The emergence of Billy Butler highlights this week’s edition.
Before jumping into the baseball news, I just wanted to make sure you all know that Colton and the Wolfman will be on at a special time Tuesday June 12, 2012. We will be live from the FSTA conference in San Francisco from 6-8pm eastern. Don’t miss it.
Ok, now back to business . . . .
Billy Butler: With his start at 1B Saturday, Billy Butler will have his 5 games at 1B and will be eligible in many leagues. This is big news for those who invested in Butler at a discount because of his “DH only” status in March. Butler has lived up to his longstanding hype this year, raking at a .292 clip with 11 HR and 35 RBI through 216 AB. At 26 in his 6th big league season, this breakout was eminently predictable. Those who said Butler was only a doubles hitter forgot he made the majors at the tender age of 20 and is now just reaching that prime power age. If you take nothing else away from this week’s column, please do not forget these two fantasy truisms: 1) only the most talented players make the majors at 20 or 21 years old and 2) those players break out at age 25 or 26 and pay substantial profit to the smart fantasy owner. Billy Butler and Adam Jones are classic examples of these truisms.
Tyler Clippard: The Nats made clear this week what most already knew -- Tyler Clippard will be the closer at least until Drew Storen returns. My view -- invest in Clippard and don’t worry about Storen. Yes, Drew could take the closer role back eventually. However, until then, Clippard should rack up the saves as the Nats cannot blow anyone out. Thus, almost every game they win will be a potential save opportunity. Add in the fact that Clippard has substantial value even if he eventually goes back to setting up and you have a bargain worth pursuing. With over 100 Ks in each of the last two years, he is just as good in the K category as many mid-level starters. Buy.
Joe Kelly: Joe Kelly will start in place of the injured Jaime Garcia Sunday. Move along. There is nothing to see here from a fantasy perspective. With only 45K in 72 AAA innings this year, Kelly is more risk than upside. Obviously, if you cannot whiff AAA hitters, you will not mow down the big boys. You can do better.
Jaime Garcia: Speaking of Jaime Garcia, the situation is just not good. According to reports, Garcia will get opinions from both Dr. Andrews and Dr. Yocum about his left shoulder. If you own Garcia, it is time to start looking at other options. If you are in contention and it is a keeper league, move Garcia to the last place team now as in a few weeks, we may all learn that part of all of the 2013 season is in jeopardy.
Jed Lowrie: Jed Lowrie is raking. Thursday, home run. Friday, home run. Saturday, home run. Saturday’s was number 12. Is this power sustainable? Yes. Were there clues to this outbreak? Yes. Over the last two years, Lowrie hit 15 home runs in less than 500 AB while battling injuries that had to affect his power and performance. But, given that he has been hurt so much, Jed really does not have the experience of a 28 year old, but more like that of a 25 year old. Thus, he fall into what the Wolfman calls the 25/26 and 1000 AB club -- a club for players ready to take the next step. If Lowrie can stay healthy, he will have a very, very good year. However, that is a mighty big IF. Those in contention for this year should think about selling high while they can.
B.J. Upton: B.J. Upton likes hitting clean up. Thursday the Rays mercurial star went 2-4 with a double and an RBI. Simply put, B.J. is a better roto player than he is a real world player. However, in both he has the potential to be a MONSTER. Many out there pooh-pooh the contract year effect. For many, the contract year indeed does not matter. For some, I think it makes all the difference (see Reyes, Jose). B.J. Upton is likely in the Reyes mold. If you have an opportunity to buy Upton cheap or even slightly below value, do it. For the rest of the year, I could easily see Upton notching 15-20 HR and 25+ SB. Buy.
Matt Cain: Matt Cain is proving he is worth the big bucks the Giants shelled out. Thursday, Cain let up zero earned runs over seven innings and struck out nine. Thus far in 2012, Cain is 7-2 with a very tasty 2.41 ERA and is on his way to yet another very strong season. In his last three seasons, Cain has recorded 171, 177, and 179 strikeouts. However, this year, his k rate is way up and he is on pace for 229. Bottom line: Cain is on his way to a season like his teammate the Freak used to post. If you can get Cain, do it now. He is the type of anchor every real and roto team needs.
Santiago Casilla: Santiago Casilla returned to the hill and registered a four out save. Yes, he has some health questions and yes, Romo and Affleldt could close and probably want to. However, Bruch Bochy has made clear that Casilla is his man. Saves are a direct result of opportunity and all signs point to Bochy continuing to give Casilla those opportunities no matter how well Romo or Affleldt pitches. Buy.
Brandon Moss: Brandon Moss is the latest to enter the revolving door that is the Oakland first base slot. Barton is in the minors, Kila has been given his walking papers and the next short term tenant is Mr. Moss. One reason for optimism is that the 28 year old had 15 dingers in AAA already, however, that was in the PCL and loyal readers know those numbers are always inflated for hitters. In the end, there is not much to get excited about here unless you are in a very deep AL only league and need ABs for a couple of weeks.
Yu Darvish: Yu Darvish was not good this week. Thursday, Yu gave up six runs in just 5 1/3 innings against the anemic hitting A's. Personally, I think Yu is a major sell high candidate. He has a respectable 3.72 ERA but that 1.51 WHIP (with a BB rate over 5) will spell big time trouble in the dog days of summer in that hitter haven in Arlington Texas. You have been warned.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “For better or for worse, like its real world counterpart, the world of rotisserie baseball "journalism" has been significantly affected by the Moneyball phenomena with FIP, BABIP, OBP, SPF and STD becoming universally accepted predictors for assessing future performance. In the old days, when Bill James was simply a true crime aficionado, these type of decisions were made in a more subjective manner - you would just watch the player play. In the movie, this was what you are led to believe was the reason all those poor old agents lost their jobs to Jonah Hill and his Excel spreadsheet. Advanced metrics have their place - probably more so in roto-ball than anywhere else. It's still no substitute for watching a player hit or pitch and realizing that they have talent. Last night in extra innings of the Blue Jays/Braves tilt, Jason Heyward single-handedly won the game. After beating out a high bouncer to second, he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and then scored the winning run when JP Arencibia's throw sailed into the outfield. In the box score, its just a hit, a run and a steal. In the real world, Heyward looked like the type of player that is on the verge of being a dominant force . . . and he doesn't even turn 23 until later this summer.
Speaking of 23-year-old future stars, Jesus Montero caught his first Major League no-hitter last night. You all might remember Montero from his role in last summer's version of West Coast Story and "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Montero." Far be it for the prevailing wisdom on a player to be wrong (when could that EVER happen) but Montero did not look like the tremendous liability behind the plate that he has been rumored to be. No one's going to mistake him for Ivan Rodriguez or Benito Santiago but he may last there longer than people are expecting. In a non roto-sense, Montero did provide the comic relief last night. After Tom Wilhelmsen induced the last out of the combined Seattle no-hitter, Montero ran wildly to the mound looking to jump on Wilhelmsen as most catchers are want to do at the end of a no-no. Understanding his limited role in the proceeding, Wilhelmsen looked like he was trying to convince a 4-year-old that he was not Spongebob Squarepants and to use his indoor voice.
The Mariners combi-no-no came about due to 37-year-old Kevin Millwood walking off the mound after injuring himself while warming up in the bottom of the seventh. For those of you riding the wave of a resurgence of pitchers who are essentially relics from the 90s (i.e. Pettitte (40), Colon (39), etc), you would be well served to remember that it's no longer an era when 42-year-old pitchers pick up Cy Young awards with a 1.87 ERA and 185 strikeouts. I would include Jamie Moyer in that thought but if he's still on your roto-team, you need more help than this column can provide. Temper expectations for those whose bodies are a little more susceptible to the rigors of a lengthy season and have alternatives at the ready.”
Response: Probably the best Schultz installment I have read. Great points about watching with your own eyes, denouncing the fountain of youth as it does not exist and creating a laugh or two at Montero’s expense. Well done!