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Sunday, March 31, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: TRAVIS HAFNER 1B/UTIL NEW YORK YANKEES

I will start out with a disclaimer in that this post is aimed at those who play in deeper formats.  With that out of the way, with all of the injury issue plaguing the New York Yankees lineup entering the 2013 season, what with Curtis Granderson (broken forearm), Mark Texeira (torn wrist tendon), Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery), and Derek Jeter (renewed ankle swelling), the team is praying for some kind of power production from anyone left over on the roster.  One such name who could help is free agent reclamation project Travis Hafner who at one time was one of the premier sluggers in all of baseball.  It was only 7 or 8 seasons ago when Hafner put up back-to-back All Star seasons where he hit 33 and 42 home runs for the Cleveland Indians which earned him a massive contract extension which just expired at the end of 2012.  Unfortunately the good times did not keep on going for Hafner who, starting in the 2008 season, began a string of years that were almost completely undermined by injury.  Primarily having shoulder trouble which sapped his power, Hafner became a shell of his former slugging self almost overnight to the point that he failed to reach 400 at-bats his last five seasons in Cleveland and during that time saw his high in home runs reach only 16.  The Indians held the door open for him to leave once his contract expired and the Yankees quickly took a shot on a one-year deal to come in an serve as the team's DH against righthanded pitching.  With all of the injuries decimated the lineup however, Hafner is now being looked on to be a bigger part of the hitting equation and being a lefty in Yankee Stadium has some fantasy baseball deep league owners wondering if he can stay healthy long enough to take aim at the short rightfield porch. 

Looking deeper into the numbers and Hafner himself, it is beyond stating the obvious that his health has almost completely ruined his game.  Persistent shoulder trouble has sapped a good deal of his power but not to the point where he can't be a help to some fantasy baseball owners for pennies on the dollar.  Anyone who bats lefty in Yankee Stadium instantly has some attraction to their name and if Hafner can stay upright, he has the chance to be a contributor and possibly have a small comeback season in him.  While I am not suggesting anything near his past All Star prime, a run at 20 home runs could actually be possible in that ballpark if again he can stay in shape.  Hafner is also not a complete zero in the average department either as he still hit .278 and .280 in 2010 and 2011 despite the injury problems he dealt with during that era. 

All in all, Travis Hafner is a guy who is basically a lottery ticket option for those who play in deeper formats.  While he is clearly a shell of his former slugging self, there could be enough left in the tank to supply some pop for next to nothing as far as what is will cost you to find out.  Surely not the worst chance you could take.

2013 PROJECTION:  .275 15 HR 55 RBI 46 R 1 SB


2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: BRETT GARDNER OUTFIELDER NEW YORK YANKEES

For the last three seasons or so I have continuously gone on record to preach about how stolen bases are in massive abundance like never before in this era of the pitcher.  With home runs drying up faster than water in a desert, small ball is back in style around the major leagues, with the guys who make it their mission to collect steals being the prime beneficiaries of this change.  One of the best at this craft the last few years has been New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner whose blazing speed has him right up there as possibly the fastest player in the majors.  While his 2012 season was pretty much completely wiped out with injury problems, Gardner previously was a durable run-scoring and base stealing dervish for the Yankees in their always high-powered offense.  Changes abound however for 2013 on a number of fronts which concern Gardner, with the main one being that the absence of leadoff hitter Derek Jeter due to ongoing ankle problems.  There is a big time hole at the top of the Yankee order and Gardner is the one most capable of filling it.  While Gardner has fumbled away more than a few opportunities to stick in the leadoff spot when given the chance in the past, this time around the Yankees have no choice but to stick him in there for an extended time and allow Gardner to fight through any mental struggles he has there.  And hitting atop the lineup will surely put Gardner in prime position to do what he does best which of course is to collect steals by the dozen.  And thus with that said let's take a closer look at what Gardner could supply his fantasy baseball owners during the 2013 season.

Let's start out by giving Gardner a mulligan on his no-show 2012 campaign due to his elbow injury as he never dealt with such a situation before to the level and like I said earlier, was always considered a durable/dependable player.  So with good health, Gardner should absolutely be in play for 40 stolen bases with 50 also a possibility especially that he now will be leading off everyday until Jeter gets back.  Along with the steals, Gardner will be in prime run-scoring position as well and even though the Yankees are a shell of their former slugging selves at this point, the eventual returns of Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Texeria and company will give him a shot at 100 trips across the plate. 

As far as the rest of the package is concerned, Gardner will never contend for a batting title as his .266 career average will attest.  A bit of a high K rate hurts him there and so anything above .270 would be a nice bonus.  Gardner also is a pretty big negative in the RBI column, with his career-high only being 47.  Going along with that discussion, Gardner also doesn't have much pop as evidenced by the fact he has never hit double-digits in that area.  So in essence Gardner is a stolen base and runs specialist and nothing more which you need to factor in with regards to properly evaluating his true ability.  Still he can be a big-time difference-maker in those two categories.

All in all, Brett Gardner remains what he generally has been throughout his career and that is a speed asset who will excel in two categories and be a drag in the other three.  As long as you have him sized up correctly value-wise, there is no reason Gardner should disappoint his fantasy baseball owners this season.  While he won't win you a league title on his own, Gardner can surely help get you there.

2013 PROJECTION:  .271 6 HR 43 RBI 91 R 45 SB


FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: JACKIE BRADLEY ADDED TO RED SOX ROSTER

The Boston Red Sox officially added rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley to the roster on Sunday after he hit .441 with 2 home runs and 2 steals with 12 RBI in the Grapefruit League.  He will start in leftfield and likely hit towards the bottom of the lineup initially.

Analysis:  This could be a trial run by Bradley until David Ortiz gets back at the start of May.  Bradley has the type of fantasy baseball-friendly game to make him worthy of an add in all formats but keep in mind his stolen base and runs potential could be negatively impacted by hitting ninth which is where he expected to bat.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: RED SOX 1B DAVID ORTIZ (HEELS) PLACED ON DL

The Boston Red Sox placed 1B David Ortiz on the DL Sunday retroactive to March 22nd with inflammation in both of his heels.  Ortiz has just begin rehabbing the injuries and the current plan is for him to possible get involved in minor league game by the middle of April.  In that scenario, Ortiz could get back by the start of May.

Analysis:  Ortiz was not drafted in one of the Experts Leagues due to his murky initial status for the season and really overall as he is an aging bad-bodied slugger who has no where to go but down.  While he should be good for a solid amount of home runs, this is one stock who should be avoided unless injuries strike your roster.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARLINS TO PLATOON JUSTIN RUGGIANO WITH CHRIS COGHLAN IN CENTER

Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond announced on Sunday that he would use a strict platoon in centerfield to start the 2013 season, playing Chris Coghlan against righties and Justin Ruggiano against lefties.

Analysis:  This move takes a sledgehammer to Ruggiano's once promising fantasy baseball value to say the least since he gets the short end of the arrangement.  Clearly Redmond is not sold on the nice production Ruggiano put up the second half of last season and truth be told it reeked of a situation where a player comes out of nowhere to play over his end for a stretch.  Ruggiano can be dropped in all but the deepest of formats and Coghlan should be watched as he once was a useful player. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PREDICTIONS

Being in the prediction business is always a risky venture and no doubt I will probably be wrong on some or most of these items below.  However that won't stop me from shedding some light on how I feel about certain hitters and pitchers this season so with that said here are some picks for the 2013 fantasy baseball season for your enjoyment.

AL MVP (Mike Trout):  Should battle Miguel Cabrera for the next five years for the award and this time Trout should win it.  Much too talented to suffer the sophomore slump and now he has 18 games to feast on the Astros.

AL Cy Young (Max Scherzer):  How ridiculous has he been this spring?  Try a 0.57 ERA in 15.2 innings with 20 strikeouts.  Try giving up only 6 hits in those innings.  The light bulb went on for Scherzer the second half of last season when he went 6-1 with a 1.65 ERA and he very well could put up 250 strikeouts now that he is pitching more efficiently and deeper into games.  Yes in full disclosure I own him in both Experts Leagues but that is just evidence of how strongly I feel about him.

AL Rookie of The Year (Jackie Bradley):  Got to go with someone who will break camp with the team which automatically eliminates Jurickson Profar and Wil Myers.  Aaron Hicks could also be in this conversation but Bradley has the chance for a Denard Span-type season for the Red Sox in 2013.

NL MVP (Matt Kemp):  The Dodgers are aiming for big things and Kemp should lead the way if he stays healthy.  He looked all the way back to form this spring after offseason shoulder surgery and while his days of stealing 30 bases are likely a thing of the past, a .300/30 HR/100 R/100 RBI/20 SB bonanza could be in the offing.

NL Cy Young (Adam Wainwright):  Was my pick for Darkhorse Cy Young winner so I am not jumping off this bandwagon.  They say a pitcher is back to his old self when it comes to his stuff the second year after Tommy John surgery and considering Wainwright pitched at nearly an ace-level in 2012 anyway and one can see where this could be heading.

NL Rookie of the Year (Travis D'Arnaud):  GM Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said that D'Arnaud may not spend much time in the minors so he could get the amount of time needed to get this award.  His bat is beyond reproach among catchers at the minor league level and the fact he will have to deal with calling games gives him much for responsibility over someone like Julio Teheran of Atlanta or Yasiel Puig of Los Angeles.  D'Arnaud is going to be real good.

OTHERS TIDBITS ON MY MIND:

Division Winners:

AL EAST:  Rays
AL CENTRAL:  Tigers
AL WEST:  Angels
AL WILD CARDS:  Rangers, A's

NL EAST:  Nationals
NL CENTRAL:  Reds
NL WEST:  Dodgers
NL WILD CARDS:  St. Louis, Atlanta

WORLD SERIES:  Nationals over Tigers

NL PREDICTIONS:

HR Leader:  Giancarlo Stanton
SB Leader:  Michael Bourn
Batting Champ:  Joey Votto
40 Home Runs:  Giancalo Stanton, Ryan Braun, 
30/30:  Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper
20/20:  Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Paul Goldschmidt, Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward, Carlos Gomez
First Closers Demoted:  Bobby Parnell, Carlos Marmol
200 K's:  Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Gio Gonzalez, Zack Greinke, Tim Lincecum, Jeff Samardzjia, Matt Harvey, Yovani Gallardo

AL PREDICTIONS:

HR:  Adam Dunn
SB Leader:  Mike Trout
Batting Champ:  Miguel Cabrera
40 Home Runs:  Jose Bautista, Adam Dunn, Josh Hamilto, Edwin Encarnacion
30/30:  Mike Trout, Yoenis Cespedes
20/20:  Alex Rios, Ian Kinsler
First Closers Demoted:  Brandon League
200 K's:  Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, James Shields, Yu Darvish,  Felix Hernandez, David Price




FANTASY BASEBALL QUESTION OF THE DAY: SCHERZER/VERLANDER

Who will have more strikeouts in 2013?  Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer?  This one could be closer than you initially think.

Post answers below. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: GIANTS 3B PABLO SANDOVAL (ELBOW) SUFFERS SETBACK, TO HIT DL

                                                                        

San Francisco Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval will being the 2013 season on the DL after suffering a setback with his previously injured right elbow.  Sandoval felt renewed soreness in the elbow during the team's Cactus League game on Friday and manager Bruce Bochy said afterwards that he will be "shut down" for the time being.

Analysis:  As good a hitter as Sandoval is, injuries have become a big problem the last few seasons and he is staring at the DL to being 2013.  While he will never be a 30 home runs hitter, with optimum health Sandoval could hit 25 home runs and bat .315.  He will now be behind that pace to start the season due to the elbow issue.


2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MATT WIETERS C BALTIMORE ORIOLES

                                                                           

It has been an interesting ride so far in the still young career of Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters.  From being hyped as the best hitting catcher since Mike Piazza when he was coming up through the the team's minor league system, to falling on his face during his second major league season, Wieters has certainly generated a wide range of emotions from his fantasy baseball owners.  The former 5th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Wieters has now settled in as a sure fire top five catcher for 2013 but remains what some would consider an unfinished product based on his earlier expectations.  With all that said let's take a closer look at Matt Wieters from a fantasy baseball angle and find out what he could provide his owners this season.

It is generally accepted that catchers have a tougher time adjusting to major league pitching than any other position on the outsets of their careers due to the fact their minds are also cluttered with calling games and playing defense for the pitching staff.  Thus the stops and starts Wieters went through earlier this season (.288/9 HR in only 354 at-bats as a rookie compared to .249/11 HR in 466 at-bats the following year) are understandable from that perspective.  However Wieters seemed to find his comfort zone in 2011 when he hit a career-high 22 home runs with a .262 average which he followed up last season by clubbing 23 homers with a .249 mark.  Wieters seems to be establishing a baseline of production based on the similarities of those two seasons and at 27 years old, it makes sense that he settling down numbers-wise as he hits his prime years. 

Looking at his statistics a bit more closely, the power is what stands out the most for Wieters, especially at the catcher position.  Any backstop that can hit over 20 home runs is a precious commodity and Wieters is a lock to hit that mark at the very least and likely approach 25.  While his ceiling is likely capped there power-wise, his spot as the likely number 5 hitter in the order means a solid number of RBI, with something in the realm of 80-90 likely.  Unfortunately the slow-footed Wieters won't ever challenge for the run scoring title, with last season's 67 being indicative of what we could expect in that category going forward.  Also don't even think of getting anything in the steals category.

That brings us to the batting average category which is where Wieters could really boost his bottom line value.  The .249 mark from last season was depressed some by an unlucky BABIP but Wieters also doesn't help matters by striking out 112 times in 526 at-bats.  The .262 mark he put up in 2011 is more in tune for what he is capable of and Wieters could even better that mark as he was a consistent .300 hitter on the farm. 

Putting it all together, Matt Wieters has now reached the point of his career where fantasy baseball owners are valuing him more on what he has already done instead of what he could do as he reaches his prime years and his numbers settle.  While he is not going to be Mike Piazza, Wieters is still a very good fantasy baseball catcher who is a terrific anchor for your roster behind the dish.

2013 PROJECTION:  .267 24 HR 89 RBI 75 R 2 SB


Friday, March 29, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TIGERS SP MAX SCHERZER FINISHES SPRING WITH 0.57 ERA

On the heels of his dominant 2012 second half, Detroit Tigers SP Max Scherzer concluded a dominant spring on Friday in tossing six innings of 1-hit ball with 9 strikeouts.  Scherzer finishes the spring with a 0.57 ERA as he looks to put together a full season of ace-like numbers.

Analysis:  Yours truly was buying Scherzer's crazy good second half last season when he finally seemed to turn into the ace we all expected him to be by drafting him in both Experts Leagues.  He truly could be ridiculous going forward and is setting himself up to put up to be a co-ace with rotation teammate Justin Verlander. 


FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ALEX GORDON HITS EIGHTH SPRING HOME RUN FRIDAY

                                                                         

Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon hit his eighth home run of the spring on Friday, one short of the major league lead during the exhibition season.  Gordon hit a shot off of Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez and is showing signs that the power outage he had last season (only 14 home runs) is a thing of the past.

Analysis:  Gordon's lack of pop last season was strange and it looked even worse when you consider he has a ridiculous 721 at-bats.  He did hit 24 home runs in 2011 so a return to that level is looking more likely.  Gordon remains a solid outfielder 2 in fantasy baseball leagues this season. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: CARDS PLACE JASON MOTTE ON DL WITH STRAINED ELBOW

                                                                        

The St. Louis Cardinals placed closer Jason Motte on the 15-day DL Friday due to a strained right elbow.  An MRI revealed a mild strained flexor tendon in the elbow but the team doesn't think it is a long-term concern.  Mitchell Boggs will handle saves in his place.

Analysis:  The Cards have tried their best to not make this sounds bad but anything to do with an elbow is always a major concern.  Boggs is a decent fill-in and should be picked up in all formats.  Monitor the Motte situation over the next two weeks. 

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JAY BRUCE OUTFIELDER CINCINNATI REDS

In this post-steroids era of the starting pitcher, players who can hit the ball out of the park on a consistent basis are becoming a commodity that has never been more valuable than it is now.  One such player whose ability to hit home runs as his greatest attribute is Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce whose status as a fantasy baseball outfielder 2 is once again in play this season.  While Bruce to this point hasn't developed into the first round stud that many believed he would be, he still has proven himself to be quite valuable due to his home run swing and ability to drive in runs.  So without any further delay, let's once again take a closer look at Jay Bruce the player and lock in on what he might be able to supply his fantasy baseball owners this season.

As stated in the previous paragraph, the former 12th overall pick in the 2005 draft has to this point failed to become the blockbuster player that sets the pace at his outfield position of which there are a few reasons which we will get to.  However at 26-years-old, Bruce is just about in his prime years which means there could still be a tad more growth on tap this season.  Even if that doesn't happen, Bruce has already cemented his reputation as a big time power hitter as he comes off 32 and 34-home run seasons in 2011 and 2012.  In fact looking at Bruce's overall numbers during those two seasons, it seems like he has settled into a firm statistical set as seen below.

2011:  .256 32 HR 97 RBI 84 R 8 SB
2012:  .252 34 HR 99 RBI 89 R 9 SB

Those numbers are remarkably similar and point to where Bruce is likely going to end up this season as well.  A very high K rate that has shown no signs of getting any better (158 and 155 K's last two seasons) means Bruce will struggle to hit .260 which is a negative point on his overall value.  Also Bruce is not a good base stealer by any means as he has stolen only 17 bases in 27 attempts the last two seasons which is a horrible success rate.  Thus anything more than 10 would be a big time shock.  No the reason you draft Bruce in the first place is for power and with back-to-back 30 home runs seasons, he has established that mark as the floor when it comes to his longballs and there is also somewhat of a chance he gets near 40 as he hits his prime.  With the home runs come the RBI and Bruce should get 90 at worst and 100 at best in that category.  Hitting cleanup in the lineup, Bruce should also get anywhere between 80-95 runs scored.

Put it all together and what you have is the classic outfielder 2 in fantasy baseball terms.  In other words not a five category stud but someone who excels in one stat (home runs) and gives above-average production in three others (RBI and runs).  That is what Jay Bruce is and should be for the next few seasons at the very least.

2013 PROJECTION:  .257 35 HR 101 RBI 91 R 8 SB


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS PLACE SP MIKE FIERS IN PEN

In a surprising move, the Milwaukee Brewers announced on Friday that SP Mike Fiers would begin the 2013 season on the DL in favor of Wily Peralta. Fiers struggled in spring training and came off a shellacking in his last Cactus League outing.  The rookie Peralta meanwhile has been the surprise of camp, pitching to a 1.72 ERA. 

Analysis:  Feel free to drop Fiers in all leagues.  Surely no Fiers fan could have seen this coming, especially with the way he pitched so well down the stretch last season. Peralta is nothing but a later round flier in NL-only formats.

FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: JACKIE BRADLEY OUTFIELDER BOSTON RED SOX

When it comes to Major League Baseball prospects, the week before Opening Day is usually not a happy one as this is the time when they receiver their tickets back to minor league game, ranging from Single-A all the way to Triple-A.  We saw this exact result when it came to buzzword prospects around the game such as Jurickson Profar, Zack Wheeler, Travid D'Arnaud, Wil Myers, and Yasiel Puig this week as all were sent back to the farm despite in some cases putting up some very impressive stats.  Some guys however broke through such as St. Louis Cardinals SP Shelby Miller who won the fifth starter's spot in the team's rotation.  Than there is the case of Boston Red Sox 23-year-old outfielder Jackie Bradley who according to reports will in fact make the team out of camp after being nothing but an afterthought when he first reported to Florida back in February.  Desperate for some offense, the Red Sox couldn't ignore Bradley's very hot spring where, going into Friday's games, he was hitting an extremely good .444 with 2 home runs and 2 stolen bases.  Bradley showcased classic leadoff skills during his time with the team this spring and he ultimately forced the team to take him north for Monday's opener against the New York Yankees.  With that said, let's take a closer look at the previously unknown Bradley in order to try and nail down what he could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season.

Looking at the Bradley profile, he completely screams out "leadoff hitter."  Blessed with a keen eye at the plate, Bradley takes walks and waits for his pitch which results in a .300-plus average which he has showcased so far.  Another requirement of a leadoff hitter is to have speed which Bradley does, although it is not extreme like a Brett Gardner.  Bradley stole 24 bases at two minor league levels last season and that part of his game figures to be a major point of his fantasy baseball haul.  Finally when it comes to power, Bradley has still yet to fill into his frame and he hit only 9 home runs last season on the farm.  However he has driven the ball very impressively in camp and already has the two home runs. 

Looking at what Bradley could contribute in fantasy baseball terms this season is a bit tricky however.  Bradley would see optimal value in the leadoff spot but Jacoby Ellsbury has that sewn up.  Count on Bradley beginning the season out of the number 9 spot so as not to put too much pressure on him.  Hitting ninth of course will cap his stolen base and run potential a bit but again using the Gardner example, he was still able to steal 40-plus bases hitting in that slot for the Yankees the last few seasons.  Also as far as the pop is concerned, Bradley could get close to the 10 home run mark and anything more would be a bonus.  He still needs to add strength and fill into his body physically.  Ultimately he reminds me a bit of Denard Span who does a lot of things well but not great.  However the ceiling Bradley presents makes him well worth an investment.


FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: RED SOX OUTFIELDER JACKIE BRADLEY TO MAKE OPENING DAY ROSTER

                                                                         

Boston Red Sox outfield prospect Jackie Battle will make the Opening Day roster according to team sources.  Battle has been a revelation in camp, showcasing leadoff skills to go along with 2 home runs and 2 stolen bases and a .444 average.  While the two home runs are nice, Battle does not project to have big time power and will likely bat in the ninth slot out of the gate which limits his steals potential.

Analysis:  Battle reminds me a bit of Denard Span as a guy who will hit .300 with a bunch of runs and solid steals totals.  In other words the pop won't be there much, at least not yet.  Still Battle has potential and potential in fantasy baseball can sometimes turn into big things from a statistical standpoint.  Pick him up if he is still available on your league waiver wire pronto. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MIKE MORSE UP TO 9 SPRING HOME RUNS

                                                                              

Mike Morse is once again tearing it up in spring training as he smacked his ninth home run Thursday against the Chicago Cubs.  Now calling Seattle home, Morse is continuing his trend in recent seasons of big time power production.

Analysis:  I continue to preach why I love the guy so much, with the main gist being that he could be the cheapest 30 home runs you will see this season.  While Seattle is not the greatest place to hit in, Morse has the kind of natural power that will be very good anywhere.  If only the games started to count for real.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS ACE SP JOHAN SANTANA RE-TEARS SHOULDER, OUT FOR SEASON

                                                                        

New York Mets SP Johan Santana re-tore the anterior capsule in his left shoulder it was revealed on Thursday and he will undergo surgery that will finish him for the entire 2013 season.  This is the second time in three years that Santana will miss an entire season and many point to the no-hitter he threw last season as the prime culprit for this latest issue. 

Analysis:  What a joke this guy has become.  It is amazing that he will collect almost $50 million bucks for two missed seasons.  The Mets surely have to feel beyond burned by Santana as they got only one big season out of him out of the seven on the contract.  Obviously he needs to be cut loose in all leagues and his days as even a number 5 starter in fantasy baseball in the future are likely finished.


FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ADAM JONES OUTFIELDER BALTIMORE ORIOLES

                                                                              

When it comes to evaluating fantasy baseball hitters and pitchers each drafting season, the goal of all owners is to take as much of the unknown out of the equation as humanely possible when it comes to expected numbers each season.  Consistency is the holy grail when identifying such players and some players surely possess this precious trait which takes a lot of the guess work out of the drafting process.  One such player who fits this criteria is Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones who has blossomed into one of the best players in the game at his position since coming east from Seattle in a trade.  Jones will turn only 28-years-old in 2013 and so he is now flat in his prime years and should once again be right near the top of the outfield rankings due to his 5 category prowess.  With that said let's take a closer look at Jones when it comes to 2013 fantasy baseball and determine what he once again can supply his lucky owners this season.

In order to appreciate Jones' consistency, let's take a look at his last two full season numbers: 

2011:  .280 25 HR 83 RBI 68 R 12 SB
2012:  .287 32 HR 82 RBI 103 R 16 SB

Looking at those numbers, it is pretty remarkable how close they are.  The only number that stands out are the runs scored and the jump from 2011 to 2012 has to do with Jones' elevation to the permanent number 2 spot in the order along with the much more aggressive management style of Buck Showalter who constantly puts runners on the move.  Jones should once again be right there when it comes to scoring around the 100 run mark, along with the 80-85 RBI's since 100 would be tough out of the number two spot.  Next up we have the batting average which has also been a very consistent number for Jones.  Jones has hit .284, .280, and .287 the last three seasons so somewhere in that realm is where he should once again be this season as well.  Unfortunately Jones is not a threat to hit .300 unless he gets some big time BABIP luck due to his higher than average K rate.  That we have the stolen bases which Jones was a little more aggressive on in 2012, again no doubt due to the arrival of Showalter.  The 16 steaks were a career-high and showed off the very good speed Jones has.  While he has an outside shot at 20, projecting something in the area of 15-20 is more likely.

Last but not least we have the power which showed growth in 2012 as Jones went from 25 to a career-high 32.  While many say Jones grew into his power and continued on his upward path in that area, we beg to differ just a bit.  While Jones no doubt is a 25 home run guy, projecting another 30 or more is a bit tricky since his fly ball rate was out of whack last April and May when he hit 6 and 10 home runs.  The rest of the way Jones hit 3, 5, 2, and 6 home runs which is when his fly ball rate was back to its standard area code.  If Jones stays on the latter four months' rate which is where we think he will reside, than 25 is more likely than 32. 

All in all, Adam Jones no doubt is a true five-tool fantasy baseball star outfielder and deserves his third round draft slot.  While we may not see any more growth as Jones settles into his prime, the current version is tremendous and no doubt can surely anchor your outfield this season and beyond.

2013 PROJECTION:  .288 28 HR 88 RBI 104 R 16 SB


FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILS SP ROY HALLADAY SHOWS SOME VELOCITY IMRPOVEMENT THU.

                                                                            

Philadelphia Phillies SP Roy Halladay finally saw a bit of a velocity rebound during his start Thursday, hitting between 88-91 consistently during his 4.1 inning stint.  Unfortunately it wasn't all good as Halladay gave up 8 hits and 2 walks while giving up 2 runs.  He struck out six. 

Analysis:  It was a mixed bag here for Halladay but the biggest news item is that the velocity showed signs of life.  The six strikeouts also were key in that Halladay was obviously generating some movement on his pitches.  All in all however there is still major concern about Halladay's ability to stay healthy and be the former ace pitcher he once was. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS 1B MARK TEXEIRA TO BE SEEN BY DR. THU.

                                                                          

New York Yankees 1B Mark Texeira, who is slated to miss the first two months of the 2013 baseball season with a torn tendon sheath in his wrist, is expected to see a specialist on Thursday in order to get a clearer understanding on how long he will be out and if he can take part in some light baseball activities.  No surgery has been planned to this point but the comparisons to Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista and his similar wrist injury last season are still causing concern.

Analysis:  Tex sank to the bottom rounds of both Experts League drafts as he is pretty much only a four month player at best this season.  If surgery is eventually needed than you get a big doughnut under games played for Texeira this season.  Once one of the best sluggers in the game who combined 40-homer pop with a .300 average, Texeira has taken a sharp turn for the worse both health and production-wise the last few seasons.  The visit with the specialist will hopefully shed some more light on this situation however so check back for more on this.


FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: TIGERS OPTION BRUCE RONDON TO MINORS

                                                                           

The Detroit Tigers optioned RP Bruce Rondon to Triple-A Toledo on Thursday, removing one candidate to fill the team's closer role.  Rondon struggled from the start in spring training, compiling an ugly ERA and showed horrible control with 9 walks in only 12.1 innings. 

Analysis:  Right now it is anyone's guess out of Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel, and Al Alburquerque with regards to who could get the closer role.  At this point I maintain that Alburquerque will get the first crack as he has the K rate and past success in the majors to be worth a look. 

FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL EXPERTS LEAGUE 2 DRAFT RESULTS

Two weeks ago yours truly took part in the EXPERTS LEAGUE 1 Fantasy Baseball Keeper Leaguer Draft where we started over for the fist time in four years (four years is our keeper cycle).  I posted the results and how I did, along with commentary on each pick.  Last night Experts League 2 held their draft and this league is in the last year of that keeper cycle so we all came in with four protected players.  My core four was Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp, Jose Reyes, and Adrian Gonzalez.  Needless to say I came in with some mighty bats and would look toward pitching early on in judging the overall values of the players available.  I have won this league four years running and am aiming for a crazy fifth title in a row this season.  Unfortunately I pick 10th (dead last) since I won the previous year and so getting the top guys remaining in the draft pool would be a challenge.  The best of the best available were Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adam Jones in the outfield along with Ryan Braun who was not kept due to his steroids linkage and the increasing chatter he could get suspended.  I also had my eyes on Cliff Lee, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Adam Wainwright for the starters.  All things being equal I thought there was no chance any of the outfielders would make it to me outside of maybe Ellsbury and so Lee and Cain would be the picks if they got to me.  Whereas I always preach hitting, I already in a sense used my first four picks on bats with my keepers and judged the remaining bats outside of those outfielders mentioned as not worth a pick this high.  I concluded that I would concentrate on pitching since I had plans to make value plays on Kendrys Morales (UTIL), Mike Morse (OF 2), and Carlos Gomez (OF 3) to fill out the core spots left in my lineup.  Second base there was good depth available as well so I would go with pitching. 

Anyways once the draft got underway, Braun, Cespedes, Heyward, and Jones all went 1-4.  Giancarlo Stanton than went fifth, followed by Cain, and Ellsbury.  Lee unfortunately went eighth which ticked me off greatly followed by a blank in Ryan Zimmerman who I had no interest in.  So with all this said here is how I performed in the draft starting with ROUND 5.

KEEPERS:
Miguel Cabrera-3B
Matt Kemp-OF
Adrian Gonzalez-1B/OF
Jose Reyes-SS

5.  Madison Bumgarner (SP):  Of course.  You all knew that was coming.  No brainer here as Bumgarner is an ace pitcher who is still crazy young.  Just a tad worried about long postseason run taking a toll on his arm a bit.

6.  Adam Wainwright (SP):  I didn't get Wainwright in Experts League 1 but nabbed him here.  While he is not in the class of Cain and Lee, Wainwright looked like his old self last season in his comeback from TJ surgery.  The saying goes that pitchers coming back from that procedure are stronger in Year 2 so that sounds good to me.  Both guys can supply low WHIP's and ERA's but not 225 K's which I wanted out of Lee.  Will address that when the draft returns.

7.  James Shields (SP):  Bingo.  Got a 225 K ace with solid WHIP numbers.  Shields now gets out of the AL East and could be even better than he was in his big years with Tampa. 

8.  Max Scherzer (SP):  Who is this drafter who took over my body?  Four starters in a row?  Trust me I know it is a bit radical for me but the value was in the pitching in this league since the other owners mostly kept hitters to begin the draft.  So now I have four stud pitchers, with two capable of 225 K's.  I am all set here.  Victor Martinez in play for when it gets back to me along with possibly Gomez.

9.  Wilin Rosario (C):  Martinez went four picks earlier and this was a tough one since Carlos Santana was still on the board.  I went with the slightly better average and better pop from last season.  Rosario is anything but a sure thing but hitting in Colorado sets him up nicely. 

10. Carlos Gomez (OF):  Got worried Gomez wouldn't make it back to me so I bit.  While his average is less than ideal, he won me this league last season with his ridiculous second half.  Major power/speed potential.

11. Kendrys Morales (1B):  Wanted Anthony Rizzo but he went a few picks earlier.  Oh well.  Morales has hit for power all spring and so I doubled up on him after picking him in Experts League 1.

12. Mike Morse (OF):  Morse is now up to eight home runs this spring and will absolutely reach 30 if he stays healthy.  Yes two Mariners back-to-back seems silly but they moved the fences in at Safeco and I now completely stacked the lineup with pop.  Just need to add some more speed to go with Reyes and Gomez.

13. Huston Street (RP): 
Made a move for a closer in Round 13 which was a tad earlier than in Experts League 1.  They were going much quicker in this league so I had to do it.  Street never stays healthy which is annoying but so are closers who blow up your ERA and WHIP which he won't do.

14. Jason Grilli (RP):  I really feel strongly about Grilli's potential this season as I now own him in both leagues.  Very high K rate helps as we have an innings limit.

15. Grant Balfour (RP):  So I now have three very solid closers who I all drafted in Round 13 and later.  That is the way to go.

16. Chase Utley (2B):  Yeah I am setting myself up for disaster with having Utley in both leagues but so far so good with his health and we all know he can hit.  The best part is that he is still stealing bases this spring so this is a very nice sign indeed.

17. Steve Cishek (RP):  While he won't get many saves on the awful Marlins, Cishek has had two very good seasons in a row and can surely provide nice value in Round 17.

18. Marco Estrada (SP):  Rounded out my rotation with a high K/low WHIP kid who can be a breakout guy this season.

19. Emilio Bonifacio (2B/OF):  Filling in my bench now with some speed and versatility for when injuries hit. 

22. Corey Hart (1B/OF):  Same deal here, although Hart is a major value play this late since he won't miss much time early on.

21. Jedd Gyorko (2B/3B):  My insurance for Utley.  Big time potential.

22. Shelby Miller (SP):  Last round upside play.  Which is what all your late round picks should be. 

I feel like I like my Experts League 1 team better than this one.  My hitting is stacked here but I don't have the pitching depth I had in the other league.  My closers are better though.  So overall let me hear your thoughts on how I did.  After all I critique you and it is only fair you do so for me.  

C-Wilin Rosario
1B-Adrian Gonzalez
2B-Chase Utley
SS-Jose Reyes
3B-Miguel Cabrera
OF-Matt Kemp
OF-Mike Morse
OF-Carlos Gomez
UTIL-Kendrys Morales

2B/OF-Emilio Bonifacio
1B/OF-Corey Hart
2B/3B-Jedd Gyorko

1.  Madison Bumgarner
2.  Adam Wainwright
3.  James Shields
4.  Max Scherzer
5.  Marco Estrada

Huston Street
Jason Grilli
Grant Balfour
Steve Cishek

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: NATS 3B RYAN ZIMMERMAN HITS 3 HOME RUNS WED.

                                                                            

Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman hit three home runs on Wednesday in a split-squad game.  While Zimmerman's homers came against Double-A pitchers, he seems locked in and ready to go for the Opener. '

Analysis:  The biggest news in all of this is that Zimmerman is healthy after taking it slow at the start of camp.  As talented as Zimmerman is, his annual DL stint is a major deal that has to be taken into consideration when totally evaluating his outlook. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BREWERS OFFICIALLY PLACE COREY HART (KNEE SURGERY) ON DL

                                                                         

The Milwaukee Brewers placed outfielder Corey Hart on the DL Wednesday and backdated it to March 22.  The fact Hart was not placed on the 60-day DL after undergoing knee surgery earlier in camp means the team still believes he will be ready to come back in the middle or toward the end of April.

Analysis:  I drafted Hart in Round 19 in the Experts Draft which shows you how far he has fallen due to the surgery.  That is ridiculous since he is slated to come back by the end of April and maybe sooner and has the bat to still hit 20-25 home runs from that point on.  Tremendous value guy this season. 

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: PABLO SANDOVAL 3B SAN FRANCSICO GIANTS

Perhaps no other player in the 2012 MLB Postseason earned more fanfare and rightfully so than San Francisco Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval.  Hitting a scorching .364 with 6 home runs, highlighted by a three-home run bonanza in Game 1 of the World Series against Detroit's Justin Verlander, Sandoval was the man for the World Series-winning Giants.  It was surely a terrific way to end the season as far as generating positive thoughts for 2013 fantasy baseball, since Sandoval's crazy good postseason helped mask an injury-marred 2012 regular season when he missed a significant number of games due to a broken hamate bone in his hand/wrist.  In fact it was the second straight season Sandoval had broken the bone and in the last two years he has collected only 426 and 396 at-bats, to go along with all the weight issues he has dealt with since breaking into the major leagues.  In between all the missed time however, Sandoval has proven to be one of the better hitting third baseman in the game.  With that said, let's now take a closer look at what we could expect out of Sandoval in 2013 fantasy baseball. 

All the injuries aside, Pablo Sandoval is a pure hitter who has a career .303 mark. With his days as a catcher over for good, Kung Fu Panda has made third base his home despite his sometimes large body.  The batting average is almost a lock to land somewhere in the neighborhood of .300 and it is that part of his game that is the easiest to forecast.  Hitting third in the Giants lineup, Sandoval is set up to put up a decent amount of runs and RBI but the perennially weak San Francisco lineups unfortunately puts a dent in his overall numbers there.  In fact with a big assist from his injuries, Sandoval has never topped 79 runs scored and only once has he gotten more than 70 RBI (90 in 2009).  Also Sandoval contributes almost nothing in the stolen base department which is obvious given his immense size.

That brings us to the power which is what usually makes or breaks Sandoval's overall value.  He showed in 2009 when he hit 25 home runs that the thump is there to be had.  However the next three years he has hit only 13, 23, and 12 home runs.  Surely the games missed contributed to the lower numbers but Sandoval's fly ball rate is not conducive enough for him to be anything more than the 25-home run guy he was back in the 2009 season.  Project around 20 to be his home run number and anything more would be a bonus.

All in all, Sandoval remains towards the bottom of the top ten fantasy baseball third baseman.  While he will surely do his part to help your team, he won't carry it either.  Throw in the injury risk and overall Sandoval is a guy you can certainly do better than this season.

2013 PROJECTION:  .308 22 HR 78 RBI 73 R 4 SB

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MRI ON JACOBY ELLBURY'S HEEL COMES BACK CLEAN

                                                                

Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury's MRI on his injured right heel came back clean on Wednesday and he is in no jeopardy of missing Opening Day according to a team press release.  While Ellsbury is out for a third straight day due to continued soreness, the MRI confirmed the team's thinking that it was only bruised.

Analysis:  Let this be a reminder of how fragile Ellsbury can be and as talented as he his, he remains a major fantasy baseball risk due to his injury problems over the last few seasons. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: NATS BRYCE HARPER OUT WED. WITH THUMB BRUISE

                                                                    

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is out of the lineup Wednesday due to continued soreness in his left thumb.  Harper has been dealing with pain in the thumb since jamming it over a week ago and the Nationals are expected to keep him out the next few days as a precaution.

Analysis:  There is really nothing to worry about here as Harper said himself he could play if this were the regular season.  However there is nothing to gain from making the thumb worse in a meaningless game so the Nats are correct in keeping him out. 

FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: CUTDOWN DAY NOT KIND TO TOP GUYS

The cuts came swiftly on Tuesday as all 30 major league teams pared their rosters with Opening Day less than a week away.  And it is the last week of spring training where the top pitching and hitting prospects from around the game learn their fate, which usually falls under them picking up a bus ticket and heading back to the farm.  That was the case for just about every one of the top guys in each discipline and so those who invested in these youngsters will need to stash them away on their benches and likely wait until June 1st to get their first returns.  With financial incentives strongly dictating matters, what with waiting until June 1st setting back the player's arbitration clock another year, it reinforces how reaching to draft these "sleepers" is usually a bad idea in non-dynasty fantasy baseball leagues.  With that said, let's take a look at the top names who went down and their prospects for when they could come up.

Travis D'Arnaud:  We begin with D'Arnaud, who is universally considered the top hitting catcher in the minors, due to the fact that he actually could be back up very soon according to GM Sandy Alderson.  In fact Alderson said as much on Monday when he spoke about how D'Arnaud would get the immediate call up to the team if an injury were to strike starter John Buck.  Of course the Mets would stand to benefit if nothing happens to Buck as they can re-set D'Arnaud's arbitration clock but at least Alderson went on record saying he is not an automatic June 1st guy.  And D'Arnaud certainly lived up to the hype this spring in hitting .343.  Stash him for sure as I still believe D'Arnaud will be an asset this season as a whole.

Jurickson Profar:  Profar has yet to get his walking papers but it is only a matter of time which the Rangers have acknowledged publicly.  The multi-tooled infielder hit only .244 this spring with no home runs which no doubt cemented the thought that he needed more time in the minors.  Unfortunately when Michael Young got traded, the thinking was that the Rangers were opening up a spot for Profar, who many compare to Hanley Ramirez, but he seems like a sure thing to come up no earlier than June.

Wil Myers:  Myers hit .286 with only one home run in camp for the Rays before getting sent down 10 days ago.  Tampa Bay is a team who absolutely needs to keep costs down due to the lackluster public support of the team in Florida so there is no chance Myers gets the call before June.  His power is extremely good but 10 strikeouts in only 35 spring at-bats is awful and speak to the holes in his swing. 

Yasiel Puig:  If any rookie deserved a shot to break camp with their team, it was the Dodgers' Cuban import Puig who hit and insane .526 with 3 home runs and 4 stolen bases.  Puig looked downright electric and did a fair Yoenis Cespedes impersonation.  Unfortunately he too got sent down on Tuesday as the Dodgers have a crowded outfield with Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier.  Run to your wire to add him if any injuries strike there.

Zack Wheeler:  Wheeler was done before he started as he came down with an oblique injury the second week or camp and fell way behind.  Manager Terry Collins also spoke of Wheeler being wild at times so he has some fine-tuning to do before he gets the call in June.  Considered the top pitching prospect in the game, Wheeler looks like a classic power pitcher who will be an ace in short order.  Has no chance to come up before June though.

Shelby Miller:  Miller was the only one of this group to break camp with the the major league team as he won the fifth starter's job outright.  I did a bigger piece on him the other day so be sure to check out what kind of expectations you need to have if you are an owner of this future ace.

As always we will stay on top of all the latest prospect news both here and on the FORUM board so keep checking.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED CLOSER RANKINGS

With Aroldis Chapman being re-inserted into the closer role earlier in the week, the 2013 fantasy baseball closer rankings got moved around a bit. 

1.  Craig Kimbrel
2.  Aroldis Chapman:  Is the only closer in the game who could possibly challenge Kimbrel for the top spot.
3.  Jonathan Papelbon
4.  Mariano Rivera
5.  Rafael Soriano
6.  Jim Johnson
7.  Jason Motte:  Slips a bit now that he will start the 2013 season on the DL with elbow trouble. 
8.  Fernando Rodney
9.  Joel Hanrahan
10. Tom Wilhelmsen
11. Joe Nathan:  If he gets off to rough start, Joakim Soria will be ready by May.
12. Sergio Romo
13. Huston Street
14. J.J. Putz
15. Rafael Betancourt:  The big problem here is that Betancourt is likely going to be moved at or before the trade deadline since the Rockies are not anywhere near contention this season.
16. Greg Holland
17. John Axford
18. Grant Balfour
19. Jason Grilli
20. Casey Janssen:  Just got himself right with his shoulder before Opening Day.  Will move up this list if he shows he is fully healthy when the games count.
21. Glen Perkins
22. Chris Perez  Threw a scoreless inning in his return to action off his shoulder injury.
23. Bobby Parnell
24. Steve Cishek
25. Addison Reed
26. Brandon League:  Can't possibly seeing him last the season in the job since the more capable Kenley Jansen is behind him.
27. Ernesto Frieri:  Frieri would be much higher on this list if he had the job solely to himself.
28. Jose Veras
29. Carlos Marmol
30. Detroit Closer:  Throw a dart on the wall.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: INDIANS CLOSER CHRIS PEREZ (SHOULDER) THROWS SCORELESS INNING

                                                                         

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez took his final step in his comeback from an early camp shoulder injury in throwing a scoreless inning Tuesday in a game against the Oakland Athletics.  This was the first appearance in a game for Perez this spring and he reported no problems afterward.  He remains on track to be ready to go for Opening Day.

Analysis:  Great news.  This clinches the fact that Perez will be in the bullpen when Opening Day arrives.  While not the best closer in the world, Perez has been decent the last few seasons and deserves a mid-tier grade. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: GIANTS 3B PABLO SANDOVAL (ELBOW) EXPECTED TO BE READY OPENING DAY

                                                                        

San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval is expected to be ready to go for Opening Day after his sore right elbow responded well to an on-field workout Tuesday.  Sandoval will hit off a tee tomorrow and receive throws at third base tomorrow as well in another test for the elbow.  Manager Bruce Bochy spoke Tuesday about how he felt good about Sandoval's progress and believed he greatly improved his chances to return to the field shortly.

Analysis:  Kung Fu Panda has been all over the map production-wise the last three seasons due to issues with his weight and hamate bone hand injuries.  While the power has fluctuated a bit, his ability to hit .300 in his sleep has not.  Overall Sandoval remains a solid fantasy baseball third baseman who won't carry your team.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DODGER OPTION OUTFIELDER YASIEL PUIG

                                                                                 

The Los Angeles Dodgers optioned Cuban outfield prospect Yasiel Puig to Double-A Alburquerque on Tuesday despite a growing groundswell of public support to have him break camp with the club.  Puig was on fire with the bat all spring, hitting over .500 with 3 home runs and 4 steals.  The Dodgers have a crowded outfield however with Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier. 

Analysis:  This move tells you that the Dodgers expect Crawford back quickly form his Tommy John and other ailments.  Puig was incredible during camp and is a must add if an injury strikes the outfield. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: NATS' BRYCE HARPER TO REST "A FEW DAYS" HIS SORE THUMB

                                                                            

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is likely to rest for a "few days" due to continued soreness in his left thumb.  Harper hurt the thumb over a week ago and missed one spring game but returned quickly.  However the soreness continues to linger and a Nats team source claims they may rest him the last few days of camp in order to be "cautious."

Analysis:  This doesn't sound like much of anything to worry about so don't obsess over it if you are lucky enough to be a Harper owner.  His game is set to explode in 2013 and only has to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump to realize greatness at 20-years-old this season. 

SUBSETS ADDED TO THE FORUM

We added new subsets to the FORUM we created two weeks ago, one for CLOSER NEWS and the other for INJURIES.  It is there we can all discuss and share news on the latest info from around the league. 

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: COULD YASIEL PUIG BE THIS YEAR'S YOENIS CESPEDES?

During spring training 2012, one of the most talked about rookie sleepers entering the regular season was Oakland A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes whom the team uncharacteristically handed out a massive free agent after he defected from Cuba.  While Cespedes was expected to face a steep learning curve due to his inexperience against top level competition, he proved to be a quick learner in exceeding his rookie expectations last season in hitting .292 with 23 home runs and 16 steals in only 487 at-bats.  Cespedes' performance also reset the idea that Cuban defectors would struggle greatly their first go-round in the majors which leads us to former teammate who also broke the back this past offseason.  I am referring of course to Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig who the team signed to a seven-year deal for $44 million dollars which stunned many in baseball.  Puig was not considered to be in the same potential stratosphere as Cespedes but the Dodgers and their deep pockets were not swayed.  While the team publicly stated that Puig would likely begin 2013 in the minors to help with his adjustment to the game, they also left open the possibility that a big spring could change that thinking.  Well Puig certainly has the Dodgers rethinking their initial plans as he goes into Tuesday's Grapefruit League action hitting an absurd .527 with 3 home runs and 4 stolen bases.  In other words, Yoenis Cespedes numbers.  The rumors are now flying that the Dodgers will bring Puig west with them to being the season as his bat has been too potent to ignore any longer.  So with that said what could we really expect out of Puig both from the get-go and the rest of the season as a whole?

As far as starting the season in the minors, Puig has a solid chance to do so since only Skip Schumaker stands in his way with Carl Crawford starting out on the DL.  However Crawford is already playing in spring games and should be back after the first week of the season which would eliminate any open spot for Puig to play in.  After all the Dodgers are also not going to bench either Matt Kemp nor Andre Ethier.  So really Puig is not a great pla y in the short term if everyone stays healthy.  However we all know Crawford is an injury waiting to happen and when he does hit the DL again, Puig would be on the fast track to busting out.  The speed is top notch and Puig also has power that is still developing.  He does have 11 strikeouts this spring which was the knock on Cespedes when he arrived but we all saw how he successfully worked through those issues in 2012.  Puig has massive upside that needs to be picked up immediately if an injury does hit the Dodgers outfield but for now there is just no place for him to play which limits his immediate potential..  One to absolutely keep track of however.

UPDATE:  Dodgers option Puig to Double-A Alburquerque Tuesday just hours after this writing.  That's too bad but not surprising given the logjam in the outfield.  However the first injury to strike there means instant promotion.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS SP SHAUN MARCUM (NECK) LIKELY STARTING 2013 ON DL

                                                                                  

New York Mets SP Shaun Marcum has added another injury to his extensive medical chart as it was revealed on Tuesday he is likely to start 2013 on the DL due to straining his neck during a bullpen session on Monday.  This on the heels of Marcum just getting back into shape after dealing with a shoulder impingement earlier in camp which limited his throwing program.  He will be evaluated again later on Tuesday for a more definitive prognosis.

Analysis:  It is always something with this guy.  Was a fan of Marcum for a few years now as he was always a guy who pitched well for pennies on the dollar.  Unfortunately his inability to ever stay totally healthy is a major drag on his overall value and at this point he should be let go unless you have a deep bench. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: SHELBY MILLER SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

                                                                       

After a spirited battle versus Joe Kelly for the number 5 starter's spot in the St. Louis Cardinals rotation, prized pitching prospect Shelby Miller was informed by manager Mike Matheney on Monday that he in fact had won the duel and would break camp with the team.  After earning praise throughout baseball as one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues the last two years, Miller now gets his chance to show what all the fuss is about and cement his status as one of the best young pitchers in the game.  With that said, let's take a closer look at Miller with an eye towards what he could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season.

When it comes to Shelby Miller the pitcher, what quickly comes to mind is power and strikeouts which is why so many in the fantasy baseball community have had their interest piqued when his name is mentioned.  Miller throws with a free and easy delivery that quickly gets his fastball near triple digits.  The obvious result when it comes to opposing batters are the strikeouts as Miller has averaged at or better than a K/IP during his minor league tenure.  He took that ratio to the majors during his cup of coffee run with the team last season in September when Miller struck out a terrific 16 batters in only 13.2 innings.  The highlight was a six-inning gem on Oct. 3rd when Miller gave up only 1 hit and two walks with no earned runs while striking out 7.  Combined with very good control and it is outings like this that have Miller on the radar of fantasy baseball players everywhere.

Truth be told, Miller didn't exactly light it up this spring, pitching to a 3.94 ERA as he gave up 17 hits in 16 innings.  However he did strike out 13 batters in those innings which again speaks to the power arsenal he brings to the mound.  And so the potential still is very much in play when it comes to Miller's 2013 fantasy baseball prospects and now that he officially has been named the fifth starter, is worth a look in almost all formats.  Since the decision to tab Miller for the fifth starter's job came down so late this spring, it is likely his name is just sitting there on your league's waiver wire ready to be picked up.  We always speak about potential and ceiling when it comes to investing in fantasy baseball hitters and pitchers.  In the case of Miller, there is plenty of that to take advantage of and the payoff could be significant.


Monday, March 25, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS 3B DAVID WRIGHT (RIBCAGE) WORKS OUT MONDAY WITH NO ISSUES

                                                                          

New York Mets 3B David Wright took part in a full on-field workout Monday and reported afterwards that he felt "great."  Wright is recovering from a strained ribcage suffered in the WBC but he has made almost a complete recovery in the time since it occurred and is slated to be ready for Opening Day.

Analysis:  Good news all around for Wright and his fantasy baseball owners as he will be in there when the games begin to count.  He should once again be in the ballpark of a .290/25 HR/90 RBI season if he stays solid with his health.


FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: IS VERNON WELLS WORTH A LOOK WITH THE YANKS?

                                                                    

Desperate for any kind of offensive help after the injuries to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, and Curtis Granderson, who all will be out Opening Day and beyond with various injuries, the New York Yankees completed a trade with the Los Angeles Angels for outfielder Vernon Wells who the latter had been desperate to get rid of almost at the moment they picked him up from the Toronto Blue Jays.  Injuries and age did a solid double-team to destroying Wells' stats the last three seasons and so when the Yanks came calling, the Angels were willing to eat $28 million of the $42 million left on his ridiculous contract.  Beggers can't be choosers however and so the Yanks will plant Wells in the outfield, while also giving him starts at DH on an almost daily basis until their wounded get back.  At the age of 35 in 2013, the odds are against Wells turning back into his former All Star self but going from a pitcher's park in Los Angeles to one of the best hitter's park in New York could present a potential buying opportunity in deeper fantasy baseball formats.  So with that said let's take a closer look at the current version of Wells and see what in fact he may be able to offer the Yankees this season.

First off, Wells has been an absolute injury mess the last five years or so, with 2012 being particularly rough in that respect with only 243 at-bats.  Whereas Wells was once one of the best players in baseball, combining power and speed to go with a .300-plus average, the current version of the outfielder is one that offers some pop and not much else.  In the last three seasons, Wells has actually been pretty good with his home run rate, cracking 31 homers in 2010 and 25 in 2011 when he topped 500 at-bats.  He also slammed 11 more home runs last season in those 243 at-bats which actually was a pace of 23 which is not terrible by any means.  With the home runs go the RBI so at least in that respect, Wells can still be a help with his power game.  The rest of the package is scary however as Well has hit only .218 and .230 the last two seasons, with his K rate shooting way up as he ages.  Wells also has lost his speed game, with only 18 steals combined the last three years.  So in essence what you are getting for your third or fifth outfielder (depending on how many you use in your league setup) is a guy who can help in only two categories which are home runs and RBI.  Throw in the fact Wells is a major injury liability and the upside is non-existent when it comes to his overall value.  Sure Wells might be able to help in a pinch but there is little to recommend here which is why the Angels were so adamant about getting rid of him in the first place.

2013 PROJECTION:  .245 16 HR 72 RBI 63 R 2 SB


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FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: KYLE LOHSE SIGNS WITH MILWAUKEE

                                                                          

Finally free agent SP Kyle Lohse found a home on Monday as he signed a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers which was reported by CBS' Jon Heyman.  No terms were disclosed as of yet but Lohse will fill a need as a veteran starter in the team's young rotation. 

Analysis:  It was beyond ridiculous how long it took Lohse to sign but the fact a draft pick was attached to his name surely contributed greatly to his delay in finding a home.  He was phenomenal for the Cardinals last season with a 2.86 ERA but that number was inflated by a lucky BABIP.  Lohse's inability to generate strikeouts could cause his numbers to spike this season once his luck moves back to the average region.  


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: JAYS CLOSER CASEY JANSSEN (SHOULDER) READY FOR OPENER

                                                                       

Toronto Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen has been cleared by the team for Opening Day as he passed all of his physical tests after offseason shoulder surgery.  Janssen got off to a very late start this spring from the surgery but really ramped up his work in the last two weeks to the satisfaction of the team.

Analysis:  Janssen should be in line for a ton of saves this season for a Blue Jays team that many are predicting could take the World Series.  He was a revelation in the role last season filling in for Sergio Santos and was so good that a healthy Santos will now set up for him.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JAYS 3B BRETT LAWRIE (RIBCAGE) TO BEGIN 2013 ON DL

                                                                          

Toronto Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie will officially begin the 2013 season on the DL due to the ribcage injury he suffered in the WBC.  Lawrie is still progressing in his rehab and both he and team think he shouldn't miss more than a week or two once the season gets started. 

Analysis:  Lawrie failed to meet overblown expectations last season and his depressed value in 2013 makes a lot more sense and is indicative of the player he really is.  Which is someone who can approach 20 home runs and steal around 15 bases if he stays healthy.  Unfortunately staying healthy has been Lawrie's biggest issue thus far in his career.


FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: GET RE-ACQUAINTED WITH MITCHELL BOGGS

Monday is the day we check in on the world of the ninth inning and the volatile closers who inhabit it.  Let's get right to all the latest news.

-The biggest item of the week was the news that St. Louis Cardinals All Star closer Jason Motte would begin the 2013 season on the DL with what the team calls a "mild" strain of his right elbow.  A subsequent MRI revealed a slight tear as well and Motte will be shut down the next 7 days.  The fallout means that Mitchell Boggs steps into the hot seat for the time being and he is a pretty decent option after finishing 2012 with a 2.21 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.  No fireballer like his colleague,  Boggs struck out only 58 batters in 73.1 innings last season which is not the kind of K rate you want out of your closer.  However Boggs knows how to get outs and should be just fine in the role until Motte gets back.  What is really strange about this whole situation is the lack of information regarding Motte.  We heard about the slight tear which sounds scary but no follow up was given as of this writing.  Also what is the timetable with Motte and his return?  Nothing with the elbow is ever "minor" so it was  curious choice of words by the team.  Either way, this is one situation that needs to be watched closely and if you are drafting this week, knock Motte down more than a little given the murkiness surrounding the injury.

-Still no official word yet on what the Detroit Tigers are doing to do with their closer role as the season is now only 7 days away.  One name we can surely cross out is rookie Bruce Rondon who has pitched horribly with a 5.06 ERA and 7 walks in only 10.2 innings.  Forget that as Rondon clearly needs some more seasoning.  At the end of last season Phil Coke handled closing duties which extended into the playoffs with very good success.  However as a lefty, we all know that managers would prefer to have a righty in the role and keep the southpaw for matchup scenarios. 
Moving right along, despite 17 strikeouts in only 11 innings, Al Alburquerque has an ugly 4.91 ERA and his own control issues with his set of 7 walks.  There is nothing that managers hate more than closers who can't throw strikes so one would think Alburquerque has lost his chance as well.  Finally there is Joaquin Benoit who has been by far the best reliever in camp with a 1.81 ERA and 12 strikeouts in only 10 innings.  Benoit is a righty and has had big time success pitching in setup for the team since signing on as a free agent.  However Jim Leyland has stated more than once that he doesn't want Benoit to close due to his past medical issues and his doubt that he can bounce back on back-to-back outings which is obviously a core requirement for a closer.  On results alone though Benoit is the clear front-runner.

All in all, this is one big mess that really doesn't have an easy solution.  If I had to pick one guy at this point, I would go with Coke given that he did well in the role down the stretch last season but who knows anymore.  The Tigers were linked to Carlos Marmol early in camp so maybe they revisit that this week.  Either way this is looking to be a potentially major issue for the team this season.

-The other major news item of the week was the re-insertion of Aroldis Chapman into the closer role for the Reds.  Chapman had told anyone who asked that he preferred to closer which was backed up by manager Dusty Baker.  However the front office, after spending so much money on Chapman in the first place, wanted to test him out in the rotation in order to see how his 100-mph fastballs would translate.  Chapman pitched well in the role this spring as the stretching out process begun but as camp wore on, the vibes continued coming out that he was unhappy.  Clearly this looks like a case of the player calling the shots and so Chapman goes back to closing where he goes right to the top of the position rankings this season.  While Chapman has no peer
when it comes to dominance in the ninth inning, it would have been great to see how he would have looked as a starter.  It doesn't look like we will ever get the chance either.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: CARDS TO NAME SHELBY MILLER FIFTH STARTER

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Shelby Miller will win the team's fifth starter's spot to begin the 2013 season.  After pitching to a 4.63 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings, Miller will edge out Joe Kelly who will likely go to the bullpen.

Analysis:  Miller didn't exactly light things up this spring but his potential as a strikeout pitcher is legit.  On talent alone, Miller is worth a look at a fifth starter in fantasy baseball this season.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS ON VERGE OF DEAL TO ACQUIRE VERNON WELLS

The New York Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Vernon Wells and an announcement could be made as soon as Sunday night.  With Curtis Granderson, Mark Texeira, Alex Rodriguez, and now Derek Jeter out for Opening Day and beyond, the Yankees were desperate for any sort of hitting help.  With a massive contract that has $42 million left on it, there is a mystery as to how much money if any the Angels will pick up.

Analysis:  Just what the Yankees need.  Another over-the-hill, injury-prone, overpriced outfielder.  Wells has continued to hit for power despite a sinking batting average and the erosion of his athletic ability.  No word yet on who the Yanks will surrender or if they just will provide salary relief for Los Angeles.  Wells would retain slightly better fantasy baseball value in  New York but not much overall.


FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: NATS BRYCE HARPER (THUMB) BACK IN LINEUP SUNDAY

Updating an earlier item, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is back in the lineup Sunday after sitting out Saturday with a sore thumb.

Analysis:  Nothing to see here as Harper is set to go.  He is ready to take that next step to stardom in 2013 and could very well hit 30 home runs and steals 25 bases. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS SS DEREK JETER SCRATCHED SUNDAY WITH ANKLE SORENESS

It was another mini-setback for New York Yankees SS Derek Jeter Sunday as he was scratched from the team's Grapefruit League game due to more soreness in his surgically repaired broken ankle.  Jeter was slated to be the team's DH Sunday but came out of Saturday's game with more discomfort in the joint.  While Jeter maintains his goal is to be ready for Opening Day, GM Brian Cashman has continued with his view that he likely will start out on the DL.

Analysis:  This pretty much clinches the fact Jeter will not be available come Opening Day and at 38 years old, one has to wonder if he finally is heading for that "cliff" season.  Those who drafted Jeter did so against my wishes as investing in any veteran north of 34 is always a poor decision due to the absence of any ceiling. 


FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL EXPERTS LEAGUE 1 DRAFT ANALYSIS; ROUNDS 13-17

Moving right along as I continue with the analysis of all the picks in the Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Experts League Draft.

Round 13

121. Huston Street:  I am a big fan of Street the pitcher but not Street with regards to his health.

122. Tim Lincecum:  I will be perfectly honest with you and admit I have no single idea where to place Lincecum in drafts this season.  I will tell you that his velocity has been on a multi-season decline and his hit rate is aiming up due to all those innings he threw at such a young age.  Could go either way but at least you know you will get strikeouts.

123. Tom Wilhelmsen:  This kid did wonders for me as a waiver gem last season and is a perfect example of how closers show up on the wire all season which means you don't have to draft them early.  Remember it is Round 13 and I don't have so far.

124. Josh Johnson:  Always been a big proponent of Johnson until his shoulder began barking in 2011 and he didn't get it surgically fixed.  The result is diminished velocity and numbers going in the wrong direction.  The Marlins gave up on him as a result and now he calls in the AL East home.  Yikes.

125. John Axford:  Everyone's favorite porn star struggled badly at times last season but he also was quite a bit unlucky with the batted ball.  He should be fine given that his K rate remained very good in 2012.

126. Glen Perkins:  I was aiming at Perkins as a closer with upside who could come cheap but someone else had him in their sights too it looked like.

127. Austin Jackson:  This one is interesting in that Jackson upped the pop last season but lost the steals.  If he can combine the two than we got something nice brewing here.

128. Carlos Gomez:  Damn.  Was going to take Gomez next as he pretty much won me a title in one of the Experts Leagues last season.  In fact Gomez was so good in the second half of 2012 that he rated as the fifth best player in that span in all of baseball.  Really.

129. Wilin Rosario:  This one slipped through the cracks.  If I would have known Rosario would have fallen this far, I would have had second thoughts on picking V-Mart when I did.  Power is real folks.

130. Kendrys Morales:  MY PICK!!  Yes we are reunited again.  I continue to preach how underrated this guy is and especially now that his leg issues are behind him and he will be playing every day in Seattle.  Check out those spring numbers.  Could really be a threat for 30 home runs.

ROUND 14

131. Norichika Aoki:  MY PICK!!  Addressed my stolen base deficiency here with diamond in the rough Aoki.  Kid did so much better than anyone could have anticipated last season when he went 10/30.  While I doubt he improves on that given he is already 30, Aoki will more than
outproduce this draft slot.

132. Jeff Samardzjia:  I realized in this draft that I didn't get most of the guys I propped up all winter such as this guy.  It wasn't that I didn't try but that is just how the draft went.  Anyway I think the former Notre Dame receiver turned pitcher Samardzjia could strike out 200 batters and so a nice Max Scherzer impression.

133. Curtis Granderson:  I also admit that I thought of making a value play on Granderson but I can't stand how he is becoming so one-dimensional with the power.

134. Ian Kennedy:  Amazing how far this guy fell off a rough 2012.  He is a better pitcher than a 14th round selection.

135. Shane Victorino:  Major bust potential with Victorino but in Round 14 I guess it is all right.  Struggled badly against righties last season which is not the arm you want to have issues with.  Rate stats also sinking everywhere.

136. David Freese:  Solid but unspectacular third baseman.  This is the guy you get when you wait to address the spot.

137. Hiroki Kuroda:  No one appreciates Kuroda more than I do as he was my fifth starter every year he was with the Dodgers.  Was terrific with the Yankees in 2012 which shocked all of us.  Sorry I just can't get on the bandwagon at his age and with nowhere to go but down with his stats.

138. Todd Frazier:  Very intriguing kid who could be a very nice source of power for the cost of pocket change.  Dual eligibility at third and first also a bonus.

139. Alexi Ogando:  Don't know where this came from. This owner must be his brother or something.  Just kidding Joe.

140. Chris Davis:  Davis is a guy who continues to get punished for flaming out in Texas.  This happens all the time with hyped prospects who initially don't pan out but than work through their issues to be nice assets.  Davis has monstrous power and even though he won't help much in average, is a steal at this point in the draft.

ROUND 15

141. Josh Willingham:  Amazing.  What more does this guy have to do to get some more respect.  Ridiculous.

142. Melky Cabrera:  If it were up to me, Cabrera would rot on the waiver wire after the stunts he pulled with the steroids and all.  Likely to be a shell of his PED-fueled self but in Toronto at least he has a park to try and salvage some of his numbers.

143. Eric Hosmer:  I like it.  Great pick here as Hosmer is the post-hype sleeper to get in 2013.  While his ground ball heavy approach won't help with the home runs, the fact Hosmer can steal bases and hit for a decent average if he figures out his issues against lefties make him a Paul Goldschmidt-lite stock.

144. CJ Wilson:  Garbage.  How a guy could pitch worse upon leaving Texas is a mystery.

145. AJ Burnett:  Saved his career going back to the NL.  Actually was shockingly good as a whole.  Why not at this point in the draft?

146. Joel Hanrahan:  Drop in velocity caused his K's to drop which bears watching.  Otherwise is as dependable as they get at a volatile group.

147. Jake Peavy: What is crazy is that Peavy pitched like a top 15 pitcher last season but damn I wish he would have signed anywhere besides re-upping in Chicago.  Reeks of a guy who won't come close to replicating the nice health he had in 2012 along with the numbers.  You can't go wrong with the draft slot though.

148. Rafael Betancourt:  I seem to like him more than most.  Dependable without a lot of fanfare.

149. Adam Eaton:  Was looking like a nice investment until he sprained the UCL in his elbow.

150. Grant Balfour:  MY PICK!!  So in Round 15 I finally grab a closer and I get a decent one in Balfour who will get a ton of chances with the A's who always play tight contests.

ROUND 16

151. Jason Grilli:  MY PICK!!  Doubled up on closers and feel I got two good ones for the price.  Grilli has extreme K rate to succeed in the role and that is all you can ask for a closer.

152. Salvador Perez:  Yeah I think my V-Mart pick was not so good.  I drooled so much over this guy my dog was disgusted with me.  A lock to hit .300 which is very rare at catcher and the power started to show up last season with 11 longballs in less than 300 at-bats.  Bright future.

153. Adam LaRoche:  The Josh Willingham of first baseman.  Amazing how 30 home runs can come so cheap but that is the story of LaRoche's career.

154. Jon Lester:  Tremendous pick here as Lester looks like his old self this spring with his velocity back up.  And sometimes that is all it takes to get back to what a player was used to doing.

155. Mike Morse:  CRAP!  Had Morse all lined up and truthfully I should have moved on this earlier.  The annual Spring Training MVP already had 7 home runs as of this writing in camp and what is really great is that Morse also hits for a .300 average.  Why does he always slip in drafts?  Help me out.

156. Dan Haren:  It is picks like this that can help you win a league title.  Haren is absolutely worth a look in drafts this season now that he is back in the NL.  Expect solid improvement from his injury-marred 2012 and maybe even more.

157. Jonathan Niese:  Not for me given the lack of K's but Niese is developing into a very good pitcher.

158. Steve Cishek:  Not sure how many save chances he will get but Cishek has been murder on batters the last two seasons.

159. Travis D'Arnaud:  Not breaking camp with the Mets which is a bit of a mild surprise but clearly worth a stash since hitting catchers like this are rare.

160. Hunter Pence:  Another guy whose star is crashing to earth.  That is what happens when you can't hit in Philadelphia of all places.

ROUND 17

161. Chris Perez:  Shoulder seems all right and should break camp with the club.

162. Nick Markakis:  Still dealing with injuries this spring and just doesn't move the needle much anymore.

163. Andre Ethier:  This is a veteran who is not old enough yet to avoid late in drafts.  Solid pick.

164. Andy Pettitte:  Was a lot more pitchers I would have looked at instead of a 40-plus lefty with injury concerns.

165. Chris Capuano:  Just be sure to trade him at the All Star Break.  Always fades.

166. Kenley Jansen:  Not sure if this guy knows something I don't but Brandon League is closing games for the Dodgers.  Even though Don Mattingly is out of his mind not using Jansen.

167. Addison Reed:  Reed was pretty pathetic closing games for the White Sox last season but he was a rookie and figures to improve.

168. Tim Hudson:  Ehhh.  Aging and has no strikeouts to speak of anymore.

169. Jonathan Broxton:  Worthless now that Chapman is closing.

170. Emilio Bonifacio:  MY PICK!! Great guy to put on your bench when you need steals.  Also qualifies both at second base and in the outfield which is very attractive for his bottom line value.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: REDS SP MAT LATOS LEAVES AFTER BEING HIT BY LINER IN SHIN

                                                                         

Cincinnati Reds SP Mat Latos was forced from his Saturday start due to being hit on the left shin by a liner.  While Latos walked off under his own power, he seemed to be in more than a little discomfort. 

Analysis:  No word yet on the severity but it is likely the team is just being cautious.  While far from an ace pitcher, Latos has settled in as a solid low end number 2 starter in fantasy baseball leagues.  He should be right around that level this season. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BRAVES SP JULIO TEHERAN STRIKES OUT 10 IN 6 HITLESS INNINGS SATURDAY

                                                                            

Atlanta Braves SP Julio Teheran continued his spring dominance on Saturday as he struck out 10 batters while yielding no hits during his six inning stint on Saturday.  Teheran now sports a ridiculous 1.04 spring ERA as his high 90's fastball is racking up the K's in massive fashion.

Analysis:  Do yourself a favor and pick up Teheran where available.  Any SP who can punch out as many batters as Teheran has done this spring needs to be looked at closely.  While he still has a ton to prove, Teheran could be a big time sleeper this season. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: NATS OUTFIELDER BRYCE HARPER SCRATCHED WITH SWOLLEN THUMB

                                                                            

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was scratched from Saturday's Grapefruit League game Saturday which was caused by being jammed by a pitch Friday.  No word yet on the severity of the injury.

Analysis:  Any kind of ailment attached to Harper's name is cause for concern.  While the team is likely just being cautious, the recent thumb ailments of Hanley Ramirez and Chase Headley are examples of how bad things can get with there.  Stay tuned.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: CARDS CLOSER JASON MOTTE TO HIT DL WITH ELBOW SPRAIN

                                                                        

St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Motte should start the 2013 season on the DL with what the team calls a "mild" right elbow sprain.  Motte complained of stiffness in the elbow after his appearance on Thursday and an MRI showed a slight tear in the joint.  He will be shut down by the team for now and no official timetable has been set as far as how long he could be out.  Mitchell Boggs will likely get save chances in his place.

Analysis:  Stop reading this and run to your waiver wire to add Boggs who pitched great in setup last season.  This is a bit worrisome as the team found a tear in the elbow and anything to do with that region for a pitcher is very scary.  Stay tuned as the team should release information on this later.