The predictable perils of moving to the AL East and a sophomore slump highlight this week’s edition.
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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. [Program Note - there are rumors that the infamous Schultz may even make an in-studio appearance - an absolute do not miss event!]
Mark Buehrle: Mark Buehrle got hit hard in the Bronx Friday night, giving up 5 runs in 6 innings. Thus far this year, the lefty has posted a horrid 6.33 ERA. Those who drafted Buehrle counting on solid numbers should have known better. Last year in the much weaker NL East and while pitching in a pitcher’s park, Buehrle surrendered 26 HR. How can you be surprised that he has already given up 11 bombs in a hitter’s park and hitter’s division this year? His home run rate is up 50%. Do the math and you will see what you should have seen -- the immediate future is just not bright. Those who drafted the lefty should also have known that going to a stronger division where he cannot take advantage of weak hitting pitchers would have resulted in a much lower K rate. While the HR rate is up 50%, the K rate is down 50%. Buehrle is a venerable veteran pitcher, but one from whom you want to get far away from in fantasy.
Yoenis Cespedes: Yoenis Cespedes stayed ice cold Friday, going 0-4 and dropping below the dreaded Mendoza Line. Is Yoenis still suffering from the illness of earlier this week? Maybe? Is he a .198 hitter? No. Should you have paid full value to get Yoenis at the beginning of the year? No. The Wolf/Colton Rules of Engagement for fantasy baseball say that one does not invest full price in a player with a one year track record. The sophomore slump is real and lives on in the body of Yoenis. He will be much better for the rest of the year and could be had in a buy low situation. However, it is almost impossible at this point for him to return the full value of the price folks had to pay to roster him in March. Lesson learned yet?
Adam LaRoche: Adam LaRoche went yard twice Friday. The window is now closing on the buy low opportunity. As of Friday, LaRoche had now blasted 4 dingers in his last 3 games – more than his first 36 games combined. Other than his magical season of 2012, LaRoche has been a slow starter. If the LaRoche owner in your league does not know that, you may be able to score yourself a bargain. Buy!
Josh Willingham: Josh Willingham took the collar Friday and joined Yoenis Cespedes under the Mendoza line. Is his sore wrist a factor? Likely. Can we expect Willingham to hit over .250 this year? No. Willingham has not hit .270 or better since way back in 2006 at the age of 27. It is just not reasonable to expect him to do so the rest of the way. Add in the fact that the Twins are not very good and you can see the future – Willingham is going to be a part time player the last two months of the year either in Minnesota as younger players play or as a platoon/pinch hitter type on a contender. Pass.
Ubaldo Jimenez: Ubaldo Jimenez looks like he is back from his long vacation from quality pitching. On Friday night Ubaldo went 5 strong, striking out 9. In his resurgent last 4 starts, Ubaldo has a 1.90 ERA and 29/8 K/BB ratio over 23 2/3 innings. What to do now? Pick him up in AL-only or in mixed leagues where you can spot start him. I grabbed him in my home league – the “Mercer Street League” but do not have enough guts to start him against Miggy, Prince and the Tigers on Wednesday. I suggest you follow the same path. Remember, this is a guy who averaged 195 Ks from 2008-2010 so if he continues to show he is back, you could really have a low price bargain and maybe even a keeper.
Jason Hammel: Jason Hammel was bad again Friday. He was tattooed by the Rays for 7 runs and 10 hits in just 4 2/3 innings. There may be a hidden injury here because the wheels have just fallen off the bus. Hammel has given up 17 ER in his last 3 starts after giving up just 15 ER in his first 6 starts. No way can you risk starting him in the jet stream at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Jarrod Dyson: Jarrod Dyson will be out 2-4 weeks after sustaining a high ankle sprain. Is it me or has the high ankle sprain become the new oblique – i.e., the new “we never used to hear about that but it seems to happen every day” injury? All kidding aside, this is a tough break for Dyson as he was off to a nice start hitting .268 and six stolen bases through his first 41 at-bats and was starting to steal more time from the cold Jeff Francoeur. David Lough was called up to take Dyson’s spot and could take over the role of taking over for Frenchy. Lough raked this spring --.465 (20-for-43) – and was hitting .340 with 3 HR and 5SB at AAA. Speculate on Lough, hold Dyson, and sell Frenchy if anyone is willing to buy.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “For all the time spent before any draft or auction ranking and tabulating all of the players you suspect might be helpful to your dreams of a roto-championship, it's often the players that sat far off the radar that make a significant difference. Everyone out there that had Josh Donaldson as top-tier roto-talent, raise your hand. Now, everyone but Mrs. Donaldson, put your hands down and stop lying to Schultz, it demeans us all. At the present, Donaldson sits with a .323, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 23 runs and 2 steals. To put that in perspective, through that same period of time, Evan Longoria has put up a .333 average with 9 HR, 27 RBI, 31 runs and no steals. Longo is better but he cost exponentially more.
As he had been slotted into the starting shortstop role in Milwaukee, speedy Juan Segura may not have been a complete non-entity before the season started. However, the words next Jose Reyes or Trout-like were never bandied about like they could be these days. Pairing a .351 average with 7 homers and 14 steals, Segura could be putting together a monster 2013 season of the type that wins people roto-titles. People have been waiting for Dee Gordon to put together a string of games like this since the turn of the decade (yes, only three years but Schultz has a flair for the dramatic pronouncement).
Math notwithstanding, roto-championships are won by acquiring Starling Marte and Lorenzo Cain (not to be confused with Lorenzo Music) for bargain basement prices, not by spending lavishly on Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. The leaps that are being made by Donaldson and Segura are more than one standard deviation from their norm and roto-players that like to crunch their stats will tell you that means a regression to the mean will be coming. However, in roto-terms, the heart and the mind work differently. If you own Donaldson and Segura, you are probably experiencing strange feelings of attachment that would make it extremely difficult to part with them. In auction leagues, they likely came to you very cheap. Don't waste your bargain thoughtlessly.”
Response: Great stuff and some clever plays on words too. Schultz is right (no, not a typo). Sell high on Donaldson while you still can. His BABIP of .363 after posting a .279 in 2012 screams “correction coming”. Sell high while you can.