Archive for March, 2011

James Shields and Using K%

Coming off a season in which he posted a gruesome 5.18 ERA, James Shields is a favorite sleeper and undervalued asset of the statistically-inclined fantasy owner. The majority of these owners will cite Shields’ career high strikeout rate of 8.3 in 2010 as a primary reason to be bullish. In fact, I even mentioned it when I boldly predicted that Shields would post a sub-3.80 ERA in 2011. However, we are being slightly fooled by relying on that sneaky K/9 ratio.

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Michael Pineda’s Instant Impact

Much has changed for Michael Pineda since he was a lanky, projectable 16-year-old who signed with the Mariners out of the Dominican Republic in 2005. The right-hander now stands 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, pops mitts with upper-90s gas, and is considered a potential ace by the prospect pundits: Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein, ESPN’s Keith Law and our own Marc Hulet all rank Pineda as a top-25 farm talent.

The M’s have named Pineda their fifth starter to begin the 2011 season, and the 22-year-old is primed to make an instant fantasy impact. Seattle will be careful with Pineda’s innings, but King Felix’s sidekick has it all — K’s, control, a quality defense and a friendly home ball park.

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Brandon Belt is Free, And On the Giants

The #FreeBrandonBelt hashtag has made it’s way around the internets. Perhaps it was the way he tore up the minor leagues. Or the way he mashed his way through the Arizona Fall League (.372/.427/.616 in an offense-friendly league). Maybe it was the fact that he was a converted college pitcher new to being a slugger. Could have been the alliteration. Or the obvious athleticism.

Whatever the reason(s), he’ buckled in and ready to go and there’s a general frivolity in the air surrounding the Giants’ decision to give Brandon Belt the opening day assignment at first base. What should fantasy owners expect of the strapping young lad?

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Random Thoughts on Shortstops

Stealing Jeff’s format from his post yesterday, I’ll be looking at some various shortstops around the fantasy landscape. It’s been a few weeks since shortstops were discussed in these pages, aside from going over how bad they are, and while not much has transpired, there is something to be said.

Stephen Drew

The only major news coming out of the shortstop community lately is the concern over Stephen Drew’s availability for opening day due to an  abdominal injury. The MRI results were negative, and while it doesn’t look like he’ll be put on the disabled list, he could still be held out a few days as a precautionary measure. The problem for the Diamondbacks, and potentially for fantasy owners, is that the team doesn’t have a suitable backup for Drew. They recently put Tony Abreu on waivers, so he could potentially be claimed by another team. That leaves utility man Willie Bloomquist, but his .299 OBP last year isn’t appealing on any level.

We have Drew rated as the sixth best shortstop this season, and we know the SS talent pool isn’t very deep so any loss to an upper tier player will be felt more so than positions.

In case Drew is out for any extended period of time here are some shortstops to consider that are owned in less than 10% of all ESPN or Yahoo! leagues.

Yuniesky Betancourt (7% Yahoo!)

I never thought I’d be writing a blurb Yuniesky, but here I am. Somehow in 2010 he managed to hit 16 home runs after never showing that much power potential anywhere throughout his career. If you believe he magically found a power stroke and will continue to hit 10+ homers then by all means pick him up. He does have a full time gig, which most players with such a low ownership percentage do not, so if anything he’ll get the at bats. His average won’t kill you (.272 career), but he doesn’t run or provide relevance in any other category.

Cliff Pennington (1.1% ESPN)

Another shortstop with job security, Pennington’s only asset is his ability to steal bases. He only hit .250 and got on base at a .319 clip in 2010, but managed to swipe 29 bases. Oakland’s offense is fairly weak once again, so Pennington should get the green light to run whenever he feels the need. For someone with no power, he would be well served to try and flip his GB (35.6%) and FB (43.0%) percentages this season. If, and it’s a big if, he’s able to do that his value will surely increase.

Jerry Hairston Jr. (3% Yahoo)

A player with multipositional eligibility (2B, SS, OF), Hairston is once again in a part time job, this time with the Nationals. He should see some at bats in a platoon with Rick Ankiel in centerfield, and will undoubtedly see action at the other up the middle positions as well. The past two seasons Hairston has averaged roughly 450 at bats and hit 10 home runs in each campaign. That type of power plays at a weak hitting position like shortstop. Playing time will be hard to pinpoint, but in a pinch there are worse options.

Kicking Rocks: Roster Cuts and Other Fantasy Douchings

The night before Opening Day makes me feel like an 8 year old kid on Christmas Eve, staring at a mountain of presents sitting under the tree waiting to be torn into the next morning.  That one’s definitely an Xbox, those are the video games, and somewhere in that pile is definitely a new baseball glove.  Then morning comes and with unbridled excitement I rush to the pile and start ripping paper with a fury like no other.    Socks and underwear?  A sweater?  These aren’t video games, they’re books.  And who the hell gives an 8 year old a stationery set and thank you cards?  I got rolled on Christmas morning!!

Well, that’s what’s going on now for many of us as we look over our rosters that we were absolutely gushing over as recently as last week.  Suddenly you see a bunch of red crosses next to the names, platoon situations are being discussed, and statuses are being changed from “active” to “minors”.  I know that Opening Day is supposed to be a day filled with excitement and fresh starts, but now it just feels like the fantasy gods have come down and kicked me in the groin….twice.  Here’s what I’m bitching about: Read the rest of this entry »

Scoresheet Kings Diary: Main Draft

Well, that took forever. There are pros and cons to there being 90 minutes between each pick in a fantasy draft. The pros include not having to devote one extended block of time to draft, and having more time to work out trades during it. The con is that it takes freakin’ forever. But my Scoresheet Kings draft is finally, and mercifully in the books, and I’m here to report back on my team – which I have tentatively titled “Chamber of Bomb-erce.”
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Random Thoughts on 2nd Basemen

Chase Utley

I was a huge fan of Utley coming into the 2011 season. He had all of the off season to get his thumb healed. Generally it takes around a year for a player to get back to around 100% after a lower arm injury and it was getting close to being a year later. Then he went and got a bum knee. Reports currently vary from 4 to 12 weeks for the injury to heal, so when/if he comes back is uncertain. I drafted him in way too many leagues before the injury was known, so I will be keeping a eye on his progress and let you know of any updates.

Neither of Chase’s replacements, Luis Castillo or Wilson Valdez, will breed fear into the hearts of your enemies, but may be worth picking up in some deeper or NL only leagues.

Some interesting 2B that are owned in less than 10% of all league (ESPN or Yahoo).

Reid Brignac (5% ESPN) 2B/SS eligible – Reid is barely owned, but could be a nice backup middle infielder if one of your players goes down with an injury. Also, he could be a nice infield sub if one of your other middle infielders has the day off.

Dustin Ackley (1.3% ESPN) – Dustin looks to start the year in the minors, but may be called up in late May or early June (to avoid Super 2 status). It is time now to pick him up, especially in keeper leagues and wait for him to be called up. An owner can take a chance and try to get him right before the call up, but ownership rates will begin creeping up a few weeks before then, so don’t take a chance and miss him.

2B On the Move

One trick to see how players are falling and gaining in popularity is to rank them by ADP in ESPN and then look at the percentage owned. Usually, and especially at the beginning of the season, the two normally match up perfectly. When doing the comparison with 2nd basemen, only one player is out of order and that is Omar Infante.

ESPN shows that his ownership is up 6.4% to 80%. Two reasons look to be fueling this move up. One, he is a super sub with position eligibility at 2B, 3B and OF. Second, he could be a decent source of runs as he looks to be batting 2nd for Florida just ahead of Ramirez and Stanton.

Ranking The Closers By Job Security

A few weeks ago we ranked relievers based on their projected fantasy value, and built into that is a look at each closer’s job security. Let’s be a bit more straight forward on the job security front, since knowing which closers are at risk of losing their job is half the battle.

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Waiver Wire: March 30th

With the season rapidly approaching and spring injuries are popping up all over the place, it’s time to make some of those last minute tweaks on your roster.  If you find yourself looking for a little power boost, here’s a couple of guys with whom you might be interested… Read the rest of this entry »

Deep League Waiver Wire: X-Man Nady and Chris Heisey

Welcome to another edition of deep sea diving into the free agent pool. SCUBA gear is recommended to navigate such mysterious territory. The baseball season starts tomorrow, and I am all ready for my stress level to skyrocket and hours of sleep to be lost! As a reminder, I will only be discussing players owned in 10% or less of leagues on CBS Sports.

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