June 2008

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Spot Starts This Week

How about some spot start candidates for the week?


  • Ian Snell vs. Nationals.  Snell is coming off a promising 9 K effort, and he faces the worst offense in baseball.  Time for him to start a roll.
  • Vicente Padilla vs. Royals.  Padilla's peripherals aren't too bad this year.


  • Tom Gorzelanny vs. Nationals.  Gorz hasn't had a quality start in a month, so this is a risky one.
  • Eric Hurley vs. Royals.  It's no accident that the Rangers picked this game for his Major League debut.  He's struggled with the longball in Triple A but could get you some Ks.
  • Hiroki Kuroda vs. Padres.  He may be owned based on his 11 K shutout masterpiece against the Cubs last time out.


  • Doug Davis vs. Royals.  He's been erratic, but hey, the Royals are a bunch of babies.
  • Jeremy Sowers vs. Padres.  He seems to have Triple A under control.  I might try it.


  • Can't find a good one for you here.


  • Jarrod Washburn vs. Nationals.  Pretty risky, but he did beat the Yankees on May 25th.  OK, I'm reaching.  You could also start Washburn's opponent, Tim Redding, in a battle of crappy offenses.
  • Micah Owings vs. Royals.  Perfect time to snap out of his funk, but then again he couldn't beat the Nats on May 30th.

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A Look At Randy Wolf

In each of my leagues, it seems like Randy Wolf has been added and dropped about eight times.  He really gets around.  Let's look at the numbers - is Wolf worthy of a permanent spot?

77.6 IP
13 starts
5.97 IP/start
4 wins
4.8 expected wins
4.06 ERA
1.27 WHIP
7.65 K/9
2.90 BB/9
2.64 K/BB
8.58 H/9
.312 BABIP vs. .300 team BABIP
0.70 HR/9
9.4% HR/flyball
41.3% groundball rate

Wolf posted a strong April, but stumbled in May with more hits and walks allowed.  His last five starts have been quality, so he seems back on track.   Compared to last year, Wolf has traded some Ks for improved control.  More importantly, he's made all 13 starts this year.

Though Wolf does show a pronounced home/road split, I don't think much of it.  The sample sizes are just too small.  I like his command, and nothing in his stats looks flukey.

One consideration is that Wolf may lose that PETCO advantage but he could gain more run support.  As an impending free agent who's pitching fairly well for a lousy team, Wolf is a prime candidate to be traded.  A team like the Cubs would give him a fantasy boost overall.

Wolf is a good mid-rotation strikeout guy for your fantasy staff, but be quick to bench him if his elbow or shoulder starts barking.

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BABIP, Anyone?

Time for another installment of everyone's favorite BABIP, Anyone? series.  Here we look at pitchers with abnormal batting averages on balls in play.  I've incorporated ISO into the chart as well.  ISO, or Isolated Power, is calculated as SLG-BA.  It is a measure of extra-base hits.  League average is right around .150 in both leagues.

The following starters have BABIPs below .260.  All else being equal, their WHIPs should rise.  Considering moving guys with K/BBs below 2.0 (with a few exceptions).

Armando Galarraga 0.191 1.50 0.135 3.70 1.08
Gavin Floyd 0.207 1.61 0.164 3.10 1.07
Shaun Marcum 0.215 2.96 0.134 2.52 0.97
Ryan Dempster 0.221 1.83 0.109 2.90 1.13
Scott Olsen 0.223 1.21 0.170 3.44 1.25
Joe Saunders 0.237 1.86 0.110 2.63 1.09
Daisuke Matsuzaka 0.238 1.45 0.121 2.53 1.30
Cole Hamels 0.245 2.81 0.152 3.36 1.07
Scott Feldman 0.247 1.71 0.185 4.31 1.21
Jose Contreras 0.249 2.38 0.081 2.76 1.04
Dave Bush 0.251 1.67 0.249 5.85 1.33
Tim Redding 0.253 1.55 0.154 4.15 1.30
Todd Wellemeyer 0.254 2.48 0.136 2.93 1.13
Justin Duchscherer 0.255 2.71 0.073 2.32 1.01
Paul Byrd 0.256 3.25 0.199 4.46 1.19
Erik Bedard 0.256 1.86 0.157 4.26 1.30
Adam Wainwright 0.259 3.10 0.161 3.14 1.09

You have to hand it to Floyd, who owns a 20:1 K/BB over his last three starts.  He's making strides to back up his lucky start.

On the other hand, these pitchers should see their WHIPs decrease.  Their BABIPs are above .340.

Bronson Arroyo 0.378 2.37 0.209 5.74 1.70
Andrew Miller 0.376 1.77 0.133 5.65 1.71
Ian Snell 0.374 1.56 0.139 5.65 1.80
Jarrod Washburn 0.351 2.25 0.205 6.56 1.58
Mike Pelfrey 0.351 1.07 0.131 4.65 1.71
Livan Hernandez 0.351 1.80 0.178 5.32 1.61
Barry Zito 0.349 0.88 0.165 5.83 1.87
C.C. Sabathia 0.349 2.93 0.162 4.81 1.43
Dustin McGowan 0.347 2.00 0.099 4.26 1.43
Ubaldo Jimenez 0.344 1.55 0.118 5.43 1.68
Kevin Millwood 0.343 2.22 0.131 4.65 1.57
Miguel Batista 0.342 0.91 0.170 6.06 1.91
Nick Blackburn 0.342 2.93 0.125 3.94 1.41
Andy Pettitte 0.341 2.89 0.147 4.99 1.46

Now might be the time to buy low on McGowan.

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RotoAuthority League - Best Pickups Last Week

This feature is written by Jeff, owner of the Volvo Stationwagons.

6/2 - Philly Cheez Puffs picks up Ryan Garko
The Stationwagons regret not making this move, since he made it through the one-day waiver process and was picked up as a free agent.  Garko was picked up Monday; he went 10/17 with 6 R, 1 HR, and 8 RBI over the next four days.  As a good sleeper candidate off to a slow start in '08, he's got too much potential to be waiver-wire material.

6/2 - RotoAuthority picks up Rod Barajas
Shocking, isn't it?  As Tim suggested, Gregg Zaun's on the DL, Barajas is hitting well, and with two starting catchers in the RotoAuthority League there's not a lot of depth.  The other catchers on the RotoAuthority roster are the injury-prone Posada and Doumit, so Barajas should slot right in and contribute as long as he stays hot.

6/4 - Greek God of Walks picks up Joey Gathright
The Royals matched up against the Yankees over the weekend, which coincided with the return of Jorge Posada off the DL.  Posada's shoulder injury limited him enough in extended spring training/rehab to the point that his team would institute a gentleman's agreement to prevent the other team from running on him.  That didn’t happen with the Royals, and despite the fact that Gathright didn’t pick up any SB Friday or Saturday, it was still a smart gamble.

6/7 – Volvo Stationwagons picks up Mike Gonzalez
With John Smoltz now out for the year, Gonzalez’s only competition for saves is the fragile Rafael Soriano and the inconsistent Manny Acosta.  Gonzalez is due back off the DL within the next week so worst case, he ought to vulture a few saves with a good ERA and K/9.

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Roundtable: What Aggravates Me

This week's roundtable question:

What are three things that aggravate you the most as a fantasy baseball manager?

Click here to read all the answers.

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May Leaders

Let's take a look at your roto category leaders for May.  I hadn't realized some of these leaders.

  • AVG: Lance Berkman (.471), Chipper Jones (.417), Clint Barmes (.391).
  • HR: Dan Uggla (12), Ryan Braun (11).
  • RBI: Carlos Lee (30), Ryan Howard (30).
  • R: Lance Berkman (31), Shane Victorino (29), Dan Uggla (28), Ryan Howard (28).
  • SBs: Ichiro Suzuki (18), Jacoby Ellsbury (18).  Wow!
  • ERA: Aaron Laffey (0.79), Scott Kazmir (1.22), Jason Bergmann (1.30).
  • WHIP: Jose Contreras (0.84), Shaun Marcum (0.88), Tim Hudson (1.02).
  • W: Mike Mussina (5), Scott Kazmir (5).
  • Ks: Edinson Volquez (50), Josh Beckett (46), A.J. Burnett (46).
  • SV: Jose Valverde (10), Francisco Rodriguez (10), B.J. Ryan (10).

Imagine if the season began in May - wouldn't you value many of these players differently?  Hell, I cut Victorino in one league, added Contreras and Bergmann in another.

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An April Mulligan

If we gave everyone a mulligan for the month of April, who would be the top fantasy pickups?  I'll use stats beginning with May 1st.

  • Rod Barajas, C, Blue Jays.  .371 with 4 HR since the beginning of May.
  • Frank Thomas, DH, A's.  .353 with 4 dingers.
  • Alexei Ramirez, 2B, White Sox.  .348 with 3 HR and 2 SBs.
  • Kelly Johnson, 2B, Braves.  .340 with 2 HR, 14 RBI, 17 runs, 2 SBs.
  • Hunter Pence, OF, Astros.  .336-6-21-17-4, the five category guy you drafted.
  • Jason Giambi, 1B, Yankees.  .333-6-16-12-0.  No one's calling for his release now!
  • Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs.  .333-12-34-23-3.  He's healthy now.
  • Randy Winn, OF, Giants.  .331-5-12-25-5.  Great guy to own right now.
  • Chris Snyder, C, D'Backs.  .320-4-16-12-0.
  • Jose Guillen, OF, Royals.  .313-4-23-11-0.
  • Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets.  .303-4-22-21-5.
  • Jack Cust, OF, A's.  .300-8-17-18-0.

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Minor League Pitchers To Watch

Which hurlers are bringing the goods in Double and Triple A?  I'm looking for those who've whiffed a batter per inning or close.  Let's take a look.

  • David Purcey, Blue Jays.  He has a 2.14 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 3.0 BB/9 in 63 innings.  Baseball America says the 26 year-old southpaw could become a mid-rotation starter.  The Jays gave him a couple of big league starts and his control was awful.
  • Carlos Carrasco, Phillies.  He's been hittable, but I like the 9.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 67.2 innings.
  • Michael Bowden, Red Sox.  Surprise surprise, the Sox have another gem on their hands.  Bowden has a 2.20 ERA, 8.5 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9 in 61.1 Double A innings.  Baseball America thinks the 21 year-old could be trade bait.
  • Anthony Swarzak, Twins.  He's got a 4.18 ERA, but also an 8.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.  BA loves his curveball.
  • Daniel McCutchen, Yankees.  If the Yanks get desperate, they could call on him later this year.  He boasts a 2.9 K/BB and could blossom into a #3 or #4 starter.
  • Josh Outman, Phillies.  Gotta love the name and 9.9 K/9.
  • James McDonald, Dodgers.  3.3 K/BB and a curve termed the best in the system by BA.
  • Jake McGee, Rays.  Nasty stuff; control needs some work.
  • Daryl Thompson, Reds.  He has a 1.76 ERA and 4.0 K/BB.  He's earned a shot over Homer Bailey, in my opinion.
  • Will Inman, Padres.  A 9.3 K/9, though his biggest asset is command.
  • Matthew Buschmann, Padres.  A 3.7 K/BB - he's another Padres command guy who profiles at the back of the rotation.
  • Bud Norris, Astros.  Has a 10.6 K/9 in eight starts this year, but BA says he may profile as the team's closer of the future.
  • Jaime Garcia, Cardinals.  A 10.5 K/9 says his stay in Double A won't last long.

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Pickup Party

I am in several standard-format mixed leagues; the following players are available in at least one of them.

  • Catcher: Rod Barajas.  Gregg Zaun's on the DL, and Barajas has been raking.
  • First Base: Chad Tracy.  He's 6 for 20 with a couple of dingers since returning.  Conor Jackson's injury will create regular PT for him this week.
  • Second Base: Mark Ellis.  He's back, he's hitting.  He even has five steals, though the hamstring issues may end that.  Consider Tadahito Iguchi for SBs.  Jose Castillo  and Ray Durham also have my eye.
  • Shortstop: Jose Castillo.  Qualifies at 2B, 3B, and SS.  Castillo had a strong May: .293/.343/.511.  Yuniesky Betancourt is probably the runner up.
  • Third Base: Scott Rolen.  Looking decent lately.  I also like Eric Chavez and Troy Glaus.
  • Outfield: Cody Ross, Geoff Jenkins, Ryan Spilborghs.  It's hard to ignore Ross, who hit 10 HR in 50 May ABs.

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