Archive for February, 2013

Pirates Bullpen: Depth Chart Discussions

Pittsburgh has one of the younger bullpens in the league… outside of their newly-anointed closer, of course. There isn’t a ton of fantasy upside beyond the ninth, but pitching in the National League for a team that may be able to hang out in the middle of the pack means there should be some nice rates/holds plays from a few up-and-comers if you are so inclined.

The closer:
Jason Grilli

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MASH Report (2/28/13)

I was going to put out a little more information from Dr. James Andrew’s book, Any Given Sunday, but instead I found a nice interview with him. He mentions four main points young pitchers should follow:

Here is his response when asked, “What advice would you give pitchers, in general?”

1. Use proper mechanics. The No. 1 problem in any specific sport is improper mechanics.
2. Don’t play year-round.
3. Avoid the radar gun at a young age. Don’t try to overthrow. A lot of kids are 13 years old and checking the radar gun. That’s going to get you in trouble. The radar gun makes you want to throw harder than you are capable of throwing.
4. Be very careful with showcases. I call them “show-off” cases because kids go there Saturday after throwing the football on Friday. They jump on a mound and overthrow because scouts are there. The next thing you know, the shoulder or elbow gets injured.

Recent Injury Data

 • Phil Hughes may start the season on the DL because of a bulging disk in his back.

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Will Adrian Gonzalez Rebound?

Adrian Gonzalez was a disappointment last season. While his overall slash line of .299/.344/.463 isn’t terrible for most players, it represented a pretty big fall from the elite production he’s provided in the past. The culprit of his struggles wasn’t an injury, and, at age-31, Gonzalez is still young enough to stave off a major performance decline. Those factors have made Gonzalez one of the most difficult players to project this season. Unless he can return to form, Gonzalez’s days as an elite offensive first baseman may have already come to an end.

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Cubs Rotation: Depth Chart Discussion

Projected Rotation

Matt Garza
Jeff Samardzija
Edwin Jackson
Scott Baker
Scott Feldman

Waiting in the Wings

Travis Wood
Arodys Vizcaino
Casey Coleman
Michael Bowden

Rebuilds happen. Eras end, the great players leave or retire, and the team has to move on. The goal of any front office is to prolong periods of dominance as long as possible and to shorten the inevitable rebuilding phase. The Cubs haven’t been to the playoffs since Barack Obama won his first presidential election and haven’t won a playoff game in nearly a decade, so it seems fair to say that the Cubs are in that rebuilding phase. The question now is how much longer they’ll be there. Read the rest of this entry »

Holds Targets: Bailey, Gregerson and Robertson

Over the course of the next few weeks we will delve into the depths of the bullpens to identify potential middle relief targets, specifically, those relievers who appeal to owners in leagues that reward “holds.”

Andrew Bailey | RP | BOS

The oft-injured reliever struggled mightily in his first season in Boston — albeit, in just 15.1 innings (19 appearances) on the hill. His contributions were limited due to a damaged ulnar collateral ligament the right-hander suffered in a collision with a Pirates’ base runner while covering first in Spring Training. Bailey returned to the bump in mid-August, but failed to impress. The 18.9 K% and 10.8 BB% posted in that short time were both career lows. His velocity was up, but Bailey couldn’t hit the first strike (55.4% F-Strike%), miss bats (6.8% SwStr%) or induce ground balls (32.7% GB%) at rates he was previously accustomed to.

Based on Bailey’s struggles, the Red Sox went out and acquired Joel Hanrahan — from the Pirates, ironically — to take over ninth-inning duties. Despite the acquisition, Bailey and the Sox agreed to a one-year deal in the off-season for the righty to return to the Boston ’pen. This will give Bailey the opportunity to perform in situations that aren’t as high leverage, which could boost his confidence and potentially his trade value. Early indications suggest Bailey may share the setup duties with Koji Uehara, who was also brought in this winter, giving him the opportunity to tally some holds. If Bailey is dealt to a team in need of a bullpen arm, his role could increase, subsequently boosting his fantasy value. For now, Bailey is nothing more than a late-round dart for deep mixers or AL-Only leagues that reward holds + saves.

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Reds Outfield: Depth Chart Discussions

While the corners remain the same, the Cincinnati Reds made a big change in center field with a major three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Indians during the offseason. They gave up a fine, defensive shortstop prospect, but obtained an outstanding 20-20 outfielder to cover center and possibly opened the door a little wider for one of their most-hyped prospects down the road. There’s some interesting flexibility that the team has right now, so let’s take a quick look… Read the rest of this entry »

Mason Williams: Next Great Yankees Center Fielder?

The New York Yankees received some devastating news this week when their star outfielder Curtis Granderson broke his forearm after being hit by a pitch. Granderson has done an admirable job during his three years in pinstripes. He has so far accumulated 406 hits, 108 home runs and a .247/.337/.506 slash line while playing in New York. The Granderson news got me thinking about the organization’s long term future in the outfield. I’ve been very impressed by the looks I’ve gotten at star prospect Mason Williams. While he is recovering from shoulder surgery and obviously not ready to fill in for Granderson or help the major league team quite yet he does remain the team’s best prospect. I thought we’d take a look at what kind of player Williams can be once he is ready for the big leagues.

The Breakdown

When I saw Williams for the first time in 2011 what immediately stood out was how very skinny he is. His build at the time looked more like “marathon runner” rather than “baseball player.” The upside of this is that Williams had and still has a lot of room to put good weight and muscle on his frame without losing athleticism. In 2012 he did begin this process and bulked up a bit. Williams is a very good athlete and plus runner yet he’s not quite a true “burner.” He is a capable base stealer but is doing so on speed right now rather than technique. He’ll need to continue to improve reading pitchers and getting jumps as he faces more advanced competition. He’s not Billy Hamilton but 20 plus stolen bases is reasonable. Williams will be a contributor but non-elite option on the basepaths for your fantasy squad.

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2013 Pod Projections: Max Scherzer

It’s been over a week since I shared my last Pod Projection, so let’s get back on the saddle. Easily tallying the second highest number of votes was Max Scherzer. Clearly, Scherzer set your heart aflutter when he posted that 2.69 ERA in the second half. Funny, it was just the luck pendulum swinging the other way, rather than any change in skills, as his xFIP was very similar in each half. On to the projection we go.

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Pirates Starting Pitching Depth Chart Discussions

The Pittsburgh Pirates squeezed about as much value out of A.J. Burnett, James McDonald, Kevin Correia, and Jeff Karstens as possible in 2012, yet their team ERA- was still worse than league average. Correia is out, and Francisco Liriano is in, and now of course they get Wandy Rodriguez for a full season. So things look kinda alright for Pirates fans. But from a fantasy perspective, there are a couple opportunities, a couple landmines, and maybe a position battle still to be watched.

A.J. Burnett is the ostensible leader of this crew after his impressive re-emergence as a good fantasy option after the debacle in New York. His strikeout rate crept back up over 21%, the first time in three years, and his walk rate was just about the best it has been in his career at a fairly stingy 7.3%. In standard 5×5 leagues, Burnett was really quite valuable – he had a decent ERA (3.51), he won games (16), and he had a respectable WHIP (1.24).

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Freddie Freeman is an Undervalued Roto Asset

While he is far from an elite first baseman, Freddie Freeman should be a big target for fantasy players on draft day this season. At just 23-years-old, Freeman already has two seasons of more than 20 home runs and owns a career 115 wRC+.

The biggest reason to be bullish in regards to Freeman is how he improved in almost every area you would want a second year player to improve in. His strikeout rate dropped from 22.4% to 20.8%, his walk rate rose from 8.3% to 10.3%, his ISO rose from .166 to .196, and his line drive rate jumped from 23% to 26% with his fly ball rate jumping from 34.6% to 36.9%. The big drop from a fantasy perspective was his average, which dropped from .282 to .259, a notable decrease that matters for leagues that still use batting average as a category. While his .339 rookie BABIP probably was a bit on the high end of what to expect, his career BABIP of .315 looks more reasonable than the .295 mark he posted last year.

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