April 23, 2010

Fantasy Debate: Ike vs. Smoak

Over the last few weeks, two hyped prospects have gotten the call up to the show. (I hope don't have to pay royalties to Sony for calling it that.) Anyhow, Ike Davis has been very impressive so far in his 5 games, hitting just a hair under .400 with a handful of RBIs and runs, and he even hit his first homer yesterday. Justin Smoak on the other hand, made his own major league debut yesterday after replacing the woeful Chris Davis for the Rangers. While his debut was not anywhere near the opening day that Jason Heyward had, I was still impressed enough to pick up Smoak in my main league after his patient, 2 walk performance. But, when I went to claim Smoak off of the free agent list, it made me think about who I would really rather have on my team out of these two young studs. Even though Davis was already rostered by a league rival, I felt like comparing Davis and Smoak would make for a good article. I sure hope I was right.

Scout's Takes:
Both Smoak and Isaac Davis, as he was listed on MLB.com, were taken in the first round of the 2008 draft. Smoak was taken at 11, while Ike slid down to number 18. Each were juniors out of college, meaning at the very least the Rangers scouts saw Smoak as the better prospect. Baseball America also saw a major discrepancy in their talents as they ranked Smoak their 13th best prospect coming into 2010, and Davis 62nd. Both are said to possess a lot of power and can have shown in the minors that they can hit in the minors. Smoak is said to have a great glove, but we don't care about defense, so that point is moot. While the scouts might not be able to predict who will have the better year, it does seem that they think Smoak has the higher ceiling.
Advantage: Smoak

Supporting Cast:
Neither the Mets nor the Rangers have been truly offensively explosive this year, scoring 71 and 67 runs respectively. The good news, however, is that each team is on the upswing with Jose Reyes starting to look like his old self, and Ian Kinsler returning to the lineup shortly. The fact that Smoak will probably end up moving between the 6-7 spots after Kinsler's return hurts his stock a bit in terms of RBIs. Davis, on the other hand seems to be the fixture in the 6 hole for the Mets. Overall, I think these two lineups will shake out to be pretty similar in terms of run production and their ability to put runners on base for their young sluggers.
Advantage: Push

Experience/ Durability:
Sure Ike has played in 5 times as many MLB games as Smoak, but that's not the kind of experience I'm talking about. Both of these guys are youngsters who have been rushed to the majors because of their impressive minor league stints. Davis racked up almost 200 more ABs in AAA before getting the call, due to the fact that Smoak went through a minor injury in his first year after being drafted. With such little experience under their belts, those 200 ABs mean a lot towards Ike's development from college star to MLB rookie.
Advantage: Davis

Home Ballpark:
Sine they will be spending the majority of their seasons in their home parks, the more forgiving they are the better. According to ESPN's Park Factors, there is not a huge difference between their run production, but Citi Field is a very stingy HR park compared to the Ballpark at Arlington. Since we are talking 1B and homers are essential, I would much rather be in Smoak's shoes.
Advantage: Smoak

If you're gonna fork over a waiver priority for one of these guys, you'd like to make sure that they are here to stay. The Mets' first basemen prior to Davis were horrendous. I mean they were choosing to start Fernando Tatis. If that's not a sign of desperation, I don't know what is. While Chris Davis showed yet again that his 2008 season was a fluke, he still has a .280 season on his record and looms nearby in AAA. Should Smoak also struggle, the Rangers may decide that they might as well stick with the more powerful Davis despite his amazing ability to swing and miss.
Advantage: Davis

As a new Smoak owner, I may be a little bit biased, but I like him more than the Mets' 1B this season. While Davis has already shown he can play at the big league level, I am very impressed by Smoak's two walks in his premier. If he can lay off the bad pitches, it will make the transition a lot easier on his batting average. I have a lot of confidence that he will produce a better batting average than Davis, with his plate discipline and as long as his power comes around, like most scouts believe it can, he should be able to keep up with Ike in the power department. Both of these young stars should wow during their rookie campaigns, and if you are short at 1B I would strongly advise looking at these two.

Final Predictions:
Smoak: .285/75/23/80
Davis: .275/70/20/75

If you have a couple similar players who you are choosing between, and would like to see profiled against one another, leave a comment and I'll lay out how I think they compare.

April 22, 2010

First Round Fantasy Impact

I could not be happier with the NFL Draft's move to prime time. Not only does it give us time to over-analyze every pick, but it finally isn't depressing if you are drinking during the first round. Which might actually explain the Jaguars' Alualu pick *ba-dum-chhh*. But this isn't a sports blog. It's a fantasy sports blog! That means we don't care about the 18 defensive players (unless you're in an IDP league), and we especially don't care about the 5 O-Lineman that flew off the board (even though I love the Bulaga pick for the Pack). Instead, we focus on the skill players, and the touchdowns that they score. That's why I picked those guys apart and ranked them in terms of who I think will be the most productive in 2010.

8. Tim Tebow QB, Denver Broncos (25th Overall)
The pick was a surprise, but it isn't much of a shocker that he's at the bottom of this list (well, top if you want to get picky). Sure Tebow is a great leader, has a lot of heart and is a proven winner but, unlike baseball, fantasy football doesn't care about wins. If he does find a way to becoming a starter, I don't think he will be a guy worthy of a QB1, or even QB2 slot.
Projection: 150 Passing Yards, 85 Rushing Yards, 1 TD

7. Sam Bradford QB, St. Louis Rams (1st Overall)
Sure there has been a lot of rookie QB success over the last few years, but most of those guys have had some weapons around them to allow for them to be fantasy relevant. He will definitely be a starter, unless Keith Null makes a miraculous improvement this offseason, but Donnie Avery is a headache and Steven Jackson can only do so much. Unless the Rams find an offensive diamond in the rough in the next few rounds, I think Bradford will be a low QB2 option, but if you want to take a longshot as a backup, why not?
Projection: 2,300 Passing Yards, 15 TDs, 15 INTs

6. DeMaryius Thomas WR, Denver Broncos (22nd Overall)
The departure of Brandon Marshall leaves a gaping hole in the Broncos' offense. Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokley are far from #1 wideouts, so Thomas has a chance to become a top target in a mediocre offense. Unfortunately, I don't think Thomas is ready to do that just yet. He has the physical skills, but thanks to Georgia Tech, he might not know what to do without 3 running backs on the field. I have faith that he can become a big offensive weapon in the future, but not 2010.
Projection: 700 Yards Receiving, 5 TDs

5.  C. J. Spiller RB, Buffalo Bills (9th Overall)
He is probably the most talented, and most exciting offensive player of this draft. He is also the guy with the most competition at his position. Neither Marshawn Lynch nor Fred Jackson seem to be true star running backs, but they will definitely poach some carries and touchdowns along the way, and that'll hurt his value. If the Bills decide to deal one of those guys, Spiller jumps up this list.
Projection: 650 Rushing Yards, 240 Receiving Yards, 6 TDs

4. Dez Bryant WR, Dallas Cowboys (24th Overall)
Let's see... a wide receiver with well known character problems goes to Dallas to join the circus that is Cowboys football. It's gotta work, right? Alright, enough with the TO comparisons. He falls just behind Spiller as the most talented offensive player in the draft, but I don't like the fact that he sat out so much of last season. Unless he shakes off the rust, it will get knocked off of him by the defensive heavy NFC East.
Projection: 750 Yards Receiving, 5 TDs

3. Jahvid Best RB, Detroit Lions (30th Overall)
If Best didn't end the season hurt, he could have been one of the top picks this year. He is explosive, and will be the focal point of the improving Lions offense behind Megatron. Running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield are a great asset to have, especially in PPR leagues, and Best will definitely provide in that category. The two things that scare me about him is the fact that he plays in the NFC North, which should be very stout against the run, and plays for the Lions. And let's face it, that will not be a good thing any time soon.
Projection: 800 Yards Rushing, 300 Yards Receiving, 7 TDs

2. Jermaine Gresham TE, Cincinnati Bengals (21st Overall)
The Bengals have never been a major tight end using team, but they've never really had a great pass-catching option there. As long as Gresham's knee holds up, he could be a huge addition to an already powerful offense. It's great that he has Carson Palmer throwing him the ball, and since the Bengals struggled to pick a #2 option behind Chad Ochocinco last year, he has a chance to get quite a few looks. If he and Best stay healthy, which is a big if, they could be the best options for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Projection: 600 Yards Receiving, 7 TDs

1. Ryan Matthews RB, San Diego Chargers (12th Overall)
Everyone in San Diego is excited to have Matthews in town, and I agree that he is a great fit. But let's face it, moving all the way up to 12 seems a bit over the top for a guy most people projected would fall to the Chargers at 28. With that aside, the former Bulldog now resides in America's Finest City and a top-5 offense. He will lose 3rd downs, and maybe more, to Darren Sproles, but should get the majority of the carries and catches in a very balanced attack. Matthews will be owned in all leagues, and can probably be a good #2-3 back.
Projection: 1100 Yards Rushing, 225 Yards Receiving, 8 TDs

As you can see, I'm not exactly huge on this year's rookies, but I do think they have a place on fantasy teams everywhere. Guys like Best, Gresham and Matthews could bring your team to greatness, but don't pay too much for them.

April 21, 2010

Early Season Standouts

Baseball season is in full swing! Unfortunately, so is finals season. I've had a lot of trouble finding time to write new content, but starting next Thursday I should be able to return to a more regular posting schedule. So now that that's out of the way, let's get to de beisbol!

As the awards are handed out throughout the NBA, I figured it would be a good time to bestow some accolades to the guys who have shined (or fizzled) after the first two weeks of the fantasy season. Without further ado, I present you with the winners of the TEGOAA (or Too Early to Give Out Awards Award) statues.

The Most Likely to Ruin my Team Award: David Ortiz
This isn't really fantasy, but it does have fantasy implications. My Padres have gotten off to a great start (yes, .500 is a great start by Padres standards) mainly due to Chase Headley's explosion onto the San Diego scene, but also from the steady play of our starters and team leader Adrian Gonzalez. Unfortunately, the team might not stay together, as new GM has his way with the finances. While dealing Heath Bell might be inevitable, I was holding out hope that A-Gon would remain in SD, but with the way that Ortiz is playing that might not be the case. Sure he might not play 1st base, but with the plethora of corner outfielders that Boston has, I figured they wouldn't need to deal for Gonzalez. But with Big Papi hitting a woeful .158 and sliding down the Red Sox lineup, they may just feel the need to secure one of the top 1Bs to secure their place as 2nd best in the AL East.

Best Y2K Impression: Co-Winners Andruw Jones and Ivan Rodriguez
If you had asked me prior to the season where these former All-Stars now reside, I probably would have guessed somewhere in the Caribbean, relaxing on a beach in their respective home countries. Little did I know that they would burst back into the fantasy picture, while doing their best to look like themselves, only from 10 years ago. Pretty much all of Jones' counting stats came from an offensive burst against Toronto, but he is still hitting .296 and even swiped a bag. Pudge has been raking consistently all year, batting an unbelievable .450 and providing a whopping 7 RBIs and 10 runs from the catcher position. Sure, he doesn't have a homer yet, but what can you complain about with a guy who is hitting over .400? Let's just hope that these two can keep their time machine running with whatever fuel it must need.

Best Use of a Timeshare: Brett Gardner
I really liked Gardner going into this season. I mean, what's not to like about a guy who has 40+ stolen base potential and gets to benefit from the run production of the Yankee lineup? When he has to split his time with Marcus Thames, that's when. Marcus Thames! The Yankees have a plethora of mashers, and Joe Girardi robs Gardner of 4 full games in favor of a guy with a .250 lifetime average?! It boggles my mind, but that's the way the Yankees work. While being stuck at the tail end of the lineup card will never allow Gardner to get a ton of at-bats, he has shown he doesn't need to get to the dish 600 times a year to be fantasy relevant. With 7 steals in a mere 35 plate appearances, he has shown that he can provide instant speed for any fantasy team struggling in the SB category. If you feel like taking a chance on a sudden change of Joe Girardi's heart be my guest.

Most Likely to Lose His Closer Job Next: Chad Qualls
The recession appears to be coming to a close, if it hasn't already passed, but even MLB closers can't escape the massive unemployment rate, with pitchers losing their jobs left and right. Sure, Qualls can blame quite a bit of his 8.44 ERA on Stephen Drew for his insanely terrible throw last Thursday, but he showed some shakiness even prior to that catastrophe in LA. While there isn't exactly an heir apparent to the D'Backs closer slot, Chad is doing everything he can to give the job away, blowing 2 saves already while wrecking his owner's WHIP. I just hope that Arizona might accept a guy whose only experience is in Little League, because I could sure use a Summer job.

Well there ya have it. Your 2010 TEGOAA winners. It was probably the shortest award show you have ever seen. But let's just face it, take out the commercials, musical performances and whitty banter by the presenters and you probably could have watched the entire Oscars during the time that you took to read this.

April 15, 2010

The Injury Bug Strikes

If you are as lucky as I have been to start the season, you have a fantasy team that would look like a triage camp during Vietnam if they were to come together in real life. Guys all across the league have begun hitting the IR, and if your league has a designated roster spot for injured guys, you are probably looking for the best replacement during the recovery time. For each stud who has now left a blank slot in their wake, I'm going to list a quality replacement for now. (Keeping in mind that they should be available in the majority of 12-team leagues)

Damaged Goods: Miguel Montero (Out a possible 6 weeks)
Injury Replacement:  A.J. Pierzynski
While Pierzynski may not be flashy (which is one the reasons he didn't go on draft day in a lot of leagues) you can't deny his consistency. He always ends up above .250, usually more towards .280 with about 15 homers and his fair share of runs and RBIs. Despite his terrible start, I would be willing to wager my Brett Favre rookie card on the fact that he will put up those same types of numbers, meaning he has to start raking again. And if you are a Montero owner, you have a long time to wait.

Damaged Goods: Aaron Hill (Not usable until at least fantasy week 4)
Injury Replacement: Kelly Johnson

It seems counterintuitive to recommend a guy who just left a game with an injury as a replacement player, but Johnson seems a great fit for Hill owners. If you drafted the Blue Jay's second basemen, you were expecting power and average, and not speed. That's what Johnson brings to the table as well, and has rebounded from a disappointing 2009 with 3 homers and a .360 average. He may not put up the same level of stats that you would have expected from Hill, but let's face it, making up for injury and reducing your losses is where championships are won and lost.

Damaged Goods: Brian Roberts (At least mid-April)
Injury Replacement: Aki Iwamura

Robert's injury woes were well documented this offseason, so his trip to the DL is not surprising, and more importantly, could end up taking longer than expected. Aki may have already flown off your FA list after his blistering start, but if he hasn't he should provide the same kinds of stats Roberts has left you without. On the opposite side of Hill, B-Rob was a SB fiend the past few years, as well as providing a good, not great average and elite run production. Iwamura bats at the top of a Pirates lineup that has shown some life, and has shown a suprising amount of power with 2 homers through only 9 games.

Damaged Goods: Jimmy Rollins (Returns at the end of April)
Injury Replacement: Cliff Pennington

Rollins came out raking, like the rest of the Phillies, and put up a .391 average before he went down with the calf injury. But let's face it, his 2009 .250 average makes it a bit difficult to believe he would have kept that up. Pennington isn't going to be winning any batting titles any time soon, but he does have a fairly good combo of power and speed. While he is no 30/30 type guy, he has a serious chance to go 15/20 or even better, and if you get lucky and he catches a bit of fire, he could net you a few of each during Rollins stint on the DL.

April 14, 2010

Mad Fantasy

I'm a huge fan of South Park. I'm also a small time investor in the stock market, so I have sat down and watched the eccentricity that is Jim Cramer from time to time. So, while I saw Cartman's rendition of Cramer on the latest episode, I couldn't help but crack up as he told people who the up and coming friends were on facebook. Combining the inspiration of Eric Cartman, with the fact that this is a great time for a Buy Low/ Sell High article, I figured I could channel Jim Cramer and give you my candidates for early trades you can make with people who put too much stock in the first 7 games. So just imagine that I'm yelling all of this at you and you should get the full effect.

Buy Low:
  • Kendry Morales- He started last year pretty slow. If your Morales owner was expecting Prince Fielder type numbers out of the Angels slugger, he could come at a good price.
  • Jay Bruce- He couldn't possibly go 1-19 all season long. Right? I sure hope that's right. He has sunk quite a few teams so far this year, so there are bound to be frustrated owners.
  • Justin Verlander- Its scary that he has a 9.00 ERA against the lowly Royals and Indians. I have faith he will turn it around though.
  • Ryan Zimmerman- He was already undervalued going into the year, and this injury plagued start has not helped his case.
  • Raul Ibanez- He is the only Philly (Phillie?) who is hitting below .350. The first week has shown just how powerful the Philadelphia lineup is, so if you can grab an integral part like Raul, it can be a huge boost.
  • Trevor Hoffman- He has been really shaky, but there is no way the all-time saves leader gets dethroned by someone mid-season. Job security is a huge deal for closers, and Hoffman has heaps of it.
 Sell High:
  • Alex Gonzalez- He has hit the most homers out of all shortstops. He is also a 33 year old player, who hasn't played more than 112 games in a season since 2005. He's a great opening week story, but let's face it he isn't gonna be winning a silver slugger any time soon.
  • Dana Eveland- I don't have a thing against Blue Jays. Hell, I even said Vernon Wells could be the key to some championships in yesterday's article. Eveland's masterful first outing was promising, but he only struck out 2 slumping Orioles batters. 
  • Jose Guillen- He has a good opportunity to hit 20 homers, but Guillen is an injury risk and has had mental breakdowns before. He could prove me wrong, but I just flat out don't trust him.
  • Scott Podsednik- Alright, I honestly had no intention of choosing sets of teammates here, but while we are in the Kansas City outfield let's talk about Pod. I see him as a poor man's Rajai Davis or Juan Pierre, but he won't put up enough runs to be fantasy relevant.
My last words of advice: If you have a trade that you are thinking of making, pick up one of these sell high guys and throw him in to sweeten the pot for the other owner. Who knows, maybe you'll be able to pick up a damaged good like Bruce or Zimmerman, and end up with huge stats for the rest of the year.

April 12, 2010

The Future of First Week Studs

So a week of the season has passed by and if you're like me you are looking up to the skies and asking, "Why God?! Why must you take Miguel Montero from us so soon? He was too young!". Also, you are probably towards the bottom of your standings thanks to the tremendous *insert sarcasm here* weeks that guys like Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Johnson put up. But, for every 0-4 day out there, another player is going off and vaulting themselves into transaction logs every where as he becomes the new hot pickup. Here's my list of guys who have broken out like a greasy teenager, and who I think can continue on their torrid paces.

  • Corey Hart: I wrote about him in the preseason "Guys I'm Buying" post and he has made me look like I actually have a clue what I'm talking about. While his .400 batting average and contributions to both the HR and SB categories are great signs, I am most encouraged by his lineup spot. After batting 7th in his first few appearances, as well as sitting out opening day, he starts today in the six hole. Sure one spot doesn't mean much, but it does show that Ken Macha has seen his contributions, and he is one step closer to being attached to one of the best 3-4 hitting combos in the game.
  • Vernon Wells: He and Corey Hart had just about the same ADP going into the season, and each are showing that they deserved better than their 16th round draft spots. Vernon has been on fire, tying for the league lead in homers. After last season's mediocre power output, it is a great sign to see him come out of the gate slugging. He also tied a career high in stolen bases last year, so it should be safe to say that he hasn't lost his legs. Wells is the reason a lot of teams are at the top of their standings, and he will probably help keep them there all season.
  • C.J. Wilson: Sure he is a 30 year old who is starting his first games since 2005, but boy was he impressive in his 2010 debut. He held the 5-1 Blue Jays to no runs, 5 hits and struck out 9 in his seven innings of work. Had the Frank Francisco black hole not swallowed his win, he would have had, arguably, the best first start of the season. His 2009 stats show that his dominance is no fluke. While I'm not saying that he has a chance of repeating his 2.81 ERA; the fact that he recorded a 10.26 K/9 and 33 Saves/Holds, shows that he has the ability to be a good strikeout pitcher, as well as calm under pressure.
  • Jorge Cantu: I snagged Jorge as my Util player towards the end of one of my drafts, and I couldn't be happier. If he could hit 10 RBIs every week, well, he'd be a god... but let's face it he isn't going to Mount Olympus any time soon, let alone Cooperstown. But he is only 28, and is a good enough first baseman that he can give you quality homers and RBIs from the CI or Util position. I don't think he will ever be good enough to fill the 1B slot in a 12 team league, but if his 2008 numbers are any indicator, he could very well get you 25/100/100 this year. Who doesn't want that?
That's only a small list of guys I like, but if you can find a way to trade for these guys, or better yet, are in a league where they are free agents, I would snap them up in a heartbeat. The moves you make now could be the key to winning your fantasy season.

April 9, 2010

Player Snapshot: Austin Jackson

I haven't posted much recently because, well, I don't really like to start anointing guys as the next coming of Pujols after a single series. If the Phillies got to play the Nationals everyday Ryan Howard would probably end the season with his current .400 average and probably break the home run record by a good 20 dingers. Nevertheless, we all know that 3 games do not make a season, so we should temper our puppy love for the early fantasy studs. But, as I say that I don't like to make judgments after a fast start, I'm here to talk about a guy I do like after his first 3 games, Austin Jackson.

While his numbers, outside of his average, do not really jump out at you (2/.333/2/0/0) I am very intrigued by the fact that his 5 hits are composed of a single, 3 doubles and a triple. His impressive slugging percentage, .667, has come in a ballpark that is only rivaled by Petco Park and Progressive Field in terms of its lack of home runs. Not only has he been hindered by the park he visited, but he had to face the ace that is Zack Greinke, as well as bat in front of Johnny Damon, who is on a very cold streak. Each of these conditions has held Jackson's production down a bit, and he is still excelling for a rookie.

What I like most about the young Tigers CF are the non-statistical characteristics. For instance, in order for Detroit to trade away a proven star like Curtis Granderson, they had to have been expecting a healthy amount of talent in return. While Max Scherzer is a quality prospect, Jackson was the star of the deal, and since their scouts probably know more about prospecting than me I will take their word that he is worth Grandy. Despite the fact that Damon has been so cold in these first few games, he still gets to hit in front of run producers like Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, meaning that as long as he continues to get on there is a very good chance of him scoring.

Now back to his stats, and since he hasn't played in majors I'll focus on his minor league numbers as indicators of what he can do. Jackson's homer totals might not break into double digits this year, or anytime soon for that matter, but he can be a major producer in runs, as stated above, and stolen bases, as witnessed at the AAA level. Last year he swiped 24 bags, a pretty impressive number and he is still only 23, so he has fresh legs. He's also one of the only people in the Detroit who has a healthy amount of speed, so if Leyland decides to be a bit daring and run, look for him to turn to Jackson to get the steal.

I really like what I've seen so far this year out of Jackson, and his pedigree says that he should be able to keep up a pretty healthy pace throughout the season. But before you go dropping Carlos Quentin for AJax, make sure that you temper your expectations a little and wait a bit. If you are in the market for a guy who can hit .290, steal 25 bases and score 90 runs, I think Jackson could really be your guy.

April 5, 2010

Knee Jerk Reactions: Opening Day

Well Opening Day has officially ended, and now its time to embark on that 161 game trip to the end of the season. Well, unless you're the Orioles or Rays, that is. But the future and the playoffs seem so far away. So let's reflect on the opening games and see what is the most important info to take away. Oh, and I might talk about that Heyward guy somewhere in there.

Business as Usual:
  • Albert Pujols had an unbelievable line going 4 for 5, with 2 homers, 3 RBIs and a run to match every hit. This would be big news if there weren't commercials proclaiming him as the best hitter in baseball during his games.
  • Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay showed why they were the undisputed top 2 starters off the board. Each went 7 innings and recorded a run. Halladay had 2 more Ks, but Lincecum didn't give up a run. If you had either one of these guys starting in a roto league, you are probably towards the top of your standings right now.
  • Zack Greinke went 6 innings and only allowed one run. Of course, being a Royal prevented him from getting the all important W. It would be interesting to see just what kind of record he could rack up without a terrible bullpen/offense.
 Great Starts:
  • It would be hard to write an opening day blog and leave out the man I so crudely photo-shopped into a Superman costume. Jason Heyward looked very impressive after going 2-4 with 4 RBIs. In addition to his bomb in his first career at-bat, I was scared for Justin Berg on Jay-Hey's single up the middle. He hit it so hard that I was afraid it might just knock the Cubs pitcher's leg right off.
  • Even after an explosive day from "The Machine" the MLB leader in RBIs is Placido Polanco after the first day. If you picked him to give you some cheap, average boosting hits, and some runs, courtesy of the Phillies' stacked lineup, you sure had a nice surprise. There's nothing better than getting a grand slam and 6 RBIs from a late pick, in a single game.
  • Garrett Jones showed his legit power by hitting a dinger to right and left field. Even though the Pirates lineup looked pretty atrocious on paper, they managed to hang a wicked number on Vicente Padilla thanks to Jones. Maybe next year Joe Torre won't start a has been on Opening Day.
  • Despite going 0-3, Chone Figgins had 2 runs and is the league leader, for the time being, with 2 stolen bases. Imagine what he might be able to do if he actually got a hit.
Stumbled out the Gate:
  • The opening night game featured a poor performance from Josh Beckett. While his roto stats were mediocre, the stat that was most alarming was that he had only made the Yankee hitters miss once midway through his start. If Beckett can't miss the hitters' bats it will be a long season of 1 strikeout starts.
  • If anyone thought they were getting a consistent starter in Carlos Zambrano, they were sadly mistaken. Big Z was absolutely shellacked by the Braves, making him the goat of the day. It is days like Zambrano's that scare me from trying streaming in a head to head league.
  • While the three most fantasy relevant Padres (Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headley and Kyle Blanks) all had homers (even though the last two were completely irrelevant), I still hung my head as a Friar fan. Stephen Drew's inside-the-park homer made me shudder. It was a rocky start, that's for sure.
  • Jason Frasor took the ball in his first save attempt this year and ended up with a loss as well as an astronomical ERA. It would seem that he is instantly on the hot seat, since they have Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs waiting in the wings. If you have Frasor and a bench player you don't mind dropping I'd snatch up Gregg just to be safe.
I hope that all of your season's have gotten off to a good start. If not, then I hope it turns around quick.

Also, if you would like any fantasy advice with lineups, matchups or trades, feel free to comment.

April 4, 2010

20 Last Minute Predictions

The MLB season will kick off with a bang on Sunday with the biggest baseball rivalry being rekindled in Boston. So once you p-ahk your self in your wicked comfy recliner to watch the S-ahx play them damn Yankees, the first pitch will be thrown and all of this preseason work constructing our teams will finally pay off. Hold that thought though, I decided I'd sit down and lay out some last minute predictions for the 2010 season. So bookmark this page and bring it up at the end of the season when I miss on all of them.

  1.  David Wright will hit the 25/25 again. The Mets will still suck though.
  2.  Tommy Hanson will finish in the top 5 of NL Cy Young voting.
  3.  Roy Halladay will end up winning the award.
  4.  Rajai Davis will swipe 50 bases. Rickey Henderson said so. That makes it fact.
  5.  After hitting .275, Jay Bruce will cement himself as the 5th hitter in the Reds lineup and become a 3rd round pick in 2011.
  6.  Max Scherzer will strikeout 200 in his first real major league season.
  7.  Despite his impressive Spring, Stephen Strasburg will underwhelm when he makes it to the majors.
  8.  Adam Laroche will have 84 articles written about how good he is after the All-Star Break and his trade value at that point will be completely unreasonable.
  9.  One of the three main Padres sleepers (Everth Cabrera, Chase Headley and Kyle Blanks) will emerge as a fantasy mainstay for years to come.
  10.  Brandon Wood will not breakout. Again.
  11.  Jason Frasor will save 30+ games.
  12.  Manny Ramirez will hit the most homers out of any Dodgers outfielder.
  13.  Josh Hamilton will redeem himself, and remind people why he was a top-30 pick last year.
  14.  Milton Bradley will end up on the DL due to some ridiculous cause. (Vegas has 3:1 odds on the incident involving a "lazy susan")
  15.  Barry Zito will become fantasy relevant this year.
  16.  Kendry Morales will be a top 5 first baseman in next year's drafts.
  17.  The AL Rookie of the Year will go to Brian Matusz after winning 15 games for a mediocre Orioles team.
  18.  Justin Morneau will drive in 120 runs again.
  19.  A minor league team will follow through on the Tim Lincecum bobblehead idea and use real hair to emulate one of their players.
  20.  Colby Rasmus will be the year's best comeback sleeper, hitting 20 homers and swiping 15 bags.
Well there you have em, I wish everyone the best of luck in this year's fantasy season. Unless your in my leagues that is.

April 2, 2010

WFS: NL East

This is the last edition of a series of articles I will be writing, where I pick out three players in each division of the majors and tell you whether I think they will be a Win, Fail or Sleeper in the 2010 campaign. The Win player will be a high pick (1st 5-6 rounds) that I think will reward you with quality, if not excellent production. The Fail player will be one who, you guessed it, will fail to meet expectations, and the sleeper is self explanatory.

Win: Ryan Zimmerman 3B, Washington Nationals (ADP: 34.84)
Let's play a quick game of which third baseman would you rather have!

Player A 2009 Stats: 100/33/113/9/.281, 24 Years Old
Player B 2009 Stats: 110/33/106/2/.292, 25 Years Old

Seems pretty even. Now what if I said that the Player B could be had 2 full rounds later in your draft? Well that would certainly make the lack of 7 SBs seem like a pretty minuscule difference. That's what happens when guys like Evan Longoria (aka Player A) get on the cover of MLB 2K10 and Ryan Zimmerman gets hidden in Washington. This ADP discrepancy is derived more from Zimmerman's anonymity than Longoria's stardom. Both of these guys should be early second rounders, since they provide elite power numbers from a position that is very shallow. I mean the fact that some people have to start Chipper Jones should give you some urgency to draft a third baseman early. There's really no statistics that point to a regression from Zimmerman, so he should make a real steal in the 3rd round.

Fail: Carlos Beltran OF, New York Mets (ADP: 93.62)
When I started sifting through the ADPs of the players in the NL East, I figured with the Mets and Nats both residing here that this would be the easiest portion of the article to fill. Amazingly enough, I found the majority of the guys on these bad, bad teams to be going right about where they should. In the end it came down to Beltran, Jose Reyes and Johan, three injury prone guys from the same team. I decided to leave Reyes alone since there is still so much unknown with his condition, and say what you will about Johan, but he was still pretty impressive last year in limited play. That left me with Beltran, who still played a relatively good game in 2009, but his age and position scare me. When guys who will give you guaranteed numbers are going nearby (see: Ibanez, Raul and Hunter, Torii) it is hard to justify spending a pick on Beltran when he might only play half the season. Even if he were to play the whole year, you could argue that playing in CitiField would only make his numbers fairly even with the aforementioned guys who don't come with so much risk. Beltran was a total stud back in his Royal days, but I just don't see him being in the shape that he needs to be to warrant a 10th round pick. Go with one of the younger guys on the upswing in their careers, like McLouth and McCutchen and leave the injury risk for another owner.

Sleeper: J.A. Happ SP, Philadelphia Phillies (ADP: 259.92)
It would be really easy to take advantage of the fact that Mock Draft Central has Jason Heyward with an ADP of 205.46, and I have too much respect for you guys to do that to you. Instead, I'm going to go with one of the big surprises from last year, who still isn't getting much love. J.A. Happ is moving permanently into the rotation of one of the best teams in baseball, behind a guy so intelligent in the game that they nicknamed him Doc. While Happ's win total and ERA were out of this world, his K rate left something to be desired. What makes this okay though, is that he posted a very impressive 10.07 K/9 in his final AAA year before being called up. He has shown he can strike out a hefty amount of batters, so as he gains more experience his major league total should rise as well. There's really no doubt in my mind that his ERA will come back down to Earth, since its pretty hard to improve on 2.93 without being an ace. But, while that number goes down, his win total should go up to somewhere in the 15-17 range, since he has such a high powered offense behind him. If you are like me and save a few slots towards the end of your rotation for sleeper starters there aren't many other guys in the 250 range that I would pick over Happ and his potential.

April 1, 2010

WFS: AL East

This is the fifth edition of a series of articles I will be writing, where I will pick out three players in each division of the majors and tell you whether I think they will be a Win, Fail or Sleeper in the 2010 campaign. The Win player will be a high pick (1st 5-6 rounds) that I think will reward you with quality, if not excellent production. The Fail player will be one who, you guessed it, will fail to meet expectations, and the sleeper is self explanatory.

Win: Curtis Granderson OF, New York Yankees (ADP: 51.05)
I wrote in the AL Central Article about how Johnny Damon would not be a good fantasy option now that he had left Yankee Stadium for Comerica Park. Granderson made the exact opposite move this offseason despite the fact that the two outfielders were not traded for one another. While Damon will lose the easy lefty homers that the New York stadium couldn't hold. Granderson, on the other hand, will have a number of his long fly balls to left field be turned into homers. Combine that with the fact that he hit 30 homers and swiped 20 bases last year, and you have a player who could very easily go 35/25. There are some minor questions regarding RBIs and runs, but playing in the most high-powered offense in the AL removes a lot of those doubts. The major knock on the Yankees' CF is his average, which was an abysmal .249 in 2009. While this makes him a major liability in roto leagues, there are definite reasons to expect a turnaround in that category. First off, he is a career .272 hitter, including last year's stats which drag the number down. Granderson also hit .275 on balls in play, which while only somewhat lower than average, is a significant low for a guy with the kind of speed that he possesses. As long as he can be a bit more "lucky" when he makes contact, Granderson should hit somewhere in the .270-.280 range, making him very comparable to Grady Sizemore, except 2-3 rounds later.

Fail: Brian Roberts 2B, Baltimore Orioles (ADP: 48.67)
Roberts had begun to slip in drafts due to his highly-publicized back issues, but as he seems to recover he has moved back into the 4th round. Roberts is definitely a legit 2B starter, but he is being drafted among the likes of a few players I would much rather have. Guys like Cano, Hill and Zobrist are all going around the same draft slot, despite the fact that they possess power, an attribute that is rare at their position. Cano hits behind some of the best hitters in baseball, Hill had an unbelievable year hitting 36 homers and Zobrist hit 25/15 and has outfield eligibility. Meanwhile, Roberts is only a minor power threat, who can steal somewhere in the 30 SB range, however, with his speed numbers slumping even 30 seems like it could be a stretch. Steals are abundant in the OF, and can be found much later on, whereas homers and RBIs are much harder to find, especially at second. Even if Roberts plays the entire season with limited pain and missed time, he still might not match the numbers of other comparable 2Bs, so why take the chance?

Sleeper: Jeff Niemann SP, Tampa Bay Rays (ADP: 214.85)
A lot of the guys I have selected throughout these WFS columns have ended up being 27, without picking them for that reason. Well, Niemann is yet another one of those guys entering the year that many people believe is the best bet for a breakout season by a player. Niemann already showed last year that he can survive in the Murderer's Row that is the AL East, going 13-6 with a very respectable 3.94 ERA. While his K rate (6.23 per 9) was less than stellar, he has shown an ability to post big strikeout numbers in the minors, so he may increase his total with a little experience under his belt. He also saw his K/9 number shoot up throughout the season, a sign of his experience kicking in.
He plays for a great team, playing together for one of the last times as baseball's "highest bidder" mentality will rob them of some of their free agents. With that motivation, he could very well post the same type of wins total. I don't really expect his ERA and WHIP numbers to come down that much, but they were respectable to begin with, for a late round sleeper pick. There really isn't much risk that comes with these picks, so taking a chance on a guy who could improve on numbers like Niemann's would make a great steal as  a starter to round out your rotation.