Francisco Liriano’s been kicking around the big leagues since 2005, and there’s really just never been middle ground with him. Here’s a fun trivia question: how many times has he had a seasonal ERA that starts with a four?
The answer: not even once. In parts of seven seasons headed into 2013, Liriano’s had an ERA in the five range four different times. Twice he’s been in the threes, and once, way back in that magical breakout of 2006, he finished the year at 2.16.
That makes him appealing because the talent is clearly there, but also an enormous risk, to the point where many fantasy owners just avoid him entirely. If he succeeds for someone else, the thinking goes, fine, but just as long as he doesn’t crater your team.
Based on his history, that’s not entirely unfair. Yet here we are, staring at a 25/6 K/BB and two earned runs in three starts as a Pittsburgh Pirate, and Liriano demands our attention once again. Proceed at your own risk.
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Earlier this month, I looked into the case of a talented-but-often-frustrating American League lefty first baseman who had finally begun to produce consistently. That was James Loney, whom I tossed aside — perhaps unfairly, but I won’t pretend I’m not a Dodger fan who had to watch him struggle for years — as a one-tool player for fantasy purposes.
Today, we’ll look into a similar player, but one whom I like quite a bit more: Texas’ Mitch Moreland. Despite being one of the most-added players in fantasy over the last week — six homers and three more extra-base hits in nine games will do that for you — Moreland remains available in at least 40% of leagues at all of the three main sites. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been writing about the Dodgers on a daily basis for nearly six full years now, and so you can probably imagine that one of the most exciting deals in that span was the massive trade with Boston last August. Oh sure, Los Angeles picked up Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, & Nick Punto, and that was nice enough — but nearly lost in that was the fact that after year upon frustrating year, James Loney was gone. Finally! My long personal nightmare would be over.
Here we are less than a year later, and now Loney’s hitting .375/.430/.528 for the Rays. It’s a line that demands examination. I’ll never escape him. Read the rest of this entry »
Looking at the pitching waiver wire this week, the top two most-added names are newly-minted closers Jose Valverde & Edward Mujica, which is unsurprising. The third, seeing a whopping +40.2% add rate in ESPN leagues and 24% raise in start rate in CBS leagues, is none other than Pittsburgh’s Wandy Rodriguez.
I get why, of course. You look at the surface-level stats and they seem impressive. 2-0 in four starts! 16/3 K/BB! 1.66 ERA! What’s not to like?
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Last year, there were exactly three catchers who had at least 15 homers and a .390 on-base percentage: Miguel Montero, Buster Posey, & Carlos Ruiz.
Let’s look at those three again, but with a different number added: Montero (100%), Posey (100%), Ruiz (4.9%). That’s the ownership percentage for each of the trio in ESPN leagues right now, and the difference is clear. One of these things does not look like the others, and that’s obviously because Ruiz was suspended for the first 25 games of the season after testing positive for a banned stimulant. Read the rest of this entry »
When Jose Reyes slid awkwardly into second base in Kansas City on Friday night and twisted his ankle badly enough that it will keep him out until July, it wasn’t just Toronto Blue Jays fans who feared that a season already off to a poor start was quickly about to get worse. Fantasy players who had spent a high draft pick or a sizable amount of auction dollars on Reyes were suddenly left with a giant hole to fill, and few options at a shallow position to fill it. Using a random 12-team ESPN league I’m in as an example, the best available shortstops on the waiver wire today are Everth Cabrera, Pete Kozma, and Marwin Gonzalez. That’s a pretty big step down from Reyes no matter how you slice it.
However, this isn’t all bad news from a fantasy perspective. Rather than simply slide the next man in to replace Reyes, as the Yankees have done with Eduardo Nunez while Derek Jeter is out, the Blue Jays are planning to engage in a game of musical chairs that will shuffle a few pieces of their lineup into greater fantasy relevance. Read the rest of this entry »
Out of my various fantasy leagues, only one is auction-style. Near the end of our draft last week, I picked up Brian Roberts for $1, grumbling the entire time that the software was forcing me to pick a second baseman despite already having Matt Carpenter & Josh Rutledge, who I’d planned to use at the position when they gained eligibility.
For a dollar, it seemed, it was worth the gamble, even through years of injury trouble. No one expected Roberts to be anything like the elite star he was between 2005-09, when he was collecting doubles, steals, and homers, but he finally seemed healthy and had a productive spring. You figured maybe he’d manage to give us a decent batting average and perhaps a steal here or there, and for a lone dollar, that’d be fine. After four hits in his first two games, I even dropped Luis Cruz to pick him up in another league of mine this afternoon… Read the rest of this entry »
1. 70% of opening day closers won’t still have their jobs by the end of the year…
You don’t need me to tell you that closers are easily replaced, and so saying that we’ll see changes in the ninth inning isn’t really that bold. So if we’re going to make this exciting, let’s say that more than a full two-thirds of closers won’t last the season, either through injury or ineffectiveness. That may sound like a high number, but then again, remember who teams were counting on to finish games for them last April — guys like Alfredo Aceves, Javy Guerra, Jordan Walden, Brett Myers, Heath Bell, & Matt Capps. Even top-tier closers like Mariano Rivera & Brian Wilson weren’t immune, though of course for other reasons. By my count, only 10 closers made it wire-to-wire, and a few more (Carlos Marmol, Huston Street, etc) had to deal with changes at some point in the season. This really drives the point home that you can almost always find saves somewhere. The bell tolls for thee, Sergio Romo & Jim Johnson.
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Not a whole lot of doubt as to who we’ll be seeing in the Toronto outfield, is there? Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, & Jose Bautista are the pretty obvious starting trio — with one potentially intriguing twist that we’ll get to in a second. Read the rest of this entry »
You’d think that after a shocking run to the playoffs despite having a dozen different pitchers make at least two starts — and only one make more than 20 — that the Baltimore Orioles would have done something to shore up their rotation this winter. They haven’t, so far, and while their decision is more than defensible, it doesn’t make projecting the 2013 collection any easier.
Here’s what we do know about this year’s Orioles rotation, however. We know that Joe Saunders (seven starts), Dana Eveland (two starts), and Randy Wolf (two starts) aren’t going to be part of it. We know that the top four is likely to be made up of Wei-Yin Chen, Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez, & Chris Tillman, and we know with near absolute certainty that when the season ends, at least one of those four men (but likely more) will no longer be in the rotation. Read the rest of this entry »