April 2009

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My RotoAuthority League Team Is Insanely Bad

I have a question...will you guys stop reading if I finish last in the RotoAuthority League?  Because currently I'm mired in 12th with 38.5 points.  I try to recite all the standard advice about patience, but jeez...38.5 points?  I know you can dig out of a hole quickly when it's this early, but I need to double my points and then some.  Here's the team:

C - Geovany Soto
C - Chris Snyder
1B - Derrek Lee
2B - Brian Roberts
SS - Jimmy Rollins
3B - Chipper Jones
CI - Carlos Delgado
MI - Rickie Weeks
OF - Carlos Beltran
OF - Hunter Pence
OF - Bobby Abreu
OF - Ryan Spilborghs
OF - Hideki Matsui
DH - Scott Rolen

SP - Roy Halladay
SP - Matt Cain
SP - Randy Johnson
SP - Manny Parra
SP - Kenshin Kawakami
SP - David Purcey
RP - Brian Wilson
RP - George Sherrill
RP - Scott Downs

Bn - Jack Cust
Bn - Joe Nelson
Bn - Manny Corpas

DL - John Lackey
DL - Kelvim Escobar

I just traded Jose Valverde to get Bobby Abreu.  That can be a dangerous move in a league like this, where almost every backup closer is already rostered.  Competition for saves is fierce.

Spilborghs and Matsui are on thin ice, but it's only been 8-9 games so they deserve a little slack.  Still, I can tell this team is probably going to be short on RBIs.  Soto and Rollins haven't contributed yet.

I created a shaky bullpen situation by trading Valverde, since Sherrill is no lock.  But I figure Downs and/or Corpas will get a shot unless B.J. Ryan and Huston Street turn it around in a hurry.  I still think the rotation will be OK...that's probably the easiest part of the roster to stock via the waiver wire if a few of these guys crap out.  Plus Lackey is on the way.  I made that pick before he was hurt, and I am kicking myself for taking two pitchers early in Halladay and Lackey. 

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Closer Report

Time for another edition of the Closer Report.  Many of you are probably wondering how you can scrounge some saves off the waiver wire.

  • Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
  • Brad Lidge, Phillies.  2 HRs allowed matches his total from last year, but he'll be fine.
  • Francisco Rodriguez, Mets.
  • Joe Nathan, Twins.
  • Mariano Rivera, Yankees.
  • Bobby Jenks, White Sox.  One rough appearance against the Royals mars his early line.
  • Joakim Soria, Royals.
  • Jose Valverde, Astros.  It'd be nice if he'd get a save.
  • Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers. Looking very good so far.
  • Brian Fuentes, Angels.  Knocked around in two of his three appearances following a rough spring.  He's lost 2 mph off his average fastball and is throwing a lot more sliders.  Scot Shields got the save Friday night, though Mike Scioscia said not to read into it.  Still, Shields would be the guy if Fuentes was demoted or injured so add him to your bench if possible. 
  • B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays. Three appearances, one of which went OK due to a double play ball.  Like Fuentes, Ryan is left-handed, paid well, and had a lousy spring.  Also, Ryan's fastball is down 1 mph.  Scott Downs, who has been lights out, needs to be owned in all leagues.  Cito Gaston isn't ready to demote Ryan, but his next few appearances are crucial.
  • Matt Capps, Pirates.
  • Francisco Cordero, Reds.  Solid start after a rough spring.
  • Kerry Wood, Indians.  A save opportunity would be nice.
  • Brian Wilson, Giants.  A save opportunity would be nice.
  • Mike Gonzalez, Braves.  He's been knocked around in two of his four appearances.  Rafael Soriano (four scoreless innings) is a good guy to stash.
  • Heath Bell, Padres
  • Matt Lindstrom, Marlins.  He hasn't been sharp and his velocity is down 2 mph, following the spring shoulder scare.  He seems optimistic, but what else is he going to say?  Leo Nunez is the backup guy to own.
  • Huston Street, Rockies.  Knocked around in two of three appearances, but converted his one save chance.  Manny Corpas was hit hard on Sunday but he's the backup.
  • Trevor Hoffman, Brewers.  Recovering from a strained oblique, he'll throw a bullpen session today.  Look for him in late April/early May.  His fill-in, Carlos Villanueva, already has a blown save and two ugly appearances out of four.
  • Joel Hanrahan, Nationals.  No save opps yet.
  • Brandon Morrow, Mariners. He was knocked around on April 7th and has three scoreless appearances since.  The Mariners are treating him with kid gloves, so his backup David Aardsma already has two saves.  Aardsma is worth owning.
  • Brad Ziegler, Athletics.  He's been fine so far.  Joey Devine is on the 60 day DL with a sore elbow.
  • Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks.  Blew the save last night, but his job is safe currently.
  • Troy Percival, Rays.  One shaky appearance on April 9th, for the save.  Grant Balfour had a save the day before, but it was a four-out deal and not a typical opp.  In Balfour's other appearance he rewarded owners with three earned runs and no outs.  Balfour and Dan Wheeler remain the backups behind Percival, who is always a risk to break down.
  • Frank Francisco, Rangers.  Unscored upon so far.  The Rangers may use him for four or five-out saves.
  • Kevin Gregg, Cubs.  He's looked pretty shaky in five appearances, though his last one was fine.  The Cubs figure to replace him with Carlos Marmol sometime this summer.  For now, Lou Piniella will limit Gregg to one-inning appearances and probably pitch him anytime he warms up.
  • George Sherrill, Orioles.  Three saves, but a shaky appearance last night in a non-save situation.  His job is safe for now, though Chris Ray has looked better of late.
  • Fernando Rodney, Tigers. He surprisingly jumped ahead of Brandon Lyon for saves before the season began, and is unscored upon so far.
  • Ryan Franklin, Cardinals.  Tony La Russa demoted Jason Motte to the sixth inning after a couple bad appearances to start the year. Franklin is the clear favorite, though La Russa seems willing to try others such as Josh Kinney or Kyle McClellanChris Perez has four scoreless innings at Triple A, so he could re-enter the picture soon.

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Popular Adds

A trip through ESPN's popular adds for this week...

  • Emilio Bonifacio.  Sorry, I'm not sold on him.  I guess he could steal 25 bags with enough plate appearances, but he's not going to hit for average, get on base, hit for power, or play good defense.  Unless all the projection systems are wildly wrong.  I'd sell high on him if possible.  You can find plenty of guys who steal bags and do nothing else.
  • Brandon Inge.  He was always an OK pick in a two-catcher mixed league - entirely capable of 15 HR and $7 in value.  The hot start doesn't really change anything, but sure, he's worth owning if you don't mind sacrificing some AVG.
  • Marco Scutaro.  I suppose he could have a decent runs scored total and 10 HR in the best case.
  • Nick Swisher.  He could pop 25 HR, if you don't mind the batting average drain.  Nothing to go crazy over though.
  • Jordan Schafer.  Even with 15/15 potential, he's not likely to help you in AVG.  A marginal mixed league player.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez.  I'm guessing these pickups occurred before his start yesterday.  He could get you 170 Ks but at the huge cost of a 1.50 WHIP.
  • Kevin Millwood.  Maybe he wins 12 games and whiffs 150, but Randy Wolf can do that and he doesn't pitch at the Ballpark In Arlington.
  • Adam Lind.  I wasn't too high on Lind ($2.27 projected value) but Keith Law pimped him as a breakout candidate and that counts for something.  A .280-25-90 season could be within reach and that's certainly worth rostering.
  • Kyle Lohse.  He's pitched well, but it mostly looks like a hits-allowed fluke.  Pass.  Lohse has done this before.
  • Kyle Davies.  I can't decide what to think about Davies.  People point to his 2.27 ERA in September last year, but two of the lineups he faced were amateur hour and he got knocked around in another start.  So really he made two impressive starts in September last year and one this year.  On the other hand, 8 Ks against the White Sox catches my eye.  I'd watch him, maybe grab him for the bench and see how his next few starts go.  He faces the Indians tonight at home.

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Popular Drops

Here's a look at this week's popular drops in ESPN leagues.

  • Joey Devine.  Devine will be out at least the first few months of the season.  It's safe to cut him and look elsewhere for saves.
  • Brandon Lyon.  Lyon's had one bad performance and one good one.  Jim Leyland's April 1st declaration that Fernando Rodney would be the Opening Day closer was a big blow to Lyon's value.  Lyon is worthy of a bench spot as a backup closer, but Rodney's looked good so far.
  • Chris Ray.  Ray's been knocked around in two of his three performances.  Orioles closer George Sherrill looks decent and Ray isn't much of a threat right now.  This is similar to the Rodney/Lyon situation, but it's easier to demote Ray since he doesn't earn nearly as much as Lyon.
  • Jason Motte.  His stock dropped rather quickly with a pair of bad performances.  Keep him on the bench and see if he bounces back.
  • Elijah Dukes.  He dealt with a groin strain already but it doesn't seem major.  For all the griping about his playing time, he's on pace for 432 ABs.  Dukes is still worth owning in mixed leagues for the power/speed and breakout potential.
  • Khalil Greene.  Not showing power in his first 25 ABs, but c'mon, it's only 25 ABs!  He's bounced around in Tony La Russa's lineups but always landed in good spots.  If you liked Greene a few weeks ago you should still like him now.
  • J.D. Drew.  So he's 2 for 16 with a dinger. He still bats fifth in a strong Boston lineup.  I wouldn't give up on him yet.  Remember his 12 HR, 27 RBI month last year?  Granted, he had little fantasy value outside of that month.
  • Mike Jacobs.  3 for 17, no homers.  Remains a source of cheap power.
  • Dan Wheeler.  Two scoreless innings this year, but he seems to be behind Grant Balfour and Troy Percival for saves in Tampa Bay.  I'd be comfortable cutting him loose.
  • Jed Lowrie.  Never liked him in mixed leagues.  He's off to a 1 for 18 start.

Honorable mention to Manny Parra, who was knocked around in his first start against the Giants.  This is a good guy to stash away.  Parra was quite inconsistent last year; with these questionable back-end rotation guys you have to just roll with the punches.  Easier said than done, I know. 

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BABIP, Anyone?

Is it too early for the first BABIP, Anyone entry of 2009?  Definitely.  We're using the ridiculously low minimum of five innings pitched.  But just for the hell of it, here are your early leaders.

John Maine 0.000 5.00 0.353 3.60 0.60
Chris Carpenter 0.059 3.50 0.000 0.00 0.43
Edwin Jackson 0.108 1.75 0.255 3.38 0.83
Anthony Reyes 0.111 0.67 0.286 6.00 1.00
Chad Billingsley 0.143 1.00 0.000 3.00 1.00
Alfredo Simon 0.143 1.50 0.316 7.20 1.20
Kyle Lohse 0.152 8.00 0.073 1.13 0.56
Bartolo Colon 0.158 1.00 0.000 0.00 0.83
Andy Pettitte 0.167 6.00 0.083 1.29 0.57
Brad Penny 0.167 1.00 0.318 4.50 1.17
Joba Chamberlain 0.176 5.00 0.261 1.50 0.83
Brett Myers 0.182 6.00 0.412 5.54 1.08
Vicente Padilla 0.188 1.67 0.136 4.76 1.24
Dan Haren 0.188 3.67 0.091 2.08 0.77
John Danks 0.188 1.67 0.000 0.00 1.00
Mark Buehrle 0.188 2.67 0.190 2.38 0.97
Matt Garza 0.190 1.67 0.115 1.29 1.00
Jon Garland 0.190 0.67 0.167 3.86 1.14
Trevor Cahill 0.194 0.50 0.100 2.25 1.25
Joe Saunders 0.195 0.80 0.170 2.63 1.10

On the flip side, how about these unlucky fellows?

Todd Wellemeyer 0.571 1.50 0.083 9.00 2.80
Tim Lincecum 0.500 1.67 0.243 7.56 2.40
Jon Lester 0.467 2.50 0.238 9.00 2.00
Johnny Cueto 0.467 9.00 0.320 6.00 1.50
Cliff Lee 0.457 2.00 0.174 9.90 2.20
Matt Harrison 0.429 0.40 0.130 6.35 2.47
Kris Benson 0.421 1.50 0.292 12.60 2.40
Brian Bass 0.421 2.50 0.655 16.88 2.81
Rick Porcello 0.412 4.00 0.261 7.20 2.00
A.J. Burnett 0.400 6.00 0.182 3.38 1.50
Bronson Arroyo 0.400 2.00 0.083 7.50 1.67
Scott Olsen 0.400 0.83 0.378 14.63 2.50
Dana Eveland 0.400 2.00 0.042 4.50 1.67
Aaron Cook 0.400 2.00 0.250 9.72 1.92

Yes, looking at BABIP for guys with one start is pretty much useless.  I was itching to do it anyway to see who the first-week leaders are. 

What we all really want to know is this.  Was this a two-start blip for Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum, or will last year's Cy Young winners post ERAs around 4.00 in 2009?  For Lee, his combined game score for his two starts is 61.  He did something similar last year - his May 30th and June 4th starts had a combined game score of 69.  Lincecum's combined game score is 75 this year.  He had a combined 90 for June 16th and 22nd in '08, but nothing worse than that.  Going back to his rookie season we find a combined 51 after stinkers vs. the Blue Jays and Brewers in June of '07.

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Don't Panic

Let me guess: you have a few players on your roster you're already worried about.  A few possibilities:

  • Chris Davis
  • Cliff Lee
  • Hideki Matsui
  • Kevin Gregg
  • Billy Butler
  • Milton Bradley
  • Francisco Liriano
  • Cole Hamels
  • Tim Lincecum

A friendly reminder: most teams have played six or seven games.  About 4% of the season is over.  96% remains.  The evaluations you made during the offseason should still hold true.  If it's a fringe player you barely cared about in the first place, like Jason Kendall or Scott Olsen, then feel free to turn over that roster spot until you find the right guy.  But otherwise just stay the course as painful as it feels in the short-term.

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Repeat Offenders

I'm in five 12-team mixed leagues this year.  Here's a look at the players I drafted in more than one of them:

4 Leagues

  • Mike Napoli - I'd feel better if Napoli had a more firm grip on most of the playing time behind the plate.  Or if the Angels are able to free up the DH spot.  Of course, Napoli's shoulder is healing.  I'd like to think Napoli's debut last night with a double and a walk will buy him some extra playing time.

3 Leagues

  • Huston Street - Drafted before he officially won the Rockies' closing job on April 2nd.
  • Jayson Werth
  • Randy Johnson - He just always seemed to be available when I wanted a starter with a nice strikeout rate.  One bad pitch to Yovani Gallardo ruined last night's 7K, 1BB gem.
  • Ted Lilly - Another guy I picked up for cheap Ks.  Rough season debut for Lilly...hopefully he just lost his focus because the Cubs had a big lead.  Lou Piniella did him a favor, letting him go five innings to make sure he got the win.

2 Leagues

  • Bobby Abreu
  • Brett Myers
  • Brian Roberts
  • Carlos Villanueva
  • Chipper Jones
  • Chris Snyder
  • Chris Young
  • Conor Jackson
  • Derrek Lee
  • Hideki Matsui
  • James Shields
  • Javier Vazquez - Braves' bullpen already cost him a win.
  • Jermaine Dye
  • Johnny Cueto
  • Kelly Johnson
  • Kenshin Kawakami
  • Matt Cain
  • Nelson Cruz - Wish I'd gone the extra dollar in the other three leagues, with his 2 HR game last night.
  • Rafael Furcal
  • Rickie Weeks
  • Roy Halladay - I am not one to draft pitching early, but Halladay happened to be the best available choice a couple of times.
  • Russell Martin
  • Ryan Spilborghs
  • Scott Downs
  • Todd Helton
  • Troy Percival

I noticed that three teams aren't represented at all on my fantasy teams: the Red Sox, Indians, and Twins.  I guess those clubs just weren't bringing the fantasy bargains.  Also, I don't own Chris Davis in any league.  He always went too early for me.

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David Purcey Being Overlooked?

Blue Jays starter David Purcey was not drafted in most mixed leagues this year.  He was on my radar on draft day but completely slipped my mind. Fortunately, I was able to grab him in a bunch of leagues yesterday after his 7 IP, 2 ER performance against the Tigers.  What's Purcey's outlook for '09?

Projections for Purcey suggest nothing special...ERA under 5.00 with a decent K rate, that's it.  But let's take a closer look.

Purcey, a southpaw, will turn 27 in April.  His Triple A numbers last year: 117 innings, 2.69 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9. His Major League numbers in '08: 5.54 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9.  Who's to say he can't find the good control he showed at Triple A?  Purcey seems like a guy who can, at the least, give you some cheap Ks.  Baseball Prospectus likens Purcey to Bruce Hurst circa 1985, which is a good thing.

Back in February David Golebiewski profiled Purcey for FanGraphs and liked what he saw as well.

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Odds & Ends: Spring Training, Verducci Effect, Wieters

A few links for Tuesday...

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An Eye On Chad Tracy

MLB.com D'Backs beat writer Steve Gilbert has been saying it for a while now - "Chad Tracy is going to have a very good season."  As if on cue, Tracy went 3 for 4 with a home run on Opening Day yesterday.  This was after a .367/.424/.567 spring performance.

Tracy is a nice sleeper while it lasts.  He wasn't impressive in 273 ABs last year.  Quietly, though, projection systems like him for a .340 OBP and .450-.460 SLG.  And projection systems don't know about Tracy's ordeal with microfracture knee surgery, which is finally over.  He's the team's cleanup hitter, and maybe that guy who hit .308-27-72-73-3 in 503 ABs in '05 is still in there somewhere.

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