Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jake Fox May Solve Your Joey Votto Problems

The Cincinnati Reds star first baseman, Joey Votto, has been placed on the disabled list with "Stress Problems" which we're left to assume are the result of his inner ear problem. Why the Reds are calling this stress is a mystery to me. But the Reds do a lot of things I don't understand. Why was Joey Votto continuing to fly around the country with an ear infection anyway? They made a serious problem even worse by not simply putting him on the DL when they discovered the problem. They've also hesitated to disable their other injured players. Brandon Phillips is now playing with a fracture in his thumb. If he keeps batting, it will only get worse.

Mark Sheldon of
Dizziness from the inner ear infection that's been dogging Reds first baseman Joey Votto struck again Friday night. The club has avoided putting Votto on the disabled list for more than two weeks but that could change soon.

Votto, the team's best hitter, started against the Brewers but came out of the game before the Reds took the field for the bottom of the second inning. Catcher Ramon Hernandez moved to first base and Ryan Hanigan took over behind the plate.

After the game in the manager's office, a 40-minute closed-door meeting was held with Reds manager Dusty Baker, general manager Walt Jocketty, head trainer Mark Mann and Votto.

No roster move was announced once the door opened, but Baker said that Votto would not play on Saturday.

Votto emerged from the meeting and appeared to be in a good mood but declined to comment to reporters.

"Not right now," Votto said.

Baker was asked if Votto was OK.

"No , not really," a somber Baker responded. "He felt similar symptoms that he's been feeling in the past and just came out."

It was the third time since May 11 that dizzy spells have forced Votto out of a game. On May 21 after a battery of tests, the inner ear infection was revealed.

The conditions of the inner ear infection can be exasperated by flying, which Votto did with the club on Thursday during the off-day. Unlike with the previous incidents that happened on the West Coast following flights, the trip to Milwaukee is a relatively short one.

Replacing Votto, especially in NL-only leagues is going to be difficult. But if you're in a weekly transaction league or just a league with some owners who are slow on the draw there may be an option for you. The Chicago Cubs recently called up slugger Jake Fox. Fox is a former catcher who has struggled to find a position. He has spent most of his time recently at outfield and first base but has also spent time at third base. The guys at the Fake Teams Blog have posted an informative article that may discourage you from picking him up.

But after you're done being discouraged note Fox's slash line of .423/.503/.886 that's insanely good. I don't care how bad his defense is or what league he's been playing in or what he's been injecting (that's just a joke I haven't heard a thing). Fox is blocked by Derek Lee at first base but the Cubs could squeeze him into the outfield to fire up the offense. Fox is also a prime candidate to DH in inter-league games. I haven't checked the schedule for the Cub's AL games (okay I did, six games against the White Sox and Tigers to end June) but I'm trying to be optimistic here. Fox was leading the minors with 17 homeruns at the time he was called up. If there is a manager on the planet I trust to fit to fit a bat like this into the lineup it is Lou Pinella. I won the FAAB Bidding in my primary NL-only league with a $32 bid. Even if he doesn't play much it can't be much worse than collecting awful at-bats from the scrubs likely to be on the waiver wire at this point in the season.

Jake Fox Statistics Courtesy of

2006 Cubs (A+) 9.80% 19.70% 0.383 0.574 0.261 0.337 55.8 21.7 0.421
2006 Cubs (AA) 4.50% 22.80% 0.304 0.435 0.166 0.326 24.2 2.6 0.336
2007 Cubs (AA) 4.50% 20.10% 0.327 0.504 0.220 0.312 57.2 11 0.367
2007 Cubs (AAA) 4.80% 23.20% 0.343 0.535 0.253 0.314 17.8 3.5 0.381
2007 Cubs 6.70% 14.30% 0.200 0.286 0.143 0.167 0.4 -1.5 0.214
2008 Cubs (AA) 10.60% 18.80% 0.397 0.580 0.273 0.324 89.3 32.8 0.428
2008 Cubs (AAA) 1.70% 26.50% 0.242 0.479 0.256 0.25 11.9 -4.4 0.305
2009 Cubs (AAA) 10.20% 18.80% 0.503 0.886 0.463 0.442 57.3 34.7 0.574
2009 Cubs 0.00% 25.00% 0.750 1.000 0.250 1 1.9 1.4 0.764

What is your favorite source of Fantasy Baseball Info?

This week's Poll Question has huge act to follow after last week's monster. Where do you get your fantasy basebll information. The Expert's Poll revealed that Pod Casts are a very popular source of information. But can they replace the more traditional sources? If you use a combination it would great if you could share to what degree you use each in the comments. I'd love to hear from as many people as last week.

Don't forget to tell us why you voted the way you did in the comments section. I really want to hear from you.

The Internet's Favorite Fantasy Baseball Expert Poll Results

I want to thanks the hundreds of people who voted in the Favorite Fantasy Baseball Expert Poll. If I had to do it again (and I think I will do it again, next year) I would do it a bit differently. First, I would use Poll Software that allowed me to list more candidates. As many different popular experts were excluded. Second, I would make it more of a tournament by splitting the various experts into different categories and make it a series of polls that would culminate in the one true favorite fantasy baseball expert. Third, I would be certain to contact all of the various contenders (before posting) to allow them the opportunity to send their fans to vote.

As it is I think we did pretty well. It should not be shocking that the largest vote-getters come from the most popular (and biggest) websites. Those are the sites that I expected to get many of the votes. More surprising was the huge support for a couple of smaller sites (in Mass Media Appeal I mean). was an early favorite and they were not even listed on the poll. But many voters chose "other" and wrote them in via the comments section.

Just like your fantasy league we pay out to the TOP SIX spots. Considering the hundreds of fantasy experts out there this is a pretty exclusive group.

The Winners

First Place: Lenny Melnick of Fantasy Pros 911 - I should have an interview with Lenny posted in the next few days. Lenny Melnick is old school. He and his partner Irwin Zwilling were in the original ToutWars expert league and they are former NL-only champions and two-time LABR winners. Lenny is not only knowledgeable but his podcasts and radio shows re some of the most entertaining options on BlogTalkRadio. He is always willing to lend a hand to any of his listeners, if they will only ask him for it.

Second Place: Cory Schwartz of - I think it is very interesting that our top two vote getters are most known for their podcasts and radioshows. I think that gives us an indication of where the industry is going. Fantasy owners haven't had to scour the newsstands and bookstores to find information in a long time. But now they don't even need to read. They can just login to blogtalkradio or's podcasts and find whatever information they need. Cory Schwartz is the Director of Statistics for His Fantasy 411 blog and podcast is extremely popular. It may be the most popular fantasy podcast on the net.

Third Place : Ron Shandler of - Ron Shandler introduced many fantasy baseball participants to sabermetrics and more advanced fantasy baseball methods. Baseball HQ is also responsible for bringing many baseball fans into the fantasy sports industry. Shandler has led the campaign to make other industries take the fantasy sports industry seriously. He is the inventor of the LIMA Plan and the founder of ToutWars.

Fourth Place: Matt Berry of ESPN - Matthew Berry is one of the funniest fantasy sports writers out there. No surprise that he comes to the Fantasy Sports Industry from Hollywood. Some people love him, some hate him, but everyone reads his LOVE/HATE articles along with the tons of fantastic fantasy content available at ESPN. Before Berry took over much of the content at ESPN/fantasy was considered a joke. But now they are a site to be respected and even emulated. I probably wouldn't be writing this blog if not for Matthew Berry giving me a chance at Now, he just needs to do something about his horrible fantasy draft shows on ESPN. Call me, I have a better plan for you...

Fifth Place: Jason Grey of ESPN - Anyone who reads this site on a regular basis knows that Jason Grey is my personal favorite expert. He is trained as a baseball scout and that ability gives his great columns and blog posts a unique and valuable edge.

Sixth Place: Eric Mack of - Eric Mack is an award winning sports writer. He has been playing fantasy sports since the 80's and is one of the newer members of ToutWars. He has been with CBS Sports for 11 years and the senior fantasy sports writer for the last six years.

The Honorable Mentions: Rudy and Grey of, Jason Collette of, Jeff Erickson of Rotowire, Alex Patton of, Todd of , and Lawr Michaels of Creative Sports.

Here are some of the many comments in praise of their favorites...
jintman1 said...

I think everyone has that 1st guy that they read or listened too that got them up to speed on how to play Fantasy at a higher level. For me it was Cory Schwartz,the way he communicates his opinions and analysis made sense to me. But I still read and respect all of the other guys out there as well.

SRM said...

Grey at Razzball as well. Probably the only column i'd consider reading even if i didn't play fantasy baseball. Good fantasy advice and the site has a collaborative and informed comments section which Grey takes his time to be a key part of.

aleast91 said...

As I said my first year of Tout, it's always an honor to get my ass kicked by people like Ron Shandler, Jason Grey and Lawr Michaels (among others, all of whom are very talented and good people). But this list is incomplete without Jason Collette, too.


Patrick DiCaprio said...

there is no one funnier on a daily basis than Lenny Melnick and that is what separates him from the rest-they all know their stuff!

REDRUM said...

I'll also add that Lenny Melnick is the most ACCESSIBLE and Interactive Expert...
Ive been able to talk to him on the phone, via email, and on his live shows... Some of these other guys dont make them self as available as Lenny does....

Lenny is a born comedian as well check this link at the 25 min mark..

Scott said...

Shandler gives you a unique approach to fantasy approach with his hordes of stat research. Schwartz is excellent and he does a fine job of keeping the info only relevant with mixed leagues, which suits his primary audience at Lenny gives you the most up to date info of fantasy relevance, but he spends HOURS reading and tracking box scores, line-up changes, and making sure he reads 3 or 4 newspapers per team a day. If you want to miss a week of fantasy baseball for any reason, just keep track of Lenny's daily podcasts. Lenny's best attribute is his experience, but he has a tendency to fall in love with certain qualities in players, which is a bad attribute, but if you can weed this out your fine. Mathew Berry is funny and his buddy Nate Ravitz, including his hot sisters, are funny and their info is tried and tested. Berry's columns are very funny and also includes some pop culture references. Berry told me over and over again to stay away from J.D. Drew...good year or not he is bad news. Berry is also good with evaluating injury time, but I doubt he realizes his own accuracy. He sure loves the spotlight, but would you blame him. He turned his fantasy baseball fanaticism to a big fortune. I read zola and listened to him of the best. Erickson has the best roto site bar none with Rotowire. BaseballHQ is the next best. That would be a great poll....What website do you visit for comprehensive news and advice. Eric Mack doesn't do much, but spews out information that we all already know. His website or maybe it is him, do a good job with prospect hunting, but anybody can do it and his articles unveal my hidden gems, which means he is probably doing his job and I hat him in spite of it. I don't subscribe to the other sites, but I know Lawr Michaels from interviews and he is kind of a clone of Lenny, so I'm sure he can give you some well-rounded advice.

Scott said...

Redrum, you are very right about Lenny being funny. He sometimes loses focus in the middle of his podcasts and you never know what he's going to sing or joke about. Some of the best humor is when he talks to the audience, but he is really talking to himself and that my friends can make for some funny radio. Cory is Yoda-like. He has the most applicable info in his head and to me is one of the best because he has the best of all talents. He has experience mixed in with a great stats background. He is the brains of Siano has definitely picked his brain enough to become a much better fantasy press participant. Siano would choose a fantasy team of Yankees rather draft a winning fantasy franchise. Just ask him.

josefbreuer said...

among things i like about melnick, is that he doesn't try to be objective. like the one reader here remarked, you need to listen to melnick critically. still, his ability to make consistently reasonable and sound assessments is his strength. he's also down-to-earth and accessible. i'm still pretty green in FBB and have only this year been introduced to -- terrific collection of great minds complemented by ascerbic wit. i think jason grey's analyses are outstanding: thorough and comprehensive. i'm glad to have gotten an explanation about what limited the choices on this ballot, and would like to add kudos to mike podhorzer at fantasypros911. his leaders and laggards column is brilliant and his preseason rankings, on which i relied a lot this season, have proven very reliable.

Jason Collette said...

That's an extremely tough vote. They're all smart as hell but each has their own unique characteristic. Razzball guys are funny as hell, Melnick talks to anyone, and Schwartz is very personable, etc.

Anonymous said...

Grey & Rudy is cool, so is you Jon!

Brett Myers Out, The Phillies Seek a Replacement

One of the Phillies front line starters is now out for the season with hip surgery. At least it isn't is arm. I'm sure that is not going to make Myers owners feel any better. Coincidentally, I tried to trade for Myers in my primary AL-only league just last week and received a sound rejection. Funny, I'm sure he'd take the deal now. The Phillies are apparently ready to deal for a new secondary ace to pair with Cole Hamels.

Brett Myers is out for the season with hip surgery. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said the Phillies don't have the money to add multiple starters. Instead they'll aim high, with names like Erik Bedard and Roy Oswalt speculated by Rosenthal. So, not a Brad Penny type. SI's Jon Heyman wrote about Bedard's appeal earlier today.

Rosenthal also wonders if Myers' surgery could restore some lost velocity, making him an intriguing free agent after the season. Shop

Fantasy Owners in all leagues should be monitoring this situation closely. The Phillies are not as loaded as some teams in their minor league system but they do have a solid group of prospects that would a lot of value in trade. Since the prospects are likely to end up in the American League owners in re-building mode will want to be aware of names like these:

OF Dominic Brown - The Phillies number one prospect according to Baseball America. Brown hs been compared to Darryl Strawberry often. He is still quite raw at this point but his potential is off the charts.

RHP Carlos Carrasco - He was the number one prospect in 2008. His toughness has been questioned but his stuff is very good and his command is improving. BA likes to call him a mid-rotation starter but I think he'll be a little better than that.

SS Jason Donald - If he stays with the Phillies, Donald is likely to take over at third base in 2010. A lot of doubt his ability to produce as a regular in a major league lineup but those people are dumb.

Any other prospects involved are likely to be a few years away from the majors. The pitchers the Phillies are interested are all known quantities like Roy Oswalt, Brad Penny, Erik Bedard, and others like them on teams that have no hope. I can also see a team like the Tampa Bay Rays or Texas Rangers being willing to trade a veteran pitcher in order to fit a more talented youngster into their rotation. Shop

Friday, May 29, 2009

Question: Can Liriano and Lester Recover?

Dear Jon,

My name is Max Estes and I found your website through on Monday and I REALLY enjoy it! I have two conundrums in a extremely competitive head-to-head 7x7 (Runs, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP, SLG, IP, W, L. Save, Strike Outs, ERA and WHIP) keeper (10 keepers plus 1 minor leaguer) league of which I am the commissioner. I could use your guidance. The categories I'm having some trouble in are AVG, SLG, Saves and sometimes SB. I received an offer from another manager where I would get Carlos Beltran, Francisco Liriano and Matt Lindstrom for Hunter Pence, Justin Verlander, and Jon Lester.

I was thinking about taking out Verlander for either Wandy Rodriguez or Eric Bedard. What is your opinion of those trades. Also I have an offer of I get Marco Scuturo for Gary Sheffield. I need an IF more than an OF but I could use the power. If you need any more information or more players on my team please let me know. Thank you in advance for helping me.

Max Estes
Hey Max,

Thanks for checking out the site and deciding to stick round. I appreciate it a lot. I need to thank Tim Dierkes, he's been sending a lot of readers my way lately. But to your trades...

Carlos Beltran, Francisco Liriano, and Matt Lindstrom


Hunter Pence, Justin Verlander, and Jon Lester

You did not include any prices or rounds so I'm going to assume that they do not matter in regards to who you choose to keep. If that assumption is wrong just let me know but for now I'm going to evaluate the trade as if you could keep anyone you choose without penalty.

Carlos Beltran is the best player in the deal by far, despite Hunter Pence having his strongest season yet. Unfortunately, being a Houston Astro sort of limits the Runs and RBI potential. A Rule of Thumb for Fantasy Baseball trading is that if you gain the best player in the deal you win the trade. They call it a Rule of Thumb because that isn't always a very accurate measure. Both players are hitting for very good averages, both are hitting for power (although not as much as we might hope as far as homeruns are concerned), and both are stealing a few bases. Beltran is just better in all of those categories. Beltran would be an upgrade over Pence but not a mind-blowing one.

Francisco Liriano is having a very tough season. His control is way off which is much more damaging than any perceived loss of stuff. He is having a degree of bad luck but a FIP of 4.88 indicates it is a bit more than just bad luck. He also seems to have abandoned his change-up. Which is resulting in more flyballs hit on his fastball, which resulted in a higher homerun rate. That's a major mistake for him and something that is easily fixed assuming he hasn't lost the feel for the pitch somehow. This could have a lot to do with Joe Mauer's absence for most of the first two months of the season. It's hard to judge based on one start but in his May 25th start his control seemed to be back and the result was zero walks, and seven strikeouts (and 11 hits) in just four innings. There were also small signs of recovery in the few starts before that one. It is based on a hunch, but I'd be willing to bet Liriano is about to enter a very strong stretch of pitching.

You would also receive the Florida Marlins closer, Matt Lindstrom. He may be a closer but Lindstrom is not going to help you in any category except saves. His control has been about as bad as it could be. I'm shocked he hasn't lost the role to one of the Marlins' many prospects. But you need saves and he does get them.

You would be giving up Justin Verlander who is pitching great and Jon Lester who has had disappointing results thus far. Believe it or not Verlander has been pretty unfortunate this season. His BABIP is bloated at .339 and his LOB percentage is just 64.9 compared to his career mark of 71.5 percent. In short, Verlander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season. As bad as Verlander's luck has been, Jon Lester's has been much worse. Lester's .379 BABIP has been a huge hindrance to his owners. That and a 17.5 percent HR/FB rate has ruined his results. Balls that were harmless infield flies last year (12.9% in 2008, 4.8% in 2009) are now being launched out of the park. This is going to turn around soon. It has to, or Lester could be the causulty of the return of John Smoltz who is looking very good in his rehab starts. The Red Sox also have Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden pitching great in the minors.

You are going to lose quite a bit from your pitching staff if you make this deal but I understand that this is your strength. Exchanging Wandy Rodriguez or Eric Bedard (both are pitching pretty good) for Verlander would help make it a bit better for you and still provide your trading partner a significant upgrade over what he was getting before. If you can get him to make the switch from Verlander I would do the deal. It has some risk, but I think you'll get enough of an upgrade where you need it (SLG, Saves, and Stolen Bases) to make it worth while. This is especially true if you believe (as I do) that Francisco Liriano will turn it around. Liriano is the key. If you believe, you can do this trade. If you don't believe then you should keep trying to re-work it.

As for the Marcus Scutaro and Gary Sheffield deal, I would just hang on to Sheffield. Scutaro is having a nice season, but I think it will all be downhill from here for him. Sheffield is going to get to play a lot and when he's playing well there are few better.

Good luck Max!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Russell Branyan - Fantasy Baseball Stud

I am not one to say I told you so but I so did. In January I told you just how good Russell Branyan could be if he received the playing time that Seattle seemed to be promising him. I drafted him on quite a few teams this year and he has more than rewarded me for it.
In 2008, Branyan hit 12 homers in 132 at-bats. And he has essentially always performed that way. Last month, the Seattle Mariners signed him to a one-year guaranteed contract approaching a million bucks a year to be their primary first baseman. This was an excellent move. Branyan has a low contact rate but has a career fly ball rate over 50 percent and approaching 60 percent the last few seasons. This translates into homeruns because of his excellent career HR/FB of 21.9 percent. Do the math – (500 at-bats)*(70 percent contact rate)*(50 percent fly ball rate)*(22 percent HR/FB) = 38 homeruns. Branyan's best-case batting average is probably no better than .270 and reality suggests an average closer to .250, but if Ludwick can hit .290, anything can happen.
David Cameron over at just posted an article lauding Jack Zduriencik, the Seattle Mariners general manager for signing Branyan and giving him the opportunity that no one else would.
So far, he looks like a genius. Branyan entered the day hitting .306/.395/.590, and he just hit a Trevor Cahill fastball about 750 feet for his 11th home run of the season. Given a chance to hit against left-handed pitching for the first time, he’s responded by showing a fairly normal platoon split - .312/.407/.634 vs RHPs and .294/.373/.529 against LHPs.
Even Branyan's most fervent supporters don't believe he'll continue to hit over .300 but I and a growing number of others do believe that he can approach (if not surpass) the 40 homerun level.

Did you draft Russell Branyan? Do you believe he can continue his present rate of production? Please share in the comments section.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Great Thing About June Prospects...

The latest edition of the (Waiver) Wire has been posted at Crucial Sports. This week we take a look at the early call ups. June is always better in my opinion for prospects. For one, you can actually have them in your lineup long enough to make a difference. Two, the teams calling these guys up actually want and need them to contribute to the rotations and lineups they have just joined.

A sample:

Brignac was once a top prospect of the Devilish Rays but he never quite produced or defended the way they wanted. He has shown the ability to hit for power and the ability to steal bases. He should receive plenty of playing time with Akinori Iwamura and Jason Bartlett both on the disabled list. His problem as a hitter was always strikeouts but so far this season he is showing improved patience and discipline at the plate. This is an excellent player to take a chance on in AL-only leagues.
and another sample:

The Mets lineup has more than its fair share of problems right now. Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, and Ryan Church are all on the disabled list. Carlos Beltran is playing banged up, and rookie Daniel Murphy is experiencing some of the downs that young players do. I believe that all of the previous mentioned players will bounce back strongly, well except Church. It seems obvious to me that manager Jerry Manuel is not a big fan of Ryan Church. He benched him for rookie this spring (Murphy) and encouraged the Mets to pick up the remains of what was once Gary Sheffield. So how easy is it to believe that he will plug the Mets highly anticipated phenomenal prospect into the lineup and never take him out? Not hard at all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Matt Wieters Arrives on Friday

The promotion of Matt Wieters to the major leagues should have an impact in every fantasy league on the planet. This is not just a good prospect. This is the best prospect in baseball and some have said he could be the best prospect ever. None of that means that he'll be the best player in baseball in this season or any other. But if he delivers on his promise (and I believe he will) he should quickly establish himself as one of the best catchers in baseball. I used to call him Joe Mauer with power but I guess now I have to call him Joe Mauer-like. He probably is not available in most leagues but if he is then you should pounce on him right now. His impact should be considered in the same class as Evan Longoria's and Ryan Braun as rookies. That is a lot to live up to for a young player but I truly believe it.

Wieters should hit for average and power while providing the Orioles with above average defense behind the plate. He does not strike out much and takes walks. He has a plan at the plate and should not take long to adjust to the majors. He should be owned in every league of every size and type. He's that good.

2008 Orioles (A+) 16.10% 20.50% 0.94 0.448 0.576 1.024 0.231 1.90 0.383 0.445
2008 Orioles (AA) 15.40% 13.90% 1.31 0.460 0.625 1.085 0.260 3.50 0.383 0.472
2009 Orioles (AAA) 12.20% 21.90% 0.63 0.367 0.482 0.849 0.197 4.00 0.333 0.373

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ten Fantasy Baseball Trade Secrets

Mid-May is when trading season begins in a lot of leagues. This is the point in the year when owners start to feel comfortable that they know what they have on their team. But what is the secret to making successful trades? What makes a trade successful anyway? Is it fleecing another owner without incurring a league veto? Most owners dream of pulling off the killer trade for themselves, but would admit that a successful trade is one that makes the owner of all the teams involved happy. Every league is unique. I have been in leagues that value the best minor leaguers as priceless and others that consider them almost worthless. The success of a trade is going to be different in the eyes of every individual owner. There are whole books you can buy about the art of trading but here are ten trading tips that may help you make more effective fantasy baseball deals.
  1. Know as much about the other owner and his team as possible. You should be checking in with the other teams in your league at least once a week anyway but especially when you are being offered a trade or seeking a trade. You want to measure what the trade would do for your trading partner as well as what it would do for your roster. In which categories will they gain or lose ground? Are they trading from strength? Are they looking desperate?
  2. Try using the telephone. These days everyone may have an e-mail address but that does not mean that they check it as frequently as you might. Find out how the owner you are dealing with likes to discuss things. Instant messenger and e-mail are great but they lack the personal feeling that a telephone conversation has. It is much easier to decline a trade sent by e-mail. But many people find it very hard to say no to someone who has presented their case in a well-reasoned yet concise phone presentation. Trust me, I used to be that telemarketer that convinced you to support the Special Olympics or the politician of the month for much too long. Remember to prepare your sales pitch ahead of time. You want to want to sound as confident s possible that this is a good deal for both teams. Finish with phrases that provoke a yes or no answer, such as "sounds good, doesn't it", "wouldn't you like to have (the player in question) on your team?" and you'll be that much closer to a deal.
  3. Improve another team to help your own. You may look at your league's standings and discover that you have more points between you and a championship than you can gain on your own. Rather than resign yourself to finishing second or worse look at trades you might make to bring your rival back to the pack. If your rival can be caught in saves by another league member that won't catch you in the standings, consider trading a closer to that owner and costing your rival a point in saves.
  4. Do a thorough check on the health and performance of the players involved in a deal. You do not want to be caught trading for David Ortiz not knowing that his production is way off the norm. Or trading for closer Kevin Gregg without realizing how poorly he has pitched. You might think you received a great deal on Rafael Furcal until you realize that his back problems have resurfaced and he's losing playing time to Juan Castro of all people. These are all extreme examples but you get the idea.
  5. Get a second opinion. Sometimes we're so attached to certain players or so covetous of others that we can't judge a deal properly. Or maybe you're having a hard time pulling the trigger for whatever reason. This is where your friends come in handy. If all your friends/advisors are in the same league you can always call on me. IM:bigjonempire,, send me a twitter message @bigjonwilliams, or even call me on Skype -- bigjonempire ( I can't promise to monitor this route much but you can occasionally catch me this way). If time is of the essence send me an e-mail with your phone number and I'll call you right back.
  6. If you get an offer you don't like, don't freak out, just make a counter offer. I read about poor reactions to trade offers all the time. Reacting with anger or any excess emotion over a bad offer is really just a waste of time. It also creates bad will with an owner who may have just honestly misjudged the value of a player. If you present a counter offer you create a dialogue which could lead to a trade that is much better than the one you refused. But don't try to out bad offer him, suggest a fair trade that would actually help your team and his. You may end up making your league stronger by doing this.
  7. You'll usually get more by making several small trades then you will in one big one. This is especially true when you're in rebuilding mode. You can squeeze an extra minor leaguer or a draft pick or some FAAB dollars out of each owner you deal with and come out way ahead of what one owner could ever (even if he wanted to) give you on his own.
  8. The Superstars are expensive, often the everyday player without the hype comes much cheaper and can be just as effective. Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera will cost you a fortune in most leagues but Ryan Franklin and Brad Ziegler come much cheaper. Far too often when owners decide they need an offense upgrade they look to make a trade for Miguel Cabrera or David Wright and they end up making just a small upgrade at best. But if they went after guys like Russell Branyan or Mike Lowell they would have to part with much less for a still significant upgrade.
  9. Concern yourself with the end result more than the price. You may think giving up a certain keeper for a collection of players you would never keep is madness. However, if that collection of players would guarantee you a championship it would be a very small price to pay.
  10. Trust your gut feelings. If your gut told you that Phil Hughes was gonna be great this season you should have held on to him for more than two starts (okay, I'm talking to myself here). Especially when you're selling him low. Seriously, if you have a bad feeling about a deal DO NOT MAKE IT! You will feel like crap when you discover you were right.

Is the LIMA Plan really a viable strategy?

Another Side of Kerouac: The Dharma Bum as Sports Nut

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Godfather of Fantasy Baseball

I'll be on the Lenny Melnick Show tonight at 9:30. You can listen on BlogTalk Radio. We'll be talking about the Experts Poll and other things related to Fantasy Baseball.

Moving Up: Jesus Guzman and Kevin Frandsen

The San Francisco Giants have a lineup that is the envy of little league clubs everywhere. So, that they are starting to make some changes should be not be surprising. Second baseman Kevin Frandsen has been recalled from triple-A Fresno and will be taking at-bats away from Emanuel Burriss. Burriss is slumping and this team already has too many holes to give him much leeway. The club is also giving Jesus Guzman (the former Venezuela Winter League MVP and Oakland Athletic) chance to take at-bats from first baseman Travis Ishikawa.

In six minor league seasons, primarily as a third baseman and second baseman for the Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, and the Giants, Jesus Guzman has slash line of .300/.368/.471 with 72 homeruns, and 31 stolen bases in 2393 at-bats. The interesting stats are mostly in the last couple of seasons. In 2007 for the Mariner he smacked 25 homeruns with a slash of .301/.370/.539 in 518 at-bats at the High-A level. In 2008 for the Oakland Athletics he hit a combined 23 home in 415 at-bats at three different minor league levels. He signed as a minor league free-agent with the San Francisco Giants and for triple-A Fresno has hit .363/.391/.592 with 21 extra-base hits in 157 at-bats. I like him. Especially since Ishikawa has been so miserble this season. He does hit a lot of groundballs but hits tons of linedrives and is just 24-years old.

Jesus Guzman Statistics from The Baseball Cube

Minor League Split Statistics from Minor League Baseball Splits

Jesus Guzman Wins VWL MVP

Kevin Frandsen is not a special player when it comes to the things we fantasy owners like to see. But he is a good contact hitter with patience at the plate. These are qualities that the Giants can use in their lineup. Frandsen has mediocre power at best and I would be mildly surprised if he ever hit more than ten homeruns in a season. He is a decent second baseman and should be of value in NL-only leagues as a middle infielder or quality injury replacement.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Which Fantasy Baseball Expert is Your Favorite?

UPDATE: I want to thank the many people who voted in this poll. As of today (05/30/09) I'm declaring the winners.

Every expert has their own particular style and quirks. I read as many of them as I can on a regular basis as I'm sure you do. But which expert clicks with you the best. Which expert are you most likely to emulate or at least heavily value their opinion. I would love to hear why you chose as you did. Let's start a real discussion in the comments section.

Rays Revamp Pitching Staff w/ David Price

Mark Lancaster of the Tampa Tribune informs of the changes from his Rays Report Blog:

  • Scott Kazmir, a two-time All-Star who has been mauled in his last five starts, is headed to the DL with a strained right quad he says resulted from poor mechanics. No word on how long he’ll be sidelined, but considering they have to get the soreness out AND rebuild his mechanics, we’re definitely looking at longer than two weeks.
  • David Price, arguably the top prospect in the game, is expected to replace Kazmir in the rotation beginning Monday in Cleveland.
  • Troy Percival, age 39 and eighth on the all-time list with 358 career saves, is on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis and may be done for good. He flew home to California today and apparently was distraught after yesterday’s game.
Unless you can bench him, I would be hesitant to activate David Price right now. His walk rate has been elevated at triple-A and so has his HR/9. I love him long term but unless you have no choice (you'll lose him, you're desperate for any chance at good pitching) I would bench or avoid him for now.

The Tampa Bullpen has basically been in a committee mode for the last two years. I think Jason Isringhausen lead the committee as the most experienced closer option. Experience is something Joe Maddon seems to value in the bullpen. Isringhausen should be a fine temporary option if you need saves but I would not invest too heavily.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Relevance of the LIMA Plan

There has been a lot of discussion in the subscriber forums of about the value (or lack of value) in the LIMA Plan. The discussion was jump started thanks to an article that appeared on the Hardball Times site, written by John Burnson. Burnson does limit his analysis to starting pitchers which are only a part of the LIMA Plan. Relief pitchers (even non-closers) play a huge role on many fantasy teams, so to leave them out of the evaluation is to miss a large portion of the LIMA eligible pitchers.

Ron Shandler wrote an editorial response that I believe is unaccessible for non-members. In it he shows a number of points that Burnson missed, and explains some of the history and the true use of the plan which is often missed by adopters. The LIMA Plan was never expected to provide someone with a first rate pitching staff. Rather, it was intended to allow users to spend most of their available budget on hitting and still build a competent and competitive staff. Ron Shandler began by listing a few key facts that everyone should know about the LIMA Plan.
  • It has been around for a long, long time (11 years in fantasy time is forever)
  • The more popular it has become, the less effective it has become.
  • With each year that passes, memory fades and more people get it wrong
  • I have not used the LIMA Plan, as written, for at least four years.
Ed DeCaria wrote another response testing the viability of using the LIMA filters (>=6.0 K/9, >=2.0 K/BB, and <=1.1 HR/9) to find pitchers that will show an improved ERA. Though Ed's work was a little hard to follow, he does show that the plan does work if you can get the eligible pitchers at a discount rate. This seems much more likely to happen in mixed leagues than in NL or AL leagues. But my favorite part of the article is when Ed describes why LIMA is not a failed strategy despite its flaws.
LIMA (“Low Investment Mound Aces”) was first introduced over 10 years ago. BEFORE Voros McCracken’s research revealed the sharp regression to the mean of hits on balls in play for pitchers. BEFORE the daily tracking of groundballs and flyballs and their subsequent segmentation into line drives and pop-ups and now “fliners.” BEFORE the realization that home runs allowed were largely a function of a pitcher’s fly ball rate, park factors, and luck rather than any direct home run avoidance skill. BEFORE pitch outcome data enabled us to analyze ball vs. strike ratios, called and swinging strike rates, and first pitch strikes. And BEFORE technology systems were installed in every major league stadium to allow us to analyze pitch types, release points, velocity, movement, and location.
There are definitely more accurate tools than the LIMA filters to use in evaluating pitchers and projecting their performance. I use them all the time. But the filters are not obsolete and are still useful in a lot of leagues. I don't recommend following any plan too strictly. A vital need at the draft table is the ability to zig when they zag. This flexibility will prevent you from failing to acquire the needed stats during your draft when you discover that everyone in your league is also using the LIMA Plan.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

TRADE: Jake Peavy to White Sox

Will Carroll has reported on Baseball and similar reports are flooding sports radio outlets that the San Diego Padres have traded All Star starting pitcher, Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox for a collection of players. The deal is apparently agreed to by both clubs but is awaiting the approval of Peavy who has a No-Trade clause in his contract.
The Padres and White Sox agreed to a trade centered on Jake Peavy moving from the Padres to the White Sox. Peavy has repeatedly stated that he wants to stay in the National League and a source close to Peavy re-iterated that in a call this morning. Peavy has a three year extension in place beginning in 2010, so there’s not much that the White Sox can do to give him more incentive. One of the main concerns, I was told, is that Peavy is unsure about playing for Ozzie Guillen. Peavy has until tomorrow to approve the deal. No “window” has been open or requested by either team.

The White Sox made an aggressive first offer of four players, including Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard, and two other prospects. Gordon Beckham is thought to have been discussed, though it is unlikely the Sox would be willing to deal him, even for Peavy. He would have to be traded as a PTBNL, due to the Incaviglia rule. There’s been speculation that the Sox would deal Chris Getz, but again, the names included in the agreed deal have not been confirmed by any outlet at this time.
This is not a good trade for Peavy's fantasy owners (especially the ones in leagues that do not allow owners to keep players traded to the other league). Peavy has spent his MLB career in the best pitching environment in MLB - Petco Park. If he approves the deal he will be pitching in a homerun park that is likely to significantly errode Peavy's fantasy value. His HR/FB will take a huge jump based on just the change in home park alone. Peavy will also have to face the much stronger American League lineups that include designated hitters rather than his fellow pitchers.

Clayton Richard who has shown borderline LIMA skills and would look much better in the National League starting for the Padres. Aaron Poreda is a top pitching prospect but still has significant developing to do before he becomes a starting option. Gordon Beckham is an awesome hitter. If he were included this would have to be considered a very good deal for the Padres. Beckham would be listed as a PTBNL because players have to be with the teams that drafted them for at least a year before they can be dealt.

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2002 Padres 8.29 3.04 2.73 1.01 1.42 0.339 0.70 3.69
2003 Padres 7.21 3.79 1.90 1.53 1.31 0.263 0.78 4.99
2004 Padres 9.36 2.87 3.26 0.70 1.20 0.310 0.84 3.14
2005 Padres 9.58 2.22 4.32 0.80 1.04 0.288 0.77 2.89
2005 Padres 6.23 6.23 1.00 4.15 2.54 0.394 0.37 9.71
2006 Padres 9.56 2.76 3.47 1.02 1.23 0.316 0.73 3.51
2006 Padres 3.38 1.69 2.00 1.69 2.25 0.434 0.66 5.40
2007 Padres 9.67 2.74 3.53 0.52 1.06 0.286 0.78 2.84
2008 Padres 8.60 3.06 2.81 0.88 1.18 0.285 0.82 3.60
2009 Padres 10.13 2.79 3.63 1.03 1.11 0.288 0.71 3.35

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Continues

Sorry about the lack of posts the last few days. I'll try to make up for it this afternoon. You can read the lastest Fantasy Baseball Roundtable at this week. This week's topic of discussion concerns the statistical categories that we use to draft and evaluate players during the season. You should check out all the interesting answers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

To Trade David Wright or Not is the Question

I recently received the following e-mail from a loyal reader:

I'm in a 14 team, highly competitive keeper league in the midst of our 5th year. I have owned and been extremely happy with David Wright since the leagues inception. I have finished 3rd and 4th the past two years and I'm extremely motivated to win this season. I have been offered a very enticing trade and would appreciate your unbiased fantasy mind opinion of this proposed deal.

I would be trading:
David Wright, David Price, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach Duke and Asdrubal Carbera

to obtain...

Miguel Cabrera, Brian Roberts, Heath Bell, Erik Bedard and Matt Cain

I'm very tied and invested in David Wright and find it difficult to part with him, however, I feel this deal could drastically improve my team in needed areas of HR, RBI, SV, and K please dispense upon me your knowledge and opinion of this deal.


I love this trade for you Mark. I do not believe you will lose anything in any category if you make this deal. Miguel Cabrera compares very well to David Wright. Wright steals a few more bases and is on a better team, but the rest of the deal makes it more than worth it.

Brian Roberts is a better fantasy option than Asdrubal Cabrera and should steal just as many bases with the added bonus of power. I like Asdrubal long term but I think he still has some developing to do despite his hot start. Roberts is a better hitter at this stage in their careers and I like the Baltimore lineup better if everyone stays healthy. Asdrubal's batting average is going to drop in the second half (as pitchers make adjustments) and Roberts will stay pretty consistent.

Heath Bell is a closer right now and one of the better ones, if not the best. The Padres offense is bad enough that Bell will be positioned for a save in just about any game the Padres lead in the ninth. Even a team as bad as the Padres will provide 40-plus save opportunities. David Price is an awsome prospect but he isn't in the majors right now. He also isn't pitching particularly well in triple-A, which is just fine with the Tampa Bay Rays who do not have a natural opening for him right now.

I like Ubaldo Jimenez as a future pitching star. Jimenez has been pitching better lately but his control is not yet at the point where he is trustworthy with a potential championship on the line. Despite his recent hamstring injury, I still prefer Erik Bedard. He is pitching very well (discounting his last start) and should help you in every pitching category but saves. If he does a short stint on the disabled list, do not fret just grab the best available middle reliever until he returns.

Zach Duke is pitching very well. The only weakness in Duke is a mediocre strikeout rate. I do think he will continue to pitch very well. Matt Cain is also pitching fairly well, if not as good as Zach Duke. He will always have a better strikeout rate. Cain's control is a little off right now but not so much that he'll harm your team (it's better than Jimenez's) and he should come around.

Mark, I think you win this trade in a huge way. It should be more than worth tearing yourself away from David Wright. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out.

Which Rookie (or close enough) Can Make or Break Your Fantasy Team?

Although everyone preaches not to rely on rookies to propel your fantasy team, there is no denying that rookies can have a huge impact. In the last few seasons we've seen Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria, and Tim Lincecum come from the minor leagues and show first round talent. Which rookie are you counting on this season?

Welcome to the Show

Toby Mergler of interviewed me for their Welcome to the Show blog. The interview is part of a series featuring the members of the Fantasy Baseball Search Expert League. Please check out my interview and the rest of the series.

In addition to Toby Mergler of, the Expert League also features the following:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's wrong with David Ortiz?

David Ortiz is large, slow and in his mid-thirties. He has hit for power just about everywhere he has ever played. Last season he had a wrist injury which definitely impacted his stats. But every media source seems to agree with Ortiz and batting coach, Dave Magadan when they say the wrist is no longer a problem. Ortiz missed a few days with a stiff back. At his age a stiff back and sore joints becomes a normal condition. This has been reported as a brief and minor problem. However, Ortiz is not hitting for average or for power. Two weeks ago, Magadan thought he had hit on the answer to Big Papi's problems.

From on April 20th:
Hitting coach Dave Magadan diagnosed Ortiz's issue late last week. Ortiz has been cocking his hands into a hitting position too late, the same problem that has crept up on Ortiz when struggles surfaced in the past, Magadan said.

Late last week, Magadan showed Ortiz two pictures, one from last year during a hot streak and one from this year. In the first, Ortiz had his hands back, ready to swing, while the ball was halfway to the plate. In the second picture, Ortiz was in an identical position, but the pitch had nearly reached the plate.

Yesterday, Koji Uehara struck out Ortiz swinging twice, both at fastballs that did not reach 90 miles per hour. "When you're a little bit late . . . getting to the spot where you need to put a swing on the ball, 87 is like 97," Magadan said.

Magadan emphasized that readiness is Ortiz's main issue. Ortiz has not been hitting the ball to the opposite field and producing familiar Wall Ball doubles, but Magadan said opponents have been pitching him hard and inside. Magadan also said he has witnessed no effects from the wrist injury that plagued Ortiz late last season and in the playoffs.

While Magadan had identified the problem, he was not concerned with it. He and Ortiz worked on fixing it Saturday and Magadan is happy with the results.

"When you can change your season around in two games, it's not a start," Magadan said. "It takes some time. He felt good about the changes he made yesterday. For me, I think it's just a matter of time."
I and David Ortiz owners across the globe hope and pray that this is indeed the problem and that it is just a matter of timing. But I'm not so certain. Ortiz is in a class of player that has historically declined very quickly when reaching their mid-thirties, often it seems to happen overnight. Former Red Sox Mo Vaughn is a good example of this type.

Ortiz has a career walk rate of 13.5 percent, it is currently at 14 percent. His career K-rate is 21 percent, this season his rate is a just a touch higher at 22 percent. His BABIP is a little low at .281 compared to his .308 career rate, but that is hardly a sign of disastrous luck. Ron Shandler's XBA (expected batting average), which combines statistical indicators to predict what a player's batting average should be, suggests that Ortiz should be batting for about a .223 average. That's right on the money so far.

Ortiz's slugging percentage is hovering around .315, which is nearly .300 points below his last few years of production. He is hitting more flyballs than ever but a large percentage of them have been infield flies which helps supports Magadan's theory. The fact that he is not hitting homers at all is much more disturbing than the batting average. This is the part I believe is a fluke that will be corrected in the second half of the season.

So, what's wrong with Ortiz? He's getting older. His bat is slowing down a bit. His batting mechanics are a little off and he has struggled to correct them. I doubt the batting average will improve much above the .260 range, but I believe we'll see 20-plus homers before the season ends. That said, I wouldn't look acquire him unless the price were extremely low. I believe he'll bounce back but he's also an old enough version of the type that falls completely off the map to be willing to risk much. Then, maybe he just misses Manny...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Moving Up: Nolan Reimold

Most reports out of Baltimore are suggesting that outfielder Luke Scott is about to be placed on the disabled list. Scott was scheduled to have an MRI today on his injured left shoulder. Most of the Maryland media is in agreement that the result will see Scott on the disabled list very soon. The fondest wish of Orioles fans and Fantasy Baseball owners is that Nolan Reimold will be called up to replace him.

Reimold is an interesting prospect. He has suffered through a variety of injury problems that slowed his movement up the ladder and caused some to doubt his ability to become an impact minor leaguer. The 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook describes Reimold as someone who "... crushes mistakes and should be an average overall hitter..." He is better than that. His power is very good and he has improved a lot as a contact hitter over the last two seasons. I expect him to eventually hit for a decent average (in the .275-.285 range) and for 30-plus homers in a full season of at-bats.

Judging by his amazing start at triple-A, he could very well hit that projection by mid-July. On the strength of this start, fantasy owners everywhere are just waiting to pounce. I recommend that you be among them. As I'll say about every call-up, I expect Reimold to have his ups and downs this season but overall he should be worth owning in AL-leagues and deeper mixed leagues.

2006 Orioles (A+) 15.50% 25.80% 0.379 0.455 0.834 0.200 3.8 0.301 0.379
2007 Orioles (R) 16.70% 13.30% 0.410 0.433 0.844 0.200 3.9 0.269 0.406
2007 Orioles (AA) 8.40% 25.30% 0.365 0.565 0.929 0.258 2.5 0.359 0.401
2008 Orioles (AA) 11.10% 16.20% 0.367 0.501 0.868 0.217 4.4 0.298 0.384
2009 CHONE 8.50% 22.90% 0.320 0.418 0.738 0.165 4.4 0.296 0.325
2009 Oliver 9.40% 21.40% 0.333 0.462 0.795 0.203
0.289 0.344
2009 ZiPS 8.10% 16.50% 0.338 0.462 0.800 0.184 3.6 0.296 0.348
2009 Orioles (AAA) 14.40% 20.80% 0.479 0.713 1.192 0.327 3.3 0.431 0.514