June 2009

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Bullpen Usage Report

Here's another useful tool from the guys over at Daily Baseball Data.  Check out their Bullpen Usage Report, a quick way to look at how a team's pen was employed over the past four days.  I am not sure how to apply this data yet; let me know your thoughts.  Looking at today's report, a few notes:

  • Huston Street has pitched three days in a row, tossing 21 pitches yesterday.  Perhaps a save chance tonight goes to Matt Daley or is decided by matchups.
  • Brian Fuentes has gone two days in a row, and I don't see any streaks of three straight this year for him.  Maybe Darren Oliver or Justin Speier gets a look.
  • J.P. Howell has pitched three days in a row; a fourth day seems unlikely.  A chance for Dan Wheeler tonight?
  • Mike MacDougal has pitched back-to-back days for the Nats.  Not sure if Joe Beimel could be called upon.
  • Very cool way to present the data, though it would've been most useful late last night (updated through Sunday) so that I could potentially make pickups for today.


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Time To Pick Up Joe Blanton?

Phillies starter Joe Blanton is owned in less than 5% of ESPN leagues, which will probably trend upward after his 10K effort against Tampa Bay last night.  Has anything changed with the 28 year-old righty?

First off Blanton is in his first full National League season.  He bumped up his K/9 upon joining the NL last year, from a career-worst 4.4 to a career-best 6.2.  This year it's much higher at 8.3.  This is reminiscent of Bronson Arroyo, who took the NL by storm in 2006 and faded thereafter.

Blanton's always had solid control, and that's continued this year.  His two problems have been hits and home runs, which have led to a 5.06 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 83.6 innings.  While Blanton has the weakest groundball rate of his career, he still shouldn't continue allowing HRs at 17.5% per flyball.  As for the hits, Blanton's .316 BABIP exceeds his team's .308 by a touch.

XFIP says Blanton has pitched worthy of a 3.96 ERA, and his Expected WHIP is about 1.40.  So he will not help your WHIP without some good fortune in hits or improved control.  It might not be a trend, but Blanton has a 1.95 BB/9 for June and did flash that kind of control in 2007.

Blanton is sitting at the same 89.4 mph fastball as always, but has dialed up slider usage at the expense of his curveball.  He's also using an unidentified pitch almost 10% of the time, a career-high.

Blanton's next matchups are scheduled against the Braves, Mets, and Pirates.  Nothing too terrifying in there, given the Mets' depleted lineup.



Best Since May 1

I am digging a website called Baseball Monster, which has all kinds of neat fantasy baseball tools.  I generated a list of the leaders in fantasy value since May 1st of this year.  How many of these guys could you have bought low on May 1st?

  1. Joe Mauer - Missed all of April, so yes, you could've bought low.  But there was no way to know he'd go on such a tear.
  2. Justin Verlander - Posted a 6.75 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in April, but the K/BB numbers were sparkling.  So he was a true buy-low opportunity.
  3. Albert Pujols
  4. Carl Crawford
  5. Justin Upton - His April line: .250-2-8-8-1, with spotty playing time.  So if you'd been willing to bet on the talent you could've had him on the cheap.
  6. Mark Teixeira - He was brutal in April, but I doubt he came heavily discounted in many leagues.
  7. Prince Fielder - Not as disappointing as Tex, but perhaps a .234-3-17-7-0 April caused some owners to doubt him.
  8. Mark Reynolds
  9. Roy Halladay
  10. Tim Lincecum - There was tangible concern as Lincecum's ERA sat at 7.56 after his first two starts.  After that he was off and running.
  11. David Wright - As with Tex, owners typically don't jump ship on their top picks.  But Wright did hit just .280-1-8-15-3 in April.
  12. Jason Bay
  13. Josh Beckett - Definitely an opportunity here after a 7.22 ERA, 1.81 WHIP April.
  14. Ryan Braun - The spring intercostal strain did not affect his April numbers.
  15. Raul Ibanez
  16. Dan Haren
  17. Justin Morneau
  18. Hanley Ramirez - April line: .289-2-12-9-3.  Still probably near-impossible to obtain reasonably.
  19. Torii Hunter
  20. Ben Zobrist - He smacked 4 HR in April, but spotty playing time might have convinced an owner to let him go.
  21. Matt Cain - I thought Cain's 2.08 April ERA, despite only 18 Ks in 26 innings, made him a possible sell-high candidate.  Oops.
  22. Chris Carpenter - He tore his oblique on April 14th, and plenty of owners chalked it up to the same ol' injured Carp.  But he returned May 20th and remained an ace.
  23. Ryan Howard - An April line of .288-4-15-12-0 might've been considered pedestrian for him.
  24. Brandon Phillips - He was brutal in April, and rewarded those who bought low.
  25. Jered Weaver

So those you truly could've bought low on: Mauer, Verlander, Upton, Beckett, Carpenter, and Phillips.  The problem is that the April fantasy leaders were not flukes for the most part.


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Triple A Power Threats

Power.  You need it, and the waiver wire is uninspiring.  Which Triple A players might be able to make an impact in the second half of the season?

  • Shelley Duncan has 21 HR and a .633 SLG in 226 ABs.  He's been playing right field for Scranton, and the Yankees already have Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera as options there.  Plus Xavier Nady will return in a week or two.  Left field, first base, and DH don't look much better for Duncan, so he'll hope for a trade.  No one wanted him when he was designated for assignment in January.
  • Brandon Wood still has a chance to break into the Angels' infield.  He's got 15 HR and a .594 SLG in 207 ABs.  His former teammate Sean Rodriguez is another infield name to monitor.
  • He's in the bigs with the Cubs trying to find ABs in LF and at 3B.  But don't forget that Jake Fox slugged .841 with 17 HR in 164 ABs in Triple A.  This guy needs to be cut loose in a DH spot in the AL.
  • Carlos Gonzalez hasn't done much for the Rockies yet.  But he did slug .630 with 10 HR in 192 Triple A at-bats.
  • Consider John Bowker as a power/speed threat, if the Giants give him another look.
  • If your league counts walks/OBP, monitor Kila Ka'aihue in the Royals' system.  He leads the PCL with 57 walks, and you have to think he could top Mike Jacobs' .229/.313/.430 line as the first baseman in KC.
  • Mitch Jones, a 31 year-old right fielder in the Dodgers system, is slugging .693 with 21 HR in 192 ABs.  He's hopelessly blocked and is probably viewed as minor league filler despite the stats.
  • A quick glance at the Double A numbers uncovers Chris Heisey, a center fielder in the Reds' system.  The 24 year-old leads the Southern League with a .581 SLG, and also has 13 HR and 13 SB in 260 ABs.


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Replacing Rafael Furcal, Chris Davis

A mailbag question from a reader named Mitch:

I made two terrible picks in fantasy baseball this year. I took Rafael Furcal in the 5th round, followed by Chris Davis in the 6th round. It seems like Davis has not hit a home run in a month and Furcal has not stolen a base all season. Is it time to give up on these guys and work the waiver wire or hold on to them hoping they will turn it around?

As someone recommending both players in the preseason, I feel partially responsible.  My standard answer is that it depends on who you're picking up as replacements.  But let's look at some guys who might be available on the wire.

As expected, the available shortstops in most leagues are terrible.  It's only about 75 plate appearances, but Furcal has been tolerable in June.  I would be surprised if the waiver wire offers better.  I wouldn't cut Furcal for Willie Bloomquist, Orlando Cabrera, or Edgar RenteriaElvis Andrus is someone I'd keep an eye on, but I'd rather add him for a bench spot.  Ditto for Maicer Izturis.

With Davis, it will depend on whether you're using him at first or third base.  I would pull the plug on him for Lyle OverbayPedro Feliz or Andy LaRoche, only if I had a comfortable lead in HRs.  Joe Crede doesn't feel like a big upgrade, and I worry about Ryan Garko's playing time.  A guy like Overbay doesn't seem flashy.  But he's a guy who won't hurt you, and he's tallied 41 RBIs despite batting seventh for the Jays.  There is something to be said in roto for guys who won't hurt you.


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Power/Speed Threats At Triple A

Let's take a look at a few power/speed threats currently residing at Triple A.  Pretty much all minor league veterans who've had some time in the bigs.  I know they're Quad-A types, but sometimes those guys break through.

  • Garrett Jones: Playing in the Pirates' system, the 28 year-old has 10 HR and 12 SB in 234 ABs.  You have to wonder if the Bucs will eventually give him a look in an outfield corner.
  • Terry Evans: A 27 year-old in the Angels' system, Evans has 14 HR and 15 SB in 253 ABs.
  • Jason Repko: The 28 year-old has 11 HR and 12 SB in 179 ABs for the Dodgers' affiliate.
  • John Bowker: He'll turn 26 soon, and got into 111 games for the Giants last year.  He's got 10 HR and 10 SB in 213 ABs at Triple A, and sports a monstrous .343/.451/.573 line.  The Giants' outfield is anything but stacked; he deserves another look.


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Picks For Friday

Hitters:

  • Mark Teahen vs. Brad Thompson: 5 for 9, 2B, 2 3B
  • Mike Redmond vs. Roy Oswalt: 5 for 9, 2 2B
  • Mike Sweeney vs. Jon Garland: 16 for 55, 3 2B, 5 HR
  • Yuniesky Betancourt vs. Jon Garland: 9 for 20, 2 2B
  • Pedro Feliz vs. Rich Hill: 3 for 14, 2 HR
  • Ronny Paulino vs. Andy Pettitte: 6 for 9, 2B

Pitchers:

  • Wade LeBlanc vs. Athletics.  The A's are particularly awful against lefties.
  • Josh Outman vs. Padres.  Same game.
  • Scott Feldman vs. Giants.
  • Jon Garland vs. Mariners.  Seems a tad risky, still.
  • Jose Contreras vs. Reds.  16 scoreless innings since returning from the minors.  This is the pick to click.


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BABIP, Anyone?

We'll keep the minimum IP at 30, but remove the relievers.  Those helped by low BABIPs:

NAME BABIP K/BB ISO ERA WHIP
Sean West 0.156 1.15 0.128 3.00 1.03
Chris Carpenter 0.196 5.29 0.118 1.59 0.73
J.A. Happ 0.221 1.54 0.177 3.53 1.22
Dan Haren 0.221 6.92 0.134 2.20 0.81
Edinson Volquez 0.224 1.47 0.163 4.35 1.33
Yovani Gallardo 0.230 2.41 0.154 2.88 1.10
Josh Outman 0.235 2.21 0.135 3.43 1.14
Scott Feldman 0.235 1.55 0.141 3.70 1.17
Jered Weaver 0.242 2.96 0.129 2.08 1.00
Johnny Cueto 0.245 2.48 0.143 2.17 1.07
Brian Tallet 0.246 1.66 0.178 4.87 1.29
John Maine 0.246 1.24 0.140 4.52 1.38
Edwin Jackson 0.247 2.83 0.118 2.24 1.03
Matt Garza 0.248 2.15 0.139 3.63 1.19
Ted Lilly 0.250 3.45 0.164 2.94 1.06
Kevin Millwood 0.251 1.81 0.153 2.72 1.21
Shairon Martis 0.253 0.97 0.184 5.04 1.35
Matt Palmer 0.255 1.50 0.122 4.11 1.27
Garrett Olson 0.255 1.42 0.213 4.26 1.39
Randy Wolf 0.256 2.75 0.161 3.41 1.13
C.C. Sabathia 0.258 2.31 0.103 3.68 1.13

Be skeptical of those with K/BBs under 2.0.

Now those with abnormally high BABIPs:

NAME BABIP K/BB ISO ERA WHIP
Daisuke Matsuzaka 0.449 2.29 0.255 7.55 2.10
Ricky Nolasco 0.395 2.94 0.226 7.62 1.73
Ervin Santana 0.387 1.62 0.198 7.47 1.85
John Lackey 0.385 3.50 0.161 6.10 1.57
Felipe Paulino 0.375 2.18 0.183 6.18 1.72
Scott Olsen 0.366 1.61 0.268 7.24 1.90
Manny Parra 0.365 1.34 0.191 7.52 1.92
Brian Moehler 0.363 2.21 0.231 6.66 1.68
Sidney Ponson 0.362 1.41 0.141 7.27 1.73
Scott Kazmir 0.358 1.21 0.179 7.69 1.95
Justin Masterson 0.356 2.56 0.112 3.88 1.39
Shane Loux 0.355 1.00 0.121 5.40 1.72
Cole Hamels 0.354 4.67 0.202 4.62 1.38
Chan Ho Park 0.352 1.61 0.160 6.08 1.67
Jordan Zimmermann 0.351 3.75 0.187 5.37 1.35

  • Dice-K still has a control problem, but that is an absurd amount of hits (51 in 31 IP).
  • Nolasco, Santana, Lackey, Hamels...they will all get better.
  • I think Zimmermann should be owned in all leagues.  He has 13 Ks against 2 BBs and 3 ER in his last two starts spanning 13 IP.


Full Story |  Comments (3) | Categories: BABIP, Anyone?

Picks For Wednesday

Hitters:

  • Andruw Jones vs. Russ Ortiz: 10 for 24, 2 2B, 3B
  • Marco Scutaro vs. Jamie Moyer: 11 for 29, 2B, 3 HR
  • Lyle Overbay vs. Jamie Moyer: 6 for 13, 2B, 3B, HR
  • Pat Burrell vs. Aaron Cook: 11 for 16, 2B, HR (my clear pick to click)
  • Nationals vs. Chien-Ming Wang: No particular National has a strong history against Wang, but you might want to start your Nats anyway.

Pitchers:

  • Hiroki Kuroda vs. Athletics.  Only Matt Holliday (5 for 8) has seen Kuroda.  Despite Holliday's success I'd use Kuroda here.
  • Garrett Olson vs. Padres.  You can also consider Chad Gaudin vs. the Mariners in this game, but I'd pass.  Ditto for Matt Palmer vs. Tim Lincecum and the Giants.


Full Story |  Comments (3) | Categories: Matchups


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