B.J. Upton returning in his walk year and pitchers without run support highlight the latest Week That Was.
Timeout for a shameless piece of self-promotion: Don’t forget to tune in to hear Rick Wolf and me on Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio Tuesday nights from 8-11pm eastern time. Feel free to call in to comment on anything you like (or, heaven forbid, dislike) about the analysis and tips below (no doubt the Wolfman will howl either way!)
Ok, now back to business . . . .
B.J. Upton: The please do not call us the Devil Rays activated B.J. Upton from the DL this week. Now is the time to buy or trade for the “other Upton” if you can. Yes, B.J. has shown attitude problems in the past. Yes, he has refused to do the things necessary to hit for average. And, yes, sometimes it appears as if he does not give his all. However, Justin’s older brother has great talent and has posted big time roto numbers – 52 HR and 120 SB over the last three years. Look for Upton to have a contract year like Jose Reyes had last year – big stats, big money, and big roto profit! (nb – Upton did hit .300 in 2007, so a far better average together with the power and speed is not crazy for this talented 27 year old in his walk year).
Chris Narveson: According to reports, Chris Narveson will need rotator cuff surgery. While of course terrible news for Narveson, this does create an opening and potential roto opportunity for either Marco Estrada or Wily Peralta. Whoever gets the gig should immediately be on your radar screen. Estrada was very good last year in 7 starts, posing a 3.70 ERA while Peralta was just lights out in the minors with more than a k per nine. Those in NL only leagues would be wise to roster the man who becomes the 5th starter.
Ivan Nova: Sometimes pitchers just win games. That is what Ivan Nova does. He did it again yesterday, giving up just two runs in six innings to beat the Red Sox. Nova is already 3-0 this year and has won 15 straight decisions. Ivan may not strike out a ton of guys (only 98 last year) but will post a solid ERA and will just win. As noted below, some great pitchers will find wins hard to come by this year. Pairing them with a Nova type could be a very effective strategy.
Felix Hernandez: King Felix was great Thursday, tossing eight shutout innings while mowing down 12. The problem is that the Mariners just don’t score. Sadly for King Felix, great outings like this will often result in no decisions – exactly what happened this week. Bottom line – King Felix is a great pitcher but since wins is a key category one cannot pay full value for King Felix. Remember, the T in SMART stands for Team and King Felix’s team just does not hit. [Full disclosure – Rick and I did roster King Felix in the Tout Wars AL expert only league. However, we did so at 25 when we thought his value was 30. Given that a lack of wins was foreseeable, we would not have gone a dollar more.]
Cliff Lee: Cliff Lee joined the King Felix “come on man, just get me some runs” club Wednesday, tossing 10 – YES, TEN -- shutout innings against the Giants. Other than the win issue, Lee has been tremendous. He has a 1.96 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 18/2 K/BB ratio over 23 innings. The big difference between King Felix and Lee is that Lee has a cavalry that may ride over the hill. The Phillies expect both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to return this year. If that happens, Lee will be an even better roto pitcher. If you can trade for Lee now while the Phillies are hitting with banjos, do it. There could be an owner in your league who is just flippin mad over the 10 inning shutout no decision.
Drew Stubbs: Drew Stubbs is heating up. Yesterday, Stubbs posted another three-hit game while knocking in three. It looks as if Stubbs has found a home in the two-hole for Dusty’s Reds. So far this year, Stubbs is hitting .264 with a dinger and three sb. The power and speed numbers will increase substantially. Now that Stubbs is out of the lead off spot – a post he should have never manned – he can settle in and just do what he does which is produce roto numbers at a weak but hopefully not atrocious batting average. If you can afford to eat the average, Stubbs will pay a nice profit.
Lance Berkman: In news that should surprise only those that have not had internet access for the last two years, the Cardinals placed the Puma, Lance Berkman on the DL. Berkman had a great comeback season last year. However, the odds of the 36 year old outfielder staying healthy all year were long indeed. Berkman has not had 600 AB in this millennium and has not had 500 AB since 2008. So, those who paid for Puma should have discounted the numbers for the obvious DL time. In the meantime, Matt Carpenter will play 1b for the next two weeks (and likely during Puma’s other DL stints). While hardly a blue chipper at 26, Carpenter has hit in the minors: .315 in 2010 and .300 in 2011.
Tom Milone: Tom Milone gets little love from the pundits but he continues to produce early in 2011. Thursday, the A’s hurler yielded just two runs in five innings to get a win. Yes, he does not throw hard. Yes, he has only 8K in 19 innings this year. However, he pitches in a great pitcher’s park, he has a sweet 2.84 ERA and an boasts an even sweeter 1.05 WHIP thus far. Frankly, given his minor league track record, these tasty ratios are hardly a surprise. Last year, Milone posted a 1.03 WHIP and a whopping 155/16 K/BB in the minors. One cannot win a 5x5 with all Milone types, but one can do very well with his kind of numbers at roto starter 3-5. Buy.
Josh Donaldson: From successful A to well, not. Josh Donaldson went 0-3 with two strikeouts Thursday to drop his average to a truly ugly .094. Yes, it was enticing to have a catcher eligible guy playing 3B. In fact, Rick and I even took a flyer on Donaldson to replace the injured VMart in the FSTA expert league. Shame on us! Donaldson hit just .261 in the PCL (a notorious hitter league), so it should hardly be a surprise that he has struggled in the show. Look for Eric Sogard to take over more time at 3B and go find yourself another catcher if you can.
Kerry Wood: Like the Puma to DL news, the fact that the Cubs placed Kerry Wood on the DL should hardly shock anyone. Bottom line here is that despite this injury and Marmol’s maddening inconsistency, there is no buying opportunity in the Cubs pen. Dolis is too green, Camp is just not a closer type and on and on. Look elsewhere for bullpen help.
And last and but not least, Schultz says: “If you opened the season with Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton on your roster, you are likely sitting near the top of your league after having made a fantastic pact with the devil and/or play in a league full of people more interested in who will be relegated from the Barclays Premier League than who will be taking the mound on Patriots Day. It would be an understatement to tout the satisfaction of fielding a team that boasts the likes of the Longorias, Halladays and Verlanders of the roto-world. However, in reality, putting together the veritable All Star team in any roto-league of repute is a pipe dream. (Happy 420 folks). It's not the big ticket items that set the league champions from oh-so-close also-rans, it's the complimentary pieces. I am willing to wager that if you are reading this little segment in this particular column of this specific site, you not only know that, you are looking for better advice than "Matt Kemp is good. Maybe you should get him."
With Pedro Alvarez disappointing on a grand scale and Neil Walker engaging in a frustrating form of whatever the opposite of breaking out might be, you might be forgiven for thinking that Andrew McCutchen and Erik Bedard are the only Pirates worth rostering for 2012. You would be forgiven but you would also be wrong. Alex Presley flew under every radar set up to gauge fantasy productivity this spring, thus raising questions as to the merits of many of these "fine" prognosticatory tools. Nonetheless, Presley, who showed flashes of roto-usefulness last season, will provide tremendous value as a fourth or fifth outfielder. While his power numbers may be limited to the number of inside-the-park home runs he can leg out, he can be counted on to flirt with hitting .300 and steal bases in the double digits. As he may be sitting on your waiver wire, he could probably be more useful on your team.
In the Let's Quote Terrible Bands part of the column, over in St. Louis, it's all the same, only the names have changed. Ostensibly a fill in for the injured Chris Carpenter, Lance Lynn is creating a Midwestern version of Lynn-sanity by jumping off to a 3-0 start with a 1.42 ERA and .74 WHIP. The Cardinals have always been a haven for cheap starting pitching that exceeds its cost (e.g. Kyle Lohse) and Lynn falls into that category. His impressive start isn't even a statistically insignificant anomaly: his career ERA, mostly as a reliever, is 2.70, his WHIP under 1.00 and he strikes out more than a batter an inning. If you are still imitating Tony La Russa and asking what's he's doing on the mound, just start dumping now.
The return of Pronk is a feature that's been shown on numerous occasions. However, this year it's getting rave reviews. A healthy Travis Hafner is a mighty force at the plate. The "if" in the "if he is healthy" though remains a word that no font can write large enough. At the moment, he is hitting .333, his 2 home runs have been old-fashioned tape measure shots and he's showing Victor Martinez like proficiency with runners in scoring position. Pronk hasn't been healthy since the mid-oughts when he was solid .300+ hitter and challenged for home run crowns. As long as you prepare for the possibility of a DL stint, Hafner is well worth putting in your utility spot.
Last thought: you could easily fit two Jemile Weeks inside of Bartolo Colon. This seems like some sort of prank baseball players would try over a long road trip.”
Response: Classic Schultzie – odd, irreverent and in the midst of all that, very useful. Presley is a good call. Speed is hard to find. Buy. Pronk is underrated if purchased low as you can sub for him during his inevitable DL stints. And, of course, St. Louis is a great place to find pitchers. Well done! Maybe I will forgive you for forcing us to draft William Green over Jamal Lewis in Lewis’s 2000 yard season (I couldn’t resist!).