August 2008

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The 2008 Undrafted All-Stars

Let's create a fantasy team entirely from undrafted players.  For our purposes, let's say anyone drafted 277th or later on average in March.  If nothing else, this shows the extreme importance of free agency in fantasy leagues.  How many of these guys are on your team?  If anyone wants to tabulate these players' stats at the end of the season, I'd be curious to see how the team stacks up in my leagues.

C - Ryan Doumit
C - Yadier Molina
1B - Aubrey Huff
2B - Mark DeRosa
SS - Alexei Ramirez
3B - Melvin Mora
CI - Conor Jackson
MI - Jose Lopez
OF - Carlos Quentin
OF - Ryan Ludwick
OF - Randy Winn
OF - Xavier Nady
OF - Fred Lewis
DH - Milton Bradley

SP - Cliff Lee
SP - Ryan Dempster
SP - Ervin Santana
SP - Justin Duchscherer
SP - Edinson Volquez
SP - Ricky Nolasco
RP - Kerry Wood
RP - Salomon Torres
RP - Brian Fuentes

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RotoAuthority League - Best Pickups Recently

This feature is written by Jeff, owner of the Volvo Stationwagons.  Jeff has been moving and preparing to go back to graduate school for the past few weeks, so he's barely been able to follow his team, let alone write a weekly column.  However, he's back, and this week he plays catchup for the period of July 27th-August 24th. 

Strangely, there have not been any trades since the last post I made, since the 8/10 deadline has come and gone.  However, there have been a flurry of roster moves, especially during the first month in August as players start spot-starting pitchers in an effort to max out their innings pitched.  Here's the best of the last month or so:

8/6 - Los Genius picks up Brad Ziegler
Ziegler, a friend of Baseball Prospectus writer Kevin Goldstein, got some publicity earlier this season for his funky delivery and more recently, his Athletics franchise record-setting scoreless innings streak for a rookie pitcher.  With the furor involving Huston Street's fastball velocity reaching full bore (with the results just not there for Street), the A's bullpen became a bit of a free-for-all.  Ziegler's deception has proved worthy of absolutely insane ratios this year, and despite a fairly low K rate for a back-end reliever (21 K in 44 IP), he's picked up a few save chances of late.  He's 4 for 4 thus far since being given his first chance about a week ago.

8/6 - Volvo Stationwagons picks up Chris Perez
A personal anecdote: As a Cards fan, I had the pleasure of witnessing Perez's first major league save against the Dodgers in person at Busch Stadium.  The Cards' bullpen was a mess after the Isringhausen/Franklin tandem blew a 4-0 lead in the ninth the previous evening, but I was unaware that Perez had even been called up that day until midway through the game.  When it became apparent that Perez would pitch the ninth inning, I scrambled to call anyone I could trust to log onto the league page and pick him up for me, since I'd lost out to other saves-hungry owners before (see: Guardado, Eddie).  Unfortunately nobody answered, so in haste to get home and to a computer I skipped my traditional post-game Ted Drewes trip in order to make sure I got my man.  Sure enough, Perez was still out there, and thankfully he's been simply nasty in his second major-league stint - 8.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 9 K, and most importantly, a perfect 5/5 in saves while seeing the bulk of the ninth-inning work for the Cardinals.

8/15 - Los Genius picks up Jed Lowrie
Lowrie has done his best Dustin Pedroia impression since being called up in the wake of the Julio Lugo injury.  He's hit .308/.387/.495 in his 31 games with the Sox in that time.  He hasn't shown a whole lot of home run pop (only 1 HR in 125 PA in the above sample), but add in the fact that he's 24 with some decent upside and you could certainly do a lot worse at the SS/MI position.  You never know, maybe some of those doubles (11 in 125 PA) will start creeping over the Monster in September, assuming he keeps hold of the starting job. 

8/20 - RotoAuthority picks up Al Reyes
Tim jumped on Reyes when he was signed by the Mets, and rightfully so - he was a "veteran" closer going into a very inconsistent bullpen without its anchor, Billy Wagner.  He hasn't pitched for the major-league club yet, as the Mets sent him to the minors for a quick tune-up.  He has pitched one scoreless inning for AA Binghamton as of this writing.

8/24 - Ms. Behavin' picks up Rocco Baldelli
Quick, what would be your first guess for Rocco Baldelli's middle name?  I'll bet it wasn't Dan.  No, not Daniel, just Dan.  Rocco Dan Baldelli... one of the more incongruous name combinations out there.  You can't make this stuff up.  Anyway, another thing you can't make up is that Rocco has homered twice in the past three games - yeah, it's not earth-shattering, and he hadn't done much prior to that, and he's only a part time player, etc.  But we are talking about a 26-year old with 20/20 potential if he could remain healthy, which is not something you see on the waiver wire often.  It's certainly worth it for Ms. Behavin' to see if she can sneak some value out of a very talented, yet fragile player.

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Looking Ahead: Cliff Lee

Fantasy leaguers have short memories, and often seem to expect pitchers to repeat the previous year's performance (right down to the win total).  Readers of this site know it usually doesn't work that way.  Let's take a look at this year's Cy Young favorite, Cliff Lee. 

I should start by saying, I like Cliff Lee.  He has helped many of my fantasy teams this year (except when I traded him to Los Genius for Rafael Furcal in May). Right now Lee has a 2.43 ERA, 18 wins, and a 1.08 WHIP.  A 5.42 K/BB ratio tells us this is no fluke.  However, it must be noted that Lee leads all of baseball with a 5.0% HR per flyball rate.  Though he's gained a ton in groundball rate, he's likely to give up twice as many homers in '09. 

The other risk factor is that he pitched 145.3 innings in '07 and should top 225 this year.  Lee is 30 years old and he's topped 200 innings in the past.  Still, 80 innings is a notable increase for any pitcher in my opinion.

Run support should also be considered - Lee is seventh in the AL with 5.77 runs per game.  The Indians rank eighth in the league with 4.83 runs per game.  Baseball Prospectus suggests Lee should be 14-5 rather than 18-2.  XFIP calls for a 3.47 ERA rather than 2.43.  Still, you'd take 14 wins and a 3.47 ERA for a guy you plucked off the waiver wire, wouldn't you?

That's the thing about a Cy Young season - it's a very well-pitched performance accentuated by good fortune.  I have no idea how fantasy leaguers will respond to Lee's season.  If they overcompensate for his likely decline and he slips past the eighth round, I'll consider him.

Last year's AL Cy Young vote with each pitcher's average '08 draft round: C.C. Sabathia (5), Josh Beckett (5), John Lackey (6), Fausto Carmona (9), Erik Bedard (4), Roy Halladay (9), Johan Santana (2), Justin Verlander (5).  And for fun, the NL: Jake Peavy (2), Brandon Webb (4), Brad Penny (11), Aaron Harang (6), Carlos Zambrano (6), Cole Hamels (5), John Smoltz (7), Jose Valverde (8), Jeff Francis (13).

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Roundtable: Top Pitchers In 2010

In this week's roundtable, we were asked to name our top ten pitchers for 2010.  This was quite difficult for me, and I left many great pitchers out.  For some reason my answer was not included at that link, so here it is:

1. Tim Lincecum
2. C.C. Sabathia
3. Chad Billingsley
4. Dan Haren
5. Joba Chamberlain
6. Brandon Webb
7. Felix Hernandez
8. Johan Santana
9. Clayton Kershaw
10. Jon Lester

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Pick Up Al Reyes?

Desperate for saves?  Consider picking up Al Reyes, just signed by the Mets.

Baltimore's Jim Johnson and Arizona's Jon Rauch are a couple more to consider.

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September Call-Ups: Hitters

September call-ups are coming in a few weeks.  Hitters are unlikely to have a large impact in September, because they often do not have a starting role.  But let's take a look at some possibilities.  Feel free to add names in the comments.

  • Dan Johnson, Rays.  At 29, the first baseman is no prospect.  Still, he leads the International League with a .417 OBP.
  • Brent Clevlen, Tigers.  Clevlen has a .906 OPS in Triple A this year, and the Tigers might have to wave the white flag a few weeks from now.  He could get some at-bats.  Third baseman Mike Hessman and his 32 HR could also get a look.  Freddy Guzman is another possibility; he has 46 steals.
  • Josh Anderson, Braves.  Maybe the Braves will trade Mark Kotsay and decide to give Anderson another look.  He has 40 swipes.
  • Andrew McCutchen and Chris Duffy, Pirates.   Another pair of burners who could get a look.   
  • Nelson Cruz, Rangers.  There has to be a way to work in a 1.144 OPS!  However, his timing is lousy as he's out with a strained quad.  Hopefully it heals up.  He also has 24 steals.
  • Josh Whitesell, Diamondbacks.  Don't know much about the 26 year-old 1B, but a .997 OPS has to count for something.
  • Val Pascucci, Mets.  Another older guy tearing up the PCL.
  • Dallas McPherson, Marlins.  It's a shame 40 HR hasn't been able to get McPherson another look.
  • Joe Koshansky, Rockies.  The 26 year-old is mashing; maybe he can do something in a month at Coors.
  • Nate Schierholtz, Giants.  The Giants should give him a right field audition for next year.
  • Interesting names in Double A: Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Angel Salome, Ivan DeJesus, Kala Ka'aihue, Matt LaPorta (if healthy), Mat Gamel, John Raynor (Marlins LF, 45 SB), Cameron Maybin, Eric Young (Rockies 2B, 41 SB and .399 OBP).

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Pickup Party

Here are some position players who are available in at least one of my fantasy leagues.

  • C: Catcher is a barren wasteland in many leagues that require two. Florida's John Baker has been OK, and you could do worse than backups like Javier Valentin and Henry BlancoMike Napoli works if batting average isn't important to you.  But really, this is why you have to treat the position seriously during the draft.
  • 1B: Kevin Millar and Nomar Garciaparra have put up decent numbers lately.  Lyle Overbay may merit a look.  Millar could be traded, limiting his playing time.
  • 2B: Some good picks here: Freddy Sanchez, Geoff Blum, and Omar Infante
  • SS: Infante, Blum, and Nomar also qualify here.   Bobby Crosby can provide counting stats, while Cesar Izturis is stealing bags.
  • 3B: Many of the above-mentioned players qualify here.  Also take a look at Brian Buscher and Chase Headley.
  • OF: The resurgent Mark Kotsay is floating around in some leagues.  Shin-Soo Choo, Joe Mather, Brian Giles, Adam Lind, and Justin Christian also deserve a look depending on your needs.

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Percival Injured, Get Balfour

FRIDAY: Percival is headed to the DL.

THURSDAY: It's time to move on Rays' reliever Grant Balfour if he's still available in your league.  Troy Percival left the game tonight with a knee sprain.  It's said to be day-to-day, but you never know.  Balfour blew the lead, though he came in with a runner on second base.  Balfour has been ridiculously good all year.

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Pick Up Jensen Lewis For Saves In Cleveland

As more and more owners lose interest, waiver wire saves are becoming plentiful.  In some leagues I am rostering 5 or 6 closers.  That's crazy since there are only 30 at a given time.  Sometimes I will pick a guy up just to keep saves away from other teams.

  • This happened fairly quietly.  Jensen Lewis has emerged as Eric Wedge's top ninth inning choice for the Indians.  He prefers to use Rafael Perez in a setup role.  I found Lewis available in three of my five leagues.
  • Owners can cut Joel Zumaya loose;he's hurt again.  Fernando Rodney is the top candidate for saves at this point.
  • In less competitive leagues, Oakland's Brad Ziegler may still be around.
  • Eddie Kunz might get a few saves in the short-term, but the entire Mets situation is just a huge mess.  Only look here if you're desperate.
  • Adam Wainwright is being stretched out in the minors, leading some to speculate that the Cardinals will stick with Chris Perez for the ninth.
  • I've been updating the Fantasy Baseball Closers post as quickly as possible when news comes in, so keep it bookmarked.

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Roundtable: Who I Avoided

This week's roundtable was designed for everyone to cherry-pick some players they suggested everyone avoid back in March.  The question:

Which player(s) did you deliberately not draft on any of your teams because you thought they were overrated and your assessment proved correct?

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