April 2012

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RotoAuthority Live Chat

Click below to read a transcript of Thursday's live chat with RotoAuthority's Steve Adams.



Recent Call-Ups: Frazier, Pomeranz, Smyly, Wilk

Three teams have made a quartet of interesting call-ups in recent weeks, but are any of the players worthy of a spot on a fantasy roster? Let's dig in...

Todd Frazier | 3B | Reds

Frazier, 26, was Cincinnati's last roster cut before the start of the season and now he's back with the club following Miguel Cairo's hamstring injury. He's hit .261/.335/.453 in parts of four seasons at Triple-A but didn't get his first taste of the show until last year. Baseball America has considered Frazier as one of the team's ten best prospects for a half-decade now, ranking him ninth this year because of his "plus power to all fields."

The problem for Frazier and fantasy owners is playing time. He's a corner infielder and outfielder by trade, and the Reds have those spots covered with Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, and Jay Bruce. Even the unconventional left field platoon of Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick has no room for Frazier because like those two guys, he's a right-handed hitter. Rolen looks pretty much done - .171/.209/.244 so far - plus he isn't exactly Mr. Durable, but it will probably take an injury to get Frazier into the lineup with an regularity. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS system thinks he can hit 20 homers with 13 steals given regular at-bats in the show, but that's just not going to happen right now. Unless injury earns him a steady lineup spot, Frazier is a non-option in 12-team mixed leagues.

Drew Pomeranz | SP | Rockies

Part of last summer's Ubaldo Jimenez trade, the 23-year-old Pomeranz got his feet wet with the Rockies last September and allowed eleven runs in 18 1/3 innings across four starts. The southpaw made the team's rotation out of Spring Training, though he was sent to the minors for one start because off days allowed Colorado to avoid using their fifth starter. Pomeranz was recalled to make his first start of the season against the Diamondbacks on Sunday, allowing five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Considered the 30th best prospect in the game before the season by Baseball America, Pomeranz has frontline stuff but must master his control to realize his potential. He walked 38 batters in 101 minor league innings last season (3.4 BB/9), but he also struck out 119 for a 10.6 K/9. Walks can be problematic when Coors Field is your home park, but the strikeouts do mitigate the risk somewhat. The NL West is also full of big-time pitcher's parks, which will help further. Pomeranz can be useful to your fantasy team if you pick and choose your spots. His next two starts are likely to come against the Brewers and Mets, but after that the Rockies run into a slate of games against the Dodgers, Braves, Padres, Dodgers (again), Giants, Diamondbacks (sans Chris Young and maybe Justin Upton), and then an interleague series with the Mariners. I'm buying Pomeranz right now, both for that short-term stretch and for the long-term upside in a keeper league.

Drew Smyly & Adam Wilk | SP | Tigers

The runners-up to Duane Below in the fifth starter's competition, both Smyly and Wilk are back in the big leagues and in Detroit's rotation. Doug Fister is on the shelf with an oblique strain and the team decided to keep Below in the bullpen after two early-season relief appearances. Smyly, 22, allowed one run in four innings to the Rays in his first start before shutting out the White Sox over six innings the second time out. The 24-year-old Wilk allowed two runs in five innings to those same ChiSox in his only start so far.

Neither Smyly or Wilk offers the same upside of Pomeranz, though Baseball America did rank Smyly as the Tigers' third best prospect before the season. Not only was Wilk much further down the list at 22, but he was also listed as a reliever. Below was 21st. Smyly is a bit of a personal fave as a true five-pitch - four-seamer, cutter, curveball, slider, changeup - left-hander with a strong but short minor league track record. He walked just 36 of the 501 batters he faced last season (7.2% and 2.6 BB/9) while striking out 130 in 126 innings (25.9% and 9.3 K/9). He also advanced three levels after being a 2010 draft pick. Smyly's next two starts are must-sits against the Rangers and Yankees, but after that the Tigers will go on to play the White Sox, Mariners, Athletics, White Sox (again), Twins, Pirates, Indians, and Twins (again). There is some definite fantasy value to be gained but matching up with Smyly over the next month.

Wilk will enjoy that same cushy schedule, but he has much less margin for error as a finesse southpaw - low-to-mid-80s fastball, curveball, change. His minor league walk rates are fantastic (1.2 BB/9 in 2011), but he doesn't miss many bats (just 6.7 K/9) and AL hitters will punish his mistakes. You might luck into a decent start or two next month, but Smyly is the better play both in terms of probability and upside. Fister suffered a bit of a setback in his rehab recently, so both Wilk and Smyly appear to have some short-term job security.



Buy Low on Tim Lincecum

In 2010, Tim Lincecum struck out 231 batters in 212 innings, with a SIERA of 3.21. His average fastball velocity? 91.3 mph. In four starts from Aug. 10-27 that year, Lincecum had an earned run average of 9.00 and an average fastball of 90.8 mph. Lincecum has been prone to stretches of diminished velocity, and thus his unsightly start should be little cause for alarm. I must respectfully disagree with esteemed colleage Tom Warman, who wrote briefly on Lincecum here. Yes, his current average fastball of 90.3 mph is particularly low, but I still see this as a buying opportunity. He has 16 strikeouts to four walks in 13 2/3 innings. Buy low. 

It looks as if Chris Iannetta will catch five or six games a week; in the Angel's first 11 games, Iannetta has only sat twice, and he's sporting a heady .267/.353/.567 triple slash in an exhaustive 30 at-bat sample. Still, the age old addage has it that catchers develop late, and Iannetta posted isolated powers of .240 and .232 in 2008 and 2009. Given 450 at-bats, could he be this year's Mike Napoli? Probably not, but he'll likely hit 20 home runs. 

Ryan Doumit did not stick in right field. The Twins picked up Clete Thomas off waivers, and Thomas started in right field on Monday night. Doumit has gone from looking like a candidate for 500 at-bats to one for 350. I dropped Doumit for Iannetta in a shallow mixed league. 

Francisco Liriano increased his average two-seam fastball velocity from 90.9 mph in his first start to 91.2 mph in his second. I followed Yahoo's Andy Behrens' lead and dropped him in both leagues I owned him in. ... As I write this on Tuesday night, the Yankee Stadium gun is giving readings of 94 and 95 mph on Liriano's fastball in the first inning. Liriano walked Alex Rodriguez on four pitches, three sliders and a fastball up and away. He then struck out Andruw Jones on a biting slider to end the inning. In the second, Liriano located the fastball at 92 to Curtis Granderson, but then walked him on a pitch very high and inside at 94 mph. His velocity is up, but he can't locate the fastball, and who knows how legitimate the Yankee Stadium readings are. Liriano exited in the third after giving up seven hits and four walks in 2 1/3 innings. 

I extolled the virtues of David Ortiz back in February, citing his incredible improvements against left-handed pitching in 2011. To start 2012, Ortiz is 6-for-13 against left-handers, with some impressive rips against Matt Moore on Sunday. As long as Bobby Valentine's leviathan ego doesn't swallow the Red Sox whole, Ortiz is going to have a huge contract year. 

Chris Young made changes to his swing in the offseason in an attempt to keep his bat level through the zone. His hands start higher, and his hips are closed longer. Young had a monster spring, going .400/.494/.738 with a 10:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 65 at-bats. It's difficult to argue with the results thus far, with Young posting a Kempian .400/.500/.892 line with a 5:6 strikeout-to-walk rate in 37 at-bats before Tuesday's game. Significant results from swing changes should not be taken lightly. Obviously, we need to see more from Young, but now might be the time to try and acquire him. 

It's hard not to be influenced by your league's standings early on. We all want to see our name at the top of the list. It is quite illogical to be concerned at this point, however. Note any significant categorical deficincies and if they have worsened by May 15, consider then addressing them. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Closer Updates: Giants, Blue Jays, Rangers

We've got the latest on all the @closernews closer news, so unless you want to walk off the mound a loser, read on ...

Giants
The headliner since we last spoke came this weekend, when news broke that Giants closer Brian Wilson sustained a serious injury, one that San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy ham-handedly phrased as "structural issues." Yes, that's one way of putting it, Boch. The short of it is, The Beard is very likely headed for a second Tommy John surgery, in which case he would be sidelined for the year and perhaps into next.

Of course, we wish Wilson the best and hope to see him back at full strength as soon as possible. Apropos of nothing, may I suggest this excellent piece by Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com for an interesting look at Wilson, which somehow manages to both strip away and prop up Wilson's "Beard" persona.

Anyway, what do we make of this unfortunate situation from a fantasy perspective? Well, Bochy wasted no time in announcing that he'd be deploying a closer-by-committee of Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez, much to frustration of owners everywhere. It's my experience that fantasy types tend not to appreciate ambiguity in these kinds of situations.

The way it plays out may be simpler than it appears at first glance, though. Lopez can probably be discounted as a seriouus closing candidate on account of his LOOGY profile, unless it should work out that he's brought in to face a tough lefty for the final out of a game. That leaves us Romo and Casilla, and though Romo would be the rightful successor as one of the dominant relievers in baseball, he must be handled gently on account of his propensity for injuries, as Baggarly notes in the above-mentioned article. We can debate it from an old school-new school perspective all we want, but frailty is not a virtue for ballplayers -- especially not for closers, who are supposed to get their Dale Earnhardt on on the mound.

In fact, Casilla is the trendy own, and I think it has merit. Recall that the Giants faced life without Wilson for a substantial chunk of the second half last season on account of an elbow strain (ominously enough). During that time, the bulk of save opportunities went to the right-hander Casilla, a strong-armed reliever whose shiny surface stats have seemed to belie rather pedestrian peripherals for a couple years running now (3.66 SIERA vs. 1.74 ERA in 2011, for example). Casilla will likely get first crack, and although I worry about whether he can run with the job, he's the better pickup.

Blue Jays
Sergio Santos got off to a slow start as a Blue Jay, allowing four earned runs in his first three innings of work. Then, he had the indecency to tend to the birth of his child, which left his ugly small-sample-size numbers to linger on his owners' stats sheets like two-week-old Easter candy.

The good followers at @closernews pinged us with a few questions regarding Santos before he bounced for paternity leave. Though we've seen even the most entrenched closers receive ye olde demotion over the years, I'm not yet worried about Santos' job security. For one, the Jays made a point of trading for him and his team-friendly contract this offseason, so you know he's Their Guy for the foreseeable future. For two, Francisco Cordero ain't much of an alternative at this juncture of his career. I mean, what would be the point?

Unless Santos is injured -- and I have absolutely no reason to believe that -- bet on him bouncing back now that Mary's dropped his baby girl. I hesitate to ignore that whole correlation-causation rule, but would it shock you if Santos' poor early production had something to do with an impending addition to his family? We can't say that for sure, but don't do anything crazy like dropping or selling low on Santos. Sit him down for an outing or two, if you're really concerned.

Rangers
Like the Blue Jays and Santos, Texas has seen newly acquired closer Joe Nathan scuffle in his first few outings as a Ranger. Ron Washington quelled any concerns with an unequivocal declaration as to the identity of his closer (hint: it's Nathan), but this is a situation I'm watching a little more closely.

Nathan is old and two years removed from Tommy John surgery. The latter concern may not be worth mentioning considering the usual time frame for pitchers to fully recover from the procedure, but at Nathan's advanced age, it may be fair to wonder whether he's looking at a different time table. After all my 29-year-old legs tire when I hike up more than two sets of subway steps at a time, so I can't even imagine whipping a baseball at 93 mph eight years from now coming off TJ.

That being said, the Rangers lavished two guaranteed years and $14.75MM on Nathan this offseason, so the last thing they want at the one-percent mark of the deal is a closer controversy. Nathan will receive every chance to get right. It took Neftali Feliz till August-ish to hit his groove last season, and though he presented the Rangers several opportunities to look elsewhere, they never did.

But what if Nathan doesn't get right? Could it finally be the year for Mike Adams? This is one to keep tabs on.

Marlins
Heath Bell's first few outings in Florida Miami haven't gone, um, swimmingly, either. The chubby stopper has allowed two runs in two of his four outings this season, and in one of the others, he issued three free passes. Ugh.

Bell's peripherals took a pretty drastic downturn last season, so this is not an altogether shocking development. Is he hurt? That's hard to say. His velocity is down about one mph, but that's in a very small sample, and ... it's one mph. That being said, let's wait a few more outings till we write off Bell as another free-agent flop (joining Ryan Madson). The Marlins -- perhaps even moreso than the Rangers -- have every incentive in the world to stick with their closer till his arm falls off because of the roundly criticized contract they signed him to during their offseason feeding signing frenzy.

Ironically, Bell was one of the beneficiaries of the Marlins' awkward hey-look-at-us-we-have-money campaign. Now, we'll get to see how serious they are  in handling him if it comes down to wins and losses.

Edward Mujica is my pick to succeed the Heater in the event something should go down (although Steve Cishek would be a candidate too, I spose), and while I have my cursor on the add-drop button, I'm not acting until Bell turns in another clunker.



Silver League Update: Wisdom of the Crowd

Well, another week has gone by, and little has changed in the overall look of our standings.The E-Z Sliders and Spirit of St. Louis sit on top, with another three teams not too far behind. We've got a big middle class and, that I'm excited to sit near the bottom of, after spending most of the week (and this article's first draft) in the cellar. While languishing in the misery and depression of last place I started to think about how to get my team out of the cellar and into ... maybe second-to-last place. Ultimately, my plan of injuring Jacoby Ellsbury and replacing him with Jon Jay helped my pitching a lot.

I decided to ask my leaguemates for help. Not directly, of course. I was curious about which commonly 0wned players don't have a place on our teams and which unknown players do. I like to think that, as a group, we know more than any one of us on our own. I took a look at popular hitters (owned in 15% or more of Yahoo! leagues) that we don't own, and under-the-radar hitters (owned in 12% or fewer leagues). I checked out the pitchers too, but they'll have to wait for their own article. I didn't include catchers, since we run a two-catcher league and own a bunch that nobody in one-catcher leagues would dream of picking up.

Popular Hitters We Don't Like

Chase Utley (72% owned) leads this pack for the moment. It was me who dropped him, and it was a roster crunch type of think. With no timetable till he returns, and an increasingly dim memory of how good he once was, I'm not sure he's really worth an own in most leagues. If you've got a DL slot, he's probably worth a flyer. He might even be picked up by press time.

Colby Rasmus (44%) Sporting a sub-.100 batting average and coming off a bad 2011, it's getting harder and harder to remember the promise (and actual fantasy value) he showed in 2010, and our league is one of many that has cut bait. Maybe we're impatient, or maybe deep down we respect Tony La Russa more than we'd admit. After trading to get him, I have to think the Jays will show some patience in handling Rasmus this year, but that doesn't mean your team has to.

Chipper Jones (35%) may be old and frail, but it looks like he might just be able to hit still. I'm thinking he was the victim of some hitter-streaming when he was released to waivers. While he's healthy, there are plenty of worse options for 3B and CI--the trouble is that if you use him, you'll be using one of those worse options quite a lot. He's another one that I expect to see picked up soon.

Jason Bay (26%) was a quiet bounce-back candidate before the season, thanks to the moving fences at Citi Field. I don't buy that idea and neither does the Silver League; his dropoff was just too total to be nothing but a tough park to hit in. I mean, he started his career in San Diego and Pittsburgh -- not exactly hitters' parks. His work this season is confirming our suspicions.

Chris Heisey (26%) was a semi-sleeper from the preseason, but isn't hitting well right now. If you've got him, you're probably safe to let them go until they hit a little.

Raul Ibanez (17%) has Yankee fame and a couple steals, but he's still a part-timer. He won't be stealing any more bases, and you shouldn't expect huge counting stats because he'll sit so often. If you've got the roster spots to run an outfield platoon, he could have use, but most leagues won't allow you that luxury. Grady Sizemore (16%) is basically a waste of your DL slot at this point. He hasn't been healthy or good in years, and he won't be back from the DL until June. Back injuries are power-killers anyway -- anybody remember Mike Sweeney?

Marco Scutaro (16%) isn't hitting in Colorado yet, but his 2B/SS eligibility gives him a reason to be on your team ... sort of. Robert Andino (16%) is eligible at 2B/SS/3B, so if you've got a medium-sized bench or fragile infielders (like Chipper, maybe) he's a perfectly good option with even a small amount of production. That's good, because a small amount is all you should expect to get.

Our Favorite Unknowns

OK, these guys may not be our favorite-favorites, but they're all owned for a reason. Well, mostly. Denard Span (12%) is off to a hot start after a lousy, 2011. He'd been a useful player before, and his .348 average is making him a sort of anti-Rasmus. The power won't be there, but if you've got Rasmus, and Span is available, it would be a reasonable swap. Dayan Viciedo (12%) has also hit a little and is worth using in the right situations.

Jed Lowrie (10%) is coming off the DL and is eligible at third base and shortstop. Snap him up. Maybe he'll hit; it won't take much for him to have value. Victor Martinez (9%) is the exception to my catcher filter, since he may be coming off the DL late in the season. I think he's got more value potential in head-to-head leagues than roto-style like ours, where his August-September timetable is disproportionately valuable. I'm not totally optimistic about his return, however. Nyjer Morgan (8%) hasn't done a thing to earn his spot in my lineup, but I'm stubbornly holding on to him for now. Tony Plush was good enough last year to hang around a little longer.

Ian Stewart (7%) might have the Cubs' trust for their third base job, but they aren't expecting to win anything this year and you still should be. His power history is memorable, though, and the payoff could be big. Just, don't bank on it. Eric Thames (5%) and Chris Davis (6%) are owned for their power, but they have just one homer between them. Either could get hot at any moment, though. Hopefully.

Michael Saunders (5%) is performing almost-well for the Mariners, but I've seen him in person too many times to trust him. Not that you shouldn't, I'm just admitting my bias. Brian Roberts (5%) isn't the worst DL stash ever, but I'm not too optimistic that his speed will be back if he returns. We also own Jason Bourgeois (3%), who might see more action with Lorenzo Cain on the DL. Keep an eye on him, as he could be a cheap source of steals if he hits well enough to steal the job.

We certainly don't have all the answers, but looking through this list, I saw several players I'm thinking of picking up in other leagues. This list isn't exhaustive (and maybe someone's just about to pick up Rasmus or drop Bourgeois), but it should help you make some roster decisions, especially in leagues where only three-quarters of owners are paying much attention.

If you've got a player that you think is undervalued by most leagues, post him in the comments. Maybe I'll be able to pick him up ...


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This Week In Streaming Strategy

Some pitchers, hitters and platoons are featured in this week's look at how to stream yourself a few extra fantasy points ...

* Bryan LaHair. The Cubs are scheduled to face right-handers in five of six games next week, which is good news for the left-handed-hitting LaHair. All but four of his at-bats have come against righty pitching this season (Jeff Baker plays first against left-handers), and thus LaHair has been on fire, posting a 1.342 OPS against righties through Saturday's action. It's a small sample size, but why not ride LaHair while he's laHot?  The only downside is that two of his matchups against righties this week (against Josh Johnson on Tuesday and Ricky Nolasco on Thursday) will take place at Marlins Park, which is looking like it could be baseball's next great pitchers' park.

* Garrett Jones. The left-handed side of the Pirates' first-base platoon has been off to a slow start, but Jones will have plenty of opportunity to get going this week.  The Bucs face right-handed starters in five of six games this week, with the first three of those games taking place in hitter-friendly Chase Field against the Diamondbacks.

* Chipper Jones. While we're talking about guys named Jones, there's a chance that Chipper's early-season stint on the DL (and general age and injury-prone status) may have left him available in some leagues.  Indeed, Jones has just played in two games this year due to a torn meniscus in his left knee and then swelling in that same knee once he returned from the disabled list.  So, why am I recommending him as a pickup this week?  Simple -- the Braves are playing three games against the Mets. I think Jones could play on one leg and still take it to the Mets, against whom he holds a .318/.414/.559 career line. You can return Jones to your bench or to the waiver wire after the series if you must, but whenever Jones is in the lineup against the Amazins, he is a must-play.

* Jeff Niemann. If Niemann played for any other team, I suspect he'd get a lot more fantasy attention. The big right-hander is currently owned by a measly nine percent of fantasy players on Yahoo Sports, a statistic I can only attribute to Niemann being lost in the shuffle amidst the Rays' ridiculously deep starting pitching corps. He's the fifth starter in Tampa Bay but could easily be a No. 3 on a number of other clubs. Niemann stands out as the most intriguing of this week's widely available two-start starters, slated to pitch on Tuesday in Toronto and on Sunday at home against the Twins. I like his chances at Tropicana Field against the combustible Francisco Liriano and the shaky Twins lineup, though the Blue Jays matchup is a bit tougher. Aside from ERA (5.23), Niemann has pretty solid career numbers against the Jays, so I'd roll the dice and pick up Niemann if you're looking to stream a fifth starter.

* Liriano. Speaking of the Minnesota southpaw, his bandwagon is emptying quickly after two rough starts (10 ER, 15 hits and five walks in nine IP, against just five strikeouts) to begin the season.  Things don't get any easier for Liriano this week with two starts against the Yankees and Rays. If Liriano has already been dropped in your league and you were thinking of sneakily picking him up for a two-start week, just walk away, man. Don't be a hero. Leave the hot crazy girl alone and go with Sarah Niemann, Plain and Tall.

* The Indians lineup. It's been a tough start for the Tribe, who still rank near the bottom of the league in several offensive categories even after scoring 19 runs in two games against Kansas City.  The Indians' lineup is heavy with left-handed bats, so the good news is that they're only slated to face one southpaw (Jason Vargas) in their six games next week. The bad news?  They're playing those six games in the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field and the O.co Coliseum, and their right-handed opponents include the likes of Felix Hernandez and Brandon McCarthyCarlos Santana is the only Indian I'd be comfortable with starting for all six games -- even for stalwarts like Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, I might choose to give them a night or two on the bench this week.


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

We have completed the first of twenty-six weeks in the fantasy baseball season, and with such a small sample size, owners are cautioned against overreacting to the events of the first week. Albert Pujols will eventually hit a home run and get his average safely above the Mendoza Line. But, certain players should be on your buy/sell radar at this stage of the season:

Sell

  • Chad Billingsley - Excellent first two starts to the season after going drafted late with an ADP of 220.0, and stills carries the name recognition of his big 2008 season. His BB/9 is .63 after exceeding 4.0 last year, and his BABIP is nearly 100 points lower than last year, at .212. I would be targeting owners that are short a starting pitcher to see if they are willing to pay the price of a top 130-150 player in trade for Billingsley.
  • Ryan Dempster - Another starter off to an excellent start whose 2011 SIERA of 3.79 indicated a rebound season was in store. I would again target pitching-weak teams to see if you can sell high on Dempster since he will not get many wins on a poor Cubs team with a suspect bullpen.
  • Carlos Pena - Off to a hot start with three home runs and eight RBIs, Pena is a very streaky hitter whose slumps will cause a batting average drain on your roster when he cools down. Sell to other owners his current two-slot in the batting lineup and return to Tampa, and explore trade offers netting value above Pena's 219.0 ADP.
  • Fernando Rodney - Closer injuries have been widespread early this season, and some owners are left short in saves. See if an owner is desparate enough to give you good value on Rodney before the inevitable blowups occur.
  • J.D. Martinez - .429 BABIP has his average at a lofty .364 and he already has two home runs and six RBIs.  He should be a serviceable OF5 or OF6 in 12-team mixed leagues despite playing in a poor offense, but he's getting enough attention that owners may value him as more than that in trade.
  • Tim Lincecum - Disturbing drop in velocity on fastball from 93.11 in 2011 to 90.89 in 2012, and hit hard in first two starts. Sell to other owners that one of the starts was in Coors and that he is "due" to turn his season around, and explore trade options to see if you can get Round 3 value in trade.
  • Brian Wilson - Fastball velocity averaged 90.00 (compared to 94.99 in 2011) and lacked command (including walking in a run) in shaky save yesterday vs. Colorado. Also turned his ankle and may miss a few days, plus dealt with elbow inflammation last year and arm fatigue in the spring. There are reasons to be concerned about the health of his arm. If you own Wilson, make sure to pick up his handcuffs in Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla.

Buy

  • Henry Rodriguez - Brad Lidge blew a save yesterday and has looked hittable, including escaping with a save on Opening Day when Chicago winds kept an Ian Stewart potential game-tying home run out of the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field. Rodriguez has averaged 98.40 mph on his fastball this season and may run away with the Nationals closer role while Drew Storen is out until at least July.
  • Zack Greinke - His ERA looks terrible after the Cubs strung together a bunch of singles and mounted a big rally against the right-hander on Wednesday. But his fastball reached 94.9 against the Cubs, and there is nothing to be concerned with other than Greinke's tendency to have a dud start on occasion outside of Milwaukee. Hopefully the dud is out of his system and you can target Greinke from an owner that is not aware he had the lowest SIERA among qualifying starters last season. See if you can turn Lincecum into Greinke in a deal.
  • Mike Adams - Joe Nathan is coming off Tommy John, has been shaky, and received the dreaded "vote of confidence" from Ron Washington after blowing a save against the Mariners. Adams picked up the save yesterday,and even when not closing will help in ERA/WHIP while also having chances to pick up a win on an excellent team.
  • Greg Holland - Dropped in certain leagues after Jonathon Broxton was named closer, Broxton has had trouble with command and could lose the job to Holland with a few more poor performances.
  • Jordan Schafer - Still available on many waiver wires, he has shown the ability to steal bases -- with three in one game -- and also shown a bit of pop with an early-season homer.
  • Starlin Castro - Already has five stolen bases, and the Cubs have shown a willingness to try and steal third base under a more aggressive baserunning approach. If Castro can get to 40 steals, he should return second-round value hitting in the three-spot.
  • Jeff Samardzija - Probably picked up off the waiver wire after his dominant first start of the season. His fastball reached 98 mph in the ninth inning of his first start, and most encouraging has been his ability to avoid walks (16:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the spring; zero walks in first start). Will be interesting to see how he bounces back after throwing 110 pitches.
  • Adam LaRoche - Strong start to the season with two homers and eight RBIs shows his shoulder is healthy, and Mike Morse has been shut down for six weeks, which will keep LaRoche in the cleanup spot in the order.
  • Zack Cozart - Settled into second spot in the Reds' order ahead of Joey Votto with a strong start to the season. Power/speed combo could result in top 10 finish amongst shortstops, and may still be unknown enough to acquire for relatively cheap.


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RotoAuthority Live Chat

Click below to read a transcript of Thursday's weekly chat with RotoAuthority's Steve Adams.



Moseley's Injury Opens The Door For Joe Wieland

Right-hander Dustin Moseley missed a big chunk of last season with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, but the news is much worse this year. The 30-year-old suffered "extensive damage" and "changes to the labrum" in his right shoulder in his first start of the season last week according to manager Bud Black, when he allowed five runs in five innings to the Dodgers. Last night, the Padres pulled right-handed pitching prospect Joe Wieland from his start for Triple-A Tuscon after just two innings. Baseball America's J.J. Cooper confirms that Wieland was lifted from the game and told he's headed to San Diego to fill Moseley's rotation spot. As you'd expect, he was thrilled when he got the news.

The Padres have yet to confirm the move, but it appears that Wieland will make his big league debut against the Dodgers this Saturday. San Diego acquired the 22-year-old from the Rangers in the Mike Adams trade last summer, and Baseball America went on to rank him as the seventh best prospect in baseball's third best farm system. "Wieland profiles as a classic No. 4 starter, but his exquisite control suggests he could be a No. 3," wrote Matt Eddy in the subscriber-only scouting report, and he's not kidding about the exquisite control. Wieland walked just 21 batters in 155 2/3 innings last year, a 1.2 BB/9 and 3.4% of the hitters he faced. Just for some perspective, the best walk rate in the big league last year was Josh Tomlin's 3.2%. No one else was below 3.5%. 

Based on the batted ball data at First Inning, Wieland is a bit of a fly ball pitcher and that plays right into his home ballpark. He's a four-pitch guy - upper-80s/low-90s fastball, curveball, slider, changeup - with very strong strikeout rates in the minors, including an 8.7 K/9 and 24.4 K% last season. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS system thinking Wieland can muster a sub-4.00 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning as a big leaguer this season, and that guy is rosterable in a standard 12-team mixed league with 5x5 scoring. As with any extreme strike-thrower, the risk is too many pitches in the strike zone resulting in lots of hits allowed. Hits have a way of turning into runs, though I still don't think it's crazy to expect a lower ERA than ZiPS projects given Petco Park. Wieland is certainly more usable in fantasy than Moseley, a low-strikeout ground ball guy.

Assuming he starts at Dodger Stadium this weekend, Wieland's next start would come at home against the Chase Utley and Ryan Howard-less Phillies. A date with the Nationals in Petco would follow next. That's three straight pretty favorable matchups, making Wieland a nice early-season waiver wire add. I wouldn't count on him or any Padres' hurler to provide many wins, but he's capable of a lowering your ERA and WHIP rates while chipping in a handful of strikeouts. For a spare rotation piece, those are pretty solid traits. Most fill-in types will kill the rate stats and boost the counting stats, not the other way around. 


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Francisco Liriano Is The Hot Crazy Girl

Oh, Francisco Liriano. If I weren't so dispirited by my inability to stay away from you, I might have the energy to calculate the stratospheric ERA and WHIP that you have unremittingly disseminated onto my fantasy teams over the past year. It's bad, really bad. 

The hot crazy girl analogy is unavoidable. You know you shouldn't draft him; you know you shouldn't text her. You put him in the lineup; you pay for her expensive meal. He destroys your ratios; she destroys your rationality. And on and so on. 

It's only been one start! The PITCHf/x data sure doesn't look good, though. Liriano's two-seamer, the speedier of his two fastball offerings (and his fastball of choice), averaged 90.9 mph. Blech. What happened to sitting comfortably at 93 mph in the spring, Francisco? Liriano's two-seamer averaged 93.6 mph in his first start of 2010. In the first start of his putrid 2011, his two-seamer averaged 91.5. And here Liriano is averaging 90.9 mph. What. Is. Going. On. 

Smart Liriano speculators saw him and waited for the PITCHf/x data. Rationality-starved Liriano psychotics like myself started him in all leagues. I'm not starting him again until I see that average fastball velocity breach 93 mph. Of course, that means he'll throw another no-hitter. 

Jonathan Broxton and his prodigious physique occur on the opposite side of the velocity spectrum. After 2010, Broxton's geese were seemingly cooked. The Royals gambled, however, and after Broxton hit 98.5 mph on the gun in Anaheim on Sunday, the Royals risk-taking seems to have paid off. Broxton blew away Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Kendrys Morales. Granted, not one of his fastballs was located in the strike zone, and it remains to be seen if Broxton can dial it to 97 or 98 and hit his spots. Still, the velocity spike is impressive, and should indicate that Broxton is feeling healthy. He may be in line for a very nice 2012. 

Some other quick observations:

Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez both already have a SB. This should also indicate that both players are feeling healthy. Beltran already has three homers, while A-Rod has five walks to only four strikeouts. 

Kelly Johnson and Zack Cozart are both seeing the ball well at the outset. Johnson has five walks to three stirkeouts and a homer; Cozart two walks to two strikeouts and four extra-base hits, including a homer. Hitting in front of Jose Bautista and Joey Votto, respectively, both players could be in for nice seasons. 

Most are picking Henry Rodriguez to get the bulk of saves if Drew Storen is out for an extended period (as it appears he will be). Rodriguez blew the save on Monday night, however, thereby prying the door open a little further for Brad Lidge. Another blown save for Rodriguez could force Davey Johnson to nominate Lidge. 

The Yankees have faced two left-handers in their first five games, and Brett Gardner sat both times, giving way to the right-handed bat of Andruw Jones. Microcosmically speaking, this looks like a straight-up timeshare. In an AL-only league, owning both players could provide quite a nice line at season's end. In a mixed league, this is somewhat of a nuisance for Gardner owners. 

Well, that's about 3% of the season in the books. Fantasy baseball: nothing like it!


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