Tag Archives: 2011

Raising Arizona

 

GREAT FLICK

The Diamondbacks are in the interesting position of being in ‘rebuilding’ mode while having some very interesting pieces which in case you couldn’t tell, I find very… interesting.  Knew I should’ve bought that thesaurus…

With young talent like Chris B. Young, Justin Upton, and yes, Brandon Allen (Gotcha post right here), not to mention Miguel Montenero, Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew, the offense is looking up and could use its own separate post.  I, however, am not interested in the offense.  They are interesting (hah) for fantasy purposes, suffice to say.  Where there’s more room for intrigue, for depth, for some fantasy detective work is on the pitching staff.  With six good-not-great arms who could surprise and provide fantasy depth, it is time for a closer inspection.  No one appears to be an ‘ace’ in the rotation.  And since I just finished watching 10 Things I Hate About You (arguably the finest High School movie of all time), never wrote for the paper or yearbook, and needed a gimmick to organize the contenders, voila!  Superlatives:

Best Looking

Dan Hudson

Daniel Hudson just sounds like a handsome pilgrim name.  He also happens to be a fine, fine pitcher.  Dave and I were discussing young pitchers and we agreed- K/9 is one of the best indicators for a young pitcher’s future success.  The ability at a young age to miss bats means the pitcher will be able to mature into a better pitcher while always having the K card in his back pocket (my example was Clay Buchholz who has become a better pitcher though his K numbers have declined as he learned the league).  Hudson fits the bill.  With a K/9 of 7.93 last year and a projected (Bill James) K/9 of 8.19 in 2011, the kid knows how to make guys whiff.  He was lucky in some senses with an amazing BABIP (.241) and less than a homer/9 (0.76), but even if those become more regular, as most predictors have him down for, he should still keep the ball in the park and have a mid-3’s ERA.  Bill James has him down for a 1.35 WHIP.  CAIRO has him down for 1.18.  I think it is a safe assumption that his WHIP will fall somewhere in between.  So let’s review: a sub 4 ERA, 1.2-ish WHIP, a K/9 around 8 and a good young offense?  Does that sound like a solid pitcher to you?  It certainly does to me.  Throw on the double digit wins and near 200 innings everyone expects and I say this  man is draftable.  And I’m usually one to shy away from young pitchers.  Unless the Diamondbacks rapidly improve, Hudson won’t win more than 15 games.  But if you need a solid guy at the back of your rotation, I recommend you look at Hudson.

Most Likely to Succeed

Ian Kennedy

Much like Hudson, Kennedy’s peripherals suggest he will be just fine at the major league level.  What he has on Hudson is that he has actually been successful in the Majors for a full season.  Also with a K/9 around 8 and a BABIP below .300 (a very very good .256), Kennedy profiles as a pitcher who guys don’t hit the ball well off of (I think that is proper English).  Did you realize he threw 194 innings last year?  In my opinion, any pitcher who can eat innings (read: get close to 200 in a season), have a good K/9 and an ERA at or below 4 is worth having on your staff.  Those are the numbers that will consistently help you on a week to week basis.  Think of the old Aaron Harang, when even on a bad day he’d go 6 and K 8… ah the good ol’ days.  Kennedy just needs to keep the ball on the ground.  He gave up a large number of homers (26), but this actually makes his other stats more impressive to me.  If he can bring the homers down (no small feat at the BOB), his ERA will plummet and he becomes even more valuable.  Following Dave’s idea of K/9 being a good indicator and my belief that innings eaters are worth owning even on mediocre teams, you arrive at the same conclusion: Ian Kennedy is a guy to have on your team (in most leagues) or top on your list of streamers (in some leagues).  Plus, he’s years removed from that Yankee stink, so he’s smelling rosy for 2011.

Most Likely to go Into Politics

Armando Galarraga

Completely unrelated to this blog (honestly), Chris Cwik over at Fangraphs has an article about Armando joining the DBacks rotation.  I merely wanted to use the title ‘Raising Arizona’ and write about Barry Enright, his article goes into the rotation sucking a bit.  I have little to say about Galarraga, as he is an intensely boring fantasy baseball pitcher.  If he doesn’t keep his walks down (as Cwik mentions), he doesn’t have the stuff like Kennedy or Hudson to make guys miss and pays accordingly.  But I have an immense amount of respect for him for the way he handled the whole ‘near-perfect’ game situation, so he gets a blurb.  Who knows, maybe the move to the NL will be for the best and Galarraga become a useful spot starter in fantasy.  Stranger things have happened, like an ump stealing a perfect game from a young man…

Class Couple

Joe Saunders and Zach Duke

I in no way mean to insinuate that these two are a couple, merely that I was going to write the same thing about both, so I’ll conserve space by coupling them.  Political correctness crisis averted.  Remember how I talked about K/9 being a good indicator of future success?  Yeah, these guys are kind of the opposite.  Both have (miraculously) had good seasons while posting atrocious K/9 rates, Duke in 2009 and Saunders in 2008 ( he had a decent 2009, with 16 wins but poor other numbers).  Neither wows you with stuff, both relying on smarts from the left side of the rubber and the hopes of a ground ball.  Both are capable of going many innings (both have 200 inning campaigns under their belts) when they are on their game.  But they are both the classic case of being a perfectly decent real pitcher yet next to worthless in fantasy.  With the exception of the occasional spot pickup, I’d stay away from both dudes.

Class Clowns

aka WILD CARDS, BITCHES

Barry Enright and Aaron Heilman

With the (smart) signing of J.J. Putz in Arizona to close (SAVE ALERT!  Bad team in the NL West- the best kind of closer!), Heilman will get his shot to start… or go back to his super-long man role he plays to perfection.  I can’t figure Heilman out.  He seems to have a rubber arm (innings, check), has good enough K numbers (check) and generally keeps the ball on the ground/in the ballpark.  He just cannot seem to put it all together as a starter.  As a 2-3 inning man, he was ownable a few years ago, putting up some extremely useful numbers.  With his move to the rotation though, there was something lost in translation.  I’ll watch him this year if he wins a spot because I owned him in 2005 and he helped my team, but my reason for hope is out of loyalty more than anything.

Enright is an interesting case.  Our buddy out in California goes to school with his brother so we had the inside scoop as he ascended to the Majors and surprised a lot of people with his immediate success.  An excellent BABIP helped him to a 1.27 WHIP and allowing a staggering 20 homers (I had to triple check to make sure that was right) in just 99 innings did nothing to help his 3.91 ERA, which is actually impressive if you think that he was giving up 1.82 homers/ 9 innings- that means he wasn’t giving up too many runs other ways, or allowing many homers with men on base.  Like Saunders and Duke, Enright must control his walks and lessen his homer burden.  Unlike those two jamokes, scouts think he has some life to his ball though.  If he can drop the homers and get his GB rate up from around 35% to closer to 50%, he could prove to be a valuable matchup play during the year.  Again, I’m a bit biased in my optimism, but what fun is it to look forward on a fantasy season like a Debbie Downer?

 

 

So there you have it, 1200 words about a relatively crappy rotation.  Hey, when you’re good, you’re good.

Enjoy the prospect show tonight!  If you haven’t seen it recently, go watch 10 Things I Hate About You, it’s a delight.

 

-w

Leave a comment

Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, pitchers, Posted, Random Thoughts, Rookies, Sleepers

MLB.com Posts Top 50 Prospects

In one of my favorite moves of the offseason, MLB has released its top 50 prospects list, to be discussed tonight on MLB Network by its excellent, goofball hosts.

Here are the positional breakdowns for all you prospect junkies, hoping for that next big thing.

Enjoy!

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Third Base

Shortstop

Outfield

Left-Hand Pitchers

Right-Hand Pitchers

I love lists like this.  Be sure to check out the discussion at 9 tonight on MLB Network and the Chat on MLB.com on Wednesday.  And for all 4 of our loyal readers, let us know what YOUR thoughts on the prospects for 2011 in the comments (Trevor has lots of opinions)!

 

-w

 

UPDATE: Here’s the list, an article breaking it down a bit, and VIDEO!

Leave a comment

Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, outfield, pitchers, Posted, Rookies, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, third base

Put up or Shut up: BJ Upton

 

 

that's the 'shoulda laid off that slider' face

 

 

B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton is oozing with talent.  Literally, it drips off of him like a sweaty, sweaty man huffing up some stairs.  But the numbers have simply not matched his level of talent.  He has been accused of dogging it, of lacking drive, of overall lack of effort.  What is evident to the watchful fan is this: he’s simply not improving/adjusting.  He still gets bamboozled on a good slider.  He still strikes out too much.  His OBP isn’t up to snuff.  For a guy who stole 44, 42, and 42 bases the last three years it’s kind of  remarkable his OBP hasn’t cracked .330 in the past two.  Oh, and the batting aveerage.  Upton’s average has dropped every year since 2007 and bottomed out at .237 last year… not impressive.  And what of that immense power he showed in the playoffs?  I know I was expecting a 30 homer season from him at this point but that has not come to fruition.  Being an AL East guy, I see Upton a lot and let me tell you, I am not overly excited about his 2011 outlook.

Bill James’ projection is equally tepid.  16 homers, 87 runs.  A .255 average.  63 RBI and a .345 OBP.  And 40 steals.  With the exception of those 40 steals, does he sound like an appealing player to you, as an OF?  Maybe as a fill-in MI but OF is stacked!  Are you going to use a top 100 pick on him?  That’s how far he’s fallen.  His ADP is 73 over at mockdraftcentral, but there are guys after him I would much rather have on my team (Billy Butler?  Pedro Alvarez? Nick Markakis?).  Are the names in parentheses not more likely to improve on their past seasons?  Of course they are, because for B.J. Upton, it’s time to put up or shut up, and I think he’s stubborn.  He’ll never reach his full potential and will merely disappoint you.  You can get steals cheap, don’t waste a pick on a guy who doesn’t care.  I’ll take the hard-nosed Markakis, the upside of Alvarez, or the sweet swing of Billy Butts any day.  And to think, this post started with the idea of hyping him for 2011.

 

-w

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, outfield, Posted, Put Up or Shut Up, Random Thoughts

Damon, Ramirez could prove to be darn good in Tampa

The two deals the Devil Rays (I refuse to call them the Rays; they will always be the Devil Rays no matter what they try to call themselves) made last night show that they are still committed to winning in even after losing key pieces this off season. There have been a lot of articles praising the moves, and I agree, these two additions could keep the Tampa offense relevant this year.

What they lost:

Tampa’s lineup took a hit in the off-season losing Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. Last year Crawford put up a line of .307 AVG, 19 HR, 90 RBI, .356 OBP, .495 SLG and .851 OPS. Pena also put up decent numbers last year, (.196, 28, 84, .325, .407, .732).

Their departure is huge. The Devil Rays have to replace their production and they have started to by signing Damon and Ramirez. Let’s look at what they got in these two players.

What they got:

Manny Ramirez, in 90 games last year, put up pretty good numbers (.298, 2, 42, .409, .460, .870) and will do the same in Tampa. Johnny Damon, in 145 games, put up good numbers too (.271, 8, 51, .355, .401, .756) and the combination of these two players can arguably make up for the loss of Crawford (with the exception of speed and general athleticism) and Pena.

Fantasy Value?

So, they made up for Crawford and Pena, what does this mean fantasy wise?

A lot.

“Thank God I don’t have to use this thing anymore.” -Manny Ramirez

By adding Manny as a DH, it allows for another legitimate power threat in the Devil Rays line up behind Evan Longoria. He will more than make up for Pena’s departure and will hit for a higher average. In fact, if Manny hits in front on Longoria, it will force pitchers to actually pitch to Manny rather than pitch around him. Also, by just using him as a DH, literally all he has to do is focus on his favorite thing: hitting. Finally, he is back in the AL East, where he knows the parks and the pitchers.

WWJDD? Go play for the Devil Rays.

This is the same for Damon who returns to the AL East after previous stints with the Red Sox and Yankees. He is also important to the Devil Rays and actually had more doubles (36) than Crawford did last year (30). While I am not putting Damon and Crawford on the same level offensively (because there is no way Damon can touch Crawford in terms of ability), hitting in front of Longoria will also let him see more pitches and will score more runs. In short, these two players still have some value. Damon is a better buy because he brings more to the table (like some speed and not being a space cadet) than Ramirez, who will hit for power but not much else. What is also important about these moves is that it protects Longoria, maintaining and even raising his fantasy value.

Do these moves make the Devil Rays playoff contenders? I say yes. I think with the combination of their young pitching and their now pretty good offense will allow them to hang with the Sox and Yanks. Damon and Ramirez will be a major part of their playoff push and will get the playing time to make them more than an after thought in fantasy leagues.


2 Comments

Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups

Cheap Thrills, Speed Kills

WARP SPEED!

Every year, I play fantasy baseball.  Every year I come up with a new strategy.  Generally, it consists of eschewing closers in lieu of snagging some extra steals.  Every year I come up short.  Often this is because I stray from my strategy and take a closer over, say Juan Freakin’ Pierre.  Or Jacoby Ellsbury gets soft ribs.  But I digress.  My point is- speed kills.  If you can win the speed categories (3B, SB, R), I maintain that gives you an edge in most leagues.  With that in mind, let us look at some players you can get on the cheap that are going to bring you serious return by way of speed…

Eric Young Jr.

There are really only two things you need to know about EYJ: 1) He’s eligible at 2B AND OF 2) in limited AB Bill James has him stealing 46 bases.  That right there should probably be enough to warrant a late round pick.  But you being the cunning fantasy owner you are, you want more, don’t you?  I’ll oblige.  CAIRO has him stealing 34 bases in similarly few AB’s and ZiPS has him stealing 38.  Believe whoever you like, all these projections are for around 460 AB.  The lack of at bats is due to the presence of the likes of Ian Stewart and Jose Lopez.  I’ll argue til I’m purple (pun intended… you’ll get it) that EYJ’s talent (i.e. SPEED) will give him a leg up (god I’m on fire with the puns) on one of those two.  Now I’m no math major but if the wise Bill James thinks the kid can steal 40+, scouts all think he can steal 40+, and he suddenly gets 550 AB rather than 450, don’t you think he could steal 50 bases?  Maybe?  He’ll be a target of mine in many a draft as a back 2B/MI – but don’t forget he could be Juan Pierre-esque with 40+ steals late in a draft.  If you have a distaste for Pierre as I do, Young Jr. is your late round gem.  And honestly, if you hadn’t heard about him already, you’re probably gonna miss out on him anyway.

Lorenzo Cain

Lorenzo had one of my favorite catches of the year, smashing into the wall in Cincinnati.  As a former center fielder, it is pretty ridiculous if you go back and watch the amount of ground Cain covers to pull in the line drive.  Seriously, it is worth watching.  I’ll wait…

While this has nothing to do with Cain’s fantasy potential, it  kind of does.  Cain’s speed is going to be a fantasy asset on a bad Royals team.  While I will not preach that any KC player not named Butler or Soria is instantly ownable, Cain will steal you some bases.  I am not basing this solely off of his spectacular catch, but it honestly gives me reason to believe his speed.  Bill James has him at 33 steals in 512 AB.  ZiPS has him at 21 in 484.  CAIRO thinks he’ll swipe 14 in 433.  These all could be low estimates.  If Cain plays decently, he could quickly find himself atop the KC order.  Heck, even if he bats 9th, he will be getting closer to the 500-600 AB’s than 400-500 range.  Given the opportunity, the fantasy community (hah.) seems to think the kid has 30+ SB potential.  I agree.  And in a young KC lineup, he should be given every opportunity to shine.  by shine I mean steal 40 bases.  I wouldn’t advise drafting Cain, but monitor his Spring and start of the year.  If he can manage to hit between .260 and .270, he could easily steal 30+ bases for you.

Peter Bourjos

I wrote up Bourjos here earlier this month.  I suggest you read it, as I am a very talented man.  While you’re at it, read about Jose Tabata, if you want some slightly-more-expensive steals.  Bourjos figures to get a real shot and given that, is a real threat to steal 30+ bases.  So he’s got that goin’ for him… which is nice…

Coco Crisp

If you know baseball, you know Covelli can fly.  The question now is can he get the healthy At-Bats necessary to be a fantasy impact player again.  Crisp stole 32 bases in 328 plate appearances in 2010, good for one steal every 10.25 times he stepped up, when he managed to stay healthy enough to play.  His base-stealing prowess is undeniable.  What could be problematic this upcoming year is playing time, as the A’s OF looks crowded if that’s where the team plans on using Chris Carter and his Thor-Hammer power.  But you know what Crisp can do with merely 400 PA – steal 35 bases.  Once again I look at projections, none of which have Coco getting 500 AB or even 400 AB, but all seem to think he’ll steal 30 bases- including Bill James, CAIRO, and ZiPS.   So what happens if he gets regular at bats at the top of a revitalized A’s lineup?  He could steal 45-50 bases and score a ton of runs is the answer.  Once again, track his spring training and how the AB’s play out to start the season, but I think Crisp is a heckuva pickup candidate in 2011.

Erick Aybar

The Angels love to run.  Aybar figures to hit first in their lineup, or at least near the top.  This seems like a scheme for stealing success (hooray alliteration and rhyme!).  Aybar stole 22 bases in 2010 at the bottom of the lineup and has a 32 steal season in AAA just 5 years ago.  Bill James undershoots here and has him at 19 steals, as does CAIRO which has him at 18.  CBS has him pegged for 20 and I think these are all not taking into account his spot in the lineup and the lineup’s sudden need for speed.  Let me be the first to beg Mike Scioscia “LET ERICK RUN!”  I don’t care if he spells his name in a silly way, given the green light and top-of-the-order at bats, I bet you a box of jelly donuts Aybar can steal 30 bases.  We shall see.  But he will most likely be available at the end of drafts and is worth a flier on a MI spot, a notoriously weak position in the later rounds.

Cliff Pennington

Great name, let me start off by saying.

Moving on, did you know that Cliff Pennington stole 29 bases last year even though he only hit .250?  I did.  But that’s only because of my considerable knowledge on all things irrelevant in all of life except fantasy baseball.  29 bases!  Let me do some quick math… carry the 7… that’s one off of a 30 steal campaign!  Bill James thinks he can match that in 2011 but I think he can do better.  Let me explain.  With a better lineup & favorable spot in the order ( doublecheck), a better BABIP (check) and a better base stealing eye that only a year of experience can give you (uh… check), shouldn’t a player be able to increase his steal total?  Pennington is likely to be the #9 hitter for the A’s, free to run.  His BABIP last year was a decent .296.  It is not unreasonable to think he could improve that, even slightly, and get on base more often, increasing to the .260-.270 BA range and an OBP of around .340.  These are not unreasonable terms and are only slight improvements on what most projections have him putting forth in 2011.  I am optimistic, if for no other reason because I want to believe.  Like Aybar, you could do worse than Pennington at the end of a draft to fill your MI spot.  I expect 20 steals at a minimum and 35 is not unattainable.  Be aware.

——————————————

 

So there you have it, some really cheap sources of steals (with an unintentional wild wild west coast skew).  More to the point, these guys provide one quality in spades – speed.  Speed kills.  Speed gets steals.  Speed gets runs.  These categories make or break fantasy seasons.  You want more?  Check out my posts about some other cheap-ish speedy guys: Peter Bourjos, Jose Tabata, Will Venable, and Dexter Fowler.  I am of the firm belief that speed can be the ‘X’ factor in winning a fantasy season.  So draft Juan Pierre if you must.  Waste a pick on Nyjer Morgan.  Spend hours debating whether or not Rajai Davis will produce in Toronto (he will, but he was too obvious for this post).  I’ve outlined for you some guys you can have in the last rounds, as pickups, or for less than a few bucks, if you’re into that auction crap.  What you do with the fountain of knowledge that I’ve supplied is up to you.  Just remember, in fantasy, you want cheap thrills.  And speed kills.

 

-w

7 Comments

Filed under Cajones, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts, Rookies, second base, shortstop

The all-contract year team

Every year there are a few guys who are in a contract year that put up crazy numbers that land them a large contract (Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson come to mind). Sometimes, they are just guys who already produce while others are coming off poor seasons (or careers) and need to rebound (badly). But no matter what they did last year, everything they do this year will be watched and scrutinized, giving them extra incentive to have a huge year. Keep an eye out for these guys:

C: Dionar Navarro

Once the one of the top prospects in the Yankees system, Navarro has fallen on hard times and had a terrible season in 2010. However, he is poised to become the Dodgers starting catcher and may finally tap his talent to prove he can stay in LA for the long haul. He is playing for his major league life and might respond well to the pressure.

1B: Prince Fielder

This is an obvious choice in early rounds but he could put up even bigger numbers this year than he did last year. He has a lot of pressure on him after signing a record arbitration contract, but also has a lot to prove. He is out to prove that he is not an after thought in the 2012 first baseman free agent class which could include Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez. Pujols and A-Gon are primed for huge seasons (and contracts) no matter what but Fielder is the real wildcard. He needs to show constant improvement especially after his down year last year in order to get the 7-10 year deal Scott Boras will be looking for.

2B: Rickie Weeks

Looking to build on his solid fantasy season last year, Weeks is in a great position to land a pretty big contract in the offseason. Weeks needs to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and that he can be an elite second baseman in the league. He played more games that he has in any other season with the Brewers and his durability will be a factor. Rickie will want to put to bed any doubt that he is a soft player who can put up mediocre stats. If last year is any indication, he will rise to the occasion.

SS: Jose Reyes

Remember when this guy was a one of the top players in all of fantasy? I do too and it wasn’t that long ago. Like Weeks, Reyes put up solid fantasy numbers after a year plagued by injuries. At 27, Reyes is entering his “prime” and will want a contract that will reflect that. Look for him to be a bright spot on an otherwise pretty bad Mets team.

3B: Aramis Ramirez

Yes, he is 32. Yes, he had a bad year last year. But the contract he signs next offseason could be his last professional contract and he will want to make it count. The Cubs should be improved this year which will help him, and the addition of Carlos Pena to the line up will also do wonders. I am not saying you should draft him early (or at all), but look for him to put together a streaky season and pick him up while he is on a hot-streak. As I said before, he is 32 and he knows he has an expiration date, he needs to show teams he hasn’t already past his. This should motivate him to a better season than last year.

OF: Jose Bautista

Another guy who will go early in drafts but also another guy who has a lot to prove. Can he put up the same numbers he did last year or will come back down to earth. (Also, just a note, he is recovering form offseason hernia surgery so keep an eye out for his recovery from that.)

OF: Grady Sizemore

The Indians have an option for Sizemore for $8.5 million or a buyout of $500,000 in 2012. Sizemore needs to prove his worth to the Indians or he might be facing free agency a year early. Especially after two down seasons (including one almost completely lost last year) Sizemore has to come up big. He was once the next can’t-miss superstar, but now he is looking like almost the exact opposite of that. This is a make or break year for him, and he knows it.

OF: Josh Willingham

This should be an interesting season for Willingham who will have to adjust to a new league and a new coast. Other than Navarro, he has to most to lose this season. If he puts up big numbers, he will get a large contract. A real boom-bust guy.

SP: Edwin Jackson

Another guy who is entering his “prime” Jackson has a lot more questions than answers. He can throw the ball nice and fast but can he improve his ERA and WHIP?  There have been other pitchers who had control problems who put together a solid contract year season (see Wright, Jaret) and Jackson could be poised to do just that.

CL: Jonathan Papelbon

Talk about a guy who is pitching with a chip on his shoulder. Pap has more than enough motivation to rebound after last season’s subpar performance and especially after it was reported he would have been non-tendered had the Red Sox signed Mariano Rivera this off-season. This guy is really pitching for his contract because it looks like Daniel Bard (or Bobby Jenks) is poised to take over the Sox  closer role after next season. Paps will come out on fire and put together an extremely impressive fantasy season.

1 Comment

Filed under catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, second base, shortstop, third base

You should probably draft some Rangers

The unofficial mascot and motto of the 2011 Texas Rangers offense

And by Rangers, I mean the Texas offense, which has the potential to be absurd this year. Let’s take a look at the Ranger’s possible starting nine, (last years numbers are provided).

SS: Elvis Andrus (.265 AVG, 0 HR, 35 RBI, .342 OBP, .301 SLG, 32 SB)

2B: Ian Kinsler (.286, 9, 45, .382, .412)

1B: Jorge Cantu: (.256, 11, 56, .304, .392)

3B: Adrian Beltre (.321, 28, 102, .365, .553)

C: Bengie Molina (.249, 5, 36, .297, .326)

OF: Josh Hamilton (.359, 32, 100, .411, .633)

OF: Nelson Cruz (.318, 22, 78, .374, .567)

OF: David Murphy (.291, 12, 65, .358, .449)

DH: Michael Young (.284, 21, 91, .330, .440)

Other than Molina, those numbers are insane. Plus, Beltre’s numbers were from when he was playing for the Red Sox last year. What the Rangers lost with Cliff Lee in terms of pitching, they made up for in offense with Beltre. It should be noted that the Rangers put up those numbers without him in the lineup. If Beltre produces like he did last year, the Rangers are going to be an offensive force and with the sixth-highest park factor in the majors, the offensive numbers should continue.

While there are some obvious players to draft on this team (Hamilton, Beltre, Cruz) the lesser players like Young and Murphy should also put up better numbers with all the star power around them. Pitchers will be worn out after facing the Rangers 1-5, allowing ample opportunity for the bottom of the order to produce some big numbers.

Especially in deeper leagues, look for the likes of Young in the middle rounds (who will have added value because he will be eligible at multiple positions and will also be forgotten about because of Beltre) and Murphy in the later rounds. Another player to watch this year will be Taylor Teagarden. Due to Molina’s age (36) and lack of offensive production (see above) Teagarden might get a legitament shot this year, and could succeed without so much pressure. (The same goes for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but that is for another post).

1 Comment

Filed under batter v. pitcher, catchers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, third base

BREAKING: Soriano signs with Yankees

John Heyman if Sports Illustrated is reporting that Rafael Soriano has signed with the Yankees to set up Mariano Rivera. The signing is in contrast to previous statements made by Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who said he would not sign Soriano because he did not want to lose the Yankees first round draft pick.

This 3-year, $35 million deal is an interesting move. Soriano just lost a ton of value fantasy-wise. Yes, he will probably put up the same numbers, but without the saves, his overall value plummets. However, he would be an interesting guy to pick up for keeper leagues: there is a possibility that he could now be the Yanks closer of the future. If he is indeed the closer of the future in the Bronx, he will pay off not this year but maybe next year or the year after. Also consider this: Rivera is 41 and could go down with an injury. Soriano is a guy to take in the later rounds or pick up on the waiver-wire, depending on the size of your league.

Leave a comment

Filed under Closers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason

2011 Favorites: Catchers

 

 

awesome.

In my tedium of a life, with the fantasy baseball season has ended, I enjoy a few things;  Madden Football, Pumpkin Bread, and thinking about the 2011 fantasy season.  That is it.  Imagine Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind only bored instead of nuts and instead of math problems and code scrawled everywhere, it’s projected lineups and sleepers.  So I have lots of time to sit and ponder the upcoming season, long and short of it.  And in my ponderance, which is a word, I believe, if  you google it, I often make lists.  Lists of players to take in my upcoming drafts players to avoid, and players to make fun of in the coming season.  My drafts all take a similar shape in the later rounds as I collect these favorite players, for better or worse.  And with that- good news for the 11 people who read this blog!   I’m going to share some of my considerable knowledge with you lucky few.

Young Studs

JP Arencibia

There is no way I was going to fail to mention Arencibia in this lil’ excursion.  Though he had a poor performance in the majors, I chalk that up to the small sample size (37 at bats) and as a result, a lack of time to adjust to major league off-speed stuff.  You can look at his Swing Percentages at Fangraphs, but speaking as someone who watched him a bit, I can tell you anecdotally that he looked like he needed to be more comfortable at the plate which only time will bring.  The reason I say I wouldn’t leave him off is, in case you missed it, the kid hit two bombs in his debut… and they were not cheapies.  Arencibia projects as a serious hitter in the majors.  Look at his AAA numbers. Do it. 32 Homers in 459 PA.  36 doubles.  38 walks.  A .626 SLG percentage.  Goodness I’m sweating just thinking about that translating to the Majors.  Don’t judge.  There is nothing left for Arencibia to prove in AAA and nowhere to go but up.  I love rolling the die with catchers and he may just be a smart gamble in the mid to late rounds of a draft.

Wilson Ramos

It’s pretty unbelievable the Nats got this guy for a Reliever Rental.  The big knock on him is a lack of plate discipline, but he looks like a hitter to me.  Scouts are all high on him, or were before the trade, and I am interested in watching how some of the young Nats develop (Desmond, Danny Espinosa), as that could be a good young lineup.  Let’s remember, if everyone thinks you can hit, you probably can hit.  I don’t always care what the numbers say.  Let’s remember that Pudge Rodriguez doesn’t have particularly good walk numbers but can still hit.  Just saying, he’s there to mentor and they kind of seem like similar players- to me- both agile backstops with good arms (Ramos threw out around 40% of would be basestealers in the minors, via).  Here’s a blurb on him from Scout.com (from his Minny days).  He’s a rung below Arencibia in my book, but still worth keeping track of through Spring Training.

Don’t-Forget-About-These Guys

 

Miguel  Montero

One of my favorite type of plays is the one-year later play.  Montero is the perfect candidate.  High on many’s lists last year, Montero suffered a knee injury and never quite picked up where he left off, as he started hotter than hot.  He had a forgettable year (.266 BA, 9 homers), but had a decent BABIP (.318)  and shows good contact rates for a catcher with power.  I was one of those people hyping Montero last year and was rewarded for that first less than a month (.500 BA in 12 AB) after drafting him in many a league.   Then he got hurt and yadda yadda yadda came back and hit a bit and then was garbage.  Now I am still of the belief that Montero is closer to the version 2009 Montero than that of 2010.  He has good power (3o doubles in 2009) that cannot be made up.  From the catcher position, you could do a lot worse than taking a flyer on Montero late when your league-mates forget about him in  the late teens or early 20’s. Snag him and laugh all the way to the I-have-production-from-my-catcher bank (I was rejected from that bank this year…)…

Chris Ianetta

This pick has a lot to do with my hope Ianetta gets traded, if not to the Red Sox (awesome) then to someone else (less awesome, still good), because he’s wasting away in the thin air of Colorado.  Ianetta is certainly not going to hit .330 but he sure as heck isn’t a .200 hitter!  His BABIP was very poor this past year (.212), so an improvement is coming there.  He has legitimate power outside of Colorado.  His 2008 numbers suggest a .270-ish hitter with 20 homer pop and a good OBP (.390 in 2008).  That sounds pretty excellent for a catcher, doesn’t it?  His 2009 numbers suggest that with unsure playing time, his productivity decreased.  So we get to 2010, where his playing time was evaporated still, and the numbers showed as much.  Add that to his relative UNluck with BABIP, and it was recipe for a .197 average.  That’s bad.  But given a fresh start somewhere, my hometown team or not, Ianetta will get the AB’s he deserves and put up numbers you will like. Forget his defensive liability, it’s fantasy, and draft him late.

P.S. here’s a great read on the Pros/Cons of Ianetta to Boston, thanks to Over the Monster

 

The Inception Play

(for those over-thinkers out there)

 

Jake Fox

Allow me to make the case for Jake Fox.  The guy smushes the ball.  Kind of.  Power and Versatility are Fox’s main attraction and his numbers weren’t great last year.  But hear me out- he was a) adjusting to a new league and b) unlucky.  He’s not a great hitter, but the drop from .259 to .212 in batting average is significant in a late power play.  His BABIP dipped from .274 to .252.  These two facts bring me to my point:  If the stats somewhat correct themselves, Jake Fox will be about a .250 hitter with decent power and the positional versatility owners crave late in a draft. Power is something you want in fantasy.  Power comes in bunches at the Fantasy Catcher position.  If it comes to the end of the draft and you are without a catcher or a power hitter, you’re screwed.  Hah.  But seriously, you could grab some cheap power with Fox.  It’s a great play in deeper leagues.

 

that is all,

 

enjoy Martin Solveig feat Dragonette

Hello-Feat.-Dragonette

 

-w

 

honestly, that song makes me want to ride a roller coaster.

3 Comments

Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, Posted, Sleepers

Dead (armed) Dudes

rick porcello

With Halloween coming up, I have decided to tackle the zombie issue in the major leagues.  And by this I mean the walking dead…arms.  Gotcha.  Here are some guys, for various reasons (but mostly just young guys with large innings loads) who could be zombie-like at some point next year:

C.J. Wilson

Heads our list because, c’mon, he was a closer/setup guy before this year.  Now do not get me wrong, I owned Wilson almost all year- I love the guy.  But going from 73 and 2/3 innings to 204(WOW!  I had to double check this number) is an astounding jump.  It’s a testament to Wilson’s toughness he went so many innings this year.  Without too much research, inkling, foresight, pretty much with only a heap of common sense, I can tell you, C.J. Wilson will go through some point next year with a dead-ish arm.  This could mean a variety of things; from him simply losing velocity and becoming less effective for a stretch to him needing to be shut down with a tired arm.  But with the load of the past season AND the tough postseason,  I am telling you- Wilson will experience zombie arm syndrome (ZAS) at some point.  And yes, I just coined that phrase.

Ricky Romero

Ricky Romero is going to be a good pitcher for years to come.  His changeup is too good to not be effective.  However, in 2009, he threw 192 innings in 2009, and 210 in 2010 (cool beans!).  All I’m saying is that he went from 88 in 2007 to 160ish in 2008 to the aforementioned numbers and relies on the difference between his fastball and change to be effective… this could all be a moot point as John Farrell, pitching guru and former Red Sox great is apparently in line for the managerial spot in Toronto, but I’d watch for a midseason swoon from a tired Romero, as this year’s September swoon (1.59 WHIP) might suggest.  I’m still drafting him though.

 

Gio Gonzalez

Another case of over doubling major league innings (Gonzalez threw 61 in the minors in 2009, but I say there is a large difference between minor league innings and major league ones- especially out of the bullpen as Gonzalez often did), Gonzalez went from 98.2 IP in 2009 to 202.2 in 2010.  Gonzalez showed all kinds of signs of learning and becoming a Jonathan Sanchez-type starter this past year, but it is undeniable that he saw a considerable innings spike and throws lots of pitches in general as he has a relatively high BB rate, which got worse in September as did his other stats (except for BAA, which leads me to believe it was more of a control issue…).  Once again, I could be totally wrong and Oakland may have a genius way of working their pitchers just so to their peak effectiveness (actually, pretty likely).  But MY bet going into 2011 is that Gio Gonzalez is going to have a couple of months where his fastball doesn’t have that same ziiiiip.  ZAS STRIKES AGAIN! FEEEEED ME ARM AND SHOULDER LIGAMENTS!

Mat Latos

Ho nasty was this kid down the stretch?  Actually, he wasn’t. Check out those splits.  He tired out as September arrived, as his BAA took a huge jump.  It had sat around .190 (WOW) for many months, only to jump over .300 in September/October.  Latos went from 50.2 major league innings (123 overall- 47 in AA, 25.1 in A ball) in 2009 to 184.2 in 2010.  Now I’m not saying to not draft or keep Latos next year- quite the opposite, I’ll take him both ways in my leagues.  Owners should be prepared for a month in the middle of the season where his numbers drop off/the league corrects to him.  Unlike the aforementioned starters, Latos had the added benefit of being a newbie on the scene meaning teams did not have as much info on him going into games.  With a season of data on the young hurler, not only are the innings going to catch up to him, but the hitters are as well- yes, even in the NL West.  Baseball has become a game of technology and patterns and you can bet your ass there are a great number of NL hitters who spent some serious time analyzing some embarrassing AB’s against the young Latos.  All that being said, he’s one of my keepers for next year in my league with my buddies, so don’t get too down, people.

Phil Hughes

Go back and look at Phil Hughes monthly splits.  Do it here. Going from around 100 Major and minor league innings to 175 clearly affected the young righty, as his numbers dipped in June-July-August.  Like Latos, Hughes got the butt end of some good scouting I’d bet, as teams got a better feel for him pitching against them.  Hughes is an interesting candidate for ZAS, though.  Did he already go through his growing pains?  Is my Yankee bias shining through?  Yes and yes.  But bias aside, the innings did add up and hitters did get smarter.  The Yankees scored a ton of runs for him and that can be a sort of mental cushion as well.  It is my opinion that it isn’t the year of the jump in innings that gets a pitcher, but rather the year after.  Hughes is in my book as a guy to be cautious with in 2011, as I see the innings and league catching up with him.

And who knows, maybe all the innings ill catch up with Sabathia too and it won’t matter when the Yankees sign Cliff Lee.  Sigh.  I can hope, can’t I?

 

BEWARE ZOMBIE ARM SYNDROME

 

and don’t eat too much candy corn, you’ll trip on corn syrup (so I’m told)

 

GO RANGERS!  GO ZOMBIES!

 

-w

Leave a comment

Filed under batter v. pitcher, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts