- Vlad Guerrero Jr. - Blue Jays - Vlad is probably the best pure bat in the American League right now. He will not steal bases so he doesn't provide you with everything. But challenging .300 with 30-plus homers is an easy prediction.
- Freddy Freeman - Free Agent - If he stays in Atlanta I expect his numbers to stay the same. He does everything you want in four categories and will toss in a half dozen steals just to make you feel better.
- Peter Alonso - Mets He very nicely cut his strikeout rate. Most of his indicators look like the return of 2019. His batting average isn't nearly as low as was once expected and he only seems to be getting better.
- Matt Olson - Athletics - Olson is the subject of many trade rumors and it is very in character for the Athletics for him to be on the block at this point. Last year he cut his strikeouts in half while walking as much as ever. It doesn't get much better than this.
- Paul Goldschmidt - Cardinals Goldschmidt is as good as ever, it's just the park doesn't help him as much. He even got some stolen bases back. If you can live with 30 rather the 35 you get from the four guys ranked ahead of him, you can't go wrong with Goldy.
- Joey Votto - Reds No one adjusts like Joey Votto. He sacrificed some contact for a huge increase in power. I have absolutely no doubt that Votto will produce again in 2022. Screw his age, some players are just special talents.
- Ryan Mountcastle - Orioles The power is so real I'm not worried about the walls in Camden. He is streaky. A long slump could make his batting average painful. He should walk just enough to avoid a total disaster in OBP leagues.
- C.J. Cron - Rockies He looked ordinary in the first half but in the second half started to get his Coors boost. If he keeps it together he could have a prime Arenado type season.
- Jared Walsh - Angels He still can't hit lefties but his numbers seem pretty stable. He probably isn't cheap enough to be a league-winning value but he should be a safe bet for .26 with 25-plus homers.
- Brandon Belt - Giants If we could count on 150 games of complete health, Belt would be top five worthy - easily. I would not blame you if you moved him ahead of Cron, Mountcastle and Walsh even now if your league allows easy replacements.
- Jose Abreu - White Sox In general I think most analysts over-state age as a factor in a player's performance. But his slow start in 2021 had me doubting him. But he blew up July and August making his season look pretty stable.
- Josh Bell - Nationals He hits too many groundballs to expect more than 30 homers. His batting averages won't kill you but they also won't help. I'd rather have him as a corner infielder than my first baseman.
- Nate Lowe - Rangers - He hits the ball hard and if he pulled it more often his homer total could explode with a slight reversal in launch angle. He endured a long slump from mid-May to late July that makes his overall numbers look worse than they should (launch angle was just four percent for this stretch). As is, he hits too many on the ground to hit much more than 20 homers per season in Texas. But the lineup is better than most are predicting if everyone stays healthy, so 100 RBI is not far-fetched. If he truly learned something during his slump, as I suspect he did, he could seriously breakout in 2022.
- Anthony Rizzo - Free Agent - He looked to be in serious decline as he finished his last season with the Cubs. If he receives a contract from the Yankees he earns this spot. In most other parks he drops a few spots.
- Bobby Dalbec - Red Sox - He was awful most of the season but was so great down the stretch with barrels, and improved discipline that anyone holding him on the cheap in AL-only leagues is salivating at the idea he is for real. It was probably just a nice streak but it demonstrates what he might be capable of given regular at-bats for the whole season.
- Josh Bell - Nationals
- Ryan Hoskins - Phillies He should have been better last season. Bad luck and poor health have killed expectations but a few breaks going his way and 35 homers is not out of the realm of possibilities.
- Spencer Torkelson - Tigers The bat the Tigers have been waiting for will arrive in 2022. This may seem high to some but there isn't a player ranked after him I would rather have even if I lose four weeks to system manipulation.
- Tyler Stephenson - Reds Stephenson has no one in front of him as the Reds starting catcher this year. With any luck, he should reach his early career-high plate appearances this season. He walks and doesn’t strike out and is showing signs of reaching his raw power levels in games. He could top the catcher rankings while being CI-worthy in 12 team leagues.
- Nick Pratto - Royals Has great bat speed and drank the kool-aid the Royals were pouring as far as plate approach. He showed a new ability to hit high velocity at higher levels. He won't hit .300 or even .270 just yet, but 30 homers is within reach in 2022.
- Max Muncy - Dodgers If we knew where he was with his injury he might move up ten spots or fall off the list entirely. I'd probably take the chance if I was drafting today.
- Jake Cronenworth - Padres The younger version of D.J. Lemahieu. Eventually, he'll be a super-utility player but not this season. 15/15 upside is fine at second but it would be unusual at first base.
- Luke Voit - Yankees The Yankees seem determined to upgrade their first base position. If they get stuck with Voit they shouldn't suffer too much. .240 with 30 homers in a full season is reasonable if a bit optimistic.
- D.J. Lemahieu - Yankees With health he should be much better than last season but I wouldn't go paying for 2019 stats.
- Trey Manicini - Orioles He was worn out in the second half after his long layoff due to cancer. I still see a 30-homer guy with a strong if not elite batting average.
- Alex Kirilloff - Twins - He really hits the ball hard and barrels it. With a little better luck he could hit .280 with 25 homers and move ten spots up this list.
- Jonathan Schoop - Tigers His batting average is nothing to sing about but 20-25 homers is a lock.
- Yuli Gueriel - Astros: El Piña only qualifies at first base in most leagues but is likely to get games at third and DH during the season. He hits the ball hard but on the ground too often to impact the Homerun category.
- Frank Schwindel - Cubs - His statcast numbers alone make him look like a much better hitter. He is 29 years old and on a team that doesn't have many better options just now. He might be the Mid-West version of Mike Yastrzemski, maybe better.
- Seth Beer - Diamondbacks If the designated hitter in the NL is real I think 30 homers is close to a lock. If there isn't a DH he is too high on this list with Christian Walker and Pavin Smith ahead of him at first and much better defensively.
- Yoshi Tsutsugo - Pirates Tsutsugo dramatically improved his performance with the Pirates improving his line drive and flyball percentages while cutting his strikeouts from 33 percent to 23 percent. If he keeps it up he'll be the player we expected a couple years ago.
- LaMonte Wade - Giants The Giants will spread the at-bats around and probable make Wade a utility corner player. He looks like a real above-average player by most indicators.
- Rowdy Tellez - Brewers Barrels, Exit Velocity and a reasonable strikeout rate for a power hitter go a long way with fantasy owners these days. He has an opportunity to win a starting role in Milwaukee.
- Miguel Sano - Twins He only qualifies at first base this season. He might gain eligibility at DH this season but third is unlikely given his lackluster defense and both Josh Donaldson and Jose Miranda on the roster.
- Eric Hosmer - Padres - This is his rank for 450 cost you. If he loses any more at-bats his power caps at 15 and his .260 average is only a slight bonus considering the lack of power his spot in the lineup will cost you.
- Jesus Aguilar - Marlins Aguilar is probably underrated as a hitter but with Lewin Diaz and Garrett Cooper both on the roster, I can't see him getting enough at-bats to challenge his career highs.
- Lewin Diaz - Marlins I believe the Marlins will give Diaz plenty of at-bats to prove himself. Unfortunately, his approach needs enough work that anything better than an average MLB hitter would be unlikely.
- Yandy Diaz - Rays As his launch angle improves his average exit velocity goes down. This doesn't mean much I just think it makes him less likely to have that huge breakout that folks have predicted. He has average power numbers which is fine for the Rays but won't help your fantasy roster much.
- Ty France - Mariners - His great second half is fueling higher expectations though he is still a better fit at second base. He boosted the contact rate but it was all groundballs, not the end of the world but there's no speed to make up for the mediocre power.
- Juan Yepez - Cardinals The National League Designated Hitter could be the key for him. He hits the ball very hard and has superb statcast power metrics. I like him quite a bit, I'll pay the extra buck.
- Darin Ruf - Giants Ruf is another who could benefit from the NL DH. Te early reports claim the Giants are looking for offense and not to rotate off days. Just a shot at 400 at-bats will be huge for him, .260 with 25 homers seems like a safe bet.
- Triston Casas - Red Sox Casas is still growing into his power despite his Lou Ferrigno like appearance! But make no mistake this is the future at first base for the Red Sox and he is already a great bat. I expect him up by mid-season I just don't know the whereabouts of J.D. Martinez and Dalbec when that happens.
- Mason Martin - Pirates He has crazy power but his 30 percent strikeout rate is killing him right now. Some of that may be 2020 rust. He is clearly the best first base prospect on the Pirates.
- Colin Moran - Free Agent He's not what you want for your fantasy team under most circumstances but he's a solid bat that can fill in for injuries on better fantasy teams.
- Keston Hiura - Brewers I think the NL DH could be the key to Hiura hitting his ceiling as a hitter. If he is there in the dollar days Pounce!
- Vinnie Pasquantino - Royals He looks a lot like young Eric Hosmer to me. I'd have him higher if there were not so many bodies fighting for at-bats ahead of him.
- Miguel Cabrera - Tigers If he doesn't lose at-bats to Torkelson (probably after he hits 3000) he's still good for 20 homers.
- Christian Walker - Diamondbacks He's coming off a strange year where his flyballs went up and struck out less but lost his impact with the bat. The D'backs don't currently have a strong alternative unless you count Beer who is more of a designated hitter.
- Pavin Smith - Diamondbacks He has a small opportunity to show something but is likely to be replaced soon by one of the dozen outfield prospects this team is hoarding.
- Josh Naylor - Guardians He only had 15 games at first last year but this is his natural position and while he hasn't demonstrated it to date - I fervently believe he is a far superior bat to Bobby Bradley.
- Bobby Bradley - Guardians He can't hit. He has great raw power but you have to make contact to hit homeruns.
- Colton Welker - Rockies He walks at a very nice rate and is a strong contact hitter which is a great place to start. His power is pretty mediocre but Coors can help that play a tiny bit better.
- Ji-Man Choi - Rays If you're stuck and need a first baseman I get it. But don't expect him to get any Rays magic on him. He seems immune.
- Carlos Santana - Royals - He is done. His batting average is now so bad that his walks can't even save you in OBP leagues. He is only on this list for emergency purposes in deep leagues.
Friday, March 11, 2022
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
|R.I.P. Kamala a.k.a. James Harris|
Ramon Laureano Suspended For BrawlLaureano was suspended for the Brawl (you can see it in the attached video) that ensued when he could no longer take the antagonist Alex Cintron's (Oakland's Hitting Coach) taunts and threats. Considering he never landed a punch or really even got the opportunity to try before being tackled, his punishment (especially in the short season) seems severe. That is why we have appeals.
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Don't Call It A ComebackCharlie Blackmon cannot be stopped this season. Last night he collected another three hits to bring his batting average to .500 in 68 At-Bats. Blackmon is the first to achieve this feat since Barry Bonds in 2004. If he starts stealing bases again I would vote for Blackmon as Fantasy MVP! If nothing else his performance is fun to watch in a season with all sorts of unpredictabilities (and some sort of obvious) making the sport difficult to manage. Not to mention he makes the Rockies look good which is incredibly difficult given their tendency to do weird stuff to build their team.
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Unwritten PraiseHad I written the sleeper/breakout reports I used to write every pre-season this year, I would have spent a good amount of inches on Nick Solak. I love the guy. I tried to trade for him in my AL-Only league only to be rejected multiple times. If I had written about him I could be bragging about my level of fantasy genius. He looks like the Rangers new center fielder and plays just about every day.
From Baseball Prospectus:
The Rangers’ answer to that conundrum appears to be: everywhere. In 15 games, Solak has seen time in left field, center field, second base, first base, and at DH. The latter is probably his ultimate home, but the important thing for Texas is that he’s starting to do what they’re counting on him for: hit. And he’s about the only Ranger doing so. Even before Tuesday’s three-hit outing, Solak led the Rangers with a 121 DRC+. The power hasn’t been there (no homers and just three extra-base hits) but his BABIP (.293) doesn’t suggest he’s been getting lucky; he’s shown a keen recognition of the strike zone, too, with just seven strikeouts against six walks.
And In Completely Unrelated...Presidential Candidate Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate. I think this is a solid choice especially given his previous promise to select a woman and POC. Some in the Black Community blame her for the incarceration and long prison sentences of POC during her time as a State Attorney in California. This is ridiculous. She was doing the job she was hired to do putting away drug dealers and the like. She did not arrest anyone. She did not write the laws she was enforcing. She did not invent the sentences. She only did her job to the best of her ability. It should be a plus not a mark against her. If she does her job as VP half as well we will all be better off for it.
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Baseball Bats Slump HardThis has definitely been an odd season. 2019 featured a juiced ball that sent baseball's offense soaring to new heights. Even little middle infielders were contributing to the onslaught against starting pitchers. The 2020 season seems to be providing the pitchers with a bit of revenge, though maybe not quite as much as the slumpers on your fantasy team would lead you to believe. Check out this piece from Eno Saris of the Athletic:
The Giants had just four batters projected to be better than league average before the season, and one of them was Buster Posey. The Brewers’ Lorenzo Cain was one of only 12 center fielders projected to have an above-average bat across baseball this year. In Yordan Alvarez, the Astros had a player that was projected to have the 10th-highest OPS in baseball this year. These teams all lost vital cogs when these players opted out or were unable to join their teams.
But is there any evidence that this missing talent skews more toward the hitters? When it comes to non-COVID IL visits, the evidence is clear that pitchers are actually suffering more. Even when you look at the two teams most affected by the virus so far — the Cardinals and Marlins — though they are missing a lot of players, neither team was projected to be above league average with the bat. Friends, family, and fans of course are rooting for their recovery and return, but their absence does not explain the drop in league-wide offense.
Not All Bad News:
Friday, August 07, 2020
I was sad to see this on Facebook this morning, from John Sickels:
I am retiring from baseball.
The pandemic has put a lot of things in perspective for me. There are no minors to write about, which means no money coming in. And I realized that the only thing keeping me connected to the game was money and that aspect of my career had grown stagnant in recent years.
As an analyst, I was one of the pioneers, starting on-line baseball analysis back in 1996. I was at the top of the game for a long time and am proud of that. But nowadays, there are lots of people doing this work, and the best of them do it better than I do.
It is time for me to clear the field and leave it to people who are the innovators. I'm a dinosaur nowadays, and I want to go out on my own terms rather than just fading away. The universe is telling me it is time.
Thursday, August 06, 2020
It has been a while. I was writing sporadically at best and less and less frequently as time went on. Unfortunately, I slacked so much that I neglected to renew my advanced fantasy baseball domain and lost it. I've moved everything over to the new Advanced Fantasy Sports. Along with the domain change comes a change in direction which I'll explain.
Writing baseball articles started to feel repetitive. I got tired of writing variations of the same sort of thing every day. So, I have a new plan. For the 2021 pre-season you will once again get my preparation articles, transaction reviews and sleeper predictions. But along the way you'll also get updates on the movies, tv, comics, books and so forth that keep me entertained. You may even see the occasional political article but I promise not to judge if you have a different opinion on things. In fact I encourage you to share your differing opinions. I don't think an echo chamber helps anyone.
Between now and the end of the truncated 2020 season you'll see the occasional rant or idea about players or anything else. If you have questions or need advice on your fantasy teams, please leave me comments and I'll do my best to help. I'm not nearly as out of touch as my sporadic posting might suggest.
I hope to see you around.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
In some leagues you might still have a shot at Greg Holland. After his first disastrous outing for the Cardinals he might go cheaper than expected if you are waiting to win a faab bid. I think he'll be fine. The Cards pretty apparently rushed him back and Mike Matheny's lack of game strategy didn't help. I placed a healthy bid in my leagues where he is available. Saves are saves.
Another interesting name to consider for an early waiver claim or injury replacement is Niko Goodrum. He was a second round pick of the Minnesota Twins who was a bit slow to develop. He was signed by the Detroit Tigers as a six-year minor league free-agent. The Tigers have him on the major league roster and he is getting some good playing time. He qualifies at first base and second base in a lot of leagues (a fairly unique position group). He is off to a pretty good start - batting .250/.318/.450 with a homer and three stolen bases in his first 22 plate appearances. His skills suggest he is capable of reaching 10 homers and 20 stolen bases if the playing time sticks. You could do worse.
Your league is probably catching on that Joey Lucchesi is no joke. He is not of the recent class of fireballing pitchers that dominate the propect lists but he is pretty damn good. He was the minor league pitcher of the year for the Padres who may just have the best group of prospects in the game. He has been compared to Kyle Hendricks and I like the comparison. His major league debut wasn't great (though the skills were obvious) but his last two outings including last night's six innings, eight strikeouts and zero earned runs in Colorado not excluded have been fantastic. Sign him up while you still can.
I'll be back.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
You might think that a guy like me who has written for a bunch of fantasy sports sites and keeps this sporadically updated blog active would recommend you read a lot of fantasy articles. You would be wrong. I read a ton of stuff but only a relatively small portion of it is actually about playing fantasy sports. Why not?
Fantasy articles as a whole (including this one) are about telling you who or what is good for your fantasy success and who or what is not. There is nothing wrong with that but as an owner you reach a level of knowledge and experience eventually where these articles (most of them) just start to confirm what you already think you know. The problem is most so-called experts (or analysts) are not spending a hell of a lot more time than the reader of a blog like this would spend researching and comparing and contrasting information to reach a conclusion. There are absolutely exceptions and those should be the relatively small percentage of fantasy articles you spend your precious time reading.
Instead you should spend a greater portion of your time studying the actual players and the skills they possess relative to other players and the context within which those skills are employed. You will want a passing familiarity with ADP and mass market values but no need to obsess or memorize them. The tougher your league the less these things will matter in your draft or auction. This is because the true experts when playing among other experts are not going to follow trends they will set new trends that their fans will then follow (even if the fans are just the other guys in your league).
Web sites such as Fangraghs.com, TheHardballtimes.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Statcorner.com, BrooksBaseball.net, are mostly free sites that you can draw a tremendous amount of data from in your study of players. Most of these also have a blog or publish articles about what their writers find in the data. When you get familiar with sites like this you are way ahead of the guys reading "Sleeper Starters By ADP". Baseball America.com, MinorLeagueBall.com (John Sickels) and Prospect361.com are my favorite sites for minor league info and scouting reports.
You also can win by having a greater understanding of the context in which players play than the other people in your leagues. I try to be in the heads of the major league GMs and the directors of player operations around MLB. I want to be the first one to understand what a move means not just for the player acquired or sent away but for all the players that will be impacted by that move. I know, I am a little crazy. Who has the time right? Technology is your friend.
Set-up an RSS reader for your baseball reading. I use Feedly - it has free and paid versions (the free version is great I promise). An RSS reader is great when you have limited time and lots of articles to potentially read. I use the reader to subscribe to one newspaper blog or writer that updates frequently and then a fan blog (I like to find the obsessive but high-functioning ones) and a minor league blog for each of the MLB teams. This is easier for some teams than others - the Mariners have a dozen great bloggers, the Rockies not so many. Reading this way I'm able to read through most of the stuff on my commute back and forth to work (most experts have day jobs) and at various moments throughout the day.
Which actual fantasy stuff do I read?
I glance at stuff on BaseballHQ.com but I spend more time in the subscriber forums than on the articles. Rotogrinders.com - these guys are putting their money on the line and you know they aren't just feeding stuff for google rankings. Scout.com has Shawn Childs and Adam Ronis and I read most of their stuff. I'll read whatever Ron Shandler and Todd Zola publish just because they are really smart guys with a logic to what they write that I really appreciate. And I buy Rotoman's Fantasy Magazine every year just because.
Sunday, December 04, 2016
The 2016-17 MLB Winter Meetings begin tonight and with the CBA out of the way, we can only hope that this cranks up the heat in the Hot Stove and provides plenty of action to get us excited about the 2017 baseball season. I spend most of the winter pretending Fantasy Football is just as interesting as Fantasy Baseball (it is not) and visiting sports betting sites as I eagerly await the trades and free-agent signings that provide fodder for articles like this one.
The rumors are already starting of major deals close to fruition - the Dodgers are rumored to be close on re-signing starter Rich Hill to a three-year $48 million contract; the Astros (more below) have reportedly agreed with Carlos Beltran on a one-year deal for $16 million; Jon Heyman is reporting that both the Nationals and Giants have four year $60 million offers out to Mark Melancon; Derek Norris is back with the Nationals; and finally the Yankees are supposedly in the driver's seat on 34-year old slugger Edwin Encarnacion despite being in rebuild mode.
So, on the eve of the Winter Meetings lets look at a couple of the more interesting baseball transactions of the winter thus far and their fantasy ramifications.
The Eric Thames SigningAs a Chris Carter owner this was not my favorite transaction of the week. The fact that I had been attempting to trade high on Carter's 41 homers had a little something to do with it. Carter of course has been designated for assignment and is headed for free agency. Rumors have the Orioles, Yankees and Blue Jays at least mildly interested. But what do the Brewers have in Eric Thames?
Eric Thames was a solid prospect for the Toronto Blue Jays who had a decent debut season but spent the next two seasons getting sporadic major league at-bats between the Blue Jays and Mariners. He went to South Korea to play in the KBO and became a star player, an MVP in fact. He hit for massive averages, got on base a ton and hit homers like Cecil Fielder back in the day. He even stoles bases and had the KBO's only 40/40 season. And now? He is a Brewer.
Only a few hitters have managed to make their way from the KBO to MLB but surprisingly the ones that have found their skills mostly translated. Clay Davenport who I love for his statistical translation between U.S. leagues and places like Cuba and Japan has suggested that Thames is for real and should hit for average and homers (and even steal some bases) now that he is back in the states. His projected slash based on 2015 numbers suggested a slash of .333/.389/.628 with 30 homers. I'll bet a few bucks on that projected outcome.
The Jean Segura TradeGiven the going rate for pitching in Major League Baseball it is a bit surprising that more writers haven't dove deeper into the players accompanying Jean Segura from Arizona (though Mitch Haniger is quickly gaining a sleeper label in fantasy circles) in return for promising potential ace and controllable starter, Taijuan Walker. And just about everyone has ignored the possibilities that Ketel Marte represents.
Jean Segura had a great 2016 season with the Diamondbacks and will go down as the best acquisition made by the LaRussa/Stewart Regime. Arizona's Chase Field is a great environment for a hitter and the change of scenery probably helped a lot as injuries and personal tragedy were clearly a drag on his performance in Milwaukee. The tools for this performance have always been there and despite weaknesses in his batting eye, he makes excellent contact, has decent power and the speed to steal 30-plus bases per season. In 2016 he hit the ball harder and Chase field definitely had an impact on his performance. Moving to Seattle's Safeco Field may sap a bit of that power and batting average but I expect he will still be a strong fantasy producer with a BA closer to .270 than .300 and closer to 10 than 20 homers. That said being in the American League and a potentially strong lineup in Seattle he should score plenty of runs and have better RBI potential even in the leadoff spot.
Mitch Haniger may be priced out of sleeper range by the times most drafts start. According to Baseball America, Seattle officials are certain that Haniger will be on the major league roster to begin the 2017 season, most likely as the starting left fielder. Haniger has largely come out of nowhere after re-modeling his swing with a leg kick fashioned after players like A.J. Pollock and Jose Bautista to tap more into his natural power. Haniger already had a decent batting eye and all the tools you would want in an outfielder but had failed to impress statistically. In 2016 he exploded for 30 homers (and 12 stolen bases). He is almost universally being projected to hit for a decent average (.250 or so) and around 20 homers in a full season in the majors, that might be light.
Zac Curtis had a great minor league season but blew up a bit the majors (just like the rest of the Diamondbacks bullpen). From all reports his stuff is just average but his minor league strikeout rates are intriguing. He is not worth a draft pick but at some point he might be a useful source of lefty relief pitching with K-potential.
Taijuan Walker has almost everything you want in a pitcher. He has great stuff, solid control, good strikeouts and induces ground balls. His only real flaw is allowing homeruns. His hr/fb rate for his career is just under 14 percent. Steve Gilbert of MLB.com says Walker is working on adding a two-seam fastball to his repertoire. In theory this could boost his ground ball percentage and reduce the number of costly fly balls a bit. Its something to watch in Spring Training.
Ketel Marte is almost a light version of Segura. He has the same tools just on a slightly lower scale. He advanced through the minors very quickly rarely spending an entire season at a level and skipping levels without missing a beat despite always being among the youngest players in his respective leagues. Unlike Segura he has shown patience at the plate and the ability to draw walks, until 2016 anyway. In his first full season in the majors his walk rate was a bit disappointing despite his history and he chased more pitches than usual as well. To me this sounds like the over eagerness of a young player in the majors to impress the masses. He also suffered a variety of injuries to his hamstring, neck and ankle and dealt with mononucleosis in 2016 and had two stints on the disabled list. With a return to health in the offensively productive environment of Chase Field I expect he is a lot closer to his 2015 level of performance than the 2016 level. The Diamondbacks appear ready to let him start the season at shortstop and see what happens which bodes well. With his potential on-base skills he should be able to earn a spot near the top of the lineup and score a ton of runs and steal close to 30 bases.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
The most important thing to do in your All-Star break evaluation period is to be as realistic as possible about your chances. How many points can you hope to achieve by your players rebounding to a reasonable level? Which players do you own that might decline? Who can you acquire in trade if you go for it? What if you dump? Where would those trades leave you for the 2017 season?
Below you'll find some ideas to ponder and some are just fun to think about. The first half All Stars are a pretty obvious concept. They include my own biases in combination with statistical review. The second half picks are even less scientific but I feel strongly about most of them.
I'd love to hear about your season thus far and what you think of these lists in the comments or e-mail me if you want.
The 2016 AFB First Half All-Stars:
C Wilson Ramos - The power was expected but the batting average is shockingly good.
C Buster Posey - Posey is so good and so consistent, it's actually rather boring to pick him.
1B Will Myers - He's healthy, playing first base and his promising future is visible again.
3B Josh Donaldson - The A's made a huge mistake not getting more for this guy!
CI Mark Trumbo - I have to give this spot to the MLB homerun leader. He deserves it.
2B Jose Altuve - He might be the best player in fantasy baseball right now.
SS Xander Bogaerts - There are at least six guys that deserve this position, Xander is the coolest.
MI Jonathan Schoop - He's batting 300 with power and coming into his own. Watch him!
OF Mike Trout - He is still the best of the bunch and the stolen bases are back.
OF Kris Bryant - I want to put the NL homerun leader at third base so badly!
OF Ian Desmond - I want to put him back at shortstop so badly!
OF Mookie Betts - Okay, I'm not writing my wish that Betts was still at second base. But I do.
OF Yoenis Cespedes - He's earning every penny at the plate but the stolen bases are gone.
DH David Ortiz - He's going out in style at the plate, unfortunately for him the Red Sox suck.
SP Jose Fernandez - Even with a rough start to the year he is plowing through MLB with ease.
SP Stephen Strasburg - The fear of injury never goes away, he is a true ace.
SP Clayton Kershaw - Hopefully the back injury is as minor as it sounds.
SP Noah Syndergaard - He is the new Mets ace in a rotation of aces.
SP Madison Bumgarner - This is the guy you want on the mound on the last day of the season.
MR Andrew Miller - He could be the Cubs closer in a week or two.
MR Dellin Betances - The Yankees bullpen is as good as expected, the team is pretty weak otherwise.
MR Justin Wilson - He should be a Yankee too. Cashman makes some strange trades.
CL Zach Britton - The closer for the first place Orioles is a certified stud.
CL Kenley Jansen - He should be one of the most heavily checked free agents this fall.
I tried not to pick the obvious guys every time, though this doesn't stray too far from the statistical best. A fun experiment would have been to use a 260 budget to pick the roster but who has that kind of time?
The 2016 Honorable Mentions (mostly breakouts and rookies):
OF Jackie Bradley Jr - He is on pace for a 20/20 season if he can maintain his current production.
SS Aledmys Diaz - The Cuban found his mojo when he got DFA'd, now Peralta's old job is his.
SP Kyle Hendricks - His win/loss record shows the dude has no luck at all but he's earned his place near the top of the Cubs rotation.
RP Derek Law - He looks like a future Giants closer.
C J.T. Realmuto - A catcher that hits and steals bases always has a spot on my list.
C Wilson Contreras - The Cubs are so loaded, it just is not fair. They can trade Kyle Schwarber to the Yankees and not miss a beat.
OF Tyler Naquin - The former first round pick has raked this year but the Indians refuse to let him prove its for real.
OF Ezequiel Carrera - He looks like the future right fielder, since Jose Bautista seems determined to move on in free agency.
OF Jay Bruce - He is healthy and back in All-Star form.
SS Corey Seager - He is just as good as expected, if not better.
OF Melvin Upton Jr. - Not bad BJ, not bad at all (obligatory Independence Day Resurgence joke - as if the movie wasn't enough).
3B Jake Lamb - He deserves a slot on the real MLB All-Star team.
These are the guys you have on your roster for cheap who you'll be keeping next year and that your league mates will be bugging you to trade, but you won't.
The AFB Second-Half Picks: (almost purely guess work but with logic applied)
C Russell Martin - He's switched to a lighter bat and is already showing signs of a rebound.
C Travis D'Arnaud - Since returning from the DL (again) he is hitting with power once again.
1B Carlos Santana - This guy can really hit and the Indians are back in contention.
3B Jake Lamb - I am telling you, get him now if you still can.
CI A.J. Reed - It's just a hunch but I think he's gonna rock after the break.
2B Jonathan Schoop - This is the birth of a star, trust me.
SS Didi Gregorius - He has figured it out. Remember when the D'Backs compared him to Derek Jeter?
MI Carlos Correa - He's already cranking again, did you miss that?
OF Justin Upton - He spent the first two months doing absolutely nothing (his brother was better). He is now awake, we're just waiting for him to get hot.
OF Peter Bourjos - It has been a while but we used to think he'd be good. Now's his chance.
OF Curtis Granderson - The Mets need him to be the version that hits and gets on base.
OF Giancarlo Stanton - The Barry Bonds effect is going to do good things in the second half.
OF Yasiel Puig - You are forgiven if you forgot how young and talented this kid is.
DH Kenny Vargas - He has true power if he can keep the strikeouts at a reasonable level he could have a huge second half.
SP David Price - The skills are still on display, it is just the results that suck - I call it the Red Sox Effect.
SP Yordano Ventura - The Royals Effect is much better than the Red Sox Effect.
SP Michael Pineda - Too many skills here, he can be the Yankees ace.
SP Luis Perdomo - Another pitcher with skills and mediocre results.
SP Marcus Stroman - I have a feeling that the playoff push kicks him into gear.
SP Chris Archer - He is too good to suffer this way. Getting his center fielder back can't hurt.
MR Liam Hendricks - Since coming off the DL he looks like the bullpen ace he was last year.
MR Carl Edwards Jr. - CJ is the bullpen cog the Cubs have been missing.
MR Dylan Bundy - He has proven healthy again now he just needs a bigger role.
MR Shane Green - He really should be in the rotation but the Tigers need him in the bullpen.
These are basically the guys I would be working to acquire in trade talks (a couple may even be free agents in some leagues). They are not playing like studs (most of them) and they present the opportunity to be better in the second half and also potentially add to your keeper list.
Monday, February 15, 2016
I'll give a dollar to own Tim Lincecum in hopes his recovery from hip surgery truly means he can return to the mechanics he used during his Cy Young period. It would not be the most shocking career rebound we have seen. I would be willing to waste a dollar on Cliff Lee as well, assuming he ends up in a good situation.
Closer Tip: When you are considering which pitcher to draft for saves you should weigh whether or not the current closer is the best pitcher in the bullpen. If he isn't, look elsewhere for saves and draft the best guy in a given bullpen to finish your pitching staff or fill out your reserves. You can pretty much ignore media speculation and manager noise about next-in-line relievers. (More to come in the site's new newletter.)
More and more of the industry experts seem to be coming around to the conclusion that targeting statistical totals based on a set of projections as a draft strategy is not necessarily a winning formula. Ron Shandler's Other Book is largely based on the idea that depending on projections as part of your draft strategy is not a great start to building your fantasy teams. While Tanner Bell (of the quite awesome Smart Fantasy Baseball) seems to contradict this idea in his recent article for RotoGraphs, most of the evidence he presents simultaneously demonstrates that your targets based on projections vary widely from the actual results. The conclusion you end up with is that targeting skills and playing time is a far more successful strategy than counting adding up homerun and RBI projections.
Sunday, October 04, 2015
Luis Valbuena had a solid season with some potentially confusing results. He began the season as the Houston Astros primary third baseman after several seasons as a sort of super-utility player for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs. In 2014, Valbuena showed signs of a power breakout by batting .249/.341/.435 with 16 homers in 478 at-bats. Well, the power certainly came on as Valbuena had slammed 25 homers going into the last day of the season. He hit 19 of those homers in the first half but with a disappointing boom or bust slash of 199/.285/.430 that limited his value to fantasy owners even in this low batting average era. It was enough to return him to a more limited role in the second half of the season, as he entered a platoon of sorts with Jed Lowrie and made the odd appearance at second or first base. He did bring his batting average up, he finished at .224/.311/.441 by batting .273/.364/.462 in his last 143 at-bats. Valbuena would be eligible for free-agency after the 2016 season and is unlikely to be re-signed as a starter.
There are not any standout third basemen in free agency this year. It seems unlikely that the Astros will make a free agent addition. The Astros do have some very interesting prospects that could play a role in 2016. The most familiar name is probably Colin Moran who came to the Astros via a trade in 2014 and has done nothing but hit since. Moran's first half was largely ruined by a fractured jaw suffered by an errant throw in May. He made up for the slow start with a blistering second half of the season in which he batted .333/.416/.526 and earned a promotion to Triple-A. GM Jeff Luhnow is a big fan of Moran - trading for him after seriously considering him with the first overall pick in 2013. Moran probably hits for a solid or better average in the majors but has not yet developed the power most managers like to see at the position.
Less well known but moving up prospect charts with a bullet is Tyler White. White was a 33rd round pick out of Western Carolina University. He has hit at every level and has more in-game power than Moran. He is not yet on the 40-man roster but is certain to be added after this season. He hit a combined 325/.442/.496 with 84 walks and 73 strikeouts on the season along with 25 doubles, 14 homeruns and 99 RBI. He is seen by many as a future first baseman but has played more at third base than first to this point. His bat looks extremely potent and there should be more power coming.
J.D. Davis is even less well known than White but he has the best right-now power of this trio of prospects. This season he hit .280/.370/.520 with 28 doubles, three triples, 26 home runs and 101 RBI in 120 games. He was a college first baseman and pitcher and has a plsu arm at third but is still learning some of the nuances of the position. He is the furthest away from the majors as things stand but if his glove continues to improve and he develops into a solid third baseman he could be at the top of this list in going into the 2017 season.
The guess here is that Jed Lowrie and Luis Valbuena will be the favorite going into Spring Training to renew their platooon at the position. But I expect Tyler White to make a lot of noise in the spring and either he and Moran could complicate things going into the 2016 season. All things being equal, Moran probably gets the first real opportunity due to his draft pedigree but White probably has the most impact bat.
Saturday, August 01, 2015
The Slow Fade - there are the players I see slowing down as the season comes to a close. Not necessarily at a disastrous level but way off their first half pace
C - Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles DodgersGrandal is a good young hitter and he has clearly benefited from the move to Dodger Stadium from Petco Park. But I think his power numbers are a bit over his head and will fade over the last two months of the season. He can hit, I just do not see him as the 25-30 homer guy his 21.2 HR/FB rate (career 16.2) makes him out to be. I do have to give him credit for the improvement in his catcher defense.
1B - Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Although Freeman has returned from his wrist injury quickly, I do not expect a big finish. Wrist injuries are notorious for sapping power. If I owned Freeman I would be grateful if he just stayed in the line up and hit for average. For the rest of this season I would consider any power a huge bonus.
3B - Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
I love Arenado but this is the season I expect the Rockies to finally trade off some of their more expensive players for an influx of younger talent. The result, I expect, would be a decrease in the pace of Arenado's runs and RBI. But if the Rockies sit on their hands again, you can ignore this completely. ***Since I started writing this piece the Rockies traded Tulo and there were plenty of rumors about CarGo as well.
2B - Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins
It is easy to pick on Dee Gordon here, since he clearly is unlikely to hit .330 all year. He also has a history of second half collapses. I don't think he'll lose all value in the second half but the average will drop and his stolen base total pace will slow dramatically. I blame this more on a Marlins team that has lost all reason to keep fighting more than on Gordon's skills or lack thereof. I will like him again next year.
SS - Jose Reyes, Colorado Rockies
If you are in an AL-only league you already be feeling Reyes' loss. The temptation will probably be to anticipate a huge jump in stats for Reyes playing in the thinner air around Coors Field, but Reyes has never hit well there with a .254/.259/.447 slash in just over a hundred at-bats. On top of that, Reyes is getting old and already slowing down. The prediction for one of my favorite players is that he limps to the finish this season.
OF - A. J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
I like Pollock. I just think he's been playing over his head a bit. The power is already showing signs of fading. I think he will finish with quality season totals but the second half will not be nearly a great as the first. And I don't mean to pick on the Diamondbacks but...
OF - Yasmany Tomas, Arizona Diamondbacks
Tomas has been much better than I anticipated he would be. But he has surprised a lot of people by hitting for average without power. I'm only surprised by the average. Still, the Diamondbacks (one of the more badly run organizations in my opinion) seem to be favoring keeping David Peralta and Ender Inciarte in the lineup at Tomas's expense. And I don't see the him hitting .300 in the second half.
OF - Carlos Gomez, Houston Astros
Gomez is already having a down season but with the trade there seems to be a lot of speculation that merely being an Astro will transform him back into the All-Star of the last few seasons. Despite the Mets horrible track record with diagnosing injuries, I find it easy to believe he is playing through injury given his down power and speed this season. Just because he is able to play does not mean he is truly healthy.
SP - Lance McCullers, Houston Astros
McCullers has been great and I think he has an awesome future but the Astros want to control his innings count and have added arms that will allow them to push him to the
CL - Jeurys Familia, New York Mets
He already has a few second half blown saves and now the Mets have brought in Tyler Clippard. I think the Mets will stick with him but Clippard is almost certain to steal chances from him.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Whether you are in contention or rebuilding, the player movement around the trade deadline is bound to be of interest. The contending teams are hoping to see big names changing leagues while the re-builders are hoping that some fresh young talents find new roles on new teams while they can still be had cheaply. But as fantasy owners we can not count on MLB owners and general managers to create the influx of talent we are all hoping to see. We are forced to make the best of what is already available and that is the focus of today's article.
The Big Finish - these are the players I see as likely to be better down the stretch than they may have been in the first half of the season.
C - John Jaso, Tampa Bay Rays
Jaso was hurt on the first day of the 2015 season and didn't player again until just a couple of weeks ago. He is already off to a hot start. Jaso hits for average with only occasional power but for a catcher (where he still qualifies in most leagues) he is an excellent hitter.
1B - Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
The White Sox offense has been embarrassingly bad this season after making some big moves over the winter months in hopes of putting a contender on the field. Instead most of the White Sox young players have disappointed or crashed altogether. Abreu has had a fine season thus far, though not on the blistering pace of 2014. There have been signs of the White Sox breaking out of their team-wide slump and I think a big finish for the entire team is in the cards. When they do, Abreu will be right in the middle of it.
3B - Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Bogaerts has had a strong season thus far but I think it gets even better from here. While Bogaerts has been working on making better contact, he is also starting to hit the ball harder and I think we're about to see a power surge. He also has the speed to do more on the bases than he has thus far, though that may not be part of the game plan.
2B - Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
After an extremely slow start, Cano is finally cranking like an MVP should. Over the last three weeks he has hit .314/.368/.600 with five homers 15 runs and 14 RBI. You can probably get him on the
cheap from a disappointed owner out of the running.
SS - Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies
Hernandez was a decent infield prospect a few years back but has always been blocked by the Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley legacy. Now that Rollins is a Dodger and Utley's performance and health has declined to the replaceable level, Hernandez is getting his shot. Ruben Amaro has already made it clear that the job is Hernandez's to lose for the rest of the season. He is hitting for average and stealing bases. He is still available in a lot of leagues.
OF - Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres
After the first two months of the season it would be easy to call Kemp a bust in San Diego and the deal that brought him there a horrible one fot the Padres (and they may still be true). Howver, Kemp has looked a lot like Kemp since June 1st. I bet you can get him for a song from his non-contending owners.
OF - Michael Conforto, New York Mets
Conforto is not the strongest or the fastest prospect in the Mets system but he was their best prospect because he works and the Mets can be confident he will continue to work to be the best player he can possibly be. He should hit for average with decent power this season. I think he is destined to be a Mets favorite for the next decade.
OF - Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies
Odubal Herrera has already had a solid season in limited at-bats. As the Phillies trade off veteran bats, expect Herrera's playing time to increase and his stats to improve with more consistent at-bats. The former Mid-West league betting champ could become a .300 hitting, gold-glove worthy center fielder with 40 steal speed in the very near future.
SP - Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies
Hamels is expected to be on the move soon. Returning to a contender should be the spark that pushes Hamels back into the top tier of major league starters. The no=hitter certainly won't hurt his trade value.
SP - Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians
Carrasco has had a solid season marred by some bad luck. The bullpen has let him down to a certain extent and his BABIP against has soared this season to a fairly ridiculous .341 which should fall steadily if there is any justice in the world. His 2.89 FIP tells the story.
SP - Jeff Samardzija, Chicago White Sox
A poor start to the season and an under performing lineup have been a bad combination for Samardzija owners. But of late he is pitching well and I think the opportunity to play for a contender down the stretch and build value for his upcoming free agency will drive him forward.
MR - Kevin Seigrist, St. Louis Cardinals
Unless disaster strikes Trevor Rosenthal, Seigrist is unlikely to gain a closer role this season. But the Cardinals are winning so much and Seigrist has been so good that he is a worthy pickup in any league. He will probably add another half dozen saves down the stretch of the Cards keep winning.
MR - Ken Giles, Philadelphia Phillies - Giles is not perfect, he still walks a few too many and his BABIP is high. But Giles is the clear next-in-line as closer for the Phillies when Papelbon is traded.
CL - Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies
Papelbon has had another very good season on a lousy team. He has been adamant amount moving on to a contending team and the Phillies seem likely to grant his wish. Papelbon's value should only improve on a better team.
Bonus Prospects to Watch:Corey Seager SS Los Angeles Dodgers - The consensus best prospect still in the minors is ready.
Hector Olivera 3B Los Angeles Dodgers - Olivera just needs to stay healthy and Justin Turner slows down.
Ketel Marte SS Seattle Mariners - A potential stud shortstop with a real bat needs to stay healthy and a shot will come.
Luis Severino SP New York Yankees - The Yankees best prospect is ready for the big leagues.
Robert Stephenson SP Cincinnati Reds - He is still developing but should get an opportunity if the Reds trade off their impending free agents.
Derek Law RP San Francisco Giants - His recovery from TJS seems to be complete and he could be a dominate reliever down the stretch.
Carl Edwards RP Chicago Cubs - He still walks too many but if the Cubs are still in it down the stretch he could be a big arm in the bullpen.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
See you in the comments section.
The Braves Trade Evan Gattis to the Astros
I honestly did not think the Braves would trade Evan Gattis despite all the rumors to the contrary. I knew the Braves were re-building but I thought the opportunity to get Gattis full time at-bats in left field would actually be appealing to the Braves. Now I am forced to believe they did not ever intend to keep Gattis when they could trade him for a package of prospects while his value to another team was still high due to his years of control and massive power potential.
There is a tendency among the sabermetric crowd to look down on players that do not draw walks and produce high on-base percentages. But Gattis was about average at getting on base in 2014 and when he finds a regular role in the Astros lineup and receives everyday at-bats his on-base percentage is likely to rise based on his extreme power and the tendency of most pitchers to avoid it. In a full season with say 550 at-bats, Gattis could easily hit 30-plus homeruns. Left field in Minute Maid Park is not huge and probably the perfect place for the kind of outfielder Gattis is (a bat without a position). He could also see time at first base assuming the Astros send Singleton back to the minors. Whatever spot he lands in I expect to see him in the lineup everyday. Gattis is a 20 dollar player for me and probably gets a few dollars more than that in most leagues since El Oso Blanco is both popular and powerful.
In return for Gattis the Braves receive three prospects. Right-handed starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz and third baseman Rio Ruiz were both top ten prospects for the Astros and will move into the Braves much improved top ten prospects. Foltynewicz has front-line starter stuff including a high 90's fastball and a plus curve but needs to improve his control before he can front a rotation. He is essentially ready for the major leagues right now.
Rio Ruiz is a highly disciplined and skilled hitter at third base. He has not tapped into his homerun power yet but at worst is probably a 15 homer/35 double sort of guy with a high batting average. He should debut in Double-A this season and maybe get a cup of coffee in the majors in 2016. He could very well be the starting third baseman when the Braves move into their new park in 2017.
Andrew Thurman struggled in A-ball this year but has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter in a few years. Thurman is definitely the lottery ticket the Astros threw into the deal.
The Tampa Bay Rays Trade Ben Zobrist to the Oakland Athletics
The Rays, Athletics and Braves have all made lots of similar deals this season - trading away some of their best and most popular players for greater depth at both the major league and minor league level. And yet all three teams have held on to very good and deep rotations and seem to plan on fielding competitive teams.
At this point Ben Zobrist looks like the starting second baseman for the A's. This could obviously change as GM Billy Beane has made move after move in a record-setting offseason of transactions(nine trades, 27 players and counting). Zobrist should have an above average batting average with 10-plus homers and 10-plus stolen bases. He had a short run of 20-plus homer seasons but those days seem to be past. I expect that no matter what his position he will bat near the top of the A's lineup and score a ton of runs. Zobrist is a 20 dollar player the last few seasons and I think he has another few seasons at that level.
The Rays Side of the Deal
The Rays received catcher/designated hitter John Jaso (who they developed and traded not so long ago), the A's number one prospect - shortstop Daniel Robertson, and center field prospect Boog Powell. Jaso is recovering from a spat of injuries in 2014 including a concussion. He is a decent hitter when healthy but not a impact player for fantasy purposes. Robertson is the real target of the trade from the Rays perspective, he should be an above average hitter at shortstop with decent power and a few stolen bases. Powell gets on base but that is probably his only real skill.
Jaso is probably worth a buck or two in an only league. The concussion problems make him a risk I would rather avoid. The Rays will probably use him mostly as a DH and very rarely behind the plate. I would definitely use a minor league pick on Robertson but while he is a nice prospect he is not a stud, sure-thing type. Powell I would not bother with unless it was a deep Dynasty League and there was just no one with speed or power left to draft.
Did the Nationals Add a Second Baseman or a Shortstop?
The A's were forced to take Yunel Escobar in the Zobrist deal and the A's immediately traded him to the Washington Nationals for top tier set-up man Tyler Clippard. The Nationals can use Escobar at second base which has been a problem for them. But Escobar was not good last season and I feel certain that the Nats will allow Dan Uggla (now recovered from his oculomotor dysfunction) and Dan Espinosa to compete for the job.There were some hints that Escobar dogged it on defense but there is no real way to substantiate those kind of claims but it is telling that one of the better defense shortstops rated as one of the worst in 2014. The Nationals own his rights for the next three seasons and rumors of Ian Desmond being on his way out of town are rampant. I seriously doubt that Washington would move Desmond as long as they are contending but I was wrong about Gattis, so... I would probably spend in the high single digits for Escobar's bat if I missed out on the higher ceiling options.
The Athletics Bullpen Looks Really Good
Tyler Clippard is one of my favorite players and I've owned him almost every season of his career. He gets an elite level of innings and strikeouts for a reliever. His durability is a major part of his value. He allows a ton of fly balls, a good percentage of them are of the infield variety but playing in the Oakland football stadium with their great defensive outfielders could allow Clippard to be at his very best. Clippard has been worth 10-12 dollars even without getting more than the occasional save.
The San Francisco Giants Signed OF Nori Aoki
Nori Aoki is a quality player. He gets on base, he plays good defense, he contributes on the bases and he hits for average. Fantasy owners will not like the lack of power but just like the San Francisco Giants, you take your production where you can get it. Aoki has been a 20 dollar player the last few years and I see no reason that would not continue in San Francisco.
The Giants are More Saber-Savy Than They Let On
The Padres Jose Valverde to Minor League Deal
Jose Valverde throws the ball hard but has not been a very good closer. He pitched for the Mets in 2014 but was not very good and was eventually released. I assume he is just depth for the Padres bullpen which is already pretty good. Not worth an investment for fantasy purposes.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Close to Agreement with Korean SS Jung-ho Kang
This is an interesting move for the Pirates. We have very little idea what we can expect from Jung-ho Kang in MLB. The KBO is definitely a hitter's league. Some compare it to the California League. Still, Kang's numbers are far above the league's average level and that does bode well for his statistics in MLB. My hunch is he would be a slightly above average major league hitter. If he can stay at shortstop that is a fantasy asset if he gets the at-bats, which is another big question. It looks like he will begin the season as a utility player getting frequent at-bats at multiple positions. Neal Huntington specifically mentioned third base which has to make you worry about Josh Harrison a bit. Still the supposed bench role should keep his price low. I'd gamble a few bucks on him.
The Angels and Braves Swap Prospects
The Angels acquired third base prospect Kyle Kubitza as depth at third base to protect them from David Freese's impending free agency and their lack of a reasonable option in the farm system. In return the Braves get 17-year old Ricardo Sanchez. Sanchez has a lot of upside potential but is probably several years from having a major league impact. I would not go out of my way to acquire either player at this point but both are probably worth minor league picks.
The White Sox Sign Emilio Bonafacio
Emilio Bonafacio was signed to act as a super utility player. He should get something close to regular starter at-bats but will play multiple positions over the course of the season. Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson will still battle for the second base job. As the article linked suggests their leash just got a bit shorter. Bonafacio should receive in the neighborhood of 400 at-bats and hit for an average batting average (.250-.260) with 25-30 stolen bases. The power will not make much impact, though he does have some pop in his bat. He is a 10-15 dollar player most seasons and that is a safe place to draft him.
The Reds Acquire Marlon Byrd
The Cincinnati Reds completed the last trade of the 2014 season when they sent minor league starter Ben Lively to the Philadelphia Phillies for veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd and half of his 2015 salary. Marlon Byrd took a losing time to become a productive major leaguer and never actually became the big star he was once projected to be. But Byrd kept working at it and has been a solid role player for several teams and even earned full-time at-bats the last few years.
Great American Ball Park is a good hitting environment for right-handed power just not as good as Citizens Bank Park according to StatCorner.com park factors. However, if Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips are healthy and Devin Mesoraco continues his development at the plate, the Reds have the far superior lineup. Byrd's primary selling point is 20-homer power. His speed has evaporated and while he is not a disaster at the bat, his batting average is not likely to be a major asset, expect something around the major league average or slightly better and you won't go wrong. Byrd has been a 20 dollar player in three of the last five seasons. I think he has another good year in him playing for the Reds. He is 37-years old so a decline can be expected but his work ethic and conditioning are at such a high level that I do not expect a sudden cliff this coming season. I would feel comfortable bidding in the 15-20 area.
It has little relevancy to fantasy baseball but I thought this quote from Reds manager Bryan Price said a lot about the Reds and how their management team thinks: (From Mark Sheldon)
“It’s one of those things that just stand out,” Price said. “What the intangibles are beyond the productivity in a particular role. Those to me are always on display for guys who never shut it down. There are a lot of guys that can play hard when things are going well and swinging the bat well or pitching well. There’s a certain energy that emanates from that player. The guys that stand out as true professionals are the guys that continue to play at that high of a level of intensity and aggressiveness and effort when they’re not playing well or their team is not winning consistently. I always noticed that about Marlon that it didn’t matter the circumstances. He played the game hard and he played it the right way.”This move pretty much guarantees that the Reds top prospect Jesse Winker will spend most of 2015 in the minors. It could even delay his full season debut until 2017 if Byrd has enough at-bats to earn the one-year vesting option on his contract.
What Happened to Joey Votto's Power?
The Philadelphia Phillies add another advanced pitching prospect. Ben Lively pitched at Double-A in 2014 and could impact the Phillies at some point in 2015. He uses four solid slightly above average pitches headlined by the fastball and the slider. He complements his deep arsenal of pitches with very good control. He has a deceptive delivery that allowed him to finish this season second in the minor leagues in strikeouts with 171 in just 151 innings pitched. Scouts label him a mid-rotation starter but he may beat that projection. In his pro career Lively has thrown 192 innings with a 2.58 ERA and 227 strikeouts. He is more finesse than power but I really like this kid. I would invest a minor league pick on him. He reminds me of Doug Fister in a way.
The Phillies have been slow to part with their pricey veterans but they have done a very good job getting back quality prospects that should be able to help them sooner than later.If they manage to get similar returns for Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard (I don't see either moving until close to the trade deadline, as they need to build up some faith in their remaining skills) Ben Revere and closer Jon Papelbon, you can make a case for holding onto Cole Hamels.
In a couple of years without guessing on the return for their other players, this could look like the core of a team close to contention again:
SS J.P. Crawford
3B Maikel Franco
LF Domonic Brown
CF Roman Quinn
SP Cole Hamels
SP Aaron Nola
SP Ben Lively
SP Tom Windle
RP Joely Rodriguez
RP Ben Giles
The Phillies just need to draft better and maybe make better contract decisions. Johnny Almaraz, the new scouting director who did similar work for the Braves and Rangers should help with the draft aspect of the re-build. The Phillies have enough financial resources that there is no reason they can't rebuild in a fashion similar to the Boston Red Sox who have gone through a rebuilding of sorts over the last few years without ever completely giving up on playing competitive baseball.
Pat Gillick as the interim CEO should (and I believe already does) have an impact on many of GM Ruben Amaro's decisions. I do not believe the Phillies would be committing to the re-build without Gillick's influence.For a few years at least the Phillies need to concentrate on players they can acquire without sacrificing picks or financial flexibility. They should spend as much as possible on international amateur talent - acquiring prospects in bulk rather than going too nuts on any prospect in particular. They should only lay out major cash for players that are going to be part of their long term plans.
But the Phillies should also use some of that financial advantage to sign as many veteran major leaguers as possible to one or two year deals. Then take a page from the Cubs book and trade those veterans at the trade deadline if they are not in spitting distance of a playoff spot. This has the dual benefit of putting at least an interesting team on the field to keep attendance and television ratings from plummeting while also giving them players they can continue to move to build young minor league depth. Even now they could sign players such as Emilio Bonafacio, Everth Cabrera, Wandy Rodriguez, Chris Young, Brian Wilson or Joe Thatcher. Any of these guys could be had on a relatively cheap one-year contract and have value to a contender at the deadline. Add the possible return for their remaining veterans to this idea and the Phillies minor league depth could explode very quickly.
The Rockies Sign Catcher Nick Hundley
Michael McKendry can hit a little and if he ever earned even half of a starting role he would qualify as a sleeper in my book. He is strong in traditional catcher defense but he is a below average pitch framer.I have no interest in Nick Hundley for fantasy purposes but you can probably do worse as a one dollar catcher...probably.
10 Questions for the Colorado Rockies
OLD NEWS: the rest of this is mostly links to coverage of stuff so old I no loner feel like writing about it and some writing about the Padres. Most of this will be covered in the team previews I have been working on and which should debut soon.
The Yankees Trade Veterans Prado and Phelps for Youth
Thinking Positive On Nathan Eovaldi
The Yankees Trade Manny Banuelos to the Braves
How Chasen Shreve Got His Groove Back
Who is Chasen Shreve?
The Yankees Also Traded Shawn Kelley to the Padres
The Yankees Unusual Off-Season
The Cubs Sign Chris Denorfia
The Dodgers Sign Starter Brett Anderson
The Royals Sign Edison Volquez
The Marlins Trade Casey McGehee to the Giants
The Royals Trade Johnny Giavotella to the Los Angeles Angels
I have always liked Johnny Giavotella and felt he never received a real opportunity to show what he could do in the majors. Stupid Ned Yost... (/Homer Voice)
Gavin Floyd Signs With the Cleveland Indians
After Tommy John Surgery robbed him of his 2013 season Gavin Floyd came back very successfully with the Atlanta Braves in 2014. He looks like a clear member of the rotation to me. His potential 10 million dollar deal has six million in incentives added to a four million dollar base. For the Indians this is a lot of money. They obviously liked what they saw from him in Atlanta, a lot, since they already had 6-7 intriguing rotation candidates. He looked like a slightly better than average starting pitcher in nine 2014 starts, inducing ground balls at a nice rate with a decent strikeout rate. Yep, he was doing well until breaking a bone in his elbow and validating his injury prone label. Surgery was performed soon after and most reports indicate he should have a normal offseason and come into Spring Training like everyone else. He will be worth more in a AL-only league but he still smells like an endgame buy to me. Even if you think he came back from TJS better than ever, the consistent injury history should reduce his price to the 1-5 dollar area. If he manages to stay healthy there is potential profit at that price range.
The Pirates Sign Corey Hart
Hart has been an excellent player when healthy but he has not been healthy the last couple of seasons. The Pirates are making a good buy-low decision while adding insurance at first base should Pedro Alvarez prove less than worthy of full-time at-bats. Hart should play against most lefty starters in any case.
The San Diego PadresThe Padres Acquire 2013 ROY Wil Myers
The Tampa Bay Rays received catcher Rene Rivera, right-hander Burch Smith and first base prospect Jake Bauers from San Diego and outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and minor league left-hander Travis Ott from Washington in return for Myers, catcher Ryan Hanigan and minor league pitchers Jose Castillo and Gerardo Reyes.The Nationals received pitcher Joe Ross and a player to be named later, widely believed to be shortstop Trea Turner, the Padres’ first pick in last June’s draft.
The Padres GM A.J. Preller is taking a page out of Fantasy Baseball for Sharks and zigging when they zag.With so many teams looking at the Royals pitching and defense as the model for the new low offense era, Preller is sacrificing defense in the name of brutal, overwhelming amounts of power and hopefully that leads to a ton of runs scored. That said, I think the talk of how awful the Padres defense will be is being overstated.
Matt Kemp is not a good center fielder but he has had seasons where he appeared to be at least tolerable. He had one year where by the numbers he was actually a fair center fielder. In right field, where he is projected to play for the Padres, Kemp has been a tolerable outfielder. I think with time he will actually be a good right fielder. I think you have to give Kemp the benefit of the doubt for his defense in 2014 (which was rated as truly horrid) as he was clearly getting his legs under him after knocking off a couple of years of rust. If you check out the link on his name above you'll see that he was horrible in center, bad in left field and not great in right field. But if you think about it this mirrors his progression throughout the season with the bat as well. He finished the season as almost passable in right field as his bat was cranking as you would expect from the former MVP. With another normal offseason I think the bat will justify the slightly below average or better defense.
Will Myers came through the minors as first a catcher and then transitioned to outfielder to rush his bat to the major leagues. In his short career so far he has been just okay in the outfield, mostly in right field. He has the youngest and freshest leagues so it makes some sense that he would be the one to move to center field. He is excited by it judging by interviews I've seen since the trade. I would love to see the Padres move him to first base and let one of the real center fielders man the position but they do not listen to me. But for fantasy owners the big question is about the bat. The wrist injury pretty clearly had an impact and those types of injuries can impact a player's hitting even after being judged healthy. I happen to think he will bounce back just fine. In the minors he showed he could make adjustments and hit for average and power. I do not think we have seen the best of Myers just yet. That said, he does hit too many ground balls to expect a big power surge and moving to Petco Park is not going to help. He is still quite young and I would bid cautiously in the 15-18 dollar area, maybe a few bucks more in a keeper league.
The Padres Also Trade Prospects For Atlanta's Justin Upton
In return the Braves receive a haul of prospects: left-handed starting pitcher Max Fried, infielders Jace Peterson and Dustin Peterson (no relation), and outfielder Mallex Smith. The Braves also send minor league pitcher Aaron Northcraft to the Padres, and receive an international bonus slot, valued at $182,300, from San Diego. The Padres get another power hitter in Upton.
Justin Upton increased his hard contact last season and looks like he could mash 30-plus homers easily in most parks That seems tough to do in Petco but I still think he will hit 25-plus homers. He has been a mid-20's player in dollar value. I like him in that area again. I think it is risky to bid 30-plus when he is moving to Petco park this season.
The Braves Trade and Receive a Younger Version of Anthony Varvaro
The Padres Also Acquire All-Star Catcher Derrek Norris
Who is Josh Phegley?
Then the Padres Flipped Ryan Hannigan to Boston for Will Middlebrooks
The Red Sox Trade Their Top Prospects A Lot
The Padres Trade Seth Smith to the Mariners
Spin Rates Indicate Sleeper Value for Maurer
But David Ross Decided on the Cubs
Other Articles of Interest to Fantasy Owners
Building A New Starting Pitcher Ranking Stat
A Follow-up Post on Arsenal Score
Three Things The Red Sox Will Do For Rick Porcello
10 Breakout Pitcher Picks
10 Breakout Hitter Picks
Jon Niese Changing It Up
The 2016 HOF Class Features "The Kid"