Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Injury Updates

I write a weekly column on Sportsblurb.com that covers baseball injuries. I'm going to start highlighting bits of the articles here in hopes that you will start to frequent both sites. Here is a sample from last week's article:

I won’t ask for a show of hands because I am certain you have all missed me lots. Finally baseball has returned a city near you and players are going down at a record pace. For those new to the game in this space once a week we will review each teams injury situation and do our best to give your fantasy team an edge on the competition. I am no doctor as much as my mother may wish it were so (my wallet wishes with her by the way) but I am the master googler and no one spends more time reading the small notes at the ends of hundreds of articles the way I do. If you have the patience to read as many articles as I do than you are probably a doctor that had no problem memorizing the names of all those bones... But in any case I’m here to do most of the legwork for you and remind you of what you might already know.

What some of you may already know is that I’m a huge supporter of drafting and acquiring the frequently injured who are not injured at the moment. Why? The primary reason is that the better players that fit in the frequently injured category can often be had for much less than full value. Chances are the owners of Nomar Garciaparra and Ken Griffey Jr. are already nervous and ready to sell. I say pounce. The guy that drafted Darin Erstad is pretty happy with things right now I’m betting, how much do you think he paid? That guy knows that it pays to keep up with the status of the injured and the frequently injured and since that’s what you’re here for I won’t make you wait any longer.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Jaret Wright wasted no time resuming his career as a disabled pitcher. It is a shoulder injury so it is a serious one and he will be out indefinitely. Wright is the type of guy that dissuades folks from messing around with the injured guys. I am here to tell you that I cross pitchers with sore shoulders off my list until they prove to be well past such things. Wright has been off the list for years now.

Ramon Hernandez is on the disabled list with a strained oblique which is a bad injury for a catcher or a pitcher as they muscles come into play with every throw or pitch. Fortunately, if the injury is given sufficient time to heal that is all that is necessary to make a full recovery. It seems obvious that the Orioles will give Hernandez that time. He should be able to return by late April or early May.

He was brought in to play left field but instead has manned the disabled list thus far this season. Jay Payton has a strained hamstring and will be out until late April at least. He should make a full recovery since base stealing isn’t really his thing anyway. He should begin playing in extended spring training games fairly soon.

And of course Kris Benson is on the disabled list and out for the season after having shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Last season that Benson for John Maine and Jorge Julio trade looked pretty bad, this season with Julio having been traded for former top prospect Yusmiero Petit and with Maine a solid part of the New York Mets rotation it looks even worse.

Boston Red Sox

Jon Lester did not want to be placed on the disabled list or be sent to the minors. Lester felt he was already recovered from the effects of his chemotherapy and was ready to pitch in the majors. I think Lester’s assessment of his own health and readiness was right on but the Red Sox are slow to adapt when situations change. The Red Sox never expected to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka they were merely trying to block him from the New York Yankees which was probably a solid strategy. But when Scott Boras seemed almost reasonable they ended up signing him to a very good deal for the team if you consider what top starters are earning nowadays. With Dice-K in hand their plan to move Jon Papelbon to the rotation was largely unnecessary - the shoulder problem was just a convenient excuse, don’t be fooled. But having presented the excuse they felt the need to draw it out until they looked just plain stupid not to put Papelbon back in the closer role. What does this have to do with Lester’s situation? Well the weak Red Sox bullpen could have been strengthened considerably just by moving Lester to the bullpen for a few months until a spot in the rotation opened up, hell he would have been a better closer candidate than most of the guys the Red Sox were messing around with. Even now he would provide a strong middle innings lefty reliever better than anything on their roster right now.

Matt Clement is on the disabled list following shoulder surgery and is unlikely to return before July or August of he returns at all. I don’t think he will.

New York Yankees

With the exception of Kei Igawa every one of the Yankees projected starters has been injured already this season. Andy Pettitte has already returned from his sore back and pitched six strong innings against the Minnesota twins. It looks like the Yankees’ lefty will be fine. Mike Mussina is day-today with a sore hamstring but he has not been placed on the disabled list just yet. The Yankees are hoping he will only need to miss one start but I’m going to tell you to prepare for him to miss two and return early next week instead. Carl Pavano started for the Yankees on opening day much to the shock of every baseball fan on the planet. Now he is experiencing tightness in his forearm which is often an early indication of an elbow problem, so beware. The Yankees ace is supposed to be sinkerball pitcher Chien-Ming Wang but he started the season on the disabled list with strained hamstring and will likely return as soon as April 24th but some sites are still indicating an early May return.

The replacement starters are even going down in New York this season. The Yankees are trying very hard to avoid rushing top pitching prospects like Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard and Chase Wright and have instead gone to a deep second tier that includes names like Darrel Rasner and Jeff Karstens. Karstens has already gone down himself joining Humberto Sanchez and Jose Veras as the young (or younger anyway) Yankee pitchers on the disabled list. Karstens and Sanchez both have elbow issues. Karstens is thought to be close to an early may return while Sanchez is considered out indefinitely.

Hideki Matsui has a sore hamstring and was placed on the disabled list last week. He is eligible to return on April 23rd and most reports have the Yankees activating him on that date and returning my boy Kevin Thompson to the minors rather than dropping a dead weight like Miguel Cairo instead. Like the obliques described above hamstring strains if allowed to rest long enough will usually heal nicely without much in the way of treatment. Matsui is already hitting off a batting tee and probably isn’t taking enough time off. He may be gimpy all season as a result. Matsui isn’t really that reliant on his legs for speed but it could diminish his power if he is more sore than he lets on.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Greg Norton (I initially wrote Ken Norton which is sort of amusing) has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will be out at least four to six weeks after his surgery which is schedule for this coming Monday. This will win more at-bats for the wide array of prospects and once-weres that populate the bench in Tampa Bay.

Jon Switzer who I sort of liked as a prospect at one point is on the 60-day disabled list and is not going to return anytime soon apparently. He is reported to have shoulder tendonitis which would seem to take two months to get over but that’s what he will be getting.

Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have another pitching staff decimated by injuries. Brandon League is on the disabled list with a partially torn rotator cuff and isn’t likely to have much impact this season. He is now the closer of the very distant future. John Thompson has sore shoulder which isn’t much of a surprise and has no return date scheduled. With pitching prospect Dustin McGowan showing skills again it may never happen.

Outfielder Adam Lind was finally recalled from the minors when Reed Johnson hit the disabled list with a herniated disc in his back. This is one of those injuries that could bother him for the next two years or go away after two weeks rest. Pick up Lind if possible he is the real deal and an upgrade from Johnson in my opinion.

Troy Glaus is already in mid-season form with both a sore heel and a cranky hamstring. The Jays are giving him a couple of days but he’d probably be better off with a week.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox

Watch me jinx the Chi-Sox... The White Sox have significant injuries. Catcher Toby Hall is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder but is already throwing and could return in a week or two.

Cleveland Indians

Victor Martinez should be able to play this week after missing a few games with a sore quadriceps muscle. He’ll likely be eased back slowly as the designated hitter or at first base which will allow Kelly Shoppach to get a few more at-bats while robbing Ryan Garko of his.

Left-hander Cliff Lee is already making rehab starts and could return in a week or so depending on his effectiveness. He and reliever Matt Miller who is out with a strained right forearm should be back on the Cleveland pitching staff by early May.

Detroit Tigers

Roman Colon is out of options so if his rehab doesn’t go well he could be released rather than return to the Tigers. Colon is joined on the disabled list by Edward Campusano who has had Tommy John Surgery and is out for the season and the Tiger ace Kenny Rogers. Rogers of course is out because of surgery to repair a blood clot in his shoulder. Rogers should be able to return in late July.

Catcher Vance Wilson is out with an injured right elbow and will miss about a month.

Kansas City Royals

The 55 million dollar man has a tight hamstring. Gil Meche is not expected to miss a start but I thought you would want to know. I’m helpful that way.

Open another tab right now and see if Joakim Soria is available in your league. If he is pick him up especially if you were counting on Octavio Dotel for saves. Dotel will probably get his job back when the time comes but that may not be for quite a while. Dotel has a strained oblique and while he was expected to return quickly he hasn’t really made any progress, in the meanwhile manager Buddy Bell is falling in love with Soria.

Starters Luke Hudson and Scott Elarton are both still expected to play a large role in the Royals rotation this season. Hudson has a sore shoulder and is eligible to return in the coming week though he will probably be out a few weeks more. Elarton is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Monday but should be back in a couple of weeks if all goes well.

John Bale and Joe Nelson figured to be a big part of the Kansas City bullpen but both have been struck down by injuries. Bale has a hairline fracture in his right wrist and could be back in a couple of weeks but may need to earn his spot back in the minors. Nelson was placed on the 60-day disabled list after shoulder surgery and could miss the entire season.

Minnesota Twins

Jeff Cirillo was a favorite of mine to take over the third base job from Nick Punto. I know Punto has his fans and defenders but I just don’t see his continued success. Unfortunately arthroscopic surgery on his will keep him out at least four to six weeks. He could be out until late May or early June in a worst case scenario. The Twins did call up Alexi Casilla who could be the starting second baseman next season and makes a most excellent pickup in deeper keeper leagues this season.

Outfielders Lew Ford and Rondell White have hit the 15-day disabled list already forcing the Twins to utilize Josh Rabe and Jason Tyner much earlier and much more often than expected. Ford had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee and will miss a month at least. White has a strained right calf and while it isn’t serious White is a notorious slow healer.

I am so happy to have drafted Francisco Liriano in my primary AL-only keeper league for a mere $8. I figure I’ve got an ace locked up for several years, after he spends this one in the disabled list that is. Technically, Liriano could probably return late this season in say August but the Twins will do the right thing and give him the whole season off and use the winter to get him in shape for 2008.

American League West

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels haven’t developed any luck along with all their premium prospects. Bartolo Colon is rehabbing well and should be able to return in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately Jered Weaver was forced to start the season on the disabled list with bicep tendonitis. Weaver is scheduled to return on Monday against the Red Sox but that won’t help as much as it should since Kelvim Escobar has shoulder irritation and has been placed on the disabled list as a result. Dustin Moseley and Joe Saunders will hang around to fill the gaps until things stabilize.

You already know that outfielder Juan Rivera broke his leg this winter and that Chone Figgins joined him on the disabled list this spring with fractures in his fingers. Recent x-rays show he is progressing nicely and he has started swinging. He is expected to have at least a short rehab stint but should return pretty quickly.

Former third base prospect Dallas McPherson had back surgery in January and will probably miss the entire season. It is kinda sad how far he has dropped off the radar of most fans.

Oakland Athletics

Center fielder Milton Bradley is day-to-day with a sore left hamstring. He isn’t expected to miss much time but game-boy is one of those guys that tend to irritate owners year after year. Todd Walker has been getting playing time as a result of Bradley’s injuries. The situation is all the worse with Mark Kotsay out until July after pre-season back surgery.

Dan Johnson may have squandered his best opportunity to redeem himself in the eyes of Oakland general manager Billy Beane. Johnson seems to be a last resort for Oakland and his injury doesn’t help him at all. Johnson has a sore hip and looks ready to return in early May but what his role will be is a little up in the air.

Esteban Loaiza’s sore neck is still bothering him and when he will return is a mystery at this point. I hope you aren’t counting on him for much.

Seattle Mariners

Arthur Rhodes has a tear in his UCL but expects to return soon and pitch with it anyway. Don’t believe it for a second. He is going down it is just a matter of time .His bullpen buddy Mark Lowe has had his second elbow surgery and will be out until at least July and should not be bothered with until next season at the soonest.

Texas Rangers

John Rheinecker is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained back but will probably end up in the minors when he returns. Jamey Wright’s injury has probably lost him his fifth starter job for the season. Wright has right shoulder inflammation and will miss at least a couple of weeks. Pick up Kameron Loe; he’s the man you want if you’re searching for a Texas starter who might still be available.

National League East

Atlanta Braves

Hopefully you pocketed that early save before Chad Paronto went on the disabled list with a strained groin. He should be able to return in a couple of weeks.

The fifth starter role was all locked up for Lance Cormier and then he went and strained his triceps muscle. He’ll need a few rehab starts but should return pretty quickly.

I know you thought Mike Hampton was returning this season but after tearing his flexor tendon he is out for the season. He should be able to return in 2008 but at this point he has a lot to prove before he is worth rostering again.

Willy Aybar has an injured left hand and is not ready to start hitting yet. He is a few weeks away at best.

Florida Marlins

The Marlins can’t catch a break in center field. Alejandro De Aza looked pretty good this spring but is now sidelined with a slight ankle sprain. Jeremy Hermida is helping matters by being constantly unavailable this time due to a sore knee. But this is one of those cases where I would swoop in with an offer. Hermida is a potential stud but his owner in keeper leagues is likely very frustrated with over a year of nothing for stats. The deeper your outfield corps the more I would recommend acquiring him. I think he’ll be back in early May and start showing off his stud form again. But you need to act now to get the frustration discount.

Grab up Henry Owens if he is still available. Jorge Julio doesn’t have much hope of getting the closer role back with so many better options on the squad. So many people seem to think Taylor Tankersley will get the job but not only don’t I think it will happen I can’t see where this is coming from, not from Freddie Gonzalez certainly. Ricky Nolasco is another one always mentioned as in the running for the role but the Marlins want him to start ultimately. Nolasco should return from his elbow strain in early May if all goes well.

Josh Johnson has been playing catch and will begin throwing on back-to-back days this week. The Marlins don't expect Johnson to be activated from the disabled list until early-June.

New York Mets

Juan Padilla has torn his flexor tendon and is probably out for the season. He won’t help the Mets’ bullpen from the disabled list will he? Duaner Sanchez won’t be helping much either. He just had a screw put into his shoulder to repair a fracture. He isn’t likely to appear in the majors before August if at all this season.

Technically Dave Williams will be ready to return to the Mets in a couple of weeks but in reality I wouldn’t give him a snowball’s chance in hell of being in the Mets rotation this year.

Pedro Martinez is looking better and better everyday and it looks like he’ll be a huge part of the Mets’ rotation after the All-Star Break.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have no significant injuries to report, that won’t last.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals are a thin enough team without adding a bunch of injuries to the mix. Nick Johnson should be at the heart of the Nats’ lineup but instead he will out until June or so as he makes a painfully slow recovery from a broken leg.

Christian Guzman was being counted on to provide good defense at short but he landed on the DL with a quickness. He is scheduled to start baseball activities this week and should only be a couple of weeks from a return if all goes well.

The Nationals placed center fielder Nook Logan on the 15-day disabled list with a left foot strain. Logan is expected to miss two or three weeks.

Luis Ayala is scheduled to begin throwing this week but is still a few weeks from a return to the majors.

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Kerry Wood and Mark Prior are hurting....

On a more relevant note Aramis Ramirez has tendonitis in his right wrist. He has been placed on anti-inflammatory medication and is expected to be fine in a few days.

Cincinnati Reds

Chris Denorfia had Tommy John Surgery and will be out for the entire season.

The Reds placed Rule V pick Jared Burton on the disabled list with a strained hamstring but in reality they are just stashing him.

Bill Bray will wear a splint for a week or two while he recovers from a fracture in his index finger. He should be fine once the finger heals.

Eddie Guardado is another one of those guys who is injured but worth acquiring. He is throwing now and should be ready to return in late June and he just might go straight into a closer role.

Houston Astros

Jason Jennings is on the disabled list and will miss at least two starts because of elbow tendonitis. An MRI didn’t show any ligament damage so it isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.

Brandon Backe is also out of action after pre-season elbow surgery. He is scheduled to return in August but I wouldn’t count on it.

Milwaukee Brewers

Corey Koskie is probably done playing baseball because of post-concussion syndrome.

Pittsburgh Pirates

John Grabow is already pitching in the minors and could return from his elbow strain any day now.

St. Louis Cardinals

Scott Rolen’s had some back spasms this week. Supposedly he’s fine but it is something for his owners to worry about.

The Cardinals went into the season thinking Chris Carpenter was the one stud pitcher they could rely on, oops. Now they hope that two weeks of rest will allow him to avoid needing surgery to heal the impingement in his right elbow. I’m worried how about you?

Left-hander Mark Mulder should be able to return in July from shoulder surgery but how effective he’ll be is the big question. Torn labrums are tough to predict.

Following Tommy John Surgery Josh Kinney is out for the season. Too bad I sorta liked him...

Juan Encarnacion is on the DL with a sore left wrist but he isn’t that good anyway so you might be better off.

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

How Randy Johnson throws in a bullpen session on Monday will determine whether he's activated to start Thursday against the Padres. Johnson is pretty much healed from his back surgery he’s just rounding into pitching form at this point. If he isn’t good this season it probably has more to do with his age than his back.

Carlos Quentin should be able to return to the Diamondback’s active roster this week. His shoulder injury seems to be a thing of the past. He’s a great player who can still have an awesome season.

Jeff DaVanon may receive a cortisone injection to speed his recovery from shoulder surgery but since he is still in pain when he swings it will likely be a couple of weeks if the D’backs know what’s good for ‘em.

Colorado Rockies

Rodrigo Lopez will miss his scheduled start Sunday because of right elbow inflammation. Byung-Hyun Kim will take his spot in the rotation.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers placed outfielder Matt Kemp on the disabled list with a separated shoulder. "It's a grade one separation," manager Grady Little said. "It's going to be between seven days and two weeks. It's the right thing for us to do right now. A lot can be told the day after something like that happens." ‘nuff said?

Hong-Chih Kuo will begin his rehab from a sore shoulder this week. If all goes well he should return to active duty in a couple of weeks.

Outfielder Jason Repko is on the 15-day disabled list with torn hamstring tendons. Repko is likely to miss the entire season following surgery Wednesday.

San Diego Padres

Catcher Josh Bard hit the disabled list with a strained groin. He should be fine after a couple of weeks rest.

San Francisco Giants

And finally the Giants have no significant injuries to report. That just can’t last with such an old team.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Marlins Center Fielder Named...

From MLB.com:

JUPITER, Fla. -- Center field is now settled.
The biggest surprise in camp, Alejandro De Aza, has won the Marlins center field.

The 22-year-old De Aza played 69 games at Double-A Carolina last season, and now the speedy Dominican Republic native will be the lone rookie on the Marlins' starting Opening Day roster.
"Alejandro De Aza is going to be our center fielder," manager Fredi Gonzalez said Wednesday morning. "He plays the game the right way, and I'm very happy for him, and I'm very happy for our club, too."

De Aza was batting .351 (13-for-37) with four doubles, one triple and four RBIs this spring entering Wednesday's game. He also has four stolen bases.

I got to see De Aza play last week and he is fun to watch. I think a few faab dollars if you've already drafted or a late pick or small bid would be a nice investment in the future. In the present I think you'll get cheap steals out of the deal.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

How to Win More Frequently: Part Three

Do Not Pay Inflated Prices

Yes. In keeper leagues there is a sort of inflation caused by under-priced keepers. But that doesn’t mean you should pay $45 for Roy Oswalt or $65 for Albert Pujols. If these sort of pricing mistakes happen in your league make sure these players end up on another team. In leagues with crazy inflated prices for superstars the inflation usually goes away quickly leaving the next class of players at bargain prices. As obvious as it seems even some of the best players get caught up in bidding and bid too much for the very best players and their favorite players. And if you think the inflation on top players is bad you should check out the inflation on your leagues favorite sleepers. A few of them will obviously work out in most leagues but for every Josh Johnson at $2 there is a Ryan Zimmerman at $25. Do not be the one who paid $25 for Ryan Zimmerman. There are just far too many safer choices to potentially waste your available cash on a player with no track record. I know it is difficult and I am not actually saying I would absolutely never do it myself but you need to choose your battles and as the second rule insists have a solid reason for doing something so illogical. Maybe you’re spending $25 on Zimmerman because you plan to hold on to him for three years and you project him to be at value in the second year and below value in the third. Get it? Base the prices you pay on your actual projected values and not market values.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

How to Win More Often: Part Two

Re-Building Is for Losers and Incompetents

Or Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up...

You are not running the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Kansas City Royals. You do not need a five-year plan to recover from a bad fantasy season. A collection of 37 minor leaguers isn’t going to help you either. Should you find yourself in possession of a fantasy team with few or even no keepers you have better options. In auctions spend a great portion of your money on the best players available. After you have bought every star player you can afford you can then start working to acquire whatever injured but returning stars or sleepers you can fit on your roster. Do not be afraid to have a few one dollar players on your roster. When I have weak rosters I often plan to have a one dollar catcher, a one dollar middle infielder, a one dollar outfielder and two or three one dollar relievers. You never know when those one dollar guys are going to turn into Gary Matthews Jr., Mike Cuddyer, Jose Lopez and Scott Proctor.

As soon after your auction as possible start scouring the waiver wire for any talent that might have been missed at your draft. Examine every early call up and if they look promising consider picking them up to replace your one dollar guys. Look for teams willing to trade a quality but boring veteran or two and something for one of your stars and a one dollar guy. For example in 2007 you might buy Derrek Lee coming off his injury for a discounted price lets say $32. In an NL-only league 5x5 in 2005 Lee was worth roughly $50. Let’s also pretend that he spends the first two months of 2007 hitting as he did in 2005. Not only would you have a good potential keeper in Lee but he’s also excellent trade bait. A team sorely in need of homers and RBI might trade you $25 Nomar Garciaparra, $25 Randy Winn and minor leaguer Dexter Fowler for Derrek Lee and your $1 Gabe Gross. Then you can flip Dexter Fowler and Randy Winn to one of the teams which has an owner in love with prospects (every league has one, if you don’t know who it is it might be you) for $30 Mike Cameron and a 2008 minor league pick. There are endless variations and scenarios but you get the idea. In this case you would have turned Lee and Gabe Gross into Nomar Garciaparra, Mike Cameron and a draft pick. You might be surprised how much never giving up and always trying to improve your team for the present can move you up the standings.

The 2nd Annual All Sleeper Teams

I don't know about you but I am a little tired of so many people sshouting about how there is no such thing as a sleeper in fantasy baseball. Sure, maybe the definition has changed but I don't think anyone of consequence will be mis-lead when I label the guys I'm grouping below as sleepers. In my mind anyway the sleeper is alive and well. Here are three groups of sleepers grouped by degree into roto-style teams for your amusement. What I would love to see is some thoughts from you the readers on the various players who you like and who you wouldn't draft on a dare. I think that would be helpful for everyone reading (and me too).

Team One: The Day Dreamers (not sleeping but definitely lacking the proper attention)

C Gerald Laird - Texas Rangers
C Mike Lieberthal - Los Angeles Dodgers
1B Ryan Shealy - Kansas City Royals
3B Wes Helms - Philadelphia Phillies
CR Casey Kotchman - Los Angeles Angels
2B Josh Barfield - Cleveland Indians
SS Jason Bartlett - Minnesota Twins
MI Jose Lopez - Seattle Mariners
OF Alex Rios - Toronto Blue Jays
OF Jose Guillen - Seattle Mariners
OF Shane Victorino - Philadelphia Phillies
OF Chris Burke - Houston Astros
OF Josh Hamilton - Cincinnati Reds
Utl Daren Erstad - Chicago White Sox

P David Bush - Milwaukee Brewers
P Greg Maddux - San Diego Padres
P Oliver Perez - New York Mets
P Carl Pavano - New York Yankees
P Joe Blanton - Oakland Athletics
P Jeremy Sowers - Cleveland Indians
P Rich Hill - Chicago Cubs
P Javier Vasquez - Chicago White Sox
P Joel Pinero - Boston Red Sox

NOTES: Okay, so calling some of these guys attention lacking is kinda stretching it a bit. But as well known as they may be they seem to be going far later and for far cheaper than I expected.

Team Two: The Cat-Nappers (A loud noise would wake them in a hurry)

C Dioner Navarro - Tampa Bay Devil Rays
C Jason LaRue - Kansas City Royals
1B Kevin Youkilis - Boston Red Sox
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff - San Diego Padres
CR Dmitri Young - Washington Nationals
2B Esteban German - Kansas City Royals
SS Khalil Greene - San Diego Padres
MI J.J. Hardy - Milwaukee Brewers
OF Kenny Lofton - Texas Rangers
OF Brad Wilkerson - Texas Rangers
OF Brian Anderson - Chicago White Sox
OF Termel Sledge - San Diego Padres
OF Nook Logan - Washinton Nationals
Utl Matt Murton - Chicago Cubs

P Clay Hensley - San Diego Padres
P Angel Guzman - Chicago Cubs
P Dana Eveland - Arizona Diamondbacks
P Horacio Ramirez - Seattle Mariners
P Kyle Lohse - Cincinnati Reds
P Chris Reitsma - Seattle Mariners
P Ryan Wagner - Washington Nationals
P Bill Bray - Cincinnati Reds
P Cla Meredith - San Diego Padres

NOTES: All of these players come with a lot of risk but I honestly believe most of them will succeed this season. Hey, what could be better than a gamble that pays off?

Team Three: Nearly Comatose (No Explanation Necessary)

C Branyan Pena - Atlanta Braves
C Jeff Mathis - Los Angeles Angels
1B Brad Eldred - Pittsburgh Pirates
3B Russ Branyan - San Diego Padres
CR Kendry Morales - Los Angeles Angels
2B Kevin Frandsen - San Francisco Giants
SS Alexi Casilla - Minnesota Twins
MI Alberto Callaspo - Arizona Diamondbacks
OF Todd Linden - San Francisco Giants
OF Alex Sanchez - Florida Marlins
OF Gabe Gross - Milwaukee Brewers
OF Kevin Thompson - New York Yankees
OF Nate McLouth - Pittsburgh Pirates
Utl Jose Bautista - Pittsburgh Pirates

P Edwin Jackson - Tampa Bay Devil Rays
P Lance Cormier - Atlanta Braves
P Robinson Tejeda - Texas Rangers
P Kei Igawa - New York Yankees
P Zack Grienke - Kansas City Royals
P James Shields - Tampa Bay Devil Rays
P Mike Wuertz - Chicago Cubs
P Matt Lindstrom - Florida Marlins ( But the hype is building quickly)
P Heath Bell - San Diego Padres

NOTES: These guys all almost all question marks. Some of them may just suck but we won't know until they get the opportunity to prove it or prove it again in a few cases. Lindstrom since I wrote my original article about him has been labeled the closer on mlb.com FWIW.

I want your thoughts!

Monday, March 12, 2007

How To Win More Often: Part One

I am going to assume that most of the people reading this article are not fantasy baseball newbies. There are lots of articles out there that give what I call the basic rules for fantasy baseball success. These include ideas like “Know Your League Rules”, “Be Prepared”, “Never Draft One Category Players”, “Stay Active and Make Trades” and “Don’t Panic!” all of which are solid ideas especially for beginners. But the rules I’m about to present are those that experienced and excellent players instinctively follow when they are not purposely breaking them. For the Advanced Fantasy Baseball Player the rules are a little more sophisticated and not following them can lead to mediocre performances from even the most knowledgeable player in a tough league. This is going to be a series of articles on How to Win More Often.

Trust Your Sources but Not Overly Much

You might subscribe to BaseballHQ.com buy the annual Fantasy Baseball Forecaster and believe that Ron Shandler and his cronies are the gods of this game. I wouldn’t argue much with you. But even the best of sites miss things and make mistakes. HQ for example has their system for analyzing players and they do not vary from it. I am not suggesting that they should but rather thinking about the flaws in operating that way such as missing players that do not fit their optimum BPI profile (or go radically against it) players like Alfonzo Soriano (pre-2006 anyway), Chien-Ming Wang or Jon Garland. This is why I suggest you not only develop a collection of good sources but also do some work yourself, which leads me to our next topic.

Have Solid Reasoning for Every Move You Make

Have you ever made a trade and looked back at it a few weeks later (or even a couple of days later) and not been able to figure out just what it was you were thinking? I think we all have at one time or another but it does not need to be that way. Every draft pick, auction bid, waiver claim, trade offer, trade acceptance or roster change of any kind should be preceded by a period of consideration wherein you measure the impact such a move will have on your roster by running it through whatever system you use whether it is comparing recent projections, looking at recent BPI’s, getting the opinion of your favorite advisor(s), just a very strong hunch or all of the above. The important thing is to actually understand your own reasoning before every transaction that you make. This will not prevent you from making bad moves but it will make it less likely and it might keep you from spending any time banging your head against a wall.

Look for more guidelines from now until draft day.

Winning Head-to-Head Leagues

I don't play in many head-to-head leagues. This is why I'm overjoyed to recommend Winabango's article on winning such a league.

A sample:

Know you opponent’s team schedule and find a weakness - Let’s say that you are going up against a team with 4 closers and you have 2. On the surface, saves looks like a lost category. Look at the opponent’s closers though. Are any of them going up against each other during the week? Are any of them going up against your closers? If he has 2 closers facing each other, and 1 facing one of yours, then the odds are that your 2 closers should compete in the saves category that week due to the limited amount of chances his will get. In this scenario, check the waiver wire for an additional closer to try to beat him, or overwhelm him with the other pitching categories.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Good Info on the Nationals Outfield

Ryan Church came here last month to prove that he deserved the job Nationals Manager Manny Acta bestowed upon him: starting left fielder. To this point, he has just two hits in 13 at-bats. He said Thursday, when he had the day off, that he is searching to find his timing. Acta, though, won't waver. Even with Chris Snelling, Alex Escobar and Kory Casto potential left fielders in waiting, Acta reiterated that his starting outfield will be Church in left, Nook Logan in center and Austin Kearns in right.

"They could go 0 for the rest of the games in spring training," Acta said. "Those are the guys who are going to start the year here."

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Monday, March 05, 2007

The New Marlins Closer...

Dolphin Stadium is an extreme pitchers park. Grabbing a great Marlins pitching prospect late in your draft is almost always a good idea and it worked great last season. Just ask the owners of Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Scott Olsen. Of the Marlins’ closer candidates, who I see as Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom, Henry Owens and maybe Randy Messenger, I see Matt Lindstrom as by far the best candidate. Kevin Gregg’s mediocre K-rate and fly ball tendency make him an unexciting pick. Henry Owens has great strikeout potential and tends to get the groundball but his walk-rates have been really bad at times. Randy Messenger is similar to Gregg with a mediocre K-rate and isn’t a groundball pitcher. The only advantage they have is experience in the majors. Lindstrom has an amazing arm, gets the strikeouts, has an acceptable walk-rate and is an extreme groundball pitcher. That particular combination excels in a park like Dolphin Stadium. Grab Lindstrom for a couple of bucks and maybe Owens and you should have your closer bets well hedged even if someone like Gregg begins the year in the role.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Player To Know: Brayan Pena

It looks as if Brayan Pena is a shoe in to be the backup catcher for the Atlanta Braves this season. He won't be in a platoon with Brian McCann the best catcher in the National League but he will probably catch Kyle Davies starts and get a bunch of starts against lefties to get McCann occasional breaks.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Pena assigned to Davies? Brayan Pena is catching and batting fifth today vs. the Dodgers, probably a pretty good indication he’ll be assigned to catch Kyle Davies’ starts this season.

Bobby Cox indicated during pitching camp last month that he’d go back to using his backup catcher for a specific pitcher, the way he did most seasons until last year, when he started out the season with Brian McCann and veteran Todd Pratt in a platoon.

There will be no platoon this season, with the All-Star McCann expected to catch four days out of five, at least (he would probably get some of Davies’ starts along the way, especially late in the season in a playoff drive). Of course, all this is assuming Davies is the fifth starter, which I think he will be unless he falls on his face
this spring.

Pena doesn't hit for much power and he doesn't steal bases but he is an excellent contact hitter. He draws a decent number of walks and doesn't strikeout. He isn't someone you want to build around but I think he'll make a good $1 endgame catcher in NL-only leagues.

Check out these sites for Pena stats:



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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Nook Logan = Cheap Steals

Logan isn't a great hitter but he has already been named the starting center fielder for the Washington Nationals. In his career he has batted .270/.319/.347 in 545 at-bats. Most of those at-bats were accumulated as a part-time player but he still managed to steal 33 bases while being caught just nine times. He could easily steal 40-50 in a full-time role as in the minors he had season totals of 22, 53, 67, 55, 37 and 46.

Take him late in your drafts or auctions and you could have a major bargain on your hands.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Darin Erstad - Major Sleeper?

Darin Erstad is a player that any serious baseball fan knows. Erstad is the guy that might be a decent player if he could only stay on the field. His heart is huge but his tendency to run into walls and such has kept him from having an impact on the field for the majority of the last few seasons. Kenny Williams brought him into the White Sox fold this winter when the Los Angeles Angels decided not to offer him a contract.

One of the things I preach that most so-called experts counsel against is drafting the injury prone guys while they are healthy. A guy like Erstad who in a full season of at-bats could put up stats worth anywhere from $20 to $30 will be available at a huge discount. From all reports Erstad is one hundred percent healthy as spring training starts. At present he is projected to be the fourth outfielder for the White Sox behind Scott Podsednik, who has injury issues of his own as well as a slipping performance level, and Brian Anderson, a young player who was very disappointing in 2006. I'm betting that in most AL-only leagues Erstad will be available at less than ten bucks. At that price you should grab him as your fourth or fifth outfielder.
Ozzie Guillen has vowed to get back to Ozzieball this season. A big part of Ozzie's game is the stolen base. Erstad coming off the bench for say 220 at-bats could grab you 10-15 stolen bases, hit for a decent average and maybe toss in a few homers to boot. For a single digit price I'd take that in two seconds. The extra-added bonus is at less than ten bucks he should be fairly replaceable even in deep leagues.

Grab Erstad cheap or in the late rounds of your draft. I don't think you'll regret it.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chris Ray: A Fluke?

Chris Ray has a projected 54 BPV as of this writing on the Baseball HQ website. Such a low projection may cause HQ subscribers to greatly downgrade him.

In an article that will appear on this site soon I discuss some reasons you may not win as much as you might. One of those reasons is an over reliance on a particular source. The point being that many fantasy owners choose to adopt the philosophies pf a particular book or website and just take their word for things. On Baseball HQ this week Doug Dennis in an article called Bullpen Buyers Guide (premium) he lumps Baltimore Orioles reliever Chris Ray into a group labeled fluke alongside names like Joey Devine, David Weathers, Armando Benitez, Joe Borowski and Seth McClung. Without getting into the others on the list I want to take a look at Chris Ray and show you how the blind adaptation of a site's philosophies can cause you to lose out on valuable players.

Right off the bat I want to share that I have subscribed to Baseball HQ for years and have spent much money on their products. I do not think you can find a more professional or respected source for fantasy related information. But they do have some flaws that can leave holes in your game but therefore also avenues to exploit if you have subcribers in your league.

Chris Ray is the 25 year-old closer for the Baltimore Orioles. Ray may not have a long resume but has been an extremely solid reliever throughout his professional career. The 2006 season began with Ray installed as the closer for the Orioles and with the exception of a brief blip mid-season He was stellar for the entire season and collected the following stats: 66 IP, 45 hits, 27 walks and 51 strikeouts. Now, what HQ doesn't like is his hit-rate. HQ hates anything that they can't explain statistically and since their present doctrine dictates that BABIP is something that a pitcher cannot control any pitcher who performs far better than average is labeled a fluke. Barry Zito is downgraded on their site for the same reason. But if you look at Ray's career stats you'll see that he has always had the SKILL to limit BABIP. I'm not slamming HQ for this way of rating players. They nail far more players than they miss but nevertheless this represents a hole in the HQ rankings that can be exploited in HQ heavy leagues. Look for players with such a track record and you will find fantasy baseball bargains.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Players You Should Know: Ross Ohlendorf

Ross Ohlendorf is a right-handed pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has been rumored to be in the Randy Johnson trade that the Yankees are attempting to make. If that happens everyone will know him relatively soon but he won't be in most of the magazines and guides that are coming out at the end of this month. Last year for Double-A Tennessee Ohlendorf pitched 177.2 innings with a 9.12 H9, 0.66 HR9, 1.47 BB9 and 6.33 K9. His best pitch is a hard sinker that resembles that of Yankees' pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. If he remains with the D'backs he has a good chance of making the team out of spring training. With the Yankees he would probably be lucky to compete for a bullpen spot to start the season.

Some reading on Ohlendorf you may enjoy:




http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/app/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060912 />

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Pedro Update

MLB.com/AP/Baseball Think Factory:

New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez is recovering well from rotator
cuff surgery, but the ace right-hander still doesn’t plan to return to
the mound until July or August.
“The progress has been excellent,” said Martinez, who joined Vlad
in a charity softball game. “The problem has to do with the
calcification of the bone that was broken with the tear and that had to
be operated on.
“You have to let it run its course, so we’re aiming for July or August
as the return date.” ...
“I don’t have problems anymore with my reach or flexibility, and so far
everything is going very well,” he said.
As part of his offseason regimen, Martinez said he is bulking up. “I’ve
put on about 10 pounds of muscle, because that’s one of our
strategies,” he said.

Pedro makes a good low dollar buy in keeper leagues this season.
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