May 21, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Last night Vin Mazzaro pitched two and a third innings, gave up 14 runs, and Jose Bautista wasn't even in the opposing team's lineup. For comparison's sake it took Mazzaro 78 pitches to get through his two-plus innings while it took Josh Tomlin 81 pitches to get through six. Not many people roster Mazzaro let alone start him, but you know there must be that one guy in a deep AL-only league who had him in his lineup. Feel better about your team now? It will take a steady week or two of dieting on quality starts to trim the fat off that one guy's team ERA.
A.J. Burnett—Cruised through five innings before getting lazy and serving up two gophers in the sixth. He would have been a great pitcher to try to trade away while his ERA was in the mid-threes. With the Mets and Mariners coming as his next two starts you might get another opportunity to get something of value for him.
Sam Fuld—One of those homers given up by Burnett was off of the bat of none other than Statman Fuld. Desmond Jennings didn't have a great week in the minors besides two homers, so the era of Fuld should not end too soon. At least definitely not before the Sam Fuld cape day on the 29th.
Aaron Hill—Went 2-for-4 with a double, which is nice to see from the man with on-base and slugging percentages under .300. I wouldn't drop him in mixed leagues 14 or deeper, but in 12 teamers I would if benches are shallow and you have another second baseman.
Jhonny Peralta—Salvaged his night with a solo homer in the ninth, quietly giving him four home runs in his past five games. At least I think he's doing it quietly.
Jose Tabata—Collected two hits and could resume hitting as he did to open the season, which is really well for those who have forgotten already. Not a bad buy-low option at the moment.
Cliff Lee— Gave up six walks after issuing just seven in all his other starts this season. Still picked up a quality start after what could be one of his worst performances of the year.
Albert Pujols —Started the game at third base, which is the only thing Pujols owners got excited about tonight as he had another 0-for-4 performance.
Allen Craig—Also went 0-for-4 but I would add him in all leagues. Has good minor league numbers and will get second and maybe even third base eligibility soon.
Fernando Salas—Picked up the save—and his last name is the same forwards and backwards. Boggs, Sanchez, Motte, and Franklin can't say that!
Matt Downs - Single-handedly tried to lift the Astros over the Tommy Hanson-led Braves. His 2-for-3 night with a home run and double came raised his average to .318 in 44 at-bats. In Yahoo leagues he is currently one start at third away from third base eligibility and the Astros excuse for an infield of Bill Hall, Clint Barmes and Chris Johnson should not prevent Downs from seeing plenty of at-bats if he keeps hitting. I just added him in my leagues and you probably should too.
Mike Stanton—Not sure what is more impressive: his three home runs in four games or his zero strikeouts in the last three. Either way, this is all good news Stanton owners, who should feel good about the rest of the season.
Justin Turner—Went 2-for-5 with a double. My advice is to ride him while he's hot. This seems to be a common theme tonight; he's another one who could gain third base eligbility in the near future whileDavid Wright is out with back stiffness.
Darwin Barney—Got himself another three hits, raising his average to .345. If singles are your thing, Barney is your guy.
Colby Lewis—Threw a complete game shutout with seven strikeouts. This is his fourth great start in a row so Lewis owners can only hope he is over his early season struggles. I'd be more confident in him if he did it against a competent offense unlike the A's, Mariners and White Sox.
Matt LaPorta —The Porta led the Indians' charge, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and a walk and raised his average like 30 points. He's not great, but a solid first base-outfield option.
Tim Lincecum —Was uncharacteristically ineffective against the Rockies offense, allowing seven runs (three earned) and 15 baserunners in five and two-third innings after not allowing a run in his previous 15 innings. He even allowed a home run to...
Carlos Gonzalez—Who now has three home runs in his last six games. I don't own CarGo (once called the Patrol Craft, which I'm a big fan of btw) in any leagues so I personally don't care, but I know
Henry Blanco—Hit two home runs, giving him four in May. I don't know, you try owning him if you really want.
Shaun Marcum —Not his most dominant outing but can't complain with seven innings and just one run for his fifth win. He strangely did not let Ethier or Kemp reach base but allowed hits to Carroll, Miles, Uribe, Loney and Gibbons.
Michael Pineda —Threw a gem: seven innings, three hits, no walks and seven Ks. The Twins are clearly the new team to spot-start against.
Saves: Kyle Farnsworth pitched a perfect ninth with two Ks for save eight, Frank Francisco gave up a quiet solo homer but got save four, Drew Storen gave up two hits but got save number nine, Fernando Salas pitched a perfect inning for save four, Craig Kimbrel fanned three to earn save 11, Leo Nunez struck out two to get save 15, Francsico Cordero picked up save eight, Huston Street didn't allow a baserunner and got save 13, Mike Adams picked up save No. 1 with a four-run Padres lead but no one deserves it more than him, the man with a 0.48 WHIP, John Axford struck out two in a hit-and-walkless ninth for save nine.
Blown saves: Kevin Gregg allowed two walks and then a double to Adrian Gonzalez, which was enough to let two runs score. Koji Uehara narrowly escaped damage of his own, so Kevin Gregg owners shouldn't sweat too much, though his periphs are terrible. He'll be lucky to keep the job all year. Jordan Walden allowed a Crouple (a Coco Crisp single then steal) and then another single after getting the first two batters out.
Programming note: I am going to try to make this a most-days feature here at THT, reacting to the daily happenings in fantasy. That's where I'm trying to step in here. Feel free to ask for specific advice in the comments.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:17am (9) Comments
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Brian McCann didn't start in yesterday's's Braves-Astros game, but he certainly finished it. After observing the first eight innings from the bench, over which the Braves were held scoreless thanks to an impressive Wandy Rodriguez performance, he blasted a solo home run in the ninth to send the game into extra innings. Then in the 11th he sent another baseball skyward into the stands to double his home run total on the year to four and give the Braves the win. 2011 won't go down as a good year to draft an elite catcher but, at least if you snagged McCann or Victor Martinez, you are not livid at the Twins for waiting until Joe Mauer is healthy enough to catch to return. The fill-in, Drew Butera, is OPS-ing .278. I think even I could come close to that.
Troy Tulowitzki—Hit a home run to give him 11 on the year. His average has pretty much steadily dropped from its peak of .365 on April 16 to the .255 it is today. Still, you know he's gonna bust out like Leann Tweeden's chest for a few weeks sometime this season and get his numbers back up there.
Ubaldo Jimenez—Went seven innings, gave up three runs, got seven Ks but not the win. Kept his wild side in line issuing just one walk, which is nice to see.
Alex Rodriguez—Blasted two home runs, off James Shields, no less. He's on pace for his usual 30 home runs but the average and speed have largely disappeared.
Elliot Johnson—Hit his second home run in as many games starting in place of the difficult to pronounce and watch Reid Brignac. Johnson is not much of a power guy and strikes out too much hit for a high average, but he did steal 30 bases in Triple-A last year so he has speed. If given continued at-bats, which he appears to be earning, Johnson could hit .250-.260 with a pocketful of homers and 15-to-20 steals. If that sounds potentially useful to you, pick him up.
Brett Gardner—3-for-4 with one of the hits a bunt single. He's starting to get on base more but still has only five steals compared to six caught stealings. I definitely would not give up on Gardner yet but sorry for this.
Matt Garza—Gave up no earned runs (but three unearned) in six innings when his peripherals finally aren't good (four walks, three strikeouts). Go figure.
Edinson Volquez—Allowed just four baserunners in six innings with nine Ks in what was probably his best start of the season. He has upside but the last time he showed it was three years ago. I trust him about as much as a Vince Offer commercial.
Scott Rolen—Another multi-hit game since coming off the DL five days ago and has raised his batting average 71 points to .288. In that lineup Rolen should be able to put up impressive run/RBI totals if he keeps hitting. What? You don't really care about run and RBI totals? Yeah, me neither when I think about it.
Brent Lillibridge—Went 1-for-3 batting leadoff instead of Juan Pierre. He has played well this season and might see more at-bats at Pierre's expense. He may look like high school sophomore but that shouldn't stop those of you in 16+ team mixed leagues and AL-onlys from giving him a shot. Note the second base eligibility.
David Wright—The Mets came to their sense (they only have one) and have agreed to put Wright on the DL. It's the right move for Wright, I believe. They claim he will miss the minimum 15 days but I can already envision the newest Mets injury saga unfolding: Wright struggles to hit, especially for power and then claims he rushed back from the injury or the medical staff misdiagnosed it. He returns to the DL and this time takes his time rehabbing since the Mets are out of contention anyway. Wright owners, start praying and eying a replacement.
Travis Buck—Started his second game for the Indians because of Grady Sizemore's injury. I'm an A's fan so I remember his promising 2007 season and he was hitting well at Triple-A earlier this year before being promoted. Either way he's an empty average player at best and he's only playing for the couple of weeks while Grady is out, so not much to see here.
Jaime Garcia—Another brilliant start from Jaime, going eight innings, allowing six baserunners and just one run (zero earned), and ringing up five. His ERA is now 1.64. Don't be the sheep that follows me off the cliff and trades him as I did in the F&F league. Hitters still look lost swinging way above that sinking cutter of his. He has two tough match-ups against the Royals and Rockies coming up so we'll see how he fares.
Yadier Molina—Got another three hits giving him his fourth multi-hit game in as many. If your catcher is of the droppable variety, ride the Hot Yadi round the block.
Chris Denorfia—Went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .348 in 73 at-bats this season. He can hit for average and reach low double-digit homers and steals. There is reason to give Denorfia some love in 14+ mixed leagues.
Gio Gonzalez—Allowed just one hit and one walk in seven scoreless against the overAngelchievers and got all the run support an A's pitcher could ever ask for.
Coco Crisp—Led the A's offensive surge with a 3-for-4 night and is now dropping in hits like
Hiroki Kuroda—Scattered six hits and punched out seven in seven and two-thirds scoreless innings, stifling the Brewers' offense. Yup he's good and you already knew that.
Matt Guerrier—Picked up the save with Vicente Padilla out with forearm tightness or stiffness, whatever. Guerrier could come out with a few more saves from this mess, so look to add him where possible.
Francisco Liriano—I have no advice to give on Liriano except to note that he pitched well last night after doing poorly in his previous start after throwing a no-hitter in the start before after looking like crap in the start before... am I detecting a pattern here?
Dustin Ackley—According to Dave Cameron, the retired ice hockey centre turned British politician turned English football player turned American baseball analyst, Ackley could get the nod as soon as today and at most in a few weeks. Apparently Ackley has a graceful swing and great hands but he just doesn't have the minor league numbers to get me too excited just yet. If someone in your league thinks he's the next uber-prospect to get the call, let them use their waiver claim or half their FAAB budget to get him. I'm keeping my Ackley expectations in check for this season.
Saves: Huston Street picked up save 14 with a one-hit, one-strikeout inning, Nick Masset got his first save since Francisco Cordero pitched four days in a row (I tried to pick him up in the F&F league last night but Derek stupidly dropped him the night before so he was on waivers), Sergio Santos got save number eight in a hitless inning, Matt Guerrier impressively struck out two to pick up his first save in a clean ninth, and Matt Capps walked one and struck out one for his sixth save.
Blown Saves: Mark Melancon blew his second save after giving up one of the aforementioned McCann bombs. His job should be safe for now though.
Personal Fantasy Update: Completed a trade with Vince in the THT Writers League netting me Jay Bruce for Jose Tabata, Ricky Romero, C.J. Wilson, and Leo Nunez. Why haven't any of the other writers been mentioning the league? I don't know, maybe because my team is in first with 96 points and second place has 81.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:38am (0) Comments
12 Team Roto (5x5) ESPN...currently 3rd
Should I try to trade a SP for an outfielder or stay stand pat? When Utley and Mauer come off the DL I will have to drop two players. Any advice would be great!!!!
1B- Joey Votto
2nd- Howie Kendrick
3rd- David Wright
SS- Jimmy Rollins
Corner- Albert Pujols
Middle- Chone Figgins (Chase Utley on DL)
C- Chris Iannetta (Joe Mauer on DL)
OF- Carlos Beltran
OF- Bobby Abreu
OF- Corey Hart
OF- Nick Markakis
OF- Aubrey Huff
Util- Vladimir Guerrero
Util- Adam LaRoche
Res- Juan Pierre
Res- Nate McLouth
Res- Maicer Izturis
SP- Ubaldo Jimenez
SP- Mat Latos
SP- Max Scherzer
SP- Chad Billingsley
SP- Wandy Rodriguez
SP- Brett Anderson
SP- Gavin Floyd
SP- Jordan Zimmerman
SP- Michael Pineda
RP- Brian Wilson
RP- Andrew Bailey
RP- Ryan Madson
RP- Mike Adams
My how things can change in a day. With news of David Wright’s back injury, you have another hole to fill on your roster. But now at least I think it will be easier to make some more daring moves, rather than just small ones. That said, I think a few small moves would be the better route.
Izturis will be your Wright replacement. Once Utley comes back, when/if he starts getting regular playing time, you’ll have the freedom to choose which of Izturis or Figgins you want to play at third. It may depend on which category you need help in—stolen bases or average—but I’d lean towards Izturis until Figgins shows us some good form.
Clearly Pujols and Votto are going to be the workhorses for your lineup—particularly the counting stats. Pujols has been a bit of letdown so far, but there’s not much to be done there.
You could certainly use a bit of an upgrade in your outfield; Hart is woeful and there’s not much sun behind his clouds. Only Beltran has helped in the counting stats. Maybe Markakis will come around. It’d be nice if Huff could hit a few more fly balls. You have a lot of mediocrity here, which makes it hard to trade. Trading someone decent for only a minor upgrade seems like a bit of a waste.
But who do you have that you could trade? I can’t tell if you’re league actually starts all those pitchers each week. If so, you have a great roster of pitchers. If not, then you have a good but not great roster. Shallower needs would make the lack of a true star a bit more of a problem. Guys like Anderson and Scherzer are capable of delivering top seasons, but thehy have more variance than the usual suspects like Josh Johnson and Cliff Lee.
Clearly you were hoping Jimenez would be your “ace.” It is tempting to say that, if he could only get his walk rate down (which is nearly double last year’s rate), he’d be fine—since his strikeout rate is about normal for him. He pitches in an offensively-challenged division, so if he could stop giving free passes maybe he’ll settle down.
I would trade him to an owner who thinks exactly that. I’m much less sanguine about Jimenez. In addition to the high walk rate, his ground ball rate has dropped and both his line drive and fly ball rates have climbed. So there are two, more or less, independent problems—he’s lost control, and when he does get a swing, he gets bad (for him) kinds of contact. Could he correct himself? Sure. But you don’t need him; he has Sell Low written all over him.
Interestingly enough, Latos is Jimenez-lite. He shows similar, but small, increases in walk and fly ball rates. He’s even gotten a bit lucky on his BABIP. I’d sell low on him as well.
So, see what you can get for them. Maybe target a team with a deep outfield that needs to take some risks on starters. You probably won’t get a Nelson Cruz or Josh Hamilton (though the latter would be great if his owner is getting tired of his injuries). Maybe you could get a Logan Morrison though. Or perhaps you could target a low batting average player, since players like Izturis and Markakis will help you there. Chris Young or Coco Crisp come to mind.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 5:24am (0) Comments
The best-laid plans still sometimes fail. Coming into this season, I took stock of the lack of sure things on the closer market. This caused me to think that I should either double down and invest in more closers early on and jump a little higher for the elite options, or embrace the idea that entropy will produce order, wait for things to shake up and shake out, and pounce on the wires.
The latter is a great idea in theory, but given my schedule, it’s not realistic for me to think I can too often be the first to hear and react to every closer shift and potential closer shift. So, I went with the former. I did not always reach for the elite options as I originally planned, but I did try to invest in some solid options as well as get greedy toward the back end, trying to get more than my “fair share” by adding an extra risky guy or two, hoping that some would work out.
This didn’t work as well as I had hoped. In one league, I’m brimming with closers, but in my others I’m in trouble. So, I’m in the market to trade for closers, and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there in this situation, given the significant amount of turnover the position has already seen this young season. But, trading for closers early in the year isn’t so simple. There are several factors to consider beyond simple performance when assessing a closer’s overall stability in his role, not the least of which is potential personnel moves in teams'. This week, I want to share an attempt to stratify closers into tiers that represent the level of confidence I have in the stability of the current closers.
I want to be very clear: I’m not trying to rank which closers are the best or the most valuable, though the list will likely resemble that exercise in outcome. My main criterion here is the likelihood that the player in question retains the opportunity to earn saves over the long haul. Some very good closers may have less of a chance to do that than some relatively poor closers, and that’s the point of these ruminations.
One more item before moving on: I have a love/hate relationship with the type of column you’re about to read. I think breaking players into tiers can be very helpful as an organizing tool, but it is very subjective as well, and in this case I don’t have an objectively grounded metric on which I’m basing my classifications. What separates the highest of one tier from the lowest in the tier below them? It’s subjective.
I’m not too proud to reveal that I’m familiar with the exercise called “Confidence Picks” from the Mike and Mike morning ESPN radio show, and even less proud to have to write that this column is fairly analogous to it, but for those of you as ashamed right now as I am, you now know from where this gross betrayal of the evidence-based ethos of this glorious website emerges. Finally, names within the tiers will just be alphabetized, as I’m not as oblivious or egomaniacal to think I can prognosticate to that degree of accuracy.
Heath Bell: Yes, a trade is certainly a legitimate possibility, but he’s good enough to close wherever he goes.
Francisco Cordero: I cringed a bit as I penciled his name in here, but he makes a ton of money, stays on the mound, and does a good, though not great, job every year. It’s highly unlikely he falters enough to warrant the Reds demoting him to a $12 million non-closer. It’s much more likely that the Reds make a move to add a starter or import another team’s closer to stabilize their pen.
Craig Kimbrel: a little young to earn this distinction, but this kid is lights out. Although Atlanta will be in the playoff race, Kimbrel will be way too dominant for the team to bring in a veteran to supplant him.
Carlos Marmol: No trade likely, but we have seen him implode once before
Joakim Soria: He’s here only because there could be something physically wrong with him. I guess a trade is possible, but he has non-absurd team options through 2014, and for others teams to be willing to buy, I think he’ll have to be pitching like his old self, because nobody wants to buy a potential injury for the stretch run. And, if he’s pitching like his old self, he’s good enough to close anywhere he goes anyway.
Jordan Walden: Too good, young, and cheap for Anaheim to want to trade him if the Angels aren't competing. Too solid to warrant replacement if they are contending
Andrew Bailey: He’s been nothing but great when he’s been healthy, so I have to give him the benefit of the doubt
Frank Francisco: I think he’ll come out of the early season injury and battle with Jon Rauch for the position just fine
Joel Hanrahan: Hanrahan, like Nunez below him, is one of numerous players in this tier who have shown themselves to be fully capable, but are also under affordable, short contracts and on teams that are either likely to be sellers at the break or are just always willing to move players before the get any more expensive. It’s totally conceivable he ends the season as somebody else’s set-up man.
Chris Perez: I’m not sure I totally trust him, but I doubt the Indians, even if in a playoff race, would bring in an established veteran making good money to supplant Perez.
Houston Street: A strong argument could be made that his fragility is more perception than reality and that he should be in the tier above this one, but that’s why I wrote the long disclaimer about this exercise…
Matt Capps: A veteran with closer experience on a one-year contract for a team having a terrible year that is still nursing its stud post-op closer back to health. What is the recipe for a trade, Alex?
Brandon League: I’m thinking he should be even lower than this, but if he hasn’t lost the job yet, that just speaks to how few options there are in Seattle. I’m not sure if David Aardsma will return either, but I think something happens to lose League the job. Is it Jamey Wright? Is it the promotion of a prospect? With $18.5 million due to Felix Hernandez in 2012, do we see a trade that includes live young arms, one of whom takes the closer job? I don’t know; but if it’s League versus the field, I’m betting the field
Mark Melancon: Could move up to tier 3, but I need to see a bit more
Francisco Rodriguez: One way or another, I just can’t see whatever team for which he ends up pitching as allowing his 2012 option to vest, which it certainly will if he remains healthy and closing all year.
Vincente Padilla: However, I am kind of hoping he succeeds because it’s a personal victory to me every time I can lower the anecdotal floor that defines just how bad a starting pitcher one can be and still make a wholly competent closer. I wonder what Daniel Cabrera is doing right now?
Anybody currently wearing a St. Louis Cardinals uniform
Anybody in the Phillies closer mix: Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and Jose Contreras. This is sort of the opposite of the Cardinals' situation, yet it renders the same result. Unlike the Cards, it seems all three of these options are good enough and there’s reason to think each could stick. I think they’re all worth holding if you own any of them, but I wouldn’t trade for any of them.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:39am (9) Comments
Thursday, May 19, 2011
If I were asked to choose any closer to protect a lead for me in the ninth Mariano Rivera might be the first person I'd pick. And if not him then Neftali Feliz would also be a candidate. And although he hasn't been dominant for as long, Craig Kimbrel has been certifiably nasty as the Braves closer this year. Brian Wilson has not been usual self this season but coming into it he was one of the top closer taken off draft boards. The common theme tying all of these closers last night is that they each uncharacteristically blew their chance at a save. Three of these four closers' teams ended up winning the game regardless, but I'd be surprised if there is another night where so many top closers fail to close. I guess now that I keep track of such things I'll actually find out.
Bartolo Colon—Tossed eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball with seven strikeouts. I'm speechless.
Zach Britton—Impressive in his own right, holding the Yanks scoreless over seven innings to drop his ERA to 2.14. Sure he's getting a little lucky but all he needs is Little Bit O'Luck. Keep throwin' the kid out there.
Cole Hamels—Threw a gem, allowing one run in eight innings with eight Ks. He's never been an ace I've trusted, but I can't claim any reason for it.
Jose Bautista—Went 1-for-2 with two walks and the one hit was a single. Are you kidding me!? Only a single!!!
Elliot Johnson—No home run last night but went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs. Go ahead, be the early bird and get that worm.
Justin Turner—Went 2-for-4 with two doubles as he started at... wait for it... third.
Pedro Alvarez—Got one hit and it was a home run, his second of the season. Now's a great time to sell Alvarez while his value will be at its peak. That's a joke—you might as well hang onto him if you are one of his unfortunate owners.
Charlie Morton—Threw salt in the Reds' wounds and shut them out for a full nine-innings. I have nothing to say about Charlie Morton, I just wanted to make a subtle Morton Salt Co. reference and figured this was my chance.
Hanley Ramirez—Hit a home run and stole a base, which I know Jeff Gross calls a Happy Meal. I've also heard it called a Slam & legs at Razzball. I guess I'll have to think of my own term for the feat.
Greg Dobbs—Continues to hit as the Marlins third baseman with a 2-for-5 performance. He's an empty batting average but if you lost your third baseman to injury, he's another option to consider.
Alexi Ogando—Another impressive performance, this time going seven innings and giving up two earned. After the start his ERA rose to 2.13. Just because he wasn't closing, why did I not think to draft this guy anywhere?!?
Eric Hosmer—Saved the game in the ninth with a solo homer but little do box-score gazers know he flied out to end the 10th with the bases loaded. Watch the game!
Jake Peavy—Was flat out dominant in his second start of the season, allowing just three singles in nine shutout frames with eight strikeouts. I was not really paying attention to Peavy before this, so this was quite the surprise. If you own him you probably know more than I do, so go with your gut.
Justin Masterson—Was the tough luck loser as the other guy on the mound Peavy was on. Actually Masterson and Peavy were the only guys on the mound in the White Sox-Indians game. That is, unless A-Rod crossed it.
Yadier Molina—Got another three hits! I told you yesterday, ride the Hot Yadi.
Matt Holliday/Lance Berkman—Both were taken out for precautionary reasons; Holliday for his hamstring and Berkman for his wrist. Both should be fine.
Trevor Plouffe—The walking dessert went 2-for-4 with three RBI. He figures to keep the job for the season and I own him in a couple leagues.
Chris Denorfia—Enjoyed a two-hit night from the leadoff position. I still recommend buying into him.
Yovani Gallardo—Pitched six innings, allowed eight baserunners and two runs, and struck out a season-high nine. This was far from a dominant performance against the Padres offense. If you are low in the standings Gallardo is the type of pitcher to buy cheaply who could put out a dominant second half. I'm not saying I think that is what will happen—I'll try to think of a pitcher I like more to target—but if you need to climb in the standings these are the risky trades you should start thinking about.
Jered Weaver—Allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings while striking out four. He's lost his last four starts and looks to be merely a very good pitcher as opposed to one of the most dominant in the league.
Jason Vargas—Threw seven shoutout innings with nine Ks to increase his consecutive great start count to three. He isn't owned in any of my leagues and he's got the Twins next so I wouldn't mind owning him for that start and then possibly more.
Saves: Ryan Madson allowed a leadoff double but then struck out three batters to get save seven, Kyle Farnsworth allowed one run but picked up save number nine, Francisco Rodriguez of course allowed two runners on base but stranded them to pick up save 13, Jonathan Papelbon struck out two to notch his eighth save on his chastity belt, Carlos Marmol did his thing striking out two to earn save nine, Mark Lowe did what Feliz couldn't and got his first save, Matt Capps got three consecutive outs for his seventh save, John Axford scarily let two runners on base but ended up striking out three for his 10th save, and Brandon League finally closed a game out, walking one and striking out no one for his 10th save.
Blown Saves: Mariano Rivera blew his third save of the season, Craig Kimbrel blew his fourth save on four singles. He's overall done well as the closer but Jonny Venters has been that good that there must be some thought of a change, Brian Wilson blew only his second save despite his ERA by letting inherited runners and one of his own score—at least he also got the win—and Neftali Feliz blew his first after allowing the Hosmer home run. He started the next inning by allowing two singles so he simply was not on his game or was getting unlucky.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:48am (3) Comments
Point of clarification: The "J" in the title stands for Jeffrey
Alex Rios is a conundrum of turbulence. A five-tool prospect of the early-to-mid naughts, Rios really didn't do much with his bat over his first two seasons in the majors, posting a combined .273/.315/.390 (.705 OPS) triple-slash line with 11 home runs, 29 stolen bases, 126 runs scored and 87 runs batted in over 257 games played (979 plate appearances). His glove was slick (+23.0 fielding runs above average (FRAR)), but defense is irrelevant in all but the most intricate fantasy formats.
The 2006 season was a breakout year for Rios, however. Over a mere 128 games played (he was slowed down after the All-Star Break due to a ball he fouled off his foot that led to his hospitalization), Rios slashed .302/.349/.516 (.865 OPS) with elite defense (+9.6 FRAR).
Though still somewhat allergic to walks (7.0 percent walk rate), Rios batted in 82 men, while showing a good balance of power (17 HR, .213 ISO) and speed (15 SB, 6.2 speed score). Before his foul-ball injury, Rios' season looked even brighter, batting .359 with 43 RBI and most of his homers (11) through his first 60 games played.
Recovered from his foot folly, Rios followed up his quality 2006 campaign with even better fantasy numbers in 2007 and 2008, batting a combined .294/.343/.480 (.823 OPS). His power (39 HR) and speed (49 SB) blend remained tantalizing, while he racked up 150 RBI and 205 rusn to boot and acted as a model of health (316 combined games played out of a possible 324). Rios' 2006-2008 performance was rewarded by then-General Manager J.P. Riccardi, who gave him the contract we all associate him with today.
Rios had broken out by 2009, but there were some signs that, heading into his age 28 season, Rios, for all his enchantment, was not infallible. For one thing, despite Rios' strong clipping (20.5 percent career line-drive percentage heading into 2009), he remained immune to ball four. Through his first five seasons in the majors (2875 plate appearances), Rios had only drawn 186 walks on his own merit (BB-IBB), for a sub-par 6.5 percent walk rate.
Rios showed some improvement in 2006 (7.0 percent) and 2007 (7.7 percent), but took a large step back in 2008 (6.4 percent) that he would never undo. For a sense of comparison, the major league average walk rate between 2004 and 2008 fluctuated between 8.2 percent and 8.7 percent.
Despite a low strikeout rate that was seemingly improving and settling in around the upper teens between 2004 and 2008, Rios' strikeout-to-walk ratio remained sub-par. The major league average K:BB rate for hitters is around 2:1, but Rios only touched that mark once, in 2007, floating around just under 3:1 the rest of his major league seasons (including 2008).
Rios' sleek wheels (93 stolen bases between 2004 and 2008) were also not as pretty as many analysts pegged them to be. Rios had only eclipsed the 15 stolen base mark in two of his five major league seasons (17 in 2007 and a career-high 32 in 2008). Double-digit stolen bases are always nice, but for as great as Rios' speed was touted (mid-6s speed score), the results rarely materialized in the form of fantasy gold.
Furthermore, and far more worrisome, were the 30 times Rios
Still, Rios was a pull-hitter in one of baseball's coziest places for right-handed batters (just ask Jose Bautista, who has hit 41 of his past 70 homers there). His strong batting average between 2006 and 2008, paired with his 24 home runs from 2007 and 32 stolen bases from 2008, gave promise of a .300/20/20 campaign with .300/25/30 upside in the near future.
But then things started to fall apart.
Rios, a consensus top-50 pick of 2009, batted .264/.317/.427 over the first 108 games of the season for the Blue Jays. He continued to steal bases (19 over his first 108 games), but his ISO trended downwards for the third consecutive season. He continued to pray to a Dunn-hating J.P. Riccardi (6.5 percent walk rate), and though his line drive rate was not poor (18.1 percent on the Jays), it represented a career low that further manifested itself in a career-worst BABIP (.289 through his first 108 games played).
Rios was placed on waivers and given away wholesale—for nothing more than salary relief—to the White Sox in mid-2009, and he has resided there ever since. Kenny Williams hoped a change of scenery would be all that Rios needed to return to his glorious 2006-2008 status. I was incredibly, and probably overly, critical of the move at the time.
I did not understand fielding metric sample size requirements at the time, and rather than seeing a major league-average hitter with strong outfield defense capable of posting 3.0-plus WAR seasons, I saw a squandering of cash being thrown at Rios.
For the sake of my credibility, Rios did exactly what I predicted him to do over the final two months of the 2009 season with the White Sox, posting an atrocious .199/.229/.301 line over his final 41 games. Rios stole five bases for the Pale Hose, but he was caught twice. He also only had three home runs to go along with an Erstad-ian .103 ISO.
I continued to hate on Rios in the early offseason (culminating in an infamous radio argument with a certain White Sox post-game announcer over whether Jayson Nix, at the major league minimum, would have been a better player for the Sox than Alex Rios, an argument that persists between the two of us to this day, immortalized on Twitter), but I made amends in March of 2010, pegging Rios as a post-hype sleeper bargain (his preseason rank was No. 141 on Yahoo) for the upcoming season.
In some sense, my analysis of Rios was again dead on. I claimed Rios would hit somewhere in the ballpark of .286/.331/.443 with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases. His end of season line was in fact .284/.334/.457 with 21 home runs and 34 stolen bases.
Still, for all the good Rios did by the end of the year, almost all of that performance came in the first half of the season. I pegged Rios' second half as the universe balancing out of the type of luck he experienced in the first half (no, I do not believe in the gambler's fallacy), but I should have looked at his numbers in US Cellular field a bit more closely before I ranked him as my No. 12 overall outfielder heading into the 2011 season.
Take a gander at Rios' numbers by month on the White Sox, and pay particular attention to his wRC+, which measures his relative batting value to the rest of the league adjusted for park/league:
Notice that with the exception of April and May of 2010, Rios has been a below-average major league hitter in each of the months he has played for the White Sox. Sure, he was league average in June 2010, but if that's the kind of upside he is providing fantasy owners and White Sox fans alike, then perhaps he does not warrant either the $12 million per year Kenny Williams is paying him or the $20-plus you shelled out to get him on draft day.
In my Ottoneu league, Rios went to an owner for $1 courtesy of a programming glitch we were to lazy to fix. That seemed like a steal of a deal, but one quarter of the way through 2011, his .201/.266/.299 line, with three homers and four stolen bases (with three caught stealing) is hardly looking like a bargain (especially in comparison to my $2 Carlos Quentin).
So what do you do? In light of this data, do you jump ship, ride it out, or "buy low?"
On the bright side, Rios' xBABIP with the White Sox is .328. His actual BABIP on the team has been .276. With less than 1000 plate appearances in a black-and-white jersey, it is very possible that Rios is on an extended cold streak. If you adjust his White Sox batting line of .255/.305/.403 to reflect his xBABIP, you'll find his expected triple-slash line improves to .297/.340/.445. That neatly reflects his 2006-2008 overall performance level.
Furthermore, the move from Rogers Center to U.S. Cellular Field is far from a move to spacious Petco Park for a left-handed batter. Whereas Rogers Center has a right-handed batter index of 116 for home runs and 97 for batting average, the south side bandbox has respective indicies of 145 and 98.
In other words, the two parks have relatively equal expected effects on batting average for righties, while Rios' new home is a 20 percent more favorable environment for going deep. U.S. Cellular Field, in fact, has the highest right-handed batter home run index of any park in the major leagues, with Great American Ballpark a distant second at 125.
If anything, this is an argument is favor of Rios' 20-home run capability, while his three home runs and four steals to date say that a 15/15 or better campaign, even with Rios' struggling, is well in the cards.
On the negative, however, Rios is now 30 years old, and he's not getting any younger. Players tend to peak in their mid-20s, plateau through about age 30, and then decline in ability. Rios may simply be on the downside of a productive fantasy career.
His .097 ISO on the season is far away from stabilizing (we need at least 550 plate appearances to start drawing conclusions with respect to power), but if you take April and May of 2010 out of the equation, Rios' power on the White Sox has been more of an outage than a surge. At some point, a player isn't just having bad luck; he could simply be coming apart at the seems.
Still, Rios is only 30. If he was a couple of years older, perhaps I would be more skeptical, but I have faith that Rios will bounce back somewhat this season and end the year with 15 or so home runs and 20 stolen bases, hitting .280 the rest of the way. That's not bad, but, especially if the White Sox keep Rios in the bottom dregs of their lineup, it's hardly going to end up being what you expected and paid for on draft day. Oliver expects Rios to hit .267/.318/.429 the rest of the way, and to end the season with 18 home runs and 22 stolen bases.
There is probably someone out there willing to take a gamble on an "established" player like Rios, thinking there is plenty of upside left in the tank. Trading Rios is very possible if you are either tired of his early season struggles (a terrible reason to sell) or think you can get more value in return than what he is worth to you or what you think he can do.
Just don't go selling off for 70 cents on the dollar, because a 15-20/20-25 rest of season pace with a average-or-better fantasy batting average is not easy to come by on the waiver wire, especially in deeper formats.
At the very beginning of May, a frustrated Mike Stanton owner offered me a straight-up swap for Rios. I pounced and have not looked back; with Stanton's May surge, I doubt you can get the same deal done at this point, but swapping out Rios for a player like Hunter Pence or Jason Heyward might be possible, and I would personally make either deal.
I can't say I would give the same advice to Kenny Williams, however.
What would you do, or have you done, with Alex Rios? As always, leave the love/hate in the comments below.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 5:33am (16) Comments
Friday, May 20, 2011
Dallas McPherson | Chicago (American League) | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: No projection
No, this is not a joke in the literal sense, and yes, Dallas McPherson is seeing regular playing time for a major league squad. At 30 years of age, McPherson looks more like organizational depth for the White Sox than a legitimate option at third, but as long as he's being trotted out to start at the hot corner he bears mentioning. He has no shortage of power, a trait that will be played up at U.S. Cellular Field when he's able to make contact. Of course there lies the caveat for the man with just 399 plate appearances in the majors coming into the season: making contact. McPherson's strikeout rates, even in the minors, are Mark Reynolds-esque.
Brent Morel has struggled mightily with the bat, and has an isolated slugging percentage (ISO) of .083 through 98 plate appearances. Someone may wish to check and make sure he's actually taking lumber to the plate, and not a whiffle ball bat. Beyond Morel, the Pale Hose may eventually look to Dayan Viciedo to man third, but he's spent the bulk of his time in the minors playing right field this season, making that less than certain. While none of this means McPherson is guaranteed full time at-bats, it does leave open the possibility he could play himself into a somewhat regular role. Owners in exceptionally deep mixed leagues that use a corner infield position, and those in AL-only formats that need some power, should monitor the situation, but not race to the wire.
Recommendation: Should be monitored in deep mixed leagues and AL-only leagues.
Eric Thames | Toronto | OF | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .258/.326/.461
An injury to Adam Lind did not prompt a recall of Travis Snider to the Jays active roster, but instead the promotion of Eric Thames. A left-handed power hitter nabbed in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, Thames made his pro debut in 2009 and has represented himself well in the minors. Like most young power hitters, Thames does strike out a bit, but not at an alarming rate. Breaking down his splits, it's apparent he is much better at hitting right-handed pitchers than southpaws, not unusual for a left-handed batter. While he hits righties better than lefties, he isn't entirely lost against them, as he has showcased solid power.
Lind is eligible to return from the disabled list Monday, so it remains to be seen how long Thames will be up. In addition to the return of Lind, Snider could muddy the situation further once the coaching staff deems he has made the necessary corrections to his swing. Regardless, Thames has shown enough in the high minors to get a test drive in some AL-only leagues and deep mixed formats as well.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some deep mixed leagues and some AL-only leagues.
Lonnie Chisenhall | Cleveland | 3B | 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .282/.376/.430 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: No projection
The clock finally appears to have struck midnight on Jack Hannahan as he's regaining his pumpkin form right before our eyes. With June 1 right around the corner, the American Central leaders are likely going to be enticed to call upon their top prospect, Chisenhall, for help sometime shortly thereafter. He's not a finished product: He he struggled last year against lefties, hitting a lot of ground balls, and has carried his struggles over to this season. He's not entirely overwhelmed and flailing hopelessly against them, as he's struck out just six times in 46 at-bats this season, lending hope to him making headway. Offsetting the bad, he absolutely crushes righties, and has slashed .323/.420/.490 against them in 96 at-bats this season.
Somewhat surprisingly, Hannahan, who is left-handed like Chisenhall, has a reverse platoon for his career and this season, setting up a potential platoon between the two at third base. As the end of May approaches, the temptation to stash Chisenhall is likely to grow for owners, making now the time to nab him if you're an owner with bench space and a need at third base or the corner infield position. Chisenhall's dominance of righties makes him a potential option to use in medium sized mixed leagues, where he can be benched against left-handed starters.
Recommendation: Should be monitored in all but the shallowest of leagues, should be stashed in deep leagues and AL-only leagues by owners with bench flexibility.
Danny Duffy | Kansas City | SP | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.50 ERA, 2.50 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 13.50 BB/9, 50.0 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.73 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 3.7 BB/9
While it wasn't a legendary debut, Danny Duffy did display some positives in a start in which his command failed him and he issued six walks. Duffy is a left-handed starter with good stuff that includes an explosive fastball, all of which supports his strong strikeout rates in the minors. The six walks he issued were surprising when looking at his record of limiting free passes in the minors. Expect to see him settle down going forward. The most interesting part of Duffy's skill set to monitor this year will be his ability to induce ground balls. His 2010 time spent in Double-A saw him compile more groundball outs than flyball outs, but his 2011 has seen the opposite play out in Triple-A.
Duffy is a talented hurler who is capable of helping owners in leagues of all sizes should he prove himself a quick learner and make the necessary adjustments to major league hitters. Not all rookies are able to make those adjustments in short order, so those in shallow leagues, and even those in medium sized leagues that are redraft formats, should hold off on putting him in your lineup, or adding him at all if you're in the former.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues, and monitored in shallow leagues.
Jake Arrieta | Baltimore | SP | 26 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.03 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.06 K/9, 3.68 BB/9, 42.1 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.63 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Year two in the majors has been a great deal more welcoming to Jake Arrieta than a rookie season that saw him stumble to the finish line posting a 4.66 ERA and walk nearly as many batters as he struck out (48:52). Early returns show a pitcher who has made strides across the board. The most notable changes are his leap in strikeout rate and his drop in walk rate. The improvement in strikeouts can largely be attributed to hitters making less contact against him this year, an increase in his swinging strike rate, and more first pitch strikes. His swinging strike rate still sits below league average, meaning his current strikeout rate is likely to come down some, but being able to throw four quality pitches and get ahead of hitters should keep the bottom from falling out on it entirely.
Pitching in the tough American League East, as well as a hitter-friendly home ballpark, limit Arrieta's upside this year a bit. Owned in more than a quarter of Yahoo! leagues, it's likely he's been gobbled up in deep mixed leagues and AL-only formats. He is now, however, playing his way onto the radar of shallower leagues. Those in medium sized leagues that are able to play the match-up game with their arms should strongly consider rostering Arrieta, as he profiles as a bit better than a pitch-and-ditch type starter.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all deep mixed leagues, some medium sized mixed leagues, and all AL-only leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 4:36am (16) Comments
Julio Teheran | Braves | SP | 5 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 5.19 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 2.08 K/9, 0.50 K/BB, 36.4% GB%
Oliver ROS: 4.62 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 2.00 K/BB
With Brandon Beachy on the shelf for several weeks, the Braves are giving 20-year-old Julio Teheran a chance to prove he belongs in baseball's deepest rotation, from the major to minor league level. Teheran, however, has not shown himself to be ready—either in Triple-A—where he was sent again Thursday—or the major leagues. On the surface, Teheran's Triple-A numbers look solid. Over 37.2 innings pitched at the Triple-A level this year, Teheran has posted a solid 1.91 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, bettering fellow top pitching prospect Mike Minor (44.2 IP, 2.42 ERA, 1.14 WHIP).
The deeper you dig, however, the less comfort you find in Teheran's superficial stats and prospect pedigree. For one thing, Teheran plays in the International League, which is renowned as the pitcher-friendly Triple-A league (while the PCL is the hitters' haven). More worrisome, however, is the appreciable drop in strikeouts as Teheran has advanced through the minors. A relatively lower strikeout rate is expected in the upper minors compared to the lower minors, but Teheran's 7.65 K/9 in Triple-A is far from dominant. To give some perspective, Tommy Hanson's career Triple-A K/9 was 12.2, Kris Medlen's was 10.5, Minor's is 10.5, and rookie of the year candidate Beachy's was 9.5. Teheran's control has not been particularly inspiring either. Over 77.2 innings of work between Double-A and Triple-A, Teheran has unintentionally put 3.71 runners on base per nine innings by either ball four or the onomatopoetic "kerplunk."
Teheran's major league work has not impressed either. Though 8.2 innings is hardly a reliable sample to work from, Teheran's a 5.9 percent swinging strike rate and a mere two strikeouts to four unintentional walks issued indicates that this is a pitcher who needs more seasoning. Now, and this is critical, Teheran is only 20, and none of the above indicates a need to panic long term; keeper league owners can relax. However, in the short run, Teheran might not be ready for The Show. Strangely, Oliver's major league equivalency (MLE) for Teheran's minor league work this year translate well in some regard: 3.14 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Still, his peripherals point to a major league strikeout per nine rate of 5.7 and a walks per nine rate of 3.5, for a sub-2.00 K/BB ratio (my "Mendoza line" for pitchers). Given Teheran's less optimistic ERA/WHIP MLEs for his other body of work in the minors, I suspect that Oliver's Triple-A MLEs for Teheran may just be the result of sample size.
The Braves do not need a fifth starter again until May 31, and Beachy does not project to be activated by then. Given the requirement of making a 25-man roster move to call up Rodrigo Lopez, the short list of who will fill that May 31 start (and beyond) will likely come down to Minor and Teheran, both of whom the Braves have already burnt options on for the year. It is too early to accurately speculate on who will get the call (both Minor and Teheran have struggled in their brief major league cameos), but if it's Teheran, then you can probably take a pass on the stream.
Recommendation: Teheran should be rostered only in keeper leagues, and can be avoided in all but deep NL-only leagues. If you have him, and are not in a keeper league, either cut him or try to trade him (as a "throw in").
Kelly Johnson | Diamondbacks | 2B | 63 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .265/.338/.457
There are only a few who have been as loyal to Kelly Johnson's fantasy stock as I over the years, but something is currently wrong with Johnson, and it's something bad enough to make it worth cutting ties with him. First the positive, however. Johnson has a career BABIP of .314, and despite his precipitous drop in line drive rate this year (14.4 percent compared to a career mark of 21 percent), his persistent failure to hit popups when he hits the ball in the air (2.4 percent infield fly rate, compared to a 6.3 percden career mark and about a 9.5 percent major league average) gives him credit for an expected BABIP around .330. That is some .080 points above his season BABIP of .250. Additionally, with four home runs and six stolen bases through a mere 40 games played, Johnson is on pace for a solid 15 to 20, which would match his average career home run pace.
But the cup is not just half full with Johnson. Even if you adjust his abysmal .186/.256/.308 triple slash line to reflect his xBABIP, pessimistically assuming that all gained hits would have been singles, Johnson's line improves to a still paltry .238/.301/.360 mark. That adjusted sub-.700 OPS likely has a lot to do with Johnson's newfound swing-and-miss infatuation. He's had a 20.3 strikeout-per-plate appearance for his career, but that has skyrocketed to a career worst 29.9 percent mark this year.
Johnson's plate discipline numbers show that he is chasing pitches outside of the zone (34.4 percent) at a substantially higher rate than normal (23.9 percent career average, 28.7 percent major league average), while making contact with less pitches inside of the zone (career low 77.7 percent), which has manifested in the form of a career worst 13.1 percenyt swing-and-miss rate that matches Michael Pineda's ridiculous inducement rate.
Though I will always have an affinity for Johnson as an underrated middle infield asset, he has almost no value in mixed leagues at the moment, and fringe value in NL-only leagues. Do not be beholden to brand names, and cut ties with Johnson's services if other more widely available second base options with better immediate upside are at your disposal. For example: Danny Espinosa (14 percent ownership), Ryan Raburn (22 percent), Scott Sizemore (3 percent), Alberto Callaspo (32 percent), and heck, even, Aaron Hill (61 percent). Just don't sell your team short gambling on a rebound at the moment.
Recommendation: Johnson should not be owned in mixed leagues, and, if possible, should be benched in NL-only leagues.
Mike Leake | Reds | SP | 2 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 5.70 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 7.93 K/9, 2.46 K/BB, 46.7% GB%
Oliver ROS: 4.19 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 2.42 K/BB
The most ironic thing about Mike Leake may be the fact that his availability and talent level make him a steal. Despite spending no time in the minor leagues until this month, the Reds' first-round pick of 2010 has done impressive things at the major league level. For his brief career (174.2 innings), Leake already owns a 4.00 xFIP, a career groundball rate near 50 percent, and average control of his four-pitch mix (3.19 BB/9).
His 2011 season is only six starts, deep, but Leake has taken noticeable steps forward over last season's solid performance. For one thing, Leake is getting hitters to swing and miss nine percent of the time, compared to a 8.5 percent major league average and 7.6 percent mark last year. Despite possessing a fastball that would make Javier Vazquez look like a fireballer, Leake does a decent job avoiding too much contact with his pitches, and getting a decent amount of pop-ups for a groundball pitcher.
Leake's poor ERA this season can probably be chalked up largely to a 63.6 percent LOB percentage and abnormally high 14.7 percent homer-per-fly ball rate. As Leake's batted ball data normalizes, he could prove to be a top 40 or 50 overall starting pitcher the rest of the way, slotting as a strong fourth or fifth starting pitcher option for mixed and NL-only formats. Leake plays in a bandbox, but the combination of the Reds' quality defense (sans Jonny Gomes), Leake's groundball tendencies, and a weak division should more than offset those worries. If you need pitching help or extra innings, Leake (or his teammate Travis Wood, while you wait for Leake to get called back up) could be your man.
Recommendation: When the Reds call him back up from Louisville, Leake should be spot started (away starts particularly) in mixed formats with lower innings totals and owned in all NL-only formats.
Carlos Pena | Cubs | 1B | 52 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .234/.355/.510
After an incredibly slow start to the season in April (.159/.289/.175 with plenty of warning track flyouts, but no home runs), Pena has been sizzling in May. In 15 May games, Pena is hitting .327/.452/.653. With a .355 BABIP on the month, no one is expecting that batting average, which should be much closer to .250 than .350, to persist, but the five home runs and 12 RBI on the month show that there is still plenty of life left in his bat. Pena is owned in barely half of the leagues out there, but the top 150 preseason pick should be owned in many, many more—especially in this year of the second coming of the pitcher, where even cheap power comes at a premium. (Heck, the White Sox are leaning on Dallas McPherson). Pena owners may try to use his recent hot streak as a reason to unload and jump ship, and frugal fantasy miners should exploit any opportunity. Pena, calling Wrigley Field "home," could be a prime fantasy trade target as the season enters the hot summer months.
Recommendation: Pena should be owned in all but the shallowest mixed leagues (and AL-only formats, of course).
Brandon Belt | Giants | 1B, OF | 5 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .270/.346/.443
The key to successfully rostering minor league players is to not pick them up too early, but grab them before the rumor mills churn out "getting call up soon" tweets. With Belt currently tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A (.387/.529/.600 triple-slash line, .271/.399/.384 MLE) and the Giants' offense dwelling in baseball's offensive cellar (.300 wOBA) with the likes of the Padres, A's and Pirates, it remains to be seen how long the Giants can keep Belt in the minors delaying service time. The Giants are having Belt play more outfield, so it's likely that Aubrey Huff will stick at first for the time being, which likely makes Pat Burrel the odd man out. I suspect Belt will be up in the majors around June 1 (along with Dustin Ackley), so the sooner you act, the less likely someone else beats you to the punch. Just don't drop Brandon Beachy for him.
Recommendation: Belt should be owned in keeper leagues and deeper formats (12+ teams with CI requirements), and all but the shallowest leagues (10 teams, no corner infielder) should keep a close eye on his ETA.
Also noteworthy this week: Orlando Hudson is off the DL and worth a look in deeper mixed leagues, particularly for teams in need of cheap speed and runs.
As always, leave the love/hate in the comments below.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 6:29am (16) Comments
Monday, May 23, 2011
James Shields had good peripherals last year and an ugly 5.15 ERA. This year his peripherals are only marginally better, yet after Shields' complete-game shutout yesterday his ERA is a smooth 2.00 flat. Take a hundred points off a man's BABIP and you have given him life said Hemingway, I think. Yours truly is lucky enough to own Shields in all three of his leagues this year so I get not once, not twice, but thrice the satisfaction of owning the dude. And that's about as good as it gets in fantasy baseball.
Justin Turner—Went 0-for-4 in his first hitless game this year. I still like the firebird as more than just a jump-and-dump type player.
Asdrubal Cabrera—Hit two home runs, stole a base, went five-for-five... ya know, just a typical day for Asdrubal.
Josh Judy—This Indians reliever was just called up and pitched a scoreless frame in his first major league inning. I now know Michael Stein's favorite player!
Carlos Santana—Sorry if you were misled after seeing the Indians score 12: Santana pitched in by going 0-for-5. I think Santana is one small change mechanically or in mindset from joining the McCanns and Poseys of the catching world. Whether that happens in a week or next year is the question.
Chris Johnson—Has gone seven for his last 19 and is simply put, on a heater. If you're in a shallow league and Johnson was dropped, now is a good time to pick him up again.
Mike Morse—Picked up two hits Sunday to raise his season average to .267. I sense some strong winds in the tropics that could develop into a Morse hit barrage as it reaches the States in the coming weeks.
Rick Porcello—Tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three. Don't think his stuff will hold up against the Red Sox next. Call me Dom Cobb cause now I bet you are thinking about that.
Alexei Ramirez—Had himself a 4-for-5 day with his sixth home run and five RBI. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling capricious and was considering dropping Ramirez in one league. His day-to-day production won't impress you but you paid for a .280 average, 15 homer and steal shortstop and that appears to be what you will be getting.
Allen Craig/Jon Jay—Two Cardinals position players who keep hitting and I hope will continue to find their way into the lineup even when some of the injured regulars return. Craig is just one start at second short of eligibility there.
Felix Hernandez—Had his most dominant* outing of the season, allowing one run in eight innings with 13 strikeouts. *Was against the Padres.
Adam Kennedy—Went 2-for-5 with a steal and should be entering the conversation for 14-team mixed leagues and added in anything deeper.
Grant Balfour/Brian Fuentes—Both gave up runs in the A's loss to the Giants so Michael Wuertz or Joey Devine might get some save opps before Andrew Bailey returns in a little over a week.
Jason Heyward—Headed to the DL because of his shoulder. Hoping he heals completely instead of having this issue drag out all season and down on his numbers.
Trevor Plouffe—0-for-4 as I'm having second thoughts about opening a restaurant named Plouffe's Soufflés. Regardless of my culinary plans I'd still own Plouffe in all leagues.
Brett Lawrie—The kid all the cool kids are adding as Lawrie is tearing up Triple-A. I don't believe the Blue Jays have mentioned anything about calling him up and I wouldn't worry too much if someone has already beaten you as you read this.
Saves: The Astros made Mark Melancon work five outs to earn his third save. If that doesn't say "I trust you" to a closer I don't what does... Kevin Gregg allowed only one walk in nailing down save eight... Neftali Feliz got two outs without allowing a baserunner for his ninth save... Jose Valverde allowed one hit and got one K for save 11... John Axford walked one but got his 12th save... Matt Thornton pitched two scoreless to get his second save only because the White Sox scored two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth... Fernando Salas allowed a run but got his already seventh save... Jordan Walden got a much needed ninth save to cool the fire beneath him... J.J. Putz pitched a clean ninth for save 12.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:03am (2) Comments
There was a time during my fantasy sports career when I was so statistically driven in my decision-making that I was quick to pull the trigger on guys. More often than not, this technique would eventually even itself out, but in the process made my team way too fluid and lacking in overall consistency.
I don’t advise over-managing, nor do I endorse the use of “streaming” strategies. Back then, I would genuinely fall in and out of love with a player in a matter of days. I guess you could call this my junior high fantasy phase. I was way too fickle and way too proud.
Today I’ve grown to view fantasy player management as a sort of art form. Anybody can invade the free agent list because ESPN alerted them before everyone else that a certain player’s status had changed. True skill is shown in preseason forecasting and in-season trading, especially.
I love to trade, but I must admit, I don’t get a lot of deals done during the course of the year. The reason every player is on my team is because at some point I fell head-over-heels for them. I find trading difficult in that I may really, really like a player on an opposing team, but I still have that love for all the guys on my own team, especially guys I think will continue to produce.
I say all this to prepare you for my next statement. It is time to pitch away Hanley Ramirez. I know what you readers are muttering to yourselves and even the thoughts you are formulating for the comments section. I also know that few have had the track record of success over the past few seasons as has Ramirez. Listen to my reasoning, and all you Ramirez owners out there can decide for yourselves what should be the next step you should take.
Hanley Ramirez SS FLA - I know the season is still young, so some of these stats can still be a little misleading. Over the previous five seasons, Ramirez has been one of the best fastball hitters in the big leagues (13.0, 25.4, 26.3, 19.3, 15.7 wFB). This year Ramirez is hitting a pitiful -4.5 against the fastball. His ISOP, OPS, OBP, SPD, and BABIP are all the lowest of his career. He’s been caught stealing five times out of 13 attempts.
Please don’t confuse what I am saying. I don’t think it’s time to necessarily give up on Ramirez, especially seeing that he’s showing improvement this week particularly, but I think it would be foolish not to test the market. If you can get some premium players, I would give it some serious thought.
Normally, I would be hard-pressed to deal him under normal circumstances. I could see something like Starlin Castro and Shin-Soo Choo as being a deal I would give some serious thought to if I am a Ramirez owner.
Austin Jackson OF DET - Last year we saw his BABIP of .396 and thought there was no possibility he could continue to produce at a high level. Well, he did. Fast forward to 2011, and I think the story has changed. It’s time to start putting Jackson under a finer microscope.
I get that his speed will always help his value. He has a miserable .640 OPS highlighted by a .286 OBP. On CBS, I’ve seen him dealt for the likes of David Ortiz, Martin Prado, Neil Walker, and Aramis Ramirez. If I’m a Jackson owner and not desperate for steals, then I’m doing all those deals, and I’m very happy about it. If you need steals, I’d be willing to take the risk of trading Jackson for Jason Bourgeios.
Alfonso Soriano OF CHC - Soriano has never set the world on fire with his batting average or plate discipline. Additionally, I like to focus in this column on players that have struggled more than succeeded. One could argue that Soriano has succeeded this season with his 11 home runs and .263 batting average.
I can see huge holes still. He’s free swinging is getting even more free. He has only walked four times in 160 plate appearances. He is striking out at a near career-high rate of 27.6 percent. You’d have to go all the way back to the Yankee days to find a comparable rate.
I think he had little value entering 2011, and my feeling is that this 35 year old has as much trade value as he will the rest of the year. He might be a guy you will need to package with another player for a 2-for-1 deal. I would try a deal like Soriano and Zach Britton for Jay Bruce.
Carlos Santana C CLE - In all the craziness that has surrounded the success in Cleveland so far this season. Santana’s dismal start to the 2011 season has gotten overshadowed. Most of us fantasy writers at THT, myself included, thought of Santana as the best catcher prospect. Oliver, our player forecasting engine, loved him as well.
What is happening with Santana is my favorite part of playing fantasy. His value to some has changed. My value for him has not, but I know that I can now get him at a cheaper price. It’s like I just got a coupon. Folks, he is still an extremely gifted switch-hitting catcher.
He’s been very unlucky (.229 BABIP) and still maintained his power stroke. People forget this guy is still getting back into a groove since returning from his injuries. Look for him make huge strides over the coming weeks, and jump all over him if you can pry him away from his frustrated owner.
Shin-Soo Choo OF CLE - Noticing a theme? I guess it doesn’t make a lot of sense to endorse Indians players when the team as a whole is bound to cool down, right? Truth is, I don’t think people should discount the Indians, especially regarding their hitting.
What’s been so amazing about their run thus far has been that all this success has occurred without stellar performances from their two best players, Choo and Santana. Choo has been the most consistent performer in baseball over the past few years. You could generally chalk up a .290 AVG with 20 homers and 20 steals.
So far in 2011, he has underperformed. His strikeout rate is up, and his walk rate is down a bit. I think the key with Choo is to take advantage of owners’ lack of patience. The chances of Choo normalizing his stat line to career averages is far more likely than the opposite.
Mark Teixeira 1B NYY - It’s time to start grabbing the slow starter guys like Teixeira now. As the weather begins to heat up, so will his bat. Most of Teixeira's owners may have a grip on his career tendency of starting out slow, but in my remembrance, I don’t think I’ve seen him start with such ferocity in the power department at the beginning of a season (12 homers). It really makes me wonder what kind of season he will be able to put together over the course of the remaining four months. His average could be a little scary to his owners, especially the younger, less-experienced ones.
Danny Espinosa 2B WAS - We all knew he had a power/speed skill set and yielded potential from the scarce 2B position. We also knew that he would struggle with his batting average. At least you could say he hasn’t disappointed.
His paltry .211 average is almost a copy of last season’s .214. He has struggled to get a decent BABIP so far in his career (.239 and .234 in 2010 and 2011, respectively). Part of me wonders how good Espinosa could be if he could get a little lucky.
My favorite thing about Espinosa isn’t that power/speed potential or even the 2B eligibility, it’s his clutch hitting. As a baseball fan in general, you have to love guys that produce in important situations. Danny does just that. He has 27 RBIs in the few times he’s actually hit the ball. That success has been due in large part to an incredible .346 BA and four home runs with runners in scoring position. Basically, he’s a gamer and a ball player.
Mark Reynolds 3B BAL - I must first say that I have never been a fan of Reynolds. I always felt that he represented way too much risk for his skill set. His strikeouts, in particular, were always a big red flag for me.
As we enter the third month of the 2011 season, I think Reynolds is finally worth rostering in deep mixed leagues as a potential David Wright replacement. He’s cutting down on his strikeouts so far in 2011, and he’s put together a two-home run, two-stolen base week, very reminiscent of 2009. If you can deal with the BA and/or have a need for a 3B, I feel like Reynolds has the highest upside available.
Brandon Belt 1B SFO - I don’t know why the Giants gave up on Belt so early. I also don’t know why Belt’s managers are being so quick to cut ties with him. Read these words carefully, Belt is still a must-own quantity in all but the deepest leagues. His call-up is looming, and I feel like you will lose out on him if you don’t make the move this week.
Since his demotion, Belt has reinvigorated his bat, and he will be getting his second chance very soon. My advice is to strike while you can still get him. If for some reason he’s owned, and you’re looking to the minors for an upside play, look to Anthony Rizzo, Jesus Montero, and Brett Lawrie as the next great group of call-ups, Rizzo especially.
Jorge Posada C NYY - I read about his falling out with Girardi, and I heard about his apology. I still believe there’s a lot of underlying frustration here. With Jesus Montero raking in Scranton, I doubt that Posada has enough clout to continue to warrant playing time.
Coming into this year, I liked Posada’s fantasy potential since he was relinquishing the catching duties to Russell Martin. I stand corrected today, and I’m ditching Posada in all but AL-only formats. If a guy like Wilson Ramos, Hank Conger, JP Arencibia, or Jonathan Lucroy is still available, I’m ready to move on. Like Jeter in the last hitters’ Ditch section, there comes a time when somebody’s history with the team is just that, history.
Nick Swisher 1B NYY - Before too long you guys might start considering me a Yankee hater. I didn’t believe that Swisher was for real last season, and I was wrong. I don’t believe Swisher is for real this season, and I’m right. His success last year was largely BABIP driven, and so far in 2011, his ISO is .090. To give you a frame of reference, that’s below Emilio Bonifacio, Dexter Fowler, and Cliff Pennington. Ouch! There are other options out there. Swisher owners, it’s time to go a different route.
Ryan Raburn OF/2B DET- Owning Raburn meant that you believed his second half surge in 2010 could carry over into 2011. Needless to say, it really hasn’t. He’s too old to continue to roster him on the hopes that he can replicate a half-season’s success. I was a fan as a long-shot play, but if you are still rostering Raburn with guys like Espinosa on the free agent list then you are being very foolish and unwise with your roster management.
Raburn still has value in AL-only formats, but I could see potential for a playing time loss as Scott Sizemore begins to find success and other outfield options start to become available for the Tigers. If you are in desperate need of second baseman in a deep league, I’d look to Daniel Murphy or open a bench spot for future star Brett Lawrie.
Pritch slap for Week Eight, “Focus on the who, not the what.”