Posted on: May 9, 2009 10:31 pm

Bull Pen Briefs

It's only been four days since the last entry so not much has changed atop the leader boards,  but there have been a few notes of interest.

The Seattle Mariners have activated young closer Brandon Morrow from the DL. This is a situation to keep to an eye on. Morrow, definately has the stuff, and was a starter but his usage will be closely monitored do his bicep tendinitis. There were concerns about his health even during spring training. I'd recommend that those in deep leagues and AL only leagues continue to handcuff Morrow with David Aardsma.

The Washington Nationals bullpen recieved some "relief" when they activated Joe Beimel from the DL. He's likely to get a couple opportunities to close games, but money is still in the Joel Hanrahan hat.

Top Ten Saves Leaders-

1- Francisco Cordero- 9sv, 14k, 2.08era, 1.31whip
2- Frank Francisco- 9sv, 13k, 0.00era, 0.75whip
3- Ryan Franklin- 9sv, 11k, 0.00era, 0.45whip
4- Francisco Rodriguez- 9sv, 16k, 1.32era, 1.02whip
5- Heath Bell-  8sv, 14k, 0.00era, 0.60whip
6- Jonathan Broxton- 8sv, 25k , 0.64era, 0.43whip
7- Brian Fuentes- 8sv, 15k, 5.91era, 1.59whip
8- Jonathan Papelbon- 7sv, 15k, 1.38era ,1.38whip
9- Chad Qualls- 7sv, 15k, 2.45era, 1.18whip
10- Joakim Soria- 7sv, 10k, 2.08era, 1.38whip

Surprise Saves of the Week-

1- Aaron Laffey- 2-0, 1sv, 3.60era, 1.52whip / Jensen Lewis- 2-3, 2sv, 5.521era, 1.64whip
It seems odd that on May 4th and May 6th, the Cleveland Indians decided to give save opportunities to pitchers other then their biggest free agent acqusition Kerry Wood. Well Wood did pitch on the 6th, giving up two runs and blowing the save opportunity. There isn't much reason for concern, but as we all know Wood has an extensive injury history. Keep an eye on this situation. For my money, Lewis would be the front runner.

Guys to Watch-

1-Andrew Bailey- 3-0, 1sv, 24k, 1.27era, 0.61whip- Maybe this is the guy that should be closing out games for the Oakland Athletics he's got the "stuff" to be the guy. But for now he's stuck in the set up role. Though you can't argue with those strike out numbers in any role.

Posted on: May 5, 2009 5:14 pm

Bull Pen Briefs

This is a special edition of the Bull Pen Briefs as it's late. Yeah I was supposed to post it Friday, but those plans didn't materialize. Instead I spent time with the girlfriend. I suppose I could have posted it on Saturday. But I was busy at the Blue Jays-Orioles game. Can you believe she got me tickets to the game. Amazing I know.

As for the game itself, the Blue Jays emerged victorious in 11 innings, but a few things were brought to my attention.
1- Adam Jones is a complete monster. No longer a third outfielder, moving nearer to the Nick Markakis tier with each passing day.
2- Aaron Hill is money. 20hr is so easily there.
3- Jason Frasor gets you a win in an inning of work. He will win 10 games this year.
4- Dany Baez is the best reliever the Orioles.

Of course since my last post a few things have changed, Joel Hanrahan lost his job in Washington. I'm not too overly concerned he's the only one on that club with the stuff to be a closer, he'll wind up back there soon enough. That is if Joe Beimel doesn't pitch as well as he did last season, and before his DL stint.
Brandon Morrow has found his way to the DL. Not surprising. Making David Aardsma the closer by default, and giving him instantly more value then premier set up man Carlos Marmol. I wouldn't be shocked if Morrow is on and off the DL this season. Something just isn't right in that shoulder.

So here's your quick run down.

Top Ten Saves Leaders-

1- Heath Bell- 8sv, 9k, 0.00era, 0.69whip
2- Frank Francisco- 8sv, 10k, 0.00era, 0.62whip
3- Jonathan Broxton- 7sv, 23k, .69era, 0.42whip
4- Francisco Cordero- 7sv, 11k, 2.70era, 1.40whip
5- Ryan Franklin- 7sv, 10k, 0.00era, 0.53whip
6- Jonathan Papelbon- 7sv, 13k, 1.50era, 1.42whip
7- Brian Fuentes- 6sv, 13k, 7.00era, 1.89whip
8- Bobby Jenks- 6sv, 8k, 2.00era, 1.11whip
9- Chad Qualls- 6sv, 14k, 1.80era, 1.00whip
10- Fernando ROdney- 6sv, 7k, 4.50era, 1.10whip

Surprise Save of the Week-

1- Micheal Wuertz- 1-1, 1sv, 13k, 1.98era, 0.88whip-  Hold your horses. Wuertz only got the save chance because current closer Brad Zeigler was sick. Of course that doesn't mean that he doesn't have any fantasy value. Those ratios are good, and the strike outs are nice too. If you're looking for a guy to help out the era and whip, (K/9) if you've got it. Then Wuertz is a player you should target.

Guys to Watch-

1- Huston Street-  0-1, 3sv, 12k, 5.56era, 1.32whip- Well it looks like Manny Corpas has lost the job...again. Street is back in the role after picking up two saves within the last week. So if you're struggling, then Huston may be right up your alley. Come I couldn't seriously put street again could I?

2- Jose Arredondo- 1-0, 18k, 5.68era, 1.42whip- Considering how poorly he's pitched, you may think I'd give up on him. Not likely. 18/3 K/BB ratio, no home runs surrendered, and a crazy .469 Babip. The kid is far to good to end up with numbers any where near these. He'll finish the year with the Scarlet C. It' s only a matter of time.
Posted on: April 25, 2009 4:54 pm

AL Only Player Spot Light- Justin Verlander

Ok so the name alone probably makes you cringe, as there are few pitchers off to worse starts then the one that Justin Verlander is enjoying so far this season.  For those of you don't know, or have been living under a rock, this is current 2009 stat line.

2009- 0-2, 9.00era, 1.71whip, 25k, 9bb, 10.74K/9, 3.857BB/9

Very....poor. Ah hell, lets just come right out and say it, Verlander sucks.

So you may be wondering what's point of this blog, am I going to rip on Verlander the whole time?

But I am going to show you that, there are causes for both concern and optimism, which ever route you choose is entirely up to you.

Now I stole this blog idea from a post I made on a Verlander thread over at, and here was my response.

"Bad signs-

Increasing fly ball rate - We know (or just accept) that Comerica Park is a pitchers park, but it's not relly a good thing, (pitcher park or not)              when you're flyball rate increase, and with that comes the correlation that his ground ball rates have decreased.

2006-2009,( Fly ball) 35.2%, 39.8%, 42.4%, 46.9%
2006-2009 (Ground ball) 41.7%, 41.1%, 39.9%, 28.1%

Increased Reliance on the Fastball - Much like Francisco Liriano, Justin Verlander is over relying on his fast ball this season. While dropping the usage of his change up, and upping the curveballs thrown. In the case of Liriano it's easy to understand, you don't want to throw too many sliders when you've had Tommy John, I'm not sure what Verlanders problem is.

2006-2009(Fastball) - 66.7%, 62.3%, 63.6%, 68.7%,
2006-2009 (change up) 17.2%, 18.8%, 15.2% 7.4%,
2006-2009 (Curve ball) 16.1%, 18.9%, 20.5%, 23.9%

Abysmal Strand Rate- 39.6%. That's the only number you need to see, that Verlander has been, he hasn't been leaving any men on base.

Babip - Once again you only need one stat. .412 Babip. Consider that the league norm is .300, and one would quickly assume that he's do for an improvement.

BB/9 - It's actually down a tick from last season 3.90-3.86, but it's still a full walk higher then his elite seasons 2.90-2.99.

Good Signs

K/9 & K/BB Rates Are Up - K/9 increase over last season from 7.30-10.71

K/BB ratio has improved too 1.87-2.78.
What's all this mean? Batters are missing more of his pitchers, they're just connecting when there are runners on the base paths, put there via the walks.

Contact Rates - Batters contact rates are at a career low 75.1%, down from 81.4% last season. First pitch strike rate is also up 60.4% up from 57.8%.
Hitters are swinging at more pitchers outside the zone (24.5%-26.6%), and making less contact (66.7%-65.3%), while swinging at less pitches inside the zone (68%-66.7%), and making less contact (86.8%, 78.9%)

FIP - His Fielding Independant Pitching thus far calculates that his ERA should be 4.09, not the horrid 9.00 he sports now.
Even his Expected ERA is lower, still bad but lower at 6.06.

It truly is puzzling but seems that by looking at the number Verlander's worst enemy is the increased walk rate, and when hitters make contact men are on base.

Right now Verlander is a guy that I'm avoiding (though I do own him), your best bet is to bench him until he figures things out, but who know if that will happen. 2008, could very well be the norm for Verlander, and his 2006-2007 seasons may be the outliers."

It's pretty fair to say that, unless Verlander improves his control, he won't be an effective pitcher this season. The dominance is there, at a high rate, but the inability to command the strike zone and limit the damage when he does have men on the will ultimately determine his fantasy value this season.
Posted on: April 24, 2009 6:01 pm

Bull Pen Briefs

Quick like a bunny rush to your waiver wire, and snap up LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Downs, and Jason Frasor. Why?
Because I told you to.

Incumbent Blue Jays closer BJ Ryan is once again on the DL, and quickly moving to the front of the line on my DO NOT OWN list. The injury questions surrounding him, and the risk involved in taking this "closer" far out weight the benefits.

The same can be said for the Houston Astros closer Jose Valverde. His upside is much higher then Ryan's but he too is not without his own injury concerns. Twice having spend time on the DL with Shoulder Tendinitis in 2004-2005. Most recently he's dealing with back aches and a sore leg after taking a ground ball to his right calf. Consider him DTD.

Which leads us to their potential replacements. The Astros have already made it clear that Hawkins will be the man while Valverde is nursing his injury.
The Blue Jays website already has Scott Downs listed as the closer on the depth chart. It gives him a significant boost in value in mixed leagues, where he becomes a solid number three closer, and a tremendous boost in AL only leagues where he becomes an immediate number two closer.
But keep an eye on Frasor. He has past closer experience and could get the call if Downs pitches on back to back days or if he struggles in the role.

Here's your closer break down.

Top 10 Saves Leaders-

1- Heath Bell- 7sv, 8k, 0.00era, 0.60whip
2- Fransisco Cordero- 6sv, 6k, 1.29era,, 1.23whip,
3- Jonathan Broxton- 5sv, 13k, 1.08era, 0.24whip
4- Matt Capps- 5sv, 4k, 0.00era, 0.71whip
5- Brandon Morrow- 5sv, 8k,  4.05era, 1.35whip
6- Joakim Soria- 5sv,8k,  1.80era, 1.20whip
7- Ryan Franklin- 4sv, 6k, 0.00era, 0.57whip
8- Jonathan Papelbon- 4sv, 4k , 1.43era, 0.95whip
9- Chad Qualls- 4sv, 9k, 3.00era, 1.33whip
10- Mariano Rivera- 4sv, 8k,  0.00era, 0.86whip

Surprise Saves of the Week-

1- Takashi Saito- 1sv, 6k, 6.23era, 1.615whip-  Nothing to worry about here Papelbon owners. Saito closed out the game instead of Papelbon as he has pitched the previous two nights. A nice hand cuff to have incase of injury but he's not likely to be much of value unless you play with K/9, then his 12.47K/9 rate is nice, but not worth owning in standard mixed leagues.

Players to Watch-

1- Rafeal Soriano- 2sv, 10k, 0.00era, 0.714whip- He's already got two saves on the season, one more then closer Mike Gonzalez, if you're got room on your roster you may want to pick him.

2- Garrett Mock- Let's just say this, incumbent closer Joel Hanrahan. 4 saves opps, 2 saves, 6.43era. I'm not saying, I'm just saying. Mock has been groomed to be a closer while in the minor leagues, he hasn't been perfect this season, but this is a situation that bears watching. Keep an eye on Mock.

This past week proves that without a doubt closers are a highly unrealiable lot, so keep an eye out for value.

Posted on: April 24, 2009 5:23 pm

NL Only PLayer Spot Light- Nyjer Morgan

How about them Pittsburgh Pirates? Off to a tremendous start, sweeping the Florida Marlins, putting up four shut outs in eight outtings. As of this post, sitting pretty with a 9-6 record, third in the division behind the St.Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs err Cincinnati Reds.

Leading this tremendous turn around is none other then base stealing extrordinare. The highly entertaining the consumate professional, Nyjer Morgan.

Ok that may be a bit much, considering the season is still in it's infancy , and let's face it, these are the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it's fun to watch a bad team play well. As for Morgan, he's been great.

Let's flash back to draft day, in your standard 12 team league Nyjer Morgan was either a 23rd round flier or he may have even gone undrafted.
Fast forward to day, and you're looking at the most fearsome stolen base the world! Well not really, but he is off to a fine start.

Lets compare this hot streak to his previous performances and see if his numbers are legit.

2007-15r, 1hr, 7rbi, .299ba, 7sb, 9bb, 19k .359obp, .430slg, .789ops

2008- 26r, 0hr, 7rbi, .294ba, 9sb, 10bb, 32k, .345obp, .375slg, .720ops

2009- 10r, 0hr, 9rbi, .323ba, 6sb, 4bb, 10k, .371obp, .415slg, .786ops

I know those numbers don't seem overly impressive, but lets take it into context that Morgan has only made 332 MLB AB. Resulting in 22sb, and a very tidy .301ba (to date).

A closer look at his minor league numbers is a much better way to paint the picture. Over 3 seasons in the minors in 4 different levels, Morgan compiled 129sb in 166 attempts for a 77.71% success rate. Combine that with a very solid .304 minor league batting average and you've got yourself a player.
What else do you need to know?

1- High Ground Ball Rate- For speed guys like Morgan and company having a hit ground ball rate is conducive to good contact. Putting the ball in the air is generally not a good plan as he lacks the pop to hit many home runs. Slapping the ball, and running it out for base hits is his best approach. Combine a slighlty declining GB% (57.%, 49.6%, 43.1%) with a rising LD% (15.9%, 24.8%, 26.4%), and we may be seeing an offensive break through.

2- Low BB/K Rate- .40BB/1k Not something to want to see from your lead off man, your ace most definately, but when you're lead off man is sent back to the dugout after being rung up at a 2.5K/BB rate, something is not right, and he's not likely to remain your lead off guy for long.

3- .367 Babip- I know that seems almost outer worldly but Morgan has always maintained a high Babip. Consider that a .333 is his lowest minor league total, and a very impressive  .356 his is lowest MLB totals.  Bear in mind of course that he's never made more then 322Ab at any one level in one season.

4- 27- Morgan has reached that mythical age that allows all players to break out of their mediocre exsistance to become superstars.  Well it may not happen like that all the time, but for what it's worth it bears mentioning. In a weak line up Morgan will get AB.

If you've got Nyjer Morgan on your team get him in your line up for cheap stolen bases. Play the matchups, and you'll be fine, just don't be expecting to see anything under the HR category.

Posted on: April 20, 2009 6:48 pm

AL Only Player Spot Light- Akinora Iwamura


Quickly folks how many American League second baseman scored more runs then the Tampa Bay Rays Akinora Iwamura? Just three, and they are the three best second baggers in the league, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Brian Roberts, scoring 118, 107, 102, 91 respectively.

Coming into the season, Iwamura was regarded as a late round MI/bench player. There was little doubt that he would score a ton of runs in that potent Rays lineup. Give you a solid batting average and chip in a few home runs and a rbi.

Much hoopla was made about Iwamura upon his arrival from Japan, where he was a highly regarded power hitting 3b. Unfortunately like many Japanese transfers his power did not successfully make the move across the ocean.

Over the last two seasons in the big league Iwamura has posted these stats.


2007- 82r, 7hr, 34rbi, 12sb, .285ba, 58bb, 114k, .359obp, .411slg, .770ops

2008- 91, 6hr, 48rbi, 8sb, .274ba, 70bb, 131k, .349obp, .380slg, .729ops

2009- 7r, 0hr, 4rbi, 4sb, .302ba, 6bb, 11k, .388obp, .419slg, .870ops


Well right now his power numbers seem to be right inline with this previous seasons but the speed, boy howdy if he keeps that up 30sb is not of the question. So here we go.

1- Runs Scored- Hitting ahead of Crawford, Pena, Longoria, etc will get his fair share aka 100+ runs this season.

2- Combine These- 100+ runs is always possible when a lead of type hitter gives you good plate discipline with a 10% walk rate, and an acceptable 20.9% strike out rate, you know what you're going to get at the end of the season.

3- Contact Rate- Unfortunately Iwamura doesn't possess a great contact rate. 76.78%, 79.10% in the previous two seasons. Slightly above the league average but not overwhelming for fantasy owners. So far this year, do the 11 strike outs he's posted a 74.41% mark.

4- Batters Eye- In order to become a more dangerous lead off threat Iwamura must improve his batters eye. Posting a mediocre .5087, .5343 marks in 2007-8, and a .5454 mark so far this season, indicate that what we're seeing so far this season may not quite continue.


Given a deeper break down we can find that Iwamura is a nice player, a good Monday, Thursday option in standard mixed leagues, but hold much more value in AL only leagues. If he can continue his hot start on the base paths then his value will increase dramatically.


Posted on: April 17, 2009 6:06 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2009 6:33 pm

Bull Pen Briefs

Since the last Bull Pen Briefs a handful of unknown scrubs have through and picked up a few saves. The key closers are still doing thier job but they're still trailing a pitcher new to the craft of closing.

A new trend has emerged though. More teams are willing to go with the closer by committe route then to designate one pitcher as "the guy".

No more is that more apparent then in St.Louis with the Cardinals bullpen. Where preseason fantasy darling Jason Motte has been usurped by the veteran Ryan Franklin. Now this may not be a true committee, as Franklin figures to pick up the majority of the saves, but Tony LaRussa has shown that he's willing to give anyone a shot at closing. After all Dennys Reyes has a save this season.

Other news worthy happenings can be found high up in the mountains where the Colorado Rockies incumbent closer Huston Street is struggling this season. Another confusing situation can be found in the Seattle Mariners bull pen where uber pitcher Brandon Morrow has been used in moderation to conserve his arm, allowing David Aardsma to pick up two saves in the process.

For those that are looking for cheap saves you may want to pick up Manny Corpas and David Aardsma, they're easier to manage in daily leagues but are still solid in weekly leagues. Unfortunately there is no certainty that there will be save opportunities to convert. THen again, nothing is certain in a big league bull pen.


Top 10 Saves Leaders-

1- Heath Bell- 5sv, 0.00era, 5k, .64whip

2- Joakim Soria- 4sv, 2.25era, 7k, 1.00whip

3- Jonathan Broxton- 3 sv, 1.80era, 7k, .20whip

4- Bobby Jenks- 3sv, 4.50era, 3k, 1.50whip

5- Brad Lidge- 3sv, 5.40era, 7k, 1.00whip

6- Mariano Rivera- 3sv, 0.00era, 5k, .75whip

7- George Sherrill- 3sv, 6.23era, 5k, 2.08whip

8- David Aardsma- 2sv, 0.00era, 3k, .86whip

9- Matt Capps- 2sv, 0.00eram 2k, .75whip

10- Fransisco Cordero- 2sv, 0.00era, 4k, 1.00whip


Surprise Saves of the Week-

1-LaTroy Hawkins- 1sv, 4.50era, 2k, 1.75whip- Hawkins picked up the save thanks to the sore back that Jose Valverde is nursing. Should the pain persist Hawkins would be next in line for save opportunities.

2- Jason Grilli- 1sv, 1.93era, 4k, .86whip- Don't expect it to happen again. Manny Corpas had already pitched in the game before Huston Street gave up 2 hits, a walk and an earned run, while recording no outs.


Players to Watch-

1- Jason Frasor- 1sv, 0.00era, 3k, .69whip- He has a bit of closer experience picking up 14 saves in 2004, and could find himself in an even more prominent role thanks to the struggles that BJ Ryan is experiencing with his control and velocity. Frasor is a must own in AL only leagues.

2- Rafael Sorian- 1 sv, 0.00era, 5k, .60whip- Pitching behind Mike Gonzalez should give Soriano a few save opportunities as the Atlanta Braves don't want to risk injurying Gonzalez's arm again. Stash Soriano for a few cheap saves.

3- Jose Arredondo- 4.50era, 5k, 1.25whip- I'm still not 100% confident in Fuentes. Though Brain's two previous outtings were much better, he's still got the job with a long leash but if Jose starts pitching better the job could be his.

So there you have it, your quick Bull Pen Briefs. Remember saves can come from anywhere, remain deligent.




Posted on: April 15, 2009 12:28 am

NL Only Player Spot Light- Javier Vazquez


Steve walks warily down the street,
With the brim pulled way down low
Ain't no sound but the sound of his feet,
Machine guns ready to go
Are you ready, Are you ready for this
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust......


If you were born anytime within the last 20 years you'll have surely heard this Queen classic Another One Bites the Dust . To me it's a great anthem, it's a song that ought to be played at all big sporting events (boxing, mixed martial arts, football, basketball, hockey, baseball, curling, bowling you name it) but of all things it should be reserved for ace pitchers, lets take it a step further it should be reserved for strike out artists.

A mocking exit for the hitter and a forboding message for the man on don't mess with this.

Every time I watch the Atlanta Braves new K-Master Javier Vazquez take the mound, I start singing this song. I just can't help myself. Nothing excites me more then watching a pitcher mow through the lineup whilst picking up 9-12 strike outs in the process. Sure I know that it leads to high pitch counts and early exits yadda yadda, but I can't help it. I'm a slave to the strike out.

That is the one facet of the game that Javy excels in, check these out.

2006- 11-12, 4.84era, 1.29whip, 184k, 56bb, 8.17K/9, 3.29K/BB

2007- 15-8, 3.74era, 1.14whip, 213k, 50bb, 8.85K/9, 4.26K/BB

2008- 12-16, 4.76era, 1.32whip, 200k, 61bb, 8.64K/9, 3.28K/BB

2009- 0-1, 4.50era, 1.25whip, 17k, 5bb, 12.64K/BB, 3.40K/BB

From those stats we can see a few trends thathave true through out Javy's career. A- He's not going to be a huge 20 win starter, or much better then a .500 guy for that matter (127-129 life time), so counting on him for more then 12 wins is a bit much. B- His ERA and Whip, could both be better but's a career spanning stat so expect improvement, and finally, though not displayed a propensity to serve up the long ball. Surrendering  23, 29, 25 in the previous three seasons it at least indicative that he's creative. So with these knocks against why do I like him?

1-K/9 Ratio- Anything higher then 7K/9 amongst starters is a great, 8+K/9 is fantastic. So you know that no matter what you're going to get a bunch of strike outs each outting.

2- Very good control- A base line for starters is a 2/1 K/BB ration, when a guy boasted a career 3.32K/BB ratio you know he's pretty good.

3- A Pitcher Park- After years of pitching in hitters havens Yankees Stadium, Chase Field and US Cellular, Javy is moving into a pitchers park, which should help knock down the 1.19HR/9 ration he's sported over his career.

4- Durability- Not to many pitchers can say that they've averaged 208.2 innings over the last 3 seasons. Combine that with an average of 199 strike outs, and you've got yourself a war horse.


In your drafts this year if you took Javier Vazquez as your ace, unfortunately you're going to be disappointed but if you made him your number 2-3 knowing that what you see is what you get then you'll get your money's worth. There may be a new breed of strike out artists on the horizon, but as long as this horse is still over powering hitters, he'll remain a favourite of mine, and on my fantasy rosters.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or