July 2008

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RotoAuthority League - Best Pickups Last Week

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

7/1 – Urine Troubles picks up Chris Davis (waiver claim)
The Troubles win the waiver derby for Davis, who was discussed a short time ago on this site.  Davis has displayed prodigious power in the minors, and hit three home runs in his first week in the bigs.  He’s played most days since his callup, but that could change once Hank Blalock comes off the DL.  Still, Davis is a nice, cheap power source that ought to contribute whenever he’s in the lineup.

7/1 – Philly Cheez Puffs picks up J.R. Towles
Talk about fortunate timing.  Towles was called up the next day and should take most of the starts for the Astros for the next few weeks at the very least.  After struggling mightily at the major league level, Towles hit .279/.380/.574 in 19 games for the AAA Round Rock Express - is he a post-hype sleeper already? 

7/2 – RotoAuthority picks up Masa Kobayashi
Joe Borowski blew a save on July 1, so Kobayashi was picked up the next day.  Luckily for Tim, Borowski’s time in Cleveland was indeed running short.  He was designated for assignment two days later, which puts Kobayashi first in line for saves.  If the Indians can pull out of their season-long funk, that title could mean that saves pile up in a hurry for the Japanese import.

7/2 – Philly Cheez Puffs picks up Jarrod Saltalamacchia (waiver claim)
Saltalamacchia was dropped by the Dizzy Llamas in favor of the resurgent Jason Kendall, and the Cheez Puffs took advantage, replacing the stagnant Kenji Johjima on their roster.  While both Salty and Johjima have struggled, Salty’s upside makes the pickup worthwhile.  Between this move and the Towles pickup, the Puffs greatly improved their catching corps in the span of a couple of days.

7/5 – Men With Wood picks up Eric Gagne
Gagne came off the DL this past week and pitched scoreless innings in his first two appearances, most importantly posting a 2.0 K/BB in those two innings.  His second time out, he got a win after pitching the ninth inning in a tie game.  The Brewers probably won’t let their $10 million man linger in middle relief if he finds his groove again, so it’s a good pickup for the Men With Wood to see if Gagne can produce any saves.


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June Leaders

It's always interesting to slice things up by month and examine the leaders.  If the below players had posted these numbers in April, general perception of them might be different.  Look at the May leaders to see how quickly things change.

AVG

1. Placido Polanco - .386.
2. Vladimir Guerrero - .375.
3. Kurt Suzuki - .370.
4. Alex Rodriguez, Casey Blake (still in many waiver wires) - .366.

HR

1. J.D. Drew - 12.
2. Marcus Thames, Hanley Ramirez - 10.
4. Alex Rodriguez, Jermaine Dye, Russell Branyan, Mark Teixeira, Grady Sizemore - 9.

RBI

1. Jermaine Dye, J.D. Drew - 27.
3. Ryan Howard - 26.
4. Jose Guillen, Mike Lowell - 25.

R

1. J.D. Drew, Hanley Ramirez - 27.
3. Jose Reyes, Ian Kinsler - 26.
5. Alex Rodriguez - 24.

SB

1. Willy Taveras - 16.
2. Juan Pierre - 14.
3. Jose Reyes - 11.
4. Jimmy Rollins, Ichiro Suzuki - 9.

ERA

1. John Lackey - 1.16.
2. Dan Haren- 1.32.
3. Felix Hernandez - 1.38.
4. Justin Duchscherer - 1.45.
5. Mark Buehrle - 1.60.

WHIP

1. John Lackey - 0.78.
2. Justin Duchscherer - 0.80.
3. Dan Haren - 0.80.
4. Cole Hamels - 0.87.
5. Felix Hernandez - 0.88.

W

1. Kyle Lohse, John Lackey, Jonathan Sanchez, Manny Parra - 5.

K

1. C.C. Sabathia - 44.
2. A.J. Burnett - 43.
3. Rich Harden - 42.
4. Ted Lilly, Roy Oswalt, Jonathan Sanchez - 39.

SV

1. Francisco Rodriguez - 11
2. Joakim Soria - 10.
3. George Sherrill - 9.
4. Salomon Torres, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon - 8.



Fantasy Baseball Closers Post Updated

I've updated the closers depth chart.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.


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Cutting Off Your Opponent’s Supply Lines

This is a guest article by Derek Carty of The Hardball Times Fantasy Focus.

There’s been some talk over the past month or so about trading and how you should always look at the bigger picture when contemplating whether or not to make a trade.  Lenny Melnick did an entire podcast about trading, and Patrick DiCaprio at the Fantasy Baseball Generals came up with a set of guidelines to use for trading.

I absolutely agree that when making a trade, the ultimate goal of winning the league should be your #1 priority.  Some of the great strategists of all time have had no problem losing a battle if it helped them improve their prospects of winning the war.

Lenny and Patrick both said that when evaluating a trade, the traditional sense of “value” should be ignored.  For example, trading Adam Dunn for Michael Bourn shouldn’t be immediately discarded as a terrible trade if the player acquiring Bourn has a huge lead in homers and RBI and needs steals.

I’m of the opinion that you should always seek out a better trade, but if the best base stealer you can get for Dunn is Bourn (and you can’t get a better player who fills another need), then I would definitely agree that this is a good trade.  This isn’t exactly what I’d like to talk about today, but the concept is the same: making moves that, in a vacuum, might not be considered good trades but will help you move closer to your ultimate goal of winning the league.

In the context of military operations, this is known as “grand strategy.”  Grand strategy involves looking at more than just the immediate battle and focusing on the best ways to win the entire war.

A great example of this came during the Vietnam War.  A truce was called for the Vietnamese holiday of Tet, but the Vietcong launched a surprise attack on several key strategic locations.  They hit locations that were strongholds for the United States media and strong symbols for the American public, including palaces, airbases, and the United States Embassy.  While the U.S. ultimately pushed the enemy back and suffered far fewer losses than the Vietcong did, the media coverage of the carnage of the Tet Offensive caused the U.S. public to form strong anti-war sentiments.  This, combined with the upcoming presidential election, led to the removal of American forces in Vietnam despite never losing a battle.

Part of grand strategy is knowing your opponent, a topic I’ve talked about in the past at THT.  It is very important to constantly be talking to the owners in your league and gathering information.

By keeping your ear to the ground, you will often hear about trade negotiations going on between teams in your leagues.  If you hear about a trade involving one of your closest competitors, it can be beneficial to begin talking with the other team in the deal about the player involved (assuming you also think highly of this player).

Making a trade for the player your close competitor is trying to get has several benefits.  First and most importantly, it prevents him from making the trade himself and acquiring the player.  This is akin to cutting off an opposing army’s supply lines.  Really, it’s akin to redirecting the opposing army’s supply lines to fuel your own army.

Even if the trade is only a lateral move… really, even if you take a small loss, that small loss could actually benefit you more than your opponent receiving a huge gain.  Allowing his team to improve is the same as hurting your own.

As an example, let’s say that your top competitor is discussing a trade of his Gavin Floyd for another owner’s Johnny Cueto.  Even if you jumped in and offered Tim Lincecum for Cueto, there would still be many benefits to making the move.  By not stepping in, your competitor would be receiving a player with a 3.98 LIPS ERA (and upside) for a player with a 4.47 LIPS ERA, a significant upgrade.  Even though Lincecum’s 3.78 LIPS ERA is better than Cueto’s, this drop-off would still be better than allowing your opponent to receive an even larger upgrade.

Another advantage is that you are receiving a player that your competitor wants.  By acquiring him yourself, the possibility exists that you’ll be able to flip him to your competitor and actually end up receiving an upgrade while downgrading your opponent’s team.  If he’s trading for Cueto to begin with, he obviously knows that he is better than his ERA indicates and might be willing to give quite a bit more for him if necessary.

Of course, you need to consider that you often have more than one close competitor, so weigh your league’s specific situation and decide from there if the original trade is worth it.  Taking too big of a hit to your team might be the wrong move, even if you gain an advantage over one owner.

This won’t always be the appropriate move, but this is the type of thinking we need to get in the habit of using in order to be successful fantasy owners.


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New Closers Via Trade

Last year, I traded Joe Nathan for Mark Teixeira in July.  I knew I'd be able to snag a closer or two off the waiver wire after the dust settled from the trade deadline.  Any similar opportunities this year?

  • Rockies closer Brian Fuentes seems very likely to be traded.  Should you go for Taylor Buchholz or Manny Corpas?  I lean toward Corpas, though Buchholz has earned a look.  Corpas is pitching decently lately.  Buchholz has been untouchable all year.
  • The Nationals might have a hard time parting with Jon Rauch, but if they do it might have to be Saul Rivera or Luis Ayala.
  • The Orioles might trade George SherrillJim Johnson could get the nod despite the weak strikeout rate.  Chris Ray could return before year's end.
  • The Astros' Jose Valverde could be available.  This one's not getting much press.  Doug Brocail would be next in line.
  • Long shot - Trevor Hoffman could be dealt.  Then it'd be Heath Bell's turn.
  • The Indians' Joe Borowski should be available.  It'd probably be Masahide Kobayashi after that.


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The Halfway Point - Pitcher Projections

How would the leaderboards look at year's end if we simply doubled current stats?  Who do you feel is likely to fall off the pace?  Here's a look at counting stat projections for starters.

Innings Pitched

1. Roy Halladay - 260.6
2. Cole Hamels - 240.0
3. Aaron Harang - 236.6
4. Aaron Cook - 232.6
5. Jeremy Guthrie - 231.3
6. Roy Oswalt - 230.6
7. Tim Hudson, C.C. Sabathia - 228.6
9. Joe Blanton - 228.0
10. Johan Santana - 227.3

Strikeouts

1. C.C. Sabathia - 236
2. Tim Lincecum - 228
3. Edinson Volquez - 220
4. A.J. Burnett - 216
5. Roy Halladay - 212
6. Javier Vazquez - 208
7. Johan Santana, Cole Hamels - 206
9. Aaron Harang, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Sanchez - 204

Wins

1. Brandon Webb - 24
2. Cliff Lee, Joe Saunders - 22
4. Mike Mussina, Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, Kyle Lohse, Edinson Volquez - 20
9. Andy Pettitte, Braden Looper, Ryan Dempster, Roy Halladay, Ted Lilly, Ben Sheets, Gavin Floyd, Ervin Santana, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Lincecum, Andy Sonnanstine - 18

Saves

1. Francisco Rodriguez - 64
2. George Sherrill - 52
3. Jonathan Papelbon - 48
4. Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Jose Valverde, Brian Wilson, Joakim Soria - 44
9. Kerry Wood - 40
10. Troy Percival - 38





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