FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS ON FACEBOOOK

Monday, February 29, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: HUNTER PENCE TO BE SIDELINED A WEEK WITH ACHILLES

Updating an earlier item, San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence will be shut down for a week with a sore right Achilles.  An MRI was conducted on Pence's Achilles as a precaution but he still will be held out a week in order to be on the safe side according to manager Bruce Bochy.

Analysis:  It sounds like the MRI showed nothing which is the best news of all out of this.  Still this is the second spring in a row Pence has dealt with injuries and he is approaching his mid-30's which is where health becomes more of a concern.  We might have seen the best out of Pence in 2014 as he is past his physical peak but he is still capable of outfielder 2 numbers. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YU DARVISH (ELBOW) TOSSES SUCESSFUL BULLPEN SESSION

Rehabbing Texas Rangers ace SP Yu Darvish threw a successful bullpen session on Monday as he continues to make steady progress in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.  Darvish was able to throw with no pain and he will be scheduled to toss a second one later in the week.  He is expected to return sometime in late May. 

Analysis:  Buy low, buy low, buy low.  We saw with Matt Harvey in his tremendous comeback from the surgery in 2015 how good a pitcher can be the first season back and Darvish is capable of such a performance.  Remember he was arguably the most dominant strikeout pitcher in the game before the elbow went bad and Darvish is capable of being a near-ace from late May onward. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: HUNTER PENCE HEADED FOR MRI ON ACHILLES

San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence will have an MRI done on his sore Achilles tendon which first flared up on him during base running drills on Saturday.  Pence called the move precautionary and he admitted to no walking difficulties when he met with reporters on Monday. 

Analysis:  This sounds like just a routine test to be sure there is nothing serious.  All in all Pence should be fine but of course you want to check back on this.  Pence is trying to avoid a repeat of his injury-ruined spring of last season when he suffered a fractured forearm after an HBP.  While he is starting to age a bit, Pence is still capable of solid outfielder 2 numbers in fantasy baseball. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CURTIS GRANDERSON LIKELY DEALING WITH PINK EYE

Updating an earlier item, New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson is likely dealing with a case of pink eye that got him sent home from camp on Monday.  With pink eye being highly contagious, the Mets likely erred on the side of caution in sending him home.

Analysis:  There were some conflicting reports earlier about if Granderson went to the hospital but it seems like that did not happen.  All in all this would be about the best case scenario for Granderson as he should be fine in a few days. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CURTIS GRANDERSON FORCED FROM MONDAY WORKOUT DUE TO MEDICAL EMERGENCY

New York Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson was forced to exit the team complex on Monday due to an apparent medical emergency.  No details were released by the team but early reports indicate Granderson was taken to a local hospital. 

Analysis:  Uh-oh.  That can't be good and this is something we obviously need to check back on.  Granderson is coming off a nice season for the Mets and his fantasy baseball owners in 2015 as he pushed up his power again and scored a high amount of runs. 

 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JORGE SOLER OUTFIELER CHICAGO CUBS

When the Chicago Cubs called up top outfield prospect in 2014, the hype meter was already well into overdrive concerning the Cuban after he hit a combined 14 home runs in just 236 at-bats at three levels in the minor leagues.  Soler was lauded for his natural power and with fellow Cubans becoming overnight stars such as Jose Fernandez, Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, and Yasiel Puig, the thinking was that he would join that impressive list and become a top-end guy in short order.  After 5 home runs in just 97 debut at-bats with the Cubs in 2014, the stage was set for Soler to be a major sleeper candidate the following season in fantasy baseball drafts. 

That is just what happened with Soler last March as his giddy owners reached a few rounds early for the guy amid thoughts of at least 20-plus home runs and a high number of RBI with a solid average in a suddenly potent Chicago Cubs lineup.  Unfortunately Soler didn't seem to comprehend the memo as he struggled from the jump with a .247 April with just 2 home runs and things didn't get much better as the season went on as more hitting struggles ensued to go along with a DL stint.  By the end of the season, Soler's numbers were downright ugly as he finished with the following statistical line:

.262
10 HR
47 RBI
39 R
3 SB 

Not one category helped Soler's fantasy baseball owners and now we go into 2016 questioning how good he really is.  The hype has almost completely vanished here as well as Soler's early ADP has dropped sharply from 2015.  So is Soler the latest post-hype sleeper made good or will more issues ensure?  Let's try to get a better read on the guy. 

First of all Soler remains very young at the age of 24 and in fairness, he didn't get a heavy amount of minor league work to help prepare him for major league pitching.  That has to be weighed here as Soler was coming from Cuba where the levels there are on part with A-ball in the States.  So Soler might have just needed some more work before he could be counted on as a regular.  Still Soler has to take some blame for the ugly 30 percent K rate that should have sank his .262 average even lower.  Soler had a lucky .361 BABIP that helped ward off a complete horror show with the batting average however but we still have to worry more than a little about how bad he could end up there with neutral luck for 2016.  With the average likely to be ugly, it is important for Soler to hit for power and collect a high number of runs and RBI which he didn't do last season either.  10 home runs is not going to cut it and neither will a .399 SLG.  Soler must drive the ball better for 2016 or else many will conclude correctly that his power was not as advertised.  Finally, Soler is not a runner so he will not help at all in stolen bases to offset any average or power damage he inflicts on your squad this season.

When you put it all together, Jorge Soler looks like a big disappointment waiting to happen again for 2016.  The Cubs still have a crowded outfield after dealing away Chris Coghlan as Soler is joined by Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, and Dexter Fowler.  That means Soler better hit early on or he will be planted on the bench.  There is just too many bad signs here to make Soler to be anything more than a backup outfield on your roster. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .254 14 HR 55 RBI 46 R 4 SB 


________________________________________________________________________________

*****REGISTER FOR OUR MESSAGE BOARD FOR THE 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL SEASON:  http://thefantasysportsboss.freeforums.net/

******LIKE US ON TWITTER IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY.  GOING TO TWEET LIVE DURING GAMES THIS SEASON.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS AND CONTESTS ON TWITTER THIS SEASON:  https://twitter.com/ROTOBOSS

*****LIKE US ON FACEBOOK.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS ALL SEASON THERE:  https://www.facebook.com/The-Fantasy-Sports-Boss-199190803425104/?fref=ts

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: LUKE GREGERSON (OBLIQUE) TAKING PART IN LONG TOSS

Houston Astros reliever Luke Gregerson was able to throw long-toss and take part in fielding drills over the weekend as he picks up in intensity with his workouts after being shut down for a week with oblique pain.

Analysis:  Good news for Gregerson but it is a pipe dream to think he will hold off Ken Giles as the team's closer.  Unless you are in a league with holds, Gregerson has little fantasy baseball value. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: LUIS SEVERINO NOT GUARANTEED ROTATION SPOT TO START 2016

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Sunday that prized rookie pitching prospect Luis Severino is not guaranteed a rotation spot to start the 2016 season.  While Girardi did say that Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka, and Nathan Eovaldi are all guaranteed spots, the wouldn't commit to that designation for Severino and C.C. Sabbathia in also discussing Ivan Nova as an option.

Analysis:  Hmmm..  This is likely Girardi just taking some pre4ssure off Severino but it is unwarranted since the kid showed incredibly poise in coming up and pitching like an ace last season.  Severino is so much more talented then Sabbathia and Nova so barring a complete disaster of a spring, should be the guy at number 5.  He has potentially dominant stuff and is one of the better sleepers for 2016 fantasy baseball. 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: IAN DESMOND SS/OF TEXAS RANGERS

A popular theme when handicapping players in fantasy baseball is to key in one guys who are facing free agency.  The thinking goes that such a player will give their best effort with money on the table and career campaigns are almost expected.  Well that story doesn't always unfold in such a positive manner which was the case with Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond who turned out a big contract offer from the team last spring training in banking on a huge 2015 that would set him up for a monster payday the following winter.  Instead Desmond produced his worst season ever since becoming a mainstay in the Washington infield and that led to him being almost completely ignored once the free agency got underway.  Things got so bad that it took more than a week into spring training for Desmond to finally find a home with the Texas Rangers and he had to agree to move to the outfield to make it happen.  So as always let's dig in and take a closer look at what Desmond could accomplish with his new team in 2016 fantasy baseball. 

First the trainwreck that was Desmond's 2015:

.233
19 HR
62 RBI
69 R
13 SB 

The world "ugly" comes to mind here as Desmond saw career-lows almost across the board in terms of being a regular shortstop for the Nats.  His struggles went to the defensive too as well as Desmond was one giant "Error" in the field and his issues in the field could have hurt his offensive numbers as well.  Be that as it may, Desmond was horrendous in 2015 and really put a major hurting on his fantasy baseball owners who expected another 20/20 season. 

It was the power/speed ability of Desmond that made him a top five fantasy baseball shortstop from 2012-14 as he reached the 20/20 mark in all three of those campaigns despite some batting average troubles due to a high K rate.  Desmond's owners were willing to put up with the ugly average as long as the power/speed numbers were there and that ability was very impressive at the shallow shortstop spot.  Then 2015 arrives and Desmond's already high K rate went even higher as he whiffed in a career-high 29.2 percent of his at-bats which is a frighteningly high number.  The result was the .232 average which hurts anywhere and at any spot.   Also Desmond's speed seemed to be eroding a bit as well as he sank to 13 steals after going for 25, 21, and 21 the three years prior.  At the age of 30, it is likely Desmond has lost a bit of speed and so projecting 20 stolen bases going forward is a bit of a pipe dream.  Yes the 19 home runs were an impressive number at shortstop but even there Desmond fell off after he reached 20 or more again from 2012-14. 

So now Desmond enters into another phase of his career as he goes into the American League and will now man another position in the outfield.  On the plus side, Desmond gets about as big a ballpark boost as a hitter can get as he moves from spacious Washington to the home run haven that is Texas.  On the negative side, Desmond will have to go through an adjustment period in facing unfamiliar AL pitchers and also dealing with the distractions that a new defensive position brings.  Considering how all the errors Desmond committed likely hurt his offensive numbers last season, this is no such small concern. 

Now as far as what Desmond could accomplish this season, the power is holding on here and should actually get a boost moving to Texas.  We can see Desmond moving back to the 20-plus home run range and even go above 70 in runs and RBI which when combined with the power makes him quite intriguing again.  Desmond retains shortstop eligibility for one more season which is where you want to play him but the average and slipping steals are issues to worry about.  In particular the average is a fright fest given the high K rate from Desmond and again going against unfamiliar pitchers won't remedy that much if at all.  Thus .260 would be about as high as we would go in predicting where Desmond will end up on that front but even lower would be very possible.  The steals should still end up in the double-digits but they could be slipping given the advancing age. 

When you put it all together, Ian Desmond has some decent bounce back appeal for 2016 given the much reduced draft price and the fact he retains shortstop eligibility for one more season moving to a prime hitting park.  As long as you know about the warts, Desmond could be a steal. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .257 20 HR 65 RBI 77 R 14 SB 

________________________________________________________________________________

*****REGISTER FOR OUR MESSAGE BOARD FOR THE 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL SEASON:  http://thefantasysportsboss.freeforums.net/

******LIKE US ON TWITTER IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY.  GOING TO TWEET LIVE DURING GAMES THIS SEASON.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS AND CONTESTS ON TWITTER THIS SEASON:  https://twitter.com/ROTOBOSS

*****LIKE US ON FACEBOOK.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS ALL SEASON THERE:  https://www.facebook.com/The-Fantasy-Sports-Boss-199190803425104/?fref=ts
 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: ADRIAN BELTRE/KYLE SEAGER

It is time for another 2016 Fantasy Baseball Draft Debate so let's get right to the subject of today's post which centers on third baseman Adrian Beltre and Kyle Seager.  Both guys are quite even in terms of their numbers and future projections for this season so let's compare the two using the five standard ROTO categories to see who should come out on top. 

RUNS:  Seager won this battle just by two last season, outscoring Beltre 85-83.  However Seager had 50-plus more at-bats then Beltre and even going back to 2014 the Rangers veteran wins out.
ADVANTAGE:  Adrian Beltre

STOLEN BASES:  Beltre at one time in his career was a capable stolen base guy but no longer as he swiped just one bag in 2015.  Seager is not even an average steals guy himself but he took 6 bags a year ago and usually is good for between 5-10. 
ADVANTAGE:  Kyle Seager

HOME RUNS:  This would have been no contest a few years ago in terms of power as Beltre was a tremendous home run guy before age started to do its thing.  Seager meanwhile has cemented himself as a 25-home run guy in a pitcher's park, while Beltre has dropped into the high teens.
ADVANTAGE:  Kyle Seager

AVERAGE:  Seager is a decent hitter but he is pretty much a lock of a .275 guy while Beltre can still hit .300.  Even though he slipped a bit to .287 in 2015, Beltre still bettered Seager in that category as the latter put up just a .266 mark.
ADVANTAGE:  Adrian Beltre

RBI:  This one is very close as Beltre and Seager are both somewhat comparable but the Mariners third baseman come up second in two of the last three seasons in this duel.  Beltre has the better ballpark as well which gives him the nod.
ADVANTAGE:  Adrian Beltre

WINNER:  Adrian Beltre

The bottom line here is that Beltre is still capable of having one more solid season at the dish, while Seager himself remains a very durable and impressive hitter.  However if you crunch the numbers, Beltre wins out. 



 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: KYLE SCHWARBER TO LIKELY CATCH KYLE HENDRICKS

According to Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, outfielder Kyle Schwarber is likely to catch Kyle Hendricks this season.  Hendricks has spoken of a comfort while throwing to Schwarber and Maddon has no issue with keeping the arrangement going. 

Analysis:  This is potentially big news as Schwarber would be able to get enough starts to hold onto catcher eligibility for 2017.  One of the more hyped players of the season who everyone is after, Schwarber could be a monster power hitter with catcher eligibility. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: NO ISSUES FOR ZACK WHEELER AFTER THROWING OFF MOUND

New York Mets rehabbing pitcher Zack Wheeler reported no problems after throwing 12 pitches off a mound on Saturday, his first such work on the hill while recovering from Tommy John surgery.  Wheeler is expected to return sometime in early July for the Mets and in the meantime Bartolo Colon will hold down the number 5 spot in the Met rotation. 

Analysis:  Wheeler is a guy we already have featured with our sleeper profile last week and we still hold true to that thinking.  The control was an issue even before the surgery and figures to be a problem again this season but Wheeler can throw 98-mph which will net a high level of strikeouts. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: RANGERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH IAN DESMOND

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Texas Rangers have officially inked free agent shortstop Ian Desmond.  The Rangers will shift Desmond to the outfield and keep Elvis Andrus at shortstop going into the 2016 season. 

Analysis:  Wow did Desmond blow this whole thing as he turned down a big contract offer last spring from the Nats and now has to move off shortstop and take a below-market deal with the Rangers.  Desmond was simply horrendous across the board with his numbers in 2015 but he does get to move into a prime hitting spot in Texas and retains shortstop eligibility for another season.  he has some bounce back appeal but the high K rate means an ugly batting average. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: BILLY BURNS OUTFIELER OAKLAND A'S

One of the more tried-and-true suggestions when it comes to undertaking a fantasy baseball draft is to avoid selecting guys whose main asset is stolen bases and instead wait until the free agent wire or even into the season to take advantage of the annual influx of guys who help on the bases.  As we move further into this era of pitching dominance, the small ball approach is being emphasized like never before and often that manifests itself in the speed game.  As a result, there is little incentive in drafting stolen base weapons as these guys will appear on the wire all throughout a given season.  Once such player who fit that criteria in 2015 was Oakland A's leadoff speedster Billy Burns.  Presented with a chance to stack his claim to a starting outfielder spot for the first time in his career, burns went out and made the spot all his own by hitting .294, scoring 70 runs, and stealing 26 bases.  Burns overall made the grade as a stable outfielder 3 in fantasy baseball as a result and will look to elevate himself even a bit higher for 2016.  Let's dig in and see if this is possible.

When you look at the 26-year-old Burns, you see a guy who needed a few years to finally get a chance but whose solid and patient approach at the dish helped him become and everyday player.  Burns closely resembles Ben Revere in that he doesn't strike out much (a below-average 14.6 percent last season) which helps him put up very good batting averages and get on base at a nice clip (.334 OBP).  That helps Burns score a solid amount of runs and also put him in position to steal a high number of bases as he did with the 26 he took last season.  Burns is already close to his prime so what you see if probably what you will get moving forward into 2016 but that is still a very solid place to put your outfielder 3 money.  Burns will be the every day leadoff guy for the A's from the jump and that means a .300 average with about 80 runs and maybe as many as 30 steals is likely. 

Overall with Billy Burns, you get a guy who will be a good asset in three categories (runs, steals, and average), while being way below par in home runs and also with his RBI total.  The durability checks out however and again Burns seems like a very stable commodity who won't cost a ton at the draft table. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .302 6 HR 46 RBI 86 R 34 SB 

 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: JEREMY JEFFRESS BATTLING HAMSTRING SORENESS, LEG UP FOR WILL SMITH

When there is a battle to man the closer position in spring training, any one bad outing or one injury could help decide things in favor of the other guy.  While it is still very early in spring training, it was learned on Saturday that Milwaukee Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress was battling a sore hamstring which will get him shut down from throwing bullpen sessions until it clears up.  The righty was in the beginning stages of a closer battle for the team along with lefty Will Smith but the injury to Jeffress could already be tilting things in his counterpart's favor.  We talked up Smith in our annual Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide and there certainly were a ton of positive as he was coming off a dominant 2015 campaign where he pitched to a 2.70 ERA and struck out a crazy 92 batters while only throwing 63.1 innings.  While Jeffress' injury is not believed to be serious, you have to think that Smith already had a leg up on things. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL AT THE COMBINE: RUNNING BACKS ATTACK THE 40

By Eric C. Wright

Indianapolis, IN.--Lots of nonstop action at the NFL Scouting Combine so let's get to all the latest news and notes from around the league.

-The running backs are up Saturday in terms of running the 40-yard dash which is always a very crucial marker for these players.  Here are some of the notable performances:

Tyler Ervin (San Jose State):  Ran a 4.41 which was a huge number and bumps Ervin up more than a little on draft boards.  Ervin has decent size as well at 5-10 but his weight falls under the 200 range which doesn't make him an every down guy at the NFL level.

Ezekiel Elliot (Ohio State):  Ran a 4.47 which cements a first round grade for Elliott.  Rumors have him going as high as number 10 to the New York Giants and either way he should be the only back in Round 1 who will compare to Todd Gurley.

Derrek Henry (Alabama):  The Heisman Trophy winner ran a plodding 4.54 which further increases the BUST chatter surrounding him.  We had Henry down as a major bust candidate in our annual NFL Draft Guide (make sure you purchase) and the fact he has just a straight ahead style and is a zero in the receiving game adds to his risk. 

Paul Perkins (UCLA):  Ran a 4.54 which won't open many eyes but there has been more than a few whispers about Perkins being a potential diamond in the rough who runs quicker then his 40-time.  Also there are rampant Devonta Freeman comparisons as well. 

Kenyan Drake (Alabama):  Ran a 4.45 and Drake was a second fiddle guy to T.J. Yeldon and Henry at Alabama.  Very good hands here who will be an excellent receiving complement at the NFL level.  Could go as high as Round 4.

Alex Collins (Arkansas):  Ran a slow 4.59 which could knock Collins to the seventh round or even out of the draft entirely. 

C.J. Prosise (Notre Dame):  Ran a 4.48 and has very intriguing promise as a mid-round pick.  Prosise can also catch the football and has a ton of tread on his tires as he was a starter for only one full season.  Has to cut down on his fumbles. 

Kenneth Dixon (Louisiana Tech):  Ran a 4.58 and Dixon is a good power runner who could go as high as Round 2.  Speed is average but Dixon has solid wiggle and the ability to break tackles. 

-In other news, the Washington Redskins will franchise tag Kirk Cousins which the QB is fine with if it comes down to it. 

-Notre Dame linebacker Jaylen Smith will likely miss all of the 2016 season which should knock him out of Round 1 due to the torn ACL he suffered in the team's bowl game. 

-Nothing new on the Alshon Jeffery talks but again the Bears will franchise him if a long-term deal is not reached. 

BEAT WRITERS NEEDED FOR ALL 30 MLB TEAMS

With the 2016 fantasy baseball season fast approaching, we are aiming to ramp up our coverage even more on a per team basis.  Specifically speaking, we are looking for BEAT writers that will cover each of the 30 MLB teams from a fantasy baseball angle.  These are strictly volunteer positions but you will be able to pitch your Twitter handle or personal website in return for original pieces on your respective team.  Position entails sending out newsbreaks on breaking news items on your team plus whatever features you want to include.  Also depending on the quality of your work, you may be included in our annual draft guide which will earn you a paid bonus.  Please cut and paste the INFO below and send it back to us at The Fantasy Sports Boss through e-mail at rangerfan28@yahoo.com

Name:
Team You Wish To Cover:
Website:
Age:

We look forward to hearing from all of you. 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: ZACK WHEELER SP NEW YORK METS

With the New York Mets getting set to defend their 2015 NL East title and go back to the World Series, the hype machine has gone into overdrive concerning their starting rotation.  Blessed with a stable of young arms that all can throw high heat and rack up strikeouts by the bunches, the Mets head into the season with four ace-level starters in Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndegaard, and Steven Matz.  With veteran Bartolo Colon rounding out the group, the Mets have hands down the best rotation in baseball.  However there is one name missing from the group who will be a factor sometime in the summer and who at this time last year was firmly included in the prized young fireballing group on the team.  We of course are referring to Zack Wheeler who currently is rehabbing from last Tommy John elbow surgery last March and a big step is soon to be taken there amid reports he will throw from a mound in the next few days.  With that said, Wheeler stands a very good chance to being back at the start of July and his 98-mph fastball will slide in nicely in the Met rotation.  As always, let's dig in a bit more on Wheeler and find out what he could supply his owners this season.

When it comes to Wheeler, we have to go back to 2014 to revisit his ability and tendencies as a pitcher.  Again Wheeler was right there with Harvey, Syndegaard, Matz, and DeGrom as far as unlimited ceiling and possessing a golden arm.  Acquired by the Mets from the San Francisco Giants in the Carlos Beltran trade, Wheeler debuted in 2013 and opened more than a few eyes in pitching to a 3.42 ERA while showcasing a fastball that routinely sat in the 96-98 range and even on occasion hit 100.  Despite all the power in his arm though, Wheeler was far from a finished product as he struggled with his control more than a bit and his fastball came in a bit straight which resulted in fewer strikeouts than anticipated as shown by a somewhat mediocre 7.54 K rate.  However all in all it was an impressive debut and Wheeler was thus looked at as a prime breakout guy for 2014. 

With regards to his 2014 campaign, Wheeler made some serious strides as he bumped his K rate up more than a little to an impressive 9.08, while also lowering his BB/9 from 2013's 4.14 to 2014's 3.84.  The walk rate remained ugly but Wheeler was very stingy with the hits and he was figuring out how to use his blazing fastball to pick up strikeouts and thus improve his previously shaky pitch efficiency.  While the ERA rose a bit to 3.54, Wheeler was looking like the real deal who was sitting on a major jump in numbers in 2015.  By now we all know what happened next as Wheeler complained of pain in his elbow one day early in 2015 spring training and the result was a torn UCL which required Tommy John.  Now just getting up to speed as he gets set to throw off a mound, Wheeler is still expected to be ready during the summer where he can possibly supply some impressive value. 

So in looking ahead to 2016, an investment in Wheeler comes with the understanding you will only be getting about three months of production from the guy.  Still Wheeler's high-powered arsenal could result in a bunch of strikeouts and a tidy ERA.  The control figures to still be a big issue coming off the surgery but overall Wheeler looks like a find upside pick late in your draft.

2016 PROJECTION:  7-4 3.57 ERA 1.29 WHIP 119 K 

 

Friday, February 26, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ABRAHAM ALMONTE SUSPENDED 80 GAMES FOR PED'S

Cleveland Indians outfielder Abraham Almonte has been suspended for 80 games by MLB after testing positive for PED's. 

Analysis:  These guys never learn.  Almonte was a semi-sleeper for 2016 fantasy baseball due to some intriguing speed but now he can be ignored in all formats.  The stupidity of some players is amazing given all the stringent laws put in place by the game. 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL AROUND THE CAMPS: ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

By Michael Wong

Jupiter, Fla.--The model franchise of Major League Baseball that is the St. Louis Cardinals continues to chug along with winning record after winning record based on the strength of their always potent farm system.  As we move into the 2016 season however, there are some fraying around the edges as the Cards have a few players who are aging more than a bit both in the pitching staff and around the diamond.  So as always let's take a look at some of the main themes surrounding the team as the 2016 season approaches.

1.  Is it finally time to send Matt Holliday off into the fantasy baseball sunset?  It certainly looks like we have reached that point as Holliday comes off a frustrating season in 2015 that saw him miss more than a little bit of time with injury and saw more erosion in his offensive numbers.  Now 36-years-old, Holliday has seen his always stellar batting average fall under the .280 mark the last two years and his power could struggle to even reach 20 home runs in 2015.  This is another case of saluting how great a player Holliday has been (have you seen some of his crazy Colorado Rockies numbers?) while at the same time moving away from him for good due to the name brand vastly outpacing the actual level of production. 

2.  On the pitching/aging front, is Adam Wainwright in the same boat as Holliday?  Turning 35 in August, Wainwright comes off his own injury-filled 2015 campaign that saw him tear an Achilles tendon and pitch only 28 innings.  Prior to that in 2014, Wainwright showed a drastically lowered K rate as all those seasons of crazy inning totals look like they are finally taking a toll.  While still an ace on paper, Wainwright just doesn't have the stuff anymore to even approach his old number 1 starter numbers.  We have been big fans of Wainwright in the past but like with Holliday, it is time to move on to more younger and more stable pitchers. 

3.  Can we really buy into the incredible power bustout from Matt Carpenter?  One of the more eye-opening and unexpected numbers in all of fantasy baseball in 2015 was the 28 home runs that third baseman Matt Carpenter swatted for the Cards.  What makes it so unexpected was the fact Carpenter had only reached double-digits in home runs ONCE in his previous three-years in the majors and just barely at 11.  It seems like Carpenter began swinging more for the fences last year though after moving from second base to third where more home runs are expected.  The trade-off was seen in the batting average as Carpenter hit a mediocre .272.  That is an exchange any Carpenter owner will gladly take however as he is a major runs scored guy (99 or more three straight years) and also collects a decent amount of RBI for a leadoff man.  Since the 28 home runs were way out of the blue, it is a good idea to push the expected 2016 number there to more like 20-22 given the career trends.  It also wouldn't be a shock if Carpenter doesn't even go that high.  Ultimately Carpenter still is a top ten fantasy baseball third baseman and his draft price will likely be decent since so many are not buying into his 2015 haul. 

4.  While Matt Holliday is clearly on the decline in leftfield, how impressive does the rest of the outfield look?  The Cardinals once again are being lauded for churning out not one but TWO very promising outfielders in Randal Grichuk and rightfielder Stephen Piscotty.  Grinchuk has terrific natural power that evokes comparisons to Jay Bruce, while Piscotty is more of a .300 hitter with 15-20 home runs power.  Both guys carry good upside for 2016 fantasy baseball but Grichuk could struggle to hit even .260 considering the fact he whiffed in more than 30 percent of his at-bats a year ago. 

5.  While both are very talented, how concerned should we be about the health of pitchers Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez?  Both guys have already had some big fantasy baseball seasons at very young ages for the Cards but both guys also have some very concerning injury issues.  Both Wacha and Martinez have come down with shoulder ailments over the last two years and any pitcher will tell you that a problem there is so much more worse then an elbow injury.  Wacha faded badly the second half of last season which calls into question how many inning in a given season he can pile onto that shoulder while Martinez was shut down in September with his own pain in the joint.  Both guys are expected to be full ready to go to start 2016 but both also are more than a little risky.  With starting pitching so deep, there really is no reason to cut a check on either unless you get them at your price. this season. 

 


2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: CHRIS COGHLAN INFIELDER OAKLAND A'S

The Oakland A's continued with their never-ending pursuit of cheap veteran players on Thursday as they picked up infielder Chris Coghlan from the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Aaron Brooks.  The deal worked for the Cubs as well since it cleared up a crowded infield and for Coghlan, it gives him more of a chance to be an every day player for the A's.  So with the ink still wet on the deal, let's dig in more on Coghlan and take a look at what he could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season.

What is really interesting about Coghlan is that he has almost had two careers as a Major Leaguer.  Coghlan was named the NL Rookie of the Year for the Florida Marlins in 2009 when he had a smashing debut when he batted .321 with 9 home runs and 8 stolen bases.  However that represented the high point of his tenure with the Marlins as he began a string of ugly seasons for the team that actually got him sent back to the minors leagues.  It appeared as though Coghlan's career was toast but a trade prior to 2014 to the Chicago Cubs would serve as a lifesaver for the veteran.  As a result, Coghlan got a chance to show he was not finished on a Cubs team filled with young players and who went through a long period of struggles as a club.  Just like his rookie year with Florida, Coghlan did a little bit of everything in hitting .283 with 9 home runs and stole 7 bases while manning the outfield and third base.  That earned Coghlan a firm Major League spot on the Cubs for 2015 where he would serve as an adviser to the young infielders on the team and also play on a semi-regular basis.  Now while the average was ugly at .250, Coghlan put up a career-best both in home runs with 16 and in steals with 11.  In fantasy baseball circles, Coghlan held some solid outfielder 3 value and even more as a bench guy you can stick in the lineup on light days.  However it was a bit annoying that Coghlan didn't play on a daily basis and you had to wonder how much better his numbers would look if he did. 

Enter the trade with the A's and now Coghlan all of a sudden is expected to be an every day player in the lineup for the team either at third base or more likely in the outfield.  While it seems like Coghlan has been around forever, he turns only 31 in June and is still in his prime.  Clearly he has some solid power/speed ability, with more of an emphasis on the home runs.  In fact Coghlan's ugly .250 average should have even been higher in 2015 as it was dragged down by an unlucky .284 BABIP.  With a solid K rate at 18.7 percent and a high walk rate at 11.5, Coghlan could hit .280 or better in 2016.  Add in increased at-bats and he also could pop a few more home runs and collect some additional numbers in the other three categories. 

When you really get to the bottom of it, Chris Coghlan carries some decent value as a late round veteran grab who is not at the stage of his career where he will decline just yet.  This is a proven guy who can help in all five standard categories and who will not cost much at all at the draft table.  Overall the guy should be primed for possibly his best season yet despite all he has been through in his career. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .277 17 HR 74 RBI 65 R 9 SB 

 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

FANTASY FOOTBALL COMBINE REPORT: SEAN PAYTON STAYING IN N.O.

By Eric C. Wright

Indianapolis, IN.--The New Orleans Saints have cast their lot once again with head coach Sean Payton as the two sides will announce a new contract extension agreement as early as Thursday evening.  There was talk that maybe Payton would be allowed to leave during the winter but the Saints maintained all along they would bring him back which now appears to be official. 

-Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has said that he expects both tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Thomas Rawls ready to go for the start of training camp from their respective surgeries. 

-Victor Cruz will have to agree to a sizable decrease in his salary of else he will be cut outright by the New York Giants. 

-Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams expects to be cut at any moment. 

-Some more key measureables at the Combine among prime prospects:
WR Laquan Treadwell:  6-2/221 with 9 1/2 inch hands 
WR Will Fuller:  6-0/186 but with just 8 1/4 inch hands which are very small 
WR Corey Coleman:  5-10/194 with 9-inch hands
WR Josh Doctson:  6-2/202 with 9 7/8 inch hands 

More later so check back real soon. 


 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: AROLDIS CHAPMAN SUSPENSION TO BE HANDED DOWN AS EARLY AS THURSDAY NIGHT

It appears as though MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has made a firm decision on how long he will suspend New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman for being involved in a domestic issue with his girlfriend that included firing 8 shots from his gun in a garage.  Chapman was not brought up on charges for the incident and maintains he never "hurt" his girlfriend in the incident.  He is expected to appeal any suspension levied by Manfred. 

Analysis:  We have heard as few as 10 games to as many as 40 for Chapman so this is very interesting.  There is chatter that we have heard that Manfred will lean more toward the 40 in thinking that maybe half of that gets chopped off on appeal.  Either way all Chapman owners should already have Andrew Miller on standby. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: RYAN BRAUN, ANIBAL SANCHEZ, MATT CAIN

It was a day filled with injury news and notes as spring training is now in full swing across baseball.  As always let's dig in on these items and see how they impact 2016 fantasy baseball.

Matt Cain:  Already well past his prime as a Cy Young-caliber starter, San Francisco Giants veteran Matt Cain continues to be plagued by injury troubles.  The last three years have seen Cain lose more than a little of his stuff, namely a vast decrease in his velocity which can be blamed on some crazy inning totals during deep playoff run seasons for the Giants early in his career.  Injuries are also a big problem for Cain, with the latest news being the fact he had a cyst removed from his right arm Thursday.  Cain was not able to throw his bullpen session as scheduled Thursday but GM Bobby Evans said he should be back throwing on a mound in 7-10 days.  Even then, Cain still only has SP 5 fantasy baseball value at best given his ratios going in the wrong direction, his leaking velocity, and now his fragile health.  We will say it again that Cain is the poster child for how a career can be derailed early if the hallowed Verducci Rules get violated. 

Anibal Sanchez:  Another veteran starter who simply can't stay healthy is the Detroit Tigers' Anibal Sanchez.  Like with Matt Cain, Sanchez has seen his velocity dip and in turn seen his ERA and WHIP rise due to being much more hittable.  Ill health has been the main issue here as Sanchez endured a horrific 2015 on that front and already this spring he is dealing with swelling in his right triceps.  While there is no concrete plan yet regarding the injury, Sanchez could be shut down for 10-14 days which already will call into question his availability for Opening Day.  Like with Cain, Sanchez is nothing but an SP 5 who has more name brand than actual production. 

Ryan Braun:  On the brighter side, new Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell spoke about how he expected outfielder Ryan Braun to be ready to go for Opening Day.  Braun has been taking it slow early in spring training due to his recovery from last October's back surgery but he is expected to start increasing his work over the next week.  Thus barring any setbacks, Braun should be good to go for the start of the season.  Coming off a terrific comeback campaign in 2015, Braun can be graded as a low-end outfielder 1 but who continues to carry risk due to his fragility. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: A'S ACQUIRE CHRIS COGHLAN FROM CUBS.

The Chicago Cubs cleaned up their infield glut Thursday by dealing Chris Coghlan to the Oakland A's for pitcher Aaron Brooks.

Analysis:  Coghlan has been a very useful player the last two seasons with solid power/speed numbers, including 2015 when he cracked 16 homers and stole 11 bases.  He will get more playing time in Oakland which boosts his value a bit bit overall Coghlan is best used as a backup infielder.  

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DEXTER FOWLER RE-UPS WITH CUBS

In a shocking turn of events, free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler re-signed with the Chicago Cubs after reports a day earlier suggested he inked a deal with the Baltimore Orioles.  Fowler will serve as just a fourth outfielder with the Cubs after being the team's everyday leadoff man in 2015.

Analysis:  Well this is a sizable surprise.  It also is a head scratcher for Fowler as he won't be an everyday player for the Cubs and his fantasy baseball values takes a big hit.  Bump him way down your rankings.  

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: BRETT GARDNER STILL DEALING WITH SORE WRIST FROM LAST OCTOBER

Some disturbing news came out of New York Yankees camp on Thursday when it was revealed that outfielder Brett Gardner still is feeling soreness and some pain in the same wrist that gave him trouble late in the 2015 season and in the wild card game versus the Houston Astros.  Gardner's numbers nosedived sharply during the second half of last season after a very impressive first half and a lot of the blame centered on the wrist.  While there has been no suggestion that Gardner could miss some time to begin the season, this is more than a minor issue given how poorly he hit when the issue first cropped up last summer.  Gardner is aging a bit at 32 and has grown increasingly injury-prone along the way.  In fact Gardner has been a first half hero/second half zero for two straight seasons which is something that has to be weighed if you are interested in making an investment here.  In addition, Gardner has changed as a player in terms of no longer being anywhere near his old 40-steal ability while at the same time adding power with an increasing home run rate.  Be that as it may, Gardner is a volatile investment based on the wrist and for the fact he won't be helping you when you need the guy the most to help clinch a league title. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL AT THE COMBINE: RUMOR MILL SWIRLING

By Eric C. Wright

Indianapolis, IN.--The 2016 NFL Combine is in full swing and not just measuring prospects are part of the deal as the 32 various teams also have pressing free agency questions to answer.  Let's get to all the latest.

-The Denver Broncos are putting together what multiple outlets are reporting to be a monster contract for linebacker Von Miller.  While they have the franchise tag to use if a deal is not reached, there is growing talk that there are parameters in place for a contract.  If Miller does sign, the Broncos could then use the franchise tag on Malik Jackson or Brock Osweiler.

-Travis Benjamin is a really hot commodity as he gets set to hit the market.  The big-play/deep wideout is expected to receive courting from the New York Giants, San Diego Chargers, and Atlanta Falcons.  Also the Cleveland Browns are expected to put up a big fight to retain Bejamin who would be a big piece for whoever they draft at number 2. 

-Speaking of the Browns, they are now set to draft either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz at number 2.  There is a firm battle among the team's hierarchy regarding the two and who to take.

-Josh Gordon is expected to find out any day that he has been reinstated by the league and the Browns will hold onto him. 

-Talks continue between Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, with varying degrees of promise. 

-Some key measurements:

QB Jared Goff:  6-4/215
OT Jack Conklin:  6-5/308
OT Taylor Decker:  6-7/310
QB Carson Wentz:  6-5/237 

-The New York Jets are becoming a story here as they will use the franchise tag for the second year in a row on DE Muhammud Wilkerson but this time around they will try and trade him.  The New York Giants and San Diego Chargers are very interested.  The Jets also haven't ruled out bringing back free agent DT Damon Harrison.

-The Chicago Bears are doing everything they can to keep WR Alshon Jeffery from hitting the open market.  If a new deal can't be reached, they could franchise him.

-Seattle Seahawks GM Jon Schneider threw cold water on the assumptions Thomas Rawls will be the clear starting running back to start 2016.  Some competition will be throw into the equation for Rawls in training camp but he still is set to dominate carries for the team. 

 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: JAY BRUCE OUTFIELDER CINCINNATI REDS (OR TBDT)

There has been a ton of chatter surrounding Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce over the last 48 hours as it appeared he was on the verge of being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-team deal.  However talks soon broke down as Bruce remained in limbo as the Reds made it clear they were not interested in retaining him for 2016.  With that said, let's dig in a bit more on the overrated Bruce who came up with immense hype but who has turned into a player who excels in some categories but is a major liability in others. 

It seems like just yesterday when Bruce's promotion by the Reds was deemed one of those big-time events in fantasy baseball where everyone took notice.  That is how much ability Bruce was said to have as he was considered to be the next great five-tool player who could run and hit for big power.  Well the fact of the matter is that Bruce never turned into a five category player and instead at the age of 29 in April, is more of a power specialist than anything.  Now flat in his prime years, we are in that mode of Bruce being who he is in terms of his numbers which again show some good things and others that are not so good. 

On the positive side, Bruce is one of the better pure power hitters in baseball as he has hit 30 ore more home runs three different times in his career to go along with three seasons or 90-plus RBI.  Operating in a power park in Cincinnati certainly helped but Bruce has the type of strength that plays anywhere.  Outside of his contributions in home runs and RBI, Bruce has struggled to be a help in the other three standard categories.  He has scored 80 or more runs three times but not once has Bruce gone for 90-plus and the last two seasons have seen him come in at the low 70's which is a very shaky number.  In addition, Bruce has never gotten the hang of stealing bases as his career success rate is abysmal and only once has he stolen double-digit bags.  Finally and most pronounced, Bruce is a major liability in the average department as his sky-high K rates have really hurt him there.  In fact things have only gotten worse as he has gone along in his Major League career.  When he first arrived in Cincy, Bruce was typically in the .260 range with his average which is not great but not awful either.  However Bruce has become more of a pure hacker as he has moved toward 30 and as a result, his average has sank to .217 and .226 the last two years which are awful numbers.  Bruce has now struck out in 22 percent of more of his at-bats in each of the six seasons and things figure to only get worse there as he ages.  Thus the positives Bruce provides in home runs and RBI are dulled a bit by the hurt he puts onto your average category. 

When you put it all together, Jay Bruce is nothing but an outfielder 3 in fantasy baseball when so much more was expected of him when he first arrived.  No matter where he ends up, this label of Bruce won't change.  We always try to tell you all to avoid average-liabilities like Bruce due to the work needed to cover for him there elsewhere on your roster and that remains quite true today. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .234 26 HR 88 RBI 74 R 7 SB 



 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS 2016 NFL DRAFT GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE FOR SALE

Another annual Fantasy Sports Boss publication has hit the stands as our 2016 NFL College Football Draft Guide is now for sale on Amazon.com.  Over 400 players analyzed and ranked in this 100-page book with Ohio State's Joey Bosa on the cover.  Also included are our annual Mock Draft, Team Needs, Ten Burning Questions, and more.  Use the BUY NOW tab below to pick up your copy for $16.99 (plus $3.99 shipping) or purchase through Amazon through this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Boss-Draft-Guide/dp/1530135648/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1456358092&sr=8-2&keywords=2016+NFL+Draft


 
 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: MIKE TROUT AIMING FOR MORE STEALS IN 2016

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout vowed to be more aggressive on the bases this season after his stolen bases sank to a very mediocre 11 in 2015.  When he first came into the league, Trout was a monster stolen base guy who when combined with his big-time power made him the number 1 player in fantasy baseball. 

Analysis:  This is an old story as Trout said the same thing last spring training as well.  His days of even 30 steals seems like a distant memory but perhaps 20 is feasible.  He remains the locked-in number 1 player in fantasy baseball but Trout is getting some push by Bryce Harper. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BILLY HAMILTON TO REMAIN REDS LEADOFF HITTER

Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price reiterated on Wednesday that Billy Hamilton will be the team's leadoff batter in 2016 despite the fact his OBP sank under the .300 mark last season.  Hamilton currently is being held from some spring activities due to shoulder trouble that goes back to last season but Price maintains faith in him as the catalyst in the leadoff spot. 

Analysis:  Very surprising, although the Reds have nothing to play for as they are in clear rebuild mode.  Hamilton is a hacker in a speedster's body who seems allergic to talks.  Just think how many bases Hamilton could steal if he ever found a modicum of discipline.  Be that as it may, Hamilton could challenge Dee Gordon for the most steals in baseball this season and is a safe bet to go over 50 which is a huge number.  However his average is a major liability and Hamilton doesn't move the needle anywhere else which makes him the definition of a specialist. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: JOSH HAMILTON ALREADY BEGINING SEASON ON DL WITH CHRONIC KNEE PROBLEM

Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton will begin the 2016 season on the disabled list due to ongoing problem with his left knee that just recently received plasma injections in order to try and boost the healing process.  It has been an injury-marred winter for Hamilton who has been dealing with the left knee going back to last season; not to mention also dealing with off-the-field struggles with substance abuse.  There is currently no timetable for when Hamilton could return and more surgery has not been ruled out.  While it was at least somewhat initially appealing when Hamilton ended up back in Texas last season where he looked like Mickey Mantle for a short time, nothing has gone right for the guy over the last four years or so.  The bottom line is that Hamilton can't be owned in almost any league given the high uncertainty of when he could get back and his future overall is one big dark tunnel by the looks of it. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: NO PROBLEMS YET WITH VICTOR MARTINEZ' KNEE

Detroit Tigers first baseman/DH Victor Martinez has experienced no problems with his previously surgically repaired knee as he looks to put an awful 2015 campaign in the rearview mirror.  Martinez batted just .245 with 11 home runs last season as he was hobbled with the knee from the start but at the start of spring training the veteran expressed his belief he was ready for a comeback with his numbers. 

Analysis:  Martinez was a guy we told you to run away from prior to last season and we nailed it.  There remain a ton of question marks here as Martinez' knees look shot from all those years of catching and given his advancing age.  We wouldn't touch him in almost all leagues. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: FREDDIE FREEMAN (WRIST) TAKES BP

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman took batting practice on Wednesday as he checked off another box in his comeback from wrist surgery.  No complications were reported by Freeman but he is still a ways off from facing pitching.  He is expected to still be ready to go for Opening Day. 

Analysis:  Freeman is a guy we like on paper but not in fantasy baseball this season due to the utter lack of protection in the Braves lineup.  Opposing pitchers have no reason to throw to Freeman given the lack of bats around him and that could result in a second straight lackluster campaign like we saw in 2015.  Ideally Freeman works best as a UTIL or CI bat. 

 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: MIGUEL CABRERA/CARLOS SANTANA ENTERING NEW TERRITORY

Already with spring training just underway, various managers around the game have shared some surprising lineup and position news regarding some big-name hitters.  These are always of importance when it comes to fantasy baseball as a move around the diamond can add positional versatility while also adding overall value.  So with that said let's check in on some of these news-worth items.

Miguel Cabrera:  Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus dropped a sizable fantasy baseball position bomb early Wednesday when he suggested that first baseman Miguel Cabrera could start at third base during the opening two-game series against the Miami Marlins using NL rules.  Under those rules, there would be no DH for Victor Martinez.  Alas, Martinez would start at first base against Miami with Cabrera going to third.  This of course carries some significant fantasy baseball importance as Cabrera would then be just three games started of gaining eligibility at third base where his monster bat carries even more value.  Those who use a 20 game benchmark will have top wait longer but it is interesting to see that Ausmus is using the lineup this way.  This could suggest Cabrera will be the third baseman in NL rules and eligibility in all leagues could be achieved by May.  While Cabrera is a top tier fantasy baseball bat both at first and third, the lesser depth at the latter makes him a better overall value there.  Something to surely keep an eye on during the early part of the season. 

Carlos Santana:  Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona dropped a surprise of his own on Tuesday when he suggested that first baseman/third baseman Carlos Santana could be the team's everyday leadoff hitter.  With no obvious leadoff guy on the team, Francona cited Santana's always high OBP (.365 last season due to a very high walk rate) that makes him a good fit there.  Of course the narrative with Santana is that he lost most of his fantasy baseball value when he ceded catcher eligibility in 2015 and that remains true.  While he does get on base at a high clip, Santana's has big holes in his swing that result in a ton of strikeouts and annual batting averages that are very shaky in the .240-.260 range.  Thus without the catcher eligibility, Santana is nothing but a backup guy both at first and third base no matter where he bats in the order. 

 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: DEXTER FOWLER OUTFIELDER BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Dexter Fowler became the second bargain buy of the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday as they netted the speedy leadoff outfielder with a three-year deal worth around $35 million.  Fowler joins the team's signing of Yovani Gallardo who still has to pass some more medical tests to make his own deal official.  However Fowler is expected to have no such issues and instead will likely man the precious leadoff spot for what looks like a very potent Orioles lineup.  Coming off a quietly good career-year with the Chicago Cubs a year ago, Fowler is right back in a prime hitting environment to build off such a nice campaign.  As always let's dig in again here and see what Fowler has in store for his owners this season.

First let's take a quick gander back at Fowler's numbers from 2015 as he operated out of the leadoff spot for the Cubs:

.250
17 HR
46 RBI
102 R
20 SB

There is certainly a lot to like there as Fowler reached career-bests both in home runs and runs as he was a big catalyst for the Cubs out of the leadoff spot.  Now 29-years-old, Fowler has reached his prime years and likely his optimum range power-wise which means he should be capable of hitting between 15-18 home runs again this season, especially in a good offensive park like Camden Yards is.  Manning the leadoff spot for a big-time Orioles offense, Fowler could very well challenge the 100 run mark again this season as his .346 OBP a year ago really helps in that endeavor.  Just as impressive, Fowler's always above-average speed allowed him to reach the 20 mark in steals for the second time in his career in 2015 and he should be aggressive on the base paths again in 2016 as Buck Showalter is a fan of small ball. 

What is really stark about Fowler is that he was a bit of a late bloomer who had to leave Colorado of all places to finally unleash his potential.  The fact of the matter is that Fowler went bust a few times during his Rockies days and that sort of made him "just another guy" when 2015 fantasy baseball came around.  Fowler thus entered into post-hype sleeper phase which is always a profitable deal for those who take advantage of the discount.  Yes Fowler still struggles with strikeouts as he whiffed in 22.3 percent of his at-bats last season but the impressive 12.2 walk rate does a nice job of offsetting that ugly number. 

When you put it all together, Dexter Fowler once again should be a very safe outfielder 3 in fantasy baseball who is capable of helping in the runs, home runs, and steals categories.  While Fowler is not a guy you will fight over at the draft table, he will do more than help you stay competitive in your league. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .257 19 HR 46 RBI 95 R 22 SB 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ORIOLES NET DEXTER FOWLER WITH THREE-YEAR DEAL

The Baltimore Orioles continued their bargain shopping on Tuesday as they agreed to terms on a three-year deal for around $35 million with outfielder Dexter Fowler.  This just two days after the Orioles signed free agent starter Yovani Gallardo to a separate three-year deal that is pending more physicals.  Fowler comes off his best season ever in 2015 when he batted out of the leadoff spot for the Cubs and supplied solid power/speed production. 

Analysis:  The Orioles are "That" team in terms of taking advantage of the cheap prices for the remaining free agents with spring training underway.  They get a proven leadoff guy in Fowler who, despite some shaky batting averages, is quite capable of going 15/15 with a high amount of runs.  He is right there as a very steady outfielder 3 in fantasy baseball this season. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: ALBERT PUJOLS' STOCK GOING UP AFTER OPTIMISTIC TALK REGARDING FOOT

Los Angeles Angels first baseman/DH Albert Pujols vowed to be ready for Opening Day when he met with reporters on Tuesday as he continues to make very steady progress in his comeback from winter surgery on his foot.  Pujols went under the knife in November to repair a chronic plantar fascia injury in his foot and he has had no setbacks since beginning his rehab with an eye toward being ready to go when the games count.  It was originally reported that Pujols would be out until as late as  May due to the surgery but now the veteran's voice is being joined by others in the Angels front office in speaking optimistically about his April chances.  Of course this can be considered nothing but a big positive for Pujols and his 2016 fantasy baseball value, a value that looked very shaky just a few weeks ago.  As far as the numbers and present ability of Pujols is concerned, he posted what can be said was a very good comeback campaign in 2015 when he reached the 40-home run mark for the first time since 2010.  Alas, Pujols is changing more than a little overall as a hitter as his average finished at a very ugly average of .244.  Pujols' K rate has been steadily climbing the last few years, while his walk rate has headed in the other direction.  Combined together, Pujols is now more of a pure home run specialist than anything at the advanced age of 37.  As we have seen with David Ortiz however, power can be held onto from sluggers as they near 40 and it appears as though Pujols is following his Red Sox counterpart's path.  Obviously this is something to keep tabs on but Pujols can be bumped up a few notches on your cheat sheets as a result of the optimistic outlook.  Still you really just want Pujols in your UTIL or CI slot and not as your starting first baseman at his advanced age. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: C.J. WILSON WILL BE SHUT DOWN FROM THROWING DUE TO TENDINITIS IN SHOULDER

Los Angeles Angels SP C.J. Wilson will be shut down for up to a week after an MRI on his sore shoulder revealed tendinitis.  No structural damage was found in the shoulder which was a big relief to Wilson and the Angels but the team will still take a cautious approach with his early spring work. 

Analysis:  Wilson had been a very underrated and solid fantasy baseball SP 3/4 the four years leading into 2015 before trouble started brewing.  Age, injuries, and diminishing velocity all conspired to make Wilson quite hittable last season and his 2016 is already off to a rough start also.  We don't advise investing in Wilson as anything but your SP 5 at best. 

 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL AROUND THE CAMPS: WASHINGTON NATIONALS

By Michael Wong

Viera, Fla.--After ceding the NL East to the New York Mets in 2015 and also realizing that Matt Williams was in over his head as manager, GM Mike Rizzo brought in veteran Dusty Baker to man the sinking Washington Nationals ship.  With a rotation that remains very strong and strikeout-heavy and also possessing the best hitter on the planet in Bryce Harper, the Nats are ready to make a run to reclaim the division title.  So as always let's take a look at some of the main themes circulating around the team.

1.  Can Bryce Harper possibly get any better than his ridiculous MVP 2015?  There are terrific fantasy baseball numbers and then there are the video-game digits put up by Harper in 2015 as he put together all of the vast talent that had him on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high schooler.  Cutting down on his strikeouts and finally staying healthy, harper blasted 42 home runs with 99 RBI and fell a point shy of the batting title with a .330 average.  Unbelievably, Harper is still incredibly young at 23.  So now what can Harper do as an encore?  Well it is easy to predict that Harper will reproduce his 2015 numbers and there is nothing in his advanced metrics to suggest he won't.  Harper could even possibly challenge 50 home runs as well as he further grows into his body.  While Mike Trout remains the consensus number 1 pick in most drafts this season, Harper is getting very close to challenging that platform as he is the locked-in number 2 guy overall. 

2.  Anthony Rendon was arguably the biggest bust in 2015.  Can he salvage his name or is more frustration ahead?  There is no sugarcoating how gigantic a bust Rendon was last season as he got hurt early in spring training, began the season on the DL, and then hit the DL a second time weeks after his initial return.  In between the injuries, Rendon's offensive numbers sank to a .264 average with just 5 home runs in 311 at-bats.  Keep in mind though that the former sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft had a monster breakout in 2014 when he hit .287 with 21 home runs and stole 17 bases.  While we weren't buying the steals, Rendon is one of the better pure hitters in baseball and his power growth in 2014 was not a shock as he continued to grow into his body.  Better yet, Rendon retained second base eligibility for 2016 and his draft price comes down a full two rounds compared to the season prior.  There is very good bounce back ability here when it comes to Rendon and that makes a value play here a very good idea.

3.  While Clayton Kershaw is the no-doubt number 1 starting pitcher in fantasy baseball, Max Scherzer has a good case to be number 2 correct?  Already a dominant 240-plus K Cy Young winner in the tougher American League, Scherzer predictably went nuts in his first go-round in the NL since becoming a polished pitcher after leaving Arizona years earlier.  The result was not one but TWO no-hitters tossed by Scherzer to go with a 2.79 ERA and a nutty 276 strikeouts.  One of the more durable aces in fantasy baseball, Scherzer should no doubt be the number 2 starter off the board.

4.  Facing free agency, what do we make of Stephen Strasburg after a somewhat challenging 2015 campaign?  Strasburg is a guy we have advised avoiding the last few seasons for a number of reasons, with the biggest being his ill health.  With a release that is very rough and that puts stress on his arm/elbow, Strasburg is always a risk for the DL and he already has a Tommy John surgery in his past.  Strasburg also has seem his velocity decline a bit the last two seasons as maybe some big inning totals as a youngster are starting to take their toll on his slight frame.  Still despite the early setbacks, Strasburg was tremendous the second half of 2015 as he pitched to a 1.90 ERA and struck out a ridiculous 92 batters in 66.1 innings.  Clearly Strasburg retains his massive strikeout ability and that alone keeps him in ace territory.  Facing free agency, Strasburg has every incentive to give us his best and pitch through any tiny discomfort. 

5. Lucas Giolito ETA?  The excitement is already building for the consensus number 1 pitching prospect in baseball in the towering Lucas Giolito.  Having top control and a fastball that can reach the upper 90's, Giolito is set to be another major arm for the Nats.  However Giolito will likely begin the season in the minors as Tanner Roark and Joe Ross man the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation but Roark in particular is not a good bet to hold the spot given his soft-tossing repertoire.  Giolito should be drafted and stashed on the bench given his ability and someone will pull up lame at some time in the rotation to possibly open up a shot for the kid.  He will be worth the wait. 

 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: BILLY HAMILTON OUTFIELDER CINCINNATI REDS

Admit it.  You too got caught up in the Billy Hamilton hype prior to the 2014 season.  After Hamilton set ridiculous stolen base records the season prior in the minor leagues that evoked memories of Vince Coleman and Rickey Henderson, Hamilton's draft price skyrocketed despite the fact he had only 22 at-bats at the major league level.  Visions of 100 or even 80 stolen base flashed in most of the fantasy baseball community's minds and Hamilton ridiculously went as high as the fourth round in 2014 drafts based on that one singular skill.  While we too got a bit caught up in the hype, we did a piece prior to that season that pointed out some serious concerns about Hamilton's hitting ability and possibly trouble getting on base since he also did not take walks.  A brutal April brought those predictions to the forefront as Hamilton did in fact struggle to get hits and soon he was pushed down to the bottom of the Reds' batting order as a result.  Ultimately though, Hamilton did flash his wheels as he stole a gigantic 56 bases and even hit 6 home runs to at least yield some of the value back for the extreme price his owners paid at the draft table.  The red flags remained though as Hamilton batted just .250 and had a miserable .292 OBP that showed he was not a leadoff hitter.  So that would be the narrative for Hamilton that he took into the 2015 fantasy baseball seasons as the hype cooled more than a little.

As far as last season was concerned, Hamilton continued to run with reckless abandon as he stole 57 bases but his overall struggles with the bat were even more pronounced.  With just a 6.2 percent walk rate and a pure hacking style, Hamilton batted a woeful .226 and his OBP sank to a pathetic .274.  Included this time around were injuries as Hamilton spent time on the disabled list and ended the season needing shoulder surgery for a torn labrum.  Again the steals were tremendous (albeit lower than the 70-plus many expected) but the fact of the matter is that Hamilton just can't hit the baseball.  He is the classic case of a guy who can't steal first base and his awful OBP's make him an ill fit for the leadoff or even number 2 spot.  That means Hamilton will get placed in the dreaded number 8 spot in the order right in front of the pitcher which means he will get zilch to hit at from opposing hurlers.  Throw in the news that Hamilton is still not 100 percent recovered from the shoulder surgery and his fantasy baseball outlook for 2016 is quite murky.

Keep in mind that we are no fans of Hamilton in this corner, as we had him on our BUST list for 2015 and had no hesitation to do so again for 2016.  The steals are not as impactful as you would think as Hamilton's complete zeroes in the other four ROTO standard categories put more of a hurt on your then any positives he gives with the swipes.  Hamilton is the epitome of a one-trick pony and this trick's overall value is way too overrated for you to even think about investing in the guy this season.

2016 PROJECTION:  .235 5 HR 44 RBI 63 R 46 SB 

 

Monday, February 22, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKINGN EWS: THREE-TEAM DEAL IN THE WORKS OVER JAY BRUCE

Jon Heyman continues to report that the Cincinnati Reds are discussing trading outfielder Jay Bruce to the Toronto Blue Jays in a deal that also could include the Los Angeles Angels.  Michael Saunders could also be involved in the trade and he would be heading West. 

Analysis:  It seems like it is only a matter of time before this gets done as Heyman keeps hinting that it is imminent.  Bruce is a major batting average liability but his power is very good in the 25-30 home run range.   Moving to Rogers Center would boost Bruce's power even more as well but he still remains a flawed outfielder 3. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: GERRIT COLE (SIDE) BACK ON TRACK AFTER THROWING OFF MOUND

Pittsburgh Pirates ace SP Gerrit Cole threw a successful bullpen session on Monday as he reported no ill effects from his sore side muscle.  Cole said afterwards that he felt good and that he is completely where he should be in preparing for the season. 

Analysis:  Good news all around here as it looks like Cole's side issue was much adieu about nothing.  He is expected to be the Opening Day starter for the team and is capable of top ten numbers among all starters this season given his powerful stuff. 

 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: YU DARVISH COULD BE READY IN MAY

It was another sizable step forward for rehabbing Texas Rangers ace SP Yu Darvish on Monday as the Japanese righty threw off a half-mound with zero discomfort as he continues to make his way back from 2015 Tommy John surgery.  Original estimates had Darvish coming back to the Rangers sometime in June but now there are whispers in the front office that he could return sometime in May.  Darvish is expected to graduate to throwing off a full mound as soon as next week and by the end of spring training could be ready to face hitters.  It marks some rapid progress by Darvish who became just the latest Japanese pitching import to fall victim to serious arm/elbow injury which no doubt can be blamed on the insane workloads they have seen in their careers in the Far East.  New York Yankees ace SP Masahiro Tanaka is dealing with his own slight tear in his pitching elbow that will eventually require Tommy John surgery but he continues to choose to try and pitch through it. 

Getting back to Darvish, the upside is potentially huge here as the pre-surgery Darvish was quite possibly the most potent strikeout pitcher in fantasy baseball.  While his control has always been an issue and will likely continue to be in his first season back from the surgery, Darvish could be an ace-like fantasy baseball starter for four-plus months for a pretty affordable draft price.  Bump him up your cheat sheets. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: JIMMY ROLLINS SIGNS MINOR LEAGUE DEAL WITH WHITE SOX

The Chicago White Sox took a flier on free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins on Monday, inking him to a minor league deal. 

Analysis:  Nothing to see here as Rollins was complete toast last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers as his entire line of numbers are eroding terribly.  He should not be on any fantasy baseball roster this season. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ZACK WHEELER (ELBOW) TO TOSS OF MOUND LATER IN WEEK

Rehabbing New York Mets starter Zack Wheeler will throw off a mound later in the week, the first time he will take part in such an activity since last year's Tommy John elbow surgery.  Wheeler is still making steady progress in his rehab but it not expected to be ready to go with the Mets until sometime in July. 

Analysis:  All positive signs here as Wheeler looks set to ramp up his work.  Remember that Wheeler was considered on part with Matt Harvey, Noah Syndegaard, and the rest of the dominant young New York Met arms before he got hurt so save a middle round pick for this sleeper upside pitcher. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JACOB DeGROM SCRATCHED FROM BP SESSION DUE TO LEG SORENESS

New York Mets hard-throwing righty Jacob DeGrom was scratched from his bullpen session on Monday due to experiencing some soreness in his leg.  DeGrom considered the soreness not to be a major deal but the Mets want to be cautious with their ace starter. 

Analysis:  This is not what you want to see this early with DeGrom or any other top pitcher in terms of fantasy baseball.  Still the Mets will baby their young arms all spring and already have taken away one spring start from all of them in order to cut down on pitches.  This sounds like a precautionary thing but check back in a day or two anyways. 

 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: LUCAS GIOLITO SP WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Each and every season, there is a consensus number 1 prospect to watch that has the attention of the entire fantasy baseball community.  Think Stephen Strasburg or Kris Bryant over the last few seasons for an idea of guys who carried ridiculous talent and who were drafted with high ADPs before they even made their debuts.  While the subject of today's Prospect Watch may be a shade or two below those guys in terms of hype, there is no denying the fact that top Washington Nationals starting pitching prospect Lucas Giolito is right there as one of the top farmhands in the game.  So as always let's take a closer look at where Giolito is at as a player and figure out his timeline for 2016 fantasy baseball arrival. 

As far as Giolito's history is concerned, he was the Nats' first round pick in the 2012 Draft at number 16 overall and it was only last season where the gifted righty was promoted to Double-A.  Prior to his move to Double-A, Giolito dominated at Single-A by pitching to a 2.71 ERA and registering a K/9 rate of 11.11.  Better yet, Giolito also showed good control and an insanely good home run rate which are all indicators for being a future front-of-the-rotation arm.  While Giolito was a bit more hittable at Double-A last season in his 47 inning trial run there (3.80 ERA and 8.56 K/9), his high 90's fastball and excellent control portend to some big things ahead.  Better yet, Giolito has shown no ill effects from the Tommy John surgery that he had in his past. 

In looking ahead to the 2016 season, at present time Giolito doesn't have a spot in the Washington rotation.  The Nats' five currently included Max Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, and Joe Ross but Giolito could be a factor whenever an injury strikes any of those five.  Since an injury is almost a guarantee to afflict someone, Giolito figures to be up at some point midway through the 2016 season and could even replace Roark if he struggles.  While we wouldn't suggest reaching to draft Giolito this spring, we would no doubt take a very late round upside stab here given the talent and future high-end stuff. 

 

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: YOVANI GALLARDO SP BALTIMORE ORIOLES

It probably took much longer then he anticipated by Yovani Gallardo finally found a home in free agency on Saturday as he signed a three-year deal worth $35 million with the Baltimore Orioles.  It was a decent haul for Gallardo considering he is a clear step of two below his former 200-K/near-ace self during his early days with the Milwaukee Brewers but nonetheless there are still quite a bunch of issues concerning his fantasy baseball value going forward into the 2016 season.  So with that said let's dig in a bit more on Gallardo and see where he is headed with his numbers. 

As we noted earlier, Yovani Gallardo is a much different pitcher today then he was just a few years earlier with the Brewers.  While he still is young at the age of 29 (even though it seems like he has been around forever), Gallardo has reinvented himself on the fly in terms of his stuff and his approach.  When he first came up with the Brewers as a very highly touted prospect, Gallardo showcased a blazing fastball and knee-buckling offspeed stuff that allowed him to rack up 200-plus strikeouts for four straight seasons from 2009 through 2012.  Gallardo also posted an ERA in the mid-3.00 range each of those years as well which put him into near-ace status in fantasy baseball.  Even during that heyday however, there were some pronounced warts concerning Gallardo, with the most pronounced being his annually horrible control.  Gallardo always battled the walk monster and his pitch efficiency was never good either which resulted in him having to come out of starts earlier then anticipated and in the end costing him wins. Gallardo's high in wins for a season is 17 and only twice in his career has he won more than 15 games despite all those strikeouts.  In addition, Gallardo's career WHIP is ugly at an elevated 1.32 and even during his most dominant seasons, he would hover in the high 1.20 range or even higher.  That is why Gallardo's ERA's was never stellar or under the 3.00 mark due to all the free passes he gave up, with a decent number of those runners coming around to score.  A very good but flawed pitcher was the mantle Gallardo earned. 

Things began to change somewhat in 2013 as Gallardo began to see a decrease in his K rate as he went from 9.00 K/9 the season prior all the way down to a shaky 7.17 mark which is right on the league average.  With Gallardo being more hittable then ever before, his ERA went past the 4.00 mark at 4.18 and his WHIP remained very nasty at 1.36.  Even worse, Gallardo struck out just 144 batters which was a drop from 2012's 200.  This was not just a one-year dip either as Gallardo followed that up with a much better 3.51 ERA in 2014 but with again an even lower K rate at 6.83 which resulted in just 146 K's.  This was now a firm trend as Gallardo was no longer a power pitcher and instead was turning into a finesse guy who had to get outs via contact.  Ending up with the Texas Rangers in the American League was scary going into 2015 due to Gallardo's diminished stuff and the K rate somehow sank even more to a horrible 5.91.  Gallardo was able to survive though with a 3.42 ERA as his hit rate was decent but he continued to struggle with control with a 3.32 BB/9.  That put Gallardo into free agency where teams were not beating down his door trying to bring him in.  Now he signs back into the American League and this time in the worst division in the game for a pitcher in the AL East with the Orioles.  On the surface alone that is a very bad thing for Gallardo;s outlook considering the potency of the offenses in that division and the fact his K rate is so horrendous and the walk rate still nasty.  With Gallardo unable to get outs with the K anymore, he is prime to be beaten up pretty good in the division.  It could get scary bad. 

When you put it all together, Yovani Gallardo is a guy you really should avoid altogether in 2016 fantasy baseball.  We were ahead of the curve here in labeling Gallardo a BUST going back to 2014 and now he is even more shaky then ever.  Look right past him right by in your draft 

2016 PROJECTION:  12-11 3.93 ERA 1.33 WHIP 145 K 

________________________________________________________________________________

*****REGISTER FOR OUR MESSAGE BOARD FOR THE 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL SEASON:  http://thefantasysportsboss.freeforums.net/

******LIKE US ON TWITTER IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY.  GOING TO TWEET LIVE DURING GAMES THIS SEASON.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS AND CONTESTS ON TWITTER THIS SEASON:  https://twitter.com/ROTOBOSS

*****LIKE US ON FACEBOOK.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS ALL SEASON THERE:  https://www.facebook.com/The-Fantasy-Sports-Boss-199190803425104/?fref=ts
 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: STEVEN SOUZA COULD BE DOWN WEEKS WITH AN INTERCOSTAL STRAIN

Updating an earlier item, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Steven Souza has been diagnosed with a strained intercostal muscle in his side and the injury is expected to sideline him for up to two weeks or more.  With the intercostal muscle being crucial in a hitter's swing, Souza now will likely fall quite a bit behind in his preparation for the upcoming season.  A third outfielder in fantasy baseball who can hit 15 home runs and steals 15 bases or more, Souza's massive contact issue problems make it a struggle for him to hit even .240.  An MRI will be done on the Souza to see if there is anything more serious than the strain but either way this is a decent injury on the severity meter this early in camp.  There is still plenty of time for Souza to be ready for Opening Day but for now you have to push him down some on your cheat sheets prior to your draft. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: THE BATTLE IS OFFICIALLY ON BETWEEN WILL SMITH AND JEREMY JEFFRESS IN MILWAUKEE

On the heels of the open competition underway in Miami for the team's closer role between Carter Capps and A.J. Ramos, a similar battle is underway in Milwaukee between righty Jeremy Jeffress and lefty Will Smith.  Manager Craig Counsell said as much in terms of it being a pure competition between the two and this of course should have the attention of the fantasy baseball community in terms of trying to forecast who comes out ahead.  With that said, let's dig in more on the two and see who has the edge. 

Jeremy Jeffress:  Jeffress is yet the latest example of a guy who failed royally as a starting pitcher but whose seems to be an excellent fit as a reliever.  With a fastball that can touch the high 90's, Jeffress pitched very well out of the bullpen in 2015 in registering an ERA of 2.56 while striking out 67 batters in 68 innings. Clearly being able to dump his poor secondary pitches and instead being able to lean on his potent fastball has helped unlock the potential in Jeffress' arm and that puts him in a good spot to challenge for the closer role.  Now what could help separate Jeffress from the equally excellent Will Smith is the fact he is a righty which we all know gives a reliever a leg up against a lefty counterpart for strategic reasons.  With managers wanting to use their precious and rare lefties to work in the seventh and eighth innings for matchup reasons, Jeffress could be considered the slight favorite on that aspect alone.  Overall, Jeffress seems to have the power stuff to be a solid sleeper closer this season if he does get the nod but he is in for a battle. 

Will Smith:  On paper alone, it would seem Smith was the slam dunk replacement for Francisco Rodriguez this season, especially when you see how utterly dominant he was in 2015 when he pitched to a 2.70 ERA while striking out an insane 91 batters in just 63.1 innings.  Smith has some of the most overpowering stuff among any reliever in all of baseball last season and clearly the strikeout stuff works tremendously in the ninth inning.  However the lefty issue is a sizable one when it comes to these matters but Smith has to be owned in all formats due to his tremendous ability. 

This is a very tough situation to predict and we were originally all in on Smith until Counsell began hinting at a competition.  Jeffress only has one season as a good reliever to his name unlike Smith who has been very good for awhile but again the righty/lefty deal makes this a tough one to call.  Draft Jeffress ahead of Smith but try to nab both. 


________________________________________________________________________________

*****REGISTER FOR OUR MESSAGE BOARD FOR THE 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL SEASON:  http://thefantasysportsboss.freeforums.net/

******LIKE US ON TWITTER IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY.  GOING TO TWEET LIVE DURING GAMES THIS SEASON.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS AND CONTESTS ON TWITTER THIS SEASON:  https://twitter.com/ROTOBOSS

*****LIKE US ON FACEBOOK.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS ALL SEASON THERE:  https://www.facebook.com/The-Fantasy-Sports-Boss-199190803425104/?fref=ts

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: STEVEN SOUZA SUFFERS BACK/SIDE INJURY SWINGING SUNDAY

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Steven Souza suffered a slight back/side injury while taking swings in the cage early on Sunday.  Souza claims it was not the dreaded oblique injury and that he should be "fine." 

Analysis:  You always have to watch any injury in the back/side region as the oblique is a rough injury to come back from.  As far as fantasy baseball is concerned, Souza has solid power/speed ability but his average is a chronic issue. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: FERNANDO RODNEY THE "FAVORITE" TO BEGIN SEASON AS SAN DIEGO CLOSER

According to a team source connected to the San Diego Padres front office, the team is planning on having veteran Fernando Rodney open the season as the team's closer and not young upstart Kevin Quackenbush.  Citing Rodney's experience as the reason for him getting the nod, the source said that Quackenbush could be "groomed" to take over later in the season. 

Analysis:  Rodney is currently being held out of workouts due to a hamstring issue but it looks like he unbelievably will be a closer again.  There may not be a worse closer to start the season and Quackenbush should be drafted as a hedge that likely will be in the ninth inning at some point. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: SUSPENSIONS "IMMINENT" FOR CHAPMAN, REYES, PUIG

By Michael Wong

According to a source close to the commissioner's office, Rob Manfred will hand down suspensions for New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapoman, Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes, and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig in an "imminent" timeframe.  Rumors began to circulate Saturday that Chapman could be suspended for all spring training and some regular seasons games, while not as much concrete information has come out regarding Reyes and Puig.  The same source said 10-15 games is "in the ballpark" for all three. 

Analysis:  Not a shock as Manfred has to set a strong precedent here after all the grief Roger Goodell and the NFL got in handling the Ray Rice situation.  10-15 games is not a high amount of games considering the long regular season and all three guys will no doubt appeal which could cut into that figure as well.  Either way their fantasy baseball values will not be impacted much. 


________________________________________________________________________________

*****REGISTER FOR OUR MESSAGE BOARD FOR THE 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL SEASON:  http://thefantasysportsboss.freeforums.net/

******LIKE US ON TWITTER IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO ALREADY.  GOING TO TWEET LIVE DURING GAMES THIS SEASON.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS AND CONTESTS ON TWITTER THIS SEASON:  https://twitter.com/ROTOBOSS

*****LIKE US ON FACEBOOK.  WILL HAVE GIVEAWAYS ALL SEASON THERE:  https://www.facebook.com/The-Fantasy-Sports-Boss-199190803425104/?fref=ts

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: THREE-MAN BATTLE FOR WASHINGTON SHORTSTOP JOB

The Washington Nationals brought in veteran manager Dusty Baker during the winter to replace the in over his head Matt Williams and already changes are abound when it comes to the team's starting personnel.  One of the bigger battles of Nationals camp as confirmed by Baker on Saturday is at shortstop where THREE players of varying experience will battle it out this spring to earn the starting spot.  Baker mentioned not only incumbent Danny Espinoza but also highly-touted youngster Trea Turner and free agent signee Stephen Drew.  There is some fantasy baseball implications from Baker's decision, with more of an emphasis on one guy in particular.  So let's handicap the race and see what each guy could offer if he wins the job.

Stephen Drew:  There may not have been a worse every day hitter in the major leagues over the last two seasons then 33-year-old veteran Stephen Drew.  After hitting a sickening .162 in 2014, Drew "rebounded" to bat just .201 in 2015 for the New York Yankees.  On the plus side (if there can be one), Drew did hit 17 home runs which is a very impressive number for a shortstop but he was a complete liability everywhere else.  Now moving from the offensive haven that is Yankee Stadium to the spacious Nationals ballpark, Drew has no business on any fantasy baseball roster.  He has the longest shot to win the job given the offensive issues and Drew looks more like a late-inning defensive replacement.

Danny Espinosa:  In 2011 and 2012, Espinosa carried some decent fantasy baseball value as a rare middle infielder who could both hit for power and steal bases.  This despite annually horrific batting averages that were caused by a crazy K rate.  Well the bottom has fallen out on Espinosa the last three seasons due to injuries and further growing holes in his swing.  While it was semi-positive that Espinosa hit 13 home runs last season, his speed looks like it is almost shot as he swiped just 5 bags and the average remained ugly at .240.  At the age of 28, Espinosa is still young enough to rebound a bit and being a veteran like he is always counts extra for a Dusty Baker team.  If Baker frustratingly goes the veteran route again, Espinosa will be the guy but he will carry value just in NL-only formats.

Trea Turner:  This is where the intrigue lies as Turner has very intriguing pedigree as the 14th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.  After coming over to the Nats via trade, Turner lit up the minor leagues by hitting .322 with 8 home runs and 29 steals in 116 games split between Double-A and Triple-A.  With an advanced approach to hitting, Turner could quickly become a .300-hitting shortstop who can steal 25 bases with a few home runs.  That is very appealing at the always shallow shortstop spot and Turner has to be on all sleeper lists for 2016 drafts as a result.  While you can't discount the Baker factor in favoring veterans, Turner has way too much talent not to be a major factor at some point this season.

When you put it all together, Trea Turner is the only guy worth your attention in this bunch and the kid could easily be a top ten fantasy baseball shortstop if he wins the spring battle.  Draft him in the late middle rounds and hope Baker comes to his sense on this.