Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Marlins Center Fielder Named...


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 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 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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