December 8, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Friday, May 11, 2012
Let's talk about adding players, pitchers specifically.
With adding pitchers as opposed to hitters, the short-term schedule is a much greater determining factor. If one guy has the Cardinals and Yankees on the upcoming schedule and another is facing the Padres in Petco and the forecast calls for strong inward gusts, you probably want the second pitcher. In that case, circumstance trumps talent.
If all you are looking for is a spot starter, then fine, add the pitcher facing the Padres for one start and then dump him after. No one's feelings get hurt.
If you want something more long term, though, then obviously one start at Petco isn't a deal breaker. In fact, I would argue it can be smart to look for a pitcher you're interested in who has an upcoming start against the Cardinals, Yankees, or even (gasp) the Rangers.
Think of that start as an opportunity for the pitcher to prove himself. Add him before and let him sit on your bench for the one start. If he does pitch respectably against the potent lineup, his stock will likely jump and then you can start him with confidence against whomever he faces next.
What's the point of adding a pitcher before he faces the Mariners if you aren't going to trust him after, even if pitches well?
A player who exemplifies my point is Drew Smyly. Smyly was an unproven youngster who was promoted aggressively into the Tigers rotation after spending only one year in the minors. After his first two starts against the Rays and Royals this year, he appeared on people's radars, having allowed one run in 10 innings with eight strikeouts.
Instead of adding him though, I would bet many people shied away, seeing his next two scheduled starts were about as bad as it gets—one at home vs. the Rangers and the next at Yankee Stadium against the Bombers.
Smyly ended up pitching great against both teams: going six innings, allowing one run, and striking out seven in both starts. Afterwards his value skyrocketed and he was already scooped up in most leagues. And since then, Smyly's tossed two quality outings against the White Sox and Mariners.
Of course, this strategy isn't foolproof. Just because someone shuts out the Yankees doesn't mean he won't get blown up by the A's in his next start. Stranger things have happened. Also, what I'm asking requires a roster spot to lay barren for a few days—a luxury you might not be able to afford.
In the right situation, though, thinking of a tough start as a opportunity for a pitcher to prove himself instead of simply avoiding it can pay dividends later. You might think quite differently of Jerome Williams if he holds his own against the Rangers on Saturday.
Posted by Paul Singman at 2:14am (0) Comments
Sean Rodriguez| Tampa Bay Rays| 2B/3B/SS| ESPN: 10.4 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 7 percent ownership
Oliver Rest of season: .235/.310/.386
He certainly isn't the flashiest player to own, but this multi-position eligible Ray has some fantasy value. His most obvious value comes from the roster flexibility his positional eligibility awards owners. That said, a bad player who can play every position on the diamond doesn't have any value. Rodriguez isn't a bad player, though, and if you can get past his low batting average, his power and speed contribution is solid for a middle infielder.
In two seasons with the Rays, he has flirted with double digit home runs, hitting nine in 2010 and eight in 2011, in spite of receiving only a part-time work load. In those same seasons he swiped 13 bases, and 11 bases respectively. Not the type of numbers that will carry a fantasy team to a championship, but the type that can move the needle a bit in large mixed leagues and AL-only formats.
He's seeing the field daily for the Rays this year, and a hamstring tear for starting third baseman Evan Longoria all but assures that will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.
While the bulk of Rodriguez's playing time has come at shortstop, the Rays' need to fill third base serves to award him a bit more leash to struggle than he would otherwise have. While I pointed out he could be a drag on batting average, he isn't as bad as his current average would suggest. His BABIP is on the low side thus far in 2012, and that is largely a result of hitting too many pop-ups and too few line drives. His plate discipline rates are mostly in line with his last few seasons, so it seems likely his batted ball data will drift to previous norms. If that's the case, he should hit somewhere in between his 2011 average of .223 and his 2010 mark of .251. That would still leave his average on the low side of rosterable, but the rest of his line plays at the middle infield position in large mixed leagues and AL-only leagues.
He is at his best again southpaws, with a career .776 OPS against them. In leagues with deep benches, he makes for an interesting platoon option, where his splits can be maximized.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most large mixed leagues starting a middle infielder, and all AL-only leagues.
Nolan Reimold| Baltimore Orioles| OF| ESPN: 21.8 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 31 percent ownership
Oliver ROS: .258/.336/.448
Owners who drafted or scooped Reimold off the waiver wire in the early going were rewarded for their genius. In just 69 plate appearances, he smashed five home runs and added a stolen base. A herniated disk in his neck has sent him to the disabled list (retroactive to May 1), and many owners have responded by casting him off their teams.
Playing with a bulging disk upon activation from the disabled list is less than an ideal situation, but one that Will Carroll says is possible in his May 2 Under The Knife article. Orioles manager Buck Showalter has suggested Reimold will need to play in a few rehab games before being activated, according to the Orioles official website. It does, however, sound promising that he'll be back shortly after his eligible date.
Owners with bench flexibility, or an open DL spot, would be wise to grab Reimold now. His stellar play extends back to September of last season, making his hot start this year seem much less flukey. In 81 plate appearances last September, he clubbed five home runs, was perfect in stealing six bases in six chances, hit .281, and sported a sterling walk-to-strikeout ratio (BB:K) of 9:14. His plate discipline didn't carry over to the early part of this season, but he has a history of walking at an above average rate, and it is hard to fault a hot hitter for wanting to swing the bat and smack the ball around the yard. If the pain caused by his neck can be kept in check, he could be a very cheap source of 20-plus home runs the rest of the year.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues that start five outfielders on theams that have a bench or disabled list roster spot.
Wil Myers| Kansas City Royals| OF| ESPN: 0 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 0 percent ownership
YTD: .339/.394/.722 (Double-A)
Oliver ROS: .290/.335/.627
Myers had a rough 2011 season, but began to put that in his rear view mirror with an explosive Arizona Fall League campaign. His hot stick has stayed ablaze in his return to the Double-A Texas League. He has hit a home run in each of his last four games, and five of his last six (he's playing as I write this on Thursday night).
The MLE for his Double-A production is .290/.335/.627. That line is nothing to sneeze at. What may be as important to his immediate future as his hitting prowess is his new defensive home. Myers is patrolling center field for Northwest Arkansas, and according to J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, he may be taking his center field act to Triple-A Omaha soon enough(subscription required to read).
A move to center field presents the clearest path to the majors, and the thinking is that he can play the position passably for the next few years. If Myers continues to rip the cover off baseballs upon his promotion to Triple-A, a late summer cup of coffee with the Royals isn't out of the question. Those in keeper or dynasty leagues that require a player to play in a major league game before rostering them should keep his accelerated timetable in mind before burning a high waiver priority or large chunk of the FAAB budget on a non-impact player.
Recommendation: Should be rostered only in keeper and dynasty leagues, but should be added to watch lists in AL-only formats.
Hisashi Iwakuma| Seattle Mariners| SP| ESPN: 1 percent, Yahoo! : 0.3 percent
YTD: 6.75 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 2.25 BB/9, 10.13 K/9, 47.3 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.22 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.5 K/9
He didn't receive the acclaim of fellow Nippon Professional Baseball import Yu Darvish, but Iwakuma was a star there, and his Oliver projection reflects that. He doesn't possess the stuff of Darvish, but according to his Brooks Baseball player card, he mixes three fastballs, a four-seam fastball, a sinker, and a splitter, with two breaking balls, a curveball and slider, to attack opposing batters. The average velocity ranges from 73.86 mph on his curveball to 90.54 on his four-seamer, giving him a variety of looks to keep hitters off balance.
Working exclusively in relief as a long man, his pitches have been effective. He worked multiple innings in two of three appearances, which may diminish the impact of his stuff "playing up" in the bullpen. All three of his fastballs are generating ample empty swings, but his curveball is drawing a lot of wood. The curve does draw some called strikes, and it also induces ground balls at a healthy clip, so it has its purpose.
As his stats above illustrate, he is pounding the strike zone, racking up strikeouts, and inducing ground balls at a strong rate. His strikeout rate is higher than it was in Japan, so some regression is probably in order there, but his walk rate and ability to induce ground balls are an extension of his play in the NPB.
Kevin Millwood and Hector Noesi have been beaten like drums so far this year, and Blake Beavan's 3.78 K/9 would fit right into the league leaders, if it were the late 1800s, and could pose problems for him in the future. Iwakuma's most recent relief appearance came after Miguel Cabrera line drive">Beavan exited with an elbow contusion that resulted from getting struck by a Miguel Cabrera line drive.
Beavan's next start may be pushed back, but he doesn't appear to be in any danger of needing a disabled list stint, so for now, the Mariners' rotation is full. But as I alluded to above, there are three candidates for flubbing their starting pitching roles, and Iwakuma is on a short list to fill that role when it presents itself. His value is limited in the short term, but owners in large mixed leagues should add him to their watch list, and owners in AL-only leagues in need of pitching help should preemptively nab and stash him in the anticipation of a role change.
Recommendation: Should be on watch lists in large mixed leagues, and stashed by owners with bench flexibility in need of pitching help in AL-only formats.
Felipe Paulino| Kansas City Royals| SP| ESPN: 0.3 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 3 percent ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3.00 BB/9, 9.00 K/9, 53.3 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.83 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
If one didn't know better, they may believe I'm a closet Royals fan having, unfortunately, touted Luke Hochevar before the season, Danny Duffy early this year, and now Paulino here this week. That assessment would be incorrect; my interest in Paulino dates back to his tenure on the Astros' active roster.
The reason is pretty simple: Paulino throws really, really hard, and he has some idea where the baseball is going (3.74 BB/9 in his career, and 3.47 BB/9 with the Royals last year). His average velocity on his four-seam fastball in 3,398 pitches tracked by PITCHf/x is a blistering 96.02 mph. He backs it with a slider, curveball, and change-up, with the slider getting the bulk of the usage. It's his best secondary pitch, so it only makes sense that he'd turn to it more often than the others, but his curveball and change-up give him the type of pitch mix to go after batters of either handedness. His batted ball data have fluctuated throughout his career, but he t has shown an ability to keep the ball on the ground.
In many ways, Paulino is a poster child for the dangers of blindly relying on advanced metrics. He has routinely had an ERA above his FIP, xFIPand other advanced measures that normalize certain component stats.
One culprit for Paulino's "poor luck" is a sky high career BABIP of .339. Having pitched 87 games in the majors, including 55 starts, that have spanned over 350 innings, it is probably safe to say he's not simply a victim of bad luck. The old adage is that power pitches provide the power to hitters, and that may apply to Paulino, though, I'm not sure how to prove or disprove that notion. Suffice to say, expecting Paulino to suddenly stop giving up hits on batted balls put in play at a higher than average rate is wishful thinking at best, and foolish thinking at worst.
One positive fantasy attribute he has displayed consistently is the ability to strike out batters at a high rate (8.30 K/9). If his control gains from last season stick for the long haul, he should provide value to large mixed league and AL-only owners. Pitching his home games at Kauffman Stadium should help suppress his home run rate below his career mark. A high three-to-low-four ERA is well within reach, and good enough to make him ownable for his strikeouts in certain leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned by strikeout-needy owners in large mixed leagues and AL-only leagues.
Casey Janssen| Toronto Blue Jays| RP| ESPN: 11.1 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 21 percent ownership
YTD: 4.76 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 0.79 BB/9, 9.53 K/9, 43.8 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.60 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 7.9 K/9
If a closer's mentality doesn't prove to be enough, do the so-called baseball purists make a noise? Similar to the philosophical debate about a tree falling in the woods with no one around, except for the fact it is not similar at all, the cries of closer mentality have turned to whimpers north of the U.S. border, where Francisco Cordero, veteran of 329 career saves, has coughed up the interim closer gig to Janssen.
Sergio Santos, the Opening Day closer, is on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. If he doesn't suffer any setbacks, he should be back by June, though, it is anyone's guess how his shoulder will hold up as he works to rebuild strength after his period of inactivity. Regardless of the length of his absence, Janssen is the man to own on the Blue Jays by those in need of saves.
He doesn't bring the cheddar of a prototypical hard throwing closer, but his formula for success is clear: Throw strikes, and get ahead of hitters. The throw strikes part of the equation is the clearest it has ever been in Janssen's career if you use his walk rate as the measure, but his first pitch strike rate this year is merely average, as opposed to notably above average as it has been the last two years.
Three home runs have inflated his ERA a bit this season. Last year he allowed only two in 55 appearances, and his HR/9 in 2009 and 2010 were in the general vicinity of league average, making his propensity for serving up gopher balls a recent problem, not a career long one. A reversion back to his groundball rates of previous years should also help quell his tater issues.
Snarky comments about closer mentality aside, Janssen doesn't have a lengthy track record of saving games, so his leash may be short. It's also possible, but not necessarily probable, that the pressure of pitching in the ninth inning of games will turn Janssen into a lump of coal as opposed to the diamond fantasy owners who invest in his services hope for. As his inclusion in this week's article would suggest, taking a chance on Janssen is a worthwhile endeavor.
Recommendation: Should be nearly universally owned while he serves as the Blue Jays' closer.
Ernesto Frieri| Los Angeles Angels| RP| ESPN: 11.5 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 17 percent ownership
YTD: 1.88 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 4.40 BB/9, 15.07 K/9, 22.2 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.36 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, 9.2 K/9
Frieri is a tightrope walker, succeeding in spite of his high walk rate and his flyball-centric approach. He's able to navigate through this challenging approach by striking out batters in bunches.
He came to the Angels by way of a trade with the Padres at the beginning of this month. With a number of other talented relievers in the Padres bullpen the last two seasons, Frieri wasn't often called upon for the highest leverage situations at the end of ballgames. Since joining the Angels, he has been thrust into an integral late inning role, and he may be in line for some save opportunities should demoted former closer Jordan Walden fail to seize back his previous gig.
Scott Downs is serving as the team's closer at the moment, but may best aid the Angels bullpen by remaining available to get tough lefties out before the ninth inning. Hisanori Takahashi is the club's only other left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, and he hasn't been as tough on left-handed batters in his career as Downs has.
Owners hoping to vulture every save possible should scoop up Frieri and hope for the best. He has large mixed league and AL-only value currently as a high strikeout reliever who can help ratios.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all large mixed leagues and AL-only formats as well as by saves-strapped owners in shallower formats.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 5:01am (1) Comments
Christian Friedrich | Rockies | SP | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 3.00 ERA / 0.90 WHIP / 8.1 K/9
Oliver Rest of season: No projections.
A sparkling debut from Friedrich has him at the top of my pickup list, a fact hard to believe after back-to-back 5.00+ ERAs in Double-A each of the last two years. Friedrich harnessed his control nicely in his 2012 Triple-A debut, where he posted a 6.75 strikeout to walk ratio. The pinpoint control was on display when he struck out seven and issued only one walk against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. If he can continue to limit his walks—and that led to newfound success in the minors—he’ll surely find a level of success at the majors.
Recommendation: Worthy of adding in all formats.
Laynce Nix | Phillies | 1B, OF | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.7 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .326 / .392 / .587
Oliver Rest of season projection: .267 / .322 / .475
A little late on the uptake here, but Nix provides ample power and should have a share of at-bats for the next month. Ryan Howard will soon begin his rehab, but will need time to round into game shape, and during his absence, Nix has slashed two homers, totaled 11 RBIs, and hit to the tune of a .326/.392/.587. He’s hit 15 and 16 long balls in the last two years, respectively, and should be good for three homers (assuming Howard doesn’t suffer a setback). Better late than never, and the wire’s awfully thin.
Recommendation: Worthy of adding in all single-format leagues, or on teams that need a quick power fix.
Taylor Green | Brewers | 2B | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .287 / .363 / .396 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: .263 / .326 / .426
Green impressed to the tune of 22 homers and a .336 average in just 121 Triple-A games last season, and though his power has sapped this year, he should hit enough to justify placement at a middle infield spot on some rosters. Alex Gonzalez and Mat Gamel both went down with major injuries, yielding some playing time to the versatile Green. He should qualify at first base soon enough, but carries second base eligibility in most leagues. The position versatility should make him valuable enough to add in single formats.
Recommendation: Worthy of adding in NL-only leagues.
Randall Delgado | Braves | SP | 3 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 4.54 ERA / 1.40 WHIP / 8.3 K/9
Oliver ROS: 5.59 ERA / 1.57 WHIP / 7.0 K/9
I take back what I said about Delgado—at least for now. Recent trends look better, as he’s walked only three in his last 13+ innings while striking out a fair 10. His peripheral stats point to more positive ERA comedown, and though his high walk rate might lead to WHIP troubles, he’s one of the few feasible starters who may be available on the waiver wire. I’d still prefer Kris Medlen to him, but opportunity is most of the game (or something like that).
Recommendation: Worthy of adding on all teams that need a starter.
Tyler Greene | Cardinals | 2B, SS, OF | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .226 / .317 / .434
Oliver ROS: .254 / .329 / .398
The multi-eligible, speedy Greene is finally getting some burn in the weak St. Louis infield, and his 6.6 career speed rating could lead to some high steal totals. He had 11 steals in just 121 plate appearances last year, and despite high strikeout totals, can certainly challenge 20 in limited at-bats this year. He certainly isn’t a quality major league asset—his 171 games have shown him to be a below average hitter by approximately 20 percent, and a below average fielder. But speed plays (see Dee Gordon), and speed kills (in a positive way, of course). How many other shortstops are on the wire?
Recommendation: Worthy of adding on all speed-hungry teams.
Speculative saves of the week
James Russell | Cubs | RP | 6 percent Yahoo ownership | 2.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 0.80 ERA / 1.33 WHIP / 8.0 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.81 ERA / 1.39 WHIP / 6.2 K/9
One-half of the Marmolian replacement hasn’t gotten a save opportunity yet, but compares favorably to his other half, Rafael Dolis. His strikeout to walk ratio is more than three times higher than Dolis’, and his FIP is well below average at 2.38 (despite his 4.46 xFIP that spells trouble looming).
He’s a soft tosser, but the converted starter should get the first chance when the fireballer slips up. (I say should rather than will because closer situations are incredibly fluid and unpredictable—case in point being the man in the seat getting the first crack at the job. Might Marmol reclaim the job? Perhaps. But he's found little success in the role over the past year and change...) Dolis’ minor league track record of pitching to contact (to only mild success) should certainly lead to a slip up. Shouldn’t it?
Recommendation: Worthy of adding on all rosters chasing saves.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 5:13am (3) Comments
Monday, May 14, 2012
It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We'll do this on a weekly basis. If you feel I've missed anything important, please don't hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.
• Here’s hoping Wilson Ramos’ 2013 season turns out better than his 2012; from the kidnapping incident over the offseason to the torn ACL he suffered in his right knee, it’s been a season to forget for the Nationals’ catcher. Fantasy-wise, Saturday’s bad news was definitely disappointing, since Ramos offered double-digit home runs at a thin position, and could have helped the team offset the injuries dealt to Michael Morse and Jayson Werth. Now, he’s essentially useless for the rest of the season, as one imagines the Nationals won’t rush him back as he recovers from surgery, leaving a spot open for Jesus Flores to grab regular playing time.
• After being bothered by a left hamstring issue all week, Matt Kemp was pulled from Sunday’s game in what the team described as an “irritated left hamstring,” which doesn’t sound all that bad. Then again, hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger, and if the team was a bit too aggressive in making sure their star center fielder played all last week, one would think the team would be a bit more cautious in week seven. We’ll learn more about the injury’s seriousness in the next couple of days, but owners with deep benches might consider benching the MVP candidate this week.
• The laws of baseball physics demanded Yoenis Cespedes would come back down to earth after his scorching start to the year, but it’s been an especially sluggish May for the outfielder, who’s hitting .227 with no home runs or stolen bases so far this month. Now the 26-year-old has landed on the disabled list with a strained left hand, prompting the team to call up prospect Michael Taylor from Triple-A.
• Desmond Jennings’ sprained left knee, which ruined his productivity in week six, doesn’t seem to be getting all that much better as the Rays still mull the possibility of placing him on the disabled list. Consider him a risky start for the upcoming scoring period.
• Already frustrating fantasy owners with a .158 average and a league-leading 41 strikeouts, Rickie Weeks didn’t play this past weekend as he was dealing with a bruised left wrist suffered after he was hit by a pitch on Saturday. An X-ray showed no fracture, which is good, but he’s been so abysmal so far this year that owners might as well find a replacement this week anyway, given the chance he’ll be bothered by the injury over the next few days.
• Danny Duffy was pulled shortly after the beginning of Sunday’s start against the White Sox with what manager Ned Yost described as left elbow tightness, which is similar to what he went through last month, but the southpaw is scheduled to undergo a MRI later today. Duffy and his mid-90s heat has some significant upside in fantasy, but be leery of starting him this week until more information about the extent of the injury becomes known.
• Keep an eye on Dan Haren, who’s been dealing with a stiff lower back that was blamed for his rough start last week in which he failed to get out of the fourth inning.
• Mark Reynolds insists his oblique strain isn’t serious, but the Orioles went ahead and placed him on the 15-day DL anyway, calling up Bill Hall in his place.
• A sore left shoulder has landed Scott Rolen back on the DL. This was the same shoulder for which he underwent surgery last year.
• The Kenley Jansen era has officially begun in Los Angeles, as Don Mattingly bumped up the fireballer to replace Javy Guerra in the Dodgers' ninth inning. Jansen, 24, offers enormous strikeout potential and is playing for one of the best teams in the National League, which qualifies him as a potential No. 1 closer and someone to get active in all leagues.
• Remember how Chris Sale was being moved from the rotation to the bullpen to save White Sox games (and his elbow)? Well that plan has been called off, apparently, as the team has decided to keep him in the rotation after all. Although he got smacked around on Saturday, a MRI showed no damage in his left elbow, so hopefully it won’t take too long for him to regain the form that made him one of the best young pitchers to emerge thus far in 2012. The team’s decision, of course, once again leaves open Chicago’s ninth innings, though I suspect the days of Addison Reed (13 games, .800 WHIP, 12.6 K/9, no earned runs allowed) assuming the throne of closer are not too far away.
• It didn’t take much of a clairvoyant leap to assume Grant Balfour’s job was in jeopardy after his rough start to 2012, and lo and behold, he’s now been demoted to middle-relief duty as Brian Fuentes returns to the league of closers. With Fuentes, you know what you’re getting: a guy with more than 200 career saves and a career 9.4 K/9, but also a reputation for combustibility. If you need saves, he’s the guy in Oakland to target, but definitely a No. 2 closer and a guy who by no means has the job locked down long-term.
• So much for the closer career of Steve Cishek, who once again will take a back seat to Heath Bell in the Marlins’ bullpen. Still, Bell wasn’t all that good on Sunday, nearly earning the loss before the Marlins rallied to win the game, so it’s by no means clear whether he’s put the awful start to his 2012 behind him.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 5:11am (3) Comments
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every-morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
Christian Friedrich headlines a shallow group of stream-able pitchers today. He faces the Giants and is just five percent owned.
Tim Stauffer makes his first start of the season against the Nationals. I haven't been following his recovery so I don't know how sharp he's looked in the minors.
Drew Smyly briefly had a regular role in this column, but his ownership is 41 percent now and he was snapped up before I noticed him in most of my leagues.
Ryan Doumit's ownership is down the 24 percent and he faces Jeanmar Gomez today. On the other side of that match-up is Carl Pavano, so stack up on Indians hitters like Michael Brantley.
Craig Gentry should get to face Bruce Chen.
Hope for Taylor Green to start against Miguel Batista.
Juan Pierre has posted his second best season to date for the Phillies. He draws Lucas Harrell today, which should be good for a single or two.
I honestly wouldn't use any waiver starters tomorrow. If I had to make a pick, Wade Miley against the Dodgers isn't a bad match-up.
The Indians will face Jason Marquis, so keep a hold of your Indians hitters. Is it any wonder the Twins are so terrible with Pavano and Marquis going back-to-back?
The Yankees will see Wei-Yin Chen, which means another Andruw Jones start.
Ervin Santana's had a rough go of things this year. Josh Reddick and Seth Smith draw the favorable match-up.
The closer nonsense continues. Frank Francisco blew another one, leading some to wonder why he's still in the back end of that bullpen. Then again, Jon Rauch isn't the most reliable alternative.
Brett Myers blew a save but his role is very safe.
Addison Reed had an epic meltdown, allowing six runs in less than an inning. With Chris Sale back in the rotation, Matt Thornton might be the current closer. Reed remains the best reliever in that bullpen.
John Axford's save streak ends at 49. Needless to say, he's secure.
Qualitative notes today on Thursday and Friday performance.
Strong performers: Reddick (2), David Murphy, Eric Thames, Smith, James McDonald, Reed Johnson
Mediocre performers: Jones, Ryan Sweeney
Weak performers: Gentry, Thames, Kyle Drabek
Worth note, one of Reddick's games was a 4-for-4 performance with four runs, five RBI, two home runs, and a steal. That's the perfect game of hitting.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:51am (1) Comments
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Fantasy baseball drives me. It’s a game I love, respect, and have a tremendous amount of passion for. I strive to one day be named among the elite in the industry, and no contest would bring more honor and prestige than winning the NFBC Main Event.
So naturally, of all the teams that I own, run and manage over the course of the season, the one that takes top billing and importance is my Main Event squad. The calendar hasn’t even flipped to June yet, and I’ve already been dealt an excruciating amount of bad luck.
If the majority of my players were simply under-performing (and quite a few of them are), I could live with my team sitting at the bottom of the standings in Chicago League 1 with a meager 39 league points to my name. At least then, it would be 100 percent on me and my poor decision making. However, the rash of injuries that I’ve had to deal with in the first six weeks of the season has me questioning whether I can even dig out of this gigantic hole.
Losing a first round pick for any length of time can be a devastating blow in any 15-team league with 30-player rosters. So when Jacoby Ellsbury went down just seven games into the season with a separated shoulder, it was a crushing blow. The timetable on his return was initially set at six to eight weeks, meaning that I would likely be without my superstar for two months of the season. Having confidence in my ability to work the wire, and in the rest of my team, I never doubted that I would be able to patch the offense enough to get by until Ellsbury returned.
In the season’s third week, my eighth-round pick and number three starter, Daniel Hudson, complained of shoulder soreness after his third start and headed to the DL. A month later, he still hasn’t returned to action, but is at least targeting a return at the end of May.
After making it through week four unscathed, disaster again struck in week five. The greatest closer in the history of the major leagues, Mariano Rivera, tore the ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. Losing a closer for any length of time can be a major obstacle to overcome, but when that closer was drafted in the seventh round and expected to be elite, he’s irreplaceable.
Then my third baseman, Mat Gamel, bashed his knee into the right field wall chasing down a foul popup. Just as Mo Rivera, Gamel tore the ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. This is starting to get a little ridiculous.
Later in the same week, my middle infielder, Alex Gonzalez, goes down with an injury while sliding into second base during a steal attempt. Diagnosis: torn ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. That’s three in one week. Absolutely insane.
At this point, I’m scrambling. I need to replace my top closer, my third baseman, and my middle infielder, while still trying to keep up with the expected production of being without Ellsbury and Hudson for all this time. I could simply slide Ruben Tejada back in at middle infielder with Gonzalez out, but oh wait, Tejada hit the disabled list on Sunday with a right quadriceps injury.
At this point, I’m still in (relatively) good spirits. Every team has to deal with multiple injuries over the course of the season, and as ridiculous as this stretch has been, I’m just getting all of mine out of the way early on. I still believe that I have the talent on my team to compete, and with a couple of solid additions I could still climb the standings and compete for a top-three finish in my league.
Then week seven hit. In a league this deep that starts two catchers, there are generally 30-33 owned throughout the league. An injured player at the scarcest of positions can be nearly impossible to replace. So lucky for me, I’m the proud owner of Chris Iannetta who had to have surgery to repair a broken bone in his right wrist and will miss the next six to eightg weeks. While he wasn’t hitting for a good average, he was providing plenty in the way of power and counting stats. I’d be lucky to find someone getting more than half of his team’s at-bats at the position.
So while I was combing through names on Saturday in search of Iannetta’s replacement, my other catcher, Wilson Ramos, goes down with what looks like a significant knee injury. Diagnosis: my fourth torn right ACL of the season, done for the year. Ramos was a significant contributor to my offense and simply can’t be replaced.
I’m now in search of two catchers to fill the void, and at a minimum stand to lose 10-15 at-bats each week in the process. To make matters worse, I was outbid on Jesus Flores and have to roll with John Jason and Bobby Wilson until I can upgrade both spots.
It’s completely demoralizing to see a team that you put so much time and effort into, and that you care so much about, have to go through a ridiculous bout of injuries such as this. My dreams of winning the Main Event title this season have already been dashed, and it’s only the middle of May. My hope now is that I can continue to try to piece things together and make a run at a top three finish in my league, but even that is starting to look more unlikely with each passing day.
I’m surely no quitter though, and believe enough in my own abilities to think that I can make this work. After all, if I were able to overcome this and win my league it may go down as the greatest comeback in NFBC history. My new season starts today, and rather than having my cavalcade of stars lead me to greatness, my new role players will fill in admirably and pick up the pieces.
Either way, I won’t go down without a fight. Even through the roughest of times, I’ll continue to battle and do everything I can to turn this season around.
Any questions, comments or concerns? I’d love to hear them, leave in the comments below or find me on Twitter @DaveShovein.
Posted by Dave Shovein at 2:01am (5) Comments
Much has been made of seemingly excessive amount of hot potato-ing of closer roles throughout the first month-plus of the 2012 season. Some are convinced that these developments are clear evidence supporting the "don’t pay for saves” philosophy of roster construction and resource allotment. While in some respects, this is a reasonable conclusion, I’m not sure it’s that simple.
To begin with, not all those who lost their jobs or suffered injury did so under similar circumstances. Also, not all of those who lost their jobs were particularly costly acquisitions to their owners in the first place. Actually, there are a lot of factors mitigating the simplicity of the “I told you so” message from the "don’t pay for closers" camp.
Let’s first think about the context behind some of the losses of jobs by closers.
Mariano Rivera’s situation is fittingly unique, as his career and stability from a fantasy perspective has been unique as well. Even the most staunch advocate of not paying for saves would grant that Mo was as sure a thing as any player on the board. (Ironically, his offensive counterpart in this realm may have been the previously unflappable Albert Pujols.)
I think we can all agree that Rivera’s injury falls into the category of freak injury to star player with no pre-draft red flags, health-wise. What happened to Rivera could have just as easily happened to a position player; his position has no relevance so his case should not enter this discussion. This general situation applies to others as well, but I’ve separated Rivera because of his singular record of consistently other-worldly performance
On the flip side of Rivera’s rock solid elite stature, we’ve seen many closers with shaky or unestablished records lose their jobs, somewhat predictably. Most likely, few of these players cost their owners considerably in the first place. Players who fall into this camp include Javy Guerra, Grant Balfour, Hector Santiago, and (perhaps soon to come) Frank Francisco.
For these players, the considerable chance of not keeping the job all season was factored into their preseason prices. One can’t exactly feel shocked, awed, and cheated out of their investment in these scenarios.
The next group of players includes those with red flaga who suffered injuries. Brad Lidge, Andrew Bailey and Huston Street miss time due to injury almost every season. There were known concerns about Brian Wilson’s health before most drafts. For these players too, the risks based on their histories were reflected in their prices.
Moving on, we come to players who got injured more unexpectedly. This group includes Sergio Santos, Kyle Farnsworth, Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria (if your draft occurred before those injuries), and Carlos Marmol.
Some of these players will return and may also reclaim their jobs and put together decent seasons. It’s too early to tell. But, the point here is that unless one can establish that closers are more prone to injury than other players, these players were priced fairly and if they disappoint, it will be due to forces beyond their control. Injury is a possibility for all players, and the fact that it may seem injuries occurred to closers at a greater rate than to other players isn’t relevant unless you can establish that this isn’t random.
When you account for all the prior groups of players, you are left with only a few who have lost their jobs despite preseason expectation that they will be healthy and productive. The players who fall into this group are Jordan Walden and Heath Bell. Perhaps Carlos Marmol was on this path too, but if his performance was related to his subsequent DL stint his case is inconclusive at best.
So, when thinking about the volatility of the position, excluding injury, we see that there hasn’t been the string of “busts” that this dominant narrative of a nonstop closing carousel might lead us to believe. But, wait, there’s more.
Many of the players who lost their jobs, either due to performance or injury, still have reasonable likelihoods of regaining the closer role and ultimately earning their draft price or close to it. Included among these players are all the legitimate “busts” thus far, including Marmol.
Also countering the conclusion of the "don’t pay for saves" choir is the fact that—just like every year—many of the cheap preseason options are turning in perfectly serviceable to even star-caliber seasons. Jim Johnson, Brett Myers, Jonathan Broxton and Brandon League have been great. Matt Capps has been serviceable. Joe Nathan is looking something like his former self. If you spent $2 on Grant Balfour, you’re upset now. But, if you spent those same $2 on Jim Johnson, you are loving life.
Meanwhile, many of the heirs to these vacated closing positions don’t appear to have either long-term windows of opportunity or the skill set to prove valuable commodities for the rest of the season. In order for the “don’t pay for saves” argument to hold, not only does there need to be considerable turnover in the position, but that turnover needs to produce valuable players free for the taking. Even if the first half of this equation has been achieved, I don’t think Rafael Dolis, Scott Downs and Steve Cishek qualify as the latter.
Of course none of this means that paying for saves has proven to be a particularly sound investment this year, but the way the season has played out thus far points to this being the case because of circumstantial occurrences and not inherently flawed strategy.
I also have somewhat distinct opinions on “paying for saves” in auction leagues as opposed to draft leagues, but that’s an issue I’ll touch on in its own column in the future.
Rounding up, the question we’re left with now is whether there is actionable information to be gained from this argument. Along those lines, I’d say that the developments in the closer position this year may affect different GMs differently. Some may fear the perceived instability and question the value of their own closers, leading to opportunities for acquisition. Others may see the instability as a reason to double down on their higher end assets, resulting in increased perceived value of the Jonathan Papelbons and Craig Kimbrels of the position. So, depending on the owner, the overall dynamic at the position may either open or close the market.
The bigger takeaway, however, is that many of the displaced closers are still better investments than their replacements. I’d rather own Marmol, Walden or Bell than any of their bullpen counterparts—though I do love Ernesto Frieri, who probably could run away with the job if given the chance.
Many closers who get displaced will get another shot; they weren’t installed as their teams’ closers accidentally. When the next great thing often actually only proves to be the next mediocre thing, the value of the last mediocre thing is often totally ignored. It’s easier and a lot cheaper to speculate on those who have lost their jobs but haven’t seen it get far away from them than it is to chase the hype of the next-in-line closer—the major league equivalent of the fan-favorite back-up quarterback. If you have room on your roster, scoop up recently displaced closers when they are dropped; many of these relationships are of the on-again, off-again variety.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:38am (1) Comments
Last night was a special night if you ask me. No, not because Bryce Harper hit his first home run (though it was pretty sweet). And no, not 'cause it was the season premier of The Bachelorette (a helicopter, really?)
Last night was special because not one save was blown by a closer. Not one.
These days it seems every night features at least one blown save, or often times more. When one of my closers enters a game with a one-run lead, I'm trembling. With a two-run lead, my breath quickens. With a three-run lead, I don't think there are any noticeable signs, but I could be wrong.
In memoriam of last night, let's do a recap of all of the closers who protected leads successfully:
Addison Reed — White SoxWe got a satisfying, complete look at the White Sox closing trio last night. Hector Santiago pitched the seventh, Matt Thornton shut down the middle of the lineup in the eighth, and then Reed got the call to close out the ninth and picked up his third save. My guess is Ventura stays true to his word that the three are truly in a committee and one of Thornton or Santiago gets the next opp.
The White Sox are playing a game of closer hot potato with the first to blow a save receiving a lesser piece of the timeshare. Based on skill, that points to Santiago being the most likely to drop out of the picture, but with closer hot potato anything can happen! It was nice to see Ventura still trusting Reed despite his Mother's Day meltdown.
One last note: Jesse Crain will likely come off the DL today and also could get in the mix.
Sean Burnett — NationalsOkay, so not every closer did his job last night since Henry Rodriguez got bailed out big by Sean Burnett, who induced a game-ending double play that cleaned a Rodriguez induced mess. While converting just one out, H-Rod managed to walk three Padres before getting yanked from the game.
You may recall that in Rodriguez's last appearance he also blew the save via Joey Votto's walk-off grand slam. So in terms of leashes, Rodriguez has to have his held tight right to his neck. H-Rod will probably stay the closer for now though one more blown save and I'd presume he's out. Brad Lidge and Drew Storen are both a few weeks from returning either way.
Rafael Soriano — YankeesWith a possible DL stint in line for David Robertson (oblique/ribcage strain), Soriano pitched a clean ninth for his second save. Soriano will likely have a chance to run away with the Yankees closing gig.
Rafael Dolis — CubsDolis impressively struck out two Cardinals in a clean ninth to pick up his fourth save. His job looks safe for now but things will likely get more interesting when he starts pitching in line with how his poor peripherals say he should, and when Carlos Marmol comes off the DL in a couple of weeks.
Joel Hanrahan— PiratesHanrahan is one of the safer closer options out there but even he isn't quite right with an uncharacteristic nine walks in his 12 innings this year. It was nice to see him throw 11 of 15 pitches for strikes last night as he picked up save number seven.
Frank Francisco — MetsYes, Francisco got the save. And yes, he gave up a run. Hey, on the bright side it was only one! I'm guessing Mets fans would rather see anyone over Francisco in the closer role, even Oliver Perez. Okay, maybe not Ollie but at least Jon Rauch or Bobby Parnell.
Change is likely imminent here.
Sean Marshall — RedsMarshall picked up save six, adding two more strikeouts in the process. The K rate is high (13.15) and walk rate low (2.08) so you have to like him going forward.
Jonathan Broxton — RoyalsI'll give props to anyone who picks up a save against the Rangers, which is what Broxton did last night for his eighth of the season. Granted, he didn't face the meaty part of that lineup, but it's still been a nice comeback year for the former ace closer.
Chris Perez — IndiansOnce again Perez is the major league saves leader, now with 12. Note that a guy I think could replace Perez if he loses the job, Nick Hagadone, served up a blast to Ryan Doumit in the eighth inning. Hagadone still has an impressive 1.74 ERA for the year.
Kenley Jansen — DodgersJansen shut the door on the D-backs for his fourth save and has been effective as the closer since his inevitable takeover of Javy Guerra's ninth inning job. He could be a top-tier closer in next year's drafts.
Santiago Casilla — GiantsCasilla pitched a messy ninth, allowing an unearned run, but still got the save. It was save eight for the man filling in for Brian Wilson, He's filled in admirably and looks like he'll keep the role all year.
Quick reminder and a Tout Wars update
I keep track of every closer situation at Closer Watch. I know I've been unreliable in the past, but the past few weeks I've been updating it basically every night and as far as I know it's the most up-to-date closer chart online.
In Tout Wars this week I picked up Christian Friedrich for $2 FAAB dollars (looked great last night) and Jon Rauch for $5. I'm still sittin' pretty in the standings, dominating the pitching stats and holding my own in hitting. There's still a long way to go till the end of the season, though.
Posted by Paul Singman at 5:03am (2) Comments
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every-morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
Wade Miley and Anthony Bass headline today's list of waiver wire streamables. Miley faces the Matt Kemp-less Dodgers while Bass takes on the Nationals.
Michael Brantley will benefit from seeing some bad Twins pitchers.
Andruw Jones will probably start against Wei-Yin Chen.
Josh Reddick and Seth Smith find themselves facing Ervin Santana.
There are several employable options on the pitching side for tomorrow but no must-starts.
Chris Capuano will face the Padres at Petco.
Mike Minor draws the Marlins and is only 34 percent owned thanks to a couple bad outings.
Felipe Paulino will see the Orioles in his third start since coming off the disabled list. The results have been good to date.
The Rangers face another lefty, which means another start for Craig Gentry.
Lefty masher Matt Diaz will probably be in the lineup for the Braves against Mark Buehrle.
I don't really understand how Kirk Nieuwenhuis is only 10 percent owned. He's the perfect fantasy roster glue. Regardless, he faces Mike Leake tomorrow so get him in your lineup.
Jeff Keppinger is available. He's stealthily crept onto the scene as an everyday player with second and third base eligibility.
This might be the first time there is little news to report on the closer front. It's been a crazy year.
David Robertson has been dealing with discomfort in his side so Rafael Soriano is the temporary closer. Don't be surprised if Soriano is allowed to run with the role.
Addison Reed picked up a save yesterday, so it appears his nightmare outing didn't lose him the job.
Big day for Christian Friedrich, but the Rockies couldn't get him the win: 7 IP, 10 K, 1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Drew Smyly struggled through his outing: 5 IP, 4 K, 7.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Tim Stauffer was hittable: 5 IP, 5 K, 5.40 ERA, 2.00 WHIP
People are starting to figure out that maybe they should own Ryan Doumit. He went 1-for-3 with a home run, one run, two RBI, and a walk.
Brantley failed to get to Carl Pavano with an 0-for-4 evening.
Gentry's been busy for the Rangers. He went 0-for-2 with a walk last night.
Taylor Green was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Juan Pierre was 0-for-4.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:53am (0) Comments
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every-morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
Three waiver guys have solid match-ups. Chris Capuano faces the Padres at Petco. The always-unpredictable Mike Minor has the Marlins. And Felipe Paulino sees the surprisingly hot Orioles in his third start since coming off the disabled list.
Craig Gentry and the Rangers face Tommy Milone.
Matt Diaz should get the start against Mark Buehrle.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis draws a favorable match-up against Mike Leake.
Tony Campana squares off against Kyle Kendrick.
Jeff Keppinger is a stealthy middle infield/corner infield add and he's set to face Clay Buchholz.
Zach McAllister is probably playable against the Mariners.
James McDonald is set to face the Nationals. As Yahoo's splash page pointed out, he's using his slider more frequently this year, but it's by no means absurd. His slider usage has climbed from roughly five percent to 13 percent.
Juan Pierre will be back in the leadoff spot against Chris Volstad.
Eric Thames faces Phil Hughes. On the other side of that match-up is Raul Ibanez facing Drew Hutchinson.
Andy Dirks probably should be owned outright, but he faces P.J. Walters tomorrow.
Reliever madness is back in full swing after a one-day hiatus.
David Robertson is on the disabled list with a strained oblique, so Rafael Soriano will have an opportunity to settle into the closer role.
Jason Motte vultured a win by allowing a game- tying home run to Alfonso Soriano. The Cards then got to Rafael Dolis in the bottom half of the ninth.
Chad Qualls blew a save opportunity for the Phillies. Somehow, he's up to four blown saves on the year. Good thing they signed Jonathan Papelbon.
Santiago Casilla lost a tied game by allowing a solo home run to pinch hitter Marco Scutaro.
Good day for my pitching picks.
Anthony Bass was fantastic while earning the win: 8 IP, 7 K, 1.13 ERA, 0.75 WHIP
Wade Miley also earned the win: 6.2 IP, 5 K, 1.35 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
Michael Brantley was 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
Andruw Jones was 0-for-2 with a walk.
Josh Reddick was 0-for-2 with two walks.
Seth Smith was 0-for-3.