Saturday, December 31, 2005

2006 NL Trend

Last season saw the emergence of the new crop of pitching studs. This season, the new crop of catching studs will become apparent.

In Atlanta, Brian McCann takes over full-time after making the jump from AA to the majors - at 21-years-old. In another situation that makes the NL East feel the Braves have the blessings of a higher power, one of the top Braves prospects is Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a catcher with power and plate discipline

Forida's firesale has provided Josh Willingham the opportunity to play significant innings behind the plate (definition: making enough appearances to qualify at catcher for the 2007 season.) The team also signed Miguel Olivo who should finally get the chance to show that speed he displayed, and the reason Roto owners have been waiting added him to their team, since his AA season in 2002 when he stole 29. Remember, despite this unfulfilled expectation, he has stolen 6, 7, and 7 bases the past three seasons. Matching that would make him more valuable than a $1 end-of-draft filler.

Speaking of that, the Mets' Ramon Castro should be an excellent 2nd catcher. His exposure will remain similar to last season where he out-performed the Mets latest catching edition, Paul LoDuca:

Castro: 29 years-old 209 ABs 8 HR 41 RBI .244 AVG .321 OBP .435 SLG
LoDuca: 34 years-old 445 ABS 6 HR 57 RBI .283 AVG .334 OBP .380 SLG

St. Louis saw 23-year-old Yadier Molina adequately replaced the offensive production of the pre-SF Matt Matheny.

Pitsburgh has Humberto Cota who matched the aforementioned @005 goodie, Damian Miller, in his first extended playing time. Ryan Doumit was also impressive in his first call-up last season.

The Dodgers Dioner Navarro did well last season as a 22-year-old in his (this should be familiar) first extended playing time as a major leaguer. And right behind him is the player Billy Beane had hoped Jeremy Brown would have been, Russ Martin (.311 AVG, .430 OBP in 409 official ABs).

Colorado dealt a Rule 5 pick for Yorvit Torrealba. He seems to have been bouncing around forever, but he is only 27 years old. Colorado should make him a decent #1 catcher come draft day. Because of this, he is likely to be the most over-valued, too. Think JD Closser, who may improve with more carefully managed ABs.

What this means is there is reason to enter next year's draft needing to draft a catcher or two because there should be equivalent production in the pool as that being protected (Jason LaRue, Paul Loduca, Mike Lieberthal, Damian Miller, Michael Barrett, Brian Schneider). It also means one of these young receivers will be cheap and result in good bail bait later in the season.

Javier Valentin did not make this list because he is already 30-years-old, but I like him as a very good 2nd catcher, and if he repeats his 2005 numbers, a #1. However, he is stuck behind Jason LaRue and cannot be reasonably be expected to get many more ABs than he did last year - severally limiting his upside potential.

Friday, December 30, 2005

NL Catchers

Damian Miller was one of the best catchers in the NL last season.

Declarative sentences like that should make teams shutter because it is true.

His .273 AVG was 4th after such luminaries as Ramon Hernandez, Michael Barrett and Paul LoDoca.

His 9 HR put him in the middle of the pack, which ranged from a high of Mike Piazza's 19 to zero.

Given Piazza's 62 RBI was tops at the postion, Miller's 43 runs drive in is very good. (Yes, Piazza was still a very top receiver in the NL last season.)

With this relative performance in mind, be prepared for Miller's owner to try to sell him based on his relative merits. He would likely be one of the top catchers available at NL drafts, but why pay for him based on that?

After all, Humberto Cota hit 7 HR and drove in 43 in fewer ABs, and he is 10 years younger. Not to mention last season was his first extended MLB action. It would be reasonable to expect slight improvement, and that is all it would take to surpass Miller.

I would also expect Brian McCann and Dioner Navarro,along with Josh Willingham, o surpass Miller's production. Not to mention the Met's Ramon Castro was equally effective in limited ABs.

So don't overpay for Miller based on his relatively postive performance in 2005. I expect him to go for no more than a few dollars at draft time.

Of course, I don't expect any catchers to go for more than $15 regardless.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Preston Wilson

P-Dubya is a player I have always considered over-rated. He had a stunning 2000 when he went 36/31 with 121 RBI, but his .264 AVG bothered me.

He remained at the 20/20 level for the next couple seasons and was then shipped out to Colorado where he had a truly great Roto season thanks to a Coors-inflated, injury-free.282 AVG. In all these seasons, he was a $30 player.

In 2004, he hurt every Roto team because he was likely protected at his 2003 price and was injured all season (6 HR in 202 ABs).

In 2005, he went for $25. It thought it was still too high. He entered last season and seemed to attract trade rumors from the opening pitch. As a result, I never really considered him.

Once he was dealt to Washington, I completely wrote him off figuring his power would plummet.

And so here I am considering what the Red Sox will do about CF, and P-Dub came to mind. He seems a good fit - a veteran who won't command a long contract. I then checked his numbers and was surpirsed to see his 2005 season was in line with his careeer numbers (minus SB) -25/90/.260.

A steal if the Red Sox can get him and a likely veteran sleeper for Roto.

A veteran sleeper being a player who goes for $15-$24 because he is no longer surrounded by hype but still produces.


Two years, $5 million per?

What is wrong with the Orioles? Why won't anyone take their money? I don't know, and sense even if I did, the Os wouldn't care.

Rototimes has Jeff Conine listed at 1B. He will be in the running for the 2006 Worst Power from 1B with Kevin Youkilis.

Walter Young should be given 200 ABs. If he sinks, then let Conine garner the ABs. Otherwise, put the big man there and let him swing away.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Craig Counsell

He is going to move to shortstop with the acquistion of Gold Glove 2B Orlando Hudson.

Unfortunately, he won't be there for long. (Given the fact he played full-time last year, i suspect he will play there longer than he should.)

Stephen Drew is on the way and that will leave Counsell with very limited ABs, and that is too bad. After years and years of an unexplicably long careeer, he finally put up an excellent Roto number - 26 SBs.

Now that looks to be a pipe dream for 2006. Shame on you for not selling him high!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Glaus Trade

The Blue Jays acquired slugging 3B/1B/DH from the Diamondbacks for 2005 Gold Glove 2B orlando Hudson and extremely versatile starter/longman/closer, Miguel Batisita.

I should have added "oft-injured" to Glaus appellation but that would have unnecessarily colored my view of the trade.

I think it is a Roto steal. Grabbing 30+ HRs for a non-descript middle infielder and a swingman is tremendous.

In real life, it is head-shaking. Why is JP gathering all the corner/DH types? Does he think he can deal from a postion of strength when all the other teams know he can't play Corey Koskie, Eric Hinkse, Troy Glaus, Shea Hillenbrand and Lyle Overbay in the same line-up?

And why give-up David Bush, Zack Jackson, Gabe Gross, Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batisita to put yourself in that postion?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Reggie Sanders

Now that Reggie Sanders has signed with the Royals I can no longer argue during trade discussions that Emil Brown is still the clean-up hitter for the Royals and can be expected to match his 2005 performance; thus, amking him worth a mid-teens price.

Now he will only bat clean-up when Sanders is hurt. Which means half the time.

Brown will remain a quality Roto OF.

Those AL players who hit more than 15 HRs, drove in more than 75 runs, stole 8+ basesa dn hit greater than .280 are Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Vladimir Guerrero and Grady Sizemore. Granted Brown's numbers would have ranked him 5th in all the categories except RBIs where he ranked 4th ahead of Sizemore, this is still quite elite company to be in.

Even if the criteria is loosed to 12 HR, 70 RBI and a .275 AVG, only Tadahito Iguchi, Brian Roberts, Raul Ibanez and Carl Crawford join the club.

Brown is clearly one of the least respected/most underrated players in the AL.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

New York Yankees

The Yanks got Johnny Damon on their terms (four years) and not on the strategically deceptive Scott Boras' terms.

This is a good signing although it seems as if the Yanks are willing to pay for a year or tow when he will not earn his salary. The one caveat is he will only be 34 and 35 during those years and the dramatic drop-off seen with Bernie Williams may prove to be atypical. (Hey, any chance Bernie is actually a couple years older than his listed age?)

Whatever Damon went for last season will likely be what he goes for this year. Plus Torre is not adverse to stealing bases so Damon will rebound into the 20s for SB. (Unless his shoulder is really damaged. If so, then this signing will start to suck in the second half of Year 1!)

As worthy of attention is the one-year deal Octavio Dotel signed with the Yanks. He is a prime closing sleeper for 2007! I would go several dollars on him for just that chance.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Texas/San Diego Trade

The Rangers sent SP Chris Young, 1B Adrian Gonzalez and OF Termel Sledge to San Diego for SP Adam Eaton, RP Akori Otsuka and a low-level minor league catcher.

I cannot see why Texas would make this deal. Eaton is a free agent after next season. Young just completed his first full season and proved capable of successfully pitching in a hitter's park. Eaton pitched in a pitcher friendly park without the DH. Advantage: San Diego.

Otsuka has been a good middle reliever but he is still going from pitcher friendly confines to pitcher adverse ones. However, as a middle reliever he can be selectively exposed to favorable situations.

Adrian Gonzalez will be starting in San Diego by mid-season and has not completed a full-season in the majors yet. Sledge will be a decent 4th OF who just finished his rookie year, too.

The low-level catcher has yet to complete a full season of Low A ball.

Mixed leagues wouldn't make this trade. Why would texas? Was Daniels weaned on Yahoo! shallow mixed-leagues and as a result doesn't know that he can't just dip into the free agent pool to pick-up a 1B or OF?

More specific for Roto, this trade sends signals that Dave Roberts and Ryan Klesko are going to be platoon players in SD or trade bait.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Jorge Sosa

After starting Game Three of the NLDS for the Braves, I have pencilled Jorge Sosa in as the #4 starter for the Atlanta Braves in 2006.

As such, I sent offers with him as the key piece as if this were the case, and known to other teams. In two cases, I was rebuffed because he was not in the starting rotation.

I was shocked so I immediately began a cursory search for information that would lead these teams to ignore the Game Three starting assignment.

No roto blurbs on Rotoworld or TQS. No off-season Atlanta signings of a starting pitcher or rumors of such. Then I checked the depth charts provided by Rotoworld and saw the reason. The service has Sosa listed in the bullpen and Mike Hapmton as the #3 starter.

Unfortuantely for Mike Hampton owners, he is out for 2006 with Tommy John surgery, but the damage had been done.

This weekend, Rotoworld had a Dominican Winter League update on Sosa. He pitched two innings of relief. Maybe one of these teams was privy to this and I missed it.

But as my Roto mind works, I cast it in a more favorable light. Since the Braves have not signed a closer to replace Kyle Farnsworth, maybe they are grooming Sosa to do it!

And if this is the case, I am glad those teams turned him down because nothing in Roto makes me feel sicker than seeing a former player of mine turn into a closer.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Kansas City

What are they doing?

Why would they sign Elmer Dessens, Scott Elarton, Doug Mientkiewicz, Mark Grudzalaniek, Paul Bako?

I can't see any of those players being considered starting players on any other team with the exception of Grudzalaniek, and even he is so pedestrian that I would forgo his blandness for a younger player with upside.

All they did was overpay for their 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th man on their 25-man rosters.

Stupid management leads to bad teams - not market size.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Javier Vasquez

Did I miss something? Has Vasquez pitched like a 10-figure per year pitcher the past two seasons?

He has not, at least if being a 10-figure pitcher means being Top 10 in any positive pitching categories.

In the real world something has not translated to Roto. Assuming all three players were protectable (Vasquez <$13, Vizcaino <$3, El Duque <$3 and Young a drafted farm player), no one would turn down El Duque, Vizcaino and Young for Vasquez.

Personally, I wouldn't have traded Young for Vasquez straight-up. 200 inning starting pitchers with ERAs near 4.50 have no place on my team. Nevermind that his ERA will likely go up pitching to 9-man line-ups and in a hitter-friendly home ballpark.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Who's on first?

Nomar Garciaparra????

Jeez, the Big Stein has to make a splash, doesn't he? Even if it means moving baseball's hottest 2nd half hitter in 2005, Jason Giambi, from the situation he occupied while amassing those numbers?


Monday, December 12, 2005


I sent an inquiry to the team that just lost Soriano to the NL figuring he had already committed to protecting him at his salary ($43). My bait was a $36 Ichiro.

He asked what I was interested in and I mentioned weither of the SS.

He looked at my team and responded I had more keepable players than I could protect.

And that was it.

Shouldn't he have known to make an offer with two players from my team? Or three? Doesn't everyone know to do this?

Apparently not.

As a result, our discussions have morphed into me holding his hand and trying to teach him how to negotiate Roto trades. Needless to say this is like a joke where you have to explain the punchline - not fun.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dan Uggla

He was selected by the Florida Marlins yesterday. As a 2B, he certainly looks as good as any other option the team has. Actually, he looks like the best. Sorry to all you Alfredo Almazaega fans.

In AA Tennessee of the Southern league, he hit .297/.378/.502 with 33 doubles, 21 homers, and 15 steals. With that type of pop, I expect he can be a decent Roto middle infielder with 300+ ABs. My guess is a slightly better version of Aaron Miles.

For comparison, as a 25-year-old in the same league, Miles hit .304/.354/.445.

Hopefully, Ugga won't be too close to Miles' numbers because the guys at Rotoworld will attack him as visciously as they do Miles!

Esteban German

Yesterday, the Royals acquired Esteban German for the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft.

He is a major sleeper. He has spent 4 full years atAAA and consistently posted high OBPs (.390. .379, .380, and .400 the last four seasons) and he stole 43 bases last season (26, 32, 18 in half a year the prior three seasons.) while also improving his caught stealing percentages. With little to no competition for 2B, he should get full-time ABs next year, and if he is decent, rack up very good SB numbers (>20) for a handful or so of draft dollars.

As I expect him to land on most sleeper lists, I won't say he will be had for a $1 at the end of the draft. However, my past experience of middle infielder prices has shown the vast majority to go for $15 +/- $5. I expect him to still go for less than the lower end of that range. I would also consider protecting him at $10 if he was plucked from the pool at some point last season and is still on a team's reserve list.

The most glaring question is why, in this Moneyball era, did he spend four full seasons in AAA while doing everything the sabremetricians tout?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sean Casey

So Pitsburgh needs a 31-year-old 1B with minimal power to make them.....what? Stupid?

Casey's reputation as a great teammate is going to have to go a loooooooooooooooooooooooooong way if this is to be considered a good trade.

Dave Williams may not be Randy Johnson, but he is 26 and left-handed. One would think the Pirates could have gotten a little more than a soon-to-be free agent 1B with low double digit power making $8.5 million this year.

God, what an awful deal for the Pirates!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Stripping the farm

Didn't Minaya leave the Expos/Nationals farm system barren?

He is certainly doing it to the Mets. He traded Gabby Hernandez, considered their best pitching propsect after the Petit deal, and a PTBNL for a 34-year-old catcher with poor catch-stealers skills who is owed $6 mm for each of the next two seasons.

I guess his non-Roto contributions are much greater than are apparent in his numbers because I don't see how he is $11+ mm better than Ramon Castro.

Castro: 28 years-old 209 ABs 8 HR 41 RBI .244 AVG .321 OBP .435 SLG
LoDuca: 34 years-old 445 ABS 6 HR 57 RBI .283 AVG .334 OBP .380 SLG

Before Minaya is allowed to trade prospects he should be asked, "How are Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore doing?"

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Castillo had a very nice OBP, but if the new 2b can add some pop, I think the Marlins will not be noticably worse.

Seems a great risk for the team - add one power arm for the 2006 bullpen with another in AA for a 2B whose main value is concentrated on the current obsession with OBP.

Speaking of such, the Phils asked for Wang from the Yanks for Jason Michale, another player who has one skill - OBP. He has no pop whatsoever while playing in a hitter-friendly park.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Luis Castillo

At least, the Twins have an infielder who can hit .300. As for power and speed....

Travis Bowyer looks like a "sleeper" to close. I put that in quotes because everyone will know it and thus he won't be a true sleeper.

he would make Proctor that much more of a sleeper, though, if he gets all the off-season hype.

Juan Pierre to the Yanks?

This makes perfect sense. The Yanks need a CF. Florida is having a fire sale with a CF on display. And the Fish want a couple of mediocre pitchers - Scott Proctor and Sean Henn.

If this occurred, I like Proctor as a sleeper in Florida. if the Fish have no defined closer come Opening Day, I would love him!

As for Henn, I was unimpressed last season, but would not be surprised to see him be moderately successful a la Brad Halsey in the NL.

As for Pierre, get your checkbook ready because he will go for $30+. See Scott Podsednick for a rough estimation of draft value.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Anyone notice that Steve Karsay's $22 million contract is now the norm for an 8th inning pitcher?

I am glad Kyle Farnsworth signed to set-up because I would not have wanted to risk closer money on him at the draft. I know he did well in the role last season, but what about that blow-up with a 5-0 lead in the play-offs?

Like I said, I am happy to not have to take that risk.

He could be a decent middle reliver though. Pitching for the Yankees, he should be in line for some Ws. And if he fails, you will know very quickly because Torre will stop using him regularly, and you can cut bait. There is little chance the Yanks would give-up on him during the first year (Although, I am sure, the Tampa Cronies would revel in Cashman's mistake.) Before there was Javier Vasquez, there was Sterling Hitchcock would pitched mop-up for $6.3 MM.

This would allay some of the fear that he would end-up closing somewhere else.

Given the market, the Yanks are better off over paying two set-up men for the price of one closer. And they haven't brought in a weak-armed, sore shouldered CF for another 7 years and $80+ million,