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Friday, February 28, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: MIGUEL SANO HEADED FOR TESTS AFTER MORE ELBOW SORENESS

                                                                      

Minnesota Twins top power hitting prospect Miguel Sano is headed for testing after experiencing renewed soreness in his right elbow.  Sano has been battling a strained ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow which has led to off again/on again soreness and the Twins now want to get to the bottom of the extent of the issue.

Analysis:  Hmmmm.  If Sano were a pitcher we would really be panicking but remember hitters have undergone Tommy John surgery as well so there is cause for concern.  In fact a Twins insider says Tommy John has been talked about which would finish Sano for 2014.  He was expected to begin the season in the minors. 

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: RAVENS SING DENNIS PITTA TO FIVE-YEAR DEAL

                                                                     

The Baltimore Ravens wasted little time in re-signing free agent tight end Dennis Pitta to a five-year deal.  Terms were not yet released.

Analysis:  Pitts was a top sleeper for of mine in fantasy football prior to 2013 before he injured his hip and he is back in that status again for 2014.  Potentially great value play here at an always rough position. 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: DO NOT COMPARE MATT HARVEY AND ZACK WHEELER

                                                           Zack Wheeler

It was quite possibly the biggest gut punch any fantasy baseball owner of any player took for all of the 2013 season when it was learned that the New York Mets' Matt Harvey, in midst of a Cy Young monster campaign, would be forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.  The procedure would finish Harvey off for the rest of 2013 and all of the upcoming 2014 season as well.  For a guy who would have been a rock solid top five overall fantasy baseball ace, his loss is tremendous.  However there are many who are looking for the next Matt Harvey (of which we are certain we have discovered him.....just sign up to the INSIDER package to find out who it is) and that search has stayed in the New York Mets clubhouse in the form of rotation-mate Zack Wheeler.  The comparisons are easy to make on face value.  Both were groomed as power pitchers coming up the farm system and both shared a New York Mets uniform in 2013.  While both Harvey and Wheeler have extreme power arsenals, the comparison should not go very far when you break down the advanced stats and numbers which were are going to do below.  After reading this post, you will see why Wheeler is not even in Harvey's ballpark as a pitcher and how his upside is not as vast either.

Now I am not going to say there are not some similarities with the two.  Their Triple-A numbers are incredibly similar which you can see below:

Harvey:  3.69 ERA  9.2 K/9  3.9 BB/9
Wheeler: 3.93 ERA  9.6 K/9  3.5 BB/9

In fact looking at the numbers above, Wheeler was better than Harvey in two of their three categories.  However the stark differences between the two were seen at the highest level in 2013 with the Mets.  Harvey rocked a pure domination 10.6 K/9 while Wheeler checked in only at 7.6  Harvey's walk rate improved dramatically while Wheeler suffered from poor pitch efficiency and bouts of walks.  Finally Harvey struck out a ridiculous 28 percent of the batters he faced to Wheeler's 19.5.  Wheeler's fastball, which measured out as fast as Harvey's, didn't have the movement his teammates had which led to the lower K rates.  Also opposing hitters allowed Wheeler to throw more pitches and create trouble for himself with his lack of control which gave them fat offerings to smack later on.  While Wheeler did a fine job as a rookie, he is not even in the same area code as Harvey.

Now Wheeler has every right to improve in 2014 as he gains more experience.  Remember when Harvey had his cup off coffee run with the Mets late in 2012, he struggled with his control and walked more guys than he should have.  However Harvey was a strikeout monster even than which Wheeler has not done at the major league level.  I am not ready to say that Wheeler is anything more than an SP 4 in all formats but one who carries good upside.  Just keep the distinction between the two in your mind at the draft.

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2014 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARINERS SHUT DOWN TAJAUAN WALKER (SHOULDER) FOR A WEEK, MAY NOT BE READY FOR START OF SEASON

                                                     
 
The Seattle Mariners have shut down top pitching prospect Tajuan Walker due to ongoing soreness in his pitching shoulder.  An exam revealed an inflamed bursa sac in Walker's shoulder but no structural issues were discovered. 
 
Analysis:  Lots of shoulder and calf ailments early in camp and it is a bummer what is going on with Walker who is considered the top pitching prospect in all of baseball and who was likely to start the 2014 season in the rotation if healthy.  Walker is starting to run out of time to be ready to go for Opening Day and he could be looking at a Cole Hamels situation where he gets back around April 15th if no other issues are found.  For the time being slightly downgrade Walker on your cheat sheets but not too far as he has immense upside.
 
 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JOSE IGLESIAS TO MISS A WEEK WITH SORE SHINS

                                                        

Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias will miss the next week of spring training games due to a bout of soreness in his shins.  Iglesias reportedly has a long history of shin splints and that seems to be the issue once again for the slick-fielding shortstop.

Analysis:  Don't go crazy here if you have Iglesias in your plans for 2014 fantasy baseball.  Honestly you shouldn't have him in your plans in anything other than an AL-only format as the .300 average he put up last season is an outlier number for him and he has zero pop and speed which is a huge negative in the middle infield. 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: NOAH SYNDEGAARD FILTHY ALREADY

By Michael Wong
 
                                                        
 
Port St. Lucie, Fla.--Wow.  That simple three letter word was the only one you could use if you witnessed top New York Mets pitching prospect Noah Syndegaard throw his first spring training outing in the team's intrasquad game on Thursday.  The prime return from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade, Syndegaard is quickly establishing himself as the next power monster starter coming out of the team's system.  Syndegaard pitched two innings in the outing and struck out five on the strength of his fastball which routinely touched 98-mph.  His curveball came in at a ridiculous 84 which completely tied up the Met hitters who had the unfortunate task of going up against him.  Unlike Zack Wheeler who is slightly ahead of him in development and already firmly in the Met rotation, Syndegaard has excellent control to go with his extreme power arsenal.  He is destined to be optioned once spring training finishes up as the Mets currently don't have a need in the rotation but a summer promotion is almost guaranteed.  The fact Jonathan Niese' shoulder checked out clean makes the need for Syndegaard negligible for the time being but he will be fast tracked soon enough according to team brass.  Syndegaard will make his next start Monday against the Atlanta Braves which is another prime opportunity to fan the growing hype meter.
 
As far as 2014 fantasy baseball is concerned, Syndegaard should still be drafted in all formats despite the fact he won't make his debut until June at the earliest.  Arms like this don't come along often (unless you are the Mets who had three now in the fold with Wheeler, Syndegaard, and Harvey) and we have seen all too often guys like this come up and make huge impacts the second half.  Syndegaard is special and right now he has to be considered right there at the top of al prospect in baseball.
 
 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT TIERS: SECOND BASEMAN

Moving right along as we continue our in-depth look at each position for 2014 fantasy baseball by focusing on the respective draft tiers. 
 
Tier 1
 
Robinson Cano
 
-Obviously.  Cano remains the clear standard bearer at the very shallow second base position and even though he will lose some home runs and RBI in moving to Seattle, he should still put up big time numbers overall and remain a first round pick.
 
Tier 2
 
Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Ian Kinsler, Matt Carpenter, Brandon Phillips
 
-On paper a very impressive group but each has a distinct red flag.  Pedroia has health woes, Kipnis has been horrid in the second half each of the last two seasons, Kinsler's rate stats are on a steep decline and he goes from a hitting park to a pitching one, Phillips is declining everywhere and aging, and Carpenter is overrated since he is only a plus in the volatile average, runs, and just all right in RBI.  Forget about home runs and steals which makes the Cardinals second sacker a 2.5 category guy who is going as high as the fourth round.  Not the best value here.
 
Tier 3
 
Aaron Hill, Daniel Muprhy, Jose Altuve, Ben Zobrist, Jedd Gyorko, Martin Prado, Chase Utley
 
-Take my advice and draft one of these guys a bit later on while you fill out your other spots.  Hill hit at a rate like he did in his big 2012 season and represents great value.  Murphy figured out how to steal bases which added a third category to his name.  Altuve will hit .290 with close to 40 steals.  Prado is a safe veteran who always gives a good average and solid numbers in everything but steals.  Utley had a nice comeback season in 2013 and I actually took advantage of the value but no way am I trusting him two seasons in a row given his ugly health woes.  Finally Gyorko could crack 25-30 home runs in a Miami Marlins Dan Uggla impersonation while hitting around .260.  Go with this tier. 
 
Tier 4
 
Jurickson Profar, Neil Walker, Howie Kendrick, Brian Dozier, Jed Lowrie, Anthony Rendon
 
-Wanted to put Profar higher but we haven't seen anything positive out of him yet and the Rangers could send him to the minors if he struggles early.  Rendon didn't wow us either but like Profar he is a top prospect.  Walker, Kendrick, and Lowrie are all boring veterans.  Dozier has some decent sleeper appeal due to his ability to hit some home runs and steal some bases but his ugly average is a hindrance.
 
Tier 5
 
Marco Scutaro, Kelly Johnson, Nick Franklin, Dustin Ackley, Rickie Weeks, Emilio Bonifacio, Omar Infante, Danny Espinosa, Dan Uggla
 
-Some truly horrible options here in Uggla, Ackley, Bonifacio, and Weeks.  Frankline has some deep appeal as another top prospect but he could be optioned due to the crowded Seattle infield situation. 
 
 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING THURSDAY WRAPUP: RYAN BRAUN HOMERS FIRST AT-BAT

Spring training games are now underway as we already have some numbers to talk about.  Let's get right to it.
 
-Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun got his redemption tour off on the right foot Thursday as he homered in his first at-bat.  Typical.  Good early sign for Braun but he has a ton to prove as far as keeping his previous numbers now that he should be clean from 'roids.  I told you all to avoid this potential mess and one meaningless spring game won't change my tune.  Just too much unknown here for a guy who will go in Round 2.
 
-Speaking of home runs, Prince Fielder launched his first of the spring and first in a Texas uniform.  Fielder will be swatting a ton of home runs this season now that he goes from one of the worst hitting parks in the game to one of the best.  A run at 40 homers is absolutely realistic and Fieler deserves late first round consideration. 
 
-Jason Heyward hit a home run Thursday out of the leadoff spot which is where he is slated to remain once the season gets underway.  Heyward hit his best out of the number 1 spot the second half of last season and will score a ton of runs being up there.  However he still has sizable holes in his swing he has to iron out and his health is also a question mark.  A low end outfielder 2.
 
-Four strikeouts in two innings for Yu Darvish who will likely lead the game in K's this season once again.  What a monster he has turned into and Darvish absolutely is a top five pitcher.
 
 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS TO GIVE JEAN SEGURA FIRST CRACK AT LEADOFF SPOT

                                                          

Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jean Segura will be given the first crack at winning the leadoff spot for the team after the departure of Norichika Aoki.  Segura did not post a good on-base percentage last season but his speed is a natural fit there.

Analysis:  This can only boost to Segura's already high fantasy baseball value as he should see a nice boost in runs and steals out of the leadoff spot.  Segura's rough second half of 2013 was a bit of a concern but his youth and tremendous athletic ability could yield a monstrous fantasy baseball season. 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DODGERS SP ZACK GREINKE EXITS START WITH CALF STRAIN

                                                      

Los Angeles Dodgers SP Zack Greinke was forced out of his Cactus League start Thursday with a calf strain.  This marks the third straight preseason that Grienke has gotten injured and with the Dodgers technically opening the regular season in Australia March, his status for that series is murky.  The Dodgers are however calling his removal "precautionary." 

Analysis:  The injury of camp so far is the calf strain and Greinke is just the latest to come down with the ailment.  Once again Greinke is a favorite of mine and one of the cheapest fantasy baseball aces in the game but his annual spring training injuries have led to some frustration.  Either way the worst that could happen here is that Greinke missed the Australia series which I would prefer since it would save him the travel.  Nothing about this yet has me moving away from wanting to drat Greinke this season. 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL AROUND THE CAMPS: BALTIMORE ORIOLES

We continue again in the AL East as we visit all 30 major league camps and answer some prime fantasy baseball questions at each location.  Today we visit with the powerful Baltimore Orioles who have some thunderous bats led by 50 home run monster Chris Davis.
 
1.  Speaking of Davis that is a great place to start.  What can he possibly do as an encore to his ridiculous 2013 campaign?
Davis was the fantasy baseball hitting story of the year last season as he cracked 53 home runs and 139 RBI to place himself squarely into the first round of 2014 drafts.  Obviously no one should expect Davis to replicate the 53 home runs as that is a completely extreme number especially in today's game.  Opposing pitchers for one will be much more careful around Davis this season and not be as generous as far as giving him pitches to hit.  A slide back to 40-45 home runs is likely but that is still an incredibly high number and makes Davis worth a first round grab.  Another issue however to stay aware of is Davis' .286 average last season which was propped up big time by an unsustainable amount of BABIP luck.  Taking things even further, Davis struck out in 30 percent of his at-bats last season which is a rate that generally goes with around a .260 average.  Don't be shocked if Davis ends up in that neighborhood. 
 
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2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: JACOBY ELLSBURY/CARLOS GOMEZ

Been awhile since we checked in on another 2014 fantasy baseball draft debate so let's get to a new one today involving the top tiers of outfielders.  Today we being you the New York Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury and the Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez who are being drafted virtually in the same spots in second rounds of drafts this winter.  So with that said let's find out once and for all who should be picked ahead of the other by comparing the two among the five standard ROTO categories.

RUNS:  This one will be all Ellsbury who will hit atop an explosive Yankees lineup which means 100-plus runs.  Gomez meanwhile will bat anywhere from second to fifth which means he won't be put in position to score as many runs and the last two years in his breakout he managed only 72 and 80 total in that category.  Easy one for Ellsbury.
ADVANTAGE:  Jacoby Ellsbury

RBI:  The flip side of the lineup shuffle is RBI where Gomez is now going to be in better position to collect from this area as opposed to Ellsbury in the leadoff spot.  Last season Gomez had 20 more RBI than Ellsbury by a tally of 73-53 and that was with the latter leading off in a very good Red Sox lineup.  Lineup order means everything in this.
ADVANTAGE:  Carlos Gomez

AVERAGE:  Each of these two have distinct advantages in certain respective categories and despite Gomez making nice progress in his batting average the last few seasons, Ellsbury wins out here.  For their careers Ellsbury is a career .297 hitter to Gomez' .255. 
ADVANTAGE:  Jacoby Ellsbury

HOME RUNS:  Last season Gomez blew Ellsbury away by outhomering him 24-9.  Now Ellsbury should be able to see a solid uptick in homers as a lefty hitter in Yankee Stadium and a run at 20 is possible for the speedster.  However Gomez is already in 20-plus territory and is much more dependable in that area.
ADVANTAGE:  Carlos Gomez

STOLEN BASES:  Gomez has made tremendous strides here with stolen base totals of 37 and 40 the last two seasons but Ellsbury is quite possible the most accomplished runner in the game today with a 70-steal season under his belt and coming off a campaign where he took 52.  Gomez is closing ground but Ellsbury still reigns supreme.
ADVANTAGE:  Jacoby Ellsbury

WINNER:  Jacoby Ellsbury

I have to say I was a bit surprised as I thought Gomez would win out at first glance but the numbers don't lie.  Of course Ellsbury has injury issues that Gomez doesn't so you could argue they are back to being even.  Honestly I have no issues for anyone who picks Gomez over Ellsbury as they are that close.  If you are looking outside of injuries on the surface though Ellsbury would take it due to his new home.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT TIERS: FIRST BASEMAN

The slugging first baseman are up next as we continue to place tiers among all the sports on the diamond in 2014 fantasy baseball.  Let's see where they all currently stand.
 
Tier 1
 
Miguel Cabrera, Chris David, Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Paul Goldschmidt
 
-The studs.  Every one of these guys should go in Round 1 with the possible exception of Votto.  Cabrera is moving back to first base full time this season so he gets included here. 
 
Tier 2
 
Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman, Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer
 
-Combination of some falling vets in Gonzalez and Pujols and guys on knocking on the door of Tier 1 in Freeman and Hosmer.  Actually thought of putting Freeman in Tier 1 which indicates how much I love the guy.  Hosmer hit .324 the second half of last season and has the chance to do a Paul Goldschmidt impression this season outside of fewer home runs. 
 
Tier 3
 
Anthony Rizzo, Allen Craig, Mark Trumbo
 
-Craig doesn't hit enough home runs to be higher on the list among first baseman.  Rizzo meanwhile can easily be a 2 if he gets some average back which he should as he suffered from awful BABIP luck a year ago.  Trumbo's awful average takes luster away from his power numbers. 
 
Tier 4
 
Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, Kendrys Morales, Brandon Moss, Mike Napoli, Matt Adams
 
-This tier is filled with catchers who qualify at 1B such as Posey, Mauer, and Santana.  Play them all at catcher.  Meanwhile play the rest of this bunch at your CI or UTIL.  In particularly intrigued with Belt and Adams among this bunch. 
 
Tier 5
 
Justin Morneau, Corey Hart, Ryan Howard, Adam LaRoche, Chris Carter, Adam Lind, Nick Swisher, Adam Dunn
 
-Fading veterans tier.  Nothing very attractive here by any means and all should be bench guys except for maybe Hart. 
 
Tier 6
 
Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Juan Francisco, Darin Ruf, Yonder Alonso, Mitch Moreland, James Loney, Paul Konerko, Logan Morrison, Mark Reynolds
 
-Look away friends.  Look away.
 
 
As always let us hear your thoughts.  Post your comments in the space below.
 
 
 
 
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2014 PROJECTION:  .257 28 HR 91 RBI 74 R 3 SB


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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As we have advertised since last month, the 2014 Fantasy Sports Boss Season INSIDER package is available for only a one-time payment of $49.99 which gives you access to all the INSIDER articles and features until the end of the season.  However for those who wish to pay monthly, we are now offering the package for $9.99 for 30 days of access.  Use the BUY NOW TAB below or above on the homepage to get your 30 day access.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ANGELS OUTFIELDER JOSH HAMILTON (CALF) OUT AT LEAST TWO WEEKS

                                                 

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton is out at least the next two weeks due to a calf strain which he injured running in drills Tuesday.  Hamilton was seen after walking around with crutches and manager Mike Scoscia indicated there is no guarantee he returns after the initial two weeks.

Analysis:  No good.  Hamilton once again is showing his fragile nature and this is not a good start coming off his disturbingly bad season in 2013.  Right now he is nothing more than a low end outfielder 2 in my book and I really have no pull to draft the guy anyways even if he were healthy. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS SP JON NIESE HEADED FOR MRI ON SHOULDER

                                                    

New York Mets lefty SP Jon Niese is heading for an MRI due to a bout of shoulder soreness.  While alarming, the soreness is not in the same area of his partially torn rotator cuff.  Earlier in the day Niese was given the Opening Day starting assignment earlier in the day before the soreness surfaced. 

Analysis:  This is very discouraging as Niese could miss up to two weeks even if it is a minor issue which means Opening Day is now in question.  Rafael Montero would likely get the nod over top prospect Noah Syndegaard so don't automatically think the latter is set to get promoted.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL AROUND THE CAMPS: TAMPA BAY RAYS

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We remain in the AL East today as we continue our tour around all 30 major league ballparks by looking at the teams from a closer fantasy baseball ankle.  Today we bring you the always underrated Tampa Bay Rays who continue to preach speed and pitching.  Here are five key questions and the sleepers and busts from the Rays roster.

1.  Is it too early to call Wil Myers an outfielder 1 in fantasy baseball terms?
A bit early but Myers could certainly graduate to that plateau in 2014 so vast is his potential.  Power is the name of the game when it comes to Myers who cracked 13 home runs with the Rays in only 335 at-bats.  Myers has a naturally powerful swing that reminds me of Cincinnati's Jay Bruce and 30 home runs is entirely possible this season and eventually a run at 40.  Let's not get too ahead of ourselves yet though as Myers could face somewhat of a sophomore learning curve as many hitters do early on.  What we can say for certain is that the home runs and RBI will be there and Myers will post a solid average as well, although not likely repeating the .293 from last season due to his high K rate.  In addition there is a big of speed here as well as Myers can swipe around 10 bags or so which is a bonus.  Right now Myers is a middle of the pack outfielder 2 in fantasy baseball but like I said earlier the upside to be a 1 is there.

2.  David Price is surprisingly still a Ray and is coming off a 2013 season where he got hurt and lost velocity.  Risky investment?
Price was certainly a sizable letdown in the first half of last season as he hit the DL and was hit hard when on the mound to the tune of horrific ERA's over five each of the first two months.  However once Price returned to the mound he was money as he pitched to a tiny 2.87 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in the second half.  Concerning though is the fact Price's velocity was down all season as he had his worst K rate since turning a pro.  Price has thrown a lot of innings at a young age which makes me worried that his arm has lost some pop and since he still remains in the AL East for now, that has me leery of making an investment since guys like Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke are all safer choices and who have generally the same draft price.  Price also is likely to be traded at some point and we have no idea where that will be which adds more volatility to the equation.

3.  You are in love with Alex Cobb aren't you? 
He had me at hello.  Insider subscribers know that I picked Cobb as my darkhorse 2014 American League Cy Young winner and for good reason.  Cobb was in the midst of an ace-like fantasy baseball season until taking a liner off his skull in a horrific batted ball incident.  That put Cobb on the DL for two months which helped dull the excitement over how great he was when healthy.  Overall Cobb pitched 2.76 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while showing his best K rate ever in striking out 134 batters in only 144.1 innings.  The cheaper than it should draft price makes Cobb a terrific investment as you can the cost for an SP 3 while possibly getting a 1. 

4.  On the flip side your love doesn't extend to Matt Moore huh?
Absolutely not.  First of all throw out the 17 wins last season as Moore had one of the highest rates of run support as any pitcher in the game.  Also Moore's control remains horrible which leads to an inflated WHIP and shorter outings than he is capable of.  In addition Moore has a history of elbow trouble as it flare dup once again last season.  There is a ton of red flags here which makes Moore a guy you want to avoid.

5.  Will Desmond Jennings ever take that next step?
It is staring to not look like it.  Jennings is doing his best B.J. Upton Tampa Bay Rays 2.0 impression with his low averages and solid power/speed numbers.  Now 27 years old, Jennings is right on the cusp of settling into his current level of production which is good but not great and certainly not what was expected when he first arrived on the scene.  Strikeouts have continually been an issue and Jennings even saw a drop in his stolen base efficiency last season which is a concern.  Overall we are looking at around 10-15 home runs and 30 steals which is no doubt useful but only in a low end outfielder 2 way.  Stop waiting for the breakout and price him for who he is at this stage.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: SUCCESSFUL BULLPEN SESSION FOR PHILS SP COLE HAMELS WEDNESDAY

                                                          
 
Philadelphia Phillies ace SP Cole Hamels threw a successful bullpen session early Wednesday at camp and reported no issues afterwards.  Hamels is taking steps in coming back from a sore shoulder and he is currently about a week and a half to two weeks behind the rest of the pitchers in camp.  He is expected to begin the season on the DL and return around April 15.
 
Analysis:  I am the biggest Hamels fan there is and will enjoy the discounted rate at the draft but keep in mind shoulders tend to flare up again so there is decent risk here.  Hamels has generally been a durable pitcher however as it has been years since his injury issues when first coming up in the minors.  Take the chance. 
 
 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS 1B MARK TEIXEIRA (WRIST) TO DEBUT NEXT WEEK

                                                     
 
New York Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut next week in his first action since virtually missing all of last season with a torn tendon in his wrist.  Teixeira admitted at the start of spring training that the wrist will likely continue to bother him early on in the season but that he expects to be ready to go well before Opening Day.
 
Analysis:  Teixeira's draft price has fallen drastically to the point where his current ADP is as late as Round 14 in a standard setup.  That actually makes him an attractive investment as your UTIL or CI bat but keep in mind this is a stripped down version of Teixeira who won't ever sniff .300 again.  Now the baseline is 25-30 home runs and a .255 average with injury questions. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BRAVES SCRATCH JUSTIN UPTON WITH SIDE SORENESS

                                                       
 
Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton has been scratched from the team's Grapefruit League game on Wednesday due to soreness in his side.  The team is calling Upton day-to-day and said his removal was for precautionary reasons. 
 
Analysis:  Nothing to see here.  Upton should be fine in a day or so and remains a lower end outfielder 1 in fantasy baseball terms.  He has been around long enough to establish a baseline of extreme hot and cold streaks which add up to around 25-30 home runs and a .270 average and 15 steals.  Good numbers but a bit below his initial expectations. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT TIERS: CATCHER

Today we begin a new series where we visit all of the 2014 fantasy baseball positions in an effort to identify the tiers of all the relevant players among those groups.  We start things off with the catchers who should be drafted later in the proceedings anyway.  Here is how we see the drop-offs among this class.
 
****IN NO PARTICULAR ORDERS IN EACH TIER.*****
 
Tier 1
 
Buster Posey
 
-Posey remains in a class all to himself.  Will not go in the second round again as his numbers dived some last season but third round looks right. 
 
Tier 2
 
Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Wilin Rosario, Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, Jonathan Lucroy
 
-I hate to include Lucroy here as I want to sneak him onto my roster again but the number speak.  Still not going to pick form this group yet as I keep waiting while filling out other spots on the diamond. 
 
Tier 3
 
Salvador Perez, Matt Wieters
 
-My catcher is going to come from either Tier 3 or 4.  Not crazy about Wieters as the average has been horrific even for a catcher but he did suffer poor BABIP luck last season. 
 
Tier 4
 
A.J. Pierzynski, Evan Gattis, Jason Castro, Wilson Ramos, Miguel Montero
 
-Montero was a mystery to me last season and I have no understanding what his deal was.  Castro has a long history of knee problems and an ugly K rate so last season could be tough to do again.  If Ramos can stay healthy he could finish as a top ten guy easy. 
 
Tier 5
 
Travis D'Arnaud, Ryan Doumit, Jarrod Saltalamacchia
 
-D'Arnaud is not anywhere near as bad as he was last season and the potential remains for nice breakout campaign. 
 
Tier 6
 
Mike Zunino, Josmil Pinto, Dioneer Navarro, Carlos Ruiz, Russell Martin, A.J. Ellis
 
-Pinto is mildly interesting but this is an ugly group.  Just be sure not to wait this long to get your catcher. 
 
 
As always fine tune these tiers to your liking but generally this is where the drop-offs will occur.  Also let us know what your thoughts are on this list.
 
 
 
 
 
 
With the fantasy baseball season getting underway with drafts starting to formulate, be sure to get on board to the Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball INSIDER season subscription for only a one-time payment of $49.99.  The package gives you inside access to some of the featured items from the site such as Closing Time, Advanced Stats Corner, additional Player Analyzers, Prospect Watch, Adds/Drops, and more.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the top of the homepage to purchase and right away you will receive the guide PLUS find out who this year's Matt Harvey will be and get all 30 camp reports from around the league.  It pays for itself by the end of one month.   

2014 PROJECTION:  .257 28 HR 91 RBI 74 R 3 SB


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ANGELS SP C.J. WILSON FINE AFTER GETTING HIT IN HEAD AFTER COMEBACKER

                                                        
 
Los Angeles Angels SP C.J. Wilson took a liner off his head on Tuesday but reported afterwards that he was "fine."  Wilson was carted off the field as a precaution but he passed all of the testing afterwards. 
 
Analysis:  Wilson is as durable as they come and has quietly had some very nice seasons in the past with an above-average K rate.  The big problem is an annually poor WHIP due to terrible control and walk rates.  However Wilson's durability makes him a rock solid SP 4 in all formats. 
 
 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: RAYS AND METS HOT AFTER MARINERS' NICK FRANKLIN

                                                        
 
Both the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays are hot after Seattle Mariners infielder Nick Franklin.  Ever since Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners, the team decided to keep Brad Miller at shortstop which made Franklin available.  With more than one team now involved, the Mets and Rays are now likely going to have to bid against one another. 
 
Analysis:  Franklin looks as good as gone and really it would be a good move by either the Mets or Rays to bring him aboard as he is a former first round pick who hit 12 home runs as a rookie.  Franklin stuck out in 25 percent of his at-bats last season which is horrible but the potential is there.  He has little fantasy baseball value right now. 
 
 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ANGELS OUTFIELDER JOSH HAMILTON COULD NEED MRI ON INJURED CALF

                                                        

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton could be headed for an MRI on the calf he injured Tuesday which required him to walk around with crutches afterwards in the locker room.  Hamilton spoke to reporters after the injury and said he wants to be back in about a week.  No official word was handed down by the front office.

Analysis:  Not the best way for Hamilton to put his disastrous 2013 season behind.  We all know Hamilton's body is annually a ticking time bomb and now that he no longer plays in the launching pad that is Texas, his numbers are suffering.  While he did hit well last September, Hamilton is a guy I will avoid like the plague as almost everything about him is going in the wrong direction.  His K rate has shot way up the last two seasons, he is getting old, and he now plays in a pitcher's park.  Not good.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ROCKIES SP JHOULYS CHACIN (SHOULDER) SHUT DOWN FOR ONE WEEK

                                                       

Colorado Rockies SP Jhoulys Chacin will be shut down for a week due to the shoulder pain he felt after a throwing session on Monday.  An MRI revealed a strain and some inflammation and the Rockies will wait for that to calm down before he gets back into action.  While his status for Opening Day is not yet in question, any further complications will get him in trouble there.

Analysis:  Chacin pitched very well for the Rockies last season and was a nice value get in non-innings capped leagues.  However only a week down with any kid of shoulder issue is short and so I expect Chacin to be out longer and thus have Opening Day in jeopardy.  He remains an SP 4 in non-innings capped leagues since he doesn't strike many guys out.  The margin for error with guys like this are very short as it is and since Chacin pitched in Colorado, doesn't strike guys out, and now is hurt makes him one to avoid.



FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PHILS SP COLE HAMELS (SHOULDER) TO THROW BP SESSION WED.

                                                        
 
Philadelphia Phillies SP Cole Hamels is set to throw his first bullpen session on Wednesday as he continues to try and catch up from the shoulder stiffness that plagued him in the winter.  Hamels has reported no setbacks yet and as of now is only expected to miss the first week or two of April.
 
Analysis:  Enjoy the discount and bid heavily on Hamels as everything seems all right here.  I have been a big fan of Hamels for years as he always provides good value since he does not cost as much as some other fantasy baseball ace pitchers and the results are always there. 

Fantasy Baseball News: Cards Closer Trevor Rosenthal Exits With Leg Paiin

St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal exited a BP session Monday with soreness in his leg.  The Cardinals said it was just for precautionary reasons.
Analysis:  There was initial fears of a quad injury but those were put to rest. Rosenthal has the stuff to be a top five closer right out of the gate.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED OUTFIELDER RANKINGS 61-80

The next batch of 2014 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings are here so let's see where this deep group resides.

61. Evan Gattis:  Immense power but you want to play Gattis at the catcher spot only.
62. Martin Prado:  Prado looks a whole lot better at one of the infield positions.
63. Nate McLouth:  Currently a fourth outfielder but one injury to a brittle Washington outfield changes the outlook for the better.
64. Garrett Jones
65. Nate Schierholtz
66. Matt Joyce:  Always a sell around the All Star Break as Joyce is a notorious second half liability.
67. A.J. Pollack
68. Ryan Raburn
69. Jarrod Dyson:  Cheap speed as Dyson could steal close to 40 for the price of very late draft pick.
70. Rajai Davis
71. Michael Brantley
72. Ryan Ludwick
73. Daniel Nava
74. Jordan Schafer
75. Cody Ross
76. Denard Span
77. Gerardo Parra
78. Chris Denorfia
79. Ichiro Suzuki
80. Juan Lagares

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

With the fantasy baseball season getting underway with drafts starting to formulate, be sure to get on board to the Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball INSIDER season subscription for only a one-time payment of $49.99.  The package gives you inside access to some of the featured items from the site such as Closing Time, Advanced Stats Corner, additional Player Analyzers, Prospect Watch, Adds/Drops, and more.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the top of the homepage to purchase and right away you will receive the guide PLUS find out who this year's Matt Harvey will be. 



FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARDS WON'T PUT MICHAEL WACHA ON INNINGS LIMIT

                                                       

St. Louis Cardinals team brass will not put SP Michael Wacha on any sort of innings restriction for the 2014 season.  Wacha totaled 180.1 innings last season and pitched strong all the way through the playoffs. 

Analysis:  This is potentially a huge development as guys like Wacha, Gerrit Cole, and Tony Cingrani all have immense upside for fantasy baseball purposes this season but the threat of an innings limit takes a bit of a bite out of their bottom lines.  At least for now Wacha can be removed from that list and so on that aspect alone he should be picked over the other two. 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL CHEAP POWER: BRANDON MOSS 1B/OUTFIELDER OAKLAND A'S

                                                      Brandon Moss

With pitching dominating fantasy baseball over the last few seasons which should extend into 2014, looking for affordable power is becoming an increasingly difficult endeavor.  However there are some bargains to be had and one resides in the relative anonymity of Oakland where fantasy baseball players hardly ever look for a boost in home runs from that locale due to the vastness of their ballpark.  Of course I am referring to 1B/outfielder Brandon Moss who has become a late blooming home run asset after going deep 21 and 30 times the last two seasons with little fanfare.  So with that said let's dig in a bit deeper on Moss and see what he could provide his prospective 2014 fantasy baseball owners this season. 

Clearly the most attractive aspect of Moss' game is his power and RBI and the two-position versatility is also a solid bonus.  Overall in Moss first complete season in 2013 after getting only 265 at-bats the year prior when he put his name out there for the first time in his career when he hit 21 home runs.  He followed that up last season by hitting 30 home bombs with 87 RBI and 73 runs scored while batting .256.  Not the best numbers in the world but 30 home runs is becoming a very rare achievement in today's game of baseball and Moss should be in line to replicate that number for the A's this season to go along with another run at 90 RBI and around 80 runs scored batting fourth or fifth in the lineup.  Of course Moss won't offer hardly anything in steals and his .256 average is on the low side due to issues against lefties and a high K rate.  As along as a righty is on the mound, Moss can be a very sneaky good source of home runs for your team.  Moss ideally would be bets serve as a bench guy on your team you can plug in at 1B or the outfield on light schedule days or when injuries strike or even if your roster needs a power boost.  The best part is that Moss is a guy who doesn't get a lot of respect in the fantasy baseball community due to the West Coast bias and due to his home ballpark.  This means a nice profit can be made for a guy who won't cost you hardly anything at the draft.

With the fantasy baseball season getting underway with drafts starting to formulate, be sure to get on board to the Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball INSIDER season subscription for only a one-time payment of $49.99.  The package gives you inside access to some of the featured items from the site such as Closing Time, Advanced Stats Corner, additional Player Analyzers, Prospect Watch, Adds/Drops, and more.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the top of the homepage to purchase and right away you will receive the guide PLUS find out who this year's Matt Harvey will be and get all 30 camp reports from around the league.  It pays for itself by the end of one month.   

2014 PROJECTION:  .257 28 HR 91 RBI 74 R 3 SB


Monday, February 24, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: NATE JONES (GLUTE) TOSSES BP SESSION SUNDAY

                                                     

Chicago White Sox closing candidate Nate Jones threw his first bullpen session on Sunday which was a positive step from the glute strain he suffered 10 days ago.  Jones reported no issues afterward and is still looked at as the front runner for the team's closer opening.

Analysis:  Jones is looking like he will be just fine and has more than enough time to get ready for the opener.  He has the big time strikeout rate to instantly succeed in the ninth inning and reminds me a bit of Jason Grilli before he became a star for the Pirates.

FANTASY FOOTBALL COMBINE REPORT: JADEVEON CLOWNEY RECORDS "INCREDIBLE" 4.53 40

By Eric C. Wright

Indianapolis, IN..-The showcase moment of the 2014 NFL Combine was the Monday 40-yard dash spring by South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and with virtually every single eye in Lucas Oil Stadium watching, the player more than delivered on the hype.  Clowney clocked a rapid 4.53 in the 40 which is lightning quick for a defensive end.  Clowney actually clocked 4.47 and 4.48 before the 4.53 was set as his official time.  There is now no doubt that Clowney is the supreme player in the 2014 NFL Draft and even though the Texans have a clear need for a franchise QB, they would be crazy to pass up this once in a lifetime talent. 

-The Arizona Cardinals are ready to open up the vault for free agent LT Brandon Albert according to a team source.  The Cardinals have constantly been dealing with offensive line issues and the team brass has zeroed in on Albert as the solution to this perennial problem.

-Shonn Greene is expected to be the Tennessee Titans starting RB barring an early draft day addition.  Chris Johnson will get his walking papers any week now.

-Despite coming off an ACL tear, Brian Hoyer is expected to be given first crack at the starting Cleveland Browns' QB job.

-Missouri DE Michael Sam ran an official 4.91 time in the 40.  Despite the massive attention he has been getting, Sam remains a middle round pick who has a limited pass rushing repertoire.

-Notre Dame DT Louis Nix clocked 5.35 and 5.37 times in the 40.  At 330 pounds Nix will be looked at as a pure space eater but questions of his stamina are glaring.

-St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher spoke openly about how interested the team is in trading the number 2 pick.  This tells you that Fisher is not blown away by Clowney which is puzzling for a defensive coach.

FANTASY BASEBALL AROUND THE CAMPS: BOSTON RED SOX

                                                        David Ortiz

Continuing our tour around the major leagues, we check in on the Boston Red Sox by looking at five prime fantasy baseball questions surrounding the team along with identifying the busts and sleepers. 

1.  Koji Uehara was hands down the most dominant closer the second half of the 2013 season and finished with a ridiculous 1.09 ERA and 101 K's in only 74.1 innings.  What can he do for an encore?
At 39 years old, Uehara is at an age where most baseball players are reclining at home.  However Uehara continues to get better and despite throwing only about an 88-mph fastball, his offspeed stuff is unhittable.  In addition Uehara has posted four straight seasons of only single-digit walks and has remained very durable.  Nothing suggests Uehara won't once again be a top five fantasy baseball closer even if his ERA rises a full run.

2.  Is the sky the limit for rookie prized SS Xander Bogaerts? 
******THE REST OF THIS FEATURE IS FOR FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL INSIDER SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.*****
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