July 2009

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Closer Replacements

It's officially time to add Mike Adams in your league for saves in San Diego.  Jim Johnson for the Orioles, too.  (UPDATE: Heath Bell, of course, stayed put as the Padres' closer).

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BABIP, Anyone?

Been a while since we checked in our BABIP leaders and trailers.  Minimum 75 IP.

Those benefitting from low BABIPs should see their WHIPs rise:

Scott Feldman 0.236 1.56 0.136 3.59 1.14
Dan Haren 0.240 7.42 0.121 2.14 0.84
Scott Richmond 0.246 2.37 0.211 3.69 1.20
Jarrod Washburn 0.247 2.60 0.116 2.71 1.06
Edwin Jackson 0.249 2.36 0.143 2.59 1.11
Chris Carpenter 0.255 4.75 0.098 2.26 0.91
Shairon Martis 0.256 0.87 0.178 5.25 1.42
Randy Wolf 0.257 2.71 0.169 3.45 1.13
Yovani Gallardo 0.259 2.16 0.149 3.09 1.25
Chris Young 0.260 1.25 0.189 5.21 1.45
Jeff Karstens 0.260 1.03 0.189 4.40 1.36
J.A. Happ 0.261 2.15 0.140 2.97 1.18
Mark Buehrle 0.262 2.92 0.164 3.28 1.10
Trevor Cahill 0.262 1.09 0.223 4.50 1.45
Matt Garza 0.263 2.32 0.134 3.68 1.20
Kevin Millwood 0.268 1.87 0.156 3.39 1.28
Jair Jurrjens 0.268 1.87 0.121 2.67 1.20
Clayton Kershaw 0.269 1.75 0.090 2.96 1.26
Jered Weaver 0.269 2.73 0.157 3.57 1.18

It's time to sell high on Feldman, who has a 4.80 xFIP.  Happ is another player to shop, especially given the possibility he lands in the AL East as part of a Roy Halladay trade.

Here are the buying opportunities, guys who should see their WHIPs come down:

Todd Wellemeyer 0.360 1.45 0.177 5.79 1.75
Kevin Slowey 0.355 5.00 0.194 4.86 1.41
Manny Parra 0.354 1.48 0.172 6.42 1.80
Ricky Nolasco 0.344 4.04 0.192 5.42 1.36
Aaron Harang 0.344 3.67 0.180 4.25 1.43
Jordan Zimmermann 0.343 3.17 0.157 4.63 1.36
Jason Hammel 0.342 2.80 0.156 4.28 1.45
Carl Pavano 0.339 3.68 0.177 5.48 1.40
Livan Hernandez 0.335 1.54 0.162 4.87 1.53
Jon Lester 0.335 3.56 0.130 3.79 1.29
Cole Hamels 0.335 4.57 0.195 4.66 1.33

Sorry to say, there's not much here.  Favorites of mine like Zimmermann and Slowey are on the shelf.  Parra, Hammel, and Pavano are mildly interesting.  Check the price on Harang.

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First Round Busts

Every year brings a handful of first-round busts.  Let's see who qualifies this year.

  • Some will argue for David Wright's inclusion, since he only has 5 HR currently.  Since Wright's been an asset in the other four categories, he's not a bust.  Similar story for Ian Kinsler, who's hitting .248 but doing well otherwise.
  • Jose Reyes tallied just 166 plate appearances this year.  He's sidelined with a strained hamstring with no end in sight.  And once he comes back, will he steal bases like the Reyes of old?  Hanley Ramirez put some serious distance between himself, Reyes, and Jimmy Rollins this year.
  • Grady Sizemore has this fantasy line: .234-13-49-44-9 in 334 plate appearances (7 times caught stealing).  He spent time on the DL with elbow pain and will require surgery after the season.  He seems to be back on track this month, and should still amass solid value.
  • Rollins has been disappointing - .238-8-37-56-16 in 407 PAs.  Since he's still flirting with a 100 run, 30 SB pace, he's not a total bust. 
  • Josh Hamilton has a fantasy line of .243-7-28-25-5 in 189 PAs.  He missed a bunch of time with surgery for a torn abdomen.  Like several others on this list, he still has time to make up ground.
  • Reyes and Hamilton, due to injury, stand as the biggest first-round busts of 2009.  Has your team been able to withstand a first-round bust?

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What Happens If Chad Qualls Is Traded?

We touched on the topic of a possible Chad Qualls trade in our last post, but that was just my speculation.  Diamondbacks beat writer Nick Piecoro, writing for the Arizona Republic, finds the team unlikely to move their closer.  However, he's heard "nearly half of baseball" has inquired.  I asked Piecoro a few more questions about the situation, to determine the best course of action for fantasy owners.

RotoAuthority: If the D'Backs trade Qualls, who do you see stepping in as closer?  Is Jon Rauch the favorite?  What would be the pecking order?

Piecoro: With Tony Pena gone, Rauch would be Qualls’ successor as the closer. There’s really no one else in the bullpen with experience in the ninth inning. I guess if Tom Gordon gets back from his rehab and has some solid outings, he could work himself into the picture. But that’s a ways away.

RotoAuthority: Daniel Schlereth is currently on the DL in Double A with a strained rib cage muscle.  Once healthy, do you see him as a candidate for saves with the big club this year?

Piecoro: No, I don’t really see Schlereth as a candidate this year. Maybe somewhere down the road, but he hasn’t really refined his fastball command enough yet to the point where I would see them trusting him in the ninth. He has the weapons to do the job – his curveball is a swing-and-miss pitch to lefties and righties – but at this point he doesn’t throw enough strikes.

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Closer Trade Candidates

Of course, there is only one place to catch all the latest trade chatter: MLB Trade Rumors!  But today let's focus on closers who could be dealt, for those on the lookout for saves in fantasy leagues.

  • It's been said the Angels have an eye on Blue Jays closer Scott Downs.  In the unlikely event they pry him loose, Jason Frasor would presumably take over in Toronto.
  • Orioles closer George Sherrill is a popular trade target.  Most of the interested parties would probably bump him from a closer role.  Former closer Chris Ray is returning from biceps tendinitis and seems a long shot; I'd snag Jim Johnson instead.
  • The Indians would listen on Kerry Wood.  Maybe Rafael Betancourt would step in if he's not dealt.  Chris Perez could be a dark horse. Maybe Betancourt gets the righties, Aaron Laffey the lefties.
  • The Pirates might consider a deal for Matt Capps, but they'd probably have to be bowled over.  If he goes, John Grabow probably stays and closes (though I imagine the team would like to see Joel Hanrahan step up).
  • Arizona closer Chad Qualls has been scouted by the Phillies and other clubs.  The team's previous trade of Tony Pena seems to clear the way for Jon Rauch, who's been better lately and did rack up saves last summer for the Nationals.  You won't find Rauch owned in many mixed leagues.
  • The Padres are not looking to trade Heath Bell.  If Kevin Towers changes his mind, Edward Mujica could be thrown into the fire.
  • Future free agents Huston Street and Jose Valverde previously seemed like trade candidates, but the Rockies are leading the wild card and the Astros are only three games back in their division.
  • Bottom line: grab Jim Johnson and Jon Rauch, and then think about some of these other guys if you have the roster space.  Did I miss anyone?

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Mat Latos To Debut Sunday?

Top Padres pitching prospect Mat Latos is likely to get the call this Sunday, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock.  Fantasy implications?

First, the details on the 21 year-old righty.  He dominated at Low A last year and early this year, and then handled the jump to Double A with aplomb (a 1.91 ERA in nine starts there).  Peripherals were excellent across the board, especially his pinpoint control.  Now Latos will try to skip another level by entering the Padres rotation, possibly Sunday at home against Colorado.

Baseball America questioned the kid's maturity and health, but praised his raw stuff as "ridiculously good."  Excellent fastball and slider, decent changeup.  BA really worries about his attitude, and had him pegged for just Double A this year.

Another factor to consider is that Padres GM Kevin Towers suggested in the above-linked article that Latos will be shut down after about 55 more innings.  So you're probably getting 10-11 starts.

I see the kid is not yet listed in Yahoo leagues.  Based on his numbers, scouting report, and home park, I'd pounce when he does appear.  We often see young players struggle with control, but that might not be an issue with Latos.

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Pitcher Abuse Points

Which starting pitchers are being ridden like rented mules?  Let's check out the Baseball Prospectus stat Pitcher Abuse Points Per Start (minimum 75 IP).

  1. Roy Halladay
  2. Justin Verlander - 10 starts in the 110-121 pitch range, and two more beyond that.  In his career, Verlander is yet to have an impressive second half.
  3. Gil Meche
  4. Kevin Millwood - Big contract incentive for Millwood to pitch 50 more innings this year.
  5. Edwin Jackson - Another notch in Jim Leyland's belt, this time with a 25 year-old.  Jackson's pro innings high was 183.3 last year with the Rays; if he makes 32 starts he could top 210.  Even if his arm does hold up, you almost have to consider selling high simply because you know he probably won't repeat his 2.52 first-half ERA.
  6. Adam Wainwright
  7. Ubaldo Jimenez
  8. C.C. Sabathia
  9. Chad Billingsley
  10. Ian Snell
  11. Cliff Lee
  12. Kyle Davies
  13. Yovani Gallardo
  14. Tim Lincecum
  15. Josh Beckett
  16. Barry Zito
  17. Wandy Rodriguez
  18. A.J. Burnett
  19. Livan Hernandez
  20. Aaron Harang

Which pitchers do you see breaking down in the second half?

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Sleepers Since May 1

Let's take a look at a few players who bounced back from lousy Aprils to post big numbers thereafter.

  • Josh Willingham, OF.  .340-11-24-36-3 in 156 ABs.  Not a household name, but he's been better than a lot of big-name OFs since the beginning of May.  Willingham is a decent candidate to be traded.
  • Luke Scott, OF.  Weird season for Scott - mediocre in April and June, on fire in May and July.  He's at .325-15-40-30-0 since May 1.
  • Maicer Izturis, SS.  He's actually done most of his damage in June and July.  But 30 runs in 149 ABs since May 1 deserves attention.  He's batted leadoff over 100 times.
  • Franklin Gutierrez, OF.  .314-9-30-34-5 since May 1 - a five tool guy.
  • Cody Ross, OF.  .301-11-38-36-3. 
  • A few SPs who've been killing it since May 1 but were certainly undrafted in mixed leagues: Randy Wells and J.A. Happ.  Wells has better peripherals and is less hit-reliant.  Kenshin Kawakami has been solid at 3.36.  Gavin Floyd's at 4.07, nice peripherals.  Similar story for Brian Bannister, Carl Pavano, Jason Hammel, Kevin Correia, Brett Anderson, Jordan Zimmermann, and Hiroki Kuroda.  Highly touted young guys like Anderson and Zimmermann could take off in the second half.

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Edwin Encarnacion A Second Half Sleeper?

A reader emailed asking whether Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion is primed for a big second half.  He's owned in only 51.4% of ESPN leagues, though he was a tenth-round pick coming into the season.

Encarnacion recently came off a chip fracture in his wrist, an injury that is known to linger.  The Reds might not have much confidence; they were linked to Scott Rolen earlier this month.  But hey, that's why you're getting him on the cheap.  Tiny samples, but Encarnacion's five extra-base hits in 34 July plate appearances plus two HRs in his rehab stint might be positive signs.

EE is still only 26, and he's shown that when he's right he can bang out 5-7 homers in a given month.  I'd snag him and see how the rest of July goes.  Along similar lines, it's time to grab Alex Gordon if he was cut following news of hip surgery.  He'll return this week.

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Checking In On The RotoAuthority League

The RotoAuthority League is a fierce 12-team mixed league battle.  Let's take a look at the current standings, here at the All-Star break.

  1. Cult of Personality - 93.5
  2. Men With Wood - 81
  3. Waveland Avenue - 79.5
  4. A Century Of Misery - 75.5
  5. Ghostride the WHIP - 68.5
  6. Santas Magic Janitor - 68
  7. Depressed Fan - 60.5
  8. Miss Conception - 60.5
  9. Smell The Glove - 53.5
  10. Philly Cheez - 53
  11. Dizzy Llamas - 51.5
  12. Broken Down Volvos - 35

The league has a $100 buy-in, so the pot is substantial.  And on the flip side, the bottom four teams are kicked out.  Many of us are jockeying to get to 8th place.

Why is Cult Of Personality running away with the league?  Let's take a look at his draft by round, starting with the second overall pick:

  1. Jose Reyes
  2. B.J. Upton
  3. Prince Fielder
  4. Alex Rios
  5. Curtis Granderson
  6. Felix Hernandez
  7. Ryan Zimmerman
  8. Yovani Gallardo
  9. Carlos Pena
  10. Adam Wainwright
  11. Chris Iannetta
  12. Jose Lopez
  13. Matt Capps (traded with Street for Michael Young on May 13)
  14. Ervin Santana (dropped June 2)
  15. Josh Johnson
  16. Shin-Soo Choo
  17. Billy Butler (dropped April 21)
  18. Huston Street
  19. Wandy Rodriguez
  20. Adam Lind (dropped March 22)
  21. Aaron Hill (traded for Matt Cain on May 24)
  22. Jordan Zimmermann (dropped April 5)
  23. Yadier Molina
  24. Jeremy Hermida (dropped June 6)
  25. Josh Fields (dropped May 13)
  26. Jose Arredondo (dropped March 18)

Key pickups: Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Cuddyer, Cody Ross, and J.A. Happ.  With 31 moves, Cult has not been nearly as active as most teams in the league.  It's paid off.  And he only had one glaring bad drop in Lind.  He has a stacked outfield and a speedy team, despite the loss of Reyes.  And look at those sleepers coming through!  The team has only two weaknesses: AVG for 6 points (not that bad), and a 1 in saves with the decision to punt the category and avoid the waiver wire madness.

At least at this point, Cult is proof that A) you can punt saves in a tough league and B) you can get past a first-round bust.

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