Monday, June 29, 2009

Roundtable: Greinke, Verlander, or Lester

This week's Fantasy Baseball Roundtable is hosted by Fantasy Phenoms. This is one of my favorite fantasy sites and you should definitely become a frequent visitor. Brett Greenfield asks us a loaded question this week:

Three pitchers who have exceeded expectations so far are Jon
, Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. Owners of these pitchers have been relying on them as weekly starters who play an intricate role for their fantasy teams. All three are on pace to strike out over 240 batters. If you had to choose one of these pitchers to continue this trend, who would it be? Why?
The collective answers are fairly interesting. All three pitchers received votes. I was the only one to pick my choice but I'm okay with that. I like being on the outside of the groupthink.

Mailbag - Comeback Players and Pitching Matchups

I'm struggling to get back on schedule. I hope to be there no later than Wednesday. Here's acouple of e-mails questions Iwas able to answer recently. I try to get to every question or request within 24 hours. If you have a question please feel free to send it to me at or via twitter (@bigjonwilliams), or facebook (there is a link in the sidebar).

Hey Jon,

I was looking at my FA list today after a week where I was defeated by
a score of 8-5-1. It was a really down week because that was the first
time someone other than my buddy Max Estes beat me in this league and we are in
the 3rd season. Anyways, I was looking to add guys that could possibly
help me in the future so I was wondering about guys like:

-Garrett Atkins: will he receive enough playing time to
actually be a force in fantasy, and will it be too hard to roster him on my team
where I already own Youkilis, MigCab, and Howard for 1st and 3rd and INF

-Alex Gordon: He worries me because he is coming off hip
surgery, but in a minor league game yesterday he cracked a 2 run bomb.
Will he be able to comeback and make a force to be reckoned with. Also the
same worry about being able to roster him on my team because he is 1st and

-Ryan Doumit: What's the deal about holding onto 2
catchers? Is it a good idea to have 2, or not because up until now I
really haven't had any back up for Soto, but Soto gets rested at least once a
week, and I am worried about Doumit being able to hit with a wrist injury he is
recovering from.

-Chris Iannetta: Same catcher question as Doumit, but also
will Iannetta get the playing time to make a comeback this season?

-Howie Kendrick: I know I have asked you about him before,
but when do you think he will come up and do you think he will be on his game
when he does. My only second baseman is Robinson Cano and sometimes he
worries me because of his past, but this year he had a great start so will he
have a bad ending?

-Clay Buchholz: When will Boston bring him up? Will he
make a fantasy impact? What's your take on him because I wouldn't mind
finding roster spot for this kid.

-Chris Volstad: I was eyeing Volstad earlier this year, but
couldn't get him. Then his owner dropped him after his struggles in 4
consecutive games. What do you think about Volstad?


Hey Gary,

Atkins seems to be warming up a bit but I think he'll be sharing time the rest of the season.

I like Gordon. I don't think the Royals will let him come back before his health is no longer a factor so I would pick him up if you can.

I like Doumit but wrist injuries can sap a player's power for a while. Carrying two catchers is a good idea when you have the room. Especially when Soto is your number one and he's been at best inconsistent.

I think the Rockies will have a tough time keeping Ianetta out of the lineup if he's hitting but he will definitely have to earn his way back.

With Macier Izturis doing well Kendrick will get plenty of time to find his way in the minors. He'll be back when the team and the player have their confidence restored. There's just no way to tell when that will be.

I believe Buchholz will be stuck in the minors until September. Unless there is a trade that sends him elsewhere. He isn't the problem, it's the clogged Red Sox roster.

If you can stash Volstad on your bench I would grab him especially in keeper leagues. He should come around soon. He has great stuff and should be rostered in most leagues.

Good luck, Gary.

Hi Jon,

Who would be my best pitching lineup this upcoming week? I play in
a 12 team points based head to head league. I can start 6 pitchers -
minimum 4 SP and minimum 1 RP and 1 RP or SP.
My initial thought was to start
Danks, Greinke, Jackson, Nolasco plus Aardsma and Franklin. But, I am
intrigued in starting Correia and I am always leary to starting to SP who pitch
against each other. Thoughts?

Danks @ KC (Greinke)
Greinke vs. CHW (Danks)
Jackson @ MIN (Liriano)
Nolasco vs. WAS (Olsen) vs. PIT (Ohlendorf)
Correia vs. HOU (Rodriguez)
Cueto vs. ARI (Garland)
Dempster vs. MIL (McClung)

Aardsma @ NYY (3), @ BOS (3)
Franklin vs. SF (4), @ CIN (3)
Soria vs. MIN (3), vs. CHW (4)


Hey Sean,

Sorry I'm late getting back to you Sean.I'm still dealing with my computer problems. I would go like this. I like Cueto's strikeout ability against Arizona's free swingers more than Nolasco against the patient lineup of the Nationals. I don't worry about pitchers going against each other even if I'm desperate for wins. I play the best match-ups and hope that everyone pitches well.


Good luck, Sean.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Had to Remember Michael Jackson

Thursday afternoon as I sat computerless watching Home Improvement, Just Shoot Me, Yes Dear, and Everybody Loves Raymond (anything to keep my mind off the lack of laptop) my brother called to tell me that Michael Jackson was dead. I guess at the point he called Michael Jackson was technically in a coma and not officially declared dead but it was close enough that many news outlets were already reporting it. I flipped away from TBS to watch the coverage on CNN, I wanted to know what was happening. It was sort of sad. The hundreds of people that have nothing better to do than camp outside Jackson's home and follow him everywhere he goes, had abandoned their camp to gather outside the hospital where Michael Jackson was brought by ambulance. I usually don't feel sorry for people like that but today they would soon realize that the object of their obsession was forever gone from their lives.

I loved Michael Jackson. I grew up with him. As I later told my father, Michael Jackson was my Elvis, my Beatles. I remember just as music was becoming a minor obsession of mine playing Thriller over and over again on my cheap turntable. I remember the inner sleeve had some drawings and the lyrics to all of the songs. I spent hours memorizing every track and pretending that I was in a music video. My brothers who shared a room with me hated that I would play the same tracks over and over again. But that was how I always responded when I came across something I really liked. I wanted to absorb it as much as possible. I did the same things with other albums and books, and comics.

The combination of facial surgery and disease caused Michael Jackson to be labeled a bit of a freak in the later days. Mostly by people who never loved him that much. Isn't it funny how when you truly love something or someone the flaws in it are just character enhancing? I didn't believe the worst of the rumors about him. I guess I've been falsely accused of too many things that I didn't actually do, not to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I wish that somehow Michael Jackson had managed to win back the respect of the world before his death. Yes he was still insanely popular but it became more about the spectacle than the music or the man himself. This was also MJ's goal at the time of his death. He has a record out there somewhere that was to be released relatively soon. I assume that record company exects being what they are will have it out even sooner now. His funeral will be an event that takes place on National Television. I just hope that the networks find people that truly loved him to make their ratings bonanza a tribute to Michael Jackson rather than just one last chance to capitalize on him.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Computer Problems

Yesterday my laptop fell and the hard drive actually came out. It was reinstalled but no longer works. I'm working on getting a new one ready as I write this. Yes, I have impossibly bad luck with computers...

To those waiting for responses to e-mails I apologize and will get to them as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fantasy Owners

There is more to being a Champion than having a good draft or making killer trades. They obviously help but if you really want to win you need to adapt the attitude of an effective owner.
  1. Be Proactive - An effective owner is always looking for ways to improve his team. Building an effective team starts at the draft but it is not all about trading after that. Without making snap judgments you need to identify your shortcomings and work to fix them. This is not all about trading. The waiver wire and FAAB are very useful tools that are in place to allow you to fill holes and make small improvements. Even small upgrades can make a large impact over the course of the season.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind - Before the draft or auction, before making a trade, or even making a waiver claim the effective owner knows exactly what he hopes to achieve with any given move. He has considered the consequences and the benefits of his plan. Every move you make should be to further your ultimate goal of winning. If it does not move you towards a championship you should reconsider.
  3. Put First Things First - Do not waste the time you spend managing your team on fruitless pursuits. David Wright may be your favorite player but trading Evan Longoria for him would be a mistake. Realize that your first priority is to win and not to build a collection of your favorite players. All of your focus should be on moving your team towards a championship.
  4. Think Win/Win - Any deals you make should be made without sacrificing the good relationship between you and the other party. Don't use trickery or any other form of deception to complete a deal. Because if you do you may ruin any chance of making further deals with that team. Your trading partner should leave the table satisfied that he accomplished something even if they did not accomplish as much as you did.
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood - Before you can make an effective deal you need to understand the needs of your potential trading partner. By providing your rival with what he needs, you increase the opportunity to gain what you in turn require from the deal. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself if you would make the same deal as the owner of the other team. When you are satisfied from both their perspective and yours, you will have created a good offer.
  6. Synergize - Work to create good relationships with the other team owners. The more open the lines of communication in your league the stronger the league will be as a whole. A strong league has fewer conflicts and misunderstandings. Work with the other owners to write a constitution and set of rules that satisfies all of the owners. Why have rules that a majority of the league does not like? A group of happy (or at least content) owners makes a stronger league.
  7. Sharpen the Saw - Effective owners never stop learning. They constantly investigate new strategies and advanced statistics. They study the players at all levels of competition. They watch baseball and think about the game. Effective owners never think they have an unbeatable strategy because they know that eventually it will be countered. When an owner no longer studies the game he ceases to be effective.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Return of Grady Sizemore and Joey Votto

If you noticed more smiles than usual around the water cooler today it may be that you are looking at the fantasy owners of Grady Sizemore and Joey Votto. It does not matter what format you were playing in or how good your team has done in the meanwhile. Getting one (or even both) of these guys back in action is like pulling off a major trade in which you gave up absolutely nothing. It feels almost as good as it hurt when you lost them in the first place.

Grady Sizemore

Sizemore is avoiding rehab in the minor leagues for the elbow injury that has bothered him since spring training. The Cleveland Indians have been calling the injury an inflamed elbow. The Indians also caution that any further set backs will likely result in season-ending elbow surgery. Sizemore is insisting that his elbow feels good and that he did not feel any pain when he tested the elbow over the weekend. We can only hope that he is telling the truth and that the tests were strenuous enough to be conclusive.

Playing through the pain did not do anything good for Sizemore's early season numbers. When he hit the disabled list he was batting .223/.309/.417 with nine homers and seven stolen bases (of 13 attempts) in 206 at-bats. It is very difficult to measure how much the injury played into his start. His walk rate was down, his strikeout rate was up but other than that everything (excluding the SB-rate) seemed to be typical of Sizemore.

There is no avoiding the fact that Sizemore is a risk for fantasy teams. A sore elbow has the potential to alter his swing and significantly change his results. It could also make him more cautious on the base paths. All that said if I had the opportunity to add Sizemore to one of my rosters I would do it without hesitation. The risk is extremely high but so is the reward. Don't part with your best cogs to add him but if you can manage it without them, I would endorse the move in leagues of every format.

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Joey Votto

Unlike Sizemore, Votto has been rehabbing in the minor leagues and looks on his game. What exactly was ailing Votto has been kept under wraps by Votto and the Cincinnati Reds. We know that he had an inner-ear infection which was complicated by continuing to fly with the condition. He was forced to leave a few games with dizziness. But then he was placed on the disabled list with what the Reds called a stress-related problem. This could be almost anything from stress over the vertigo to a more serious problem they probably exacerbated by not sidelining him when the problem first occurred. Apparently the secrecy over his condition is at the request of Votto himself.
From the National Post:

"Have faith in me as a person that I would make the right decisions for myself and the ball club. I would never sell the team or the city of Cincinnati short,'' he said. "I think I give every single Cincinnati Reds fan exactly what they pay for. I feel like at times, I give more, because [baseball] engrosses my life. It takes a lot of my time emotionally and physically --off the field, too.'
Votto was on fire to start the season and was blasting homeruns even while suffering from the ear infection complications. He went on the disabled list with a slash line of .357/.464/.627 with eight homeruns and two stolen bases in just 126 at-bats. It appears to me that this was totally inline with Votto's development into a great baseball player.

I think the risk with Votto is minimal. He looks and sounds healthy and in a positive state of mind according to local reports. Which is extremely significant if stress alone truly did lead to his DL stint.
From the National Post:

"I was just joking around with people," said Votto as he smiled through a post-game interview on Sunday. "I was in such a good mood today because it's been such a struggle getting through games that I couldn't help but have a smile on my face."
I believe that Joey Votto will go directly back to proving himself one of the best players in the National League. He should hit for a great batting average and very nice power. His owners should not hesitate to activate him. If for some reason he is available in your league grabbing him should be your number one priority.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Nationals' Search for a Closer...

The Washington Nationals are not the first team to struggle to find an acceptable closer. They have a bullpen full of cast-offs, youngsters, and specialists placed in unfavorable roles. Much of the blame can also be placed on manager Manny Acta who is not a very good manager of the bullpen and a little too protective of his starters. Joel Hanrahan and Garrett Mock could both probably grow into the role given time. Joe Beimel and Jesus Colome could do the job if used correctly. Even Julian Tavarez...okay, maybe not Tavarez. But the point is that an effective closer is created not born and Manny Acta needs a reliever to come almost fully formed before he'll be able to spot the closer in the stone.

Although Mike MacDougal has not yet blown the opportunity to cement himself as the latest Washington closer I have my doubts they he can hold on to the job. This is mostly because of things like his 1.87 WHIP, 7.80 BB9 , and mediocre 5.40 K9. The good news is I believe a very good candidate for the role has just presented himself. His name is Tyler Clippard.

Clippard was well on his way to becoming a mediocre, end-of-the-rotation starter. I do not mean that to be insulting. There are thousands of people that would do almost anything short of murder to be an end-of-the-rotation starter on a major league baseball team. But being a starter is no longer the plan for Clippard. This season the Nationals moved him into the bullpen at Triple-A Syracuse with extremely good results. Clippard's already good stuff suddenly looks great as has often happened when starters move to the bullpen. In 37.2 innings, Clippard has 41 strikeouts to just 15 walks. That is not stellar control but it is a huge improvement over MacDougal. His 2009 era is just 0.96 with a WHIP of 0.93. Now a lot of that is good fortune, he will not maintain .216 BABIP forever. He is an an extreme fly ball pitcher but has always managed to limit the damage from the minors anyway. A lot of those flyballs are of the infield variety which is a pitcher skill that is not mentioned often.

In most leagues you will be able to pick up Clippard easily or FAAB him for a buck or so. I believe that it will prove to be a very wise choice for those on the hunt for saves. At the very least I think Clippard will be a fine relief pitcher, of value to NL-only teams whether he closes or not.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dice-K Removed From Red Sox Rotation

It was obvious that eventually the Red Sox would have to make a change in their rotation. With John Smoltz healthy and ready to go and every other starter currently outperforming him, Daisuke Matsuzaka was the odd man out. This is from a report on manager Terry Francona's afternoon press conference.
"We need to get him looked at physically," said Francona. "He's gonna get looked at by (Red Sox trainer) Tom Gill. He's going to get tests done. There's a potential for MRIs. All of that information will be coming very soon."
Terry Francona and the Red Sox seem to be blaming Dice-K's appearances in the World Baseball Classic for leaving him unprepared for the regular season. While he is currently only assured of missing one start I believe that the Red Sox intend to see his velocity returned to its former level and an improvement in his control before he will pitch in the major leagues again.

This also takes some of the heat off the Red Sox to trade one of their rotation starters. Brad Penny has been a competent starter for the Red Sox and should continue to be as long as he stays healthy. Unfortunately this will do nothing to release Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden from their minor league purgatory.

Dice-K owners should thank their lucky stars that they won't be punished with his poor statistics for a while. I would not drop Matsuzaka if you have the ability to stash him in your reserves. Dice-K is a very talented pitcher and when he is "on" he is an asset to a fantasy team.


Statistics Courtesy of
1999 Lions (NPB) 7.55 4.35 0.70 0.196 1.17 0.236 82.20% 4.12
2000 Lions (NPB) 7.73 5.10 0.64 0.218 1.35 0.267 68.20% 4.18
2001 Lions (NPB) 8.01 4.38 1.01 0.214 1.25 0.253 75.60% 4.44
2002 Lions (NPB) 9.57 1.84 1.60 0.225 1.02 0.267 81.50% 4.28
2003 Lions (NPB) 9.97 2.92 0.60 0.232 1.18 0.314 75.90% 2.97
2004 Lions (NPB) 7.83 2.59 0.43 0.286 1.42 0.357 80.20% 3.07
2005 Lions (NPB) 9.46 2.05 0.54 0.221 1.03 0.295 78.90% 2.71
2006 Lions (NPB) 9.66 1.64 0.63 0.208 0.92 0.277 79.70% 2.56
2007 Red Sox 8.84 3.52 1.10 0.249 1.32 0.306 73.90% 4.23
2007 Red Sox 7.78 3.66 0.46 0.284 1.53 0.353 67.60% 3.54
2008 Red Sox (AAA) 9.00 1.80 0.00 0.221 1.00 0.305 60.00% 1.80
2008 Red Sox 8.27 5.05 0.64 0.213 1.32 0.267 80.60% 4.03
2008 Red Sox 9.00 5.06 1.69 0.274 1.63 0.325 82.60% 5.26
2009 Red Sox (AAA) 10.80 3.86 0.00 0.215 1.20 0.323 86.70% 2.34
2009 Red Sox 8.74 4.63 2.06 0.374 2.20 0.441 68.90% 5.72

Trade Advice: Chipper/Slowey for Valverde/Bartlett


I have a deep pitching staff in a 12 person H2H league. I was looking to shop Kevin Slowey and Chipper Jones for Jose Valverde and Jason Bartlett. Is this a good deal?

Best Regards,


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Hey Robert,

Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.

Let's look at all of the players involved individually and then make a decision on the trade offer.

As I'm sure you know, Jose Valverde has had a few injury problems this season. Thankfully, the problems have been with his calf rather than his arm. Assuming the leg is fully healed he should have no problems. When healthy he is one of the better closing talents in baseball. I think he'll have a big second half.

Jason Bartlett is having the best season of his career thus far. He will continue to steal bases at a terrific rate. But I do not believe he can maintain his present 27 percent line drive rate, and .rage is 410 BABIP. His batting average is likely to keep dipping through the second half. His plate discipline has improved slightly. He is swinging at better pitches. Unfortunately, it hasn't translated into an increased walk rate. I believe he has become a better hitter but I do not think his power increase is real. I think he'll hit for a decent batting average, steal lots of bases but without the power he showed to start the season.

I like Kevin S
lowey's potential a lot. He rarely walks anyone and has an excellent K/BB rate which is a sign of a talented pitcher. On the unfortunate side, Slowey is a fly ball pitcher. He is often hurt by the homerun, which is what led to his poor start this season. He has turned things around lately and I believe that he will finish the season strongly.

Chipper Jones is an excellent hitter with good power. He is having his typical season of high productivity between bouts with nagging injuries. He is presently having a problem with a sore toe but is mostly battling through it. I think he'll finish the season in this same typical fashion with a .300-plus average and 20-plus homers.

So what would you gain from this trade? Definitely stolen bases and saves, which I assume is what you are hoping to gain. You will lose some power if I'm right about Bartlett's drop off. You will also lose some innings and wins (naturally going from a starter to a reliever). I don't know the rest of your team but I assume your remaining starters are up to the job and you probably are not depending on Chipper's power.

I would do it if I were you.

Thanks again for reading.

Jon Williams
Advanced Fantasy Baseball

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hot Prospect: Kyle Blanks

The Padres have announced the call up of their number one prospect, Kyle Blanks. Although his best position is first base, Blanks will start in the Padres outfield four or five days per week. He only qualifies at first base right now in most leagues. If you have seen Kyle Blanks in action you may wonder about the 6'6'', 250-plus pounder's ability to cover the huge territory of left field in Petco Park. However Blanks is every athletic and considers playing good defense a point of pride.

Blanks is a very talented hitter. Throughout his minor league career he has shown the ability to hit for a high batting average. This year, his first at triple-A has been a little different. He seems to have traded some contact for increased power. His 2009 K-rate was 27 percent, but he had 12 homeruns in 233 at-bats. He runs well and will steal the occasional base. He is a fly ball hitter who also hits a considerable number of line drives.

I love Blanks as a prospect but his contact rate this season concerns me. Blanks is at his best when he is making good contact and hitting line drives to all fields. My gut feeling is that he will do very well. But if he maintains his current contact rate he may not hit for much of an average. And we all know that power numbers are reduced at Petco. He should be useful in all NL-only leagues and deeper mixed leagues.

Statistics via

2006 Padres (A) 10.50% 25.60% 0.382 0.455 0.162 2.3 0.365 0.389
2007 Padres (A+) 8.60% 21.10% 0.380 0.540 0.239 6.3 0.338 0.403
2008 Padres (AA) 9.40% 18.30% 0.404 0.514 0.189 4.3 0.366 0.408
2009 Padres (AAA) 14.30% 27.00% 0.393 0.485 0.202 2.1 0.342 0.391

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Avoiding the Fantasy Baseball Blues

There comes a time in the Fantasy Baseball Season when a certain type of owner begins to lose interest. This is usually because they realize that the team they have built is not capable of winning as presently composed. Although I am not a fan of giving up or rebuilding, (rebuilding is for wussies) I thought I would write a series of articles about how to deal with the Fantasy Baseball Blues as you struggle through the rebuilding process. Whether you choose to keep trying to win in the present season or to set yourself up for the next season, it requires incredible patience. I will deal with how to handle the rebuilding process itself but I think it is still a bit early for that.

Sports Betting
When your team is not competitive you have to find ways to keep the adrenaline flowing. One of the extremely fun ways is to bet on baseball games. This will give you a reason to dig through the box scores and study the MLB totals. You need that drive to win and be the best to succeed at MLB betting. The same skills that make you a success at Fantasy Baseball will also help you when you are betting on baseball. Studying match ups and MLB run lines (just like NFL point spreads for the unfamiliar) will give you an edge if you can do it well. You will not find information for betting on baseball in your local paper as easily as you will the NFL lines and the NFL game spreads but there are websites that can help. Betting can be a ton of fun.

Short-Season Fantasy Games
There are also plenty of short season fantasy games available. It seems as if a new one pops up every day. These games are getting very popular as mid-season distractions. I wrote a review of Paper Sports a few months back. You pick a fantasy team but the season is much shorter. You can set-up week long or even just day long seasons. To excel at this version of the game you really need to study your trends and match-ups. Picking up Ryan Braun and CC Sabathia is not always the best choice. Figuring out the best choices is a major part of the challenge.

Second Half Competitions
More and more fantasy commissioner sites are offering fantasy games that feature just the second half of the season or the playoffs. This is like traditional fantasy baseball but with a much more intense season. Drafting in a league where the players are already off to horrible, bad, mediocre, good, or great starts may seem easier but it is not. You will have to decide if the hottest players are for real or if the worst players will come on strong. Those with a keen eye for sabermetrics can really rack up the wins in games like this. You can use the advanced metrics available on sites like Fan Graphs and The Hardball Times to measure the impact that good or bad luck is having on a player’s seasons.

Fantasy Football
The Fantasy Football season is also just around the corner. The magazines are just hitting the stands and the Fantasy Football Blogs are just starting to crank out the advice. Mock drafts are starting and the forums are heating up. Fantasy Football is a different beast than Fantasy Baseball. Football has the vast majority of its games on just one day of the week. If you have a big-screen TV and the right premium subscriptions you can watch essentially every one of your players perform. Fantasy Football prep can be a fun way to distract yourself from the Fantasy Baseball Blues. Some of you have even discovered the infancy stage of Advanced Fantasy Football. I am only currently posting just once or twice a week at this point but soon I will start cranking out my sleeper alerts and reporting on mock drafts.

However, by far the best way to rid you of the Fantasy Baseball Blues is to turn things around. Get aggressive and stomp your opponents for the rest of the year. Make trades; spin your roster through the waiver wire. With a little creativity you can really drive your rivals crazy with a stunning comeback. I guarantee you it can be done. If you don’t see it yourself, send me your league rosters ( and I will find it for you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The 2009 First Half Fantasy Baseball All-Stars

There are just two weeks left to vote for your MLB All-Stars. I tend to pick my favorite fantasy players on my All-Star ballots, which is usually a pretty good indicator that they deserve a spot. If this were my fantasy team it would probably be a little short on stolen bases. But then it would win every other category running away...


Victor Martinez, Cleveland Indians
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

Honorable Mention: Pablo Sandoval, Brian McCann

Corner Infielders

1B - Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
3B - Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
CI - Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

Honorable Mention: Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder

Middle Infielders

2B - Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
SS - Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays
MI - Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers

Honorable Mention: Ben Zobrist, Aaron Hill


OF - Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies
OF - Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies
OF - Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels
OF - Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
OF - Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

Honorable Mention: Adam Jones, Adam Lind, Jason Bay, Johnny Damon

Pitching Staff


1. Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals
2. Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins
3. Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
4. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
5. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners


1. Heath Bell, San Diego Padres
2. Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets
3. Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals
4. Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

So these are my choices for Fantasy Baseball's All-Star's. Who are your All-Stars?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's Wrong With Russell Martin?

Russell Martin is a player that usually gets drafted a bit higher than he should. That is obviously because he has been one of the better fantasy catchers available. But this year his power and even his batting average seem to have completely evaporated. But it is very rare for a 26-year old to degrade this quickly. So it must be something that can be fixed.

Martin's walk rate is about the same as always hovering around 14 percent. His strikeout rate is slightly elevated at 19.6 percent, which is high when compared to his career average of 15.7 percent. While his BABIP is okay at .298, it is low for Martin whose career BABIP of .312 is fitting for a player with his speed and plate discipline. His GB/LD/FB rates look almost exactly the same as previous seasons.

It is worth noting that his power began to evaporate in the second half of the 2008 season. After the All-Star Break, Martin hit just .260/.371/.336 in 223 at-bats. That line looks an awful lot like this season's .239/.348/.282 slash.

Steiner Sports Los Angeles Dodgers Joe Torre Autographed Baseball

This looks like a combination of horrible luck and some mental issues. He is not doing anything dramatically different. Scouts, including fantasy expert Jason Grey, have noted that he doesn't seem to be swinging the bat with authority. I think rather than looking at video, or taking extra reps in the batting cage, Martin needs someone to kick him in the ass and motivate him. Joe Torre probably isn't that guy. Maybe Don Mattingly could get to him.

This spring a lot of sites picked up on this Globe and Mail quote:
"Martin, 26, has big plans for himself and the Dodgers, who are waiting patiently for Manny Ramirez before declaring themselves favorites in the NL West. One of them involves a calmer approach. He's added yoga to his training regimen. He's resolved to sleep better and eat more carefully. He's settled down with a steady girlfriend, and while babies aren't in the picture, 'We are practicing a lot,' he says, smiling."
I've played enough sports to know that calm only seems like a good thing. Most athletes need to get fired up and excited in order to play at their highest levels. It is the reason behind the fist pumps, the celebration dances and the high fives. This is just my opinion but taking Martin out for a bacon cheeseburger, some greasy onion rings, and a drunken fat chick might be the best thing for him.

But more seriously, I don't think Martin has lost any skill or that there is anything physically wrong with him. Unfortunately, I think Martin has lost some of his motivation to play the game, which does not bode well for fantasy leaguers. I would be very willing to trade Martin if I owned him. I would not acquire Martin unless I were receiving a very good deal.

What's Wrong with Russell Martin?

The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Radio Show

I'll be appearing on the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Radio Show on Tuesday night at 10:30. This is one of the most popular Fantasy Baseball Shows in all the land. Please check it out!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Trade Advice: Carlos Lee/Edwin Jackson for Adam Lind/CC Sabathia

The following is a request for trade advice I received by e-mail. It has been slightly edited for length and clarity.
Hey Jon, I have been in talks with an owner in my Keeper League who owns CC Sabathia. The guy I am talking to wants power hitters and is interested in Edwin Jackson. I really like Edwin Jackson as a keeper league because I feel like he'll continue to get better and better. I offered him a trade and let him know I was really only interested in Carl Crawford and Sabathia from his team. I would give Carlos Lee, Edwin Jackson, Fernando Rodney, and Carl Pavano for Carl Crawford, CC Sabathia, and David Ortiz (this was before his recent hot streak). He actually liked the framework of the deal if we could pull out Carl Crawford. Adam Lind is another guy on his team I would not mind owning. But I do not know if I completely trust his season let alone his future talent. I have been told good things many times and have read about his future, but I do not want to create a gaping hole in my offense where Carlos Lee once stood to give my pitching just a small increase. I also own Nolasco, Peavy, Lincecum, Hanson, Beckett, Price, Harang, Vazquez and Ervin Santana. I feel that I have a pretty strong if Santana of LA can turn it around and Pavano can stay solid as well as Vazquez I have a pretty strong rotation. I just need some advice if you can dish some out. Really just another opinion besides my buddy who is also in the league. Thanks Jon. -Gary

Hey Gary,

I don't think you're desperate enough for pitching to do this deal without Carl Crawford. But it may interest you to know that Carlos Lee and Adam Lind are much closer than most realize at this point.

Carlos Lee:
.313/.363/.520 w/ 29runs, 11hr, 40rbi, 5sb
Adam Lind: .300/.364/.534 w/ 37runs, 12hr, 45rbi, 1sb

Unless there are salaries attached that I'm unaware of, these two players are virtually the same. Lind is probably a little bit better statistically but to a very small degree. He also plays in a better lineup which gives him superior runs/rbi totals. I do think Lind could hit a wall soon, but he seems to have the skills to adjust. I think he'll be a very good hitter for a long time.

Edwin Jackson also compares very well to CC Sabathia this year. If Jackson played for the Yankees he would be on the verge of becoming a huge star. Trading Jackson for Sabathia would net you very little if anything.

CC Sabathia: 5-4, 3.68era, 1.13whip, 6.48 K9, 2.81 BB9, 3.74 FIP
Edwin Jackson: 6-3, 2.24era, 1.03whip, 6.62 K9, 2.34 BB9, 3.27 FIP

Since these two parts of the trade balance out so well the remainder of the deal becomes Fernando Rodney and Carl Pavano for David Ortiz. I believe that Ortiz will have a strong second half of the season and be a solid if not great player to own from this point. But you would be giving up a solid closer and a solid starter for a player that to this point has been nothing but disappointing. I think that price is too high.

Even if you can afford to give up the saves and innings you'll get from Rodney and Pavano I don't see enough of a gain for you. A solid closer alone should bring you a solid veteran already having a good season. And as you mentioned, your pitching staff is already potentially very strong. You would be making this trade just to make it.

Good luck Gary, let me know if I can help any further.

A Name to Know: Ryota Igarashi

According to, right-handed relief pitcher Ryota Igarashi has accumulated the service time to become an international free agent. Igarashi could have become a Japanese free agent last season (and made much more money) but elected to wait for the complete free agency that allows him to consider offers from MLB teams.
“Right now I’m only thinking about staying in shape and winning. I want to think it (free agency) over carefully in the offseason”… and from Yakult’s front office: “it’s his decision so we don’t know what will happen, but he is one person that is needed on our team”.
The 30-years old Igarashi is one of the hardest throwers in Japan. His fastball has been clocked at better than 98 miles-per-hour. He also throws a split-fastball at around 90 mph. He allows a few more walks than is ideal but makes up for it by striking out better than a batter an inning. He has been primarily a middle reliever in Japan but has shown the ability to close games.

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Fantasy Baseball Roundtable - Contend or Bust!

This week we have the pleasure of hosting the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable. I asked a question on the minds of many fantasy owners at this point in the season...

You find yourself in 7th place in a 15 team mixed 5x5 league. You've just lost your best hitter to injury and your pitching isn't that good. If you really want to win, what do you do?
We received a bunch of great answers. If you find yourself in a tight race or falling behind, the advice from this group of experts just might show you how to pull ahead.

Mike Podhorzer – Fantasy Pros 911

Find the nearest tissue box, wipe the tears away, and gently explain to yourself that due to some bad luck, this just might not be your year. Or you could simply come to terms with the fact that you may just not be a very good fantasy baseball player! On a serious note, it really depends on a number of factors that were not given in the question. Absolute rank in the standings means a lot less than how many points you are behind a money spot. It is also important to know how close the category totals are and how easy it is to gain points. I would look over my roster to see how many under performers I own and if there is any hope for a rebound for these players. I would be much more confident in a second half run if my team was loaded with slow starters than if I had players performing right at expectations. There is really no great piece of advice for this situation, other than simply trading for better value, trying your best to acquire pitchers whose skills are better than their ERAs suggest and crossing your fingers that your team enjoys better fortune over the rest of the season. Panic moves and trades just to "shake things up" will probably do more harm than good.

Tommy Landry – RotoExperts

At this point in the season, it is time to pull out the stops if you are muddling in the middle and suffering from injuries. I would start working the wire on my pitching ASAP, shooting to snag guys on a tear before they cool off or hot prospects facing MLB batters for the first time. Even though most roto leagues have a pitching start limit, don't let that scare you off of maxing out your starts as soon as possible in this scenario. There are always useful MRs out there in mixed leagues, and once you use up all your starts, you can get cheap wins and Ks with respectable ratios from a long list of relievers down the stretch. For hitting, now is the time to cut the dead weight and start gambling on players who are likely to be called up over the summer. Look at what guys like Alexi Casilla and Mike Aviles did late last season. Keep an eye on guys like Matt LaPorta, Eric Young Jr. (will be a huge speed source once he's up, but beware the BA and OBP), and even Alcides Escobar, for example. And faithfully check the waiver wire daily, because I've managed to snag some gems already this year, including John Lackey in a shallow league and Casey Blake (seriously, look at the numbers) in a very deep experts league. Most of all, never surrender!

Tim Dierkes - RotoAuthority

My typical answer is to trade pitching for hitting, even if you don't have much. If I had one good starter, I would shop him. If I felt I could find saves on the waiver wire, I would shop my best closer or even package up two closers for a top bat. Beyond that, I wouldn't do anything. I am not a fan of shaking a team up for the sake of shaking it up. At the time of this writing, 64% of the season remains. Plenty of time for a 7th place team to climb the standings if you believe in your players.

Patrick Cain – Albany Times Union

You are in seventh right now, congrats you're on a one-way street to irrelevancy so the hitter you lost probably doesn't matter too much. And for your pitching? Well, there is not much on your wire either I bet. So gear up, it is time to focus and focus hard on an achievable strategy.

I will assume your "best hitter" is one that has power. Ditch HRs. Ok, don't abandon them, but settle for finishing in the bottom 3. RBI are going to lag too, but that depends greatly on your other positions. As for offense, I'd try something like going for AVG, SB, R. That means Ichiro Suzuki and Carl Crawford are being fast tracked over to my squad as I sacrifice some pop....don't forgot you can deal that injured hitter assuming he's not out for the season. From there, make sure your weakest guys - the $1 or $2 like players - are hitting high in the lineup. Until recently, a prime example would have been Skip Schumaker.

If you can own SBs, R, AVG and you avoid dead last for RBI & HR, your offense isn't in that bad of shape. Let's say can get 1st on those 3 and 12th for the other 2...that's 53 of 75 points. With that you'll average out to be in the top 3rd, and that is typically were a team in the hunt needs to be.

Oh yea, keep your offensive bench thin to nonexistent. You'll see why.

As for pitching, exploit mid-relievers. Many non-hold leagues forget about the no-name 7th inning men. Ideally, the rest of your league will have fewer pitchers as they will have an offensive bench. Think about this: a crappy starter (say Ross Ohlendorf) goes something like this... 5 innings 3 ER, 2 Ks. Nobody wants that. If a few mid relievers contribute that night you could get 8 Innings, 3 ER, 6 Ks, on the night. Presto, you just turned Ohlendorf into an average starter by adding pinch of Mike Wuertz to the equation.

This will help your ERA, WHIP, and Ks a phenomenal amount. And when a closer goes down, you'll probably have the backup, putting you in line for Saves.

A completely different approach would be to pick up guys with extremes vs. left vs. right splits and play matchups. But I'm guessing someone else will touch on that.

Adam Ronis – Newsday

The first thing you need to do is analyze where you are in categories. You might have five points in home runs, but be 10 homers away from getting 10 points. Look at the categories where you can move up and target those categories. You need to work the waiver wire well, even though the pickings may be slim. You also need to take chances. Look for players that are struggling and have track records and try to acquire them. A guy like Chris Young from the Diamondbacks is an example. He has power and speed, but has been awful. Try and find players that are struggling but have proven in the past they can get it done. The bottom line is don't give up. Make trades and be aggressive.

Rudy Gamble – RazzBall

Why don't you add a few more hindrances? How about the cable company turned off my Internet access? Or I have been caught for not paying taxes on my past years' fantasy baseball league winnings and I am being sent to prison?

Winning at this point - assuming it isn't very tight between 1st place and 7th place - is highly unlikely. You obviously have to take some chances. I would gamble on young players and look to make some trades to upgrade weak spots with an emphasis on strong 2nd-half players. If there is anyone on my team that is a possible sell-high candidate, I am looking to move them. Same with closers as I would rather take the risk of finding saves off the waiver wire. Shop

Jon Williams – Advanced Fantasy Baseball

The most important thing to remember is that you have more than half the season to make up ground. Use trades to fill any holes in your lineup. One of my favorite strategies is to trade a star player for two less popular but productive veterans. Often you will lose a little in the Homerun and Stolen Base categories but you will gain in Runs and RBI. I suggest you trade for hitting help because good bats are extremely hard to find on waivers. I also would play up the strengths of the players you do have. If you have power but no batting average or speed concentrate on building your power stats even higher. If you have a surplus in a category you can trade it for players that will help you gain ground in whichever category is easiest.

Concentrate your FAAB bids and waiver claims to build your pitching statistics. You can never count on building points in the wins category so do not even try. Instead, look to gain in ERA, WHIP, and Strikeouts. If you own mediocre or bad starters, dump or trade the bad ones for the best middle relievers available. Often a few good middle relievers can do the job of an ace pitcher. Also, keep an eye out for pitchers that are performing better than their results. Until recently, Jon Lester was a very good example of the kind of pitcher you want to target.

If you are in a keeper league, consider trading your best prospects and keepers for more expensive one-year players. The goal is always to win this year. You can worry about next season in 2010. Any upgrade you make is going to make winning that much easier.

Do not give up! You can do it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bryce Harper Skipping High School for 2010 Draft

According to a report in USA Today, Bryce Harper will skip his last two years of high school and enroll in community college with hopes of becoming eligible for the 2010 Amateur Draft. Harper was recently profiled in a Sports Illustrated cover story. I put together a few interesting bits on Harper recently.

From USA Today:

Harper plans to take a high school equivalency test and enter the draft in 2010 or 2011, Ron Harper said.

"Bryce is always looking for his next challenge," Ron Harper said. He's going to pursue his education, too. He's going to get pushed academically and athletically."

Harper hit .626 with 14 homers, 55 RBI and 36 steals last season for Las Vegas High School.

His photo is on the cover of the June 8 issue of Sports Illustrated, along with a headline that compares him to LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star who received superstar hype in high school before getting picked first in the 2003 NBA draft.

Ron Harper said his son pushed to leave high school early.

"He was thinking about it, he initiated it," the father said. "He said, 'Dad, why can't I take my GED and do this?"'

Players become eligible for the draft at age 16 if they have completed high school.

What do you think of Shandler's Ethics in the XFL?

In his most recent editorial Ron Shandler of Baseball HQ describes his action in the XFL Experts League. In an attempt to spur better offers for his rebuilding efforts he decides to disclose all of his current offers in hopes that other owners would increase their bids.
When it all comes down to it, my goal was to make the contenders see the value of acquiring one of my players, and the risk of lowballing me (by seeing what other teams were interested in making offers). Given that I did not continue negotiations with those who did make offers, it was a signal that the price was potentially going to be higher.

Of course, this group knows each other very well and could decide to call my bluff. They might think that these offers would be the best I'd get. There was one unknown, however. Other owners, including a few in contention, could still join the festivities.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Few Things That Pleased Me This Morning

My niece woke me up at 7am this morning by screaming into my ear. She's visiting us up in Cambridge, Massachusetts from North Carolina. I'd been unable to get any work done on Friday due to entertaining her so I stayed up all night doing the little things I do to make this site a success. You may have noticed I did not post anything but I still worked on the site quite a bit. I encouraged her as nicely as I could to go play somewhere else. An hour later she did it again. So let's just say I did not begin the day in the greatest of moods. I was in the middle of a profile on Marlins prospect Michael Stanton, but I'm putting that off for now. Instead I'm going to share a few stories I found this morning that helped to calm me down and even put a smile on my face.

1. I stumbled across a story written by Black Jack McDowell, one of my favorite players. He notes that Ozzie Guillen has done nothing but complain about the presence of Gordon Beckham and suggests that he get over it and allow Beckham to adjust and get comfortable in the major leagues. This is pretty much exactly what I've been saying as well. Well, except that I usually add the Guillen is a moron who should have lost his job ages ago. I know I shouldn't say such things (someone from a major newspaper might tell him...I'm quaking in my boots).
I've been watching the handling of Gordon Beckham since his recent call-up while shaking my head. First off, it seems manager Ozzie Guillen is not a big fan of Beckham's. Every time the kid's name has been mentioned throughout the year, Ozzie has never uttered a positive word publicly about him.

His only observation seems to be that everyone else in the baseball world had him overrated and if he is called up, the White Sox will be in trouble. Hate to break the news, but the White Sox ARE in trouble.

I'll admit that Gordon Beckham hasn't exactly set the world on fire since being inserted into the lineup, but that's just the way it goes. I understand that Guillen wants production, and he NEEDS production now. But the fact of the matter is that Beckham should be left in the lineup for an extended period of time so that the comfort level can sink in.
2. I knew Luke Hochevar pitched well last night but it wasn't until this morning that I realized just how well. A complete game in just 80 pitches. Something that according to Joe P has happened just a few times in the last 20 years. I've been a supporter of Hochevar even through the rough times last season and this one. I probably encouraged quite a few owners to endure his earlier spell of awfulness. But he now represents a prospect that has gotten past the hype and should be able to just perform. I think he could have a Cy Young type season as soon as the 2010 season. Wouldn't it blow your mind if in 2011 the Royals had two former Cy Young winners in their rotation?
And maybe Luke Hochevar grew up a bit on Friday night. It’s hard to tell, but for the first time in his big league career Hochevar did something really spectacular. He shut down a big league club in 80 pitches. He tied up Cincinnati Reds hitters into pretzels. And in the final inning, the big fireworks-ready crowd of 32,959 shouted “LUUUUUKE!”
3. Hochevar was not the only young starter who was dominate last night. Tim Lincecum has been a bit of a disappointment to me this season. It isn't that he has not been a very good pitcher, because he has. What bothers me is that I expected him to be clearly the best starter in baseball and he has not been. But perhaps he'll impress more in the second half.
Tim Lincecum has been spectacular, he's been dominant, but rarely has he been efficient. He was tonight. A complete game shut-out, eight strikeouts, and 110 pitches against a team that has had its offensive struggles, but the A's are no, uh, Giants. I'd also say Lincecum had his best change-up of the year. Absolutely devastating. Remember Jason Schmidt's heyday with the killer fastball/change-up combination? Lincecum's change might be better.
That's all I've got right now. Hopefully, I'll get some sleep and post more tonight.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blogging About Your Fantasy Team Can Be Dangerous

Talking about your fantasy league research on your blog can now get you trashed on ESPN. Jerod Morris who writes under the pen name Jrod, wrote a post in which he attempted to explain Raul Ibanez's fantastic start to the season. Ibanez is on pace to hit well over .300 with 50-plus homeruns. Jrod begins his article by declaring his love for Ibanez and his pride in himself for accurately projecting him to earn a bump in his production thanks to switching from the pitcher's park that is Safeco Field to the hitter's haven that is Citizens Bank Park. It was a conclusion that many fantasy analysts had reached.

Then he shares a message he received from a league mate:
sorry, crean, but i must call bullshit on raul ibanez. you’re an objective man so i am sure you’ll love it while it lasts, but do not intend on it lasting forever. of course crazier things have been sustainable.

where have we seen this before? a recent 37th birthday is celebrated with a career year in home runs??? prior to this year ibanez has a career high of 33 home runs in one season and no other season of his 14 played with greater than 24 home runs!!! during his previous career year ibanez hit a HR roughly every 19 at bats and this year his pace is roughly every 11.

i thought they were testing???
As hundreds and even thousands of writers have done before he decides to take us with him as he conducts a little research and prove that Ibanez is simply performing the same under better conditions. He looks at park factors, the pitchers involved, the home/road splits, and even if Ibanez has a history of fast starts. Jrod is not the best or most thorough researcher but his thought process is pretty sound. Though he finds some evidence to support his ideas he feels that the evidence does not completely clear Ibanez of the speculation his friend suggested. Of course there are dozens of other angles that Morris could have used to defend Ibanez. But our blogger is far from the first to speculate about steroid use (and I'm not sure he actually did) it is pretty much a necessity if your in a fantasy league and attempting to project player performance.

Then someone tips off Ibanez that his integrity has been questioned and blames it all on this poor blogger who writes for a site called Midwest Sports Fans. This is a blog up less than a year with a Google Page Rank of 2 in the competitive Midwest sports blog nitch. It seems pretty obvious that someone at a much larger sports media company with access to Ibanez and nothing important to write, decided to have Ibanez deny steroid use and call it news. The so-called reporter in question does not have to provide evidence of steroid use he just has to blame it all on the evil blogger and he is excused.

This all leads to Jerod Morris appearing on ESPN's Outside the Lines. A show that exists to dig deeper into stories than the comedians that read from the teleprompter on Sports Center. When Morris receives an invitation to appear on the show is he supposed to refuse? I think I would have. But then most sports writers/bloggers would give an eye to be on ESPN. Personally, I don't do this to become a big media star, I'll be happy if my blog someday pays the rent. My point is that while he has to know what is coming, getting trashed on ESPN by a retard or two who probably haven't even bothered to read the article might be his idea of fun.

Now more than 200 nitwits from the ESPN message boards are trashing him in the comment section of the original post. Have they read the article? The evidence suggests not, but trash him they continue to do. They defend Ibanez from the steroid speculation with a amusing variety of subjective evidence (he's a great guy, he works really hard, Charlie Manuel is a great hitting coach...) while Raul Ibanez is talking about law suits and libel (he probably still hasn't actually read the post) and the mainstream media is once again assaulting bloggers as a group as irresponsible and inaccurate. Mainstream journalists have superior resources and a far larger audience to please. Yet aren't they even more irresponsible if they take a post written by someone they'll later call foolish and use it to create news?

Rob Neyer sums it up quite nicely:
I'm sorry, players, but you just don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. If we see something that suggests cheating, it's now fair to raise the subject. If only to knock it down. I wouldn't have raised the subject in this case, because I think Occam's Razor would suggest that Ibanez's numbers are the result of a good hitter in a good hitter's park in the weaker league having a couple of lucky months. For me, that's enough.

But I'm often reminded of that George Carlin bit, where everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot and everyone who drives faster than you is a maniac. Well, you (and Raul Ibanez) might think that Jerod Morris is a maniac. But it really just depends on how fast you're driving.
The Curious Case of Raul Ibanez: Steroid Speculation Perhaps Unfair, but Great Start in 2009 Raising Eyebrows

The Curious Case of Ken Rosenthal and John Gonzalez: Retard Speculation Perhaps Unfair, but Lecture To Blogger Raising Eyebrows

Ibanez willing to prove he's clean

Mainstream Sports Media Scared Stiff and Not Sure of Next Move

Supporting JRod: Rosenthal and Gonzalez Misguided in Their Criticisms

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Ben Zobrist For Real?

If you have Ben Zobrist on your fantasy team, chances are you are much happier than the guy who last owned him in your league. Zobrist hit his 12th homer in just 148 at-bats after looking like merely a very good bench player in the first 400 at-bats of his career. But now the patience that he displayed in the minors is present in his major league at-bats. He has turned a good percentage of his groundballs into line drives which has resulted in a better combination of average and slugging percentage that he has ever shown at any level. His HR/FB has shown significant growth the last two years. Maybe we should have seen it coming.

His BABIP is just .311 which is much higher than his MLB average but not even close to the level he showed in the minors. He has reduced his infield flies to almost nothing by making steady progress in that area the last four years. This is an indication (as if the obvious ones were not enough) that he is making outstanding contact with the ball. He simply isn't missing the sweet spot of the bat when he makes contact this year. I haven't done much study in that area but that looks like a skill to me and not luck.

So yes, I am calling Ben Zobrist the real deal. He looks more like Chase Utley than a utility guy. Now, if he could just touch some hot bat against B.J. Upton, just a little...

MLB New Arrivals

Check out ESPN's Ben Zobrist Splits...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Surfaces!

If you thought you missed a couple weeks of the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable, you didn't. We were caught in a brief delay that is now over. The Hardball Times are hosting this week. The question of the week is a doozy...

Is there ever a time when you 'Buy High' or 'Sell Low' on a player (interpret the meanings of those two phrases as you wish)? Choose a player who you would currently 'Sell Low' (i.e. David Ortiz, Garrett Atkins) or 'Buy High' (i.e. Michael Young, Raul Ibanez, etc.) and give us your sales pitch for that player. If, for example, you're trying to trade Ortiz, how would you market him to the other owners in your league? Finally, what is the minimum requirement you would accept in a trade for the player you selected (or the maximum you would offer in the case of a 'Buy High' player')?

It is an interesting question and Derek Carty received some great responses. Check out the article and come back here and leave your own opinion in the comments section.

The Cory Schwartz Interview

Cory Schwartz of and host of the Fantasy 411 was kind enough to grant me a brief interview. Cory is member of The Tout Wars Expert League and one of the most popular experts in the Fantasy Sports industry. You can download his show via iTunes.

You have had quite the run of jobs that a lot of us sports fans would kill for. You worked for the New York Yankees in their Public Relations Department. You worked for the National Basketball Association as the Coordinator of Interactive Programming. Now you are the director of Statistics for MLBAM. Is this finally your dream job?

[Schwartz, Cory] As a kid I always thought it would be a great job to put together the stats and write the notes on the backs of baseball cards, so I guess I got pretty close. There’s no such thing as a perfect job, but I’m fortunate to have a job doing something enjoy and I like to think it’s a good fit for my skills as well.

I have read that you began playing Fantasy Baseball in the late 1980’s. What was your introduction to Fantasy Sports?

[Schwartz, Cory] My uncle, who is a real estate attorney in Manhattan, introduced me to fantasy baseball in the early 80’s when he asked me to review one of his teams. That put the concept into my mind and I got into my first league through one of my best friends from high school, competing against his friends from college. I did pretty poorly in those leagues in the early years and had a lot to learn, and in some ways I still do!

The Fantasy 411 Show has become extremely popular. How did the show come to be? What do you think makes it a favorite for so many people?

[Schwartz, Cory] Fantasy legends Lenny Melnick and Irwin Zwilling were the original hosts of the Fantasy 411 and I was asked to fill in a few times as a guest host. Eventually I became a regular presence on the show and gradually it evolved into a mix of people including myself, Mike Siano, Pat DePirro and Gregg Klayman, with Mike and me eventually becoming the main guys on the show. We try to make the show informative and entertaining, the type of conversation and content you would have if you were hanging around talking baseball with two of your friends. We don’t give 100% perfect advice every single time but we always explain our reasoning so hopefully people learn more about baseball from each show, regardless of how their teams are doing.

Now that the MLB Network is a reality, do you see serious Fantasy Baseball Oriented shows for the serious fan in our future? I ask because just about every effort I have seen aims at the fantasy novice. I almost died laughing this spring, when Harold Reynolds asked how a team could have two second basemen.

[Schwartz, Cory] When we were planning the season preview show we wanted to prove that the concept would work and that people would tune in for a fantasy baseball show, so that meant targeting it to a more mainstream player – you have to walk before you run! The response from the show was very positive so we hope that in time the network will find time for more fantasy-oriented programming, and I believe they will. But remember that this is their first season and they are producing live games and a live eight-hour show every night, so let’s give them some time. I’m confident more fantasy programming will appear on the network in time.

In an interview, you did last year for the old Fantasy Baseball Generals site you said that you played primarily in straight “pick ‘em” drafts. Is that by choice? What is your preferred type of fantasy league?

[Schwartz, Cory] I’ve played in all sorts of leagues but ultimately I prefer 12-to-15 team mixed league drafts, simply because those leagues best fit my strategy and how I like to build and manage a team. But I’ve done auctions, weekly leagues, keepers vs. single-season only, and enjoy them all… I like to compete regardless of the format.

What is your general approach in fantasy leagues? Do you have a strategy that you stick to in every league?

[Schwartz, Cory] My basic strategy is always to discount starting pitching, emphasize bullpen depth, and position/category scarcity on offense. However, you have to tailor the format to the league to a certain extent… NFBC, for example, is a 15-team weekly league with a 7-man bench, so it’s impossible to compete without a reasonable amount of starting pitching depth.

It turns out that Lenny Melnick (who beat you out as the Internet’s Favorite Fantasy Baseball Expert) has no juice and cannot get me into Tout Wars. Can you? And more importantly, when are you going to win Tout Wars?

[Schwartz, Cory] I finished in third in NL Tout Wars in my first season but I haven’t come close since… I haven’t done a good job following my auction plan so I tend to come out with very imbalanced, flawed teams. However, to be fair to myself, Tout Wars features some of the genuine experts in the industry so I’m not ashamed to get my butt kicked by the likes of Lenny Melnick, Jason Grey, Lawr Michaels, Ron Shandler, Mike Lombardo, Jason Collette… the list goes on. If I keep stinking it up though they might be looking for some new talent and you might get a shot!

Anne Hathaway over Megan Fox? Really?

[Schwartz, Cory] I stand by that. Anne Hathaway made the Princess Diaries watchable. That says it all.

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