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Saturday, March 28, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: DAVID ROBERTSON (FOREARM) TO PITCH SUNDAY

Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson is expected to pitch on Sunday which will mark his first outing since admitting to battling some forearm pain this spring.  Robertson has been hit hard all throughout the exhibition schedule but both he and manager Robin Ventura expect him to be fine for the opener.

Analysis:  It is crazy to me that an MRI has not been done here as forearm pain is a major red flag for a pitcher.  The fact Robertson has had his head beaten in this spring is also another major red flag considering how dominant a pitcher he always has been.  I would be holding my breath right now if I am a Robertson owner and am hoping for a clean appearance tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DANIEL MURPHY (HAMSTRING) TAKES AT-BATS IN MINOR LEAGUE GAME

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took five at-bats in a minor league game on Saturday but he still has not been cleared to play the field due to his ongoing hamstring issues.  With the season fast approaching, Murphy is not likely to get enough work in to be ready for the opener.

Analysis:  Even if Murphy starts the season on the DL, he is only expected to miss a few games.  He still has very solid value as a top ten fantasy baseball second baseman but doesn't excel in any one category. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: SHOULDER PROBLEM FOR JAIME GARCIA OPENS DOOR FOR CARLOS MARTINEZ

                                       

One of the more talked-about pitching battles this spring training centered in the St. Louis Cardinals' spring training complex where the fifth spot in the team's rotation was to be between three arms.  Those arms included veteran Jaime Garcia to go along with control-artist youngster Marco Gonzales and power-arm Carlos Martinez.  All three men had pitched good to very well leading up to this weekend when decisions would need to be made about that fifth starter spot.  The decision got a bit easier for manager Mike Matheney Saturday when it was learned Garcia had to be scratched from his scheduled outing due to a setback with his surgically repaired left shoulder.  If all things were equal, Garcia was expected to win the job due to his experience and solid performances in the past.  However Garcia could be facing an indefinite amount of time on the sidelines with the shoulder which leaves Gonzales and Martinez as the two dogs left in the fight.  As I noted earlier, Gonzales and Martinez are two different pitches.  Gonzales has very good control but is more of a pitch-to-contact guy.  Meanwhile Martinez sometimes loses the strike zone but he also has extremely good power stuff that centers on a blazing fastball which can net a bunch of K's.  Ultimately it comes down to what Matheney prefers but it is a great idea to pick up Martinez where available due to his power upside.  Gonzales is a nice pitcher but his lack of K's doesn't play as well in fantasy baseball.  Martinez could very well realize his sleeper potential this season. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL TOP 100 OUTFIELDERS

1.  Mike Trout:  The slam-dunk number 1 pick in all formats.  The K rate shot up and the steals fell off the map as maybe Trout is settling in as a prime run-producer after getting moved out of the leadoff spot.  Still 40 home runs is not out of the question.  A true gem.
2.  Giancarlo Stanton:  Bets pure power hitter in the game even threw in some new tricks in 2014 as he stole some bases and put up a decent average.  As long as injury doesn't strike, Stanton will reach the 40 home runs mark.
3.  Andrew McCutchen:  Almost won another MVP last season and McCutchen is flat in his power/speed prime.
4.  Adam Jones:  Durable, extremely productive, and in his prime.  Nothing more you want here out of your top outfielder.
5.  Carlos Gomez:  Has settled in as a 20 HR/40 SB/.280 hitting outfielder 1 after some pronounced early career struggles. 
6.  Jose Bautista:  Had nice comeback season in 2014 as the power trended back up and Bautista stayed healthy.  Picked up first base eligibility to go with the outfield.
7.  Jacoby Ellsbury:  Now 32 and always an injury risk but Ellsbury was better than the numbers showed last season.  Power picked up in his first go-round as a Yankee but days of 50 steals could be finished due to age.
8.  Justin Upton:  Strangely got traded again as Upton supplies rare power in today's game.  Still strikes out a ton but 25-30 home runs is very valuable. 
9.  Nelson Cruz:  Stay away.  Cruz set to be a big bust in moving from homer-haven Baltimore to spacious Safeco Field.  Has long history of leg injuries as well and home runs could drop by as many as 15.
10. Yoenis Cespedes:  Now that he was moved out of Boston, Cespedes will fail to reach 30 home runs again. 
11. Michael Brantley:  Advanced stats checked out which means Brantley's 2014 breakout was legit.  Just keep in mind it took a ton of at-bats for Brantley to hit 20 home runs so don't look for growth there.
12. Yasiel Puig:  Really like the depressed draft price on Puig this season after he hit only 15 home runs a year ago.  This kid has a ton of skills that will explode in one huge season as soon as 2015.
13. Bryce Harper:  Remember that Harper is still only 23 after it seems like he has been around forever.  A few things though is that Harper's steals could already be vanishing and his penchant for injuries is a major drawback on his potential. 
14. Ryan Braun:  Thumb injury clearly took a toll on Braun's numbers last season but also a year off the PED's likely played a factor as well.  Tough call here but too many worries for me. 
15. Carlos Gonzalez:  Rampant injuries are ruining Gonzalez right before our eyes.  Was always a big fan until he bombed for me and many others last season.  Athletic ability could be eroding now due to all the injuries. 
16. Charlie Blackmon:  After May Blackmon came back to earth for his owners last season but he still has the ability to do a nice Hunter Pence impression with fewer home runs and more stolen bases. 
17. Corey Dickerson:  Severe splits between the home and road as most Colorado Rockies hitters have and Dickerson was horrible as a base-stealer.  Still this is a giy who can bat. 300 with over 20 home runs.  We are buying.
18. Hanley Ramirez:  Obviously you want to play HanRam at shortstop while he has the eligibility but he can be a terrific outfielder as well after signing on with a team who plays in an offensive park for the first time in his career. 
19. Hunter Pence:  Love him.  Always have and always will.  Perennially disrespected and always gives up terrific five category numbers without blowing any one statistic away to help keep the price down.  Yes he won't be back until late April or early May but Pence is still well worth an investment.
20. Billy Hamilton:  Speed is monstrous and 60 steals is likely if Hamilton can even bat just .260.  Still this is a one category specialist pretty much all the way if that is how you want to spend an early pick.  Much better stolen base value later on.
21. Matt Kemp:  After two years ruined by injuries, Kemp showed he is far from done after cracking 25 home runs in a nice comeback season in 2014.  Getting traded to San Diego and Petco Park is more of a ballpark drag for a guy who has spent his career in pitching parks.  Also Kemp's days as more than a 10-15 base stealer look finished.
22. Starling Marte:  Marte continues to post decent average despite a horrific K rate.  If he loses that BABIP luck, the bottom could fall out.  Still this is a 15 HR/35 SB near-outfielder 1.
23. Mookie Betts:  Ahead of Rusney Castillo in the centerfield battle and has been red-hot all spring.  Can steal 30 bases with a .300 average and some home runs thrown in for good measure.  Definite potential to be Rookie of the Year. 
24. George Springer:  Listen Springer has some issues to work through before he becomes an outfielder 1 star, namely his horrific K rate and hesitancy to steal like he did in the minors.  Otherwise the power is immense here and it is only a matter of time before Springer makes good on all that natural talent.
25. Marcell Ozuna:  What a nice job this kid did as a rookie last season in showing a potent power bat.  Has a few years of ceiling left and time to improve on the mediocre average.  Bright future.
26. Jorge Soler:  Cuban masher is lighting it up this spring and showing a 30-home run bat.  Buy into this stock. 
27. Brett Gardner:  Don't count on Gardner replicating the 17 home runs he smacked last season as that was 9 more than his previous high.  Still this is a guy who can help in three categories but Gardner's days as a 40-steal guy are gone for good.
28. Jay Bruce:  Rough year for Bruce in 2014 as injuries and more strikeouts combined to ruin his numbers.  Bruce remains in his prime though and is a proven 30-home run guy which is very valuable in today's game.  Solid bounce back on tap.
29. Jason Heyward:  Gets a fresh start in St. Louis where magical things happen.  The talent has always been there and Heyward continues to make incremental gains each season despite the high K rate and sometimes ugly average.  I am still buying.
30. Matt Holliday:  Still a very professional hitter but the air is leaking out everywhere.  Move on unless you can snag him as an outfielder 3.
31. Alex Gordon:  Counting stats are always impressive as Gordon annually amasses very high playe appearances.  The power and speed are just ordinary however and the average is settling in the .260 range.
32. Michael Cuddyer:  Now 35, leaving Colorado for Citi Field, and increasingly injury-prone.  I wouldn't touch.
33. Ryan Zimmerman:  Picked up outfield eligibility last season but keep Zimmerman at the hot corner if you can.
34. ChristianYelich:  I absolutely love this kid.  The talent is clearly evident and Yelich could quickly turn into a 20 HR/40 SB monster.  Draft aggressively.
35. Shin-Soo Choo:  What a disaster 2014 was for Choo who did nothing right despite moving to a prime hitter's park in Texas.  The age is creeping up but a tidy profit could be had here as there is no way Choo is anywhere near that bad again.
36. Will Myers:  Like Matt Kemp, Myers gets a new start in San Diego where health and a high K rate have been big challenges.  Was never as high on him as others and so far I am right.  Strikes out way too much which will hurt his power as opposing pitchers have no reason to throw him anything to drive.
37. Marlon Byrd:  Can't argue with the very good pop Byrd has shown the last two seasons no matter how he is doing it. 
38. Kole Calhoun:  Doesn't run much for a leadoff guy but Calhoun could lead the majors in runs scored fronting a truly potent Angels lineup, in addition to popping 15 home runs.  Buy, buy, buy.
39. Jayson Werth:  Saying he will be back for the opener after shoulder surgery but even if he is not, Werth is "worth" investing due to his very cheap draft price and always decent numbers.
40. Gregory Polanco:  Was not ready when promoted last season and the results showed.  Still Polanco has Andrew McCutchen ability with regards to hitting .300 with pop and speed. 
41. J.D. Martinez:  The average was propped up by a lucky BABIP as Martinez strikes out way too much to be a .300 guy again.  He does however carry some good power value as Martinez will continue to get good pitches to hit batting behind or around Victor Martinez/Miguel Cabrera.
42. Rusney Castillo:  Has hit no matter where he plays.  There is some Carlos Gomez ability here for a very affordable draft price.  Could be the next Cuban star but first needs to nail down playing time which shockingly doesn't look guaranteed right now.
43. Melky Cabrera:  Successfully posted a nice comeback season in 2014 with the Blue Jays as Cabrera contributed in all five standard categories on a low-impact level.  He widely stayed in a hitter's park after signing with the White Sox. 
44. A.J. Pollock:  Former first round pick who was on the way to a breakout season before injury struck.  Pollock could hit 15 home runs and steal 25 with a useful average so he stands as a tremendous value candidate this season.  Major sleeper. 
45. Carlos Beltran:  April was impressive but the rest of the season went downhill for the rapidly aging Beltran in his first go-round with the New York Yankees.  The home runs will fly out on the rare occasions Beltran is healthy and at 39 he is really not worth the trouble anymore.
46. Alex Rios:  Lots of risk in this part of the rankings as Rios fell almost completely off the statistical map last season in Texas of all places.  Still Rios has made a career out of doing what is expected so he could turn a small profit since no one wants him anymore and is on a one-year prove it deal with the Royals who will let him run as often as he wishes.
47. Desmond Jennings:  Going the way of B.J. Upton as an ugly average/stolen base guy.  We are past the ceiling years now for Jennings who is really just an ordinary player. 
48. Ben Zobrist:  Continue to play Zobrist in the infield as he gets most of his value there.  He too is aging and seeing his numbers slip more every season.
49. Curtis Granderson:  Still hits home runs but Granderson was no match for the vast dimensions of Citi Field.  He should be a bit better in the average department at the very least though but more than .260 is wishful thinking.
50. Torii Hunter:  The guy refuses to get old.  Hunter is back for one more season and still carries enough outfielder 3 value.
51. Ben Revere:  Big-time stolen base guy who can be a nice source there, while also putting up a good batting average and solid runs total.  Not a complete one-trick pony.
52. Josh Harrison:  Not liking his chances to repeat 2014 as you will read more about in a Bust feature.
53. Leonys Martin:  Has been given the assignment of leadoff batter which could be a major boost to his already solid value.  Think 40 stolen bases and a possible 10 home runs with 80 runs scored. 
54. Khris Davis:  Classic poor average slugger, Davis actually made good on the sleeper value from last season. 
55. Brandon Moss:  Will be a threat for nearly 30 home runs as long as the body cooperates and maintains his standing as one of the better buys in the game.
56. Chris Carter:  Squeezes in if your league uses 5 starts as the benchmark.  Massive power as Carter is the new Adam Dunn right on down to the absolutely horrific batting average.
57. Evan Gattis:  You want Gattis at catcher where he could be the very rare guy to swat 30 home runs now that he will the permanent DH for the Houston Astros.
58. Lorenzo Cain:  Finally stayed healthy last season and the speed took over as Cain ran at will.  Don't look for much power here and actually Cain has the look of a bust candidate as he can't stay healthy for long and most of his value comes in his speed which can fluctuate.
59. Martin Prado:  Stash Prado at second base but leaving the Yankees was a drag on his value.
60. Nick Markakis:  Markakis is fresh off neck surgery and before that a new deal with the Atlanta Braves where his already limited pop will be further weakened due to the downgrade in ballpark.
61. Steve Pearce:  Pearce was a big help down the stretch last season for the Orioles with above-average power.  Still he was barely hanging on as a major leaguer so those numbers have to be taken with a grain a salt.  At the very least he will get a prime chance to prove they weren't a fluke as the O's need bats after getting decimated in free agency.
62. Dexter Fowler:  Has a new home for the second season in a row but Fowler's value as barely an outfielder 3 remains.  Just never developed into the power/speed dynamo many expected. 
63. Nick Catellanos:  Did all right as a rookie last season but Castellanos lacks pop and is prone to the strikeout which could hurt his average.
64. Angel Pagan:  Injured for most of 2014 and aging, Pagan can still help in spurts with his speed and occasional home runs. 
65. Mike Morse:  Morse still has thunder in his bat and can be a very cheap 20 home runs if he can stay healthy enough. 
66. Dustin Ackley:  Ackley is starting to figure things out as a major league hitter but he still doesn't do enough to make a decent impact in any one category.  Remains a better second base value. 
67. Shane Victorino:  Victorino is fading as his legs are beginning to give out which is a major problem since most of his value comes from running. 
68. Domonic Brown:  Told you all to avoid Brown last season after his previous power "breakout."  Brown's issue with strikeouts made him a bust waiting to happen and that is exactly what occurred in 2014 like I said it would.  Don't bother as the Phillies seem like they are running out of patience. 
69. Adam Eaton:  Has terrific hitting skills with regards to being well over a .300-batter but Eaton has to this point failed to make good on any of the minor league pop he previously showed. 
70. Alejandro De Aza:  Does just enough to qualify annually as an outfielder 3 as De Aza can run a bit and pop some homers.  If that works for you than great. 
71. Oswaldo Arcia:  Very good sleeper candidate here as Arcia has the natural power to smack 30 home runs but the average could be scary. 
72. Dayan Viciedo:  The Cuban slugger can hit you 20 home runs if he plays enough but that is about it. 
73. Avisail Garcia:  Sleeper alert!  Garcia looked like he was going to be break out in 2014 in showing off some impressive power/speed ability but his body failed to cooperate.  The average may not be great initially but this kid is oozing with potential. 
74. Gerardo Parra:  Solid leadoff guy who can net you 15 stolen bases and 75 runs with a decent average.  Use in five outfielder formats. 
75. Brock Holt:  The best thing you can say about Holt is his insane eligibility where he qualifies literally everywhere but catcher and pitcher. 
76. Allen Craig:  Ugly season for Craig in 2014 no doubt but he can't possibly be that bad two years in a row considering he was prior to that one of the better pure hitters.  Take advantage of the steepe discount to find out. 
77. Rajai Davis:  Still can run at 34 but Davis is the definition of an aging veteran who will have nothing but fading skills. 
78. Denard Span:  Quietly had a terrific season in 2014 leading off for the Washington Nationals but again he doesn't move the needle much in any one category.  Still the small contributions across the board puts Span in decent outfielder 3 territory, especially after his injury. 
79. Andre Ethier:  Could get more work with Matt Kemp now in San Diego but now Joc Pederson is entering the picture so that is no guarantee.
80. Josh Hamilton:  Sad story here and no guarantee of positive ending either.  Avoid. 
81. Austin Jackson:  Gets a new start with the Seattle Mariners after coming over in a trade last season but Jackson has been trending in the wrong direction for a few years now.  Just never broke through as the star some thought he could be. 
82. Logan Morrison:  Don't forget about this Twitter-loving slugger as Morrison looked good when on the field last season and he is fully capable of making a run at 20 home runs at a dirt cheap rate as long as his body cooperates. 
83. Chris Coghlan:  Came back from baseball Siberia last season with the Cubs in showcasing some old power/speed juice.  Not optimistic about an encore so don't go crazy here.
84. Nick Swisher:  Looks completely shot and is really not worth messing with as Swisher qualifies as a fading veteran which is someone you never want to invest in.
85. Juan Lagares:  The tools are interesting here as Lagares hit for a decent average last season and can run like the wind.  Still Lagares has very little power and his ceiling is limited overall as the average is anything but stable. 
86. Carl Crawford:  Actually had one of his better seasons in 2014 which is not saying much considering what a joke Crawford has been.  The legs can still net 20 steals but you don't want to deal with this aggravation. 
87. Coco Crisp:  One of my all-time favorites, Crisp himself is fading as his steals are eroding quick and the body is always prone to injury. 
88. Colby Rasmus:  Can pop home runs but it comes with a horrid .230 average. 
89. Will Venable:  Fell completely on his face in 2014 after that surprising 20/20 campaign the season prior.  No thank you.
90. Michael Bourn:  Told you TWO years ago Bourn was shot and since than he has done nothing but prove me right.  Legs are shot which means there is nothing left to talk about. 
91. Matt Joyce:  A pronounced first half stud and second half dud, work with Joyce accordingly. 
92. B.J. Upton:  Please. 
93. Jared Dyson:  Terrific late round steals grab. 
94. Sam Fuld:  Runs very well and could get a chance at leadoff.  Another example of cheap speed. 
95. Travis Snider:  We have been waiting for 50-something years for Snider's potential to reveal itself.  Enough. 
96. Ichiro Suzuki:  Still a professional hitter but Suzuki is just hanging on now in his quest for 3,000 hits. 
97. Eric Young Jr.:  If he could figure out how to get on first base, Young Jr. could lead the league in steals. 
98. Seth Smith:  Had his moments at times the last three seasons but only in a 15-home run case. 
99. Emilio Bonifacio:  Will run like crazy if he can get on base but that has been a career-long issue.
100.Daniel Nava:  As mediocre as one can get. 
 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARLOS GONZALEZ DEALING WITH KNEE SORENESS

                                           

A day after being removed from the team's exhibition game with left knee soreness, Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez complained of more pain in the joint early Saturday.  The Rockies have downplayed the issue but Gonzalez is coming off knee surgery that ended his 2014 season early.  He is considered day-to-day.

Analysis:  Already.  No injury with Gonzalez is every minor and this is obviously something that needs to be watched closely.  He knees continue to betray him and that means his speed may never come back to his past 20-stoleb base abilities.  Gonzalez is as big of a boom-or-bust player as you can get this season.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BOBBY PARNELL TO RETURN AT END OF APRIL

New York Mets SP Bobby Parnell is expected to return to the team by the end of April from last season's Tommy John surgery.  Parnell is already throwing in games but his velocity remains down.  Parnell has been around 89-91 in his spring outings which contrast to the 98 he threw before the surgery.  Jenrry Mejia us set to serve as the closer at the start of the season but manager Terry Collins has said multiple times Parnell could vie for the gig at some point.

Analysis:  Parnell is really just a speculative add at this point.  His lack of velocity is a major concern and Mejia was more than good last season so he has a decent leash. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DENARD SPAN (ABDOMEN) THROWING OFF FLAT GROUND

Washington Nationals outfielder Denard Span threw successfully at 150 feet as he continues his rehab from abdominal surgery.  Span is still expected to return sometimes around the end of April.

Analysis:  Span is a decent outfielder 3 who can steal 20-plus bases and bat .300 while scoring a ton of runs at the top of a potent Washington lineup.  A buy low is a good idea as his price is never that high to begin with. 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL TOP PROSPECT WATCH

Over the last week we have seen some big name fantasy baseball pitchers and hitters get their tickets back to the farm as major league teams pare down their rosters with the regular season approaching.  Noah Syndegaard, Maikel Franco, Alex Meyer, and others have already begun the journey but Kris Bryant and his Mickey Mantle impersonation remains.  So with two weeks to go before the games count, let's take a quick gander at the top prospects for 2015 and what their outlook is for the season in terms of promotion and possible impact.

1.  Kris Bryant:  Now up to 10 home runs and counting as Bryant continues to take batting practice against major league pitching.  What the kid is doing is amazing right now and the debate is reaching epic levels now about what the Cubs will/should do with Bryant to start the season.  The Super 2 status always comes into play here and the latest reports still have the Cubs starting Bryant in the minors for at least April.  Still the way Bryant has destroyed major pitching, the latest he should be up is May 1st and not June.  I still maintain that the power is off the charts but the average could lag just a bit due to a high K rate.  Big deal.  Major regret in my part for not reaching for him in the Experts Draft.

2.  Byron Buxton:  Buxton continues to possess some off the most off-the-charts athleticism and overall ability as any prospect in baseball but he needs more seasoning in the minors after having 2014 tremendously impacted by injury.  Buxton reminds me of Jacoby Ellsbury the way he can contribute across the fantasy baseball hitting board with a heavy emphasis on speed but this is a summer promotion at the earliest.

3.  Joc Pederson:  Lost in the Bryant drama is the amazing performance of Joc Pederson for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Pederson is up to three home runs, running like crazy, and putting up five-category numbers.  Unlike Bryant, Pederson is a lock to begin the season in the majors and he is coming off a remarkable 2014 campaign on the farm with 33 home runs and 30 stolen bases while batting .303.  The 26.9 percent K rate is a concern as Pederson may not even bat .270 but he could do a swell Chris Young circa-2008 impression if all breaks right.

4.  Javier Baez:  I do love the power/speed potential here, especially at the middle infield but Baez has incredible holes in his swing that may not allow him to stick with the Cubs for long this season if it doesn't improve.  He could barely get the bat on the ball at times during his second half promotion last season but again he can hit the baseball a mile and run very well which is very rare at either second base or shortstop.  Just be aware you are getting a .250 average with those ratios.

5.  Jorge Soler:  Meet Yoenis Cespedes 2.0.  The latest Cuban masher comes with 25-30 home run power and the cleanup spot already in the Chicago lineup.  He too strikes out a bit too much but this is not a .240 deal here.  Soler makes enough consistent contact that he could approach .280 to go with all the power.  Will break camp with the team.

6.  Maikel Franco:  Franco is stalling no doubt.  With the Phillies rebuilding and having no need to stash him away, Franco went and did next-to-nothing with the bat this spring which promoted his demotion.  The Phillies will call him up quickly if Franco shows signs of his above-average power but even in the minors last season he was underwhelming.  The shine is starting to come off a bit. 

7.  Joey Gallo:  Gallo has opened some eyes this spring with his power and wheels.  The Rangers could use his thump and will likely open the season with him at first base or even the outfield.  Like with almost all the other top prospect hitters, Gallo has a very high K rate that may not allow him to hit even .260. 

8.  Noah Syndegaard:  The latest fireballing New York Mets pitching gem following Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob DeGrom, Syndegaard has already been demoted.  Dillon Gee took the injured Wheeler's spot in the rotation but the next injury will have Syndegaard in play where he can unleash his power 98-mph fastball that should generate a good deal of K's.  Control is a bit of an issue though but pitching through the dry air in Las Vegas figures to help Syndegaard when he gets to the majors like it did DeGrom.

9.  Steven Matz:  The other half of the top two Met pitching prospects, the control-heavy Matz can also dial up the fastball as well.  I actually like Matz more than Syndegaard as a prospect due to his control.  On the fast track to the majors, Matz could post usable ratios right away.

10. Andrew Heaney:  Heaney has had an up-and-down spring but the talent is evident.  Like with Steven Matz, Heaney has terrific control for a young pitcher and he can generate some strikeouts with solid movement like Michael Wacha despite not having a blazing heater.  Right now Heaney is 60-40 to make the Los Angeles Angels rotation and I would place him in SP 5 territory under that situation if he breaks camp with the club.

11. Addison Russell:  Yet another monster Cubs prospect, Russell is not generating much buzz yet in camp but the ability is immense.  Russell can do it all, from hitting for power, to stealing bases.  Not much has been said with regards to his status so we have to assume a May/June deal here like with Bryant.  Will be quick to make the add when the promotion arrives.

12. Carlos Rodon:  Meet the next Justin Verlander in his prime.  Rodon is the real deal when it comes to power pitching monsters in the making but he will likely spend the while season on the Chicago White Sox farm.  There is a chance he could sneak in a late September call but Rodon is more of a 2016 story.

13. Yasmani Tomas:  So far the Arizona Diamondbacks' third base/outfield prospect has struggled badly so far in spring training with poor hitting and atrocious defense.  The raw power is there but Tomas is not given right now after what we have seen.  The numbers will eventually arrive but Tomas could be in for an extended learning curve at the major level which could tests some of our patience.

14. Blake Swihart:  The top catching prospect in baseball got sent down to the minor leagues already as the Boston Red Sox have Christian Vasquez and Ryan Hannigan already.  Those two names don't impress anyone while Swihart carries immense potential.  The bat looks major league ready as shown in his very good spring training but a summer promotion is the best we can hope for at this rate. 

Dylan Bundy, Carlos Correia, and Francisco Lindor could also be factors at some point this season but all look to be late summer deals at best. 

There you have it.  As always let us hear what you think. 



Also if you haven't done so already, head over to the message board and register where I answer questions all season.

 

Friday, March 27, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JACOBY ELLSBURY (OBLIQUE) TAKES BP FRIDAY

                                       

New York Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury took batting practice on Friday as he continues to be a good bet to start the season on time despite suffering an oblique strain last week.  Ellsbury has maintained all along that he would be good to go and the fact he now is taking batting practice indicates that the oblique is not much of an issue anymore.

Analysis:  Great news here as Ellsbury looks almost all the way back.  He should once again have immense five-category impact but the next injury is always around the corner. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: DANIEL MURPHY STARTING SEASON ON DL WITH HAMSTRING

                                           

Running out of time.  It is a common refrain spoken this time of years as spring training beings to wind down and injured players face the prospect of beginning the season on the DL.  Such is the situation of New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy who is likely going to start the season on the DL due to the hamstring strain he suffered last week.  This is exactly what we predicted when the injury first came down as hamstring injuries are typically a multi-week deal.  Murphy has not done much since suffering the injury and manager Terry Collins said the "running out of time" quote Friday in doing the math.  Murphy has to get back into spring games and get his swing back in order before he can play but the DL stint can be backdated to the point where he will miss only 6-8 games.  The loss is not a major one as Murphy is not a star top-level fantasy baseball hitter but he is one that has sizable impact since he contributes in all five standard ROTO categories.  While Murphy doesn't do any one thing well, he clearly is a top ten option in the shallow second base region.  Matt Reynolds will start in his place and he has little value.  Go to the wire for a quick and short-term solution.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: TYLER CLIPPAED TO FINISH GAMES UNTIL SEAN DOOLITTLE RETURNS


The Oakland A’s made it official that Tyler Clippard will serve as the team’s closer until injured Sean Doolittle makes his way back from earlier shoulder trouble.  Doolittle is just now starting to throw off flat ground after he was found to have a slight tear in his rotator cuff and is not expected back until May.  Clippard meanwhile will close out games until his return.

Analysis:  Clippard is fully capable of doing a nice job in the ninth inning as he has been one of the most dominant setup men the last four years.  His K rate also jives well for success there as well.  It will be interesting to see if he gets the chance to formally hold the job even when Doolittle gets back but that is a debate we can discuss later on.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CHRIS SALE TO START APRIL 12TH


Chicago White Sox ace SP Chris Sale is expected to make his first start of 2015 around April 12th.  Sale is throwing bullpen sessions after suffering a fractured foot at the start of spring training but he still has to work up his pitch count in order to be ready to make a start. 

Analysis:  All in all Sale could miss as little as one start if that projection is accurate.  There is no question that on stuff alone, Sale is a top five starter in fantasy baseball.  The strikeouts are that potent.  However his penchant for injuries is well-established and make Sale a decent risk in fantasy baseball circles.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS" JOSH REDDICK (OBLIQUE) TO START SEASON ON DL


Oakland A’s outfielder Josh Reddick is expected to begin the 2015 season on the disabled list due to the oblique strain he suffered earlier in camp.  Reddick has made good progress since the injury in taking batting practice and getting close enough to game action but he is still a bit off schedule to be ready for the Opener.

Analysis:  Not unexpected.  Oblique injuries for a hitter are likely shoulder issues for a pitcher.  They are incredibly frustrating and slow to heal and Reddick has been no different.  He has decent power that can go past the 20 mark but Reddick’s high K rate make him just an option in five outfielder formats.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARINERS TO NAME TAJUAN WALKER FIFTH STARTER


The Seattle Mariners are expected to name rookie SP Tajuan Walker as their number 5 starter to begin the season.  Walker has pitched very well this spring after his 2014 was almost completely wiped out due to a persistent shoulder problem.  So far Walker not given up a run in 18 spring innings while punching out 19 batters.

Analysis:  Walker was once considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball due to his power repertoire and he certainly looks like he retains that ability after his shoulder issues.  He makes for a terrific sleeper considering his home park and strikeout ability. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JON NIESE BATTLING WEAKNESS IN SHOULDER


New York Mets lefty starter Jon Niese has once again battled issues with his left pitching shoulder this spring.  Long a career problem for Niese, the veteran admitted Friday that he has dealt with some weakness in his shoulder during some of his spring outings.  Niese did say that he changed his delivery somewhat to compensate and he has been ruled as ready to go for the Opener.

Analysis:  Every single season Niese has one of two stretches where his shoulder gives him problems and this time it started even earlier.  The guy can never go more than 4-5 straight outings without something cropping up which reminds us how fragile physically he is.  Overall Niese is nothing more than an SP 5.

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: MICHAEL WACHA SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Shoulder injuries are often considered worse than elbow problems for a pitcher.  While a bad elbow could lead to Tommy John surgery that costs a pitcher a complete season, often these players come back stronger than they were before the procedure.  A shoulder injury however is considered much worse due to the fact that the damages done there are irreversible and often lead to diminished velocity in a pitcher and thus results that go in the wrong direction.  We have seen big-time power pitchers such as Josh Johnson and Tommy Hanson turn to mush almost overnight after coming down with shoulder injuries that never totally healed.  Both Johnson and Hanson came up to the majors as fireballing pitchers who struck out a ton of batters but once both came down with the shoulder problems, they were never the same.  Hanson was soon out of baseball and Johnson is barely hanging on.  And don't forget about Johan Santana who went from a two-time Cy Young award winning monster strikeout pitcher to a guy who is on a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles in trying to salvage his career after having the last three seasons ruined with a bum shoulder.  Thus it was a major concern when St. Louis Cardinals top pitching prospect Michael Wacha came down with his own shoulder injury midway through last season which interrupted a quick rise to stardom.  Wacha came up in 2013 striking out a batter per inning and showcasing top control and a vast array of potent pitches.  Than the shoulder injury appeared midway through the 2014 season and Wacha spiraled to a lengthy DL stint and than terrible outings when he returned that showed some diminished velocity and a rise in his ERA/WHIP.  Thus when 2015 spring training came around, Wacha saw his draft ADP plummet from the year prior.  Wacha however has turned the talk to a more positive light in his 15 spring innings, with the latest being a 5.2 inning shutout on Wednesday.  Overall Wacha goes into his next spring start with a collective 1.76 ERA and he has struck out 13 batters in those 15 innings.  The strikeouts are the most impressive and are a tremendously positive sign that the shoulder is all right and that is hasn't sapped Wacha's strength.  Wacha looks healthy now and his talent is very high given his vast array of pitches.  Those who bought low on Wacha look like they may end up with a terrific bargain on their hands.  The one thing to remember however is that shoulder injuries tend to re-occur so Wacha is not out of the woods totally yet.  Still this is a very good sign going into the season that Wacha can realize his potential as a front-of-the-line pitcher.

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL STTAUS REPORT: STEVEN SOUZA OUTFIELDER TAMPA BAY RAYS

One of the more talked about sleepers for the 2015 fantasy baseball sleeper has been Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Steven Souza.  With the Rays in a sort of rebuilding mode, Souza was a guy who represented the future for the team due to his multi-dimensional ability.  Souza was coming off a terrific 2014 campaign at Triple-A when he hit 18 home runs and stole 26 bases while hitting a ridiculous .350.  Thus the hype meter went into overdrive for Souza as spring training got underway.  Well as often has been the case, the storyline to possible stardom has not gone as planned in thre exhibition season as a massive slump at the dish and injuries to his forearm have led to a collective .121 average after Wednesday's games.  Souza had a forearm scare that turned out to be nothing serious and than was plunked on the arm his first game back that also turned out not to be a big deal.  In between Souza has been horrific at the plate which calls into question his ability to even make the Opening Day roster with the season two weeks away.  What many ignored when looking at Souza's .350 average last season in Triple-A was the incredibly amount of luck that went into it.  A .398 BABIP was a big reason why Souza was able to hit that high and his historically high K rate on the farm combined with a move back to the median with his luck meant he would likely be a negative in the average category when 2015 got underway.  Still the power/speed numbers were supposed to overcome any batting average damage Souza might bring but a .121 mark is putrid no matter how you slice it.  So at the very least Souza is looking like a work in progress and someone who may have to take the Carlos Gomez extended development route before his tools begin to showcase themselves.  While we are still intrigued by the tools, Souza looks like he may supply more headaches than numbers early on.

 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: SEAN DOOLITTLE (SHOULDER) TO PLAY CATCH FRIDAY

                                        

Oakland A's closer Sean Doolittle is set to play catch on Friday as he aims for a May return to the team after it was revealed two months ago he has a slight rotator cuff year.  Tyler Clippard will finish games while Doolittle remains on the shelf.

Analysis:  Doolittle was as good as a closer can be in his 2014 breakout but he faces quite a time period before he gets back.  Clippard very well could own the closer role if he gets off to a good start which is expected since he has been one of the best setup men in the game for years.  Those who own stock in Doolittle should continue to hold him but his immediate future is a bit murky until he has a better timetable of when he will return. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: VICTOR MARTINEZ FEELS SORENESS IN KNEE

                                          

Detroit Tigers 1B Victor Martinez reported some soreness in his surgically repaired knee on Thursday despite hitting a home run in the team's exhibition game.  Manager Brad Ausmus said pain was not unexpected considering Martinez was told after the surgery that it could happen but that he doesn't believe it will impact his Opening Day status.

Analysis:  This may not be a big deal but it also is not something to ignore either.  Martinez has 37-year-old knees that have failed him twice before.  His bat is still very potent despite an expected drop in power but Martinez might need some extra days off early on. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: DELLIN BETANCES LOSING VELOCITY, COULD LOSE CLOSER GIG TO ANDREW MILLER

Uh-oh.  We have talked on and on here regarding the dangers of a loss of velocity has on a pitcher and mostly when it comes to starters.  As we have seen out of C.C. Sabbathia, Justin Verlander, Dan Haren, and others, once the velocity starts to go, the ERA rises as the pitcher becomes so much more hittable.  And this is not just a starting pitching phenomenon either as we currently are seeing out of New York Yankees closer candidate Dellin Betances.  The fire alarms began blaring early on Tuesday when Betances admitted to reporters that his velocity was down by more than a little which was the prime reason that he went into games that day with an ERA of 5.04.  This of course was the same guy who took the game by storm in his All-Star rookie season in 2014.  Betances took no prisoners on the mound last season as he put up a tiny 1.40 ERA while striking out a ridiculous 135 batters in only 90 innings. Thus when David Roberston was allowed to walk to the Chicago White Sox as a free agent, the consensus was that the Yankees opener the door for Betances to ascend to the ninth inning.  GM Brian Cashman never endorsed that line of thinking officially though and the team's signing of Andrew Miller and his power arsenal gave them a convenient alternative if Betances was not ready.  Well Betances has been horrific this spring as his fastball has sat mostly from 92-94 which was quite a bit lower than the 96-98 he showed last season.  The hits are coming in full force as a result and things got worse on Wednesday as Betances gave up a home run for the second straight appearance.  With the ERA now above 6.00, the Yankees surely have given thought to having Miller close games, at least at the start of the season.  Miller has been very good this spring in racking up the K's just like he did in his fantastic 2014 when he successfully transitioned into a top reliever from a starter.  Miller put up a 2.02 ERA and struck out a Betances-like 103 batters in 62.1 innings.  The stuff is surely there for Miller to be a top closer and thus it would not be the worst idea to throw out an offer for him in your league. While Betances has gotten all the love at the draft table, Miller might be the one who saves games in April.  Surely no one saw that coming but that is just par for the course among the always volatile closer fraternity.  Ultimately we think Betances will eventually find the velocity and be just fine but by than Miller could be running away with the closer gig outright this season.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JAYSON WERTH FEELING ONGOING PAIN IN HIS SHOULDER

                                         

Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is still experiencing pain in his surgically repaired shoulder when he swings a bat according to manager Matt Williams.  The news almost ensures that Werth will start the season on the disabled list as he still has not been cleared for batting practice.

Analysis:  Darn.  Werth is a guy we have liked for awhile due to his affordable five-category production but this is no good.  Look for the DL stint to last until mid-April and Werth by all means is never out of the injury woods.  At his advancing age, we could be looking at a cliff season by the Nats outfielder.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: DAVID ROBERTSON ADMITS FOREARM PAIN

                                       

Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson admitted on Thursday that he has been dealing with some forearm discomfort since the start of spring training.  Robertson has pitched terribly this spring in sporting an ugly 7.71 ERA for one of toughest pitchers to hit in baseball.  Manager Robin Ventura confirmed that Robertson was feeling pain in his forearm but that he was not worried about his closer's availability for the Opener. 

Analysis:  Wow that is not good at all.  Robertson has been abysmal this spring training and so much so that there had to be a reason.  Well there is the reason and this is a very scary deal considering how serious forearm pain can be.  I don't have to remind you that forearm discomfort often leads to Tommy John surgery and Robertson fits the profile as a young and hard-throwing pitcher.  This is a situation that has to be watched very closely and Jake Petricka is a must add right now in case. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: JAYS OUTFIELDER MICHAEL SAUNDERS (KNEE) TO START SEASON ON DL


Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders will start the 2015 season on the DL from the earlier torn meniscus he suffered at the start of camp.  While Saunders has made good progress in his return to taking swings in the batting cage, he is not likely to get back to the lineup until mid-April at the earliest.

Analysis:  Saunders has some sleeper appeal due to the power-inducing dimensions of his new ballpark and also for his 15-20 stolen base ability.  He has had some major contact issues in his career though that results in some horrid batting averages which speaks to Saunders’ limitations overall. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: KOJI UEHARA (HAMSTRING) PLAYS CATCH THURSDAY


Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara played catch on Thursday in taking another step forward from last week’s hamstring strain. Conflicting reports continue to emanate from Boston concerning whether or not Uehara will be ready for the Opener. He has to get in a ton soon for that to happen otherwise Edward Mujica will finish games in his place.

Analysis:  Uehara is about 50-50 to be ready for the opener but even if he starts out on the DL, he doesn’t figure to miss many games.  Mujica could net a save or two but really don’t go crazy picking him up.  However if you are a Uehara owner, picking up Mujica makes more sense as this could be a rocky season for the aging closer.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ALEX RIOS TO MISS 2-3 GAMES WITH JAMMED THUMB


Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Rios is expected to miss a few days after suffering a jammed thumb.  This is the same injury Rios suffered in his disastrous 2014 campaign and the Royals will play it safe by having him sit the next 2-3 games.  

Analysis:  Rios has had a nice spring with a .300 average and 3 home runs.  His career has been defined by inconsistency and thus it wouldn’t be shocking if he surprised with a semi-comeback season.  Considering how bad Rios was in 2014 with the Texas Rangers, he can’t be any worse.  He passes the smell test as a boring outfielder 3.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JACOBY ELLSBURY (OBLIQUE) COULD PLAY IN GAME EARLY NEXT WEEK


New York Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is slated to return to game action March 31st as he continues his comeback from last week’s oblique injury.  Ellsbury has been taking fly balls and dry swings the last few days and will now turn to taking batting practice in preparation for the game.  He is still expected to be ready for Opening Day barring any more setbacks.

Analysis:  Anything with Ellsbury’s health is something to be watched closely but by all accounts it sounds like the worst is over here.  As long as he can get in a few games next week, Ellsbury should be more than prepared for the season.

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: MASAHIRO TANAKA NOT THROWING FOUR-SEAM FASTBALL DUE TO ELBOW

On the surface, striking out 7 batters in less than five innings would give the impression that New York Yankees ace SP Masahiro Tanaka is as close to full strength as he is going to get while pitching with a partially torn UCL in his elbow.  All in all Tanaka has thrown with ease and been as tough to hit this spring as he was before the elbow woes last season.  However underneath it all lies a pretty sizable red flag in the form of Tanaka admitting he has not thrown his four-seam fastball due to concerns the stress it puts on his elbow.  And this is no small thing as the four-seamer is the pitch Tanaka uses to reach the upper 90's.  His two-seamer has been the pitch of choice when Tanaka wants to ramp it up but that tops out around 94.  While 94 is still impressive, the fact Tanaka is admitting he is pitching with the elbow in mind is certainly not a good thing.  We all know Tanaka is one pitch away from season-ending Tommy John surgery but some were willing to look past the threat due to Tanaka's vast arsenal.  Now he is admitting he is not using that whole arsenal which makes his outlook even more sketchy.  Once again I reiterate that I would not touch Tanaka as I don't want to deal with the stress of thinking about any pitch being his last.  It simply is not worth it.  Save yourself the annoyance. 

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

-Derek Norris finally broke out of an extended spring slump Wednesday by slamming his first home run.  He finished 2-for-3 for the day and will be counted on to be the everyday catcher for the San Diego Padres this season in coming off a 2014 All-Star campaign.  Norris is capable of 15 home runs and a decent enough batting average which is all you really ask for out of your fantasy baseball catcher.

-Joc Pederson kept up his monster spring with his fourth home run as part of his 1-for-3 day.  Pederson is now batting an extremely good .409 with the four home runs and looks primed for a monster breakout rookie season.  20/20 is very much in play and maybe the average won't be as mediocre as we first thought.

-Maybe this is the year Yasiel Puig goes nuts.  He hit his fourth spring home run and now has 10 RBI total for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Puig is maddeningly inconsistent and truth be told disappointed last season with his modest 15 home runs.  Still the Cuban is capable of five category production and his slightly decreased draft value this season could mean an even bigger impact to his owners.

-Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run home run of Tim Hudson as he upped his average to .375.  Tulo has three home runs on the spring and is looking healthy for the time being.  He will go right back to his MVP-type hitting whenever he is in the lineup but sell high if you can before the next injury hits.

-Michael Wacha is showing some big times signs this spring that he is back to being the 2013 stud we all wanted to get our hands on.  Wacha tossed a 5.2 innings shutout against the Washington Nationals and now has a collective 1.76 ERA on the spring with 13 strikeouts in 15 innings.  The shoulder seems sounds at least for now and by the looks of it, has not sapped him of any strength.  A top-20 season is in play as long as the shoulder cooperates.

-Max Scherzer tossed six shutout innings and struck out nine St. Louis Cardinals in the outing.  Now with 23 punchouts in his 20 innings, Scherzer could put up a massive amount of K's this season now that he is pitching in the NL and in a prime park.

-Daniel Norris struck out 7 in while giving up only one run in six innings Wednesday.  Norris looks like a lock now for the fifth starter spot for the Toronto Blue Jays but we can't get too excited about any AL East pitcher in Rogers Center.

-Juan Lagares did it all on Wednesday in hitting a home run and stealing base.  The Met leadoff hitter is up to .395 on the spring and looks like he could be a help in five outfielder formats.  There is very little power and inconsistent base stealing ability for Lagares who has struggled to stay healthy.

-Masahiro Tanaka is earning more and more good reviews after he struck out 7 batters in only 4.2 innings while giving up two runs.  The elbow seems sounds for now and the K rate is still very much elevated which is key.  The ticking time bomb is always there but Tanaka looks like he will be pitching at a near-ace level when he is on the mound.

-Dellin Betances is becoming a legit concern.  After admitting that he is velocity is down more than a bit, Betances gave up a home run for the second game in a row Wednesday as his ERA is sitting above 5.00.  Andrew Miller could very well be working his way into the closer role now for the Yankees which no one surely saw coming.

-Bad spring for Brett Gardner who is batting only .140 after his 0-for-3 day.  Gardner got too homer-happy the second half of last season as he swatted a career-high 17 to go with his mediocre average.  He is more of a 10-homer guy when at his optimum best but the steals have sunk more than a bit from his past days of 40 or more.

-Joe Nathan gave up two hits but ended up with a scoreless inning on Wednesday.  It has been a rocky spring for Nathan which adds to the concern that he won't be able to hold the closer gig long, especially with Joakim Soria excelling in setup.  I would try and get whatever you can for Nathan if you are an owner.

-Jon Singleton is now only 2-for-23 after his 0-for-4 Wednesday.  Singleton is a guy I have no interest in any by any means as his K rate makes Chris Carter look like a batting champion.  He may even be sent back to the minors if this continues on.

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