Archive for May, 2008

The Scoop

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

So I pulled off a blockbuster in NL LABR recently. I gave up: Ryan Church, Scott Olsen, Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Shawn Chacon. I received: Shane Victorino, Adam Wainwright and Chuck James. I did it primarily because I was desperate for steals, something I’m hopeful Victorino can provide. Church and Olsen are products of high BABIPs as well. Still, it’s a big gamble. What do you think? Did I give up on Hill too soon? Is Kershaw going to destroy the league over the final four months?

I cautioned owners to not aggressively draft Chad Billingsley in non-keeper leagues this year, and so far, his lack of command has backed up my claim. However, his 11.76 K/9 IP leads major league baseball and by a fairly wide margin. His .371 BABIP suggests a decrease in ERA is soon to come, even if his control remains spotty. He’s at least a year away from becoming a truly consistent fantasy option, but he’s also likely to win a Cy Young someday.

It’s Ervin Santana’s world, and the rest of us are just paying rent. How about a 2.54 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP with a 22:5 K:BB ratio in four road starts this season? With his strikeout potential and the Angels’ offense behind him, Santana has the upside of a top-25 starter. He’s obviously not quite this good, but I wouldn’t be looking to sell, either.

Keeper leaguers don’t give up on Andrew Miller. He’s suffered the worst luck in all of baseball this season (.416 BABIP). Of course, his 4.26 B/9 IP mark is atrocious, so he’s currently unusable, but patience is likely to pay off down the road.

Max Scherzer’s debut as a starter was disappointing Monday, but his defense did let him down. A Stephen Drew error led to three unearned runs, and there was another hit that a healthy Orlando Hudson would have normally gotten to with ease. His release point and arm angle are very unorthodox, making his already live fastball that much harder to pick up. The kid’s stuff is downright dirty.

During the Reds’ radio broadcast Monday, someone suggested Adam Dunn move to the second spot in the order, and Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley nearly had coronaries while scoffing at the idea. Listen, all those strikeouts aren’t ideal for a top of the order hitter, but Dunn has a career .380 on-base percentage with a .222 batting average with runners in scoring position and once went more than a full calendar year without a sac fly. He’s actually a perfect fit for the two-hole. In fact, he’s hit .278 in 392 career ABs batting second, which is by far the best of any spot in the order. But you’d hate to let those pesky stats get in the way.

The Hornets haven’t just beaten the Spurs during the first two games, they have thoroughly dominated them. San Antonio is by no means finished, but Chris Paul continues to amaze. The Lakers’ path to a title just might have gotten a little easier.

Daisuke Matsuzaka cannot maintain a 2.43 ERA with a 5.98 BB/9 IP mark, which is the fourth worst in baseball. Monday’s line – five innings, one run, 1:8 K:BB ratio – was one of the bigger anomalies you’ll ever see. Like Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, Dice-K is a frustrating power pitcher who nibbles the strike zone and refuses to attack hitters with his above average stuff.

Jason Giambi’s .113 BABIP is almost unfathomable – by far the worst in baseball. Justin Upton, meanwhile, leads the league with a .443 mark.

Despite playing for a seemingly mediocre St. Louis team, Albert Pujols leads MLB in plate appearances with runners on base (80). Maybe that whole batting the pitcher eighth thing is working, after all. Troy Glaus leads the league while batting with 120 runners on base this season, and Mark DeRosa surprisingly comes in second with 117.

Score another one for Billy Beane: Sure, Mark Kotsay has an OK .804 OPS, but he’s still got the bad back and his defense is also deteriorating. Joey Devine, on the other hand, has allowed just one run with 13 strikeouts over 12 innings, looking like the future closer the Braves thought he’d become when they took him in the first round of the 2005 draft.

John Maine has had the third toughest schedule of any starting pitcher in baseball this season, as his opponents have an aggregate OPS of .773. Chris Young is sixth, Jake Peavy is eighth and Roy Halladay is 10th, so it’s nice to know these elite hurlers’ numbers could improve as the schedule eases up.

First Onterrio Smith and now Cedric Benson. Remember folks, if you’re not wasted, the night is.

The Scoop

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

Adrian Beltre looks primed for the second best season of his career, already clubbing six homers to go with four stolen bases. Just as encouraging are the 18 walks, which is by far the highest BB rate of his career. In fact, he’s almost halfway to last year’s total, which took 595 at-bats. Settling in as the team’s cleanup hitter, Beltre is likely going to go down as a profit for anyone who drafted him.

How about Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer combining for zero homers five weeks into the season? Neither is actually hitting poorly, but the power outage is noteworthy. VMart’s is sure to return, but Mauer is officially a singles hitter. Brian McCann, on the other hand, looks like fantasy baseball’s most valuable backstop.

Just for fun: Chase Utley is on pace to finish the season with 66 homers, 15 steals, 142 runs, 132 RBI and a .357 BA. If that’s not enough, consider how massive the drop off is at second base after him.

Cedric Benson just got bumped down from 67th to 68th on my RB list.

Joakim Soria is a robot. It doesn’t get any better than starting a season with 13 scoreless innings and a 15:1 K:BB ratio. If you’re striking out nearly four times the amount of baserunners allowed, then you’re pitching pretty well. Last season proved this is no fluke. He’s a top-5 closer.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to get charged with an error in the game of baseball. As if pitchers don’t already have the cards stacked against them enough already. I don’t like it one bit.

Scott Podsednik is no friend of Willy Taveras’ fantasy owners.

I’m buying low on Manny Parra. Make no mistake, he’s not pitching well, highlighted by the 17 walks, but the strikeout rate is solid and all those hits allowed can partially be blamed on his .385 BABIP. This is someone who had a 9K/9 IP mark with a 2.45 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in the minors last season and should receive plenty of run support in Milwaukee. Additionally, with Yovani Gallardo going down, he actually has job security. Sure, there’s Jeff Weaver to deal with down the road, but David Bush isn’t the answer, and Ben Sheets is hardly a lock to stay healthy. Parra will turn it around.

The Dallas Mavericks are leaning toward hiring Rick Carlisle? Really? Why go with proven mediocrity? What more proof do you need other than his teams consistently underachieving or him always coming across like he knows little about basketball when on TV?  And for the record, I’m predicting Spurs 4-2, Lakers 4-3, Pistons 4-3 and Celtics 4-3.

Greg Smith can’t possibly keep this up, but Sunday’s performance (10 strikeouts, two walks) was eye-opening. He needs to be owned in all deep leagues.

Carlos Marmol is on pace to pitch 112 innings this season, which might be another way of saying Lou Piniella is overworking him a tad. Kerry Wood is pitching much better than his ERA indicates, but he’s still a time bomb, so Marmol owners better hope he’s been blessed with a rubber arm or Piniella comes to his senses.

I always knew Marvin Harrison was sinister! I already had Anthony Gonzalez ahead of him on my WR rankings, and now that gap has widened.

I thought this was a poignant look at the tireless bloggers versus journalists debate.

Call me immature, but I found “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” extremely funny. Sure, plenty of jokes fall flat, but I’m also someone who finds this picture humorous.

The Scoop

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

And on the seventh day, God created Max Scherzer. There’s a rumor Scherzer’s ERA can cure cancer – too bad he doesn’t have one. Yes, use you’re No. 1 waiver priority on him, and anyone who saw his debut knows why. He’s the real deal.

Tim Lincecum has to be treated like a top-10 pitcher, regardless of his teammates. He’s still walking too many batters, but it’s not often you’ll find someone with a 1.73 ERA and a .352 BABIP. His 9.9 K/9 IP is elite, and the improved 1.72 groundball to flyball ratio really portends future success. After getting touched up for 12 homers over 146 innings last season, Lincecum has allowed just one long ball in 2008.

Shane Victorino’s owners have to be a little concerned watching him on the bench during his first two games back from the DL. It’s fine keeping Jayson Werth in the lineup, but there’s really no reason to be playing Geoff Jenkins over the Flyin Hawaiian. Hopefully it’s just a minor blip and a platoon doesn’t emerge.

I recommended Brian Wilson as a cheap closer before the season, but I hardly expected nine saves through April. It’s a good reminder why not to avoid closers on bad teams or predict big save numbers from those on good teams.

Rickie Weeks is an excellent guy to target in trade talks right now. Talk up the fact he’s never played in 120 games and is a .245 career hitter who is batting .204 on the season. Hidden beneath those stats lies a sleeping giant, as the perceived disappointment is currently sporting the best contact rate (.77) of his career (by far) and is walking at an extremely high rate as well. Even while hovering around the Mendoza line, Weeks is on pace to finish with 18 homers, 30 steals and 144 runs scored. Oh, and his BABIP is .228, which is .312 for his career. Get him before it’s too late.

Don’t look now, but Edwin Encarnacion is on pace to hit 42 homers.

I’d treat Matt Kemp as a top-25 outfielder. He’s not guaranteed full-time at-bats still, but the upside is immense. The K:BB ratio isn’t pretty, but Kemp hits so many line drives, his average doesn’t suffer as much as it would most. There’s legitimate 25/25 potential this season, and it looks like he’s securing his role as the team’s No. 3 hitter.

Watching Yovani Gallardo injure his knee during Thursday’s game, I thought he was sure to miss multiple months. Seeing him stand and walk (after 10 minutes on the ground) was surprising as is, but the fact he stayed in the game and recorded five more outs (while giving up two runs) was downright shocking. It wasn’t the same knee that sidelined him this spring, so as long as he doesn’t compensate (he was still limping pretty badly), leading to an arm problem, he should be fine moving forward.

My main man Carlos Pena has been in a brutal slump, failing to record multiple hits in a game over his last 10 contests, bringing his season BA to an ugly .200. He also hasn’t homered in 16 games. Still, that’s largely due to a crazy low .226 BABIP, so he’s going to improve. He strikes out too much to ever hit better than .275, but he’s still a major threat to reach 40 homers, so now is the time to pursue him.

Is that really Chris Shelton I see back in the big leagues?

The seven homers over 25 games are impressive, but Carlos Quentin’s 15:14 K:BB ratio is also notable. Of course, he’s not quite this good, but Quentin’s disastrous 2007, which included leaving Chris Liss hanging on a live radio show after not showing up, was largely due to a serious shoulder injury. Quentin’s a legit prospect who now finds himself hitting in the league’s most homer-friendly park. He’s for real.

Nate McLouth has been unconscious this season. Before Thursday, he smacked four homers with nine RBI over the last four games, bringing his season line to a remarkable .342/.425/.658. He’s showed solid plate discipline as well (14:15 K:BB). The one disappointing facet is that he’s been caught on three of his five stolen base attempts, but while the power is sure to drop, he still possesses 30 steal potential. He’s simply been on fire. Not quite as hot as the Snorg Tees girl but still scorching.