Archive for August, 2011

Carroll, Andino, Altuve, Giavotella: 2B Waiver Wire

Here is a list of 2B owned in less than 10% of all ESPN leagues. They might be able to help a fantasy team in H2H playoffs or for a final push up the standings.

Jamey Carroll (7.3% owned) – Carroll has not had a good offensive season, especially in the power stats, 0 HR and 12 RBIs. The one item he can hlep a team with is his 0.291 AVG and 10 SB. If an owner is looking good in HRs and RBIs, they could add Carroll to help stabilize or help an AVG that is being dragged down by the likes of Kelly Johnson. Also, Carroll has the flexibility of being qualified at the SS position. Finally, he has gotten plenty of playing time (11 straight games), so he will be available to generate a few counting stats.

Robert Andino (7.3 % owned) – Andino has little value besides helping a team in a deep or AL only league to have a roster-able full time player. His SLG (0.323) is below his OBP (0.326) which is a warning sign to stay away. He has hit a total of 2 home runs this season and produced 21 RBIs. His 0.258 AVG is 17 points higher than his career average, so it is about maxed out. The only way I could see him as a useable player for an owner that is extremely desperate for counting stats. With his 3 eligible positions, he could be used as a flex option on other player’s days off.

Jose Altuve (7.1% owned) – Altuve has be a fairly serviceable 2B since playing his first game on July 20th. He currently has a 0.310 AVG, but not a lot more stats to be impressed with (1 HR and 3 SB in 152 PA). Like Carroll, he looks like a nice addition for a team to solidify their AVG, while not gaining a whole lot in counting stats. Also, he could be a nice bench player to fill in on off days.

Johnny Giavotella (6.1% owned) – Giavotella had the chance to be an OK option at 2B, but Ned Yost just can’t get over his love affair with Chris Getz. Giavotella, the Royals AAA player of the year, started playing all the time when first called up, but is now playing intermittently. When he does start, Getz is used as a late game replacement. He should be a decent option, but with Getz still in the picture, I would stay away from him for now.

Milone and Garcia: NL Starting Pitchers

Tom Milone

Starting next week, the Nationals’ rotation will have a distinctly different look than it has for the previous five months. Jordan Zimmermann is done, having provided the Nats with 26 top-class starts. His 3.5 WAR is a team-best for now, unfortunately he won’t have a chance to improve the mark. Instead, he hands the baton to Milone, rather than Brad Peacock, who may not join the rotation at all.

Milone, a 24-year-old product of USC, has risen methodically through the Nationals’ system, a level per year, though he hasn’t garnered much attention from prospect hounds. Baseball America ranked his control as the best of the Nationals’ minor leaguers, but left him off their top 10 list. That should be seen not as an indictment of Milone, but as a reminder of just how good the Nationals could be in the near future.

Milone had a strong season for Triple-A Syracuse, raising his K/9 while dropping both his H/9 and BB/9 compared with his 2010 year at Double-A Harrisburg. In 26 starts, he posted an ERA of 3.22 with a WHIP of 1.03 while striking out nearly a batter per inning. While it goes without saying that most pitchers do better when they keep hitters off base, for Milone, the difference is substantive. His K/9 falls from 10.3 to 7.8 and his WHIP rises from 0.96 to 1.17 when he has runners on, and while he does get some of those strikeouts back with runners in scoring position, his WHIP rises again, up to 1.25.

Given the choice between the two, I’d obviously rather grab the other addition to Nationals’ rotation — you may have heard of him, one Stephen Strasburg — and he’s actually more widely available than I would have guessed: 49 percent of Yahoo leagues and 42 percent of ESPN leagues. I’m interested in seeing if Milone’s control will hold up at this level, but I don’t see him having enough upside to make him worth the gamble in fantasy. A rising walk rate since the All-Star break is of particular concern, especially when paired with his struggles with runners on base.

Jaime Garcia

With a month of the season left to go, Garcia has thrown almost exactly the same number of innings he threw last year with the exact same number of strikeouts in one fewer start. While that parallel is a nice bit of trivia, it also highlights the fact that Garcia has already passed his previous career high in innings pitched with potentially four scheduled starts left, even with his next turn through the rotation being skipped.

The Cardinals haven’t said anything about shutting Garcia down quite yet, but perhaps you ought to think about it. He’s showing serious signs of fatigue already: His strikeouts are down, both absolutely and in terms of K/9; his walks and hits are both up, giving him a WHIP of almost 2.00 this month; and he recorded an out in the sixth inning or later just once in August, making his rising ERA and WHIP all the more painful for head-to-head players. Even if he can keep himself from getting worse, we’re in the part of the fantasy season where one bad start can have unwanted consequences.

If you’re in a position where you are absolutely stuck with Garcia until the season’s dying breath, you can save yourself some heartache by at least benching Garcia on the road. At home, he holds a 2.72 ERA with a 1.11 WHIP, but Mr. Hyde comes out away from Busch Stadium as his ERA balloons to 4.68 and his WHIP jumps to 1.59.

With the Cards having all but fallen out of the race in the NL Central, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them use Garcia’s spot in the rotation to check out some a young pitcher or two, but even if he isn’t officially shut down, his ability to be a positive contributor to your playoff dreams is limited at this point.

2011 Closer Rankings: September

It’s not September yet, but it’s close enough. Here’s are our August closer rankings, which can take you back through the rest of the season, and here’s the saves leaderboard for reference. September call-ups are right around the corner, and last year we caught our first glimpse of Jordan Walden in the ninth inning during the season’s final month. I don’t think there are any closer options coming up from the minors this month, but stranger things have happened.

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Danny Valencia and Ezequiel Carrera: Late Season Waiver Wire Help

Just one month to go in the regular season, so every little bit of help could make the difference between a top 3 finish in your league and wallowing in the mediocrity of finishing sixth.  With the numerous injuries that are popping up, you might just be in need of a quick fix, so here’s a pair of guys that can contribute in one way or another…

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Alejandro De Aza: Deep League Waiver Wire

After searching far and deep, I was only able to uncover one hidden gem for this week’s deep league waiver wire. Contrary to popular belief, not all White Sox hitters are cursed this year. This week’s pick will hopefully prove to be one of the few who manged to escape the can’t hit disease.

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Keeper Strategy — 2012 Impact Rookies: Catchers

Starting this week, I’ll be looking ahead to the 2012 fantasy baseball season by highlighting the potential impact rookies at each position. Why? Because it’s never too early to begin thinking about next year, even if you’re still trying to win your league right now. And for those of you in keeper leagues, particularly deeper ones, these primers will be especially helpful, because you’ll find out which young players may be worth snatching up now — before other owners get a clue — so you can hang onto them next season, when their value kicks in. Think of it like an investment requiring only a little up-front cost that could pay off big in the near future.

Much like my Mining the Minors columns on this site, which focus on current-season impact more than long-term upside, these 2012 rookie primers are meant for players who will fulfill or are expected to fulfill their rookiedom next year. Also much like my MTM work, the point here is to find the right mix of opportunity and talent, so that you’re picking up a player who can contribute, either in a starting role or as a reserve, from Day 1 or soon thereafter. Chances are, I’ll hit on many of these same players in depth at some point in future Mining the Minors columns, but for now, it’s good to get ahead of the curve with a snapshot of the young talent at each position.

To give you a brief idea of just how this sort of thing can be worthwhile, I’m in two deep keeper leagues, one AL-only and one NL-only, and around this time last year, I picked up Mark Trumbo, Jordan Walden and Brandon Beachy. Worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

First up? Catchers.

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Roto Riteup: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

– Since Ichiro Suzuki’s batting average hit .260 on July 20th, he has really bounced back, at least from a fantasy perspective. The outfielder has hit .314 over his past 36 games, stealing 10 bases in the process. Ichiro has always had high BABIPs, so a .333 mark during this stretch feels just about right. Owners are likely to be down on Ichiro in drafts next year, but he could probably hit close to .300 with 30 steals for yet another season if his recent success to is to believed.

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Smith and Damon: Waiver Wire

With the fantasy playoffs nigh, here is a pair of outfielders who can help patch injury-induced holes in your lineup.

Seth Smith (Yahoo: 32 percent owned, ESPN: 53 percent owned)

While Smith has a devoted, vocal following, he doesn’t yet have the widespread name recognition that leads to really high ownership rates. This is good news for owners who need power, as Smith is widely available and is wrapping up a month in which he clubbed 7 HR, which ties him for the 10th most in baseball for the month of August. There’s good news in the fact that Smith isn’t purely a Coors Field mirage — he hits nearly as well on the road as he does at home — but that doesn’t mean Smith is a set-and-forget player. He’s set in a platoon with Eric Young Jr., which keeps him facing righties, and while it means owners need to keep an eye on the Rockies’ lineup, it’s better than having him face lefties on a consistent basis. Like the Rockies, you’ll get the most out of Smith if you pair him with a partner — ideally one with consistent playing time.

The Rockies play more than half of their games at home in September, including 13 of 15 games from September 5th to the 21st, which keeps Smith where he’s been most successful this year for the end of most leagues’ playoffs. If you’re in a league that plays until the dying day of the regular season, Smith does close the season with 10 games on the road, though the first four are against the Astros. Smith is certainly playable on the road, especially in Houston, but utilizing your platoon partner exclusively for the last three days of the season is a wise move, as Smith finishes the year in AT&T Park, a place that has been unkind to him over his career.

Johnny Damon (Yahoo: 42 percent owned, ESPN: 70 percent owned)

The difference between the way Damon began August and the way he has ended it is, somewhat literally, the difference between night and day. Damon’s resurgence began during the second game of the Rays’ August 16th doubleheader against the Red Sox. He entered the nightcap hitting .163/.236/.265 for the month, went 2-for-5 in that game to start an eight-game hitting streak, and has hit .309/.333/.636 with 3 HR since.

Like Smith, Damon is playable at home or on the road, but he, too, is clearly better at one place. Damon has substantially better road rate stats, though his home counting stats are very similar to his away numbers. Still, like Smith, Damon will spend those crucial days in mid-September in his preferred venue as a 10 game road trip takes the Rays to Baltimore, Boston, and New York. While a slog up the eastern seaboard seems like might pose match up problems, Damon has actually played better against the Sox and Yankees than he has against the Orioles.

I’m not terribly concerned that this is a dead cat bounce as Damon was hitting .279/.327/.426 prior to suffering a hand contusion against the Twins on July 6, an injury that lingered longer than expected, though Damon did not land on the disabled list. I see his improvement since then less as resurgence and more of an extension of his early season play with an interlude of ineffectiveness between acts. While he’s unlikely to make you forget that Nelson Cruz is languishing on your DL during a playoff chase, Damon is at least a functional stopgap.

Troy Tulowitzki and Derek Jeter: Superheros

We like it when our heroes succeed. Things wouldn’t be nearly as fun if Superman got toppled by Lex Luthor on a regular basis or the Joker kept Batman at bay. They make us feel good. Give us a sense of hope, if you will. Good verses Evil is the backbone of millions of stories the world over. Two of our shortstopping heroes have taken on evil (luck and the Baseball Gods) and are currently punching its face in.

Seeing Troy Tulowitzki’s name atop the shortstop rankings isn’t something new. He’s been one of the best players, let alone shortstops, in baseball the past few years. After a hot April (1.002 OPS) he cooled off considerably in May and June. His OPS those months were just .633 and .876. The May triple slash line of .209/.269/.364 is Jeff Mathisian in its futility. However, that performance can be attributed to a terribly unlucky and unsustainable .196 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). That number rebounded to .319 in June as Tulo started to heat up, hitting .311 though his ISO was just .189. The power has come back in a big way these past two months, as well as everything else.

He’s obliterated opposing pitchers, putting up OPS’s of 1.019 (seventh in baseball) and 1.117 (third) respectively. His ISO over those two months averages out to ~.300, which is just a tick under that of Mike Stanton to provide some context. This is arguably the best two month stretch of baseball he’s ever played. He’s back to being the force of nature we’re accustomed to seeing, and it’s been fantastic to watch.

Derek Jeter is enjoying a fine second half of the season, welcoming his detractors to a heaping serving of crow infused humble pie. The turnaround actually started in July when he hit .292/.347/.449 in 98 plate appearances. This month he’s been amazing, hitting .398/.449/.490 in 110 appearances. That type of thing will happen when you have a .443 BABIP, thanks in large part to a 34.5% line drive rate. That obviously won’t keep up, and he doesn’t hit for power anymore, but he’s turned his season around and snuck his way back into the top 10 shortstops. He’s not what he once was, but for anyone that has played fantasy baseball for an extended period of time it should be nice to see Jeter’s name still among the leaders at the position.

Teixeira’s Amazing, Disappearing Batting Average

Yankees fans can be a fickle bunch, so when their $180M first baseman starts posting .360-.370 wOBA’s instead of .390+ plus, they notice and wonder what’s wrong. Mark Teixeira is still one of the game’s very best hitters, a run-producing machine with serious power from both sides of the plate (.258 ISO vs. RHP and .280 vs. LHP this year, with similar splits throughout his career) and a knack for avoiding strike three (just 15.3% strikeouts this year and 17.2% for his career), but what’s going on with his batting average, the most basic of offensive metrics?

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