Tag Archives: Pitching

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

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

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.

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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.

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Oakland’s Young Guns- Prospecting on the 2011 season

Jokes, people.

The Oakland A’s are a factory.  A factory of competent, mature pitchers who can hack it at the major league level.  Just look at the track record littered across the league.  Hudson, Zito, and Mulder (R.I.F.P. (fantasy peace)) were just the beginning.  New arms emerge every year so I’m going to take the time to explain why I think the current Oakland staff has the potential to be the next young dominant staff- all of them, 1 through 5, being fantasy relevant.  Did  I just blow your mind?  Probably not.  If you’re reading this site, you probably know a thing or two about major league baseball (I mean this in the sense that how else are you going to end up on our humble site?).  Seriously.  With some help from fangraphs and some prospecting resources (see, multiple meanings), I will show you the thinking behind my belief that the Oakland A’s have the potential to be a dominant fanatsy staff in 2011.

Trevor Cahill

Trevor Cahill has a 1.00 WHIP.  Let me type that again. Trevor Cahill, this goofy looking young’n (he’s 22!  Lawdy!).  OK talking like a prospector while discussing the pitchers was an annoying experiment that lasted the first line…  With a stellar .217 BABIPA (with a Fangraphs article to boot!)and an outstanding ground ball rate (55.9%), some statistical correction will likely occur (read; little- the kid is plain good).  A similar groundball pitcher, by the name of Tim Hudson, had a one year of goodness into next year excellent-ness.  Built differently but blessed with a similar ability to drive the ball to the bad part of hitters’ bats, Cahill is poised to have a heckuva 2011.  The K rate will never wow you (see Hudson, Tim again), but it won’t hurt and the kid has demonstrated the ability to get people out.  Consistently.  Consistency is what makes and breaks young pitching, just ask Clay Buchholz.

Brett Anderson

Let me preface anything I say about Anderson with this:  I love the guy.  I was wowed by his mastery over the Red Sox in ’09 and think he has ace stuff.  When healthy.  If Healthy.  And not too beefy.  He’s got great stuff.  Last season it appeared that Anderson got more comfortable with his stuff posting markedly better splits as the season went on (here), as his walks went down and K’s went up significantly.  He was burned by the Longball quite a bit to start the season (2009 that is) but also corrected that.  If not for injury this year, we would be talking about the emergence of quite the staff in Oakland in 2010.  Instead, I am talking about the potential greatness in 2011 and hoping I turn out to look like a wicked smart dude.  Anderson, like Cahill, has good groundball rates, as well as a high strand rate (which you can say is bad, but shows me that he has poise when he slips up), and has better strikeout potential than Cahill, as he has more whiff-inducing stuff.  I’m already marking him down as a sleeper for 2011 and he is on my fantasy draft board going forward.  Just sayin’.

Gio Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez has unhittable stuff.  Unfortunately, as is often the case with outstanding Wiffle Ball pitchers and Lefties with nasty stuff, he sometimes has issue with control.  When he first got called up in 2008 he had 34 K’s in 34 innings.  You can’t fudge those type of numbers.  He also, however, had 25 walks.  Not so good.  The next year he did better with the K’s/Walks but had big time issues with the homer.  I mean unless you think you can win a game giving up 1.28 homers per 9 innings (14 with 17 Starts, 20 appearances. Just think about that likelihood).  He has big time stuff, remember, so it’s just a matter of time before things click.  Things are clicking.  Though he has the occasional hiccup, this year has been a major step forward for Gonzalez.  He has been characteristically unhittable (.224 BAA) and strikes out folks in bunches (134 in 161 IP).  He will always walk a bunch and I don’t mean to say his WHIP will suddenly drop.  But if you can live with the walks (you can, I swear) and a 1.25-1.35 WHIP with a bunch of K’s, Gio Gonzalez is a very interesting play for next year as he continues his progression.

Vin Mazzaro

Vinnie is also a young man (hence his inclusion in the post, I suppose) on a learning curve, from Hackensack, NJ (it’s a real place I checked).  The point of this collection of arms is that they are on the Oakland-quick program.  Mazzaro went through some growing pains this season and last but check out his July and August stats this year.  He’s been an excellent pitcher.  He is nothing short of ordinary.  He has good stuff and gets the job done with a good K/9.  Mazzaro’s big issue, for the way he pitches, is walks.  If he can keep his BB/9 closer to 2 than 3, he can keep his WHIP around 1.2-1.3 and be a very serviceable pitcher going forward.  And, let us not forget, he is only 23.  That means everything I say could be moot as he makes the jump when he turns 24.  I’m just being more cautious in his development, banking on another year of up and down before he puts it all together- but if I’m wrong, I’m right, and this post about the future-great A’s looks even better.  Pretty clever on my part, I think.  Mazzaro is a name to remember next year to watch and see if he gets off to a hot start, again, he’s only a young’n.

Tyson Ross/ Fautino De Los Santos

Ross is another guy like Mazzaro- good stuff, hasn’t been special with mediocre K:BB numbers despite good overall numbers.  This is typical of good young pitchers (it is.  just look it up.  better yet, read about Jon Lester’s first few years).  As he matures, Ross figures to move from the bullpen and become another solid starter, I just don’t know if that’ll be in 2011 or 2012.  He’ll be in the mix in 2011 so watch out, though I still say Mazzaro’s Majors experience puts him well ahead this prospect.  Santos is more interesting.  From what I read (and here is an OUTSTANDING article on him), with a few minor tweaks to his delivery after major surgery, Santos has a simply electric fastball/slider/slurve combination.  The question is whether or not he can withstand being a starter after his injury.  I’m guessing they give him a shot at both in 2011 so he could be a name to keep floating around in your brainspace (or write it down if you’re cramped for space or have a small brain).  Both are among the several names I’ve come across as pitching prospects for the 2011 season and I give Ross the upper hand, simply because he is ahead in the timetable.

But what do I know?

There you have it folks, the young guns of the A’s.  Look out for them next year, I’m thinking they make a big step in both pitching and hitting, with Carter and the other Weeks brother on the way.

that’s all, enjoy the black keys:

-w

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It hurts when I….

Do anything.  Peavy is hurt again.  This time it’s not an elbow or even an ankle.  Someone how Jake Peavy has managed to completely detach his right Latisimus Dorsi.  This injury is more common for hardcore bodybuilders than starting pitchers.  In fact, the surgery for this injury is uncharted territory. People are already considering Jake Peavy to be the new Tommy John.

Some pitchers are just fragile.  Whether its because  they were overworked as young guns or they are just genetically more susceptible to injuries, high-maintenance aces seem to drop like flies.  I consider a lot of them to be like pure-bred horses.  Years have been dedicated to finding and grooming these talents to do one thing and to be the best at it.  When injuries are this prevalent, people can’t help but have the nasty “S” word pop up in their minds.  Given the high level of competition in baseball, like horse racing, I really would not be surprised if the majority of players were looking for an edge.  Maybe Peavy and others are just more susceptible to injuries because of maximum-effort deliveries and tireless work ethics….or maybe there’s more.  I’m not making an allegations but only asking people to think.  Peavy is not Jose Canseco, but neither was JC Romero.

Now I’ll leave you with some meatheads talking about how painful an injury a torn Lat can be….and what not to do.

FRAGILE: Handle With Care

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Interesting Match-up of the night

This evening I am going to be starting a new segment: “Interesting match-up the night” where I will preview and what I feel is an interesting match up, pitcher vs. hitter. Anyway, tonight I am putting Carl Pavano vs. Evan Longoria. So, Longoria is 1-8 with 3 k’s against Pavano in his career and Pavano is coming off two complete game gems. This is a perfect situation for Longoria to break out of his slump as Pavano is probably not going to be real sharp after throwing 18 innings in 10 days. Look for Evan to go 2-5 with a single, a 2B and 3 RBI.

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Javier Vazquez pitching against the NL

"Please get me back to the NL."

Well, I saw this one coming. Javier Vazquez had a solid outing tonight against the Mets after being banished to the ‘pen for the series against the Red Sox. Here are Javy’s numbers while pitching in the NL one season and then the AL the next:

2003 Expos (Remember when they had a team?): 13-12, 3.24 ERA, 241 K, 1.11 WHIP, 9.4 K/9

2004 Yankees: 14-10, 4.91, 150, 1.29, 6.8

2005 D-Backs: 11-15, 4.42, 192, 1.25, 8.0

2006 White Sox: 11-12, 4.84, 184, 1.29, 8.2

Now, while he didn’t pitch that badly with the Yankees the first time around, but he started off hot and then cooled way down as the season went on. Again, tonight he was pitching against the NL again and that is making all the difference. The one problem is finding someone who is going to take Vazquez in a fantasy deal right now. I don’t think the Yanks have any plans to trade him back to the NL (but if those rumors start swirling, I would make a small deal to get him before he starts pitching better) so right now, he doesn’t have much value beyond pitching against the NL. However, maybe tonight put him on a path towards a better season.

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Welcome Back Jeff Francis

7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K. That’s useful, folks.

still looks like he's 15 though

Granted, it was against the Nationals- but let’s be fair.  We touted Jhoulys Chacin and he got bounced around by this same team, so maybe the Nats aren’t quite the Nats anymore… maybe.

Regardless, Francis looked sharp, commanding a change and that nifty curve slipping in around 70 mph (which must just be incredibly frustrating).  He didn’t factor into the decision because the Rockies, like many teams this year, have come across the reanimated Frankenstein pitcher that is Scott Olsen (remember how bad he was!!?!? I do.)

Francis was on his way to being a very interesting fantasy asset.  He took a detour but my recommendation is to grab him without a doubt in NL leagues – don’t fear the Rockies!  And at the very least kick the tires in a mixed league, especially if you’re looking for a good complimentary starter  (I followed through too snagging him in our League Of Champions).  Francis battled through some tough starts in 2007 and some mechanical issues had derailed him in his spiral down/ to injury.  I’m taking a flyer.  If you’re one of the tens of loyal readers, heed my advice:

At least put him on your watch list?  Please?

Sorry for the delay in posting, we’re getting it down.

back to the laser show (great, great .GIF to go with that clip)

-w

—> Also should note that Clippard got the loss in this game.  He’s nuts folks.  The fact that a reliever at this point of the season has 9 appearances of record (7-2) is bananas.  He’s putting together one of those ridiculous fantasy reliever seasons you hope to have the fortune of sustaining – but be  wary.

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Fantasy GM: Mariners Edition

Probably could have a ring on all five of those fingers if you went to Boston.

In order to try to liven up the discussion in the comment section, I am going to propose an old trade scenario  that you would face if you were Jack Zduriencik, GM of the Mariners. The trade is from last season when the Red Sox told the M’s they could pick five of the following eight prospects:

Clay Buchholz

Daniel Bard

Michael Bowden

Justin Masterson

Nick Hagadone

Josh Reddick

Yamaico Navarro

Felix Doubront

For Felix Hernandez.

I know that trade never went down but, lets assume the Sox come back and offer that again. Who do you take and why? I know this isn’t fantasy baseball related (although you could talk about how King Felix would do in Boston) but we need to get some discussion going.

Have at it.

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Player Watch: Jhoulys Chacin

This guy could pick you up a key win down the stretch

For those of you looking for deep, deep sleepers, look no further than Jhoulys Chacin a RHP for the Rockies. Last night in his season debut, he went 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB and 7 k. Pretty solid. Although he has a relatively small sample size (1-1, 11 GP (2 GS), 19.0 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 14 BB, 22 K, 2.84 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), his strike out numbers are pretty good. He does have the tendency to walk some guys, but if he can harness his control he could be gem on the waiver-wire.

He makes his next start against the Dodgers.

For video of Chacin, click here.

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