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Monday, June 30, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARINERS PROMOTE TAJUAN WALKER FOR MONDAY START

                                            

The Seattle Mariners finally promoted top pitching prospect Tajuan Walker to make his first start of the season Monday night.  After dealing with shoulder trouble for all of spring training and most of the first half of the season, Walker finally was cleared to return to the mound recently and was deemed ready to join the major league squad.

Analysis:  Finally.  Walker is coming off a dominant four-hit shutout and reminds me and many others of another Felix Hernandez.  The strikeout stuff is going to be terrific and only health will hold Walker back from stardom.  Get him in there.

 

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT DEBATE: LeSEAN McCOY/JAMAAL CHARLES RUNNING BACK'S

The 2014 fantasy football seasons is already underway as far as drafts being conducted and that means it is time once again to take a look at another Draft Debate.  Today we go right to the top of the running back rankings as the Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy and the Kansas City Chiefs' Jamaal Charles sit universally at the top of their position.  Both guys are also in the running for the number 1 overall pick with Denver's Peyton Manning and Detroit's Calvin Johnson.  So with all that said let's compare McCoy and Charles according to their respective fantasy football numbers in order to get a better idea of who should be chosen ahead of the other guy.

RUSHING YARDS:  McCoy rushed for the much higher total between the two as he ran for 1,607 yards a year ago while Charles picked up 1,287.  Prior to that McCoy and Charles each outrushed each other from 2011-2012 due to one being healthy and the other being hurt.  As much as the Eagles have been talked about with regards to throwing the football, the running game was featured as much as any outfit in the NFL.
ADVANTAGE:  LeSean McCoy

RECEPTIONS:  Just like McCoy easily outrushed Charles last season, the two flipped numbers when it came to receptions.  Charles caught a career-high 70 balls for 693 yards and 7 touchdowns while McCoy hauled in 52 for 539 yards and 2 scores.  Thus Charles wins this debate easily based on last season and the current state of the offense.
ADVANTAGE:  Jamaal Charles

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS:  Both Charles and McCoy have finally graduated to being the goal-line backs for their teams after seeing those opportunities being given to other players prior.  McCoy picked up 9 scores on the ground last season while Charles netted 12.  McCoy has gone for as many as 17 in a season while the 12 Charles got a year ago was his career-high.  This is a very tough call which could go either way so no sense taking a guess.
ADVANTAGE:  EVEN

INTANGIBLES:  In 2011 Charles tore his ACL in Week 2 and was done for the season while McCoy missed four games in 2012 with a concussion and one more game in 2011.  Neither guy is made of rock which makes both somewhat of a risk.  However Charles has a pronounced fumbling problem which McCoy does not which gives the Eagle back the slight nod when trying to break the tie.
ADVANTAGE:  LeSean McCoy

WINNER:  LeSean McCoy

As you can see this one is very close.  Truth be told there are many who are picking Charles ahead of McCoy in drafts this season and I won't argue much.  However when you break it all down, McCoy slightly comes out on top when you take into account the intangibles and numbers.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARDS RECALLING OSCAR TAVERAS ON TUESDAY

                                             

The St. Louis Cardinals will recall top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras on Tuesday for his second go-round with the team this season.  Taveras hit only .189 in his earlier 11-game stint with the Cardinals but the plan is for him to play more in place of the struggling Allen Craig.

Analysis:  Hope you didn't cut him.  There are many who stupidly did and Taveras will make those owners pay eventually.  His bat is way too good to stay down for long and so Taveras is set to be a difference-maker for the rest of the season.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL STTAUS REPORT: MASAHIRO TANAKA SHOWING VELOCITY DECREASE

If the voting ended today, the slam dunk American League Cy Young Award winner would be New York Yankees rookie Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka.  After taking a tough luck loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday, Tanaka sat with a dominant 2.10 ERA and 0.95 WHIP to go along with a top notch 11-3 record.  In addition, Tanaka has far exceeded expectations when it came to the strikeout as he has rung up 127 whiffs in only 115.2 innings pitched.  Flat out both the Yankees and Tanaka's fantasy baseball owners rolled 7's when it came to investing in him this season despite the always uncertainty surrounding foreign players arriving into the States. 

As always however we can't live in the past when it comes to fantasy baseball and instead must always be focused on the future.  While no Tanaka owner (which includes this author) would ever think about trading him, there are still some slight worries surrounding his name as we move forward.  Despite being on fluky two-game losing streak which means nothing, Tanaka has remained completely dominant and in control in every start this season.  Underneath everything though, there is a small matter of leaking velocity which began to show up in his June 17th start versus the Toronto Blue Jays and through his next two outings against Baltimore and Boston.  Leading up to and including the Toronto start, Tanaka's fastball velocity averaged in the 93 mph range.  However in both the Baltimore and Red Sox games, Tanaka's fastball stayed in the 90 mph range which is a full drop of 3 ticks.  It also just coincided with Tanaka giving up three home runs combined in those two outings despite looking great overall with 5 earned runs in 16 innings.  The biggest knock on Tanaka which I spoke at length about coming into the season was his propensity for giving up home runs and he went with the report so far in giving up a total of 13 which is a high number.  If Tanaka continues to leak velocity as the long season begins to take its toll, more home runs could fly out which means the ERA will rise.  The fact Japanese pitchers throw once a week compared to once every five or six days for in the majors and considering how long the MLB season is to those in the Far East, Tanaka will no doubt be dealing with fatigue at some point in August/September.  While those in keeper formats should stop reading, those in redraft leagues could consider a sell high by the end of July if the velocity takes some more dips. 

Overall Tanaka has been a superstar pitcher who will almost certainly be ranked as a top five fantasy baseball starter for next season unless he falls completely on his face.  The guy is a gem and will be for years unless he gets hurt.  The point of this feature was just to simply let the owners of Tanaka know what was going on with the velocity but again keep everything in perspective.  Tanaka is still a monster stud pitcher who should be held in almost all formats as go forward in the season.

 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: SERGIO ROMO THE LATEST TO KICK THE CLOSING BUCKET

Once again reinforcing that no closer is ever safe from demotion, it was revealed on Sunday that former All Star San Francisco Giants' ninth inning man Sergio Romo had been removed from the stopper role after a series of meltdowns and blown saves going back over the last few weeks.  Showing a mysterious inability to get anyone this season after being one of the most unhittable relives in baseball over the last four seasons, Romo's rock bottom came on Saturday when he surrendered 2 earned runs in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds which raised his ERA to a terrible 5.17.  Thus manager Bruce Bochy ran out of leash when it came to Romo and so instead he announced he would be going with a two-man committee of righty Santiago Casilla and lefty Jerem Affelt.  Once again both Casilla and Affeldt have found themselves back pitching in the ninth inning in place of a struggling or injured closer in front of them but neither man has ever been able to hold down the spot for long.  In fact Casilla had a golden chance prior to last season but than subsequently literally threw it away under a stringf of blown saves.  Affelt meanwhile is a lefty who has had bit time success as a setup man but whose stuff has not carried over as well as a closer.  Still both guys need to be checked out as always when it comes to situations like this and if you had one slot to use Casilla would be the pick since he is the righty and right now has excellent numbers with a 1.17 ERA and 21 K in 30.2 innings.  In fact outside of the time he struggled when closing during the middle of the 2012 season, Casilla has been a dominant pitcher in going back to 2010 as his season ERA's since than read 1.95, 1.74, 2.84, 2.16, and this season's 1.17.  Casilla has dominated the way Romo did before he was put into the closer role where he excelled in 2013 but than fell flat on his face this season.  Right now Casilla would be the guy to own but we could also be looking at a deal where Romo is allowed to collect himself in setup and than move back to the ninth inning later on when he gets his stuff right.  Either way, Romo is just the latest example of the utter chaos that is the ninth inning once again this season as he was generally accepted to be one of them ore safer picks in the closing group.

-Another day and another outing full of trouble for embattled Detroit Tigers closer Joe Nathan who has become a staple of the Closing Time feature with his travails.  Nathan nailed down the save on Saturday versus the Houston Astros but not before giving up an earned run on a solo home run.  That marked the third straight outing Nathan had given up an earned run as his ERA shot up to a horror show 6.37.  Pretty much nothing has gone right for Nathan in his first season in Detroit and the calls for Joba Chamberlain continue to grow louder by the day.  All Nathan owners hopefully have already added Chamberlain to their squads as it is amazing this is still being allowed to go on for Brad Ausmus.  Age is finally looking like it has taken a toll on the 40-year-old arm of Nathan and Chamberlain has pitched great in setup with a 2.67 ERA and 37 whiffs in 33.2 innings.  Right now Nathan is serving as the modern day Joe Borowski which is a comparison no closer wants.

-The deal struck the other day between the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates for their respective former struggling closers was interesting to say the least.  Both Ernesto Frieri and Jason Grilli needed a clear change of scenery and both could actually move back to the ninth inning in their new locales.  The better bet on that front would be for Grilli in Los Angeles as Joe Smith finally has gotten the endorsement he deserved from Mike Scoscia which was way overdue.  Grilli though is a veteran guy which Scoscia always favors so he can't be ignored there.  Frieri has a much longer road back to ever going near the ninth inning as he colossally bad with the Angels to the point he should have been demoted to the minor leagues.  Mark Melancon has struggled since taking over the ninth inning for Grilli the second time but he will get a long look. 

-Finally a lot was made about the loss of velocity for both Jonathan Papelbon and Rafael Soriano going into the season which had many telling you to stay away from each.  However that was not me because I felt both were good investments due to the fact their draft prices had come down and that veteran closers are much more dependable than greener ones.  Well Papelbon and Soriano have both dominated all season and are in the top five in the game as far as fantasy baseball is concerned based on their 2014 numbers.  Keep that in mind when 2015 arrives with regards to leaning on guys who have seen it all and know how to get batters out no matter what their stuff is like.

 

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROUND 1 PROJECTIONS

With 2014 fantasy football drafts fully underway, now would be a good time to take a look at what a PPR first round would look like.  With PPR formats becoming all the rage these days (and rightfully so as they are more entertaining and realistic), here is one man's humble opinion about how the first 12 picks should look.

1.  Peyton Manning:  Sorry to those who think LeSean McCoy or Jamaal Charles should be number 1 but when you crunch the numbers there is no comparison.  While no one expects Manning to duplicate his ridiculous 2013 numbers, the fact of the matter was that he was on more fantasy football winning teams by a very wide margin than any other player.  The Broncos offense is loaded once again and the offensive line is improved which means another monster campaign for Manning.  He has no peer.

2.  LeSean McCoy:  I went with McCoy over Charles due to the fact the latter has a bit more injury risk.  Both guys can run like the wind and catch the football like a wide receiver but McCoy takes it on lesser health questions.  By only a hair though.

3.  Jamaal Charles:  Charles is as electric as they come and he was fully unleashed in Andy Reid's first season at the helm of the Kansas City Chiefs a year ago.  The career-high receptions total was on par with a number 1 wideout and he Charles even gets all the goal-line work now.  As long as he holds onto the football (high fumble rate is always an issue) and keeps the injury question at bay, an MVP season is possible.

4.  Calvin Johnson:  Megatron is the Peyton Manning of wide receivers as he has no competition for the top spot.  With Matthew Stafford having a gun of an arm and with Golden Tate drawing helping him on the other side, Johnson is ready for another 15 TD/1,700 yard/100-catch campaign.

5.  Drew Brees:  You can never go wrong with this very durable 5,000 yards TD monster.  The Saints continue to throw the football more than anyone else in football and even though the receiving corps is being redone, Brees is destined for another MVP season. 

6.  Adrian Peterson:  I would never make this pick as Peterson scares the hell out of me as he continues to age.  His numbers are still holding steady at a top notch level but Peterson is destined for a dropoff at any moment.  You always want to leave the party a year early and not a year too late.

7.  Matt Forte:  The run on backs continue as the top PPR guys are all still worth first round picks despite the prolific passing games around the league.  Forte is the best pure receiver among all backs in fantasy football and since last season is the clear goal-line back as well in Marc Trestman's offense.  He already has a lot of mileage on him going back to his crazy workloads in college but Forte should be safe for another season at least.

8.  Marshawn Lynch:  Power back all the way who extreme rushing yards and rushing touchdowns offset a lack of PPR receiving juice.  Like with Peterson and Forte, the miles are piling up on this but the Seahawks are about the most run-heavy outfit in the game which means ample opportunity for numbers.

9.  Eddie Lacy:  The next generation of running back 1's, Lacy had a terrific rookie season where he not only ran the ball very well, he also showed he could contribute in the passing game.  Injuries have been an issue going back to his Alabama days but Lacy is looking like a top five guy for 2014.

10. A.J. Green:  Gets the slight nod over Demaryuis Thomas as he has done it for a tad longer as far as being a monster number 1 receiver.

11. Aaron Rodgers:  Yeah the injury risk is there with the awful Green Bay offensive line putting Rodgers in jeopardy but the numbers are dominant on a per game basis.

12. Demaryuis Thomas:  In this era of the passing game, the number 1 wideouts such as Thomas take on more value.  Now that Eric Decker is out of town, Thomas is looking like he could catch even more touchdowns this season.

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

 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2014 FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT GUIDE ON SALE FOR ONLY $14.99

The 2014 Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Football Draft Guide is now on sale both on Amazon.com and on here itself.  The guide will sell for $15.99 on Amazon and $14.99 on the website so be sure to get your copy today.  Including in this year's guide with Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning on the cover are the usual sleepers and busts, rookie report, ten pressing questions, and position rankings and analysis.  Use the BUY NOW tab below to purchase.


 

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: MICHAEL FLOYD WR ARIZONA CARDINALS

                                                             Michael Floyd

Mark it down.  The next superstar number 1 fantasy football wide receiver will be none other than the Arizona Cardinals' Michael Floyd who is poised to make the jump in the arriving 2014 season.  Entering the always magical third year for a wide receiver when historically the talent catches up with the nuances of the NFL game, Floyd began to emerge in 2013 opposite longtime Cards Pro Bowl star Larry Fitzgerald.  Showing a clear knack for the big play, Floyd caught 65 passes for 1,041 yards and 5 TD's.  The fact Floyd was able to go past the 1,000 receiving mark on only those 65 passes speaks volumes to how his athleticism and speed makes him a big time downfield threat.  Floyd is also ready to become the Cards' go-to-number-1 receiver due to the fact Fitzgerald is aging and has lost a step as he turns 31.  While Fitzgerald is still capable of big time numbers, Floyd is in position to be the major TD threat in the offense while also pushing his receptions and yardage totals upward by a decent margin. 

It was only a week ago when the Cardinals held their mandatory minicamp practices and word soon came out about how Floyd was absolutely dominating and catching every ball thrown his way.  Again the former Notre Dame star looks like a terrific investment for the upcoming fantasy football season as the 65 catches and 5 touchdowns he caught in 2013 don't exactly jump off the map despite the incredible potential attached to the name.  That means that Floyd won't see his draft price rise to exorbitant levels or have a fierce bidding war surrounding him.  You always want to invest in players who are ready to burst through the bubble to stardom which means tremendous value could be had by making a play there.  Floyd is one of those players for 2014 as he will likely be drafted as a low end WR 2 but who could turn out to be a WR 1.  He is going to be a terrific player as he only gets better from here on in.  Get on board.

 2014 PROJECTION:  83 catches 1,126 yards 9 TD

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MOOKIE BETTS CALLED UP BY RED SOX

                                           

The Boston Red Sox called up top infield prospect Mookie Betts from Triple-A Saturday and will have him ready for their game against the New York Yankees.  Betts was hitting .345 with 8 home runs and 29 steals split between Double and Triple-A this season. 

Analysis:  Get on board.  Betts has been terrific all season and reminds me of an infield version of Gregory Polanco.  This is a move that should be made in all formats as Betts stands the chance to be a top ten guy the rest of the way.  Go get him.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: TROUBLE FOR DAVID WRIGHT

                                           David Wright                                     

The injury news of the day in fantasy baseball Saturday centered on the fact New York Mets third baseman David Wright was heading back home in order to get an MRI on his left shoulder . Wright admitted he has been bothered by soreness in the shoulder for the last three weeks and only in the last few days was he not able to play through it anymore.  No stranger to injury the last four years, Wright and his immediate fantasy baseball value hinges on the results of Saturday's MRI.  After dealing with a bad concussion, serious hamstring injury, and a stress fracture in his back since 2011, Wright is now becoming a bit injury prone as he settles into his 30's.  In addition, Wright's numbers are down across the board as he went into Saturday hitting only .277 with 6 home runs and 41 RBI with 4 stolen bases.  This after a 2013 campaign where Wright was putting up numbers at his best rate since 2010.  The real shame is that Wright was hitting well going into the forced absence as mid-June was his best slash lines since the start of the season.  Right now all of Wright's owners have to sit on the edge of their seats and await the MRI results.  The disturbing thing is that Wright tried to play through it but could not do so anymore so something is clearly amiss. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: JASON GRILLI DEALT FOR ERNESTO FRIERI

In a deal that serves as a change of scenery situation for both, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded former closer Jason Grilli straight up for demoted Los Angeles Angels stopper Ernesto Frieri on Friday.  Frieri recently lost his closing job for the second time this season to top setup man Joe Smith while Grilli yielded the ninth inning gig for Mark Melancon.  An interesting deal no doubt and there is some fantasy baseball intrigue with Grilli who could move himself into ninth inning consideration with the Angels who don't seem sold on Smith there.  Meanwhile Frieri will work in setup for new Pirates closer Melancon who seems like he will get a long look there as he deserves after serving as one of the best setup men in the game the last two seasons. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: DUSTIN PEDROIA 2B BOSTON RED SOX

                                              Dustin Pedroia

The Boston Red Sox go into a crucial series against the New York Yankees starting Friday with their season on the verge of completely spiraling out of control.  With a putrid 36-43 mark going into the three-game set, the Red Sox are on the verge of falling out of contention less than a year after winning the World Series.  The biggest issue for the team has been a batting lineup that has been anemic at best all season.  Despite David Ortiz continuing to hit for big power, the free agent loss of Jacoby Ellsbury, failure in development of Jackie Bradley Jr., and injuries to Shane Victorino have stunted the potency of the order.  In addition, second baseman and former MVP Dustin Pedroia is having his worst hitting season ever which has led to questions that he could be on a premature fall in his offensive production like some other big name second baseman have done in the past.  So with all that said let's dig in a bit here and see what in fact is going on with Pedroia and whether or not he can turn things around. 

Going into Friday's games, Pedroia was hitting only .265 with 4 home runs and 27 RBI.  While his 44 runs scored are a solid total, Pedroia has only stolen 2 bases while being caught 4 times already.  The numbers are tumbling across the board for a guy who was a third round pick in most fantasy baseball league this season on the strength of his perennial .300 average to go with 15-20 home runs and around 20 steals.  Turning 31 in August however, Pedroia is getting a bit up there in age, especially for a guy who has such as slight frame as he does at only 5-8 and 165 pounds.  I have pointed out numerous times in the past about guys who are on the small side like Pedroia and their increased risk of early statistical erosion, especially if they have suffered injuries.  Pedroia fits the profile as he has had numerous leg and lower body injuries in his career which is already looking like it has taken a toll on his speed since he has only stole 2 bases in 6 attempts for a horrid ratio.  What is doubly interesting is that Pedroia in the past three seasons had gone from 26 to 20 to 17 stolen bases in a clear downward trajectory.  In addition, Pedroia's power is also waning as he has gone from 21 to 15 to 9 during that span as well.  Those are two very big negative trends for Pedroia who is trying to avoid becoming another Juan Samuel or Carlos Baerga as former All Star second baseman who strangely began to hit the downside of their careers as they reached 30.  Now I am not firmly saying Pedroia is going that route but the numbers are startling in a bad way and speak for themselves. 

When you put all things together, the overall picture of Pedroia doesn't look very good right now at all.  In fact it is downright disturbing what we are seeing from a guy who has always carried very high expectations with his numbers.  He still has time to turn his season around but the southward trends in his power and speed and now the batting average is a big problem.  Hold tight if you are a Pedroia owner as you will not get fair value if you try to trade low on the guy but keep in mind that there is a very good chance he may have peaked two seasons ago. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

George Springer:  1/3 with his 15th HR while hitting .241.  Been awhile since we heard from Springer as he went through a prolonged slump as guys with high K rates like he has often do.  There is a lot of Chris Young 2009 in Springer's game across the board with his power and speed to go with a horrid average due to the K's. 

Matt Dominguez:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .236.  While not at the level of Todd Frazier on the breakout scale, Dominguez is doing a nice job with his pop which has him in mixed league consideration in leagues over 12 teams.

Mike Minor:  5 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 4.50.  This is why I hate owning guys who give up home runs like Minor does.  Every start is a nail-bitter despite the obvious talent Minor has.

Joe Smith:  seventh save with .1 scoreless innings with an ERA of 3.03.  Unbelievably Frieri got another shot and subsequently blew it with 3 ER in .2 IP.  Now maybe Smith will get the long leash?  Based on the Scoscia's obsession with Frieri, one has to wonder.

Adam Wainwright:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.01.  The elbow looks sounds for the time being based on the results and the K rate.  If Wainwright were leaking strikeouts we would be more worried but this is not the case since he got back. 

Josh Beckett:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.11.  How the Dodgers are struggling to move much over .500 with four ace-like pitchers is maddening.  Beckett has not thrown over two shutouts in a row and is staking his claim to be the best starter on his own team which include Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.  Say what?

Brandon Phillips:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .277.  Ask me if I care?

Todd Frazier:  2/4 with his 10th SB while hitting .283.  One of my new favorite obsession players.  I will say right now that Frazier will be on my team next season no matter what I have to do.  Now has 17 home runs and 10 steals with half a season to go.  Wow.

Mike Leake:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 3.41.  While no one doubts Leak's ability since he is now in his second year of big time numbers, the 12 K's is about as big a one-game anomaly as you are going to get.

Aramis Ramirez:  2/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .296.  When Ramirez is in one of those massive home runs streaks like he is on right now, you tend to forget the injuries that make him maddening to own.  Which is why we will all go back to the well here again in another season.

Rickie Weeks:  3/5 with his third HR while hitting .276.  This playing part-time seems to suit Weeks well.  Scooter Gennett cracked a home run later on in the game while pinch-hitting though so don't count on him becoming the starter anytime soon.

Rick Porcello:  9 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.41.  Impressive since it came in Texas versus the Rangers.  As long as you prepare for the one bombshell a month, Porcello will be a back-end of the rotation help.

Lucas Duda:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .252.  Duda actually hit the home run when the game was still in doubt which is amazing.  Strictly just NL-only and very deep mixed league option.

Gregory Polanco:  2/3 with his second HR and fourth SB while hitting .338.  Polanco's average was sky-high in the minors and has not slowed a bit since his promotion.  The tools are all there for outfielder 1 status very soon and maybe one day we debate whether Polanco or Andrew McCutchen is the top outfielder in fantasy baseball on his own team.

 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BUD NORRIS DIAGNOSED WITH GROIN STRAIN, WILL BE PLACED ON DL

                                              

Baltimore Orioles SP Bud Norris will be placed on the 15-day DL as soon as Thursday after it was revealed he suffered a right groin strain this past Saturday. 

Analysis:  Nothing shocking here as Norris looked destined for the DL before this news.  He has been solid for the Orioles this season but overall remains on the fringes of mixed league rotations.

 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED SHORTSTOP RANKINGS

Once again it is time to check in on the latest 2014 fantasy baseball shortstop rankings.  As always players have moved up and down the list from month-to-month.  Let's see where they all sit.

1.  Troy Tulowitzki:  As far ahead of the number 2 guy than any other position in the game.
2.  Hanley Ramirez:  Currently sitting with 11 home runs and 10 steals to go with an extreme 46 RBI.  Worthy number 2 once again.
3.  Ian Desmond:  His durability wins out over Jose Reyes.
4.  Jose Reyes:  From May 1 on, has hit and run like a top pick.
5.  Dee Gordon:  Managing to keep the average over .280 and already at 40 steals as of this writing.  Insane.
6.  Elvis Andrus
7.  Alexei Ramirez
8.  Jimmy Rollins:  Still doing the power/speed thing at least for another season. 
9.  Starlin Castro:  Nice comeback season for Castro who is looking more like his 2011 self.
10. Alicides Escobar:  Was very high on Escobar last season before he faded in second half.  Running at a high clip again though and average solid. 
11. Jean Segura:  Has been much more the second half bomb from last season than the first half gem.  Not good. 
12. Xander Bogaerts:  Too much of an empty average which is what I warned you all about.
13. Ben Zobrist
14. Asdrubal Cabrera
15. Andrelton Simmons
16. Erick Aybar
17. Everth Cabrera
18. Derek Jeter
19. Jed Lowrie
20. J.J. Hardy

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

   

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Andrew McCutchen:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .315.  McCutchen is on pace for 25 home runs which is where he should be.  The bigger theme is that I blew it by advising to pick Carlos Gonzalez over him by stupidly looking past the durability issues which I usually always trump.  Dumb.

David Price:  8.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.63.  This is the fifth straight start Price has struck out double-digit batter as he gears up for a possible new destination this month with the trade deadline approaching.  No more questions about his health and his stuff is beyond explosive right now.

Michael Brantley:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .325.  It will be interesting to see where Brantley gets drafted next season given that he is performing like an outfielder 1.  Could there be some outlier going on here?  Absolutely but only time will tell. 

Yan Gomes:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .272.  No quibbling with Gomes who has lived up to his sleeper value which is nothing to sneeze at since we all tend to overhype guys to the point they go bust.  Low end starting catcher in mixed leagues for sure and it is likely this is the best we will see here as Gomes is a bit older.  Solid and steady.

Corey Kluber:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.09.  Kluber now has an extreme 122 K's in 110.2 innings.  Big time stuff and the power pitcher label is being worn well here.  Kluber simply found himself at the major league level this season after struggling a year ago as a rookie but all those punchouts in the minor leagues coming up the ladder add validity to what he is doing.

Yohan Pino:  5 ER in 3 IP with an ERA of 6.30.  At 30-years-old Pino would have been up sooner if he were a blue-chip guy which is why I said to be cautious off that first start.  This is why.

Garrett Richards:  7.1 IP 4 H 2 ER 5 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.76.  Richards has always had shoddy control but again he showed his maturity and development here by fighting through his struggles.  Completely legit SP 2/3.

David Ortiz:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .256.  Ortiz is killing it right now and another 4 home runs over the next week is possible given the run he is on. 

Mike Zunino:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .231.  Again you can look past an ugly average only at catcher if the home runs are going out which they currently are for Zunino.  Still he works best as a catcher 2 in two backstop formats.

Kyle Seager:  3/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .267.  Give me Kyle Seager any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  And he can be given to me since no one else ever wants him.

Hisashi Iwakuma:  5 ER in 4 IP with an ERA of 3.48.  That is two starts in a row Iwakuma has been blasted which is two starts since I traded him.  I would say I knew that was coming but I would be lying.  Just a lucky break.

Justin Upton:  1/3 with his 16th HR while hitting .272.  Upton is now in that phase where he is what he is, which means lots of power and a .270 average due to a very high K rate.  Works fine for me as long as that realization is accepted.

Alex Wood:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.07.  Told you all when Wood was sent back down to the minors to get stretched out to pick him right back up.  Now maybe the Braves will stop fooling around with this emerging SP 2. 

Colin McHugh:  7 IP 3 H 3 H 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.86.  Who knew we would be regretting not drafting Dallas Keuchel AND Colin McHugh from the Houston Astros of all teams.

Victor Martinez:  2/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .330.  Here is why this game is so crazy sometimes.  If you knew nothing about fantasy baseball and looked at this guy's numbers, you would think automatically this is a first round guy.  Who should be picked over Miguel Cabrera based on the stats. 

J.D. Martinez:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .320.  Now J.D. Martinez is getting into the act with regards to becoming an overnight stud with the Tigers of all teams.  Should have picked him up weeks ago. 

Joe Nathan:  1 ER in ninth for his 16th save with an ERA of 6.28.  On and on it goes.......

Jose Abreu:  2/5 with his 23rd HR while hitting .276.  How high can he go for 2015?  Challenge Paul Goldschmidt?

Nelson Cruz:  1/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .293.  Cruz is probably already picking out the location for his new mansion since he is now in line to be paid big bucks this winter as a free agent.

Coco Crisp:  3/5 with his 6th HR while hitting .290.  Already has his spot locked up in the Fantasy Sports Boss Hall Of Fame.  As pretty much every other Oakland Athletic has.

Brandon Moss:  1/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .259.  Remember Jermaine Dye?  Guy who was criminally underrated despite terrific power and a solid average?  The new Jermaine Dye is Brandon Moss. 

Chris Young:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .210.  Third home run in two games for Young who is trying to tell the returning Juan Lagares to "back off."

Zack Wheeler:  6 ER in 2 IP with an ERA of 4.45.  Nice follow up to the complete game last time out against the Marlins.  Thus the story of Zack Wheeler's season.  Good luck figuring out what he will do in any given start.  I am done trying to do so.

Mat Latos:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.89.  Latos has been very good since coming off the DL and he generally has been a top end SP 2 when healthy.  A prime name who could be moved at the deadline, Latos just falls short of ace status due to inconsistent K's.

Jose Reyes:  3/5 with his 6th HR and 16th SB while hitting .257.  This is why you love Jose Reyes so much and to slightly quote Brokeback Mountain why you "can't quit" him.

Mark Teixeira:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .241.  For a guy who is now waiver fodder, Teixeria is actually supplying some value for the first time in years since his best attribute centers on home runs.

Tim Lincecum:  no-hitter versus San Diego Padres with an ERA of 4.42.  Lincecum's story is pretty much set in stone now.  Brilliant one out of every five starts, brutal in two others, and average in the other two.  Good luck with that.

Matt Adams:  2/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .328.  Adams is impossible to get out right now and the power is now totally catching up to the shockingly great average.

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: MOVE TO LEADOFF REIGNITES CURTIS GRANDERSON'S VALUE

Sometimes a move up or down the lineup serves as a the spark that gets a dormant bat going.  With each spot up and down a batting order goes differing responsibilities and approaches at the plate, from a leadoff guy taking more pitches to get on base to the cleanup man looking to hit the ball out of the park.  Such a move has served to be instrumental in the reawakening bat of New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson who was an utter disaster his first month with the team while hitting mostly cleanup behind David Wright.  Knowing that Granderson was a two-time 40 home run hitter with the New York Yankees, manager Terry Collins surmised he would be perfect for the 4-hole in order to give Wright better pitches to hit.  Whether it was the pressures of his new contract or trouble with Citi Field, Granderson was Jason Bay bad in April as he batted only .145 with 1 home run and 7 RBI.  However Granderson began to find his footing in May as he upped those totals to .253 with 5 home runs and 16 RBI.  His best work would come in June though which coincided with Collins moving Granderson into the leadoff spot in order to try and reignite his past when he was the number 1 batter for the Detroit Tigers.  Despite possessing a high strikeout rate and extreme power that is not often seen from a leadoff batter, Granderson took off in June to the tune of a .338 average with 4 home runs and 12 RBI.  With the Mets having won four of 5 going into Wednesday night, Granderson will likely remain in the number 1 slot in a "if it ain't broke why fix it?" situation. 

When you break it all down, Granderson is now back to what we forecasted for him going into the 2014 fantasy baseball season which was a guy who would not hit for a great average (.234 average) while at the same time hitting for above-average power (10 total home runs).  While his days of hitting over 40 home runs are finished now that he calls spacious Citi Field home, 25 is very much in play which is the total we predicted for him going into the season.  Granderson is now a firm outfielder 3 given his average liabilities and eroding speed but at the very least it is nice to know his past struggles from April are a thing of the past.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JAKE ARRIETA SP CHICAGO CUBS

The MLB trading deadline is a little over a month away and names are already beginning to circulate around the game with regards to who could be a potential target for playoff-contending teams to possibly put them over the top.  This is always an interesting time for fantasy baseball players as well since trades can change the statistical outlook of a hitter or pitcher depending on the location of their new home.  One such name who could easily find a new address over the next month is Chicago Cubs SP Jake Arrieta who is in the midst of a breakout season after yet another gem of a start on Tuesday night.  During that outing against the Cincinnati Reds, Arrieta struck out 9 batters while giving up only 3 hits and 2 earned runs in seven innings.  That lowered his season ERA to a terrific 2.05 as teams send more and more scouts to attend his starts.  With the Cubs among the worst teams in baseball, it is only a matter of when and not if Arrieta will be dealt.  So now is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at the guy and the incredible value season he is having considering he wasn't even drafted in many leagues.

Leading up to this season, Arrieta was a guy who carried potential but whose results never really showed it.  During his 3-and-a-half seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Arrieta was undermined by constant injuries and his ERA's from 2010 through 2012 read 4.66, 5.05, and 6.20.  Not impressive to say the least.  Thus the Orioles didn't bat an eye in trading him to the Cubs midway through the 2013 season where Arrieta perhaps gave a hint as to what was to come in 2014 by pitching to a 3.66 ERA.  However no one could have foreseen how dominant he has been over the first three months of the season and a look at the advanced stats tell the story.

The first numbers that jumps out is the 10.11 K rate which is ace-level/power-pitching level for anyone.  That number is a bit of an outlier however as Arrieta had never had a K rate of even 9.00 in his prior MLB seasons.  However coming up in the minor leagues while in Baltimore, Arrieta did show prime strikeout ability and so maybe he has broken through there. 

In addition to the K's, Arrieta is not walking anyone as he shows with his 2.37 BB/9 IP.  That is a very good number as well and again speaks to Arrieta's improvement as a starter.  When you are not putting baserunners on via free passes, the ERA and WHIP stay low. 

Finally and perhaps the most interesting part of all this is that Arrieta has not been lucky since his BABIP is at a neutral .308.  Thus what we are seeing is legit which speaks to the idea of holding onto him and not selling high.  With playoff contenders calling en masse, Arrieta will find himself on a much better team soon which will boost his wins.  Since this was the only number that was not exemplary for him due to the awful Cubs, there is not much at all to quibble with when discussing Arrieta.  The breakout is real and the value is off the charts as Arrieta is right there as one of the very best investments based on his winter draft price among any player in the game.

 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FANATSY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: ARAMIS RAMIREZ 3B MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Sometimes certain players in fantasy baseball have an ironclad profile that goes even beyond the statistical realm.  The same story or scenario plays out from season to season, with little variation in play.  One of these such players is Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez who once again is doing everything expected of him for the 2014 fantasy baseball season.  In his case, that means hitting for a solid average and power while also dealing with injuries that land him on the DL.  With it only being July 24th, Ramirez has already has his requisite DL stint earlier this season and also has been hitting at a good to very good level pretty much whenever he has been on the field.  So with all that said let's dig in a bit more on one of my favorite players from season to season.

Heading into Tuesday night's action, Ramirez was hitting a standard for him .292 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI in 195 at-bats.  He has been especially hot since coming back from the DL for a bum knee, hitting .361 in June with 5 home runs and 17 RBI.  Even at an advancing age of 36, Ramirez remains a firm top ten fantasy baseball third baseman who can even get close to top five if he can somehow avoid any more injury problems. 

When looking at the total package that is Ramirez, the home runs and RBI are the main attractions here.  He has little to no speed and that has not wavered at all in his career.  In addition, Ramirez is a career .286 hitter who has hit at least .280 in 10 of the last 11 seasons.  Talk about consistency.  That statistical ballpark is once again his calling card and he could sneak another season in that realm for 2015.  If you are currently a Ramirez owner as yours truly is, continue to play him every day until that next injury strikes.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Jose Abreu:  2/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .274.  The Monster Bat Show continues.  Abreu has not missed one beat since coming off the DL and better yet the average has risen a bit the last two weeks as well.  Is he this year's Chris Davis who will slide back dramatically next season?  Not a chance.

Chris Davis:  1/1 with his 13th HR while hitting .219.  Speaking of Davis, he had 13 home runs seemingly two weeks into the season and in 2014 it took him to almost July to get there.  Let these immortal words never escape you "Never Pay For A Career Season!"

Adam Jones:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .296.  Starting to toy with the idea of renaming the Wrapup "The Adam Jones Daily Home Run Update."

Mike Napoli:  2/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .274.  Like with Jones, Napoli went yard for the second game in a row.  Really the only thing to discuss is to enjoy that .274 average while is lasts.

Logan Morrison:  4/4 with 2 home runs (4 for season) while hitting .215.  Morrison was once a very intriguing Marlins power-hitting prospect who was run out of town under a hail of Twitter posts.  Morrison would now likely post that "things are looking up" both for his Twitter account and his fantasy baseball stock.  Remember a change of scenery is often a boost to any hitter's numbers.

Felix Hernandez:  7 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.24.  Hernandez is tickled pink he didn't have to wait until September to get his 9th win despite an ERA well below 3.00.  I know his owners are.

Odrisamer Despaigne:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K with an ERA of 0.00.  Yes he is Cuban since all imports from that country are overnight All Stars.  This is as good as it gets though for Despaigne however as he was lit up in the minors before his summons to a desperate Padres team who lost Andrew Cashner to the DL.  The K rate is light and the stuff is nothing more than SP 4 at best. 

Devin Mesoraco:  1/1 with his 13th HR while hitting .315.  I can see a Draft Debate between Mesoraco and Evan Gattis 2015 brewing in my mind.

Anthony Rizzo:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .281.  Will be an All Star and is hitting like the guy I thought he would be all along through his early struggles.  Add his name to the Post-Hype Sleeper made good file.

Alfredo Simon:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.92.  Alfredo Simon could start the All Star Game this season.  Imagine me saying that on March 1.  There are no words.

Matt Adams:  3/5 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .328.  There we go bro.  Will gladly trade 30 points of average for home runs at this rate the rest of the way.  However if Adams can maintain a plus-.300 average with the pop roaring back, we have a blockbuster on our hands people.

Lance Lynn:  8 IP 3 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.90.  That looming thunderstorm out in the distance is August getting closer by the day when the bolts of lightning light a fire to Lynn's ERA.

Adam LaRoche:  2/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .310.  LaRoche has died a fantasy baseball death and returned to life more than anyone I can remember.  The second half boost has always been part of the equation so even better times could be ahead which is tough to imagine since he already has been so solid.

Adrian Gonzalez:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .253.  Gonzalez had been completely ice cold the last three weeks but hopefully this is a sign things are getting ready to turn back around like during April. 

Salvador Perez:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .287.  Yeah he is tearing it up again as the weather heats up.  As clear a summer explosion at the plate as any player in all of baseball.  In fact the home run rate is at a career-high rate right now as Perez fully embraces all the love I supplied him over the years.

Zack Greinke:  5 ER in 5.2 IP with an ERA of 2.89.  Rare dud for Greinke.  As Forrest Gump used to point out "That's all I want to say about that."

Mark Teixeira:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .247.  It has been four years now where Teixeria has been nothing but a power-hitting specialist with an ugly average.  Can't change this new/old tiger's stripes.

Chase Whitley:  8 ER in 3.1 IP with an ERA of 4.07.  This is the penalty you all pay for taking the Whitley fluke journey this far.  Lesson harshly learned.

Marcus Stroman:  8 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 4.25.  Bingo.  Stroman has big time power stuff and top notch control which is at worst SP 2 ability.  Ride it out for the next ten years.

Pedro Alvarez:  1/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .232.  For the next eight years Alvarez will hit 30 home runs and bat .240.  How about that for a long-term prediction?

Alex Cobb:  6 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.10.  Cobb has gotten hit hard lately but the 1.21 WHIP shows he hasn't been as bad as the surface numbers suggest.  A major buy low opportunity. 

Nathan Eovaldi:  6.1 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.52.  It looks like the April burst in K's was a bit of an anomaly but Eovaldi has remained a very consistently solid SP 3.

 

Monday, June 23, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JOSE REYES SS TORONTO BLUE JAYS

It was yet another injury scare for Toronto Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes and his legs over the weekend as he came out of Saturday's game early with a limp which would soon be revealed to be nothing more than a shin bruise.  The good news on that front represented a rare instance where a leg injury for Reyes didn't involve a DL stint which was not the case in April when a bum hamstring didn't even allow him to make it out of the opener.  Reyes was slated to return to action on Monday which at least for the time being allowed him to follow up on a terrific ending to May and first two weeks of June after struggling initially coming back from the hamstring issue.  With all that said, let's dig in a bit more on Reyes from a fantasy baseball angle as we once again see where he is at number-wise and where he could be going the rest of the season.

Before we proceed any further, let's take a look at Reyes' season stats through Sunday's games.

.251 AVG
5 HR
19 RBI
37 R
15 SB

When examining the numbers above, it is easy to see how Reyes has been a dynamic contributor once again across the board.  Having turned 31 on June 11th, Reyes is aging a bit which is always a concern with someone whose game is predicated on speed.  A big question when it came to Reyes and his 2014 fantasy baseball stock was whether his days as a big-time steals guy were finished.  It was obvious that Reyes was no longer going to touch 60 steals like in his early first round days with the New York Mets and even 40 was now looking out of the picture as well.  Reyes however seemed to make it a point in May to show that he still could be a big time weapon on the basepaths though as he swiped 11 bases in May and 4 more in June before the latest leg problem.  In addition, Reyes was once again scoring a bunch of runs for the Jays out of the leadoff spot with his 37 going into Monday.

In looking at the rest of the stat package, the .251 average was no doubt much lower than his career .290 mark but that just means better days are ahead on that front as long as the health cooperates.  The 5 home runs are also nice and Reyes has added slightly more pop as he ages but overall 10-12 sounds right. 

When you put everything together, Reyes is still a near-top five fantasy baseball shortstop who can fill up all five of the categories when his body is cooperating.  However the threat of injury is always there and more erosion in the speed numbers will continue to negatively him as he gets older.  As always if you are an owner, be sure you have a nice backup in place when that next injury does strike.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JAYS PLACE 3B BRETT LAWRIE ON DL WITH FRACTURED FINGER

                                          

The Toronto Blue Jays formally placed 3B Brett Lawrie on the 15-day DL Monday with a fractured left index finger.  Lawrie fractured the finger after taking a Johnny Cueto pitch off of it during Sunday's game which X-rays performed later revealed.

Analysis:  Don't count on seeing Lawrie until well after the All Star break as fractured fingers are among the worst injuries a hitter can have.  Sometime around the start of August sounds right for a return for the power-hitting third baseman.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Max Scherzer:  6 IP 6 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.71.  Much better.  I said in the Crisis Point feature I did on Scherzer a few days ago that he was getting a bit unlucky with the BABIP and that he got a bit home run happy which was something he hadn't done much of his in career.  Thus my opinion was that Scherzer was a solid BUY LOW option.  He didn't give up a home run and thus had a vintage Scherzer game.  Sometimes it is that simple.

Miguel Cabrera:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .322.  The monkey in the room obviously is that Cabrera's home run output is down but that is the only aspect of his game to quibble with.  We all know he will go on some crazy power run before too long to make that nitpick a distant memory but what we can talk about is that 40 home runs is likely out of the picture this season.

C.J. Cron:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .286.  Told you all yesterday to pick up Cron after the Angels finally got rid of Raul Ibanez.  Cron is a terrific natural hitter who will help across the board outside of steals without lighting up any one category.

Kole Calhoun:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .267.  Calhoun overall has done a nice job in his first full MLB season, hitting a home run here and there and stealing a base here and there.  Classic OF 3 stuff.

Madison Bumgarner:  8 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.63.  Domination.  Since Bumgarner worked through some mechanical issues in April, his ERA's since were 2.08 in May and 2.10 in June.  In other words he is Madison Bumgarner ace top five fantasy baseball pitcher. 

Aramis Ramirez:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .297.  Red hot is the word here.  Typical Ramirez season as he now is hitting near-.300 with pop.  This is why I always love Ramirez despite the injury risk.  Guy is money in the bank every season.

Wilin Rosario:  4/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .249.  Rosario tried to get all the hits he lacked in April and May in this one game.

David Ortiz:  1/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .248.  Can Ortiz rally and hit .270?  Absolutely.  Can Ortiz rally and hit .300?  Those days are over.

Mike Napoli:  2/4 with his 8th HR and second SB while hitting .268.  Napoli was able to steal home plate which means the opposing pitcher got a sudden case of narcolepsy. 

Mike Zunino:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .225.  It looked promising early on but Zunino smells like John Buck right now.

Roenis Elias:  6.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.74.  The Seattle pitching staff is rivaling the San Diego Padres' for complete fantasy baseball relevancy.  Chris Young anyone?

Carlos Martinez:  5 IP 3 H 3 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.33.  Martinez is not fully stretched out yet but he will stay in the rotation in place of Michael Wacha.  The high K rate is very intriguing which makes Martinez an add in all formats.

Mark Melancon:  1 ER in ninth for his 12th save with an ERA of 2.04.  The Mark Melancon era is now fully upon us in Pittsburgh.  It wasn't a clean start but this is Melancon's job for better or worse.

Joel Peralta:  scoreless ninth for his first save with an ERA of 3.58.  What?  Take a dart out and throw it at the Tampa Bay bullpen.  Do it every single day.  Only when you do so will you be able to identify the Rays closer.

Daniel Murphy:  2/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .298.  Murphy is a guy who could be traded around the deadline so he should be watched closely to see where his new destination could be.  The guy can hit and now has added steals to his bottom line stats.  A better ballpark could add a few more home runs and thus slightly boost his value.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .266.  Encarnacion has 9 more home runs than does Miguel Cabrera.  Hmm.

Johnny Cueto:  8 IP 7 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 1.86.  Cueto is staying healthy and if not for lack of run support which has kept his wins lower than it should be, he would be the clear Cy Young favorite.

Todd Frazier:  1/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .278.  It looks like now by next spring Frazier will be a top five fantasy baseball third base selection.  Seriously.

 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: MICHAEL WACHA HITS DL WITH SHOULDER INJURY

                                        Michael Wacha

The ride was fun while it lasted but St. Louis Cardinals young phenom starting pitcher Michael Wacha finally ran into some adversity over the last week as a shoulder injury has forced him to the DL for the first time in his career.  The good news is that there were no structural issues found with Wacha's shoulder and instead the issue centered on the scapula.  No word yet on how long Wacha will be out but he will continue to be replaced by Carlos Martinez in the team's rotation.  Clearly this is a big loss for Wacha's fantasy baseball owners as he went to the DL with a 2.79 ERA and 1.12 WHIP to go along with 83 strikeouts in 90 innings pitched.  In other words ace-like numbers from a guy who is in his first full MLB season and is only 23-years-old. 

When looking at Wacha and what he has done so far since his promotion midway of 2013, it is easy to see why everyone was so high on his ability in the first place.  Wacha was not known as a fireballer but he can get the fastball up to 97 consistently and has terrific movement on his pitches.  In addition Wacha is the rare young pitcher who has top notch control which has helped him immediately reach SP 2 status in fantasy baseball parlance.  His future as an ace is pretty much already here however given the extremely good numbers he has pitched to thus far and nothing but injury can stop him at this point.  Luckily the shoulder is not anything concerning the labrum which removes some of the worry.  Still this is something that needs to be watched and Wacha's innings will continue to be limited by the team so that he continues to be put in position to avoid overuse problems.  Martinez meanwhile is a hard-thrower who is worth a look in all formats as he continues to get stretched out after being in the bullpen earlier.

















 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JAYS 3B BRETT LAWRIE SUFFERED FRACTURED FINGER SUNDAY, TO HIT DL

                                                 

Toronto Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie suffered a fractured left index finger on Sunday after he took a pitch on the digit from a Johnny Cueto pitch.  X-Rays revealed the fracture and Lawrie will be placed on the DL as early as late Sunday.

Analysis:  Say goodbye to Lawrie for awhile as a busted finger is at least six weeks.  Lawrie has hit for nice power this season but his average has sunk badly.  All in all this is a disastrous turn of events for Lawrie who continues to be undermined with injury.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JAYS SLUGGER JOSE BAUSTISTA TO UNDERGO MRI ON LEG

                                           

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista will undergo an MRI on his left leg after he exited Sunday's game with tightness.  Bautista has dealt with serious injuries each of the last two seasons and it comes on the same day the team learned Brett Lawrie suffered a fractured finger when Reds SP Johnny Cueto hit him with a pitch.

Analysis:  Ugh.  No need to overboard yet as this could be jus ta precautionary move but still Bautisa would be a huge loss once again if he were to miss extended time.  The last two second halves of his seasons have been ruined by injury so this is something we need to keep close tabs on.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY PART 2

Aramis Ramirez:  3/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .293.  Ramirez has been red hot since coming off the DL, raising his average from the .260 range to its present .293.  Despite myself trading for Evan Longoria in the Experts League when he went on the DL, Ramirez has a firm spot in my UTIL slot.

Corey Dickerson:  3/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .354.  Ridiculous.  Where was this guy prior to this?  You gotta love Coors Field.

Wily Peralta:  7.2 IP 8 H 3 ER 1 BB 2 K with an ERA of 3.02.  The WHIP is inching up here to 1.23 as the .284 BABIP is still in lucky territory.  The FIP ERA is 3.92 so a regression is still in the cards.  Capitalize on the ratios and sell high.

Adam Wainwright:  8 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.08.  Here is what is puzzling to me,  Wainwright just came back from an elbow scare and the Cards still allowed him to toss 8 innings.  Just take a knife to the UCL and be done with it.  For real.

Devin Mesoraco:  1/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .307.  Mesoraco fought through a recent dry spell to crack a few home runs in the last week.  That speaks very well to his continued development as a top tier fantasy baseball catcher which he has been since April.

Jay Bruce:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .219.  Bruce is capable of a .260 average so a buy low is in order here. 

Mike Leake:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.59.  Buy now Leake has been doing this kind of work for long enough to full buy in.  Obviously the lack of K's hurt him in innings-capped setups but the ratios are sweet.

Jesse Chavez:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 4 BB 3 K with an ERA of 2.71.  A few things.  One is that opposing hitters have laid off some of Chavez' stuff which has shown up in the lowered K rate since April.  However he continues to throw solid start after solid start which shows you how crisp his arsenal remains.  Again a sell high by the end of July or sooner is in order since Chavez will be in uncharted innings territory as we go through the summer.

Jake Odorizzi:  7.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 4.29.  It is getting impossible to ignore the strikeouts with Odorizzi despite the high ERA.  However the ERA has been on the decline since May and again the K rate makes an investment warranted right now.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY PART 1

Adam Jones:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .291.  Jones struck out a bunch in April but he leveled that off and has hit for nice power since as usual.  I love Adam Jones.  You should love Adam Jones too.

Nelson Cruz:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .299.  Wow.  Cruz is hitting .300 now with all the power which is something he never did in Texas.  The hamstring is going along for the ride as well as everything smells like roses.  Cruz has been a monster value as his pre-2014 draft price fell through the floor but clearly we all misread this.

J.J. Hardy:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .292.  Took long enough.  Have no explanation for he power outage with Hardy but he is the type of guy who can get crazy hot with the home run swing.  Now is the perfect time to get him back in there to make a waiver add.

Mark Teixeria:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .250.  Teixeira is just there.  When you need a home run boost plug him in.  If not stash him on the bench.  Very easy.

Josh Beckett:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.28.  This is crazy.  Who is this guy?  Amazing what good health can do for any pitcher or hitter for that matter.  The 8.72 K rate is pretty much in line with what Beckett did in his heyday and we all know the ballpark is top notch.  There is no reason Beckett can't continue on this plane if his health holds up.  The pitching equivalent of Nelson Cruz with regards to value.

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .252.  No doubt Choo has been a pretty big disappointment leading into this one and it got so bad that he was cut loose in the Experts League of which I snagged him off waivers thank you very much.  This falls squarely into the "he is not this bad and eventually the turnaround will come" mode so cutting Choo is ridiculously stupid.  With the weather heating up in Texas, the home runs will start flying out and Choo should be at worst an outfielder 2 the rest of the way.

C.J. Cron:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .284.  With Raul Ibanez out of the picture, Cron will be an intriguing everyday hitter for the Angels going forward.  There is some Billy Butler 2010 appeal here with a good average, nice RBI total, and a decent amount of home runs.  Ummm yes pick him up.

Jered Weaver:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.47.  This is typical Weaver work at this stage of his post-200-K career.  Wow that was a lot of hyphens. 

Kevin Jepsen:  blown save with 1 ER in ninth with an ERA of 2.96.  Ummm does Mike Scoscia realize Joe Smith is still in the bullpen?  WTF?

Hunter Pence:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .299.  I want Hunter Pence and Brandon Moss in my outfield from now to eternity.

Doug Fister:  8 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 2.65.  The K rate has not ticked up like I thought in would going to the NL but that is nitpicking given the terrific ratios. 

Julio Teheran:  7 IP 7 H 3 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.41.  There is some BABIP luck helping the ERA but not much.  Teheran is fully engulfed as a top notch SP 2.

Ian Kinsler:  2/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .289.  To think we all thought Dustin Pedroia was a better investment than Kinsler this season. 

Victor Martinez:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .331.  To think that I completely ignored Martinez for this season because there was no "C" attached to his name.  (Commence stabbing my eyes out).

Carlos Santana:  2/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .201.  To think we all once thought Carlos Santana was a top notch catcher.  (Well not me and enough with the "To Think's).

Justin Verlander:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.73.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Joe Nathan:  fifth blown save with 1 ER in ninth with an ERA of 6.18.  (Sigh).  There are no words. 

Anthony Rizzo:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .278.  Rizzo will likely finish the season with a .275 average and around 25-30 home runs.  Yeah that works.

Lucas Duda:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .241.  Guy only hits home runs when the Mets are in the lead.  Seriously. 

Jacob DeGrom:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 3 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.75.  With Dillon Gee getting ready to return, DeGrom is battling Daisuke Matsuzaka for the fifth starter's spot.  DeGrom has generally been solid but really is for NL-only leagues.

 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: EVAN LONGORIA 3B TAMPA BAY RAYS

                                              Evan Longoria
 
If you have been a habitual reader of yours truly for the last few seasons, you would know that I have always felt Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was among the most overrated players in all of fantasy baseball.  While I have complete respect for Longoria's power at a very shallow position, from 2010-2012 Longoria found himself in first round territory which I always felt was way too high and a reach when you fully looked at his numbers.  What really got the hype meter was Longoria's massive 2009 season when he hit 33 home runs and drove in 113 while scoring 100.  In addition Longoria stole 9 bases and batted .281 which made him a rare five-category contributor in fantasy baseball parlance.  That season however represented by far the best output from Longoria in his still young career (28 years old) and from 2010-2012 when Longoria was drafted in Round 1, he has pretty much been a letdown given that lofty perch despite good numbers that would have looked better from round 3 on.  The same has held true in 2014 as Longoria's bat has lagged at times and he went in Saturday's games with only 9 home runs and 33 RBI while hitting a mediocre .261.  So with that said let's dig in more on Longoria in order to see what is currently going on with the Rays third baseman and whether or not a big second half is in store. 
 
As far as the total package of numbers from Longoria this season:
 
.261 39 R 9 HR 33 RBI 2 SB
 
Overall those are very solid numbers indeed but again they come up short of expectations.  For one, Longoria's power has been slow in coming around as he only recently has started hitting baseballs over outfield walls in the last month.  In addition, Longoria's batting average has slipped again due to his always high K rate.  Longoria's K rate will never allow him to hit much better than .280 and since he is flat in his prime, that is where his height will be in that category from here on out.  He has room to improve there for this season as his 20.1 percent K rate is better than the 23.1 from 2013 when he batted .269.  However Longoria's walk rate has dropped from last season's 10.1 mark to this season's 8.4 which hurts. 
 
As far as the rest of the package is concerned, Longoria's runs and RBI totals are the least volatile part of his game as he hits in the middle of a solid Rays lineup which puts him in line to make nice inroads there.  However the speed has not been there since 2009 as Longoria's season stolen bases totals in the seasons since have been 15, 3, 2, and 1.  Longoria has 2 so far this season but anything more than 5 or 6 is not likely.  So again when you put it all together, Longoria remains a 3-category guys in home runs, runs, and RBI which is way too high for first or second round territory and maybe even round 3.  The dearth of fantasy baseball third baseman make him a guy who will always get drafted high but the numbers just don't support it.
 
 

2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MONTEE BALL RB DENVER BRONCOS

                                            Montee Ball
                                           
Ordinarily speaking, any player who gets a bump from one season to the next when it comes to workload and opportunity would go into the Sleeper File when it comes to the following year's drafts.  However in the case of Denver Broncos RB Montee Ball, the word is completely out on both his potential and prime workload opportunity for 2014 that he already is being drafted as a late first round pick which means there is no discount to be had which removes from him the sleeper heading.  The hype attached to Ball is completely on queue however as the second-year back out of Wisconsin has the clear number 1 running back spot all to himself after Knowshon Moreno was allowed to leave as a free agent and with word coming out of minicamp about how much positive progress he has made in the receiving game, all the stars are aligned for a potentially monster season.  With that said let's dig in a bit deeper and find out what Ball could supply his fantasy football owners in 2014.
 
Before we proceed further, let's take a look at what Ball did in his very good 2013 rookie campaign.
 
559 yards rushing on 120 carries for a 4.7 average and 4 rushing scores
20 receptions for 145 more yards
 
Overall it was a terrific rookie season for Ball who showed how good a power runner he is and could be into the future to go along with developing receiving skills which would make him more appealing in PPR formats.  Again with Moreno out of the picture, Bell has little competition for carries in the very explosive Broncos offense.  With Peyton Manning putting up record-setting passing numbers, opposing defenses will not stack the box along the line which will give Ball plenty of rook to run.  In addition, Manning will put the Broncos in prime scoring positions with plenty of trips into the red zone which means plentiful TD opportunities for Ball.  The fact Ball averaged almost 5 yards per carry as a rookie last season portends to a big rushing season as well in 2014, with a shot at 1,200 yards being possible to go with at the very least 10 touchdowns on the ground.  Finally, word out of minicamp is that Ball has made tremendous strides with his previously shaky receiving skills which elevates him more in PPR formats.  Whereas Ball once looked like a clear standard league RB 1 and a PPR RB 2, the latter now moves to the 1 spot if what we are hearing about his receiving improvement is on par.  After Ball caught 20 balls as a rookie, he could threaten the 40 mark if all breaks right on that area of his game.
 
When you put everything together, Montee Ball is absolutely worth a late first round pick and could be a sweet value if he falls into the second round and more.  A 1,200 rushing yards/10-15 TD performance on the ground is very possible.  In addition as we already noted, 40 receptions could also be a part of the deal as well if Ball continues to improve himself on that side of the offensive attack.  Ball is primed to push himself into one of the best overall backs in fantasy football and stardom seems imminent.
 
2014 PROJECTION:  1,182 yards 11 TD/37 receptions 232 yards 2 TD
 
 

Friday, June 20, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED THIRD BASE RANKINGS

Once again it is time to check in on the latest 2014 fantasy baseball third baseman rankings.  Let's see where this group stands with the season now two-and-a-half months old.

1.  Miguel Cabrera:  Yeah the power is noticeably down but no one can hold a candle to the awesome hitting of Cabrera.
2.  Edwin Encarnacion:  Now completely living up to the first round hype.  Like I said he would.
3.  Josh Donaldson:  Just coming off a hellacious slump but the counting stats are ridiculous. 
4.  Todd Frazier:  Looks more like David Wright than David Wright does.
5.  Adrian Beltre:  As long as Beltre stays healthy, he will be just fine.
6.  Evan Longoria
7.  David Wright:  Only four home runs as we type this in mid-June.  Looks like Citi Field is getting into his head again.
8.  Nolan Arenado:  Would have been higher on this list if he didn't get hurt.  Was in midst of huge breakout season.
9.  Pedro Alvarez:  The five steals are surprising and a nice bonus to his 11 home runs and 25 RBI.  That average remains ugly. 
10. Pablo Sandoval:  Have railed against the guy for awhile now but I have to be fair in saying he has hit very well the last month.
11. Ryan Zimmerman
12. Lonnie Chisenhall:  Just is still out on whether Chinsenhall can keep it going.
13. Aramis Ramirez:  As always Ramirez hits when his body allows him to do so.
14. Anthony Rendon
15. Kyle Seager
16. Manny Machado:  Has some growing up to do both with his game and his attitude.
17. Matt Carpenter:  Keep him at second base while he has the eligibility.
18. Xander Bogaerts
19. Trevor Plouffe
20. Martin Prado
21. Casey McGehee
22. D.J. LeMatheieu
23. Brock Holt
24. Carlos Santana
25. Chase Headley
26. Brett Lawrie
27. Chris Johnson
28. Matt Dominguez
29. David Freese

 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Nick Swisher:  1/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .200.  Swisher hit a grand slam in this one but he hasn't been worthy of usage since the start of the season as the average has fallen out completely. 
 
C.J. Wilson:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.34.  Thank you very much Ernesto Frieri.  Please go away.  Like forever.
 
Ernesto Frieri:  third blown save with 1 ER in .1 IP with an ERA of 5.83.  Good golly this guy sucks.  Joe Smith all the way.  Make the add.
 
Dustin Pedroia:  2/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .266.  You wonder if Pedroia's slight frame is causing some early erosion like those who can remember was the case with Carlos Baerga who went from an All Star to a complete bust at 28.  Not saying Pedroia is dropping off the map like that but the numbers just have not rallied enough at any point this season. 
 
Yoenis Cespedes:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .266.  Pedroia and Cespedes are both hitting .266 but the power has exploded for the latter.  What is really good to see is that Cespedes is not hitting .230 with the 15 home runs which was the case last season. 
 
Scott Kazmir:  7 IP 4 H 2 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.08.  Kazmir is up to 9 wins and is a firm challenger for the AL Cy Young.  It truly is amazing that Kazmir was forced to pitch in the Independent League as recently as 2012.  And yes the Mets still traded him straight up for Victor Zambrano.  We just have to continue to wait and see if fatigue becomes an issue.
 
Ryan Howard:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .242.  Howard has been hot the last week so put him in the lineup if you are an owner as the home runs could fly routinely for a short while. 
 
Yohan Pino:  7 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.57.  Continues the K/IP ratio Pino showed in the minor leagues this season and the late bloomer should be picked up in all formats to see where this goes. 
 
Josh Willingham:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .258.  If a guy has been around long enough like Willingham has been, eventually the numbers end up where they should which in his case means an ugly average with good power.  Clear starter in five outfielder formats and AL-only leagues only. 
 
David Wright:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .266.  This is what I said last week two home runs ago regarding Wright "The fact the weather is heating up will likely add some more home runs to Wright's total."  Yup.
 
Zack Wheeler:  9 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.93.  Wheeler is as volatile from start-to-start as any pitcher in fantasy baseball but the talent is obvious.  One day Wheeler will harness it all and be as good as an SP 2 and he has every chance to finish the 2014 season strong.  Consistency needs to be found first which is Wheeler's biggest challenge.

Evan Longoria:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .265.  Remember in 2010 when everyone just had to have Longoria in the first round?  I don't remember either.

Colin McHugh:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.76.  The .255 BABIP is surely helping keep the ERA down a full run from where it should be but in defense of McHugh, his 9.92 K rate has been extremely impressive.  I bet you there is an Astros fan out there playing fantasy baseball who drafted McHugh and Dallas Keuchel and is now leading his league in ERA and WHIP.

Chris Archer:  6.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.14.  Maybe I was a bit impatient in dropping Archer back in April when he was pitching miserably but oh well.  Guy has turned his season around no doubt and pushed up the K rate so last season's optimism has returned.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .264.  40 home runs here we come. 

Melky Cabrera:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .298.  Cabrera has not let up at all since the start of the season as his steroids past is being pushed further and further into the back end of the fantasy baseball community's memory.  If it wasn't for Nelson Cruz, Cabrera would be Biogenesis MVP.

Jesse Hahn:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.16.  Told you all to pick up Hahn after his last start.  Hope you listened.  The kid has some sneaky good K stuff and I would actually take him over Tyson Ross. 

Danny Duffy:  7 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.80.  Really I don't know what your waiting for here.  Kid has immense strikeout potential and he looks night and day with the control.  Sometimes ironing out the walks is all it takes for a pitcher to reach top end status and Duffy could be heading there based on what we are seeing out of his arm this season.



 
 
 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ANGELS TO USE COMMITTEE AT CLOSER

                                                
 
Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scoscia indicated on Thursday that the team would use a committee at closer going forward after Ernesto Frieri continued with his awful pitching over the last month.  After Frieri gave up a grand slam in his last appearance, Scoscia finally decided he had seen enough from him as the team's closer and will now possible turn to Joe Smith and Cam Bedrosian instead. 
 
Analysis:  Smith should be the guy here no doubt as he has pitched very well this season and looked good when stepping into the closer role for Frieri earlier in the season.  Frieri looks shot and it is likely Scoscia is finished there for awhile.  Pick up Smith and go all in there.