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Well gang the 2014 fantasy baseball season has already officially begun with leagues opening up among Yahoo, CBS, and elsewhere. However with spring training camps opening up this week, our coverage goes into overdrive as for the next seven months we will post our regular features in addition to the following which make up OUR YEARLY INSIDER PACKAGE WHICH YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE TO FOR ONE LOW PAYMENT OF ONLY $39.99! (THOSE WHO DON'T SUBSCRIBE CAN PURCHASE EACH ARTICLE FOR $1.50 EACH DURING THE SEASON) Included in this season's package are the following weekly features which will be delivered to subscribers via e-mail. -Sunday ADDS/DROPS: We are moving the ADDS/DROPS feature to Sunday for those who play in weekly formats. Stay on top of the latest adds and drops each week.-Monday Closing Time: All the latest news and notes out of the world of the ninth inning. -Tuesday PROSPECT WATCH: We delve into the latest news and notes coming out of the minor leagues so that we stay on top of all the upcoming promotions which are always key to winning your league. -Wednesday Fantasy Sports Boss Expert League Moves: Follow yours truly in BOTH of the Experts Leagues as I share all my adds/drops/and trades during the previous week so that you can follow along with my league activity. -Thursday Advanced Stats Corner: Delve into the all-important world of advanced stats such as strand rate and BABIP in order to see which players have been lucky and which have been unlucky. This package pays for itself many times over and we can guarantee success if you follow along all season. We look forward to seeing you all win your leagues again this season.






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Thursday, April 24, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: ANDREW HEANEY TO BE A MAJOR LEAGUE FACTOR VERY SOON

By now it is clearly established that the Miami Marlins annually one of the most potent and talent-filled minor league systems in all of baseball.  Having produced such gargantuan names like Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez in recent years, the pipeline to the big club remains fertile.  The next name to know from a fantasy baseball angle is 22-year-old starting pitcher Andrew Heaney who had a shot in spring training to make the team out of camp but who eventually was sent to Double-A in order to get a bit more seasoning.  Fast forward a month and Heaney is already beating down the door to the major leagues off his latest brilliant start on Sunday where he gave up one earned run on three hits while striking out nine in seven innings.  For the season now Heaney has struck out 22 batters in only 19 innings while giving up only one earned run and 8 hits.  Amazing stuff and at the very least Heaney should be promoted to Triple-A any day now.  With the arbitration clock ticking, June 1st is the LATEST Heaney will get the call and it could come sooner as the Marlins have a firm reputation of ignoring arbitration clocks and making the move on their terms like last season with Jose Fernandez.  Heaney should be added right now in all formats, especially those who have a NA spot.  The upside is tremendous and comparisons to Michael Wacha from the left side.  Top notch control and better than expected strikeouts make up the package here and so Heaney is a name to keep front and center going forward the next few weeks due to the potential here for an immediate impact only for the cost of a waiver selection.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JOE SMITH TO TAKE OVER AS ANGELS CLOSER

Reports out of Los Angeles indicate that Angels manager Mike Scosia will turn to Joe Smith to close going forward.  The news comes a day after Ernesto Frieri melted down in epic fashion by giving up four earned runs in the ninth to blow another save.

Analysis:  Not a surprise by any means as Frieri has been horrific.  However Scoscia said after the game Wed. he was sticking with Frieri so who knows.  With a night to sleep on it he surely sees that Smith is the better alternative.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: EARLY WEDNESDAY EDITION

Nathan Eovaldi:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.87.  All of those 98-mph fastballs continue to finally generate strikeouts for Eovaldi which means he is a strict HOLD guy even if he gets tattooed his next time out.  It took Eovaldi a couple of seasons to find his way with regards to harnessing his stuff but we are almost into May and his rate stats have remained steady.

Craig Kimbrel:  scoreless ninth with 2 K's for sixth save with an ERA of 3.24.  Crisis looks to be averted for now with Kimbrel with regards to the shoulder.  It was looking dicey there for a day or two but it looks like we are out of the woods.  It is not the worst idea in the world to hold onto Walden and enjoy the massive K rate he is putting up but no need to keep him around if the roster is tight.

Chris Carter:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .156.  It used to be that the DH was a guy who was a very good hitter but who couldn't field.  Well Carter bucks the trend by being a guy who still can't field but who also can't hit.

Kyle Seager:  2/3 with 2 home runs (2 for season) while hitting .179.  I have been telling you all to stay patient with Seager who has been very and quietly solid the last two seasons but whose awful start to 2014 was marred by one of the most unlucky BABIP's in baseball.  The power is consistent in the 20-22 range and a .270 average is what you will get at best.  Solid but unspectacular is the name of the game here.  If you feel the need to cut him loose, don't make it based solely on the start.  Fluke numbers all around there which are already looking like they are making a solid turnaround.

Josh Fields:  blown save with 3 earned runs in .1 IP with an ERA of 4.82.  Worst ninth inning situation in baseball:  Houston or Chicago Cubs?  Jesse Crain you are missed.

Martin Perez:  9 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 1.42.  Back-to-back complete game domination's from Perez who is quickly establishing himself as a top end SP 3 who is aiming for SP 2 territory.  The lack of K's will never allow Perez to be an ace but wow those ratios are hot to look at.  Legit all the way as Perez is sporting a neutral .295 BABIP which actually surprised me.  With so few K's I thought he would be in the .220 range but that just shows you how great he has been this season.  Hold in non-innings capped formats but selling high not the worst idea in capped leagues.

Jeff Samardzjia:  7.1 IP 7 H 2 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 1.53.  Let's delve in on Samardzjia a bit.  Now has only 7 walks in 28 innings which goes a long way in eliminating his only real drawback.  Forget the 4.34 ERA from last season which was destroyed by a very unlucky strand rate and BABIP.  Currently Samardzjia is sitting at .282 there so that also goes a long way in explaining the great ERA he is sporting.  The K's are down though as Samardzjia seems to be pitching a bit more to contact which has helped him control the baseball better.  We will gladly trade some K's for the overall gains across the board. 

Pedro Strop:  took the lose after giving up 4 runs (1 earned) in .2 IP.  Strop walked 2 and gave up a hit also had to deal with an error behind him.  It was a bit unfair for Strop who almost got out of it by striking out Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero but James Russell made sure to screw him and the team by blowing it.  Who knows what the hell happens here now.  Basically if you wear a Cubs uniform in the bullpen you are garbage.  Call up Kevin Gregg.  Can't believe I just typed that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS SP MICHAEL PINEDA EJECTED FOR FOREIGN SUBSTANCE ON NECK

                                                      

New York Yankees SP Michael Pineda was ejected from the team's Wednesday game against the Boston Red Sox due to a foreign substance that was on his neck.  Red Sox manager John Farrell came out of the dugout to tell the umpires of the substance and after a quick inspection Pineda got the hook.  This follows Pineda's last start which also was against the Red Sox where he was seen with a visible substance on his hand.

Analysis:  Dumb.  To do the same thing twice against the same team is ludicrous.  Pineda is going to get suspended for this and it calls into question how much it helped his early results.  Stay tuned for more on this.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: SOURCE SAYS RYAN COOK MAY GET SHOT TO CLOSE IN OAKLAND

A source close to the Oakland A's front office reports to the Fantasy Sports Boss' Ryan Strieb that Ryan Cook could be getting a shot to close for the team after Luke Gregerson melted down the other night.  Gregerson apparently has lost the confidence of manager Bob Melvin after his second rough outing in three appearances.  Cook meanwhile has thrown four scoreless innings in a row and for the season has put up an ERA of 1.35 with 8 K's in only 6.2 innings. 

Analysis:  Go pick up Cook.  I thought Cook would get the first crack after Jim Johnson lost his job but he had just returned from injury which is understandable.  While this may not unfold right away, the whispers are growing louder for Cook to be given the chance.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: MARK TRUMBO DIAGNOSED WITH STRESS FRACTURE IN FOOT, MAJOR LOSS OF POWER FOR OWNERS

                                                             

Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Mark Trumbo is a guy many fantasy baseball owners either love or hate.  Those who love him talk up his dual eligibility that has included the outfield, first base, and third base the last two seasons to go along with 30 home runs power.  Those how hate him loathe the .250 batting average and extended batting slumps that go with him.  However no matter your feeling, Trumbo will be out of action for "awhile" according to a team source after it was revealed he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot.  Trumbo is headed back to Arizona for further evaluation and confirmation but the team official we spoke to said that Trumbo will land on the DL tomorrow and that the team is already planning on an absence that will stretch past 15 days.  For those who are Trumbo owners, that means a loss of one of the main sources of power from your roster.  Trumbo was doing his usual bit in 2014 with his low average and 7 home runs but now that void has to be filled somehow.  Barring a trade, some names who could help off the wire are the red hot Justin Morneau, Garrett Jones, Mark Teixeira, and Chris Johnson at first base.  Those who cold help in the outfield with the power center on Khris Davis, Torii Hunter, Nick Castellanos, and Raul Ibanez.  Wait out his return as the power Trumbo brings is precious during this era of the pitcher but right now it looks like his return could be well into the future by the looks of it.

FANTASY BASEBALL ADVANCED STATS CORNER: TOP 15 BAB LUCK BABIP HITTERS, SHOULD YOU BUY OR IGNORE?

Once again it is time to delve into the world of advanced metrics which has always been a tried and true formula for yours truly to stay ahead of the curve and buy and sell players at their most optimum values.  Today we look at the key fantasy baseball hitters who have dealt with poor luck on the batted ball this season (BABIP) and overall in most of these cases, better times are ahead.  With their values in the eyes of most fantasy baseball owners being in the dumps, these hitters make terrific buy low candidates who can turn it around while on your roster for a cheaper than it should be trade price.  Let's take a look at who fits this criteria and the actionable moves that should be made.

1.  Brett Lawrie (.109 BABIP/.135 average):  Lawrie flat out has had the worst luck of any hitter in baseball which obviously shows up in the .135 average.  He has hit four home runs and has profiled as a sleeper the last few seasons due to his power/speed game.  Lawrie's inability to stay healthy though makes an investment very risky here despite the inevitable turnaround.  In addition Lawrie is not the power hitter that he showed in the minors since he did that work in the PCL which has proven many times over to inflate the numbers of a batter.
VERDICT:  Don't chase too hard.

2.  Mike Moustakas (.115 BABIP/.138 average):  Nothing to say here as I don't recommend buying Moustakas under any circumstances.  He is the classic Quad-A hitter.
VERDICT:  Pass

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FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILS ACTIVATE COLE HAMELS FROM DL

                                                

The Philadelphia Phillies activated ace SP Cole Hamels from the DL Wednesday in preparation for him starting that night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Hamels has been on the DL the first three weeks of the season due to a battle with a sore pitching shoulder.

Analysis:  Terrific.  All Hamels owners feel much better about their pitching staffs today that's for sure.  When healthy as Hamels appears to be, he is a top ten ace fantasy baseball starting pitcher capable of averaging a K per IP with low ratios.  Get him in there. 

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JUSTIN MORNEAU 1B COLORADO ROCKIES

                                                        Justin Morneau

Coors Field is working its magic once again.  Without even looking at the title of this post, one would reflexively guess that I am referring to first baseman Justin Morneau who just got done finishing up a four home run week with 13 RBI in a turn-back-the-clock performance from his MVP Minnesota Twins days.  2009 was the last time Morneau reached the 20 home run mark and form 2010-through-2013, injuries (most notable concussion problenms) seemingly robbed Morneau of his potent bat and pushed him down to a bench role in fantasy baseball terms.  Turning a still young enough 33 this May, Morneau was incredibly smart in signing on as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies, thus giving himself a chance to boost his numbers just from being in one of the best hitting environments in the league.  The numbers so far have been plentiful and in the process Morneau has seen a rebirth in his fantasy baseball value as he goes into Friday's games with a .344 average and 4 home runs to go with 15 RBI.  These are rate stats that Morneau had in his heyday in Minnesota and while I am not gong to go so far as to say he is back to that level, I will say that Morneau at the very least has earned an everyday UTIL or CI spot and is in the conversation for mixed league 1b duties as well.  What is interesting too is that Morneau has split his home runs, with 2 coming on the road and 2 at home.  The batting average has been great on both sides as well, checking in at .367 at home and .324 on the road.  I already added Morneau where I could and you would be wise to do the same.  As long as he stays healthy, there is a chance 25 home runs and 95 RBI could be in the offing. 

FANTASY BASBEALL STAT OF THE DAY" THE DEVIN MESORACO MIRAGE

Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco currently sports a BABIP of .607.  Not a misprint.  That is the major reason his .541 average is where it is.  Everything literally is falling in for Mesoraco right now and that BABIP numbers is almost impossible to fathom.  The average will sink and sink HARD to the tune of around .260-.270 before too long.  Power is decent so this is not an automatic sell but if someone in your league is blinded by the average, by all means see what you can get.

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: EDWIN ENCARNACION 1B/3B TORONTO BLUE JAYS

                                                          Edwin EncarnaciĆ³n

Yeah the e-mails have poured in fast and furious.  When I see the heading reading "Encarnacion", I know what is coming.  After yours truly graded out Encarnacion as a firm first round pick in 2014 drafts, expectations when through the roof.  My reasoning in placing Encarnacion in such hallowed territory was based on sound and impressive numbers the Blue Jays slugger put up in 2012 and 2013.  Encarnacion had a huge breakout year in 2012 when he swatted 42 home runs with 111 RBI while hitting .280.  He followed up and validated that monster campaign by hitting 38 more home runs with 104 RBI and batting .272 to cement his first round status in my book.  For good measure Encarnacion elevated himself even more those two years by stealing 20 bases which is incredibly rare at the first base position and he also carried third base eligibility which pushed the value meter through the roof.  Fast forward to present time and needless to say Encarnacion has made me look bad.  Going into Tuesday's games, Encarnacion was hitting a putrid .230 with ZERO home runs (he would hit his first late Tuesday) and 5 RBI, earning me plenty of scorn from those who took my advice and made him a first round pick.  While I totally understand the frustration, I am here to tell all Encarnacion owners to come in off the ledge and trust in the fact that when all is said and done, the numbers will be there before you know it.

As always, players who struggle at the start of a new season invite a ridiculous amount of scrutiny, with most of it unfair.  With the fantasy baseball participation rate at around 100 percent with fantasy baseball well off in the distance, any early stumbles are magnified greatly.  The fact of the matter is that ALL hitters go through what Encarnacion is presently during the course of the season.  His bad streak just so happened to come early on.  Now Encarnacion is not without blame here.  For one, his K rate has shot way up at 22 percent.  To put that into perspective, Encarnacion's K rate was 14 and 10 percent the last two seasons so he clearly is a bit off mechanically with his swing.  His current .309 BABIP shows that there is no bad luck involved here.  Encarnacion is just not swinging well but the sample size is still small.  Yes Encarnacion has drive us crazy in the past with his stops and starts during his early years but back-to-back monster seasons have validated him currently with regards to his hitting ability.  The fact he also plays in one of the very best home run parks in baseball means that Encarnacion is set up to come out of his funk eventually.  It might just take some extra time since there is no bad luck hindering him thus far this season. 

As far as making a buy low offer, I would absolutely be on board with that.  I know you all think I am just saying that because I am on record gushing over the guy and that is fair.  However is do feel completely confident that the numbers will eventually come to the surface and that Encarnacion will be just fine when all is said and done going forward.  In a month from now we will all see how silly this talk was.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

James Shields:  6 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 1.91.  While Zack Greinke has always been my number 1, Shields is a close second when it comes to my love of disrespected fantasy baseball aces.  That is now 21 K's in his last two starts.  Oh yeah free agency is looming.  Cha-Ching.

Danny Salazar:  4.1 IP 7 H 4 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 7.85.  Easily the worst fantasy baseball pitcher of April with still a week to go.  If you hadn't done so already, cut him loose and don't look back.  I have no answers here as I had as much hopes for Salazar as anyone in the industry and surely I wasn't alone.  He was just a complete mess all the way across the board and right now is unsalvageable in fantasy baseball terms.  One of the biggest misreads of my career.  If you have any ideas what the hell happened here by all means post them below.  Maybe by the end of May we will all stop bleeding from the rear after having all those ugly ERA's and WHIP's shoved where the sun don't shine.

Albert Pujols:  2/4 with 2 home runs while hitting .274.  It certainly seems like Pujols is intent on destroying the world and that is always a good thing in fantasy baseball.  Desire to prove naysayers wrong/destroy the world=lots of fantasy baseball riches.  No one is hotter right now and outside of the dip in average, you wouldn't know right now that this is not the Albert Pujols from his St. Louis days. 

Tyler Skaggs:  7 IP 3 H 2 ER 4 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.21.  Skaggs has done enough to warrant inclusion on most rosters but the high walk rate makes him sort of a baby Trevor Bauer.  That gives me an eye twitch just thinking about it.

Johnny Cueto:  9 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 1.38.  Just the first of a string of ridiculous pitching performances that took place Tuesday night.  Cueto is a guy who should be lumped in with Shields and Greinke as another fantasy baseball ace pitcher who doesn't get called that enough by the masses.  His problem has always been health and that is the key to any of his seasons.  Right now he is healthy and so he is unhittable.  Simple as that sometimes.  The best part though is that the injuries the previous seasons always make Cueto much cheaper than his numbers show he should be.  You just hope than that the year you get him he will finally net you at least 25 starts and take over the world.  Could it be this year?  Edge of your seat material.

Andrew McCutchen:  2/3 with his third HR while hitting .288.  All is right in Cutch's world.  He will hit another 2-3 home runs the rest of this month and than another 20-plus the rest of the way.  Maybe he should show up to spring training two weeks early next season so that the April 1-15 1-for-40 start finally gets kicked to the curb.

Nelson Cruz:  2/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .290.  Count on the average dropping another .20 points or so but other than that Cruz is on par.  I have to say though that the way Chris Davis is sucking it right now, maybe hitting behind him is not such a cushy spot after all.

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/5 with his first HR while hitting .228.  Sha-Zam!  Right on schedule too as an Encarnacion Crisis Point is in our futures later on today.  The fact it is April 23rd and this was Encarnacion's first homer is concerning and so is the ugly average.  Two more disturbing facts:  Encarnacion's K rate is surging at 22 percent after being at 14 and 10 the last two seasons and his BABIP is in neutral territory so he legitimately been crapola.  Still I would absolutely buy low.  Still carries first and third base eligibility and has thunderous bat.  Also can net a few previous steals at a plodding position.  You know all of this already though so stop wasting time and make the offer.  He will be just fine before you know it.

Brett Lawrie:  1/3 with his fourth HR while hitting .135.  I don't think anyone really cares about Lawrie anymore.  I know I don't.  This is how you know he has become a non-factor in fantasy baseball.  When you see someone dropped him in your league and you don't get an instant surge of adrenaline that you may be able to steal him off waivers.

Melky Cabrera:  1/5 with his fifth HR while hitting .337.  Melky is certainly drinking his Melk or whatever other foreign substance he could come up with.  Toronto does wonders to revive careers and Cabrera is just the latest example.  Nice start no doubt but I hate the guy and I am one of those fantasy baseball losers who won't own a guy I can't stand.  Isn't that right Ryan Braun?

Jose Abreu:  2/3 with his sixth HR while hitting .259.  Second in the majors in RBI and already well on his way toward running away with AL Rookie of the Year.  Will go out on a limb and say 30 home runs with 98 RBI and a .288 average.  Write it down buys.  One of my new favorites.  Be very honored Jose.

Miguel Cabrera:  3/5 with his second HR while hitting .235.  No truth to the rumors that Miguel is really playing in Toronto now and Melky in Detroit. 

Justin Verlander:  7 IP 8 H 2 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.18.  The guy is getting it done no doubt despite the drop in velocity and despite the fact that he can't seem capable of going a start without more hits and walks than innings pitched.  A bit of a stripped down version there but Verlander's ERA is still terrific and is .314 BABIP checks out. 

Carlos Beltran:  2/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .296.  Here is a question I will pose on the homepage poll.  Is Carlos Beltran a Hall Of Famer?

David Ortiz:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .256.  A .258 BABIP is the only reason Ortiz is not hitting his customary .280-plus.  He generally heats up with the weather so Ortiz makes for a very nice buy low bat.  The always cheap draft and trade price make Ortiz a gettable commodity and one very well worth pursuing.

Mike Napoli:  2/4 with his fifth HR while hitting .286.  Now for the other end of the BABIP spectrum.  Napoli is posting one of the luckiest numbers in the game right now at .370 which was obvious enough since the guy in no way is a .280 hitter or even a .260 hitter without help.  Since he no longer carries catcher eligibility, today is the day to try and get something out of Napoli before the bottom falls out. 

Masahiro Tanaka:  7.1 IP 7 H 2 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.15.  The other day I did a Stat of The Day where I noted Tanaka is posting the highest swing and miss rate (16 percent) of any pitcher since Randy Johnson's last 300-plus K campaign.  Allow that to sink in for a minute.  While Tanaka won't reach 300 K's, 200 is a given and 225 a possibility.  And I own him.  And am now in first place in the Experts League.  Masahiro Tanaka you have stolen my heart.

Jose Fernandez:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 14 K with an ERA of 1.99.  I mean this is.....I can't believe.....this guy is.............my God I don't even know what to say anymore.  The next time you see pitcher rankings out of me, a 22-year-old Fernandez will be on top.  Over Kershaw.  Over Darvish.  Over everyone.  We talked about how Mike Trout had the best rookie debut maybe ever.  Fernandez has done the pitching equivalent. 

Alex Wood:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 11 K with an ERA of 1.54.  Wood is 2-3.  Somewhere Felix Hernandez cries in understanding.  Seriously though Wood is laying the Wood to everyone right now and after striking out 77 in 77 debut innings last season, I should have been on this Wood more.  Damn.  Want to hear another crazy stat that makes Wood looks so incredibly awesome?  He is carrying a BABIP of .276 which is on the lucky side but not overly dramatic. 

Adam Wainwright:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K with an ERA of 1.46.  You knew a stud outing was on the way against the feeble Mets bats but a hyperextended knee that needs no testing finished Wainwright early.  There was rain falling and it seemed like Wainwright was pitching to contact more because of it.  Either way no complaints.

Brian Dozier:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .221.  I am now invested in Dozier in the Experts league despite having Jose Altuve on the roster.  Here is what is crazy about all of this.  Jason Kipnis cost a second round pick for the kind of stats that Dozier as a 14th round pick is providing. 

Kyle Gibson:  7 ER in 3 IP with an ERA of 3.63.  Here is what I said about Gibson just a short seven days ago "Only six K's in 11 innings speak to how Gibson has benefitted from his ridiculously lucky .235 BABIP.  Gibson's FIP ERA?  4.10.  His XFIP ERA?  A scary 5.58.  Wow this is going to hurt when the luck evens out.  SELL SELL SELL!"  I don't think anything else needs to be said. 

David Price:  9 IP 6 H 3 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 4.04.  When Price is on his game like this you are getting nothing off of him.  The ERA is still slightly elevated but the return of his 200-plus K rate is the most exciting aspect of the 2014 Price package.  Firmly back as a slam dunk ace.

Chase Headley:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .200.  Big deal.

Scooter Gennett:  2/6 with his first HR while hitting .322.  Not what all Jean Segura owners want to see as Gennett mans the two hole for the Brew Crew.  Gennett is a high contact guy who stole a decent amount of bags in the minor leagues.  I like him but don't love him.  Do what you wish but if Gennett keeps hitting Segura will suffer. 

Ian Kennedy:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.60.  I haven't touched on Kennedy much but he has quickly filled my spring assessment of turning back into an SP 4 in moving out of Chase Field and into Petco Park.  Crazy how the overall package changes when a few less home runs leave the park.

Hunter Pence:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .213.  There is still a decent BUY LOW window on Pence who will be hitting .280 by the middle of May.  A .234 BABIP is holding Pence back right now but everything else checks out normally in his advanced metrics. 

Troy Tulowitzki:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .371.  Here is what is annoying about owning Tulowitzki (and CarGo, Utley, and Aramis for that matter) when they are HEALTHY.  Their managers are so overwhelmed like us about the next injury that they sit out for more maintenance days that most other players.  Those add up.  They add up to missed stats for you. 

Nolan Arenado:  1/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .299.  I think by the end of the season we are talking about Arenado as a top 7 fantasy baseball third baseman.  I could be wrong but I am not often.  All right enough about Danny Salazar.

Madison Bumgarner:  8 IP 9 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.14.  Bumgarner is taking a page out of the Justin Verlander "I pitch to a very good ERA but can't get past a start without more hits and walks than inning pitched" book. 

Luke Gregerson:  third blown save with 2 ER in ninth with an ERA of 3.09.  (Sigh).  Better yet (SIGH!!!!!!!).  Oakland bullpen I hate you.  Just put Ryan Cook or Sean Doollittle in there and be done with it. 

Jason Castro:  2/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .213.  Couple things here.  And when I say couple I mean two the way that term is supposed to be used.  How many times do you hear someone answer a numbers question you posed to them by saying "a couple" which in their minds mean "I have no idea but I know it is more than one."  Anyways here it goes.  Castro is striking out currently at a 23.3 percent clip but also bears a very unlucky .220 BABIP.  Split the difference and let's say Castro will bat somewhere around .260.  With the power readily apparent, he should already be owned and started in two catcher formats and picked up in single leagues as a borderline every day starter.

Colin McHugh:  6.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 12 K with an ERA of 0.00.  More like Colin McWHO???????  No one will be looked up more than McHugh today as that is what an out of the blue 12-K gem will do for any previously unknown starter.  McHugh was a 2.87 ERA Triple-A pitcher for the Mets in 2013 before being dealt to the Rockies where things typically went north to the tune of a 4.63 ERA in their system.  He was horrendous in a look-see with the Mets in 2012 (7.59) but McHugh has always shown a knack for K's in a Dan Straily sort of way.  However this is a foolhardy start that will get too many to succumb to the temptation which will than be followed by as many drops in seven days that we are seeing adds today.  Count on it.

Jonathan Papelbon:  scoreless ninth with his sixth save with an ERA of 3.24.  Told you he would be just fine as the veteran still has enough stuff to be solid.  In this day and age of the truly horrific closer fraternity, that means Papelbon is a top ten guy.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ORIOLES CATCHER MATT WIETERS (FOREARM) TO RETURN WED,

Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday's game with forearm tightness.  Wieters felt some pain in the forearm while throwing on Sunday and sat out as a precaution. 

Analysis:  Nothing major here so no need to lose any sleep.  Wieters is off to a terrific start this season, hitting for power

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ORIOLS 3B MANNY MACHADO (KNEE) TO BEGIN REHAB ASSIGNMENT FRIDAY

                                                      

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will finally begin a rehab assignment on Friday after spending the entire start of the 2014 season on the DL in recovering from last year's knee surgery.  Machado took extra time to recover from the procedure but has passed all of his tests recently to bring on the rehab outings starting on Friday.

Analysis:  Great news finally as Machado took the long route to get back.  Machado is scheduled to return sometime around the start of May and has very solid fantasy baseball value at a thin position.  However he could be cold out of the gate after so many missed games since the procedure.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARLOS GOMEZ SUSPENDED THREE GAMES FOR BRAWL

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez has been suspended for three games for his involvement in last week's brawl with the Pittsburgh Pirates. No word on whether Gomez will appeal.

Analysis:  Would be surprised if Gomez didn't appeal to get a game possibly knocked off.  Either way his stupidity will coat his owners a few games.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED FIRST BASEMAN RANKINGS

We continue to check in on the latest 2014 fantasy baseball rankings with today looking more closely at the first baseman.  Let's see where they all currently stand.

1.  Miguel Cabrera
2.  Paul Goldschmidt
3.  Joey Votto:  Votto has pushed ahead of Edwin Encarnacion and Prince Fielder with his monstrous start.  Once again Votto is hitting ropes all over the place and the 4 home runs he has as of this writing is a nice sign that he can approach maybe 30 again.
4.  Freddie Freeman:  Been calling this guy a future star since 2011 and he is right on schedule.  Freeman has improved across the board and now looks like a .315 hittin/30 HR/100 RBI monster.
5.  Albert Pujols:  I have to be fair.  Pujols is locked in right now at the plate, hitting for power and elevating the average over .280.  He clearly is a scaled down version from his former number 1 overall self but at least Pujols has knocked back Father Time for now.  Solid comeback campaign underway. 
6.  Chris Davis:  Davis is in a power outage to start the season and clearly opposing pitchers are being very careful when pitching to him.  We all know the home runs will start coming in bunches but I warned you in the spring that Davis would be hitting .260 unless he got more BABIP luck like he had a year ago.
7.  Brandon Belt:  All of that potential we have talked about for years when it comes to Belt is coming out in the form of a vastly elevated home run rate to go with a nice average.  A .320 BABIP is close to neutral but the home run rate is a bit of whack.  Still I won't say the home run rate is a fluke as Belt is now entering his prime power years.
8. Edwin Encarnacion:  I really just can't understand this one.  Encarnacion making me look silly for boosting him all offseason but I can't defend his early slump.  I will chalk it up to just an extended dry spell and ultimately Encarnacion will be fine.  He actually makes for a great BUY LOW since the slump ahs gone longer than we thought.
9.  Prince Fielder:  The guy has looked pretty awful.  The low average is due to a very unlucky BABIP so I am not concerned there but Fielder is now into his second season of declining power numbers. 
10. Jose Abreu:  Overall I am impressed despite that one early cold spell.  Abreu is collecting RBI's rapidly and scoring runs out of the third spot to go with 5 home runs.  The average will improve as the season goes on and 30 home runs still possible.  Sky is the limit.
11.  Adrian Gonzalez:  Steady as she goes.  Gonzalez is doing his .300 hitting thing with some homers and RBI thrown in.  Nothing spectacular anymore but solid nonetheless.
12. David Ortiz
13. Mark Trumbo
14. Justin Morneau:  Another guy who like Pujols is having a very nice comeback season.  Morneau was smart to sign with Colorado as the new home ballpark is the polar opposite of what he had in Minnesota.  What we are seeing is legit as Morneau is hitting well both at home and on the road. 
15. Matt Adams
16. Eric Hosmer:  If you are a Kansas City Royal with first base eligibility, you have been sucking it at fantasy baseball this season.  Once again we might have been fooled with Hosmer's big second half of 2013 as he still has zero home runs as of this writing and is showing no signs of improvement on that part of his game.
17. Billy Butler:  See above.
18. Buster Posey
19. Allen Craig:  I called this one as I noted in the winter how Craig's lack of power doesn't make him a good first base option.  With an early slump ruining his average, Craig now has little to offer you.
20. Michael Cuddyer
21. Anthony Rizzo
22. Ryan Howard
23. Corey Hart
23. Carlos Santana
24. Brandon Moss
25. Mike Morse
26. Lucas Duda
27. Joe Mauer
28. Adam LaRoche
29. Chris Colabello
30. Mark Teixeira
31. Jonathan Lucroy
32. Mike Napoli
33. Ike Davis
34. Adam Lind
35. Daniel Nava
36. Justin Smoak
37. James Loney
38. Kelly Johnson
39. Nick Swisher
40. Gaby Sanchez
41. Mike Olt
42. Juan Francisco


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: SHIN-SOO CHOO HEADED FOR MRI ON ANKLE

                                                        

Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will have an MRI done on the ankle he injured in Monday night's game to rule out any ligament damage.  Choo was forced to leave the game early while stepping on first base in an awkward fashion and subsequent X-rays were negative.  The Rangers are currently calling Choo day-to-day.

Analysis:  Hmmm.  This sounds just a tad more ominous.  Honestly though it sounds like the Rangers are just being proactive here.  Let's not panic until we hear the results.  In the meantime Choo is off to another solid start at the plate in upholding his high outfielder 2 status.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Mike Napoli:  1/5 with his fourth HR while hitting .274.  The average is slipping as expected but the pop remains very solid.  Just wish the Sox would throw Napoli a start every now and again behind the plate so he can pick up eligibility there again.  Would than go from average first baseman to top ten everyday catcher.

Tommy Hunter:  1 earned run in ninth with an ERA of 4.50.  Hunter's WHIP is up to 1.33 and he is getting more hittable by the day.  I spoke all winter how Hunter's mediocre K rate didn't go well with the ninth inning and we are seeing the difficulties he is having already.  I dumped him in a deal for Eric Young Jr. straight up in a league where I need steals badly and have no regrets. Besides someone else will lead the Orioles in saves this season.  Count on it.

Clay Buchholz:  2.1 IP 7 H 6 ER 1 BB 1 K with an ERA of 7.71.  On a bright sunny and warm day, shocked Buchholz didn't have his sunscreen handy.  He obviously forget his "secret weapon" in this one.  Buchholz is squarely back in the fantasy baseball garbage dump where he belongs.

Jason Kipnis:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .246.  It is likely we saw the optimal Jason Kipnis last season.  He can certainly get back there in 2014 but I don't think there is much more ceiling if any.  The guy strikes out too much for that to happen.  Having to deal with the inevitable long cold spells that brings just won't allow the numbers to reach another level. 

Michael Brantley:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .282.  I have done a collective yawn when discussing Brantley in the past and that really still applies.  The home run burst is nice but that is all that is.  Just a burst.  Don't get carried away in thinking Brantley is turning into Carlos Gomez.  He is already firmly into his prime and has pretty much plateaued as a player.

John Axford:  scoreless ninth in picking up his 7th save with an ERA of 3.12.  The 1.38 WHIP shows you how much of a tightrope Axford has walked in closing out games this season but he is getting the job done.  The BABIP is squarely in the lucky realm though and the high WHIP always portends future trouble.  Get out now while Axford is at his optimum value.

Jenrry Mejia:  6.2 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 1.99.  Mejia reminds me so much of Johnny Cueto it is scary.  They both have an electric arm and are on the short side with a long history of injuries.  Told you to pick up Mejia after his first start and he has been nothing short of brilliant.  The walks are an ongoing thing but this is becoming a story to follow.

Andrew McCutchen:  3/3 with his second HR while hitting .273.  Same deal for the third season in a row for McCutchen.  Starts out slow and than heats up mid-April and destroys everyone the rest of the way.  Please remember this in 2015 when Cutch is sitting there with a bagel in the home run department and hitting .240.  You know how many e-mails I could clear from the inbox?  You have no idea.

Francisco Liriano:  7 IP 7 H 4 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 4.22.  Sometimes fantasy baseball can make you shake with anger.  I had one of those moments with Liriano.  After debating all day whether to start him or sit him against a tough Cincy lineup, I decided to roll he dice and put him in.  7 innings later of a 1.00 WHIP and 2 earned runs yielded with a 4-2 lead, I basked in my good move.  Now let's see Mark Melancon in the eighth and get this over with.  Only we don't see Melancon but instead Liriano again.  Before a pitch was thrown I knew what was going to happen.  Two batters faced, two hits, and of course they both f&*&ing come around to score.  ERA now for the night?  5.40.  The WHIP?  1.29.  $%&@^&(*)()$_)(@&(_*$_(_(*&(^%$^%@*!))*&$(&$*_()*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Evan Gattis:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .302.  It won't be long before Gattis is hitting his proper .260 and that might even be a stretch given his very high strikeouts ways but the power is here to stay and in a big way at catcher.  One sleeper who had completely lived up to the billing.

Andrelton Simmons:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .299.  I am very curious to see if Simmons eventually figures out how to use his speed to steal bases.  Simmons is a good example of a guy who has terrific speed but who is not a good base stealer of which there have been many.  The average and power are already pointing upwards as Simmons is knocking on the everyday usage door.  Maybe he should give Alexei Ramirez a buzz since he figured out unbelievably after the age of 30.

Tom Koehler:  6.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.13.  Geez if you have a Miami Marlins uniform on this season than you are automatically a great.  Koehler never shows any chops in the strikeout department until 2014 and while we have to take the 8 punchouts with a grain of salt, we don't have to overlook the ratios.  However a .224 BABIP tells a lot of this story. 

Julio Teheran:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 1.80.  So you do remember how to strike guys out?  As good as Teheran has been this season, up to this point he left the K's in 2013.  He has continued the upward arc of his young career and right now Teheran has moved to the upper reaches of SP 2 status.  If he can keep the K;s up to the level he was at in this one, ace status is not out of the questions before the season is complete.

Craig Kimbrel:  blown save with 1 run in ninth with an ERA of 3.68.  The run was unearned and Kimbrel struck out three so overall this was an improvement.  Still feeling leery about the shoulder and will watch his next outing closely.  If he check out of that one all right, I will lower the red alert.

Ryan Howard:  2/5 with his fifth HR while hitting .271.  Howard is locked into one of those power hitting runs so you don't need me to tell you what to do.  He has been healthy for the first time in ages and as we have seen with Albert Pujols, sometimes that is all it takes to regain fantasy baseball relevancy.  Have no problems with anyone riding this out or seeing if he can do a Pujols comeback impression despite how often I have ripped him in the past.  If it doesn't cost anything to find out than there is no reason not to.

Cliff Lee:  8 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 B 10 K with an ERA of 3.09.  This guy is ridiculous.  Lee has now struck out 38 guys in 35 innings with 2 walks.  Starting to think we will be talking in this same manner about Lee when he is 45.  Seriously.

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .314.  Choo came up lame with a sprained ankle but is considered day-to-day.  Has fit in just dandy atop the Texas lineup but would hojnestly love to see Ron Washington flip him and Elvis Andrus in order to boost the RBI.

Brandon Moss:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .270.  Moss played the outfield with Yoenis Cespedes day-to-day with a heel injury.  Moss was once again undervalued coming into the season, what with his rare 30 home run power, decent enough average, and dual eligibility at 1B and the OF.  It is guys like this that you can get cheap in the draft who can play more than one spot that ultimately go unnoticed after you take the league title. 

Astros Hitters:  Yeah I know Matt Dominguez and Marc Kraus homered.  Sorry I am not talking about any Astros hitter not named George Springer, Jose Altuve, or Jason Castro the rest of the way.   No one cares and we have more important things to get to.

Dallas Keuchel:  6 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.38.  Didn't really want to touch on this either as the lefty has had ERA's over 5.00 each of the last two seasons.  So anyways.....

Felix Hernandez:  7 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.04.  This is a Seattle Mariners loss for Hernandez.  You know the kind where you pitch your ass off but your bats suck so bad that they get ripped apart by Dallas freakin' Keuchel.

Charlie Blackmon:  2/4 with 2 home runs (4 for season) while hitting .411.  We could be looking at a big time breakout happening right before out eyes.  Blackmon's red hot hitting is threatening to go into a second month and the power/speed game checks out.  The crowded Rockies outfield turned me off initially but I should have known better that Drew Stubbs was not going to stop any sort of breakout from happening.  Right now Brian Dozier and Blackmon are supplying some of the best bang for the fantasy baseball buck in the game.

Nolan Arenado:  2/5 with his third HR while hitting .301.  Arenado was a guy I recommended drafting as a backup up with upside and while he has not exactly killed it, he generally has been very useful.  I would like to see some more power since he plays third base but Arenado is already into double-digits in runs and RBI and the average has stayed up.  Revisit the wire for him.

Wilin Rosario:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .266.  Firmly out of the two week slump he had to begin the season.  When you play half of your games in Colorado you won't stay ice cold for long which is why I pushed buying low here.  Rosario has improved his hitting since breaking into the league, cutting some K's here and increasing the walks there. The home runs have moved around from the low to the high 20's but anywhere in between those numbers will be swell.