Friday, July 31, 2009
White Sox finally get Jake Peavy
Kenny Williams finally gets his ace, Jake Peavy for LHP Aaron Poreda, LHP Clayton Richards, RHP Adam Russell, and RHP Dexter Carter. There was a decent chance that Peavy would not pitch again this season if he remained a Padre but he is now headed to rehab and the White Sox think there is an outside chance he is ready to join them by mid-August. There was never anything wrong with his arm it was always an ankle injury keeping him out, so if the ankle if fine there should not be much to worry about. Peavy goes from the best park in baseball for pitchers to an American League hitter's park.
Peavy is an above average starter that looked like a dominate number one pitching in Petco Park. He shouldn't turn into a disaster in Chicago but do not expect him to be much more than a solid starter. The White Sox are not overly concerned with how Peavy performs this season and if he missed the rest of the season it would not overly concern them. Peavy is part of the plan for the 2010 White Sox rotation, this season is all gravy for them.
The Padres received an excellent collection of arms. Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richards should both join the major league rotation very soon. Pitching in Petco should be very good for their performances. Fantasy owners should swoop them up as soon as possible.
Marlins have acquired first baseman Nick Johnson
The Marlins at the very last minute agreed to the demands of the Washington Nationals and acquired first baseman Nick Johnson for the Nationals for Class AA left-hander Aaron Thompson and agreed to pay most of his salary. Johnson forces Jorge Cantu back to third base. Emilio Bonafacio and Chris Coghlan will share time in left field as a result. Though Johnson has a reputation as injury prone he has not been the disabled list this season and has been very productive, moving to Florida should not change that by any significant degree.
Aaron Thompson was a first round draft pick in 2005. He has a solid fastball, curve, and change-up but needs to work on being more consistent with his delivery. He could be a very solid mid-rotation starter for a good team or a high quality relief pitcher. He could be in the majors next season or even this season given the state of the National's bullpen.
Reds acquire Scott Rolen
The Reds acquired veteran third baseman Scott Rolen from the Toronto Blue Jays by sending them third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and RHPs Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart. Rolen returns to the USA in an area he considers very close to home. The Reds are looking for some veteran stability, leadership and production. The Reds also very clearly gave up on Edwin Encarnacion. The Blue Jays are obviously hoping that EE will rediscover the potential that has faded over the last two seasons. Injuries have certainly been a part of Encarnacion's downfall but he also needs to make serious progress in plate discipline.
Rockies acquire Joe Beimel
The Acquire LHP Joe Beimel from Nationals for RHP Ryan Mattheus and RHP Robinson Fabian, both minor leaguers. Mattheus has some potential as a reliever but still has some improvement to make with his control and stamina after he returns from Tommy John Surgery. Fabian is 23-years old and still in single-A. Beimel is a solid reliever but has no shot at the closer role in Colorado.
New York Yankees acquire Jerry Hairston
There were totally ridiculous rumors that the Yanks were sending top prospect Austin Jackson but they finally sent minor league catcher Chase Weems for INF/OF Jerry Hairston. Weems was a sixth round pick in the 2007 draft. He has a long way to go with the bat before he enters the fantasy league radar. Jerry Hairston is a solid replacement for the injured Brett Gardner. Hairston is a versatile player with speed and some plate skills. He can defend adequately at shortstop, second base or center field. He should get meaningful at-bats with the Yankees so he is worth a moderate FAAB bid.
Blue Jays get Sean Smith from Pirates
Braves Acquire Adam LaRoche
The Red Sox get back another first baseman in Casey Kotchman. The Red Sox just felt that Kotchman was better suited to waiting around on the bench for the blue moon he gets to play under. Adam LaRoche becomes a fulltime payer again in a much improved offense. He should draw a significant FAAB bid.
Red Sox acquire Victor Martinez
The Red Sox sent RHP Justin Masterson, LHP Nick Hagedone, and RHP Bryan Price to the Cleveland Indians for C/1B Victor Martinez. Victor Martinez gives the Red Sox the ability to rest both catcher Jason Varitek and third baseman Mike Lowell while also improving the lineup. Martinez should see a boost in productivity playing for the Red Sox who have a better lineup (even if it is slumping right now). For those in keeper leagues my gut feeling is that Martinez will spend 2010 splitting time between first base and catcher. Varitek will probably be back in 2010 but as a part-time player which would actually be very good for his production. Mike Lowell is likely to be somewhere else with Youkilis moving to third base. One of the plethora of first baseman in the Red Sox organization will take on the other portion of at-bats at first base.
The Indians get a nice collection of arms in exchange. I think this is by far the best trade the Tribe has made this season, even if I think trading Martinez was pretty stupid but if GM Mark Shapiro wants to rebuild, more power to him. Justin Masterson will jump right into the rotation and he should be a good one. He gets the strikeouts and groundballs that we like to see in starting pitchers. fangraphs compares him to Gil Meche and I think that fits. The other arms probably won't be seen in the majors this year but offer the potential to become mid-rotation guys.
Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera
According to Bob Nightengale the Twins are sending Twins get Orlando Cabrera for minor league shortstop Tyler Ladendorf. Landendorf was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft. He has very good power for a shortstop but has struggled with his plate discipline and making solid contact. But he has the tools to be a very good hitter. This is the Oakland Athletics buying low on a prospect.
Orlando Cabrera has gotten old in a hurry but still has what it takes to help a contending team down the stretch. The Twins will use him everyday so there is no need for present owners to concern themselves much with his new situation. In fact his new team's home stadium should be less of a drain on his numbers than Oakland's.
Tigers Acquire Jarrod Washburn
The Mariners have traded starter Jarrod Washburn (who seems to have been a secondary target for many teams) for minor league pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles. Robles was the Tigers' #24 prospect in the 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. Robles is very young with good to excellent stuff depending on which reports you believe. French is 24-years old and one of those very good control, mediocre strikeout, groundball type of pitcher that is often ignored by major league teams until they turn into Chien-Ming Wang.
Washburn is what he is. He leaves one of the better pitcher's parks in the American League and one of the better defensive teams for a closer to neutral park and a still solid defensive team. He should continue to produce for the Tigers.
The Dodgers acquire closer George Sherrill
In a move I did not think would happen the Orioles parted with closer George Sherrill for two minor leaguers: 3B Josh Bell and RHP Steve Johnson. Josh Bell was the Dodgers #8 prospect and was touted as having the best raw power in their system by Baseball America. He becomes the future at third base for the Orioles. Steve Johnson is the son of former big leaguer Dave Johnson and formerly the Dodgers #15 prospect. He has improving stuff and gets strikeouts in bunches. If he can improve his control he could have a solid future in the majors.
Sherrill gives the Dodgers an excellent left-handed reliever and insurance for Jonathan Broxton. The Dodgers bullpen has been pretty mangled by Joe Torre (that's what he does to relievers) and the fresh arm should prove to be a vitally important addition. He is worth a moderate FAAB bid in NL-only leagues as he will probably see the occasional save.
The Cubs acquire Starter Tom Gorzelanny and reliever John Grabow
The Pittsburgh Pirates are truly committed to trading everyone that will not have a part in their next playoff team. Although it seems that the Pirates have been rebuilding for years, the truth is they never made the commitment to trading to rebuild the team. It was always a salary dump here and a free agent dump there. The Pirates received prospects Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, and Josh Harrison in return. As in most of the trades they have made of late they have preferred quantity to quality. But I am starting to see the method in their madness. By loading up their system with B and C prospects they give themselves multiple options at every position. They have an endless supply of potential relievers and mid-rotation guys. If the Pirates can draft a few A prospects and sign a top free-agent or two they will be well on their way back to the glory days.
General manager Neal Huntington says that Friday (today) he will call up outfielder Lastings Milledge and start a regular outfield of Garrett Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Milledge for the balance of the season. Don't be surprised if the Pirates give time at second base to Delwyn Young who has been a solid bat since coming to the Pirates.
Tom Gorzelanny has flashed his potential on a regular basis and the Cubs have added him to the 25-man roster. He should get innings but is obviously a risk for any fantasy owner in a chase for a championship. John Grabow on the other hand is an excellent reliever and should prove very valuable to the Cubs.
The Kansas City Royals acquired Josh Anderson
The Royals needed an outfielder about as badly as a team could need one. The Royals sent cash considerations to the Tigers for the speedy Josh Anderson. Anderson should get a lot more at-bats with the Royals and steal some bases. He is very much worth owning in AL-Leagues and anyone looking for steals should consider him.
Pittsburgh Pirates traded 2B Freddy Sanchez to San Francisco Giants
Seattle Mariners traded LF Wladimir Balentien to Cincinnati Reds for RHP Robert Manuel.
Seattle Mariners traded 1B Jeff Clement, SS Ronny Cedeno and RHP Nathan Adcock RHP Aaron Pribanic and RHP Brett Lorin to Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Ian Snell and SS Jack Wilson
Cleveland Indians traded Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to Philadelphia Phillies.
Cleveland Indians traded 1B Ryan Garko to San Francisco Giants.
Oakland Athletics traded LF Matt Holliday to St. Louis Cardinals.
Cleveland Indians traded RHP Rafael Betancourt to Colorado Rockies and Modesto Nuts traded RHP Connor Graham to Indians Organization.
Boston Red Sox traded Julio Lugo to St. Louis Cardinals.
Pittsburgh Pirates traded 1B Adam LaRoche to Boston Red Sox; Boston Red Sox traded SS Argenis Diaz to Pittsburgh Pirates and Greenville Drive traded RHP Hunter Strickland to West Virginia Power.
Monday, July 27, 2009
1. What separates FanDuel from other online fantasy sports games?
FanDuel lets us play and win in a day instead of waiting the whole season. Players can draft a new team at any time, and pitch it head-to-head against an opponent – a friend, or another FanDuel player – for real money. The player whose team has the most fantasy points at the end of the day’s games wins the cash prize.
2. Do you believe that this is the direction the fantasy sports industry is going (short-term games) or is this meant to be different from traditional Fantasy Baseball the way Texas Hang 'Em is different than Five Card Stud?
I don’t really think short term and long term fantasy games compete with each other however I do think there is a huge unmet demand for short term fantasy games. I expect that most people who start playing short term games will continue to play their existing season long game. Most fantasy players we speak to like to play in several leagues and the opportunity to pick up and play something without the season long commitment is very appealing to them.
3. Right now you offer a free game as well as $5, $10, and $25 games. Do you plan to offer higher stakes games in the future?
Yes, definitely. We are slowly introducing higher entry fee games as users demand them.
4. The TechCrunch.com article emphasizes the social media aspects of the game. Is FanDuel meant to be a social media experience with gamers communicating with each other being almost as important as the game itself?
We think player to player communication will be very important. In our previous product, Hubdub (which is a news prediction game), the community and inter-player communication was very important so we introduced commenting, forums, shouts, challenges and other ways of communicating. However we are cautious about introducing too much functionality too quickly so we are going to work with the users to see what communication tools they think will be most fun before introducing them.
5. You offer Fantasy Baseball, and Fantasy Football is lauching soon. Do you see FanDuel breaking into other Fantasy Sports such as Basketball, Golf, and Nascar?
Absolutely. After fantasy baseball and fantasy football we think that basketball and hockey will be our priorities. After that we are going to really go with where we feel there is user demand.
6. Is there a mobile phone version of the game available?
FanDuel can already be played on the iPhone however it is still a bit fiddly on the small screen. We are planning to release a mobile optimized version of the site later this year.
7. I love that you can connect to Facebook and Twitter to send out challenges. Are there plans to add Facebook-like friend lists to the site?
We definitely want our users to be able to connect with their friends more easily which is why we are planning a much deeper integration with Facebook and Twitter. We also want people to be able to connect up and challenge other players on site more easily as well and are working on some features to allow that. What we are being careful to avoid is to ask users to build a whole new friends list on FanDuel.
8. Why should anyone reading this sign up at FanDuel?
FanDuel offers a great way to show your friends and others who knows they most about fantasy baseball and football. Plus you can put your knowledge to good use by winning cash on our daily games. Remember there is no season long commitment and we even throw in a free $10 sign-up bonus when you make your first deposit.
Check out our fantasy baseball here: www.fanduel.com/fantasybaseball
I want to thank Nigel from FanDuel.com for consenting to this interview.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Matt Holliday has been a much better hitter this month than for most of the first half, batting .344 with a .421 on-base percentage in July. His season totals are just a little worse than I expected out of Coors Field. He has batted .286 with 11 homers and 12 stolen bases in the first half. I expected closer to .300 with about 20-22 homers on the season with 20-25 stolen bases which would be about what he averaged on the road the last few seasons. Basically Holliday has been the same player but he is hitting more fly balls, mostly of the infield variety which has reduced his BABIP and this his batting average. This may be something that Holliday has corrected in his swing but it could also be just a fortunate streak. Either way Holliday is still a very good player that should be owned in fantasy leagues of all types and sizes. In NL-only leagues he is worth a significant FAAB bid.
Holliday will play every day in left field. The big loser in playing time will be Rick Ankiel who will probably steal a few at-bats from Colby Rasmus but will mostly be relegated to fourth outfielder status. Ryan Ludwick (who is blistering hot lately) will remain the every day outfielder in right field. The more interesting question is in the infield. The Cardinals recently acquired Julio Lugo who will almost certainly start against lefties at either shortstop or second base. They also just got Mark DeRosa back from the disabled list. DeRosa could play any of the infield position but is most likely to play third base until Troy Glaus comes back. Glaus could be back in a matter of days which would push DeRosa to second base and Skip Schumaker to the bench. It should be interesting to see how it all falls out.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
- Is Montero for real?
- What happens when Chris Snyder returns?
- Who should I drop?
1B/CI/3B=Fielder, Berkman, Mig.Cabrera
2B/MI/SS=Utley, Kinsler, Hardy
LF/CF/RF/OF/OF=Bay, Sizemore, N.Cruz, Crawford, Victorino
SP(4)=Johan, Josh Johnson, Vazquez, Kuroda
P(3)=Jer.Weaver, Edw.Jackson, Lester
RP(4)=Fuentes, Soria, Qualls, Lidge
Bench= Theriot, Hart, Ludwick, S.Baker, Valverde, Wuertz
DL=Webb, T.Hudson, Kuo, K.Johnson, Beltre
Thanks in advance!
1. I like Montero, I always have. He's 26-years old and has previously demonstrated the ability to be a strong hitter at the catcher position. His walk and strikeout rates are consistent with his previous skill levels. He has begun to hit more groundballs and fewer fly balls which explains his higher batting average. Groundballs fall for hits more often than fly balls. His power is about the same as always thanks to a career-high HR/FB ratio (nothing outrageous just a few points higher than usual). He's for real. In a full-time role I would expect him to hit around .270-.275 with 10-12 home runs.
2. The D'Backs have always preferred to split their catcher at-bats with Montero receiving about a third of them. Chris Snyder is out with a back injury. Back injuries always have to be taken very seriously especially when playing such a physically demanding position. I can see the team using a more even 50/50 split when Snyder returns. Though any player who can return from fractured testicles has to get the benefit of the doubt when his toughness is in question. Both players are similar defensively (by RF/9) over the last couple of seasons so their production with the bat is more important than it would be if one were significantly better than the other. Montero seems clearly the more skilled hitter in my opinion Snyder takes more walks but strikes out more often and has less power.
3. I would drop Mike Wuertz. With your collection of closers he is very unnecessary.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Odds are you’ve read a story lately about how Russell Branyan is struggling as he reaches the summer of his first season as a full-time player. After a monstrous first half, he’s not hitting as well lately, and the explanations are pouring in. He’s tired. His back hurts. Pitchers are figuring him out. Managers have figured out how to shift against him and he hasn’t adjusted. If you’re looking for a reason for Branyan’s struggles, you have a buffet of choices to blame them on.
Of course, there’s a simpler explanation – it’s just natural regression to the mean.
In April, Branyan posted a .405 batting average on balls in play. In May, it was .391. These are outrageously high totals that nobody in history has been able to sustain, much less a first baseman whose hardest hit balls end up in the seats. There was basically no chance that he’d be able to continue getting balls in play to find a hole 39% of the time. We talked about this quite a bit, warning that regression was coming. A guy who strikes out as much as Branyan does can’t hit .300. It’s almost impossible.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Not every trade looks brilliant on the surface. In fact good owners will often make deals that to others will look strange and uneven at best. This is usually because you're looking ahead and they are looking back. This is especially true in keeper leagues. A year ago trading for Scott Downs and Phil Hughes while signing Nelson Cruz may have seemed a little odd unless you were paying attention to what the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers were saying about each player and their future roles.
By the same token, moves that look great can often result in disaster. Maybe this time last year you thought that trading Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton for Carlos Gomez was a good move for your rebuilding team. You could have cut your one dollar Russell Branyan to take a shot at Jeff Clement. As Dayton Moore would tell you it isn't always about the numbers (this is not to say you should emulate Moore and just ignore them) you can learn a lot just by paying attention and not following the crowd.
Do not let anyone make you feel bad about a move you feel good about making. If you have sound reasons for going against the current then go ahead and do it. You will not always be right but you may be surprised how often you end up being right.
Friday, July 17, 2009
A Brief All-Star Game Comment: Barrack Obama is the coolest looking President of the United States ever. I think having a few beers and watching the game with him would feel like the most natural thing in the world...
This is not one of those articles that tell you that such and such a player is usually a better performer after the All-Star Break. I know there are players that fit that description but I do not believe that is a sound way to choose the players who populate your roster. I just don't feel confident that trading for Adam LaRoche will give my fantasy team much of a boost. I prefer to look for players with untapped skills, astounding luck (good or bad), and potentially changing roles when making my second half projections. You wouldn't engage in NFL betting without doing some research like checking the NFL game spreads. So why would you go after second half players without doing the same level of work? Or at least letting someone you trust do it for you. I have split the article into two halves just because it was becoming very very long. Much longer than my usual posts.
The Orioles were a very competitive team in the first half even if their 40-48 record doesn't show it. The lineup has been surprisingly good even with Nick Markakis having a rather pedestrian start to the season. You can expect Markakis to play a little better in the second half just because we all know that he can. His strikeouts and walks are at their typical levels. It is interesting that his fly ball rate has increased as his HR/FB has decreased. If his HR/FB normalizes for Markakis in the second half he could still approach 25 homeruns. Oddly, after the club expressed a desire to see Markakis run more often he has almost completely given up any effort in that department. Aubrey Huff and Brian Roberts should also be better as they recover from nagging injuries. Adam Jones had a great start but has been mediocre lately. You can expect him to pick it back up, just not at the level he showed in April.
The problem has been with the starting rotation. Right-hander Rich Hill offers the same mix of amazing potential and frequent disappointments that he offered in Chicago. But manager Dave Trembley doesn't expect him to come out of the rotation anytime soon. You can expect to see top prospect Chris Tillman join the rotation in a matter of weeks. Brian Matusz is also a possibility for an August call-up. Rookies David Hernandez and Brad Bergesen have become useful in AL-only leagues and may be keepers in a lot of those leagues.
Trade Rumors: I do not expect the Orioles to make any significant moves. They have players they could move like Huff and Melvin Mora (no-trade clause) but I think the club is happy to ride those players out unless they get a very good offer. Dany Baez is almost certain to be moved but how much could he possibly bring back? Unless the deal is with the Royals... I have heard the rumor too often to ignore it completely but I doubt the Orioles will move George Sherrill, he's just too cheap and good. Of course those are the same reasons the return would be outstanding.
Boston Red Sox
As predicted the Red Sox pitching depth has worked itself out with Clay Buchholz spending most of the season in the minors. Buchholz is expected to get the call to start in the majors on Friday. The present plan is to send him down after the game but Buchholz could make the decision very difficult by dominating the Blue Jays. John Smoltz has finally entered the rotation which had a ready made opening thanks to Daisuke Matsuzaka's ineffectiveness. Dice-K has been sent to extended spring training and will probably spend more of the next three months there than on the Red Sox 25-man roster. John Smoltz should be a nice pitcher to have in the second half. I would not look for vintage Smoltz but he should be good for five to six quality innings every five days. The Red Sox have a bullpen strong enough and deep enough to pitch a few extra innings on Smoltz's turn. Mike Lowell has had soreness in his surgically repaired hip but this is to be expected. The Red Sox will be giving Lowell regular rest in the second half to keep him fresh for the playoffs. David Ortiz had a horrible first half until the last few weeks, when he finally rediscovered his swing. Since then he has been the slugger the Red Sox were expecting. I would not be surprised if Ortiz still totaled close to 30 homers.
Trade Rumors: The Red Sox have the players and prospects to acquire any player they want to have. They seem to have few needs on the pitching staff but could use a big bat or two. Theo Epstein has historically been reluctant to part with much talent for short-term rentals. I see them chasing players with contracts such as Alex Rios, Victor Martinez and Todd Helton or a short term option that would come extremely cheap such as Jack Wilson. If they fail to find a trade that suits their needs the Red Sox might call on slugging first base prospect Lars Anderson and hope that he is ready to help. Less likely call-ups Casey Kelly and Josh Reddick may also be ready to help. Boston would have loved to trade Julio Lugo but have decided to designate him for assignment. Lugo can still hit for a decent average and steal some bases. Unfortunately his defense has gone in the tank which will make it difficult for him to get regular playing time. Jed Lowrie will take over as shortstop. I see Lowrie as very similar to Dustin Pedroia (2009 version) and should have a pretty good second half.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are in contention but I bet general manager Kenny Williams was expecting his team to be a little better. The offense got off to a rough start but has improved with the return of Scott Podsednik to center field and the call-up of Gordon Beckham to take over third base (mostly) from Josh Fields. Podsednik is not a great player but he scores runs and steals bases, two endearing traits to fantasy owners. Beckham is going to be a huge star and should be rostered in leagues of all types. Carlos Quentin has been dealing with Plantar Fasciitis in his foot and although he is doing well in rehab he should be considered a giant question mark for the rest of the season. The rotation has been a mixed bag after John Danks and Mark Buehrle. For now, the White Sox insist they will keep lefty Aaron Poreda in the bullpen but if they are unable to pull off a trade for a top arm they just might change their minds.
Trade Rumors: The White Sox had what it took to acquire Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres earlier this season, so they should be in on any starting pitching that becomes available. I am absolutely certain that they will make multiple offers for ace Toronto Starter Roy Halladay. There have been rumors that the White Sox would trade Jermaine Dye for a couple of years now. I don't buy them for even a second. First, who would replace him on this team that intends to make the playoffs? Second, Why would they trade the most consistent offensive performer they have on their roster?
The Indians are annually chosen as a favorite to make the playoffs but they also annually seem to underachieve despite making what seem to be excellent decisions. Cleveland will keep playing second baseman Luis Valbuena as much as possible through his ups and downs but he isn't a good fantasy bat this season. He should become a quality fantasy baseball infielder eventually but I wouldn't bet much on that happening this season. Do not act shocked to see first baseman Nick Weglars, outfielder Matt LaPorta, and catcher Carlos Santana make an appearance in the majors slightly ahead of most schedules. Reliever Chris Perez has been getting Cortisone shots all season for a left foot injury that will be surgically repaired after the season. Why the Cardinals or Indians decided to wait will probably remain a mystery.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs.com recently profiled third base prospect Andy Marte. He covered everything from his rise to top prospect status to his being Designated For Assignment and remaining unclaimed. At the time of this writing Marte is batting .319/.361/.536 with 11 homers and two stolen bases in just 248 triple-a at-bats. He isn't likely to become the star we once thought he could be but a long major league career is not yet out of the question. The Indians have nothing to lose by giving him another chance.
Trade Rumors: Another disappointing season spurred rumors around almost every Indians veteran. Lefty ace Cliff Lee, catcher Victor Martinez and even closer Kerry Wood being the biggest targets. The Indians will demand top dollar for both players who have one year remaining on their contracts. I think it is much more likely that Lee is traded than Roy Halladay. Lee by the way has pitched much better than his record would indicate. Although Victor Martinez recently pledged his undying devotion to the Indians I still think he'll be moved. With Kelly Shoppach as a stopgap until top catching prospect, Carlos Santana is ready Martinez will be a prime target of teams that want to add a hitter.
It has not gone exactly as planned for the Tigers but I think they'll take it as is. Magglio Ordonez has been completely void of any power and has been reduced to part-time status. I think he's done as a top fantasy option. Curtis Granderson is displaying the power and speed we've all expected, even if his batting average leaves us unimpressed. Fortunately the .254 average is mostly the result of a low BABIP caused by his extreme fly ball rate this year. Granderson is well on his way to being one of, if not the very best fantasy option in the American League. Brandon Inge already has 21 homers. If you saw this coming you are smarter than me. Look for Dusty Ryan to gradually take over as the starting catcher as he proves to be equal defensively and a superior bat to Gerald Laird.
Trade Rumors: I am certain that the Tigers would love to trade for an outfield slugger, bullpen help and a #2-3 starter but they don't have many advanced prospects to deal at this point. It will take some major wheeling and dealing for the Tigers to get what they need to advance very far in the playoffs against the AL-East juggernauts.
Kansas City Royals
To call the Royals unpredictable would be an understatement, unless you refer to their chances of making a trade or signing that nobody will like. Acquiring shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for two potentially useful pitching prospects has been almost universally panned as a horrible move for the Royals. Even worse is the confession of GM Dayton Moore that he doesn't completely understand advanced statistical measures like UZR. You might think that someone in that role would be motivated to be as up to date with industry tools as possible, but you would be wrong. This trade also forces us to question the future of Mike Aviles who presumably would have been a much better option after recovering from elbow surgery. In much better news, Alex Gordon is finally ready to return from the disabled list and if he can continue with the gains he showed in the second half of last season he could be one of the better hitters in the AL as the summer turns to fall.
Trade Rumors: There are a few Gil Meche rumors circulating but the Royals aren't really interested in trading the players that other teams will be interested in acquiring. The Royals are more likely to acquire players they see as good values or underrated.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels are very good at finding quality talent but they often have no idea what to do with it. Bobby Abreu has had a very good season while Vladimir Guerrero seems to be on the last legs of his career, at least as a worthwhile fantasy option. But the Angels have the offense they need to win (assuming Torii Hunter and Guerrero are not out longer than expected) but their pitching has fallen apart other than Jered Weaver. the Angels have a team FIP of 4.53 which is in the bottom third of American League pitching staffs. Weaver's BABIP of .265 looks lucky at first glace but he allows so few groundballs that it is more maintainable than it might seem. As long as he keeps his strikeout rate high and his walk rate low Weaver should be a very effective pitcher. If an owner in your league is looking to sell high on him, I suggest you pounce. John Lackey and Ervin Santana have been disappointing. Lackey at least is healthy and I think he'll come around. I would avoid Santana who is obviously still dealing with his injury problems.
Trade Rumors: The Angels would like nothing better than to add Roy Halladay to their rotation. They have the prospects the Blue Jays would require, like second baseman Sean Rodriguez, shortstop Brandon Wood, pitchers Trevor Reckling and Jordan Walden. They also have the money to take on the contract after failing to re-sign first baseman Mark Teixeira.
The Twins have one of the easier schedules going forward. I expect Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey (hopefully) to bounce back with big second halves. Baker has been much better than his results. His strikeout and walk rates are both excellent. He has suffered damage because of an elevated HR/FB percentage. If he gets that together he looks like a solid fantasy starter. Joe Crede has been injury prone, big shock. Delmon Young has come around after being a disaster for the first two months of the season. He will probably never be the star that some of us were expecting but he can still be a solid major league outfielder. He has incredible tools and is still just
Trade Rumors: The Twins are interested in second baseman Freddy Sanchez of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Twins are usually reluctant to part with their top prospects so the Pirates will have to be selling him on the cheap for the Twins to acquire Sanchez.
New York Yankees
The Yankee rotation has not worked out as planned. CC Sabathia has been okay but not the number one, ace, and All-Star the Yankees were expecting. Sabathia has been dealing with tightness in his left bicep which could be an indication of a more serious problem. His strikeout rate is down, his control is a bit off from recent years, and he is allowing more fly balls than usual (though it hasn't really hurt his HR9). I would be cautious about adding Sabathia at exorbitant prices. A.J. Burnett started slowly but has been better the last month or so. Burnett's control has also suffered and like Sabathia his fly ball rate has increased. Maybe the new Yankee Stadium wind tunnel to right field has something to do with it. I think he'll be fine if you don't expect too much. The rotation problems continue with Joba Chamberlain who has been very inconsistent. He has had problem controlling his pitch count and working past even the forth and fifth inning. He has been especially bad at home. Chein-Ming Wang's control is also off and his fly ball rate elevated. There is an unmistakable pattern here and it appears to be a stadium affect. Lefty reliever Damaso Marte will return soon after the break. If you forgot he was even on the Yankees you're forgiven. Phil Hughes has become the eight inning reliever the Yankees needed and looks like a lock to join the rotation next season as I predicted.
Trade Rumors: General manager Brian Cashman is good at keeping things quiet. He'll say all the right things about building from within and holding on to the Yankees' best prospects. But if you think he isn't interested in the big names available on the trade market, than you just don't understand how the New York Yankees operate. Alex Rios, Roy Halladay, and all of the best late inning relievers are potential targets. The Yankees have a way of getting what they want. They have the money and they have the resources.
Justin Duchscherer is throwing and should begin a rehab stint later this month. If healthy, Duchscherer could give the Athletics and your fantasy team a big boost to end the season. Matt Holliday has been disappointing even to those who expected the Coors Field Effect to bring his numbers way down. In fact all of Beane's big ticket acquisitions were busts this season. Orlando Cabrera got old a little faster than expected but has bounced back a little lately. Jason Giambi has lost too much bat speed to hit for a worthwhile batting average.
Trade Rumors: You never know what Billy Beane will do. But you can rest assured that he will do something. It may seem contrary to the teams direction but I guarantee it will not be boring. The Braves are going hard after outfielder Matt Holliday. There is some question about whether Beane actually intends to trade Holliday but the price according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is two highly regarded prospects. If Holliday goes you can expect Cabrera and Giambi to be right behind him.
Everything the Mariners do seems to work out this under the new management of GM Jack Zduriencik. They scout better and the results are already showing. The improved defense has combined with the pitcher friendly dimensions of Safeco Field to make average pitchers fantasy worthy. David Aardsma is closing and has looked better than he ever has in any other season of his career. I would not bet on him as a long term saves solution in your fantasy league but he should be a nice option for the rest of the season. First baseman Russell Branyan is hitting homeruns on a 40-homer pace. His batting average is likely to keep falling but the power is very real. Branyan is a better hitter than he was but he's closer to a .250 hitter than a .290 hitter. Yuneisky Betancourt is gone and Ronny Cedeno will get a chance to prove himself in at least semi-regular at-bats in the second half. Fantasy owners would be wise to remember he was once a highly regarded prospect and has the tools if not the skills to succeed. He is just 26-years old and should be watched closely. Franklyn Guitierrez has not only improved the Mariner defense in center field but is batting .295 and is on pace to hit around 20 homeruns with 8-12 stolen bases.
Trade Rumors: The Mariners are in contention but the trade rumors continue to fly around left-handed starters Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn. The Mariners will attempt to trade off their peripheral players like Miguel Batista, Sean White, and Mark Lowe. According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times even former top prospects such as Brandon Morrow, Wladimir Balentien and Jeff Clement could be moved.
Tampa Bay Rays
I was going to go on about how much I think B.J. Upton will be THE player to have in the second half of the season. About how you can expect him to almost make up for his injury-marred start. But Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus has already done it better than I would have. So check out his article "The Next Best Ballplayer" and enjoy.
Any lingering doubts about third baseman Evan Longoria as a first round pick should be completely dissipated by now. He is a stud that compares well to any other player in the first round. Outfielder Carl Crawford has also re-established himself as a first round pick. he is on pace to steal close to 80 bases. Shortstop Jason Bartlett played over his head in the first half but he should still hit for a decent average and steal lots of bases in the second half. Second baseman Ben Zobrist has not only ably replaced Akinori Iwamura but has put himself in an entirely new category with the bat. He is hitting like Ian Kinsler or Chase Utley. It is difficult to explain the sudden transformation because essentially nothing has changed but his power indicators. It would not be the first time a player had a one season surge in power only to return to normal in following seasons. I would hold on to him but be ready to sell to anyone willing to overpay.
David Price has experienced his ups and downs since his call up from the minors. He was not having a very good year at Triple-A either. But price is loaded with talent and has been an average major league starter so far with flashes of the brilliance to come. I think the flashes of brilliance will be more frequent after the break.
Trade Rumors: The Rays do not like to use valuable prospects as bait for short term rentals. They are not likely to cut any payroll as long as they remain in contention but they also are not likely to add any. The facts are they have few needs outside of the bullpen. They will look to add undervalued relievers that become available such as Clay Meredith. The Rays have talked about Roy Halladay but such an acquisition would be out of character and a huge addition to the budget.
Ian Kinsler is having a great season but it could be even better in the second half if his fluky low BABIP normalizes and brings his batting average up to it's typical levels. The pre-season sleeper to end all sleepers was outfielder Nelson Cruz and he has delivered. He has had a few mini-slumps along the way but is still on pace to hit 30-plus homers and steal more than 20 bases. He may be even better in the second half with Josh Hamilton back in the lineup. Hamilton missed big chunks of the first half due to a ribcage injury that morphed into an abdominal tear that had to be surgically compared. Though he has yet to hit his stride I feel he will deliver a monster second half to his fantasy owners.
Kevin Millwood is pitching like the ace the Rangers needed. Vicente Padilla has been a solid starter for the Rangers, but he is not of much value to fantasy owners with a 4.94 K9. Derek Holland will return to the Texas Rotation to begin the second half and is likely to stay there if all goes well. I think he's ready to impress people. Neftali Feliz will soon get the call to join the Ranger's bullpen. His ultimate destination is still in the rotation. The idea is to slowly prepare Feliz to pitch in the majors while simultaneously deepening the bullpen. He should be rostered in any league in which he can be kept.
Trade Rumors: Despite some money problems the Rangers are one of the favorites in the race to trade for Roy Halladay. They have the prospects and the management staff really wants to see it happen. They won't trade either of Holland or Feliz but just about any other prospect is a possibility.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have suffered more than their fair share of set-backs the last few years. But their biggest handicap is probably the injuries to every pitcher that makes it through the system. If they could stabilize their rotation they would be much closer to competing in the AL-East. This is one of the reasons it is unlikely the Jays are really going to trade ace Roy Halladay. the Blue Jays have an impressive collection of young pitchers who have unfortunately been plagued by injury. But impressive young starters like Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepczynski, and Brad Mills will look a lot better following Halladay than attempting to fill his shoes.
It seems far more likely that the Jays would trade one of their veteran outfielder like Alex Rios. They would love to move Vernon Wells but his ridiculous contract makes that close to impossible. Outfielder Adam Lind has established himself in the first half as a dangerous power hitter. Travis Snider looked okay in his stint in the majors but has been given more time to put everything together in the minors. Snider should be back at some point very soon and I expect him to be very good. Second baseman Aaron Hill and shortstop Marco Scutaro have both upped their offensive games while providing the Jays with solid defense. Hill was forgotten by some because he missed last season with injuries but his present production has always been in his potential. Scutarro has always been an underrated hitter that has never received consistent at-bats. I think both players are for real and will continue to be very productive hitters in the second half.
Trade Rumors: There has no bigger news in baseball than the Jays willingness to listen to offers for ace Roy Halladay. Halladay would love to play in St. Louis where he could join friend and former teammate Chris Carpenter in the Cardinals rotation. The Blue Jays love the Cardinals third base prospect Brett Wallace but the Cardinals may be reluctant to pay the huge price that the Jays are requesting. The Phillies are another top contender for the Toronto ace. They have the prospects and want Halladay in their rotation badly, they feel he would guarantee another run to the World Series. The Red Sox are another media favorite but they already have the best pitching in the American League and a ton of highly regarded prospects behind them. If the Red Sox are actually in need of anything it is a bat. The Los Angeles Dodgers also have the prospects and young players it would take to acquire Halladay but they have been reluctant to add payroll in recent years. However, general manager ned Colletti has talked often about adding a starter only if they find someone who would improve the present group dramatically. Halladay fits.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The half-season package of 2009 MLB Extra Innings begins on cable with a free-preview from July 16-22. The preview starts right after the MLB All-Star Break and is available to all digital cable viewers. Subscribers to the half season package receive up to 80 league-wide games each week throughout the remainder of the regular season. The Half Season Offer is $139.
Returning this year is the popular “dual-feed” telecast. Whenever possible, iN DEMAND will provide both local market broadcasts of the same game so that fans can choose which broadcast feed they want to watch. Select systems throughout the country will also be offering games in high definition, delivering up to 12 HD games per week (varies by system).
More information about MLB Extra Innings is available at www.getbaseball.com, where baseball fans can go enter their zip code to find the channel locations of MLB Extra Innings on their system and get the current schedule.
Cable MSOs offering the package through iN DEMAND Networks this year are: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems, Bresnan Communications, Charter Communications, Midcontinent and a number of independent MSOs.
Residential customers or commercial establishments can “Order Now” by calling 1-888-SPORTS-iN or their local cable provider.
Consumers can also find more information about the Major League Baseball broadcast season at www.mlb.com.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Where would you draft David Wright in a mid-season league and why?
It is an interesting question given Wright's strange season. Check out the link for some interesting ideas on where he should fall in a mid-season draft.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Sutton will qualify at second base, shortstop, and third base in most leagues but his talent is greater than that of the typical utility player and he is too young to be sentenced to such a role already. He has the power to hit 20-plus homers in a full season, slightly above average speed but with the base-running skills to steal 20 bases. Sutton's best skill is his patience and discipline at the plate. His on-base percentage will usually approach .400 making him an excellent candidate to bat early in the batting order.
Sutton is not going to change the fortunes of your fantasy team over night. But if you can stash him away (especilly in NL-only leagues) until he begins to receive more serious playing time, your fantasy team will be greatly rewarded.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Saturday, July 04, 2009
“The results show Roger was negative in every respect, performance-enhancing drugs and masking agents,” Hardin said. “The only reason why I mention it now is because Roger is being mentioned with Sosa and Rodriguez, who have been tied to 2003 tests, and Roger didn’t test positive.”This is huge for Clemens who has struggled to clear his name in face of accusations from his former trainer and statements from former teammate Andy Pettitte. While this is far from the end of the investigation it must give Clemens a bit of a boost. It is much more difficult to disprove a claim than to provide evidence in favor of one. This is a sample of the dis-proving evidence that Clemens needs.
Unfortunately it won't be enough for anyone convinced of Clemen's guilt in the matter. His former trainer, Brian McNamee's statements in the Mitchell Report made claims about use from 1998 to 2001. He provided needles and used gauze that he insists he saved for nearly a decade as evidence to support his claims. No matter how ridiculous that sounds, it is being taken seriously by Congress.
If you need something supporting the claims that Congress is after a PR win more than the truth look no further than their release of medical records showing that Clemens was treated for a possibly drug-related abscess in 1998. An abscess is a localized collection of pus that generally develops in response to infection. An abscess is typically painful, and it appears as a swollen area that is warm to the touch. The skin surrounding an abscess typically appears pink or red. But they could just as easily released the negative tests at the same time but they chose to keep the non-damning evidence to themselves.
“The medical records were in the same stuff that we sent with the testing results,” Hardin said. “And it’s strange to me that they chose to make the stuff that made Roger look bad from the medical records public and not the drug-testing information.”I have said it more than once that as someone that has been falsely accused I feel I have to give Roger Clemens and the other accused the benefit of the doubt until conclusive evidence is revealed. On the Fourth of July it should be easy to remember one of the tenets of American Society used to be Innocent Until Proven Guilty.