Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Look Into the Second Half PART TWO

As promised part of my look into the 2nd half...

Don't ever tell me players on a contract year aren't worth a heavy investment on draft day. Jacoby Ellsbury has regained his old form (of course sans his 2011 power burst which is not really who he is). He is on pace to score 100+ runs and steal 60+ bases and should continue to be a huge asset in any format. If an owner is disappointed with the fact he has but one home run on the season, by all means put together a package for him right now. Carlos Beltran was undervalued in drafts this year and he continues to be productive in St. Louis. However, his body did wear down as the season went on in '12 and it may be wise to shop him around. Mike Trout is clearly the number one guy here and has surprised me with his 30/30 pace for the second year in a row. The real surprise though has been Dominic Brown. He has grown into the player the Phillies envisioned and perhaps will allow them to retool and turnover this aging roster with the hope of being a contender again sooner rather than later. Hunter Pence continues to be the model of "productive outfielder" in all formats with his power and moderate combo. Hohum...just another 25/25 season with a .280 BA 90R and 90 RBI for Pence on the horizon. Can Raul Ibanez keep up this power tirade? No, sell high when you can. There may not be a better time to buy low on Ryan Braun between his injury and the controversy that follows him. Austin Jackson is another name whose stats don't match his talent year to date based on injuries. If you can get him on the cheap you would be wise to do so. Eric Young is getting a real look with the Mets and could be a steal in deep leagues or NL only formats. The talent is there and finally he has no one standing in his way (owned in just 20% of leagues). Leonys Martin is owned in about half of all leagues and is poised to have a nice second half with a nice blend of power and speed. You should not allow him to sit on your waiver wire. As far as Yasiel Puig goes...I can tell you he won't hit .400 the rest of the year and his value may never be higher. He has a flaw somewhere and is going to get found out. He should still be a productive player, but a more human version than what we have seen so far. If you get a super human offer for him I would entertain it strongly.

Justin Verlander has been more less dominant this year and his innings totals were bound to catch up with him eventually. No matter, he is bound to go on a hot streak so buy low when you can. His rotation-mates Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer have been other worldly and if they stay healthy could compete for the AL Cy Young. The tales of Cliff Lee's demise were grossly overstated as he continues to be one of the most underrated fantasy aces in the game. A possible move to a contender would give him a slight boost in value. Jordan Zimmerman's win total is finally matching his win total, but he still has a lower K rate than most aces. We have all been waiting for the other shoe to drop with Patrick Corbin, but with each start he looks more like the real deal. Keeper league owners might want to pursue hard before he becomes untouchable. Hisashi Iwakama is clearly the most underrated AL starter and his numbers compare favorably to Clayton Kershaw over his short time as a starter. That should make you take notice of this hidden gem. Shelby Miller is a great young asset, but he is already starting to hit a bit of a wall and I would be shocked if he wasn't in for a rough second half and a possible innings limit. One year only league owners now is the time to jump ship. Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey may also have restrictions come fantasy playoff time. Jeff Locke has been another surprise that I would attempt to turn into a more established arm. Adding an guy like Michael Pineda or Brandon Beachy from injury could pay nice dividends. I would be concerned with Alex Cobb returning to his outstanding form after being hit in the head a few weeks back. Those are tricky injuries both mentally and physically. If you asked me who would I rather own in the second half: Johnny Cueto or Tony Cingrani...I would go with Cingrani. Three times with the same injury is enough for any owner to lose patience. Cole Hamels, David Price, Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke have all had rough first halves and are due for a correction.

Jason Grilli is the best reliever in the game right now and that is why you should never worry or invest too heavily in closers. They will all come and go the trick is to stay ahead of the trend and your peers. Watch the trade market and look for 8th inning guys set to inherit roles when their closers get dealt to contenders and monitor some young arms that will get a shot in September. As always...saves are saves.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Look into the Second Half PART ONE

For those in leagues with playoff formats in September we have reached the end of the "first half" of the fantasy season. There have been some feel good stories, some controversies and a myriad of great performances. What do they all mean for the second half? Absolutely nothing. As the season drags on hot starts cool off, rising stars come back to earth and slow starters heat up. Yes, it is true most players do "play to the back of their baseball card and players are who think they are most of the time.

Here is a look position by position at what to consider when approaching your second half.

Overall, this position has been a bit of a disappointment even from the top performers like Buster Posey and Carlos Santana. They have certainly been above average, but the average has been underwhelming. Looking ahead there are a few guys who can be had cheap that stick out to me that have potential to outperform the majority. Jonathan Lucroy had a dreadful April, but has steadily improved and so far in June (.316/.333.553) is showing himself to be the steady force he was in 2012. Yasmani Grandal in San Diego is another intriguing option and is only owned in 30% of leagues. Coming off the suspension for PED's he missed time and is bound to be slow out of the gate, but down the stretch he has potential to contribute in power and batting average. I love the Evan Gattis story but I find it hard to believe he will continue to perform at this level second time around the league and at bats will continue to be scarce as the Braves outfield gets healthy and on track. It is normal for young players to have success and then hit the skids.

Brandon Belt is owned in about 50% of leagues and unlike seasons past he is the undisputed first baseman. I now he has yet to match his hype, but he is at the tail end of the "adjustment phase" that players like Gattis are just entering. He has 20 homer power and great on base skills. His average will climb as well as the summer heats up. He can be acquired at a minimal cost and has terrific upside. I warned in this year's Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2013 that Ryan Howard was no longer a serviceable option. When he was having 45/120 seasons you could live with his strikeout totals, but now he is a shell of his former self and no longer a string fantasy play in any format. Don't look now but Eric Hosmer is becoming the reincarnation of James Loney. A much hyped "future batting champion" whose lack of power is disturbing for a corner player and being asked to be a run producer too soon in his career...stop me if you heard this before. Loney crumbled under the expectation in LA and only now after a change of scenery in his prime at 29 is he showing the glimmer of fulfilling his promise.

Unlike many fantasy writers I am not big on "I told you so", but Matt Carpenter was my shining sleeper heading into 2013 and he has fulfilled my lofty expectations. He's an on base machine and the Cardinals have been smart to hit him at the top of the order. Carpenter's skill set should allow him to maintain a very high level of production even if he tails off slightly in his first full season. His versatility makes him even more valuable. In keeper leagues I would try and acquire him now even if that meant changing over from the old elite types like Ian Kinsler. On the flip side I railed against Dustin Ackley and he fell off the map as I predicted and landed back in AAA. Now he is tearing it up again in the PCL and being converted into an outfielder. He will be back up sometime soon with the Mariners and that versatility makes him interesting. Even players that you may not like sometimes hit a point when their value is so low it is crazy not to take a shot on him. Ackley is young and should rebound enough to have sleeper value in the second half and he will cost you nothing. Martin Prado has been on a decline ever since the all star break last year. His value is his versatility but there are better offensive options out there.

From Moustakas to Middlebrooks to Lawrie to Headley third base has been a disaster. The silver lining has been Manny Machado whom I must admit is outperforming my modest projections heading into the season. I would try to buy low on Hanley or Aramis Ramirez and try the veteran play over the young bucks who have disappointed. Edwin Encarnacion gaining eligibility is a huge boost for his 2014 keeper value. Anthony Rendon and Nolan Arenado I think are still a bit green to be any significant lift in the second half.

I keep waiting for Jean Segura to hit a wall and it has yet to happen. If you asked me right now I would probably take him over Jose Reyes and Troy Tulowitzki heading into 2014 simply based off the injury history of these top performers. Josh Rutledge will get another long look with Tulo out for 6 weeks in Colorado. he has some pop, but is always going to be more productive at home. Eric Aybar is having a repeat of last season's slow start and injury bug campaign. However, he can once again become a smart pick up (still available in 50% of leagues) for your stretch run.


Catch me every Saturday Night on Sirius/XM Radio's Going 9 talking Fantasy Baseball with Mark Healey and Dan Strafford 10pm to 1AM EST 888-963-2682 Sirius 210 & XM 87

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Memorial Day Evaluations

Memorial Day weekend for me is the watershed moment where I evaluate my fantasy team and take stock in what I have, what I need and where to go from here. April is too quick to pull any major triggers and you will likely regret any knee jerk reactions to slow or quick starts. By the end of May however, the trends are clear and so is your record. If you are under .500 it is time to make some tough decisions. You will have to trade or or even cut some underwhelming performers. On the flip side, you need to look long and hard at players who are "over-performing" and entertain selling high. Maybe your fast start is due to come crashing down as the summer heats up. Your regular season is 2/5 over in many formats, so it's time to bear down.

Here are some thoughts on players and situations that may help you plan for the next few months.

Patrick Corbin SP ARZ I drafted Corbin in my points league this year as a spot starter and he gave me more than I could have asked for so I dealt him for Brett Lawrie, Michael Bourn and Drew Smyly. Quite a haul for a pitcher who has NO CHANCE of maintaining his current pace. One trend is certain, in his minor league career he always got rocked, then adjusted to the level well before promotion. He is clearly adjusting well the second time around, but his 1.44 ERA and .98 WHIP are due for a correction. Keeper leagues hold on and see what the second half brings. One year leagues, shop around and see what is out there. Someone will overpay.
Matt Harvey SP NYM This is more of an indictment of the Mets being dreadful than anything else, but he too will have some bumps in the road, The Mets offense and bullpen are a joke and will surely start to put some additional pressure on the young stud. His incredible numbers could bring back enough talent to make you a contender immediately in your league. In keeper leagues, you would have to pry him out of my cold dead hand, but you may have seen the best of him in 2013.

Starling Marte OF PIT I also drafted Marte in two separate leagues. I am hanging onto him in roto because of his speed, but I dealt him a week ago in my points league because he still averages a strikeout per game and once the league gets a good look at him he could crash after the break. We have seen many a young talented player get exposed over the years and the ones that bounce back usually have good plate discipline. Marte could become a liability and as an outfielder he is easier to replace than an infielder from a production standpoint.

Justin Verlander SP DET This may be the only time to get Verlander at a reasonable price in the last three years. He is coming off a dreadful start in Texas and a bizarre rain delayed game in Cleveland where he basically got manhandled by one man; Carlos Santana. Hitters are making more consistent contact off Verlander, but he is still a top 3 pitcher in any format and some owners might be panicking that all those innings are catching up to him. His velocity is fine, this is your window to act because next week he faces the Pirates at home. Last time that happened he was inches from a no hitter.
Josh Hamilton OF LAA Hamilton has always been and will always be streaky. He is not the same player removed from Texas (well documents in the 2013 Fantasy Baseball Black Book), but he is better than what he has shown and should have a few hot streaks in him this summer. He was surely over-drafted in your league which means his owner is pissed off and ready to cut bait for the right price. Make an offer, you may be surprised.
AMERICAN LEAGUE THIRD BASEMEN Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas and Will Middlebrooks were all drafted with high expectations and have all hit rock bottom. No worries, they are all worth owning and can be had for next to nothing right now. Moustakas has the best upside in my opinion for '13, Lawrie is a nice option in roto formats with his speed and Middlebooks has great talent around him. All three should be targets as CINF or 3B options in your leagues. Heck you may even get one cheap to plug in a DH/UT slot.

Some teams are in rebuild mode and are clearly heading out of contention. Others had aspirations of October and are already on the verge of becoming irrelevant. What that means is that some prime fantasy studs could be wearing different caps come July and now is the to grab them before their stock rises. Here are some names on their way out the door.
Cliff Lee SP PHI He is still an undervalued player considering his consistency and statistics. The Phillies are without Halladay for most of the year, Hamels has struggled and Utley in on the DL. There was chatter of the Phils dealing Lee last year, but this time around they may have no choice. The Cardinals come to mind as a landing spot since they have a deep farm system and a need for a starter with Jaime Garcia out for the foreseeable future.

Chase Headley 3B SD He is off to decent start after missing key time in the spring, and if he turns it on anything close to what he did last year after the break you have a real difference make here. Headley's power was in question before last season and the Padres will be sure to sell high on him with Jedd Gyorko already capable of manning his spot.The Angels or the Braves could be in the market for an everyday third baseman.
Justin Morneau 1B MIN He may not be the MVP caliber player he was a few years back before concussions robbed him of his prime, but he is could still a useful bat and a change of scenery could do him some good. His power numbers have never been the same since he left the dome. Imagine if Colorado stays in the race what he could do there.

Every year teams wait to call up their big prospects in order to avoid Super 2 status which basically means it gives the clubs more control over the player for a longer period of time. It is not just about talent, it is also about opportunity. Oscar Taveras is incredibly talented, but the Cardinals already have trouble getting at bats for Matt Adams so don't expect him up anytime soon. Here are some players primed for a look in the weeks ahead:
Billy Hamilton OF/SS CIN He got off to a horrendous start but has really turned things around and the Reds have still not been able to fill Ryan Ludwick's vacancy with any consistency. Hamilton is a game changer in reality and fantasy and he likely qualifies at SS in most leagues. His speed is an incredible asset in roto leagues and in points leagues he could score 4-6 points in a night with an 0-3 night.
Zack Wheeler SP NYM The Mets rotation is a mess, the Mets are a mess. The longer Wheeler stays in the launching pad that is AAA Las Vegas in the PCL the more damage will be done to his stock. The Mets plan is to call him up after 2-3 more starts and then he should be up for the rest of the year. He will likely cap out at 175 innings, so don't plan on him helping you in September playoff rounds. In keeper leagues he has serious value.
Kyle Gibson SP MIN He should have been up already, but the Twins are going nowhere so Samuel Deduno will be a place holder for Gibson. He is 100% healthy again and is a better option than 2/3 of the Twins rotation right now. He has good ratios and should be a safe play in match-ups and home starts with spacious Target Field.
Josh Phegley C CWS Who? That's right Phegley! Not much hyper here, but the White Sox catcher situation is dreadful and Phegley has an OPS of 1.051 in the ITL. Catchers are tougher to break in because of the game calling issues and diva starters, but there is only so long you can live with guys like Flowers at the major league level hitting .200 with this guy hovering.

Catch me every Saturday Night on Sirius/XM Radio's Going 9 talking Fantasy Baseball with Mark Healey and Dan Strafford 10pm to 1AM EST 888-963-2682 Sirius 210 & XM 87

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fantasy Dilemmas

Amidst the wins and losses there have been some big headlines in this year's baseball season and fantasy owners have some big decisions ahead of them. Some are injury related, others performance related and still more left for educated guessing based on managers' decisions. Here are some of the more pressing circumstances and some direction on how to approach them from the Fantasy Baseball Black Book.

What to do with Matt Kemp?
Kemp was assuredly a first round talent heading into 2013 despite dealing with injuries the year before. Despite the good press he is getting from his classy gesture to a fan, fantasy owners are starting to lose patience. His OPS is below .700, his average under .275 and he has but 1 (yes 1) home run to show for it all. He is healthy and that is the most important thing. Hanley Ramirez won't be back anytime soon so Kemp must rely on a rebound from Adrian Gonzalez to give him some protection. Still, I would be buying low on Kemp in any and all formats. He may not steal more than 20 bases again since he is more of a run producer at this stage of his career, but he is sure to have a hot streak in him just as staggering as this current cold one. Of you drafted Kemp as your franchise player, you have no choice but to sit tight and wait for the rebound. In the meantime try and add Michael Saunders OF SEA for some immediate help. he has a nice blend of power and speed; or Corey Hart OF MIL, who is returning soon from the DL as insurance should Kemp's struggles linger.

Is Roy Halladay worth holding?
Depending on your format and DL felxibility chances are no. He is heading for another arm surgery and it would be surprising to see him take the mound again in 2013, but anything is possible. Halladay has thrown the 3rd most innings in baseball since 2002 and he has a lot of miles on him. In a keeper format, I would hang onto him if the circumstance and/or contract was amenable. He has an option with the Phillies and would be pitching for his life basically in 2014. Johan Santana's shoulder failed him in the same circumstance this season, but Halladay has a different injury. In one year only leagues, if I owned Halladay I would be fielding low ball offers and see if I could squeeze a Trevor Bauer or Hector Santiago from an owner who wants to gamble on Roy. If you want to pursue Halladay in your league, I would offer a young upside starter without too much track record, but to me the risk is far greater than the reward for this season.

And the Red Sox closer is.....???
First Joel Hanrahan tanked then got hurt. Then Andrew Bailey flourished, stole the 9th inning job and promptly went on the DL. Now, Junichi Tazawa will get a crack. Of the three, Bailey is the one I would want. It seems this injury is not serious and he could return in the 15 day window. He has experience, is in his prime and seems to have the attention of manager John Farrell.

Is there help for your ailing fantasy rotation?
There are a ton of starters coming off the DL in the weeks ahead. John Danks, Matt Garza, Francisco Liriano, Ivan Nova and Colby Lewis. Lewis has the most upside in my opinion seeing as he was the best of this grouping last year and is playing for a contract. he has a great K/BB ratio and should get some nice match-ups in that division. Liriano is intriguing based on the success fellow hard thrower/head case A.J. Burnett has enjoyed since moving to the NL Central. His K rates are always strong though he is prone to implosion. Garza is sure to be dealt if he can string together a solid two months for the Cubs. Danks is a wait and see and Nova is pitching for his rotation spot with David Phelps and Michael Pineda breathing down his neck.

What will the Reds do when Cueto comes back?
Mike Leake is clearly an average/below average starter and Tony Cingrani is obviously a flame thrower with promise. Still, it is unclear who will hold the 5th spot in the rotation when Johnny Cueto returns. The Reds are in "win now" mode and fantasy owners clearly would prefer Cingrani to hold his spot. Considering the fact they put Aroldis Chapman back in the bullpen where he belongs and Leake is comfortable pitching out of the pen I give it 55/45 Cingraini stays over Leake. This is their window and Baker has ridden young horses to the playoffs before with the Cubs. Although we all know what became of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.

Join me every Saturday night @10:30PM on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio talking Fantasy Baseball with Mark Healy and Dan Strafford on Going 9

Friday, April 26, 2013

Real and Not Real

The season is still young, but already there have been some noteworthy starts that have caught the fantasy world by storm. As great as a April is, it can often be forgotten by the dog days of summer. It is important to differentiate between who's stats are for real, and who the pretenders are so that you can sell high before the market correction comes crashing down upon you.


Matt Moore SP TB
In the 2013 Fantasy Baseball Black Book, I lauded Moore as the next big fantasy ace even though many of my peers soured on him after his first full season. It was shortsightedness on their part to disregard a Rays pitching prospect with a minor league K/9 ratio of 12.7 over 497 IP. That is the stuff aces are made out and the only thing that held him back was his BB/9 rate of 4.1. Now, this year's rate is 4.8 but that is inflated die to one frigid, rainy game in Texas where he walked six. All other games he has walked 3 or less. His H/9 rate of 3.5 is insane and so is his talent. It is unlikely you can acquire Moore, but if you can somehow put a package of players together, he is capable of sustaining fantasy ace status all season long. If you followed the Black Book's scouting and drafted him a round or so earlier than projected, you are enjoying a emerging force to be reckoned with.
Paul Goldschmidt 1B ARZ
Despite his high strikeout totals, Goldschmidt's career minor league numbers showed a strong on base percentage (.407) and above average power (.620 SLG%). His .329/.425/.557 slash through the first few weeks of the season is the player he was projected to become and he is still just 25. He should be a middle of the order presence for years to come and his ballpark plays well into him being a 30/100 player for quite some time. If he should ever cut down his strikeouts he could become a superstar. For now in one year only leagues, he should be a strong corner bat.


Coco Crisp OF OAK
Let me start by saying I love Coco and I have owned him many years including this year. He does a little of everything and can have very productive bursts. His April is just that, a very productive burst. Crisp does not have this kind of power (5 homers already) and has always had nagging injuries. When you consider his age (33) and his fragility, there is no way Crisp can keep up this pace. He is still a very useful cog, but if he is running your fantasy machine right now your team is in trouble.

Brandon Crawford SS SF
You can easily argue Crawford has been a top 5 shortstop over the first month of the season. He has scored 15 runs, driven in 10, slugged 4 homers with a .320. His .966 OPS is off the charts and way off from his career .736 mark as a minor league player. Could be he making progress as a hitter? Sure. However, he is still playing way over his head and the power level is in no way sustainable. If you own Crawford and have depth at short, now is the time to deal him. I would rather roll with an Eric Aybar-type the rest of the season. The bottom is going to drop out very soon.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

WEEK 3 Transaction Help

The 2013 season is officially rolling and there are already major injuries and under-performers to replace in your fantasy lineups. Let's take to the wire and see if we can find some names worthy of your free agent dollars.

If you have lost Jared Weaver for the next 6 weeks, chances are you are not going to find an "ace" pitcher on the wire to replace him, but here are some starting pitcher names that might help you tread water until his return.

Barry Zito SF Although he no longer has the arsenal he possessed in his youth, Zito has made the most of his diminished fastball and become a guy capable of keeping his team in games and grabbing some wins. he has yet to give up and earned run in two starts this year and has a favorable home ballpark. (60% ownership)

Jeremy Guthrie KC Colorado just killed his value. It killed it so bad in fact, that even after a strong '12 finish with the Royals he still went undrafted in many leagues. Like Zito, he won't put up big K numbers, but he should give you quality starts and that is all you can as for from a free agent pitcher. (40% own)

Travis Wood CHC Once upon a time Wood was a top prospect in the Reds system. After some bad seasons he was shipped to Chicago and is showing the classic "late blooming lefty" syndrome. He has gone 6+ innings in each of his first two starts and is still young enough (just 26) to have some upside. (40% own)

John Axford and Carlos Marmol owners have had a rough start and although both may regain their ninth inning roles at some point this year you have to have a plan B. Especially since Jim Henderson and Kyuji Fujikawa are likely not available.

Jose Valverde DET Yes, it will probably be a few weeks until he is game ready, but the Tiger bullpen is lost and they need him back ASAP. Many owners are still afraid to spend a pick on Valverde, but he has the best chance to be closing games by the end of the month than any other in house candidate in Detroit. (40% own)

Trevor Rosenthal STL With Jason Motte out for the year in all likelihood and Mitchel Boggs looking shaky, Rosenthal is a worthy grab in mixed leagues. He has an electric arm and will at least give you K's and holds if he doesn't steal the job right away. (24% own)

Kelvin Herrera KC Along those same lines, Herrera will also give you great secondary numbers, but its less likely to unseat Greg Holland as closer. Ned Yost proved last year he values experience in the role when Holland out pitched Johnathan Broxton, but was not given a shot until a trade. (36% own)

If your offense is shaky or just starting slow here are some names you might want to know.

John Buck NYM Look he is not this good, and is sure to have a market correction. However, catcher is a tough slot to fill and Buck does offer legit power despite a career .237 BA. He is a nice stop gap, but not a long term catching solution as he is due to start a time share with Travis d'Arnaud mid season. (59%)

Chris Parmalee MIN He qualifies at 1B and probably OF in your league (if not yet then very soon). He has a great minor league track record with excellent plate discipline and should hit for average and power. If you are looking for a DH/UT/CI bat, Parmalee is a sneaky good grab. (28% own)

Gerardo Parra ARZ I am getting tired of hearing Parra is just a 4th outfielder. Every time he is called upon, he produces. Although he may not give you power, he will hit double, steal bases and annoy your opponents.  he should continue to play even when Cody Ross returns and Adam Eaton is still far enough away to warrant some attention for Parra. (52% own)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What We Learned From Opening Day

It's a new season and in major league baseball some things change and others stay the same. Opening Day is a national holiday to baseball fans around the country and in fantasy terms we saw a glimpse into the 2013 season that lies ahead. Here are some quick observations and notes from the first full day of baseball.

Jeff Samardzija is a talented arm, but the Pirates are still a swing and miss club that have trouble with power pitchers. Carlos Marmol is a nightmare and it is only a matter of time before Kyuji Fujikawa steals the role from him at some point. A.J. Burnett is still a different pitcher in the NL (10 K's today). Anthony Rizzo is a true slugger in the making.

Colin Cowgill showed to be the scrappy lead off man with pop I have been trumpeting as a deep sleeper for the last 6 weeks. David Wright seems to be bringing back his base stealing which would be a huge boost to his value. Ike Davis is a slow starter (Golden Sombrero today 4 K's). Jon Niese is a maturing pitcher who can be a solid middle of the rotation fantasy arm. The Padres have no pitching and nearly as little offense, but Yonder Alonso's blast gives hope that he can improve on his power numbers in 2013.

John Axford still can't close out games. Aramis Ramirez may be over the hill, but is still an RBI machine. Jonathan LuCroy is an underrated offensive catcher. Nice to see Cargo and Tulo hit a little on the road for a change.

Bryce Harper is everything you want him to be and the spotlight doesn't scare him. He is becoming a "must watch" every at bat. His two solo blasts were all Stephen Strasburg needed to shut down the Marlins, who make the Padres look like the '27 Yankees.

The Yankees are old, slow and are in real danger of falling behind in the AL East. Jon Lester is still capable of being a front end fantasy starter and tales of his demise were greatly exaggerated this off season. Sabtahia will be fine, but he has certainly begun the downward slope of his career.

Ian Kennedy's down year just lowered his draft value and if you bought low on him in your draft you may have gotten a steal. Gerardo Parra deserves a longer look in the D'Backs outfield. Adam Wainwright still has awful luck. It will straighten out in 2013 for him at some point.

Felix Hernandez will continue to get little run support and there will be many more weeks where he will give up 2 runs or less and lose.

Chase Utley is not done yet and is showing why players in a contract year are great to own. Freddie Freeman is the real threat in the Braves offense despite all the Upton brother hype.

Ernesto Frieri is the best option the Angels have on the ninth and should be able to hold off Ryan Madson whenever he returns. Johnny Cueto proved why you ignore spring stats for established pitches. Ryan Ludwick is not long for left field and his injury is the first sign that Billy Hamilton will be up sooner than later in Cincinnati.

Justin Verlander  can dominate even with -24 degree wind chills. Aaron Hicks welcome to the big leagues son (0-4 3K). Don't feel bad kid, it gets a whole lot easier than facing Verlander in the AL Central. The Tigers bullpen is definitely going to run by committee, but the smart money is on Al Albequerque's heater eventually getting an extended look.

Chris Sale is dominant pitcher, but watching his delivery and frame it is hard to imagine he will hold up for 200 innings in 2013. James Shields is going to have a tough time finding victories in his new home.

Matt Cain will always have a hard time winning twenty games until the Giants offense starts to show more pop. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball right now and his shutout should be one of many this year.

Monday, March 25, 2013

So Your Draft is Over...Now What?

You prepared, you labored, you made spreadsheets and now the draft is over. If you did it right, you prepared for weeks and after a few hours you are now sitting on a team that is hopefully a winner. But it could be a loser in disguise. You may not recognize which you have since everything looks good on paper in April. "If this guy stays healthy", "If this guy bounces back", "If this guy can just stay out of prison"...etc, etc. What you need to do now is try to make an honest evaluation of your roster and address your shortcomings as early as possible. The great thing about THE FANTASY BASEBALL BLACK BOOK 2013 is that it is the only ALL season companion guide. It takes you through trades, rookies, transactions, lineup management and so much more. Draft guides leave you high and dry after the last pick is called.

So where do you begin now that the draft is over? I will attempt to show you the path.

The first thing you need to do is take a long, hard look at your roster. Put yourself in the mindset that your team is owned by a fellow league mate. Would you fear this team? If the answer is a true and honest yes, then don't tinker too much. There is often a tendency to start to doubt what you have and you may start to make some drop/adds you may regret later on. Even if you are genuinely pleased with your squad, try to find your potential disappointments and try to develop a plan should they not work out how you envisioned.

If the answer is no, then this is the time to overpay with your FAAB or hit the waiver wire hard. The most fruitful waiver wire period is always the weeks leading up to the season. Fifth starters are named, everyday jobs are won and injuries lead to openings. There are even undrafted players that may have been wrongfully overlooked. Many owners are content to draft and just sit, but the keen owner is watching closely and scooping up useful odd and ends that can get you off to hot start.

It is nearly impossible to make a deal in a league this early. What you can do is start to target your opposing teams needs and see where they are lacking and where you have a surplus. You can also earmark teams you think may be weak and after they get off to slow start, try and offer them a lifeline that can honestly help them improve and benefits you simultaneously.

Spring numbers are skewed for a myriad of reasons: split squads, minor league talent facing major league talent, strong wind gusts, smaller ballparks, pitchers working on one single pitch...the list goes on forever. The important thing to look for is health not necessarily performance. Just because a guy is lighting it up in spring does not mean it will carry over. Brandon Belt has murdered spring pitching three years running and has yet to translate that to the regular season. Francisco Liriano was lights out last spring and looked like an ace reborn. He went in the tank immediately. On the flip-side, veterans tend to sleepwalk through spring, so don't think they are heading for their demise just because of some bad outings or an 0-10 drought.

Leagues are not lost or won in April. If you get off to a slow start it's ok. If you have players with real track records they will bounce back and have corrective performances. Conversely, if you get off to an unbelievably hot start you may want to look into selling high on some players that are clearly playing over their head. Remember when Omar Infante had 5 home runs in 18 April games last year? Well he hit 7 the rest of the year. That is exactly what I am talking about.

The season is long and favors the prepared and the persistent. Stay on top of your team, stay on top of your league and by all means watch as much baseball as you can. The eye test still holds many answers to questions that stats sometimes leave incomplete.

Monday, March 18, 2013

24 Team Dynasty Auction Review

Yes, a 24 team dynasty auction...head-to-head points...23 man rosters...10 minor league slots. If ever there was a monster of a draft it is this one. I enlisted the help of a good friend who I have been playing fantasy baseball with for 15 years to assist in the draft process. We concocted a strategy and a few "dummy" budgets to work off and adjust over the eight hour marathon. Most importantly we targeted "MUST HAVE" positions in a league of this depth. For all the preparation, we were not quite ready for where the elite player salaries would head.

Bidding against 23 other owners caused enormous inflation especially on young players like Trout and Harper who went for $49 each despite only playing one full season and an escalating salary structure of $1 increase year one, $2 year two, $5 year 3 etc. Miguel Cabrera and Stephen Strasburg went for $56 respectively. In a league where pitching points mattered this much, we were not leaving without three top arms. David Price ($50), Cole Hamels ($38) and Adam Wainwright ($32) gave us arguably the best front of the rotation in the league. We paid for it, but our goal was to dominate on two star weeks from big time arms. AJ Griffin at $13 is our #4 starter and could easily have been a #2 on nearly 1/3 of the staffs in the league. John Lackey ($1) and Zach Britton ($1) rounded out the rotation.

The rules also stated we needed to start two relievers each week. Now the simple math is: 30 MLB teams, 30 closers. In this format where 48 active relievers were active each week so there were going to be middle men and reliever eligible players on the radar. However, with saves and wins both worth 7 points, having two closers was the ideal. When we missed out on Kimbrel ($34), we were able to land Sergio Romo ($15) and Jason Grilli ($10) for a combined $25. It turned out to be a much needed savings.

Our plan was to fill C, 2B and SS and slum in the outfield. Carlos Santana's ($30) 1B and DH time makes him very valuable in a league where the weak catcher pool goes 24+deep. He will get more AB's every week than most other catchers and that matters when you will be scratching for every point. We took advantage of the fact most owners in a dynasty don't like older players, but Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins ($18 each) can still play and are arguably better than more than half of their position mates. They also went for much less than some players with far less track record or talent. Paying for potential is a dangerous game.

When I said "slum" at outfield I did not think it would be this bad, but if Carlos Quentin ($6) is healthy he could be a much needed power source. Cody Ross ($5) is serviceable and has some pop. The third spot is up for grabs. Rajai Davis ($1) stole 40+bags last year and Anthony Gose ($2) has upside and killer spring stats. Unfortunately, there is a log jam on the Toronto outfield. The plan is for Chris Parmelee ($3) to qualify in the OF by the end of April or get lucky and have Grant Green ($1) come up and play second base for Oakland sooner than later (he qualifies at OF). Until then, we are dumpster diving on a waiver wire that has less meat than a vegan restaurant. No matter. That was the plan and we will find OF eventually.

Our corners are also weaker than we would have liked. We were outbid on many of our choices and had to settle for Adam Lind ($6) and Michael Young ($4). Both are long shot bounce backs, but each have something to prove. Again, just the amount of competition made it tough to get players within a budget of $260. It could have been worse, there are many teams fielding starting rosters with major league role players. At least our low end guys are major league regulars.

Where we succeeded was at the end of the draft. Teams were out of cash and we were able to grab Xander Bogaerts ($2), Byron Buxton ($2), Trevor Rosenthal ($1), Michael Wacha ($2) and Gose ($2) all prior to the minor league draft. Many elite prospects went for big bucks (Profar for $24/Taveras$19). We nabbed a few dirt cheap and can either keep them for a long time, or use them as very valuable trade bait to better our situation. Prospects will always replenish every season with the MLB draft, so I will always entertain offers that help me in the present.

You may look at the roster below and be underwhelmed, but I assure you on paper it is certainly in the top 1/3 or better for the 2013 season (24 teams! Only 6 less than MLB people!). I am always in "win now mode" with an eye for the future. Building a foundation on unproven players can leave you in a state of mediocrity always looking til next year. Give me the playoffs or give me death!

The best advice I can give after this draft for auction leagues is really structure some different budget plans with an idea of what you want to spend, on what and on who. It really does make a difference and will keep you from overpaying or making bad decisions. Avoid getting bored and bidding on just anyone because you have yet to add a player to your roster for 45 minutes. Lastly, be picky. When you have a choice you need to really make informed decisions. There are an enormous number of players I would never dream of having on my team for varying reasons. Target and fight for the ones you like and do everything in reason to draft them.

One last note...the members of this league are some of the best fantasy writers and thinkers out there and I felt the Black Book Crew more than held its own. Now it is up to health and performance.

C$30Santana, Carlos (C CLE)1B · C · UACT
1B$6Lind, Adam (1B TOR)1B · UACT
2B$18Utley, Chase (2B PHI)2B · UACT
3B$4Young, Michael (1B PHI)1B · 3B · UACT
SS$18Rollins, Jimmy (SS PHI)SS · UACT
SS$2Bogaerts, Xander (SS BOS)SS · UACT
OF$5Ross, Cody (OF ARI)OF · UACT
OF$6Quentin, Carlos (OF SD)OF · UACT
OF$1Davis, Rajai (OF TOR)OF · UACT
OF$1Green, Grant (OF OAK)OF · UACT
OF$2Gose, Anthony (OF TOR)OF · UACT
OF$2Buxton, Byron (OF MIN)OF · UACT
U$3Parmelee, Chris (1B MIN)1B · UACT
SP$1Lackey, John (SP BOS)SPACT
SP$32Wainwright, Adam (SP STL)SPACT
SP$38Hamels, Cole (SP PHI)SPACT
SP$50Price, David (SP TB)SPACT
SP$1Britton, Zach (SP BAL)SPACT
SP$13Griffin, A.J. (SP OAK)SPACT
SP$1Wacha, Michael (SP STL)SPACT
RP$10Grilli, Jason (RP PIT)RPACT
RP$15Romo, Sergio (RP SF)RPACT
RP$1Rosenthal, Trevor (RP STL)RPAC

Thursday, March 14, 2013

MIC WARS Draft Recap

MIC WARS is a league made up of fantasy baseball broadcasters from independent podcasts, BlogTalkRadio and SiriusXM shows. The participants include: Big2Show, Fantasy Alarm, Dr. Mr. Fantasy Podcast, Fantasy Nomad, Fantasy Trade 411, eXperts Edge, Seamheads and others.

In this year's Fantasy Baseball Black Book 2013 I recapped the 2012 draft and all of my transactions to highlight the thought process behind the moves. After winning this H2H category 5x5 league a few years back, I missed the playoffs by a single point last year. The agony of defeat indeed. Despite season ending injuries to Tulowitzki, Mariano Rivera, Brian Wilson and Brandon Beachy early on, I was able to fight back and stay competitive. Alas, I came up short.

This season I made a pact to focus on "undervalued" players, whether it be due to age, returning from injury or starting off the season with an injury. The idea being to take advantage of quality players with real track record that were not the "sexy, upside" types. I would instead reserve taking chances for later in the draft much like I did in last year's draft when I drafted Mike Trout in the 25th RD.

My 2013 MIC WARS Team Mantra:
"Youth and skill is no match for old age and treachery."

So here is the happy recap:
RD 1 Miguel Cabrera
I had the 2nd overall pick and in a 12 team league where you start 5 outfielders. It was no surprise to see Ryan Braun go first. No matter, I am thrilled with the best hitter in the game. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in every other category and he plays a tough position. The rest of the 1st RD was a list of the usual suspects.

RD 2 David Price/RD 3 Stephen Strasburg
In a league with 9 active pitcher slots, having front end arms is very important. I like to grab two top arms early and force a run on starters if I can. When two top guys go off the board to one team, even expert league owners who despise pitching take notice. With Kershaw and Verlander off the board already (also to one team), the top shelf aces were on borrowed time. Last year my duo was Sabathia and Lincecum. Timmy was a nightmare, but R.A. Dickey off the wire took over his expected production so I was lucky. Price is as good as it gets and the AL East is much weaker than it has been in years. Strasburg has no inning limits and should post incredible strikeout rates and secondary numbers. I think this year's two headed monster is more formidable than the 2013 version.

RD 4 Ben Zobrist/ RD 5 Austin Jackson
Taking Zobrist early was a key. His eligibility at 2B/SS/OF allowed the draft come to me and not worry about filling a specific hole. He is an undervalued player and steady over the last three years. The strategy worked as you will see later on. Austin Jackson was the best all around outfielder in my mind left on the board. He may lack in RBI, but will certainly score 100 runs. He showed increased power and plate discipline and still possesses 30 steal speed. It was between him and Shin-Soo  Choo. I went with the fresh legs and the guy who did not switch leagues.

RD 6 Matt Wieters/RD 7 Joe Mauer
Catchers started flying off the board which was my worst fear. I love to be strong at catcher in this league since you have to start 2 each week. That's 24 active catchers out of 30 MLB teams. Not a good ratio folks! I was lucky enough to get the last two top 5 catchers in my mind after Martinez, C. Santana and Molina went off the board. Posey of course was gone in the 2nd RD. Doubling up on tough positions like catcher or say SS and MINF can put pressure on your fellow owners to reach for players. It simultaneously weakens the talent pool and forces people to over draft lesser talent. Mission accomplished. Both Mauer and Wieters should see DH and 1B time to increase their weekly AB's. That is huge in head-to-head leagues.

RD 8 Chase Utley/RD 9 Curtis Granderson
Utley is playing for a contract and was on pace for a 20/90/20 season. How is that different than say Pedroia, who I passed on to take Strasburg? The answer is 5 rounds different. The track record is there and he has something to prove. Granderson is missing 1/5 of the regular season in this league. Big deal! He should never have lasted til the 9th RD considering he will still probably hit 30+dingers in limited time. I can tread water until he is healthy. I was light on power and Granderson will provide that. The rest of my team hits for a very solid batting average so I can afford his the Grandy-Man's .250 without incident.

RD 10 Dan Haren/RD 11 Adam LaRoche/RD 12 Lon Lester/RD13 Michael Morse
With Gallardo and Josh Johnson off the board I was looking for two arms that had shown ability to pitch like at least #2 starters in the past. Dan Haren in the NL off a down year and playing for a contract was the perfect fit. Jon Lester has his old pitching coach in the dugout once again and was an ace heading into 2012 drafts. He is pitching for the Red Sox to pick up his big option, so I expect a rebound. This is why you need to understand the game past the numbers. If you had millions of dollars on the line in your job, wouldn't you be focused to perform at a high level?
LaRoche was a 33/100 first basemen last year and was healthy for the first time in years. He is also on a great team with a ton of support. 15 first basemen were taken ahead of him in the draft who had lesser stats in 2012. You take potential, I'll take production. Morse is also incredibly undervalued. So what if he is moving to Seattle. He hit .289 or better three years in a row and has 25/90 potential. After a delayed start to his season by injury, he overcame a slow start to post an OPS of .817 in the 2nd half. Another power bat with a good average.

RD 14 Corey Hart/RD15 Derek Jeter/RD 16 Josh Beckett/ RD 17 Justin Morneau/RD 18 Billy Hamilton
Hart is going to be back by early May and is already ahead of schedule. His '12 slash of 91/30/83 and the fact he plays 1B and OF make him a very valuable piece. Again, people not looking ahead and undervaluing talent. It was between Jeter and Aybar for my MINF slot and when Aybar went I took Jeter with the next pick. All he did last year was score 99 runs with 200 hits, 15 home runs and a .316 BA. Yes, he is coming off an injury, but he is already playing the field. What happened last year again when people said Jeter couldn't get it done? Oh right, 99 runs 200 hits etc. Beckett was reborn in LA and another pitcher who will benefit from the NL switch. Morneau is another guy playing for a new contract with something to prove and an MVP in his closet. Billy Hamiton is my speedster in the hole. He will be up at some point because the Reds are in "win now mode" and he can help that cause. Even half a season should be good for 30+bags. Ryan Ludwick will not hold him off for long.  I wanted Adam Eaton, but he went a few picks before me. Oh well. Hamilton's SS eligibility makes him more valuable. I just have to have patience.

RD 19 Jason Grilli/RD 20 Starling Marte/ RD 21 Rajai Davis / RD 22 AJ Burnett/RD 23 Jason Hammel/RD 24 AJ Griffin/RD 25 Chris Parmalee
So I waited for the C list closers and got Grilli. Saves are saves. Parnell, Perkins, Balfour all went before I could grab them. Then Rondon and Janssen went in succession right before my pick. My only "insert expletive here" moment of the draft. Oh well, I will find saves on the wire or via trade. I have the flexibility to make a move when Hart and Granderrson return or Hamilton comes up. Again, thanks to Ben Zobrist! Starling Marte has 20/20 potential and a starting job. If he doesn't pan out, he gets dropped when my OF gets healthy. If he does, I am in really good shape. AJ Burnett was solid last year and should be serviceable again. Hammel pitched like an ace for Baltimore in 2012. Griffin could be the steal of the draft. he has great K/BB rates in the minors and showed himself well in his 2012 debut for the A's. Parmalee has a good minor league track record and will qualify at 1B and OF once April is over. More roster flexibility.

RD 26 Julio Teheran/RD 27 Andrew Cashner
At the end why not take a shot at two young upside arms well past their hype. Teheran has been lights out this spring and Cashner possesses a dominating fastball. If they pan out they could make a huge impact, if they don't it cost me nothing and they will be dropped. Low risk/high reward. Don't check out late in your draft.

Last year's 24th RD pick was Mike Trout, this year Marte, Teheran, Griffin or Cashner could be breakout stars. The trick is not overpaying to find out.

Perhaps to the naked eye, my team lacks speed. However, last year this roster totaled 136 steals. That would probably be bottom third of the league. But, if Billy Hamilton comes up and steals 35 (very feasible in half a season) that puts me into the top third of the league with 171. Last year's top speed team had 191 swipes. Regardless, I have an offense that has power and a higher batting average than normal as a collective. There are no "empty specialists" with the exception of Rajai Davis, but even he popped 8 home runs in 2012. The pitching staff as two big anchors in Price and Strasburg, two bounce back candidates who were aces just a year ago, and some nice veterans and youth. I am light on Saves, but with the enormous turnover of closers, I will find saves on the wire. They are there every year.

I think I have a top 4 team out of 12 if  I can stay healthy and that puts me in the thick of the playoff hunt. It is all a crap-shoot from that point forward. Just get in the dance, that's the key. In leagues like this, where trades are few and far between and the waiver wire is shallow, the draft is key. I have a foundation of players with track record and I am counting on them performing to their ability. I will sleep better at night with that notion, as opposed to fielding my team with guys who "could" perform well, but have yet to put it all together.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Art of The Fantasy Baseball Trade

A selection from the #1 selling fantasy baseball guide on Amazon two years running...

Value is relative. One man’s Evan Longoria is another man’s David Freese. This is the obstacle you must overcome since everyone has different allegiances and opinions on players’ values. Some will work in your favor and others will work against you. There are some tricks to “the trade”, and being able to consistently pull off good deals on a yearly basis is an art form. Much like teaching a young artist to paint, I can give you the techniques but you must find your own brush stroke and inspiration.


First and foremost always be polite and courteous. You are selling something after all, and no one wants to buy something from someone who is rude or obnoxious. Always inquire about the availability of the player you want, then offer a concise reason this deal would improve their team and yours. The key word is concise. You cannot venture into a deal at the expense of the potential partner. Not only will that never fly with the other owner, but if it did you run the risk of ruining other potential deals down the road. They simply won’t trust you anymore. Also, be sure never to bash your potential trade partner’s players no matter how they may have under-performed  It is rude and insulting and the last thing you want to do is alienate a potential match. Generally speaking, less is more. You should always try to find a positive starting point to the dialogue and try to present a deal that is your common interest.
If they reject your proposal or are “insulted” by the very thought you asked about a certain player you should politely ask for a counter from them to see if you can find a middle ground. If they are adamant, then just say “Thanks for getting back to me.” and call it a day. DO NOT BELABOR THE POINT! You will rarely convince an owner like this to see things your way, but leave the door open with a “Let me know if there are any deals you might be interested in making surrounding player X down the line.” That way you keep the lines of communication open for the future. Listen to what they have to say. If they should start a dialogue or counter offer, that is a sign they are interested and ready to deal. If they become flat out negative, walk away. Getting into a debate about how you see things and how they see things will still leave you without a deal. Don’t waste your time. That energy can be channeled into finding another solution elsewhere.
It never hurts to inquire about players you think may be untouchable. Every now and then they me be had for the right price. Most of the time, they will be unmovable. If an owner says someone is off limits, never push. It will be a waste of time and energy for both parties.


“Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without.” –Donald Trump
When making trades leverage is everything. If a big player goes down in your league be the first guy to offer a solution. Yes, you are a vulture swooping in. But vultures stay full don’t they? If you are offering a lifeline then you are helping the other owner. Don’t attempt to take advantage. Instead, devise a strong argument and preset package of talent (with options and flexibility) that will keep the other owner afloat and improve your roster at the same time. Be creative, think outside the box and listen to what they have to say. Cater to their needs as best you can and you may get your wants taken care of at the same time. One sided deals may work once, but you will never foster a long term relationship of making deals.
This is where the deep bench comes into play again. When you don’t have to make a move, but you see an opportunity to improve your situation that is the right time to pull the trigger. You should always be looking to get better no matter how many games up you are in the standings. A deep roster maximizes your options. Complacency is death in fantasy. Be careful not to send out deals too frequently. It may also alienate potential partners and you may come off as too aggressive or unsure of what you are doing. See your opening and strike while the iron is hot.
I am always a big proponent of moving young talent on a hot streak for proven players when possible especially in non keeper formats. It should always be about winning now. Although rookies carry great fantasy sex appeal, they can be very up and down. Major league players with experience are easier to predict and easier to manage.
Always buy low when you can. Players who struggle out of the gate, but have a solid history of production should always be targeted. Track record does matter and they usually are just a few hits from a hot streak. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The low risk maneuver is still a good one even if it doesn’t work out every time. Trying to deal for a red hot superstar will cost you dearly and chances are even the best player is due for a market correction at some point. Wait for that “down” period and then try to pry him away when the window opportunity presents itself. Never buy at the height of the market or after a guy throws a shutout with 14K’s. You are just asking for trouble.

Poker Face

Another way to win out on trades is to know your fellow owners’ tendencies. Do they covet Yankees because they cannot separate their rooting interest from fantasy? Do they love young players and collect them like trophy wives? Are they a glutton for sluggers? It’s a poker game and knowing their “tells” will inform you of how to approach a potential deal. Exploiting your enemies’ weakness is an art form. If you can do this well you may be shocked what you can get back in return.
Understanding the market for a player is a tough thing. Generally speaking, it is always wise to have more than one dialogue going with multiple teams when trying to make a trade. If you are shopping Justin Upton let’s say, and owner A makes you an offer, then find an owner B and possibly C and try to get as many offers on the table as you can and choose the best one. To play one owner against each other is a dicey business. It may put some owners off to dealing with you, so tread lightly. Never grandstand about how much better someone else’s offer is for Upton. If it was really that much better, then take it. If you want to try and improve owner A’s offer then level with them and tell them you have received a better offer you are taking. If they want to go above that then you should listen and give them a chance to counter before pulling the trigger. Courtesy is nice and sometimes surprisingly effective. Even if the offer does not improve, you have shown to be an owner of integrity. That keeps the roadway open for future moves. 

Weak and Strong

Every league has strong owners and owners that are not as strong no matter how expert the level of the league.  Some of the best deals I ever made were with the better, savvier owners in my leagues. I have also taken my fair share of stolen talent from those owners who are impatient or ill informed. Always be confident in making offers. Before you click send, always put yourself in the other guy’s shoes and honestly ask yourself if you would do this deal if you were in their shoes. If the answer is an honest “yes” then send away. If the answer is no, then work harder. The stronger owner will not dismiss you and the weaker owner may be grateful you are showing them the light.
When the deal is done, you want everyone to benefit from the move you made together. If it is one sided, they will be less apt to deal with you again and you can’t survive that way in a league. You need good, solid, respectful, relationships that can help advance your placement in the standings. You should never allow yourself to rip someone off. It is bad for your baseball karma, bad for the future dealings with that owner and bad for the league as it will raise suspicions and potentially embarrass the other guy as someone who got duped. Now, there will always be sour grape critics. That is a different story. If you know you made a fair deal then sleep tight. If someone is jealous, too bad! They should have been more active and made a deal happen for themselves. There is a difference, but always put your best foot forward for the good of all involved.

Be Fearless

Be a fearless owner when it comes to trades. Always listen to offers and push when you can. You may be able to get more than the initial offer. Don’t be afraid of dealing big names and turning over your roster. Some deals may not work out for you despite being the “smart” move. Guys get injured, under-perform and sometimes don’t live up to your expectations. Get right back up on that horse and keep trying to improve. Stay active, do your homework and always look for the missing pieces of your puzzle. Making the right deals at the right time will always be a huge advantage for you in your league.

Fantasy Black Book (c) 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013


Our Fantasy Baseball Podcast is back w/  @DanStrafford...on BIG2SHOW

We will also be previewing each position every Sunday night at 11PM on BlogTalkRadio. 

Check out the fun and call in live with your questions!

Fantasy Players on Contract Years

In the 2013 Fantasy Baseball Black BookI made it a point to discuss potential free agent players and their effect on your fantasy team. More often than not, players tend to perform above their career norms when a new contract is looming in the off season. They are also trade targets for contenders and like Anibal Sanchez last year, some may get a boost in value mid-season. Last year, Josh Hamilton had a terrific season and somehow miraculously played 148 games after missing significant time the previous three seasons. Guys on contract years will play through the bumps and bruises and do everything they can to elevate their value. Sure enough, he cashed in this winter. For every five Hamilton's there is a Shane Victorino who either allows the pressure to get to them or just has a down year at the worst time. Again, the safe money is on big stats. It is always good to know what key players are heading into this year's draft searching for that big pay day.


Cano is rumored to have turned down a 7 year $189 million contract offer. If that doesn't exude confidence I don't know what does. Cano's production is already tops at his position. However, he is in his prime and an improvement on last year's stellar output is possible.  There is huge money being thrown around in LA and they have a gaping hole at second. Depending on the depth of your league Cano could warrant top 5 consideration. His RPV (Relative Posiition Value/stat created in the black Book that measures position scarcity and player value) is already 25% in a standard league size. If ever there was a year to overpay for Cano in the first round, 2013 is the year.

2011'S 32 home run spree was an anomaly for Ellsbury. Throw it out the window and focus on what he is, which is a player with .290 BA, 95R, 10HR, 35+SB  potential. Now of course he is capable of more, but injuries have set back his value considerably and rightfully so. What good is talent if it is never on the field? This year it is put up or shut up for Jacoby and you can bet he will be playing through some pain in search of some cash. More games played I would count on, but higher performance than the previous stat line I presented is being greedy.

He is one of the most underrated hitters in the game. A career .847OPS makes him a great fantasy  outfielder who will get on base, hit for average/power and even steal some bags. Choo is a 20/20 player who is now in a hitter's park for 81 home games and is poised for a big year. Remember a few years back when Choo got a key hit for his home country Korea and avoided military service? He is a  pressure player and the dollar signs point to a great fantasy season. The transition from AL to NL should not be too tough on Choo since there is some bottom rung pitching in the Central division.

He was on track for a huge career, but he has dealt with numerous injuries and worn down at the end of many seasons. If his shoulder is 100% and he is in better shape, McCann can get back into elite catcher territory. The line-up around him is solid and perhaps the fact he will miss a few weeks to open the season will finally allow him a strong finish. He is worth the risk, especially in leagues where you start two catchers.

He is one of my favorite fantasy outfielders who gives you the classic roto baseline (.285BA/85R/25HR.95RBI/10SB). He had a tough stretch when he was dealt to the Giants but Pence has been too steady for too long to think he will not rebound. Some owners will be scared off by his second half dip, but look at the career consistency and pay accordingly. Guys with track records this steady always deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Yes, he has 40/100 power, but he still struggles verses lefties and at 32 years old is past his peak years of production. Looming free agency should not impact Granderson's bottom line too much as he already has many interests outside of baseball. Unlike his peers, Curtis' eggs are not in one basket hoping for one more big pay day. The injury should actually bring his value down to a more reasonable territory.

Hart is going to miss the start of the season, but his ADP is falling way too far considering he carries dual eligibility (1B/OF) in many leagues and an .850+OPS the last three seasons. Hart's speed has fallen off, but his power numbers are strong. He is grossly undervalued and is sure to put it all on the line before he hits the open market.

Here is a prime example of a player with talent who misses far too many games. Cruz will certainly do everything in his power (including playing hurt) to land a big contract. The question is, will this pursuit hurt his bottom line? The looming doubts surrounding his PED link to the Miami clinic should also be enough to spur Cruz to a big year. If nothing else, he is a reasonable value pay for outfield power.


In his second year back from Tommy John, everyone expects Wainwright to get back to his workhorse ways. Last year, he suffered from rust and bad luck and pitched better than his totals suggest. He can easily be drafted as a #2 starter, but will certainly put the onus on himself to perform like an ace with is contract coming up. I suspect him to not hit the free agent market, but if talks break down the thought of him pitching with a chip on his shoulder is scary.

My extensive analysis on Halladay in this year's Black Book concludes 2013 as a good year to own him, but he is no longer a fantasy anchor or a keeper. A player with the grit and pride of Halladay will certainly put forth his best effort. If the Phillies fall out of contention he could be a trade target. His cost vs. value is very appealing and he has a lot to prove.

Perhaps no potential free agent needs a big contract year than Josh Johnson. At one time he was consider one of the top starters in all of baseball. Now, he is viewed as damaged goods. The change of scenery in Toronto is tough to gauge. The AL East is a tough division, but the run support and fact that he is "new" is in his favor. If you are going to take a shot on him, the contract year is the one to do it.

There is no where to go but up for Lincecum. But if you think last year's low point came out of nowhere you would be wrong. Timmy was bad for extended periods in the two seasons leading up to 2012. Even with a potential payday on the horizon, you can't in good conscience draft him as a front end starter. Yet, he will potentially be drafted in that range. His ratios were so bad they could ruin you in any format. I would let another owner pull the trigger here.

The temptation is tantalizing to draft Garza in hopes of him being dealt to a contender mid-season. But his arm issues are such a huge red flag it is killing his value in real and fantasy baseball alike. Until he proves healthy you can't be lured into thinking too far into the future. Unfortunately, fantasy owners will have no clarification on Garza before their drafts as he is already back on the shelf.

(players with contract options in question)

With his old pitching coach back in the fold as the new Red Sox skipper, things should regulate for Lester. Last year was a disaster for the whole franchise and Lester was no exception (career high 4.82 ERA). He is in his prime (29) and should be a great bounce back candidate as he looks to put up big numbers and put some big dollars in his pocket.

He is not a true free agent, but is unclear if KC will be able to afford his option. That puts Shield in a tough spot. His stats point to the fact he will miss pitching in Tampa (3.33 career home ERA/4.54 ERA on the road). KC is a young team with potential, but they have yet to put it together. He could be in for a roller coaster of a season and the looming contract questions could be unnecessary pressure, even for "Big Game" James.