Archive for July, 2010

The Scoop

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

After giving up eight earned runs over his last start, Zack Greinke’s ERA now sits at 4.01. He’s already allowed six more earned runs in 2010 than he did all of last season in 92.1 fewer innings. Some regression was certain after last year, and while it’s showing up with a more normal HR/FB%, it’s also clear Greinke simply hasn’t pitched as well, as his K rate (7.88/9) is significantly lower this season compared to last (9.50/9). Velocity hasn’t been an issue (his fastball has averaged 0.5 mph slower, while his slider has been 0.8 mph faster), and he’s even increased his O-Swing% (percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) to a career-high 29.9%. Put differently, assuming Greinke’s shoulder woes are truly behind him and not a risk moving forward (a gamble, to be sure), he’s someone to target heavily right now. His control this season has been a career-best (1.84 BB/9), same with his GB% (45.0), and his currently unlucky LOB% (64.2) is bound to correct. Pitchers with his strikeout ability (his true talent level is almost certainly higher than this year’s K rate, which is a whopping 10.08/9 in July) who walk fewer than two batters per nine innings and are tough to hit homers against (career HR/FB is 8.7%) are elite. Again, assuming health, Greinke still needs to be considered in the top 5-10 fantasy SP range (even with wins being an issue), so it’s worth finding out if that makes him a “buy-low” in your fantasy league.

Love him or hate him, Mike Tyson is definitely interesting. And this interview doesn’t change that perception.

Entering Thursday, Dan Uggla had six homers with nine runs scored and 11 RBI over his past six games. He’s currently on pace to finish the year batting .280 with 35 home runs, 111 runs scored and 102 RBI. He’s not a good defensive player, and because of a big K rate, his batting average has always been low, but this is a second baseman with a career .833 OPS (and he’s gotten appreciably better over the past 2.5 seasons while entering his prime). His career-low in home runs is 27 during his rookie campaign, and in fact, if he reaches 30 again this season, it will be his fourth straight year in doing so – no other second baseman in major league baseball has done that over the past three years. His current LD% (12.9) is actually a career-low, so combine that with all the strikeouts, and it’s safe to assume his average is going to take a tumble from here on out, but Uggla deserves credit for quietly being a good baseball player.

Love him or hate him, Bill Murray is definitely interesting. And this interview doesn’t change that perception.

I’m not writing off the 25-year-old Clay Buchholz, and maybe claiming his 2.71 ERA is a mirage constitutes as a low-hanging fruit, but it’s really hard not to consider him among the best sell-high options right now. Again, I like him long-term, but don’t let his pedigree mask the fact he’s somehow managed to lower last year’s ERA by a full 1.50 runs while simultaneously posting worse K and BB rates. Buchholz is throwing his slider more often (11.3% vs. 18.8%) and a lot harder (86.2 mph vs. 89.3 mph) this year compared to last, and his 50.8 GB% is strong. I’m unwilling to state HR/FB% is out of a pitcher’s control, but when you look at Buchholz’s 6.4% mark and compare it to his last two stints in the majors (14.7% in 2008 and 15.7% in 2009), it’s hard not to come to the conclusion he’s been fortunate in that area this season. Moreover, while I won’t conclude his current .274 BABIP is sure to rise significantly, since the Red Sox have a good defense (it’s been humorous how often I’ve read sarcastic comments about Boston’s defense this year after what they did during the offseason, since they’ve committed too many errors. But the fact remains their UZR is 11th best in baseball, and this has been with significant injuries affecting them), it’s also safe to assume that number will be somewhere in the .290-.310 range over the final two months. Bottom line, typically pitchers with a 6.38 K/9 and 3.67 BB/9 are far from this effective, so try to sell him.

I know I’m only joining the chorus criticizing the Diamondbacks’ Dan Haren trade, so I’ll keep it brief, but did the GM really state winning percentage as a reason why he likes Joe Saunders? “John From Cincinnati” was easier to understand than Arizona’s logic here. As a Giants fan, I can’t say I’m unhappy to see the D-Backs lose Max Scherzer, Josh Byrnes and Dan Haren over the past six months, while getting little in return.

Juan Pierre might be the best example regarding the difference between real baseball and the fantasy version. He’s on pace to finish the season with 61 stolen bases – the most in MLB. Because he’s a definite minus in two other categories, Pierre isn’t exactly an elite fantasy property, but all those steals make him quite valuable, especially since he should also score 90-100 runs, and with a 28:31 K:BB ratio, his .257 BA should improve as well (although digging deeper it gets weird. His current LD% (13.8) is by far a career-worst, but since he hits so many groundballs (a whopping 2.51 GB/FB and 61.7 GB%), his .277 BABIP sure seems likely to increase). But in real baseball, this is a left fielder with a .617 OPS! And while his defense has improved with the move from center to left, he’s not exactly Andres Torres out there, and those offensive numbers from a corner outfielder make him simply one of the least valuable players in major league baseball – a pretty big negative, in fact. Since 2006, Pierre has hit one home run.

Two great reads regarding LeBron James. This one by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and as usual, Dan Le Batard hits one out of the park here.

Bullpen talk: Juan Gutierrez is the only Arizona reliever I’d be willing to own right now. He’s not exactly safe, but how about his HR/FB% jumping from 2.5% last year to 21.0% this season?…In between undergoing serious arm surgeries, Hong-Chih Kuo is simply one of the toughest pitchers to hit in all of baseball. His BAA would have been the lowest in MLB during each of the past three years (including this year at a miniscule .127) if he qualified. Adrian Gonzalez’s single Thursday was the first hit allowed against a lefty by Kuo all season!…Considering Wilson Ramos was recently considered a major piece of a potential trade involving Cliff Lee, it was surprising to see the Twins deal him for two months of Matt Capps. It was also unexpected to see Capps already named closer over incumbent Jon Rauch. Let the Drew Storen era commence in Washington… J.J. Putz entered Thursday with a 27 inning scoreless streak and a 43:6 K:BB ratio…Go ahead and grab Michael Wuertz and/or Craig Breslow asap.

Cool story. I hope we get to find out how she does in high school.

Evan Longoria homered Wednesday for just the sixth time since May 15. Since he’s also recorded 14 steals and is on pace to finish with 106 runs scored and 107 RBI while hitting .294, it’s not like he’s been some huge fantasy bust. Still, I personally had high hopes entering the year, drafting him as high as sixth overall in a couple of high stakes leagues. I felt smart when he entered that fateful May 15, batting .326 with nine homers, 32 runs scored and 31 RBI over 35 games played. Not so much now. Still, this is obviously a small sample, and assuming he’s not fighting through a hidden injury, it’s hardly worth worrying about the 24-year-old Longoria. But I did expect more than two homers in June and three in July.

New “Menomena” came out this week, with a new “Arcade Fire” soon to follow. Yes, I’m excited. This year has been unbelievably good in the music world.

Like a lot of stats, “run support” is flawed (and this is just one variable that goes into the “win” statistic, the most flawed of them all). For example, Francisco Liriano has received 5.37 runs per nine innings from Minnesota this season when he was on the mound, good for 32nd in baseball. A whopping 17 of those runs (77 total) came during his last start, which means one outing has completely masked a starter who experienced an extreme amount of bad luck when it comes to run support this season. In fact, to illustrate just how random this stat is, Liriano has two teammates who have actually benefitted greatly from run support this season (Nick Blackburn has received the second best RS in the A.L., while Kevin Slowey has been given the seventh best RS in the Junior Circuit, and neither has experienced a crazy 17-run outburst).

Check out my latest podcast over at BlogTalkRadio (you can also download or subscribe to it at iTunes). There’s both baseball discussion and later football talk with Yahoo’s Scott Pianowski.

While he ultimately ended up on none of my teams, I had no problem with those who drafted Joe Mauer aggressively entering this season. After all, he hit .365 with 28 homers, 94 runs scored and 96 RBI last season as a catcher. That’s just plain silly. Even a reasonable facsimile of that production from the C spot would make him a top-three if not the most valuable fantasy player in most years. As for 2010, with six homers, he definitely hasn’t been worth his ADP, although since he’s on pace to finish with 92 runs scored and 83 RBI from the scarcest position in baseball, he hasn’t exactly been a major bust either. Still, Mauer makes for such an interesting case study. Some could point to how 11 of his homers last year qualified as “just enough” according to hittrackeronline, yet who could have predicted that the new Target Field would play as the single toughest park to hit home runs in this season? Mauer is striking out less than he did last season (10.2% compared to 12.0%) while hitting more line drives (22.6% compared to 24.2%) and currently has a 35:38 K:BB ratio, so his .310 BA should improve (and maybe even significantly) from here on out. Still, Mauer is most certainly playing through pain, which highlights an important point – catchers should quite possibly be viewed almost like pitchers moving forward – as they are far more injury risks than other position players. Even if catchers are able to stay in the lineup, their performance at the plate is often affected by maladies, even if we as fantasy owners are unaware of them.

The Scoop

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

Before we get started, check out my latest podcast, there’s baseball talk over the first half for those who won’t be interested in this NFL-centric “The Scoop,” and the second half consists all of football with guest Mike Salfino, who definitely knows his stuff. This looks to be a regular gig now, airing live on blogtalkradio every Wednesday from 1-2 PST. But more conveniently, they can be downloaded through iTunes at your leisure right here. Also, while I continue to appear on satellite radio every Friday at 9:30 am PST, the channel has changed. It’s now XM #147 and Sirius #211 – even if you don’t give a shit about my weekly appearance, that new channel is now full blown all fantasy content. Not only will Maurice Jones-Drew host his own show once a week come football season, but Steve Phillips currently has his own daily show! Seriously, there’s some pretty decent content on there. So check it out.

Judging from drafts I’ve seen and the general consensus among rankings, I seem to like Jamaal Charles a lot more than most. First, the negatives; he’s never proven he can carry a full workload, has a history of fumbling problems, underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason, plays for what appears to be a very bad Chiefs team and will have to fight Thomas Jones for touches. Now, onto the positives; Charles had the most rushing yards over the final four games of a season in the history of the NFL last year, had a 5.9 YPC mark that tied for the NFL lead while also leading the league with a 6.6 YPC mark during the fourth quarter. Charles turned a greater percentage of his carries into first downs (54/190) than any other back in football while also averaging an amazing 3.6 YPC after first contact – a number that easily led the NFL. New OC Charlie Weis should improve an offense that has the benefit of facing the NFC West this season, and while Jones will surely take away carries and is a major threat to steal them at the goal line, he’s 32 years old, has averaged 308 carries over the past five seasons and faded badly down the stretch last year. There will be safer picks than Charles, but none will have more upside at that stage of the draft. In fact, Charles is the only running back in the history of the NFL to have a season with 5.9 YPC or higher, 1,000 rushing yards and 40 catches. He did that with just 190 carries last year – imagine if he approaches 300 touches in 2010.

During an interview to possibly become the next head coach of the Raiders, Sean Payton recently recounted how Al Davis invited him to dinner by asking “You like cheeseburgers?” They later dined on McDonald’s burgers and KFC coleslaw in the owner’s office. You can’t make this stuff up…Speaking of Oakland, I actually think they are a bit underrated and want to pick them to finish second in the AFC West, but the loss of JaMarcus Russell was a pretty big blow.

Vincent Jackson is not only suspended for the first three games of the season, but the threat of him holding out the first 10 games is becoming a legitimate concern. And if he’s traded, it will almost certainly be to a worse situation than in San Diego, where he more than makes up for a lack of targets by having Philip Rivers throwing him the ball. Floyd didn’t exactly light it up after Chris Chambers was traded last season, gaining a modest 504 receiving yards with zero touchdowns during nine starts. However, he was quite effective if you look deeper, as he got a whopping 10.5 YPA, and the low TD total screams fluke, since he’s 6-5, 225 lbs and saw seven targets from inside the 10 in limited action. Floyd may actually be a safer pick than Jackson, who will cost a much higher draft pick with a looming holdout. Moreover, if Floyd becomes the No. 1 WR in San Diego, he has the upside to finish as a top-10 fantasy receiver.

I’m actually semi-bullish on Alex Smith, but I found this former scout’s take on the 49ers’ QB situation worth reading.

Shonn Greene has yet to start a single regular season game in the NFL, but after exploding for 304 yards (5.4 YPC) and two touchdowns over 2.5 games in the playoffs, he’s anything but a fantasy sleeper entering 2010. In fact, he’s without a doubt a deserving top-10 pick. Of course, it would be nice to see him carry a full workload and remain healthy, as injuries have proven to be a problem even while in a committee. Moreover, the fact he offers so little as a receiver definitely limits his upside. Still, Greene is strong (5-11, 226 lbs) with surprising speed and the unquestionable best back on a roster that features an elite defense and possibly the best offensive line in all of football. LaDainian Tomlinson was signed, and maybe he can somehow secure the third down role and steal some goal-line carries over another 16 games, but this is a back who now has 2,880 career rushing attempts and averaged 3.3 YPC last year while causing the fewest missed tackles and producing the lowest number of yards after contact among all starting running backs in the NFL. Besides, the Jets ran the ball 607 times last year – that’s 108 more carries than any other team, so there will be plenty of attempts to go around. With Braylon Edwards and eventually Santonio Holmes out wide and with a year under Mark Sanchez’s belt, maybe New York throws more in 2010, but defenses will also be unable to load the box in an effort to stop the run. Barring health, would it be all that surprising if Greene was a unanimous top-three fantasy pick in 2011?

I went with a group of 10 people who all disagreed and also judging by the critics I appear to be the only one, but I didn’t really like “Inception.” I’m just going to go ahead and say it – Christopher Nolan is overrated.

Even as Jay Cutler’s biggest apologist, it was impossible not to be critical of his play last year, as he continued to make bad decisions and turn the ball over at an unacceptable rate. Chicago’s poor offensive line was partially to blame, but Cutler’s YPA dropped for a second straight season, bottoming out at 6.6, and a huge final two games (when he tossed eight touchdowns) made an otherwise horrible season look better – remember, he entered Week 16 with a 19:25 TD:INT ratio. Still, while it’s hardly a secret, the Mike Martz factor cannot be understated. With a poor running game and a defense continuing to decline, Cutler is going to be throwing a ton, and while he’s learning a new system, year two with his teammates should bring natural improvement. The receiving group might be more talented than the names suggest, and all are developing while entering their primes. Anyone playing in leagues where interceptions are heavily punished (say anything more than -1 point) can’t aggressively target Cutler, but those who are in different formats should absolutely grab him, especially since the perception of him has probably never been lower.

I made a Tweet about this (shameless plug: follow me here) – but it’s well worth mentioning again. Watch “Louie” on FX. Great show.

Regarding those three Bears’ receivers, my advice is to select the one who comes cheapest. At least one and probably even two of those guys are going to emerge as weekly starters. I originally liked Devin Aromashodu the most, but forced to pick one, I’d probably take Johnny Knox right now, which probably means Devin Hester will end up having the most value. Again, take who falls the furthest in your draft. And yes, avoid Greg Olsen.

I’m not saying it deserves the Pulitzer Prize, but this article has been my favorite so far from 2010. But then again, I’ve always been a sucker for The Price Is Right.

Ryan Grant is an extremely boring pick with limited upside and an inability to contribute as a receiver. Still, he’s also pretty safe. Despite lacking a pedigree (undrafted), he’s the undisputed main ballcarrier in one of the best offenses in football. He converted six of his seven carries inside the three-yard line last year into touchdowns, which was the best percentage in the league, and in Green Bay’s offense, plenty of goal-line opportunities should be in store. Grant got 5.9 YPC and scored six touchdowns over the final four games last season, as the Packers’ offensive line improved immensely over the second half of the year and also added Bryan Bulaga, who somehow fell to pick No. 23 of the draft. Grant is far from the most exciting pick, but I’d sure prefer him to Cedric Benson.

Tim Lincecum redefines the term “wild pitch.”

While I was in Las Vegas last week, The Mirage had the Panthers’ odds to win the Super Bowl at 60-1, which was by far the best long shot bet on the board as far as I could tell (for comparison’s sake, the Bengals were 30/1, the Broncos, Raiders and Seahawks were all 50/1, and for some insane reason, the Bears were 10/1). The fact the NFC South has never had a repeat division winner really doesn’t matter for 2010 in reality, and don’t get me wrong, not only do I obviously like the Saints, but I expect the Falcons to be major contenders as well. Still, the NFL is a reshuffle league, and Carolina gets to play the NFC West and a third-place schedule. Carolina lost Julius Peppers to the Bears and Thomas Davis to injury, but their secondary allowed 6.6 YPA and a 14:22 TD:INT ratio last season. Steve Smith’s injury could be a blessing in that it helps the young receivers develop faster during training camp, and what if Matt Moore is good? Stranger things have happened, and he did post a 7.8 YPA mark with an 8:0 TD:INT ratio over the final four games last season. And while it’s a less important aspect, the Panthers’ running game is among the best in football. Remember, this is a team that won its final three games last year against the Vikings, Giants and Saints (who admittedly sat their starters) by a combined score of 90-26.

Random prediction: Wesley Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins will go down as one of the biggest draft blunders in the history of the NBA…Whenever I’m in a wedding, I inevitably wuss out when it comes to speech time. Maybe it’s because I don’t have something as profound to say as Chris Paul…I too was shocked LeBron James didn’t choose to join the Celtics.

Mike Wallace is hardly a sleeper, but that doesn’t mean he’s still not being undervalued. He caught more than four balls during just one game last season, but he was a WR3 and averaged a ridiculous 19.4 yards per catch as a rookie while also scoring six TDs. The loss of Ben Roethlisberger over the first four games of the season certainly hurts, but Wallace could really thrive afterward with the trade of Santonio Holmes. Pittsburgh wants to get back to its smashmouth roots, but at 34 years old, coming off back-to-back seasons in which he played 16 games and as physical as ever, Hines Ward still seems like an injury waiting to happen. Wallace is already the Steelers’ most physically gifted WR, and what he was able to do as a rookie at a position hard to learn right out of the gate shouldn’t be underestimated, so once Roethlisberger is back under center, big numbers could follow. One caveat should be noted, however, as it appears Pittsburgh drew the group of death during the fantasy playoffs, at least against the pass; although they are the only team who gets three straight home games during that span, they face the Bengals, Jets and Panthers in Weeks 14-16, which certainly looks tough on paper entering the year.

If the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fight doesn’t happen soon, it will go down as one of the biggest disappointments in sports of my generation. As if boxing wasn’t in trouble anyway, come on fellas, make it happen!

Maybe Justin Forsett will prove unable to stay healthy while getting 300 touches, but I see absolutely no reason why the Seahawks’ staff wouldn’t give him the opportunity to see if he can. He weighs nearly 200 lbs and got 305 carries during his senior year at Cal, so I’m hoping the other Pac 10 alum (Pete Carroll) doesn’t make the same mistake as other coaches have by wasting carries on the far inferior Julius Jones. Forsett somehow totaled 969 yards last season despite given just 114 carries – 45th in the NFL. While the team in general still looks shaky, Seattle plays in the worst division in football, and the additions of LT Russell Okung and WR Golden Tate should immediately improve the offense. Forsett averaged 5.4 YPC last year, is a threat as a receiver and is also an above average blocker, so there’s really no need to take him off the field, especially on a team with few other options in the backfield (unless Leon Washington can somehow return to 100 percent with a metal rod in his leg after a gruesome compound fracture). It’s worth noting Carroll typically used backfields by committee at USC, but Forsett has a bunch of upside if he can establish himself as the lead back.

Freakin awesome video:
Modest Mouse – Little Motel

Modest Mouse | MySpace Music Videos

The Scoop

Friday, July 9th, 2010

By Dalton Del Don

My apologies for the lack of content recently, but I’m making it up to you with an extra long “Scoop” right here, right now. A few quick programming notes beforehand: If you haven’t already, check out my latest podcast. These are all available to download through iTunes, by the way. Also, this Monday I’ll be co-hosting on XM #147/Sirius #211 from 8-11 am PST. Tune in if you get the chance.

Rickie Weeks has sunk plenty of fantasy teams over the years, both with horrible batting averages and being extremely injury prone. Entering 2010, most high hopes had ended, although he was playing quite well last year before yet another injury ended his season prematurely. Weeks strikes out a ton, yet he also walks quite a bit, giving him a solid OBP. In fact, if you prorate Weeks’ runs scored over 162 games, he’s averaged 111 per season over his career, which is remarkable. He’s stolen just eight bases over his past 501 at-bats (while getting caught five times despite having a career SB rate of 85% beforehand), which obviously hurts his fantasy value. Still, Weeks is on pace to finish this year with 28 homers, 104 runs scored and 97 RBI – as a middle infielder who should also contribute around 10 steals, that sure looks like a top-15 type fantasy player. Of course, “on pace” is frowned upon among the sabermetric community, but Weeks has always had this talent, it just comes down to health, as the 27-year-old has never played in 130 games in any season of his career. He remains an enigma.

During his last start in San Francisco, Tim Lincecum allowed a home run on a changeup for the first time in his career while pitching at home.

Manny Parra is another interesting case in Milwaukee. Parra is a left-hander who has averaged 92.9 mph with his fastball and also recorded a 9.17 K/9 ratio this season. He also produces a bunch of groundballs and has somehow posted a .380 BABIP this season, which is actually a theme throughout his career, as his career BABIP is now .354 over 402 innings. Still, I’ve become quite wary, as Parra’s control remains terrible (4.26 BB/9), and while his hit rate is likely to drop at some point, with a lack of command and a high LD% throughout his career, it’s safe to say Parra is a pretty big gamble, especially when it comes to WHIP (ZiPS projects a .362 BABIP over the rest of the season, for what it’s worth). My advice? Parra can look fantastic at times and has underlying stats that suggest he’s due for some major good luck, which is enticing, but when he gets hit hard and negates the double-digit strikeout, standout outings, don’t be shocked, that’s just Manny being Manny. Also, some major BABIP correction isn’t necessarily in store considering the Brewers’ team UZR is -25.8 (the fifth-worst in baseball).

You’ve probably seen this, but if not, it’s a pretty great demonstration of just how amazing Mariano Rivera truly is.

Yunel Escobar currently sports a 31:36 K:BB ratio and has already tied his career-high with five steals this season. He’s also been a huge bust, batting .237 and still searching for his first home run of the year. Escobar is playing by far the best defense of his career, and he’s hit a similar amount of fly balls this season compared to last, and since 10.1% of those went over the fence in 2009, it stands to reason he’s been quite unlucky when it comes to long balls in 2010. He looks like a true buy-low target.

Robinson Cano entered 2010 with 64 homers against right-handers and 23 against southpaws. Only Albert Pujols (11) has more home runs than Cano (10) versus lefties this season.

Jason Bartlett was an obvious guy to avoid at fantasy drafts this year, but come on, a .224/.309/.325 line? That’s almost a 250 point OPS drop compared to last season. His BB% has actually been better and his K% has actually been lower this year compared to last (although both marginally), but his BABIP is more than 100 points lower (.364 vs. .259). I’ll spare you the details – Bartlett isn’t as good as he was last year, but he’s better than he’s been so far in 2010. Ultimately, that still makes him a worthy MI option in most leagues moving forward.

A three ball walk.

There’s still plenty of time over the second half for the rookies to struggle, but after Matt Wieters has proven just how hard it is to succeed right out of the gate as a catcher, how impressive have Carlos Santana and Buster Posey been? Over his first 84 at-bats, Santana has already hit five homers with 11 doubles while posting a 17:22 K:BB ratio. A switch hitter batting in the middle of Cleveland’s lineup, we could be looking at a fantasy stud for years to come. And to think, all it cost was Casey Blake to pry him from the Dodgers. As for Posey, he entered Friday with a .336/.375/.528 line with four homers and nine RBI over his past four games. He’s also shown a cannon arm behind the plate, a stark contrast from predecessor Bengie Molina. The catcher position will definitely be deeper in fantasy leagues entering 2011.

It’s almost certainly too late, but yes, add Chris Davis.

Tommy Hanson has become a good example of why all ERAs aren’t created equal. He currently sports a 4.13 ERA, but if you take away his final two starts in June (when he gave up 14 earned runs over 7.1 innings), that number falls to 2.73. Of course, those stats DO count, but it’s also worth noting he was pounded for eight runs over 1.2 innings in a start in May as well. Hanson no doubt destroyed the Braves’ win expectancy during those three outings, but I wonder if his other 13 starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer make him more valuable than a routine 4.13 ERA. I’m too lazy, so maybe someone smarter than me can run the numbers and enlighten us. For fantasy owners, it’s been Hanson’s 1.37 WHIP that’s been most disappointing, thanks to continued middling control. However, with a 9.12 K/9 rate and a .345 BABIP, it’s pretty safe to treat Hanson as a top-15 fantasy SP from here on out, although there’s still a question of how he’ll pitch under a full workload for the first time in his career.

When asked why run scoring is down in baseball this season, Tim McCarver recently stated, “The major reason is lack of hitting and great pitching.” You can’t make this stuff up. (h/t The Book).

When Josh Hamilton was on RW’s XM/Sirius show a couple of weeks back, he was asked to name an under the radar pitcher whose stuff is nasty and may be a potential breakout guy down the road. (This is a common question asked by Chris and Jeff – Jimmy Rollins named Ubaldo Jimenez two years ago, and a common answer so far this year has been Jorge De La Rosa). After some deliberation, Hamilton concluded….Brian Moehler! Ignore the career 4.93 K/9 folks, the 39-year-old Moehler is going to put it all together soon, his stuff is dirty. After giving Hamilton a hard time, I’d be remiss not to point out just how good he is at playing baseball. Hamilton entered Friday batting .345 with 22 homers and 64 RBI, and while he admittedly has the benefit of a great hitter’s park and still struggles some versus lefties (and currently has a .382 BABIP), his Z-Swing% is the highest in all of baseball – that is, no other hitter swings at a higher percentage of pitches inside the strike zone, and we are talking about a power hitter here. Only health prevents Hamilton from being a perennial first round fantasy pick.

I’m beginning to think Mel Gibson doesn’t consider females and minorities as equals.

Since returning from the disabled list, Vicente Padilla has recorded a 22:3 K:BB ratio over four starts. For the season, he has a remarkable 5.3:1 K:BB rate while striking out a batter per inning. Of course, he’s also given up at least one home run during all eight of his starts this season, producing a big dichotomy between his ERA (4.72) and WHIP (1.13). Padilla has always been fairly homer prone, but it’s safe to assume his current 16.4 HR/FB% has nowhere to go but down, especially since he plays in a division with three parks that typically suppress long balls, including his home one. He’s throwing both his fastball and slider as hard as ever, and his curveball has averaged an eephus-like 65.7 mph, which is pretty awesome. I have no clue and won’t pretend to explain his huge platoon splits in 2010, as he’s always been extremely vulnerable to southpaws during his career, yet has held lefties to a .145 BAA so far while right-handers have hit .307 against him. The latter has come with a 28:2 K:BB ratio, however, and since he’s going to face more righties moving forward, this at least seems like a good thing. I’m not saying Padilla can keep up this pace, but don’t just disregard him because he’s 33 years old and hasn’t been relevant in fantasy leagues in a long time. He’s no longer pitching in Texas and is now in a much better situation in the N.L. and a park more suited for his ability.

I know my rights! Part one. Part two. Part three. Enjoy.

Carlos Gonzalez is on pace to finish the season with this line: .310-30-100-107-23. He’s only 24 years old and can hit both lefties and righties while having the benefit of Coors Field at his disposal (which continues to play as baseball’s best hitter’s park). Oh, and he’s produced that pace while missing 11 games so far this year. It’s hard not to be bullish on CarGo, and he looks like a top-15 fantasy pick next year, but it’s worth noting just how hard it is to be such a productive hitter while walking as little as he does. His current 4.5 BB% actually ranks 12th worst in all of baseball. And of those dozen, his 24.3 K% is by far the worst; in fact, among the 44 players with the lowest BB% in MLB, only Jonny Gomes (25.3%) and Austin Jackson (28.0%) have worse K rates. Gonzalez absolutely has the talent to improve here, but this is a pretty obvious area of concern.

In closing, a few thoughts about “The Decision.” I really can’t blame LeBron James for leaving the NBA’s worst roster (although as a sports fan with no stakes involved, I probably wish he had stayed. But seriously, what’s the over/under for Cavs wins next year? I guessed around 18-20 without looking it up. And to my surprise, bodog has the number at 33.5. Huh? Ya, I’m going to be hammering that), but choosing Miami sure does feel like the easy way out. But worse than that was how he did it. If only Dan Gilbert told us what he really thought about James leaving. What a bizarre turn of events, as James’ image has taken a legitimate hit, and rightfully so. And while it was unsurprising, shame on ESPN. I hope all members involved Thursday night were given proper kneepads. As for the fallout, as long as health doesn’t get in the way, Miami very well might win the next five titles (the official over/under for this is 2.5). They should be considered prohibitive favorites.

Podcast

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

My latest attempt at hosting. I will have a new column up by Thursday night at the latest. That’s a promise.