Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gary Sheffield - MLB - Concerned Yanks sending Sheffield for more tests

A serious injury to Sheffield would represent a worse case scenario for the Yankees as they have nothing on the major league bench that could contribute a third of Sheff's offensive production.

(Just now Alexis Rios flyed out routinely to Bernie Williams in RF and Frank Catalonotto tagged-up from 2B and made it by a mile.)

At AAA Columbus, they have Mitch Jones who has hit quite a few minor league homee runs with decent OBP. However, his strikeouts are sky-high (21 in 76 ABs), and I suspect he will hit in the .200 area with lots of Ks and an occasional HR.

Amongst the less powerful Clipper OFers are Kevin Reese, Kevin Thompson and Melky Cabrera - last season's rushed prospect.

This year Melky is hitting .333/.392/.471 - a batting line that certainly merits a secodn look. Add in melky's young age, and his days as a dead prospect may have been greatly exxagerated.

I doubt he'd be the first call-up, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a rapid succession of failure begining with Jones and ending three weeks later with the two Kevins. this would then lead to Melky Cabrera part II.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Eddie Guardado

Everyday Eddie Guardado finally saved another game today.

This should lessen the sense that he was about to be tossed from the closer role. It won't complete eliminate it, though, as he gave-up two hits and a walk.

But these types of outings where the hits & walks do not result in runs have a tendency to change the tenor of any discussion, at least in the minds of managers.

Free Agent Pick-ups

A team in my league picked-up Jeff Cirillo and Dave Ross to replace two hitters.

Why? Why would anyone pick-up Dave Ross? This team would have been better off leaving the spot open until someone with more upside came along.

And no sooner were these inexplicable moves made then John Gall and Kevin Frandsen were recalled.

Let this be a lesson: Do not force players into your line-up for the sake of filling an opening. If there are not good options in the pool then wait and hope that situation changes.

In April/May, there will be call-ups that are expected to contribute. Dave Ross is not one of those players!

Tyler Walker

Walker Right Fit For Bullpen

From bum to closer? Tyler Walker certainly has the chance to do so after successfully closing out yesterday's win versus the Red Sox.

He definitely worth the gamble.

Friday, April 28, 2006

John Gall or Kevin Frandsen?

Is either of these players the next 400 AB hitter to come out of the pool post-draft?

Gall has little competition in LF in St. Louis amongst So Taguchi, Skip Schumaker and John Rodriguez. A hot start and the ABS are his. Or at the very least, he'd play his way on to Tony LaRussa's favorite's list which would ensure 4 starts per week. If anyone knew the secret formula to crack that list.....

Frandsen has no competition for two weeks but he is likely out of a full-time job the moment Ray Durham returns. Normally Jose Vizcaino wouldn't offer any competiton, but he has extensive expensive from his Astros' days blocking better prospects' ABs.

I'd take a chance on either if I had the roster flexibility.

Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels dominated in what may end-up being the best pitched game in AAA this season – 14Ks in 7 innings with no walks and three hits.

I have touted him as a sleeper all off-season with the expectations he will fill Ryan Madson’s middle relief role and be a very dark dark horse candidate to close if Tom Gordon should falter.

I still hold to that forecast despite some reservations about his back and the strain that would put on him in the bullpen – warming-up/not being used, warming-up/being used in 5 out of every 7 days.

If he were in the rotation I would not grab him immediately because he needs only be mediocre (4.50/1.40) to remain there, but in the bullpen, I would grab him as quick as I could type the email and submit the transaction.

Delmon Young

The Delmon Young bat toss has been a big topic of conversation over the past day or two and some of the best discussions as it relates to his prospect status can be read in these two diaries posted at Minor League Ball :: Minor Leagues blog featuring John Sickels. (I am a big fan of the Wisdom of Crowds.)

My personal views are Delmon Young is currently an arrogant ass but is young enough to mature out of it and that he should be suspended 30 games and made to spend the entire season in AAA.

If he cannot handle this, and the Devil Rays should attend especially close to his behavior, then he should be traded for a major league pitcher very near arbitration (read: salary about to rise dramatically) and a stud pitching prospect. Of course, he should be dealt to the NL in the event his hype becomes justified and his AAA batting line is only a result of immaturity .329/.368./.392.

In the mean time, I expect Elijah Dukes to get to the majors before Young and provide one more roadblock to Young’s promotion. This also plays into my belief Young must be dealt.

Dukes has repeatedly said he is working on his plate discipline and recently told Baseball America he recognized he was rushing at the plate to begin this season and subsequently was able to slow down his approach and improve his plate discipline. His batting line is currently .316/.413/.595.

Dukes seems to know what he has to do and has the maturity to do it. Any past conflicts seem to be under control and as long as he produces, he will regain the slack all professional athletes possess, and to an extent, all of us do.

Chuck James

I took Chuck James in my NL draft because I loved his minor league numbers, in particular the 193 strikeouts in 161.1 innings, and the fact he kept his k-rate up even as he rapidly advanced (33.2 K in 33 AAA innings and 5 in 5.2 major league ones) and his hit rates stayed low (21 hits in those 33.2 AAA innings and 4 in the 5.2 major league ones.)

This did not stop me from being slightly alarmed after his few couple appearances, though. Four walks in six innings cautioned that the difference between the minors and majors is a lot more than the middle three letters.
The hit rate was still excellent, but I figured the walks would eventually lead to more hittable pitches as James compensated by throwing the ball over the plate more frequently. At that point, he’d be relegated to the minors or bullpen interment. In Roto terms, I’d be waiting for something better to come along on the waiver wire or into the free agent pool.

But, Chuck James surprised by keeping those 4 walks unchanged over his next 5 innings. (He did get roughed up in his 4th appearance though. Maybe he overcompensated as I expected?)

He now has a WHIP under one albeit in 11 innings, but the recovery from the shaky start is encouraging.

If his k-rate recovers over the next few outings, I will lock him down as a likely 2006 success.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ryan Shealy

Rocky Mountain News: Rockies & MLB

Finally! An update on Shealy.

He played 5 innings in an extended spring training game and will play 7 on Friday and 9 on Saturday and go on a rehab assignment if the elbow does not flare-up.

This is important as Eli Marrero strained a side muscle. The Rox are now down to Jason Smith playing 1B.

I wonder if the Rox will push Shealy to get back sooner or will give him 10 games/two weeks to get into baseball shape. Remember he was hurt in the first week of spring training and had no time against live competition.

U-G-L-Y is the Colorado 1B situation right now.

Francisco Cordero

The Dallas Morning News certainly leave the impression that Francisco Cordero is out as the closer. They speculate that Otsuka would get the chance, but nothing from Buck Showlater to give that credence.

After all, Buck has his favorites and whomever that is in the bullpen will get the chance to fill the closer role.

Here is a quote form the Star-Telegram:

Akinori Otsuka and Antonio Alfonseca have closed before -- Otsuka in the Japanese Central League and for Japan in the recent World Baseball Classic, and Alfonseca in the major leagues but not since 2002.

"There's a reason why they're not closers anymore," Showalter said.

That certainly seems to signal that neither Otsuka nor Alfonseca would get the ball in the 9th.

Ty Wigginton

The Devil Rays placed Jorge Cantu on the DL with a broken foot. Now the question of where Ty Wigginton will get ABs when Aubrey Huff returns from the DL has been answered.

Wigginton looks like a solid player for the 2006 season. I wouldn’t pay for his first three weeks production in a trade, but I would accept him as a $15 player for this year.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Texas Closer

Francisco Cordero blew another save today. That makes 5 in 8 tries.

I have a very hard time believing something isn't wrong and would/will stampede to pick-up Otsuka and Benoit, who pitched the eighth inning in a 4-3 game today.

Mitch Einertson

Mitch Einertson took the 2004 rookie league by storm straight out of high school – 24 HR and a .308/.413/.692 batting line. He did strikeout 70 times in 229 official ABs but the OBP and SLG more than outweighed that concern.

In 2005, he failed. His batting line plummeted from its 2004 sabremetrically-giddy heights to .234/.353/.352. The disappearance of his power was alarming and has likely resulted in Einertson’s removal as a prospect to watch.

However, a little deeper look at his 2005 year turns up some glimmers of hope. The difference in OBP and AVG actually increased from. 105 to .119. This indicates that his plate discipline did not erode.

The .234 AVG may also have been a reflection of bad luck as his contact rate increased from its 2003 levels – 69.2% to 72.1%. (Without access to Ron Shandler’s Fantasy Forecaster, I cannot go further into GB/LD/FB rates although I suspect a drop in the last two and an increase in the first one.)

With 355 ABs in 2005, the absolute number of strikeouts and walks would be expected to increase, and they did. However, both were very close to their proportional expectations – 56% more ABs lead to a nearly identical percentage increase in Ks (62.5%) and BBs (41.1%). (operational definition of “identical” = statistically significant)

The drop in SLG is inexplicable beyond the obvious he had many fewer HRs and fewer proportionate doubles. It is possible the FSL suppressed some of the power but the drop seems too extreme.

I have seen hints that there were personal issues involved but have been unable to turn-up anything that hints at the problems.

As 2006 arrived, “nothing” would aptly describe the expectations for Mitch Einertson. He is repeating the year in the low A Florida State League, and seems to be doing better.

His batting line has rebounded to .288/.317/.458 but the AVG/SLG differential is alarming. However, his contact rate has exploded to 86.4%. This could be a result of playing against slightly younger competition, but Einertson only just turned 20-yers-old.

His SLG has not reached the gaudy levels attained in 2004 but rebounding off the back-up middle infielder-esque levels of 2005 is encouraging.

The sample size is very small but the signs of a rebound are present.

None of this is important for the 2006 season and likely not the 2007 one. But 2008? That is still within the realm of possibility!

Joe Mauer

Joe Mauer is batting third for the Twins and hitting over .300. He has one HR.

Last year, he hit 9 HR. He is right on that pace.

In what my be one of the greatest illusions ever executed, Joe Mauer is valued as if he was Mike Piazza circa the 1990s when in fact he is closer to Toby Hall circa now. In fact, way too uncomfortably close!

I wish I could get him at his real value so I could flip him for his perceived value!

The difficulty of that wish is I don’t have a lamp to rub to conjure the genie to grant that wish! Nobody makes Mauer available at a price that reflects his actual performance!

Ryan Shealy

Rocky Mountain News: Rockies & MLB

The quest for this season's Ryan Howard appears to have hit a dead end in Colorado. Todd Helton's digestive ailment is a less dire one than the actions and coverage of it made it appear.

Helton should return to the Rockies line-up quicker than Shealy could. (Maybe even quicker than the next status update on Shealy!)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Antonio Perez

In the 2004-5 off-season, the A’s acquired Keith Ginter from the Brewers for Justin Lehr and Nelson Cruz. He had just had a good season in which he hit 19 HRs and drove in 60. This followed a 14/44 campaign in 2003.

After those quality seasons, more of the same was expected in Oakland where he could fill the same utility role. Those expectations were not met as Ginter played his way off out of the major leagues with a .161 AVG and 3 HRs.

I can’t help from experiencing déjà vu all over again this season with Antonio Perez. He came over from the Dodgers in the deal that saw the A’s also get Milton Bradley in exchange for Andre Ethier.

Perez’s throw-in justly brought accolades to Billy Beane from the Rotocommentariat.

Now almost a month into the season, Perez looks like he is following the path Keith Ginter took – quality utility player to scrub. AP is 0-12 with seven strikeouts.

Any glow from his SS-eligibility is long gone and the ghosts of Keith Ginter overshadow all!

Howie Kendrick

The Angels recalled Howie Kendrick. This puts a damper somewhat on the opportunities for Reggie Willets to establish himself as a source of cheap steals as Kendrick should get the DH ABs that went to Juan Rivera.

With Adam Kennedy stinging the ball this season, back-up OF ABs could go to Chone Figgins with Kendrick taking a groundball or two at 3B. This scenario would also cut off opportunities for Willets.

The one caveat with Figgins-as-back-up-OF is Macier Izturis backed-up SS. With Kendrick not capable of doing that, Figgins may be the first choice to back-up at SS. (And obtain the most desirous SS-eligibility in my league!). Kendrick would still get 3B ABs and Kennedy his 2B ones, but Willets would be free to gather any OF ones available with Figgins at SS.

Either way, Kendrick is going to play and the fact he was recalled also signals Izturis’s hamstring injury is going to take longer than 15 days to heal.

Freddy Sanchez

Freddy Sanchez started at 2B for the Pirates last night and has picked-up where he left off last season. As a utility infielder, he is a a solid contributor in NL-only leagues with his 300+ ABs potential, .300 Avg and 2B/SS/3B eligibility.

Brad Eldred has a thumb injury which should keep him away from any Craig Wilson batting slump for 6 weeks or so.

From unwanted man in the off-season to undisputed everyday firstbaseman entering free agency in the off-season, Craig Wilson is going to owe Eldred and Casey a little bit of money for breaking bones.

Carlos Beltran

New York Daily News - Sports - Beltran expected out for San Fran

The Mets should have DL-ed him last week and recalled Victor Diaz immediately. Then the team wouldn't have had to start Jose Valentin in the LF.

With Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin and Chris Woodward as your back-up OFers, your team cannot win.

Instead the Mets waited and let Beltran start a game in San Diego in which he was removed after four innings.

Now the 15-day stint begins from that point.

More importantly, the seeds sowed by the booing of the idiot Mets fans earlier this year are now being sowed. No way Beltran plays hurt again like he did last season.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Casey Kotchman, Ryan Shealy, Jason Giambi

Despite Casey Kotchman’s frigid start to the season (.155/.210/.172), he is not in danger of losing his job.

As no one in the AL West is putting pressure on anyone else by winning consistently, the Angels have the time to wait on Kotchman’s bat to come around. I believe it will because he has made tremendous contact as a minor leaguer and his contact rates are not alarmingly bad as a major leaguer either.

However, a couple more weeks of sub-.200 AVG and the Angels would be remiss in not doing something.

Jason Giambi hit two more HRs yesterday and hit an opposite filed double to the base of the left field wall. His bat is clearly back to the pre-2004 levels and if he can hit against the shift, he will be a superstar again.

Right now, though, he is a 30+ HR lock, and everyone who grabbed him last season at his nadir is sitting pretty.

No news today on how Ryan Shealy’s recovery from elbow pain he suffered on March 2nd with the exception of a blurb in today’s Denver Post reporting that he is still in extended spring training rehabbing it.

To me, it sounds as if the reporter did not have the time to check beyond what had previously been reported.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ryan Shealy

With the Todd Helton mystery stomach illness that doctors think know what is wrong but want additional tests to confirm (is that something doctors do when the initial diagnosis is minor?) the sttus of Ryan Shealy's elbow is of utmost Roto importance.

If Helton's condition is serious, then Shealy could be this year's Ryan Howard - almost literally.

The Denver Post reported on Tuesday that Shealy was going to test the elbow on Wednesday the 19th.

And nothing since.

The firstbaseman at AAA Colorado Springs is Carlos Rivera, and like the rest of his team, he is showing little power (1 HR).

If the Rox were concerned about Helton and Shealy not coming back, I would not have been surprised to see someone like Jeff Baker moved to 1B.

That has not been the case as Rivera has played there in each of the past three games since Helton's ailment.

Reggie Willits

The Angels placed Juan Rivera on the 15-day DL yesterday.

I clicked on the story for more detail to see who was recalled to take Rivera's place maore than half expecting it to be Kendry Morales because Casey Kotchman has been so disappointing this season.

It was not Morales but Reggie Willits, a player I had not heard of prior to reading his name at that point. However, I noted he was described as a speedster so I had to find out more.

Reggie Willits is 25-years-old. Speed or no, my first thought was a AAA veteran not worth much.

Then I noted he was drafted in 2003 out of the University of Oklahoma. A quick back-of-the-envelope progression from rookie/low A in 2003 to High A in 2004 to AA in 2005 assuaged my initally negative concerns about his age.

Now, I seriously can examine his past numbers. He stole 40 and 44 bases the past two years respectively and coupled that with 54 and 73 bases-on-balls. The plate discipline was not a concern while the stolen base totals whetted my appettite.

With AAA Salt Lake City, he is off to a .298/.353/.489 start and is 4-4 in stolen base attempts.

Given the Angels are aggressive on the bases and that Angels' manager Mike Scioscia uses his bench players, Reggie Willits passes my initial screens and seems to be a good short-term pick-up if only for 2 or 3 SBs in two weeks.

With an additional break or two, he could be a 2006 surprise 20-SB player.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Todd Helton

Todd Helton has been put on the 15-day DL with an upset stomach?

Clearly, he suffers something more serious than a bug or food poisoning.

I am sure glad the Rockies have Ryan Shealy.... Wait, he is on the DL with an elbow injury which I intuit is serious enough that TJ surgery is an option if rest doesn't heal it a la Jeff Salazar. (Salazar didn't need TJ surgery but is out until next month.)

This leaves Eli Marrero at 1B? God, what an awful line-up between Sullivan and Barmes have 6 walks in 135 plate appearances. Matt Holliday has not taken one walk in 63 ABs and Jason Smith and Luis Gonzalez combine for in 69 PAs with Smith taking all four.

Hawpe and Atkins have excellent OBPs but even those are highly dependent on their batting average - Atkins 5 walks in 73 PAs and Hawpe with 7 in 65.

What the injury does is move Marrero out of the 4th OF slot and allow Ryan Spillborghs and Choo Freeman a chance for some Colorado ABs.

I do not know how long the team with stay with this configuration, but if Helton is out for a longer period than 15 days, I'd expect the Rox to try to put a hitter with more power at 1B.

Andrew McCutchen

Minor League Baseball: Stats: Stats

Andrew McCutchen has gotten off to an interesting start in Low A Hickory. His lack of SB and extra base hits is less than desirable as are his 4 walks, but, with only 4 strikeouts in 65 plate appearances, he is someone to watch.

For comparison purposes, he struck out 30 times and walked 37 times in 247 PAs with 18 XBHs right out of high school.

McCutchen impressed the Pirates this spring and could offer some hope to the beleagured Pirates' fan base. Keep an eye on him as he could move to the upper echelons of the Baseball America's Top 100 next season

Joel Zumaya

Joel Zumaya struck out four yesterday bringing his season total to 11 in eight innings pitched.

I happen to love that despite its seeming irrelevence in 4X4 fantasy baseball.

What the strikeouts do indicate is Zumaya can be a dominant middle releiver, and those I like much better than most starting pitchers (think Seth McClung.)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes has walked 13 times this season. I doubt he can keep up that pace 4:1 AB to walk ratio, but he should maintain a semblence of plate discipline and remain in the stratosphere of top AL outfielders.

There is little chance he can be had cheaply ever again.

Jonathan Broxton

Jonathan Broxton has 12 strikeouts in 8 innings pitched with AAA Las Vegas. With the LA bullpen struggling, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Broxton recalled soon.

What tempers that enthusiasm is the fact the Dodgers do not seem inclined to flood their injury-depleted/ineffective roster with their top prospects. C’mon Cesar Izturis in the OF backing up Loften and Cruz and Drew and Repko? He had no pop as a SS and they want to play him as an OFer?

Despite the apparent intentions of Dodgers’ brass to leave their best prospects in the minors, I believe their hand will be forced.

Be ready to pounce.

Armando Benitez

Armando Benitez was activated yesterday, and Tim Worrell was brought in in the 8th inning of last night’s game. He proceeded to blow the lead in that inning.

Somewhat disturbing was manager Felipe Alou left Worrell in to finish the 9th inning, but he says Benitez would have been called in to retire Shawn Green that inning if it came to that.

I lean towards the signal sent by the first action, Worrell in in the 8th, than the second one, Worrell left in to pitch with a three-run lead in the 9th.

Derek Lee

Derek Lee broke his wrist and is out two months. Right now, the immediate beneficiary appears to be Jerry Hairston as Todd Walker will slide over to 1B opening 2B for ABs.

Even if Dusty uses this opportunity to get Neifi Perez more playing time, Hairston should see his playing time increase greatly from its current levels.

Eddie Guardado

Eddie Guardado blew another save last night. This one is grand fashion – four walks with the final one coming with two outs. Uh-glee!

Since Fast Eddie hasn’t been good all season, it is time to prepare to grab JJ Putz and Raphael Soriano. Guardado’s arm may finally be ready to fall off. Recall he was shut down at the end of 2004 with a torn labrum and elected for rest rather than surgery in that off-season.

He was out-of-sight successful in 2005 while some of us (me!) waited on JJ Putz all year. Now 2006 seems to be a more likely time for the JJ Putz as Closer Era to begin!

After all could a 36 year-old reliever with a torn labrum and lots of miles on his arm continue to be effective?

Huston Street & Dan Johnson

Huston Street missed yesterday’s game, and will miss tonight’s, with a chest injury. It is reported to be insignificant, but with closers, any injury can turn into a major event.

Regardless of whether the injury does progress to the point of a DL stint, Justin Duchsherer should be immediately grabbed. Along with him, a small stampede to grab Kiko Calero should also ensue because Duchsherer was an utter failure in his first chance last night against the Tigers- walking in the go ahead run after loading the bases.

Something else caused me to pay attention in yesterday’s A’s-Tigers game. Dan Johnson was pinch-hit for by Adam Melhuse with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with the A’s down one run.

Melhuse proceeded to strike out as quickly as those bashers in the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he threw the super slow pitch. Strikeonestriketwostrikethree.

Normally, any early season slump does nothing for me, but when a manager seemingly loses confidence in a player of Dan Johnson’s purported caliber and pinch hits for him in a situation where plate discipline is important, I take notice. And uses the back-up catcher as the pinch-hitter!

With Daric Barton off to a torrid start in AAA (.491 OBP/.537 SLG), do not be surprised to see Johnson sent down to “work out some kinks” maybe never to be seen again!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Los Angeles Dodgers

Danys Baez comes in in the 8th inning to close out last night's game against the Cubs because manager Grady Little has no confidence in any other relievers on the roster except for recent call-up, , who was used for two innings the night before and unavailable.

This is going to get ugly very quickly for the Dodgers. They're hitters are going down left and right and their bullpen is apparently in shambles.

It appears to me that the Dodgers will be this year's version of the 2005 Braves - a team breaking in a lot of rookies all at once.

With the current construction of the roster, the Dodgers look to have had this sort of thing in mind over the next two seasons, but that looks to be acceralerated.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips is starting his 3rd game in a row at 2B for the Reds this afternoon.

Take this as a signal to grab him from the free agent pool. This may be the first significant change in playing time post-draft where a non-draftee's value goes from nil to $10+.

The year opened with a three-headed monster of Rich Aurilia/Ryan Freel/Tony Womack at 2B for the Reds. With the Griffey injury, Freel has moved to the OF, and Aurilia seems to be more of a platoon 1B and back-up 3B (9 combined appearances at the corner) than a middle infielder(3 combined appearances all at 2B).

That leaves Womack and Phillips to man 2B. (At least until Griffey returns from the DL.) I think everybody except Tony Womack's employer believes NTW should get the playing time. (NTW=Not Tony Womack)

What can be expected of Phillips? He was heavily hyped and was the top prospect included in Omar Minaya's trade for Bartolo Colon a few years agao.

Since then, Phillips has disappointed. He looked to have been a 20 HR/30 SB middle infielder, but he hasn't sniffed either marker since.

However, his power has been consistently in the teens. Unfortunately, his SB capabilities appear to be in serious decline. He gets caught too frequently so maybe that isn't a bad thing.

With his home games at the Great American Ballpark, I can see his power remaining constant.

I have not written off the speed but that seems to be gravy versus something to seriously count on.

The big x-factor is age. Despite the aura of failed prospect status, he is still just 24. Big things could be ahead.

Jon Papelbon

Last night, he gave up a hit, walked two batters and got the save without giving up a run.

Paplebon will be good, but he won't have another seven-inning stretch like he had to begin the season to garner the HoF hype.

Without decreased dominance, the idea of Foulke returning the role of keeping the closer job warm for Craig Hansen will seem plausible again.

Also, as the idea of Lenny DiNardo starting 25+ games for a play-off contender solidifies, the idea of Papelbon moving into the rotation will also seem plausible.

Getting Foulke on the cheap is a wise move.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jeremy Hermida

The Marlins placed Jeremy Hermida on the 15-day DL with a hip injury. The injury does not seem serious so I would expect him back at the end of the month.

That will not leave him much time to lose his frontrunner spot as the Biggest Disappointment of the Month Award though.

No HRs I can understand, but no RBIs?!?! But he did have a +.400 OBP! Whoop-de-damn-do.

Fortunately for Roto teams, the injury occurred early in the season and gives the opportunity to grab a player from the pool. At this time of year, jobs are still unsettled and players who won them based on good springs are nearing the end of the leash if they started off poorly.

Unless there is an everyday starter in the pool, holding off replacing him is a wise move. There should be a new Dodger starter recalled from the minors any day now, right?

(And even more "fortunate" for me, I have open rosters spots with Diaz being sent down, Hermida DL-ed and Carlos Martinez also going on the DL.)

Victor Diaz

As a Yankee fan, one would think I'd blog about them, but I can't stop myself from commenting on the Mets.

Yesterday, Victor Diaz finally had his ticket punched for AAA, and shortly thereafter, Cliff Floyd pulls a ribcage muscle.

If Floyd is DL-ed and Diaz is not recalled, then Diaz's days as a Mets are over. And if the Mets play Jose Valentin and/or Endy Chavez regularly in the OF, the Mets days as the Darlings of April are over, too!

(With Lastings Milledge in AAA, Diaz is precariously close to being passed by anyways.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Jonathan Papelbon

He looks to have solidified himself as one of the absolute best closers in baseball.

All that in 7 excellent innings.

I know I am about to venture into heresy rivaling Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses, but why is a middle reliever who struck out 6 batters in 7 innings getting all this incredibly positive press?

Of the 23 batters faced, 2 have hits. Is that type of contact rate sustainable? Seems Paplebon has been incredibly lucky.

This does not mean he won't be a solid closer or major league starter (which is what the Red Sox want), but he did walk 17 in 34 innings last year. Did that all magically go away?

And all it would take is one 1/3 of an inning with 4 earned runs and five runners to make his season numbers much uglier and to tarnish the aura that seems to be rivalling that of Derek Jeter's in NY.

Two Week Mark

We have now passed the two-week marker on the season.

At this point no team should be quitting on the year. Despite that universally accepted admonition, I still like to examine the results so far.

At this juncture, I look at the various spreads in points between first and last, first and second, last and second-to-last and so on to see if anything stands out.

After 12 games or so, 20 point spreads are flagged and the team(s) lagging/ahead by that much are looked at in more depth.

Typically, the team that is ahead by 20 points has hit on all cylinders in the first two weeks with the exceptional performances of a handful or two of their players. The ones behind that type of team usually have a few players not performing up to expectations but with no reason to worry a la Ryan Howards' RBI totals. The team that raced out to a big lead will typically fall back as its players begin to cool off and/or perform at expected levels.

For the last place team lagging the one ahead of it by 20 points, there are more serious causes for concern. This team typically failed at the draft to address the the major hitting categories of HR & RBI and has failed in the pitching ratios.

The pitching ratios are easy to fix. Either the team has just had some bad luck or bad pitchers can be shed. The number of innings pitched to date is not big enough to weigh down the ratios.

It is the hitting categories that are much harder to address. Everyone is looking for that pool pick-up that will hit 20 HR over the remaining 24 weeks of the season, so the lagging team has to compete against every other team in the league for those few players that will arise.

2nd, improving hitting via trade can be done but the team must be focused on dealing a zero on offense because dealing a Eric Hinske for Craig Monroe will only improve the team on a net basis - the difference between Monroe's 20/75 and Hinske's 12/50. Or a net 8 HR & 25 RBI. That is not enough to improve the team.

What needs be done is to deal Bubba Crosby for Craig Monroe on the hitting side and either a pitcher for pitcher or minor leaguers/reserved players to make-up the difference in value. This is easier said than done because the lagging team is also lagging in pitching and may not find a team willing to take Kevin Millwood because of his bad ratios right now.

Regardless of the hurdles in trading back into the pack, the serious laggard must be aggressive and unafraid to take chances with pool pick-ups and/or FAAB.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fortuitious Event #2

Sean Casey is out 6-8 weeks with a couple of cracked vertebrae. Craig Wilson will start at firstbase in the interim.

My draft strategy of drafting sleepers and players one step away from full-time ABs (defined as 400 ABS for the season)has played out earlier than I could have hoped.

First Wilson Betemit steps in from a DL-ed Chipper Jones.

Now, Casey is out with a fluke injury and Wilson steps in and mashes.

Is #3 going to be Marlon Byrd garnering full-time ABs? Brandon Watson has already been sent down, but Ryan Church was recalled.

Fortunately, Church struck out three times in his first game and may have a hard time endearing himself to FRob.

And Jose Guillen seems down for a bit - non-washerwoman's injury uninvolved.

Jorge Julio

Why is Jorge Julio even on a major league team? The Mets brought him in to start the 8th inning down 5-2, and he preceded to give-up three runs. Two of them came on a 1-2 pitch that Geoff Jenkins crushed to right-center field.

He should never pitch in a game the Mets aren't losing by 10 runs or more. Normally, I'd say five runs, but Julio will give-up three plus and make a game of it.

To think John Maine is still the best pitcher Minaya got in the Kris Benson trade. Puh-theh-tick.

LaTroy Hawkins

Latroy Hawkins started the 9th inning of a 5-4 game and got the first two outs. With only 1/27th of the game to go before notching his first save as an Oriole, he gives-up a HR to Jeff Mathis to blow the save.

Apparently, the Leo Mazzone magic doesn't work. And that doesn't even include the Nuke McLooshness of Daniel Cabrera.

What the Hell happened with that?

A post on my AL-only league page excoriated the team that protected DC and claimed he wouldn't have come close tot he $10 salary he was protected at. (Mostly because the owner who protected was offering him as if he were a $10 (insert ace here).)

I couldn't disagree more. With the endless accolades and sleeper touting of DC in the off-season and Spring training, there is no way he'd have gone for less. None. I think he'd have gone for the same as AJ Burnett did - $19.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Victor Diaz

Geez! Victor Diaz gets a start in LF tonight and nonchalances a single and lets the ball go through his legs for an error. He will find it hard to shake the "lackadaisical" tag with plays like that.
Chase Utley homered for the third time in two games. After his poor start, he is now on pace for 35+ HRs. BTW, he does not look like he did steroids. Ryan Howard is next.
Scott Baker has thrown 7 great innings versus the Yanks. Apparently, he is not as bad as his first start. Just as Verlander wasn't as good as his first start.
Curt Schilling threw his third gem of the season, and Jon Papelbon closed it the 2-1 game. Keith Foulke looks further and further away from even sniffing the 9th inning.
Dewon Brazelton has quickly been dropped back to Jaime Navarro status. To think I thought he may have turned a corner based on his great spring K:BB. I didn't draft him in any leagues, but I would have still liked to have been right.

Adrian Beltre stole his 4th base yesterday. He has almost as many SB as hits. That is not exactly what I had hoped for when I drafted him. Actually, I had hoped for Eric Chavez's 5 HR. However, those stolen base totals may get another team to expect more of the same in a trade, so I won't complain too much. Yet.

Still no idea who will close in Florida, but I wouldn't pay closer value for any of them until a few saves in a row are strung together.

The Justin Verlander ROY campaign took a hit after yesterday's bombing. He may still pitch well this year, but expect more of the same - one good start followed by a nightmare that more than erases the good from the good start.

The Yankees are a team that you never want to see your ptichers going against despite the A's and Angels handling of the line-up. They are pre-humidor Coors Field every night.

Brad HAwpe? Go grab him so you can get nothing exciting.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Jonathan Broxton

I had mentioned Jonathan Broxton last week after the Gagne news broke.

I was checking various minor leaguers and how they have fared so far, and Broxton was noteworthy. He has pitched 3 innings for AAA Las Vegas and allowed no runs and 3 hits. He hasn't walked a batter yet, either. Those are very nice numbers but what stood out was his seven strikeouts.

Out of nine outs, seven were by strikeout. I wouldn't be surprised to see him garnering the hype that surrounded Fernando Cabrera this off-season.

(FWIW, Brandon Wood is mashing in AA, and Eric Patterson looks like he will be JD Drew to his brother Corey's Tim Drew.)

Florida Marlins Closer

The Marlins look like they may rival the bullpen futility, and by that, I mean the lack of a defined closer and a bunch of saves going to one player, of the 2003 Tigers and the 2004 Royals. That Tigers team was lead in saves by Chris Meirs and Franklyn German with 5 apiece, and the Royals team was led by Jeremy Affeldt’s 13 and several players with 3 or fewer.

Yesterday, Joe Borowski pitched in the 8th inning, after making his first appearance in the 7th the week before. This alone signals serious concerns about whether or not he is the closer. To make matters worse, he gave up three earned runs in 2/3s of an inning yesterday.

In Borowski’s defense, Matt Herges inherited his three runners and proceeded to allow two to score. Herges inspires no confidence, irrespective of this appearance, because he has failed in the role repeatedly when given the chance.

Franklyn German finished off the game by striking out two in the 9th in a 9-3 game. A game that is meaningless, by any definition of that word. However, I am calloused because I saw German begin last season the same way only to crumble the moment the Tigers’ closer role opened up. I have a hard time not believing history won’t repeat itself for this failing “future closer.” it is only a matter of game pressure befre his is walking two batters an appearance.

Carlos Martinez has pitched in meaningful innings. Here this means in the 8th or 9th. Why the floating definition? He is 20-years-old and pitched in A ball last year. He should be pitching mop-up innings not the 10th inning of a tie game. I like him but may be a year ahead of myself.

I don’t know who will close in Florida but I do know that player will not live-up to even the low full-time closer standards established by Esteban Yan several seasons ago in Tampa Bay where he saved 21 games (and went for $25 in my draft along with a $30 Tim Crabtree in Texas.).

As a matter of fact, Joe Borowski, $21 in my NL draft, will take one of those two roles this year.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

2006 NL Draft Recap

Wow! Draft inflation was out of control. I suspected that would be the case with the quality of players that left the NL for the AL and the lack of such to return to the NL. (First touched upon here.) However, I did not expect anything like the levels that occurred last night.

Only at the very, very end did players start consistently going for $1, and this only occurred because several teams filled their roster and still had a few dollars left over. I was one of them with $4 left over.

My strategy, congealed on the train ride home, was unique in my experience.

First, there were very few very good hitters available. (Pujols, Soriano, Abreu, Beltran, Rolen, Helton, Edmonds.) The next level included Marcus Giles, Edgar Renteria, Chipper Jones and 8 or nine OFers along the Jacques Jones line. Sean Casey was the third-best 1B available after Pujols and Helton.

2nd, there were five teams with more than $150 to spend and amongst those, one team had $186 and the other had $207. There were also two other teams with $134 and $138 to spend. With seven of the 12 teams having oodles of cash to spend, I projected every good hitter to be expensive.

3rd, there were many closers, and their back-ups, available, and the league has traditionally punted pitching in favor of hitting. Which was good because I had no closer.

With those three factors in mind, I concluded I would be shut out of any of the very good hitters unless I was willing to either a.) draft one of them and a closer and hope to fill my other 9 roster openings with $1-$3 fillers or b.) draft a closer and not worry about hitting as much.

I choose option b. With that first step, I recognized that I might be better trying to draft pitching to the near exclusion of hitting. After all, the league usually allows pitching to be slightly undervalued.

Also, with the best hitters excluded for likely acquistion, I decided I would target hitters I thought had a good chance to breakout on the upside with fortuitous events a la injuries, roster shake-ups, etc.

My pitching strategy coalesced around getting two closers and drafting four players I considered serious possibilites to have good-to-excellent seasons - Aaron Heilman, Chuck James, Brad Penny and David Bush.

Then inflation butt in. Because there were so few hitters to waste, I mean, spend money on, those extra dollars flowed into the pitching ranks. Amongst the crazies, Gregg Maddux $19, Tim Hudson $18. And my two starting pitching targets were effected, too. Brad Penny went for $20, and Dave Bush went for $16.

I had allocated $20 for them. No chance. However, I did get what i consider one of the relative starting pitching bargains in Jason Schmidt at $18. Those 10 strikeouts versus the Braves signaled he may be better than he was in last season's 2nd half.

Of course, Schmidt was only acquired because the first part of my pitching strategy needed adjusting almost immediately. I had set a target allocation of $35 to get two closers. Wagner went for $37, but that had been expected. I figured the remaining 5 or 6 would go in the $15-$20 range.

I landed Armando Benitez for $20. Based on news reports, I figured his knee and mechanics were his issue and not an elbow injury. This leap of faith is somewhat tough because I recoil every time I see San Fran trainer, Stan Conte, and injury update in the same paragraph. (see Robb Nen.)

With $15 still available, I saw Baez go off the board at $22. I adjusted and grabbed Schmidt for $18. $3 more than my allocated amount, but I figured to move some of the $10 I put aside for Aaron Heilman and Chuck James and some of the $20 allocated for Penny and Bush to cover it.

I smart on-the-fly adjustment in my mind at the time.

After those two, I sat out round after round because my pitchers and hitters were not coming up. This was the most difficult part of the draft, but I was disciplined because the players I targeted were not coming up, and I still wanted the pitchers so I needed to hold my cash.

Then the inflation never went away. Brad Penny came-up and went for $2o. Bobby Howry went for $7. Joey Devine $8. Todd Coffey $8. Finally, someone else threw out Aaron heilman, and I decided to spend some money. He went for $9. That was OK because Penny had blown the target allocation apart. I'd still have a chance at James for $1, but I wasn't so sure.

Dave Bush was still available but many teams had $30 or so to spend with only 5 or 6 roster openings. I thought he would be tough to land without having the most available cash, and I was right. Dave Bush went for $16, and I went after middle relievers with the Penny/Bush spots. Juan Cruz for $2 and Carlos Martinez for $1 were the consolation prizes. However, I still had one spot left open for James.

On hitting, I went a little crazy on Ronny Cedeno for my first one - $12. Yikes, but that was cheap for players with starting positions or near ones. Orlando Hudson went for $17. Bill Mueller for $15. Adrian Gonzlaez for the same. Tony Womack for $16. David Bell for $11. Tony Clark for $12. Javier Valentin for $9. Larry Bigbie for $8. Scott Hatteberg for $9. Chris Burke for $10. Steve Finley for $9. See, lots of inflation even at the end of the viable draftee list.

Despite that, I executed the hitting side to my satisfaction. I landed Craig Wilson ($9) and Freddie Sanchez (DL replacement) of the Pirates and Marlon Byrd ($1) with the Natspos. With the Chipper Jones injury from the previous day, Wilson Betemit ($6) was also taken. (And fortuitous occurence #1 greeted me this AM - Chipper on the 15-day DL.) My 2nd catcher was Miguel Olivo for $1.

Finally, with $9 remaining and one pitching slot left, I threw out Chuck James for $1. Someone went $2. I went $3. He went $4, and I countered with $5. He then said I wasn't going to be "Turnbowed" this draft and let me have James for $5. (Last year, I nominated Turnbow for $1 and the same team went $2. I was out of money and decided then to leave a few bucks on the table next time rather than be Turnbowed again.)

Monday, April 10, 2006

NL Draft

My NL-only draft is this evening. I am nowhere near as prepared as I was for my AL one. But I have much less money ($88 vs $161) and a glaring hole/need - saves.

Fortunately, there are many closers available - Wagner, Isringhausen, Gordon, Benitez, Gagne, Florida closer plus obvious back-ups, Danys Baez and Tim Worrell.

All the Atlanta relievers setting-up Reitsma are available. Someone is going to luck into a cheap closer this year. I was all set to draft Joey Devine 4th overall in the minor league draft until he was recalled. I was all set to go hard for him in the auction, but 7 ER and 11 runners in one inning of work spanning two games has me seriously doubting his ability to be successful any time soon.

Heck, I like John Thomson more to close than Devine right now.

In terms of hitting, I have 10 of my 15 filled (an extra UT). I may go for one stud hitter if I can get him at $30, but there are many teams with fewer hitters protected and much more money.

I may satisfy myself with 5 $5-$12 hitters. Hopefully, that will be enough behind an offense lead by Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raphael Furcal and Juan Pierre.

Even if I don't get the offense of my dreams, I know I have SB to deal for that big bopper.

I have 6 minor league draft picks and will take Troy Tulowitzki with my first at #4. #8, 13, 16,17, and 20 are more dependent on who the other teams take and this league is much more astute regarding prospects. (My original picks were #8 and #20. After several trades, the most notable Jorge Sosa for #4 and #13, I have 6 picks.)

The top three picks will be Stephen Drew, Justin Upton and Chris Young. I'd take any of those three is they fell to me at #4 and hope for TT at #8.

I know Saltalamacchia will be picked between my first two selections. The issue who will be the other two.

I'm not overly concerned because there are many players I would feel comfortable selecting.

Coco Crisp - Boston Red Sox: Crisp could be out for 4 weeks

Wow! Coco Crisp is out for a month or so.

Adam Stern becomes an interesting pick-up for the time.

If you left an open spot on your roster in anticipation of this type of event happening, then congrats.

If you did not and elected to fill your DL spots at the draft in order to capture some scrub's one HR and/or SB in the first week, let this be a lesson.

Barry Zito

Barry Zito's 2nd start went much better than his first one. Even with 6 shutout innings, his ratios are still horrendous.

While advising one to trade for Zito now is the next logical step following the opening paragraph, I'm going in a slightly different direction.

What is noteworthy is the fact that even with Zito's terribleness, my AL-only team has 11 points in WHIP and 10 in ERA.

A little discussed subject at this point in the year is the fact that any one pitcher doesn't sink a team. There is endless commentary on not panicking based on a bad couple weeks and/or starts, but no advice ever seems to be put the bad player in the context of the entire Roto team.

With Zito, I also have Cliff Politte and Scott Baker. Despite those three ratio killers, I still have the points I do. That is due to two things.

The first is the number of innings involved is low so ugly ratios do not mean as much when the innings they were produced in is only 30% of my team's total innings pitched (14/47).

The second is the other six pitchers' innings and ratios have carried the Terrible Three.

So keep the totality of your pitching staff in mind when trying to evaluate how you are doing at this early stage of the season.

FWIW, I expect the other six pitchers to worsen while the three bad ones to improve.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

2006 AL Draft

Things went as I anticipated. I landed Chone Figgins for $41. That was a little discomforting, but he was the first player named and I knew there would be a couple other bids that would make me feel better.

That player was Carl Crawford. He went for $50! Brian Roberts followed that for $33.

The bidding for the four closers available was also heated. Mariano Rivera went for $49. Todd Jones went for $23 and Keith Foulke went for $24! To a Red Sox fan nonetheless. Dan Miceli was the bargain of the four. He went for $17.

Those levels precluded me from taking a flyer on any of them. Foulke's price really surprised me because he is looking at a Wally Pipp moment right now with Papelbon. Nevermind Craig Hansen in the minors.

I did get a top starter at a price I was made me very comfortable. Johann Santana went for $41, and Randy Johnson went for $38 (to a Yankee fan). That left two pitchers I considered at the top, Mark Buerhle and Curt Schilling. I let Buerhle go for $25 and was left with the possibility of not landing any of those four if Schilling got out of control. That did not happen. Schilling went to me for $24.

I rounded out the remaining three openings on my pitching staff with $5 Joel Zumaya and Latroy Hawkins and a $2 Joaquin Benoit. I'm not thrilled about Hawkins, as anyone who has owned him since his early Twins days would be, but there is no other option in Baltimore if Chris Ray stumbles, and maybe Leo Mazzone will provide that certain je ne sais quoi Hawkins' previous crusty managers could not.

Zumaya was the one sleeper I was willing to go to $12 or so. I think he is going to be a Scot Shields type of reliever this season. Whatever happens after that would be gravy. I was thrilled to get him for $5 when I had planned to spend more than twice that. (Whether $12 for a middle relieving rookie is wise is besides the point.)

The catchers all went for $18-$20. I landed Jorge Posada for $18 and Toby Hall for $6. Neither is undervalued but neither is over-valued, and I had money to spend. I feel comfortable with the expected levels of production for those salaries.

At the hot corner, there was a lot of depth. Troy Glaus, Hank Blalock, Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Eric Chavez, Melvin Mora, Aaron Boone, Joe Crede and Tony Batisita. I already landed Figgins, but I wanted him in the OF. With a desire for a middle of the order hitter, I focused on Eric Chavez, Adrian Beltre, Hank Blalock and Troy Glaus. I was basically indifferent to any of them but liked Chavez and Beltre slightly better than the other two. Blalock has not performed up to expectations, and I question if he ever will. Glaus is an injury risk and cannot be expected to hit higher than .250.

Blalock was the first off the board at $32. I wasn't involved much in the bidding. Eric Chavez was next, and that bidding I did take to $30, but he went for $31. Glaus and Beltre still remained. Beltre was next and I landed him at $26. Glaus ended-up going for $28. Overall, I was very pleased to get one of the four I wanted and to get him for the least amount.

After getting Figgins, Posada, Schilling and Beltre, I stopped seriously bidding for a while. I'd push some players up in price but not agressively and with no desire to land them. It got to the point where I had the most money remaining ($52). At this point, the best players available were Carl Everett, Nick Markakis, Jason Michaels and Placido Polanco.

I didn't really want Everett because he is good for 450 ABs at most, is old with an attidude and gets hurt. Jason Michaels is not a favorite of mine, but with Todd Hollandsworth backing-up LF and RF, I did not see Michaels under any threat whatsoever to lose ABs, and he is batting second in an excellent line-up one through nine.

Nick Markakis offers the upside potential that makes him more attractive than either Michaels or Everett. I wanted him.

Polanco is a undisputed full-time player and offers excellent AVG, and with Beltre and Posada already on board for .265ish AVG, I decided I wanted him, too.

One for two isn't too bad. I landed Polanco for $17. Not a late draft bargain but a better value than Carlos Guillen who went for $21.

Then came the Nick Markakis bidding. I had three spots left (SS, OF and P) with $19 to address them. I bid Markakis up to $16 and lost him to another team who said $17 knowing I was done. Disappointing but a normal occurence at the end of every draft.

Fortunately, I still had the money. Unfortunately, there was no one left in the pool that I thought offered good value for $17, and pitchers were already going for a $1 or $2 so any of those would not reach double-digit bids.

Still on the board was Jason Michaels, and I said to myself (after 8 beers or so), "WTF! Jason Michaels it is!" and landed him for $16. With some time to think it over, I believe that was as good a selection as Markakis for this year. Michaels will play and likely hit. 280+. So I shrug my shoulders and let things fall where they may.

When I entered the minor league draft, I wanted Brandon Wood #1, one of the other top four (Gordon, Kendrick, Marte, Hansen) at #5, Adam Jones at #8, Brad Snyder and Jose Tabata with the 17th and 21st picks in a 24-pick draft. I would have taken Jeff Clement at #8 if Jones was taken. The last two picks would have been an on-the-fly adjustment depending on who was left at that point.

As it turned out, I got all five players.

Overall, I was pleased with my draft and hope I analyzed my needs as accurately as possible because I executed my plan flawlessly. That worries me very much.

(After checking the scores prior to stumbling to bed, I noticed Schilling pitched a gem. I passed out feeling much better about my draft.)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Taylor Buchholz

Minor League Ball :: Taylor Buchholz

A great site to visit to take advantage of the wisdom of crowds. The diaries are usually addressing every hot player/prospect of the day.

BTW, James Surowiecki's book is a must-read to understand group dynamics on how the brilliant can be so foolish and the less-so so wise.

Al Draft Today

My Al-only 4X4 draft is this afternoon. After six months it is finally here.

Now I put all that thought and analysis to work.

A personal caution is I need to stay away from landing a team full of sleepers and prospects. Inevitably, some of those types of players do not pan out. If I can limit it to two pitchers and two hitters, I should maintain the proper balance needed to suceed - veterans and breakout nobodies.

Going in, saves are going to be more dear than usual. The only solid closer available is Mariano Rivera. After him, Todd Jones, Dan Miceli, and Keith Foulke make-up the remainder of obvious saves available, and I know Foulke is on the shakiest ground. That says a lot when one of the other closers is Dan Miceli! To make this a crazy situation is four teams have no closer at all. I'm think $45+ for Mariano and one of the other three going into the $20s!

Normally, fishing amongst the back-up closers/set-up men would provide some fruit, but every one of those who could be protected was protected at $5-$10 - Mike Timlin, Kyle Farnsworth, Justin Speier, Jon Papelbon, Neil Cotts, Cliff Politte, Juan Rincon, Fernando Cabrera, Rafael Betancourt, Mike MacDougal, Andy Sisco, Fernando Rodney, Justin Duchsherer, Scot Shields, Brendan Donnelly, Brian McCarthy, Francisco Liriano and Rafael Soriano.

In terms of personal strategy, I need to add two starting pitchers to be competitive in this league. I would then have 5 SP - Zito, Chen and Baker are my three keepers. This is tough for me because I normally punt pitching at the draft because I focus on entering with a closer and figure SP is too risky. This year I have alot of money to spend and there are some decent arms available who should be good enough to contribute Ws without mediocre ratios. Mark Buerhle is a favorite.

For hitting, I need SB. Carl Crawford and Chone Figgins are available, and I am setting aside $40+ to grab one. After those two, the next level of SB is Brian Roberts, Julio Lugo and Orlando Cabrera. Any of those at $30 is more ridiculous than Crawford or Figgins at $40.

A sleeper for SB is Baltimore's Luis Matos. Just matching last season's 17 swipes would make him a solid $10 in the AL.

3B and C are very deep this draft with 8 catchers and 9 3B available on loosely defined terms that allow Toby Hall and Jason Kendall to be considered good and Tony Batista and Mike Lowell to be so as 3B. I will likely spend $30-$40 to address a C and a 3B.

One factor on hitting I need to focus on besides SB is RBI. This means focusing on players hitting in the top of the order - generally in the 2-6 holes depending on position. Eric Chavez looks very good in this regard.

In the minors I have five picks and have almost settled on Brandon Wood at #1. He homered and doubled in his first game, and I anticipate John Sickels saying good things about him in his post today (which I hope is up prior to my departure.) I have four other picks and will focus on players who are close to being recalled next season with my final three picks.

When they do get called-up, I need to have space for them. Amongst Alex Gordon, Howie Kendrick, Andy Mrte and Craig Hansen, Wood seems least likely to be recalled, and he also has the highest ceiling right now. Instead of trying to forecast 2006 playing time versus ceiling, I am playing it safe and taking ceiling. Or differently phrased, I am taking the one who is most liked by those who evaluate propsects for a living.

I select #5 so one of those others will fall to me regardless.

This is my plan, and, with 5 hours until the draft, it is as solid as it can get.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Eric Gagne

So Eric Gagne has been pitching in discomfort all spring? With the reach of the internet, I am surprised this never got out.

That aside, Danys Baez goes from the most expensive middle reliever in my book to a full-fledged closer. Why? Isn't Gagne expected back this season?

Right now, he is, but that does not change the fact Baez is a free agent after the season and will look to sign as a closer somewhere. This makes "full-priced" reasonable. $20-$25 for a closer next year is not unprotectable.

It is that reason that I was going to make him the most expensive middle reliever this year. $12 or $13 now for a 2007 closer is a gamble I would take. (Newest frontrunner: Joey Devine.)

With Baez' elevation to the closer job, Yhancy Brazoban steps back into the back-up closer role he lost when DB was acquired from the Devil Rays this spring.

As important is drafting/grabbing/keeping an eye on Jonathan Broxton. He is the new closer in AAA Las Vegas after spending most of his minor league career as a starter. He was recalled late last season and made several appearances with the Dodgers as a reliever. In 13 innings, he struck out 22!

He also walked 12, so some caution is necessary, but his minor league walk totals, while a little high, are manageable with that type of k-rate.

Minor league totals to chew on:

291.2 innings
238 hits
112 walks
314 strikouts
12 homeruns allowed

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jorge Julio

Rotisserie Baseball Musings: The Mets

With life intruding on my blogging (kindergarten play and this), I forgot to mention Julio's disastrous 10th inning last night.

5 runs? What was he doing pitching in a meaningful game? Shouldn't the Mets have listened to me?

...A middle reliever in Jorge Julio who may never pitch in a game that the Mets are losing by fewer than a couple handful of runs...

(I'm really not a fan of Omar Minaya.)

Ryan Klesko

North County Times - San Diego Padres - Klesko could be facing surgery on his shoulder

No surprise here. Klesko looks to be going under the knife to fix his shoulder.

Adrian Gonzalez climbs into the low teens. Normally, I'd feel comfortable taking a prospect into the high teens, but Petco may keep his power in the low teens for HRs.

Klesko is also a DL candidate at draft time to keep in mind. Grabbing him for a couple dollars will make a very nice piece for 2007 or a trading one for 2006.

Jon Papelbon - Boston Red Sox: Foulke puts team ahead of himself

Another closer loses his job. Due to "temporary" ineffectiveness, Keith Foulke is out as the Sawx closer.

Jon Papelbon is in.

However note this:

Josh Beckett pitched seven innings, while Mike Timlin pitched the eighth. If Beckett had not completed seven, Foulke and Papelbon were aware the veteran [Timlin] would be used in the save situation.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Evening Notes

I am watching Brian Bannister pitch for the Mets tonight against the Natspos.

He took a no-hitter into the sixth. It is fool's gold. He never touches 90 and evrything else looks bland.

What this will do is cause a stampede to the free agent pool to pick him up, and a giddiness at this weekend's drafts over the newest sleeper.

(As I type, Nick Johnson just hit a 3-run HR.)

I hope Randolph is smart enough to get the kid out now.

In the Orioles/Devil Rays game, Nick Markakis has walked three times in his first three ABs. I have no discomfort whatsoever in going into the teens for him.

Also of note, Tampa Bay used Jesus Colome in the 4th inning. Dan Micelli seems locked into the closer's role!

Esteban German

He entered 2005 as 2B- and 3B-eligible.

Today, he made an appearance at SS. For those of us who draft this weekend, this is the kind of news that takes some sting out of the Barry Zito appearances.

I rank him as a major SB sleeper. The extra postion flexibility makes him an ideal $1 player or free agent pick-up in the AL.

Ramon Hernandez

The Orioles batted Ramon Hernandez 9th on Opening Day.

He went 3-3 with 2 RBI.

Unlike Johjima whose performance may be legit, Hernandez's great Opening Day will not stand.

First off, Hernandez has had a hard time staying healthy for the past couple seasons. As a catcher, that is not likely to change.

So off the top, he can only be expected to get 400 or so plate appearances. This before the likelihood of Javy Lopez getting 40 or so starts behind the plate.

With the O's carrying so many OF/1B/DH types, Hernandez can't be expected to see time at DH when he isn't catching either.

Equally important is batting 9th. If that continues, then his RBI totals with drop to the into the 40-50 level.

If those conditions hold, I expected him to hit 15 HR and drive in 45 runs. It is worth $8 for a catcher, but I expect his good Opening Day, along with his reputation, to carry him upwards towards the $20 mark.

While I would get a little excited in bidding on Kenji Johjima, Ramon Hernandez will be left for another team to be disaapointed with.

Kenji Johjima

Kenji Johjima hit his 2nd HR in as many games to open the season.

My initial reaction was, "Great. Now he goes for $20+ in my draft on Saturday."

My almost immediate next thought was, "If I don't draft him, he will be difficult to obtain via trade and then will disappoint in the power department because he just got lucky a la Tuffy Rhodes."

With this working appraisal, I checked because it carries Japan stats.

What surprised me was he hit at least 24 HRs per year for 5 consecutive seasons and his SLG was over .500 in the last four seasons.

His power may be legit. Or at least, if I deal for him early, he won't hit 9 HRs over the remaining 24 weeks of the season after hitting 2 in the first couple weeks.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Casey Blake

Casey Blake - Cleveland Indians - MLB - Yahoo! Sports

Two games into the season and Blake has walked three times.

It means nothing for 2007, but if he exhibits a more patient approach at the plate, then I would not expect Brad Snyder or Franklyn Gutierrez to get any meaningful playing time in RF.

n fact, a return to 2004 levels is likely.

New York Yankees

Was that any way to treat your 2007-2011 #2 starter?

The horrible appearance by Barry Zito is a cautionary lesson in protecting full-valued pitchers.

While an 0-13 starter by an equally-full-valued hitter causes little discomfort, one bad outing by the equally-full-valued pitcher brings on a major case of agita.

The only consolation is that every pitcher has an appearance like Zito's one last night. Just tell yourself you had yours already.

(Recall John Smotlz' opening day line last season (1.2 IP 6 ER 8 runners) and his final numbers (229.2 IP 3.06 ERA and 1.15 WHIP)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Nomar Garciaparra

Scratched from the first game due to a oblique strain?

With Kenny Loften on the DL already, can the Dodgers keep Guzman in AAA for much longer?

Today's Dodger's line-up was scary bad after the first four.


Nick Markakis

The Orioles Reserve A Place for Markakis

I am very confortable going to the high teens on Nick Markakis despite the early questions on where he plays with Luis Matos, Corey Patterson, Kevin Millar and Jeff Conine amongst the outfield competition.

The bulk of my confidence arises from the fact Markakis hits from the left-side of the plate. Regardless of full-time status, he can be worked into the line-up nearly every day.

As long as he continues to do what he did to get the roster spot - hit and walk, he is in no danger of being sent down, and with him, the $18 used to draft him.

Fernando Cabrera

The LIMA plan takes a body blow!

Fernando Cabrera gave up six earned runs in one inning yesterday sending his owners into shock, and those who have drafts next weekend, into a spiral of doubt about protecting him.

His long-term value still holds, but I would think he'd be easier to obtain either via trade or draft right now if his performance hasn't yet be included on your team!

If you cannot avoid the statline being included on your team, then keep him and ignore all lowball trade offers.

Another bad appearance this week may raise a cautionary flag, though.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

SF Closer

Bad omen: Benitez on DL / Alou to try Worrell as closer until further notice

"I'm not announcing anything, but Timmy [Worrell] saved 38 games for us in 2003," Alou said.

Dave Dellucci for Robinson Tejeda

Finally, the NL pool added a $20+ HR hitter for a slightly draftable player.

Wait. Dellucci is the 4th OF on a team with three OFers who will never sit - Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, and Bobby Abreu.

Dellucci is a quality back-up and defintiely worth $1. Double digit HR and a handful of SB should be expected.

Shane Victorino is still a good $1 player, though. His power/speed combination brings Bill Hall-esque dreams to my head - the major league version with HR/SB not the minor league one without power.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Todd Jones

Another closer goes on the DL! This has not been the year to have an early draft.

Fernando Rodney should get some save opportunities. I also would not be surprised to see Joel Zumaya get a chance or two. This would be a harbinger of his near-future role only an opportunity to pitch in pressure - something I do not think Jim Leyland is afraid to do.

Also keep in mind, Leyland used closing comittees in 9 of his 14 previous major league jobs. Even if Jones returns soon, I can see him getting only 50% of the opportunities.

Armando Benitez

Benitez is DL-bound. Who closes in San Francisco?

Tyler Walker did it last season with some spectacular blow-ups, and Tim Worrell has done it in San Fran before.

I doubt Felipe Alou turns to anyone other than those two.

It is worth one's while to check the papers tomorrow and watch the team closely this week to see how the back-end shakes out.

Both players are worth a handful of dollars, and any other arm in that bullpen should be drafted.

My Roto-intuition says things look bad for Armando this year.

Pretty Sneaky Cince

The Reds recalled Chris Denorfia today.

If you are drafting this afternoon, he is a definite $1 sleeper candidate given the extensive injury history of the Cincinnati outfield. Add in the homer-friendliness of Great American Ballpark, and you have the recipe for a double digit HR player with some speed.

I'll take that for $1 anyday and the late transaction should eliminate a competitive bidder or two.

Joey Devine & Chad Orvella

After an off-season of mega-touting, both "future" closers have been sent to the minors.

I was very much surprised by both moves. In Devine's case, it was because he was great this spring and the Braves bullpen is shaky. Those two factors would seem to be good predictors of who makes the roster.

Obviously not.

In Orvella's case, my surprise was based on Orvella's success last season combined with the weakness of the Rays' bullpen. Those two factors would seem to be good predictors of who makes the roster.

Obviously not. Again.

In both cases, each could conceivably be protected, and both could conceivably be recalled prior to league draft's occurring next weekend.

John Thomson has a sore elbow. If he is DL-ed, Devine would be the obvious call-up. If Devine were unprotected, then he'd be in the pool. In this case, $10-$12 seems about right based on his expected closing duties.

Orvella does not have an obvious path on to the roster, but can Dan Micelli really be good for 7 days?

The beneficiary in each bullpen is Oscar Villareal with the Braves and Jesus Colome with the DRays (who I flagged here.)

A handful of dollars on each would not be a waste.