Since supplanting Jeffrey Gross' heart throb Chris Davis at first base for the Texas Rangers, Moreland has played quite capably and earned the trust of the team's brass. Never a blue chip prospect, he did crack the Rangers' top-10 in The 2010 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, where his power was described as above average, which, in addition to his strong play in the minors, helps support his success to date with the parent club. Owner of a substantial platoon split, Moreland struggles mightily against lefties slashing just .213/.327/.277 in 47 career at-bats, while ripping righties to the tune of .289/.380/.554 in 204 at-bats. Moreland's strong play has prompted manager Ron Washington to play him in the outfield on days the team turns to Mike Napoli at first base, adding to his value in leagues where he now qualifies there.
He may see a slight dip in his playing time when Josh Hamilton returns from the disabled list, but expect that decrease to come almost exclusively against southpaws, a time it would be wise to sit him on fantasy squads where possible. At the moment, Moreland is a valuable, and slightly versatile glue guy. Should he make strides against lefties, he has a chance to become more than that. He's likely owned in most large mixed leagues already, but owners in shallow-to-medium-sized mixed leagues who can use him against right handers and sit him against left handers, should strongly consider rostering him.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all large mixed leagues, some shallow-to-medium-sized mixed leagues and all AL-only formats.
Trevor Plouffe | Minnesota | SS | 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .232/.270/.379
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has officially given up on Alexi Casilla as a shortstop and moved him back to second base permanently. With Tsuyoshi Nishioka still nursing a broken leg, and a ways away from returning to help the Twins, they have promoted Plouffe from Rochester to bridge the gap at shortstop.
A one-time first-round draft pick, Plouffe hasn't lived up to his lofty draft status. This season has seen him hit the ball hard in the International League, with six home runs in 78 at-bats, he has even hit one homer since his promotion, making him an interesting player for owners in AL-only leagues and very large mixed leagues. While he can't maintain his current power pace, his minor league track record points to him as a player who may be capable of hitting double digit home runs if given full time at-bats. The Twins' plan appears to be to play Casilla and Nishioka together up the middle again when both are healthy, but Casilla has struggled, leaving open the possibility of Plouffe stealing a starting role and shifting Casilla to a reserve role. Plouffe has missed the last two games nursing a strained hamstring, but expects to be able to give it a go Friday.
Recommendation: Should be monitored in large mixed leagues using a MI, and owned in some AL-only leagues using a MI.
Brian Matusz | Baltimore | SP | 44 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: 4.16 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
After not falling on his face in his August 2009 promotion, Matusz was a popular upside pick headed into 2010. Most of last season was rough on Matusz: His ERA was south of four in only one month prior to August, and his xFIP was never under four until then. He finished the season strong, though, leading to hope for success this season. A spring rib injury forced him to the disabled list, and he has yet to throw a pitch in a major league game this year. Healthy enough to throw in extended spring training, Matusz isn't far from a return to the Orioles rotation.
As an extreme fly ball pitcher, Matusz is likely to be hurt by the home run occasionally, especially when taking into account his home ballpark and division. Expecting much more than Oliver's projection is ambitious, but worth gambling on in more than the 44 percent of leagues he's owned in now. Playing the match-up game with Matusz should help maximize his value, allowing owners to enjoy his solid strikeout rate and cut down on some of the risk.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all large mixed leagues, many medium sized mixed leagues, and all AL-only formats.
Joey Devine | Oakland | RP | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 12.54 K/9, 0.00 BB/9 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: 3.67 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9
A change of scenery appeared to be all Devine needed to fully flourish in 2008. Unfortunately he has been unable to follow up that performance because of injury. Before the 2009 season he required Tommy John surgery, wiping out not only that season, but last year as well (a cautionary tale for those assuming a full return to health for Stephen Strasburg in the typical time-frame). Lights out results in Triple-A, and reports of him throwing in the mid-90s are encouraging signs that he may be fully recovered and ready to contribute in the A's bullpen.
Devine isn't the only impact bullpen arm on the mend for the Athletics—closer Andrew Bailey is sidelined with a forearm injury as well. News isn't all promising for the 2009 American League Rookie of the year. After throwing 25 pitches on Tuesday, he complained of soreness in his elbow. The Athletics plan to have him throw another bullpen session before sending him out on a rehab assignment. Should Bailey's elbow soreness prove to be a precursor to something serious, Devine could find himself passing a mediocre Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour in the pecking order for saves. Even if he's unable to save any games, Devine has a chance to be helpful to ratios for owners in need of some help there.
Recommendation: Should be monitored in leagues where non-closing relievers are useful, and should be added in large mixed leagues if Bailey suffers any setbacks.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 6:21am (11) Comments
Monday, May 16, 2011
Quickly name the top five pitchers in the game through the first month and a half of 2011. You are probably rushing names like Roy Halladay, Jered Weaver, Tim Lincecum, and Dan Haren, and you’d be right all four of these names are ranked in the top five according to WAR data. Who is the missing name? I would guarantee that without research, name number four will escape you. The name of our myster top pitcher is Matt Garza. Underlying his less than stellar 4.17 ERA is a an amazing wealth of off the chart sabrmetric stats that show why Garza is headlining this week’s ‘Pitch For’ list.
Matt Garza SP CHC: Garza’s wins-above-replacement is a third-best 2.2 so far in 2011. His k/9 is the best in baseball among starting pitchers at 11.78. His FIP and xFIP are both top two in the majors at 1.61 and 2.14 respectively. Let’s talk about how unlucky Garza has been in his first season as a Cubbie. He leads baseball with a BABIP against of .382. His strand rate is down in the slums of starters at 61.6 percent. If Garza is able to overcome his misfortune and continue the skill gains that appear to be manifesting, we could be talking about the best bargain starter available. At an ownership rating of 83 percent on Yahoo!, he could possibly be had for the like of a Colby Lewis.
Daniel Hudson SP ARI: Hudson is another one of these pitchers who has been pitching well, but his stats aren’t yet showing it. His pedestrian ERA of 4.41 may be overshadowing his k/9 and velocity gains he has been exhibiting so far in 2011. According to Fangraphs, all of his three-pitch arsenal are showing a speed gain of almost one mile-per-hour each, that is his fastball (+0.9 mph), slider (+1.1), and change up (+0.4). As a power, flyball pitcher, Hudson must not have a BABIP against of .324. That .324 will assuredly correct itself in the coming months. Reiterating what I said about Garza, it is the time to take advantage of another owner’s frustration on guys like Hudson and Garza and use your sabr-eye to cash in on high dollar pitchers at a discount price, maybe Justin Masterson.
Jordan Zimmermann SP WAS: Zim will follow the same sort of pedigree as the two guys above him. He’s a guy with a high ERA, a good WAR, and a low FIP. Jordan goes one step further with his strand rate of 58.7 percent which is only behind Clayton Richard as the worst in baseball. Anybody who has actually gotten to sit down and watch Zimmermann so far this season must admit that he is pitching like an ace. Personally I watched him go toe-to-toe with Cliff Lee on April 14 and dominate the Braves for 11 strikeouts in his last start. I’m not saying it will be all rainbows and sunsets with Zim, I mean he still plays for the Nationals. Have faith; he’s a top-notch pitcher who will show profit for an owner that can grab him now.
Bartolo Colón SP NYY: We learned this week that Colón has had “injections” during his year long sabbatical from baseball. Whether it was stem-cells, HGH, or other, is not important to me. What is important is his health risk. Colón is not ready for the rigors that the 2011 baseball season has in store for him. Granted his two-seam fastball is back to being one of the best in baseball. I have not a doubt in my mind that he will continue to show flashes of success. Furthermore, I don’t believe he’s back to pre-2005 Bartolo. If you are willing to gamble on his health, then I don’t think his actual skill set is saying to trade him. If you are like me and think it’s only a matter of time before he gets injured and Manuel Banuelos or Andrew Brackman takes his spot in the rotation then I would move him while his value is still decent.
Kyle Drabek SP TOR: Drabek isn’t ready for the majors. I felt that way when he first got the call with the Blue Jays, and I still feel that way today. I believe he has the arm of a front-end starter but still lacks the experience it takes to be successful on a nightly basis. Fortunately, for you as a Kyle owner, I believe that Drabek’s name is still held in high regard in the fantasy community, and if you are in a keeper/dynasty league I’m obviously not advocating moving Drabek right now. I think if you look at 2011 in a vacuum then Drabek is worth more off your team than on it.
Kyle McClellan SP STL: Hurry before everyone else realizes the McClellan is not Adam Wainwright. His underwhelming fastball sits at 88 mph so far in 2011, which makes sense since it was only a shade over 91 as a reliever. What alarms me about McClellan is his severe drop in K/9 from 7.17 down to 4.17. His command has also taken a hit as he has transitioned to a starter. His ERA of 3.62 is still decent enough on the surface that you might be able to package him with the likes of another pitcher or hitter and get an upgrade. Make haste because McClellan’s value is the most volatile of all the guys on this list. By the next time the ditch list comes out, I fully expect his name to be on it.
Colby Lewis SP TEX: As much as it pains to say, I am worried about Colby Lewis. I’m so worried in fact that I am now willing to let him go at under 50 cents on the dollar of what I paid for him. He has been so bad in 2011 that it makes you wonder if 2010 may have been more of an outlier than what he is actually capable of producing. I’m also concerned that his split-finger has lost 1.6 mph and has, in turn, greatly affected its performance. Lewis has actually been pretty lucky so far in 2011, and that’s what worries me the most. Maybe it’s an injury, maybe it’s still early, but if I’m an owner of Lewis then my patience has worn out. Deal him for whatever you can get. Jordan Zimmermann would be the perfect target, but at this point I would take Alexi Ogando, Brandon Beachy, and maybe even Tyson Ross. Are you brave enough?
Travis Wood SP CIN: Don’t give up on him yet folks. As I am writing this article, Wood is pitching a gem against the Cardinals. Derek Carty and I were just talking the other day about how unbelievable it was to see Wood’s name hit our waiver wire in our NL Only expert league. If there’s that much disrespect amongst “experts” I wondered how much more there possible could be in the fantasy kingdom. Always look deeper people. Just because Travis is sporting one of the worst ERA of all starters doesn’t necessarily mean he’s pitching poorly. His BABIP against is in the .356 range which like the “pitch-for guys” shows misfortune, so too, does his sub 3.00 FIP. Travis Wood should also be considered a lower-notch “pitch for” guy. I absolutely loved his skill set before 2011, and I still do. You should still love him too. Let’s all say it together, “Travis Wood is still a stud pitcher.” Thank you all. I feel much better now.
Madison Bumgarner SP SF: I don’t think Bumgarner has been hitting the chopping blocks in many leagues yet, but I feel like one or two more winless starts and he could. Truth is, sans an increase in walks, Madison is pitching better this year than last. His dominance is up and he’s actually seeing the fastest fastball he’s thrown since high school (92.5 mph). I love the fact that he’s turned in four straight quality starts. I was high on Bumgarner going into this season because I felt he wasn’t being respected the way that he deserved. Bumgarner is now 0-6 with a 4.25 ERA. Like Wood and most of these “hitch” guys, Bumgarner should also be considered a solid trade target.
Ryan Dempster SP CHC: I loved when he added the glove-flip and took his game to the next level. After a 15 win, 208 strikeout 2010, that saw Dempster take his career to the next level, borderline ace status. While I don’t think 2010 was what we were going to see this year, I don’t think what we are seeing this year is what we’ll see for the remainder of the season, if that makes any sense. His command, control, and dominance are all in line with his 2010 performance. Where is the discrepancy, you may say. With Dempster that’s a relatively easy answer. He’s not keeping runners from scoring 61 percent as compared to a 71 percent strand rate in 2010. Most notably is his league-leading 20.8 percent hr/fb rate, over 9 percent greater than 2010. As we have seen with James Shields performance this year, hr/fb can actually be a indicator of bad luck. You can expect a regression moving forward. If these rates regress (which I believe they will), a nice rebound is in store for Dempster moving forward.
John Lackey SP BOS: Lackey is a tough one. He’s going to be one of those drops that you’ll probably shed a tear as you strike the button. It’s just time to cut ties with Lackey. I understand his ownership in AL-only leagues, but I think that his ship has sailed as viable mixed league starter. I was one of those guys who put out a late round flier that Lackey could regain some of his former stuff, but I actually let him go two weeks ago. You may be too late some of the early studs like Ogando, Zach Britton, and the like, but I believe there are better options on a shallow free agent list than Lackey right now. If you can’t bring yourself to cut Lackey then you must bench him for every start until he string together at least two quality starts in a row.
Mike Pelfrey SP NYM: Tell me nobody still believes that 2010 was anything more than a luck-infused aberration. I don’t know many competitive fantasy gamers that thought Pelfrey was going to be anything special in 2011. Pelfrey is the one guy that I feel vindicated that he has been this bad. To be fair, I hated Cahill for the same reasons that I don’t like Pelfrey. What separates Trevor Cahill from Pelfrey has been in the dominance gains and Cahill’s thirst to be a pitcher first. Pelfrey isn’t even a good enough thrower to make up for being a bad pitcher. In a time when pitching is plentiful, I’m done with unimpressive mediocrity from my pitching staff. I can’t think of a better example of unimpressive mediocrity than Mike Pelfrey.
Clayton Richard SP SD and Matt Harrison SP TEX: I am not going to waste my time lamenting my hatred for these two players. I own Harrison in an AL-only league and Richard in a deep NL-only league. You can’t trade either of them. When some minor league talent becomes available to me, I will be issuing them both walking papers. If you still own either of these guys in a shallow, mixed league then you are dumb.
Lastly, I am sure there are concerns being raised about Ubaldo Jimenez and how to handle moving forward. I totally understand the frustration he has caused his owners over the early part of 2011. Many experts including some here at THT have foretold of the Ubaldo’s demise. I wasn’t one of them, and I’m not ready to make a judgment yet. I promise to you Ubaldo owners out there that in two weeks I will have an opinion on the matter.
Pritch slap for week seven, “Aimlessly follow experts and live without Bautista.”
I put my “expert” neck out on the line for Jose Bautista. I gambled that Jose's sabrmetric success in 2010 was real, and now I get to gloat.. I am continuously rejecting offer after offer and give evil, Mugatu laughs while I do it. Yes I just used a Zoolander movie reference. What are you going to do about it? Long live Jose Bautista!