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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: CUBS SEND RYAN DEMPSTER TO TEXAS RANGERS

The Ryan Dempster Derby is finally over and in a shock, the Texas Rangers emerge as the team who closed the deal.  After seemingly having a deal with both the Braves and Dodgers at some point, the Rangers swooped in at the 11th hour and snagged Dempster to fill the hole in their rotation. 

Analysis:  Clearly a move to counteract what the Los Angeles Angels did with Zack Greinke, Dempster sees a dramatic drop in ballpark as Texas is one of the worst pitcher's parks in the game.  Still he is a very solid pitcher who can still be an asset the rest of the way.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: REDS PICK UP CLOSER JONATHAN BROXTON FROM ROYALS

The Cincinatti Reds acquired Kansas City Royals closer Jonathan Broxton on Tuesday and will have him pitch in a setup role for Aroldis Chapman.  No word yet on what the Royals received in return in the trade.

Analysis:  Broxton's fantasy baseball owners no doubt are ticked off about this but this was expected going all the way back to the winter which I wrote about in our annual Draft Guide.  Broxton loses all of his value now, while Greg Holland steps into the big boy's chair as the new Royals closer.  Holland's WHIP is high but he has struck out a million batters this season and thus has the strikeout stuff to succeed.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: RED SOX DEAL RP MATT ALBERS AND OUTFIELDER SCOTT PODSEDNIK FOR RP CRAIG BRESLOW

The Arizona Diamondbacks dealt RP Craig Breslow to the Boston Red Sox for RP Matt Albers and outfielder Scott Podsednik.  Breslow will fill the lefty role in the Red Sox bullpen and he has pitched great in 2012 with a 2.70 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 43.1 IP.

Analysis:  Strange move by Arizona since Breslow is one of the best relivers in the game, while Albers and Podsednik have little value.  No one in this trade has any fantasy baseball either.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: MARLINS SHIP 1B GABY SANCHEZ TO PIRATES

The Miami Marlins continued their fire sale on Tuesday as they dealt 1B Gaby Sanchez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gorkys Hernandez.  Hitting only .202 on the season with 2 home runs, Sanchez has spent most of 2012 in the minors.

Anlaysis:  Sanchez has no more fantasy baseball value after being a serviceable bat in 2011.  His slump showed no signs of ending during his time with the Marlins and he doesn't figure to put up enough numbers to be useful as we head into the last two months of the season.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: MARLINS DEAL RP EDWARD MUJICA TO CARDINALS

The Miami Marlins continue to deal whatever is not nailed down as they moved RP Edward Mujica to the St. Louis Cardinals for minor league SS Zack Cox.  Mujica joins Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante as players they have traded in the last week.

Analysis:  Mujica has been a very good relief pitcher for the Marlins the last few seasons and will help the Cardinals.  This has no bearing on fantasy baseball.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: RANGERS TALKING TO RAYS ABOUT JAMES SHIELDS

The Texas Rangers are still looking for another SP in their quest to match the Los Angeles Angels getting Zack Greinke and they are now talking to the Rays about James Shields.  With the trade deadline looming in a little bit more than an hour, both teams are discussing the paraments of a deal.

Analysis:  The Rays really want to move Shields so they don't have to pay him next season and the Rangers have the farm system to get this complete.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: PHILLIES WON'T TRADE SP CLIFF LEE

The Philadelphia Phillies have decided that they won't trade SP Cliff lee, after already moving Shane Victorino on Tuesday.  With four years left on his contract, the Phillies found little interest in Lee, with only the Rangers having a conversation with them about his potential services.

Analysis:  Lee has not pitched well this season which could have the Phillies already regretting the mammoth contract they have given him but its likely they will look again in the offseason to deal him with more teams surely being interested.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: CUBS' RYAN DEMPSTER HOLDING UP DEAL TO DODGERS, WANTS TO GO TO YANKEES?

Just when it seemed the Cubs were finally going to deal Ryan Dempster to the Dodgers, late word is that the righty would accept a deal to the New York Yankees if something could be worked out.  Dempster also agreed to go to Los Angeles but the Yankees appeal to him more according to reports.

Analysis:  On and on it goes with this whole Dempster thing.  Look for him to go somewhere before 4 o'clock hits.  With Andy Pettitte suffering some sort of a setback in his rehab, it could be the Yankees feel they need another starter.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: REDS TRYING TO ADD DENARD SPAN FROM TWINS

With the trade deadline approaching, the Cincinnati Reds are trying to bring in outfielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins.  Hitting .285 on the season, Span would fill the Reds' need for a leadoff hitter.

Analysis:  Span has been in trade rumors for over a year and it would make sense for the rebuilding Twins to deal him.  He doesn't do any one thing great in fantasy baseball and so he is nothing more than a fourth of fifth outfielder in five-OF formats.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: RANGERS ADD CATCHER GEOVANY SOTO FROM CUBS

The Texas Rangers picked up catcher Geovany Soto, along with cash considerations, from the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday for minor league pitcher Jacob Brigham. 

Analysis:  Soto will be a backup catcher in Los Angeles and has zero fantasy baseball value.  Leave him on the wire.

FANTASY BASEBAL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS ACQUIRE OUTFIELDER SHANE VICTORINO FROM PHILLIES

The Los Angeles Dodgers picked up outfielder Shane Victorino for minor league righthanders Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin.  This on the heels of adding SP Ryan Dempster and RP Brandon League this week ahead of the trade deadline.

Analysis:  Victorino has had another nice fantasy baseball season, albeit one with a loe batting average but he no doubt helps the Dodgers in their quest for the playoffs.  He is aging a bit but Victorino should continue to hit the occasional home run and steal a bunch of bases.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS ACQUIRE RYAN DEMPSTER FROM CUBS

The Los Angeles Dodgers finally acquired SP Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday after the two teams traded proposals for over a month.  It is not yet know what the Dodgers are sending back the Cubs' way but Dempster heads west with a stupendous 2.25 ERA and goes to a better's pitcher's park.

Analysis:  Wow the Dodgers are really going for it.  They had a blockbuster day Tuesday in getting both Shane Victorino and Dempster, to go with Brandon League on Monday.  Dempster has pitched even beyond his most optimistic fan this season but going to spacious Dodger stadium, he certainly is placed in a situation to continue pitching great.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: GIANTS GET HUNTER PENCE FROM PHILLIES

The San Francisco Giants made a blockbuster trade on Tuesday as they picked up outfielder Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies.  It is not known yet who the Phillies will get in return but the Giants have control over Pence through 2013 as he finishes up the last year of his contract.  Pence is hitting .271 with 17 home runs and 59 RBI.

Analysis:  Again I can't believe the Phillies dealt the always underrated Pence but they obviously felt they could move on without him.  At only 29 years old, Pence is flat in his prime and even though his stats don't jump off the page, they are borderline outfielder 1 fantasy baseball numbers.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS ADD RP BRANDON LEAGUE FROM MARINERS

The Los Angeles Dodgers fortified their bullpen late Tuesday as they picked up Seattle Mariners RP Brandon League for two low level minor leaguers.  Once the closer for the Mariners this season before ceding the job to Tom Wilhelmsen, League has pitched pretty well with a 3.63 ERA.  He will pitch in the seventh and eighth inning for the Dodgers.

Analysis:  Nice move by the Dodgers as League is a very solid setup man and can close in a pinch if needed.  If they can pull off the Ryan Dempster deal, the Dodgers could be a tough foe come October.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: PIRATES PICK UP OUTFIELDER TRAVIS SNIDER FROM TORONTO FOR SP BRAD LINCOLN

The Pittsburgh Pirates finally got a bat to help them in their push for the playoffs as theu acquired outfielder Travis Snider from the Toronto Blue Jays for SP Brad Lincoln late Tuesday.  Summoned from the minor leagues two weeks ago, Snider has hit three home runs since arriving with Toronto this season.  Wheras he was once looked at as one of the top hitting prospects in the ganme, Snider's star has faded a bit the last few seasons due to struggles at the major league level.

Analysis:  Great move by the Pirates who pick up a kid who has great power and still has nice potential despite all his MLB struggles.  Snider has looked good this season, albeit in a small sample size, but the Pirates only had to give up the all right Lincoln to get this deal completed.  Great pickup.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: BRAVES ACQUIRE SP PAUL MAHOLM FROM CUBS

Moving on from the Ryan Dempster fiasco, the Atlanta Braves went out and picked up his teammate, SP Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson for two minor league pitchers.   The lefty Maholm has pitched to a very solid 3.74 ERA this season with 81 strikeouts in 120.1 IP and will slot right into the Braves rotation.

Analysis:  The Cubs are going the way of the Astros, Phillies, and Marlins as teams who are clearly trading away everything that is not nailed down.  With Maholm now in Atlanta, look for the Cubs to finally deal Dempster to the Dodgers sometime Tuesday.

FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED THIRD BASEMAN RANKINGS

It has been too long since we took a look at the updated 2012 fantasy baseball third baseman rankings so without delay, here is how they currently stack up.

1.  Miguel Cabrera
2.  Jose Bautista
3.  Edwin Encarnacion
4.  Mark Trumbo
5.  Evan Longoria
6.  David Wright
7.  Adrian Beltre
8.  Brett Lawrie
9.  Hanley Ramirez
10. Ryan Zimmerman
11. Mike Moustakas
12. David Feese
13. Alex Rodriguez
14. Will Middlebrooks
15. Chris Davis
16. Kevin Youkilis
17. Pablo Sandoval
18. Aramis Ramirez
19. Pedro Alvarez
20. Chase Headley
21. Michael Young
22. Trevor Plouffe

-When looking at this list, it is crazy the depth this season now that Miguel Carbera, Hanley Ramirez, and Mark Trumbo have third base eligibility.  Throw in the unreal explosion of Edwin Encarnacion and you have five guys along with David Wright who have are top 20 fantasy baseball bats.  In fact when you look and see Aramis Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Alex Rodriguez ranked so low, it really hits you how deep this position now is. 
-Speaking of Rodriguez, it has been yet another season of injuries that have ruined his bottom line and once again cut into his status as a big time fantasy baseball bat.  He is now a borderline top 12 guy.
-David Freese has validated his playoff performance last season with some very good hitting early on in the season, which has picked up again lately.  I questioned his power in the winter but with 14 home runs, he is winning this argument.  He is surely worth using as a starting option in 12-team formats.
-Mike Moustakas, Brett Lawrie, Will Middlebrooks, and Pedro Alvarez are all the future of this position.  Lawrie's power has not been what we anticipated but he is hitting leadoff which means he is getting a bunch of runs and stealing a good number of bases.  Moustakass' power has carried over from the PCL, Middlebrooks has seamlessly taken over for Kevin Youkilis in Boston with his power and solid batting average, and Alvarez has hit bombs all season to go with an ugly average himself.  The future is bright here when you take into account their accomplishments this season.
-We surely need to talk about David Wright who I told you all to draft this past spring in what we saw as a major comeback season.  He his hit all season long for extreme average and very solid power and is stealing some bases to go along with the rest of his numbers.  As long as he can stay away form the injuries, he should continue to be a big time star for the next few seasons at the very least.

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

Monday, July 30, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWSl: CUBS HAVE TRADED CATCHER GEOVANY SOTO

The Chicago Cubs traded catcher Geovany Soto on Tuesday, with the team he is being dealt to yet to be revealed.  Soto was seen hugging his teammates in the dugout on Tuesday and Reed Johnson is also involved in the deal.

Analysis:  Tough call to say who he could be going to, with the Dodgers a possibility.  Soto has been a pretty poor fantasy baseball catcher the last few seasons with his awful batting averages so this doesn't impact much in fantasy baseball terms.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKEES 1B MARK TEXEIRA HEADED FOR TESTS ON WRIST

New York Yankees 1B Mark Texeira is headed for tests on his wrist after injuring it Monday night trying to catch a J.J. Hardy pop up.  Texeira immediately left the game clutching his left wrist and was in great visible pain.  Manager Joe Girardi said after the game "its a big concern."

Analysis:  This sound pretty bad and Texeira is likely headed to the DL, with how long to be determined.  He has been hot as anything the last month and so this injury is coming at an awful time right now/  Be sure you have a good backup because this could be a tough one to swallow.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS STILL WORKING ON DEAL FOR RYAN DEMPSTER

The Los Angeles Dodgers continue to talk daily with the Chicago Cubs about SP Ryan Dempster according to reports.  After rejecting the latest Cubs offer early last week, the Dodgers are now giving it another shot with an offer of their own for Dempster.  The Braves have also remained in the talks but with Dempster preferring the Dodgers, Los Angeles remains the front-runner for his services.

Anlaysis:  It seems only a matter of time before Dempster ends up heading West and it could go down right to the wire.  There is no reason for the Cubs to hold onto him since he will be a free agent at the end of the season so common ground will be found soon in all likeliehood.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS, RANGERS SAY NO TO PHILLIES ABOUT CLIFF LEE

Wanting to find a take for Cliff Lee and the remaining four years on his monster contract, the rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies have been rebuffed by both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Texas Rangers due to the amount of money he is owed.  The Dodgers have zero interest according to reports as they continue to try and deal for Ryan Dempster, while the Rangers listened to the pitch but want the Phillies to throw in money which they don't want to do.

Analysis:  Lee is a classic case of buyer's remorse not even two seasons into his mammoth contract that he signed with the Phillies before the 2011 season.  He is also in the midst of a poor season with only one win and an ERA over 4.00.  Don't count on him being traded unless the Phillies eat a good deal of that pact.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: GIANTS AND PHILLIES TALKING SERSIOULY ABOUT HUNTER PENCE

The flood gates are open when it comes to the Philadelphia Phillies trading off assets and they are now in serious talks with the San Francisco Giants about Hunter Pence.  Wanting to beef up their hitting as they head into the playoff stretch, Pence became a name the Giants have zeroed in on in the last few days.  With the Phillies having so much money tied up in pitching, the team wants to shed payroll in order to get under the luxury tax number.

Analysis:  I still can't believe the Phillies want to trade Pence because he is the type of high impact hitter who is still young of age you would want to go into the future with.  That's what happens when you have Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels all signed to mammoth deals.  As far as Pence is concerned, he has had his typically low key solid fantasy baseball season but his ballpark would take a major hit in going to San Francisco if the deal takes place.

FANTASY BASEBALL STTAUS REPORT: JASON KIPNIS 2B CLEVELAND INDIANS

Last season, Jason Kipnis opened some eyes in Cleveland with his hitting and above average defense. Some thought he would become a cornerstone player for the Indians, but others thought that he needed to prove that he can perform throughout an entire season.

Kipnis was drafted in the second round (63rd overall) in the 2009 draft by the Indians. He put up very consistent numbers in the minors, and quickly rose through Cleveland's organization. In 2011, he played his first season in Triple-A. His numbers took a slight dip, but they were still solid. He hit .280 with 12 homers and 55 RBI in 400 plate appearances that year. With a gap at the Indians big league second base position, Cleveland's front office did not hesitate to bring him up in the middle of their divisional race. He played pretty well with them, hitting .272 with 7 home runs and 19 RBI in 150 plate appearances down the stretch.

Coming into the 2012 season, Kipnis was a sleeper pick in all of the fantasy drafts because Cleveland announced he was going to get the everyday gig at second base during the 2012 campaign. Unless he was drafted in the first 5 rounds or so, I'd say his owners should be happy about his performance so far this year. He has hit .272 with 11 homers, 56 RBI, and 21 stolen bases in 99 games this season. While those numbers aren't spectacular, they are still good considering that he is an above average defender. I know defense doesn't net that many points in fantasy, but it is still a good feature to have as a player. Anyway, Kipnis is basically the definition of the Indians as a team. He is an unproven player with loads of talent. The rest of the Indians' squad is basically the same.

Kipnis has a nice future in the MLB, and I can see him putting up ridiculously consistent numbers. He could even emerge as maybe one of the top five second baseman in the game. Time will tell us fantasy owners what we have in Kipnis, but at the moment I believe he can turn into a 20-20 player who could maintain a .280 batting average or so. If you own Kipnis right now, I'd strongly recommend that you keep him unless you are blown away with an offer, which is doubtful. If you don't own Kipnis right now, there is a strong possibility that he is owned by another team in your league. I would try to trade for him, but don't overpay because like I said earlier, Kipnis is unproven and doesn't have a track record and his struggles since the break show you he is not a finished product so it would be a risky pickup in the sense of having to pay for the first half numbers. 

Written by Dan Zito
Check out his baseball blog @ http://baseballtalkandfacts.blogspot.com/

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: KAMERON LOE A PERSON OF INTEREST IN MILWAUKEE

We are back on schedule when it comes to Fantasy Baseball Closing Time being back on Monday and so let's get right to all the latest news coming out of the ninth inning.

-The Milwaukee Brewers closing situation has been about the most pathetic unit in all of fantasy baseball this season as first John Axford and than Francisco Rodriguez pitched so horribly that you wouldn't be able to believe the carnage they have caused unless you saw it with your own eyes.  The latest was an epic meltdown for BOTH on Sunday when Axford and Rodriguez combined to give up six earned runs in only two innings in a defeat against the Washington Nationals.  Manager Ron Roenicke claimed earlier in the week that a committee situation would be on tap for the ninth inning but after this disaster, there is no doubt he has to look in another direction in order to find some stability in gaining the last three outs of the game.  That brings us to Kameron Loe who should be that guy that Roenicke turns to the next time a save situation presents itself for the Brewers.  With three straight seasons of pitching to below a 4.00 ERA, which includes a 2.70 2010 season, Loe has the numbers to earn himself a chance.  So far in 2012, Loe has pitched to a 3.77 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with 34 K's in 45.1 IP.  His WHIP is a tad high and he is not as strong a strikeout guy as you would like when it comes to closing but the overall results are much better than what Rodriguez and Axford brought to the table.  Really Roenicke has no other choice than to go with route and so I would suggest making a speculative add in order to be there when he goes get a shot.

-With the San Diego Padres surprisingly giving closer Huston Street a two-year contract extension, being moved before or at Tuesday's trade deadline is no longer a possibility.  With Matt Capps injured and Brett Myers already moved, the best bet fo a current closer being traded before than remains Jonathan Broxton of the Kansas City Royals.  Again the Royals have no reason to hold onto Broxton since Greg Holland can do the job, they are out of contention, and they could try and get something for him in the new two-wild card era which has kept more teams in contention.  The only place Broxton could get moved and remain a closer in San Francisco of the New York Mets who both have been mentioned as candidates for his services.  Anywhere else and he loses all his value as far as fantasy baseball is concerned.  Pick up Holland so you can get a jump on this potential move, especially if you are a Broxton owner.

-There have been no save chances yet in Houston since Francisco Cordero typically blew up since being given an undeserved chance to close after coming over from Toronto but it was Wilton Lopez who pitched the ninth inning on Sunday with the team trailing by one.  Lopez has gotten the last out in the Astros last two games and even though there were no saves at stake, he has to be the guy to own at this point since Cordero is completely shot.  Add him immediately as Lopez has pitched great all season and can help your ratios some despite the team not getting many save chances.

That's all for now.  As always keep checking for all the latest closer news.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: D-BACKS ACQUIRE 3B CHRIS JOHNSON FROM ASTROS

The fire sale continued for the Houston Astros on Sunday as they dealt 3B Chris Johnson to the Arizona D-Backs for two minor leaguers.  Hitting .279 with eight home runs in 341 at-bats, Johnson will likely start at the hot corner for the D-Backs as they continue their playoff push. 

Analysis: This move likely means that the Astros will bring up Brett Wallace from the minors and as far as Johnson is concerned, this doesn't do much for his minimal fantasy baseball value anyway. 

2012 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT DEBATE: ROB GRONKOWSKI/JIMMY GRAHAM TIGHT ENDS

It is time for another 2012 Fantasy Football Draft Debate and today we dive into the tight end position and go right to the top as we look to figure out who should be picked ahead of the other from among the New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski and the New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham.  Both guys put up wide receiver numbers last season as they further revolutionized the tight end position and both could very well be late first round picks in drafts this summer.  Let's compare the two in the relevant fantasy football categories in order to figure out who in fact should be picked ahead of the other.

RECEPTIONS:  Graham won this battle in 2012 with 99 catches to Gronkowski's 90 and the Saints tight end should end up with more once again this season for a few reasons.  The first is that Graham is the clear number 1 receiver in the explosive Saints offense while Gronkowski has to compete with Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez.  Also with Brandon Lloyd in town, Tom Brady has more weapons than ever as far as passing options are concerned.  Graham on the other hand only has Marques Colston to compete with and there really was no comparison between the two in catches last season.  This one goes to Graham.
ADVANTAGE:  Jimmy Graham

RECEIVING YARDS:  Gronkowski narrowly beat out Graham here 1,327 yards to 1,310 but this is too close to give anyone the advantage.
ADVANTAGE:  EVEN

TOUCHDOWNS:  Here is where Gronkowski comes out clearly on top as his 17 touchdowns topped Graham's 11 by a healthy margin.  Brady looks to Gronkowski first, second, and third down by the red zone and so another run at 17 or dare we say even more scores is possible.  Graham could improve as well but Gronkowski has the better chance to get to the mid-to-high-teens.
ADVANTAGE:  Rob Gronkowski

INTANGIBLES:  Gronkowski had a pretty serious ankle injury right before the Super Bowl last season and reports were that it was still bothering him in June.  Also Gronkowski's numbers last season were so out of this world that it is impossible to expect him to repeat them.  Graham's numbers were crazy good as well but he is more athletic than Gronkowski and he is the clear number one guy in the Saints passing offense.  With the Saints likely having to throw even more this season now that the defense has been diluted, it is clear that Graham wins out in this.
ADVANTAGE:  Jimmy Graham

WINNNER:  Jimmy Graham

I know this is going against what most publications are saying but its about 2012 and not 2011 and in that respect, Graham has the better chance of sustaining last season's stat haul.  When it is all on the table, Graham should hear his name selected first when it comes to tight ends in your draft this summer.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: WHITE SOX PICK UP FRANCISCO LIRIANO FROM TWINS

After missing out on Zack Greinke, the Chicago White Sox picked up SP Francisco Liriano from the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night.  The Twins get two minor leaguers from the Sox and get out from the under the maddeningly inconsistent Liriano.

Analysis:  Liriano is the epitome of inconsistency as you truly never know what you will get with any given start.  This makes him not worth owning unless you are desperate in fantasy baseball terms and his ballpark got a whole lot worse in going to Chicago. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Colby Rasmus:  2/3 with his 18th HR while hitting .246.  If only you could hit .270 Colby.  Colby always seems to annoy us about something.  Whether it is getting hurt, having a sucky average, or just plain acting like a baby in the clubhouse, there is always something to pick at.  We knew the power would be there going to Toronto but he is still capable of more i.e stealing bases and hitting even .260. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/2 with his 28th HR while hitting .299.  I don't think there has been one day this season where Encarnacion's fantasy baseball owners were annoyed at me.  That my friends is what you call a complete breakout season.

Adrian Gonzalez:  3/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .294.  Now up to 62 RBI with his customary good average and with the power now showing up, I am inclined to wipe the slate clean for 2013 when it comes to Gonazlez.  The best part is that it won't take a first round pick to get him which will make him even more attractive.

Mark Texeria:  2/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .262.  You all know I am prejudice against sluggers with poor averages and I haven't been a fan of Tex since after his first year with the Yankees when he fell head over heels for the short outfield fences.  His power is still in line with his career norms though and consistency does count for something.  I am interested to see who goes first next season:  Tex or Agone in drafts?

Jon Lester:  4 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 5.49.  Once again another shaky showing by Lester but in actuality this was one of his best starts in awhile which shows you just how bad he has been.  Being truthful, he was always a bit overrated since his ERA never finished in the 2.00 range and his WHIP was usually on the high side for a guy we considered an ace.  He and Tim Lincecum are already on my DO NOT DRAFT FOR 2013 LIST unless they are my SP 4 or 5.

C.C. Sabbathia:  6 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 3.57.  You hate to see these starts from any of your pitchers but you never have to worry when it comes to Sabbathia.  Just one of those days.  Let's just hope he doesn't order extra room service to drown his sorrows.

Matt Kemp:  4/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .342.  I was all set to pen a STATUS REPORT on Kemp and why he is slumping so much but I will refrain from that for a bit.  This is the Kemp we saw in April and if he can stay on this type of roll, magic will happen.

Jesus Montero:  2/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .265.  You wonder how much hitting in Seattle has dwarfed his hitting numbers but overall Montero has done just fine for his rookie season.  Remember Matt Wieters crashed and burned for a year or two before he figured it out so Montero is ahead of him there.  He will be a nice value in 2013 since the shine has worn off a bit since some would call him a letdown which I don't agree with.

Yoenis Cespedes:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .302.  I was hard on Cespedes in the winter since his draft price was out of control for someone who never did anything on U.S. soil and for a high K rate.  Well he has performed very well with the 14 home runs and is managing to hit .302 despite striking out a bunch. 

Chris Carter:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .268.  I can't believe its almost been 10 years since Carter was catching passes up and down the Minnesota Vikings football field.  He looks damn good for being over 40.

Alex Presley:  1/3 with his 8th HR while hitting .236.  Presley is making the KING proud with his home run hitting over the last week but batting average remains a clear issue.

Neil Walker:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .290.  Walker is once again quietly having a decent season that no one cares about. 

Ryan Zimmerman:  1/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .271.   It seems like Zimmerman has hit those 15 home runs in the last month. 

Jordan Zimmerman:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.28.  Zimmerman is so quietly damn good that you have to do a double-take to absorb that awesome ERA.  Those are top ten fantasy baseball starting pitcher numbers folks.

Chase Utley:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .247.  Sorry dude its not 2009 anymore so nobody cares.

Mike Minor:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 5.18.  Be proactive here and add Minor since arms like this are tough to come by on the wire.  He is striking out a ton of batters and he his high ERA is the product of some early season shellings.  I have talked about his potential for years and I really am getting the feeling the dam is about to break.

Jose Reyes:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .274.  Yes the home runs from Reyes are like a nice bonus but dude steal some bases.

Carlos Santana:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .235.  All right I gave in and picked up Santana again after dropping him right before his hot streak.  That means he will go hitless

Josh Willingham:  1/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .273.  Josh Freakin' Willingham has 27 home runs.  Let that sink in.

Justin Masterson:  8 ER in 5.2 IP with an ERA of 4.47.  The Justin Masterson Horror Show Special.  No one does it any better than this idiot.

Adam Dunn:  2/4 with his 31st HR while hitting .215.  Dunn is like a carnival attraction.  Watch big man hit balls a long way and than get struck out by a 5-year-old.

Paul Konerko:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .334.  Konerko is on a mission to crack as many home runs as he can before fellow golden oldie David Ortiz gets back in order to win the title of Best Slugging Senior Citizen.

Mike Napoli:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .230.  Really Napoli has destroyed Carlos Santana this season but both guys have set back batting average for decades.

Ike Davis:  4/4 with 3 home runs (20 for season) while hitting .216.  Take that Adam Dunn.  Davis was nice enough to throw in an extra hit too with the three bombs.  Remember I did say to pick the guy up a month ago.  Say thank you.  I try my best.  I love this game.  I also hate it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JASON WITTEN TE DALLAS COWBOYS

The phrase "old reliable" refers to someone who is always there when you need them. Always doing what is expected of yourself or someone else doing for you. In fantasy football terms, this applies perfectly to Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who for the better part of 9 years has served as quite possibly the best and most consistent receiver at his position in the game. A typical Witten season consists over a boatload of catches in the range of 80-95 for around 900-1,000 yards and between 5-8 touchdowns. The fact he does this almost each and every year, while never missing games with injury, is a testament to how great a fantasy football option he is. So in our latest Player Analyzer, we take our annual look at Witten who, for those of you who are loyal readers know, a guy I make it a point to own each season. Let's take a look at what could be in store for 2012.

As I spoke of earlier, Witten is pretty much set in stone when it comes to his numbers. He will undoubtedly fall into those ranges unless his first major injury happens and so Witten is one of the easiest players to project in all of fantasy football which is another feather in his cap in a game of massive uncertainty. I fully expect Witten to catch more than the 79 balls he hauled in last season which is actually his lowest haul since 2006. The yardage will also threaten the 1,000 mark as Witten can get downfield with solid speed. The only aspect of his game that really has been a bit volatile and frustrating at times is his touchdown total which is not his strong suit. For some odd reason, Cowboys QB Tony Romo doesn't seem to look for Witten much in the red zone, preferring to find wideouts Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and last season Laurent Robinson. For a guy who catches as many passes as Witten does, his touchdown numbers are a fry cry from the Jimmy Graham's and Rob Gronkowski's of the world. The last six seasons Witten has caught 1, 7, 4, 2, 9, and 5 scores which hurts those owners who take part in standard formats more than those in PPR. However that is quibbling as Witten is still as good as it gets at tight end no matter who many touchdowns he gathers into his arms this season.

The real beauty with Witten in 2012 is his draft price. Whereas the last few seasons Witten has been been one of the first two tight ends picked in drafts, this summer the rapid ascension and excitement of Graham, Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez have unfairly knocked him down a notch. Obviously Graham and Gronkowski should be the top two tight ends picked but it is going to take a second round pick to do so this season, whereas Witten can be had as late as round 6. The value clearly lies in Witten as those owners who select Graham or Gronkowski will be hurting themseves at running back, wide receiver, and even QB by going the tight end route so early. Witten could very well catch close to as many passes as both Graham and Gronkowski, so especially in PPR leagues, Witten is the way to go.

Ultiamtely, the amazing consistency that Witten brings to the game of fantasy football and his awesome numbers make him a huge asset for your roster. Like I said his value is very enticing for 2012 and you know the numbers will be there. Let the other owners have Graham and Grokowski. I will wait for Witten and laugh all the way to a league title.

2012 PROJECTION: 88 catches 987 yards 7 TD

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: RANGERS CLOSING IN ON MARLINS SP JOSH JOHNSON

The Texas Rangers are getting into serious talks with the Miami Marlins about their ace SP Josh Johnson according to reports.  After the rival Angels picked up Zack Greinke on Friday, the Rangers heated up their talks with the Marlins in order to bring Johnson aboard. 

Anlaysis:  Johson is likely the next Marlins player to hit the road, following Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante.  No doubt the Marlins do a fire sale better than any other club around the majors and Johnson should be gone in the next few days.  The Rangers need another starter and the urgency clearly picked up after the Angels got Greinke on Friday.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BLUE JAYS 3B/OF JOSE BAUTISTA (WRIST) STARTS SWINGING BAT

Toronto Blue Jays 3B/OF Jose Bautista has started swinging a bat in his comeback from a wrist injury.  Bautista was placed on the DL last week after hearing a pop in the wrist but a subsequent MRI revealed no tendon damage or a break.  He is expected to come off the DL when first eligible on Wednesday.

Analysis:  Good news all around for Bautista who no doubt is sorely missed by his fantasy baseball owners.  Ger ready to have him back Wednesday and to pick up where he left off as far as cracking bombs are concerned.

FANTASY BASEBALL WEEKLY SELL HIGH/BUY LOW

Buy Low

Adam LaRoche- LaRoche is a notorious second-half hitter that has homered in three straight games. LaRoche is enjoying a nice productive season at the clean up spot in the Nationals' lineup. He is certainly worth looking at at the first base position.

Justin Ruggiano- Emilio Bonifacio is moving over to second base now that Omar Infante is out of Miami. Ruggiano will see every-day at bats as Miami's starting center fielder. He currently has seven home runs and seven steals in 137 plate appearances this year.

Wilton Lopez- Lopez didn't get the chance to close games for Houston even after Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon were traded. He should crack the closer role now that Francisco Cordero has had back to back blown saves in his first two appearances with Houston.

Sell high

Matt Harrison- Harrison is having a breakout season, posting a 3.02 ERA with 12 wins following a season where he posted 3.39 ERA and collected 14 wins. He has historically been a better pitcher in the first half. Last year his August ERA was 6.07.

Dee Gordon- Gordon supposedly may have a bench role once he returns off of the disabled list, due to the acquisition of Hanley Ramirez. Gordon is really only a one-dimensional player who gathers a bunch of stolen bases but maintains a low batting average.  This is really a CUT HIM LOOSE and not a Sell High. 

Drew Stubbs:  Stubbs has decent power and speed but his average will destroy your bottom line numbers in that category.  He has been hot lately which is just the right time to get out form under this. 

Written by Dan Zito

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: FRIDAY

Matt Holliday:  3/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .325.  Holliday is absolutely killing it right now and the .325 average is reminiscent of his Colorado days.  Typical excellence.

Allen Craig:  1/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .296.  You know your bats are good when you got to search for ways to get Craig into the lineup on a daily basis.  With brittle David Freese and Lance Berkman being among that group, this shouldn't be a problem.

Yadier Molina:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .302.  Molina is right there with Carlos Ruiz and to a lesser extent Jarrod Saltalamacchia as the best catching value in the game.  Another reminder never to draft a backstop early.  Values can be had at the end of the draft every season along with the waiver wire.

Lance Berkman:  2/4 with his 2nd HR while hitting .294.  Its tough to get excited about Berkman since he is not playing everyday right now and this is only his second home run of the season. 

Anthony Rizzo:  2/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .330.  I really love Rizzo but unfortunately I think the hype is going to get out of control for next season a la Eric Hosmer and so I won't be able to draft him.  I also won't fall into the trap of saying he will hit .320 with 30 home runs next season since young players are so hit or miss.  I will say however that Rizzo's power is big time and can't be taught which just happened to be the biggest question about Hosmer.

Lance Lynn:  6 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.42.  It was very disconcerting to see Lynn struggle so much against the woeful Cubs but I won't go overboard here and say he is sucking wind since he was unhittable his last two outings.  His next start is pivotal in that regard though since he is now squarely in uncharted innings territory.

Dustin Pedroia:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .270.  I think Pedroia will be just fine the rest of the way but the fact he has now missed significant time in two of the last three seasons is a major concern and should keep him from being anything more than a third round choice at best next season.

Carl Crawford:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .222.  No one was more excited to see Crawford go yard than the Boston front office who basically want to give him away not even two seasons into a 7-year deal.  While hitting second should help Crawford with his steals, Tampa Bay numbers will never be seen ever again.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .233.  Crazy power for Salty this season but the averages sucks to say the least.  Why can't we get a catcher with Buster Posey's average and Salty's power?  Where have you gone Mike Piazza?

Curtis Granderson:  3/5 with his 28th HR while hitting .253.  Granderson has now established himself as a top five home run hitter in all of baseball which would have been an absurd statement to make when he was with Detroit.  Ahh the beauty of playing home games in Yankee Stadium.

Chris Carter:  2/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .269.  Carter is not playing everyday and struggles against righties which means his average will top out around .260 if he is lucky but his power is tremendous.  And he plays for Oakland who are now known as the Bronx Bombers West.

Adam Jones:  1/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .292.  Jones' numbers have leveled off a bit since his torrid April which was to be expected but even at his current pace, the Orioles outfielder is now right there as a top 5-7 fantasy baseball bat at his position for next season.

Jarrod Parker:  6 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.38.  Parker did strike out eight but he obviously got his rear handed to him.  Parker too is heading into new innings territory but the A's don't plan on shutting him down anytime soon if at all. 

Chris Davis:  2/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .261.  Davis' average continues to slowly slip which is not what you want to see but the power has been great all season.  Considering all it took was a waiver claim to enjoy those 17 home runs, it clearly is a win-win all the way around for his owners.

Jim Johnson:  6 ER in .1 IP with an ERA of 3.71.  WOW.  If you are a Johnson owner my condolences.  This is the kind of outing where you sit there staring at his boxscore with your mouth wide open as the sweat pours down your face.

Miguel Cabrera:  2/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .327.  Not sure if Cabrera will miss hitting 40 home runs yet again but the guy is flat out the most consistently awesome hitter in the game.

Prince Fielder:  2/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .311.  Fielder still needs to get the hang of hitting home runs at Comerica but when you slugging first baseman can hit .311, you are ahead of the game. 

Travis Snider:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .308.  I told you all to give Snider one more shot and if you did than you are three home runs ahead of the game.  His power is extreme and of course he hits in Toronto so all the recipes are there for big time success.

Brian McCann:McCann is making a huge charge to catch Salty in the catching home run race.

Cole Hamels:  3 ER in 5 IP with a 3.31 ERA.  Hamels walked six and was ugly in this one in his first start since inking his huge contract extension.  Don't read into that though as Hamels was simply off in this one.  Nothing more or less.

Ben Sheets:  6 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 0.50.  Sheets has been unreal since coming out of Siberia and back into the majors.  Yes he probably will be hurt in another week or so but this falls under the ride it out until the wheels come up mantra.

Mike McKenry:  3/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .276.  McKenry is yet another catcher who is earning fantasy baseball appeal with his solid average and 9 digners.  Who said there was no depth here?  Oh right me.  I change my mind on this.

Kevin Youkilis:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .251.  Youkilis has found his home runs stroke in Chicago and he is salvaging his season somewhat.  However he will be another year older in 2013 and even more fragile than he is now which is saying something.

Nelson Cruz:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .261.  Cruz once again is letting down his fantasy baseball owners as his home run rate is down and his average remains mediocre. 

Chris Sale:  5 ER in 6.1 IP with an ERA of 2.61.  That's two rough starts in a row now for Sale who I said would be a great candidate to sell high on a few weeks ago as he is now in major uncharted innings territory.  It will be interesting to see how the White Sox handle this going forward but the way they allowed him to pitch into the eighth inning so often early on in the season, I am not holding my breath that they will do the right thing.

Yu Davish:  6.1 IP 8 H 5 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.05.  Darvish overall has been great in strikeouts but shaky everywhere else.  I stil think he will be much better in Year 2 since he will be more prepared to withstand the rigors of an entire MLB season but the hype once again got the better of his actual value.

Josh Willingham:  2/5 with his 26th HR while hitting .273.  Willingham could very well get close to 40 home rusn this season off the free agent wire.  His next trick will be to get traded to San Diego and hit 50 bombs next season.

Justin Morneau:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .256.  Morneau's power continues to slide but he could rebound some if traded to a better hitting park. 

Scott Diamond:  9 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.88.  Diamond is scary to pick up because you just get the feeling that when you do add him, his next start will be a bust.

Aramis Ramirez:  3/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .287.  Ramirez' numbers are down as he too hears his name in trade talks.  While I still like him, you have to look at the fact he is now 35 years old which could be the reason his power is slipping some.

Corey Hart:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .263.  Hart's power has not slipped at all as he remains one of the more underrated bats in the game.

Mike Fiers:  6.1 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 1.77.  You can all thank me for telling you to pick up Fiers after his first start by clicking some $$$$ in the donations link.

David Wright:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .335.  Wright would be in the MVP talk if the Mets hadn't taken a swan dive in the standings.  At the very least he has re-taken his status as a top five fantasy baseball third baseman.

Ike Davis:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .207.  I swear I feel like I am watching Adam Dunn whenever Davis hits.

Dan Haren:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.59.  Haren has pitched well in two starts in a row now as he tries to tell us all he is not washed up.  He is doing a good job of that lately but I need to see more in order to say he is back to being a SP 2 in our fake game.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: ANGLES PICK UP ZACK GREINKE FROM BREWERS

The Los Angeles Angels made a big move Friday in picking up SP Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers for three minor leaguers.  With a 3.44 ERA and 122 K's in 123 innings, Greinke has been the best and most consistent pitcher for the Brewers this season. 

Analysis:  Wow the Angles have some rotation with Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and Greinke.  Yes going from the NL to the AL is never a good thing from a fantasy baseball angle for a pitcher but the AL West is extremely weak in hitting outside of Texas and the defense on Los Angeles is terrific.  Greinke should continue to pitch well for his new club.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: GIANTS ACQUIRE SS MARCO SCUTARO FROM ROCKIES

The San Francisco Giants picked up SS Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies on Friday for infielder Chris Culbertson.  Hitting .271 with four home runs, Scutaro will shore up in the infield defense for San Francisco.

Anlaysis:  Not much happening from a fantasy baseball angle as Scutaro hasn't been useful there for a few seasons.  The Giants are a major threat to win it all this year and moves like this might seem small on the surface but could help out a team over the top.

Friday, July 27, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS LOOKING INTO TWINS 1B JUSTIN MORNEAU

Tired of the perpetually underachieving James Loney, the Los Angeles Dodgers have spoken to the Minnesota Twins about 1B Justin Morneau.  Morneau, hitting .253, has another year left on his contract for $14 million dollars and has so far stayed relatively healthy.  The Dodgers are also still in talks with the Cubs about Ryan Dempster, with them rejecting the latest offer for him to come their way.

Analysis:  The Dodgers are really going for it and already have done a great job in landing Hanley Ramirez who is hitting with authority since heading west.  They still are in on Dempster and all reports indicate a deal should be finished soon but the Morneau thing just started up in the last few days.  No doubt the Twins will have to eat some of the money remaining on his deal in order to get a trade completed.

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES GRAND DEBUTS: MATT HARVEY AND STARLING MARTE

I felt it was only appropriate to yield a separate post from the usual Wrapup given the magnitude of the debuts of New York Mets SP Matt Harvey and Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte.  Both guys have been on the fantasy baseball radar for the last few weeks as callups were imminent and at least in the case of Marte (who was already available in the player pool in Yahoo leagues), were picked up in preparation for his debut.  Well Thursday brought both men's debuts and the results were no doubt eye-opening to say the least.

We begin with Marte who was inserted in the leadoff spot coming up from the minors with 12 home runs and 20 stolen bases while hitting .286.  Marte proceeded to introduce himself to the major leagues in gran style by cracking a home run in his first at-bat and than later singled.  He was thrown out attempting to steal but Marte clearly was looking to showcase all of his tools in his first game.  Yesterday I talked about how Marte's power/speed combo is very attractive for any fantasy baseball owner and is it that portion of his game that could very well make him an asset the rest of the season.  One big knock is his high K rate which was 21 percent in the minors and will obviously be higher at the major league level.  Once opposing pitchers get a book on him, Marte could see his average sink fast.  I mentioned Drew Stubbs as a comparison and while I don't think he will hit .230 like the Reds outfielder, something along the lines of .265 is in the realm of possibility going forward.  However around 7 home runs and 15 steals could also be in play which no doubt would be an ice help to your roster.

Now let's get to Harvey.  Wow was that impressive.  In his first major league start, Harvey goes out on the road in a hitter's park in Arizona and throws 5.1 shutout innings with only 3 hits given up and 3 walks with 11!!!!!!!!!!!!!! strikeouts.  Harvey had it all going on Thursday with his fastball reaching 98-mph on occasion.  On the farm in 2012 Harvey struck out 112 batters in 110 Triple-A innings so clearly he knows how to strike people out.  The hysteria is already in overdrive when it comes to Harvey who as I said earlier is going through the waiver process in Yahoo leagues since he was just added to the Player Pool.  No doubt the competition will be fierce for his services but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.  As impressive as Harvey was on Thursday, a note of caution.  He walked three batters and threw two wild pitched which shows you how Harvey can take a walk on the wild side often.  He walked over 4 batters/9 IP in Triple-A this season and his ERA there was in the mid-3.00 range which is not dominant by any means.  Harvey will no doubt have those games where he walks the ballpark and is out after three innings to go along with what he did against Arizona.  Think of Trevor Bauer as a comparison.  Bauer had major trouble with walks in the minors and that carried over to his MLB cup of coffee debut which eventually got him demoted.  I am not saying this will happen to Harvey to that extent but I also don't see him continuing to pitch game in and game out like he did Thursday.  Just don't go overboard in trying to get him in a trade if you miss out on the waiver.

All in all, both Marte and Harvey gave us a thrill last night to say the least.  Marte helped his fantasy baseball owners some, while Harvey's start wasn't registered in any Yahoo leagues.  Both guys will be much talked about going forward but growing pains are to be expected.  If I had to choose one to cast my lot with it would be Marte but each guy will surely have his moments.  It should be interesting to see.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

*****WITH THE RIDICULOUS DEBUTS OF STARLIN MARTE AND MATT HARVEY THROWING THE FANTASY BASEBALL WORLD INTO A TIZZY THIS MORNING, I FELT IT WOULD ONLY BE RIGHT IF A SEPARATE PIECE WAS DONE ON EACH ANALYZING THEIR DEBUTS.  LOOK FOR IT IN A BIT.******

Jason Vargas:  8 IP 1 H 1 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.76.  Vargas is that guy who pitches decently but that nobody wants.  He is being much a yawn to look at despite putting up some solid ERA's the last few years but outside of pitching in Seattle, he is below ordinary and collects strikeouts like they are illegal.

Adam LaRoche:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .261.  Its the second half of the season.  Its time for LaRoche to turn into Babe Ruth. 

Yovani Gallardo:  5 IP 7 H 7 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.07.  I don't know why I have to get into a debate every season about overrated he is.  Well it is now almost August and his WHIP is 1.36.  Yup.

Edwin Jackson:  7 IP 8 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.52.  When did this guy get good?

A.J. Burnett:  7.1 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.52.  I see your Gallardo and I raise you a Jackson and a Burnett.

Delmon Young:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .269.  No one is paying any attention to what Young is doing since A:  he is a bigot and B:  he is the classic guy who burned a million fantasy baseball bridges earlier in his career and so those same owners would rather swallow Clorox than get in bed with him again.

Carlos Santana:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .238.  Sure now he starts hitting after I cut his lame ass.  Way to continue pissing me off Carlos even when you are not on my roster.

Justin Verlander:  5 ER in 7 IP with an ERA of 2.60.   Ummm no your not going to be able to do a BUY LOW here.  Silly.

Matt Holliday:  2/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .325.  Holliday's ultimate consistency is worth an extra buck or two on draft day next season.

Chris Capuano:  4.1 IP 11 H 6 ER 1 BB 1 K with an ERA of 3.13.  We have reached the point in the season where fatigue has to be looked at when it comes to Capuano who has never stayed this healthy.  The numbers could get a bit sketchy but you won't be able to SELL HIGH since he suffers from the R.A. Dickey syndrome where no one trusts you no matter how good you are tossing it.

Josh Reddick:  1/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .271.  Remember when I said back in May that Reddick is not a .320 hitter but more like .270 with the pop?  Yeah I think I nailed that one.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .299.  Sorry but not even Encarnacion's mom projected this kind of breakout.  In Toronto's home run haven the power is likely inflated a bit but Encarnacion is here to stay.

James Shields:  5 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 4.52.  Way to boost your trade value Shields.  Its like 2010 all over again where he continuously shizz's all over your WHIP and ERA.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: STARLING MARTE OUTFIELDER PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Clearly in a going for it in 2012 mode, the Pittsburgh Pirates called up prized outfield hitting prospect Starling Marte on Wednesday and will place him in the leadoff spot in the batting order for Thursday's game.  Only 23 years old, Marte possesses a tantalizing arsenal of tools that could lead to big time success at the major league level going into the future.  But what about now?  Can Marte be of use to fantasy baseball owners looking for an outfield boost?  Let's dig in and find out.

First let's take a look at Marte's minor league stats heading into his MLB debut: 

.286 average
12 home runs
20 stolen bases

Right away astute fantasy baseball players will notice the power/speed combo which is what we want in all of our hitters.  Marte has burgeoning power that has really taken off in 2012 to complement his speed which is his greatest physical attribute.  The Pirates are planning on Marte batting leadoff during his stay with the big club and so right off the bat he will be put in position to score a bunch of runs and steals a decent amount of bases.  Marte is also capable of hitting baseballs over the wall so he won't be a negative there either.  The one big issue with Marte though is a shaky approach at the plate, in his case being a lack of walks and a hacking mentality which leads to strikeouts.  This is usually not what you want out of your leadoff hitter and so Marte has a little bit of Drew Stubbs in him at this point.  He could struggle to post a solid batting average like Stubbs but the power/speed combo that the Reds outfielder has is likely to be a part of Marte's game.  So if you can withstand some early growing pains, picking up Marte would be worth the effort since the payoff could be sweet.

All in all, Starling Marte has the game to be one of the next top level fantasy baseball outfielders in a few years.  For now he will steal some bases, score some runs, and pop a home run once in awhile.  Nothing extraordinary but a decent help to your outfield.  When you have the tools that Marte has, you pick him up and ask questions later.  Just be sure you are on the ride if it does in fact take off to great heights.

2012 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: TONY ROMO QB DALLAS COWBOYS

Just stay healthy. It is this mantra that we attach to all of our various fantasy football players each time we draft a team as we hope for the best that each one of our QB's, WR's, and RB's manage to play all 16 games and give your team the best chance to win your league. This desire is especially true in players who have the label of being injury prone as we pray to the fantasy football gods to somehow keep them upright for the duration of the season, which no doubt seems to be asking a lot of certain players. Those who have been owners of Darren McFadden certainly know what I am talking about. However today we take a look at Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo who no doubt fits this criteria as well due to his vast history of injuries along with his top notch play when he is on the field. In our latest Fantasy Football Player Analyzer, we take a closer look at Romo in order to find out what he could be supplying his owners for the upcoming 2012 season.

Romo is clearly one of those players who falls into the category of either you love him or you hate. Being a Dallas Cowboys QB automatically invites scorn from fans of the other 31 teams and the vitriol gets ratcheted up when you take into effect all the games Romo has missed since he became the team's starter back in 2006. In reality though, Romo's reputation as a fragile QB is a bit out of place when you really look at things closely. Altogether Romo missed 13 games from 2006 through last season but ten of them came in 2011 when he sat out ten of those contests. He has played all 16 games 4 of the last 6 seasons and even though there have been many nicks and bruises along the way where it looked like he might sit out, Romo almost always answered the bell unless the injury was debilitating. And when the guy plays he produces, sometimes in spectacular fashion as Romo comes off a 31-TD 2011 campaign where he also threw for 4,184 yards and only 10 picks. In fact let's look at Romo's TD totals since 2006:

2006: 19
2007: 36
2008: 26
2009: 26
2010: 11
2011: 31

Those are some big time touchdown numbers and Romo is a pure gunslinger all the way. Throw in the fact he plays his home games in a dome with a fast turf track and annually is surrounded by big time passing weapons, than one can see why Romo remains one of the best fantasy football QB's around. He also is one of the very best values in the game which is amazing when you consider all of that production. In fact I would say that Romo is the very BEST QB value for 2012 outside of Peyton Manning (whose comes with much more risk) for a number of reasons.

The riddle that is the Tony Romo disrespect angle is for the reasons I stated above and more. We already touched on how many owners go overboard in thinking he is injury prone which he really is not. We also talked about how Cowboys QB's automatically get disrespected just for being a Cowboys QB. I can guarantee you that you have been to a draft where an opposing owner said something along the lines of "I won't draft owner because he is a (insert vulgarity) and he is a Cowboy." We can all tells stories like this. In addition, Romo is now at the point of his career where he is a boring veteran and what I mean by that is he has taken a backseat to more flashy newcomers like Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan. Combined together and one can easily see how Romo will slip in drafts and thus make a tremendous QB draft pick around the fifth round. This allows that owner to stock up on running backs and receivers and than snag Romo later on cheap. Its a winning situation for sure.

All in all, I love Tony Romo's outlook for 2012 fantasy football. He has a big time stable of receivers in Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten, and once again will throw until his arm falls off. He is in the prime of his career and could throw for 30 scores if he stays on the field. Sure there is some more risk for him when it comes to injuries but noting tremendous there however. If you have a shot to grab Romo as your starter, do not hesitate to do so as he will be a big time asset. Ignore the Cowboys stigma and enjoy the discount he will yield to you this season.

2012 PROJECTION: 28 TD 14 INT 4,102 yards

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: RAYS REJECT ANGELS OFFER OF PETER BOURJOS FOR JAMES SHIELDS

The Tampa Bay Rays rejected an offer of outfielder Peter Bourjos for SP James Shields according to reports.  Shields is very much available according to Rays officials but the offer of Bourjos was not enough for them to pull the trigger.

Analysis:  Shields should be moved before the 31st because the Rays don't want to pay him for next season.  With the demand for pitching very high, look for them to find something more to their liking in the next few days.  The White Sox, Dodgers, and Rangers have looked into Shields in addition to the Angels in the last month.

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JAMES MCDONALD SP PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Well the fund had to end sometime I guess. Throughout the first half of the 2012 fantasy baseball season, one of the biggest stories coming out of the starting pitching fraternity was the breakout year of Pittsburgh Pirates SP James McDonald who came out of the gate firing on all cylinders and taking no prisoners. Whereas in the past McDonald was held back by high pitch counts and walks, 2012 brought a new version of himself, with the free passes seemingly a thing of the past. Being able to generate his fastball up to the 98-mph range, McDonald absolutely dominated in striking out almost a batter per inning and yielding few hits to opposing hitters. When the All Star Break arrived, McDonald sat there with a sparkling 2.37 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 110 innings. No doubt those fantasy baseball owners who picked him up off waivers were kicking themselves over their stupendous luck but unfortunately this fairy tale story has taken a turn toward the dark side in the form of three ugly outings in a row where McDonald has 15 runs in a little over 15 innings. That has taken his ERA on a sharp rise to its present 3.15 and has promoted his owners to wonder if indeed McDonald is coming back down to earth. Let's take a closer look in order to find out what is really going on.

First in looking at McDonald's advanced stats, there is still nothing crazy going on there either way which has been the case almost all season and lent legitimacy to his breakout. So whatever McDonald is doing on the mound is the real reason for his struggles and one look at those last three outings, and even going back to the three before that, we can find evidence as to what really is going on. Specifically speaking, McDonald's old control woes have come back to haunt him with 17 walks in his last five starts. Included in that were two games where he walked five and one where put four on. This was the McDonald who got shipped out of Los Angeles and who failed to stick with Pirates after coming over in a trade and it is the prime reason as to why he is struggling right now. More baserunners means more chances to score and McDonald has not done a good job of keeping these guys from making their way around the bases. His hit rate has gone up in those last five starts which when combined with the walks, lends more credence as to the rough patch that McDonald has hit.

So what changed all of a sudden? Well in actuality what we could be seeing here is the fact that McDonald is heading into uncharted innings territory and fatigue is likely playing a role here. A tired arm doesn't allow a starting pitcher to finish off his pitches and hence you get the walks and the elevated balls that are being hit into the gaps. This is a trend we see every season with young starters who enter into new innings highs and McDonald very well could be feeling the effects of that issue.

Overall, James McDonald still have a very nice 3.15 ERA but that doesn't tell the story of how poor he has pitched his last five times out overall. A tired arm is not going to get any better with two full months of the season to go and hence McDonald is shaping up as a risky fantasy baseball starting option the rest of the way. Sure he could catch a second wind and right the ship but the signs are all bad right now and McDonald could be tough to depend on the rest of the season. If you are an owner I would be very cautious as to starting him for the time being. Mix and match the opponents to give yourself the best chance of having McDonald pitch with some good results but he no longer is an automatic guy to put out there each time he is scheduled to take the mound. While I still like McDonald long-term, the rest of 2012 is one that I don't feel too confident in based on what we have seen lately. Like I said things could change but for now sitting McDonald is the bets way to go.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Adam LaRoche:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .258.  LaRoche's average has come back to its customary levels but the power continues to rock on.  The best part is that LaRoche has 18 home runs and we haven't even hit August which is when his bat really explodes. 

Mike Morse:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .297.  Yes Morse missed almost the entire first half but since he has come back hit average and home run rates are right where they were in his breakout 2011 season.  I still like him.

Ike Davis:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .209.  It really is annoying that Davis gets only one hit in the games he clocks home runs but it is what it is.  But again if you take out the average, Davis is really right where he should be when it comes to his home runs and RBI.

Stephen Strasburg:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.76.  The training wheels are off for Strasburg who magically has no more innings limit now that the Nationals are in prime playoff contention.  The whole thing was one big joke anyway but what is not a joke is the extreme awesomeness (I know its not a word but its my site and my rules).  Again it all comes back to health and if he checks out there, than the sky is truly the limit.

Anthony Rizzo:  2/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .323.  Rizzo has been very good since his callup and he quickly has put his rough debut with San Diego last season in the rearview mirror.  I won't get into expectations for next season yet but Rizzo is shaping up as next year's Eric Hosmer.  How high will we inflate his value?

Ryan Dempster:  6 IP 5 H 3 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.25.  Dempster continues to get it done when out on the mound but the real question is where his next start will be.  Since he seems to be avoiding the Braves like the plague, count on the Dodgers being his next destination where he would actually have a ballpark improvement.

Michael Bourn:  1/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .299.  Bourn hitting 8 home runs is like 25 for anyone else.  I guess he needed to show off his power since his latest movie is coming out soon.

Jason Heyward:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .270.  Heyward is interesting to me because I am starting to think he is entering the perennial post-hype sleeper realm where he burned so many fantasy baseball owners that these same people refuse to go back to him due to the bad feelings this experience generated.  The potential is still there for a 30/30 campaign and I will already say that I think he will have an Adam Jones breakthough in 2013.

Tommy Hanson:  5 IP 3 H 1 ER 7 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.39.  I got to say Hanson continues to invent ways to show how much he sucks.  7 walks with 7 strikeouts?  I can't believe we used to all go so crazy to own the guy. 

Rickie Weeks:  4/4 with his 10th HR and 7th SB while hitting .200.  Yes the planets due align for every player at least once a season.

Ryan Braun:  3/4 with his 28th HR while hitting .318.  I hate writing about this steroids cheat as you all could surmise by now but I can't argue with the numbers.  What Braun has done since coming into the game is amazing from a statistical angle and he right now has the number 1 overall spot locked up for next season.

Vance Worley:  5.1 IP 10 H 3 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.88.  Boy when I told you back in May to sell high on Worley and that he would be going into the tank from his mid-.200 ERA, I didn't know he would be so accommodating when it came to making me look prophetic.

Alex Rios:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .314.  This is the case of wishing I owned a guy I touted all offseason.  Damn.  Guy is hitting like a sixth round draft pick and he likely was a 20th rounder last winter.

Jake Peavy:  6 IP 6 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.15.  The White Sox are full of fantasy baseball value players this season and Peavy certainly fits that bill with his turn-back-the-clock-to-San Diego season.  While I worry about his arm tiring since he hasn't hit this kind of innings load in years, the guy knows how to pitch and could very well remain a very good option the rest of the way.

Billy Butler:  2/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .296.  I think we all should stop wondering if Butler can hit 30 home runs and instead ask if he could hit 35 or even 40. 

Mike Trout:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .356.  Is it too late for Mike Trout to throw his name into the Presidential nomination? 

Torii Hunter:  4/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .278.  I never miss a chance to talk up my old flame Hunter who won me so many leagues over the years.  Here's to you my friend.  Keep up the good work.

Jered Weaver:  5 IP

Tim Lincecum:  4.2 IP 7 H 5 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 5.88.  Honestly Lincecum is on the short list of being the worst pitcher in baseball PERIOD!  So much for that whole Lincecum is back garbage after his last two good starts.  Just pathetic.

Ricky Romero:  1.1 4 H 8 ER 6 BB 1 K with an ERA of 5.75.  One of the nominees for worst start of the season.

Desmond Jennings:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .239.  Jennings has gone the way of Eric Hosmer as an overhyped fantasy baseball bust in 2011 but the tools are still all there for eventual big time success.  The guy can steal 40 bases in his sleep and the power could top out at 20 real soon.  Just more selectivity at the plate which usually comes with a few years experience will get Jennings to realize his vast potential

David Price:  7 IP 7 H 1 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.57.  The Price Has Been Right all season for the Rays ace and he has smoothed out all the edges in banging on the door as a top five fantasy baseball starting pitcher.  In the past I was a bit critical of Price for some high WHIP's but no complaints going forward I imagine.

Coco Crisp:  3/6 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .253.  What on earth is going on in Oakland?  Did Jose Canseco stop by his old stomping grounds and bring along some of his old magic juice?

Homer Bailey:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 5 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.53.  I get a lot of e-mails about Bailey lately since he is in one of his good streaks but I still don't trust him after all of these years of throwing up on my pitching stats.  Yes he threw a shutout but 5 walks?  This easily could have been much worse and that is why he is someone I still would only stream going forward the rest of the season.

Francisco Cordero:  second blown save in two tries with the Astros and career likely over.  Why the Astros gave him the closing job is beyond me but Wilton Lopez certainly will be on the hill the next time a save presents itself.

Hanley Ramirez:  2/4 while hitting .249.  Nice debut for Ramirez who I think will start to tear it up now that he is out of Miami.  Talents like this can flip a switch whenever they want and so if you stayed the course with the guy, the crazy runs we are used to earlier in his career could be back in play.  It should be good.

Dustin Pedroia:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .267.  Really the only thing Pedroia can do now is finish strong after being a bust the first half of the season.  Good start there.

Will Middlebrooks:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .297.  Middlebrooks looks like he has come out of that nasty slump he was in around the All Star Break and it seems like he got lots of oxygen during the respite.  Impressed as hell with the kid and would endorse a reach in next year's draft.

Nelson Cruz:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .258.  Cruz is annually overrated due to his power and past stealing bases.  Well he doesn't steal anymore and his power is down.  His average is weak and he hits low in the order.  Yeah this is not such an impressive hitter anymore.

Derek Holland:  7.2 IP 5 H 3 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.74.  I always want to pick up Holland but I can't get myself to do so as I don't trust him.  Yes he is pitching well but the road is a horror show and he still pitches in Texas.  Stream him.

Wilin Rosario:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .250.  Upward and onward we go.

Miguel Montero:  3/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .282.  Montero is right where he should be now after some early season issues and he quietly remains one of the better hitting catchers in the game.  The new kids on the block such as Rosario and Salvator Perez however could make him a cheaper and more attractive option than he was this season.

Jason Kubel:  1/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .298.  I checked my league's waiver wire to see if the always underrated Kubel was available.  He wasn't.  Finally people have caught on.  Shoot.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: TRADES CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF CLOSERS

This week's Closing Time ran a few days late due to all of our coverage of the trading deadline so let's not waste any more time and get right to what's going on in the ninth inning in fantasy baseball.

-Trades are certainly changing the outlook of who the closer is on certain teams, with the latest deal having the Houston Astros trading their stopper Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox.  Myers will serve as a setup man to closer Addison Reed, who has generally been good but not a lock down ninth inning man by any means.  Basically the deal takes almost all the value away from Myers and this was a possibility that I raised back in the winter when doing the draft guide.  It was only a matter of time before Myers got traded since the Astros weren't going anywhere and they had no reason to hold onto him in a rebuilding mode. 

The other side of this deal centers on the fact the Astros than turned to the washed up Francsico Cordero to be their closer after acquiring him from the Toronto Blue Jays in the J.A. Happ deal.  Cordero quickly blew his first save on Tuesday and so Wilton Lopez is likely going to and should get the next save chance.  Lopez has once again pitched well in relief as a setup man and he has the stuff to get the job done in the ninth, despite not having a big time strikeout pitch.  He should be added in all formats at this point.

-With Matt Capps on the DL with more shoulder trouble, Jared Burton and to a lesser extent Glen Perkins will be getting save chances for the Minnesota Twins.  Burton has gotten the first chances since Capps went out and he is the man to own since he is the righty while Perkins is a lefty. 

-Jonathan Broxton continues to hear his name mentioned all over the place as a guy who could be on the move and really like with Houston, the Royals have no reason to hold onto him since they are not in the playoff hunt and have a capable Greg Holland waiting to take over the gig.  Broxton has been on record saying that he wants to close wherever he goes but that won't happen unless he goes to the Giants.

-Speaking of the Giants, Santiago Casillas has managed to hold onto his job for now despite some very ugly pitching for the last month.  Sergio Romo continues to pitch lights out in setup but Bruce Bochy has always been concerned with using Romo as often as a closer would be used due to his long injury history.  Casilla successfully converted his last chance and so for now he remains the guy but his leash is still short.  Jeremy Affelt or Romo could get the shot if Casilla is finally pulled.

-The Brewers closing situation is a huge mess as John Axford lost the job after six blown saves and than Francsico Rodriguez pitched hideously in walking everyone in taking over.  With Axford throwing two scoreless innings on Wednesday, he could get the job back soon so if someone dropped him in your league, I would add him quickly. 

-New York Mets closer Frank Francisco should be back in a week or less and so that means the struggling Bobby Parnell will be out of a ninth inning job.  Parnell has continually struggled when closing games so he is not a long-term answer.  Francisco has been up and down but he was pitching well before he got hurt.  If someone dropped Francisco, add him today.

-There you have it.  As always keep checking back for all the latest closer news right here on the Fantasy Sports Boss.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: PHILLIES PUT CLIFF LEE UP FOR TRADE

The ink is not even dry on the Cole Hamels extension and the Phillies wasted little time in trying to free up salary and not have so much money invested in their pitching by putting Cliff Lee up for trade.  GM Ruben Amaro Jr. called around the league to let it be known that Lee is available, along with Hunter Pence, Jimmy Rollins, and anyone else who might be of interest as the team clearly is in rebuilding mode.

Analysis:  This move makes a ton of sense since Hamels and Roy Halladay eat up so much of the payroll and Lee is in the midst of his worst season since his Cleveland Indians days with an ugly ERA and only one two wins to his name.  With three more seasons left on his deal and at 33 years old, Lee is not untradeable by any means.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS NOW EXPECTED TO LAND RYAN DEMPSTER

After appearing as though he would be getting traded to the Atlanta Braves just a few days ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers now appear to be the leading candidates to secure the services of Cubs SP Ryan Dempster.  According to a team source, its a matter of "when" and not "if" the deal gets done and Dempster himself has hinted that the Dodgers are where he wants to go.

Analysis:  Look for this to get done in the next day or two as talks reportedly have gotten close to the end stage.  The Dodgers pulled out of the Dempster sweepstakes a week ago but with the Cubs ace declining the Braves situation, the teams saw an opening for more talks to take place in the last few days.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: WHITE SOX MOST AGGRESSIVE FOR SP ZACK GREINKE

The Chicago White Sox have been the most aggressive team in trying to make a trade for Milwaukee Brewers SP Zack Greinke according to industry reports.  With Greinke declining the latest extension offer from the Brewers, the team is expected to complete a trade in the next week for the impending free agent.  The Braves, Rangers, Angels, and Nationals have all been linked to Greinke as well.

Analysis:  Greinke is going to be dealt for sure now after not accepting the last Brewers extension and his fantasy baseball owners would prefer the Braves or Nationals over the Angels or White Sox for obvious AL/NL reasons.  While Greinke has not come close to matching his magical Cy Young season with the Royals, he has maintained himself as a low end starting pitcher 1 in fantasy baseball.

2012 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: WHICH WR'S GET A BOOST OR DROP IN VALUE IN PPR FORMATS

A few days ago I identified the running backs in fantasy football whose values take a sharp turn north when the format is PPR (point per reception) and not the traditional TD-heavy setup. Today we take this a step further and look at the wide receivers who get a similar boost when it comes to whetehr or not your league is of the PPR variety or you prefer to stick to the regular way of scoring things. With that said here are the guys whose values will go up and down under that premise:

TRENDING UP IN PPR:

Wes Welker: Perhaps the greatest PPR receiver of all time, Welker is a receptions machine as he comes off a season where he grabbed 122 catches. In fact Welker has gone past the 100-catch mark in four of the last five years and he should get past that mark once again in 2012. Never a big TD producer, Welker's 9 scores from last season were a bit of an outlier which means he is drafted around the fifth round in standard formats and than as high as the second in PPR. This makes Welker the single biggest difference in value for all players in fantasy football regardless of position depending on the league setup.

Eric Decker: Decker is aiming to be the next receiver that Peyton Manning turns into a star and he has the classic move-the-chains game that should lead to a bunch of catches this season. Decker is no stranger to the end zone either as he managed to catch 8 touchdowns with Tim Tebow as his QB last season so this kid has potential oozing everywhere.

Reggie Wayne: Clearly on the downside of his career, Wayne still is among the best route runners in the game and is the only decent receiving target that rookie QB Andrew Luck has so he should get plenty of chances to get his hands on the football. While touchdown catches will be tough to come by, Wayne could very well top 80 receptions this season.

Brandon Marshall: Marshall is poised to re-join the 100-catch club this season, which is what he did for two seasons in Denver when his QB was Jay Cutler. The same Jay Cutler who happens to be his QB once again in Chicago. These two have an unbelievable chemistry that could be some aerial circus this season and saying that Marshall could catch over 100 passes is not out of the realm of possibility.

Percy Harvin: As really the only playmaking receiver on the Vikings, Harvin is looking at another year of heavy usage in the passing game as long as his migraines don't become an issue. Harvin grabbed 87 passes last season as he and rookie QB Christian Ponder developed a nice rapport that never ceased all of 2011. Look for more of the same in 2012.

TRENDING DOWN IN PPR

Greg Jennings: We spoke at length of Jennings yesterday in the Player Analyzer. Scroll down to check it out.

DeSean Jackson: Jackson is the epitome of a receiver whose value is much higher in standard formats than in PPR as he never has caught more than 70 passes in a season. A big play waiting to happen however, Jackson will rack up yards and find his way into the end zone often enough.

Dwayne Bowe: Bowe has been a TD monster since coming into the league, what with the 15 he snared in 2010 being proof positive of this. The 81 catches he had last season were a career-high but they also serve as an outlier stat when looking at his career numbers. With the QB situation once again weak in Kansas City, Bowe will have a tough time replicating his 2011 numbers.

Mike Wallace: With the development of Antonio Brown, Wallace is no longer the clear cut number 1 receiver in Pittsburgh. He profiles as another Greg Jennings in that he will pile up the yards and grab a nice number of touchdowns but his raw reception totals will be lacking. this

Jordy Nelson: Nelson is no different than his teammate Jennings in the Green Bay passing offense as the impossible to duplicate 15 touchdowns he got last season came on only 68 passes. He is still young enough to grow some more but Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around way too much for any Packers receiver from being a big catch guy.


There you have it. Be sure you check out the league rules and format that you play in and adjust your position rankings accordingly. Let us know what you think.

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: HANLEY RAMIREZ 3B LOS ANGELES DODGERS

In the biggest trade of the 2012 MLB season, the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a deal with the Miami Marlins to bring aboard 3B Hanley Ramirez in a blockbuster move to try and get their team into the postseason.  For Ramirez, the move ends an often tumultuous tenure with the Marlins where he established himself as a top player in baseball and annually a first round fantasy baseball hitter.  Unfortunately for Ramirez and his owners the last season-plus, the ending was not so good and the hope is that his move to Los Angeles will help get his bat going and his season on track.  First let's take a look at Ramirez' numbers as he takes his talents West.

.246 average
14 home runs
48 RBI
49 runs
14 steals

Overall those numbers look pretty solid outside of batting average but like with Alex Rodriguez, Ramirez is held to a much higher standard and is judged more on what he did in the past than what he is presently going.  Unlike AROD however, Ramirez is not an aging ballplayer by any means as he is still only 29 years old which should be his prime seasons.  For Ramirez however, his best seasons came in his early to mid-20's and since 2009, his numbers have been trending in the wrong direction, both in power and in average.  Back in 2008 Ramirez hit a career-high 33 home runs and since than his totals in that category have been 24, 21, 10, and now 14 on pace for around 22.  Also Ramirez hit .342 in 2009 and since than has hit .300, .243, and his present .246.  Many point out that Ramirez' immaturity and lazy approach to the game are the reasons why and some point out that there was suspiscion that he was a steroid user which is why he hasn't approached his 33 home run season which was the least year before drug testing.  Since we can't prove the latter, we have to surmise that Ramirez' constant run-ins with management and his annoyance at being moved out of shortstop for Jose Reyes were a distraction that caused his numbers to slip.  Again this is a super talented player who should be putting up his best stats in his prime but it just hasn't been happening.  Also injuries have played a role as well since Ramirez has had a lengthy DL stint in 2011 and some nicks and bruises in 2012. 

The hope is that a change of scenery will get Ramirez back on track and turn him into the stud player he once was a few seasons ago.  The ballpark move from Miami to Los Angeles is a non-factor since both are pitcher parks but a clear head can do wonders for any hitter, especially one as good as Ramirez.  I feel that the best could be yet to come for Ramirez in 2012 now that he is in a playoff hunt and his frustrated owners could get rewarded for their faith in him this season.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKEES 3B ALEX RODRIGUEZ SUFFERS HAND FRACTURE, WILL HEAD TO DL

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez couldn't get though another season without a trip to the DL as he took a Felix Hernandez fasball to the hand Tuesday night which casued a non-displaced fracture.  Rodriguez will go back to New York to see the team physician and get a clear diagnosis of how long he could be out.  Eric Chavez will start in his place.

Analysis:  Rodriguez is still a decent fantasy baseball player with 15 home runs and 10 steals but his average has slipped for the last few seasons and his power is waning.  The injuries have been the worst part however as Rodriguez has hit the DL for the last four seasons and this injury could keep him out awhile based on what the team physician has to say about it.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PHILLIES TO INK COLE HAMELS TO SIX-YEAR EXTENSION

The Philadelphia Phillies will announce on Wednesday that they signed SP Cole Hamels to a six-year contract extension worth in the neighborhood of 140 million.  With the trade deadline looming, the Phillies and Hamels worked overtime in order to get a deal done, with one finally being agreed to in principal late Tuesday.

Analysis:  This obviously takes Hamels off the market as far as trades are concerned and while you would love to see him moved to a more neutral ballpark if you are an owner, the guy has been money for years in Philly and that won't change the next few years at the very least.  A sure thing top ten and maybe even a top five fantasy baseball starter.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE BREAKING NEWS: DODGERS ACQUIRE HANLEY RAMIREZ FROM MARLINS

In a blockbuster move, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Miami Marlins 3B Hanley Ramirez and RP Randy Choate early Wednesday morning for SP Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer.  The Dodgers, seemingly on the lookout for a starting pitcher the last few weeks, moved swiftly to complete the deal for Ramirez once the Marlins made it known they were very eager to trade their perennially unhappy third baseman.  It is not clear what position he will play on the Dodgers but he will likely hit fifth behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Analysis:  WOW.  This is huge for the Dodgers and if they can complete a deal for Ryan Dempster, could put them in the driver's seat for a playoff spot.  Ramirez has gone through a dramatic drop both in personal appeal and in fantasy baseball and his surliness has seemingly negatively affected his game the last two seasons.  Getting traded could give him the mental boost he needs to reclaim some past glory so this move has to be considered a good one for his fantasy baseball owners even though the ballparks in Miami and Los Angeles are the same as far as power is concerned.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE BREAKING NEWS: PIRATES ACQUIRE SP WANDY RODRIGUEZ FROM ASTROS

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired SP Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros for cash considerations and three minor leaguers.  The subject of rampant trade rumors the last few seasons, the Astros finally move out Rodriguez as they continue to dump players.  Rodriguez joins Brett Myers and J.A. Happ as being traded the last few days.

Analysis:  Rodriguez will certainly be a help to the Pirates as he has pitched to a high-3.00 ERA the last four seasons and has decent strikeout totals.  His fantasy baseball value remains the same, other than the chance of getting more wins with the Pirates. 

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: BLUE JAYS LOOKING IN ON MARLINS SP JOSH JOHNSON

The Toronto Blue Jays have now taken a look at Miami Marlins SP Josh Johnson as a potential fix for their rotation issues.  With Cole Hamels looking like he will be re-signed by the Phillies and Ryan Dempster showing no interest in going to the AL, the Blue Jays have checked in on Johnson who has pitched to a 4.14 ERA with 105 strikeouts in 119 innings. 

Analysis:  Only once has Johnson pitched a complete major league season and both his velocity and K rate have been down in 2012 as he comes off shoulder troubles.  When he is on however, Johnson can be as dominant as you can get but one has to wonder if he will ever become the stud he used to be before the shoulder trouble.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILLIES ACTIVELY TRYING TO DEAL HUNTER PENCE

The Philadelphia Phillies have let it be known around baseball that they are willing to trade outfielder Hunter Pence.  Just a year after acquiring him in a steal of a trade from the Houston Astros, the Phillies are looking to clear payroll in order to pay Cole Hamels.  Hitting .268 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI, Pence has once again been a very good outfielder in quiet fashion.

Analysis:  Pence is the classic guy whose stats are always there at the end of the season, despite going through crazy hot and cold spells along the way.  It is surprising that the Phillies don't want to keep Pence since he is still young and one of the better outfielders in the game but the team is obviously looking to free up money for Hamels.  With Carlos Quentin off the market, look for a lot of interest to be drummed up for Pence.