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Monday, February 28, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: MONDAY

Star Of The Day:  Mike Moustakas 3B Kansas City Royals (hit his first spring training home run)

Bum Of The Day:  Wandy Rodriguez SP Houston Astros (6 ER on 5 H and 3 BB in only 1 2/3 IP)


Florida/St. Louis:  Lance Berkman hit his first home run of the spring in a 2/2 day.  Berkman will play the outfield for the Cardinals this season which should increase the injury risk for the aging slugger.  Clearly on the way down, Berkman is nothing more than a bench option now or a CI guy for those who have that option. 

Houston/Atlanta:  Wandy Rodriguez was just disgusting for the Astros today as he have up 6 ER on 5 H and 3 BB in only 1 2/3 IP.  Just a joke of a performance and already Rodriguez is repeating the awful spring training he has last season.  It took him until the second half to straighten himself out so beware.  Derek Lowe threw two scoreless with 2 hits but he is nothing but a spot starter in almost all leagues. 

Pittsburgh/Tampa Bay:  Jeff Niemann was great in throwing three scoreless innings with only 1 walk and 3 K's.  He opened some eyes with a great first half last season before his lucky BABIP at that point went the other way.  He is a back end starter in most formats due to the lack of K's and rough division.  Jake McGee threw two scoreless innings but he took the loss due to bad defense behind him.  Nice outing in his attempt to be the team's closer. 

New York Yankees/Detroit Tigers:  CC Sabbathia threw two scoreless innings as he surrendered only 2 hits with 2 K's.  He remains a top level fantasy baseball starter despite a rising home run rate and hit rate.  Justin Verlander threw two scoreless on the other side but he was ragged giving up two hits and 2 walks as he struck out one.  Also I had to mention that Mark Prior threw a scoreless inning of relief.  Good to see him back on a mound as was perfect in his one frame with one K. 

Pittsburgh/Baltimore:  Jose Tabata got his first steal of the season as he once again hit leadoff.  Its pretty much certain now he will hit leadoff in the regular season with Andrew McCutchen third.  Nolan Reimold hit a home run today as we all go a collective "oh yeah I remember that guy."  Koji Uehara gave up a run on two hits in one inning while his competition for the closing gig Kevin Gregg threw a scoreless inning with one walk.  I guess you can say Gregg is now ahead. 

Philadelphia/Toronto:  Roy Halladay threw two scoreless innings but gave up two hits and a walk which is not like him.  Still its only spring training folks.  Another Cy Young is in the offing. 

Boston/Minnesota:  David Ortiz hit his first home run and remains for UTIL use only.  He can still hit dingers but he is another year older with that body.  Be careful.  Jason Kubel went yard for the Twins but his ballpark stinks and he is useless against lefties.  No thanks. 

New York Mets/Washington:  Angel Pagan is his first home run and he will man centerfield for the team this season with Carlos Beltran in right.  A season of 15 home runs and 30 steals is very possible at a nice price for Pagan this season.  Mike Pelfrey gave up a run on five hits in 3 IP.  Pelfrey is a terrible mixed league option due to a very low K rate and bad WHIP.  Please look elsewhere when it comes to a starter late in your draft.

Milwaukee/Chicago Cubs:  Randy Wells threw two scoreless innings with two hits and a K.  The guy gets it done with smoke and mirrors but that 8-run bomb could come at any moment which makes him very risky.

Milwaukee/San Francisco:  Shaun Marcum gave up two runs in two IP with 4 hits and 3 K.  Either way Marcum is a guy I want on all my teams this season as he could have a huge year in the NL with his repertoire.  Pablo Sandoval did not hit a home run but he had another hit on a 1/3 day. 

Oakland/Anaheim:  Michael Taylor hit a home run for the A's as the prized prospect does his part to show the team he deserves to make the club.  Good tools here to keep track of for sure.  Joel Piniero threw two scoreless innings with 2 hits.  Not enough K's to make him ownable. 

Kansas City/Texas:  The big news of the day was the fact that both hotshot Royals prospect Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer hit home runs.  Moustakas has a better chance to breaking camp with the team and he could be a big contributor this season with his powerful bat.  Hosmer will head to the farm soon.  Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli homered for Texas.  Kinsler once again led off which is where he will stay it looks like.  Stay healthy dude.  Stay healthy.  As far as Napoli is concerned, 30 home runs is possible with enough at-bats which puts him in the convo as the best fantasy baseball catcher.  Also Mike Aviles stole a base for the Royals and if he can continue to swipe bases like he did last September, we might have something here.  Colby Lewis threw two scoreless innings with 1 walk and 1 K.  Many say he cant do it again but why not?  The stuff is legit. 

Chicago White Sox/Los Angeles:  Gavin Floyd threw two perfect innings.  You know the drill here. He will be terrible until July and than great.  Jonathan Broxton got the win for the Dodgers with a perfect inning.  So far so good in his bid to hold his closer gig.  Clayton Kershaw threw three scoreless innings with 2 hits and a walk with 3 K's.  Love this kid.  Will be the number one guy in the game in two years.  Count on it.

Colorado/Arizona:  Jhoulys Chacin threw two perfect innings with 1 K.  Get this guy everyone.  Justin Upton went 1/3 with a CS.  We need evidence that his shoulder is good.  A home run would do it.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE RUMORS: TALKS GETTING HOT BETWEEN YANKS AND TWINS OVER LIRIANO


The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins are now getting deeper into talks regarding ace pitcher Francisco Liriano.  Apparently the Yanks are weighing whether they should deal Joba Chamberlain and Ivan Nova for Liriano.  Look for the talks to continue for now.

Analysis:  Its looking more and more like the talks have legs right now and Liriano could now find himself in New York soon.  If he does end up there, Liriano surely will see his value drop some in going from one of the best pitchers parks in the game to one of the worst.  Still he would be an upper level starter no matter where he pitches.  Stay tuned here as things could change quick.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY UPDATE: MARLINS OF MIKE STANTON (STRAINED QUAD) WILL MISS TWO WEEKS


Florida Marlins OF Mike Stanton will be out for two weeks due to the quad injury he suffered during's yesterday's spring game.  Stanton claimed he felt better today but the team will sit him down for 14 days as a precaution.

Analysis:  There is no need for Stanton to rush back and re-injure himself so the Marlins are being careful here.  Still the at-bats he will miss out on for someone so young will be invaluable so a slow start to the season is entirely possible now.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURIES: BREWERS OF COREY HART OUT TWO WEEKS WITH OBLIQUE STRAIN


The curse of the oblique has struck again as Milwaukee Brewers Of Corey Hart will be out the next two weeks as a result of injuring the muscle he injured over the weekend.  Tests completed today on Hart revealed the strain and so he will sit for now. 

Analysis:  Another oblique injury as Hart followed Mike Stanton's yesterday.  Two weeks is a decent amount of time so it looks like he is the more more serious one and no doubt it could hurt him out of the gate due to rust.  Be that as it may Hart should have enough time to get back for the start of the season.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM PREVIEW: CLEVELAND INDIANS


The Cleveland Indians are up today as I continue previewing all of the fantasy baseball players from each team leading up to the start of the season.  As far as the Indians are concerned, there are some useful players here like with most teams but there is also a lacking of top tier talent.  As always I grade each player from 4 stars to 1. 

4 STAR PLAYERS:

Shin-Soo Choo:  Choo is right on the border as far as the line between a 3 and a 4 star player but since Cleveland doesn't have anyone else to fit here, I gave him the bump up.  Choo is the classic consistency guy who you can pretty much write in what he is going to do this season.  Think .300 with 90 R 20-25 HR 90 RBI and 20-25 SB.  All very solid number and certainly top ten worthy in OF.  He is smack dab in his prime so just don't look for anything more than this here.

3 STAR PLAYERS:

Carlos Santana:  Santana is expected to be 100 percent for the start of the season after recovering from the gruesome knee injury he suffered last summer.  That bit of misfortune ruined what was shaping up to be a very nice rookie season with the Indians but we didn't get a chance to see what he could really do.  That opportunity comes this season and he already possesses a great batting eye that will yield a high OBP and good power numbers.  He showed some sneaky speed as far as steals were concerned last season but don't look for that now off the knee injury.  Still Santana should be drafted as a top 5 catcher as he has all the talent in the world. 

Chris Perez:  Perez is a closer on the rise who has the 100-mph fastball to succeed right away.  He did a great job in place of Kerry Wood last season and he wasnt a first round draft pick for nothing.  The walks were always a problem but he did a decent enough of job in improving on that this season.  If he takes even another step forward in cutting down the walks, than we are looking at a big time closing talent.

2 STAR PLAYERS:

Matt LaPorta:  Like with Perez, LaPorta is a former first round pick who has a ton of talent.  Unlike Perez however LaPorta hasn't shown it much in the majors at this point.  He did hit 12 home runs last season but with a horrid average.  He has got to improve his plat approach in order to maximize his talent and he certainly can do that this season and make himself a decent late round target.  He falls under the show it to me and than we'll talk situation.

Grady Sizemore:  Sizemore is flat out the biggest question mark in fantasy baseball this season as he was a first round pick only a few short years ago but has crapped out so drastically that its anyone's guess what he will look like when he gets back in mid-April.  His average has never been great due to struggles against lefties and a high strikeout rate.  Also he likely wont be stealing any bases off the microfracture surgery and a Sizemore without steals is pretty much worthless.  The name will generate a higher price than he should so I wont be bothering.

Michael Brantley:  Brantley will get every opportunity to grab hold of the leadoff spot for the Indians and he can be a big time stolen base guy if he seizes it.  His average tumbled last season but he got unlucky with the batted ball so look for a rise this season along with a bunch of steals.  A 40 steal season could occur if all breaks right so if you need cheap speed late than this guy should get your attention.

Asdrubal Cabrera:  Cabrera saw his follow up campaign to his nice rookie season fall flat in 2010 due to injuries that wiped out a major chunk of games.  He is a professional hitter who can easily post a .300 average with 10 home runs and 15 steals which certainly has its value.  A guy to look at if you wait on second baseman.

1 STAR PLAYERS:

Justin Masterson:  Masterson had a very difficult first full season starting as he posted a 4.70 ERA with a .150 WHIP.  He showed a good strikeout rate but walks and untimely hits were his undoing.  He did get a bit unlucky with his BABIP so an improvement is expected across the board but Masterson is nothing but a spot guy right now.

Travis Hafner:  It wasn't too long ago when Hafner was a high fantasy baseball draft pick as he was one of the best sluggers in the game.  Shoulder injuries however have ruined his progress and he doesn't even get a full allotment of starts each week now as the team tries to preserve his health.  An injury fill-in when he is right.

Austin Kearns:  Here is another guy who failed to live up to the hype and he has made the rounds in the majors as a result.  Not much doing here.

Jayson Nix:  Will hit some home runs but with a horrid batting average.  No thanks. 

Orlando Cabrera:  The guy is still going and he used to be an annual great shortstop value but he is a shell of his former self. 

Carlos Carrasco:  Carrasco was once a big time prospect in the Phillies system but soon found himself moved to the Indians as the team soured on his work ethic.  He has some electric stuff when he wants to put in the work and he opened some nice toward the end of 2010 so there is sleeper stuff here.  Keep track of how he does in spring training.

Fausto Carmona:  The guy cant strike anyone out and so he is depended on defense and luck to help you fantasy baseball team.  I don't trust guys like this and neither should you.

Josh Tomlin:  He is severely lacking in strikeouts as well and gets hit too much to be worthy of a roster spot.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT TOSS UP: SHANE VICTORINO/BJ UPTON

We only have a month to go before blast off so draft are hot and heavy right now.  Lets take a look at another Draft Toss Up and today we look at two similar players in the Phillies' Shane Victorino and the Rays' BJ Upton.  Both guys have very good speed along with some decent power.  Both are also being drafted right around the same region in fantasy baseball drafts this spring so lets see who should be picked over the other.  As always I will compare the two in regards to all five ROTO categories.

Average:  Victorino is a .279 career hitter while Upton comes in at .260.  On top of these differences, Victorino has generally been in the .280-.290 range for most of his career until stumbling a bit last season.  Upton meanwhile has seen his average drop the last three seasons to as low as .237 last season which is just awful.  Victorino should get back close to the .280 mark this season while Upton will be lucky to bat .250 at this rate.
Advantage:  Shane Victorino

Runs:  Victorino's last three seasons in runs are 102, 102, and 84 while Upton is at 85, 79. and 89.  Whereas Victorino will bat near the top of the Phillies lineup and maybe even leadoff is Jimmy Rollins struggles again, Upton was banished to the ninth spot due to his poor hitting approach last season.  He should get another shot at leading off but the likelihood is that Victorino outdoes him here.
Advantage:  Shane Victorino

Stolen Bases:  Both guys are very adept in this department but whereas Victorino is in the 30 steal range, Upton has stolen over 40 the last three seasons.  That should continue this season as the Rays are one of the more aggressive teams in baseball in that department.
Advantage:  BJ Upton

RBI:  Both guys have hovered in the 55-70 range for the duration of their careers and that wont change this season.  This is a push.
Advantage:  EVEN

Home Runs:  They both hit 18 home runs last season and were within one of each other during 2009.  Really they will be right around the same mark again.
Advantage:  EVEN

WINNER:  Shane Victorino

As always this was very close but Victorino wins out in the end by a slim margin.  The fact he will post a decent average compared to Upton and the fact he will hit toward the top of the lineup which is not guaranteed for the Rays outfielder puts him over the top here.  Go for the more well-rounded guy with this debate.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Star of The Day:  Andrew McCutchen (3/3 with 3 R 1 HR 1 RBI 1 SB)



Bum Of The Day:  Trevor Cahill (1/3 5 H 4 ER 1BB)



Tampa Bay/Pittsburgh:  Andrew McCutchen cracked a HR as he went a perfect 3/3 with 3 runs with 1 RBI and 1 SB.  Once again he batted third which is the best spot for his value. Great game as it hints at the fact he can bring a bit of everything to the table.  James Shields gave up a solo HR in 1 inning.  He is a good rebound guy as he got very unlucky last season but he has to rein in the dingers.  Desmond Jennings also stole his first base in an 0/2 day.  Thats his calling card but he doesnt have much power.

New York Mets/Atlanta:  Mike Minor tossed two perfect innings for the Braves as he makes a very intriguing late round option who can rack up K's.  On the other side Chris Young himself threw two perfect innings with 2 K's.  We all know he is decent when he is healthy which is a big IF. 

New York Yankees/Philadelphia:  Curtis Granderson hit a HR in the game and Brad Lidge gave up a home rub.  Both are among the lower tiered guys at their positions so dont go crazy with either.  Ivan Nova also did well in his first start with two perfect innings with 2 K's.  So far so good but he wont be much more than a really late lottery ticket.

Detroit/Toronto:  Max Scherzer threw two scoreless innings with one walk and 1 K.  Many are leery of using a high pick on the guy but he can strike out 200 if he reigns in the walks.  I am 50/50 on him as far as using that high pick but the talent is evident. 

Kansas City/Texas:  CJ Wilson gave up 1 ER in two IP with 2 K's.  Should have a tough time duplicating last season's breakout so dont buy him based on last season's stats.  Also Ian Kinsler lead off agains with Elvis Andrus in the third spot.  When the season starts look for Andrus in the two hole which could hurt his steals and runs which are the only two stats he contributes in anyway.  He is stil one of the most overrated guys for this season.

Los Angeles/Anaheim:  Matt Kemp went 1/2 with a CS.  He has to improve his steal efficiency after last season's disappointment.  Scott Kazmir got rocked to the tune of 3 ER in 2 IP with 5 H given up.  No longer worth the attention of the fantasy baseball comunity.

Oakland/Chicago Cubs:  Hit a grad slam and Crisp could hit 10 home run with a boatload of steals if he stays healthy.  He is always hurt though so expect only partial contributions.  Trevor Cahill was detroyed to the tune of 5 H and 1 BB with 4 ER while getting only one out.  I have screaming all season that he will be one of the biggest busts this season.  Hope you listened.  Matt Garza gave up 5 ER in 2 IP as he gave up a home run which is his biggest issue yearly.  The Wrigley Field winds are a terrible match with Garza so dont assume the move to the NL will improve his overall line.

Cincinnati/Cleveland:  Drew Stubb went 0/2 out of the leadoff spot and this bears watching as he fumbled away the leadoff role last season and than played great once he was moved out.  His fanatsy baseball value is at its best in the leadoff spot so lets hope for some hits.  This also affects Brandon Phillips who would bat second or third which would be much better for his value as he was miscast as a leadoff hitter last season.

San Diego/Seattle:  Tim Stauffer got rocked to the tune of 5 ER in 1 2/3 IP.  He has been mentioned as a sleeper but I dont see it.  Not enough K's to help out.  Erik Bedard also threw a scoreless inning with 2 K's.  So far so good until the next injury hits.

San Francisco/Arizona:  Pablo Sandoval hit another home run as he went 1/3.  This is the guy we were waiting for all last season.  His stock will continue to go up as a result of his play this spring.  Matt Cain threw two scoreless innings with 3 hits and 1 K.  More of the same here.  Daniel Hudson gave up 1 ER in 2 IP.  He wont be as good as he was last season but still a good option nonetheless. 

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING HAPPENINGS: MARLINS SP JAVIER VASQUEZ PITCHES TWO HITLESS INNINGS WITH 3 K'S


Florida Marlins SP Javier Vasquez threw two hitless innings in his first spring training start of the season while also striking out three of the six batters he faced.  It was a nice start for Vasquez who is coming off a horrid season with the Yankees where he had a noticeable drop in velocity.

Analysis:  Way back in December I wrote about how Vasquez is a guy everyone should be targeting this season now that he is back in the National League and in a great pitcher's park in Florida.  Just two years ago Vasquez was utterly dominant with the Braves as he nearly won a Cy Young.  The strikeouts were nice to see and if his velocity is back than watch out.  Just remember where you heard it from first.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM PREVIEW: TEXAS RANGERS


The Texas Rangers have taken control of the AL West and were the runners-up to the San Francisco Giants in last season's World Series as proof.  There are some big time sluggers on the this team and also a tremendous closer as well.  Anyone looking for fantasy baseball help should make this one of their stops.  as always I group each fantasy baseball relevant player from 4 stars to 1. 

4 STAR PLAYERS:

Josh Hamilton:  What Hamilton did last season bordered on lunacy but that doesn't mean he is an automatic first round pick this season.  As great as Hamilton was last season, his year was almost an exact replica of his outstanding 2008 breakout which made him a first round pick in all drafts for 2009.  Well the injury big reared its ugly head that season as Hamilton went down as one of the biggest busts of the year in collecting only 10 home runs.  Hence history repeating itself is a realistic possibility due to Hamilton's massive injury history.  He also has a ridiculously lucky BABIP last season which blew up his average to unsustainable heights.  Look for a sharp decrease in that category as well.  Put it altogether and Hamilton is one of the riskiest early picks in the game.

Neftali Feliz:  No doubt the decision to move Feliz into the closer's role was the right call as he was utterly dominant all season.  Word is the Rangers have stretched him out in order to see what he can do as a starter but I seriously doubt we see that move made.  Could be the best closer in baseball this season.

3 STAR PLAYERS:

Ian Kinsler:  It was only two short years ago when Kinsler went 30/30 and instantly cemented his status as a huge fantasy baseball star.  Unfortunately that was the only season Kinsler has ever stayed relatively healthy and two DL stints ruined his potential encore last season.  The tools are still there for another huge season but the fact Kinsler is always hurt makes him a risky pick for your second baseman.  The definition of the risk/reward guy.

Nelson Cruz:  I love Cruz' skill set as a big time slugger who also has good speed.  If he can ever stay on the field (what is it with all of these injury-prone Rangers), Cruz is capable of putting up a 40 home run/20 stolen base season.  The batting average is up and down every seasons but the power is top notch.  If he stays healthy you could be looking at a quiet MVP.

Adrian Beltre:  Beltre is once again in the spotlight after signing a big free-agent contract as many wonder whether his stats will take a dive now that he has been paid like they did in Seattle.  The difference this time though is that Beltre is going to one of the best hitting parks in the majors in Texas and so its likely he repeats what he did last season in Boston.  He will miss a large chunk of spring training with a calf strain but third base is so shallow that you shouldn't let him fall too far this spring during your drafts.

Colby Lewis:  Before he went to Japan, Lewis was a failed major league starter.  Upon his return, Lewis is now considered a very good starting pitching option capable of 200 strikeouts.  He is a flyball pitcher which is scary in the Ranger ballpark but Lewis proved all season in 2010 that he is crafty enough to be a solid pitcher.  Many will doubt he can follow up on such an unexpectedly good year but that just means he is that better of a value.

Michael Young:  Young is looking at some stiff competition for playing time in the Rangers infield now that Beltre has been brought aboard which clouds his fantasy baseball value.  Still he is a very good hitter who can make a positive contribution to your squad at third base and eventually first if you need him there (lets hope you don't).  Just monitor how things are shaking out this spring.

Mike Napoli:  Napoli is a polarizing figure in our fake game as he has the best power at the catching position but his lack of consistent playing time and poor averages.  Now that he is in Texas, Napoli is set up to have a big time home run year but once again his playing status could be a game day deal since he will split time behind the plate with Yorvit Torrealba and DH/1B duties with Mitch Moreland and Michael Young. 

Elvis Andrus:  I personally don't consider Andrus as a 3 star player but since shortstop is so shallow, he has to be mentioned here.  Right now he is strictly a steals and runs option but even those numbers could be hurt a bit now that its been revealed Ian Kinsler will hit leadoff with Andrus second this season.  That guarantees in my view that Andrus cant possibly be selected before the likes of Jeter, Rollins, Alexei Ramirez, and maybe even Drew.

2 STAR PLAYERS:

Mitch Moreland:  Moreland did some nice things down the stretch for the Rangers but he will split starts with Michael Young and Mike Napoli at 1B/DH this season.  He strikes out a lot and is awful against lefties so don't use him as anything more than a bench guy.

Julio Borbon:  That wasn't the encore that we anticipated with Borbon last season as he went into a major slump at the start of the season and than got stuck in the ninth spot in the order upon his return.  He had a good finish to the season but he once again will be batting at the bottom of the lineup this season which limits what we can expect from him in the steals department.

Brandon Webb:  I keep flashing back to Chris Carpenter when I think of Webb as Carp missed two seasons with injuries and came back with a ridiculously dominant year his first season back.  Not saying this is Webb's destiny but proven guys such as this find a way to get it done so very late in your draft its not the worst idea to grab him to see if he can make it back.

1 STAR PLAYERS:

Tommy Hunter:  Hunter was decent on the surface last season but he cant strike anyone out which is a deadly lack of skill in the American League.  On top of this, Hunter benefited from a lucky BABIP so look for a major regression in his numbers this season.  Not usable.

Derek Holland:  Holland has great potential as a guy who can rack up strikeouts but first he needs a starting spot which is not guaranteed.  The lefty showed some big time ability in spurts last season so the team is likely interested to see what he can do.  I am as well.

Scott Feldman:  Another Texas starter like Hunter who doesn't strike guys out and who will likely get blasted all season.  Leave him be.

Darren O'Day:  Likely would be the closer if Feliz somehow becomes a starter so there is that to hand your hat on.  Great setup man but that the extent of his worth at this point.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURIES: MARLINS OF MIKE STANTON SUFFERS QUAD STRAIN


Florida Marlins OF Mike Stanton suffered a right quad strain in the second inning of the team's spring training camp on Sunday while trying to beat out a bunt.  He immediately was removed from the game and was diagnosed with the strain.  No word on how long he will sit out games this spring.

Analysis:  Quad strain's are the bane of fantasy baseball owners as they are notoriously slow injuries to heal and are unpredictable in how long it takes to get back.  Be that as it may I would be shocked to see Stanton miss any games in the regular season to this point.  Still he will lose out on some needed tune-up since he is so young so its possible he stars slow as a result. 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURIES: PHILLIES 2B CHASE UTLEY UNDERWENT MRI ON KNEE SATURDAY


In a bit of disconcerting news, Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley underwent an MRI on his knee Saturday due to feeling tendinitus in the area.  The team has not commented on this yet but they already are planning to keep Utley out of spring training games until he feels better whenever that is.

Analysis:  This is surprising news as it didnt get out yesterday and the team hasnt said anything on it.  The fact of the matter though is Utley has some sort of a knee issue that is being labled tendinitus for now.  Since he had to have the MRI, the team is obviously concerned about something.  Stay tuned on this as Utley already was an injury question mark before this and even more so now. 

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING GAME WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Spring training games are underway and even though its early, its never too soon to start looking at some performances.
STAR OF THE DAY:  Pablo Sandoval 3B San Francisco Giants (2/3 with 2 R 1 HR 3 RBI)


BUM OF THE DAY:  Craig Kimbrel RP Atlanta Braves (1/3 IP 2H 1 HR 2 BB 2 ER)


Tampa Bay/Pittsburgh:  Evan Longoria and Sean Rodriguez both cracked home runs.  Rodriguez is a name to watch as a cheap second base option who also qualifies in outfield.  He went nuts last spring training and was just all right in the regular season so dont get too excited yet here.  The Pirates used Jose Tabata at leadoff and Andrew McCutchen at third.  That would be the best move for all as McCutchen would see an increase in RBI while Tabata could threaten 40 steals. 

Philadelphia/New York:  Cole Hamels threw two scoreless innings with a walk and a hit with 2 K's.  Everyone in Phillies camp is raving about the guy and he will face some opposing team's mediocre fourth starters so the wins that were lacking last season should correct itself. 

Toronto/Detroit:  Brett Cecil gave up 1 ER on 3 H in 2 IP.  He did some nice things last season but he has a poor strikeout rate and pitches in the Beast.

New York/Atlanta:  Biggest story here was Craig Kimbrel totally melting down giving up a 2R home run along with 2 walks while only getting one out.  Johnny Venters (scoreless inning with 1 hit and 1 K) is looking much better now for the closing gig.  Jair Jurrjens threw two scoreless innings with 2 hits and 1 strikeout.  Dont forget about this guy.  He is not as good as he showed in 2009 but he makes a solid third or fourth starter.

Los Angeles/San Francsico:  Jonathan Sanchez gave up four hits in 1 2/3 IP along with a walk in an ugly outing but he actually gaev up no ER.  Sanchez is due to regress this season and still walks the ballpark so he stands to be a negative draft value.  3B Pablo Sandoval made an emphatic statement that the weight loss will get him back to star levels as he went 2/3 with a home runs and 2 runs and 3 RBI.  So far so good.  Take a bow Richard Simmons.

Los Angeles Dodgers/Anaheim Angels:  Matt Kemp went 1/2 with a stolen base.  Kemp could be huge this season and if he figures out the steals issue he has last season, a year of 30/30 is not out of the question.  Marc Trumbo hit a HR for the Angels and he could start the year at 1B if Kendry Morales is not ready but dont look for any average help with this option.  Hiroki Kuroda threw 2 scoreless innings with only 1 H and struck out 1.  The guy is criminally underrated every season and I will have a STAT OF THE DAY to prove it a bit later.

Arizona/Colorado:  Kelly Johnson picked up where he left off last season with his first home run leading off for the club.  Johnson batting leadoff will curtail his RBI's and he could see a decrease a bit in home runs as his fly ball rate was out of whack last season.  Still he surely is a starting option for 2011 and could be a strong one at that.  Ubaldo Jimenez threw two scoreless innings while working around 2 hits and a walk.  He was Sandy Koufax in the first half last season and average the second half.  Split the difference and thats what you get in 2011 which is still a staff ace.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: CRAIG KIMBREL ROCKED IN FIRST SPRING OUTING


Yes its only the first outing but young fireballing Braves potential closer Craig Kimbrel was only able to get one out in the team's spring training game today as he gave up a double, a two-run homer and two walks while getting only one out.  Just an ugly performance all the way around as Johnny Venters lurks.

Analysis:  Tough start for the kid and his complete meltdown here is already a bad first sign for his battle for the closing gig with Johnny Venters.  Kimbrel has had all sorts of control problems in the minors and even in his cup of coffee with the Braves last season which was covered up by his crazy strikeout numbers.  Another outing like this and Venters takes the clear lead.  Also if both struggle there is a certain closer in San Diego who is on the trading block.  Just saying.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURIES: RANGERS 3b ADRIAN BELTRE COULD NOW MISS A MONTH WITH CALF STRAIN


Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman is reporting today that privately the Texas Rangers are thinking that 3B Adrian Beltre could the next month with the Grade 1 calf strain he suffered yesterday.  If that were the case than Beltre would likely not be ready for the start of the season and thus could miss the first week while he tunes up in extended spring training.

Analysis:  No official word from the team on this but things are not looking so rosy for Beltre right now.  With fantasy baseball drafts in full swing, this does downgrade him some due to the uncertainty of exactly how long he will be out but in my view the worst case scenario would be Beltre missing the first week or so of the season which his not enough to drastically hurt his fantasy baseball value.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM PREVIEW: ANAHEIM ANGELS


Next up on our tour through the majors leagues from a fantasy baseball perspective are the Anaheim Angels who are playing second fiddle in the AL West after owning the division for the better part of a decade.  This is a team in transition from the old guard to a younger team that could contend soon.  There are holes in places but there also are some very nice fantasy baseball options as well.  As always each relevant player is graded from 4 stars to 1. 

4 STAR PLAYERS:

Jered Weaver:  One of the biggest surprises of the 2011 fantasy baseball season was the utter dominance of Weaver who recorded a Cy Young worthy line of 13-12 with a 3.01 ERA 1.07 WHIP and 233 strikeouts.  In fact Weaver was in charge all season as he never had an ERA higher than 3.66 in any one month.  Many want to pan his year as a fluke but looking at the advanced stats, Weaver didn't get lucky with the BABIP or with the strand rate.  He began trusting his offspeed pitches more which led to the fooling of more batters which shot the strikeouts up.  Do not hesitate by any means when it comes to drafting Weaver again for 2011.

Dan Haren:  One player who did suffer in the luck department was Haren who had an inflated BABIP and strand rate which caused his ERA to balloon in the first half when he normally is at his best.  He also was better in the second half when he was dealt to the Angels which went against everything we ever knew about Haren since he always struggled post-break.  Getting away from Chase Field will do wonders for the fly balling Haren and feasting against the Mariners and A's of the division will get him right back to his usually very good numbers.  His price is much cheaper than it should be this season so be ready to make the move here.

3 STAR PLAYERS:

Vernon Wells:  Wells showed the fantasy baseball world in an excellent 2010 that he shouldn't be buried yet as he got back into the 30-HR plateau.  Despite the great year, everyone hit homers in Toronto and Wells's average and speed leave a lot to be desired now.  Someone will pay for last season's output which is a guaranteed losing pick.

Kendry Morales:  If Morales had just lightly touched home plate after his walk off dinger last May, he would still be a 4 star guy but for now we have to make sure he comes back all right before we elevate him further.  I loved the guy when he was healthy and I still like him very much, especially when you consider the good price he will command this season due to fears of his health.  Mike Scoscia says he will ready for Opening Day where he will likely start off DHing so that's good enough for me.  Another Angel who is going to be a nice profit play for sure.

Torii Hunter:  The air is coming out of the tires on Hunter as I discussed here: 

Bobby Abreu:  Despite getting up there in age, Abreu recorded another 20/20 season in 2010 which was accompanied by a .255 average.  The average was victimized some by an unlucky BABIP but age certainly cant be ruled out as a factor as well.  20 home runs and 24 steals are nice for your third OF spot and even better as a bench option so don't dismiss him entirely as Abreu is still a very good hitter.

2 STAR PLAYERS:

Erick Aybar:  Since Aybar plays shortstop, he will get some attention in fantasy baseball drafts but he really is a stolen base guy and nothing else.  His average dropped off in 2010 which hurts his value even more so don't go crazy here.

Howie Kendrick:  Yeah that batting title everyone predicted must have been for another Howie Kendrick we haven't met yet because this one is not what we all expected.  He is the guy you settle for when the rest of the decent second base options are gone and you search for his replacement right away. 

Ervin Santana:  This guy will drive you to drink with his inconsistency.  Clearly his 2008 season stands as an outlier and his WHIP's have been awful the last two seasons.  The strikeouts are decent but he also gives up tons of home runs which could cause havoc on your ERA on any given start.  He is way too high maintenance to own in my book.

Fernando Rodney:  Rodney supposedly is going to have to fight to win the closer's job this spring as he should since he really is pretty average.  Even if he wins the gig, my money is on him being the first stopper to lose his job.  No thank you. 

Joel Piniero:  That's two seasons in a row now Piniero has been decent but there are no strikeouts to count on here.

1 STAR PLAYERS;

Albert Collaspo:  See Kendrick, Howie on how this is the guy you settle for when all the third baseman vanish.

Peter Bourjos:  Many are talking about the guy with excitement in their voice but he is looking like not much more than a decent steals guy with a bad average and a few home runs.  You can do better than this.

Scott Kazmir:  Quite possibly the Mets knew something after all when they dealt this bum away.  He will walk your grandma.

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: IS ANDREW MCCUTCHEN ACTUALLY BEING OVERRATED?


So I am full bore in preparation for my two money league fantasy baseball drafts of which I am the two-time defending champion in both and no doubt I am covering all my bases; especially in one league where I am already down Adam Wainwright who was one of my keepers (should have kept Jon Lester damnit).  One of my favorite targets both last season and this season is the Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen who many compare to Carl Crawford or who in other words can contribute in all five ROTO categories.  McCutchen certainly did his part last season with a .286 average, 16 home runs, and 33 steals.  The rest of the fantasy baseball community is on board as McCutchen is being drafted as a top ten OF who is going on average in round 5 of drafts this spring.  No doubt I was all on board for targeting McCutchen once again this season (I drafted him in both leagues last season) but than I started looking at the numbers a bit closely while also analyzing players who bring similar skills sets.  What I found left me with the nagging question:  Is Andrew McCutchen actually overvalued now?  Before you start flooding my inbox with e-mails telling me how clueless I am, hear me out a bit and we will both decide for ourselves at the end of the post. 

Right now the early word out of Pirates camp is that McCutchen will lead off with Jose Tabata in the number two hole.  That right away was a disappointing bit of news as many assumes (me as well) that McCutchen would slide down to third in the order with Tabata leading off after he successfully showed he can handle that assignment as a rookie last season.  That move would bring more RBI opportunities for McCutchen which was one category he sorely lacked in 2010 with only 56.  Leading off in 2011 would once again leave him sorely lacking in RBI so that is a valid issue to concern yourself with.

Another aspect that worries me is the fact that McCutchen didn't really show much growth from 2009 to 2010.  His home run rate actually worsened last season as he hit only 16 in 570 at-bats.  McCutchen will only be 25 this season so he surely will add strength and fill out his body as he matures but he really needs to hit the 20 home run mark this season to justify his draft spot which is anything but a given.  Sure we put up with the fact that Crawford has never hit the 20 home run mark but what made it easy to digest were the 50-plus stolen base seasons he habitually supplied which McCutchen still has to prove he can do.  Yes the 33 last season were great but after a hot April, he seemed to lose aggressiveness in this respect as the year went on.  Also, the Pirates offense is one of the worst in the majors who really have only McCutchen, Tabata, and Pedro Alvarez who can help out.  This could hurt his runs total while also impacting his average as teams can be more selective with pitching to him due to the fact they can wait for the rest of the limp lineup to get themselves out. 

Finally, there are a few players who play the same position as McCutchen, who supply almost the same type of stats, and who come much cheaper in drafts.  I am referencing guys like Shane Victorino, BJ Upton, Chris Young, and even Alex Rios.  All of these guys are being drafted on average at least one round (Rios) or more (Victorino, Upton, and Young) after McCutchen and really can you honestly say their stat haul is any worse than what he can provide? 

Looking back at all that I discussed here, you can make a valid argument that the potential attached to McCutchen has inflated his draft price to the point he might be overrated.  Victorino, Young, Rios, and Upton are all proven guys who can give you pretty much the same stats while you fill out another position with the pick you needed for getting McCutchen.  I wont hold it against anyone who decides to grab McCutchen this season as he still has a world of talent and ability but I actually think I will take a pass this season which is something I never thought I would say earlier this spring.

Friday, February 25, 2011

FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FIRST DRAFTED TEAM

So I was kind of bored just sitting around today working on the site and so I decided to draft a public 5 X 5 team on Yahoo.  The two money leagues that I participate in every year (and of which I am the two-time defending champ in each) don't draft for another two weeks so I was itching to get a team to own.  So I signed up for the 12 team league (which is two teams bigger than I am used to) and went at it.  The random draft order picked the fourth spot for me and we were on our way.  Here is how I did along with the commentary on each pick.

1.  Ryan Braun:  Yes I love Braun and yes I passed on Joey Votto to grab him.  I will do that every time too as I believe 1B is deep enough to get a very good option in round 2 if I go another route in round 1.  OF is not as deep as you think it is so I was very happy to own Braun who is neck and neck with Hanley as my favorite fantasy baseball players.

2.  Prince Fielder:  What did I tell you?  Fielder dropped into my lap like I expected him or Mark Texeira too (he went right before) and so as along as the Brewers don't get contracted, I have started off with two huge home runs hitters.  Now got to get some speed as I passed on Jose Reyes.

3.  Dustin Pedroia:  Reyes went right before my pick which I was annoyed about but Pedroia is a great consolation prize.  I now have two .300-plus hitters who all have good power for their positions.

4.  Aramis Ramirez:  Earlier than I would have liked to get ARAM but this is a 12 team league and not 10 like I am used to so I got to take that into consideration when I am figuring out the value.  I have a lack of speed on my team so I have to address that soon.  Also I stuck to my plan of not taking a pitcher in the first round rounds.  I am confident I still will get a big time starter.

5.  Cole Hamels:  I always aim for a 200-K pitcher for my first two starters.  Check=Hamels.

6.  Dan Haren:  Another 200-K guy who will have much better numbers this season now that he is away from Chase Field and the fact he was very unlucky last season.

7.  Hunter Pence:  The guy is always disrespected and falls further than he should.  I will gladly take 25 home runs with a .280 average while adding 15 steals.

8.  Mike Stanton:  I felt I needed some more pop and Stanton could hit 40 this season.  I usually don't go for guys with low averages but I will if I have solid .300 hitters like I do with Braun and Pedroia.

9.  Shaun Marcum:  My third starter who I think is a dark horse for the NL Cy Young.  Many don't realize how good he is but they will shortly. 

10. Brandon Morrow:  I wanted one more 200-K guy and Morrow can do it as he had a ridiculous K-rate of more than 10/9 IP last season.  Yes he walks a lot of guys but his FIP ERA was much better than his actual ERA last season. 

11.  Francisco Rodriguez:  Once again I wait on closers and get a guy who is one of the most proven in the game.  Yes he is a bad guy but he is a proven stopper who will get his numbers this season.

12. Huston Street:  I didn't want to take another closer this early but they were going real quick these last few rounds.  Street is a great closer when he is healthy.

13. Miguel Montero:  I waited on catcher and got rewarded with a solid guy here in Montero who has the ability to hit double digit home runs with a decent average. 

14. Daniel Hudson:  My second sleeper starter with Hudson who was great in his stint with the D-Backs last season.  He wont pitch that well but he has the arsenal to put up some very good numbers.

15. Frank Francisco:  I think he wins the closer's gig in Toronto and he has proven to be very good at times since breaking into the bigs.  Saves getting tough to find late here.

16. Bobby Abreu:  There are two UTIL spots in this league and Abreu made a great value pick here since he can give me some of the steals I need. 

17. Jhoulys Chacin:  Even I realize I am being THAT GUY who takes a ton of sleepers.  With no money at stake in this league maybe I am being more lax with that but I still like all three young pitchers I have taken.  If only two pan out I am sitting pretty.

18. Coco Crisp:  All the stolen base guys I targeted were picked which shocked me so this was a forced pick.  Crisp can steal everything when he is healthy but I know he will miss tons of games with injuries.

19. Jake McGee:  Good spot to take a shot with McGee to win the closer's job in Tampa.  There is not much to go on here but if he wins than the adage of saves are saves apply.

20. James Shields:  Good bounce back candidate here as Shields was one of the unluckiest pitchers in the game last season while he also raised his K-rate. 

21. Derrek Lee:  This was strictly a bench filler here.

22. Nyjer Morgan:  Spare steals.

23. Alicedes Escobar:  I really don't know if anyone noticed but I didn't take my starting shortstop until the last round.  That's how shallow the position is this season as once the top three guys were gone, I chose to wait.  Get your guy early or this is what happens to you.

All in all the team is solid but is lacking in steals and I could use one more proven starter.  Be that as it may there is nothing at stake but pride so I am not sweating it too much.  Also since there are 12 teams in the league and I am used to ten, I am probably not judging it correctly based on the league configurations.  I think its a winnable roster however so I am pleased enough with it.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURIES: ANGELS 1B KENDRY MORALES WONT PLAY IN SPRING GAMES FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS


Angels 1B Kendry Morales will be held out of spring training games for at least two week as he continues to rehab from last season's broken leg.  Morales is still not running more than a light jog and definately cant play the field any time soon as the team has claimed he will DH for a bit when the season starts. 

Analysis:  Frustrating news for those targeting Morales in drafts this season like I am.  The fact he is not even running yet is more of a concern now but there still is plenty of time to go before the season starts.  The fact the team is saying he will DH when the season starts means he is making slow progress getting his mobility back so there is starting to be an increasing chance that he could miss time out of the gate.  Right now dont downgrade him but be prepared for some missed games at the start.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM PREVIEW: OAKLAND A'S


The Oakland A's quietly have been a very solid team over the last decade plus due to the work of GM Billy Beane and his Moneyball gurus.  Despite the overall team success, there is little to speak of from a fantasy baseball standpoint.  Be that as it may lets break down the team and as always I will rate the fantasy baseball relevant players from 4 STARS to 1 STAR.

4 STAR PLAYERS:

Andrew Bailey:  Bailey has been incredibly his first two years in the majors with minuscule ERA's and WHIP's to show for it.  Some offseason surgery clouds his outlook some but the prognosis still has him ready to go for the start of the year.  One of the top closers in the game.

3 STAR PLAYERS:

Brett Anderson:  When Anderson is on the mound, he pitches very well and has the look of a future ace.  Staying on the mound though has been his biggest trouble as elbow woes cost him two trips to the DL in 2010.  His herky jerky delivery has some saying that's the cause of his issues along with a formerly heavy reliance on his curveball.  Anderson decreased the usage of the curve after coming off the DL the second time last season and that resulted in a lack of strikeouts that we saw in 2009.  His arsenal however is very good and again if he can stay on the mound, he will do some good things.

Gio Gonzalez:  The kid has some crazy strikeout numbers in the minor leagues but he traded K's for better control and trusted his defense more in 2010 which resulted in his best season to date.  Gonzalez was another one who benefited from a lucky BABIP so a regression is likely coming but if he can continue to reign in the walks, his high 90's fastball should help him post decent digits.

2 STAR PLAYERS:

Trevor Cahill:  I am sorry I am not buying Cahill's 2010 performance and the advanced stats back me up.  Cahill has one of the luckiest BABIP's in the game last season along with a lucky strand rate.  Those numbers will definitely regress and cause his ERA and WHIP to shoot up.  Also he cant strike out a little league batter so if he is not getting luck, the rest of his numbers wont help you.  He will get drafted higher than he should due to his stats from last season but you know better.

Kurt Suzki:  Suzuki had a disappointing year in 2010 so he has to be downgraded some.  Still he will get probably the highest amount of at-bats at the catcher position in the game (outside of Victor Martinez) and bat in the cleanup spot.  His counting stats will be solid as a result and he also can swipe some bases.  Not a bad late round option if you wait on the position.

Josh Willingham:  Willingham is that guy who gets picked up and cut by pretty much everyone in the league all season in that he is decent in spurts but not good enough to start everyday.  He also has a tough time staying on the field so he once again will be a waiver wire weapon.

Coco Crisp:  Crisp was more than helpful when he was on the field last season as he swiped bases at a Juan Pierre like rate.  He also can sneak in some home runs at times and he has a decent track record to trust him if you need what he brings.  Still he is another guy that cant stay healthy and so dealing with that headache is up to the owner.

Dallas Braden:  The guy can do some good things as evidenced by his perfect game last season but he doesn't strike out enough batters to make himself fantasy baseball worthy in more than a spot start capacity. 

Cliff Pennington:  Shortstop is incredibly shallow so under the radar guys like Pennington can be a big help.  He will threaten 30 stolen bases this season and possibly 10 home runs with decent runs as well.  Elvis Andrus is going 15 rounds earlier but yet Pennington could outproduce him across the board if the former bats ninth like Ron Washington is hinting at.  Just saying.

1 STAR PLAYERS:

Rich Harden:  Guy cant ever stay on the field and now he is getting hit around as evidenced by his awful 2010 season.  He was once one of the brightest guys in the game with an insane strikeout rate but its looking like the injuries have ruined him for good.

Daric Barton:  Has posted some good averages but he offers weak pop at first base which is a position you HAVE to have at least 25 home runs in the bag.

David DeJesus:  Does everything decent enough but not to the point where its good for out fake game. 

Kevin Kouzmanoff:  Has all right pop but he has failed to make himself into anything more than a stopgap option so far in his career.

Mark Ellis:  Injuries have destroyed whatever intrigue he used to own.

Hideki Matsui:  The Sayonara Song is coming soon here.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURIES: RANGERS 3B ADRIAN BELTRE STRAINS CALF; WILL BE OUT 10-14 DAYS


Texas Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre will be out 10-14 days due to a strained calf muscle in his leg.  Beltre hurt the calf during spring training drills on Friday and its being called a Grade 1 strain to this point.  The team doesnt fear him missing Opening Day but like with any injury it has to be monitored.

Analysis:  You never want to see a solid fantasy baseball player hurt this early in camp but there is plenty of time for Beltre to get himself right before the season.  No worries yet but keep track of it in case it lingers.  These injuries can be tough to heal sometimes. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JUSTIN VERLANDER SP DETROIT TIGERS


You can probably count on one hand the amount of pitchers in the major leagues who throw harder more consistently than the Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander.  Ever since arriving in the major leagues as the number two pick overall in 2004, Verlander has been incredibly hyped as the next great power pitcher.  Well the reports were right on as Verlander has graduated to being a sure fire top ten pitcher who has quite possibly the best strikeout stuff in the game next to the Giants' Tim Lincecum.  269 strikeouts in 2009 is proof of this and so as we enter the 2011 fantasy baseball season, Detroit's ace is one of the best starting pitcher options out there.  Lets take a look at what I foresee for him this season.

Amazingly, Verlander has been a regular in the Detroit rotation since 2004 but yet he will be only 28 years old this season.  No doubt the Tigers moved him quickly through the minors so they could get his high powered stuff into the majors and other than a rough 2008 season, its been pretty much a seamless transition.  Since he was brought up as such a young age, Verlander has had to mature and figure things out on the fly and we can clearly see the progress he has made along the way as he upped his strikeout rate along the way while also lowering his walk rate to boot.  Like I noted earlier, Verlander stumbled in 2008 when he put up a 4.84 ERA and 1.40 WHIP which has been by far his worst numbers in those stats since he came into the league but he obviously figured things out and got back on track in a truly awesome season in 2009 when he put up those 269 strikeouts with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.  It was more of the same in 2010 as Verlander racked up 219 strikeouts with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.  What should be noted here is that Verlander is not like a King Felix or even a Josh Johnson as far as a guy who will pitch to a mid-2.00 ERA.  He still walks more batters than he should and also gives up a bit of home runs so his ERA is likely to stay in the mid-3.00 range which is still good but not great.  Clearly though Verlander has stabilized in his rate stats and so he is pretty easy to forecast for 2011.  Of course as with every player there are some issues of concern we should touch on so lets get to it.

One thing that worries me a bit if the very heavy workloads that Verlander has put up the last five years.  In fact over that time period, Verlander has thrown the most total pitches of anyone in baseball and at that extreme velocity with which he pitches (up to 99 mph), the fear of Verlander breaking down is real.  Of course Verlander has proven to be very durable in his time in the majors but the workload is a valid concern for anyone who throw a baseball as hard as he does.  That is the risk you run here but to this point Verlander is not showing signs of breaking down yet.

All in all, Justin Verlander makes a very stable, safe investment based on his consistent performance the last two seasons.  You know what you are going to get here and in such a volatile position as starting pitcher, that says a lot.

2011 PROJECTION:  18-7 3.41 ERA 225 K 1.18 WHIP

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2011 FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL RULES TO WIN BY: DONT DRAFT A STARTER IN FIRST TWO ROUNDS

As many of you know from reading the site, I am a fierce opponent of drafting a pitcher in the first few rounds of a fantasy baseball draft.  In fact I have been known to go six rounds in before I take my first starter and that is likely my plan for this season as well.  Now the rule is not set in stone as I do sometimes make an exception and take a starter in round 4 if there is great value but one thing I will NEVER do is take on in the first two rounds of a draft.  Thats is a huge no-no in my book and so for this season that means no Roy Hallday, no Felix Hernandez, and maybe even no Cliff Lee or Tim Lincecum.  Great players no doubt but ones I can live without.  I will explain why.

In my opinion, the first two rounds should be all about hitting for a few huge reasons:

1.  Hitting is much more stable than pitching when it comes to expected stats.  A pitcher has a much bigger tendency to go into slumps and have off seasons than is a hitter. 

2.  A starting pitcher will affect only four ROTO categories and play once every five days whereas a guy you can pick in the first two rounds such as a Ryan Braun, a Chase Utley, ad Matt Kemp etc. can contribute in all five ROTO categories.  Also for those hitters who only contribute in four, its usually a huge impact in those four such as getting 45 homers from Albert Pujols or 120 RBI from Ryan Howard.

3.  A pitcher gets hurt much more often than a hitter.  Its an undisputed fact that pitching is not a mechanism that is natural for the human body and so a pitcher stands a great chance of being hurt as opposed to the hitter.  Your picks in the first two rounds can make or break your season.  Just ask the Adam Wainwright owners this morning how the feel.  You want to have as little risk as possible when it comes to these high picks and so taking a pitcher is just not smart. 

4.  Finally, when you take a pitcher in the first two rounds and pass on the hitting, you immediately place yourself in a hole versus the rest of your league.  Let me explain.  For instance if you take Roy Halladay in round 1, you immediately are in the hole in power, average, and RBI as the rest of your league likely loaded up on the Albert Pujols', Joey Votto's, and Ryan Braun's of the world.  You cant get a bat like these in round three in contrast to the fact you can get a top level starter like Jon Lester or Josh Johnson as late as round 5!  Pitching is also so deep this season especially that you can load up on tier 2 and 3 guys in rounds 5-10 after loading up on huge hitters early.  This is the way to go.

So there you have it.  This is just one of the Fantasy Sports Boss' Fantasy Baseball Rules To Win By so stay tuned for more.  Winning your league is at stake. 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURIES: INDIANS OF GRADY SIZEMORE (KNEE) COULD BE READY BY MID-APRIL


Cleveland Indians OF Grady Sizemore continues to rehab from last year's knee surgery and at this point the team expects him to possibly be ready by the middle of April.  The Microfracture surgery he went through is a very lengthy one to come back from but Grady is already doing some drills in camp but is not running at full speed.  He will thus start the year on the DL and hopefulyl be back around April 15.

Anlaysis:  Sizemore is looking more and more like someone who is not worth the time.  He likely wont be doing any running in coming back from this procedure and so a Sizemore that doesnt steal is just an ordinaary option.  He has upside but his name value will not allow for him to sink to the end of drafts where he truly belongs. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL "DONT FORGET THESE GUYS": THIRD BASEMAN


Up next on our 2011 Fantasy Baseball "Don't Forget These Guys" series are the third baseman and this position is among the shallowest in the game this season.  As always the guys mentioned here as not sleepers but former vets who the fantasy baseball community has given up one for one reason or another but who could still supply some value this season.  Lets see who makes the list.

Jhonny Peralta:  Peralta retains eligibility at both shortstop and third base which is nice and just two years ago he cracked 23 home runs while batting .276.  He went for 15 dingers with a very nice 81 RBI last season as well so Peralta has proven to be useful at a very cheap rate.  He figures to get a ton of RBI opportunities once again this season hitting behind Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez and a run at 20 homers if he stays healthy is in the realm of possibility.

Martin Prado:  Prado plays better as a 2B which he also has eligibility in (including OF) but even at third Prado has numbers that work.  Last season he went for 100 runs with 15 home runs and a .307 average.  That's solid production in three categories and the eligibility makes him look even more attractive.  Whats even better is that Prado finished the year injured and is still young so 20 home runs is not out of the question/

Chipper Jones:  We all know Jones can hit when he is in the lineup which has not been his strong suit throughout his career.  Still he was on a 20 home run pace last season until he finished the year hurt again and decided to come back for one more season.  The lineup improvement should give him better pitches to hit and its almost a given that Chipper will give you a solid average.

Ian Stewart:  Stewart has failed to reach the level of stardom that many had predicted but he still has top notch pop for the position while also having a bit of speed.  Still the average is terrible so be sure you have that covered. 

There you have it.  No doubt these are boring names to call you late in the draft but if you choose to punt on third base, than take a shot with one of these options.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURIES: ITS OFFICIAL: CARDS SP ADAM WAINWRIGHT TO UNDERGO TOMMY JOHN SURGERY


In what was expected to come down, Cards SP Adam Wainwright had his second opinion today and was once again recommended for Tommy John surgery.  Wainwright will go under the knife in the next few days and be done for the season with no guarantee that he will be ready to go at the start of 2012.

Analysis:  Went over this like crazy yesterday so there is really nothing else to say.  Just a damn shame that such a talented guy is already finished for the season. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM PREVIEW: SEATTLE MARINERS


With all of the Adam Wainwright drama going on yesterday, I took a day off from the 2011 fantasy baseball team previews but I am back at it today by looking at the Seattle Mariners and what they have to offer owners.  The Mariners were one of the worst teams in baseball last season and they don't seem that much better this season as well.  There is certainly not a ton of useful fantasy baseball options on this club but there are some nonetheless led by The King.  As always I will rate the relevant players from 4 stars to 1.

4 STAR PLAYERS (top tier players who are absolute superstars):

Felix Hernandez:  The rise is complete in regards to Hernandez becoming quite possibly the best pitcher in the game.  Winning the Cy Young award last season validated the obvious and that was the fact Hernandez was dominant in 2010.  We are looking at a string of mid-2.00 ERA, 200-plus K seasons for the next few years and the ballpark solidifies his spot at the top of the SP heap with the Phillies' Roy Halladay.  He did get a bit lucky with the BABIP last season and wins will continue being an issue but Hernandez is a pure gem for sure.

3 STAR PLATERS (just under top tier status, very good fantasy baseball options):

Ichiro Suzuki:  Suzuki is really only a three category guy at this point and the steals could go at any time due to his age so his name exceeds his actual value.  Is the perfect Adam Dunn/mark Reynolds handcuff though.  Also speed is very plentiful at the end of drafts so Suzuki is even less attractive in my opinion.

2 STAR PLAYERS (lower end starters or decent bench options):

Chone Figgins:  Figgins played like a dog last season with the exception of his 42 steals.  And really the steals are the only reason you want the guy.  He no longer has third base eligibility and he too is getting long in the tooth as he turns 33.  A minor average rebound could be at hand here but you will get zero in two categories.  No thanks.

David Aardsma/Brandon League:  Aardsma underwent offseason labrum surgery and is just now starting to walk on his own.  Its likely League closes for all of April and he makes a decent short term stopper with good peripherals.  Aardsma himself proved he was not a fluke in a solid 2010 follow up season to his 2009 breakout but if he struggles in any way coming back from the surgery, the team should keep League in the spot.

Michael Pineda/Dustin Ackley:  Even though both guys are just speculative fantasy baseball stocks at this point, both have been spoken in nice terms and in the case of Pineda, glowing terms.  Ackley will be given every chance to start the season at second base and will supply a good average with a around 10 homers and steals.  Not great but decent enough.  With regards to Pineda, many call him a baby King Felix and that's all I need to hear.  He has had some elbow woes in the past but seemed fine last season.  Strikeouts are his game as he can pile them up in bunches and if he can break camp with the team, he could be a nice late round boost to your squad.

Miguel Olivo:  I don't like him but Olivo has some value due to the shallow nature of catcher .  His 14 home runs last season Followed a haul of 23 the year before with Kansas City so he is a threat to match what he did last season with all right numbers elsewhere.  More valuable in two catcher leagues.

Franklin Gutierrez:  Gutierrez has nice tools with good speed and good enough pop but his struggles against righties hurts his average.  A decent guy to own in five OF formats but more of a bench option in 3 OF setups until he shows us more this season.

1 STAR PLAYERS (leave them on the waiver wire until they prove otherwise):

Jason Vargas:  Vargas was great at home and awful on the road but he doesn't strike out enough guys to be worthy of ownership in mixed leagues.  You can do better than this.

Doug Fister:  Please.

Erik Bedard:  Just a lottery ticket at this point since he cant stay on the field.  Last round pick.

Jack Cust:  He can hit homers but will destroy your average.  Enough with this guy.

Jack Wilson:  Leave the Wilson's alone from this club.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: VERDUCCI EFFECT CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM IN ADAM WAINWRIGHT


As many of you already know, I am a bit believer in the Verducci Effect which is named after Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci who did a study on pitchers and concluded that those starters who go 30 innings above their previous total from the campaign before stand a very high chance of getting injured or having a poor season due to a tired arm.  There are many instances of this occurring such as Francisco Liriano needing TJ surgery after such a jump a few years ago and Cole Hamels suffering through a dead arm season in 2009 after a 260 innings pitched 2008.  And now it appears we have another victim in the St. Louis Cardinals' Adam Wainwright who is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery as a result of a big innings jump at a young age.

Now I am sure you are wondering what I am talking about since Wainwright threw over 200 innings the last two seasons but go back to where this trend started.  In 2008 Wainwright pitched 132 innings total.  The next season he shot up to 233 innings.  That was a giant jump of 101 innings from one season to the next.  And that was the SECOND time Wainwright went way above his previous innings high as back in 2006 as a reliever he tossed only 75 innings and the next season he shot up to 202.  That's an even more ridiculous 127 inning leap.  So really its no surprise his elbow gave out.  With that in mind here are some other guys who went through a bigger than 30 innings jump from one season to the next.  You have been warned.

Jamie Garcia:  125 inning jump-He got incredibly luck y in 2010 so a major regression is on its way in ERA and WHIP so this confirms why you should stay clear here.

Phil Hughes:  71 inning jump-Pitches in the AL East Beast and had a checkered injury history.  No thanks.

Jon Niese:  61 inning jump-Not fantasy baseball relevant unless in a deep league for now.

Mat Latos:  61 inning jump-The biggest on on this list that can ruin your team as Kershaw's jump wasn't major enough to worry about.  Latos has a very good chance of getting hurt since he is so young and those were stressful innings in a pennant race last season.  I would stay away if you can.

Madison Bumgarner:  52 inning jump-The price will be cheap enough not to have to avoid.

David Price: 46 inning jump-Another guy who pitches in the Beast and he will see a regression as well.  Not on my list.

Jhoulys Chacin:  45 inning jump-Cheap so don't let this sleeper go by.
 
Mike Minor:  42 inning jump-Checkered injury history as well so this is a bad sign.  Still he too will be real cheap.

Brett Cecil:  41 inning jump-A Beast pitcher and he really is not that good anyway.

Gio Gonzalez:  41 inning jump-Throws hard so we could see problems here. 

Travis Wood:  35 inning jump-May not even break camp with the team.  Don't worry.

Clayton Kershaw: 33 inning jump-He went just over the limit so its not a concern.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY REPORT: BREWERS ACE ZACK GREINKE (RIBCAGE CONTUSION) SITS OUT BP, WHITE SOX SP JAKE PEAVY THROWS 2 INNINGS


-Milwaukee Brewers ace pitcher Zack Greinke had to sit out BP today as he came down with a ribcage contusion.  Both Greinke and team claim its nothing serious and that he should be back on the mound in a few days.  Nothing really to see here.

-In other more encouraging news, White Sox SP Jake Peavy threw two innings of BP today and came through with no problems as he continues to make great progress from last summer's shoulder surgery.  He mixed in some breaking pitches and his velocity was up as well.  Its looking more and more like Peavy will be back shortly after the seasons beginning.

-Finally, Baltimore Orioles 2B Brian Roberts has left the team in order to undergo an X-ray on his sore neck.  Once again questions are starting up over whether Roberts can stay on the field enough to help fantasy baseball owners.  He would make a great value if he did but this news is not a good start.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED STARTING PITCHER RANKINGS: THE ADAM WAINWRIGHT FALLOUT


Wow what a big time injury suffered by Cardinals ace SP Adam Wainwright.  For someone who was considered a top four starter entering the season, the loss of Wainwright for the entire season is beyond earth shattering in fantasy baseball.  The fallout is seen in the starting pitcher rankings for 2011 as most guys on the list move up one spot and take on more value for sure.  Lets see how things currently stack up.

1.  Roy Halladay
2.  Felix Hernandez
3.  Cliff Lee
4.  Tim Lincecum
5.  Clayton Kershaw
6.  Zack Greinke
7.  Jon Lester
8.  Josh Johnson
9.  Ubaldo Jimenez
10. Justin Verlander
11. Cole Hamels
12. Jered Weaver
13. CC Sabbathia
14. Matt Cain
15. Dan Haren
16. Mat Latos
17. Tommy Hanson
18. Roy Oswalt
19. Yovani Gallardo
20. David Price
21. Francisco Liriano
22. Chris Carpenter
23. Shaun Marcum
24. Max Scherzer
25. Wandy Rodriguez

-As I stated earlier, Wainwright was the fourth ranked starter in my book heading into the season and so now everyone behind him moves up a spot and there is now one less top tier starter. 
-I am all in on Clayton Kershaw taking Wainwright's spot in the top four and he has the talent to be the top dog as soon as this season.  Its universal regarding how nasty his stuff is and the only remaining issue were his walks which he cut into last season.
-The rest of the top guys are self-explanatory but I am a bit higher on Cole Hamels and Jered Weaver than many others.  Hamels is the Phillie's fourth starter so he will have some nice matchups against opposing teams fourth starters and he got his K-rate back to the 200 level last season after failing to do so in 2009.  As far as Weaver is concerned, nothing in his advanced stats yell out fluke from his great 2010 breakout.  He will be great once again this season.
-Two guys I don't like as much as others are David Price and Chris Carpenter.  Price has all the tools for sure but he got lucky with the BABIP last season so a rise in the ERA is a given.  He also pitches in the AL East Beast so there is that also.  As far as Carpenter, I doubt he stays fully healthy for a third year in a row and he is now 35 years old with a dip in velocity.
-Dan Haren will be much better this season as he was one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball last season. He now goes to Anaheim where he will feast on Seattle and Oakland all season.

There you have it.  Let me know who you think is ranked too high and too low.  To the Wainwright owners you have my sympathy.  Good luck. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL MAJOR INJURIES: CARDS SP ADAM WAINWRIGHT MAY NEED TOMMY JOHN SURGERY


In a bit of truly awful news, it was revealed today that St. Louis Cardinals SP Adam Wainwright could be forced to undergo season ending Tommy John surgery after feeling pain in his elbow while attempting to throw in spring training.  No official word has been released yet but the team is already putting it out there that Wainwright could be in big trouble. 

Analysis:  Just a terrible blow for both Wainwright and his fantasy baseball owners.  There really is no way to recover from this so its best to just cut bait and move on as best you can.  Awful!

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ALEX RODRIGUEZ 3B NEW YORK YANKEES


For about ten years running, it was even a debate that Alex Rodriguez was the number 1 draft pick in fantasy baseball.  Going through his time with the Mariners, the Rangers, and through his few seasons with the Yankees, ARod was an absolute monster who put up some downright ridiculous stats.  Consider that a great deal of those years were played at shortstop and you can imagine how big of a value he really was in getting 50 homers from that offensively-challenged spot.  Now just like it happens for every player, Rodriguez is started to get a bit long in the tooth as he enters his age 36 season with a bum hip.  Rodriguez has been the standard in fantasy baseball for so long that its almost kind of sad seeing the inevitable dropoff occur but there is no doubt the man is no longer the stud he was just a few short years ago.  In fact ARod is no longer even a first round pick at this point as he comes of a season marred by a DL stint due to the hip and with final numbers of .270 with 30 home runs 127 RBI 74 R and 4 SB.  A quick glance at those numbers and you would believe these are top level digits but when they are held up to ARod standards, they are among his worst full season stats since he broke into the league.  Another year older and with that balky hip, lets try and figure out what ARod can offer us in fantasy baseball for the 2011 campaign.

As I stated earlier, ARod is getting old.  Anyone playing at the age of 36 will no longer be able to perform the way they did at 26 and Rodriguez is no exception.  Of course 30 home runs and 125 RBI are still excellent numbers for sure but Rodriguez is leaking stats elsewhere.  For one, his batting average has been in a three-year decline to the .270 he hit last season.  A player loses bat speed as they get older and so its not a surprise that we see a drop there.  For 2011, anything more than a .285 mark would be considered a surprise. 

Another aspect of ARod's game that appears vanquished for good are the stolen bases as evidenced by the minuscule 4 he put up last season.  Rodriguez's extreme value tied into the fact he contributed in all five of the ROTO categories and he generally was good for 18-25 steals every season.  Once again age cuts into a player's speed and on top of that, the bum hip makes it unlikely we ever see a decent contribution here again.  So Rodriguez's value doesn't look so impressive with an absence of steals and with a batting average a far cry from what he used to do.

Getting back to the hip issue, Rodriguez got a clean bill of health from his doctor in the offseason but it also has been termed a chronic condition.  It could flare up at any time, especially for someone his age.  The hip is also one of the biggest weapons in the body used to generate power in the swing and so any pain there could cut into Rodriguez' home runs.  Also we also could see ARod suffer an injury to another body part this season and it has to be said that the guy has failed to top 522 at-bats the last three campaigns.  No doubt he is getting the injury prone label which wont go away due to his age.
All in all Alex Rodriguez has good value as a second round pick this season.  He plays in one of the shallowest positions in fantasy baseball and is still good for at least 30 HR's and 100 RBI (marks he has hit in 13 straight seasons) so you will still get good production here.  Just don't expect anything close to what he used to do only a few short years ago.

2011 PROJECTION:  .288 BA 88 R 35 HR 122 RBI4 SB

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED 3B RANKINGS: A FIFTH LOOK


Some minor changes are in order for the third base rankings for 2011 fantasy baseball so lets see where all the relevant guys currently stand.

1.  Evan Longoria
2.  David Wright
3.  Ryan Zimmerman
4.  Alex Rodriguez
5.  Kevin Youkilis
6.  Jose Bautista
7.  Aramis Ramirez
8.  Adrian Beltre
9.  Pedro Alvarez
10. Mark Reynolds
11. Michael Young
12. Pablo Sandoval
13. Casey McGehee
14. Martin Prado
15. Ian Stewart
16. Chris Johnson

-The biggest change in the rankings is the two place drop of the Rangers' Michael Young.  With Adrian Beltre now manning third base and with Mike Napoli likely to take some starts at 1B and DH, that will cut into the amount of at-bats Young will have this season.  A trade would be best for all involved and Young would get a boost back up the rankings if he got one but at this point he would be a super-utility guy that could miss more starts than you believe.
-I also bumped down Casey McGehee due to some BABIP luck in 2010 and also for the fact that his best category was RBI which is almost impossible to predict from one season to the next.  The fact that bases clearing sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder reside right in front of him in the lineup means there likely wont be as many runners to drive in this season.
-Pablo Sandoval moves up some due to the fact he is down 40 pounds this season and that surely will help me in his effort to getting back to the huge 2009 numbers he produced that season.  Although I don't think he will be that good, a move back to a .300 average with 20 home runs sounds right.
-Aramis Ramirez is the guy I want if I don't get one of the top three guys (sorry I don't want to deal with AROD) as he makes a very good value.  Ramirez is still one of the best slugging third baseman in the game but suffered from bad luck and injury last season which made his numbers look worse than they were for sure.

There you have it.  Who did I rank too high?  Who is too low?  Lets hear it by posting responses below.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM PREVIEW: LOS ANGELES DODGERS


Our last National League team is up today in the 2011 Fantasy Baseball Team Previews and that's the Los Angeles Dodgers.  As always there is a good dose of start power on the Dodgers along with solid supporting players.  Each fantasy baseball relevant player is graded from 4 stars to 1.  Lets get to it.

4 STAR PLAYERS (top tier players who are among the best in the game):

Matt Kemp:  Its funny how people are saying Kemp was a disappointment in 2010 after rising to mid-first round status that spring.  During this "off year" Kemp hit a career high 28 home runs and he suffered through a very unlucky BABIP which depressed his batting average.  Look for a significant rebound in that category as Kemp generally has been a .290 or better hitter in his tenure.  Also the fact that new manager Don Mattingly will leave him in one set batting spot will do wonders for his confidence and mindset which tells me a rebound along the lines of 30 home runs 90 runs 90 RBI .290 average and 25 steals is very possible.  And the scary thing is that Kemp can do even better.  When you consider how much cheaper he is this season, the amount of profit on him should be huge.

Clayton Kershaw:  The guy flat out is a monster.  I haven't seen many young pitchers come in with more dominating stuff than Kershaw and the fact he made improvements in his one issue which was the walks signals a flat out scary season could be in the works.  He will be a top five pitcher for many years so don't be afraid to reach here.  Pick him over Tim Lincecum or Cliff Lee?  I wouldn't fault you if you did.

3 STAR PLAYERS (very good fantasy baseball options who are just under star level):

Andre Ethier:  Ethier always seems to leave you wanting more and he admits he came back too season from the finger injury he suffered early last season.  Ethier was on fire before the finger issue and so we are left with a "what could have been" feeling.  He does have issues against lefties which holds him back but Ethier is a solid hitter who always seems to turn a profit for you. 

Ted Lilly:  I love Ted Lilly and have for years.  You can read about my love here:  http://www.thefantasysportsboss.com/2011/01/2011-fantasy-baseball-my-guys-ted-lilly.html.  Make sure you own this ridiculously cheap starter in all your leagues.

Chad Billingsly:  Billingsly is another one who leaves you wanting more and its clear he wont become the top notch starter many envisioned.  He is still very good however and he made strides in cutting into his walk rate last season which hurt him in previous campaigns.  Billingsly is pretty easy to forecast as he generally has a mid-3.00 ERA with 175 strikeouts.

Jonathan Broxton:  It was weird what happened to Broxton last season as he was unhittable in the first half but couldn't get anyone out in the second half.  Many blame manager Joe Torre who has a history of ruining relievers in the past so that's a real worry you have to take into effect here.  Sometimes you have to make a line in the sand and pick a side and I choose to think Broxton will be a big time closer again.  Just draft Hong-Chi Kuo in case.

Hiroki Kuroda:  Its amazing how underrated this guy is.  Take a look at his last three season ERA's:
2008:  3.73
2009:  3.76
2010:  3.39

Looks good to me and Kuroda upped his K rate last season as well.  He is boring to draft but Kuroda is as dependable as they come for a nice price.

2 STAR PLAYERS (lower end starters or very good bench options):

Rafael Furcal:  The guy is getting old and he continues to miss chunks of the season with injuries.  When he was on the field last season Furcal actually played well but you cant depend on the guy. 

Juan Uribe:  Uribe qualifies all over the diamond and has nice power to use at second base and shortstop which is very attractive for sure.  His average is usually poor however and he can go ice cold for long stretches.  Good bench guy to own though.

Hong-Chi Kuo:  I mention Kuo here due to the questions at closer for the Dodgers.  Kuo did a great job in place of Broxton last season but he will begin the season setting him up.  The leash figures to be short however on Broxton though so get ready to pounce on one of the toughest relievers in the game.

1 STAR PLAYERS (leave him on the waiver wire until they prove otherwise):

Casey Blake:  Blake was more than serviceable at third base for a number of years but age has ravaged his game now.  The power is declining and his average is falling off as well now.  Leave him be.

Jon Garland:  The definition of a innings eater, Garland has actually proved useful the last two seasons.  Still he benefited from a lucky BAPIP which will regress this season and take his numbers along for the ride.  He is not worth the effort.

Rod Barajas:  He hits homers but that's about it.  Age will soon take that out as well so don't bother.