It is a pleasure to return for yet another season of fantasy baseball and the Week That Was. Thank you to all the loyal readers who have supported us over the years and to the good folks at Rotoworld for giving us the opportunity.
Good luck to all in their quest for fantasy baseball domination. Now on to the news of the week . . .
David DeJesus: The Cubs sat David DeJesus in favor of Reed Johnson against Nats LHP Gio Gonzalez. This is not good news for DeJesus owners. Those who thought double D just had an off year in Oakland and will rebound in the friendly confines should think again. DeJesus never really hit for power or stole a bunch of bases (he has never topped 13 dingers or 11 swipes). Now that he may sit against lefties, he is not likely to even put up strong run or rbi numbers. Sell while you can.
Ian Stewart: Sticking with the Cubbies, they also sat Ian Stewart in favor of Joe Mather for the Gio Gonzalez matchup. This is another ominous sign for Stewart. While many point to the fact that is just 27 had some pretty productive years for the Rockies, the smart fantasy player will see Stewart as a low average player cast off by a team without a real 3B and a player who reportedly will battle a wrist problem all year. The news that Stewart will sit again some or all lefties only further decreases his value. Sell him as soon as he hits a Wrigley homer or two.
Chad Billingsley: Chad Billingsley struck out 11 in 8 and 1/3 Friday night. Yes, it was the Padres and yes it was in Petco, but you have to admit it was a very strong outing. Many in the fantasy world have written Chad off after he, well, wasn’t good last year. However, this is a 27 year old pitcher who notched 550 strikeouts from '08-'10 with ERAs of 3.59, 3.15 and 4.04 in the process. Is he Clayton Kershaw? No. Does he have a solid track record despite just entering his prime? Yes. If you need pitching, grab him now while he is still affordable.
Lorenzo Cain: Lorenzo Cain had a tough start to his full time Royals career going 0-4 with 3K Friday night. Cain is a talent, there is no doubt about that. However, those ready to anoint him a roto god should recheck their research. Sure, he hit .312 in AAA last year, but also managed only 16 HR and 16 SB in almost 500 AB (plus, he was caught stealing 6 times despite swiping only 16 bags). Conclusion – it is far, far, far too early to expect Cain to go 20-20 or 20-30 when he did not do that on the farm. Plus, I think you have an average risk given his 100+ strikeouts at AAA last year. Keeper leaguers have a long term winner but for this year, it will be a bumpy ride. Just as this Yankee fan misses Melky, so will the Royals.
Melky Cabrera: Speaking of Melky, the Melkman delivered in his Giants debut going 2-5 with a dinger and 2 runs and rbi. Frankly, the Melky bashing just doesn’t make any sense to me. Last year in the predictable growth year, Melky hit .305 with 102 runs, 18 dingers and 20 swipes. There is not an owner in fantasy land that would reject those stats. Add in the fact that Melky is just 27, is already in his 8th year in the majors and has played in the biggest pressure cooker in baseball (Yankee Stadium) and shown he can stand the heat in that kitchen, why would anyone expect a regression in this contract year? Buy with confidence!
Tout Wars 2012 AL Auction Review
Because there are not so many big or interesting stories from just a couple of days of baseball (I try to forget that 5am games in March in Japan count), I thought I would publish the last of the expert league draft reviews. Two weeks ago, Rick Wolf and I were privileged to participate in the Tout Wars AL auction at Sirius/XM studios. Tout Wars is one of the two most prestigious and closely watched expert leagues in fantasy baseball (the other being Sports Weekly’s League of Alternative Baseball Reality knows as “LABR”). Unlike LABR, which Rick and I have won three times, we have never been able to capture a Tout crown. Here are some highlights and lessons from that draft and an appraisal of our chances.
1. We did not dump batting average (or even try). In fact, we paid pretty heavily for two solid average guys once the top dogs were gone. After Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia all went beyond our 1b/2b budget, we rostered Billy Butler and Howie Kendrick at $25 each. Is there huge profit here? No. For Butler, did we lock in solid, reliable numbers with a solid average for a player still getting better on a team that should be much better offensively? Yes. For Kendrick, did we get a player in his prime at a scarce position who can only get better playing with Albert Pujols? You bet. Bargains are very rare when playing against the best players in the world. There is nothing wrong with rostering safe, reliable numbers. [yes, I know Butler is DH only, but he should get 5 games at 1b sometime this year and qualify – plus, given that tout has two dh spots, the risk of grabbing Billy was vastly reduced].
2. Contrary to popular belief, Ron Shandler did NOT make a mistake grabbing B.J. Upton at $33. No, I do not say this because Rick and I shouted $32 immediately before Ron won the bidding. Yes, Upton’s batting average has been known to turn people to stone if they stare at it. However, he is still just 27, is in his 9th season in the bigs and posted 41 dingers and 78 swipes in the past two years – a power speed combo that is hard to beat. However, the biggest reason I think Ron made a solid buy is that Upton is in a contract year. I don’t always buy into this concept but I do for a player who is either often on the bench hurt or who is deemed hard to coach. Contract years are when those players play through pain or lock in on the advice of those seeking to help. I predict a big year. For reference, see Reyes, Jose circa 2011 and his first batting title.
3. Pitching was cheaper than it should have been. This year, our team will be anchored by a $25 King Felix and a $17 Josh Beckett. We should see 400 Ks for that $42 and that ain’t half bad.
4. Best Buy of the Entire Draft: Jeff Erickson rostering Dan Haren at $22. Haren went for $27 at LABR and he is worth more. Nicely done Jeff.
5. How will we do this year? Well, we need a few good breaks. We need the $3 pitchers Tom Milone and Carl Pavano to provide the solid ratios that will support rather than detract from our studs. Milone has the minor league track record and a good park in Oakland to support this and Pavano came through as recently as 2010. We also need our young outfielders to take their game to the next level. Austin Jackson and Adam Jones are still on the upswing. If this year is the big jump year, look out.
No matter how the standings look in October, it was a blast drafting with the Touts. That said, without his majesty Jason Grey, arguably the best fantasy baseball manager on the planet and now a full time scout for the Rays, there is something missing. Jason, we miss you!
And last and but not least, the baron of the bottom of the page returns for another year -- Schultz says: “If an Opening Day happens and no one is awake to enjoy it, does it still count as Opening Day? Is it truly OPENING DAY, when only two teams play on a Wednesday night? What about a staggered start that has the other teams leaving the gate over the course of three days like it’s the New York Marathon? Leaving hockey out of the discussion because I don't pay attention to it, baseball seems to be the only sport that refuses to gather all its teams together on one day and drop the flag. (Yes, go figure, no hockey knowledge but I know how to start a NASCAR race). For the millions and millions of The Rock's fans - whoops, wrong fantasy sport, correction - the hundreds of thousands of rotisserie baseball junkies, MLB refuses to give us the quick fix to start the season, doling out the good stuff like they are working a corner on The Wire. Fortunately, that all comes to an end this weekend with full slates of games for the near future. For the hordes that are anxious to see the genius of their drafts and auctions come to fruition, this can't get started soon enough.
In the opening salvo, Mariano Rivera, Jose Valverde and Chris Perez all came out of the gate with frighteningly terrible efforts. Despite the equally atrocious performances, the buzzards only seem to be circling around Lake Erie with everyone acting out the home version of the Hunger Games trying to get Vinnie Pestano onto their roster. Pure Rage may not have the same resume of Rivera and Valverde (an admitted grand understatement when it comes to Rivera) but that doesn't mean he's on any tighter of a leash. Major league managers tend not to be as over reactive as their fantasy counterparts and one bad outing surely won't cost a closer their job. Now, this doesn't mean Perez owners shouldn't be worried: in addition to exhibiting no control whatsoever with any of his pitches, the Cleveland closer's fastball was measured in the low 90s as opposed to the mid-90s. Whether Perez' terrible outing can be attributed to the cold (it was near freezing in Cleveland), his limited work in spring training (the dreaded oblique injury) or just a bad day at the ballpark, Manny Acta isn't going to bail on him so quickly. However, it would be an ostrich's folly not to keep an eye on this situation. The fact that the job is Perez' to lose doesn't mean that it can't be lost.”
Response: Welcome back Schultzie and yes, you are right. Opening in Japan is good only if you live in Japan! You are also right that panic is not any better in fantasy baseball than in any other aspect of life. Will Perez lose his job? Yes, eventually but not soon. He will either be replaced by Pestano if he is ineffective or traded to a contender in July if he is effective. However, he should net 15+ very valuable saves this year. Saves that could mean 5-6 points in the standings.