April 2006

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Tuesday Mailbag

Seems like this idea was a hit, judging by the number of questions I received for yesterday's mailbag.  Feel free to send questions to rotoauthority@gmail.com, I'll be here all week.  More queries:

Scott G:  Who of the unexpected SP (Padilla,Vargas,Ohka,Hendrickson,ect) that are off to a good start might for real? What about Kyle Davies?

RotoAuthority: Scott - good question.  Though I don't think Vargas belongs in the "good start" group given his 5 ER in 5 IP season debut.  Same goes for Ohka.  Projections:

Padilla - 4.26 ERA, 1.36 WHIP in 157 IP, ranked 109th
Vargas - 3.65 ERA, 1.31 WHIP in 165 IP, ranked 57th
Ohka - 4.55 ERA, 1.39 WHIP in 192 IP, ranked 116th
Hendrickson - 4.82 ERA, 1.47 WHIP in 180 IP, ranked 147th
Davies - 4.33 ERA, 1.49 WHIP in 98 IP, ranked 129th

You can see that I only really like Vargas as a mixed league choice from the group.  Davies probably needs his IP projection bumped up though.  A few others whose hot start(s) are for real: Joe Blanton (32nd), Justin Verlander (51st), David Bush (84th), Greg Maddux (30th), and Kelvim Escobar (52nd).  Madson, Penny, and Webb are for real too.

Jeff W: I think it’s an easy call, but someone in my league (5X5) dropped Contreras. I already have Santana, Felix, Schmidt (concerns), Patterson, Webb and Liriano (cross fingers) and would have to drop Brady Clark (whom is a reserve) in order to pick up Contreras. No brainer, right? Am I missing something? I’m concerned about all my pitchers ability to accumulate wins….I’ve just got to pull the trigger, correct? I have the 2nd waiver pick and the guy that picks above me is a huge Yankee fan….he’ll pass on Contreras.

RotoAuthority:  Jeff, not knowing anything else, I'd say yes, pull the trigger.  I've ranked Contreras 33rd among starting pitchers.  Given that Clark is a reserve on your team it's no big loss.

Brett G: Willis aside, the Marlins have a young, unproven pitching staff.  Out of Vargas, Olsen, and Mitre, do any of them have potential to be successful this year in terms of ERA and strikeouts?  (Wins will be hard to come by in south Florida).

RotoAuthority: Vargas, Olsen, and Yusmeiro Petit all have a good chance to have an above average strikeout rate (6.6 per nine innings was the NL average in 2005).  Of that trio, I've projected only Vargas to post an ERA below 4.  I have Olsen at 4.38 and Petit at 4.63.  (Petit is still in the minors but should be called up this year).  For Mitre I see an ERA closer to 5.

Matt H:  Any thoughts on the Baltimore pitchers? Should I ignore the Leo factor and drop Cabrera and Bedard?

RotoAuthority: I like Cabrera, Bedard, and Chen all to post sub-4 ERAs.  I have Lopez at 4.30 and Benson at 4.03.  Cabrera will whiff a batter per inning, and Bedard's K rate will be strong too.  Cabrera, Bedard, and Lopez won't have pretty WHIPs, but Chen should be under 1.30.  If healthy, all five pitchers have a chance to win double digit games.  I also like Chris Ray's chances of saving 30+ games. 

With about 5% of the season in the books, we're nowhere close to judging the Mazzone factor.  Cabrera had a lousy first start, but I still have him valued as a $7 pitcher in a mixed league.  Bedard, maybe $2, though he looked very sharp tonight and those values could end up reversed.  Just stick with whatever projection you were using on draft day, and if someone clearly better comes along then it's OK to drop.

Ross H:  In my 5x5 mixed h2h league with 16 teams, I have Pedro Martinez. Included in this league are 6 Mets fans.  Obviously Pedro didn't have a good start against the Nationals, and along with that didn't look in shape and injuries could be a concern. Of course the Mets fans in my league still think he will be Pedro, but I'm not too sure. Being as I could possibly get a lot for him from one of the Mets fans, do you think now would be a good time to trade him before it's too late? Or do you think it was just a fluke start?

RotoAuthority:  I still think he will be Pedro, but I don't think anyone really knows right now.  I do think it was a fluke start, and you'd probably be selling low if you dealt him now.  If you are receiving a single reliable star position player in return, then make the deal after Pedro has a good start.

Dylan C:  The Ryan Freel situation is driving me nuts.  Will the Reds realize he needs to hit against more than just lefties, or will Womack handle those duties all season long?

RotoAuthority: Me too, man.  Krivsky and Co. are not looking too savvy right now, what with Womack being acquired and leading off and such.  Looks like Freel will be no more than a supersub unless someone gets hurt.

Crash: Some dude in my 12 team points league just dropped Adrian Beltre--is he crazy or crazy like a fox?  I've got Chipper and Melvin Mora at 3B and CI already and would have to drop your boy Mark Ellis, who's riding the pine in my lineup right now, to pick him up.  Thoughts on how Beltre will do this year?

RotoAuthority: I have Beltre as the 16th best 3B with a .263-24-90 season, a $6.51 value.  Given that my boy Ellis could be worth more than twice that, I'd sit tight.  If my AB projection is anywhere near accurate on Ellis, he's had less than 4% of his at-bats so far.  Even if my boldest prediction, his 20+ HRs, is off, he'll still score 100+ runs and hit near .300.   

Mike M: Do you think Phil Nevin will have a comeback season hitting in the middle of
the Rangers line-up...

RotoAuthority: In a word?  Nah.  He's got pretty much the sweetest situation in baseball, but I still see him becoming a platoon player or worse by this summer.  If he hits .260 with 20 HR I'd be surprised.  Erubiel Durazo and Jason Botts are lurking in the minors and I don't think Jon Daniels will be afraid to use them.

Dale B:  I was wondering what your opinion of Ramon Ortiz is.  I was thinking of replacing Anthony Reyes with him but it could be a season long replacement if Reyes stays in the minors or is trades to the AL so I am worried.  Do you think Ortiz will be better than last year or more of the same?  The other choice is Wandy Rodriguez but I am afraid of the ball park with him.

RotoAuthority: I gather that you're in an NL-only league.  Ortiz is a viable option, as I think he can win double digit games with an ERA under 4.50.  Reyes, however, should be more valuable even if he pitches half as many innings.  Given the Ortiz is fairly replaceable and Reyes is not, I would try to keep Reyes stashed on your bench if possible.  The odds of one of the five Cardinals starters breaking down or being ineffective are pretty good, and Reyes may be midseason trade bait given the team's deficiences. 


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Monday Mailbag

I'm just going to update this post throughout the day when I have time to answer your questions.  Feel free to continue to shoot them to rotoauthority@gmail.com.

Michael G:  What is your take on the Pittsburgh closer situation?

RotoAuthorityMike Gonzalez is still the man, and he's the only one you'd want to have in a mixed league.  Wouldn't be surprised to see the occasional op for Marte, Torres, or Hernandez depending on matchups.  Tracy brought Gonzalez in a few days ago in the 8th to face some tough lefties; don't read too much into it.  Said Jim Tracy:

"Mike Gonzalez is going to close games for us, no question.  But it made all the sense in the world for Mike Gonzalez to pitch when he did and for Roberto Hernandez to pitch when he did."

I still think Gonzo will save 30+ games with an ERA under 3 and a WHIP near 1.20.  The only possible downfall for him is walks.  If he keeps those down I like him as much as Papelbon, Ray, and the like.

Dan G:  In a 10-team, AL-only, 4x4 league, who is a better keeper, Verlander or Zumaya?  If Zumaya is closing by next year, I would think he is.  Is that a realistic possibility with Jones' contract and Rodney's placeholding?

RotoAuthority:  I still like Verlander.  Zumaya will have a better K rate, but that won't matter since you're in a 4x4.  How many AL starters can post a sub-3.50 ERA and sub-1.25 WHIP with above average Ks for years to come?  Very few, and Verlander is one of them.  Zumaya could be a lights out closer in 2008 when Jones's contract is up, but you can't afford to wait around and see.  He's still third in line right now.  And if both are starters, Zumaya will have a worse WHIP.

Jason F:  Who will put up better numbers overall in 2006 - Ellis or Iguchi?

RotoAuthority:  I know my boy Ellis isn't doing much this year, hitting .261-0-2-3 in 23 ABs so far.  But look where he's been hitting in each game:  leadoff, leadoff, second, third, second, leadoff.  His last game included three hits.  He's still got the skills to hit .300 with 20 HR and 110 runs scored, so I'll stick to that for now.

Iguchi should have similar power numbers with a lot fewer runs scored and a significantly worse batting average.  Plenty of that is countered by 15+ steals, but I still think Ellis will be worth at least $5 more when it's all said and done.

Given that we're one week in, I'll hold fast on my projections at this point:  Ellis 5th, Iguchi 13th among 2Bs.

Sam S: I have just been proposed a trade in which I would get Manny Ramirez, while giving up Travis Hafner.  I am a huge believer in Hafner and so far he has looked great.  Over the entire season, however, do you see his value in a H2H league with the following categories:  R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, BB, AVR, OPS matching Manny's?

RotoAuthority:  I am a H2H newbie, but I'll try my best to compare.  I think their numbers should be very similar this year, with Hafner posting a better batting average but Manny driving in more runs.  I guess it depends on what you need.  A trade like this seems like a trade just for the sake of making one, rather than teams filling different needs.

 


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Verlander!

23 year-old righthander Justin Verlander shut down the fearsome Texas lineup Saturday night, tossing seven scoreless innings while throwing just 89 pitches.  He whiffed seven, including Brad Wilkerson three times.  What's Verlander's outlook for the rest of the season?

I created a Top 20 Fantasy Rookies list back in November, and Verlander ranked 4th.  A little background from Baseball America:

The Padres passed over Verlander for the #1 pick overall, opting for Matt Bush.  Ouch!  He throws a mid-90s heater with a nasty curveball.  His changeup rates well too.  Verlander was a college pick, and breezed through the minors with a 1.29 ERA in 118 innings last year.  He made a couple of starts for the big club that summer, but they didn't go well.

He would've gotten a callup in September, but had been shut down earlier with a tired arm/shoulder. 

To get a better read on the situation, I posed a question to Will Carroll during a February chat:

tdierkes (Chicago, IL): Around how many innings can we expect out of Justin Verlander? I don't think he's ever topped 120 in a pro season.

Will Carroll: 130 last year, between three levels. He ended up tired last year, but not injured. Ideally, I'd like to see him between 150-170 but I wouldn't hate seeing 190 from him if the internal numbers look good.

Hence my projection of 165 innings this year.  Maybe 27-28 starts.  Seems like Will thinks he can get another 3-4 starts on top of that if everything feels good late in the season.

I was fairly modest with his K rate, going with 6.8 per nine.  That's still above average.  I see him having good control and doing a great job keeping the ball in the park.  My initial projected 0.65 HR/9 was a tad ambitious; I've moved it to 0.75 per nine.  Still would be fantastic.

Overall, I projected a 3.48 ERA and 1.24 WHIP for the kid.  He's a serious ROY contender and should win 10+ games for the Tigers.  Given the modest innings total, Verlander is about a $5-6 in a mixed league, maybe 50th overall. 

Verlander is obviously a great keeper league pick.  And the dollar value is deceiving - depending on your league, you can probably get a lot more than that out of his roster spot.  If you only account for DL trips, you could get screwed.  If he tires again late in the year he probably will not go on the DL.  But if you're in a typical league with a few bench spots, you can factor in another 40-50 innings of slightly above average pitching from another starter  if Verlander is shut down or skips a few starts.   

      


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First Ever RotoAuthority Chat

I noticed a lot of you have been leaving general fantasy baseball queries in the comments, and unfortunately I haven't had the time to respond to many of them.  So to make up for that, I'm going to try the first ever RotoAuthority Chat Monday during lunchtime.

Just email me your question at rotoauthority@gmail.com, starting now and going up through the hour-long chat.  Please leave your first name and city.  Questions on the shorter, more general side stand a better chance of being answered. 

We'll try this from noon til 1pm central time.

UPDATE:  Bunch of stuff came up, so I'll just have to do a mailbag.  We'll try to do a chat another time.  Given that I don't actually have chat technology, it was more of a mailbag anyway.  Anyway, feel free to shoot me questions at rotoauthority@gmail.com and I'll answer them on the site. 


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Pick Up Dan Johnson

I see Dan Johnson is one of the most popular drops this week. All it takes is an 0 for 12, apparently.  He's still getting the vast majority of starts at first base, including most against southpaws. 

This is a player who can hit .300 with 25+ HR in 500+ ABs.  In other words, he's a lot like Chris Shelton.  Ken Macha is not going to give up on him after four starts, and neither should you.  I recommend pulling a Buy Low here.  Johnson can be a $15 mixed league player; he doesn't belong on the waiver wire.   


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A Note On Chris Shelton

As much as I like Chris Shelton, it is important to observe the opposing pitcher for his league-leading five home runs.

Scott Elarton (2)
R.A. Dickey (2)
John Koronka (1)

Three of the five blasts came at Ameriquest against pitchers who do not belong in the Major Leagues.  I think I went deep off Dickey's 65mph knuckler last night.  And Elarton had the fifth worst HR/9 in baseball last year.

So while I respect and admire the torrid start, keep in mind that Shelton has to face the Cleveland, Chicago, and Minnesota pitching staffs quite a bit.  He's been feasting on some of the worst pitchers in the game so far.

On the docket in the near future:  Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras, and Jon Garland.  Expect him to slap Garcia around a bit, at the least.   


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Waiver Wired

Now up at RotoWorld, my first attempt at the Waiver Wired series.  Let me know what you think, and don't be shy about it.


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Gagne Out Indefinitely

Well, there you have it.  Not much to say about this one - you knew the hazards of drafting from the top ten closers.  This wouldn't sting so bad if it'd happened to Chris Ray or Jose Valverde

RotoWorld estimates Gagne will be out anywhere from two months to the entire season.  I'm sure Will Carroll will have a more precise estimate tomorrow morning, and I'll post that here at some point.  If you do own Gagne, plan for a replacement as if he will be out the entire season, ie, not Fernando Rodney.

Were you relying on Gagne to win the saves category?  Relax - at least five viable replacements will pop up throughout the season.  Jon Papelbon is the latest new saves guy.  Joel Zumaya is an intriguing option, though Todd Jones is being paid well and plans to return within 10-12 days.  Rounding out the young power trio is Brandon McCarthy. Neal Cotts is going to have problems with right-handed hitters, so McCarthy could be closing sooner than you think.   

I also like Scot Shields, Dan Wheeler, and some Phillie other than Tom Gordon to find some save opps this season.    


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Roto Authority Burning Questions

What does Chris Shelton have to do to be moved above the 6th spot in the batting order? 

At the time of this writing he is hitting .750 with 4 HR in three games.


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Which Guy Are You?

Check out this hilarious column from Cracked, found via Deadspin.  I think I'm the Dark Horse guy but I have some Stat Pro mixed in there.

Note: I just (hopefully) fixed the mailing list thing so you should start receiving those daily blurbs with excerpts from my posts again.  If you visit this site regularly or just want to give it a try, sign up over on the sidebar!


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