Monday, November 09, 2009

The 2010 World Series Odds


# New York Yankees: 11/4
# Boston Red Sox: 13/2
# Philadelphia Phillies: 9/1
# Los Angeles Angels: 10/1
# St. Louis Cardinals: 10/1
# Los Angeles Dodgers: 11/1
# Chicago Cubs: 15/1
# New York Mets: 15/1
# Tampa Bay Rays: 15/1
# Atlanta Braves: 18/1
# Colorado Rockies: 18/1
# Chicago White Sox: 22/1
# Detroit Tigers: 25/1
# Florida Marlins: 25/1
# Minnesota Twins: 25/1
# San Francisco Giants: 25/1
# Texas Rangers: 25/1
# Arizona Diamondbacks: 40/1
# Cincinnati Reds: 45/1
# Milwaukee Brewers: 45/1
# Oakland Athletics: 45/1
# Cleveland Indians: 50/1
# Seattle Mariners: 50/1
# Toronto Blue Jays: 60/1
# Baltimore Orioles: 75/1
# Houston Astros: 75/1
# San Diego Padres: 75/1
# Kansas City Royals: 100/1
# Pittsburgh Pirates: 100/1
# Washington Nationals: 100/1

Hot Stove Update: Iwamura, Teahen, Hermida, Hardy and More!

I have been pretty sick this week which the reason for the lack of posts. I have had the flu, combined with a series of migraine headaches that make looking at the computer for more than a few minutes absolute agony. I have the team retrospectives for the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees almost ready to go. I wrote them out long hand just need to check my stats and type them up. You should see those popping up this week.

Also remember to e-mail me with any questions, or for second opinions on players, trades, or transactions you may be considering in your keeper leagues. Jon (at) Advanced Fantasy Baseball (dot) com or just use the button in the sidebar.

The Pirates acquired second baseman Akinori Iwamura from the Rays in exchange for right-hander Jesse Chavez

Akinori Iwamura is a better player than Freddy Sanchez so the Pirates got that much right at least. Especially when you consider that they received a prospect in Tim Alderson, who should be much better than Jesse Chavez in the long term. If there is one thing that Neal Huntington understands it is that decent relief pitchers are a dime a dozen and with the quantity of arms he has been acquiring filling out his major league bullpen should not be a problem. On the other hand, I thought the Pirates should have given Delwyn Young a larger opportunity at second base where his bat projects very well. But I understand, since they believe defense has to be a priority for them. The Pirates are looking like an extremely good defensive team in 2010 and that should mean good things for their pitchers. Iwamura will remain a decent fantasy player in NL-only leagues and perhaps in extremely deep (think 18-plus) mixed leagues. He does not really pad the stats - a few homers, a few more steals and a good batting average. He should score runs in front of the Pirates power hitters. He won't make or break your fantasy team, but sometimes just not breaking it is the important part.

For Tampa Bay, Iwamura was becoming an expensive spare part. Ben Zobrist has clearly become the Rays second baseman and is also one of their better hitters. Jesse Chavez is a hard throwing reliever. His stats scream mediocre so unless he finds himself in contention for saves he is not worth much to fantasy owners.

The Royals' Mark Teahen has been traded to the White Sox in exchange for second baseman Chris Getz and third baseman Josh Fields.

The Royals have actually made a pretty good deal for themselves. They save themselves a little money and they acquire two useful players. The odd part is that neither of them is likely to be a starter off the bat. Josh Fields has a powerful bat but strikes out a bit too much. Okay, a lot too much. He does draw some walks just not so many as to negate his strikeouts. But he destroys lefties and is still young enough to develop some patience. He may be able to win a regular job against lefties, perhaps in a platoon with Alex Gordon or by splitting time at first, third and the outfield. or even better yet, he could fill the gapping hole the Royals have had at the designated hitter spot for years. Becoming a DH would relieve the Royals of having to tolerate his below average defense.

Chris Getz has some skills with the bat, he draws walks and makes excellent contact (at least he did in the minors). He knows how to work counts and draw walks. He is an excellent base stealer and a defensive asset at second and adequate at shortstop and third base. He has zero power. Getz is exactly the type of player that the Royals need -- players that can get on base. But he is blocked by Alberto Callaspo for now. Getz is only of use in fantasy if he is getting enough at-bats to steal meaningful numbers of stolen bases. This does not necessary mean he can't get them in some sort of utility role, but not all players can produce in such a role.

Mark Teahen becomes the White Sox third baseman
, moving Gordon Beckham to second base. His homerun numbers figure to improve just by virtue of hitting in the better park for hitters. Teahen is a player that is frequently put down by the sabermetric crowd for being overpaid and mediocre. In fantasy baseball however, Teahen is a useful player, so it is important not to get caught up in talk that is not as relevant to our game when making choices for your fantasy team. Teahen can play at a few different positions which makes it a lot easier for him to stay in the lineup. He has okay power, walks some, doesn't strikeout to an extreme, and can steal some bases. With better plate discipline he could probably stabilize his place in a lineup. He obviously is more valuable in an AL league than a mixed league but he should not be a priority in either. Teahen is a decent player to fill out your lineup but you would not want to count on him to produce. His price should match that expectation or lack thereof.

The Red Sox have acquired Jeremy Hermida from the Marlins in exchange for minor league left-handed pitchers Hunter Jones and Jose Alvarez.

Jeremy Hermida was supposed to be the outfield version of Keven Youkilis but it never happened. In the minors he had outstanding on-base percentages and showed signs of becoming a productive outfield bat with solid defensive potential. It could still happen. Everyone is assuming that the Red Sox will acquire a Jason Bay or Matt Holliday and Hermida will find himself the fourth outfielder and that is the most likely scenario. But it is not the only one. The Red Sox went hard after Mark Teixeira last year and failed to sign him. They seem to be low balling Jason Bay (there is more interest in Jason Bay out there than some saber-types believe he deserves) and I think they have much more of chance at Bay than Holliday who many teams seem to have on their radar including teams like the Cardinals, Giants, and Yankees who can all spend money when they feel inspired. The Red Sox could also trade for Adrian Gonzalez and move Youkilis to third base which would lessen the need for a proven power hitter in left field.

Hermida re-discovered some of his plate discipline in 2009. His problem is he refuses to swing the damn bat at pitches in the strike zone. He walked 11.5 percent of the time and struck out 23.5 percent of the time, which also represents an improvement. Moving to Fenway Park should give all his numbers a boost that fantasy owners will like. Hermida has solid opposite field power and should love the Green Monster. The big question is how many at-bats he will see. I think the Red Sox may have another steal on their hands on a par with the David Ortiz acquisition. I hope to get him cheap. Hermida is almost the definition of a post-hype prospect.

The Milwaukee Brewers today acquired outfielder Carlos Gomez from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for shortstop J.J. Hardy.

If you did not realize that shortstop J.J. Hardy was on the trade market, you were not paying attention. This is a good trade for both teams. Hardy is a very good defensive shortstop and has been an offensively productive player at times. It would be easy to point to Hardy's low .264 BABIP in 2009 as the source of his problems (and I'm certain that was part of it) but you also need to note that Hardy's career BABIP is just .280 and in his best seasons featured just .280 and .306 BABIP's. We also need to look for a rebound in Hardy's HR/FB which dipped to just 8.3 percent in 2009 after a career high 14.1 in 2008 and a career average of 11.2 percent. It looks like it is very possible for Hardy to rebound from his bad 2009 season in 2010. There is not anything in the numbers (beyond his BABIP and HR/FB) that seems out of his normal range, especially considering the horrible luck he was enduring. In fact his IFFB (infield-flyballs) percentage actually sank to a reasonable level from his typically high marks, which helps make his .264 BABIP look like even more of a disaster level result. The Twins should be very happy with Hardy for the next two seasons at least.

Carlos Gomez hits infield flyballs at a extremely high rate (nearly 20 percent) and this is dragging his BABIP and thus his batting average down. His BABIP is also low for someone with a 19.2 LD percentage. His HR/FB is also extremely low for a player projected to develop power at some point. He hits fly-balls at a pretty typical rate which is not good for the skills that he presently possesses. Gomez is very simply, an unproductive player when he hits the ball in the air. As one of the fastest players in MLB, Gomez should be hitting the ball on the ground and even bunting for hits when he can. The stats feel like a player that is trying to be Carlos Beltran when he should be happy as Michael Bourn or even Juan Pierre. But the news on Gomez is not all bad.

In 2009, Gomez increased his walk rate and reduced his strikeout rate. He swung at fewer balls out of the strike zone and is one of the better defensive center fielders in baseball. He also is said to have a plus arm. Gomez has uncanny speed and with the exception of 2009 has been a very good base stealer. The Brewers have a very good coaching staff that I am certain will make developing Gomez a high priority. While Gomez should not be a high priority for Fantasy Owners he is worthy of some consideration in long term keeper leagues. In an NL-only league I would be happy to own Gomez for a single-digit price as my fifth outfielder. At that price his steals alone should make him a solid value, and it becomes an excellent price should he develop into a worthy keeper.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Cowley reports the Chicago White Sox paid OF Jermaine Dye a $950,000 buyout of his $12 million option for 2010, making him a free agent.

Jermaine Dye is an aging player who is no longer an asset on defense and prone to more frequent minor injuries. His disastrous second half will certainly bring his fantasy price down in 2010. But Dye still has impressive power and will find a team to give him close to full-time at-bats in 2010 which puts him squarely on our fantasy radar. The slugger is a bit closer to end of his career and the results are definitely going to be in decline but if you can get Dye at a reasonable rate there is no reason he can't help a fantasy team hitting in the area of .260/.340/.480 with 25-30 homeruns. The key is acquiring him at the right price, something in the $12-$18 area in AL-only leagues would be alright. Much more than that and the risk becomes much higher than the reward.

Outfielder Manny Ramirez notified the Dodgers Friday that he will exercise his $20 million option and return to the team in 2010.

Manny Ramirez is an interesting case for 2010. On the one hand I was convinced that Manny would be a disaster (for the Dodgers and owners that believed he'd play as he did in his late season stint with the Dodgers) in 2009. This was based on his declining numbers as a Red Sox the last few seasons. He wasn't in a massive (dump him while you still can) kind of slump but the more subtle sort that can sneak up on you if you are not paying attention. I do not believe that performance-enhancing drugs have been inflating Manny's numbers. The science just does not support it at this point. But I do believe that their is a less-studied mental/psychological aspect of taking such drugs and that when the drugs are stopped it could have an effect on a player's confidence. This is just a theory, I have no proof of any kind. But if Manny has been using for a while and has now stopped because of the media attention -- that combined with his age-related decline could combine to predict a real disaster on the field. I suggest Fantasy Owners avoid owning Manny unless he comes at a large enough discount that the risk is significantly reduced.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The 2009 Fantasy Player of the Year!

I have trouble believing that anyone could go outside of these three players. On the outside edge you might be able to make a case for Carl Crawford but his 2009 season is not really all that far off from his typical performances. Though in the first half it seemed like he might be headed towards a record breaking stolen base total.

Personally, I think it has to be Joe Mauer both for his performance and the price he likely went for in auctions. Albert Pujols cost $40-plus in just about every league, we know at this point that he'll hit for average and 40 homers and what that will cost. Zack Grienke probably was not as expensive but he is also a pitcher who did not collect many wins. Cy Young? Yes. Fantasy Player of the year? Not so certain. Mauer was hurt the first month of the season and had to come at a severe discount in most leagues. My vote is for Mauer.

Who is your pick and why? Let's discuss in the comments.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

2010 Hot Prospect: Jose Iglesias SS Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have been struggling to find a long-term solution at shortstop since they traded away Nomar Garciaparra. They won a World Series for the first time in a hundred and something years but Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, and a few others have failed to make the Red Sox happy for various reasons. The answer may have finally arrived in the form of Cuban defector and shortstop, Jose Iglesias.

The Red Sox signed Iglesias to a four-year, $8.2 million contract. He has been placed on the 40-man roster and invited to big league Spring Training. Iglesias is not expected to begin the season in the majors but could move very quickly. His glove is ready. He has already drawn comparisons to Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel. The question (especially for fantasy owners) is will he be able to hit. The Red Sox seem to think so. They expect him to make good contact and eventually develop into a gap to gap hitter with speed on the bases.

From the Boston Herald:
“What jumps out are his raw athleticism and the instincts for the game,” Red Sox director of player development Mike Hazen said. “He’s maybe not polished yet. I don’t know what his coaching was like (in Cuba), and there probably were some nuances -- basestealing, selectivity at the plate -- that need work. But his natural instincts are incredible.”

“His tools are really impressive,” said Brandon Hyde, a minor league manager for the Florida Marlins who is serving as Mesa’s manager. “For as young as he is, he has unbelievable upside. He’s raw, but really talented. He’s an incredible defender. (At shortstop), it’s really about fine-tuning. He has amazing quickness. His hands are great and his footwork is excellent. For him, it’s all in there. It’s really about making the routine play consistently.”
Iglesias should not be high on the radar of Fantasy Owners even in long term keeper leagues at this point. His offense (despite a nice start in the AFL) is still way behind his defense. He will need a few months (at least) in the minors and it may be a few years before his bat becomes fantasy worthy. The hype is going to be huge especially if he does well. You need to know that he is not ready to be a fantasy option just yet.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

CBS Sports 2010 Mock Draft

CBS Sports posted a 2010 Mock Draft last week that has some interesting results. The drafters are a good solid group of guys, not our favorite experts but all respected in the field (except the regular guy who we don't know from the millions of other regular guys). Here's the list:

1. Eric Mack,, Memorial Magazine Mock Draft
2. Alex Riethmiller,, B.I.G.S. (dueling AL/NL-only H2H league)
3. Matthew Pouliot,, Krause Publications mock II
4. Lawr Michaels,, Tout Wars (AL-only)
5. Jeff Boggis,, Krause Publications mock I
6. Christopher Liss,, Tout Wars (mixed)
7. Charlie Wiegert,, Defending champ and NL-only
8. Scott White,, Earliest Roto Mock
9. Casey R. Fivecoat, Reader Entry and No. 1 podcast e-mailer
10. Brian Walton,, Tout Wars (NL-only)
11. Mike Gianella, Patton & Co, AL-only
12. Sergio Gonzalez,, Early H2H Mock

My Round by Round thoughts...

Round One: With two large exceptions this is basically what you might expect to see in the first round. Matthew Pouliot of Rotoworld makes a bold pick of Tim Lincecum with the third pick of the draft. It is a fine pick just not typical of most leagues that just will not draft pitchers that early. I might like a few of the second round guys more than Chris Liss of RotoWire who selected Joe Mauer with the sixth pick. I haven't decided yet if I have faith that Mauer will continue to hit like the second best bat in the sport. I probably would have let that doubt push Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford into the first round.

Round Two: The regular guy selects Matt Holliday in the second round and I think he was right to do so. I may have some quibbles with the order but assuming Holliday stays in St. Louis or finds a nice hitters park to call home he should be a solid value here. This is also where we find several players whose value will be much debated in the next few months -- Mark Reynolds, David Wright, and Jose Reyes. Reyes falls due to health concerns but the second round means that at least Pouliot has no fear. Pouliot is really blazing his own trail with his first two picks. Reynolds begs the question -- can he repeat his great 2009 season, especially the stolen bases? David Wright is a victim of both Citifield Park and his own perhaps pre-mature reaction to it. If Wright goes back to his old swing and style of hitting he should be a first round value again.

Round Three: If Adrian Gonzalez finds himself hitting in Fenway Park, I'll be bumping him up to Mark Teixeira/Prince Fielder status. Aaron Hill is going to be overdrafted in every league this season. I do not believe that he is a 35 homer guy. I think he'll swing back to being a 20-25 homer guy which is still giving him a lot of credit for his great 2009 season in my mind. This is also where we find Grady Sizemore. I have taken quite a bit of grief by readers who think I've downgraded his keeper status too much. But until I see that he is healthy I consider this a very high pick for a guy coming into the season off a mostly lost season and elbow surgery.

Round Four: Eric Mack shows us some serious balls by taking BJ Upton in this round. Upton may steal a bunch of bases but there is no reason beyond blind faith to believe he'll hit for average or power. And if he doesn't he could start to lose at-bats with Tampa needing offense oomph to go with their pitching and defense.

Round Five: Ben Zobrist is here and Aaron Hill is in the third round? Zobrist seems like much less of a fluke to me. We saw his development as a hitter coming. At least his HR/FB was virtually identical to his 2008 season. If we had known he would get an extra 300 at-bats we might have predicted a great season for him. I always liked Hill as a hitter but the homer totals are a fluke.

Round Six: Poor, poor Josh Hamilton who I had so much faith in last season falls to the sixth round. In retrospect perhaps I should have worried more about his chronic injuries and the pressure being put on such an inexperienced player to lead the young Rangers to contention. All that said, I still like him a lot. Most of his lack of production can be blamed on injuries and despite the hyped up stories I think Hamilton is still on solid ground as far as his addictions go. I would be very happy to draft him here were I in Liss's shoes.

Round Seven: Jake Peavy and Josh Johnson are two pitchers I see headed in opposite directions. Peavy goes from the best park for pitchers on the planet to an American League hitters haven in Chicago. Johnson meanwhile is getting further and further away from his arm troubles and with experience should be able to handle more innings which should lead to greater win totals (hopefully) and a larger impact on fantasy teams.

Round Eight: Nelson Cruz was the favored sleeper of many last season and for the most part he made them happy. Until manager Ron Washington decided he had seen enough production from Cruz and let him sit on the bench half the time. This has spurred lots of trade rumors with the Atlanta Braves being high on the list of potential suitors.

Round Nine: Russell Martin??? I suppose there is nothing in his numbers to suggest he can't return to being as productive as he was before 2009. But how productive was that really? There certainly is enough lot of iron left in the draft that picking up this tin can seems very early.

Round Ten: Huston Street is living proof for J.J. Hardy that just because you've been rumored on the trade market for months and months, it doesn't mean you'll actually be traded. In fact you might perform so well as to earn a contract extension. But you'll want to avoid being demoted back to the minors or you might find yourself on the Seattle Mariners.

Round Eleven: How stupid are the Phillies? They develop an effective left-handed starter who rocks for you the entire season and then you toss him in the bullpen for the playoffs in favor of ancient Pedro Martinez and Joe Blanton. Even if it ultimately doesn't prove to be a fatal mistake, there is no question that it was the bone-headed thing to do. J. A. Happ deserved more respect.

Round Twelve: This round features a bunch of players I like a lot but whose value is sort of up in the air. David Price, Phil Hughes, Miguel Montero, Alex Rios, and two surprise closers David Aardsma and Ryan Franklin. Can anyone display any real confidence in what these players are likely to offer in 2010? Nah, you can't, but I bet you wouldn't mind one or two of them making their way to your roster in 2010.

We'll post the end of the Mock Draft Saturday Night...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wishing Mark McGwire Luck

I just wanted to wish Mark McGwire good luck in his new position as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. I have read much praise from the players that he has worked with individually. I think he will do very well in this position and the Cardinals will benefit from what he has to offer. I used to love the A's back in the days of the Bash Brothers, with Ricky Henderson and Dave Stewart. They were incredibly fun to watch play. In those days the A's were one of the best teams in the game and had league-leading payrolls. McGwire was the true star of that bunch, when he was healthy anyway. You should watch the video attached to this article about Tony LaRussa returning to the Cardinals to hear LaRussa discuss McGwire's transformation as a hitter.

Below this great photo I discuss the reaction to McGwire's return by the dumber members of the mainstream media and their parroting groupies.

There is no proof that Mark McGwire ever used any illegal drugs before, during or after his baseball career ended. We know that he used Andro, because he never hid it. My old roommate was using it too before most of us even knew what it was. Most of the people commenting about this still do not know what Andro was. And it is because he did not hide it that much of this PED controversy exists today around the game of baseball. Androstendione was not illegal or even considered an anabolic steroid at the time McGwire was using it. You could have bought some yourself from many different legal sources. It was reclassified in 2004 when the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 was introduced into the United States Senate.***

***If people in this country were assigned jobs based on their intelligence and focus on what actually matters most of the Senators speaking out in what I call the Steroid Trials (and their media lackeys) would find themselves working for Burger King.

I have read many different articles in the last week or so and hundreds of comments by the readers of those articles that make claims that are just not true or fair. Today I read an article that basically claimed that McGwire was responsible for the suicide of two kids who used steroids. No. No he is not. If a kid is using steroids that responsibility lies with the kid himself, his parents and the people of responsibility around him. I have read the McGwire ruined baseball despite the fact that when he was hitting all those homeruns for the St. Louis Cardinals he was being labeled the savior of baseball. I have read that Mark McGwire now hides from the public scrutiny he deserves because he is so ashamed of his steroid use, and his lies. First, what lies? Can someone please show me when McGwire was proved a liar about anything to do with baseball or him using any form of PED? Second, when has Mark McGwire ever sought out media attention? Remember how when McGwire was hitting all those homeruns and everyone loved him and was anxious to hear his every waking thought, that he avoided the media like the plague. Seems like the kind of guy who avoids public speaking whenever possible.

You do not have to like Mark McGwire. I am certain he has habits that may annoy people. Maybe he clips his nails at the kitchen table or he leaves hair on the bar of soap in the shower. But I think it is wrong to punish the man over something that probably had little impact (if any at all, if he even did anything wrong which is not so certain as it is usually made out to be) on his career as a whole and most certainly did not hurt anybody or cause anybody to hurt themselves.

2010 Sleeper: James Loney

James Loney is on the verge of becoming an extremely good hitter. He already walks more than he strikes out. He hits for a solid batting average and because he hits in the solid Dodgers lineup he collects a solid number of Runs and RBI. However, he has no real power especially for a first baseman. Loney will be 25-years old when the 2010 season begins. He is still young enough to be developing the power that fantasy owners want to see from their corner infielders. The vast majority of his scouting reports (remember he was a first round pick) saw him developing 20-25 homerun power someday. To the doubters out there (who we love because they keep Loney’s auction price down) I can only say that you also probably doubted that Joe Mauer would ever develop power.

Loney is precisely the kind of player that savvy owners can collect at bargain rates. It seems like he has been around forever and his surface stats seem to reflect a player that has reached his level and has nothing else to offer. But he's young, he has tools, and best of all he has the skills to do almost anything with a bat in his hands. James Loney will be on quite a few of my fantasy squads this season. We have not seen the best of Loney yet.

So, what do you think?

2006 Dodgers (AAA) 8.00% 9.30% 0.94 0.426 0.546 0.167 4.6 0.404 0.422
2006 Dodgers 7.30% 9.80% 0.80 0.342 0.559 0.275 6.2 0.284 0.377
2006 Dodgers 20.00% 0.00% 1.00 0.800 0.750 0.000 0.1 0.750 0.675
2006 Average 8.70% 18.90% 0.50 0.337 0.432 0.163 5 0.305 0.332
2007 Dodgers (AAA) 9.70% 20.60% 0.52 0.345 0.382 0.103 3.3 0.348 0.322
2007 Dodgers 7.50% 14.00% 0.58 0.381 0.538 0.206 2.8 0.352 0.389
2008 Dodgers 7.00% 14.30% 0.53 0.338 0.434 0.145 4.2 0.320 0.333
2008 Dodgers 9.10% 23.30% 0.43 0.394 0.533 0.200 0.1 0.409 0.393
2009 Dodgers 10.80% 11.80% 1.03 0.357 0.399 0.118 3.6 0.301 0.332