FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS ON FACEBOOOK

Friday, December 9, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE SIGNING: DEXTER FORWLER JOINING DIVISION RIVAL CARDINALS

Having saved himself with a last-minute decision to pull out of going to the Baltimore Orioles as a fourth outfielder, Dexter Fowler made the most of another chance to bat leadoff for the Chicago Cubs in 2016.  While Fowler never turned into the star many made him out to be during his early Colorado Rockie days, he still had reached the level of being a firm outfielder 3 who could help in multiple categories.  Over the last two years, Fowler has posted 17/20 and 13/13 splits in his power/speed game and that is a fantasy-friendly combination to say the least.  The batting average is the epitome of mediocre as Fowler's .276 mark last season pretty much represents a best-case scenario there and he is no spring chicken anymore in turning 31 this March.  Nothing much changing in this offensive profile, even after signing a few free agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.  

2017 PROJECTION:  .271 14 HR 46 RBI 88 R 15 SB 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: J.T. REALMUTO C MIAMI MARLINS

Another guy we hit a home run on for 2016 fantasy baseball was Miami Marlins ascending catcher J.T. Realmuto.  In fact Realmuto was the catcher we told you all to draft in terms of once again preaching our strategy of picking an upside backstop in the later round.  Realmuto was every bit available in the final rounds of almost all drafts prior to last season and in some cases, he went unclaimed altogether.  Instead we saw the potential here due to the fact that Realmuto hinted at very good contact skills for a catcher to go along with possessing speed not seen here since Jason Kendall.  Realmuto wound up doing a nice Kendall impression as he hit .303 with 11 home runs and 12 stolen bases last season in a tremendous value campaign.  Easily leading all catchers in steals, Realmuto was a rock of consistency with the bat all year as he struck out in just 18.3 percent of his at-bats (justifying our good contact assessment).  Turning only 26 in March, Realmuto should absolutely be able to reprise those numbers, with perhaps just a dip in his average after posting a lucky .357 BABIP.  Kid is perfectly legit and draft accordingly.

2017 PROJECTION:  .289 12 HR 50 RBI 62 R 11 SB  

FANTASY BASEBALL WINTER MEETINGS SIGNINGS: AROLDIS CHAPMAN RETURNS TO YANKEES, DELLIN BETANCES NEUTERED

With the New York Yankees having first dealt Aroldis Chapman and then Andrew Miller leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline last season, fireballer Dellin Betances finally got the chance to close games late in the 2016 season.  Already having been selected for his third straight All-Star Game as Betances once again performed like one of the most dominant relievers in the game, his performance in the closer role was somewhat of a mixed bag.  While he dominated in August (0.68 ERA), Sept./Oct. was another story altogether.  Looking like he was on fumes, Betances registered a frightening 9.64 ERA in his last 9.1 innings; a performance that might have shaken the Yankees’ confidence in him moving forward as the closer.  That extended wobble no doubt played a role in the Yankees bringing back Chapman over the winter with a contract of five years and $86 million to close games for them again.  In Chapman the Yankees once again possess the number 1 closer in the game by a mile and a guy who already has shown he can finish games in the pressure-cooker of New York and Chicago.  Chapman is still young (he will be just 29 when the 2017 season gets underway) and his nuclear fastball remains the most potent pitch in baseball.  The 1.55 ERA and 13.87 K/9 Chapman posted in 2016 was standard operating procedure and his BB/9 of 2.79 was a personal best by a decent amount.  The price is always steep when it comes to drafting the guy but dominance is almost guaranteed.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL WINTER MEETINGS REPORT: DISBELIEF REMAINS REGARDING ADAM EATON TRADE

By Michael Wong

National Harbor, MD.--Disbelief is the word that has been bandied about the lobby here as it begins to sink in that the Washington Nationals really traded their number 1 and number 3 prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez and third prospect for just decent but not great outfielder Adam Eaton.  More than one person here has brought up the disastrous Arizona Diamondbacks deal last winter where they moved a big package highlighted by Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves for the overrated Shelby Miller.  Yes that kind of bad.  It is almost inconceivable to many that the Nationals would trade this kind of package for Eaton who is no one's definition of an impact player and the ridicule has come from all corners including Jim Duquette, Steve Phillps, and others publicly.  What makes this even more strange is that the Nats wouldn't deal Giolito and Victor Robles for Chris Sale a day earlier.  Head scratching stuff indeed but the Nats clearly are the butt of all jokes here.

-Speaking of the Nats, they seem prepared to offer closer Aroldis Chapman a deal that is very close or maybe even above $100 million.  The New York Yankees and Miami Marlins have each offered Chapman and Kenley Jansen five-year deals for less than that sum but somewhere near $90 million.  Meanwhile the Los Angeles Dodgers remain in the hunt as well.  Two of these teams will be left out in the cold and then have to resort to a Koji Uehara or a Brad Ziegler.

-The Texas Rangers remain somewhat interested in Edwin Encarnacion but only on a one-year deal.  These have been a disastrous winter meetings for Encarnacion who has not seen anything great materialize for him.  The Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays remain involved but no one seems to be coming close to his asking price.

-The fact the Pittsburgh Pirates are now talking about moving Andrew McCutchen to a corner outfield spot speaks volumes about how trade talk had died down.  The only team still involved right now are the Rangers.  The Rangers don't have the money to make a big free agent signing but a trade they can do on a guy with a short-term deal like McCutchen has.


FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: NATS LEAVE HEADS SCRATCHING AND MOUTHS AGAPE OVER ADAM EATON TRADE

Wow....I mean.....WOW.  After waffling over giving up top prospects for ace starter Chris Sale and then former MVP outfielder Andrew McCutchen, the Washington Nationals felt that solid but unspectacular Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton was worth surrendering top tier (and top five overall) pitching prospect Lucas Giolito AND fellow impressive pitching prospect Reynaldo Lopez.  Say what?  As our own Michael Wong (who is live at the Winter Meetings) reported, mouth were left agape at the deal given what the Nats gave up.  As far as Eaton is concerned, again he is a nice player but certainly no one's definition of a star.  Eaton is a guy who helps in all five standard ROTO categories but at the same time he doesn't excel in any of them either.  2016 was a typical Eaton year as he batted .284 with 14 home runs and 14 stolen bases for the White Sox.  Batting mostly out of the leadoff spot, Eaton scored 91 runs and collected 53 RBI.  Very good numbers indeed but that puts Eaton more in low-end OF 2 of high-end OF 3 status.

As far as Giolito and Lopez were concerned, both guys were the cream of the crop in the Washington farm system in terms of pitching.  Giolito was considered to be almost a sure thing as his vast four-pitch arsenal screamed future ace.  He was dominant both at Double-A (3.17 ERA/9.13 K/9) and at Triple-A (2.17 ERA/9.64 K/9) last season.  Of course the former 2012 first round pick (16th overall) struggled during his first foray into the major last season, showing uncharacteristically poor control (5.06 BB/9) and a K/9 rate that sank way down to 4.64.  Of course the small sample size was in play as Giolito only pitched 21.1 innings and his ceiling is so vast that we can give him a clear mulligan on this.  Giolito is still a very high quality arm who now looks like a very good sleeper candidate for 2017 fantasy baseball given the better chance to stick in the White Sox rotation than if he were trying to get into the stacked Nationals stable of arms.  

In terms of Lopez, the 22-year-old was terrific himself in 2016 for the Washington farm systems; logging a 3.18 ERA and 11.79 K/9 and then followed that up with a 3.27 ERA and 7.09 K/9 at Triple-A.  Like with Giolito, Lopez struggled badly with the Nats in his 44 innings (4.91 ERA/8.59 K/9) but he does possess a power arm that can yield strikeouts.  While Lopez doesn't carry much fantasy baseball value at least initially for 2017, he is still a guy worth monitoring early on if he sticks with his new team.  


FANTASY BASEBALL WINTER MEETINGS SIGNINGS: IAN DESMOND TAKES AIM AT COORS FIELD

Well that was a bit of a surprise.  It was not the Texas Rangers or St. Louis Cardinals but the Colorado Rockies who seemingly came out of nowhere on Wednesday and swiped free agent outfielder Ian Desmond with a five-year deal worth $70 million.  Desmond finally got his big payday after his disastrous decision not to accept an extension from the Washington Nationals prior to 2015 and then saw everything go up in smoke when he put forth a horrific year both offensively and defensively.  Having hit just .233 with 19 home runs and 13 steals (ending a three-year run of 20/20 production), Desmond was forced to settle for a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers for 2016 and he needed to move from shortstop to the outfield to make it happen.  What came next was one of the better comeback seasons of the last few years as Desmond took full advantage of the offensive have that is Texas and went right back to his old 20/20 ways by hitting 22 home runs, stealing 21 bases, and hitting .285.  The payday from the Rockies came next and so now the hype machine gets underway given the fact Desmond moves into the holy grail of offensive ballparks in Coors Field.  Considering that Desmond was already a 20/20 man for three years in spacious Washington, it is almost a given he will reach that standard yet again in 2017 and could even approach 30 home runs given the Coors Field effects.  The speed is still potent enough despite the fact Desmond is getting a bit older at 31 but 20 steals seems safe for another season.  What really should improve is the batting average as Desmond has a real shot to reach .290 due again to the ballpark boost and that will make him even more valuable then he already is.  While Desmond no longer carries shortstop eligibility, he will add first base duties to his outfield tag as the Rockies plan on having him play there.  Even at first base, Desmond is a starting fantasy baseball player given the utter dearth of steals from the position and 20/20 from a guy at that spot is very rare indeed.  No matter how you slice it, Ian Desmond has late second round value for 2017 fantasy baseball but most can get him in the third. Reach if you must do so.


FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE BREAKING NEWS: IAN DESMOND AGREES TO TERMS WITH COLORADO ROCKIES

The "mystery team" that was chasing free agent outfielder Ian Desmond turned out to be the Colorado Rockies as the two sides came to an agreement on a deal.  No word on if Desmond will play the outfield or shortstop for the Rockies and terms were not yet disclosed.

Analysis:  Oh my goodness does Desmond's stock shoot up even more.  Already coming off a fantastic 2016 comeback campaign where he hit .285 with 22 home runs and 21 steals, Desmond is a stud for 2017 fantasy baseball no matter where he plays.  No you have to wonder if a Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez deal is in the works.


FANTASY BASEBALL WINTER MEETINGS REPORT: WHITE SOX SET TO MOVE TODD FRAZIER, JOSE QUINTANA

By Michael Wong

National Harbor, MD.--The Chicago White Sox have an "open for business" sign attached to their team after dealing away top five ace Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday that was still the talk of the Winter Meetings.  Now the White Sox have moved on to trying to move fellow starter Jose Quintana and third baseman Todd Frazier.  The Washington Nationals are trying again to land someone, this time with Quintana.  Meanwhile the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels have had talks about Frazier.  

-Before the Kansas City Royals agreed to deal closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs, they first asked the New York Mets for Michael Conforto which was quickly rejected.

-The Houston Astros would have gotten Chris Sale if they were willing to move Alex Bregmann but that was a non-starter.  They also are in on Quintana.

-Any minute now Aroldis Chapman will re-sign with the New York Yankees and Kenley Jansen will have to decide between the more money the Miami Marlins will give him or take less to go back to the Dodgers.  

-Everyone here knows that Mark Trumbo is using the Seattle Mariners as leverage in his talks to re-sign with the Baltimore Orioles.  


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING WINTER MEETINGS NEWS: JORGE SOLER FOR WADE DAVIS AGREED UPON

The Chicago Cubs agreed early Wednesday of their trade of outfielder Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals for closer Wade Davis.  The initial holdup Tuesday night was the Cubs going over Davis' medical report with a fine tooth comb after he suffered a flexor strain last season but apparently the felt well enough to make the deal almost official.

Analysis:  So Davis will now close for the Cubs and the team didn't have to open the vault to re-sign Aroldis Chapman.  On numbers alone, Davis is as good a closer as there is in the game as he has registered ERA's of 1.00, 0.94, and 1.87 the last three seasons and he has given up just 3 total home runs in that span.  Meanwhile Soler remains a talented but unrefined bat who hit 12 home runs in only 227 at-bats last season but with an ugly .238 average.  He will be just 25 to start the 2017 season however and upside remains.  Not the worst bounce back late round pick.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WINTER MEETINGS SIGNING: CARLOS GOMEZ RETURNS TO RANGERS

At the age of 31, it is beginning to look like Carlos Gomez is becoming a journeyman right before our eyes.  A fantasy baseball first round pick as recently as just prior to the 2015 season, Gomez has been besieged with injuries that look like they have taken a firm toll on his offensive numbers.  2016 was just nasty for Gomez and his owners as a .210 average and just 5 home runs in 295 at-bats got him a pink slip from the Houston Astros midway through the year.  The Texas Rangers signed Gomez soon after his release and had to be pleased when he turned things around to the tune of hitting .284 with 8 home runs and 5 steals in just 116 at-bats.  It was enough of a solid performance to earn Gomez a one-year deal with the Rangers for $11 million in free agency.  Still we are in murky times now though with Gomez whose health has never been worse and his numbers have been all over the map the last two seasons.  As a result, interest in Gomez is at an all-time low which could make him an actual value play for 2017 fantasy baseball.  We are not saying that Gomez’ very ugly performance last season should be ignored but instead are pointing out the fact he is still relatively young and by the looks of his good work with the Rangers, also capable of putting up decent numbers.  Since the consensus in the fantasy baseball community is that Gomez is finished, you won’t have to pay much to see if a comeback campaign is possible.  Considering the positives of his home park and the fact he is still somewhat young, we would sign off on Gomez as an outfielder 3 with comeback potential this season.  

2017 PROJECTION:  .277 16 HR 58 RBI 74 R 17 SB