Veterans returning to form highlight this week’s edition.
Before getting started, let me remind you 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. It’s a fun three hours of sports, fantasy and goofy humor.
Ok, now back to business . . . .
Albert Pujols: Albert Pujols homered again Saturday, giving him four homers in his last five games. The Machine’s performance thus far proves two roto truisms. First, great players do not suddenly fall of the shelf because they had bad starts. Patience is required. Second, when deciding how much to pay for a big money player who just changed teams for a mega contract, devalue that player by 20% or more. Invariably, they get off to slow starts, press to show they deserve the big contract and are desperate to prove their value to their new teammates and fans. Will Pujols hit 30 HR? Yes. Will he go .320-40-120 that many paid for? Not this year. Not after the predictable horrid start. Lesson learned?
Cliff Lee: Cliff Lee did what Cliff Lee does this year -- he pitched pretty well but did not win. Indeed, despite a 2.82 ERA, a WHIP under 1.00, and a 47/8 K/BB ratio, Lee has not won a single game this year. Obviously, he will not go winless all year even with the anemic Philly bats. If there is a Lee owner in your league who doesn’t love those ratios because he or she is focused on wins, fleece the fool.
Ryan Dempster: On Friday, Ryan Dempster allowed one run on seven hits, stuck out six and lost anyway. Like Cliff Lee, Dempster has been great this year but has no wins to show for it. Of course, with a 2.14 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 50 K in just over 50 innings, Dempster has provided substantial value. Unlike Lee, Dempster pitches for a team that will stay bad all year. So, if you need ratios and K’s, Dempster is your man. If you need wins, not so much. Final note here -- Dempster’s success this year was foreseeable to those who parsed last year’s performance carefully. After a bad April, Dempster was strong from May-September. The astute owner knew that and got a bargain.
Yovani Gallardo: Yovani Gallardo looked good last night beating the DBacks. Gallardo gave up just one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings. Gallardo represents another strong buy low candidate. His numbers thus far -- 3 wins and a 4.19 ERA are pedestrian. However, he has been very good in 8 of ten outings (with the other two skewing the numbers). Don’t forget that this is a pitcher who has averaged 204 strikeouts and a 3.69 ERA over the last three years. Buy, Buy, Buy.
Heath Bell: In our inaugural Colton and the Wolfman, I predicted that Heath Bell would get his saves by year’s end but he would do it ugly, with ugly ratios. Last night was one of those ugly nights. Bell came in with a three run ninth inning lead and gave up hits to three out of the four batters he faced. Fortunately for the Fish, Steve Cishek came in and nailed the door closed. Thus far this year, Bell has an 8.10 ERA and 2.10 WHIP (yes you read that right, and yes those are truly ugly). But he does have 7 saves and thus is on pace to get at least 25 if things continue. If you own Bell, you need to own Cishek too as he will vulture a bunch of the saves on nights like Friday where Bell just doesn’t have it.
Chipper Jones: Chipper Jones was placed on the DL with a calf injury. It is no surprise that Jones is missing time at 40 years old. If you own Jones, you should own Juan Francisco too. The former Red will play most every day over the next two weeks and will try and hit enough to force the Braves to find a place for him in the lineup even when Chipper returns. Unfortunately for Francisco, the numbers are not great so far -- .200 average with 26K and only 3 BB. However, don’t forget that hit .307 in AAA last year with 15 HR in 300 AB. Speculate in deep leagues.
Ramon Hernandez: Ramon Hernandez landed on the DL with a left hand strain this week. While he is gone, Wilin Rosario will get the lion’s share of the time behind the dish and the chance to show his stuff. Those in both deep and keeper leagues should take notice. So far, Rosario has been as advertised -- good power (6 HR in 75 AB) and weak average (.227). If you can afford the batting average hit and need power, Rosario will make a nice addition. If you are in a keeper league, remember he is only 23 and the average will rise with experience. As to Hernandez, at 36, these two weeks off could be a blessing. He was hitting only .215 after hitting .282 a season ago.
Matt Hague: The Pirates, who are desperate for hitting, called up Matt Hague and are saying that he will get a chance to play at 1B. Don’t get too excited however. At 26 (pretty old for the minors), Hague has only one homer in 144 at-bats with Indianapolis at a very pedestrian .278. I would save my FAAB and let someone else do a Brad Eldred (i.e., pay a lot for a guy whose track record says fail but who manager proclaims “he will play”). If you don’t know it, Eldred made it about a week before being DFA’d.
John Danks: John Danks landed on the shelf with a sore left shoulder this week. This has many saying “told you so.” In other words, many were speculating that the very talented Danks must be nursing an injury as there is no other explanation for his uncharacteristically bad performance. Roto lesson -- talented young lefties with significant major league experience don’t just fall of the shelf. There has to be a cause and that is typically injury. Just something to think about in the future.
Josh Tomlin: Josh Tomlin will rejoin the Cleveland rotation Monday and be a two start pitcher, facing the Royals Monday and Minnesota next weekend. Two starts, two struggling teams, nice opportunity for a FAAB pickup. Tomlin doesn’t throw hard and is not exciting, however, he has been effective. This year he has 27K against just 8 BB. That is what he does. From 2010-2011, Tomlin posted 159 K to just 47 BB, or better than 3:1. If Tomlin is on your league’s waiver wire, change that before Monday.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “Unofficially, Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer, permits linen clothing to be fashionably acceptable and kicks off the dumping season in too many rotisserie baseball leagues. Schultz (yes, we are using the third person for the holidays) does not have a problem with those who smartly realize that the present year is a lost cause and start looking ahead to the future. Schultz does have a great amount of angst for those that are quick to pull the trigger and stampede towards the dumping grounds. To Schultz, these owners in your league are the equivalent of the awkward child that gives away his toys so the other kids will play with him. It's a desperate plea for attention and probably deserves some sort of roto-intervention.
Memorial Day is simply too early to start packing it in for the next year. Just two months ago, you were atwitter with anticipation, sitting with your friends bragging about the championship team you just put together and composing preliminary notes for the awards presentation you would conduct in your own mind once you've won. Despite the fact that we've just passed the quarter-mark for the season, there is a lot of baseball to go. Players like Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols and Tim Lincecum aren't going to continue to be abject disappointments (well, Lincecum might) and Cliff Lee is bound to win a game sometime in June. While you may have a sense that your team is in trouble, it's simply too early to start giving away all your nice things. Schultz is sure you have guys in your league that absolutely love dumping - Schultz also suspects that they do it year after year after year without any self-reflection as to why that pattern repeats itself.
Memorial Day shouldn't be a time for giving up. To anyone that's going to consider planning ahead for 2013 this weekend, let me be your Vito Corleone and answer your Johnny Fontaine "what should I do?" with a slap to the face and an order to act like a man. (Schultz apologizes to any female readers. The Godfather was not a paean to female empowerment). If you are in the bottom tier of your league, look over your roster and figure out why you are deficient in certain categories. If it's underproduction, there may be cause for hope; if it's injuries, players heal; if you are loaded in one category at the expense of another, make a prudent trade that can help you now. The one thing I doubt you will see is that you are anchoring your league while getting everything you expected out of the team that you drafted. Before you take a hacksaw to your creation, maybe try and fix it first.
If all continues to go wrong, there will be time for dumping later. In the meantime, have a backbone and fight. Trust me, you will have more fun.”
Response: Drat! I hate it when Schultz tells it like it is. There is nothing to criticize here. Dump trades kill the integrity of leagues, make it less fun for all and cause angst, grief and accusations. But, have no fear, if there is a trade in your league and you think it should be vetoed, call it in to Colton and the Wolfman on Tuesday night and we will decide for you!
Final thoughts: While Memorial Day is a holiday in the sense that it marks the beginning of summer and means barbecues and parties to many, we should never forget what Memorial Day really is -- a day to remember and thank all the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom for this great nation of ours