Posted on: March 2, 2009 3:20 am
Edited on: March 2, 2009 3:21 am

Price not right for me

If I keep talking this way, someone might accuse me of David Price bashing.

But I can't help it. I just get this strange feeling he'll open the season in the minor leagues. Hey, someone has to, and Jeff Niemann can't. Price at least has options.

And then this happens: Jason Hammel throws four shutout innings against the Blue Jays on Sunday. He now has six shutout innings this spring and wants to win the starting job. He said it.

Now, Hammel is no Price, obviously. Neither is Niemann. But both have talent, and the Rays have to find room for them. Both could go to the bullpen, yes, but they can't go to the minor leagues. Price can. The solution sounds almost too logical, as much as you hate to hear it in Fantasy.

Whatever. I know I won't draft Price anyway. Too much uncertainty for where I'd have to draft him. Too much hype.

Speaking of hype ...

Joey Votto homered and even stole a base Sunday, raising his batting average to .538. Great. The young slugger might as well just keep piling on the unrealistic expectations since nobody stops to question them on Draft Day anyway. It's not that I have anything against Votto himself. After his nine home runs in September last year, I liked him as a sleeper ... until the actual drafting began and I realized nobody with half a pulse came anywhere close to sleeping on him. I've seen him go as early as the sixth round in a 12-team mixed league. He simply has no value there.

Two of my favorite sleeper pitchers, Aaron Harang and Gil Meche, bombed Sunday. It's early. I hate to say I don't care about their struggles, but ... I don't. Check back with me March 31. Then again, I doubt I'll care then for two proven veterans. I'd like to see something from Harang this spring, though, coming off that miserable season.

After he homered for the second straight day, I still can't bring myself to trust Jeremy Hermida with a late-round sleeper pick. I have in the past, and he burned me. Bad blood there. Still, he has my attention.

You hear that, Jeremy? I'm watching you.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 27, 2009 12:35 am

Reyes batting third? Seriously?

Travis Snider and Matt LaPorta probably hit the most notable home runs Thursday, given the hype surrounding them as two of the game's better outfield prospects. Snider has a better chance of breaking camp with the team -- and likely will, in fact -- but at age 21, he has plenty of on-the-job learning to do. I can't see him impacting mixed leagues this year. Just look at how much time Justin Upton has needed to develop.

Of course, I can't overlook the two home runs hit by one Jose B. Reyes, who batted third for the Mets. First Hanley Ramirez, now Reyes? Can't these shortstops just stick with what made them Fantasy studs in the first place? If Reyes keeps hitting this way, the experiment might become a reality, but I can't help but wonder how he plans to steal 50-70 bases with the No. 1 and 2 hitters clogging the bases in front of him. Plus, how can the Mets risk running him so often with the meat of their lineup coming to the plate? It concerns me a little, but not enough for me to draft Reyes any differently.

The Cubs haven't shied away from giving Micah Hoffpauir at-bats in the early going, which makes sense considering they seem to want any excuse to give him a job this year after he hit .362 with 25 home runs at Triple-A Iowa last year. Granted, at age 28, he was too old for Triple-A at the time, but numbers are numbers. He doesn't exactly have a place to play, but neither did Jayson Werth going into last season. I like the sleeper potential for deeper NL-only leagues.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 26, 2009 3:16 am
Edited on: February 26, 2009 3:18 am

Feb. 26 spring observations : Cardinals, Giants

Spring is here, and it showed with a packed schedule Wednesday as teams opened exhibition play.

The most interesting tidbits came out of Cardinals camp, where Skip Schumaker started at second base and manager Tony La Russa sounded ready to give him the job then and there.

It's still too early to tell, obviously, but you have to think the Cardinals wouldn't be pushing this idea so hard if they didn't want to get Colby Rasmus in their lineup. The elite prospect started in left field and batted second -- yes, in front of Albert Pujols. If the pattern continues heading into the regular season, Rasmus is a slam dunk to win NL Rookie of the Year, in my opinion. We're talking crazy lineup protection. It wouldn't help Ryan Ludwick's chances of a repeat season, though.

In other words, time to start drafting Rasmus in mixed leagues.

I'd also like to note a couple happenings for the Giants, of all teams. Travis Ishikawa, owner of the out-of-nowhere .737 slugging percentage in Triple-A last year, hit not just one, but two home runs at the Indians. I don't foresee a big power season, really, but I think we might be underestimating this guy. I call him an excellent pick in NL-only leagues, assuming you get him on the cheap.

Of course, he doesn't have me nearly as excited as Nate Schierholtz, who also homered. Stuck in Triple-A each of the last two seasons, he has averaged .327 with 17 home runs during that time, convincing me he's the Giants' best hitter whether they know it or not. He's only 25, so he still has time, but I'd like to see San Francisco clear a spot for him now .


Category: MLB
Posted on: February 13, 2009 1:44 am
Edited on: February 13, 2009 1:52 am

NL-only auction follow-up

Not as pleased with this one.

We had our 12-team, NL-only 5x5 Rotisserie auction Tuesday, and only now do I have a chance to comment on it. It's not that I think it's a disaster or doesn't stand a chance of competing. But I feel like it could have gone so much better, and our AL-only auction the next day pretty much confirmed my suspicions.

Oh well. Let's just look it over and talk it up.

C - Angel Salome ($1)
C - Yorvit Torrealba ($1)
1B - Travis Ishikawa ($3)
2B - Blake DeWitt ($12)
SS - Hanley Ramirez ($51)
3B - Aramis Ramirez ($34)
MI - Stephen Drew ($29)
CI - Chad Tracy ($1)
OF - Carlos N. Lee ($32)
OF - Bobby Abreu ($8)
OF - Elijah Dukes ($6)
OF - Jerry Hairston ($2)
OF - Nate Schierholtz ($2)
DH - Jonny Gomes ($1)
SP - Yovani Gallardo ($21)
SP - Ryan Dempster ($19)
SP - Brett Myers ($14)
SP - Micah Owings ($1)
SP - Braden Looper ($1)
SP - Jorge De La Rosa ($1)
SP - J.A. Happ ($1)
RP - Jose Valverde ($18)
RP - Ryan Franklin ($1)

Granted, any time you've had a steady stream of mixed-league drafts, a jump in the NL-only pool will come as a shock to the system. Understandably, your team will look worse, and that immediate reaction might help explain my disappointment. But I do detect some clear pitfalls, beginning with my outfield.

Obviously, Abreu came at a discounted rate based on the possibility he'd sign with an AL-team, which he eventually did. Oops. If Dukes ends up moving to the bench with the signing of Adam Dunn, I suddenly have an outfield of Lee and ... garbage, potentially. I like Schierholtz, but I get the strange feeling the Giants don't, at least not as much as poor-hitting team like them should.

Fortunately, my infield -- by design, mostly -- makes up for the shortcomings of my outfield. The Ramirez duo should generate plenty of stats, and having Drew as my middle infielder should give me some sort of advantage. Looking back, though, I showed a little too much love for both him and DeWitt, who I like as a sleeper but not for $12. Those $41 between the two of them would have better served my team elsewhere.

Like maybe my starting rotation. Or maybe not. Maybe I just needed a slightly better dollar distribution throughout. Hard to say. But while a top three of Dempster, Gallardo and Myers looks like an advantage at first glance, that heap of garbage behind it might more or less counteract it. Then again, as with all leagues this deep, half of those low-end starters will eventually give way to whatever middle relievers emerge on the waiver wire during the early months.

If Franklin opens the year closing for the Cardinals, which I think could potentially happen, I suddenly have a nice little purchase. If De La Rosa remains in the rotation and builds on his impressive second half (7-3, 3.08 ERA, 8.4 K/9), I might have another. If Happ beats Kyle Kendrick for the fifth spot in the Phillies rotation -- ah, who am I kidding?

But that's the problem with this team. I have to hope for a few too many breaks. If some go my way, I might end up in pretty good shape, but I could just as easily finish in the bottom half of the standings.

And that's not the way I like to play.

Posted on: February 10, 2009 1:19 am
Edited on: February 10, 2009 1:21 am

Auction follow-up: Blowing it all on four players

We had our 12-team, mixed 5x5 Rotisserie auction Monday, and I thought I'd share some thoughts on my team, which you'll find so conveniently listed below.

After the general disappointment I felt following each of my last two drafts, I have to call this team my favorite so far:

C - Kurt Suzuki ($1)
C - Brandon Inge ($1)
1B - Adrian Gonzalez ($22)
2B - Ian Kinsler ($39)
3B - Alex Rodriguez ($41)
SS - Jose B. Reyes ($43)
MI - Jimmy Rollins ($40)
CI - Aubrey Huff ($10)
OF - Ryan Ludwick ($14)
OF - Rick Ankiel ($6)
OF - Elijah Dukes ($3)
OF - Nelson Cruz ($2)
OF - Denard Span ($1)
DH - Jason Giambi ($1)
SP - Chad Billingsley ($12)
SP - Zack Greinke ($6)
SP - Aaron Harang ($3)
SP - Jair Jurrjens ($1)
SP - Gil Meche ($1)
SP - Wandy Rodriguez ($1)
RP - Brian Fuentes ($9)
RP - Mike Gonzalez ($2)
RP - Chris Ray ($1)

Notice anything unusual? Yes, I spent $163 of my $260 budget on four players: Reyes, A-Rod, Rollins and Kinsler.

Some people call it a studs-and-duds approach, but I don't really feel the need to qualify it. To me, it just makes the most sense in this particular format. In an auction, where you have the ability to get any player you want, assuming you have the money to follow through with it, why not give yourself as much of an advantage over the competition as possible by securing elite players at the four positions that offer the fewest elite options? In Reyes, A-Rod, Rollins and Kinsler, I have four of the eight elite shortstops, second basemen and third basemen (with Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia and David Wright making up the rest of that group). In a draft, you could never, ever, ever, ever do that.

I wouldn't try it in a deeper league, like an AL-only or an NL-only. But in a reasonably sized mixed league, where you know plenty of sleepers will go unclaimed at the end, you could pretty easily patch any shortcomings that result from the big spending. For all the "studs," there really aren't any "duds." You just have to make sure you wait at the positions -- in this case, outfield and starting pitcher -- where you can find the most bargains.

But before you decide this approach sounds too risky or too stressful for you, you should know I don't feel like I spent the majority of this auction biting and clawing for every underpriced talent I could find. In fact, the rest of my picks fell into place rather easily. If you correlate each of my bids to the rounds of a standard draft, calling my highest bid my first-round pick and so on, I got the big four in the first four rounds, obviously putting me ahead of the curve. I got Gonzalez in the fifth round -- no problem there. I got Ludwick in the sixth round -- a little early, but reasonable. I got Billingsley in the seventh round -- still a reasonable pick. I got Huff in the eighth round -- again, perfectly rational. I got Fuentes in the ninth round -- everything good still. I got Greinke in the 10th round -- eh, kind of a reach. You could even defend Harang in the 11th round before running into a clear issue with Dukes in the 12th, but I hopefully made my point. By shelling out all that money early, I really didn't lose anything until the second half of any hypothetical "draft," and considering how much that last half of a mixed-league roster gets turned over during the first weeks of the season anyway, what does it matter?

Of course, when we actually tally up the statistics at the end of the season, will I come out ahead using this approach? I don't know. I obviously can't guarantee it. But in an offseason where I generally haven't felt comfortable with the teams I've drafted, I feel surprisingly good about this one.

Posted on: January 5, 2009 11:47 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2009 7:24 pm

My latest mock draft

Look, Ma -- no holes!

I did it this time. For those of you who remember my last mock draft, when I lamented having to take Jed Lowrie as my shortstop and Ian Stewart as my corner infielder, I managed to walk away from this latest one without any of those same gaping deficiencies in my starting lineup. Every single hitter I drafted deserves to start for any Fantasy team -- well, except for maybe my catchers, but what do they matter anyway?

I picked third in a standard, 12-team Rotisserie league and selected Jose B. Reyes over Albert Pujols, not wanting to end up with another guy like Lowrie at shortstop or a shortage of stolen bases. For the first time in my three Rotisserie drafts this offseason, I feel comfortable with my stolen bases going into the season, even if they'll come mostly from four players -- Reyes, Shane Victorino, Denard Span and Dustin Pedroia.

Check out my team in full:

C - Jesus Flores (Round 22)
C - John Baker (23)
1B - Kevin Youkilis (3)
2B - Dustin Pedroia (2)
3B - Aubrey Huff (6)
SS - Jose B. Reyes (1)
OF - Shane Victorino (5)
OF - Ryan Ludwick (7)
OF - Pat Burrell (13)
OF - Elijah Dukes (16)
OF - Denard Span (17)
CI - Troy Glaus (12)
MI - Dan Uggla (4)
DH - Shin-Soo Choo (18)
SP - John Lackey (8)
SP - Chad Billingsley (9)
SP - Ryan Dempster (11)
SP - Jair Jurrjens (19)
SP - John Maine (20)
SP - Justin Duchscherer (21)
RP - Brian Fuentes (10)
RP - Chad Qualls (14)
RP - Mike Gonzalez (15)

Overall, I feel good about it -- certainly better than I felt after the last one -- but I still consider it far from perfect. You might remember I begrudgingly took Uggla -- a player I don't particularly like -- in the seventh round of that last one, already knowing by then I'd have to use a Lowrie-type player at shortstop and not wanting to have two nobodies at my three middle-infield postions. Well, I selected Uggla again this time, but I did so three rounds earlier. What in the world?

I had a shortage of power through the first three rounds, wanting to shore up my middle infield with my first two picks. I figured if I used my fourth-round pick on a 30-homer middle infielder, I'd make up ground on my competition faster than if I used it on a 30-homer outfielder or third baseman. Besides, Uggla was the last of the remaining early-round middle infielders, and I try to get elite options at all of those positions, thinking it the easiest way to set myself apart from my competition. You just don't find many late-round sleepers at shortstop at second base, so most everybody else has to settle for less-than-inspiring players like Orlando Cabrera and Jose Lopez at those positions.

Having drafted Uggla, I still might have a shortage of power, particularly if Dukes spends most of the season on the disabled list and Huff and Ludwick sharply regress, but at least now I have a fighting chance.

Speaking of Ludwick, I hate that I took him in the seventh round when I ended up drafting a player with about the same ceiling -- Burrell -- a full six rounds later. Live and learn, I guess, but I really needed power. I also hate that I had to draft two late-round closers (Qualls and Gonzalez) only a few rounds after a potentially elite option like Fuentes. We had a closer run, and by the 15th round, the only remaining options I felt I could trust for saves were Gonzalez, Chris Ray and Joel Hanrahan. I pretty much had no choice. I never want to end up with fewer than three closers in a 12-team Rotisserie league.

I worry a bit about my starting rotation because I didn't up with some of my usual sleepers -- Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, Aaron Harang, John Danks and Kevin Slowey -- in the middle rounds. Everyone else just beat me to them. Instead, I had to settle for two injury-risk sleepers -- Maine and Duchscherer -- but, worst-case scenario, I'll have two flexible roster spots to claim some of those early-season breakouts that always seem to emerge at starting pitcher.
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 17, 2008 12:01 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2008 12:10 pm

Discussing the rankings at first base

As you might have noticed, Eric Mack has begun feverishly composing early position-by-position rankings for next season. The man works hard, people. He asked via e-mail for my input on his rankings at first base, and I thought I'd post my exact response so you could see the thought process that goes into these decisions. I'll save the actual rankings for when he posts the finalized version -- don't want to steal his thunder, after all -- but after every player mentioned here, I included in parentheses where he ranked that player at the time of my response. Enjoy.

"I have a hard time believing I'd take Ryan Howard (No. 3) ahead of Mark Teixeira (No. 4) or Lance Berkman (No. 5), especially now that our standard Head-to-Head scoring penalizes strikeouts. My initial reaction was to move him even lower, but then I saw just how hot he'd gotten over the last month. Still, in my eyes, he's only half a step up from Adam Dunn, with RBI being his greatest advantage.

And while we're on the subject of moving up Teixeira, I might move him ahead of Miguel Cabrera (No. 2) too. I worry that Cabrera's regression this year is another sign of his body prematurely breaking down, going hand-in-hand with his move to first base. Plus, he's not exactly Placido Polanco with the strikeouts either. But that view is a little more nitpicky than my view on Howard, and I could see me talking myself into Cabrera at No. 2 if you're happy with him there. (Edit: After talking to Emack via instant messenger just now, he seems adamant about keeping Cabrera at No. 2. I can't say I blame him. The guy is only 25 years old, which makes my sounding of the "breakdown" alarm borderline ridiculous. Still, the fact he keeps ballooning in size, forcing the Tigers to move him from third base before he even reaches his athletic peak, doesn't bode well for his future. Plus, he's starting to have all the little muscle pulls of a guy 10 years older than him. I just feel a little uneasy about drafting him in the first round; I can't help it.)

I definitely want to move Aubrey Huff (No. 11) ahead of Garrett Atkins (No. 10). The further Atkins gets into his career, the more his 2006 season looks like a fluke. Plus, his walks took a nosedive this year after dropping a bit last year. I'm not high on him at all. I kind of think I'd take Huff even ahead of Adrian Gonzalez (No. 9) -- mostly because of my anti-strikeouts bias -- but I understand Gonzalez has some upside and Huff has some potential to end up a fluke.

I pity the poor sap who ends up with Derrek Lee (No. 12) as his starting first baseman, but I realize we have to put him somewhere. I don't know ... maybe we could bury him behind Carlos Delgado (No. 13) and Carlos Pena (No. 14)? On top of everything else, he strikes out almost twice as often as he walks these days.

Beginning at No. 15, I'd probably go Chris Davis, Conor Jackson, James Loney, Joey Votto, Nick Swisher and Carlos Guillen (Edit: Emack ranked them Loney, Guillen, Votto, Davis, Swisher and Jackson). Based on what I've seen from the two this year, I just think Davis will develop a little faster than Loney and is a near lock for 30 home runs next year. Also, do you realize Jackson has more points in our Head-to-Head scoring than Atkins, even with his power in its underdeveloped state? Crazy, but true. As for Guillen, I have a hard time believing he'll offer anything particularly useful even if he does somehow manage to stay healthy. He has only 10 home runs this year and a ceiling of, what, 18?

I don't have any major qualms with the rest of the top 40, though I think I have more confidence in a Billy Butler (No. 31) breakout and a Paul Konerko (No. 30) rebound than you do. I'd probably move both ahead of Hank Blalock (No. 25), maybe Todd Helton (No. 24), favoring Butler to Konerko. Eh, I'd probably go Butler, Helton, Konerko."
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 12, 2008 8:17 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2008 8:36 pm

Disaster at second base

On a podcast recently, Jamey Eisenberg asked Eric Mack and me if we've ever seen so many prominent players fall to season-ending injuries in such a short period of time. Emack, before Jamey could even get the words out of his mouth, responded with such a strong affirmation that he went so far as to call Jamey a Fantasy newbie for even proposing the question.

Is he right? Well, probably. I've only just begun covering Fantasy Baseball, which as you'd expect, gives me a broader view over the whole game than simply playing it. But seeing the rash of injuries across the league, seeing how they affect so many of my own teams, the situation certainly feels unusual to me, whether it is or it isn't.

And it's not just guys like Carlos Quentin, Carlos N. Lee and Carl Crawford -- the ones who definitely will miss the rest of the season. It's also the ones with nagging injuries, guys like Troy Glaus, Carlos Guillen, J.D. Drew and Evan Longoria. Sure, they could come back, but this late in the season, with their teams already well in or well out of the playoffs, do they have much reason to?

At no position is this phenomenon more prevalent than at second base, where Mark Ellis became the latest taken down for the count. And you might not think Ellis matters much in Fantasy, but when notables such as Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, Orlando Hudson and Jeff Kent go down before him ... well, it doesn't take long for him to shoot up the rankings.

And other potential replacements have also gone the way of the offseason -- or at least close to it. Ty Wigginton, who got everyone excited with 12 home runs in August, offers nothing more than a vague chance of a returning. Ditto for Howie Kendrick, Kazuo Matsui and Ronnie Belliard. Even Emmanuel Burriss, who would have at least offered some at-bats and stolen bases, won't play again until 2009.

And that's just the unhealthy second basemen. Meanwhile, Alexei Ramirez can't hit in September, Kelly Johnson doesn't play against left-handed pitchers and Robinson Cano never had the monster second half any of us Fantasy prognosticators (with the exception of maybe Al Melchior) predicted.

Even worse, this injury bombshell struck an already shallow position, leaving it a virtual wasteland for Fantasy owners. With the season winding down and the championship game in sight, where can they turn now?

First of all, you should know that none of these alternatives will excite you. You can't expect them to. You can't expect anything more than at-bats from your second baseman now, so you just want to make sure those at-bats end up hollow.

If you absolutely have to have power, you could turn to someone like rookie Matt Antonelli, but considering he had such an awful year at Triple-A Portland, you should probably go with Geoff Blum or even Juan Uribe instead. Hey, he's not exciting, but he'll play every day with Joe Crede -- you guessed it -- out for the year.

More likely, though, you'll want to try for players like Akinori Iwamura, Marco Scutaro or Alexi Casilla -- ones who hit high in the batting order and at least offer some hope of maybe hitting a home run or two down the stretch. You could also look to Asdrubal Cabrera, who has a bit more upside and has begun to hit better lately. As a last resort, you could even turn to Joe Inglett or Nick Punto. They won't give you many points, but they'll give you a few.

Of course, if you play in a shallow enough league, none of these players should even enter the picture, but if you find yourself with a gaping hole at second base because of an untimely injury, at least now you don't have to feel around in the dark for a replacement.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or