Glenn Colton

Week That Was

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Time to sell high on Zobrist?

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Sell Zo high, buy Swish low is the advice in this week's Week That Was.

Ben Zobrist: Ben Zobrist had a day to remember Thursday, going 4-6 with a dinger and 8 RBI. Overall, the good news is that he has 23 RBI but the bad news is that despite the incredible hot streak, he is still just at .260 (which will fall with the eventual cool off as no one stays THIS hot) and has struck out more than 2x for every walk. So, I think you can already tell what I am going to say. Yup, sell! Is Ben a good player? Yes. Is he a worthy MI in roto? Yes. Is his value ever going to be higher? No. Don't forget that Zobrist hit .238 last year and .252 in 2008. Also, it is worth remembering that he never hit for power in the minors, so the 27 HR from 2009 could well be an outlier. Again, he is a good player and can help your team. I just think you can trade up now but will not be able to if you wait too long. You are so advised.


Nick Swisher: Nick Swisher smacked his first dinger Thursday and finally had a reason to smile – something he would not do if he looked at the year long stats thus far. As of today he is hitting just .225 with that one homer. However, all is not lost. He still has 14 runs and 12 RBI despite being ice cold. He has also walked as many times as he has struck out. He will get going, the Yankees will get going and Swish will end up with 20+ HR, 90 runs and RBI and a batting average that will be fine. This is a serious buy low opportunity. (Yeah, I know, I am a homer, but Swish is in his prime and will make you glad you grabbed him).


Travis Snider: The Jays sent struggling Travis Snider back to the minors to try and get on track. A season that started with so much hope has been a huge bust thus far. Snider posted a paltry .181 average with just one jack this month. In a word: Ugly. However, here are some truths to keep in mind. One, the Jays will not make the playoffs so they will hit that point in the season where it makes sense to bring Travis back. Two, Travis is still just 23 years old – way, way too early for anyone to give up on him. Three, at age 22, Snider hit 14 HR in approx 300 big league ABs with a decent .255 average. His mechanics are off now, but his contact percentage was trending up last year. Buy now if you can stash him on reserve. There is value there for the second half.


Casey Kotchman: Don't look now, but Casey Kotchman is 6 for his last 13 and hitting a cool .350. This makes for a very interesting situation. First, Casey is easily the best fielding 1B the Rays have, so he has a good argument to be on the field. Second, Dan Johnson has really never been a productive and consistent major league hitter (shame on those who fell for that). Third, Casey has bounced around so much (and had various maladies) such that people forget that he is only 28 and made the majors at the tender age of 21. Casey will never become Albert Pujols or even Ryan Howard, but he could easily be a productive Mark Grace type hitter. He makes a good flyer in deep leagues.


Austin Jackson: Despite two hits last night, Austin Jackson still cannot see the Mendoza line without a telescope (he is sitting at a sorry .178). To make matters worse, he has struck out more than 4x for each walk (and he is a leadoff hitter!). There is a serious risk that Jackson will be sent down if he does not start to hit in the next couple of weeks. If that happens, Casper Wells, the 26 year old with power but a low average, could make a speculative buy. As to Jackson, this faltering in the soph season was completely foreseeable. He had extreme luck last year with a .399 BABIP (batting average balls in play) that explained his .292 average despite a whopping 170 strikeouts. Austin Jackson will be a good player. In a keeper league, keep him. However, if you are in a one year league, wait for the next hot streak and then sell. He will end up being the poster boy for sophomore slump.


Andrew McCutchen: Andrew McCutchen is not Austin Jackson. Yes, McCutchen went hitless again Thursday and hitless for the entire Giants series. Yes, he is striking out like he is Austin Jackson. However, last year, Andy M k'd just 89 times in 154 games, so there is reason to think this is just a slump rather than a predictable pattern. The 24 year old McCutchen had about 1 2/3 seasons under his belt coming into the year. In that time, he had annualized totals of 15 HR and 30 SB to go with a .286 avg in each year. Have no fear, this kid is for real and will bounce back. If there is an impatient owner in your league, lick your chops and go in for the kill.


John Danks: Sticking with the buy low candidates, while John Danks has pitched like his name sounds and was pretty darn bad last night (five runs on eight hits in six innings) and stands at an ugly 0-4 on the season, all is not lost. First, his ratios are holding up pretty well for a pitcher in a slump (3.92 ERA and 1.33 WHIP). Second, his record of consistency and success is clear – a three year average of 185k per season, 1.24 WHIP and 3.60 ERA. When you add in that he achieved that success in the ultimate hitter's park at the ages of 23-25, you can see why I am not worried. Buy if you can.


Mike Pelfrey: From not worried to very worried -- Mike Pelfrey. Last night, Pelf was atrocious giving up four runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings. [Warning, those with queasy stomachs should shield their eyes now]. On the season, Pelf sports a hideous 7.39 ERA and 16/13 K/BB ratio. For a big kid (6'7", 250lbs), he strikes out precious few hitters (barely 5 per 9inn). The inability to put hitters away gets him in trouble. Playing for a weak team hurts him further, and finally, he has a tendency to come apart at the seams in big innings. Overall, this is just not a guy to own in fantasy baseball – limited if any upside and huge downside.


Ted Lilly: Back to positive thinking brings us to Ted Lilly. The well traveled lefty tossed six innings of one run ball in the Dodgers win over the Padres on Friday. Buy yourself a May present and grab Lilly while he is still cheap. Lilly has been a consistent lefty for many years (167 K per year, 1.13 WHIP, 3.62 ERA as an average over last three years). Add in the fact that he pitches in a pitcher's park, gets to play in other pitcher's parks in SD and SF, and gets the DBacks 18 times and you have all the reason to be optimistic. While he sits at 4.45 and 1.45 go get him. Time is running out.


Conor Jackson: Conor Jackson doubled twice Friday night to help the A's beat the Rangers. CoJack represents yet another buying opportunity. He lost almost two years to Valley fever. However, before that, he was a hitter on the rise in Arizona. Now, at 28, the path is there for him to return to the .290, 15 HR, 80+ RBI guy he was in his early to mid-20's in Arizona. Plus, the A's do not sport superstars anywhere in the OF, 1B or DH that will block him if he continues to hit. Buy.


And last, but not least, Schultz says: "Sherman, for today's lesson, we're going to jump into the WABAC machine and go back in time to the heady and innocent times that were the beginnings of the 2008 baseball season. Oh it was a glorious time with many pundits making hundreds of glorious predictions with the certainty of a Gray's Sports Almanac owner. All prognosticators managed to find unanimity on one issue, to a person, they all overlooked, discounted and completely ignored the pitcher that would win that year's AL Cy Young award, Cliff Lee. In fact, if you had suggested to any of these so-called experts that within 3 years, Lee would be one of the most coveted pitchers in baseball (both in real life and fantasyland), they would have mocked you in Klingon.

Now, Sherman, you ask yourself, how could something like this happen? Well, you see. Cliff Lee didn't have a good year in 2007. He was so bad that the Indians (who are presently in first place in the Central Division) had to send him to the minor leagues and keep him off the playoff roster. No matter that he went 18-5 and finished 4th in the Cy Young voting in 2005, he didn't play well in 2007, so he was written off. It's a common mistake and we all make it. While I am a huge proponent on remembering your history, it's often not a good idea to let the immediate past dominate that recollection. After all, no one ever won their league with last year's statistics.

How is this relevant today? Chris Coghlan, the 2009 Rookie of the Year, had fallen off of everyone's radar after an injury plagued 2010. Until he jammed his shoulder earlier this week, the Marlins outfielder was not only displaying the bat discipline that made him the North American Ichiro, but hitting for power as well. After three subpar seasons in Cincinnati, Aaron Harang has remembered how to pitch effectively - well against everyone but Atlanta - and seems to be enjoying a renaissance of relevance in Petco Park. For the first time in 5 years, Travis Hafner resembles the Pronk that hit 42 home runs, drove in 117 while hitting .308. Even Daisuke Matsuzaka seems to think its a good idea to earn his salary, rebounding from a horrendous start to dominate the Blue Jays and Angels (on this last one, I'm not entirely convinced a corner's been turned).

Patti Smith once said that she doesn't mess much with the past but she'll mess plenty with the future. (This isn't quite what she said but the actual quote would get censored quicker than making a joke about Adam Dunn being no Matt Holliday). It's good rotisserie baseball strategy though, remember your history but also remember that it's what happens in the future that determines who wins today."


Response: And they call me a homer? Anyway, the advice is of course correct – there are no trophies for correctly predicting what happened last year. As to whether Coghlan or Dice K will be really good – I am not sold. As to Harang – yup, he is a buy.

See you next week – same time, same column, same site.



Glenn Colton is co-host of Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM Tuesdays 8-11pm ET and a long-time fantasy sports player, author of numerous print and electronic media fantasy sports articles, and a participant in expert leagues, including baseball's LABR league and football's FTSA experts league. Colton and Rick Wolf have won the AL LABR Championship three times and football's FTSA experts league four times. Colton joined Wolf in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Hall of Fame in June of 2013. He can be found on Twitter .



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