Archive for February, 2008

The Scoop

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Well, I’m off to Arizona Friday to compete in LABR (NL-only auction held Sunday night). It should be interesting. My strategy might turn out to be fairly radical, but I’ll let you know how it turned out next week. Wish me luck. As for responding to comments (and writing posts, for that matter), it should be pretty sporadic for the next few days, so bear with me. But for now, I’ll leave you with some more thoughts around the league:

Maybe not anymore, but Jeremy Bonderman has to be one of the most overrated players in baseball. Sure, his stuff is very good, but he’s yet to translate that into being an effective pitcher over the course of a year. During five seasons, he’s never had an ERA less than 4.00 or a WHIP less than 1.30. Because he throws so many sliders, he’s also a major injury risk. He’s dominated for stretches, has solid strikeout potential and last year’s soaring ERA can at least partially be explained by an abnormally high BABIP (.329), but he better come at a major discount at this point. His career K:B ratio of 2.56:1 is good, not great.

I really wish Adrian Gonzalez could somehow escape Petco Park. I still like him for fantasy purposes, but a would-be superstar is merely very good because of where he calls home. He still strikes out too much, but if he switched places with Todd Helton, he’d be a first round fantasy pick.

If you prorated Chase Utley’s stats from last year over the course of a full season, here’s what you’d get: 27 HR, 11 SB, 126 RBI, 128 Runs, .332 BA. He’s increased his batting average every season he’s played during his career, has three straight 100-RBI campaigns and is a very effective base stealer (84 percent success rate). He can handle southpaws, and with that lineup and ballpark, he simply can’t fall out of the top-5 of your fantasy draft.

If Joe Torre benches Andy LaRoche in favor of Nomar Garciaparra’s corpse and bats Matt Kemp at the bottom of the order I’m going to flip my lid. I’m convinced there’s a conspiracy why managers consistently go with veterans over younger, better talent. This would never happen in any other profession. Why does it in a billion dollar industry?

This is a good year to target Rafael Furcal, who is both coming off a miserable campaign and entering a contract year. An ankle injury can be partially blamed for his lackluster 2007, but if you compare his 2006 season with Jimmy Rollins’, you’ll find two very similar players. Rollins has improved since then, and I’m certainly not suggesting Furcal will be the better player in 2008, but I am cautioning you not to chase last year’s stats.

Nick Markakis is anything but under the radar these days, but that doesn’t mean he’s still not being undervalued in drafts. Prorate his numbers after the All-Star break last year over the course of a full season, and you get: 31 HR, 20 SB, 135 RBI, 113 Runs, .325 BA. He’s 24 years old. Prediction: Markakis has a better fantasy season than Vladimir Guerrero or Carlos Beltran.

Second Base Rankings

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

1. Chase Utley
2. B.J. Upton

3. Brandon Phillips
4. Robinson Cano
5. Rickie Weeks
6. Brian Roberts
7. Howie Kendrick
8. Ian Kinsler

9. Jeff Kent
10. Dan Uggla
11. Kelly Johnson
12. Dustin Pedroia
13. Felipe Lopez
14. Placido Polanco

15. Aaron Hill
16. Orlando Hudson
17. Mark Ellis
18. Freddy Sanchez
19. Kaz Matsui
20. Jose Lopez
21. Luis Castillo

The Scoop

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

There’s been a good debate on whom you’d rather own between Tim Lincecum and Yovani Gallardo. Well, Gallardo’s recent knee surgery is a good reminder of how unpredictable injuries can be, as most pointed to Lincecum as more likely to go down. I’m not saying he still won’t, and I fully agree that health is a skill, but I caution predicting such events based on our perception of things like mechanics. That said, Gallardo seems to be coming at quite a discount after suffering an injury not related to his arm. He’s still fine to pursue.

B.J. Upton’s ADP of 23 seems low. Sure, his poor contact rate suggests a pretty decent decline in BA is in store, but the fact remains he approached a 30/30 season with an .894 OPS as a 22-year-old. He can take a walk and should be MI eligible for one more season. I can’t see why he’d make it out of the first round in fantasy drafts.

Derrek Lee’s ADP of 39, in contrast, seems high. Some power returned after the All-Star break last year, so the wrist injury may finally be behind him, but the 2005 season needs to be viewed as a gigantic outlier. He’s a nice player, but first base is an extremely deep position, and Lou Piniella flat-out doesn’t let him run, so he’s not someone you should be targeting in the third round.

Last Saturday’s Klitschko versus Ibragimov fight was a snooze fest. Congratulations Klitschko, you’re the best heavyweight in the world, and it’s still unclear if you have a right hand. Any form of MMA is eminently more watchable than boxing these days.

Being a Giants fan is a thankless job right now. I’m almost positive there are lineups in Triple-A that are capable of scoring more runs than San Francisco’s. The Giants haven’t sent a homegrown position player to the All-Star Game since Matt Williams in 1996. Hard to believe, but Williams is also the last Giants farm product to hit at least 25 home runs in a season. Their current cleanup hitter had a .298 OBP last season.

I worry about Brett Myers switching roles so much, but he’s someone to target this season nevertheless. He’s not going to be as dominant as he was in the closer’s role now back in the rotation, but don’t forget, he posted a 1.17 WHIP and a 107:26 K:BB ratio over 100 innings during the second half of his last season as a starter. Some consistency and maturation would be nice, but hopefully that will come with age, as Myers is still just 27 years old. Philadelphia certainly shouldn’t struggle with run support, either.

My over/under for Rocco Baldelli’s days spent on the DL this season is 60 (over is -140).

Normally I shy away from pitchers who call the AL East home, but Dustin McGowan offers too much upside to pass on. The former top prospect took a little longer to blossom than most anticipated, but make no mistake, he’s the next big thing. After the All-Star break last year, he posted a 1.14 WHIP, .217 BAA and fanned 87 batters over 98 innings. His ERC of 3.10 suggests his 4.08 ERA on the year was a fluke and due to crash in 2008. Forget the declining Roy Halladay and the injury-prone AJ Burnett – McGowan will be the most valuable starting pitcher for the Blue Jays this season.

Grady Sizemore is my No. 2 ranked outfielder. It’s somewhat worrisome how much his running curtailed after the All-Star break last year, and I always prefer to see progress rather than regression, but his first half was quite amazing (15 HRs, 24 SBs), and this is a guy who had 92 extra base hits as a 23-year-old. Still just 25, there’s plenty of room for continued growth, and the 101 walks last season showed as much. He can handle southpaws, and if Travis Hafner bounces back, he should contend for the league-lead in runs scored. Remember folks, Sizemore matters.

Hoops Scoop

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Check out my latest thoughts from around the league.

Take Your Pick

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Cole Hamels or Justin Verlander?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Corey Hart, Hunter Pence, Delmon Young or Chris B. Young?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Wily Mo Pena, Lastings Milledge or Austin Kearns?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Brian McCann or Joe Mauer?

My Oscar Picks

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

At least one of you enter a work Oscar pool, right? Either way, here are my predictions for Sunday night:

Best Picture – NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Actor in a Leading Role – Daniel Day-Lewis

Actor in a Supporting Role – Javier Bardem

Actress in a Leading Role – Julie Christie

Actress in a Supporting Role- Cate Blanchett

Animated Feature Film – RATATOUILLE

Art Direction – THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Cinematography – NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Costume Design – ATONEMENT

Directing – NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Documentary Feature – NO END IN SIGHT

Documentary Short Subject – FREEHELD

Film Editing – NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Foreign Language Film – THE COUNTERFEITERS

Makeup – LA VIE EN ROSE

Music (Original Score) – ATONEMENT

Music (Original Song) – FALLING SLOWLY

Short Film (Animated) – I MET THE WALRUS

Short Film (Live Action) – TANGHI ARGENTINI

Sound Editing – TRANSFORMERS

Sound Mixing – TRANSFORMERS

Visual Effects – TRANSFORMERS

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Writing (Original Screenplay) – JUNO

Catcher Rankings

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

1. Victor Martinez
2. Russell Martin
3. Joe Mauer
4. Brian McCann

5. Jorge Posada

6. Ramon Hernandez
7. Kenji Johjima
8. Bengie Molina
9. Ivan Rodriguez

10. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
11. J.R. Towles
12. Geovany Soto
13. A.J. Pierzynski

14. Jason Varitek
15. Dioner Navarro
16. Kurt Suzuki
17. Josh Bard
18. Yorvit Torrealba
19. Ryan Doumit
20. Yadier Molina
21. Mike Napoli

Auction Time

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

So I’ve been invited to play in LABR this year. For those who don’t know, LABR, which stands for “League of Alternative Baseball Reality,” was formed in 1994 and featured Peter Gammons, Keith Olbermann and Bill James. Basically, it and Tout Wars are the “World Series” of fantasy baseball leagues. The auction is held in Arizona, and I’ll be in the NL-only league. Since I’m much more familiar with a draft format, it was a good thing I recently participated in a newly formed RotoWire Staff Keeper League. The following is my team, and bear in mind it’s a 15-team league.

C- Brian McCann $26
C- Ramon Hernandez $5
1B- James Loney $10
2B- B.J. Upton $32
3B- Hank Blalock $5
SS- Yunel Escobar $7
CI- Scott Rolen $1
MI- Mark Ellis $3
OF- Grady Sizemore $39
OF- Matt Kemp $15
OF- Johnny Damon $9
OF- Wily Mo Pena $3
OF- Austin Kearns $1
UTIL- Andy LaRoche $5

P- Scott Kazmir $19
P- Francisco Liriano $18
P- Tim Lincecum $17
P- Brett Myers $10
P- Dustin McGowan $9
P- Ted Lilly $9
P- Barry Zito $5
P- Homer Bailey $2
P- Scott Olsen $2

Comments: If this draft says anything, it’s that I put my money where my mouth is, as I came away with Upton, Pena, Kearns, Kazmir and Lincecum – all guys I’ve been advocating drafting. Not that this squad needs any excuses, but I got tired of reading the copious amount of e-mails flooding my inbox and misunderstood the rules, which resulted in me leaving $8 on the table. We’ll call that my handicap for the rest of the league. I would have changed my strategy some if I realized all of the bench players were going to be drafted at a later date in a reserve/minors snake draft format. Anyway, I digress.

In deep leagues (and NL/AL-only), I think the best strategy is to avoid the superstars and make sure you come out balanced and with depth. I think it worked pretty well here. I like my setup for this year and the future. McCann got a little expensive because he was the last of the elite catchers, but 2-3 years from now I’m going to regret choosing Hernandez over Matt Wieters ($3). No one can accuse me of being a Giants homer, as I ended up with three Dodgers (Kemp, Loney, LaRoche). I didn’t even really want Rolen, but after my $1 nomination, all I got was crickets. It’s pretty easy to fill out an outfield on the cheap.

My starting pitching is flat-out ridiculous. Still, I probably should have changed my strategy going in and taken a closer or two, since some came incredibly cheap (Brian Wilson $4). Then again, I wouldn’t have been able to select Bailey or that head-case Olsen. If I don’t win strikeouts, my staff will have to be devastated by injuries.

It was a good primer for LABR, although I imagine the prices will change pretty dramatically in an NL-only format.

The Scoop

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don – Senior Writer

I’m still undecided about Daisuke Matsuzaka. On one hand, he flashed a dominant strikeout rate (8.9K/9 IP) and his second half fade can be blamed on fatigue, since his workload was so different from Japan. On the other hand, Dice-K’s control (3.5 BB/9 IP) was a major problem, as was his proneness to the long ball. And maybe the second half fade was because the hitters adjusted to him. Ultimately, there’s upside here, and I’d guess he shows improvement this season – he’s still just 27 years old. However, his price tag is typically higher than I’m willing to spend.

I’m strongly advocating drafting Carlos Marmol this season. Theoretically, he should come rather cheap, since Bobby Howry has been named the early favorite to close in Chicago, and Kerry Wood is around to contend with. The Cubs probably want Wood to emerge as the ninth inning guy, and when healthy, there’s no denying his stuff is filthy, as the kids like to say. Of course, Wood is almost certain to get hurt. And then there’s Marmol, and all he did was strike out 96 batters over 69.1 innings last season. The 1.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and .169 batting average against weren’t too bad either. He has the upside of a top-5 fantasy closer.

Randy Johnson is 44 years old and unlikely to throw more than 140 innings this season. Still, with the possibility that back surgery brings improved health, I can’t help but recommend gambling on his upside, which is still apparent. Pitching in the NL West helps, and his numbers from 2007 suggest there’s still something left in the tank. In 17.2 road innings last year, the Big Unit posted an absolutely ridiculous 25:0 K:BB ratio with a 0.51 WHIP. Plus, he’s typically coming very cheap in fantasy leagues right now.

The most frustrating part about the Roger Clemens congress fiasco was the clear partisan lines that were being drawn. I’m not saying either Clemens or Brian McNamee was right, but I am saying the way the republicans attacked only McNamee was wrong.

You’ll have a hard time finding a cheaper source for power than Jim Thome. Sure, he’s injury-prone, only available at DH and 37 years old, but he’s also smacked 72 homers over his last 922 at-bats. He gets to hit in one of the most homer-friendly stadiums in baseball, and the White Sox lineup should be much improved this season as well. He hit 12 bombs during September of last year, so he’s not finished being a major asset in the power department.

Dalton’s bold prediction: Andrew Bynum doesn’t play another NBA basketball game this season.

I’m letting someone else draft Dan Haren. Brett from “Greener on the Other Side” talked about how he recently joined the 3500-pitch club, which usually results in a drop off in production soon thereafter. But more than that, think about Billy Beane’s track record when it comes to trading starting pitchers to the National League. Other than Tim Hudson’s 2007 campaign, he and fellow former A’s hurlers Mark Mulder and Barry Zito have pitched six combined seasons since leaving Oakland – and every one of them have qualified as worse than any of their previous seasons in Green and Gold, which is pretty remarkable. Zito wasn’t traded, of course, but Beane wore him out before letting him walk all the same. People worry about Haren leaving a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s haven. I worry about why Beane decided to trade him with so many years left before free agency. Actually, I already know the answer.

Top-5 Robert De Niro Movies

1. Taxi Driver
2. The Godfather: Part II
3. Raging Bull
4. Goodfellas
5. Casino

Top-5 Al Pacino Movies

1. The Godfather
2. The Godfather: Part II
3. Scarface
4. Scent of a Woman
5. Carlito’s Way

Greener on the Other Side

Monday, February 18th, 2008

After a small hiatus over the winter, Greener of the Other Side is back with a vengeance. Brett Greenfield (a frequent RotoScoop commenter) and Jason Sarney do an excellent job. A recent article about “The 3500 club” is a must-read. Check it out.

Take Your Pick

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Clay Buchholz or Joba Chamberlain? (keeper-league)

Take Your Pick

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder?

Take Your Pick

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins?

Take Your Pick

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Matt Cain or Chris Young?

Take Your Pick

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Alfonso Soriano or Carl Crawford?

Take Your Pick

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera?

Take Your Pick

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Often you will find two players who are being drafted typically right around the same area and have similar price tags in auctions. Maybe both will bring back close to equal value in returns. Or, the decision could make or break your season. Leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes?