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Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYERS I LIKE/HATE MORE THAN YOU: CATCHER

Many of you continue to pepper me with questions each season about what the secret to my success is that has yielded 7 Experts League titles in 8 opportunities the last four years.  Well I am beginning a new series today where I take a look at each position and reveal the players I dislike and like more than the fantasy baseball community on average.  Today we go behind the plate at the catcher position where I always preach waiting on and securing a value play in the middle of your draft.  So with that said let's see who makes my cut in both categories.

Catchers I Like More Than You:

Victor Martinez:  I am totally in on Martinez' comeback for this season after missing all of 2011 with a bum knee.  Yes he is aging and rust could be an issue this season after missing all of 2012 with a bum knee but Martinez is also not a dinosaur at 34.  Even better, Martinez is going to be the rare catcher who will play everyday in 2013 as he will get most of his starts at DH which will be a major boost to his counting stats and help keep him healthy.  The power was slipping before he got hurt but Martinez also was right there in the batting race as he hit .330 in 2011.  This is one of the most pure hitters in the game and there are still some more very useful years left in his tank. 

Travis D'Arnaud:  Major sleeper value here and it is the hot catching prospect that has been tremendous for me the last few season as yours truly snatched Buster Posey AND Carlos Santana a few years ago.  The Mets have a gaping hole behind the plate and GM Sandy Alderson has already said that hecould break camp with the team.  He is a .300 hitting machine with 20-plus home run power who many compare to Victor Martinez.  Sounds good to us.  Be sure to use a late round pick here if you smartly wait on picking your backstop this spring.

Salvador Perez:  I have gone on record numerous telling you that Perez is destined to be on both of my Experts League teams this season.  He is severely underrated which is due to missing half of 2012 with a knee issue.  Once he got back, Perez once again was hitting ropes all over the field as he put up a .301 average.  Better yet, Perez' power is revealing itself as he cracked 11 home runs in 289 at-bats.  We could be looking at an All Star this season who could hit 20 home runs with a .300 average.

Jonathan Lucroy:  Getting a catcher who can hit .300 is rare and that is why guys like Lucroy carry more value than you think.  Yes he is a bit light on the pop but outside of the top 2 or 3 guys, no one's catcher is going to carry a fantasy baseball roster.  You could a lot worse using your last pick on Lucroy.

Jesus Montero:  Going back to the well with Montero after hyping him so much before last season and for good reason.  The guy still has all the natural hitting ability in the world and his rookie 2012 season was a typical year of growing pains for a catcher, which is magnified at that position.  The best part is that Montero is now in post-hype sleeper mode which is always a productive spot.  The power is there and the fact Seattle is moving in the fences should get him in the realm of 20 home runs.

Catchers I Hate More Than You:

Joe Mauer:  Always overrated as owners continue to get suckered in by the name and the gaudy averages.  Those average though are empty as Maure struggles to get near double-digits in home runs.  Not to mention the fact health is always a concern.

Brian McCann:  His average has been sinking sharply the last three seasons as he can't touch lefties now and team's are employing a strict shift he hasn't shown he can beat.  Now he is coming back from surgery and may not be ready by Opening Day.  That 30 home run season is not going to happen.

A.J. Pierzynski:  He is a bad guy in general, I hate typing his name, and his 2012 season was one of the biggest flukes ever.  After struggling to get to 10 home runs for years, in his contract year Pierzynski all of a sudden cracks 27 home runs.  Please.  At 36 years old Pierzynski should be back to being the guy he was before he "magically" found his power last season.

Alex Avila:  I correctly told you all that his "breakout" 2011 campaign was built on a lucky BABIP and the fallout in 2012 was steep.  Avila has pop but injuries and a horrid average limit his outlook.

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


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: IAN DESMOND SS WASHINGTON NATIONALS

It has been more than a few times by yours truly that the shortstop position in fantasy baseball is the most shallow hitting spot in the game.  With barely 10 solid options to fill out a smaller standard league, any step up in performance by someone at this position is major news.  We bring you the Washington Nationals' Ian Desmond as just such an example when it came to his 2012 production and it wouldn't be an understatement to say he went on to be one of the very best values in the game that season relative to his spring draft price.  When you put it all together, Desmond hit .292 with 25 big home runs and 21 stolen bases for the playoff-bound Nationals at the prime age of 26.  As Desmond enters the 2013 campaign, there are some massive expectations attached to his name and to the fantasy baseball owners who want to use a high draft pick to bring him aboard.  With that said let's take a deeper look at Desmond and what could be in store for those owners.

On the surface, Desmod's 2012 season looks like a shining example of a player who tapped in his power prime for the first time and who finally figured out how to hit at the major league level.  After hitting only 10 and 8 home runs in 2010 and 2011, Desmond's jump in power was tremendous.  The stolen bases were not much of a shock as Desmond has above-average speed for the position and he figures to stay in the 20-30 range for another few seasons.  Batting average was also a big surprise in 2012 as Desmond hit only .269 and .253 again in 2010 and 2011.  Those poor marks were due to a very high K rate that didn't show any signs of improvement.  Even though all of those 2012 stats look incredible, there are some prime reasons to not completely buy into them for his 2013 outlook and there is actually some small bust potential here as well based on the fact Desmond may not yield the numbers relative to his shooting up draft spot.

When it comes to the strikeouts, Desmond really didn't do much better there as far as his K rate last season.  He still was hacking at his 2010 and 2011 levels and so the correct conclusion would be to say he generated luck on the batted ball.  That is exactly what happened as Desmond's BABIP was a lucky .332 which is not sustainable going forward.  When that number corrects itself this season, his avearage will take a dive.  It just depends on how much it will plummet. 

That there is the fly ball rate which also was out of whack in 2012.  Sure Desmond can be given some benefit of the doubt for growing into some power but his fly ball rate was in outlier territory last season.  While I won't say he will go back to his 8 and 10 home run seasons, I also can't buy into his return to the 25 home runs are code either.  Knock off about 5 and Desmond should be safe to project around 20.

When you put it all together, Desmond's 2012 season, while impressive on the surface, is not as exciting as it first looks.  At shortstop his draft price will be tremendous and when you consider the dropoff that is on its way when his luck goes back to normal, you have to realize you will be paying for last season's numbers which is never a good thing.  Hence I advise you to let Desmond go by the wayside and instead pick up a value play like Alicides Escobar or Josh Rutledge during the late portions of your draft.

2013 PROJECTION:  .282 21 HR 77 RBI 75 R 22 SB


FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKS CLOSE TO SIGNING DH TRAVIS HAFNER

The New York Yankees apparently are putting the final touches on a contract for free agent DH Travis Hafner according to a team source.  Hafner would serve as the team's primary DH against right-handed pitchers as he comes off a .228 season with 12 home runs.  Once one of the better power hitters in baseball, Hafner has dealt with some ongoing shoulder injuries that have severely derailed his once promising outlook.

Analysis:  Good deal for the Yanks as Hafner's power would play well there.  In fantasy baseball terms he is nothing but a bench option until he shows he can stay in one piece.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MANNY RAMIREZ AND BARTOLO COLON ALSO LINKED TO DR. BOSCH

Oakland A's pitcher Bartolo Colon and Manny Ramirez were two more names who have been revealed to be linked to Dr. Anthony Bosch as the PED probe continues.  Alex Rodriguez. Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera, and Nelson Cruz were the other big name players to have been found to be linked to Bosch as MLB continues to determine what course of action to take.

Analysis:  That would mean 100 games for Colon if he officially gets busted on this and for Ramirez this would be his third offense.  Obviously both guys are not worthy of a second of attention when it comes to fantasy baseball but the probe would widen to include some more names added to this list as we proceed.  Stay tuned.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BRAKING NEWS: AROD'S NAME SHOWS UP 15 TIMES IN DR.'S RECORDS FOR HGH

New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' name showed up 15 different times in records for Dr. Andrew Bosch according to reports.  The records show Rodriguez was provided HGH by Bosch and the doctor himself talked about how he was supplying steroids to him.

Analysis:  We may never see Rodriguez in an MLB uniform every again after this and the Yankees are already moving away from him based on their initial statements on the matter.  Stay tuned.


FANTASY BASEBALL PED FALLOUT: RODRIGUEZ, CRUZ, ETC.

Here we go again.  The only person that could knock the Super Bowl off the back page of the newspaper is Alex Rodriguez who has been linked for the second time to steroids.  The latest bombshell has Rodriguez being joined by some company in being linked to an anti-aging doctor known to have produced steroids for players.  There is some documents that could serve as the smoking gun and Rodriguez has already hired a top notch lawyer.  With all that said, what does this mean for 2013 fantasy baseball?  Let's take a look at the four players involved and what this does to their stock.

Alex Rodriguez:  Even before this latest steroids issue, Rodriguez was slated to miss anywhere from half to all of 2013 after undergoing hip surgery for the second time in his career.  With a body that is completely falling apart and hitting stats that are sinking fast, there was absolutely nothing to recommend when it came to his fantasy baseball stock this season.  This is a guy who is nothing but a fringe fantasy baseball third baseman no matter what his current contract says and those who draft him are foolish to do so.  Leave him to rot on the wire.

Nelson Cruz:  Well all of those past hamstring injuries and DL stays are certainly looking more suspicious.  I always wondered how a seemingly fit guy like Cruz could constantly be dealing with leg problems like he has but now maybe we have our answer.  After being a huge fan of Cruz once he finally stuck with the Rangers, the reality is that he was a severely overrated player who hits home runs and collects RBI's but who also has been an average and runs liability, while his steals are a thing of the past.  This issue is the clincher as far as blacklisting Cruz for this season, good ballpark or not.

Melky Cabrera:  This one is easy.  Cabrera was nothing but a fourth outfielder with the Yankees and Braves before he dove headfirst into steroids while with the Royals and Giants who became and All Star overnight.  He signed with home run haven Toronto but Cabrera could be looking at a 100 game suspension since this would be his second offense so there is nothing to recommend here as well due to the chance he could be out for a major portion of the season.  What a joke.

Gio Gonzalez:  Gonzalez is a bit trickier as he has always had an explosive fastball but maybe tha twas inflated by the steroids.  At the very least we have to worry about a dropoff along with a loss of focus due to this report.  This news drops Gonzalez from a fantasy baseball ace to a weak number 2 at best.  If he misses 50 games, than you lose big time considering his draft price at this point.

Overall, you really want to distance yourself from all of these guys.  The fact they may miss significant time with a suspension is the biggest reason, along with a dropoff in numbers if they stop the juice.  What a sad story.  Sad meaning pathetic.




FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: AROD, GIO GONZALEZ, MELKY CABRERA, NELSON CRUZ LINKED TO PED DOCTOR

In an explosive report by CBS Sports' Jone Heyman, Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez, Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, and Nationals SP Gio Gonzalez have all been linked to an anti-aging doctor who has been known to supply steroids to patients.  The clinic, run by one Anthony Bosch, supposedly has paperwork linking these players and maybe more to steroids.  Rodriguez and Cruz have already come out publicly to state their innocence to the link.

Analysis:  WOW.  This would be the second offense for Rodriguez and Cabrera, which means 50 and 100 game suspensions.  Cruz' long history of leg and hamstring injuries have always been suspicious and Gonzalez rapid turnaround into a Cy Young ace in 2012 raised eyebrows as well.  Stay tuned.


Monday, January 28, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: RYAN MADSON (ELBOW) COULD MISS FIRST WEEK OF SEASON

Los Angeles Angels closer Ryan Madson could miss the first week of the season as he continues to ramp up workouts in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.  GM Jerry DiPoto went on record Monday saying that if Madson needs some extra time to get ready, he is likely only going to miss one week of the season.

Analysis:  There is no story here.  At least not until Madson suffer a setback which has not been the case.  Madson looks like a nice value buy as closer historically have come back very strong from TJ surgery such as Joe Nathan last season.  If he does miss a week, Ernesto Frieri would fill in. 

2013 YAHOO FANTASY BASEBALL LEAGUES START UP TUE. FEB 5TH

Every year we get asked this question a million times and so we are got a head start on finding out the answer.  The 2013 Yahoo Fantasy Baseball season begins on Tuesday Feb. 5th with leagues available to form.  Drafts however don't start until the last week of the month. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKS SS DEREK JETER (ANKLE) MAKES IT THROUGH WORKOUT WITH NO PROBLEMS

New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter made it through a full on-field workout on Monday and reported no problems with his surgically repaired ankle.  Jeter took 55 groundballs in all and also took a number of swings in the case as he ramps up his work in preparation for the new season. 

Analysis:  Jeter maintains he will be ready to go on Opening Day and so far I am willing to sign off on that.  Yes he is 38 years old but Jeter has now earned the right to not be doubted after putting up an MVP-caliber 2012 season.  Draft him in the lower end of the top ten fantasy baseball shortstops. 

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ERIC HOSMER 1B KANSAS CITY ROYALS

"Well that certainly didn't work out the way everyone believed it would."  That simple sentence pretty much sums up the 2012 hitting campaign of Kansas City Royals 1B Eric Hosmer who was head and shoulders above anyone else in fantasy baseball as the must-have sleeper of the season.  After being called a can't miss hitter while coming up at a rapid pace on the farm, Hosmer instantly seduced us all with a spectacular rookie debut in 2011 when he hit .293 with 19 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 523 at-bats.  All at the age of 22.  There was nowhere else to go but up for the kid and comparisons to Joey Votto were already being cast in stone.  When 2012 drafts came around, Hosmer was being snatched up on average in the fifth round which in hindsight was pretty remarkable given his age and lack of experience.  Such a natural hitter could fight through any adversity he may encounter was the prevailing thought however and the fact Hosmer could steal bases at a position where 5 is a lot raised the excitement level even more. 

Well as we have seen on too many occasions to count, things didn't go according to plan as Hosmer would go on to be considered one of the biggest busts in fantasy baseball in 2012, with a start so horrible that many thought he should be sent to the minors.  Just about everything seemed to go wrong for Hosmer as his power crashed and burned to the tune of only 14 home runs in 535 at-bats and his batting eye seemed to have been lost overnight as he put up a woeful .232 average.  Yes the 16 steals were nice but Hosmer yielded a tremendously negative value based on where he was drafted that the fantasy baseball community instantly was "done" with the guy.  And this is where the story gets interesting as I will explain.

First the psychology of the Hosmer case.  The no-show 2012 performance by Hosmer was just the latest example of a young hitter of pitcher who has some initial success that got the bandwagon full and than who struggled when the league adjusted to him which emptied that wagon in a hurry.  From Alex Gordon to Matt Wieters to Homer Bailey to Adam Jones and on and on it goes, these cases crop up all the time and those owners who got burned by using such a high pick on the guy are so annoyed that they swear never to bother with said player again.  Hence the Eric Hosmer situation coming into the 2013 season.  When breaking down Hosmer's 2012 showing, he was really not atypical of another of the other guys mentioned above.  He struggled out of the gate which caused him to press and come out of his plan of attack at the plate.  Impatience set in and soon Hosmer was hacking like Adam Dunn without the pop.  Holes were found in his swing and Hosmer didn't adjust properly.  Nothing out of the ordinary there.  However it really wasn't all bad as Hosmer stole those 16 bases and started to drive the ball better in the second half of the season.  The biggest issue was that Hosmer showed a high ground ball rate which obviously doesn't lend itself to good power numbers.  It was this concern I had at the beginning of last season when I told you not to go overboard with the guy even though I too was excited for his potential.  I actually did a OVERRATED/UNDERRATED post with Hosmer and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman where I compared both guys' stat expectations and concluded that the latter was the much better buy since he was being selected up to ten rounds later.  However despite all these negatives, I believe Hosmer absolutely deserves another chance and that he actually makes a very solid value in your draft this spring. 

The fact that there are so many fantasy baseball owners running away from Hosmer this season has pushed him into "value play" mode and he again wouldn't be the first post-hype sleeper who made good on his ability like the guys we mentioned earlier.  Hosmer was the number three pick in his draft for a reason and his hitting ability is still there ready to be unleashed.  The power will grow as he continues to mature and Hosmer no doubt will soon be ready to make the adjustments needed to unleash his ability.  Put it all together and Hosmer stands as a major high-ceiling investment for 2013 who can be had in the middle rounds of your draft which is a spot he could vastly outproduce.  IF he does make the adjustments, we could be looking at a 25 home runs guy with around 20 steals.  At first base.  Mighty fine indeed.  Do yourself a favor and give the kid another chance.  Just like we told you to give his teammate Billy Butler another chance last season.  Yeah that turned out good.

2013 PROJECTION:  .288 17 HR 75 RBI 82 R 19 SB


Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: PRINCE FIELDER/JOEY VOTTO

It is time to take another look at a crucial 2013 fantasy baseball draft debate and once again we head into the first round which has historically been the domain of blockbuster first baseman.  Two big boppers who fit this mold and who should be drafted here are the Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder and the Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto.  Fielder comes off a very good first season in Detroit, albeit one where his home runs were down in the new big park and Votto comes off an injury-marred season where a bum knee ruined his bottom line.  So with all this as a backdrop let's compare the two in the standard 5 x 5 formats in order to determine who should be picked ahead of the other.

AVERAGE:  This one is all Votto who just might be the best pure hitter in all of baseball, with his .337 average in 2012 being a prime example of how good he is in this department.  Fielder is no slouch, having hit a very impressive .313 himself last season but he is a career .287 guy while Votto comes in at .316.  The latter is a threat to win a batting title any season which can't be said of Fielder.
ADVANTAGE:  Joey Votto

HOME RUNS:  Score one clearly for Fielder who has a 50 home runs season under his belt and has hit 30 or more the last six seasons.  Votto has only made it past the 30 homer mark once and that was during a year where his fly ball rate was crazy.  Sure Votto has the ballpark advantage but he was on pace for only 26 last season if he didn't get injured.
ADVANTAGE:  Prince Fielder

RBI:  Fielder has a 141 RBI season to his name as well as 120 a few years ago.  Votto has never topped 110.  The Tigers have possibly the best lineup in all of baseball with Victor Martinez, Austin Jackson, and Miguel Cabrera all offering ample opportunities to be drive in. 
ADVANTAGE:  Prince Fielder

STOLEN BASES:  Nothing happening at all here for Fielder who used to take a bag or two when he was younger but no more.  Votto menawhile is a threat to get 8-10 a season and even though that total is nothing to go crazy about, it does add to the total bottom line of steals for your roster.
ADVANTAGE:  Joey Votto

RUNS:  Fielder is slated to hit cleanup for the Tigers while Votto will be in the number 3 slot for the Reds.  That mean about 25 more plate appearances for Votto all health being equal and he will have the big thumper behind him in Jay Bruce to drive him home while Fielder will be doing the honors for Cabrera.  His last two healthy seasons Votto has gone over 100 runs scored while Fielder hasn't done it since 2009.  Slight advantage to the Reds first baseman.
ADVANTAGE:  Joey Votto

WINNER:  Joey Votto

As you can see it is very close as always and these comparisons all are with optimum health in mind which can never be guaranteed.  The previously durable Votto can be given a mulligan for 2012 however and when you break down all the numbers, he slightly comes out on top in the total package.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHER RANKINGS PART 3

We get to the end of our 2013 fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings with Part 3.  These are the last remaining guys who should be owned in standard 12-team mixers.

1.  Justin Verlander-His extreme durability wins out over Kershaw who dealt with some hip issues in 2012.
2.  Clayton Kershaw-A tad concerned about his high usage of breaking pitches but would not argue too much if you have him number 1.
3.  Felix Hernandez-A lot of innings at a young age but as consistent as they come.  2011 and 2012 numbers almost identical.
4.  David Price-Count easily duplicate his 2012 Cy Young numbers.  No issues with AL East.
5.  Cole Hamels-Loved the guy for years as a value ace for my staff.  Price no longer that attractive as rest of the fantasy baseball community has finally given him his due.
6.  Matt Cain-Upped his K rate last season which was only last remaining nitpick issue.  Extremely durable and miniscule ERA/WHIP combo amazing.
7.  Stephen Strasburg-On ability you can tuck him right under Kershaw but red flags all over this arm with Verducci Rules violation in 2012 and peripherals that spiked as season went on.
8.   Cliff Lee-Gladly take the slightly depressed price after winning only 6 games in one of the flukiest seasons ever.  Was just as good as his 2010 and 2011 campaigns.
9.  Gio Gonzalez-Yup we picked him as our dark horse Cy Young Candidate last season.  How did that work out?
10. Jered Weaver-Not buying this stock as Weaver's sinking K rate and XFIP of over 4.00 last year cry out concern.
11. Madison Bumgarner-Told you all to reach for him last season and that turned out just swell.  Rinse and repeat.
12. C.C. Sabbathia-Dropping as he dealt with arm trouble for first time in 2012 after all those 220-inning seasons.  Not the horse he used to be.
13. Zack Greinke-Once again I love the guy to the point of having no problems making him my value play ace.  Numbers are always there but yet doesn't get the recognition.
14. James Shields-223 and 225 K's last two seasons in AL East with 1.04 and 1.17 WHIP's and now heads to much weaker AL Central.  Let me at him.
15. Max Scherzer-Ace-like numbers here we come.  Finally put it all together in ridiculous second half last season.
16. Chris Sale-Again this is not an indictment on ability as Sale as talented as anyone but Verducci Rules violation and shoulder trouble in 2012 major worries.
17. Adam Wainwright-Would love to have Greinke-Wainwright combo right at the top of my rotation.  In fact I am going to make it happen.  So should you.  The cheapest ace in fantasy baseball.
18. Roy Halladay-The toughest call of any top starter.  Could go either way after rough 2012.  Age is getting up there and stuff looked off last season.  Who knows.
19. Jordan Zimmerman-Needs to get the K's back up to elevate himself more but you can't argue with the other numbers.
20. Kris Medlen-Please don't make his draft price get out of hand.  Please don't let his draft price get out of hand.  Won me both Experts Leagues last season.
21. Yovani Gallardo-Every year I tell you the same thing and that is the fact Gallardo continues to be overrated with his ugly WHIP's and high walk rate.
22. Yu Darvish-Love the strikeouts but Japanese pitchers have historically been worse their second go-round in the majors.
23. Jake Peavy-Reclaimed his status in fantasy baseball with a better than you think 2012.  Can't count on him staying healthy again though.
24. Johnny Cueto-Lack of K's don't get too me excited but the numbers have been great the last two seasons.
25. Mat Latos-Bascially matched his 2011 numbers last season which takes out the guesswork in what he will provide.  Pitches terrible in April though so be careful there.
26. Ian Kennedy-Not the ace he was in 2011 but also not as bad as he looked in 2012.  Split the difference between the two.
27. Matt Moore-Pitched like an ace in the second half as he figured out his pitching in the majors thing.  High ceiling.
28. Aroldis Chapman-It is anyone's guess what could happen this season from the kid's arm.  All's I know is that the strikeouts will be immense.  Innings cap issues however.

29. R.A. Dickey-Going to Toronto is about as bad a ballpark destination for Dickey as opposed to winning his Cy Young Award in spacious Citi Field.  His numbers could skyrocket.
30. Jonathan Niese-Niese continues his ascent to possibly starting pitcher 2 status.  Lacks the top end K's to be anything more however.
31. Jarrod Parker-Nice rookie season for Parker who compiled a 3.47 ERA in a pennant race.  Like with Niese though, comes up a bit short in the K's.
32. Brandon Morrow-Was in the midst of a big time start to his 2012 season before yet more injuries.  His 2.96 ERA was inflated by a lucky BABIP though and drop in K rate was worrisome.
33. Jeff Samardzjia-BUSTOUT ALERT!  Could pull a Max Scherzer second half of 2012 this season.  Everything pointing to near-ace-like numbers.  Get him.
34. Marco Estrada-Big time strikeout potential and was a major asset in the second half.  Future looks bright if he maintains control
35. Mike Fiers-Right there with his teammate above as a high K guy who opened some eyes the second half of last season.  Interesting sleeper case.
36. Wade Miley-Not buying his 2012 numbers by any means.  BABIP was incredibly lucky as XFIP was mediocre.
37. A.J. Burnett-Going back to the NL was very good to Burnett who is back to being the pitcher he was with Miami without some strikeouts.
38. Josh Johnson-Long history of loving this guy but no more as his shoulder still hasn't been surgically repaired as recommended which showed up in his stuff looking much diminished last season.  Also going to Toronto never a good thing.
39. Hiroki Kuroda-Amazingly had his best season pitching in the AL East after spending his first five years with the Dodgers.  Has never had an ERA over 4.00 in his career.
40. Homer Bailey-Improving and finally seems to be figuring things out.  Could take another step up and turn a nice profit this season. 
41. Dan Haren-There is a trend here of former aces in this region who are coming off disgusting seasons.  Add Haren to this group as back issues have robbed him of velocity and confidence.  Stands a solid shot of rebounding in Washington though and is worth a look now due to his depressed draft price.
42. Tim Lincecum-There is the chance Lincecum could end up in the bullpen and his velocity continues to decrease amid legitimate worries his arm is shot after heavy usage at a young age.  Mark Prior anyone?
43. Jon Lester-The numbers were awful and he too dealt with diminished velocity after heavy usage early in his career.  Unlike the guy before him however, Lester was unlucky with his BABIP and had an XFIP under 4.00.
44. Ryan Dempster-Can't get too excited about Dempster in Boston.  Terrible free agent destination to say the least.
45. Shaun Marcum-Good landing spot for Marcum with the Mets and there is no denying how solid he can pitch when healthy.  Unfortunately health is elusive for the guy.
46. Phil Hughes-Wins games and ERA not horrendous but that's about all there is to say.
47. Johan Santana-Proved he could still be a very good starter the first half of 2012 with a K/IP and a no-hitter but wheels came off completely in the second half as more health woes cropped up.  Draft him for April, May, and June.
48. Jeremy Hellickson-The luckiest pitcher in the game the last two seasons.  Walks too many guys, lacks strikeouts, and pitches in the awful AL East.  No way he sees an ERA in the 3.10 range again.
49. Tommy Milone-Clearly pitched well down the stretch for the A's last season but lack of strikeouts makes him a deeper league option.
50. Matt Garza-Wanted to put Garza higher as his strikeout stuff is very nice but elbow woes make him a major risk.
51. C.J. Wilson-Was not the pitcher he was in his BABIP-inflated 2011 as Wilson usually has high WHIP's due to walks.  Also saw a spike in home runs last season which is a worry as he hits his mid-30's.
52. Chris Carpenter-Lots of mileage on this arm and should be picked only as an SP 5.
53. Matt Harrison-Hey I can't argue with the very good stats the last two seasons but his woeful K rate keeps him only for non-innings capped formats.
54. Mike Minor-Be sure you leave a spot for this emerging talent during the middle portion of your draft.  Did a Kris Medlen-lite turnaround the second half of last season.
55. Doug Fister-Same story with Fister as it is with Harrison.  Good ERA but he comes up short in strikeouts.
56. Anibal Sanchez-He goes back to Detroit which is not too exciting.  Decent power guy but would have been more interesting in the National League.
57. Tim Hudson-Still pitching good but getting up there in age.  Back barking as well.
58. James McDonald-Was a revelation in the first half and bombed in the second which means you split the two and that is his outlook for the upcoming season.
59. Ryan Vogelsong-Another guy who is pitching above his advanced stats.  Now 35 years old, a dropoff is coming quick.
60. Tommy Hanson-What a fall this guy has had.  History of shoulder problems sapping his stuff.
61. Jason Vargas-Start him at home and bench him on the road.
62. Chris Capuano-Sell him during the summer when his stuff turns sour.

63. Lance Lynn-Yes the strikeouts were tremendous but Lynn has a ridiculous amount of luck in the first half and than typically hit the floor in the second when that corrected itself.  A Verducci Rules violator as well.
64. Edwin Jackson-Jackson is a guy who is a classic number 5 starter.  He won't win you a league but he won't hurt you either.
65. Chris Tillman-Finally lived up to some of the hype the second half of 2012.  Division makes us very wary though.
66. Bud Norris-Love the K's but Norris won't win any games and his WHIP's are a detriment. 
67. Paul Maholm-Has had some Tim Hudson-like seasons lately but in innings-capped leagues he is not a good buy.
68. Kyle Lohse-Hey the guy was right there in the Cy Young voting but he also was lucky with his advanced numbers.  Guys who strike out so few batters as a major risk.
69. Brett Anderson-Live sleeper.  We can't put him any higher due to constant injury concerns but Anderson showed in his cameo last season he can still be an asset.
70. Andrew Cashner-Major potential here but Cashner has to show he can be durable enough to start.
71. Jason Hammel-Was opening eyes with his K/IP start to 2012 but again injuries ruined him, 
72. Wei-Yin Chen-Did a very nice job in his first season in the States and could improve.  Sneaky K play.
73. Wandy Rodriguez-Has been a useful fifth starter but history of elbow trouble leaves him in that realm.
74. Ervin Santana-As annoying a player as there is in the game due to his rapid inconsistency.
75. Dan Straily-Struck out a boatload of guys in the minors.  Looks like this season's Mike Fiers.
76. Ross Detweiler-Another Washington pitcher whose ballpark makes him look better than he really is.  You won't get many punchouts here.
77. Shelby Miller-Watch him in the spring as a potential sleeper with K upside.
78. Zach Wheeler-Won't be up until June at the earlier but than run to the wire and get this future ace.
79. Dylan Bundy-Same as the above.
80. Trevor Bauer-Walks were awful in his debut last season and questions about poor attitude muddle this picture.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts on this topic.





Friday, January 25, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS OUTFIELDER COREY HART UNDERGOES KNEE SURGERY FRIDAY, OUT FOUR MONTHS

After looking for second opinions on his ailing knee, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Corey Hart underwent knee surgery Friday that will keep him out the next four months.  With the clock started today, that would mean Hart wouldn't return until June 1st if all goes well. 

Analysis:  Terrible news as Hart doesn't make it to the opener for the second time in three years.  Always a favorite of yours truly due to the fact he is always a good fantasy baseball value due to some ridiculous discrimination in the community, Hart now is nothing more than a middle round grab to stash on your bench. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS GM BRIAN CASHMAN SAYS AROD (HIP) COULD MISS ALL OF 2013

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman said on WFAN Radio Friday that it is possible 3B Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire 2013 season after undergoing hip surgery two weeks ago.  Rodriguez and the doctor who performed the surgery said AROD could be back at the All Star break but the latter also said that it is impossible to make such a declaration this early in the process.

Analysis:  Don't even think about drafting Rodriguez this season.  There is nothing to speak of here in a positive manner as even before the injury his bat and body were sinking fast.  What a rough ending to a great, albeit tainted career.


2013 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHER RANKINGS PART 2

Let's finish up our first go-round of fantasy baseball rankings, with part 2 of the starting pitchers.

1.  Justin Verlander-His extreme durability wins out over Kershaw who dealt with some hip issues in 2012.
2.  Clayton Kershaw-A tad concerned about his high usage of breaking pitches but would not argue too much if you have him number 1.
3.  Felix Hernandez-A lot of innings at a young age but as consistent as they come.  2011 and 2012 numbers almost identical.
4.  David Price-Count easily duplicate his 2012 Cy Young numbers.  No issues with AL East.
5.  Cole Hamels-Loved the guy for years as a value ace for my staff.  Price no longer that attractive as rest of the fantasy baseball community has finally given him his due.
6.  Matt Cain-Upped his K rate last season which was only last remaining nitpick issue.  Extremely durable and miniscule ERA/WHIP combo amazing.
7.  Stephen Strasburg-On ability you can tuck him right under Kershaw but red flags all over this arm with Verducci Rules violation in 2012 and peripherals that spiked as season went on.
8.   Cliff Lee-Gladly take the slightly depressed price after winning only 6 games in one of the flukiest seasons ever.  Was just as good as his 2010 and 2011 campaigns.
9.  Gio Gonzalez-Yup we picked him as our dark horse Cy Young Candidate last season.  How did that work out?
10. Jered Weaver-Not buying this stock as Weaver's sinking K rate and XFIP of over 4.00 last year cry out concern.
11. Madison Bumgarner-Told you all to reach for him last season and that turned out just swell.  Rinse and repeat.
12. C.C. Sabbathia-Dropping as he dealt with arm trouble for first time in 2012 after all those 220-inning seasons.  Not the horse he used to be.
13. Zack Greinke-Once again I love the guy to the point of having no problems making him my value play ace.  Numbers are always there but yet doesn't get the recognition.
14. James Shields-223 and 225 K's last two seasons in AL East with 1.04 and 1.17 WHIP's and now heads to much weaker AL Central.  Let me at him.
15. Max Scherzer-Ace-like numbers here we come.  Finally put it all together in ridiculous second half last season.
16. Chris Sale-Again this is not an indictment on ability as Sale as talented as anyone but Verducci Rules violation and shoulder trouble in 2012 major worries.
17. Adam Wainwright-Would love to have Greinke-Wainwright combo right at the top of my rotation.  In fact I am going to make it happen.  So should you.  The cheapest ace in fantasy baseball.
18. Roy Halladay-The toughest call of any top starter.  Could go either way after rough 2012.  Age is getting up there and stuff looked off last season.  Who knows.
19. Jordan Zimmerman-Needs to get the K's back up to elevate himself more but you can't argue with the other numbers.
20. Kris Medlen-Please don't make his draft price get out of hand.  Please don't let his draft price get out of hand.  Won me both Experts Leagues last season.
21. Yovani Gallardo-Every year I tell you the same thing and that is the fact Gallardo continues to be overrated with his ugly WHIP's and high walk rate.
22. Yu Darvish-Love the strikeouts but Japanese pitchers have historically been worse their second go-round in the majors.
23. Jake Peavy-Reclaimed his status in fantasy baseball with a better than you think 2012.  Can't count on him staying healthy again though.
24. Johnny Cueto-Lack of K's don't get too me excited but the numbers have been great the last two seasons.
25. Mat Latos-Bascially matched his 2011 numbers last season which takes out the guesswork in what he will provide.  Pitches terrible in April though so be careful there.
26. Ian Kennedy-Not the ace he was in 2011 but also not as bad as he looked in 2012.  Split the difference between the two.
27. Matt Moore-Pitched like an ace in the second half as he figured out his pitching in the majors thing.  High ceiling.
28. Aroldis Chapman-It is anyone's guess what could happen this season from the kid's arm.  All's I know is that the strikeouts will be immense.  Innings cap issues however.

29. R.A. Dickey-Going to Toronto is about as bad a ballpark destination for Dickey as opposed to winning his Cy Young Award in spacious Citi Field.  His numbers could skyrocket.
30. Jonathan Niese-Niese continues his ascent to possibly starting pitcher 2 status.  Lacks the top end K's to be anything more however.
31. Jarrod Parker-Nice rookie season for Parker who compiled a 3.47 ERA in a pennant race.  Like with Niese though, comes up a bit short in the K's.
32. Brandon Morrow-Was in the midst of a big time start to his 2012 season before yet more injuries.  His 2.96 ERA was inflated by a lucky BABIP though and drop in K rate was worrisome.
33. Jeff Samardzjia-BUSTOUT ALERT!  Could pull a Max Scherzer second half of 2012 this season.  Everything pointing to near-ace-like numbers.  Get him.
34. Wade Miley-Not buying his 2012 numbers by any means.  BABIP was incredibly lucky as XFIP was mediocre.
35. A.J. Burnett-Going back to the NL was very good to Burnett who is back to being the pitcher he was with Miami without some strikeouts.
36. Josh Johnson-Long history of loving this guy but no more as his shoulder still hasn't been surgically repaired as recommended which showed up in his stuff looking much diminished last season.  Also going to Toronto never a good thing.
37. Hiroki Kuroda-Amazingly had his best season pitching in the AL East after spending his first five years with the Dodgers.  Has never had an ERA over 4.00 in his career.
38. Homer Bailey-Improving and finally seems to be figuring things out.  Could take another step up and turn a nice profit this season. 
39. Dan Haren-There is a trend here of former aces in this region who are coming off disgusting seasons.  Add Haren to this group as back issues have robbed him of velocity and confidence.  Stands a solid shot of rebounding in Washington though and is worth a look now due to his depressed draft price.
40. Tim Lincecum-There is the chance Lincecum could end up in the bullpen and his velocity continues to decrease amid legitimate worries his arm is shot after heavy usage at a young age.  Mark Prior anyone?
41. Jon Lester-The numbers were awful and he too dealt with diminished velocity after heavy usage early in his career.  Unlike the guy before him however, Lester was unlucky with his BABIP and had an XFIP under 4.00.
42. Ryan Dempster-Can't get too excited about Dempster in Boston.  Terrible free agent destination to say the least.
43. Shaun Marcum-Good landing spot for Marcum with the Mets and there is no denying how solid he can pitch when healthy.  Unfortunately health is elusive for the guy.
44. Phil Hughes-Wins games and ERA not horrendous but that's about all there is to say.
45. Johan Santana-Proved he could still be a very good starter the first half of 2012 with a K/IP and a no-hitter but wheels came off completely in the second half as more health woes cropped up.  Draft him for April, May, and June.
46. Jeremy Hellickson-The luckiest pitcher in the game the last two seasons.  Walks too many guys, lacks strikeouts, and pitches in the awful AL East.  No way he sees an ERA in the 3.10 range again.
47. Tommy Milone-Clearly pitched well down the stretch for the A's last season but lack of strikeouts makes him a deeper league option.
48. Matt Garza-Wanted to put Garza higher as his strikeout stuff is very nice but elbow woes make him a major risk.
49. C.J. Wilson-Was not the pitcher he was in his BABIP-inflated 2011 as Wilson usually has high WHIP's due to walks.  Also saw a spike in home runs last season which is a worry as he hits his mid-30's.
50. Chris Carpenter-Lots of mileage on this arm and should be picked only as an SP 5.
51. Matt Harrison-Hey I can't argue with the very good stats the last two seasons but his woeful K rate keeps him only for non-innings capped formats.
52. Mike Minor-Be sure you leave a spot for this emerging talent during the middle portion of your draft.  Did a Kris Medlen-lite turnaround the second half of last season.
53. Doug Fister-Same story with Fister as it is with Harrison.  Good ERA but he comes up short in strikeouts. 
54. Anibal Sanchez-He goes back to Detroit which is not too exciting.  Decent power guy but would have been more interesting in the National League.
55. Tim Hudson-Still pitching good but getting up there in age.  Back barking as well.
56. James McDonald-Was a revelation in the first half and bombed in the second which means you split the two and that is his outlook for the upcoming season.
57. Ryan Vogelsong-Another guy who is pitching above his advanced stats.  Now 35 years old, a dropoff is coming quick.
58. Tommy Hanson-What a fall this guy has had.  History of shoulder problems sapping his stuff.
59. Jason Vargas-Start him at home and bench him on the road.
60. Chris Capuano-Sell him during the summer when his stuff turns sour.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts on this post.



Thursday, January 24, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: JUSTIN UPTON HEADS EAST TO JOIN BIG BRO B.J.

By now the news has sunk in regarding the blockbuster 7-player trade that was agreed upon on Thursday that was highlighted by the Arizona Diamondbacks trading outfielder Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves in a package highlighted by third baseman Martin Prado.  Justin joins big brother B.J. in the Braves outfield and he likely will be placed in either the third or fifth spot in the batting order this season.  So without further delay let's take a look at the effects this deal has on the relevant fantasy baseball players involved.

Justin Upton:  We did a Player Analyzer on Upton a few weeks ago and really what we said there remains true.  Yes Upton took a statistical step back last season when he went from 31 home runs/21 steals/.289 average in 2011 to 17 home runs/18 steals/.280 average in 2012.  The average and steals remained nearly the same but Upton saw a major drop in power, almost halving his total.  As bad as that may have looked on the surface, it really wasn't.  Upton held onto the strikeout rate improvement he showed in his awesome 2011 which is why his average pretty much remained the same.  Also a thumb injury was the main cause of Upton's power outage as any hitter will tell you that an ailment there will undoubtedly sap power out of your bat due to not being able to grip it as tightly and thus not be able to generate as much force.  In September of last season Upton said the thumb was finally better after dealing with it the previous five months . The result was Upton hitting 6 home runs in the month with 14 RBI.  Yup all better.  The kid has monstrous natural power in his bat and the fact he is still a pup at 25 years old guarantees that he will get better as he hits his prime age.  A return to 30 home runs may not happen in his new pitching-leaning ballpark but getting close to that mark is very possible.  The steals are borderline in the 20 range and the .280 average is about as good as you can expect given his still a bit higher than it should be strikeout rate.  Put it all together and Upton could be a very nice value in 2013 after his market collapses in drafts this spring due to his 2012 output.  Take advantage of the discount.

Martin Prado:  Not much to see here as Prado is still basically a runs and average boost with some home runs and steals thrown in.  His versatility is always attractive but Prado is really a supporting player than someone you want to build you team around.  He is going to play third base for the Diamondbacks and even though he will add some pop in his new park, he is still a borderline starting option at the hot corner.

THE REST:  Chris Johnson is nothing but a third base stock in very deep leagues.  Randall Delgado could get a look in the rotation but he has a very steep climb to make when it comes to being an option for your rotation.  The remaining players in the deal are all minor leaguers who we don't have to concern ourselves with this season. 

There you have it.  Let's hear your thoughts on the trade.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: REDS OUTFIELDER BILLY HAMILTON TO START 2013 IN TRIPLE-A

As reported here on the Fantasy Sports Boss last week, the Cincinnati Reds will have speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton begin the season in Triple-A due to the crowded nature of the team's outfield.  With Ryan Ludwick, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jay Bruce locks for starting outfield spots and with the emerging Zack Cozart at shortstop, there is no room or Hamilton to play.

Analysis:  This is what I said all along when I did a feature on Hamilton last week.  He is surely destined to be overdrafted in fantasy baseball leagues this spring due to all the hype and really will haev a rough time yielding value due to his uncertain status.  If injuries hit the outfield or Cozart in the spring though, this story changes fast.  Just like Hamilton. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS/MARINERS NECK-IN-NECK FOR MICHAEL BOURN

After his old team the Atlanta Braves traded for Justin Upton, the market became clearer for free agent outfielder Michael Bourn on Thursday as the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are now considered the front runners for his services.  Bourn wants a multi-year deal but apparently might settle for a one-year contract so as not to get tied down to two rebuilding teams. 

Analysis:  Again I won't go into how overrated Bourn is but from a baseball standpoint he would work well with both teams who play in big ballparks and emphasize the running game.  Stay tuned. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JUSITN UPTON TRADED TO BRAVES

In a Thursday morning shocker, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded outfielder Justin Upton and 3B Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for 3B Martin Prado, SP Randall Delgado, and three minor leaguers. 

Analysis:  Well isn't that nice what with the Upton brothers now reunited in Atlanta.  It is amazing to see the Diamondbacks give up on such a promising young power hitting outfielder in Justin Upton who hit 31 home runs just two years ago at 23.  After falling to only 17 home runs in 2012 with some questionable attitude, the D-Backs seemed ready to move with a trade which they completed Thursday.  Upton goes from one of the best hitting ballparks in the baseball to a neutral one in Atlanta which could take a home run or two away but overall I am still very bullish on his potential as a future superstar.  A thumb injury was the main culprit in Upton struggling with his power last season and once September rolled around he was back to his old self once the thumb improved.  Don't hesitate to give Upton another chance this spring in your draft as the talent eventually will take off soon.


2013 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS PART 1

Last but not least we have our first look at the 2013 starting pitching fantasy baseball rankings.  As always, we continue to preach not drafting your first starter until round 4 at the earliest and ideally round 5 or 6.  The depth is just so great here that you can easily come up with five very good starters to anchor your staff.

1.  Justin Verlander-His extreme durability wins out over Kershaw who dealt with some hip issues in 2012.
2.  Clayton Kershaw-A tad concerned about his high usage of breaking pitches but would not argue too much if you have him number 1.
3.  Felix Hernandez-A lot of innings at a young age but as consistent as they come.  2011 and 2012 numbers almost identical.
4.  David Price-Count easily duplicate his 2012 Cy Young numbers.  No issues with AL East. 
5.  Cole Hamels-Loved the guy for years as a value ace for my staff.  Price no longer that attractive as rest of the fantasy baseball community has finally given him his due.
6.  Matt Cain-Upped his K rate last season which was only last remaining nitpick issue.  Extremely durable and miniscule ERA/WHIP combo amazing.
7.  Stephen Strasburg-On ability you can tuck him right under Kershaw but red flags all over this arm with Verducci Rules violation in 2012 and peripherals that spiked as season went on.
8.   Cliff Lee-Gladly take the slightly depressed price after winning only 6 games in one of the flukiest seasons ever.  Was just as good as his 2010 and 2011 campaigns.
9.  Gio Gonzalez-Yup we picked him as our dark horse Cy Young Candidate last season.  How did that work out? 
10. Jered Weaver-Not buying this stock as Weaver's sinking K rate and XFIP of over 4.00 last year cry out concern.
11. Madison Bumgarner-Told you all to reach for him last season and that turned out just swell.  Rinse and repeat.
12. C.C. Sabbathia-Dropping as he dealt with arm trouble for first time in 2012 after all those 220-inning seasons.  Not the horse he used to be.
13. Zack Greinke-Once again I love the guy to the point of having no problems making him my value play ace.  Numbers are always there but yet doesn't get the recognition.
14. James Shields-223 and 225 K's last two seasons in AL East with 1.04 and 1.17 WHIP's and now heads to much weaker AL Central.  Let me at him.
15. Max Scherzer-Ace-like numbers here we come.  Finally put it all together in ridiculous second half last season.
16. Chris Sale-Again this is not an indictment on ability as Sale as talented as anyone but Verducci Rules violation and shoulder trouble in 2012 major worries.
17. Adam Wainwright-Would love to have Greinke-Wainwright combo right at the top of my rotation.  In fact I am going to make it happen.  So should you.  The cheapest ace in fantasy baseball.
18. Roy Halladay-The toughest call of any top starter.  Could go either way after rough 2012.  Age is getting up there and stuff looked off last season.  Who knows.
19. Jordan Zimmerman-Needs to get the K's back up to elevate himself more but you can't argue with the other numbers.
20. Kris Medlen-Please don't make his draft price get out of hand.  Please don't let his draft price get out of hand.  Won me both Experts Leagues last season.
21. Yovani Gallardo-Every year I tell you the same thing and that is the fact Gallardo continues to be overrated with his ugly WHIP's and high walk rate.
22. Yu Darvish-Love the strikeouts but Japanese pitchers have historically been worse their second go-round in the majors.
23. Jake Peavy-Reclaimed his status in fantasy baseball with a better than you think 2012.  Can't count on him staying healthy again though.
24. Johnny Cueto-Lack of K's don't get too me excited but the numbers have been great the last two seasons.
25. Mat Latos-Bascially matched his 2011 numbers last season which takes out the guesswork in what he will provide.  Pitches terrible in April though so be careful there.
26. Ian Kennedy-Not the ace he was in 2011 but also not as bad as he looked in 2012.  Split the difference between the two.
27. Matt Moore-Pitched like an ace in the second half as he figured out his pitching in the majors thing.  High ceiling.
28. Aroldis Chapman-It is anyone's guess what could happen this season from the kid's arm.  All's I know is that the strikeouts will be immense.  Innings cap issues however.

There you have it.  Look for part 2 of the starting pitcher rankings tomorrow.


FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: MARKET FOR MICHAEL BOURN HEATING UP

The last major free agent on the market, outfielder Michael Bourn, should have his status settled soon as a few teams are now ramping up their efforts to acquire the speedster.  The New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and Atlanta Braves are all making offers, with Bourn wanting a multi-year deal.  Bourn batted .274 with 9 home runs and 42 steals last season.

Analysis:  First things first:  Bourn remains one of the most overrated players in fantasy baseball as his best asset being stolen bases is a commodity that is in abundant supply at the end of drafts.  Also throw out the 9 home runs last season as that is a major outlier stat for a guy who historically struggled to reach 5 round-trippers.  Finally, Bourn's contact rate is sinking and his stolen bases are starting to drop as well as he begins to age.  This is a declining market who, while still very effective, is overinflated in value.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: METS SIGN SHAUN MARCUM TO ONE-YEAR DEAL

The New York Mets signed free agent SP Shaun Marcum to a one-year deal with terms not yet disclosed.  A very solid pitcher when healthy, Marcum has been beset by various elbow and shoulder injuries throughout his career.

Analysis:  Good signing by the Mets who get a quality number 3 starter who has always pitched well when he is healthy.  Count on a mid-3.00 ERA and decent K rate for Marcum whose fantasy baseball price tag is so cheap now that he makes a solid late round investment. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ADRIAN GONZALEZ 1B/OF LOS ANGELES DODGERS

It was a match made in fantasy baseball heaven.  Put a 40-home run slugging first baseman into Boston's Fenway Park and watch the fireworks fly.  That is exactly what happened the first season Adrian Gonzalez was in a Red Sox uniform during the 2011 season, the first year of a monstrous contract that he signed soon after coming over in a trade with the San Diego Padres.  In fact the first half of 2011 fell into the ridiculous realm when it came to the stats that Gonzalez was putting up in his new home environment.  Gonzalez sat at the All Star break with 17 home runs, a crazy 77 RBI, and an even crazier .354 batting average.  Flat out Gonzalez was the best hitter in baseball to that point in the season and he was realizing all of the heightened expectations he had when he first headed east to Beantown. 

Unfortunately the good times did not keep rolling for Gonzalez as he fell to 10 home runs and 40 RBI with a .317 average in the second half that season as a shoulder problem cropped up, sapping some of his power.  Still a .338 average and 27 home runs with 117 RBI could still be considered a monster year and with that impressive stat line under his belt, Gonzalez was now a lock first round pick in 2012 drafts.  This of course is where the story gets funny.  For some reason or another,. the Adrian Gonzalez who cracked 40 home runs while playing his home games in Petco Park while with the Padres or even the one who hit 27 the year before in his first season in Boston was now a shell of his former power-hitting self.  His fly ball rate took a nosedive and his K rate spiked as well.  Gonzalez seemed lost at the plate and took his funk all the way to the All Star break as he sat there with an unbelievably bad 6 home runs with a .283 average.  Where did all the power go?  What on earth was going on?  How did Gonzalez go from power-hitting first round pick superstar to a light-hitting James Loney?  No one seemed to have any answers, most of all the player himself.  However it didn't stop some from wondering whether Gonzalez was feeling the heat playing in such a big time market like Boston when the team got out of the gate poorly and never turned around their season.  Gonzalez also was blamed as being one of the chief perpetrators who openly went to management to complain about the managing style of Bobby Valentine.  Either way, Gonzalez was causing more than a few ulcers for his fantasy baseball owners, who no doubt felt severely burned for using a first round pick on his weak bat.

Despite all the chaos, Gonzalez became a big time value trade target for smart fantasy baseball owners who saw an opportunity to take advantage of his panicked owners and who smartly felt that it was only a matter of time before his bat would come around.  Well that is exactly what happened as Gonzalez would go on to hit 12 second half home runs with 63 RBI and a .317 average.  That line of course was split between Boston and his new home in Los Angeles with the Dodgers who acquired him in that blockbuster August deal.  More relaxed in laid back LA, Gonzalez finally was able to let his bat do the talking and by the end of the season, salvaged his name with 108 RBI and a .299 average.  Sure the 18 home runs were way down but Gonzalez' pace in the second half was very solid.

Fast forward to present day and many fantasy baseball owners don't know exactly where to place Gonzalez in their draft projections.  While no longer a first round pick, Gonzalez in my opinion still merits much respect at the draft table who could be a tremendous bargain in the third round.  At 31 years old, Gonzalez is still smack in his hitting prime and is a very good bet to up his power numbers across the board this season in a stacked Dodgers lineup.  Sure the home ballpark has always favored pitchers but don't forget Gonzalez was able to hit 40 homers while in Petco which is a massive accomplishment in and of itself.  While his days of hitting that mark seem to be over, Gonzalez surely has enough pop in his bat to approach 30.  The best bet is to project 25 and anything more than that is a bonus.  The RBI's have always been there as he still managed 108 in his worst year ever last season.  Count on something again over the 100 mark with 120 being a realistic possibility given all the talent who could be getting on base in front of him.  Finally, the batting average has been very good the last few seasons and Gonzalez is a .294 hitter in that area. So .290 sounds about right on target. 

All in all, I am still an Adrian Gonzalez fan and see a very attractive value play for the new season.  I will gladly take a guy who will hit .300 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI and who qualifies both at first base and the outfield any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  This is a very safe place to invest your draft money as Gonzalez' history is just too good to think he will fall off any time soon.

2013 PROJECTION:  .293 26 HR 115 RBI 82 R 2 SB


2013 FANTASY BASEBALL RELIEF PITCHER PRIMER

Ahh relief pitchers.  Otherwise known as closer in fantasy baseball since most leagues don't bother with mundane stats like holds.  It is this fraternity of chaos that yearly is one of the most annoying aspects of the game.  And it also is a position where some of the biggest errors are routinely made by fantasy baseball players both old and young.  The million dollar question is:  what do you do about drafting closers each season?  Well in our latest position primer, we take a look at that issue along with some other bits of information so that you can adequately handle this chore during your draft.

REPEAT AFTER ME:  "DON'T DRAFT CLOSERS EARLY!!!!"  Say it as many times as you need in order to fully commit yourself to not doing something foolish like drafting Craig Kimbrel or Jason Motte in round 6 or 7.  Or even Mariano Rivera or Sergio Romo in round 8.  Instead continue subscribing to the firm Fantasy Sports Boss mantra of looking for value in the closer ranks and to not even pick your first stopper until the middle rounds AT THE EARLIEST. 

In explaining this for the umpteenth time, drafting a closer anywhere but the middle to late rounds of a draft is a COLOSSAL mistake. for a number of reasons.  The first is that a closer only impacts one category in a standard 5 x 5 fantasy baseball league which is saves.  They don't pitch enough innings to move the needle much in ERA or WHIP and their strikeout contribution is minimal.  So really when you make that Kimbrel pick early on, you are picking a guy who will impact only one category, while the other owners in your league are snatching up 3 and 4 category hitters like Shin-Soo Choo, Alex Rios, Desmond Jennings, Brett Lawrie, etc. 

Secondly, closers are about the most volatile position in the game.  2012 should have certainly reinforced this notion big time as just about EVERY closer missed time due to injury or lost their job altogether.  Right at the top we saw Brian Wilson, Ryan Madson, and Joakim Soria go under the Tommy John knife, while Mariano Rivera tore up his knee shagging fly balls in pregame batting practice in a freak accident to say the least.  We also saw a ton of turnover due to poor pitching and trades.  The fallout of all this was that terrific values presented themselves in place of these injured/demoted parties such as Rafael Soriano, Tom Wilhelmsen, Tyler Clippard (for a time) and others.  Thus you could have come away from your 2012 draft with ZERO closers and still be in the running to lead your leagues in saves.  Yours truly pretty much did just that as I led both of the Experts Leagues in saves after drafting only Jason Motte (in the late middle rounds) and Joe Nathan.  That's it.  Along the way I played the wire and added the Soriano's and Clippard's and was more than fine.  And I kept all my valuable draft picks for 3 and 4 category hitters.  Please follow this method as it is a proven success strategy as I have 7 titles in the last four years in 8 chances to show for it. 

Do yourself a favor and scour for the values plays in the draft as far as closers are concerned and train yourself to accept that you won't be getting Kimbrel, Rivera, Motte and other so-called top guys.  With that said here are some good values in my opinion as these are the most likely candidates to land on our rosters.

Jason Grilli:  Will close now that Joel Hanrahan was shipped out to Boston.  Grilli was a truly dominant setup man the last two seasons and has the high K stuff to instantly be a success.  Not many are in on this development so especially early in drafts his price will be terrific.

Casey Janssen:  Did great in replacing Sergio Santos as closer for Toronto last season and is still off the radar some.  With Toronto looking like one of the most improved teams in the league, the chances will be there plenty.

Glen Perkins:  I think he win's the Twins closer job over Jared Burton and again he has the high K stuff to be very solid.

Greg Holland:  Strikes out everyone and only has to work on his control a bit to be crazy good. 

BE WARY OF

The following guys are looking like very shaky options who could be out of a job quick for one reason or another.  Let's see what we got.

Chris Perez:  Is in the last year of his deal and hasn't been pitching that well since he got the closing job in Cleveland.  A prime trade candidate at the deadline since the Indians have the very capable Vinny Pestano behind him.

Jonathan Broxton:  Gets to close again as Aroldis Chapman will start.  He did well with the Royals when it came to finishing games last season bur he is still leaking velocity and he got lucky with his BABIP on top of this.  Be wary of a meltdown again.

Addison Reed:  Looked very shaky once thrust into the ninth inning last season.  Yes he was very young as a rookie and stands a good chance of naturally improving but what I saw last season was not encouraging.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts on the topic.


Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: MATT KEMP/ANDREW MCCUTCHEN

Drafts are now just a few weeks away and so now is the perfect time to get into our annual Draft Debate features.  Today we go right toward the middle of the first round where both Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp should find themselves picked . Both guys can fill up all the hitting stat categories and both are incredibly close in value.  With that said a decision will have to be made and so let's compare the two in the 5 standard 5 x 5 categories in order to determine who should be picked ahead of the other.

AVERAGE:  This is pretty much a dead heat as McCutchen is a career .290 hitter while Kemp is at .295.  Kemp also hit .324 in his ridiculous 2011 campaign and McCutchen hit .327 in his ridiculous 2012.  Both guys should be at or above .300 again this season and so there is nothing to discuss here as far as who comes out on top.
ADVANTAGE:  EVEN

HOME RUNS:  McCutchen finally cleared the 30 home run mark in 2012 with 31 and Kemp would have gotten there last season as well if he has not missed time with injury (he was on pace for 34).  Kemp hit 39 in 2011 which shows you how good he can be here if his body is right, while McCutchen doesn't profile as a guy who can reach the near-40 mark.  Slight edge to Kemp.
ADVANTAGE:  Matt Kemp

RUNS:  Both guys are locked in the three spot for their teams which means 95-115 runs is on tap.  The difference between the two though is the fact that the Dodgers have the much better supporing cast with Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, and Andre Ethier while McCutchen oftentimes was on an island by himself last season.  All things being equal, Kemp should be drive in more than McCutchen.
ADVANTAGE:  Matt Kemp

RBI:  Kemp collected a monstrous 126 RBI in 2011, while McCutchen failed to even hit the 100 mark in his tremendous 2012 with 96.  Again it comes down to the supporting cast and with Adrian Gonzalez hitting behind him, Kemp should be able to cross home plate more often this season.
ADVANTAGE:  Matt Kemp

STEALS:  After stealing 33 bases in 2010, McCutchen has seemed to lose interest in that portion of his game as he took 23 and 20 in 2011 and 2012.  Kemp meanwhile has a season of 40 steals in the bag, along with 34 and 35 so he has the clear advantage here due to his better aggressiveness. 
ADVANTAGE:  Matt Kemp

WINNER:  Matt Kemp

As you an see this one is not close in my opinion.  All thing being equal, Matt Kemp is the pick every time out.  I have seen more than a few publications have McCutchen ahead of Kemp which is not smart.  Sure Kemp has surgery in the offseason but he is already reportedly well ahead of schedule and should have no limitations when he arrives at camp.  Go with the Los Angeles hitting stud.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER RANKINGS

With only starters and closers left to examine for 2013 fantasy baseball, let's take a "closer" look at the men who will be manning the always scary ninth inning.  After the chaos of 2012 in this fraternity, we continue to scream not to use anything but middle to late round picks on these guys.

1.  Craig Kimbrel-What is really crazy about Kimbrel is that he accumulates more strikeouts than some starters.  Not even close who the number 1 guy is.
2.  Jonathan Papelbon-Wobbled a bit his last two years in Boston but first year in Philly top notch.
3.  Jason Motte-We got him cheap last season but not happening this season.  Now firmly a top tier guy.
4.  Sergio Romo-Took long enough for this guy to get into the ninth inning.  Draft price may still be decent since he hasn't done the job long.
5.  Mariano Rivera-Never doubt the man.  Knee surgery or no knee surgery.
6.  Jim Johnson-Another guy we told you all to draft last season and now look.  Yup.
7.  Joe Nathan-Back to being elite.  Aging though so be careful.
8.  Joel Hanrahan-Walking guys again and K rate a bit down so not the lock he was before last season started.
9.  Tom Wilhelmsen-Major strikeout guy who was the rare lefty to be given long look in the ninth inning.  Aced the test without a doubt as he was great all season
10. J.J. Putz-Never a question of his ability but of his wonky elbow.  Got a two-year extension so he won't be traded at the deadline.
11. Huston Street-Love the production but NEVER stays healthy.
12. Rafael Soriano-Should be the closer but until we find out for sure have to rank him here.  If he gets the official nod than put him in top five.
13. John Axford-Up and down like an elevator in 2012 but finished strong.
14. Fernando Rodney-Major bust alert here.  Was basically the closing version of A.J. Pierzynski last season.
15. Casey Janssen-Opened up eyes with big time performance last season.  Love the value.
16. Greg Holland-Strikes out everyone.  Another guy we will target.
17. Jason Grilli-Good sleeper guy who is intriguing due to his strikeout ability and  overall solid pitching in setup the last couple of seasons.  Do yourself a favor and target him in your draft as the payoff could be great.
18. Rafael Betancourt-Nice debut as closer in 2012 but could be trade bait in July.  Hate investing in guys like that.
19. Ryan Madson-Like him a lot as his value screams out positivity.  Elbow seems all right.
20. Grant Balfour-Did better than I thought last season and A's have no reason to move him.
21. Jonathan Broxton-K rate is on a sharp decline and he got lucky last season with his BABIP.  Shaky.
22. Chris Perez-Look for Perez to be traded by July.  Vinny Pestano a must own handcuff.
23. Glen Perkins-Banking on Perkins and not Jared Burton getting the closer gig.
24. Joaquin Benoit-Still unclear who will close in Detroit but the dominant Benoit has the stuff to do it.
25. Addison Reed-Altogether Red was not good at all closing games and was a major liability at the end of the season.  Jury still out.
26. Steve Cishek-Has had two straight seasons of ERA's under 3.00.
27. Brandon League-Somehow I can't see the widsom in using League over Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning.  
28. Wesley Wright-Your guess is as good as mine in who will close for Houston.
29. Carlos Marmol-Ugly WHIP's two years running and is always in jeopardy of losing his gig.
30. Frank Francisco-I can't imagine the Mets going into the season with this joke in the ninth inning.  Keep an eye on Matt Capps who is a free agent.

There you have it.  As always let's hear what you think.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL CATCHER RANKINGS: V-MART ON THE WAY UP

FANTASY BASEBALL FINAL 2012 CATCHER RANKINGS

Victor Martinez is ready to rock and roll as the Detroit Tigers' everyday DH in 2013 and thus he instantly becomes the best value among all backstops heading into draft season.  The fact Martinez will play everyday and is just a full season removed from a .330 campaign, makes him one to target among almost every other catcher.  Even better is that Martinez is still only 34 and doesn't have nearly the tread on his tires that other catchers have due to his extensive time at 1B and DH.  Be aggressive here with Martinez as pure hitters such as him don't fall off greatly after extensive time away.


1.  Buster Posey:  No debate here.  Best hitting seaosn by a catcher since the fluky Joe Mauer 2008 campaign.  Retains first base eligibility.
2.  Carlos Santana:  Went backwards as his fly ball rate dropped big time and his average continued to be a liability.  Still Santana is very young and we already have seen how good he can be when comfortable at the dish as his 2010 numbers show you.
3.  Wilin Rosario:  We have a feeling we will be ranking the kid higher than most but no regrets here.  28 home runs and hitting .270 at the age of 24 in Colorado means the sky is the limit.
4.  Victor Martinez:  Love the value he can supply as many have forgotten about him and doubt his ability to return to form.  No concern here about that issue.
5.  Yadier Molina:  No way he duplicates his 2011 numbers as age is a concern.  Don't like the draft price this time around.
6.  Matt Wieters:  Average not reflective yet of how good he can be.  At least the 25 homers are there.
7.  Joe Mauer:  As long as you price him at 10 home runs with 80 RBI and a .315 average, we are good.  Just have a solid backup ready.
8.  Miguel Montero:  Always gives you what you expect.  We like him.
9.  Brian McCann:  Was just awful at times as he can't beat the shift which destroyed his average.  Forget that 30 home run season.
10.  Mike Napoli:  Told you he would go bust by his 2011 standards.  Average that season (.320) was as big an outlier as you get.
11.  Salvador Perez:  We can already tell you this is the guy we will tell you all to go after if you smartly wait on drafting a catcher.  He can hit .300 in his sleep which is rare for a catcher and his power already was showing up last season.  Screen of missing half of 2012 with a busted knee keeps his price down to a very nice number.
12. Jesus Montero:  Didn't give us the average we expected but Montero will only get better.  The hype has died down which makes him a nice investment with ceiling to tap into.
13. Chase D'Arnaud:  GM Sandy Alderson says door wide open to break camp with team.  Best hitting catcher in minors.
14. A.J. Pierzynski:  The chances of Pierzynski repeating his 2012 numbers are about as good as me marrying Mila Kunis.  At 36 years old the fall could be hard and swift.  Remember in 2010 and 2011 A.J. didn't even hit double-digits when it came to his home runs.
15. Ryan Doumit:  Very good comeback season by Doumit who retains catcher eligibility and will play everyday at DH when not behind the dish.  Another nice option to target in the middle part of your draft.
16. Jonathan Lucroy:  Average impressive and added some power last season.  Top catcher 2.
17. Carlos Ruiz:  Group Ruiz in with Pierzynski as guys who put up out of nowhere seasons at an ancient age.  While he will come cheaper than A.J. due to all the games missed with injury, don't even think of paying for last season's stats.
18. Alex Avila:  Injuries took a large chunk out of 2012 as well and his average came back down as we predicted off his fluke 2011 in that respect.  Could bounceback decent enough at a fraction of the cost from last season.
19. Yasmani Grandal:  The third of the trio we will go heavy after while addressing catcher later on.  Grandal is not the home run hitter he looked like when he was first called up but he could hit .300 with a nice amount of runs and decent enough power.  He profiles as another Salvador Perez.

THE REST

20. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
21. Russell Martin
22. A.J. Ellis
23. J.P. Arencibia
24. Derek Norris
25. Geovany Soto
26. Wilson Ramos
27. Ryan Lavarnway
28. Mike McKenry
29. Kurt Suzuki
31. Chris Iannetta
32. Ramon Hernandez

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER PRIMER

We posted out first 2013 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings the other day and now it is time to delve in a little deeper with the draft primer.  Let's take a look.

3 Outfielder Who Should Provide Positive Value

1.  Norichika Aoki:  The guy did more than all right in his MLB debut in 2012, showing off his big time speed to the tune of stealing 30 bags while also hitting 10 home runs.  Clearly Aoki is telling us all he is more than just a speed guy and it is possible he could reach the 15/40 mark this season.

2.  Mike Morse:  Check out the feature we ran on Morse earlier today for more information.

3.  Shin-Soo Choo:  Draft price has not come back to where it once was before his 2011 meltdown which is ridiculous.  This is a guy who has two 20/20 seasons under his belt and who should get there again in 2013 after moving to the more offensively-trending Cincinnati ballpark.

3 Outfielders Who Should Provide Negative Value

1.  Michael Bourn:  We won't go over for the 1708720 time about how stupid it is to burn a draft pick on a pure speed guy like Bourn in the seventh round (which has been his average draft spot the last few seasons).  Yes Bourn is the best steals guy in baseball (at least until Billy Hamilton gets going) but last season you could have gotten Ben Revere, Rajai Davis, or Alicides Escobar at shortstop.  Steals show up every season on the waiver wire which means there is no need to go here.  Also Bourn is actually slipping a bit as his steals were down in 2012 and his contact rate was sinking as well due to some age creeping into his game.

2.  Curtis Granderson:  Aging fast and his game is going with it.  Whereas Granderson was a five category monster in 2011, last season brought a major spike in his K rate and an average that was getting close to Mendoza Line territory.  Also Granderson's speed is all gone which means he is now strictly a power bat with major negatives in average and steals for the price of a third round pick.

3.  Shane Victorino:  Victorino will see some comeback in his draft slot due to his signing with high-profile Boston but this is a mistake.  His contact rate is dropping, his is a major liability now against lefties (which is causing his average to crash) and his speed could go at a moment's notice due to his age.

GUYS I LIKE MORE THAN YOU

1.  Matt Kemp:  Give me Kemp over Andrew McCutchen every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
2.  Shin-Soo Choo:  Draft price once again nice for a 20/20 guy moving to Cincy.
3.  Yoenis Cespedes:  Ready to reach a round or two early for this emerging 30/25 bat.
4.  Carlos Gonzalez:  I know he is almost completely Coors inflated but I am still a groupie.
5.  Ben Revere:  Saved me in steals last season.
6.  Mike Morse:  Will get outfield eligibility back now that he moves to Seattle.
7.  Adrian Gonzalez:  Forget the power drop.  He hit 40 homers in Petco with a relaxed mind and 30 should be in play in relaxed LA.

GUYS I DISLIKE MORE THAN YOU

1.  Curtis Granderson:  See above.
2.  Josh Hamilton:  Won't stay healthy for an entire season again, K rate is up, and age starting to show in his advanced numbers.
3.  Hunter Pence:  Red flags all around after he struggled in Philadelphia off all places.  Now goes to San Fran which is now WORST hitting park in game with Seattle and San Diego moving in the fences this season.
4.  Shane Victorino:  Never drafted him and won't now due to sliding stats.
5.  Michael Bourn:  Forget speed demons until end of draft.
6.  Jay Bruce:  Power nice but average sucks.  Get Josh Willingham later on.  Will give you same numbers.
7.  Nelson Cruz:  Overrated.  Now only a decent power guy with all right RBI.
8.  Matt Holliday:  Like him but never draft him for some reason.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts.


FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: COREY HART ON ICE FOR 3-4 MONTHS

Ughh!  One of our favorite fantasy baseball bats has already been knocked down from our 2013 cheat sheets as the news arrived Friday that Milwaukee Brewers outfielder/1B Corey Hart will miss the next 3-4 moths after being forced to undergo surgery on his right knee.  Apparently Hart developed swelling in the same knee that was surgically repaired last spring around the same time as now and the quick recommendation was to once again go under the knife.  Starting the clock today, that means Hart is not expected to return to active duty until the end of April or May barring no setbacks.  It is a decent-sized blow to the Brewers and to Hart's expected fantasy baseball owners as he once again can't make it to the opener healthy.  While he still is worth drafting, especially if he comes back at the end of April, Hart is now clearly into the chronic knee problem mode which is obviously never good.  The fact that the knees helps drive the baseball after being planted into the ground during the swing is a big red flag for Hart's power ability in 2013 and beyond.  Be that as it may, we would still sign off on a Hart addition, since his already underrated bat will be even more price depressed but the question marks are now screaming out about his expected production.  Adjust your rankings accordingly. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING NEWS: ANGELS RP RYAN MADSON (ELBOW) THROWS OFF MOUND, REPORTS NO ISSUES

Los Angeles Angels closer Ryan Madson threw off a mound on Thursday and reported "no issues" as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery.  Madson is about a year removed from the procedure which cost him all of 2012 but he is expected to close for the Angels after signing a on-year deal. 

Analysis:  So far so good for Madson and the fact that Joe Nathan came back as his old self makes it likely the Angels closer will be just fine.  We like his draft price as a good bounceback value for 2013 as long as he continues his recover with no more issues.  Ernesto Frieri is a must handcuff guy however. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS CATCHER TRAVIS D'ARNAUD WILL BE GIVEN "LONG LOOK" MAKE TEAM OUT OF CAMP

New York Mets catcher Travis D'Arnaud will be given "every chance" to make the team out of spring training as the starter according to GM Sandy Alderson.  Talking to WFAN New York on Thursday, Alderson said he will not have D'Arnaud with the team as a backup and instead is looking for him to break camp as the starter.

Analysis:  D'Arnaud is the top catching prospect in baseball and profiles as a Victor Martinez-like bat who can combine a good average with 20 home run pop.  This is the kind of player I always suggest you take a shot on at the always volatile catcher spot instead of using a top draft pick that stands a good chance to go bust. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKS 3B ALEX RODRIGUEZ' HIP NOT AS BAD AS FEARED

New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez had successful surgery on his ailing left hip on Tuesday and the doctor who performed the procedure reported that the damage was not as severe as first feared.  The expected recovery time remains 6 months however which would have Rodriguez back around the All Star Break.

Analysis:  Good news I guess but overall it really doesn't change the fantasy baseball story much with Rodriguez.  While he is now not facing a possible loss of an entire 2013, Rodriguez is still a long shot to return anywhere but the break and maybe even after that date.  His hitting indicators have been crashing the last few seasons and more injuries could be in store when he returns.  Put it all together and Rodriguez is absolutely not worth the trouble.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MIKE MORSE 1B/OF SEATTLE MARINERS

The news of the day on Thursday was the Washington Nationals finally trading 1B/outfielder Mike Morse to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team deal that also included the Oakland A's.  With only non-story John Jaso and a few minor leaguers making up the rest of the deal, Morse was the prime player involved.  Now that he is heading west, let's take a deeper look at a guy who I have been fond of more than others since he burst onto the scene in 2011.

Leading up to that 2011 season, Morse was looking like a guy who was going to be just another ordinary player who would come and go with no one paying any attention.  Ironically Morse made his debut back in 2005 with the Seattle Mariners who gave him a few chances to stick but four seasons later he found himself in the Washington organization.  With the Nationals well into their stretch of horrible seasons, Morse got another chance to make his mark and for the first time did some good things to the tune of 15 home runs in only 266 at-bats.  What was becoming obvious was that Morse had power and he combined that with some nice work with the batting average to the tune of .289.  Clearly Morse had done enough to get another look from the team in 2011 and spring training would leave no doubt that his bat had some serious thump in it.  Morse became the story of the Grapefruit League with 12 big home runs which also made him a sought after guy in fantasy baseball circles.  Just like that though Morse seemed like a guy who turned to mush when the game began to count as those owners who fought over each other to pick him up in March were now dropping him en masse in April due to a horrid .224 start with only one dinger.  Things got so bad that Morse almost found himself demoted.  However injuries would give Morse one more chance and he surely made the most of it.  6 home runs in May with a scorching .403 average were followed by 8 more bombs in May with a .299 mark.  When 2011 wrapped, Morse hit a shocking 31 home runs with 95 RBI to go along with a .303 average.  Outfielder 2 numbers for a player who qualified at both first base and the outfield.  Just like that Morse had finally made good on is potential and he would go down as one of the bets values in the game that season.

When 2012 drafts rolled around, Morse was drafted in all formats but not as high as expected.  There was a bit of "let's see him do it again" attached to his name but it was injuries that threw a monkey wrench into his 2012 plans.  Morse would begin the year on the DL and not get back until June.  However he picked up right where he left off in 2012 on a per game basis by hitting 18 home runs with a .291 average.  Once again Morse displayed solid power and the ability to hit for average which is a combination that is fantasy baseball gold.  The best part in his season was the fact that the missed time would ensure that Morse's 2013 value would be depressed which meant another value campaign could be taken advantage of.  And this will almost ensure he will find himself on one of my rosters for this season as I once again am interested in his discounted pop. 

Now as far as the trade is concerned, obviously going to Seattle is right there with San Diego as far as graveyards for hitters.  However the Mariners are moving in the fences this season and that alone should take some of the concern away about Morse and how his numbers will look there.  Looking at his profile, there is nothing to indicate that Morse can't once again crack a bunch of home runs with a good batting average while qualifying in both the outfield and first base.  Yes he lost outfield eligibility last season but he will play there in 2013 since fellow new arrival Kendrys Morales will be manning that position.  Put it all together and you can get an outfielder 2 in Morse for the price of an outfielder 3.  That means value and that means you win when you invest in this stock once again this season.

2013 PROJECTION:  .288 25 HR 88 RBI 83 R 2 SB


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARINERS ACQUIRE OUTFIELDER/1B MICHAEL MORSE FROM NATIONALS

The Washington Nationals finally unloaded outfielder/1B Michael Morse on Thursday, sending him to the Seattle Mariners in a three-team deal.  The Oakland's A's were the third team and they received catcher John Jaso from Seattle.  The Nationals got back two minor leaguers.

Analysis:  Ugh.  I really am a big fan of Morse but going to the graveyard that is Seattle is never a good thing.  However they are moving the fences in some this season so that is a plus.  The best part in all this is that Morse's already underrated draft value just got even cheaper.  I still sign off on Morse as a guy who could put up outfielder 2 numbers.  Jaso has no value on the other hand so leave him on the waiver wire.


2013 FANTASY BASEBALL STRATEGY: HANDLING THE NINTH INNING GUYS

Its closing time, but does it have to be? : Drafting Closers 
By John Hoey "Johnny Crash"
It’s closing time, but does it have to be? It is inevitable during every draft that once a particular position starts having names come off the board, everyone begins to get antsy about when they should pull the trigger and fill their own void in that particular spot(s).  It is time to finally put an end to the myth that you need to draft closers during your baseball draft, especially early on.  There are key elements to take into consideration to put your mind at ease come draft day about closers.  First take a look at the lack of job security with closers in MLB from 2012, and think back to which closer(s) you drafted in your draft last year, and the impact of closers being traded to contenders as set up men come mid-season.
            The pre-season list of MLB closers was filled with a lot of familiar names, and a majority of those names were locked in as the closer for the 2012 season.  Of the 30 closers heading into 2012, only 9 of them kept their job and wound up being their team’s closer for the season.  Less than a third of the closers to start the season kept those jobs. That is an alarming percentage.  You can argue that at least ten who did lose their job did so due to injuries, but does that matter to you or your team? I doubt it.  A closer can be abducted by aliens for all I care, if he is not the closer, he is useless to me and in essence a waste of a draft choice.
            In one of my drafts last year I selected a sure thing closer in Brian Wilson in the 9th round, and then waited until the 18th to take Brett Myers who was slated to close for Houston.  I had my quota of two closers and I was fine with it.  So what happened?
-          Brian Wilson blew out his arm out of the gate and was lost for the season
-          Brett Myers was traded to the White Sox to set up, essentially eliminating any fantasy value for his pick.
This left me with some serious work to do.  I know some believe in the theory of booting a category, but I for one do not.  I kept a close eye on team updates regarding relief pitchers, which guys were on the hot seat, which pitchers were lighting it up as set up men, and I waited.  Through this process I was easily able to  pick up guys who took over their team’s closer position and wound up with three solid closers (C. Janssen, E. Frieri, S. Romo), that helped me win my 2012 championship in a 7-6 matchup final. 
The main thing I can now ask myself is: what could you have gotten with that pick you used for a closer? As an example, in the round I drafted Brian Wilson I could have taken Jordan Zimmerman, Jason Heyward, Derek Jeter, or Yu Darvish.  In the round I drafted Brett Myers, I could have taken David Freese, Paul Goldschmidt, Mark Trumbo, or R.A. Dickey.  Granted every draft is different and develops its own flow but I think you get the idea.
            The bottom line is, don’t get anxious when you start seeing those closers fall off the board, because based on how the game is today, there is very good chance you may not wind up with any of the closers you draft in the end anyway. 
-          John Hoey
@JohnnyCrashMLB