May 18, 2013
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012
As if there hasn't been enough closer turnover already this season, the July 31st trade deadline usually provides some chaos of its own as a few bullpen arms are likely to change teams. Although we can't know for sure who will stay and who will go, it's still important to be aware of who can stay and go. With that said, let's take a look at this year's closer trade candidates. Starting with the most likely:
Trade candidatesBrett Myers — No team has more of an incentive to move its closer than the Astros, since Myer's contract includes a hefty $10 million dollar option for next year if he finishes 45 games. The rebuilding 'Stros certainly don't want that sum on their books, so a trade makes sense.
Brandon Lyon and Wilton Lopez are the candidates to replace Myers as closer. Given his closing experience and Lopez's recent injury, I'd give the nod to Lyon as the more likely replacement, though Lyon is also someone who could be traded, so he's no lock to close even if Myers is dealt. Or, rather, when Myers is dealt.
Matt Capps — Even though he strikes almost no one out, give Capps credit, he's limited walks and enough hits to pitch pretty well this year. Granted, I surely wouldn't want Capps to be my closer. But he's still a valuable reliever, and could a be worth a secondary prospect to a contender. Either Glen Perkins or the surprising Jared Burton would step up if Capps is sent packing.
Huston Street —The building and then breaking of the Padres bullpen is likely to continue this year when Street is flipped for prospects. Personally, I think the Padres should keep all of their bullpen arms and assemble baseball's version of The Avengers. Imagine if they had done this and their bullpen was Street, Mike Adams, Ernesto Frieri, Cory Luebke, Heath Bell (the good version), and Luke Gregorson. Now that would be unstoppable.
Unfortunately, the Padres won't be receptive to this plan and probably will just look to deal Street. I'd expect Gregorson or Dale Thayer to get saves if Street's traded, by the way.
Jonathan Broxton — The Royals placed a $4 million dollar bet this offseason that Broxton could turn around his career, and that bet has paid off so far in the form of a 1.63 ERA over 27 innings. Now the Royals are probably hoping it pays off in another way, in the form of a prospect or two. The clear replacement is Greg Holland, who I covered in last week's Waiver Wire.
Rafael Betancourt — Betancourt has been one of baseball's best closers this year and also has a long history of success out of the bullpen. Any contending team should love to have his services, while the 25-40 Rockies haven't much use for them.
If a trade occurs, setup man Matt Belisle would likely slide into a closing role for the Rockies, though he is also a trade candidate himself. If both are shipped, former first-rounder Adam Ottavino has broken out this year and could be handed the closer's keys in Colorado.
J.J. Putz — Putz has one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios of any closer, but some bad luck with balls in play and home runs has his ERA at 5.14 for the year. Despite the ERA, Putz still should be viewed as an elite reliever. Currently at .500, the D'backs might not be sellers at the deadline, but if they fall a few more games back of the Giants over the next month, they might have to accept if a good offer comes their way. David Hernandez would fill in if that's the case.
Final thoughtsThe trade deadline usually plays out fairly unexpectedly, so it will be interesting to see where some of these names end up. As a last note, I expect the Cubs would love to move Carlos Marmol, but that would require eating lots of
Posted by Paul Singman at 6:13am (11) Comments
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Call me a cynic, but I’ve never been one to fully trust the capriciousness of a knuckleball. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very effective pitch—as evidenced by the numerous careers it has spawned. But, as a Boston Red Sox fan, I’ve had my frame of reference skewed by witnessing the alternating brilliance and ineptness throughout Tim Wakefield’s career.
As such, its difficult for me to see R.A. Dickey in a different light—even though he’s having a third superb season in a row. To me, the vagaries of the knuckleball make him difficult to trust. Just ask Wakefield; one day the ball is dancing past bats, the next day it’s a batting practice meatball. Worse yet, the pattern changes inning to inning on occasion, and sometimes pitch to pitch. For as much as the curveball or slider relies on “feel”, the knuckleball is the ultimate “feel” pitch. Though some days you might have it and some you don’t, your only option is to battle through and trust your “feel.” The guy who can stop overthinking and “let ‘er rip” is oftentimes the best at his craft.
For the sake of argument, however, I’ll forget for a second that Dickey is a knuckleballer. He’s got an excellent groundball rate, he’s got no BABIP or HR/FB problems, and, perhaps counterintuitive for a knuckleballer, he has no problem throwing strikes.
Standing alone, those qualities are enough to place just about any MLB pitcher in the above average range. Last year, that sentence would have summed up R.A. Dickey quite nicely. His expected line reflected that, standing at a serviceable 4.006 ERA with a 5.763 K/9 and 2.216 BB/9.
Unfortunately, that R.A. Dickey couldn’t hack it in fantasy with such a poor strikeout rate. An inflated 3.23 ERA certainly got him on the majority of rosters, but that kind of production couldn’t be expected year-in and year-out without more whiffs. The new R.A. Dickey seems to have solved that problem, however, jacking up the K-rate while turning into one of the most valuable pitchers in the league.
The changes have been staggering: a 7.4 percent increase in O-Swing rate, accompanied by a 6.6 percent drop in O-Contact and 9.1 percent decline in Z-Contact.
It is in these indicators that we usually see the root causes of a breakout, often stemming from an altered approach.
Improvements in O-Swing are usually accompanied by declines in Zone percentage. This shouldn’t be too surprising: when batters show a tendency to chase, pitchers will throw out of the zone more. However, that steep drop in Zone percentage hasn’t happened – Dickey’s Zone percentage has only fallen 1.6 percent this season and only 0.5 percent from his career levels. The oft-used approach of throwing out of the zone and chasing does not seem to apply here.
Further, it is not as though Dickey has added a slider or curve that induces large O-Swing rates. Working with much the same repertoire as years past suggests that an overhaul in pitching philosophy has not occurred.
In fact, from a statistical standpoint, his approach is largely indistinguishable from 2011.
Additionally, because he is a knuckleballer, I have doubts that there’s much of a chance that Dickey could change his approach in ways that wouldn't get picked up in current statistical measurements. Unlike a three-pitch pitcher who can mix locations or add deception via pitch selection, a knuckleballer doesn’t have that same luxury.
By most all accounts, the knuckleball is too inaccurate for the pitcher to confidently place in the strike zone, so location selectivity is out (other than general in-out, up-down placement). Pitch selection could be an option, but evidence points to Dickey being less diverse in his pitch selection than in past years—he’s reduced the use of his #2 pitch, the fastball, to 15.8 percent this season (down from 23.3 percent in 2011). Had the use of his fastball risen compared to previous years, I would concede that this was a possibility, though even then I would have had my doubts.
As for the question of how a knuckleballer may use his additional offerings, Wakefield used to throw a fastball (and a curve now and again), though it was usually reserved for a count where there was a clear red light (3-0, no one on), or as a trick pitch to sneak in a strike, again in low leverage situations. Though Dickey does have 10 mph on Wakefield on the “heater”, I can’t imagine (even in the most aggressive of forecasts) that an improved approach with the fastball would be all that different to the point where it would bring his K-rate up by anything more than 0.5-1 K/9, let alone almost 4 K/9. (Simple math: Dickey throws 16 fastballs per game. Assuming perhaps half of these are strategically placed to take advantage of hitters’ timing or count. Half of these are thrown in two-strike counts. With four fastballs thrown in two-strike counts, a 75 percent contact rate yields one K/9. No numbers to back these up, just a back-of-the-envelope/”finger in the air” type of assumption).
Dickey’s knuckleball itself is another place to look. However, turning over that rock doesn’t yield much either. Its movement profile doesn’t seem to have changed from 2011—and movement deltas within an inch in either direction can often be attributed to statistical variance. With the same movement profile, its largely the same pitch.
So, we’re back where we started: statistically speaking, 2012 R.A. Dickey is virtually indistinguishable from his 2011 self. There is nothing in his profile that we can attribute to his sudden rise in O-Swing percentage and rapid drop in Z-Contact percentage, those being the two greatest determinants of his strikeout rate.
One thing that may yield clues, however, is how my ERA and K models interpreted Dickey’s performance in 2011. His 2011 K and BB results, if you can recall, were very similar to his expected values based on his plate discipline indicators (actual 2011 K/9: 5.78, expected 2011 K/9: 5.763; actual 2011 BB/9: 2.33, expected 2011 BB/9: 2.216).
In my research, I have found that pitchers who exceed their previous year’s expected K/9 rate have a statistically significant tendency to exceed their expected K/9 rate in succeeding years. In short, if you outperformed you K/9 last year, you're more likely to do it again this year.
This variable was introduced to try to account for some of the “X” factor in statistical modeling that is a pitcher's approach. In economic modeling, these kinds of variables are used to pick up on that which we cannot directly measure. In baseball, that “X” factor would attempt to account for a pitcher who saves a little extra velocity for two-strike counts, or a batter who chokes up to avoid striking out. In short, since we can’t record this variable directly, we try to pick up on glimpses of it from the residual inaccuracies in our model.
For Dickey, since he didn’t surpass his previous year’s rates, you wouldn’t expect him to surpass this year’s either. However, Dickey’s 2012 K/9 rate of 9.36 is far higher than his expected 8.35.
Why is this significant?
From his earlier seasons, we would have expected Dickey to have a low discrepancy between these two figures. Since Dickey is outperforming his K/9 rate by about a strikeout per nine, we now have some evidence to posit that there is probably something going on behind the numbers contributing to Dickey’s performance.
Then again, the contrarian would point out that this could all be statistical variance—a position that I would not argue against the possibility of. Either way, as we have used up so many of our tools and are still grasping at straws, you get to the point where you have to put forth some hypothesis to chip away at the question, especially when conclusive data you need to verify it doesn’t exist.
So, after all this, what is the answer?
It hurts my ego to say this, but on this one fellas, I’m stumped. There’s no clear cut answer and there isn’t much out there in the public realm that can provide a solution.
Since I would like to report something, I will say that I think this is part statistical anomaly, part unexplained uptick in performance.
Sorry readers. I hate giving answers like this. I'd rather be bold and beautiful, instead of giving a middle-of-the-road explanation that tends to be boring.
Either way, my expectation is that he keeps the K/9 rate up in the 7.5-8.5 range, posts a dandy ERA, and makes his owners very happy. You probably have a #2 starting pitcher on your hands whom I wouldn’t let him go just because his name is “R.A. Dickey.”
3.333 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, 176.567 K, 12.70 W, 198.41 IP—8.174 K/9, 1.85 BB/9
Skinny: 3.233 points above average at FantasyPlayerRater.com’s roto-points calculator
Posted by Mike Silver at 5:19am (6) 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!
The good news is I saw Aziz Ansari last night. The bad news is I got four hours of sleep as a result, so please forgive any Alex Smith's today.
Thin Thursday is upon us and woe to those who need to stream a pitcher for the day. Cross your fingers that Vance Worley is available (he shouldn't be) and maybe take a look at Jacob Turner as someone who could use his rookie wizardry to eek out a quality start.
John Mayberry Jr. is set to face Jeff Francis. If he can't handle this match-up, he probably can't handle any.
Scott Cousins is getting regular work for the time being. He's set to face Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Alex Presley and Pedro Alvarez are probably the best pick ups of the day against Liam Hendricks.
Roy Oswalt is back tomorrow. Get him while you can.
Wei-Yin Chen will face a Nationals lineup that has a slight lefty lilt to it.
Usually I would never recommend Joe Saunders, but the Cubs might be that bad.
I feel similarly about Kevin Millwood at Petco.
Try to get Jason Kubel in the lineup against Jeff Samardzija.
It's a Craig Gentry day against rookie Christian Friedrich.
Andruw Jones should be released into the pastures today with lefty Jonathan Niese opposing the Yankees.
Chris Heisey has quietly taken on an everyday role with the Reds and they face the supremely hitable Nick Blackburn today.
Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish will probably find their way into the lineup against Jair Jurrjens. Cody Ross has been back a few days by the way.
Jonathan Papelbon entered in the ninth yesterday and allowed a go ahead run to score in a 5-5 tie game, but Rafael Betancourt turned around and blew the save in the bottom of the inning. It's his third blown save of the season, although it's unlikely his job security is hurt at the moment. He's a mid-season trade candidate, so if you own him, it might make sense to get a maximum return now.
Daniel Bard blew a save down on the farm for anyone who's hoping he'll take over the closing role in Boston.
Spain may have blown the save yesterday when it rejected the need for a full bailout. That game is still on-going so we'll see how it plays out.
Dillon Gee was superb while earning the win: 7.1 IP, 9 K, 2.45 ERA, 0.68 WHIP
Felix Doubront wasn't great, but he did get the win: 6 IP, 4 K, 6.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
Nathan Eovaldi had an unimpressive outing: 6 IP, 2 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.67 WHIP
Chris Archer won his debut outing: 6 IP, 7 K, 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP
David Murphy was 1-for-1 with one walk, one run, and one stolen base.
Tyler Colvin was 0-for-3.
Todd Helton was 0-for-4.
Juan Pierre was 1-for-4 with one run. So much for the juicy Alex White vs. Joe Blanton match-up.
Matt Adams was 1-for-4.
Scott Hairston added a little thump. He went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI. Both hits were doubles.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:56am (2) Comments
Friday, June 22, 2012
Justin Grimm | Texas Rangers | SP | ESPN: 1.1 percent ownership, Yahoo: 1 percent ownership
YTD (AA): 1.87 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 7.83 K/9, 1.64 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 5.38 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 5.9 K/9
Grimm, whose name sounds more like a Tim Burton character than a baseball player, came up from Double-A and pitched six innings of shutout ball in his first major league start last week. In his dazzling debut he struck out seven and walked none. Impressive, right? What were you doing when you were 23 years old?
Sorry, this isn't about you. This is about Grimm, who impressed enough to earn a second start against the Tigers Monday, kicking Scott Feldman to the curb in the process. Alright, so Feldman has merely been moved to the bullpen, but he isn't too happy about it either way.
Sorry Scott Feldman, this isn't about you either. This is about Grimm, who may not get another start. If he does though, he's lined up for two relatively easy ones against the A's and Twins heading up to the All-Star break. Unfortunately there's a pretty good chance he just won't pitch that well and get sent down for more seasoning, but if you've recently lost Brandon Beachy or Brandon Morrow or any other Brandon to injury, consider replacing him with Grimm.
Recommendation: Can be added in 14+ mixed and deeper. In shallower leagues, it should only be if you're especially light on starting pitching.
Danny Hultzen | Seattle Mariners | SP | ESPN: 0.1 percent ownership, Yahoo: 3 percent ownership
YTD (AA): 1.19 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.44 K/9, 3.82 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 4.04 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.9 K/9
Hultzen is just a bird in the flock of incredibly talented pitchers from the 2011 draft class descending upon the majors as they ascend up the minors. Promoted yesterday after 75 dominant Double-A innings, Hultzen is the second of his kind to reach Triple-A (Trevor Bauer got there first).
Many believe Hultzen is on the fast track to the majors, though his call-up date is far from certain. His performance in Triple-A will have a large influence over that, and August is the earliest I think we could see him in the majors. So if you're jealous of all the people with Bauer on their roster, waiting for him to get called up, and want in the fun, here's your chance.
In general, I'd rather try my hand on a pitcher like Grimm with the present opportunity, but if you've got room to stash Hultzen, I won't stop you.
Recommendation: Probably should be stashed in most AL-only leagues, in mixed leagues, only if you've got the room. Depends on your team and league settings.
Garrett Richards | Los Angeles Angels | SP | ESPN: 14.8 percent ownership, Yahoo: 12 percent ownership
YTD: 0.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 7.29 K/9, 4.71 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 4.95 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.0 K/9
Richards has yet to give up more than one earned run in his three starts this year, which is a testament to the power of luck more than anything else. He's allowed just one home run despite a 43 percent flyball rate. His BABIP is .226. Even the people who argue against regression probably can't convince themselves that Richards is anywhere near this good.
What we see here is a mid-4.00s ERA pitcher who walks too many batters and luckily still has a rotation spot because Jerome Williams just went to the DL. Plain and simple, I'd stay away.
Recommendation: Doesn't need to be added.
Leonys Martin | Texas Rangers | OF | ESPN: 0 percent ownership, Yahoo: 1 percent ownership
YTD (AAA): .344/.414/.547
Oliver ROS: .271/.324/.404
Martin was recently called up to the majors as insurance in case Josh Hamilton's virus kept him out for an extended time. Fortunately Hamilton was able to return after only a few days, so now I'd expect Martin to be sent back down to get regular at-bats at Triple-A.
Although he's only played 31 games due to thumb surgery, Martin has played well and appears about ready to try the majors. On most teams he would probably get that chance soon, but Martin's on the Rangers, whose backup center fielder is batting .350. So no clear path to playing time exists, but injuries are always a real possibility in the Ranger outfield, which could lead to semi-regular time for Martin. Given the chance, Martin could post a solid .270-.280s average with a few homers and around 15 steals. Think Denard Span.
Recommendation: Can be ignored for now, but those in AL-only and deep mixed leagues should be ready to add if a Rangers outfielder gets injured.
Chris Archer | Tampa Bay Rays | SP | ESPN: 0.2 percent ownership, Yahoo: 2 percent ownership
YTD (AAA): 4.81 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 10.57 K/9, 5.28 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 5.56 ERA, 1.69 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
Archer impressively went toe-to-toe with Strasburg in his debut Wednesday, allowing just three hits over six innings with seven strikeouts. His three runs allowed (one earned) sadly didn't earn him a win, but it was an impressive performance nonetheless. The story with Archer is he can strike plenty of guys out with his slider, but quite simply walks too many batters.
Filling in for Jeremy Hellickson he may only get one more start, but since it's against the Royals, those in deeper leagues should consider streaming him.
Recommendation: Should be added in AL-only leagues and 16+ mixed. Can be spot-started any league.
Posted by Paul Singman at 5:17am (4) Comments
Rex Brothers | Rockies | OF | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 4.25 ERA / 1.72 WHIP / 13.5 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.46 ERA / 1.49 WHIP / 10.8 K/9
Brothers has long been hyped as Colorado’s closer of the future (he was pinned, for example, by Baseball America as the future Rockies closer while he was still in the low minors), and with a deadline fire sale looking more likely to happen, the future may be now (as they say). Relievers with high walk rates are a mixed bag—a couple of guys who walk more than five per nine and also strike out more than a dozen per nine this year are John Axford, Greg Holland, and Jason Grilli, and all three have prominent bullpen roles (at least for the time being).
Brothers has elite ability in generating grounders, and has jaw-droppingly good June numbers (among them, a 0.83 WHIP, a similar 0.86 xFIP, and 14 strikeouts in eight innings). With Betancourt and Belisle seemingly on the trade block, Brothers may get the keys sooner rather than later. If not, he’ll give you value in the K column. Sounds like a win or a bigger win to me.
Recommendation: Worth an add in save-hungry leagues (read: most).
Everth Cabrera | Padres | SS | 7 percent Yahoo ownership | 6.2 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .250 / .333 / .417
Oliver ROS: .233 / .303 / .314
I swear this is the last time I pimp Cabrera in this space (he’s been here in Week 6 and Week 10), but in the last 15 days, he’s scored seven runs, stolen seven bases, and hit .292. In other words, he’s been better than everyone who qualifies at short not named Trevor Plouffe. He’s speedy as anyone, no one in the Padres' system is threatening his playing time, and the Padres are second in the league in stolen bases. He’s probably gone, but if not, get him.
Recommendation: Worth an add in every league.
Jose Tabata | Pirates | OF | 21 percent Yahoo ownership | 3.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .234 / .296 / .346
Oliver ROS: .274 / .337 / .380
Why has Jose Tabata been so bad this year? A quick look produces two possible answers: bad luck on balls in play and poor plate discipline (a career low .42 walk to strikeout ratio). Luckily, June has been kinder to young Jose, who’s 10.2 percent walk rate and .325 BABIP in the month are much closer to his 2011 mark in both respective categories (10.5 percent walk rate and .313 BABIP, to be exact).
He’s still running at a good enough pace to be started in all NL-only leagues (as I suspect he is) and owned in deeper mixed leagues. He’d steal 20 bases with 600 plate appearances at his current pace, and ZIPS likes him for 14 more by year’s end (Oliver agrees to the very number). We can all agree that the best days of Tabata’s 2012 are yet to come, and if we’re wrong about that, then he might be out of a major league job before he’s 25.
Recommendation: Worth an add in deeper mixed leagues and a start in all NL-only leagues.
Randy Wolf | Brewers | SP | 3 percent Yahoo ownership | 2.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 5.06 ERA / 1.58 WHIP / 5.1 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.40 ERA / 1.36 WHIP / 5.9 K/9
Randy Wolf’s not a very good pitcher, but he’s excelled in the second half over the last year three years. From 2009-2011, his 3.47 ERA after the All-Star break is a marked improvement over his 3.89 mark pre-break. He won 21 games in 44 starts Post-ASB, while only 16 in 57 starts Pre-ASB; even his WHIP improves to 1.19 from 1.33. If you believe in playing these trends, Wolf’s month of July has consistently been among his best in the last three years—then again, you may be smart to ignore all of that noise and recognize the annoyance of an unpredictable starter upfront (and avoid). If you’re in the gutter already and need a SP, why not roll the dice?
Recommendation: Worth a look on teams in need of a SP (perhaps desperate need...)
Chris Denorfia | Padres | OF | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .282 / .348 / .436
Oliver ROS: .266 / .324 / .400
A skilled hitter (particularly against lefties, against whom he has a .313 average over the last three years) and speedy enough to rack up double-digit steals last year in only 307 at-bats, Denorfia is a perfectly acceptable NL-only option despite his mediocrity. Like most suffering Padres, he’s been away from the embarrassment of playing in front of a home “crowd” (a .338 average on the road is welcomed, while a .234 mark at PETCO is cringe-worthy); luckily, he can hit against both sides of the plate, slapping mostly singles against lefties and generating most of his power against righties. I suggest owners in NL-only leagues start him every day and suck up the ugly PETCO average for the sake of not missing his speed (barring an absolutely stacked outfield), and deeper mixed league owners scoop him up for road trips. Platoons aren’t just for Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon.
Recommendation: Worth adding/starting in: NL-only leagues always; deeper mixed leagues on road trips.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 5:51am (4) 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!
Roy Oswalt is back today. My expectation is that he'll be a stream quality pitcher, but it might be worth picking him up and trying to sell him if he gets off to a hot start.
Two pitchers I would almost never recommend are Joe Saunders and Kevin Millwood. But they play the Cubs and Padres respectively, and those teams might be that bad...
Try Jason Kubel against Jeff Samardzija.
Or Craig Gentry against Christian Friedrich.
Andruw Jones will face lefty Jonathon Niese.
Matt Adams should start all three games against the Royals.
A pair of Reds, Chris Heisey and Todd Frazier, have worked their way into everyday roles and get a chance to reap the benefits against Nick Blackburn today.
A pair of Red Sox, Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish, will also likely find their way into the lineup to enjoy today's match-up against Jair Jurrjens.
Alex Cobb against the Phillies looks like the headline start of the day.
Wei-Yin Chen, who I mentioned yesterday, is actually pitching tomorrow. Which is good because now you have an alternative to Cobb.
You can try left-handed Mariners against Jason Marquis, but keep in mind that they'll still be Mariners. Michael Saunders is your best bet.
Carlos Gomez has been hot lately and Philip Humber definitely has not.
On the other side of that match-up, Dayan Viciedo should like Randy Wolf.
Carlos Pena has been cold most of the season, but a match-up against Kyle Kendrick could help thaw things, if only for a day.
Hang on to Gentry against Josh Outman.
Hang on to Adams as well.
I rarely get to say this: nothing to report.
Vance Worley survived the Rockies lineup but still took the loss: 7 IP, 2 K, 2.57 ERA, 0.86 WHIP
Jacob Turner walked too many but didn't suffer the consequences: 5 IP, 3 K, 1.80 ERA, 1.80 WHIP
John Mayberry Jr. went 2-for-4.
Scott Cousins flopped on his inaugural TDG appearance, going 0-for-4.
Alex Presley went 2-for-5 with one run and one stolen base.
Pedro Alvarez had a 2-for-4 evening with one home run, two runs, and one RBI.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:56am (7) Comments
Monday, June 25, 2012
It's been almost two months since I last gave you a Tout Wars update, so for those not following along at home, here's your chance to catch up. My team is a little different since last time, but one thing is the same, I'm still currently in first. For those wondering, it feels good.
Taking a look at my hitting, it remains an unspectacular, yet solid bunch of guys leading me to earning at least 11 points in every hitting category. I've been lucky to avoid major injuries to my lineup, and as a result haven't had to change it much. Still, I make minor tweaks every week to make sure I have multiple options in case a player goes down. We'll take a look at those in a bit, first, I'll offer some thoughts on my players.
At catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been great, and I can only hope he keeps it up in the rest of the season. A little known fact is the third week of the season, back when Salty and Nick Hundley were my catchers, I actually tried to drop Salty by placing a $0 bid on Willin Rosario. It sounds ridiculous now, especially because Hundley was my other catcher, but at that point I wanted no part of Salty's .103/.161/.241 line. Luckily for me, it turned out Rotowire's Derek VanRiper bid $1 and he got Rosario, so nothing came of it.
Right now Martin Maldonado is doing well as my second catcher, though once Jonathan Lucroy returns I'll have to find someone else. I can only hope Travis d'Arnaud is in the majors by then, be it with the Blue Jays or somewhere else. I think he'd be an upgrade over J.P. Arencibia, but who knows what Alex Anthopoulos will do.
Lucas Duda has been a solid first baseman for me, and very luckily hasn't gotten injured since he's the only first base eligible player on my roster. I was actually not aware of this until I almost traded Duda along with J.J. Putz for Melky Cabrera, but had to cancel because then first base would be empty. That hopefully won't be the case in around a month if Ryan Howard ever comes off the DL. For now though, it's all Duda, baby.
Sometimes the universe works in strange ways, like when I somehow end up with a $7 Jason Kipnis in an auction when I had no intention of ever owning him. I was admittedly an Ackley-over-Kipnis guy in the preseason and am undeservedly reaping the benefits of owning him.
I'm not going to touch on all of my other players, but I'll mention it's nice to see Brett Lawrie pick it up in June after a boring start to the season. I need him to step up for guys like Mike Aviles and Josh Reddick, who probably won't have as productive second-halves as their first-halves were.
This week in FAABing I decided to bid $2 on Leonys Martin since the Rangers have no off day this week and face a streak of righties until Friday. Hopefully he gets a few starts and is productive, though I don't expect him to stay in my lineup every week right now. Later in the season if he carves on more of a role in the Rangers lineup, he could be a nice player to own as I mentioned in last week's Waiver Wire.
My pitching staff has a tremendous top three, but after that I've had to change a lot up. Regression-bound or not, losing Brandon Beachy was a tough loss. I'm lucky to get his $13 salary back for my FAAB budget at least.
Lance Lynn has been great, but I don't really trust him anymore after his sub-par last two starts. He draws the Pirates so I'm starting him this week, but one more ugly start and I'll almost be willing to cut ties.
I was fairly aggressive in bidding $3 for Franklin Morales this week, which is justified by his two starts this year: 11 innings, four runs, 17 strikeouts, and just one walk (and the fact that someone else bid $2). With a third start scheduled at Seattle this week, I suggest picking up Morales if he is available in your league. He could easily stick in the Boston rotation, even though he's technically just filling in for Josh Beckett.
Justin Grimm and Chris Young I view as less permanent options, but have relatively friendly match ups so I am starting them.
Lastly, if I lose a closer in Brett Myers due to a trade, hopefully I'll also gain one in Greg Holland for the same reason.
Final thoughtsOverall I think this team has the talent to remain in first and contend for a title. It will still take a lot of moves and additions throughout the season (and maybe a trade or two which I've yet to do) but at least I'm well positioned to do so with a fairly large FAAB budget remaining as well.
It should be a fun ride and you want to follow along it's easy to do so at the Tout Wars website. I'm also open to suggestions of course.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:19am (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!
It's probably too late, but today might be your last chance to grab Anthony Rizzo.
Jake Westbrook takes on the Marlins. The Fish are in a hell of a funk right now, which makes this Westbrook match-up more tempting than it appears on the surface.
Travis Wood is set to face the Mets, but his upside is a little too low for my tastes.
Alex Cobb has an iffy match-up against the Royals.
Nathan Eovaldi has pitched well to date and faces the Giants today. I'm not fully on board just yet, but he might be the best available starter for the day.
Alex Presley and Pedro Alvarez once against draw an easy righty in the form of Joe Blanton.
Seth Smith, meet Erasmo Ramirez.
Either Tyler Moore or Xavier Nady will get the pleasure of facing Jeff Francis. It really could end up being either guy as far as I can tell, but I'll be crossing my fingers for Moore; Nady's upside isn't worth streaming.
Scott Hairston should find his way into the lineup against Wood.
I was surprised to learn that Erik Bedard's ownership is down to 34 percent. It should be back up again after he faces the Phillies tomorrow.
Dillon Gee's ownership is climbing—now 20 percent—and he has a decent match-up tomorrow against the Cubs.
Jordan Lyles against the Padres isn't safe but it is interesting.
You could probably say similar things about Chris Archer against the Royals.
Jason Vargas has been a little cold lately, which might make it worthwhile to dust off TTO king Jonny Gomes for tomorrow.
Dayan Viciedo might like facing Liam Hendricks. Jordan Danks could potentially get a spot start, which would likely be in Viciedo's place, so beware.
On the other side of that match-up, try Ben Revere and Ryan Doumit.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis draws Randy Wells tomorrow.
Adam Lind is back in blue just in time for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Aroldis Chapman blew another save yesterday. Both he and Sean Marshall have ridiculous peripherals, but neither have done well as the closer.
Santiago Casilla blew his second save of the season. He was also recently removed from a game after allowing the first three base runners on base. This kind of short term performance drought throws up an injury warning flag for me, so keep a close eye on the situation.
Ryan Cook melted down on Friday.
On Saturday, Jonathan Papelbon blew the save and $5,000. He promised $5,000 to anyone who bailed him out with a walkoff and Jim Thome delivered.
Frank Francisco has been placed on the disabled list. Bobby Parnell is first in line although Jon Rauch could still get a crack at a save or two. Parnell is far from elite, but he probably won't hurt your ratios.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:53am (11) Comments
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Buy low, sell high. That’s the mantra of fantasy sports – so ubiquitous and unspecific that it is a sports cliché itself. At the heart, we are all trying to cut good deals for ourselves. Today, I’d like to look briefly at a few players whose owners may consider “sell high” candidates, but who feel are performing sustainably.
If an owner feels that a player is overperforming, that owner may be willing to take back what he/she believes to be the player’s “true value.” But, if the player isn’t really overperforming at all, the owner exposes him/herself as attempting to short a solid stock. Here are some players who I consider solid stocks, but whose owners may be ready to take their profits thus far and run.
Willingham has been a good player for some years. I don’t feel he’s been given full opportunity to succeed and build his name. He spent many highly productive seasons in the minors before being given a shot in Florida and has bounced around frequently in his relatively short career, always being quite good but not great. This year, he seems settled in and a good fit for the organization and ballpark in which he plays. While his average is a tad high and buoyed by an elevated, though not absurd, BABIP, his production is generally sustainable. Willingham is a decided flyball hitter with legit power and relatively neutral splits against righties and lefties. Many of his owners may think his 30/100 pace is over his head; many of his owners probably don’t even know that he went 29/98 last year in 136 games. Give or take, at age 33, we are seeing the real Josh Willingham this season.
I’ve been a big fan of Lewis since his return to Texas. His low walk rate and above-average strikeout rate minimize the impact of his flyball tendencies at his home stadium. Lewis is sporting a BABIP relatively in line with last year, and though his walk rate is due for a bit of regression, there’s still plenty to like about Lewis as a player you can probably add to your rotation fairly easily through trade and who won’t hurt you anywhere. And, of course, there’s always the Texas line-up out there backing him up. As bonus, the Rangers still have 19 games remaining with the weak offenses of Oakland and Seattle, including a ton in the playoff period for those in head-to-head leagues.
This man can hit! There’s really not much else that needs to be said. Craig can really hit, and depending on your league provider, he may be eligible all over the diamond, including 2B. The Cards love his bat and they want it featured prominently in their order.
Given that Craig started the season on the DL, he may not have been drafted in your league and may have been added off waivers. Perhaps his owner thinks he found a nice little profit and wants to cash it in before Craig turns back into a waiver wire pumpkin. Allen Craig is no pumpkin.
In leagues in which he is MI-eligible, one move to consider would be to trade an MI-stud to Craig’s current owner for Craig plus your other big need. Or, try to acquire Craig and then trade your best MI somewhere else to fill your other need. I’m betting my money on Craig producing at top tier MI level.
If he’s not eligible at MI in your leagues, he’s still makes for a fine OF or CI.
Sure, he will not continue to post a 25% HR/FB rate and his BABIP is a bit high now, but I don’t think this guy is a fluke and while his stock might look high given his current numbers, I think it will continue to soar going forward, sort of the way it happened to Brett Lawrie between last year and this one.
Cuddy is something of a hybrid of the two position players already discussed. He has the established track record of highly productive play that is shadowed by obscurity that Willingham has, as well as the sneaky position eligibility boost of Craig. Oh, and did I mention he plays at Coors Field?
The only league in which I missed out on Cuddyer is the one in which I successfully snatched and stashed Craig. In the five full seasons before coming to Colorado (he missed half of ’08), Cuddyer averaged 90/21/87/7, while hitting between .271 and .284 every season.
Cuddy was pre-ranked pretty highly, but in just about all of my leagues he fell well below his projected rank/price. He is worth it, especially if he is MI-eligible in your league. His owner may not be a believer though and may be happy with having received 250 ABs worth of top-75 performance. With a .289 BABIP, a summer of games in Colorado ahead, and a batted ball profile in line with those previous 5 seasons, there’s 250+ additional ABs worth of top 75 level production remaining in Cuddyer’s bat.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 6:50am (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!
Erik Bedard hasn't been crisp recently, but you have to like the match-up against the Phillies.
Dillon Gee also has a good match-up as he takes on the Cubs.
Jordan Lyles and Chris Archer are interesting plays for deeper leagues. They face the Padres and Royals, respectively.
If you need power, Jonny Gomes is set to run into Jason Vargas.
Dayan Viciedo should benefit from facing Liam Hendriks, assuming Jordan Danks isn't pushed into a spot start.
Ben Revere has been hot for those with a need for speed. Revere and Ryan Doumit will face Gavin Floyd today.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis matches up well against Randy Wells. I keep saying it, but Nieuwenhuis is perfect roster glue.
Adam Lind against Daisuke Matsuzaka should provide some entertainment.
Jonathon Niese is heavily owned at 40 percent, but if he's available in your league, that Cubs match-up should remain friendly.
Jarrod Parker against the Mariners seems palatable.
Tyler Moore or Mark DeRosa should find his way into the lineup against Josh Outman.
Hang onto Viciedo, Nick Blackburn starts tomorrow.
Kevin Millwood has been boringly effective this year, but I'm still going to bet against him at every turn. Try Seth Smith.
I tend to forget about guys when I start them every day in multiple leagues. Use Rajai Davis against Jon Lester tomorrow. Those outside of the 12 percent who own him are missing out on a great run of production.
Heath Bell asploded in a non-save situation last night. Which is unfortunate for the Marlins since Jason Motte did everything in his power to keep things close.
Sean Burnett blew a save in middle relief, but that's hardly news.
My best recommendation yesterday was probably not to use Justin Grimm. It was ugly.
Jake Westbrook forgot a stat category for his fantasy owners: 6 IP, 0 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Travis Wood was superb while earning the win: 7 IP, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP
Alex Cobb bit the bullet yesterday while giving the Rays eight innings. Unfortunately, that doesn't help your fantasy team: 8 IP, 1 K, 9.00 ERA, 1.63 WHIP
Nathan Eovaldi also had a terrible start. I was saved from the pain by secondary roster moves in preparation of Chase Utley's return tomorrow. I hope something intervened on your behalf as well: 5 IP, 1 K, 14.40 ERA, 2.20 WHIP
Alex Presley was 0-for-4.
Pedro Alvarez had an empty 2-for-4.
Seth Smith was 1-for-3 with one solo home run, one run, and one RBI.
Tyler Moore was 1-for-3 with a walk.
Scott Hairston was 0-for-4.