Sunday, December 25, 2011

2012: Michael Cuddyer Joins the Rockies

Michael Cuddyer is one of those baseball players that is really easy to love. He always seems genuinely happy to be at the ballpark. He works hard. He does not care which position he is asked to play. He gets that when you make millions a year to play a game invented for kids you really have little to complain about.

As a fantasy contributor, Cuddyer has been solid but rarely spectacular. He has spent his entire career until now with the Minnesota Twins. In Minnesota he has typically hit for a decent batting average and 15-20 homeruns. But what may not be obvious is how Target Field has restrained his homerun power. In 2010 Target Field (according to ESPN Park Factors) reduced homeruns by nearly 26 percent. It was not as drastic in 2011 but Target Field still rated as a tough park to hit homeruns.

Cuddyer's move to Coors Field should be nothing but good news to Fantasy Owners. Coors Field is still one of the best hitter's park in the sport. Boosting homers by over 35 percent in 2011. The combination of leaving Target Field and playing his home games in Colorado should push Cuddyer's expected homerun projection from the 15-20 range, firmly into the 25-30 homer range.

For now Cuddyer is expected to man right field for the Rockies. But the Rockies could easily find themselves needing him at third base. For the moment they will count on Casey Blake at third base. Blake experienced three trips to the disabled list in 2011, primarily due to a bad back. The chance that he will be able to play full time is small. Qualifying at 3B would only boost Cuddyer's value even further.

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope Santa was good to you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 Sleepers - A First Baseman for the Rays

For Yankee fans, we are pretty far into the off-season. We're used to out team striking quickly and grabbing the best guys available. Or at the very least we're exhausted by rumors that we're going to get this guy or that guy. Instead the Yankees are patiently waiting out the market and could go into the 2012 season with pretty much the same team they played with in 2011. For fans of the Yankees this is unusual. For fans of the Tampa Bay Rays this is par for the course.

The Rays having one of the smaller payroll budgets in the game, rarely jump early on free agents. They exercise patience and wait until potential bargains develop. This year they might be interested in an outfielder, a designated hitter, middle infielder and first baseman. They could very well re-sign Carlos Pena. But for now they wait and have inexperienced names penciled in at the top of the depth chart at several positions. The most interesting one in my opinion is Russ Canzler.

Canzler is interesting for several reasons. I like that he fits the developing trend of allowing older minor leaguers - sometimes barely considered prospects - to have a chance to make major league rosters. A lot of organizations will dismiss a certain player because he doesn't fit their perception of what a player at his position should look like. We've seen it a hundred times, look at short, slight players like Billy Wagner and Pedro Martinez, who were not always appreciated for their skills as prospects. Canzler does not have an odd body type, he's six feet and two inches tall and weighs over 200 pounds, so he looks like a DH or first baseman. The problem with this guys is that despite being a pretty good hitter, he doesn't hit like the prototypical first baseman.

Some numbers:

2006 Cubs (A-) 7.10% 22.50% 0.264 0.319 0.543 0.279 0.291 0.382 137
2007 Cubs (A) 7.00% 17.50% 0.270 0.321 0.376 0.107 0.316 0.318 97
2008 Cubs (A+) 7.50% 19.40% 0.273 0.327 0.463 0.190 0.31 0.356 120
2009 Cubs (A+) 6.50% 22.20% 0.270 0.315 0.430 0.160 0.333 0.345 116
2009 Cubs (AA) 11.60% 15.40% 0.258 0.346 0.399 0.142 0.289 0.337 105
2010 Cubs (AA) 11.20% 23.10% 0.287 0.372 0.566 0.279 0.332 0.412 151
2011 Rays (AAA) 12.20% 23.50% 0.314 0.401 0.530 0.215 0.396 0.410 157
2011 Rays 20.00% 20.00% 0.333 0.400 0.333 0.000 0.333 0.316 101

You can see that Canzler has a history of hitting for decent batting averages (much better than decent the last two seasons) with solid power numbers. Looking at these numbers for a still relatively young first baseman, you would probably give him a shot on your fantasy team and as a Rays fan you'd probably be pretty happy to have a .275/.350/.500 line from your rookie first baseman. But that enthusiasm dies off a bit when you learn he has not hit more than 21 homers at any level or in any season. But should it?

For fantasy owners, you might not want him as your primary first baseman, but with third base a weakness in MLB at the moment and first base not quite as deep as it once was, Canzler would be an excellent corner on a lot of teams, especially in AL-Only Leagues. For the Rays it seems like a slam dunk cinch, they would risk almost nothing and he might fill a need for them inexpensively. How long have the Rays been looking for a long-term solution at first base? So if they fail to move one of they pitchers or prospects for a first baseman (they're rumored t be looking at Anthony Rizzo of the Padres) they could decide to give Canzler a try. It just might be to the benefit of fantasy owners.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Check Out This Article on Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes has quickly become a player in which fantasy owners have a great interest. He has flash and pizazz. All of those traits that make us want to be First. But while most of us have watched his scouting/promotional video, few of us have received any real scouting reports. For that reason I'd like to point you to Derek Carty's recent article on the Baseball Prospectus site.
In talking with scouts, everyone is in agreement that Cespedes is a physical freak; however, some made mention that this hasn’t always been the case. As recently as the World Baseball Classic in 2009, Cespedes was said to have been almost a completely different player. A few scouts I spoke with hadn’t seen him since the WBC and didn’t feel it was even worth it to relay their impressions because Cespedes has changed so dramatically. Given his striking change in stature and tools, one scout who has seen Cespedes recently actually speculated that Cespedes could be on HGH. To be clear, this was pure speculation and not grounded in any actual knowledge or evidence, but it is worth passing along as Cespedes is sure to get tested under MLB’s new policies and would need to stop, which may or may not affect his tools and performance.
The article has a ton of interesting stuff that you want to read as a potential Cespedes owner.