Pickup Party


Popular Adds

I am going to stop using the ESPN league data for Popular Adds.  Those guys have already been added several weeks ago in reasonably competitive leagues.  Instead I will look at a couple of my own 5x5 12-team mixed leagues.

  • Jordan Zimmermann, SP.  OK, it was me who made this pickup.  Zimmermann's start against the Giants wasn't great, but he did strike out eight.  I like the kid's stuff and strikeout/walk rates.  He might work out as my last starter.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez, SP.  Three good ones in a row for Jimenez, with 15 Ks and only 3 BB in 21 IP.  Those starts were against the Giants and Astros, however.  Not coincidentally, those two teams are the worst in the NL in walks per game.  I still think Ubaldo's a WHIP-killer.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B/SS/OF.  Over the last seven days Hairston is hitting .458 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, 11 R, and 3 SB.  And the eligibility is huge.  This is a solid, versatile pickup.
  • Casey Blake, 1B/3B.  Blake is this year's fantasy league hooker, everyone gets a turn.  No one, myself included, can decide if he's worth hanging on to.  In the last seven days he's at .409-2-6-5-0, and he's got 7 HR and 22 RBI overall.  My impulsive side wants to cut Derrek Lee for him.  Man do I hate owning Derrek Lee.
  • Barry Zito, SP.  Zito has a 3.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 29 Ks, and 1 win in 7 starts.  He is getting more grounders this year, but I'm having a hard time seeing mixed league value in him.
  • Ty Wigginton, 3B/OF.  Wiggy finally started to hit in the last week.  His longer history shows he's probably best used only against lefties.
  • C.J. Wilson, RP.  Rangers closer Frank Francisco is dealing with biceps tendonitis.  He could come back Sunday but the DL is possible too. Despite his iffy peripherals Wilson must be owned.
  • Dave Bush, SP.  Three nice starts in a row for Bush.  Nice control this year but he does owe a lot to a .239 BABIP.  I'm skeptical.
  • Colby Rasmus, OF.  Rasmus is showing some pop over the last few weeks but it'd be nice if he'd attempt a few steals.  He should continue playing regularly with Ryan Ludwick hitting the DL.
  • Nick Johnson, 1B.  Still an OBP machine, which doesn't help much in your standard 5x5.  But a few years ago he did chip in in the typical roto categories, and is worth rostering for now.
  • Mat Gamel, 3B.  Gamel mashed in Triple A, but in a non-keeper mixed league you have to question his playing time.
  • Zach Duke, SP.  Nice control, but a .270 BABIP and a weak K rate will cause me to take a pass.
  • Matt Harrison, SP.  Hard to argue with his last four starts.  Liking the control but again I don't see the Ks for a mixed league pickup.
  • Brett Cecil, SP.  A couple of fine starts to begin his career.  I like the scouting reports but not the idea of owning an AL East rookie.  He did not show acceptable control in his ten career Triple A starts.
  • Justin Masterson, SP/RP.  The walk rate is high at 3.6, but he can't be blamed for the .351 BABIP.  He's not long for the rotation anyway.


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Popular Adds

A run through ESPN's most popular additions to fantasy teams...

  • Russell Branyan.  Monster start to the season for Branyan, who's at .321-7-15-18-1 in 89 plate appearances.  He qualifies at both infield corners in most leagues.  Branyan's contact rate is 74%, an improvement on years past.  Playing more regularly doesn't hurt.  He's even hitting lefties a bit so far.  I remain skeptical that Branyan can hit .280 from here on out, but he could easily finish the year with 25 homers.
  • Hank Blalock.  Blalock blasted six homers in April, causing fantasy leaguers to wonder if he can reach 30 HR again.  His contact rate is up, but his OBP is ugly.  One has to hope his contract year will push him to rack up 550 ABs.  Health is the biggest question.
  • Scott Richmond.  Richmond's peripherals aren't too bad - 7.7 K.9, 3.6 BB/9.  His HR rate may come down a bit, but his .247 BABIP and hits allowed figure to come way up.  Richmond strikes me as a guy who will help the Jays a lot more than your fantasy team, as his ERA and WHIP may be in the 4.50/1.40 range from here on out.
  • Phil Hughes.  Two starts for Hughes - one good, one bad.  His fastball is up a tick from last year, and I expect a pretty good year if Hughes has health and opportunity.  I'd roster him in a mixed league but wouldn't want to be relying on him for a big contribution.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera.  Cabrera is hitting .319 with 19 runs scored and 4 steals in 94 ABs.  With a 78% contact rate that AVG is destined to come down.  But it is possible he scores 90 and swipes 20.  That is the upside.
  • Scott Downs.  Not sure what kind of league didn't have Downs owned several weeks ago.  For what it's worth, I expect him to keep the closer job when B.J. Ryan comes off the DL.
  • Dexter Fowler.  Fowler drew a lot of attention for stealing a hundred bases off Chris Young.  He had an intriguing April but has not hit in May.  Having skipped Triple A, Fowler may experience growing pains.  I'd keep him on the bench.
  • Ryan Franklin.  Similar to Downs, Franklin was owned a good while ago.  His strikeout rate is up, and he's rediscovered his impeccable control.  He'll blow a few saves once the .143 BABIP comes up, but I can envision Franklin holding on to the job for most of the season.
  • Melky Cabrera.  The Melk Man is up to .344-4-10-13-2 in 64 ABs.  He did flash this kind of ability over a three-month stretch in '07.  A poor man's Ryan Spilborghs maybe?
  • Kendry Morales.  With 4 HR in the last two weeks, Morales is up to .267-4-16-13-0.  A 20 HR season seems reasonable, but you might require more out of a mixed league corner spot.
  • Matt LaPorta.  LaPorta got the call after hitting .333/.414/.640 with 5 HR in 75 minor league ABs.  He'll play semi-regularly while Travis Hafner is out.  He's got a homer in 10 ABs so far and is good for 20 HR and a questionable AVG if he reaches 400 ABs this year.


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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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Pickup Party

Here are some position players who are available in at least one of my fantasy leagues.

  • C: Catcher is a barren wasteland in many leagues that require two. Florida's John Baker has been OK, and you could do worse than backups like Javier Valentin and Henry BlancoMike Napoli works if batting average isn't important to you.  But really, this is why you have to treat the position seriously during the draft.
  • 1B: Kevin Millar and Nomar Garciaparra have put up decent numbers lately.  Lyle Overbay may merit a look.  Millar could be traded, limiting his playing time.
  • 2B: Some good picks here: Freddy Sanchez, Geoff Blum, and Omar Infante
  • SS: Infante, Blum, and Nomar also qualify here.   Bobby Crosby can provide counting stats, while Cesar Izturis is stealing bags.
  • 3B: Many of the above-mentioned players qualify here.  Also take a look at Brian Buscher and Chase Headley.
  • OF: The resurgent Mark Kotsay is floating around in some leagues.  Shin-Soo Choo, Joe Mather, Brian Giles, Adam Lind, and Justin Christian also deserve a look depending on your needs.


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Pickup Party

I am in several standard-format mixed leagues; the following players are available in at least one of them.

  • Catcher: Rod Barajas.  Gregg Zaun's on the DL, and Barajas has been raking.
  • First Base: Chad Tracy.  He's 6 for 20 with a couple of dingers since returning.  Conor Jackson's injury will create regular PT for him this week.
  • Second Base: Mark Ellis.  He's back, he's hitting.  He even has five steals, though the hamstring issues may end that.  Consider Tadahito Iguchi for SBs.  Jose Castillo  and Ray Durham also have my eye.
  • Shortstop: Jose Castillo.  Qualifies at 2B, 3B, and SS.  Castillo had a strong May: .293/.343/.511.  Yuniesky Betancourt is probably the runner up.
  • Third Base: Scott Rolen.  Looking decent lately.  I also like Eric Chavez and Troy Glaus.
  • Outfield: Cody Ross, Geoff Jenkins, Ryan Spilborghs.  It's hard to ignore Ross, who hit 10 HR in 50 May ABs.


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Pick Up Colon?

Bartolo Colon's Red Sox debut last night was a success, though the Royals have the second-worst offense in the AL according to OPS.  Is he worth a mixed league pickup?

David Golebiewski of The Transaction Guy looks at Colon's start using pitch F/X data.  Sounds like his fastballs were sharp, and his secondary stuff was nothing special.  Colon is experienced and can at least pick up some wins against inferior offenses.

Next on the docket for Colon: the Mariners, Orioles, and Mariners again.  The Mariners rank 11th in OPS; the Orioles are 8th.  I'd probably use Colon for all three starts.





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