The surprisingly light hitting catching Monteros highlight this week’s edition.
Before I get started, just a quick note to remind you to tune in to hear Rick Wolf and me on Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio (Sirius 210 XM 87) Tuesday nights from 8pm-11pm ET – all the fantasy baseball news as it is happening and the strategy tidbits you cannot get anywhere else.
Miguel Montero: Sometimes little things managers do shake a player out of a slump. Friday night, Kirk Gibson moved Miguel Montero down to the 8 hole in the lineup. Miggy responded by going yard for just the 3rd time this year. He also managed to get his average off the interstate and above the Mendoza line. So now what? First, Montero is too good to hit 8th, so that will change. Second, fantasy league decisions are all on the margin. That means what has happened has happened (you cannot change the past) and thus all you are trying to do is predict what will happen from today forward. For Miguel Montero, I would argue the future is bright – especially because catching is such a dreadful offensive position in most fantasy leagues. Miggy has hit 15+ HR with 85+ RBI over the last two years with a solid average to boot. At 29, in his prime and playing in a bandbox at home, there is no reason to worry. Buy!
Jesus Montero: The other catching Montero also went yard this week. Jesus Montero took A.J. Burnett deep Wednesday for his 3rd dinger of the year. Unlike Miggy, Jesus does not have a major league track record, is not in his prime (he is just 23), does not hit in a good home park and is not over the Mendoza line. To add to the worries for Jesus Montero owners, Jesus does a poor job throwing out runners. Yes, defense does not count in fantasy. Wait, it does IF your defense keeps you out of the lineup. Keeper and dynasty leaguers should of course keep JMontero. Those in redraft leagues should look for an opportunity to sell. Mike Zunino could well catch more games than anyone in Seattle in the second half of the season.
Hisashi Iwakuma: Hisashi Iwakuma was really good again last night as he allowed just 2 runs in 7 innings while mowing down 9. Thus far this year, Iwakuma has a sick 1.74 ERA, a ridiculous 0.74 WHIP and a garish 51/8 K/BB. He is not Bob Gibson or 1978 Ron Guidry so this will not last. However, as long as he stays healthy, Iwakuma should be a very good starter in Seattle all summer. One small bit of warning – there were rumors of Iwakuma being a little brittle in Japan. If someone in your league is willing to pay you David Price or Justin Verlander value for Hisashi, you have to do it.
David Hernandez: David Hernandez got his first save last night in a win over the Phillies. On the one hand, you could argue that Hernandez only got the save because Heath Bell pitched the three previous days. On the other, you could argue that Hernandez has been the heir apparent has rebounded well in April from his ugly April and will eventually win the role. My view – Hernandez will lead the DBacks in saves from this day forward. Why? His stuff has been terrific over the last two years, including K rates over 10 and he is still only 27. For Bell to lead the team, he has to stay healthy, not revert to last year’s subpar model, and he must continue to be effective at lower velocities (his average 94 mph fastball from 2011 is now in the mid 92s). On top of all of that, the DBacks have to continue to be good or else even if the 35 year old Bell stays hot, he will find himself in a setup role for a contender come late July. Bottom line –grab Hernandez while you still can.
Jarrod Dyson: Jarrod Dyson is coming on. Last night, he hit a three run jack in KC’s loss to the NYY. If you are looking for power, Dyson is not your guy (though you will take the dinger of course). Dyson’s value lies in two things: 1) he has speed to burn (55 career steals in just about one full year of games); and 2) Jeff Franceour is not good enough to stop Dyson from taking more and more of his playing time (Frenchy has just 1 HR, is once again hitting in the .230s and to make matters worse, has walked just 4 times against 29 Ks). Dyson is a definite buy in AL-only and a good speculation for those who have the need for speed in any league.
Nolan Arenado: Nolan Arenado has hit his first skid in the bigs. Last night, Nolan took the collar against the Cards and extended his hitless streak to 14. So, what should we expect from Arenado this year? Answer: inconsistency. Arenado was ok at AA last year hitting .285 but he hit only 12 HR in a full season. In high A in 2011, he again was ok, hitting .298 with 20 HR. Will Arenado be a star? I honestly do not know. Will he have monster numbers at 22 with a good but not great lower minors track record and no AAA track record? I just do not see it. Hold in keeper leagues, sell high in redraft leagues.
Jordany Valdespin: Jordany Valdespin went yard last night as one of the few high points for the Mets. So far this year, Jordany has been disappointing, hitting only .234. However, he does have 11R, 12 RBI, 3HR and 4SB – pretty good counting numbers for a cheap end of draft pickup. The key to Jordany’s fantasy value will be position eligibility. This year, he has played 2B twice and should get to the 5 and 10 that many leagues require. Once he gets 2B eligibility, his value soars as outside of Robbie Cano and maybe two or three others, 2B rivals C as the weakest offensive fantasy baseball position. Keep an eye on this situation.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “For about the last five years, the conventional wisdom for guaranteed monster roto-numbers at first base entailed spending a healthy sum or using a high draft pick to secure the services of Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard or Mark Teixeira with Joey Votto making a late run for consideration after the Tigers moved Miguel Cabrera to third base. While Fielder is surely still worth his Prince-ly sum, injuries have sapped the uber-allure from Howard, Tex and Votto and Phat Albert has been in a slight decline since 2010. If baseball (and The Byrds) have taught us anything though, to everything there is a season and things shall turn, turn, turn.
Shrewd roto-owners in keeper leagues have surely leveraged themselves to benefit from the rise of the new Lords of First Base that will nudge the old buffaloes to the back of the pack to age with dignity. For those that need more specifics, look to the Midwest where Anthony Rizzo is embarrassing those that lost faith in him due to a subpar April batting average and look further west to Arizona where Paul Goldschmidt is starting to believe he may be The One.
A blue-chip prospect traded by the Red Sox to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez, Rizzo struggled to reach the Mendoza line and was swapped to the Cubs for Andrew Casher (someone else you should not be sleeping on). After destroying the minor leagues at the beginning of 2012, Rizzo put up a major league line of .285, 15 HR, 48 RBI in the season's second half. Many were scared away by his putrid April but the Cubbies new cornerstone now sits with a .276, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 4 SB stat line with all those numbers on the rise.
The only thing standing in the way of proclaiming Rizzo the roto-future of first base is Paul Goldschmidt. If you're on the East coast, Goldy's single handed demolition of the Dodgers this past week may have happened past your bed time. Another hitter that may have been written off too soon after a slow start to 2012, Goldschmidt rebounded to finish with a .282. 20 HR, 82 RBI, 18 SB stat line (that included 43 doubles) and has picked up this year where he left off, sitting nicely with a .308, 9 HR, 30 RBI and 4 SB stat line. Were he not still alive, it would fair to deem Goldy the resurrection of Jeff Bagwell.
The old Kings of First Base are dead. Long Live The New Kings!"
Response: Folks, look past the odd references and interesting syntax and you will see some pretty cogent analysis. While I would not write off Prince Albert just yet, there is no doubt I would take Goldy or Rizzo over Howard, Tex and AGonz. Maybe someone in your league disagrees and is ripe for a swindle!