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Monday, July 31, 2017

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE BREAKING NEWS: YANKS GET SONNY GRAY FOR 3 PROSPECTS

After weeks or back and forth, the New York Yankees finally acquired starting pitcher Sonny Gray from the Oakland A's for prospects OF Jorge Mateo, SP James Kapreilien, and infielder Dustin Fowler.  The Yanks and GM Brian Cashman were able to keep not only top tier prospects Clint Frazier and Gleybar Torres out of the trade but also Cashman favorite Esteven Florial. Yonder Alonso was also not included due yo the Yanks being happy with the work of Chase Headley at 1B. As far as fantasy baseball is concerned, Gray goes into a rough park and will likely see his ratios rise. Still he remains a top SP 3.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: YANKS AND A'S TALKS FULLY BACK ON TRACK

Updating an earlier item, the New York Yankees and Oakland A's are back in promising dialogue when it comes to the Sonny Gray trade talks.  The Yankees might be bending on dealing away Estevan Florial AND Jorge Mateo in a package with maybe one other prospect.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: YANKS/A'S IN STANDOFF FOR SONNY GRAY

The New York Yankees and Oakland A's remain in standoff mode to see who will blink first on the Sonny Gray trade front.  The Yankees remain leery of parting with outfield prospect Esteven Florial, with the A's insisting on his inclusion for Gray.  Meanwhile Yonder Alonso will likely only be included as a throw-in if a match is made.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS MOVING AWAY FROM YU DARVISH?

Multiple reports are indicating Monday that the Los Angeles Dodgers are moving away from their pursuit of Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish as they are not willing to deal Alex Verdugo or Walter Buellet.  Instead, the Cleveland Indians have moved into a more prominent spot in the Darvish trade talk and can even be considered the new favorites to land him if common ground is found.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: ADDISON REED BIG GET FOR RED SOX BULLPEN

The Boston Red Sox may still have a hole in their rotation but they shored up the bullpen some more Monday by picking up New York Mets closer/setup man Addison Reed for three prospects.  A free agent at the end of the year, it made sense for the Mets to get what they could for Reed and on that front they received Jaime Callahan, Gerson Bautista, and Stephen Nogosek.  Reed will move into setup in front of closer Craig Kimbrel so his fantasy baseball value remains nil after the Mets first picked up Miami Marlins closer A.J. Ramos.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE REPORT: YANKS/A'S SHOULD GET DONE

By Michael Wong

The New York Yankees and Oakland A's are technically at a bit of an impasse as the July 31 trade deadline arrives but all involved think a deal will get done.  The apparent sticking point is the hesitancy of the Yanks to part with Estevan Florial but both will likely budge as the deadline approaches.  Meanwhile, the Yankees are very happy with Chase Headley and his near .370 stick over the last three weeks and so they really are not pushing on Yonder Alonso.  Alonso is slumping badly at the dish as well which doesn't make him very viable.  Look for Alonso to be a simply throw-in if he is involved at all.

-The Boston Red Sox are the favorites for New York Mets reliever Addison Reed and there is some traction there.  Unfortunately for the Mets, nothing still doing on Jay Bruce and only the Milwaukee Brewers are mildly interested in Curtis Granderson.

-The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have been in on almost every available pitcher but both clubs have failed to pick up the big fish.  Yu Darvish is the target of the Dodgers along with closer Zach Britton but the Astros are also secondary figures.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: JONATHAN LUCROY DEALT AGAIN AT TRADE DEADLINE, THIS TIME TO ROCKIES

                                                           

It was a strong case of deja vu for veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy on Sunday as he was traded for the second year in a row leading up to the MLB July 31 deadline.  Last year at this time Lucroy went from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Texas Rangers and this time around he goes from Texas to the Colorado Rockies.  The Rockies pick up Lucroy for a player to be named later and that trade alone is ironic considering how much the Rangers gave up for him a year ago.  Needless to say, Lucroy has had a very rough season as he moved to Colorado with a listless .242 average with just 4 home runs and 27 RBI.  In fact you can say that Lucroy has been a colossal bust all the way around and at the age of 31, you have to wonder if age is becoming a factor here.  If Lucroy couldn't hit well in Texas, Colorado is just a slightly better offensive park so no need to jump and down about the new locale.  Walking in just 6.2 percent of his at-bats (down from 8.6), Lucroy is also dealing with an unlucky .259 BABIP which hasn't helped the average.  Now players do tend to get a bit of a boost once traded so Lucroy is worth adding if he was cut loose by someone in your league.  Otherwise this is not a momentous move in terms of 2017 fantasy baseball.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: CUBS NET ALEX AVILA, JUSTIN WILSON FROM REBUILDING TIGERS

                                                           

Well apparently we know there is no nepotism in the Detroit Tigers organization.  That is because GM Al Avila went out and traded his catcher son Alex along with closer Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs in an agreed upon deal late Sunday for prospects Jeimer Candelario, Issac Paredes, and a PTBNL.  This was another big move by the Cubs to shore up their bullpen and backup catcher situation for the stretch run in defending their World Series title but it has a big impact on 2017 fantasy baseball on a number of fronts.

First off when it comes to Wilson, he now goes from closing games in Detroit to a setup role on Cubs in front of All-Star stopper Wade Davis.  In Wilson's place should be Shane Greene who deserves a look as a closer by the Tigers given his 2.70 ERA and 50 K's in 46 IP this season.  Meanwhile, Avila loses a huge amount of value moving from the starting catcher spot in Detroit to backup capacity with the Cubs behind the emerging into a star Willson Contreras.  Avila became quite the story in 2017 fantasy baseball in going from barely making the team in spring training to hitting .274 with 11 home runs (over .300 for most of the season).  That made Avila one of the best catching values of 2017 fantasy baseball but now his owners need to find a replacement. Finally, Wilson is an option to close for the Cubs in 2018 since Davis will be a free agent so this was a proactive move for the future as well.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE REPORT: YANKS GETTING JAIME GARCIA GAINS LEVERAGE ON SONNY GRAY TALKS

By Michael Wong

Late last night Bob Nightengale reported that the New York Yankees were close to acquiring veteran starter Jaime Garcial just one week after the pitcher was moved from the Atlanta Braves to the Minnesota Twins.  With the Twins enduring an epic second half slide, the team is now fully invested on moving parts starting with Garcia.  While the addition of Garcia no doubt helps the Yankee rotation, he is not a pitcher the team would want to use in a playoff series do-or-die game which is why the talks continue with the Oakland A's regarding ace Sonny Gray.  It seemed both sides were going back and forth on proposals but the bottom line is that the A's now have moved off Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres in discussing Gray.  No w things center on Jorge Mateo and/or Esteven Florial; plus secondary pieces James Kapreilien, Domingo Acevedo, and others.  The Yanks getting Garcia (still not official but expected early Sunday) no doubt gains GM Brian Cashman some leverage on the A's front office regarding Gray but something is still widely expected to get done sometime during the say Sunday (the A's already have scratched Gray from his scheduled start).  However a team source has said that the Yanks have an offer prepared for St. Louis veteran Lance Lynn and will quickly jump on that if the Gray talks stall yet again.

-Meanwhile the New York Mets are expected to move Addison Reed in the next 24 hours and also have gotten some traction on Curtis Granderson from the Milwaukee Brewers.

-The Boston Red Sox have been pretty quiet but don't count them out of the reliever market.

-Speaking of relievers, the Washington Nationals are now battling the Los Angeles Dodgers for Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton and also are in on Justin Wilson. The Houston Astros remain the favorite for Wilson though.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE BREAKING NEWS: A'S SCRATCH SONNY GRAY FROM SUNDAY START AMID TRADE CHATTER

Not wanting to jeopardize the health of their best trade chip, the Oakland A's scratched ace SP Sonny Gray from his scheduled Sunday start amid reports the team and New York Yankees are continuing trade dialogue.  The latest twist is that the A's have come off requesting either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres and instead the two sides are discussing a package starting with either Jorge Mateo or Estevan Florial and then subsequent prospects Domingo Acevedo and James Kapreilien.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: ROBBIE RAY LANDS ON 7-DAY CONCUSSION DL

                                                          

Arizona Diamondbacks emerging power pitcher Robbie Ray was placed on the 7-day concussion DL Saturday after the scary HBP he suffered to the side of the head during his Friday start.  A 108-mph line drive smashed into Ray's skulls but luckily no fractures were discovered.  With all concussions, depending on any timeline to return is foolhardy but obviously Ray's fantasy baseball owners are left with a gaping hole given how incredible dominant he has pitched this season.  Already cementing himself as one of the best strikeouts artists in the game, Ray has logged an ace-like 3.11 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and punched out a ridiculous 151 batters in 118.2 innings.  A popular sleeper coming into the year, Ray has been everything anticipated and more.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT BUST: MATT RYAN QB ATLANTA FALCONS

Say it ain't so.  How could a guy who I have been nothing short of the biggest fan in the industry over the last six years or so now become someone I personally label a bust?  Believe me I can't even believe I am typing this out but I can't say it is not true.  But first let's do some history here.  As I already stated, Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan has been a personal favorite of mine for years now and it always had to do with the fact he annually came with a very affordable price at the draft table for someone who routinely tossed 25-plus scores and over 4,000 yards a season.  While everyone else chased Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, I waited until the middle rounds to snag Ryan in the Experts League and did very well with that plan.  Well unfortunately I won't be able to go back to that well again this season as Ryan comes into the 2017 fantasy football season off an insane career-year in 2016 when he passes for 4,944 yards and 38 scores for the Super Bowl runners-up.  It was a spectacular season from Ryan all the way around and the numbers clearly jumped off the page.  Having an offensive line that finally was cohesive, a dominant run game to take off the heat, and an All-Pro wideout in Julio Jones being joined by capable secondary receivers; Ryan was a monster.  What that did though was sent Ryan's 2017 fantasy football draft price soaring to where he is now being drafted in the top four at the position with Brees, Rodgers, and Tom Brady.  One of the more tried-and-true strategies I employ in fantasy sports is to NEVER pay for a career season and so that alone has me avoiding Ryan in 2017.  There is almost no way Ryan will have the offensive planets aligning as well this year as they did in 2016 and so expect a dip in numbers on that front.  Also Ryan's allure over the years was being an affordable and very good fantasy football quarterback and that is no longer in play given the current sticker price.  Finally, there are big questions about how the offense will look with 2016 OC Kyle Shanahan now the head coach in San Francisco and the untested Steve Sarkisian at the controls.  OC changes are usually tough initially on a passer and so that is another decent worry we have to be aware of here.  Combine everything together and there are simply too many things to concern yourself here with the veteran.  While I would not make it a point to avoid Ryan at all costs, I will be looking elsewhere for value this season.

2017 PROJECTION:  4,361 yards 29 TD 14 INT


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: MICHAEL CONFORTO OUTFIELDER NEW YORK METS

Talk about a tale of two summers.  Last year at this time, New York Mets sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto was struggling so badly that he was demoted back to the minors so as to save whatever bit of confidence he had remaining.  Fast forward to this summer and Conforto comes off a game Friday night where he hit TWO home runs that boosted his numbers to the following excellent totals:

.291
21 HR
54 RBI
59 R
2 SB

Clearly at the age of 24, Conforto is starting to find his place as a major league outfielder and as a hitter where he has operated out of the leadoff spot for most of 2017.  While Conforto doesn't have the speed you would think that makes him a good fit in the top spot, his .398 OBP is excellent as he has put up an absolutely tremendous 13.0 BB/9 rate that helps supplement the power.  And it is the power that is the calling card here as Conforto is the classic young slugger who seems destined for 30 homers on a yearly basis; a total he should reach by September.

So what changed here?  How has Conforto thrust himself into a solid OF 2 in 2017 fantasy baseball leagues?  Well as already noted, the walk rate is terrific as he adds to the runs total and also helps the batting average where Conforto struggled to the tune of a woeful .220 mark last season.  His 13.0 BB/9 is an improvement from the 10.0 mark he had in 2016 and while his 24.5 K/9 is still very high, it is better than the 25.6 from 2016.  Of course a .339 BABIP (in lucky territory) has helped but again Conforto is drawing walks and controlling the strike zone much better then he did last season.  The power remains extremely potent and perhaps most encouraging, Conforto fought through a rough June (.206 and 1 HR) to come back and post his big July (.313and 7 HR).  All in all, Conforto's prospect polish if fully back in play and his future is incredibly bright.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: BRAD ZIEGLER TO CLOSE GAMES FOR MARLINS

It appears as though the Miami Marlins will go with Brad Ziegler as the new closer in place of the traded A.J. Ramos beginning Saturday when he is activated from the disabled list according to the Miami President of Operations.  Despite a sky-high 6.52 ERA and 1.82 WHIP, Ziegler's experience edge as a successful closer (2016) gives him the nod over Junichi Tazawa and Dustin McGowan.  When it comes to Ziegler, he obviously can't be any worse then he was before he got hurt and so trying him out for a short-run to see if the stint on the DL straightened him out is worth a try.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: O'S ADD JEREMY HELLICKSON SIMPLY TO EAT INNINGS

The Baltimore Orioles made a move late Friday by picking up veteran pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the dismantling Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim, LHP Garrett Clevinger, and international bonus money.  Hellickson is being brought over simply to eat some innings for the Orioles whose rotation has been a complete joke this season and so there is nothing really to discuss here from a fantasy baseball angle.  Hellickson has had some SP 5 value during his stay with the Phillies but it has not come this year as he has pitched to a nasty 4.73 ERA and struck out just 65 batters in 112.1 innings.  Going from the NL to the AL should do even more damage to the ratios.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: NATS ADD HOWIE KENDRICK FOR UTILITY ROLE

The Washington Nationals made a very good under-the-radar play late Friday by acquiring veteran infielder Howie Kendrick from the Philadelphia Phillies for LHP McKenzie Mills and international bonus money.  While he is getting up there in age at 34, Kendrick can still swing the stick as he takes a .349 average with 2 homers and 8 steals to a pennant race in Washington.  Kendrick should fill a super utility role on the team and so in fantasy baseball terms, the move destroys most of his remaining value.  While he never did win the batting title that many pundits claimed when he first arrived on the scene, Kendrick has been one of the better pure hitters the last ten years and was usually dependable enough for 10/10 in the power/speed categories.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: METS SHOCK WITH THEIR TRADE FOR MARLINS CLOSER A.J. RAMOS

Considered one of the more obvious sellers as we approach the MLB July 31 trade deadline, it came as quite the shock when the New York Mets acquired an All-Star closer and from a division rival no less.  So it was that the Mets picked up Miami Marlins closer A.J. Ramos late Friday for minor league RHP Merandy Gonzalez and outfielder Ricardo Cespedes.  The key here though is that Ramos is under team control through 2018 and thus he will serve as a bullpen reinforcement....and a very good one.....that will help set up for closer Jeurys Familia then and also later this season when the latter returns from the blood clot in his shoulder.  Ramos in the meantime will take over the closer role from Addison Reed who by the time you read this could be on his way out of town as there is a strong market for him.  So overall this is a rough move for Ramos' fantasy baseball value as Familia is expected back in August and so he only has a few weeks of saves left to his name before moving to setup.  In his place, expect Junichi Tazawa should be the new closer but boy that is taking a leap into desperation for anyone looking for saves here as his 5.28 ERA is horrendous.  Tazawa has pitched well of late though and his experience should give him the initial edge.  Still the guy has been terrible when called on to close games in short spurts in the past and he has just 22 K's in 30.2 innings as the velocity has dipped in 2017.  Keep an eye out too for Dustin McGowan who has a 2.75 ERA on the heels of a 2.82 in relief last season.  

Friday, July 28, 2017

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: LEONARD FOURNETTE RB JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Talk about going all-in on a player.  Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone caused quite a stir early Friday when comments from a June interview from the team website shared his thoughts on what he thought of both his quarterback and his running back going into 2017.  When a query was relayed to Marrone about his plans for the offense, he deadpanned that he wanted to "run the ball every play."  The reporter who asked the question reiterated that Marrone appeared dead stoic when given the answer and that he seemed 100 percent serious.  So that little statement said two very clear things.  The first is that Marrone has no faith in QB Blake Bortles and the second is that Leonard Fournette could be set for an Ezekiel Elliott-like debut.

Now as far as Bortles is concerned, it is easy understand the issues Marrone would have with the enigmatic passer.  Bortles has proven that he has very poor accuracy, ill mechanics, and a poor feel for the rush.  Throw in a boatload of turnovers in his career and Marrone certainly seems gun shy there.  On the other side of things, Fournette might be in line for a crazy workload as a rookie and again might be in the Elliot 2016 statistical ballpark on that alone.  In terms of Fournette himself, the scouting report seems pretty clear here and also visually obvious when watching his old LSU tape.  For a big back like Fournette is, he has tremendous burst and speed that is uncanny for such a runner.  So picking up yardage in chunks and being a home run threat whenever he touches the football are certain.  On the negative side, Fournette was not much of a pass catcher at LSU and he so he has much more value in standard formats where he can make the RB 1 grade then in PPR where he drops down to a top RB 2.  Also, Fournette dealt with a slew of injuries in college and a lot of that can be blamed on his upright running style.  So in essence, Fournette should be drafted in the late first round in standards and middle of the second in PPR.

2017 PROJECTION:  1,242 yards 10 TD 20 receptions 157 yards 1 TD  


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY WATCH: CURTIS SAMUEL FELLED BY ANOTHER HAMSTRING INJURY

                                                              

When it comes to the wide receiver position in fantasy football, hamstring injuries are the bane of the existence both of the players and their owners.  Given all of the cutting and stopping on a dime movement during routes, it is easy to see why hamstring injuries are the biggest problem for receivers on a yearly basis.  Throw in the fact they tend to linger or re-occur and the frustration meter goes up ever more.  Such a scenario is now enveloping Carolina Panthers rookie wideout Curtis Samuel who went down in practice early on Friday with a hamstring injury that was not considered minor.  The latest injury joins the hamstring injury that also kept Samuel out of minicamps and now puts the spotlight on him as a guy who may have a chronic issue there.  While the speedster was looked at as a WR 3 on the Panthers, he still carries some PPR intrigue given the fact he can help both running and catching the football as he did a during his college tenure.  For now, Samuel needs to be knocked down to the last few rounds of your draft or out of it entirely.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: MORE ELBOW WOES SEND DAVID PRICE BACK TO THE DL

It has been a season to forgot for Boston Red Sox well-paid lefty David Price to say the least.  From run-ins with reporters and one Mr. Dennis Eckersley to elbow trouble that had Price on the DL to begin the year, 2017 surely has not gone according to plan both for player and his fantasy baseball owners.  Well it looks like we have reached a new low as Price was placed back on the DL Friday with a renewed bout of elbow soreness and his immediate outlook is quite murky to say the least.  There were some whispers that Price might eventually need Tommy John surgery but no MRI results have come out yet to shed more light on that.  Instead what we have now is an extremely depressed fantasy baseball stock and now a team in the Red Sox who may have to jump into the trade talks for Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, and Yu Darvish as the New York Yankees continue to put heat on them in the division.  If you are a Price owner and are tired of the act, feel free to cut him loose.  Price is more hittable than ever, his velocity continues to dip, and his elbow is a ticking time bomb.  It is getting late in the season and you simply can't wait for injured and flaed players to get back healthy.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Trevor Bauer:  8 IP 7 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 5.25.  Has settled into being an even worse version of Francisco Liriano.

Carlos Santana:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .244.  Santana really has been left behind in today's fantasy baseball given his all-or-nothing approach.

Josh Donaldson:  2/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .242.  Yeah not the season anticipated.

Kendrys Morales:  2/4 with 2 home runs (20 for season) while hitting .257.  Morales is really hot right now and so he should be planted firmly back in your UTIL or CI slot.

Sean Manaea:  7 IP 7 H 3 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.82.  Manaea has been quietly solid since the beginning of May and the K rate has been impressive.

Blake Treinen:  fourth blown save with 1 ER in 1.1 IP with an ERA of 5.00.  It is like April in Washington all over again.  I guess Ryan Dull is getting the next shot.

Travis Shaw:  1/1 with his 24th HR while hitting .299.  You know you are having an insane season when you go from borderline MLB player at start of April to getting the Barry Bonds treatment in late July.

Lewis Brinson:  1/3 with his second HR while hitting .135.  Two homers since coming back up.  Strap in because I think this is going to be a fun ride.

Bryce Harper:  3/5 with 2 home runs (27 for season) while hitting .338.  Scary to think what kind of contract this guy is going to sign when free agency arrives.

Ryan Zimmerman:  2/5 with 2 home runs (22 for season) while hitting .318.  Coming into the season I thought it would take Zim until now to hit half his 22 homers.

Anthony Rendon:  2/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .317.  There was almost an entire Wrapup of home runs in this one game alone.

Max Scherzer:  6 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.23.  And yet with all the home runs, this guy remained a pitching maestro.

Corey Dickerson:  2/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .304.  Yeah so not happy Dickerson batted sixth and not leadoff which is where this whole fun go started back in April.

Evan Longoria:  2/5 with his 16th HR while hitting .275.  Longoria is looking like he is starting one of those patented power binges so dust him off.

Gary Sanchez:  2/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .266.  There have been lots of hot and cold spells for extended periods of time but at least the power is holding.  But everything is down across the board like I said it would.

Brett Gardner:  2/5 with his 18th HR while hitting .261.  And I never thought at this stage of the season Gardner would have more home runs than Sanchez.

J.D. Martinez:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .300.  No matter where Martinez signs next season, I am buying as they guy is so damn consistent and overlooked.

Zack Godley:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.06.  There have been some stumbles of late but Godley looks to be back on track.  Always important for a young pitcher to stem struggles which speaks to their long-term dependability.  Something Steven Matz hasn't mastered yet.

Yoan Moncada:  0/4 while hitting .111.  Second time he has struggled in the majors.  Hope he is not the next Byron Buxton but there are similarities to super athleticism but lacking pure hitting.

Jose Abreu:  2/4 with 2 home runs (18 for season) while hitting .297.  Scary how ultra-consistent this guy is.

Anthony Rizzo:  2/4 with his 24th HR while hitting .261.  What is funny though is that Abreu's and Rizzo's fantasy baseball owners will undoubtedly say there are disappointed in them.

Kyle Schwarber:  3/4 with 2 home runs (17 for season) while hitting .191.  So close to .200.  Ridiculous.

Jon Lester:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.88.  Buy Lester in June next season.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE BREAKING NEWS: LUCAS DUDA ACQUIRED BY THE TAMPA BAY RAYS

The Tampa Bay Rays made their second trade of the day on Thursday when they completed a deal with the New York Mets for first baseman Lucas Duda.  Earlier in the day the Rays picked up lefty reliever Dan Jennings from the Chicago White Sox and Duda now joins a team that is looking to make a run to cap off their surprisingly good play in 2017.  With Duda now moving out of town, expect the Mets to bring up first base prospect Dominic Smith who has been particularly locked in at the dish of late.  

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JORDAN REED TE WASHINGTON REDSKINS

As talented as any player at in his position in the entire NFL but.....................!  The completion of that sentence can be filled in with "he is always hurt" and attached to the jersey of Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed.  When it comes to pure athleticism and receiving talent, Reed is every bit in the same class as New England's Rob Gronkowski but just like his position-mate, the guy simply can't stay on the field.  2016 was no different as Reed almost crashed Twitter during the fantasy football playoff weeks when he was stupidly suited up (and his owners fell for the guise and started him) but then wound up barely playing and grossly impacting crucial games.  And with training camp barely getting underway, we now hear that Reed is dealing with a big toe injury that has him placed on PUP to start things off.  While the Redskins say they expect Reed to be more than fine for Week 1, the fact we already talking about injuries here is a reminder of how risky an investment in the guy is.

Getting back to Reed the player, he has more than shown how good an offensive player he can be; catching 45, 50, 87, and 66 balls his first four years in the league.  The classic too big for a corner to cover and too fast for a linebacker to keep up with, Reed is a matchup nightmare.  He also has been a big TD producer as well, going for a total of 17 the last two seasons.  However through those first four years, Reed has now missed a total of 18 games and that is a major problem.  Reed can't help you when he is hurt and so Greg Olson and Travis Kelce are much safer and stable buys then he and Gronk.  Again the talent is absolutely not in question here but instead the ability to stay upright.  We already are seeing this take place.

2017 PROJECTION:  75 receptions 845 yards 8 TD  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: JORDAN LUPLOW OUTFIELDER PITTSBURGH PIRATES

With Gregory Polanco landing on the DL AGAIN this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to give outfield prospect Jordan Luplow his first major league look.  A former 2014 third-round pick, Luplow has been terrific at both Double and Triple-A this season to the tune of 21 total home runs and a .296 batting average.  In fantasy baseball terms, it is always intriguing when a young hitter can combine power and average and that is exactly what Luplow has done this season on the farm.  What has helped Luplow achieve those results are solid BB/9 rates that hover around 10.0 and also a K/9 that generally has stayed between 15.0 and 19.0.  Luplow will play on an everyday basis while Polanco is out and so that alone should make him someone to take a spin with in most fantasy baseball mixed leagues.  See where it goes.

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2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE REPORT: TWINS READY TO SELL OFF PARTS

By Michael Wong

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand was the first to break it but it appears that the Minnesota Twins are ready to tear it all down as their team continues to flounder of late.  Thus they are reportedly willing to listen on not only Jaime Garcia who they just acquired by also ace Ervin Santana who has been a revelation this year.  Closer Brandon Kintzler and second baseman Brian Dozier are also candidates to be moved as the Twins front office begins to accept that maybe their luck as a team has run out.

-It was over a week ago where I reported how the Houston Astros were the front-runners for Detroit Tigers closer Justin Wilson and they were on the verge of landing him before the Tigers pulled back.  Wanting to see if other teams would jump into the fray, the Astros I have been told directly still have the best offer on the table which was the one that nearly led to the trade in the first place.

-With Sean Doolittle already struggling, a Washington Nationals team source said they are still very much in on the available relief arms such as Wilson, Miami's A.J. Ramos, and the Baltimore Orioles trio of Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Darren O'Day.

-The New York Mets are desperate to try and drum up a strong return on their available players that include Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, and Asdrubal Cabrera and that has led them to try and put two in that group together so they can get their hands on a better prospect.  Right now the market is quiet on Granderson and Duda but Reed and Cabrera have a solid following of teams scouting them.  Don't count out the Los Angeles Dodgers bringing Reed aboard.

-Now for the A's-Yankees mess and it is a mess as they two sides continue to circle around one another.  I spoke to reps for BOTH teams and the center of the deal still resides on either Esteban Florial or Jorge Mateo.  They A's wanted BOTH which led to the first breakdown in talks a few days ago but now they also want two or three more prospects which could include Miguel Andujar and James Kapreilien.  The Yankees have stood on their original offer though and are trying to wait this out.  Meanwhile the A's want to get a deal done before Sonny Gray starts Sunday and risks injury.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: RAYS ACQUIRE LEFTY RP DAN JENNINGS FEOM WHITE SOX

The Chicago White traded lefty setup man Dan Jennings on Thursday to the Tampa Bay Rays for 1B Conor Gillaspie. The White Sox have now traded closer David Robertson, setup man Anthony Swarzak, and now Jennings from their bullpen and the Rays now net their second bullpen arm this past week. 

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: PAT NESHEK CRUCIAL BULLPEN GET FOR ROCKIES

The Colorado Rockies plugged some holes in a recently leaking bullpen late Wednesday when they acquired dominant setup man Pat Neshek from the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league RHP D.J. Hammer, RHP Alejandro Requena, and infielder Jose Gomez.  Neshek will move right into a top setup role in front of All-Star closer Greg Holland and to say that the sidearmer has been dominant would be a gross understatement.  Pitching to a 1.12 ERA and .82 WHIP, Neshek's funky delivery has always been a handful for opposing batters.  He also has struck out 45 in 40.1 innings as well which has made Neshek the rare setup man who has value in fantasy baseball leagues that don't count holds.  While Neshek is not in line for saves with Holland excelling himself, he is still a big add to a team that has been surprisingly competitive this season.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Jonathan Schoop:  1/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .303.  Schoop has been so consistently great this season that he is now boring to talk about.  Now that is something special.

Evan Longoria:  3/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .273.  Longoria won't go back to the 30 home run mark this season like he did in 2016 but everything else is pretty much in normal lines.

Steven Souza Jr.:  1/4 with his 21st HR and sixth SB while hitting .271.  I was forced to cut loose Souza Jr. a few days ago.  Regretting it already.

Alex Cobb:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.46.  You would be hard pressed to find anyone pitching as well as this guy right about now.

Didi Gregorios:  1/4 with his16th HR while hitting .307.  Now four homers in the last three games.  Aaron Judge who?

Todd Frazier:  2/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .209.  As a frustrated Frazier owner, I am really hoping his road-heavy splits from his White Sox days means he will kill it at Yankee Stadium.

Luis Severino:  7 IP 3 0 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.03.  And just like that Luis Severino is graduating into a fantasy baseball power ace.

J.D. Martinez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (19 for season) while hitting .303.  I would say Martinez is fitting into his home just nicely.

Rafael Devers:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .250.  And we're off.

Chris Sale:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.37.  As if you expected anything less.

Jeff Samardzjia:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.85.  This guy has pitched WORSE than his peripherals all season and so who the heck knows what he will do in any given outing.

Jimmy Nelson:  7 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.38.  Man this guy is becoming a real stud.  Just remember over the last two years who the bigger Nelson and Aaron Nola pusher there was?  Your reading his wrapup right now.

Sean Doolittle:  3 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 4.26.  Yeah Doolittle is now part of the Nationals ninth inning family of disgrace.  He fit in so seamlessly.  I guess now Ryan Madson is up.

Daniel Murphy:  1/3 with his 17th HR while hitting .340.  Starting to think we got to start putting /340 in ink next to Murphy's projection for 2018.

Lewis Brinson:  1/3 with his first HR while hitting .118.  He looks better this time around already.  More of this and Brinson will be at the top of the lineup before you know it.

Domingo Santana:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .292.  Becoming like my old friend Mike Morse in terms of very cheap 25 homer pop.  Or the legend that was Jermaine Dye.

Cameron Rupp:  2/4 with 2 home runs (9 for season) while hitting .233.  I said in the spring you could do much worse than Rupp as your C 2.

Aaron Nola:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.17.  I am so in love with Nola that my wife is growing concerned.  It was always about the health people.

Justin Smoak:  1/3 with his 28th HR while hitting .297.  It will be all about whether or not Smoak can maintain this average next year in determining just where this stock goes.

Kendrys Morales:  1/3 with his 18th HR while hitting .254.  I expected a bit more out of the average but the aging Morales is likely more of the home run hitting specialist at this getting late stage of his game.

Paul Blackburn:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 3 K with an ERA of 2.25.  The ultimate smoke and mirrors pitchers, it is all going to go very wrong here real soon.

Santiago Casilla:  sixth blown save with 2 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 4.66.  I guess dust off Blake Treinen?  Yeah that doesn't sound very appealing.

Eric Hosmer:  5/6 with his 16th HR and 5th SB while hitting .319.  I think Hosmer was watching a lot of tape on Jose Altuve over the last few days.

Dee Gordon:  2/6 with his first HR while hitting .291.  It figures in a 22-10 football score of a game that Gordon would get his first home run.  Nice parting gift for me as I traded Gordon for Ender Inciarte.

J.T. Realmuto:  3/6 with his 11th HR while hitting .307.  Yeah the guy I told you all to draft prior to last season has certainly kept it up.  I am so good at this.

Christian Yelich:  4/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .291.  Been waiting to se this from Yelich since the end of April.

Giancarlo Stanton:  3/5 with his 33rd HR while hitting .278.  7 away from 40.

Yu Darvish:  10 ER in 3.2 IP with an ERA of 4.01.  Well that's not a way to boost your trade value.  I think Darvish has mentally checked out of Texas given all the trade rumors which means a deal should be on the way.

Steven Matz:  6 ER in 3 IP with an ERA of 5.51.  The ERA is over 14.00 last four outings.  I am convinced Matz is hurt or he might just really stink.

Brad Hand:  scoreless ninth for fourth save with ERA of 2.08 while Kirby Yates pitches setup.  Pick up Yates as there is a great chance Hand is traded this week.


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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL/FOOTBALL MESSAGE BOARD IS BACK

We have gotten a lot of requests to bring back the old Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Football/Baseball Message Board and so without further delay here is the link:  http://thefantasysportsboss.boardhost.com/

Register quickly and start posting away.  Will answer all questions on there and start discussions as well so we all can see what each other thinks.  Just be respectful as I had to many issues with that last time which is why it went away.  Also will be running some contests on there as well so hurry and register and let's get the chat going.  

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: NO PUP FOR JULIO JONES (FOOT)

Atlanta Falcons wideout Julio Jones will NOT begin training camp on the PUP list as his chronic foot injury has not been an issue for weeks.  Already having had multiple surgeries on his feet and had a bunion removed back in March as well, Jones is positioned to take part in full team activities right off the bat in camp.  It is all well and good that Jones is healthy but he represents one of the biggest injury risks in 2017 fantasy football given his mid-first round grade and that needs to be factored in before you make the plunge there.  On talent alone, Jones is right there with Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown and comes off another huge campaign in 2016 where he caught 83 balls for 1,409 yards and 6 scores.  What is interesting about Jones is that for all the passes that he catches, he just once on caught double-digits touchdowns in six NFL seasons.  Yes it is a minimal matter but it does keep him behind Brown and Beckham whne weighing the first round wideouts.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: LEWIS BRINSON BACK FOR ANOTHER TRY

Remember that Mike Trout didn't exactly light the world on fire during his first go-round in the majors and certainly neither did top Milwaukee Brewers and Major League Baseball outfield prospect Lewis Brinson either.  In 14 games with the Brewers earlier in the year, Brinson signaled he needed a bit more seasoning as he hit just .097 with 13 strikeouts.  However Brinson got that seasoning and so now the Brewers have called him up a second time in order to hopefully give the sagging team a boost for the stretch run of the 2017.  In revisiting he profile here, Brinson is as good a pure athlete and "toolsy" player as one can get.  He runs like the wind, has tremendous bat speed, and power that suggest he will hit 30 bombs one day.  The former 2012 first round pick has hit a scorching .345 with 10 home runs and 11 steals at Triple-A this season and has shown the approach to the dish that should make this go-around in the major much smoother.  As much as Brinson struck out in his first stint, he has a very solid 18.9 K/9 rate at Triple-A and an even more tidy 10.1 B/9 number.  If Brinson can bring those rates to the majors, look out.  Scan all your league waiver wires and see if anyone stupidly dropped Brinson as he could really out himself on the map the rest of the way.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: EDUARDO NUNEZ DEALT AT TRADE DEADLINE ONCE AGAIN

For the second time in two seasons, veteran SS/OF Eduardo Nunez found himself a wanted and ultimately traded man at the MLB trade deadline.  Last year it was Nunez being moved from the Minnesota Twins to the San Francisco Giants and this time around he made the journey from San Francisco to the Boston Red Sox in a deal that was announced late Tuesday.  Boston sends San Francisco minor league RHP Shaun Anderson and RHP Gregory Santos to complete the deal but obviously the fantasy baseball news centers on Nunez.  While Nunez in 2017 has not replicated the overall numbers that made him one of the very best values in all of fantasy baseball a year ago, he has been solid nonetheless in putting up the following:

.308
4 HR
31 RBI
37 R
18 SB

Now first off Nunez has become a victim of the truly brutal lineups the Giants have put out this season in their shockingly bad season.  However Nunez has also clearly been off the mark from his 2016 numbers without debate as his home runs, runs, RBI, and steals are all below last year's pace.  What we have to accept though is that as surprised as we were by what Nunez put out last season, they do look like outlier numbers compared to his career to that point.  So what can Nunez do in Boston?  Well he can continue to hit for average which he has ALWAYS done throughout his career (.280 or better each of the last two-plus seasons), plus steal bases and score some runs.  Nunez did hit 16 home runs last season so there is power and moving to Fenway Park will only help on that front.  Overall this is a plus deal for Nunez' fantasy baseball numbers the rest of the way and it also serves as a boost to the Red Sox as a whole.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE BREAKING NEWS: YANKS MOVING CLOSE TO PICKING UP SONNY GRAY AND YONDER ALONSO FROM A'S

By Michael Wong

After a few days moving away from one another, the New York Yankees and Oakland A's are fully back in trade discussions centering on SP Sonny Gray and 1B Yonder Alonso.  The impetus here I am told was the Milwaukee Brewers pulling out of trade talks for Gray on Sunday, leaving the A's with much less leverage then they had previously.  Also with the Boston Red Sox not having made much of a move for Gray, the A's called back the Yankees to reignite talks.  Previously the A's insisted on outfielder Clint Frazier in a deal but now the A's are willing to take shortstop Jorge Mateo and another piece which is currently being negotiated.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: ANTHONY SWARZAK MOVED TO MILWAUKEE

The Chicago White Sox continued unloading anything not nailed down as they dealt top setup man Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers late Tuesday.  Swarzak was looked at as the fill-in closer for the White Sox after David Robertson was traded last week but now he will move into a setup role with the Brewers pitching in front of closer Corey Knebel.  Meanwhile Tyler Clippard will likely continue to get save chances for the White Sox but he has struggled so badly that Dan Jennings or Juan Minaya is worth a look.  

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: KENNETH DIXON (MENISCUS SURGERY) OUT FOR SEASON

Updating an earlier item, Baltimore Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon is OUT FOR THE SEASON after being forced to undergo meniscus surgery on his knee Tuesday.  The meniscus was completely torn and the scope of the surgery was much worse than the Ravens anticipated.  Terrance West and Danny Woodhead are expected to split the workload in Dixon's place.

Analysis:  Wow.  Scratch Dixon off all your fantasy football cheat sheets.  From the early PED suspension to the surgery, it certainly was not Dixon's year.  West should get the majority of carries and he now carries firm RB 3 fantasy football value based on workload lone.  Also Woodhead becomes even more important as a RB 2 in PPR leagues.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: AMED ROSARIO TO BE PROMOTED WITHIN THE WEEK

According to Jon Heyman and a team source, the New York Mets will call up top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario within a week and more likely on August 1.  Our own Michael Wong reported a week ago that Rosario would concretely be up August 1st and he heard that again as well Tuesday.  The Mets are trying to deal away infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to open up a spot for Rosario but either way, GM Sandy Alderson is now ready to give the consensus top three prospect in all of baseball his chance once August gets underway.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: HARRISON BADER OUTFIELDER ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

                                                        

Prospect season is still hanging on as the St. Louis Cardinals made a mixed league action move Tuesday by promoting top outfield farmhand Harrison Bader from Triple-A so that he can make his debut for the team.  A former 2015 third-round pick, Bader is just 23 and has shown in 2017 that he has the type of power/speed game that garners instant attention in fantasy baseball circles.  Going into his debut, Bader hit .297 with 19 home runs and 9 stolen bases in 381 at-bats for the Cards at Triple-A and so right away he has the look of a guy who should be added in mixed formats on those skills alone.  Digging further into the numbers, Bader has some plate discipline issues such as a high for Triple-A 23.6 K/9 rate and he needs to draw more walks as well to ward off any average hit (just 6.0 BB/9).  So we are looking at a kid who could come in and offer up power with a bit of speed but also be a bit of a batting average liability.  This was the exact same scouting report on Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger and we all know how that has worked out thus far.  So pick up Bader where available and see where it takes you.  


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: NO HOLDOUT PLANNED BY GREG OLSON

                                                            

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olson vowed to play out the last year of his contract in 2017 and not stage a holdout that he had hinted at earlier in the offseason.  The best pure pass-catching tight end in the game, Olson is grossly underpaid for his contributions to the Panthers but he exclaimed on Tuesday that he did not want to be a distraction.  The fact Olson won't hold out means he should be the top tight end off the board in 2017 fantasy football drafts and that includes over Rob Gronkowski given the latter's trouble staying healthy.  While Olson is not flashy when it comes to scoring touchdowns, he is the very rare tight end who can catch 80 balls and pass 1,000 receiving yards.   

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: RAVENS RB KENNETH DIXON TO UNDERGO MENISCUS KNEE SURGERY

NFL training camps are just getting underway  but already we have a big injury news item as it was revealed Tuesday that Baltimore Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon would be undergoing meniscus surgery on his knee. Typically a 2 month recovery is needed and this is on top of the PED suspension he has to serve. Danny Woodhead will see his solid fantasy football stock rise even more as a result of this and Dixon should now be ignored in drafts this summer.  Also Terrance West becomes more of a factor as well.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Kyle Hendricks:  4.1 IP 8 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.95.  Hendricks dealt with a load of base runners but managed to dodge the earned runs.  By now if you put 2016 completely out of your mind, you may proceed with Hendricks.

Anthony Swarzak:  scoreless 1.1 IP for his first save with an ERA of 2.23.  Not sure this is an official crowning of Swarzak as closer but I said from the moment David Robertson was dealt that this was the guy to own.

Jose Altuve:  4/4 while hitting .365.  It almost seems like we are watching the video game version of Altuve.

Alex Bregman:  3/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .265.  Bregman had a nice finish to 2016 so maybe he gets hotter as the season goes on.  The prospect pedigree is still very much in play so take Bregman out for a spin if someone dropped him.

Russell Martin:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .222.  Still hitting second in the Blue Jays lineup which is a mystery to me.

Scooter Gennett:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .313.  Nothing is a bigger mystery than this guy.  My goodness talk about coming out of leftfield to use a baseball analogy.  Does anyone else get the sneaking suspicion though that Gennett could be this year's version of 2016 Brad Miller?

Zack Cozart:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .318.  Again more evidence that big time fantasy baseball value plays can be found on bad teams.  

Carlos Santana:  2/3 with 2 home runs (12 for season) while hitting .241.  Blah!

Adam Jones:  3/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .278.  Not may outfielders hotter than this guy right about now.  

Kevin Gausman:  6 IP 5 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 5.79.  Yes Gausman has shown some signs of positive life of late but still look at that ERA to tell you much of a prospective hurting he can put on your ratios.  

Salvador Perez:  2/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .284.  Like with teammates Eric Hosmer, Perez is now combining past skills of average and power which is resulting in a truly blockbuster season relative to the position.

Mike Moustakas:  1/4 with his 29th HR while hitting .277.  Show the guy the damn money.  

Justin Verlander:  7 IP 5 H 3 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 4.50.  It is almost like Verlander was auditioning for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/3 with 2 home runs (32 for season) while hitting .274.  8 away from 40.  Finally.  

Randal Grichuk:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .227.  Grichuk now has homers in four straight games but they are pretty much his only hits.  

Tommy Pham:  2/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .308. I own Pham and have been tickled pink over what he has done this season.  If you didn't know any better, you would think you were watching a second round five-tool fantasy baseball outfielder star.  

Mike Leake:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.20.  Now that Leake regressed back to where he should be ERA-wise, he can settle in now and be his old solid SP 4 self.

J.D. Martinez:  1/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .300.  It will be must-see fantasy baseball TV with Martinez taking aim at the inviting outfield walls of Chase Field.  

A.J. Pollock:  3/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .303.  You feel like when Pollock simply even takes a step onto the field these days that he will get hurt.  In between he is some talent.  

Zack Greinke:  8 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.92.  Man I seriously think we need to just flush 2016 from our memories as an outlier that goes the other way.  

James Paxton:  7 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.84.  Paxton is as hot now as he was in April.  

Cody Bellinger:  1/4 with his 28th HR while hitting .269.  If there was no Aaron Judge, we would be all gushing even more over this monster.

Yasmani Grandal:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .272.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

 

Monday, July 24, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: ROYALS NAB TREVOR CAHILL AND BRANDON MAURER FROM PADRES

The Kansas City Royals signaled that they are going for a playoff berth late Monday when they completed at trade with the San Diego Padres highlighted by lefty starter Trevor Cahill and closer Brandon Maurer.  They also picked up LHP Ryan Buchter and in return, send back LHP Matt Strahm, LHP Travis Wood, and infielder Esteury Diaz.

As far as the fantasy baseball pieces involved in the deal, the biggest portion of the trade concerns Maurer moving from the closer role in San Diego to a setup spot with the Royals.  However given how badly Royals closer Kelvin Herrera has pitched this season, Maurer could easily slide into the closer role for the team.  However with ex-closers Joakim Soria and Neftali Feliz also around, that is not a given.  In addition, Maurer has been pretty miserable all season to the tune of a 5.72 ERA and 1.19 WHIP but he did convert 20 of 23 save opportunities.  In his place, Brad Hand will likely close for the Padres and he has had a nice season with a 2.12 ERA and 66 K's in 51 innings which are ratios that seem tailor-made for the ninth inning.  However Hand is almost guaranteed to be moved himself over the next week given how big of a market is after him and so his ascension to the ninth inning will be a short one.  That means Kirby Yates (1.2 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 48 K in 31.1 IP) should be watched closely.

Meanwhile, Cahill moves to the Royals and into the AL which is always a bad deal for a pitcher.  This is especially true leaving Petco Park who has been quite solid with a 3.69 ERA and more elevated 1.34 WHIP.  What is really interesting about Cahill this season is the huge spike in K/9 (10.62) but his control remains awful (3.54 BB/9).  Again going to the AL will push Cahill's value down to firm SP 5 status after he was up to SP 4 prior.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: JAIME GARCIA FINALLY A TWIN

After days of haggling, the Minnesota Twins finally competed their long-awaited trade with the Atlanta Braves for SP Jaime Garcia.  The Twins also pick up catcher Anthony Recker in the deal and send to Atlanta RHP Huascar Ynoa.  While Garcia is not having the greatest season with a 4.30 ERA and just 85 K in 113 innings, he leaves a launching pad of a ballpark to one that neutralizes home runs a bit in Target Field.  His is the rare fantasy baseball stock that actually improves a bit going from the NL to the AL.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: TROY TULOWITZKI (GROIN) BACK IN LINEUP MONDAY

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is back in the lineup for the team Monday after dealing with a minor groin injury over the weekend.

Analysis:  Tulo is as injury-prone as ever and his overall offensive output is a shell of his former superb Colorado self.  Put him back in at your own risk.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: CHRIS DAVIS GETTING DAY OFF MONDAY

Baltimore Orioles 1B/DH Chris Davis will sit out Monday's game for the team versus the Tampa Bay Rays.  The day off is a routine day of rest for Davis as Mark Trumbo will man first base and Wellington Castillo at DH.

Analysis:  Davis is having his typical big power but ugly batting average season which makes him quite annoying to own, especially in weekly leagues where the droughts hurt more.  He should return Tuesday so really nothing to see here.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: ANDREW LUCK (SHOULDER) LIKELY TO MISS ALL OF PRESEASON

Updating an earlier item, Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck is expected to miss the entire preseason as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.  Luck has already been placed on the PUP list by the team and the feeling is that the coaching staff won't risk further in meaningless games.  That makes total sense but it leaves little margin for error here in terms of those who want to take the plunge with Luck at the draft table this summer.  We are getting to the point now where Luck simply is not worth the risk.  


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY WATCH: ANDREW LUCK (SHOULDER SURGERY) BEGINNING CAMP ON PUP

Indianapolis Colts QB Andew Luck will be placed on the PUP list to begin training camp, despite the fact he began a throwing program recently.  Luck has reported no setback after undergoing winter shoulder surgery but the Colts will be very cautious here with their franchise passer.  There is still some uncertainty about whether or not Luck will be ready to go for Week 1 however and that makes him quite risky to draft in the early rounds in terms of fantasy football.  While the talent is obvious, Luck is not as safe as similarly priced QB's such as Drew Brees and Tom Brady.  This is a fluid situation that will need to be watched for all of training camp.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL INJURY WATCH: CHARGERS WR MIKE WILLIAMS (BACK) REPORTS IMPROVEMENT

San Diego Chargers rookie WR Mike Williams admitted that his back felt "better" as he reported for training camp on Monday and so the team has not placed him on the PUP list as of yet.  There were rumblings that Williams would need to undergo back surgery for what was being called a herniated disk but that doesn't seem to be in the plans right now.  This is a significant item in that Williams can have a big potential impact right away as a rookie catching balls from gunslinging QB Philip Rivers but for now he should only be drafted as a backup at best given the murky immediate injury outlook.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: CLAYTON KERSHAW (BACK) TO MISS 4-6 WEEKS

The news is in on Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and it is not good as he will now miss AT LEAST the next 4-6 weeks due to the back injury that took him out of his Sunday start.  Kershaw will head to see Dr. Robert Watkins for confirmation but it looks like the Dodgers and his fantasy baseball owners will be without his extremely dominant services until September.  This is about as big an injury hit as one can take in fantasy baseball and it comes on the heels of Carlos Correa having gone down for two months with a recent thumb injury.  The timing is never ideal for any of this but Kershaw's loss is as big as it gets in terms of fantasy baseball and now the Dodgers will have to dive in and secure a pitcher on the trade front.  Possibly targets are Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish or Detroit's Justin Verlander; not to mention Sonny Gray from the Oakland A's.  Either way, Kershaw simply can't be replaced and so his owners are in a world of trouble here.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: CUBS ACTIVATE KYLE HENDRICKS FROM DL

The Chicago Cubs activated pitcher Kyle Hendricks from the disabled list Monday so that he could start that day's game versus the Chicago White Sox. Hendricks has been out for six weeks with hand tendinitis and pitched to a shoddy 4.09 ERA prior.

Analysis:  I was on record going back to January saying to avoid Hendricks who was in clear outlier territory a year ago.  While he can be a help, the narrative of the season is that Hendricks has been the bust I predicted he would be.  

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: KEENAN ALLEN (ACL) HAS NO LIMITATIONS FOR CAMP

San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen will have no limitations when he begins training camp this week with the team.  Coming off a torn ACL he suffered in Week 1 a year ago, Allen reportedly ran free and easy in minicamp and will be a full participant when camp begins.

Analysis:  Everyone and their mother wanted Allen a year ago given his 100 catch potential but caution is advised now. Allen has had two very serious injuries already in his career and the Chargers have a decent array of receivers this time around. We sign off on Allen as a WR 2 but the risk is tremendous.  

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TYLER EIFERT (BACK SURGERY) READY FOR START OF CAMP

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert will be ready to take part in team drills at the start if training camp according to multiple reports. Eiferts status was murky coming off back surgery but he apparently has made enough progress to be ready for the start of team activities.

Analysis:  Eifert is not a guy I am going to be pursuing in drafts as he has shown he can't stay healthy and he is very TD depwndeny.  Good player no doubt but you are better off chasing upside in Hunter Henry, Eric Ebron, or Martellus Bennett. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Michael Brantley:  2/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .303.  While still a terrific pure hitter, Brantley's power doesn't look like it will ever impact in fantasy baseball.

Corey Kluber:  7.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 14 K with an ERA of 2.74.  Other than maybe Jon Lester, there is not a more pronounced second half monster ace pitcher than this guy.  Do yourself a favor and check out the strikeout numbers by start the last month or so.

J.A. Happ:  7 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 4.13.  Hated him coming into the season and still hate him.

Scooter Gennett:  2/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .314.  There are no words.

Eugenio Suarez:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .262.  Solid season from Suarez with an uptick in power.  Decent stuff.

Rougned Odor:  2/4 with 2 home runs (19 for season) while hitting .214.  Man that average.  Odor's power has been terrific as expected but he has had truly brutal luck on the batted ball.  Keep that in mind when you judge Odor at the end of the year as he really has not been as bad as the surface numbers would indicate.

Joey Gallo:  2/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .194.  What will happen first:  Gallo will hit 30 home runs or bat .200?

Carlos Gomez:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .249.  The ballpark is helping to keep Gomez somewhat relevant but overall he is nothing more than an OF 4 in fantasy baseball.

Jose LeClerc:  scoreless ninth for his second save with an ERA of 3.03.  The Rangers look like they have a bullpen by committee and so LeClearc should be picked up since his ratios won't hurt you as you await additional saves that may not come around as often as you'd like.

Michael Conforto:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .294.  Conforto looks like the stud who took the game by storm in April and May.  Just huge that he was able to adjust back on the pitcher which Conforto failed to do a year ago.

Mark Trumbo:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .249.  Yeah it looks like the power output a year ago was a bit of an outlier and driven by the dough.

Jose Altuve:  4/5 with his 15th HR and 21st SB while hitting .358.  This boxscore needs to be framed so you can gaze at it constantly.  Look at that average too.  Incredible.

Lance McCullers:  6 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 3.67.  So McCullers' ERA has rise a full run since I told you to sell high.

Dylan Bundy:  7 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 4.53.  My how things have changed since April when I said Bundy was as big a mirage as there could be.

Nick Williams:  1/3 with his 4th HR while hitting .303.  Williams has shown that he is not overmatched against Major League pitching and he has been steady without lighting the world on fire.

Brian Dozier:  2/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .253.  Boring.

Charlie Blackmon:  3/5 with his 24th HR while hitting .328.  Could you imagine if Blackmon was still running?

Trevor Story:  1/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .237.  The Story won't change here that Trevor Story really sucks.

Mark Reynolds:  3/5 with 2 home runs (22 for season) while hitting .286.  As long as Reynolds stays in Colorado, he can remain in the major until he is 50 with that power.

Mike Trout:  1/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .328.  Trout would have made a serious run at 40 homers if he did not get injured.

Matt Adams:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .288.  The homer came off Kenley Jansen.  I bow down to Adams for one day at least.

Cody Bellinger:  1/4 with his 27th HR while hitting .269.  The kid looks like he is 160 pounds soaking wet which makes his home run swing all the more impressive.

Robbie Ray:  4 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.15.  Minor hiccup on a smashing breakout.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DODGERS ACE CLAYTON KERSHAW EXITED START WITH BACK PAIN

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw exited his Sunday start after two innings with back discomfort and he will be evaluated Monday to determine the severity.

Analysis:  Oh boy. This is no small matter as Kershaw has a long history of back trouble, including a long stint on the DL a year ago. This could also change how the Dodgers handle the trade deadline as well depending on the severity. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: STEPHEN STRASBURG EXITS WITH INJURY

Washington Nationals ace SP Stephen Strasburg exited his Sunday start after two innings with an apparent injury. No word yet on the severity of the injury but an update is expected shortly.

Analysis:  And there it is. The same deal as always with Strasburg who always sees a big start devolve into summer stumbles and then injury. Strasburg has shown he can't make it through a full season without getting hurt and so now we wait to see the severity. Stay tuned. 

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE REPORT: RANGERS MULLING WHETHER TO HOLD OR SELL YU DARVISH

By Michael Wong

-The Texas Rangers have the opportunity to throw the biggest potential fish into the MLB July 31 trade deadline derby based almost solely on their decision whether or not to make ace SP Yu Darvish available.  There were reports on Sunday that said the Los Angeles Dodgers were already heavily involved in Darvish talks but that is not true based on what I am hearing.  Instead, the convo was mainly the Dodgers telling the Rangers they are ready to make a firm offer if in fact Darvish is made available.  Meanwhile the Houston Astros and New York Yankees would also be players for Darvish; with possibly the Milwaukee Brewers in the mix.

-Speaking of the Yankees, their talks with the Oakland A's over Sonny Gray are completely dead at the moment.  The A's continue to insist on Clint Frazier which the Yanks obviously won't do and instead they are trying to convince them to take Jorge Mateo and Miguel Andujar.  The Brewers were said to be involved with Gray but nothing has come of that either.

-The Boston Red Sox have been them most aggressive in discussing Addison Reed and to a lesser extent, Wilmer Flores from the New York Mets.

-While the Tampa Bay Rays added to their bullpen Saturday by picking up Sergio Romo from the Dodgers.  The Rays are still heavily involved with Justin Wilson though so their bullpen pursuit is not finished yet.

-The Zach Britton talks with the Dodgers and the rest of baseball have cooled the last few days due to medical concerns about the Baltimore Orioles closer.  Britton has been battling ill health all year and he has not looked like his dominant old self when on the mound.  That has given prospective teams pause when weighing a Britton offer.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKEES TRADE ROB REFSNYDER TO BLUE JAYS

The New York Yankees traded infielder Rob Refsnyder to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday for minor league 1B Ryan McBroom.

Analysis:  Nothing major here as both guys have zero fantasy baseball value and will likely remain in the minors. 

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: EZEKIEL ELLIOTT EX-GIRLFRIEND CALLED RELATIONSHIP "TOXIC"

The former girlfriend of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is now talking publicly and she deemed her relationship with the star as being "toxic."  Elliott is currently facing a possible suspension from the NFL not only from reported domestic abuse but now also for a recent bar fight where he was accused of breaking the nose of a patron.

Analysis:  Oh boy.  Elliott is in big trouble with the league and again a suspension between 2-6 games is now almost guaranteed.  His status as a top three fantasy football running back is kaput on the suspension alone and now we have to see how far he drops.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: ROB KELLEY TO START OVER SAMAJE PERINE

ESPN's Jon Keim predicts that the Washington Redskins will start power-running Rob Kelley over rookie Samaje Perine at least to begin the 2017 season.  Perine of course carries a dual threat ability to contribute both in the passing and running game, while Kelley showed a year ago that he is a one-threat pony in terms of a straight-ahead power running style.

Analysis:  Kelley is barely a RB 4 as I think by midseason Perine is starting and helping especially in PPR formats.  In fact I wouldn't bother drafting Kelley as Perine should be leading the Redskins in rushing numbers by the end of the season.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Wil Myers:  1/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .252.  Myers has been very good again this season but the average has dipped and so have the steals.  Both were predictable as he was in outlier territory there a year ago and that is why I said not to pay for his career year.

Paul DeJong:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .279.  Wow and DeJong hit a home run when NOT playing the New York Mets.

Jon Lester:  8 IP 3 H 2 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.95.  Man there are a million and a half innings on that left arm but Lester is once again going along with his career-trend of being a superb second-half ace.

Alex Bregman:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .262.  I was never in love with Bregman as a "can't miss" hitting prospect and in fact said to go with Andrew Benintendi if you had the choice between the two in a post I did in March.  Not enough of this kind of stuff from him in 2017.

Yuli Gurriel:  1/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .298.  I still think Gurriel is getting a bit lost in the power-hitting bonanza in fantasy baseball this season but pay attention to the nice breakout happening here.

Adam Jones:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .266.  Jones is hitting leadoff again and is just 7 homers short of his customary 25.  Anything more is a bonus.

Jonathan Schoop:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .303.  Bret Boone clone but hopefully without the juice.

Ryan Braun:  3/3 with his 12th HR and sixth SB while hitting .271.  Braun is like any other aging hitter whose body is betraying him in that he still flashes the greatness but in much fewer doses.

Travis Shaw:  3/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .297.  And it is guys like this in his own breakthrough that have muted the Yuli Guerriel noise a bit.

Odubel Herrera:  4/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .270.  I guess there is still some time left for him to make me not look like a total moron for loving him at the draft so much.

Cesar Hernandez:  1/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .275.  The big April performance has already been forgotten but Hernandez is a sneaky good pickup again then after missing so much time with injury.

J.T. Realmuto:  3/4 with 2 home runs (10 for season) while hitting .305.  The beauty of owning Realmuto has been more in the fact he is the very rare catcher who can bat .300 but he does have some pop as shown here.

Dee Gordon:  2/5 with 2 steals (34 for season) while hitting .290.  Have to say that Gordon is pretty much 9/10th's all the way back to his numbers after the PED suspension.

Jay Bruce:  1/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .263.  Still think the Mets will try and move Bruce but if not, will offer him a qualifier next year and why not?

Wilmer Flores:  2/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .284.  Man the Mets are so annoying not playing Flores everyday to see what he truly can do offensively.

Elvis Andrus:  3/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .291.  I think Andrus and Scooter Gennett worked out together all offseason.

Chris Archer:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 4 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.77.  Hate the wins column as Archer actually lost the game.

Justin Smoak:  1/3 with his 27th HR while hitting .302.  You would not be blowing Smoak if you said Justin Smoak was trending toward top tier status at first base.

Danny Salazar:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 4.79.  Hey if you want to torture yourself again then fine.  I have seen this show one too many times.

Marcus Stroman:  7.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 5 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.98.  The control was rough in this one but all of a sudden now Stroman has the ace-level ERA I said he was capable of achieving.

Mike Moustakas:  2/4 with 2 home runs (28 for season) while hitting .277.  Boy that is how you go into your walk year.

Bryce Harper:  2/5 with his 25th HR while hitting .338.  Still not sure why Harper can't steal bases during the same seasons he gores crazy with the bat.

Sean Doolittle:  scoreless ninth for fifth save with an ERA of 3.47.  Yeah it looks like Doolittle is the closer.  Whatever that means in Washington these days.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP ISSUES: MIGUEL CABRERA OUT SATURDAY WITH COLLARBONE INJURY

The collarbone injury suffered by Detroit Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera on Friday night has cost him Saturday's game at the least.  No word yet on whether or not Cabrera will need a DL stint but the aging slugger has battled a series of maladies in 2017.

Analysis:  It has been a tough go of it for Cabrera this season as his big body is beginning to break down and take his numbers down with it.  It is likely we are seeing the last season of Cabrera as a top-end offensive performer but he was particularly hot of late before the collarbone injury.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: NO JUSTIN TURNER SATURDAY FOR DODGERS

Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is absent from the lineup Saturday.  Turner has been scorching with the bat this season, taking a .371 average with 11 home runs and 40 RBI into the day.  No word yet on if there are any injuries but this seems like a routine day off deal.

Analysis:  It truly is staggering how good an offensive players Turner has developed into since arriving in Los Angeles.  He has the clear inside track to the NL batting title and his 20-home run power remains on par.  As underrated a player as there is in fantasy baseball no matter your measurement.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: TROY TULOWITZKI OUT SAT. WITH GROIN INJURY

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is OUT for Saturday's game with what the team is calling a groin injury.  No stranger to injury by any means, Tulowtizki is considered to be day-to-day and could return to action on Sunday.

Analysis:  Ahh the memories.  Once a slam-dunk first round monster going back to his Colorado Rockies days, Tulowitzki is barely hanging on to relevancy in today's fantasy baseball with his drastically reduced production and ongoing injuries.  He shouldn't be owned as anything more than a backup.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ALLEN ROBINSON WR JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Nothing went right for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016.  Or pretty much any year for the franchise going back to the end of the Tom Coughlin era.  So it made sense that the Jags took a stroll back down memory lane this past winter when they brought Coughlin back as part of the front office alignment to help get the team back on track.  A tall order no doubt but Coughlin comes to Jacksonville looking at a team that does have some impressive players on both sides of the ball.  One such player on the offensive side is big-play wideout Allen Robinson who took the league by storm in 2015 by catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards and a crazy 14 touchowns.  With QB Blake Bortles posting a big breakout season in his own right, it appeared both players' fantasy football stocks were heading clearly upwards as 2016 drafts got underway.

Alas the big offensive performance by the Jags in 2015 proved to be a mirage as year ago as Bortles took a giant step back to some truly brutal play and in the process, he dragged down Robinson along with him.  Having been drafted in the second round in most leagues, Robinson was one of the more prominent busts of 2016 as he caught just 73 balls for 883 yards and 6 scores.  Gone were the big plays that defined Robinson's 2015 breakout and gone were many of his owners' fantasy football championship shot.  So with that being the latest memory of Robinson, his name is not exactly jumping out of the mouths of the fantasy football community in terms of being talked about as one of the more sought-after wideouts in the game.

Now in terms of 2016, there is no doubt that Bortles' awful play had a hugely negative impact on Robinson.  As we saw with DeAndre Hopkins in Houston a year ago, the shortcomings of your QB can have a detrimental impact on a wideout's numbers.  After all, a receiver can't throw himself the ball.  So Robinson's numbers dip last season somewhat needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  Unfortunately Bortles is back for another go-round with the team for 2017 and that is not what Robinson's prospective owners want to see.  On the bright side though, Robinson finished very strong the last two games of the year when he caught 14 balls for 129 yards; a stretch that coincided with the hiring of Doug Marrone as coach.  Sure it was a small sample size but it was good to see that maybe Marrone has a better idea of how to get the football into Robinson's hands.

In terms of the ability, Robinson pretty much has it all as he possesses good hands, length, and has a nose for the end zone.  At the very least he should be knocking on the WR 1 door again in standard formats but in PPR he is a clear WR 2 due to the fact that he may not catch more than 80 passes.  Sure Robinson has the talent to blow by those numbers but Bortles would have to go along for the ride which is never a good thing to bank on.

So in the end, Allen Robinson should still be drafted in the early rounds but more as your WR 2 to be safe.  The talent is real and again he could break out big-time this season like he did in 2015 if his QB is even a bit competent.  

2017 PROJECTION:  82 receptions 1,214 yards 9 TD  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: METS SHOWCASING ASDRUBAL CABRERA AT 3B SAT.

The New York Mets are starting shortstop/second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera at third base Saturday night in a clear initiative to drum up support for interested teams leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.  Cabrera has garnered interest from the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners; with the Milwaukee Brewers also keeping tabs according to multiple reports.  

Analysis:  The Mets are desperate to get rid of Cabrera so that they can open up a spot for top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario who reportedly will come up August 1.  Cabrera has been a bit of a locker room distraction of late given his initial reluctance to move from short to second base but the audition at third is being used to entice teams who need help on the hot corner.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS DEMOTE STRUGGLING OUTFIELDER KEON BROXTON

Despite hitting 14 home runs and stealing 17 bases, the Milwaukee Brewers were forced to demote outfielder Keon Broxton to the minor leagues on Saturday.  Broxton was hitting just .218 and has struck out a crazy 124 times in 293 at-bats; which served as the impetus for the demotion.  It is likely the Brewers will allow Broxton to work things out in the minors before calling him back up again and the tools still make his quite attractive from a fantasy baseball perspective if he can figure it out.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUP NEWS: KRIS BRYANT (FINGER) RETURNS TO LINEUP SAT.

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is back in the lineup on Saturday after missing some games this past week with a finger injury.

Analysis:  Great news as any missed game from Bryant is no small thing considering how potent his bat is.  While some may say Bryant has been a slight disappointment, his rate stats all show improvement from 2016.  He is still every bit the first round star as always.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: ANTHONY BANDA SP ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

In a bit of a pitching pickle, the Arizona Diamondbacks reached into the minors and tabbed lefty pitching prospect Anthony Banda to make his MLB debut Saturday.  Just 23 years old, the 2012 10th round pick would seem to be an odd choice given the fact he has struggled mightily at Triple-A this season.  Battling ill control from the start, Banda goes into his debut with a Triple-A ERA of 5.08 and a BB/9 rate of 3.83.  Needless to say, you don't need to exactly run out and pick Banda up for fantasy baseball purposes.  While Banda does haev a decent 8.29 K/9 rate, he is not much to be concerned with at this stage of things.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Willson Contreras:  1/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .272.  Contreras is just killing it right now.  This is how you win in fantasy baseball.  You wait for the impatient owner to cut a talent like this and then you pick him up and reap the rewards when he turns it around.  Which is exactly what I did in the Experts League with Contreras.  Thank you very much.

Yuli Gurriel:  4/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .300.  Gurriel is trying his best to push himself into the very crowded everyday fantasy baseball third base tier but he is there in my opinion.  The power is only moderate by Gurriel is hitting .300 to boost the overall stock.

Brian McCann:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .249.  McCann has some work to go to get to his customary 20 homers but like the sun coming up in the morning, I think the chances are good there.

Jonathan Schoop:  2/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .303.  So yeah Schoop has been what we all thought Rougned Odor would be.

Mike Fiers:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.59.  This is the third time now we have seen Fiers turn into a fantasy baseball strikeout/ERA asset from July onward.  It is like the guy goes into hibernation from April to early July and then decides to start helping.

Aaron Nola:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.38.  Watching Nola pitch like the ace I said he was always capable of being is like watching my son walk up to the podium to get his kindergarden diploma.  I am beaming with pride.  And I told you so.

Michael Conforto:  2/4 with 2 home runs (18 for season) while hitting .289.  Conforto is red hot and as Jon Heyman said last night, he is making Citi Field look small which is no "small" achievement.  The biggest takeaway here is that the June slump that brought forth "here we go again" talk that was peaking early in the season is now a moot point.  Crucial development props.

Corey Dickerson:  3/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .315.  Has not had a day since the start of April where the average has gone under .300 despite the power leveling off a bit.

Elvis Andrus:  3/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .286.  Quietly one of the best and most potent "out of nowhere" seasons of anyone in 2017 fantasy baseball.

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .252.  Choo will always be there when you need an emergency outfield fill-in.  Just go to the wire which is where he is in way too many leagues.

Mallex Smith:  1/4 with his second HR and 14th SB while hitting .292.  Getting a home run from Smith is like finding a bonus present under the Christmas tree hours after you thought you opened everything.

Alex Cobb:  8 IP 5 H 3 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.57.  Believe completely in the talent here as Cobb prior to Tommy John looked on the cusp of ace territory.  While not as flashy as that version, Cobb is successfully back to being a top-end guy.

Yu Darvish:  8 IP 5 H 3 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 3.44.  You had to think the phone in the Texas front office began to ring incessantly during and after this gem.

Edwin Encarnacion:  3/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .261.  I guess you can say it is almost a vintage Encarnacion season but it certainly doesn't feel like it.

Marco Estrada:  5 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 5.52.  And just like that Estrada is one of the worst pitchers in the major leagues.  This is why I always harp on BABIP because the numbers will always go back toward the mean no matter how long it takes as we are seeing from this horror show.

Victor Martinez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .265.  The old man still occasionally has his moment in the sun.

Ervin Santana:  5 ER in 3.1 IP with an ERA of 3.26.  Santana needs to watch what is happening with Marco Estrada and be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Tyler Clippard:  1 ER in .1 IP with an ERA of 5.15.  You truly are a glutton for punishment if you picked up Clippard after he was endorsed for saves.  He still sucks.  Keep Anthony Swarzak on speed dial.

David Peralta:  3/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .325.  So three guys I have obsessed over the last two-plus season with some middling results previously have been Aaron Nola,. Ender Inciarte, and David Peralta.  How is working out this season?

A.J. Pollock:  3/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .294.  Man this guy has become so annoying with all of the missed games but I remain a sucker for the talent.

Chris Sale:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.48.  Yawn.

Freddie Freeman:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .335.  Man what a stud this guy is here.

Alex Wood:  7 ER in 4.2 IP with an ERA of 2.17.  Listen Wood was not going to pitch to under a 2.00 ERA all year so some simple statistical correction going on.

Aaron Judge:  1/2 with his 31st HR while hitting .313.  I think whatever "slump" Judge had coming off the Home Run Derby is a thing of the past.


Friday, July 21, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: FELIX HERNANDEZ SP SEATTLE MARINERS

All ace pitchers eventually face mortality.  The pitching arm only has so many bullets in it before trouble arises in the form of decreased velocity and increased penchant for injury.  Such scenarios have befallen Seattle Mariners ace SP Felix Hernandez over the last two years; a stretch that followed a decade where "King Felix" was a top five fantasy baseball power pitcher.  As durable an arm as there was in the game, Hernandez was a 200-plus K dynamo who combined strikeout ability and good control in the Pacific Northwest.  Still as he moved toward the age of 30, Hernandez began to leak velocity that made him more hittable and resulted in the his ERA and WHIP spiking.  Since 2014 when Hernandez logged a splendid 2.14 ERA, the following two-plus seasons have seen that number rise to 3.53, 3.82, and his current 3.88 mark.  His WHIP?  Try 1.18, 1.32, and currently 1.36 during the same span.  Throw in some long DL stints both in 2016 and this season and Hernandez looked like he was toast like other big-armed hurlers.

Despite all this, Hernandez at the age of 31 may be in the process of reinventing himself based on his last few outings.  Since giving up 5 runs in 6 innings on July 4, Hernandez has reeled off three very good starts since then in giving up just 11 hits in 18 innings and a total of 2 earned runs.  Also in those 18 innings, Hernandez struck out a very impressive 22 batters.  The strikeouts in particular were impressive and a firm reminder of Hernandez' former ace days.  So what could be at work here?  Well for one thing Hernandez has seen his K/9 jump back up to 8.63 from the woeful 7.16 in 2016 which surely helps. Hernandez is also relying more on his offspeed stuff instead of the pure heat which is keeping hitters off balance again.  Both good signs in the short-term at least.  With a still very good 2.30 BB/9 rate, Hernandez is turning the tide on his career a bit.

Still for all these positive, Hernandez is giving up a ton of home runs now which is a direct result of the dip in velocity.  His 1.87 HR/9 is truly horrific and makes any one start by Hernandez a possible dud.  This is the risk we live with now in owning Hernandez as he simply is not the power arm he once was.  Overall though, Hernandez can still be a help by the looks of it.


2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: DECISION IMMINENT IN TERMS OF EZEKIEL ELLIOTT SUSPENSION

Alarms began to go off when it was revealed early Friday that the Dallas Cowboys had brought in free agent running back Denard Robinson for a workout.  Already employing Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden as backups to starter Ezekiel Elliott, the thinking went that the Cowboys were preparing for the much-reported imminent suspension that is coming the latter's way.  Elliott himself has accepted that a suspension is on the way according to reports and the recent bar fight to go on top of the previous domestic violence incident could mean the term could go as high as six games.  Thus first rounds in early fantasy football drafts are in chaos over Elliott's suspension and like with Le'Veon Bell a year ago, the talent simply can't win out in terms of being a top three pick when games missed are already guaranteed.  I already have stated that Elliott is now well behind both Bell and David Johnson in the running back hierarchy and you can make the case he deserves to go behind LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, and Jay Ajayi also.  Drop Elliott down to late first round status at the very least.

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Tommy Pham:  2/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .309.  If you didn't know any better, you would think Pham was a top tier five-tool fantasy baseball outfielder.

Lucas Duda:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .246.  Duda doing everything he can to get traded.

Wilmer Flores:  1/1 with his 8th HR while hitting .281.  Red Sox are somewhat intrigued with Flores for 3B but can't see that happening.

Trevor Rosenthal:  took the loss with 1 ER in .2 IP with an ERA of 3.89.  I swear I see Kyle Farnsworth when Rosenthal pitches.

Brett Cecil:  sixth blown save with 1 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 3.69.  No matter what uniform he wears, the guy can't close.

Eugenio Suarez:  2/3 with 2 home runs (15 for season) while hitting .256.  Suarez has proven he can't hit for average but he is a useful player who can threaten 20/15.

Jake Lamb:  2/5 with 2 home runs (22 for season) while hitting .274.  The average is sliding like it should as Lamb in no way, shape, or form is a .300 hitter.  Boy that power is potent though.  Think NL version of Miguel Sano.

Gregory Polanco:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .268.  While appreciative, most Polanco owners are down in the standings based on his no-show first half.

Dustin Pedroia:  3/5 with is sixth HR while hitting .315.  Yeah Pedroia can still swing it with the best of them.  Wheels are shot though.

Justin Smoak:  3/5 with 2 home runs (26 for season) while hitting .289.  Like a two-homer bonanza today.

Jonathan Schoop:  2/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .302.  So all you Rougned Odor or Brian Dozier owners:  you could have had this guy the whole time about ten rounds later in this past spring's draft.

Cole Hamels:  7 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 3.78.  The stuff on Hamels is so suddenly diminished it is scary.  It really is no shock though considering how age and how durable he has been in his career.  The one bad thing about durability in pitchers is that the arm goes limp earlier with all those innings.

Adam Jones:  2/5 with his 17th HR while hitting .267.  Like a boomerang, Jones is steaming toward his customary 25 home runs.

Mark Trumbo:  1/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .250.  What funny here is that 16 home runs at this juncture of the season is a nice total but all Trumbo owners are pissed off since they wanted 40 easy.

Chris Davis:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .218.  The insane contract the O's gave this guy will cost them a supreme talent in Manny Machado before or at free agency next offseason.

Eric Hosmer:  2/3 with his 14th HR while hitting .315.  Maybe now Hosmer can finally settle into some offensive consistency and be the Joey Votto-lite I said he had the potential to be.

Michael Fulmer:  5 ER in 2.2 IP with an ERA of 3.35.  This is about where I expected Fulmer's ERA to be this season in calling for regression from his 2016 rates.  Worked out nicely.

Felix Hernandez:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.88.  This is the best bite I have seen on King Felix's stuff since 2015.  No joke.

Luis Severino:  7 IP 8 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.21.  Love the toughness here as Severino battled extra base runners but still pitched seven shutout frames.  Maturity 101.

Hunter Renfroe:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .231.  Not sure anybody needs a flawed home run hitter in their lineup given the plethora of such sluggers in 2017 but Renfroe is healthy again.