May 19, 2013
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Thursday, June 14, 2012
Assembling the Fantasy Squared's THT vs. Fangraphs Fantasy league was a chore for those who took a leadership role (read: not me). But, even for the mere participants getting the league going was a bit tumultuous. Writers from both sites were often vacillating about whether they could participate, given auction times, other obligations, etc. and we had a revolving door of potential GMs before the final 12 stuck. Once the roster was final, there wasn’t much time or appetite to quibble over league settings, and so even though some of them were not to my liking, I mercifully resisted making a fuss beyond simply registering my opinions for the record (as did most others).
As it has come to pass, I regret not pushing harder for my preferences because there are certain aspects of the league set up, which I do not like even more than anticipated. I do not intend for this column to be a kvetch-fest, nor am I attempting to explain away my thus far mediocre performance in the league. Rather, I’m offering my insight from this experience as a testament to the importance of sticking to your guns and fighting for – and choosing to participate in – the leagues that you will enjoy most. You don’t have total control of your fantasy experience, but it’s worth exerting as much influence as you can to maximize your enjoyment thereof.
I want to make it very clear that I’m not bashing this league, and I’m happy and honored to be a part of it. At the end of the season, we’re all going to be donating some money to a charity of the winner’s choosing and we’re helping to promote an exciting new fantasy sports platform in Fantasy Squared. What has most frustrated me is that I’ve felt limited by the league settings in my ability to help make my team better. Others in the league may love the format and I’m not trying to project my view on them or attack their opinion; there’s not always a right and wrong answer to league design questions.
The setting that has most profoundly impacted my experience has been the use of weekly line-ups as opposed to daily. For those who have never made the switch, let me offer a brief summary of some of the dynamics that stem from this setting.
The dynamic that presides over most of my angst is this—not being able to rotate your team each day makes it harder to chip away and make up ground in the standings by scratching and clawing. You can’t eke out extra at bats, you can’t get your bench in when a starter is scratched from the line-up, and taking advantage of spot start opportunities requires a gantt chart.
The cousin of that “problem” is that it is hard to manage your pitching staff. For example, I’m doing well in saves and I have lower level closers that I added from the waiver wire or in free agency bidding, or stumbled into by owning those who inherited vacated jobs stashed on my bench. I could—and maybe should—trade them, but I don’t fully trust some of my other closers either (Matt Capps?). So, my choices are to cash in my rainy day fund and risk losing my closers later and be left holding the bag, or allow them to keep producing scarce resources on my bench, with no benefit to my team in the standings. (I can’t get them all in my line-up without excessively paring down my starting staff.)
Meanwhile, the majority of my other bench spots are occupied by players on the DL, or not currently in the majors (like Roy Oswalt), because it seems bench depth has very little value as compared to the possibility of having a stud who could be made active at some point in the season.
Due to the infinite wisdom of Yahoo’s system, even though the line-up setting is weekly, the waiver wire can be accessed on a daily basis (we can’t make that weekly). So, if you want to stay on top of those players, you have to log in daily anyway. Isn’t that what weekly line-up setting is supposed to prevent in the first place—the need for constant monitoring? Anyway, in light of my inability to rotate my line-up on a daily basis, I’ve ceased checking the league every day. I still keep up, rotate my team, and dedicate some time to thinking how to better my team, but the set-up has negatively impacted my engagement.
Hopefully, there’s something to learn here, either between the differences between weekly and daily line-up setting, or the importance pushing for the league settings you’d most prefer. But, even if there’s not, there’s one other reason this article isn’t entirely self-indulgent whining.
Our sponsor for the league is Fantasy Squared, a service that provides a secondary market platform for fantasy sports gaming. One of the advertising points of the Fantasy Squared is that it allows users to make use of knowledge that it otherwise not actionable (and can’t be monetized). The insight I just gave to my personal situation regarding the league, including my day to day behavior and approach to my team, is an example of such information. If one was interested in betting on me to win or lose this league, the information I’ve given in this column might be valuable. Without the type of platform provided by Fantasy Squared, there’s really nothing for anybody else to gain from knowing this.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 5:29am (1) 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!
Barry Zito is 31 percent owned and set to take on the Astros today.
The readership has pronounced that the Twins' offense is no longer one to stream against, so I'll wait for the next time three of their guys are on the disabled list.
Speaking of the Twins, Scott Diamond doesn't strike out many, but he should be fine against the Phillies' patchwork offense.
As a reader mentioned, Erasmo Ramirez has the coveted Padres match-up (see what I did there).
It looks like I forgot to mention hitters yesterday, which is too bad because there are a lot of options.
Gerardo Parra and Jason Kubel look like great options against Scott Feldman.
Ben Revere has the platoon advantage over Joe Blanton. Ryan Doumit is only 27 percent owned and can be plugged in at catcher or outfield if your regular guy is on the bench.
Norichika Aoki faces Luke Hochevar.
That Alex Smith start I mentioned yesterday was moved to today, so break out Seth Smith in his old stomping grounds.
Anthony Bass is the only pitcher who's close to stream-able tomorrow. He faces the A's, but it really seems like the league's figured out his fastball-slider combination. I picked up Wade Davis and Charlie Furbush with my streaming spots rather than use Bass.
Speaking of Bass, you can hold on to Seth Smith for another day.
Jim Thome gets to face a contact-oriented righty in DDrew Hutchison.
Tomorrow's ugly match-up of the day comes to us from Detroit, where Casey Crosby is set to take on Jeff Francis. Play any right-handed starter you can find, like Wilin Rosario, Delmon Young, or even Gerald Laird.
Rafael Betancourt blew his second save of the season. He's still one of the best relievers in baseball so he's safe. Ryan Cook came on to finish the game for the A's. Cook has strong numbers but his peripherals speak of a pitcher who could have the same problems as Grant Balfour with the role. Keep an eye on Sean Doolittle, wh'se ownable already thanks to a ridiculous strikeout rate.
Shawn Camp seems to be the guy in Chicago, at least for the moment.
David Robertson will be activated in time for today's game, but Rafael Soriano seemingly has a firm grasp on saves.
Felix Doubront had an excellent outing while earning the win: 7 IP, 9 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.57 WHIP
Nathan Eovaldi pitched well in a no-decision: 6 IP, 4 K, 1.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
J.A. Happ took a steamer. I don't even want to talk about it.
Jason Marquis handled the Mariners' plethora of lefties just fine. Somebody should have smacked me in the head about Mike Carp getting moved to the disabled list yesterday.
Raul Ibanez was 0-for-3.
I'm going camping again this weekend so I will once again be unavailable for updates. If you have any questions, leave them in today's comments and I'll try to squeeze them into tomorrow's column.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:55am (10) Comments
Friday, June 15, 2012
Greg Holland | Kansas City Royals | RP | ESPN: 1.6 percent ownership, Yahoo: 10 percent ownership
YTD: 3.68 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 12.27 K/9, 5.32 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 3.51 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.9 K/9
Holland had a rough start to the season, finishing April on the DL with a ribcage injury and a 11.37 ERA. Since returning though, he's been the lights-out reliever we met last year, allowing one run in 16 innings with 19 strikeouts. His 3.68 ERA on the year still hasn't fully recovered from the beating it took in April, but Holland is clearly an elite reliever right now.
Jonathan Broxton is the man getting saves in Kansas City, but his renaissance in the "Paris of the plains" is only helping to punch his ticket to a contender in July. Holland is the clear setup man here, and has a very good chance to be the closer around a month from now. Wild speculation encouraged.
Recommendation: Should be added in any competitive saves league (assuming non-competitive saves leagues exist).
Adam Lind | Toronto Blue Jays | 1B | ESPN: 24.8 percent ownership, Yahoo:19 percent ownership
YTD: .186/,273/,314 (Triple-A: .419/.477/.699)
Oliver ROS: .260/.314/.458
If sending Lind to Triple-A was the baseball equivalent of a "time-out," I think the 28-year-old has learned his lesson. And while he's crushing the PCL like it's his playpen, replacement David Cooper's production has come a screeching halt. Lind should be back up with the big boys soon, and while he may never hit lefties, his power potential makes him a worthy addition in most leagues.
Recommendation: Should be re-added in 14+ team mixed leagues where he was dropped.
A.J. Griffin | Oakland A's | SP | Not in player pool
YTD: (43 Double-A innings) 2.49 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 1.45 BB/9, 9.41 K/9
(36 Triple-A innings) 3.22 ERA, 0.96, 1.49 BB/9, 7.93 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.54 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 6.5 K/9
The A's rotation will soon be in a state of upheaval with Brandon McCarthy maybe hitting the DL, Bartolo Colon sure to be traded, and Travis Blackley's hold on the fifth spot tenuous at best. Even with Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden slated to return sometime in the second half, this presents the opportunity for a couple more young arms to jump up to the bigs.
Graham Godfrey already got his chance at the start of the season, but after four starts was 0-4 with a 6.16 ERA and returned to the minors. In Triple-A he's pitched well and could be first in line to move back up. After Godfrey, people will probably think Brad Peacock—one of the near major league-ready arms the A's received for Gio Gonzalez—but he hasn't been particularly sharp thus far.
On the other hand, Griffin has been stellar in both Double and Triple-A this year. He's no top prospect, ranked 19th in the A's system by Sickels (Peacock is fourth), and has been spoken of very little on the interwebs. His numbers, however, speak for themselves.
Griffin has struck nearly a batter an inning this year and has done a tremendous job limiting walks, issuing a mere 13 in 80 innings. He's not a highly touted arm so his stuff might not fool major league hitters, but he's pitching well enough to deserve a shot. The A's have a habit of producing quality arms, so add Griffin to your watch list.
Recommendation: Should only be considered in the deepest AL-only leagues. Otherwise just add him to your mental watch list.
Ryan Kalish | Boston Red Sox | OF | ESPN: 0.1 percent ownership, 0 percent ownership
YTD: (34 Triple-A plate appearances) .429/.529/.821
Oliver ROS: .267/.331/.430
Kalish's season recently began due to offseason shoulder surgery, and, boy, is he making up for lost time. Currently in Triple-A, he's posted the monster slash line you see above with three homers in seven games. Boston will likely give him at least a few more weeks to prove himself in the minors, but if he's still hitting then, a call-up is certainly possible. Even though regular playing time probably won't exist for Kalish given the mess that is the Red Sox outfield, by September I'd hope Ryan Sweeney and Daniel Nava don't prevent the Sox from getting a good look at one of their top prospects.
With decent pop and speed, and the ability to put up a respectable .270-.280s average, Kalish could be a valuable player to own come September.
Recommendation: Can be stashed in deep AL_only leagues. Everyone else, just watch for now.
Franklin Gutierrez | Seattle Mariners | OF | ESPN: 0 percent ownership, Yahoo: 1 percent ownership
YTD: four PAs, one hit, one walk, one HBP
Oliver ROS: .245/.296/.349
You may remember in 2008 and 2009 Gutierrez was a solid fantasy player capable of 15 homers and 20 steals. Then, injuries ruined his 2011 season. Since then he's been fighting to regain his health, and now, midway into the 2012 season, he finally appears healthy. In his first game last night, Gutierrez batted eighth and went 1-for-2 with an RBI single and a walk.
How he'll produce is anyone's guess—a .270 average with seven homers and 10 steals is about as optimistic as I'll get with FraGu. At least he's slated for regular at-bats as the Mariners center fielder, and in some leagues that makes him worthy of an add by itself.
Recommendation: Can be considered as an add in 16+ team mixed and AL-only leagues.
Posted by Paul Singman at 2:36am (0) 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!
None of today's pitchers are particularly attractive. Anthony Bass has struggled recently, but he has the friendly A's match-up. Dillon Gee's a little bit better in terms of talent but he faces the Reds.
Seth Smith should get a chance to sneak into the lineup against Bass.
Jim Thome will draw DH duties against Drew Hutchison.
The Tigers and Rockies have an ugly match-up today—Casey Crosby vs. Jeff Francis. Stream righties like Wilin Rosario, Delmon Young and even Gerald Laird.
Justin Grimm will make his debut for the Rangers against the Astros. He had good numbers in Double-A this season including a 1.87 ERA, but that's the extent of the intel I have on him.
Jonathon Niese will get a shot at the Reds. He's been slightly better than expected this year.
Break out Jason Kubel and Gerardo Parra again. They'll face Ervin Santana.
Continue hanging on to Seth Smith as he'll face Ross Ohlendorf.
Michael Fiers has been hittable in the early going, so try Ryan Doumit.
John Axford blew the save last night in a bizarre series of events. He struck out the first batter Mitch Maier, but the ball got to the backstop and Maier was able to reach base. Axford then retired the next two batters before the Royals rallied.
Ozzie Guillen lifted Heath Bell from last night's game with two on and two out in the ninth, resulting in an on-field argument between closer and manager. The Marlins went on to lose.
Shawn Camp allowed two runs in a non-save situation.
So how 'bout that Joe Blanton, huh? Complete game win: 9 IP, 7 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP. Honestly though, the readership presented a well-reasoned argument that I can find little reason to disagree with. Baseball's funny like that.
Barry Zito pitched a stinker: 5 IP, 3 K, 9.00 ERA, 1.60 WHIP
As did Scott Diamond: 6 IP, 1 K, 6.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
As did Erasmo Ramirez: 5 IP, 3 K, 9.00 ERA, 1.80 WHIP
Parra was 1-for-4, but he made the one hit count by sending it over the fence. He finished with one home run, one run, and three RBIs.
Similar night for Kubel. He went 1-for-4 with one home run, one run, two RBIs, and one walk.
Ben Revere was 1-for-4 with one stolen base. Which is why you would employ him.
Ryan Doumit did not play.
Norichika Aoki was 1-for-3.
Seth Smith was 1-for-2 with one run and three walks against Alex White.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:51am (0) Comments
Jason Kipnis, 2B:
The toast of fantasy owners everywhere, Jason Kipnis is arguably the biggest breakout star this season. With him hitting for more value than 90 percent-plus of the league's outfielders, while playing among the scarcity of second base, you can make the case that Kipnis has been the most valuable player in fantasy this season.
He’s always had the power and he’s always had the speed—but he's only now had the big league opportunity. I expect the runs, RBIs and steals to slow down a bit from here on out, but it doesn’t matter—he’s a stud and in the discussion as the best second baseman in the major leagues.
Ask yourself: who would you rather have? Other than Robinson Cano, and Ian Kinsler... who would you rather have? Pedroia? Uggla? I’m taking Kipnis. If you have one of Cano or Kinsler, I’d think long and hard about a package deal where I pick up Kipnis and an above average player somewhere else. If I had Dustin Pedroia—definitely Dan Uggla—I might offer him straight up.
There’s great value coming the rest of the way, among the best at the position. Scaled to 150 games played: 86.7 R, 25.0 HR, 96.4 RBI, 23 SB, .2808 AVG and 4.712 points above average.
Skinny: 4.712 points above average, Top three second baseman
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B:
I feel bad about writing off Encarnacion earlier this year. I really do. To his credit, before this season, he has flashed the potential to be a league average third baseman if he could ever put health and skill together at the same time.
Taking a close look, it doesn't seem all that ridiculous. Other than the power spike (and a few extra steals), he hasn’t done anything that’s that far outside his reach. The usual suspects, BABIP and K-rate, don’t yield any red flags, and everything else is seems reasonable.
But when a home run spike is at the heart of a breakout, you have to approach it with caution.
With power hitting, it's always difficult to say what is real and what is fake. There’s a reason why scouts say it is the hardest tool to project. Without an established record of power hitting, it's almost impossible to say without watching the games (unfortunately, I live outside the Toronto market). And, even then, it's still very uncertain one way or the other. Nevertheless, a sharp increase in fly balls and a decrease in Z-Contact percentage may indicate that there is some intent behind this pattern—perhaps yielding some contact for more power.
For the near future, I would encourage taking the cautiously-optimistic approach. Everything hinges on the power right now and there’s a considerable amount of risk involved in depending on a player like this. At the very least, he’s got a very good flyball rate, but without the power, he’s not much different than the old Edwin Encarnacion—and no one seemed to want any part of him.
If he can stay healthy, I think he’s got a great chance to continue being a big surprise at the hot corner. I see a drop coming in each category, but I do think he holds on to some of his gains in the power department. All in all, he’ll be a value contributor and above average third baseman the rest of the way.
Projected to 150 games played: 82.7 R, 30.5 HR, 93.9 RBI, 11 SB, .2570 AVG, and 2.586 points above average. Enjoy!
Skinny: 2.586 points above average; Top 5-10 fantasy third baseman
Josh Reddick, OF:
Unfortunately for the Boston Red Sox, Reddick’s breakout came one year too late. They could really use his help in the outfield.
But here he is... and what an interesting player he has become. Long touted as a moderate power-speed combo, he has never been able to put it together at the big league level. After two disappointing big league stints in 2009 and 2010, though, he did show signs of improvement during 87 games in 2011.
Fortunately for Reddick, those improvements have carried over to this season—and then some. His power numbers are way up, he’s showing off his speed, and he’s being rewarded with full-time at-bats.
Like Encarnacion, Reddick’s value is at the mercy of that ever-enigmatic power spike. But, also like Encarnacion, he’s bought himself some leeway with an above average flyball rate.
Overall, I like what I see in Reddick: he puts the ball in the air, he's got reasonably good contact skills, and he likes to hack (regular readers know full well of my affinity for hacking fantasy players). Batting in Oakland won’t do him any favors, but there’s a lot of potential here.
Projected to 150 games played: 82.6 R, 32.7 HR, 103.1 RBI, 12 SB, .2791 AVG, and 4.152 points above average. Am I surprised the power projections are this high? Yes. But hey, that’s what the model says and I won’t lie to you about that. I think he’s a stud in the making—and its not too late to pick him up via trade for a reasonable price.
Skinny: 4.152 points above average; Top 15 fantasy outfielder
Mike Trout, OF:
After stumbling in a brief trial last season, the All-Everything prospect is lighting the world on fire through 41 games.
It doesn’t take a lot to see that he’s going to slow down soon: his frenetic .405 BABIP is far beyond any sustainable limit and there’s the problem with the… wait a second, that’s about it. Everything else seems, well, reasonable. Nothing else about him hints at a fluke.
The power numbers aren’t out of line with his career norms, and he's always been lauded for his speed. He’s also hitting at the top of the order—perfect for a volume guy like Trout, who contributes in all counting categories.
In short, I love what I’m seeing out of Trout: great speed, decent power, and hitting at the top of the order. I think its fair to say he’s going to be a star for the remainder of the year, even if his BABIP takes a big hit. He’s still new enough where you may be able to dangle an established player and steal him away from an unsuspecting owner.
Prorated to 150 GP: 109.5 R, 23.0 HR, 73.1 RBI, 48.3 SB, .3008 AVG, and 7.200 points above average
The numbers are eye-popping, but when you add up all the pieces—power, speed, contact ability, plenty of plate appearances—you have the consummate fantasy outfielder. Congratulations, Mike Trout owners: you’ve just inherited a bona fide No. 1 outfielder.
Skinny: 7.200 points above average; Top five fantasy outfielder
Bryce Harper, OF
The wunderkind, Mr. Everything, Savior of Washington—whatever you want to call him, that’s what he is.
Like the others on this list, Harper has made his mark in a big way early on and has fantasy owners wowed with his exceptional talent and blue-chip pedigree.
Speaking frankly, I didn’t expect Harper to perform this well so soon upon his promotion to the bigs. In fact, I was almost sure Harper would fall flat on his face and get sent back to Triple-A within a month. After all, he hit just four home runs in his 229 plate appearances above Single-A. It just didn’t seem as though major league success was in the cards for Harper in 2012.
But, oh how wrong I was. 40 games later, Harper is beating back all doubters—forcing each one of us to admit that he's a major league-ready hitter.
As for what he can do from here on out, I think he settles in as an above-average fantasy outfielder, but nothing exceptional. He’ll still showcase the power and speed he’s shown thus far, but his K-rate is going to rise and bring down his batting average to the low .270s.
If you can get value for him via trade, it's the perfect time to deal him away in yearly leagues. He’s got all the earmarks of one of those “overachieving blue-chipper for struggling veteran” trade heists and I think the prudent owner will act accordingly.
Prorated to 150 GP: 97.7 R, 24.5 HR, 76.7 RBI, 14 SB, .2731 AVG, and 2.346 points above average
Skinny: 2.346 points above average; Top 25 fantasy outfielder
Posted by Mike Silver at 5:56am (16) Comments
Monday, June 18, 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.
• Brandon Morrow lasted just a few pitches into his start last week when he was forced to leave with a left oblique strain, an injury that pushed him to the disabled list. There’s no timetable for his return, and left-hander Brett Cecil was promoted to pick up his spot in the rotation Sunday. Against the Phillies, Cecil, 25, pitched five innings to earn the win, allowing two earned runs and two walks while striking out five.
• Meanwhile in Toronto, Drew Hutchison was placed on the DL with a sore left elbow and will receive further evaluation, and Kyle Drabek has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which translates to Tommy John surgery and at least a year away from competitive baseball. We’ll see how the Blue Jays scramble to fill these spots in their suddenly depleted rotation, but odds are Jesse Chavez (7-2, 3.84 ERA, 1.123 WHIP, 8.3 K/9 in 12 Triple-A starts) will pick up a start this week, and Carlos Villanueva and Aaron Laffey could also see cameos in the starting rotation, as well, going forward.
• This doesn’t sound good: Brandon Beachy left his start early Saturday with a sore right elbow, which was the subject of concern after his previous start. We’ll find out more today when the 25-year-old undergoes an MRI, but for the moment, it looks like Beachy could be in store for a lengthy absence. Jair Jurrjens, just called up from Triple-A, will take his place.
• Red Sox ace Josh Beckett will miss his next few starts after right shoulder inflammation sent him to the disabled list. Franklin Morales (0-1, 3.04 ERA, 1.225 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 in 23.2 innings) will take his spot in the rotation.
• Bothered by a blister injury, Drew Smyly landed on the disabled list early last week, but his absence has opened up a spot for phenom right-hander Jacob Turner, who is scheduled to make his first start of the season on Thursday. Turner, who was ranked No. 22 on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects entering the season, is 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.209 WHIP and 6.2 K/9 in 63.2 innings pitched in two minor-league stops this year, but it remains to be seen whether the Tigers will provide the 21-year-old with regular work going forward in the season.
• Turner’s arrival also comes at a time when Doug Fister will return to the rotation after his second DL stint due to an oblique injury. Fister, 22, is scheduled to take the ball on Friday against the Pirates.
• Well before Jason Bay used his head to soften his landing against the Citi Field left field wall Friday, fantasy owners already realized that the 33-year-old’s usefulness had significantly declined ever since he arrived in New York three years ago. But now that Bay has suffered a concussion, it’s foreseeable that he won’t play another game in 2012, as a similar injury two years ago destroyed his season. At the very least, he’ll be MIA for presumably the next few weeks.
• A sprained knee landed Bud Norris on the disabled list this week. The right-hander’s spot in the Houston rotation will be filled by southpaw Dallas Keuchel.
Other bumps and bruises
• Joe Mauer missed time late last week with a sore hamstring, and a collision at the plate Sunday forced him to leave with a brusied quad.
• A bruised left quad kept Nick Swisher out of Sunday’s action.
• After missing his last two starts with shoulder soreness, Brandon McCarthy is expected to pitch Tuesday against the Dodgers.
• Josh Hamilton was hurt again this week, this time with an intestinal virus that sent him to the hospital. It appears he’s okay heading into week 12 but is considered day-to-day by manager Ron Washington.
• Twins’ closer Matt Capps was unavailable Sunday due to a sore shoulder.
Road to recovery
• After missing the last two weeks with a strained hamstring, Carlos Lee was back in the Astros’ lineup Sunday, forcing the team to demote Brett Wallace to Triple-A.
• Chris Carpenter threw off a mound last week for the first time since coming down with a shoulder injury in spring training that has so far ruined his 2012 season. There’s still no timetable yet for his return.
• Kris Medlen was called up by the Braves, but after struggling in the minors as part of his attempt to get into starter mode, he’ll be used out of the bullpen. His arrival prompted the Braves to cut Livan Hernandez.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 5:06am (1) 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!
I spent the weekend in the woods of Georgia and the only baseball news I heard was that Brandon Beachy got pulled early from his start with elbow pain. Feel free to update me on other happenings.
J.A. Happ has a manageable start at home against the Royals. He's been particularly cold of late, but the peripherals are there for him.
Jake Arrieta is a similarly difficult play to make as his peripherals speak to him being better than his ERA. A Met's match-up might make him the most attractive option today.
Matt Harrison and Wade Miley face the Padres and Mariners respectively, although both have ownership rates above 60 percent.
David Murphy gets the pleasure of facing Jason Marquis. I'm going to go ahead and call a triple.
Rajai Davis will have the platoon advantage against Randy Wolf.
Andruw Jones should get the call against lefty Mike Minor.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis is set to face Jake Arrieta.
If Clay Buchholz is still available, you might want to pick him up long term. He's been a different pitcher in recent outings. He's owned in 62 percent of leagues.
Aaron Harang has a decent match-up against the A's.
With Scott Feldman on the hill for the Rangers, try Yonder Alonso or Will Venable.
Seth Smith's been drawing frequent recommendations lately. He faces Harang tomorrow.
Dayan Viciedo would be a good option for tomorrow if he's unowned. His ownership rate is 42 percent and he faces lefty Travis Wood.
It's a Will Middlebrooks kind of day.
Hang on to Nieuwenhuis against Tommy Hunter.
Carlos Marmol appears to have re-taken the closer's mantle in Chicago. The rest of that bullpen is terrible so he ought to have a fairly long leash again.
Sticking with Chicago, Addison Reed blew a save yesterday. It was his first of the season. There are several contenders in the White Sox pen just waiting for Reed to stumble a couple times.
Jason Motte got touched up for a home run and a blown save.
Matt Capps is dealing with a sore shoulder. He could be back as soon as tomorrow. Glen Perkins is the best pitcher in that bullpen, and many savvy fantasy owners have been waiting on Capps to stumble.
That all seems so long ago...
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:45am (1) Comments
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The issue of potential collusion in a fantasy baseball league has been covered previously in this column. It is one of the biggest potential issues that can arise within a league for a variety of reasons. It is also extremely difficult to prove outside of an admission or other form of proof. But collusion can exist in many forms. Below is a Fantasy Judgment case that was submitted which involved suspicions of collusion between two teams that have a long history of only making trades with each other.
SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
Garbage Pail Kids vs. Alex P. Keaton & Co.
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE 1980’s FANTASY BASEBALL LEAGUE
Decided June 8, 2012
Cite as 4 F.J. 84 (June 2012)
A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called the 1980’s Fantasy Baseball League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “1980’s”) is a 14-team AL/NL mixed keeper league and has been in existence since 2004. The league utilizes an auction-style draft and transaction platform on CBSSports.com.
Teams are permitted to maintain up to five (5) players during each off-season with individual players allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) consecutive years under contract. Each team is also permitted to keep three minor league players which are in addition to the five players kept. This roto league also has a $260.00 draft salary cap.
As with many rotisserie leagues, the 1980’s uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money. For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) home runs; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases. For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves. Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the roto league.
The league is governed by a written constitution which includes rules and guidelines regarding the making of trades between teams. The following represents the provision with respect to trades, in pertinent part:
Section VI. Trades
On June 4, 2012, a trade was made between the teams of Alex P. Keaton & Co. (“APK”) and a Flock of Seagulls (“FOS”). APK traded Shaun Marcum (SP-MIL), Rafael Soriano (RP-NYY), and Sergio Romo (RP-SF) to FOS in exchange for Anthony Rizzo (1B-CHC), Zack Wheeler (SP-NYM), Salvador Perez (C-KC) and Carlos Quentin (OF-SD). The commissioner subsequently approved the trade and an automated email was generated from CBS announcing the trade to the rest of the league.
After the other league members learned of the trade, the Garbage Pail Kids raised an issue with the commissioner regarding the number of trades made between these two teams, as well as the fact that APK hadn’t made a trade with any other team than FOS in several years. The Garbage Pail Kids essentially raised allegations of potential collusion and requested that the commissioner intervene.
The commissioner replied that there was no basis for an investigation into potential collusive conduct. However, to appease his league owners, the commissioner has submitted this case to the Court for review.
There are no questions raised by the league members about the equitability of any of the trades made between APK and FOS. As a result, the Court will not conduct an analysis of any trades made.
(1) Is there any collusion between APK and FOS based on their pattern and practice of making trades with each other?
Fantasy sports league commissioners are empowered with the tasks of creating the league’s rules, settings, and guidelines. Bryan LaHair Club For Men vs. League Commissioner, 4 F.J. 26, 28 (April 2012). The Court strongly advocates for commissioners to codify these rules in a written constitutions for a myriad of reasons. John Doe v. Fantasy Football League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 21, 22 (October 2010).
One of the primary reasons to have a constitution is so that all league members are aware of the rules and guidelines in place that govern the administration and function of the fantasy league. When a league commissioner writes out the rules and distributes them to the league, it shifts the burden onto the league members to read, understand, and adhere to the rules that are delineated. Shawn Kemp is My Daddy v. Fantasy Basketball League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 24, 25 (October 2010).
If a league member has an issue, question or challenge to one of the rules in the constitution, they are welcome to raise this with the commissioner before signing it or agreeing to its codification. Machine v. Fantasy Football League Commissioner, 2 F.J. 1, 2 (September 2010).
Here, the roto league does have a constitution which grants the commissioner the power and authority to rule on pending trades. The criteria for rejecting trades includes collusive conduct or lopsided deals that are detrimental to the league as a whole. However, the constitution fails to provide a definition of collusion.
Collusion is defined as a secret agreement or conspiracy especially for fraudulent or treacherous purposes. See Steel Curtain v. Rusty Trombones, 3 F.J. 201, 203 (November 2011) (holding that a secret agreement between teams to use the first waiver position as a means to move a player to another team further down the list was collusive because its purpose was to circumvent the established rules).
It is quite difficult to prove the existence of collusive conduct without a confession or some form of written proof. No such concrete proof is present in this case. As a result, the Court will rely on circumstantial evidence and weight the totality of the circumstances. John Doe v. Richard Roe, 3. F.J. 197, 200 (October 2011).
When presented with allegations of collusion, the Court will look at the evidence in the light most favorable to the accused. This is because acts of collusion within a fantasy league are one of the most serious fantasy sports crimes that can be committed and can undermine the integrity of a league more so than almost anything else. Team Zero v. Samcro Reaper Crew, 3 F.J. 177, 179 (October 2011); see also John Doe v. Richard Roe, 3. F.J. at 200 (emphasizing how serious an issue it is when teams make individual agreements with each other to circumvent the rules for personal benefit).
The roto league commissioner informed the Court that APK and FOS are casual friends who met through their mutual involvement in the league. They do not have any personal contact with each other outside the confines of the league. While this is not indicative of collusive activity either way, their lack of a close, personal relationship weighs in favor of there being no collusion. See Jetnuts v. Joker’s Wild, 2 F.J. 15, 16 (September 2010) (holding that the fact two league members are close friends is not demonstrative in and of itself of collusion).
It is well established that people who pay to participate in fantasy leagues should be given the freedom to manage their teams accordingly by making trades and transactions. 4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011). This includes the freedom and autonomy to choose with whom they would like to engage in trades. Teams are not obligated to shop players around for a more advantageous deal solely to appease skeptical league members. Road Runners v. Urban Achievers, 3 F.J. 47, 50 (June 2011).
If APK was satisfied with the compensation he received in his prior deals with FOS, then he should not be prohibited or scrutinized from making these deals so long as the commissioner deemed them fair and equitable, which he did. If the commissioner had any issues with the compensation being provided by either team, he had the power to reject those trades. Tiger’s Blood v. Hulkamaniacs, 3 F.J. 58, 62 (July 2011).
The commissioner also advised that APK is currently in 10th place while FOS is currently in 4th place. The underlying trade that was made is indicative of the exact type of maneuver that would be made by an unsuccessful team in a keeper league. When a team owner in a keeper league no longer has any hope for contending in the current season, he/she must make a critical roster management decision of whether to trade off established players in exchange for unknown entities in building for the future. See Winners v. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011). APK received top level prospects in the deal which supports this notion.
When looking at the totality of the circumstances and the evidence currently available, there does not appear to be any collusive conduct between APK and FOS. APK’s reasoning for entering into trades with FOS is purely subjective and he is entitled to make those decisions on his own. He is under no obligation to trade with other teams if he does no want to. Further, since there is no dispute over the fairness and equitability of those prior trades, they are both acting within the rules and according to their own fantasy baseball managerial strategies.
It is a shame when these allegations arise within a fantasy league. When a league is tarnished with skepticism and speculation over everyone else’s intentions, it can potentially affect the well-being of the league as a whole. Bald Eagles v. Weasel D, 3 F.J. 205, 210 (November 2011). Here, these allegations are completely unfounded. Based on the foregoing, the Court upholds the commissioner’s decision that no collusive conduct is present between APK and FOS.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Posted by Michael Stein at 4:20am (3) Comments
Today, I’d like to turn to a subject that came up last week in an exchange between two of our staff writers on our listserve. The brief discussion centered on the relative weight one should assign to category-specific skills versus all around talent and production when trading for players at this stage in the season. In short, my position is that at this point in the season, only those in extreme situations should heavily privilege category-specific skill over all around talent.
Chances are your league’s standings have reached the point where they look generally similar from day to day. Relatively dramatic climbs and falls still occur but they are more likely to take place over the course of a week or two than a day or two. In most cases, this superficial stability should not be mistaken for firmly established position. Simple math will tell us that with about 55-60% of the season remaining, you have more time to close any of those gaps than those at the helm had to create the existing separation. And, yes, perhaps you need to alter your roster to gain that ground, but it’s too early to start consolidating your eggs into fewer baskets.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t be cognizant of your team’s strengths and weakness, or to imply that your team’s production thus far is not actually indicative of true strengths and weaknesses. In fact, I do think it is appropriate to begin to think about trading from your positions of strength, especially in the cases where you have capable reserves on your roster. But, I think this applies positionally more than production-wise.
My primary goal for my teams is to have capable and contributing players filling every roster spot. This holds even if I implemented a “stars and scrubs” approach in an auction league—though I tend to be more of a “spread the wealth” type of owner. It’s just that in the case of a stars and scrubs team, the threshold for what I consider productive and contributing is lowered a bit. So, when looking to improve my team via trade, my first thought is whether I have duplicative assets. Do I have a 4th OF caliber player on my bench while starting one of the weakest shortstops of any team in my league? None of this is rocket science, of course.
The next question that emerges is who to seek in the pursuit of upgrade. The two directions in which one can go at this point are to seek either the best overall player you can land or to focus specifically on impact points in the standings and personal team weakness. Do you want a Dee Gordon or an Asdrubal Cabrera?
I think we are generally too early in the season to be prioritizing limited, concentrated skill set players over all around better assets. There’s still a lot of uncertainty and opportunity for improvement and league balance and team complexion shake-up this year, so I’d rather have players who don’t hurt me anywhere. You are also likely not finished tinkering with your team and therefore it’s nice to have pieces that are of broad overall interest to potential future trading partners as opposed to niche players who are of interest to fewer parties.
I’ll admit that Dee Gordon may have not been the best example to use in my hypothetical because he does somewhat fit the type of scenario in which I’d be willing to consider making an exception. If you are considerably behind in a fairly scarce category and you can acquire a player who will be a one-man difference-maker for your entire team, then it may be worth considering the move. However, you need to also consider what you are losing in the process. Digging out of hole isn’t always worth it if you are digging yourself another one in the process.
In the proper situation, one-trick-ponies can be saviors. But, ideally, you don’t want to find yourself in a position in which you have to rely on one. Try to chip away and get yourself in striking range now. Taking on a one-trick pony this early often exposes their liabilities in a way that begins to undermine other areas of your team’s production. The more cushion you establish in your other categories, the better you can absorb one of those players’ composite production if you need to go that route later.
It’s relatively rare that a team wins a league by going wire to wire. More often, a few teams flip flop atop and remain in striking distance throughout the second half of the season. The art of changing the composition of your team can often come down to timing. You want to choreograph your moves so that the newly constructed roster pays statistically meaningful dividends in your choice categories before it begins to erode your existing strengths. If orchestrated correctly, you surge past or distance yourself from your opponents toward the end like a race horse in the stretch run. But, launch into full-on sprint to early and you’ll be pulling up before the race is over.
The next few weeks of the season are still dig-in time. Outwork and out-maneuver your opponents, gain smaller edges that still have time to mount over the rest of the year. If you are confident about your team’s general power quotient, don’t make the panic play for a speedless, average-destroying power bat just yet.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:21am (1) Comments
Wednesday, June 20, 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!
Yesterday was a snooze button kind of day, which unfortunately meant no grind.
If you're not too worried about ERA, there are a couple nice pitching options today.
Dillon Gee has been better than expected this year despite a mid-4's ERA. He has a not so easy assignment against the Orioles.
Felix Doubront has played out his tenure as a daily grind pick. His ownership rate is up to 51 percent thanks to strong peripherals.
Nathan Eovaldi is set to take on the A's in the Coliseum.
Chris Archer starts for the Rays today, although I'd avoid him in all but the deepest leagues. He's struggled with walks this season.
I'd be happy to take David Murphy against a very cold Anthony Bass.
The Alex White vs. Joe Blanton match-up is one where you can target multiple hitters on either roster. Carlos Gonzalez is questionable for today's game with a knee injury, so try Tyler Colvin, Todd Helton, or Juan Pierre.
If Matt Adams starts, he'll get a manageable match-up against Rick Porcello.
With Brian Matusz on the hill, Scott Hairston should get a start.
It's Thin Thursday. I wouldn't use any of the pitchers available unless Worley is unowned in your league. Jacob Turner will make a start against the Cardinals, but it sounds like it's just a spot appearance since Drew Smyly is returning soon. I'd be very wary of that match-up.
John Mayberry Jr. has had a bit of a rough season, but he's set to face Jeff Francis tomorrow.
Try Scott Cousins against Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Alex Presley and Pedro Alvarez have the pleasure of facing Liam Hendricks.
John Axford blew his fourth save of the season last night. Francisco Rodriguez waits in the wings, but he's had a little trouble this season as well.
Aroldis Chapman blew his third save of the season last night. I'd recommend re-rostering Sean Marshall, but Dusty seemingly has a history of not liking him.
I'll get back to doing this tomorrow.