Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Joel Guzman

The Dodgers are moving him to left field with every intention of letting him win the starting LF job. No other conclusion can be drawn from this article.

Some quotes from the article:

...Dodgers manager Grady Little made official the switch, a long anticipated move done now to give the 6-foot-6 right-handed slugger a fast-track shot into the Dodgers' Opening Day starting lineup at age 21...

..."Right now, there's nothing that's been said or done that he couldn't leave with us this spring," Little said before the club's intrasquad game. "He's a talented young man with rooftop power. If we see he's comfortable in left field, who knows what can happen? A transition like that shouldn't be tough." ...

...This move is designed to create the fastest path to the Major Leagues for Guzman...

Do you think the Dodgers read my blog?
$30+ Chone Figgins

$24+ Jorge Cantu, Brian Roberts

$17+ Tadahito Iguchi, Placido Polanco, Robinson Cano

$13+ Ian Kinsler, Luis Castillo, Rafael Belliard, Mark Loretta, Adam Kennedy, Mark Ellis

$7+ Aaron Hill, Jose Lopez, Mark Grudzalaniek

<$6 Rob Mackowiak, Nick Punto, Antonio Perez, D'Angelo Jiminez, Tony Graffanino, Omar Infante, Willie Bloomquist

There is no worthless category because there is no shortage of 2B who can contribute in some way, even if it is only not killing your AVG (unlike the dregs of catchers.) or just providing multiple position eligibility.

With a lack of depth at the top, I can envision a scenario where Cantu cracks the $30 mark, and Brian Roberts elbow injury fails to be discounted. The next level may all go for closer to $24 than $17 for the same reason.

Once that froth is gone (I did what? $24 on Placido Polanco?!?!?!), there are good pickings amongst the remaining players.

Luis Castillo could join the $17+ crowd if the Twins hold to there recent statements that he will be allowed to run. I just don't see that lasting. He had lost a lot of speed already (measured by caught stealing in two of the last three seasons) and playing on the turf everyday is going to be brutual on the hip.

Baseball on the Radio

XM Radio - MLB Home Plate

This is why I have been exicted since receiving XM Radio for Christmas. Baseball games on the radio all the time!

If I have a change of heart, I can also record WBC games in the early AM to listen to in the morning. of course, I'd have to give-up my daily recording of a couple hours of Da' Boneyard, Channel 41. Not sure I can do without my AM dose of Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Dokken, Warrant, Metallica, Dio, Tesla, Posion, Skid Row and whatever else I forgot that is very good (Junkyard, Kix come immediately to mind.)

Wes Bankston

Minor League Baseball: News

He's moving to 3B. If he takes to it like a fish to water, then his 2007 ETA remains the same.

I have my doubts though. Going fromt he OF to 1B is usually the path for the defensively-challenged. Going from there to 3B is the opposite.

However, he was a good fielding 1B. I see struggles in AA at the hot corner though.

If he doesn't struggle, I'd up his value some as 3B is less bountiful than 1B in fantasy baseball. Plus, there is no one blocking his path at 3B.

Monday, February 27, 2006

AL Catcher $$$ Ranges

$30+ None

$24+ Victor Martinez

$17-$24 Jorge Posada, Ramon Hernandez, Javy Lopez, Jason Varitek, Joe Mauer, AJ Peirzynski, Ivan Rodriguez

$13-$16 Benji Molina, Rod Barajas, Kenji Kohjima

$7-$12 Jason Kendall, Toby Hall, Jeff Mathis

<$6 John Buck, Greg Zaun, Kelly Shoppach, Jose Molina, Rene Riveria, Geronimo Gil, Jose Molina

Worthless Josh Paul, Josh Bard, Kelly Stinnett, Chris Widger, Mark Redmond, Vance Wilson, Paul Bako

In a 12-team league, 24 catchers will be drafted. I have only listed 21 worth anything. Keep that in mind.

There are players in each category that I consider on the cusp of a higher category (VMart, Mauer, Kohjima) or a lower one (Mathis, Barajas, Pierzynski). Whether a player changes category will depend on hype and inflation.

Joe Mauer's production has not caughten up to his hype. My categorization reflects a lot of hype obviously because 9 HR 55 RBI 13 SB .294 does not merit $24. It is very good for a catcher though.

Valuation Explanation

SportingNews.com - Your expert source for Fantasy Source

While I intuit, John Benson keeps detailed records.

A very good primer on valuations.

How I Assign $$ to Players

Valuing players for a draft is an inexact science. There are various calculators that allow you to input your league parameters to generate a list of pure values based upon the calculator’s parameters – total money available to be spent and number of players to be drafted. Some of these spit out negative values. Some provide fractional values i.e $1.58.

Anyone who has read my site for a while knows I base my values on a more intuitive scale. This is not a popular way of doing it. In fact, it is an unpopular way of doing anything in any field of knowledge. Price target for stock? Number of uninsured? Presidential approval rating? Number of calories to consume in a day?

My valuation system is based on my experience in auction drafts and the minimum and maximum bids in those drafts. For scaling purposes, the minimum bid is $1 and salary cap is $260 with 23 rosters spots all of which must be filled. The maximum bid on any player is $238 (22 $1 players and 1 $238 = $260.)

As I have never seen a bid of $238, the de facto maximum bid is $47. That was for Randy Johnson three years ago. For simplicity, I always operate on the theory that the maximum bid is $40-$45, and this will only be reached by a handful of players, at most, and only in keeper leagues.

So my player values range from $1 to $40+. There will be no negative values and no fractional ones.

I am going to begin posting these values for deep keeper leagues with auction drafts. If your league does not meet those three criteria (1. deep 2. keeper league 3. auction draft), the dollar values will be higher than what you should anticipate.

They are still useful as I will be grouping similarly-valued players to together i.e Johann Santana, Randy Johnson, Mark Buerhle as $30 pitchers. It will be up to you to determine which of the grouped players are the best (Santana) and which is the worst (A very tough call.)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Butler vs Barton

Baseball America - Ask BA

Baseball America ranked Barton ahead of Butler, #28 to #29.

In this Q&A with Jim Callis, he says Butler would have been higher if he "had been able to stay at third base or had a much of a chance to stay in left field, rather than looking like a future DH. "

One spot difference for a DH vs a 1B? Butler is the better prospect. Barton-philia is all that keeps it from being recognized.

Billingsley & Guzman

Little Sees Much to Like About Billingsley - Los Angeles Times

New Dodgers manager Grady Little said all the right things about SP Chad Billingsley - Hard to say he can't make the team out of spring, he's not going to be good but great - body style, look on his face, the way he walks in the clubhouse and his stuff. The sabremetricians must be squirming!

The question right now is how much is fluff with March still not here.

Also mentioned at the end fo the article is Joel Guzman and his switch to either first, third or the OF. I can see him getting a shot in 2006 at any of those spots with a fortuitous (for him) injury

With an OF of Juan Cruz, Jayson Werth, Kenny Loften, Ricky Ledee and JD Drew, his quickest path seems to be as an outfielder.

Francisco Liriano

The crescendo is building on the hype for this Twins lefty. It is to the point where he is unobtainable at the $10 pool pick-up salary, and the talk about him beginning in AAA is undeterring. Liriano will just be protected and replaced at the end of the draft. He is so good that nothing can stand in his way on his road to fantasy baseball greatness!

I am not being hyperbolic. That paragraph accurately reflects the current thinking.

I do not have him on any rosters so I am less prone to enjoying the hype. My worry is whether he will be another Edwin Jackson.

EJax had a dominant September back in 2003 after pitching very well in AA Jacksonville. Going into 2004, he was expected to be a dominant starting pitcher.

He was not. Just the opposite. He stunk (and has continued to stink), and anyone who considered him an integral part of their 2004 season likely did worse than projected.

Do I recognize the differences between Jackson and Liriano? Of course, one is left-handed. The other is not. One dominated for 90 innings in AAA. The other did it in AA. One pitched in a pitcher's park. The other will pitch in a hitter's park. However, take away those 90 innings and both players look similar in terms of production. And they are the same age!

That aside, the hype is the same. For those Liriano owners, I hope the results are not.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

BA Top Prospects

Eliminating those players likely to make the Opening Day roster leaves a list that looks like this:

1. Delmon Young (AL)
2. Justin Upton (NL)
3. Brandon Wood (AL)
4. Stephen Drew (NL)
5. Chad Billingsley (NL)
6. Lastings Milledge (NL)
7. Howie Kendrick (AL)
8. Alex Gordon (AL)
9. Andy Marte (AL)
10. Ian Stewart (NL)
11. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (NL)

The players making the Opening Day roster are Jeremy Hermida, Francisco Liriano, Justin Verlander, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Ryan Zimmerman and Conor Jackson.

I could have stopped at CJax and left the adjusted #11 off but decided arbitrariness allows a completely arbitrary cut-off point.

Top AL Players:

Top NL Players

There you have a quick and easy list of the top propsects for a minor league draft. Apply the same method to the entire list and you have no excuse to be unprepared for the minor league portion of your league's draft.

Franklin Gutierrez

With a blog dedicated to Rotisserie baseball, I tend to dislike players who get ABs and contribute nothing - Jose Vizcaino and Orlando Palmeiro types.

The Indians signed Todd Hollandsworth to apparently provide me with this season's frustration. With my eyes are pealed towards Brad Snyder's debut, I want the ABs given to the eventual platoon partner of Jason Michael to go to a player with some prospects of upside surprise.

Mr. Hollandsworth no longer possesses that (nor does he bat from the right side.) Franklin Gutierrez does!

Gutierrez's sleeper potential occurred to me while examining Brad Snyder's prospective opportunity. With Snyder and Michaels hitting from the left-side of the plate, a natural thought is who would hit from the right-side in the event a platoon situation arose. And if a platoon proved uncnnecessary, who fits the bill as a right-handed 4th OF backing up each once or twice a week (which comes to four potential starts per week!)

As a 4th OF, Gutierrez can have his ABs managed. This could protect him from overexposure and prevent his worse tendency from manifesting itself (lack of plate discipline). What could result is a player with decent counting stats (HR/RBI/SB).

I know he has fallen out of favor as a propsect - that 2004 power and SB outage would do that - but I am not ready to write him off as a helpful Roto player. His power rebounded slightly last season, but more importantly, his speed returned.

If he makes the team out of Spring training, spend a $1 and enjoy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Barton vs Butler

Daric Barton vs Billy Butler

Since neither player is expected to be solid defensively, I quipped that Butler was a better prospect than Barton. This comes from my contrarian response to any herd-like popular belief. After shooting first, I decided to look deeper into my hair-trigger analysis.

Defensively, Baseball America says of Butler:
Drafted as a third baseman, Butler lacked the athleticism and footwork for the position. After he made 18 errors in 41 games at the hot corner last year, he moved to left field, where the hope is that he can become adequate. He has yet to find a comfort level with reads and routes on fly balls

Of Barton:
His inability to remain a catcher was due more to lack of effort than lack of ability. He’s a below-average runner, and his conditioning could improve… would need substantial time in the minors if he returned to catching. He’ll begin the year playing first base…Oakland almost certainly will have to make a decision as to how to get his bat permanently in the lineup by Opening Day 2007.

In The Baseball Prospect Book 2006, John Sickels says of Butler:
The question here is defense…a good arm but still learning the nuances of outfield play…lack of speed severely handicaps his range…

Of Barton:
He’s better off at first base…but most scouts think he’ll be nothing more than barely average defensively...probably doesn’t run well enough to play in the outfield…

I am fully confident that both players have achieved parity defensively. This leaves only the hitting portion of the comparison from which to draw a conclusion.

Daric Barton is 9 months older than Billy Butler. This accounts for the extra year of professional experience. However, this did not affect the level at which both ended the 2005 season – AA in the Texas League.

Point: Butler – the younger player at the same level.

With the extra year, Barton has amassed 25% or so more plate appearances than Butler. Barton has 69 doubles, 3 triples and 30 homeruns for a total of 102 extra-base hits. Butler has 61 doubles, 5 triples and 40 homeruns for a total of 106 extra-base hits – in 350 or so fewer plate appearances!

Just comparing 2005 where Barton had 60 more plate appearances, he was out-powered 13 HR to 30 HR and 87 RBI to 110 RBI. More importantly, Barton’s 13 HR matched his previous season’s total but he did it in 200+ more plate appearances. Butler also received more 200+ more PAs, but he hit 30 HRs vs the prior season’s 10.

Point: Butler – more power at the same levels with positive pro-rated improvement.

Barton has twice as many bases-on-balls than Butler even accounting for the extra season of professional play – 203 to 106.

Point: Barton – better plate discipline.

I think the case is rock solid based on defensive parity and offensive ability that Butler is the better prospect. This does not account for either player’s organization.

On this level, the A’s look for players with Barton’s skill set – OBP. He is behind Dan Johnson right now, and the A’s signed Frank Thomas for a song. Grabbing DH-types with good on-base skills is not difficult. Think Erubiel Durazo.

The Royals have nothing like Butler in the minors (although Alex Gordon is projected to be that plus some defense), and nothing in the majors to prevent him from playing in the OF with a poor defensive skill set, at least for a season or two. Plus, he may hit like Frank Thomas.

Point: Butler - that power is not commonly available.

The only reason Barton remains the more highly-regarded prospect is his particular skill – OBP – is the current hot statistical measure, and he is a member of the organization that is currently lauded as the best and brightest. This combination overpowers all baseball discussion and analysis.

BA has Barton rated higher than Butler but not by much (#28 vs #29). John S. has a greater disparity (18th hitter vs 29th one).

I expect this to be the last time Barton will be considered better than Butler and the closeness of BA ranking leads me to believe this is already occurring.

Barry Zito

As I had done an analysis of Zito earlier, I wanted to point out the report yesterday that he was throwing harder so far.

If, in fact, he is capable of kicking it up a notch (Bam!), then he will likely be in the running for a Cy Young. Assuming the increased velocity translates into more strikeouts, a jump from his 160 strikeout level to the 200 one would mean 40 fewer ABs that could result in a hit or a walk.

What type of performance would one expect from a 200 strikeout lefty? One with five plus years of major league pitching experience? 3.00/1.10?

Style Drift

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Baseball

Like I suspect most fantasy baseball players do, I sign-up for several free Yahoo! leagues to help fill my need for Roto after waiting 5 months from last season's end.

I had an aoutpick draft and cutomized my rankings with every single closer on the list. Needless to say, I got a lot of them. As I do not pay money for this league, I was not concerned.

While closers are dimished in value in a 5X5 format, the fact remains there are only 30 of them. If a team needs one, they have two options - go into the pool or trade. Unlike OF, CR and SP, the pool is not a good place to fish for Saves.

Given I have 6 closers and 2.5 starting pitchers, I will need SP to compete. I can grab a seemingly endless supply of SP with 4.00 ERA. What I need is a starting pitcher I cannot get from the pool.

Will any of the closerless teams recognize we are in the same boat - needing something we can't get from the pool? And will that recognition lead to a closer for stud SP trade?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

2005 Misses

I have my 2005 minor league draft cheat sheet available.

Amongst the players I had listed, and were not taken, were Ambriox Burgos, Ryan Garko, Jason Botts, Joaquin Arias, Brandon Wood, Brad Snyder, Melky Cabrera, Dan Meyer and Jon Papelbon.

Clearly, the HUGE miss was Brandon Wood . Burgos and Papelbon are "established" as major leaguers, and Botts, Cabrera and Meyer are failures on some level.

Garko has some value but I would not use a minor league pick on him. Joaquin Arias is blocked at SS by Michael Young, one of the best Rotisserie SS, but could merit a pick if you don't believe the whispers that he is a couple years older than his listed age.

I covered Brad Snyder earlier and defintely consider him a lock for one of the 24 picks available.

The Wood Error will be correctly very quickly.

FWIW, I selected Ian Kinsler (2), Brian Anderson (8), Brandon Moss (11), Aaron Hill (14), Wes Bankston (15), Chris Young (16) and Elijiah Dukes (23). Of those, only brandon moss would fail to be picked.

Peter Gammons


In fairness, this is two posts in two days for Mr. Gammons. A few hundred words a day is all that is asked.

BA Top 100 Prospects: 1-50

Baseball America - 2006 Top 100 Prospects: 1-50

Delmon Young is the top prospect followed by Justin Upton.

The remaining Top 10:

3. Brandon Wood
4. Jeremy Hermida
5. Stephen Drew
6. Francisco Liriano
7. Chad Billingsley
8. Justin Verlander
9. Lastings Milledge
10. Matt Cain

Some quibbling with the order can be done, but I think the top 10 are fairly consensus.

What Roto players need to do is focuse on the next 11. It is here that BA rips off 11 straight hitters, all of which could help this year (either on your roster or as prime bail trade bait later in the season) - Fielder, Kendrick, Gordon, Marte, Zimmerman, Stewart, Jackson, Saltamacchia, LaRoche, Quentin and Markakis.

Apparently, contributing to a major league team means less than the scouting report. I have a hard time making that evaluation. It is analogous to saying the money in my pocket is worth less than the money I may have in two years.

Lester, Chris Young, Jenks, Troy Tulowitzski, Joel Guzman, Pie, Barton, Butler, Ramirez, Maybin.

Given Barton is not a defensive sure thing, why, other than Beanism, is he ahead of KC masher, Billy Butler? I'd take Butler over Barton every single day. (No! No! I won't drink the Kool-aid!)

Maybin is my candidate for the Chris Nelson Award - a player with none-to-little professional experience but ranked with, and ahead of, much more accomplished players. This should be Upton but....

Carlos Gonzalez, Clement, Olsen, Zumaya, Papelbon, (36) Pelfrey.

The Mets are lucky to have a top OF and SP high on this list.

Homer Baily, Phillip Hughes, Anibal Sanchez, Anthony Reyes.

A Red?

Russell Martin, Neil Walker, Mark Rogers, Adam Loewen - a couple catchers and righty and lefty power arms with no control whatsoever.

Erick Aybar, Adam Miller, Dustin McGowan - a couple pitchers with arm injuries. They should be much, much lower.

Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen take 49th and 50th place. I like both propects, but Braun has to take a walk and has High A, AA and AAA to do so. McCutchen has the OBP so in vogue but has as many levels to traverse as Braun plus low A.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BA Top 100 Prospects: 51-100

Baseball America - 2006 Top 100 Prospects: 51-100

Some quick thoughts:

Brian Anderson starts this list at #51. He is the bird in hand relative to the two, three or four in the bush.

Jason Kubel at #58: A big whiff by the scouting-obsessed BA.

Elvis Andrus #61: Kubel will be traded due to salary concerns before Andrus hits the majors. I'd say the early favorite for the Chris Nelson Award - a young propsect who is Viagra for scouts but not Roto players.

Adam Jones #64: maybe he is available late in my AL-only 2nd round. I had considered him late in the 1st.

Marcus Sanders #65: Whiff!

Brad Snyder #71: Do I like players a lot more than the scouts? Clearly.

DVD #56 Volquez, #59 Danks, #72 Diamond: I'll believe it when I see it and feel OK letting someone else take the chance.

Gio Gonzalez #73: List weakens preciptiously?

Dustin Pedroia #77: Opportunity means little to BA.

Kendry Morales #78: Maybe it does.

Cliff Pennington #83: organizational philosophy unimportant.

Ryan Sweeney #92: C'mon a corner outfielder with1 HR in AA?

Stark #2!!!


Not sure he has what it takes to successfully blog, but he will have to keep his guild-esque attitude in mind at all times.

To quote:

Thanks to the blogosphere, we get to read all kinds of new voices who actually spend way too much of their lives devoting way too much creative thought to baseball, for little or zero compensation.

This is part of what makes blogging fun. We do it not because we are paid but because we love the sport/topic - although any of us would gladly give-up our days jobs for Mr. Starks' job - even at a greatly reduced salary!

Baseball is not rocket science and requires no advanced educational training beyond the ability to read and write. It requires an ability to watch and read about and examine a game that our ADHD society deems slow and boring.

If not for derivative analysis like fantasy sports, I wonder if Starks would even have to blog?

Would he have gone the sad, sad way of Baseball Weekly? or should I say Baseball Two-Days-A-Week after adding NASCAR?

Ryan Shealy


Early prognosis for Shealy OF transition is good.

This would drop Brad Hawpe's value to that of good side of a platoon, and frankly, he didn't do anything last year to graduate from that role.

More alarming, though, is this statement attributed to manager Clint Hurdle. He says he wants Shealy to work in RF and LF.

Does he really think Holliday should lose ABs? If so, then one of the super-hyped candidates of the 2006 pre-season is going to disappoint.

My best guess is he only meant to say Shealy will get time in LF and RF this Spring as he transitions from slugging 1B to slugging OF. But this is something to keep in mind as the Spring winds down.

Edgar Renteria

�dgar Renter�a - Atlanta Braves - MLB - Yahoo! Sports

When a player comes off a bad year, the default forecast for the following season is somewhere between the stinker and the season prior.

On XM Radio's Fantasy Forecast, I heard this default option used to guesstimate Edgar Renteria's 2006 season.

Tell me if this was a lazy answer or one aptly done.

.276 AVG 8 HR 70 RBI 9 SB

.287 AVG 10HR 72 RBI 17SB

Let's look at 2004 while we are at it

.330 AVG 13HR 100RBI 34SB

Three consecutive seasons of declining numbers made me check his age. He is only 30 years old. And I thought Bernie Williams aged poorly!

Back to the 2006 forecast of something between 2004 and 2005. It was just laziness. Other than SB, the seasons were nearly identical. A couple lucky breaks gets Renteria to his 2004 numbers.

More importantly, one should not expect too much of a bounce back. He is what he is - a .280ish hitter with 10 HR potential and low double digit steals potential. He is an $8 player.

Don't want to believe it? Compare this player to Edgar and say otherwise.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brad Snyder (ETA 2007)

He looks to be the heir apparent to whatever OF ABs Casey Blake receives and that is 500+ per season. Yes, Blake has had 500+ ABs for three consecutive seasons.

Snyder does strikeout a lot, but that is not as big a concern as it would normally be as the Tribe has withstood Blake's 100+ per season. I am concerned Snyder does not have better walk rates (10:1 last season), but the Tribe has withstood worse ones in two of the three 500+ AB seasons it has given Blake.

What I like about Snyder's playing time prospects is his speed. He does not have eye-popping speed, but he did steal 17 in 21 attempts last season and 45 of 60 in his professional career. He also had 7 triples last year and 19 in his 2.5 year career.

He also hit 22 HR last year in 500 ABs after hitting 15 in 400 in his first full professional season. Maintaining his HR power as he rose a level shows a consistency that gives me confidence he will continue to produce when he moves up again. This consistency also applies to his speed stats.

Snyder also bats left-handed so worst case he begins on the good side of a platoon situation. With Blake's contract expiring at season's end, do not be surprised to see Snyder called-up this season, but his best chance for those 500+ ABs is 2007.

If not for Travis Hafner, how would the sabremetrically-oriented gush over a Garko/Snyder DH platoon? A Franklin Guitierez one may be more likely and that is not quite as gush-worthy for the sabre crowd.

Gammons & Stark

As of this posting, Peter Gammons has posted twice in six days, and Jayson Stark has posted once.

That is not blogging. They are regular columnists like Rob Neyer who "writes for Insider two or three times per week."

Cliff Pennington ETA 2007

Forecasting is difficult. Sitting back and picking nits is easy. I did that with Glenn Perkins last night and will do it with Cliff Pennington this morning.

He was a 1st round pick of the deified Oakland A's whose prophet is Billy Beane. He has no power whatsoever and his best offensive skill is stealing bases, which he can do fairly well.

Unfortunately, that is a skill wasted in the A's organization. How about his OBP and SLG? His OBP was higher than his SLG - .364 vs .359. Players who slug less than they get on base are not good propsects unless their OBP is in the very high .300s or higher. (Amazingly, that protects my prognostication on Marcus Sanders!)

A .276 AVG in A-ball is not a good starting point either. If he had hit like Marcus Sanders in his pro debut as a 21-year-old, I'd feel sorry for him being drafted into the hostile environment, but he was not.

The A's just signed Mark Ellis to a two-year contract with an option for 2008. If he continues to perform, I see no opening for Pennington at 2B, and that would entail a move from his current SS postion. I assume a position switch because I expect Bobby Crosby to bounce back to his ROY form.

There is nowhere for Pennington to play in 2007. If he had a dominating minor league debut, I may be more likely to let John Manuel's 2007 ETA pass, but Pennington did not.

When putting together a minor league prospect list for your Rotisserie draft, eliminating touted propsects is an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
It also helps identify possible mistake picks by your competitors. When this happens, you can count on getting a better player than your draft position indicates. (I pick 8th in an AL-only and know one of my top 7 will fall to me using this theory. Last season, Brian Nikola Anderson fell to me because a team picked Kurt Suzuki. Another Oakland A? Hmmm.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

John Manuel Hitter/Pitcher Splits

The lack of success with the minor league pitchers drafted in 2003 by my NL-only league led me to see what the splits are in John Manuel's essential Prospect Pulse column.

2006 ETA: 20/19
2007 ETA: 23/7
2008 ETA: 7/4

What to make of that? Certainly, he finds it easier to project pitchers' ETA for the closest season. This makes sense intuitively as successful AA and AAA pitchers are on the cusp of a call-up. 11 of the 19 projected ETAs had a cup of coffee last season. The other 8 all pitched in AA or higher.

Interestingly, he has Cole Hamels as a 2006 ETA. I have been touting this possibility since mid-January. Of course, he also has Minnesota starting pitcher Glenn Perkins doing the same, but that one I missed.

Why? Because the Twins don't have enough room for Baker and Liriano right now.

Perkins was the Twins 1st round pick in 2004 out of U of Minnesota. He dominated Rookie and Low A after that draft - 60.1 innings, 41 hits, 16 BBs and 71 strikeouts.

He began 2005 in High A, dominated it (55 innings, 41, 13, 66 strikeouts) and was promoted to Double A New Britian of the Eastern League. There he hit his first speed bump - 79 innings, 80 hits, 35 BBs, 67 strikouts.

He kept the ball in the park, but his ERA more than doubled from 2.13 to 4.90. I do not think he will make a debut this year with JD Durbin and Boof Bonser in AAA and Baker or Liriano in the major league bullpen.

Actually, I can see Bonser getting a bullpen role after striking out more than one per inning in AAA Rochester. His strikeout rate increased for the third season in a row last year. He gave-up too many HRs (22), but a foot-wetting in middle relief seems right.

Joel Sherman

Who? He is a sports columnist for the New York Post. Yesterday he wrote a very short piece examining the Moneyball draft of 2002. (Yes, that would be the draft that resulted in many players being taken in my 2003 Minor League Draft.)

Mr. Sherman points out that the 2002 draft may turn out to be one of the best ever for high schoolers. I'll mention the ones he did - 1st rounders Scott Kazmir, Zach Greinke, Matt Cain, Jeff Francoeur (Ed: misspelled in article), Prince Fielder, Jeremy Hermida, BJ Upton, James Loney, Cole Hamels. Amongst the 2nd rounders were Robert Andino, Brian McCann, Jonathon Broxton and Jon Lester.

In fairness, he did write that Upton, Kazmir, Greinke, Fielder and Hermida had already been selected when the A's hit the clock at #15 and took Nick Swisher.

I saw this yesterday linked in Buster Olney's blog and read it last night after picking-up a copy of the Post. I had not realized prior to this AM that many people may have missed it because Buster is behind a subscription wall. That is why I wrote this post (and not to bash the fanatical, seemingly blind adherents of Billy Beane.).

It also tied nicely into my prior two posts.

More on My 2003 Minor League Draft

1. Jose Reyes
2. Jesse Foppert
3. John Patterson
4. Andy Marte
5. Jason Stokes
6. Gavin Floyd
7. Miguel Cabrera
8. Khalil Greene
9. Justin Huber
10. Todd Linden
11. Garrett Atkins
12. James Loney
13. Brendan Harris
14. Scott Kazmir
15. Luke Allen
16. Cory Hart
17. Bobby Basham
18. Chad Tracy
19. David Wright
20. Prince Fielder
21. Jeff Francoeur
22. Angel Guzman
23. Jeff Baker
24. Felix Pie

Obviously, I play in a very deep league. Many of the hitters had only completed their rookie-ball year or low A.

Also obvious, why do teams bother taking pitchers in minor league drafts? I know Patterson was good last season but that was after he had been released into the free agent pool, and he was not drafted last season.

Third, other than Reyes and Cabrera, the players currently contributing were taken in #11 or later. This means one should be careful in making trades to move up in the draft and should focus more on dealing higher picks for multiple lower ones.

Somewhat less obvious, the more picks you have, the more likely you are to land a legitimate fantasy player. I had six and got Cabrera, Kazmir, and Francoeur. Another team had picked Greene (yes), Basham (no), Harris (no) and Wright (A big YES!)

And not at all obvious is I wanted David Wright with one of my three picks at the end of the draft. The lesson being you should play a hunch in your draft and take players earlier than hoping to sneak ones near the end. There are 11 other teams who think and analyze too.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Minor League Draft

The way I prepare for my minor league drafts consists of following Baseball America's Top Ten Prospects by organization throughout the winter and noting players I liked. This season I added John Sickels' opinions to the equation.

The players I usually note are the "obvious" ones, plus lower ranked ones with good power/speed combos/good walk rates for hitters and high strikeouts/low batting average against. Normally, I tend towards younger propsects, but I always try to find the Craig Wilson of the high minors - a player who can get recalled and produce in limited time.

With John M's list, I will likely apply the same criteria to those ranked players.

I looked over one of these lists. Specifically, the one I used for my 2003 NL minor league draft. Amongst the players I did not take were Adam LaRoche, Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Hermida, Jose Castillo, and Brad Hawpe. Those I did take were Miguel Cabrera (7), Todd Linden (10), Scott Kazmir (14), Corey Hart (16), Jeff Francouer (21), Angel Guzman (22) and Jeff Baker (23).

A couple things pop out (Defintion: couple = four). First, I had a lot of picks. I usually do because I make trades to obtain them. Second, five of the six made the majors, and Angel Guzman would have if not for injuries. Third, even with six picks, I still missed very good players, and finally, I liked Jeff Francoeur more than Jeremy Hermida - a scenario that has changed.

FOXSports.com - Fantasy Baseball- Fantasy baseball: Top 100 prospects

FOXSports.com - Fantasy Baseball- Fantasy baseball: Top 100 prospects

Geez, I feel bad about forgetting Brian Anderson and Prince Fielder on my Top 10 prospects stab. (Which I could have easily excused by saying one was #11 and the other #12. Or what I should have done was exclude any players likely to be on Opening Day rosters. That list will be forthcoming.)

But Aaron Gleeman forgot Alex Gordon on his Top 100! And he is paid to provide that article to FOXSports.

Mike Pelfrey ETA 2007

New York Daily News - Baseball - John Harper: Pelfrey looks phenom-enal

As Pelfrey did not sign soon enough to pitch last season, the only thing we have to judge him on various opinion pieces.

The one above by John Harper is as good a place to start.

I began here with John Sickels Top 20 Mets prospects and his upgrade from his book (The book! The book! He must be talking about Jim Cramer's Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World,) The Baseball Prospect Book 2006. (Which the author reports has only a couple hundred copies left per his Friday appearance on XM Radio's Fantasy Focus with Jeff Erickson)

Here is what John S wrote:

"Pelfrey is rated at B+ in the book, but I think it likely that I should have given him an A- based on his college performance and scouting reports. "

One caution: the hype on Pelfrey could snowball based on these "new" scotuing reports. Watch for some reference to additional ones. There is little doubt the NY press will tout Pelfrey for the next few weeks. it is what it does.

If NY press is allowed to go unabated, pelfrey could be the next Randy Johnson by mid-March.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

2008 ETAs

As there are only 11 players estimated to arrive in 2008, I can more easily list them.

C SEA Jeff Clement
2B SF Marcus Sanders
2B LA Blake DeWitt
SS AZ Justin Upton
SS ATL Elvis Andrus
OF DET Cameron Maybin
OF AZ Carlos Gonzalez
SP CIN Homer Bailey
SP MLW Mark Rogers
LHP LA Scott Elbert
LHP HOU Troy Patton

There are two things the four pitchers have in common - good strikeouts and NL organizations. Patton has the best control (28 walks in 119.2 innings wth 132 Ks.) Rogers has the worst control (70 walks in 98.2 innings with 109 Ks.). Betwen the other two, Bailey had slightly more Ks and more walks (125 in 103.2 innings versus 128 in 115 innings and 62 BB versus 57,) and Elbert was harder to hit (83 hits versus 89.)

Because Patton has the best control and is left-handed, I'd go with him ahead of the other three if I had to do so, but I wouldn't take that chance over any of the hitters. As I play in NL-only leagues, that means Sanders, DeWitt, Upton, Andrus and Gonzalez. There was no way Sanders, Upton or Andrus was making it out of my draft this season, and this was prior to John Manuel's rankings. Even Carlos Gonzalez was considered for a late first round pick after the publication of Baseball America's Top Ten for the D'backs but before the acquistion of Chris Young (another 2nd round pick of mine last season.)

I do not know why there would only be NL pitchers in the 2008 ETAs, but I do understand there being fewer of them than hitters. With pitchers seemingly getting hurt more frequently combined with the necessarily young ages of players projected three years out, one would expect less. Why there are no AL arms is harder to discern. It may be the case that AL teams tend towards drafting hitters due to the DH. Maybe NL teams know a pitcher can be developed more quickly because they do not face as deep line-ups because the pitcher hits. Maybe it is just random.

If the M's hadn't just signed Kenji Johjima to a three-year deal, I would be prone to take Jeff Clement in the late first/early second round, but the Johjima signing, and expectations of success, makes me think Clement could be had in the same spot in 2007. With that, I may consider him as one of the last picks of a two-round minor league draft. I wish I had more on Maybin, but he signed too late to get any professional ABs after his high school graduation. My guess he isn't a consideration until 2008.

But that is when John Manuel says he will arrive in the majors! Clearly he has to move fast to meet JM's prognostication.

Wes Bankston and Elijah Dukes

I wasn't surprised by John Manuel's 2007 ETA for Wes Bankston. He is the top Devil Ray prospect at 1B, and Travis Lee is only under a one-year contract. Bankston finished 2005 at AA and that puts him on the cusp of a major league call-up.

Last summer, I noted his decreased walk rate after the High A promotion. He finished AA with 30 bases-on-balls in 301 ABs. His BB/AB ratio in A ball between 2004 & 2005 was 88:532. That was the type of plate discipline that made him one of my 2nd round picks last season. If he recovers that rate, he will be a Roto stud. If he doesn't, he will have some short-term value but not enough the extend on a Roto contract.

The biggest 2007 ETA surprise was fellow Montgomery Biscuit, Elijah Dukes. He had only made news for emotional problems. I know there are major leaguers with these types of issues, but a minor leaguer may not get the pass a major leaguer does; thus the surprise at the 2007 ETA.

I liked Dukes enough based on his 10 HR/30 SB in 2004 to take him in the 2nd round last year. Encouragingly, he cut down his total strikeouts at AA in more ABs (97 in 374 ABs in 2004/83 in 446 ABs in 2005) and boosted his HRs from 10 to 18. But the headaches that accompany players with emotional problems made me think he wouldn't get a chance for a few more years. (Nevermind the glut of OF talent in Tampa Bay.)

However, John Sickels notes in The Baseball Prospect Book 2006 that "one informed source...says Dukes is actually a very bright guy who is strongly motivated to succeed on the field, but...came from a disatrous family and soical environment...." Here is hoping the first part came overcome the second.

John S. also rates Dukes' skill package as B+/A-. If Dukes can overcome, then he could be a serious sleeper by summer's end. (Read: I can deal him in a bail trade to get/stay in the money.)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Jason Kubel

Last week, I was told that Twins GM Terry Ryan told XM/MLB Radio that Kubel is 100% for Spring Training.

I missed it but had hoped for confirmation from the blog XM Radio MLB Chat, but it wasn't there.

Yesterday, I read this post at Fake Teams referring to a Star Tribune article that said he is, in fact, ready.

Grab him before this is common knowledge. (The person who told me about the Terry Ryan info is a leaguemate and had just traded for him. I liked the deal when I thought Kubel would be protected at the draft as a DL player.)

FWIW, Kubel is a 2006 ETA on John Manuel's list. I get the sense that every post I make can be brought back to that list a la the Six Degrees of Separation for Kevin Bacon. (BTW, the autobiography of Stanley Milgram, the discoverer of that six degrees fact was quite good. Experimental psychology won't be as effective ever again. Wow! Did I digress!)

Peter Gammons & Jayson Stark

Both ESPN reporters are now blogging.

Unfortunately for many, they are behind the ESPN Insider subscription service. (Personally, I think it is a good business move for ESPN. If I didn't already subscribe, I would likely do so.)

I wonder how both men will do having to produce copy more frequently than the once a week or so they had normally done. Without an organizing principle i.e. Rotisserie baseball, I can see both becoming rather dull.

I read Buster Olney's blog everyday and most of it consists of short blurbs linking to newspaper articles. I wonder if Stark and Gammons can do anymore than that without turning to fantasy baseball applicability. And if they can't, I wonder if they have any staying power.

I've got a lot of wondering.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Gordon or Wood

My poll showed the overwhelming majority favoring the selection of Brandon Wood over Alex Gordon, 13-3.

My hesitancy in selecting Wood stems from the clearer path Gordon has to the 2006 MLB roster, and I always think production this year versus later years has to be weighted more heavily.

What brings me back to Wood (in addition to the ceaseless positive coverage Wood receives versus that of Gordon) is his 2005 season - 101 XBH in High A plus a few AAA ABs (19 and 3 XBH) with 43 HRs and 14 HRS in the AFL. 57 HRs as a 20-year-old is impossible to ignore.

What makes me think Gordon is Mark Teixeira, who burst on the scene following an ankle injury and half a minor league season. He is now a legitimate $35 hitter and was a $20 one in his rookie year. I sense Gordon can do the same, and he has some speed (23 SB in 25 attempts at Nebraska.)

At my 2002 Draft, Teixeira had the injured ankle and the team with the top pick passed on him in favor of...Esteban German! I don't want to make an Esteban German decision.

Another Draft experience makes me lean towards Wood. Last season, it was acknowledged that Ryan Howard was the best hitter available and would be the top pick but for Jim Thome. (I passed on him the season prior late in the 2nd round for the same reason.)

Howard fell all the way to me at the 6th pick. I happily selcted him seeing no risk. If he was dealt to the AL, then a 6th pick down the drain. if he stayed in the NL, then I had a $20+ 1B.

While there is little chance of Wood being dealt, he could be a Howard pick if I pass on him for what I forecast as a safer pick.

Unfortunately, John Manuel lists both as 2007 ETAs - along with a whole lot of other propsects I have had my eye on for the AL and NL drafts.

2006 Propsects

The 2006 ETAs not likely to make the Opening Day rosters are the following:

C: Russ Martin LAD
1B: Justin Huber KC
2B: Dustin Pedroia BOS
2B: Kevin Frandsen SF
2B: Omar Quintanilla COL
3B: Andy Marte CLE
SS: Stephen Drew AZ
OF: Delmon Young TB
OF: Nick Markakis BAL
OF: Carlos Quentin AZ
OF: Jason Kubel MIN
SP: Chad Billingsley LAD
SP: Justin Verlander DET
SP: Joel Zumaya DET
SP: Dustin McGowan TOR
SP: Anthony Reyes STL
SP: Anthony Lerew
SP: Jeff Neiman
SP: Scott Olsen
SP: Jeremy Sowers
SP: Cole Hamels
SP: Glenn Perkins
RP: Jonathan Broxton LAD
RP: Craig Hansen BOS
RP: Joey Devine ATL

I tend towards hitting prospects because they can play part-time and benefit a team in three categories (HR, RBI, SB) despite AVG. And even AVG holds little risk because the rookie must produce or be sent back to AAA instead of sitting on the major league bench.

A rookie starting pitcher can pitch at a 4.50/1.40 level and be doing a job good enough to keep pitching every 5th day. However, those ratios are not good enough for a Roto team. I know pitchers can also get Ws, but I do not consider wins to be a reliable category. A simple example: Starting pitchers get 5 starts per month. If he wins two games, he will finish with 12 Ws. The tough part is those three non-wins. Do you really want 15 innings of 4.50/1.40?

Now that I have exposed my bias, you can understand why I forgot to keep Scott Olsen off this list. I do expect him to make the roster, but occasionally, I overlook a rookie pitcher. An error, but not one likely to harm my team as I consider rookie SP as too risky.

If I forget about Jason Kubel, I cede a competitive advantage that I cannot make-up. With a rookie pitcher, I can always grab a middle reliever and do nearly as well.

Of the pitchers listed, Billingsley and Verlander are worth the risk. Anthony Reyes could be a decent pick-up also. Cole Hamels is a deep sleeper of mine because I think he could fill the Ryan Madsen role and excel. Jeremy Sowers could also surprise. Any of the reliever prospects are good risks. I rank them Hansen, Devine and Broxton for Roto purposes.

I wouldn’t concern myself too much with Omar Quintanilla. His power dropped off last season in AAA, and it wasn’t that great to begin with – 13 in 2004 between High A and AA. And in 128 major leagues Abs, he hit none. His speed is non-existent for a middle infielder, too. No power? No speed? No need to waste brain space.

A hitting prospect player who may not be as familiar is Kevin Frandsen. He rapidly progressed from High A to AAA last season posting a combined. He only hit 6 HR. He did steal 21 bases but was caught 15 times. Neither skill looks like it will carry over to the majors. His one outstanding statistic is AVG - .335 last season. His OBP was .399 but that was accomplished with 23 HBPs and only 32 BBs. He is clearly a player to watch for 2006 as the Giants 2B Ray Durham is brittle, but I do not see him blocking one of my favorite minor league prospects, Marcus Sanders. (BTW: Mr. Manuel has Sanders ranked as the 2nd best 2B prospect behind Howie Kendrick.)

Martin, Huber and Pedroia merit more attention than Frandsen but less than the other six, who are all studs in the making and require no introduction. FWIW, Nick Markakis, Andy Marte and Stephen Drew are available in my minor league drafts. Andy Marte wouldn’t be except for the trade to the AL. Neither would Stephen Drew but for remaining unsigned at my 2005 draft.

Delmon Young was taken two years ago. Carlos Quentin was taken 4th overall last season. Finally, Jason Kubel was drafted as a DL player and has no chance of not being protected this season even if he begins the year in AAA.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Baseball America - Prospect Pulse: Rankings By Position

I know a subscription is required to view the above link and I know Baseball America is expensive, but the rankings by position by John Manuel demonstrates the value of the publication.

Unless you have an incredibly deep minor league draft, and I don't in any of my leagues (two rounds), then this list will get you by nicely.

There are very few players who Mr. Manuel projects to be making an impact later than 2007, so it is perfect for Rotisserie/fantasy baseball keeper leagues. It also includes a lot of 2006 ETAs so non-keeper leagues benefit too.

By my quick count, there are 39 players listed with ETAs of 2006, 30 with 2007 and 11 with ETAs of 2008.

If you eliminate the 2006 ETAs who should make the Opening Day roster, there are 26 players who can provide immediate assitance to your team this year. (This may decrease as I do not include Craig Hansen, Justin Verlander, Anthony Reyes, or Jason Kubel.)

Should make the Opening Day roster:
1B Prince Fielder
1B Conor Jackson
2B Ian Kinsler
2B Josh Barfield
3B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Hanley Ramirez
SS Ronny Cedeno
OF Jeremy Hermida
SP Matt Cain
SP Jon Papelbon
SP Francisco Liriano
RP Bobby Jenks
RP Chris Ray

He also includes many non-ranked players to consider and a sleeper. The article is worth purchasing. Check the newsstands for the issue.

I am going to spend the next few days posting as many tidbits and thoughts about it as I can. It is that valuable.

Pedro Martinez

New York Post Online Edition: sports

Today's New York Post has an article on Pedro Martinez's injured piggy.

"...Because of all the shoe issues, Martinez is currently behind in where he typically is throwing-wise. "I normally come in throwing on the side," he said.

Martinez also said he was instructed by his doctor not to run. When he did do some running, he said there was some swelling and he cut the running short.... "

I know it is early and taking it slow in February does not indicate that April will be bad, but alarms did go off when I read his toe is still not healed and that he is putting a lot of faith in the curative powers of footwear.

The NYPost's Kevin Kernan in today's column has some quotes from Pedro. Want to ease your nerves about Pedro? Stop reading.

"I'm going to pitch," he (Pedro) promised. "I know it could affect my shoulder; that's the bad thing that could happen. If I don't protect myself down here," he said of the toe, "everything reflects on the shoulder."

It sure does. Dizzy Dean's pitching career came to an end because of a broken toe that altered his motion. Martinez has to be careful not to change his motion...."

I think Pedro just became untradable in keeper leagues. Whether he remains protectable is to be determined.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sosa to Yanks?

At MLB Trade Rumors, ARod has been reported to have visited Sammy Sosa in the DR. This led to speculation that ARod was recruiting Sosa for the Yanks. (The original story is at ESPN.com)

If Sosa is willing to take on the Ruben Sierra role (150-300 ABs as a spare OF, DH and pinch-hitter), then I think, I think, it is a good move. He can back-up Matsui and Sheffield at the corner OF spots, and get a start or two per week as a DH. It seems to be a riskless move for the Yanks. If he has nothing left, he can sit on the bench or get released.

More importantly, I can count on one of the homer Yankee fans in my league to take Sosa to the high single digits at auction. I may even risk throwing him out for a $1 as there is little risk he will play if he is ineffective. If the Yanks didn't release him, I would at the first recall of 2006's unforeseen hot AAA call-up.

Dan Uggla

He is no longer a sleeper in the sense few will not know of him at draft time.

He is noted in this week's The Sporting News. He was discussed on XM Radio's Fantasy Focus today in their discussion of the Florida Marlins.

An important point I overlooked in my digging-for-gold post on the Marlins' 2006 OF was Josh Willingham. The Fantasy Focus guys are set that he will be the LF on most days.

Initially, I tend to agree. If so, then my super deep sleeper, Mark Little may take a little longer to emerge.

If Willingham is a total hack on defense, then I am right back were I had been.

Is there any chance Willingham cannot successfully patrol the vast OF in Florida?

Monday, February 13, 2006


Atlanta Braves: Ryan Langerhans/Andruw Jones/Jeff Francoeur
NY Mets: Cliff Floyd/Carlos Beltran/Xavier Nady
Wash. Nats: Ryan Church/Jose Guillen/Soriano
Phillies: Pat Burrell/Aaron Rowand/Bobby Abreu
Marlins: Jeremy Hermida/Eric Reed/Mark Little/Reggie Abercrombie/Matt Cepicky

Cardinals: Larry Bigbie/Jim Edmonds/Juan Encarnacion
Cubs: Matt Murton/Juan Pierre/Jacques Jones
Astros: Preston Wilson/Wily Tavares/Jason Lane
Pirates: Jeromy Burnitz/Chris Duffy/Jason Bay
Brewers: Carlos Lee/Brady Clark/Geoff Jenkins
Reds: Willy Mo Pena/Ken Griffey/Austin Kearns

Giants: Barry Bonds/Randy Winn/Moises Alou
Rockies: Matt Holliday/Cory Sullivan/Brad Hawpe
Dodgers: Juan Cruz/Kenny Loften/JD Drew
Padres: Dave Roberts/Mike Cameron/Brian Giles
Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez/Eric Byrnes/Shawn Green

I had wanted to leave the Marlins OF populated by Jeremy Hermida alone to demonstrate just how obvious it is that Miguel Cabrera should stay there and let David Wright be the undisputed top Rotisserie 3B. But decided listing those additional four players accomplishes the same task.!

I could have also decided to write-up any number of 4th OF/plattonmates such as Kelly Johnson, Victor Diaz (local papers keep reporting Nady as getting the best shot. I disagree.), Marlon Byrd, Shane Victorino, John Rodriguez, Chris Burke, Corey Hart, Chris Denorfia, Steve Finley, Ryan Shealy, Ben Johnson (here), Jeff Davanon, but I chose against that course of action.

I want to talk about the four shlubs listed on the same line as ROY favorite (and I did not forget Prince Fielder this time) Jeremy Hermida.

The most attractive is Eric Reed - a 25-year-old OF who stole 40 bases in 55 attempts last season between AA and AAA. That is all any Roto player needs to know to launch Reed to the top of the hopeful list. I have a caution though. He walked 20 times in 442 ABs while striking out 93 times. I can't expect him to hit.

Reggie Abercrombie appears to be Eric Reed with power. He is 25 and hit 25 HR and stole 26 bases between High A and AA with 25 walks and 127 strikeouts in 477 ABs. Normally, that partial performance at a lower level would leave Reggie off this list, but given the state of the Marlin's OF, I feel comfortable putting him in here.

Matt Cepicky is a scrapper who has spent the past four seasons shuttling between the majors and minors. He had a wee bit of power in AAA (14 and 15 HRs the past two seasons) but it was in the Pacific Coast League. I'd be surprised to see much in the majors.

Chris Aguila has spent the past two seasons doing the same, but his AAA performance is much stronger - 1.042 OPS last season and OPSs near .900 the prior two. He has no speed, but I can see him holding a roster spot all season. In 300 ABs, he could add 10 HR and 40 RBI to your team. If his AVG stays in the .260 area, those numbers could increase.

The sleeper to watch in the Marlins OF is Mark Little. Most of us remember him from his Colorado Rockie days in 2001 when he hit 3 HR and stole 5 bases. He has bounced around a lot since - Arizona, Mets, back to Colorado, back to Arizona, Cleveland, back to Arizona, back to Cleveland and finally landing in Florida.

He had a decent season in AAA last year - 18 HR and 16 SB, and I believe he will scrap his way to low double digit HR and SB with the opportunity presenting itself in Florida. With a new manager, Joe Girardi, known for his hard work, I believe Mark Little's 15 minutes have arrived. I may want nothing to do with him in 2007, but for 2006, he is a good $1 flyer.

All said the Marlins OF line should read:

Mark Little/Chris Aguila/Jeremy Hermida with most Roto players subbing Eric Reed in there for Mark Little.


Braves: Chipper Jones
Mets: David Wright
Nats: Ryan Zimmerman
Marlins: Miguel Cabrera
Phils: David Bell

Cardinals: Scott Rolen
Astros: Morgan Ensberg
Cubs: Aramis Ramirez
Pirates: Joe Randa
Reds: Edwin Encarnacion
Brewers: Corey Koskie

Padres: Vinny Castilla
Rockies: Garret Atkins
Dodgers: Bill Mueller
Dbacks: Chad Tracy
Giants: Pedro Feliz

I have stated that I believe Wes Helms will be the starter at 3B for the Marlins. I still do believe that, but Murray Chass’s column this Sunday’s The New York Times included an overview of the Marlins and said Joe Girardi plans to play Cabrera at third. I know there is a difference between “plans to” and “will”, but I wanted to be as up-to-date as possible.

If Cabrera does stay at 3B, he would be the top MLB one followed by David Wright, and assuming he recovers, Scott Rolen. In Rotisserie, I would put David Wright as #1 because he looks good to steal 15+. Given I believe HR/RBI/AVG are close enough that only luck accounts for any differences between them, take Wright over Cabrera. There is no age consideration, as both will play this season as 23-year-olds. Although people should note Cabrera is younger and more accomplished. Wright’s next 30 HR season will be his first while Cabrera already has two.

David Bell and Vinny Castilla are battling for worst 3B. For a $1 or $2 at the end of the draft, either is OK but anything more is handicapping your team. I would not throw either out early for fear no one would go “$2”, and I would never try to bid either up for fear no one would take it another dollar higher.

A player I like to have a bounce back season is Pedro Feliz. He was decent last season (20 HR 81 RBI) but his AVG dropped 26 points. With Bonds back and an everyday full-time role at 3B this season, I intuit he is going to have his career best season. “Intuit”? A Rogetarian way of saying, “I have a hunch.”

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Given the haste I exhibited on putting together a 2006 top prospect list, I forgot Brian Nikola Anderson, the White Sox' starting CF.

Instead of dropping someone from the previous list, I will just post him here and put him in the Ian Kinsler area.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Top Prospects

Update: A reader pointed out a GLARING omission - Prince Fielder. I added him and B. Nikola Anderson.

MiLB's Around the Minors is soliciting Top Ten prospect lists to compare against their expert, Jonathan Mayo. (No quibbling on the defintion of "expert" when it comes to forecasting the future - a still unperfected talent.)

My criteria is the player must be ready to help a Rotisserie team this season or next. I will leave off such giddiness-inducing Justin Upton because I don't forsee him contributing by then.

Here is mine (total time between seeing the request on MiLB and this post - about an hour.)

1. Jeremy Hermida: assured of a full-time job and will be batting in the heart of the Marlins batting order. 117 walks between AA and Florida says he will be OK. Stealing 25 of 27 says he'll be OKer!
2. Matt Cain: will be heading the Giants rotation in 2007 after Jason Schmidt's contract runs out this season. Leading the PCL in strikeouts as a 20-year-old while holding batters to a miniscule AVG says he'll be a good one.
3. Francisco Liriano: 204 minor league K's last season and a cost-conscious team makes me think he'll be OK and have every chance to succeed. Worst case he goes to the bullpen and dominates. Oh yeah. He struck out 33 more in 23 major league innings.
3a. Prince Fielder: Big time power and Milwaukee dealt an established inexpensive firstbaseman to open a spot for him.
4. Ryan Zimmerman: Dude hit .397 with the Nationals three months after college.
4a.Brian Nikola Anderson: White Sox dealt established CF Aaron Rowand and top prospect Chris Young to give him the job.
5. Ian Kinsler: Hit fairly well (23 HR 94 RBI and 19 SB) in AAA while learning a new position. No established player in his way
6 Delmon Young: he stole 32 between AA and AAA and speed isn't his game. Highly dependent on a trade to play in 2006.
7. Jason Kubel: If not for a blown knee in the 2004 AFL, he'd already be starting in RF. Given the time off, he may take half a season to get in shape.
8. Alex Gordon: 12 BB in the AFL after signing late. Only the limp-hitting Mark Teahan in his way. Gordon would go right into the 5-hole.
9. Brandon Wood: as dependent as Delmon Young on playing time in 2006. If not for this, he'd be #5. Gordon was sweet in 50 ABs. Wood hit 14 HRs in AFL after hitting 43 during the normal minor league season. 57 HRs for a 20-year-old!
10 JD Drew: Craig Counsell at SS for the DBacks. Drew #3 will be the "6" in the 6-4-3 double play by the dog days of August.

Barry Zito

Barry Zito is a difficult player to value. His real life hype seems disconnected from his Rotisserie performance. He was great in 2002 (23 W/2.75 ERA and 1.13 WHIP) but that seems to be a looooong time ago. Yet, somehow, it seems to be the only explanation for his continued good press.

He followed up that CY Young season with 14, 11 and 14 wins the next three seasons. His ERA rose the following two seasons before going down last season. His strikeout rate was very good in 2001 and worrisome in 2003, but seems to have settled at his Cy Young level of approxiamately 7 per 9 innings. It is not good enough to be noteworthy (160 Ks in 200 innings does not cause heads to turn), but it is not so bad to note either (120 Ks in 200 innings would do that.)

The only difference I can discern between his OK 2005 and his nadir in 2004 is hits allowed. He gave-up more than 9 per 9 innings in 2004. In 2005 he rebounded to his 7 per 9 career nor.

My guess is a team can safely project Zito repeating his 2005 performance. This is worth $18 or $19 in a keeper league.


Atlanta Braves: Edgar Renteria
NY Mets: Jose Reyes
Wash. Nats: Christian Guzman
Phillies: Jimmy Rollins
Marlins: Hanley Ramirez

Cardinals: Dave Eckstein
Cubs: Neifi Perez
Astros: Adam Everett
Pirates: Jack Wilson
Brewers: JJ Hardy
Reds: Felipe Lopez

Giants: Omar Vizquel
Rockies: Clint Barmes
Dodgers: Rafael Furcal
Padres: Khalil Greene
Diamondbacks: Craig Counsell

Felipe Lopez is the Babe Ruth of NL SS. He is the only one who can be expected to hit 20 HR this season. If Khalil Greene played in a better ballpark, he would too, but he doesn’t.

There is decent speed though. Reyes, Furcal and Rollins are excellent with Reyes as the King of the SB Hill, but the other two offer double digit HRs. No team can go wrong with any of the three.

Many more seem to be good bets to steal 15-20. Renteria should rebound from his 2005 Disappointment. Eckstein may not get the 15 SB but he will grab 10 or so with a decent AVG over many ABs.

Adam Everett is a good pick for 10 HR and 20 SB. The only concern is his AVG may remain under .260 without some luck. But if your team can withstand that, he will provide excellent HR and RBI for much less than the more glamorous 6s.

The sore thumb on this list is Neifi Perez. I know Ronny Cedeno is the nominal starter right now, and I believe he should be, but Dusty Baker has a Neifi Perez addiction. He will only kick it when Cub’s GM Jim Hendry eliminates the temptation. (Just as Bernie Williams will take 500 Abs because Joe Torre cannot stop his addiction.)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Eric Gagne Update

LA Daily News - Sports

From today's LA Daily News, Gagne threw a bullpen session for new Dodgers manager, Grady Little.

That is encoruaging and important to note because Danys Baez's draft value drops with every positve Gagne report.

I love Baez as a cheap 2007 closer play and welcome all positve Gagne reports.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Atlanta Braves: Marucs Giles
NY Mets: Kaz Matsui
Wash. Nats: Jose Vidro
Phillies: Chase Utley
Marlins: Pokey Reese

: Junior Spivey
Cubs: Todd Walker
Astros: Craig Biggio
Pirates: Jose Castillo
Brewers: Richie Weeks
Reds: Ryan Freel

Giants: Ray Durham
Rockies: Luis Gonzalez
Dodgers: Jeff Kent
Padres: Mark Bellhorn
Diamondbacks: Orlando Hudson

Making decision on who is the nominal starter was tough because I believe that label may not apply by the end of the Spring or the end of April. The Mets signed Brett Boone and have Anderson Hernandez and Jeff Keppinger at AAA, all of whom could do better than Kaz Matsui. I can’t see any of them breaking the $10 mark, but Hernandez’s 35 SB between AA and AAA may be too hard to ignore for a $1 or $2.

The Nationals have a problem with $23 million man Jose Vidro and $10-$12 million dollar man Alphonso Soriano playing the same position with no DH. In the meantime, The Nationals continue to sign/pursue outfielders. Did I miss something on Vidro?

The Marlins are going to parade Pokey Reese out at 2B. He’s good for some SB but any chances of partying like it is 1999 are none or less than none. He’ll likely kill your AVG. The play right now is Dan Uggla. He is a sleeper, but he will be a well-known one by the end of the spring. He may take the same route Ryan Langerhans did last Spring. And, as the unlucky recipient of Langerhans last year, I advise saving the extra bucks for the next sleeper on your list.

The Cubs have a nightmare on their hands at 2B. Todd Walker is the best hitter. Jerry Hairston has the most athleticism and Neifi Perez is a Dusty Baker addiction. A trade of Perez would be great. Then Dusty would send a helpful Roto player out there every day. Watch Hairston as reports say he played with the injured ankle last season. With OF and 2B eligibility, he is a good source of cheap speed and a return to 2004 levels would bring a good AVG too.

I have Mark Bellhorn listed as the starter in San Diego but really want Josh Barfield to win the job. The XM Radio Fantasy Focus discussion on the Padres has me considering Bochy sitting Barfield in favor of the veteran. But if Bruce Bochy cannot see the strikeouts from the 8th spot as detrimental, (and I have my doubts if he really does bat Castilla 5th and Cameron 6th), then the Padres are going to have a difficult time scoring runs. After Piazza gets to first, he has almost no chance of scoring without two hits. Castilla, Cameron, Bellhorn and the pitcher spells trouble.

Solidifying Sleeper

Baseball Musings: Burroughs Rebound?

Apparently, Burroughs poor season is self-attributed to 2004 off-season surgery.

I said he was a sleeper here, and I more strongly believe so now.

(I am aware that I may have been right for the wrong reasons without this piece of information.)

I am curious about the self-attribution though. What caused the power drop from 7 HR in 2003 to 2 in 2004? That is more....um...precipitous than the drop from 2 to 1 that occurred last season.

Matt Lecroy

The Nationals signed professional hitter, Matt LeCroy, yesterday. GM Jim Bowden commnted that he could see some time as a back-up 1B/C.

How my heart sang! I have been using LeCroy as my #2 catcher for years and had concluded that run had petered out.

But now I hold out hope again.

If he makes an appearance at catcher before my draft, he will qualify there. If so, then he is a major sleeper for me. I expect him to hit double digit HR and not hurt my AVG at all given the low number of ABs I expect him to get at either position.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Atlanta Braves: Adam LaRoche
NY Mets: Carlos Delgado
Wash. Nats: Nick Johnson
Phillies: Ryan Howard
Marlins: Mike Jacobs

Cardinals: Albert Pujols
Cubs: Derrek Lee
Astros: Lance Berkman
Pirates: Sean Casey
Brewers: Prince Fielder
Reds: Adam Dunn

Giants: Lance Niekro
Rockies: Todd Helton
Dodgers: Nomar Garciaparra
Padres: Ryan Klesko
Diamondbacks: Conor Jackson

After NL catchers, I am refreshed by seeing the talent at 1B. Not so refreshed that I wouldn’t I immediately begin to think of 2007 if I left the draft with Lance Niekro at 1B.

The obvious bottom tier contains the aforementioned Niekro, Klesko, Casey and Jackson. Garciaparra has SS and 3B eligibility so that kicks his value up past those four.

Is this the year Nick Johnson stays healthy? And if it is, will it explode NJ to an elite performance in 4X4 Roto? I doubt it. He received 453 ABs last season in 131 games. 20 more games and 60 more Abs isn’t going to change his 15/74 HR/RBI numbers so much that he’d move to elite 1B status. To Mike Sweeney’s level, yes, but not the 30/100/.290 stud-dom. He will, however, have the sabremetricians as giddy as teenage girls at a New Kids on the Block concert!

With Brian McCann at catcher and Jerrod Saltalamacchia raking in the AA and blocked at C, Adam LaRoche’s time at first looks numbered, but he did improve in his sophomore campaign. If he maintains, then he should be a cheap option at 1B. If he improves some more, then he will still be a cheap option but his numbers will be worth two to three times that salary. For what it’s worth, he went 20/78 in a similar amount of playing time as Nick Johnson.

Around the Minors (with Mayo): Super Bowl optimism spreads

Around the Minors (with Mayo): Super Bowl optimism spreads

In the comments section, there is a refutation of the Chris Duffy injury status I posted earlier in the week.

Nothing I wrote changes my assessment though. I remain concerned that Duffy didn't know to hydrate (from the Beaver Times article) and that the Pirates still wanted him to lay-off some.

NL Catchers (again)

This is my post from January 18, 2006, on NL catchers. The contrast between it and the AL in proven quality is dramatic.

"A quick perusal of the starting catchers in the NL:

ATL: Brian McCann
NYM: Paul LoDuca
WAS: Brian Schneider
FLA: Miguel Olivo
PHI: Mike Lieberthal

STL: Yadier Molina
HOU: Brad Ausmus
CHC: Michael Barrett
PIT: Humberto Cota
CIN: Jason Larue
MLW: Damian Miller

ARZ: Johnny Estrada
SND: Doug Mirabelli
LAD: Dioner Navarro
COL: Yorvit Torrealbla
SFR: Mike Matheny

The most striking thing in that list is the fact I do not see a single one that would go more than $10 or $11. Heck, the best NL catcher this season may be Florida's Josh Willingham. Pittsburgh's Ryan Doumit may be right near the top, too.The most powerful one on the list is Jason LaRue and what should he go for? $9? $10? $15? $15 for Jason LaRue would be nuts!

The difference in performance from the top to the bottom is not so great that any team should be compelled to bid up any one of them in order to ensure production from catcher.

Whether you talk up this dearth in order to get other teams to overpay for catchers via trade or bid is another issue."

I also wrote this was about to change in the NL here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yankees: Jorge Posada
Red Sox: Jason Varitek
Orioles: Ramon Hernandez
Blue Jays: Bengie Molina
Devil Rays: Toby Hall

White Sox: AJ Pierzynski
Twins: Joe Mauer
Indians: Victor Martinez
Royals: John Buck
Tigers: Ivan Rodriguez

Angels: Jose Molina/Jeff Mathis
Rangers: Rod Barajas
Mariners: Kenji Johjima
A’s: Jason Kendall

Wow. The only team without a catcher who can contribute positively is the Angels, and even there, Jeff Mathis offers value for 2007+.

Normally, I default to punting catching, but this list makes clear to me that doing so will handicap me one hitter. I usually think of starting catchers as low AVG/ single-digit HR/high AB anchors, and those who are positive contributors are so rare that they are inevitably bid towards $20 despite numbers (15/60/.270) that would land a CR/OF/DH for half that amount. As a result I disregard the two slots, spend a couple bucks and hope for 10-15 HR combined.

Not this year. I can see prices remaining in the $10 range – a price which I would happily add most of them. Given the depth, there should be good values near the end of the draft.

Bengie Molina Signing

I have read that this sigining does not improve the Jays much beyond what Greg Zaun did last season.And I agree, but the way to frame the issue is not by looking at last season's production but by looking at next season's production.

Who is more likely to produce that? Greg Zaun or Bengie Molina? A 35-year-old who had a careeer year or a 32-year-old who has hit double digit HRs and more than .275 three seasons running? Nevermind defensive comparisons!Clearly, Molina offers a better chance of repeating 11/61 than Zaun does, and that is why it is in fact a good addition.

Another factor to consider is the speed added to the AL East. If the Jays are to live-up to their 2006 sleeper status, then they must consider the added speed within the division.Remember the Jays play almost half their games against the Yanks, RSox, O's and Devil Rays. With the addition of Damon to a less SB-adverse team, Coco Crisp, Corey Patterson, and more Abs for TB's Joey Gaithwright and ready-for-prime-time players BJ Upton and Delmon Young, the Jays will be at a disadvantage with a Zaun behind the plate.

Molina may have slipped slightly on CS, but he will at least garner respect when other teams have men on base.

A quick look at the CS success of both catchers in 2005. Molina was succesful 31.3% of the time on 64 attempts while Zaun's percentage was 22.6% in in 93 attempts. There were almost 50% fewer attempts against Molina than Zaun and Molina was 50% better than Zaun at catching those would-be base stealers. This is a double whammy positive for the Jays - fewer attempts and better success.

A wise move by the Jays on three levels - a hitting one , a defensive one and a contextual one.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Yankees: Jason Giambi/Bernie Williams
Red Sox: Dave Ortiz
Devil Rays: Jonny Gomes
Orioles: Javy Lopez/Jeff Conine
Blue Jays: Shea Hillenbrand/Eric Hinske

White Sox: Jim Thome
Indians: Travis Hafner
Twins: Rondell White/Lew Ford
Royals: Mike Sweeney
Tigers: Dmitri Young

A's: Frank Thomas/Dan Johnson
Angels: Juan Rivera/Dallas MacPherson
Rangers: Phil Nevin
Mariners: Carl Everett

Any question why NL pitchers' ratios rise when they are no longer facing the pitcher every time through the line-up? The worst player on the list (Jeff Conine) would be considered among best bench hitters in the NL, and Eric Hinske would be the difference in a pennant race!

Also notable: Every player on this list will be drafted with Conine going for $1, Nevin and Hinske for $5, Everett for $11, Lopez for $15 (catcher-eligibility!), Sweeney, Hillenbrand and Gomes for $20, Hafner and Giambi for $30+ and Ortiz for $40.

The Rangers will likely play one of their extra OF (Matthews, Nix) in the role with Nevin while the Angels will use the slot to give its many young players ABs. The Twins are likely to do the same with the 40-50 games White sits out after pulling some muscle while running on the turf - even if it is only the turf between the bases!

One important point with DHs. Some players only qualify as a DH. These players are usually available at the end of the draft for $1 or the first ones taken from the pool to replace a draftee on the DL.

From the above list, Dave Ortiz, Travis Hafner and Frank Thomas are the only ones with DH-only eligibility. While Ortiz and Hafner will go for $30+ and be protected at those levels, Frank Thomas could see his value drop into the single digits with concerns about playing time and his scary injury history. If he gets 300 ABs, he will be a steal at that price. I consider him a very good sleeper.

To boot, he will be in the DH slot so if/when he does go on the DL, you have the flexibilty of choosing the best available player in the pool! This is a little appreciated strategem that the astute Root player keeps in mind!

Chris Duffy Injury Update

Bucco Blog

"...Last August, Chris suffered a torn left hamstring. As of January 12, 2006, he still was not running bases. On January 29th, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported Duffy was 'instructed' to take a week off instead of participating on the third leg of the Pirate caravan..."

Looks like one consensus sleeper candidate is going to disappoint.

He is already on a team and may be protected. If he remains the starter entering the season, I will have serious concerns that he will come up lame or play through the injury and hurt his numbers - AVG and SB.

More likely, if the hammy remains a concern, he won't make it to Opening Day, and Bay will be back in CF.

Thank You

Roto Authority Fantasy Baseball: More On Rickie Weeks

My appreciation goes out to Tim at Rotoauthority for the link to my thumbnail sketch on the Milwaukee Brewers.

I check his site out several times a day and find his insight valauble (and worth commenting on regularly.) I also read his stuff on Rotoworld.

You should, too.


Yankees: Hideki Matsui/Johnny Damon/Gary Sheffield
Red Sox: Manny Ramirez/Coco Crisp/Trot Nixon
Blue Jays: Frank Catalanotto/Vernon Wells/Alexis Rios
Devil Rays: Carl Crawford/Rocco Baldelli/Aubrey Huff
Orioles: Luis Matos/Corey Patterson/Jay Gibbons

White Sox: Scott Podsednick/Brian Anderson/Jermaine Dye
Twins: Shannon Stewart/Torii Hunter/Lew Ford
Indians: Jason Michaels/Grady Sizemore/Casey Blake
Tigers: Craig Monroe/Curtis Granderson/Magglio Ordonez
Royals: Reggie Sanders/David DeJesus/Emil Brown

Angels: Garret Anderson/Darin Erstad/Vlad Guerrero
A’s: Jay Payton/Mark Kotsay/Milton Bradley
Rangers: Kevin Mench/Dave Dellucci/Brad Wilkerson
Mariners: Raul Ibanez/Jeremy Reed/Ichiro Suzuki

The outfield offers the most viable fantasy options. In a 12-team league, each one should average at least 3 players who are everyday starters regardless of Roto ability.

Those teams determined to win must focus on landing 4th and 5th outfielders that will positively contribute. Generally, I look for outfielders that are in platoons or with double digit potential in HR.

Bubba Crosby is not that type of outfielder, but Bernie Williams is. Reed Johnson is another although he won’t reach double digits in either HR or SB, but he will get to the mid-single digits in both, drive in 50+ runs and hit .270 or so.

The most coveted back-up OF will be Tampa Bay’s Joey Gaithwright. His 50+ SB potential is too much to overlook. My take on his draft day value is here.

The Twins’ Michael Cuddyer looks like an excellent 4th OF for a Roto squad. He’s got decent hitting skills and will qualify at 3B, CR and OF to open the season. His ABs, along with Lew Ford’s, are at risk if Jason Kubel is healthy. If Kubel starts in the minors, I am less concerned because the Twins have not shown the proclivity to give rookies full-time breaks right away.

The Tigers have a glut of viable starting players. In addition to the three listed starters, Nook Logan and Dmitri Young also qualify in the OF. Add in Carlos Pena, and the picture emerges of a team that will make a trade or two in the Spring or early in the season. Whatever remains should be very solid for the year.

The Royals have Matt Stairs, Chip Ambres and Aaron Guiel on the bench. Stairs is always good for double digit HRs in limited ABs. He hits from the left side, too. This makes him a favorite of mine for those end-of-the draft dollars. Ambres finally flashed some skills that made him a 2002 minor league draftee in one of my NL-only leagues. His combination of speed and power along with a generally weak/injury-prone OF make him a very deep sleeper. (Sorry, Emil, but being the best OF on a team says a lot about the quality of the players.)

The Rangers have Gary Matthews, Jr. on the bench along with double shoulder surgery Lance Nix. Matthews is the safest pick as Buck has shown a love for him rivaled only by Torre’s love for Bernie Williams! But if Matthews repeats his 17 HR/9 SB 2005, then his owner would have a top 4/5 OF. Color me skeptical though. His performance has been the definition of erratic. Want HRs? 2001, 2004 and 2005. Want SB? 2002 and 2003. Want AVG? 2002 and 2004. Want all three? From a 32-year-old, it won’t happen.

The A’s have a glut with the signing of Frank Thomas and the crunch it puts on the ABs of Dan Johnson and Nick Swisher. If there is no trade and Swisher doesn’t remain in the OF, then the top bench player will be Bobby Kielty, who did quite well last season – if judged as a 4th or 5th OF on a Roto squad. 12/50 is what 300+ ABs gets your team.

Overall, the ability to land contributing 4th and 5th OF will determine your team’s success. Think who had Dellucci last season. Where did his team finish? (In my AL-only, it was 1st!)

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Yankees: Arod
Red Sox: Mike Lowell
Orioles: Melvin Mora
Blue Jays: Troy Glaus
Devil Rays: Sean Burroughs

White Sox: Joe Crede
Twins: Tony Batista
Indians: Aaron Boone
Royals: Mark Teahan
Tigers: Brandon Inge

Angels: Chone Figgins
Rangers: Hank Blalock
Mariners: Adrian Beltre
A’s: Eric Chavez

AL Central looks really weak, doesn’t it? Any of those five could be replaced at the first sign of something better. In fact, Mark Teahan and Aaron Boone have their replacements breathing right down their neck in Alex Gordon and Andy Marte, respectively.

The most expensive Roto hot corner exist in the AL West where every player is likely to go for more than $25, and, in deep keepers leagues, all four should be tagged at $35. (Personal experience: Last draft, Blalock $35, Beltre $43 and Chavez $39 with Figgins entering the draft this year. My valuation will be put to the test as I expect all four to be available at the draft.)

Yesterday, Xm Radio’s Fantasy Focus discussed the San Diego Padres. The gentleman speaking for the Pads mentioned that manager Bruce Bochy gave up quickly on young position players and cited Sean Burroughs as one he gave up on too quickly.

If true, then Burroughs may be ready to finally “breakout”. He is away from Bochy and the sky-high expectations. He couldn’t move to a less pressurized situation than Tampa Bay.

Surprisingly, he will be 25-years-old for most of the 2006 season. This means he is still young enough to rebound to his 2003 levels despite the perception he has been around forever.

I do expect that rebound – 7/58/.286/7. He is the type of player needed to offset the Alex Gonzalezs and Tony Batistas of the Roto world.

Friday, February 03, 2006


I posted a poll to the right under the links because I have the top pick in my AL-only keeper league and have not soldified a postion in one player's favor. Some help would be appreciated so please vote.

Brandon Wood's season was historic, but I worry about the size of the leap from 2004 to 2005 especially since he did it in hitter-friendly confines. The Angels also need to clear a spot for him

Alex Gordon seems more solid, but his only exposure to professional pitching was 50 ABs in the AFL. He does, however, have a much clearer path to the majors as Mark Teahan is an embarassment in the power department. When Gordon is recalled, he immediately begin to hit 5th. (Sorry, Emil, but Gordon will push you down a spot. So will Billy Butler.)

A very tough call. Also in Wood's favor, he hit 14 HRs in the AFL while Gordon was demonstrating good plate discipline over those 50 ABs.

For what it is worth, Delmon Young and BJ Upton is ineligble was selected last year. (An interesting question is whether he would make a difference.)

If you must...

Tony Batista

Russell Branyan

Alex Gonzalez

What do these three players have in common?

They are all 20 HR hitters with horrendous AVGs, and, because of that power, all three will be drafted.

The question is how do you manage your roster if you want to add one?

While I wouldn’t overpay for any of them, I am not adverse to adding them at the right price. That price would generally be in the $5 range for any of them. I know Branyan may not start, but his HR totals will be there regardless. The fewer ABs make him more valuable in my mind despite fewer RBI opportunities.

In addition to the price being right, I would also require at least one high AB/high AVG hitter like Ichiro Suzuki or Michael Young or Derek Jeter of Vlad Guerrero on my roster. The higher the AVG the better your team AVG can withstand the hit.

Another factor would be as the presences of as few high AB/mediocre AVG hitters as possible. These I define as players who hit in the .255-.270 range and play everyday. Too many of these will swamp the high AB/high AVG player(s). Once this occurs, adding a Batista or Gonzalez or Branyan is the quickest way to the 1-3 points in AVG.

If your properly buttress your AVG high AB/good-to-great AVG hitters, you can draft, and enjoy, any of those players.

Of course, ignoring them is also a prudent strategy even if you do have high AVG players.


Yankees: Derek Jeter
Red Sox: Alex Gonzalez
Blue Jays: Russ Adams
Devil Rays: Julio Lugo
Orioles: Miguel Tejeda

White Sox: Juan Uribe
Twins: Jason Bartlett
Indians: Jhonny Peralta
Tigers: Carlos Guillen
Royals: Angel Berroa

Angels: Orlando Cabrera
A’s: Bobby Crosby
Rangers: Michael Young
Mariners: Yusi Betancourt

A better looking group of players than AL 2B because the talent at the top is much better than its counterpart 2B. Jorge Cantu and Brian Roberts are the only flat-out studs while Michael Young, Miguel Tejeda, Jhonny Peralta, Derek Jeter, and Bobby Crosby head the SS list.

The only player on this list I want no part of come draft day is Seattle’s Yusi Betancourt. He can flat-out field but the bat is nowhere in site. He may grab 10+ SB, but the 500+ ABs of .240 will kill you. If you want a Seattle middle infielder with low AVG and double digit steals, draft Willie Bloomquist for a $1. (My assessment of Yusi was previously addressed here when I covered the Mariners.)

After Yusi, the weakest SS is Minnesota’s Jason Bartlett. However, I expect him to live-up to the 2005 pre-season hype. 10+ HR and SB are right there, and I expect very few teams to be willing to gamble a few dollars on him.

The Royals’ Angel Berroa looks like another player who has not lived-up to expectations albeit ones set himself and not the Rotocommentariat. His 2003 rookie season was Jeter-esque - 17 HR 73 RBI .287 AVG 21SB. His following ones were not horrendous (8/43/.262/14 and 11/55/.270/7), but not close to reaching the bar he set in 2003. The perception surrounding him is one of failure. I would not be surprised to see him come closer to his 2003 HR & SB totals than either of his other seasons. He is moving towards “veteran sleeper” status right now.

At the top of the heap, I like Michael Young and Miguel Tejeda the most. Both players have high AVGS in 600+ ABs with excellent HR and RBI numbers. Derek Jeter is beloved by real world baseball writers and Yankees fans, but I am not impressed with his lack of eye-popping Roto numbers. He will always be a $25+ draftee but his typical performance (15 HR 70 RBI .300 AVG 20 RBI) leaves me expecting more.