Roundtable: Waiver Wire Pitchers

Brett Greenfield of Fantasy Phenoms asks this week's question:

The following pitchers are off to hot starts but weren't drafted. Which one is most likely to carry this early success over the course of the season?  Brett Cecil, Tom Gorzelanny, Wade LeBlanc, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister are the candidates.

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Casey McGehee: Buy Or Sell?

Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee is off to a .299-5-19-12-0 start, after a strong 394 plate appearance rookie campaign in '09.  Should fantasy players buy or sell?  Members of our roundtable tackle the question, which is hosted by Marc Normandin of Baseball Prospectus.

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Roundtable: Worrisome Starts

RotoAuthority is hosting this week's roundtable.  The question:

Despite the tiny sample, what one player are you most worried about so far?

Rudy Gamble, (answered on April 12th)

After one week, it would be silly to re-evaluate projections but it's not silly to give some thought to the impact of early-season slumps on playing time opportunity.  A closer gets dethroned or a position player goes from starter to platooning and their value plummets.  My 'worry' criteria is based on a combination of 1) strength of replacement and 2) team commitment to player.

Thus, a Mike Gonzalez, who looks awful so far, is less of a concern only because he doesn't have a strong replacement and the team has a financial commitment to him.  Same for David Ortiz who is untradeable ($12MM, icon) and Lowell/Hermida are nothing great either.

Nate McLouth and Dexter Fowler both are at risk of losing 100+ plate appearances to Melky and Seth Smith but I'd say Frank Francisco is the biggest concern right now.  He had a rough 2nd half last year (7.00 ERA in July/August) which was largely bad luck (FIP closer to 4.00 with a 11+ K/9IP) but still hurts his perception in Texas.  He's dependent on his fastball for success and it's down a couple ticks this year (93.5 vs. 91.8) - maybe that's just an early season thing but it's not a positive sign.  The team would really like to test drive Neftali Feliz and I'm not sure Francisco will get the job back if Feliz has some success.  

Patrick DiCaprio, (answered April 16th)

Nate McLouth. Normally we recommend that you completely ignore early season stats. But in McLouth's case, we have a continuation of Spring Training troubles, as he has started 3-27 with one RBI (through April 16). The question becomes whether and at what point does a small sample of bad luck become something more?

McLouth's Spring troubles were widely publicized. Now they are continuing into the season. We can only speculate on causes. It may be a spate of bad luck, a loss of confidence, a hidden injury or nothing at all. His 45% K rate (through April 16) normally might be attributed to bad luck. But given what happened in the Spring it is fair to surmise that he is pressing. Human psychology is not only extremely difficult to assess when you have full information but as fantasy owners we are virtually in the dark. We are in the realm of shadows and fog no matter how much you hear a coach or manager saying otherwise, or that he has a hitch in his swing or other such nonsense. Hitting a baseball is neurological not physical for the most part, so a mechanical issue is not to blame.

2009 gave no indication of problems. In fact he was unusually consistent, batting no worse than .252 and no better than .270 in any month. So whatever happened, if anything, is not a carry over from last year. News is lacking any off-field problem of significant enough consequence to explain any mental distraction.

Tim's question is who we are worried about. My Patented Worry Index for McLouth is a 40 on a scale of 100.

Derek Carty, The Hardball Times Fantasy (answered April 25th)

Perhaps I'm overreacting, but I'm getting worried about Rich Harden.  He's striking tons of people out and his pitches are still moving well, but between his velocity being down, his awful control, and the reports from worried scouts from as early as March, he's a guy I'm having trouble trusting right now.  I suppose the best we can hope for is that this is just small sample madness, with the next best scenario being that he's hiding an injury that he'll get over shortly.  If something worse is going on, Harden might not be the undervalued player I thought he could be coming into the year.

Tim Dierkes, RotoAuthority (answered April 26th)

I'm officially worried about Jake Peavy.  Even in Chicago, I was thinking 190 innings, an ERA under 3.80, a 1.25 WHIP, and 185 Ks.  So far in four starts the strikeouts are not there at all (6.0 K/9) and the walks are high enough at 6.0 BB/9 to make me wonder if he's entirely healthy.  It was natural to expect more home runs in U.S. Cellular, but Peavy owners are seriously screwed if his groundball rate stays below 34%.  However, I would still hang on to him rather than sell low.

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Roundtable: Colby Lewis Expectations

This week's roundtable question:

What can we expect from Colby Lewis in 2010?

You can find our answers at FantasyPros911.

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Roundtable: Rookies For Non-Keeper Leagues

This week's roundtable question:

Which player yet-to-be called up, might you draft in a non-keeper league and why?

Patrick Cain of the Times Union has our answers.

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Roundtable: Adam Jones, McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez

This week's roundtable asks:

Who do you take first - Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen or Carlos Gonzalez?

Fantasy Phenoms has our answers.

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Roundtable: Biggest Mistakes Of 2009

The weekly roundtable is back.  This week's question:

What were your biggest mistakes in 2009?

Patrick DiCaprio of Fantasy Pros 911 has our answers, and I've love you hear yours in the comments.

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Roundtable: 2010 Sleepers

This year's final roundtable question:

Which pitcher and hitter are your top sleepers for 2010?

Check out our answers at Fantasy Phenoms.  Who are your picks?

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Roundtable: Quitting

I'm hosting the roundtable question this week; here it is:

Have you ever quit on a fantasy team of yours?  If so, what were the circumstances?  If not, how were you able to maintain your motivation even after you had no chance?

Derek Carty, The Hardball Times Fantasy:

Unfortunately, yes, I have (sort of)... this year, actually.  I don't say unfortunately in that I'm ashamed of it, but rather about the circumstances that led up to it.  In one of the expert leagues I'm playing in this year, I worked out a trade mid-season of my Carlos Lee, Grady Sizemore, A.J. Burnett, and Mike Napoli for Roy Halladay and Miguel Cabrera.  While the league rules stated that a trade could be vetoed by a 40% vote (a rule I was never a fan of to begin with but which had never actually been needed, to the best of my knowledge), the league's commissioner decided to unilaterally veto my trade.

No explanation was given, and the message about the veto said that the site's "system" had rejected it.  I only found out from another league member that it was the commissioner who did it.  He didn't respond to any of my e-mails politely asking for an explanation, even one in which I CCed everyone in the league.  I kept playing a little longer after this, trying to find more trades and I eventually made one more, but the league had an early trade deadline (in July),  I couldn't even get a hold of a couple teams to talk, and I didn't have enough time to work out all the trades I needed (and a couple of trades I was planning for were contingent upon the initial deal going through).

Needless to say, I'm not a big fan of vetoes in general (I'm actually completely against them), but when there is a rule explicitly against unilateral vetoes and one occurs, that's a tad ridiculous.  And that ignores the fact that this is an expert's league.  Aren't we supposed to know what we're doing, and isn't it possible that one of us knows something the rest don't, leading to the decision to make a particular trade?  We're supposed to be the learned minority, processing our thoughts and making decisions independently of conventional wisdom, and independently of each other, for that matter.  And as experts, aren't we also supposed to understand that no one knows what the future holds and that vetoing trades based on the subjective judgment of one person is a bit ridiculous?  If two experts feel that a trade will benefit their teams, shouldn't that be enough?  Why does an arbitrary third member of the league get to decide if it does?  I've never heard of an experts league that allows vetoes, much less one that exercises the rule on a trade in which I still can't figure out how the commissioner viewed it (i.e. which side was getting the better end?).

So yeah, I did quit on a league this year, though I really wish I didn't have to.  I had a real shot at winning (I believe I in first or second at the time of the vetoed trade).  I do occasionally make roster adjustments, because I feel bad about leaving my team completely abandoned, and I've considered streaming players this month, but I have a hard time bringing myself to do it and legitimizing the whole thing.

Patrick Cain, Times Union:

Yea I've quit teams. This year in fact I stopped paying attention to two teams. One was the Razzball inverse league. That is good players are bad, bad ones are good. Well, I missed the draft and ended up with a team that looked like Pujols, Hanley, Arod, Lincecum etc. Lame. The second I was the commissioner. Huge injuries and an awful draft left me with no chance. I kept doing all the commish duties, but it sucked.

Jon Williams, Advanced Fantasy Baseball:

As Bill Clinton might say, I guess it depends on your definition. I have decided that there was nothing more I could do at certain points and just gone through the motions of replacing injured guys and bidding on free agents where that has been possible. But I don't call that quitting so much as realizing that not even a miracle could save me now. But that doesn't happen too often.

I have also been in leagues where the interest of other owners has not lasted through the season. This makes it especially tough to keep going. Trying to get back into a money spot when trades are impossible can be demoralizing. But even in a league like this I think it is important to do your duty of replacing injured players and keeping a legal lineup.

One of best ways of motivating yourself is setting a goal other than actually winning. Goals such as not finishing last, passing a particular team in the standings, winning certain categories, and gaining a certain number of points can really help you to keep making an effort. You may even shock yourself by returning to contention.

Mike Podhorzer, FantasyPros911:

In terms of private leagues in which I paid an entry fee, I cannot say I actually have ever quit on a fantasy team I owned. However, by the last month of the season, if I know I have no chance at the money, I will usually pay a lot less attention and simply set my lineup, taking care of injury replacements as necessary. I would not considering that quitting, but it is certainly putting in less effort than I opened the season with. Except for maybe avoiding finishing in last, which I have never come close to, I don't care too much to try finishing the highest I can for pride purposes. To me, 9th place is the same as 4th place. Heck, if I don't win, I consider it a lost season.
I think the only time I would ever truly quit is if it was a league I had just joined and it was poorly run, had awful rules and I ended up having no chance at finishing in the money. I probably would feel no regrets completely giving up and just never checking the league site the rest of the season.

Tim Dierkes, RotoAuthority:

Similar to what Mike said, there have been leagues where I've put in less effort during the final month.  Just for pride's sake, I'll always set the lineup, make DL decisions, and replace useless players.  But if I have no shot at the title it's hard to put intense daily research into it.

With the RotoAuthority league, I kick out the bottom four teams each year.  Finishing in the bottom four was not a concern for me; I won the league the first two years.  This year, however, I haven't been much of a contender at any point.  The indignity of possibly finishing in the bottom four was definitely enough to keep me going throughout the year.  I clawed my way up to 6th place and have an outside shot at 4th.

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Roundtable: Ubaldo Jimenez

This week's roundtable question, courtesy of Patrick DiCaprio:

"I predict that Ubaldo Jimenez will be a top seven fantasy pitcher in 2010. Will I be right?"

Check out Fantasy Pros 911 to read our answers.  What do you think?

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