Wednesday, April 10, 2013

And So It Begins and Pick Up Suggestions - Baseball News 4/10/2013

The beginning of the season can be such a mess for fantasy owners, as they are often excited and over anxious. There is always a surprising 'drop' of a player off a roster even in deeper leagues.  You have to remember that the first week (or any one week period) is too small a sample size of statistics to give a player a realistic full season judgement on.  The take away is to ensure your roster moves are injury and playing time related in the early going.

Speaking of injuries, Jered Weaver and Cardinals reliever Jason Motte are both hung out to dry for at least the short term.  Motte's injury will ultimately resort in a season ending Tommy John surgery.  He has a tear in his UCL ligament.  If you weren't already scrambling to find a replacement, now would be the time.  I'm not certain how the St. Louis bullpen will shake out, but if you are betting on Mitchell Boggs keeping the role, look for a contingency plan.  The smart money is on the highly skilled, young power arm of Trevor Rosenthal.  Rosenthal's average fastball in his short stint in the majors has exceeded 97 MPH.  He generates alot of ground balls (53%) and strikes out enough batters to make him interesting (consistently around 9 K/9 throughout his career).  His control isn't remarkable but it will suffice given his other skills.  I don't think you should jump all over Rosenthal as two other bullpen arms, Fernando Salas and Edward Mujica, might get the call in the 9th before the rookie.  However, if you are one to bet on skills, I'd grab Rosenthal for now as at least he's going to get you strikeouts without hurting your WHIP.

The Jered Weaver injury, which early reports have him out at least a month with a broken elbow (although initially he will be on the 15 day DL), leaves a gaping hole in the rotation which will be filled initially by Garrett Richards. Richards is an interesting arm even though he struggled mightily when he was called up last season (6.0 K/9 against an awful 4.3 BB/9). He's got an average 95 MPH fastball and some solid strikeout stuff.  He was boasting a 7.6 K/9 in AAA before his recall last season.  Obviously, his ability to keep the ball in the park and runners off the base paths will have to be closely monitored.  However, there is a big league arm here and he's worth an addition in AL only leagues and those of similar depth.

What a find Lance Berkman has been thus far, although obviously small sample size.  The 37 year old has been red hot with a .480 BA thus far.  There is injury risk but for the price you have to pay to trade for him, pick him up or draft him, he's a great value.

Chris Davis has been fantastic as well.  For those fortunate enough to draft him, this could be a huge year for him.  He's just entering his prime years at age 27.

I have to finish today with at least a nod towards Roy Halladay who's been a mess thus far this season.  I have always had huge respect for his worth ethic. I just hope this is not the end of the road for one of baseball's best pitchers.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Coke Gets The Save - Baseball News 4/1/2013

Argh!  That's the sound of a frustrated Al Alburqerque owner.  I'll be honest in stating that you will want to steer clear of the Detroit closer situation in mixed leagues.  However, AL only leaguers and the like are stuck speculating on what Jim Leyland will do with three pretty talented bullpen arms in a committee.  My guess is the traditionalist Leyland, well known for his odd batting line ups (if you played 2B you bat 2nd, regardless of your skill) ends up sticking with Phil Coke from here on out.  Why?  Just to mess with us.  Coke is a solid reliever but the high strikeout and right handed arms of Joaquin Benoit and Alburqerque seem like the more obvious choice. As usual in April, its definitely not time to overreact.  However, if you are seeking saves, I'd probably snag Coke as quickly as possible.   Just don't drop anyone proven for him at this point.

Alot of preseason talk about Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks after an awesome spring.  His major league debut was less than stellar striking out three times with Tigers ace Justin Verlander on the hill.

Nice outing from Jon Lester, striking out seven over 5 IP against the Yankees (get used to this New York).  Interesting to note that Junichi Tazawa was in the set up role today.  Not that this is 'news' at this point, but keep an eye Tazawa as his skills in limited innings last season were incredible.

AJ Burnett looked great striking out ten Cubs over 5.2 IP.  His mound opponent Jeff Samardzija was simply better striking out nine over eight shut out innings.  Carlos Marmol was awful in the ninth and was quickly pulled for Kyuji Fujikawa who nailed down the save.  If you are speculating,  I believe Fujikawa takes this role and runs with it.

Collin Cowgill had a monster day for the Mets with a home run and a double, collecting four RBI in the process.  Cowgill's bounced around a few teams but he's one to watch.  The only thing that's held him back from regular playing time has been a history of injuries.  His minor league track record suggests he'll be a solid source of steals and boasts a nudge of power if he can stay in the line up.  Obviously, keep your expectations in check, but if you came up short in the OF in a deep league, he's worth a speculative pick up.

The fantasy story in Washington is playing out just like many pundits thought (after one game of course).  Stephen Strasburg walked no one and struck out three over seven innings and Bryce Harper mashed two home runs, the only scoring in the game.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Scott Kazmir Makes The Team and Bruce Rondon Demoted - Baseball News

Ok, so there is a ton of news to discuss so let's start with a couple of recent 'surprise' items

Scott Kazmir was named the Cleveland 5th starter and I'll have to admit I'm as sceptical as the next guy.  However, I think this is a buying opportunity for deep leaguers.  Now before you get excited, let's lay out the risk.  Kazmir was awful, just disastrous his last time around at the major league level.  He was always notoriously wild (4.19 BB/9 for his career) which got progressively worse in his last three seasons. Just before he was released by the Angels in 2011 his average fast ball was clocking in at 86 MPH.  Let's also factor in that two players currently in the minors, super prospect Trevor Bauer and another promising young arm in Carlos Carrasco, are chomping at the bit to take Kazmir's job.  Most fantasy sites are ignoring Kazmir's spring resurgence and I can understand why as there is plenty of risk.  However, the price is right, dirt cheap in this case, for me to argue that why not give the lefty a shot?  Kazmir looked much improved in the spring and has a track record (although years ago) of major league success.  Although there is not statistical way to back up my argument since Kazmir has been out of the MLB for a year, I'm going with my gut and adding him in an AL only league.  He was once a very capable strikeout arm and a former #1 prospect.  If he has learned some control of the strike zone in his time out of the league, he could be useful.  Let's see what happens right?

Also, announced today that the Tigers have shipped Bruce Rondon, the highly touted hard throwing relief prospect, to the minors.  This is devastating for those who used a high draft pick on the mere speculation that Rondon would sniff the Detroit's open closer role.  The news release says that the Tigers are going to the vaunted 'closer by committe' which sucks for fantasy.  I  hedged my bet in a league last week drafting Al Alberqurque.  Still, Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke will be in the mix.  Alberqurque to me is the top choice because he throws hard, he strikes out a lot of batters and is right handed.  Coke will likely lose out due to being lefty (managers tend to favour the righties, especially old school ones and they don't come any more old school than Jim Leyland) and Benoit is forever the bridesmaid to the closer role.  Either way I think you want Alberqurque, Benoit and then Coke in that order if you are scrambling for saves.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Brennan Boesch Fantasy Saviour.... Er

Honestly, I don't really think so. The Yankees are truly desperate at this point. They are trying to fill the gigantic outfield hole left from the Curtis Granderson injury. It's funny because I can already guarantee Boesch will end up on a few fantasy owner's sleeper lists. Here's why:

1. He's a Yankee
2. He's heading into his prime years ( age 27 season ).
3. He had one awesome year at AA a few seasons back.
4. He's got some pop, which will play nicely in new Yankee Stadium.

The reasons against him having any value this season?

1. The Tigers saw fit to send him to pasture.
2. He's not a player who's consistently produced at even a mediocre level.

Still, there is one giant reason why he's not on a last second sleeper list of mine : He can't hit the baseball!!!

Strong contact rates are the key to consistent major league success. If the Tigers weren't seeing any progress by Boesch this late in the spring, why consider him an option?

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Importance Of Pre- Ranking Except....

By the title of the post, this thought should be pretty much self explanatory. I'm a big believer in pre-ranking all of my players before heading into draft day. Although often a tedious exercise, it gives me a good idea of player value. For instance, maybe I really like Chris Carter ( which I do ) and I think he's going to hit 25 HR this season. Certain fantasy league sites might rank Carter well outside of the 300 top players. Instead of scrolling down a huge list of players, I just keeping picking from the top of my list. During a draft, I hate scrambling looking for players. I like to have the equivalent of a cheat sheet next to me.

It's also a must if you participate in online snake drafts where you only have 90 seconds to make a decision. Often, I have my player selected in mere seconds after my turn has begun. Not to mention technical failures! How many times in a draft have you seen where someone's computer fails, mid draft? They are at the mercy of the cursed default ranks which sometimes don't take into account recently injured players, or worse recently re-assigned players!

What really sucks is when a certain well known fantasy site has a bug in their Pre-rank web form list. Having ranked over 400 players, I almost cried when I hit save and the list came back empty! With no quick way of importing my ranks again, I had to rank over 400 players twice. An exercise in patience and blind determination.


So, don't forget to pre-rank your players.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Time To Knock The Dust Off This Blog

I've been away for too long... Yes, its been a while since I last wrote in here.  So where to start?  Well how about with some sleeper candidates?  Ah, let's drop the word sleeper and try to use the word 'undervalued'.  At the end of the day that's what really wins you a draft, snagging players that other people do not value as much at the time, that end up producing for your fantasy team.

This time around, let's take a look at a solid AL Only league draftee, Chris Carter, newly of the Houston Astros.  The Astros acquired Carter in a deal with the Oakland Athletics during the off season.  Why I think he'll be undervalued is that he's a bit of an old prospect (will be 26 years old this season), so your league mate(s) who plunge knee deep into the top lists of prospects each year will miss him.  He's also a batting average risk, as he's never been one to make consistent contact in the major leagues (never better than 75%, including a dismal 69% last season).  Also, playing for the devoid of talent Astros means he'll have less RBI and run scoring opportunities.

Alright, so those are the negatives.  You could end up drafting a batting average sucking, low run producing player on a bad team. The positives?  Well for one, regular playing time.  Last season, Carter only had 218 at bats, 2011 he had 44 and 2010 just 70.  In three seasons he's managed 332 major league at bats.  This season for a dismal Astros team, he should see 500 at bats.  However, the real reason you are even reading this post is not for the playing time prognosis.  Its for what can Chris Carter provide for my fantasy team?

Power.  Gobs and gobs of it.  In 332 major league at bats, 19 home runs.  Last season, in just 218 at bats, all in the second half, he clobbered 16 of those.  I'm not one to make a projection by doubling up the home run numbers.  However, its reasonable to expect a .230-25-75 type season out of him, with a propensity for some solid upside. Upside you say?  Well, Carter will play the majority of his games in the hitter friendly Minute Maid park in Houston.  With a good power hitter being so hard to find, Carter should be in the back of your mind on draft day.