June 2009

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Roundtable: Making Up Ground

This week's roundtable question:

You find yourself in 7th place in a 15 team mixed 5x5 league. You've just lost your best hitter to injury and your pitching isn't that good. If you really want to win, what do you do?

Check out Advanced Fantasy Baseball for our answers.


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Eyeing Sean Rodriguez

One player to watch in the middle infield is second baseman Sean Rodriguez, of the Angels organization.  He's tearing it up in Triple A with 21 HRs in 202 ABs.  The 24 year-old is slugging .644, with 6 SBs to boot.  It's not just a half-season of data - Rodriguez hit 21 HR with a .645 SLG in 248 Triple A at-bats last year.  Yes, that's 42 HR in 450 ABs.  It's the Pacific Coast League, but still.

Back on May 31st, Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times wrote that Rodriguez is more likely to replace Howie Kendrick in the Angels' infield than Brandon Wood.  Kendrick has a .367 OBP since that article appeared, so he might be able to stave off a demotion.  But middle infield pop is a precious commodity in any fantasy league, so monitor Rodriguez.



Picks For Saturday

Hitters (nothing jumps out):

  • Matt Stairs vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka: 4 for 7, 2B
  • Ronny Cedeno vs. Jason Marquis: 4 for 8, 2 2B, 3B

Pitchers:

  • Randy Johnson vs. Athletics.
  • Josh Outman vs. Giants.  Could be a low-scoring affair.
  • Joe Saunders vs. Padres.  He won't have to face Jake Peavy, at least.
  • Jason Marquis vs. Mariners.  He draws Erik Bedard, and the game is at Coors.  So it is a risky one.


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Closer Report

The latest on the closer situations for all 30 teams.

  • Orioles - George Sherrill is secure, and so far he's avoided the shaky control of last year.  The O's have him under team control through 2011.  On one hand, that may mean they'll be in no rush to trade him.  On the other, he's more valuable to other clubs.  I think Jim Johnson would get a crack if Sherrill is dealt.  Danys Baez could be a consideration, but he wasn't when Sherrill was faltering.  Plus Baez himself is a trade candidate.
  • Red Sox - Jonathan Papelbon doesn't have the WHIP of years past, but he's not going anywhere.
  • Yankees - Mariano Rivera has been mortal this year in terms of hits and HRs allowed.  But he's only blown one save, against Boston in April.
  • Rays - Boy, this one's a mess.  An acquisition would make sense.  Troy Percival is dealing with a shoulder issue and may not pitch again this year.  Manager Joe Maddon is going with the dreaded committee for now.  Randy Choate snagged a few quick saves due to lefty matchups.  J.P. Howell, another lefty, has solid numbers too.  From the right side: Dan Wheeler, Joe Nelson, Jason Isringhausen, Grant Balfour...take your pick.  Who knows, maybe Jorge Julio will have a run.  Winston Abreu has been lights out closing in Triple A, maybe he gets a look.
  • Blue Jays - Scott Downs has this under control, and there is no reason to think about going back to B.J. Ryan.
  • White Sox - Bobby Jenks is secure, and we haven't heard any trade rumors.  If for some reason he is dealt they'd probably go with Scott Linebrink, Matt Thornton, or both.
  • Twins - Joe Nathan is secure.
  • Indians - Rough start for Kerry Wood, but he's unscored upon since May 20th.  Wood's injury-prone, but Rafael Betancourt is going to miss a month or so.  So Rafael Perez might be the backup.
  • Tigers - Fernando Rodney is 11 for 11, but he's had some struggles.  Joel Zumaya might be a better backup plan than Brandon Lyon.
  • Royals - Joakim Soria's been fine in two appearances since his return from the DL.  I think Kyle Farnsworth has surpassed Juan Cruz as the second in line.
  • Angels - Brian Fuentes has been subpar but he's paid the big bucks.
  • Athletics - Andrew Bailey has quietly assumed the role.
  • Mariners  - David Aardsma's the man, especially with Brandon Morrow going back to starting.  Be warned that Aardsma has brutal control.
  • Rangers - Frank Francisco's shoulder has been problematic, leaving some save opps for C.J. Wilson.
  • Braves - Mike Gonzalez has been good, but keep in mind that injury-prone setup man Rafael Soriano has been even better.
  • Marlins - Matt Lindstrom is hanging by a thread, but got the win last night with a two-hit scoreless inning.  Manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn't like committees, though Leo Nunez and Kiko Calero have been better.  Gonzalez doesn't seem ready to demote Lindstrom but who knows, he could land back on the DL.
  • Mets - Francisco Rodriguez is locked in, with Bobby Parnell sliding in as the setup man.
  • Phillies - Ryan Madson takes the job while Brad Lidge is on the DL for a knee injury.  Lidge received a cortisone injection; read up on the injury here.  Don't cut Madson when Lidge returns.
  • Nationals - There's no real reason to think this Mike MacDougal experiment will work.  But stranger things have happened, and he should be owned in all leagues.
  • Cubs - Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol have both been unimpressive, walking the house.  Lou Piniella has no plans to demote either, but Angel Guzman has quietly been the Cubs' best reliever.  Stash him away if you can.
  • Reds - Francisco Cordero is secure; the lousy spring meant nothing.
  • Astros - Jose Valverde returns soon from his calf injury, depressing LaTroy Hawkins' value.  Both relievers are free agents after the season and thus trade candidates.  I'd retain Hawkins in case Valverde is dealt or injured again.  But as soon as either Hawkins or Valverde is traded, I think it's time to add Chris Sampson.
  • Brewers - Trevor Hoffman has found the NL Central very much to his liking.
  • Pirates - Matt Capps has been fine lately.  Otherwise it's John Grabow, who could give way to Jesse Chavez if dealt.
  • Cardinals - Ryan Franklin has made the job his.  Kyle McClellan could be the backup.
  • Diamondbacks - Chad Qualls' lingering forearm issues make Tony Pena a must-own.  Juan Gutierrez is another consideration.
  • Rockies - Huston Street has been strong since regaining the closer job.  But Street is a prime trade candidate, making Manny Corpas someone to stash.
  • Dodgers - Jonathan Broxton is secure.
  • Padres - Heath Bell is secure.
  • Giants - Brian Wilson is secure.

Omitted Joe Nathan in original version of the post.


Full Story |  Comments (7) | Categories: Closers

Picks For Wednesday

Hitters:

  • Kelly Shoppach vs. Gil Meche: 3 for 8, 2 HR
  • Lyle Overbay vs. Kevin Millwood: 5 for 13, 2B, 3B, 2 HR
  • Jim Thome vs. Justin Verlander: 9 for 35, 6 HR
  • Greg Dobbs vs. Mike Pelfrey: 5 for 10, 2B, HR
  • Edgar Renteria vs. Doug Davis: 6 for 14, 2B, 2 HR

Pitchers:

  • Doug Davis vs. Giants.  He's been on a roll, shutting down the Padres twice in his last three starts.
  • Jeremy Guthrie vs. Mariners.  He was destroyed by a poor Oakland offense last time out, so only if you're feeling lucky.
  • Carl Pavano vs. Royals.  You can't deny that Carl's been getting it done.  His last effort was a shutout against the White Sox.  The Indians could trade him to the NL in a few months, further increasing his value.

Thanks to Daily Baseball Data for the data.


Full Story |  Comments (5) | Categories: Matchups

Types Of Breakouts

To me there are four kinds of breakout seasons:

  • Stat-based, where the numbers were screaming breakout and the guy just needed more playing time or the right role.  These are the easiest to identify.  Examples: Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, Heath Bell, Yovani Gallardo.
  • Talented young player makes the leap.  Examples: Adam Jones, Zack Greinke, Justin Upton, Johnny Cueto, Edwin Jackson.  As far as I can tell, most projection systems saw these guys as solid fantasy contributors.  But none predicted monster years.  These types of players come with glowing scouting reports, so it's not out of the blue.  I think you need a few of these scouting-based calls to come through to win a league.
  • Injury bounceback.  Erik Bedard, Victor Martinez, Aaron Hill, and Carl Crawford are examples this year.  They came at a discount due to their 2008 injuries.
  • Out of the blue.  Breakouts no one saw coming: Raul Ibanez this year, Cliff Lee last year.  For these guys we come up with the explanations later - Ibanez moved to the NL, Lee was healthy and starting doing this and that more.  These breakouts are pretty rare - usually a player falls into one of the first three categories.

What do you think - are these the four classifications of a breakout season?


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Mailbag: Sanchez, Sabathia, Peavy

A look through the mailbag...

Should I keep waiting on Jonathan Sanchez to break out, or should I cut him
loose?  I love those Ks, but he seems to get hit hard every time. - Ellis

Perhaps you can let us know in the comments who you'd be cutting Sanchez for.  But I see the same old Sanchez - lots of Ks, WHIP killer.  He's shown no progress with control; in fact, it's gotten worse.  Most likely there are several starting pitchers on your waiver wire I'd rather have.

Hey Tim, who would you rather have from this point onward in a mixed 5x5 roto league: C.C. Sabathia or Jake Peavy? - Ian

Pretty easy call for Sabathia for me.  Less injury risk, better chance at getting wins.  Peavy could end up playing for a better team, but at the cost of his advantageous ballpark.

Tim, any chance you make make a complete list of pitcher eWHIP available or know where such a list exists? - Tom

Unfortunately it only exists as a spreadsheet on my computer, and it's outdated since it does not update continually.  Maybe we can make it a monthly feature if the interest is there.

Get in on next week's mailbag - submit your question here.  The goal is to find questions that can help everyone rather than ones specific to your team or league.


Full Story |  Comments (2) | Categories: Mailbag

Picks For Monday

Hitters:

  • Jeff Francoeur vs. Zach Duke: 8 for 17, 2 2B, HR
  • Martin Prado vs. Zach Duke: 5 for 9, 3 2B, HR

Pitchers:

  • Anthony Swarzak vs. Athletics.
  • Sean West vs. Giants.

Thanks to DailyBaseballData.com for the data.


Full Story |  Comments (5) | Categories: Matchups

Tommy Hanson To Debut Saturday

Of the three big-name recent callups - Tommy Hanson, Andrew McCutchen, and Gordon Beckham - Hanson is the one to go after in fantasy baseball this year.

Hanson, a 22 year-old righty, debuts Saturday against the Brewers.  There's a good chance he's already owned in your league, but we'll praise him anyway.  In 11 Triple A starts, Hanson whiffed 90 in 66.3 innings.  His control was superb, too.

From Hanson I expect an ERA under 4.00, a WHIP under 1.30, and plenty of Ks.  Sure, there will be bumps along the road.  Maybe he'll toss a few stinkers and get dropped in your league.  But from here on out I expect a solid fantasy  contribution from Hanson.  A good comp might be Tim Lincecum's rookie year - 4.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 150 Ks in 146.3 innings.



A Look At Gordon Beckham

The White Sox called up top prospect Gordon Beckham; he's playing third base and batting eighth today against the A's in his debut.  He will play regularly for the Sox, and could see time at second base, shortstop, and the hot corner.  Fantasy leaguers, of course, hope he gets middle infield eligibility.  Ozzie Guillen seems willing to stick with Chris Getz at second base though.

It was a short stay in the minors for Beckham, who was drafted just a year ago.  He's played only 44 games in the high minors, displaying good doubles power.  He's only attempted three steals in 58 games in his minor league career, so I wouldn't look for SBs.

Beckham's minor league work this year translates to .276/.314/.448 in the bigs.  Scouting reports praise his power, but those doubles will have to start clearing the wall for it to translate to fantasy baseball power.  Like Andrew McCutchen, I can't say I expect big things from Beckham in fantasy as a rookie.  Both players seem like guys who won't kill you but won't be much different from other waiver wire fodder.




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