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.