Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NL King - Late Round Cheap Starting Pitchers to Target

I am listing 10 starting pitchers in the NL which all should go in the later rounds of your draft and could be very cheap buys. I believe in order to win your respective league you need to find a couple of cheap starters to round out your rotation. Keep in mind in the back end starters you acquire, all you are looking for is a few wins, some decent K's and if they can give you your league average in ERA & Ratio.... you are set. Your ERA & Ratio will be feed off of your front end starters, your closer and your middle relievers. Here is the list in alphabetical order.

Joe Blanton - Phil - Age 29 - 2009 Stats - 12W, 4.05 ERA, 1.315 Ratio, 163K's in 195 1/3 IP. Blanton has been a little up and down with his ERA & Ratio over the last 4 years. I am betting he can get you 12 to 13 wins (hey he is on the Phillies) with pretty good K's (around 150) and with a little luck an ERA in the low 4's and a ratio in the low 1.3's.

Kevin Correia - SD - Age 29 - 2009 Stats - 12W, 3.91 ERA, 1.303 Ratio, 142K's in 198 IP
Correia gave nice value to owners last year, and that ballpark sure doesn't hurt. Is San Diego a bad team? Most likely but keep in mind SD does have potential a nasty bullpen so some of their starters might win a few more games than you would think.

Kenshin Kawakami - Atl - Age 34 - 2009 Stats - 7W, 3.86 ERA, 1.343 Ratio, 105K's in 156 1/3 IP. Would I like to see another 30 to 40 K's this season. Keep in mind last year was an adjustment for him and plus if the Braves stay healthy they should be much better overall.

Hiroki Kuroda - LA - Age 35 - 2009 Stats - 8W, 3.76 ERA, 1.142 Ratio, 87K's in 117 1/3 IP.
Yes, he had issues with injuries last year and yes he is getting older but Dodger stadium is a good place to pitch and when healthy can be an excellent #4 starter for you. If Kuroda can hit 150 IP this year would be a great late round buy.

Brett Myers - Hou - Age 29 - 2009 Stats - 4W, 4.84 ERA, 1.372 Ratio, 50K's in 70 2/3 IP. Remember he was coming off surgery late in 2008. Now that the surgery should be behind him and he isn't being yo-yo'd between the bullpen and the rotation just maybe Myers can return to his 2005 & 2006 form.

Ross Ohlendorf - Pitt - Age 27 - 2009 Stats - 11W, 3.92 ERA, 1.233 Ratio, 109K's in 176 2/3 IP. Now I know the K's were very low especially considering the IP and I know Ohlendorf is on a very bad team but you have to like the double digit wins from last year as well as the sub 4 ERA and have to love that killer ratio. I am skeptical still but the former Yankee (was part of the Marte & Nady trade) could be a nice guy to have as your 5th starter for cheap dollars.

Brad Penny - Stl - Age 31 - 2009 Stats - 11W, 4.88 ERA, 1.396 Ratio, 109K's in 173 1/3 IP.
One Name - Dave Duncan.

Anibal Sanchez - Age 26 - 2009 Stats - 4W, 3.87 ERA, 1.511 Ratio, 71K's in 86 IP.
Okay I know he has been hurt a lot, and too many walks last year but keep in mind this guy has talent and is only 26, has thrown a no hitter. Let's not forget when he came on the scene in 2006 he went 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA. Again if you can get him cheap at the end of the draft as your 5th starter, it's a good gamble.

Chris Volstad - Age 23 - 2009 Stats - 9W, 5.21 ERA, 1.433 Ratio, 107 K's in 159 IP.
From August 1st on he was awful with an ERA over 9 and only 1 win in that time. But he is a talented kid and could be stronger this time around. This is what we call a deep sleeper. No one is going to like his final line so you might able to get him in the reserve list portion of your draft. If your league does not do that he might be worth spending a buck on and see how he starts the season.

Chris R. Young - SD - Age 30 - 2009 Stats - 4W, 5.21 ERA, 1.447 Ratio, 50K's in 76 IP.
Young pitched hurt last year and it showed but when you look at his 4 prevoius seasons he can be a productive pitcher for you. Again obviously the ballpark is a plus but remember what I said about the SD bullpen. He probably will be a trade candidate come late July but if you could get Young cheap could be a nice option for 2/3 of the season even if he leaves the NL.

Next NL King article - The Middle Men - Why they are Important and 12 guys you need to know about.

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, March 22, 2010

About Patrick Kelley - The A.L. Maharishi

Patrick Kelleythe Maharishi (teacher of mystical knowledge) of the American League, started writing for The Fantasy Man in March 2010. Preparing for his main AL only auction keeper league, he stumbled across The Fantasy Man and enjoyed his content and overall flow (not sharing this info with his buddies though, keeping the edge The Fantasy Man gives for himself).

Patrick has been addicted to fantasy baseball since the early 90’s. In 1993, he and his best friend David started the Metropolitan Rotiserrie Baseball League (MRBL) and it began a slow descent into addiction and insanity. In the early days before websites and stat services, they would do the stats by hand, waiting for the paper on Sunday mornings and then spending the next 4-5 hours doing the weekly stats/standings (insanity). Since 1993, they've grown the league and built something that has lasted longer than most relationships as the MRBL has remained a constant.

As Patrick's addiction grew along with the internet, so did the amount of leagues he participated in. This year he'll participate in 6 leagues (don’t tell his wife), but the MRBL is the one who holds his gaze. 2009 was a good year as he won the title for the 5th time…He calls 2009..... "the drive for 5"! 2010.... He's the "pick for 6"!

Being from Minneapolis, Patrick says he's definitely an American League guy. Go Twins!

Patrick is looking forward to partnering more with The Fantasy Man and his great content in 2010 and would like to leave you with a great quote by Roger Hornsby…

“People ask me what I do in the winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”—Rogers Hornsby

A.L. Maharishi - Breakdown of the American League West

Weak of the West: Oakland A’s
Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s have made a lot of moves this year. I’m not sure it really matters though…CoCo Crisp takes over in CF. It would be great if they were getting the Crisp of Indians days (circa 2004-2005) Then, he was a power speed combo of 15-20 HR and 15-20 SB and a .298 BA…hasn’t happened since. In the last 3 years he’s averaged 5 HR, 57 R, 38 RBI and 20 SB with a .266 BA. ,not the worst numbers but if you’re an A’s fan, I’m guessing you were hoping for a little more. They also brought Kevin Kouzmanoff over in a trade with the Padres to play 3B. Add in Ben Sheets who hasn’t pitched in over a year and you have the makings of something? Not sure what. They did have some good albeit young pieces in place already, Young pitchers Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill along with All-Star closer Andrew Bailey. Throw in Kurt Suzuki catching and aging but still fleet footed Rajai Davis and you have to like your chances in the division…to finish 4th.

Third Place: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the AL West in California (could their name be longer?)
Third place? How many think how can I possibly say that? Listen to me now, but hear me later…2010 will be a down year for the Angels! But they will rebound in 2011! With the losses of lead-off man Chone Figgins, aging slugger Vladimir Guerrero and Ace John Lackey they will experience a drop off. They will compete in a weak division but finish a close third. Brandon Wood will be good in spurts in growing into IMHO, one of the best power hitting 3B, but will have times of struggle. Ex-Yankee Hideki Matsui comes in to replace Vlad as the new DH. It could be good (play-off good) or it could be bad (as in knees) With everyone in the rotation pushed up and Joel Pineiro added in, they’ll be good but not great.

Second Place: Seattle Mariners
And the confusion keeps coming! I’m sure now you’re thinking “You’ve lost your marbles!” Seattle has done more this year than possibly anyone. They stole Chone Figgins from division rival the Angels, they added problem child Milton Bradley and Casey Kotchman via trade with Boston. Offensively they have some serious holes…SS Jack Wilson is just not good, 1B Kotchman has never hit more than 14 HR’s, Bradley will disrupt whatever team chemistry they had begun, they have a hole at catcher and aging DH/HOF’er Ken Griffey Jr. is on the wrong side of his career. Bringing in Cliff Lee as a #2 behind King Felix was a great move. Seattle definitely has the best 1-2 in the division if not in all of baseball, but…and that’s a big but. I’m not sure it’s enough to win the thing.

Division Winners: Texas Rangers
I don’t think anyone else in the baseball world is picking the Rangers to win. But I believe they’re going to shock the world. They have picked up arguably the best pitcher in the Majors (when he’s on and not hurt) in Rich Harden. With Nolan Ryan, Ron Washington, and pitching guru Mike Maddux, they are in the process of changing the culture in Texas and their pitching staff is improving radically. They have a lot of young arms in hard thrower Neftali Perez and his 100 MPH fastball, Derek Holland, Scott Feldman, Brandon McCarthy and Tommy (Bahama) Hunter in the mix for the rotation. Throw in CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis (back from dominating Japan) and you have some quality and depth. With an under-rated closer in Frank Francisco the Rangers are going to pitch much better than anyone is giving them credit for. What can we say about their offense? Simply punishing! Youngster Julio Borbon is going to create havoc on the base paths this year, stealing 40+ bases and leading off. If Vlad and Josh Hamilton can bounce back for a healthy year and Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Elvis Andrus continue to get better…nobody will be able to hit with these guys and that includes the vaunted Yankees. You may think I’m hoping for a lot of things to come together? Trust me on this…the stars are aligning for the Texas Rangers! Just as the song say’s…”The stars at night, they shine so bright….deep in the heart of Texas” That being said…they’ll win the division but lose in the first round of the play-offs. 2011 they could win it all though as their pitching continues to mature!

P. Kelley - A.L. Maharishi

About the A.L. Maharishi

NL King - Solid Late Round Hitters

The following players are nice players to fill in you roster at the end of the draft. These players are not sexy but can give you good numbers in those final spots on your roster and these numbers add up if you make enough good picks at the end.

Catchers
Jeff Clement - Pitt - In most leagues he will qualify at catcher because the last year Clement was in MLB in 2008 he played 38 games at catcher. He will be the Pirates starting 1B so in most leagues after the 1st week Clement will also qualify at 1B. Could give you nice numbers and would be a great fit as your #2 catcher. Plus Clement will not be beaten down like a catcher because he will be playing 1B.

Ronny Paulino - Fla - John Baker is the starter but Paulino can hit. Lifetime Paulino is a .277 hitter & has a little pop. Had solid seasons in Pittsburgh in 06 & 07 as a starter. Again solid #2 catcher in an NL only league.

Corner Infielders
Daniel Murphy - 1B & OF - NY - I have my doubts but some believe he should hit for a good average and is a tireless worker. Will bat 5th or 6th at the beginning of the season. Not a bad option as your corner and also qualifies for the OF.

Gabby Sanzhez - 1B - Fla - Has proven everything on the minor league level. Logan Morrison appears to need another year of seasoning so unless the Marlins trade for someone (Mike Lowell ???), Sanchez deserves a shot.

Middle Infielders
Jeff Baker - 2B & 3B - Cubs - In flashes Baker has shown ability. Would love to see what he can do if he was given a real chance. The boy has pop.

Ronnie Belliard - 2B - LA - The mini Manny is always a few lbs too heavy but every year no matter what team he's on he gives you nice numbers as your 3rd middle infielder.

Emilio Bonifacio - 2B & 3B - Fla - Looks like Florida will have him as the super utility which is what he is best suited for. Will give you cheap steals as your 3rd middle infielder.

Orlando Cabrera - SS - Cinn - Gets over looked when you compare his numbers to the big boys. But can give you close to 10HR with decent R & RBI and low double digit SB's. If the Reds have him batting towards the top of the order could be a nice player this year.

Felipe Lopez - 2B - Stl - Does not steal anymore (only 14 SB's last 2 seasons) but can give you nice numbers as your 3rd middle infielder. Plus with the Cardinals having questions at potential SS & 3B Lopez could be all over the infield eventually this year giving position flexibility.

Martin Prado - 1B, 2B & 3B - Atl - Gives you great position flexibility on day one, hits for average with little pop and should be decent in R & RBI as well.

Outfielders
Melky Cabrera - Atl - Can give you nice numbers accross the board. I don't know if the Melk Man is an every day player but if not over exposed he will give you solid numbers over 350 to 400 AB's.

Matt Diaz - Atl - Similar to Melky but rakes lefties.

Ben Francisco - Phil - He is the Phillies 4th OF but keep in mind Ibanez is 37 and Fransico has some nice pop & speed. Can be a nice 5th OF on your squad.

Scott Hairston - SD - Comes back to San Diego. Hit 17HR the last 2 seasons in big ball parks.

Aaron Rowand - SF - Has looked great this spring, dropped 15 lbs since last year, going to bat lead off and has stated he is on a mission to have a strong year.

Seth Smith - Col - Colorado has a lot of OF's but if they can find Smith 300 plus AB's he can be a good pick up for you.

NL King - C.Lizza

About the N.L. King

Friday, March 19, 2010

A.L. Maharishi - American Central Questions

Cleveland Indians:
Batting: Speedy LF and eventual lead-off man for the Tribe Michael Brantley will start in the minors. With the signing of Russell Branyan it began a domino effect pushing probable 1B and uber-prospect Matt LaPorta back to LF, making Brantley the odd man out. Things could change quickly though with the lineup as Travis Hafner isn’t the monster he once was and has been on a downward spiral with injuries and forgetting how to hit since his 2006 campaign where he slugged 42 HR with 117 RBI. If he struggles/injured, Branyan to DH, LaPorta to 1B and Brantley to LF.
- Trending the wrong way: Johnny Peralta ( lowest HR, RS and BA since becoming a regular in 2006)
-Unexpected production: Youngster 2B Luis Valbueno, 10 long balls in 368 AB·
Pitching: Jake Westbrook comes back from Tommy John surgery to lead the rotation. 2007 All-star Fausto Carmona is rounding back into shape. This spring he’s given up 1 ER in 7 IP with 4 K’s. Right-hander Justin Masterson obtained in the Victor Martinez trade with the Red Sox last year is tearing up ST with 12 K’s in 7 IP with only 1 ER given up.

Kansas City Royals:
Batting: One time can’t miss prospect Alex Gordon is hurt once again. Gordon broke his thumb sliding into 2nd base making Opening day a question mark for him. If he can stay healthy and that’s a big if; Gordon could be a 20/20 guy.

- Who’s up the middle? Alberto Callaspo should be starting at 2B with speedy Chris Getz (from the White Sox) backing him up and getting about 300 AB with 20+ steals. Getz will probably be starting by the end of the year as Callaspo will probably be traded at the trade deadline to a contender. Yuniesky Betancourt is starting at SS and probably not someone you want to roster unless you’re in a very deep league and you have to.
- Rifle armed Rick Ankiel will be manning CF and should be a sleeper to hit 20-25 HR with a .265 average
Pitching: It’s all about Greinke and Soria! 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke leads the young rotation, while stud closer Joakim Soria will be finishing the games. Luke Hochevar could surprise some people like he did last year with a 13 K game against the Rangers on June 25th or he could continue to struggle like he did most of last year finishing 7-13 with a 6.55 ERA.

Detroit Tigers:
Batting: Did someone say Johnny Damon? So this is where ex-Yankees go to die. Johnny wanted to be a Yankee but super-agent Scott Boras screwed that up by wanting too much (go figure). This should end up being a good thing for the Tigers as they needed another bat, but there is no way Damon approaches his numbers from last year hitting half of his games this year in cavernous Tiger Stadium…ummm Comerica Park. This is a team that has serious question marks!
- Rookie Scott Sizemore manning 2B
- All-glove/no-hit Adam Everett at SS
- Rookie Austin Jackson from the Yankees farm system starting in CF
- Fading RF Magglio Ordonez
- 3B Brandon Inge and his .230 BA in 2009 (.236 lifetime)
- Maybe I just should have hit the high points…er point. Miguel Cabrera is sober and primed for a big year if the guys in front of him can get on base.
Pitching: Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander put it together again last year and looks to repeat those stellar numbers…Projected stats: 20 Wins, 245 K’s with a 3.12 ERA, Young Ace in the making Rick Porcello slots in at #2 with hard throwing Max Scherzer from the D-Backs probable as the 3rd starter. 2008 surprise rookie Armando Galarraga has been sent down to the minors so that leaves 2 spots open for 2/3 of these guys. Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson. My guess is Willis and Robertson as Bonderman is having a tough spring: 11.12 ERA with 2 HR given up in 5 2/3 IP

Chicago White Sox:
Batting: Key Losses- Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Scott Posednik and Chris Getz Gains: Juan Pierre, Mark Teahen and Andruw Jones
- This is a lineup that will score a lot of runs. Juan Pierre is going to have a big year leading off for the White Sox with Gordon Beckham moving over to 2B and hitting second, Carlos Quentin returning from injury and returning to form could be a devastating 1-3 hitters. Add in Paul Konerko hitting 4th and Alexis Rios rebounding and this is a powerful nucleus. They are solid all the way down the lineup.
Pitching: This is what could make them really special though…Jake Peavy and Mark Buehrle heading the rotation followed by two good young pitchers in John Danks and Gavin Floyd with Freddy Garcia possibly being the best 5th starter in the AL. If there’s a problem with their pitching it’s with Bobby Jenks as he has been trending the wrong way the past couple of years. Here are his Save totals 2006-41, 2007-40, 2008-30, 2009-29. He is in danger of losing his job to hard thrower Matt Thornton or possibly former closer JJ Putz.

Minnesota Twins:
Batting: How can you start with anything other than the M & M boys? 3 time batting champ and MVP Joe Mauer and former MVP Justin Morneau, add in sparkplug Denard Span and the O-Dog possibly hitting 2nd and you’re going to score some runs. Sometimes lost in the spot light is High Avg/Power DH Jason Kubel who will hit over 30 HR this year with 110 RBI. If Delmon Young can finally turn the corner and new SS JJ Hardy (from the Brewers) can get back to his 25 HR power, nobody in the division can keep up with them offensively.
Pitching: Big blow last week with Joe Nathan coming up with a torn ligament in his right elbow. Possible closer replacements: Matt Guerrier, Pat Neshak, Jon Rauch and maybe Francisco Loraine? My bet is Jon Rauch as he has the closer experience with 26 saves lifetime. Rotation? Scott Baker is the ace with Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey lining up behind him. You’ll want to grab Slowey this year as he’s going to have a monster year…trust me! What about Francisco Liriano? Some say he’s back to 2006 form and if that’s the case grab him too and enjoy the ride!


Patrick Kelley - AL Maharishi
About the A.L. Maharishi

Thursday, March 18, 2010

NL King - NL Starting Pitchers That Could Break Through

These starting picthers could take the next step in their development and become front line starters in 2010. The list is in alphabetical order.

Homer Bailey - Cinn - Age 24 1st week of May
2009 Stats: 8-5 Record, 4.53 ERA, 1.47 Ratio, 86K in 113 1/3 IP
Bailey pitched well in August & September (although 4 starts against Pittsburgh in that time) and keep in mind a couple of years ago Baseball America had Bailey ranked as one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball. Again Bailey turns 24 1st week of May so he is still young and most talented young pitchers take time. Having said that, be careful of young players having big September's, a lot of times does not translate into the next season. Also has to work on his walks, Bailey walked 52 batters in 113 1/3 innings last year. That must come down. If you can get Bailey at the end of the draft in an NL only league for a cheap price could be a good gamble.

Chad Billingsley - LA - Age 25
2009 Stats: 12-11 Record, 4.03 ERA, 1.32 Ratio, 179K in 196 1/3 IP
Billingsley pitched like an ace until early June and then for whatever reason it all feel apart. From early June on Billingsley had a little bit over a 5 ERA. He was so bad during that time that Joe Torre could not trust him with a post season start. Billingsley has the talent to be a front end starter and pitching in Dodger stadium does not hurt either. Flip a coin if he emerges as a front end guy for years to come.

Johnny Cueto - Cinn - Age 24
2009 Stats: 11-11 Record, 4.41 ERA, 1.36 Ratio, 132K in 171 1/3 IP
Cueto made some nice improvements from 2008 and if it wasn't for the fact that Cueto hit some sort of wall in July & August (ERA was over 8) Cueto could have had an excellent year. Has great stuff and is still young although the Reds do play in a bam box. I can see Cueto taking the next step in his development.Probably not ready for ace status yet but can be a nice middle of th rotation guy.

Tommy Hanson - Atl - Age 23
2009 Stats: 11-4 Record, 2.89 ERA, 1.18 Ratio, 116K in 127 2/3 IP
Hanson had a great rookie year and by all accounts it's only a matter of time before he becomes an ace. Having said that, in most NL only leagues, he will go near ace prices on draft day... which is a problem. If you are going to pay near ace prices you have to figure barring injury you are defintely getting an ace for 2010. Remember what I said in the past about young players dealing with big expectations for the 1st time. I think this kid will be great but expect very good numbers for 2010 but don't pay ace prices on draft day.

JA Happ - Phil - Age 27
2009 Stats: 12-4 Record, 2.93 ERA, 1.23 Ratio, 119K in 166 IP
Happ had 23 starts in 2009 (10-4 with a 2.99 ERA as a starter) and also made 12 relief appearances. I think Happ can be a real good back of the rotation starter but we need to see more to figure out how good he really is. Big plus being on the Phillies although keep in mind the small ballpark. I expect good things in 2010 but his ERA probably be in the high 3's and the ratio probably around 1.3. Budget for those kind of numbers and then set a draft day price based on that.

Jonathan Sanchez - Age 27
2009 Stats: 8-12 Record, 4.24 ERA, 1.36 Ratio, 177K in 163 1/3 IP
Considering how bad his May & June were (went 1-7 in that time with an ERA of 6 in May & 7 in June) Sanchez numbers finished pretty good. Sanchez still has to get his walks down if he wants to make the next step (88 walks in 163 plus innings is not going to cut it). But we all seen the kind of things Sanchez is capable with his no hitter last summer. Going to be hard for him to get a lot of wins pitching for the Giants (hey Lincecum has only been able to get 15 wins a year the last 2 years). Having said that you can definitely see Sanchez take the next step and being a mid level guy for your rotation. Seems to be on a lot of sleeper lists which always jacks up the price on draft day.

NL King - C.Lizza

About the N.L. King

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NL King - Which Promising Young NL Hitter will become a Star in 2010?

We take a look at the young hitters in the National League who have at least have a good amount of games under their belts and analyze them on the possible star potential in 2010. Not looking at rookies in this article. This list is in alphabetical order.

Kyle Blanks - SD - OF - Age 23
09 Stats - 10HR - 22RBI - 24R - 1SB - .250 Avg
I like the fact that Blanks had a .355 OBP but what is concerning is Blanks struck out 37% of the time in 148 AB's. That is a bit alarming. I have read articles concerned about what Blanks average will be. As long as Blanks can hit .250 he can give you good power numbers for 2010, as Blanks has monster pop although plays in a huge ball park. Could be a star one day and he did lose about 20 pounds in the off season but I don't see it for 2010.

Jay Bruce - Cinn - OF - Age 23 1st week of April
09 Stats - 22HR - 58RBI - 47R - 3SB - .223 Avg
08 Stats - 21HR - 52RBI - 63R - 4SB - .254 Avg
Jay Bruce a couple of years ago was Baseball America's #1 overall prospect. Bruce has the potential to be a lethal hitter and plays in a very small ball park. When Bruce came up in June of 08 he played like Roy Hobbs (The movie the Natural) but since then he has had growing pains. Bruce also has to cut down on his K's some what in 2009 where he struck out 22% of the time while in 2008 it was 27% of the time. Bruce has a good chance as anyone on this list to become a star player in 2010 if he can get those K's down. It will mean a much higher average and bigger overall numbers.

Chris Coghlan - Fla - OF - Age 25 in June
09 Stats - 9HR - 47RBI - 84R - 8SB - .321 Avg
Coghlan is a line drive hitting machine and love the fact he had a .390 OBP in 09. That is a strong sign. Going to hit lead off for the Marlins and while I don't think he will be a star Roto player, he could be a guy who gives you a strong average, 100 runs and maybe low teens in HR & SB.

Alcides Escobar - Mil - SS - Age 24
09 Stats - 1HR - 11RBI - 20R - 4SB - .304 Avg
Escobar came up in August last year and looked solid. I have read and heard in a lot of places that Escobar can get you a lot of steals and while I think Escobar will be a good SB guy for 2010 I would temper that enthusiam a bit (be conservative and think around 20). I do like Escobar but the thing that jumps out at me is Escobar only had 4 walks in 125 AB's last year with the Brewers. The most walks Escobar had in a minor league season was 32. This is could be a warning sign that 2010 will have a number of slumps for Escobar.

Dexter Fowler - Col - OF - Age 24
09 Stats - 4HR - 34RBI - 73R - 27SB - .266 Avg
Fowler is a sick looking athlete. I like the .363 OBP Fowler showed last year. If he can cut down on his K's this year (116K in 433 AB's) I can see a big improvement in 2010. Has the potential to be a top of the order star but if that happens probably will be after this season.

Carlos Gonzalez - Col - OF - Age 24
09 Stats - 13HR - 29RBI - 53R - 16SB - .284 Avg
08 Stats - 4HR - 26RBI - 31R - 4SB - .242 Avg in Oakland
If I was betting man and someone told me from this list one player would become a roto star in 2010 I would bet on Carlos Gonzalez. How can you not like his power & speed combo. Again if he can make strides cutting down on his K's (25 % in 09) I can see a special year in 2010. Remember Colorado got Gonzalez from Oakland in the Matt Holiday trade.

Cameron Maybin - Fla - OF - Age 23 1st week of April
09 Stats - 4HR - 13RBI - 30R - 1SB - .250 Avg in 176 AB's
I like that after a bad start to the season in Flordia and being sent back to AAA Maybin responded hitting .319 with a OBP of .399. Maybin is going to start the season batting 2nd as of now. Maybin has crazy skills and is capable of being great fantasy player with his power and speed. Look for progress in 2010 but the future looks very bright.

Andrew McCutchen - Pitt - OF - Age 23
09 Stats - 12HR - 54RBI - 74RBI - 22SB - .286 Avg
What's not to like about McCutchen? Should be nice pop and strong speed at the top of the lineup. I see a guy who will be mid teens in HR & 30 plus steals. Only danger for 2010 is expectations might be very high for McCutchen so he might press and get off to a slow start. Should be a $30 fantasy player for years to come.

Colby Rasmus - Stl - OF - Age 23
09 Stats - 16HR - 52RBI - 72R - 3SB - .251 Avg
When Rasmus was a top prospect in AAA I read that he would give Jim Edmonds numbers with 15 to 20 steals. That sounds pretty good to me. Rasmus rookie year would have been really nice with the numbers above if he had 13 steals instead of 3. What you read Rasmus has mid to high teen SB potential. That factor will determine is he is a good fantasy player or one knocking on the door as a $30 player in an NL only league.

Ian Stewart - Col - 2B/3B - Age 25 1st week of April
09 Stats - 25HR - 70RBI - 74R - 7SB - .228 Avg
08 Stats - 10HR - 41RBI - 33E - 1SB - .259 Avg
If Stewart hit .260 last year he would love his year especially considering he had only 425 AB's and qualifies at 2B as well as 3B. But Stewart hit .228 which is a killer. Again like almost everyone on this list if Stewart can cut down his K's (struck out 32% of the time in 09 Yikes !!!) Stewart can take a huge step from last year and at 2B to boot.

In analyzing these young potential stars I think have shown the red flags on all as well as the positives. Again, to me looking at each guy if I was to bet who would emerge with a huge 2010 I would say Carlos Gonzalez then Jay Bruce followed by Andrew McCutchen. Don't forget that with a young player with a lot of potential in many cases they are dealing with high expectations going into a season for the 1st time and that can cause some very slow starts. You must be patient with young players and be conservative with your projections with them as well.

NL King - C. Lizza

About the N.L. King

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NL King - Jose Reyes, is He Worth the Risk? Plus Lance Berkman too...

Last week continued the stretch of bad news for the Mets. As I am sure all of you know by now Jose Reyes has a Thyroid problem and will be out for 2 to 8 weeks (as of late last week). Reyes cannot come back until his thyroid levels come back to normal. I heard on interview on the radio this week with a doctor in this area of expertise and the doctor said typical four weeks is a good bench mark. If this is the case, that would take Reyes until the first week of April, but keep in mind during this time he cannot do any physical activities. So I would say especially considering after missing 2/3 of last year because of hamstring problems, it will require Reyes about 3 weeks of training in Florida when his Thyroid levels get back to normal. Also keep in mind Reyes has done very little in spring training up until this point. So we're looking at possibly as late as mid-May.

So how does an NL only owner handle this situation? If one's NL only draft was over the next week or so, do not touch Jose Reyes at all. I would imagine the next update will be in a couple of weeks and based on that information we can maybe see a timeline on Reyes's return. Until that time you have to assume the worst and maybe Reyes needs close to 8 weeks and then on top of that 3 weeks of extended spring training. If your draft is at the end of March / beginning of April, hopefully by then there will be a time line and you can map out Reyes return. But keep in mind Reyes already was a risk by the fact of his injured hamstring from last year. One of the reasons the Mets and manager Jerry Manuel wanted to bat Reyes 3rd was to protect that hamstring and have Reyes steal a lot less, especially at the beginning of season. I have stated before what made Reyes an elite NL fantasy player was the fact he would get you 60 steals. If those 60 steals are now 30, Reyes is still a very good fantasy player to get but this changes things dramatically. My advice is to let some other owner take the risk on Reyes. If you are going to draft Reyes make sure you get a huge discount.

Quick note on Lance Berkman as well... Berkman had knee surgery on Saturday March 13th. Early word was Berkman would miss 2 to 4 weeks and could start the year on the DL. Honestly I think an accurate time line for Berkman to start the season would be late April. He is having knee surgery and Berkman, while not old is 34 and been injury plagued in the past. Maybe Berkman's body is starting to break down? Berkman is a risk and again see in late March how Berkman is progressing but even if Berkman is doing well, you need to get a big draft day discount on him to make it worth while.

NL King - C.Lizza

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Fantasy Man - American League East Questions

I was hoping to get a guy in here to do some American League analysis but no such luck so far and I can't let Chris the NL King have all the fun. So for now, I'll try to throw down some AL Only League knowledge and try to keep up with Chris' pace.

American League East

New York Yankees
- Is Brett Gardner going to play Full-time?
- Who will bat second in the lineup? Nick Johnson or Curtis Granderson?
- Is Derek Jeter in a decline?
- 5th Spot.... Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes?

Thoughts: I would expect Gardner to get a minimum of 450 AB assuming he can hit consistently enough and by consistently, I mean at least in the .270 range. Gardner is probably the best defensive CF on the team so he'll definitely start a majority of the games. Randy Winn is more a platoon/Pinch Hitter/Defensive sub type a guy on this team. In the second spot, we're thinking Nick Johnson because he's a .400+ OBP guy. Duh, that's a no brainer. For the 5th spot in the rotation, I'm thinking Joba. The reason is that Joba has 4 quality pitches while Hughes only has 3. I wouldn't bank on Joba getting the job and I personally think he should be in the pen, but if I was a betting man, I'd say he's starting. And no, don't expect much of a decline with Jeter. I told you that last year too but no one listened to me!!!

Boston Red Sox
- Should we really be ranking Dustin Pedroia above Robinson Cano?
- Will Adrian Beltre be the home run hitting machine all the analysts are making him out to be?
- Is Clay Bucholz going to nail down the 5th spot and show us that upside?
- Will Jon Papelbon bounce back to his normal self?
- Is Big Papi finished?

Thoughts: The upside on Cano is .320+/30/100/100/5... am I wrong? Cano has a higher ceiling than Pedroia in my opinion. Simple as that. Pedroia has more Sb potential and might score a few more runs but Cano beats out pedroia in 3 of the 5 categories! Adrian Beltre does the same thing year in and year out (except for the year he looked like Godzilla) and hit 40 something home runs. He's a .270/25/90 guy and he'll be just that in 2010 with maybe a few more homers but not as big a deal as everyone is making his move to Fenway out to be. If Bucholz doesn't make the 5th spot, someone please trade him. He wasn't impressive in 2009, so I'm not expecting the world, and neither should you. I like Papelbon to bounce back and I like Big Papi to have a little bit more of a consistent season with 30+HR!

Tampa Bay Rays
- What do you see for Carlos Pena in a contract year?
- Will Matt Garza finally enter the elite class of starting pitchers?
- Will Rafael Soriano stay healthy?
- Will Ben Zobrist play everyday and were his 2009 numbers a fluke?
- Will B.J. Upton boom or bust?

Thoughts: I am a believe in B.J. Upton. When he stands at the plate, he just looks like he's oozing with talent. It's going to happen this year! Yes, I think Zobrist is for real and should come close to duplicating last years numbers. I'm not sure if he's a 30HR guy though but he'll most likely be your everyday 2B. I love Carlos Pena in a contract year and if Matt Garza doesn't win 15+ games, I'll rip my face off! I don't really trust Rafael Soriano that much but I do like that he'll be on a team built to win, so just stay healthy man!

Baltimore Orioles
- Is Matt Wieters ready to break out?
- Does Nick Markakis justify his average draft position?
- Brian Matusz or Chris Tillman?

Thoughts: Look at Wieters numbers. He did that in a half season's worth of at bats. Multiply all of that by two and you tell me if he's ready! I look at Markakis every year and I see him drafted in the 4th, 5th or 6th rounds of a 12 team draft and I ask myself why? Everyone touts this guy as ready to break out and every year he disappoints. His numbers are always solid, but less than 20 HR and less than 15 Sb with less than a .300BA and less that 100 RBI is always disappointing for me from my 5th round pick. As for Matusz or Tillman, jeez, flip a coin! I think Tillman is more the power guy while Matusz my have slightly better stuff. I don't know. Both are pretty nasty so if you miss on the first one that comes out, definitely grab the second and stash.

Toronto Blue Jays
- Is Travis Snider going to break out?
- What is this pitching staff going to look like?
- Closer?
- Will Aaron Hill repeat?

Thoughts: Does anyone really think Aaron hill is going to hit 36HR again? I know he was quite consistent from month to month in the HR department but I just don't see it. This was a fluke year and it's just a gut feeling. Can he come out and hit 25HR, yes I think so, but I don't see 30+ again. Travis Snider should make the team and start everyday and I'll expect some bumps and bruises but while everone worries about the Stephen Strasburg hype machine, Aroldis Chapman and Buster Posey, you should be thinking about the overlooked guys such as Snider, Cameron Maybin and Homer Bailey. At closer, the Jays picked up Kevin Gregg so even with Scott Downs as a possibility, you have to think Gregg will start the year with the job.

NL King - National League West Key Fantasy Questions

Arizona Diamondbacks:
- Is Brandon Webb past his injury problems and ready to become an ace again?
- Will going to the NL help Edwin Jackson take the next step?
- Will Miguel Montero establish himself as one of the better NL catchers this year?
- Will Chris B. Young, Connor Jackson & Kelly Johnson rebound?
- Is the real Stephen Drew the 2009 version or the 2008 version?
- Is Mark Reynolds steals for real and will he hit above .250?

Colorado Rockies:
- Will Jorge De la Rosa show that 2009 was not fluke?
- Is Jeff Francis a good cheap flyer after missing most of the last 2 seasons?
- Can Chris Ianetta provide good pop at the catcher position but hit .260?
- Can Ian Stewart provide strong pop but not kill you average?
- Will Carlos Gonzalez and or Dexter Fowler emerge as stars this year?

Los Angeles Dodgers:
- Is Chad Billingsley ready to become a front end starter?
- Is Clayton Kershaw ready to become an ace?
- Is Rafael Furcal stolen base days behind him?
- Does Mannywood have a 30-100-100 year in him?

San Diego Padres:
- Will Chris R. Young be healthy and therefore be a front end starter?
- Should you draft any other SD starting pitcher?
- Will Adrian Gonzalez or Heath Bell get traded in July?
- Will Kyle Blanks emerge as a big power bat?
- Will Evereth Cabrera land you 40 plus steals?

San Francisco Giants:
- Will this be the year Tim Lincecum will get the offensive support he should?
- Will Pablo Sandoval see any good pitches to hit?
- How much will Mark DeRosa's numbers suffer in that big ballpark?
- Is Nate Schierholtz be a solid starting player?
- How long will Freddy Sanchez be out for?


Your thoughts?

NL King - C.Lizza
About the N.L. King

NL King - National League Central Key Fantasy Questions

Chicago Cubs:
- How long will Ted Lilly be out?
- Is Randy Wells really reliable depth starter?
- Can Carlos Marmol hold the closers job for the whole year?
- Can Aramis Ramirez play 140 games?
- Can Alfonso Soriano find that old magic?

Cincinnati Reds:
- Can you rely on Aaron Harang & bronson Arroyo?
- Will Aroldis Chapman make the team?
- Is this the year Johnny Cueto takes the big step?
- Can Jay Bruce give you strong power numbers but hitting above .260?
- Who is the starting LF of Chris Heisey, Todd Frazier, Wladimir Balentien, or Josh Anderson?
- Can Drew Stubbs provide nice numbers across the board?

Houston Astros:
- Is Roy Oswalt's ace days behind him?
- Can Brett Myers be a good depth starter?
- Is it Matt Lindstrom or Brandon Lyon? Can either of them be a closer?
- Who is their starting catcher?

Milwaukee Brewers:
- Should you draft any Milwaukee starters after Yovanni Gallardo or Randy Wolf?
- Can Rickie Weeks be healthy?
- Can Carlos Gomez get you some steals and runs without killing your average?
- Can Matt Gamel find playing time?
- Who are their catchers?

Pittsburgh Pirates:
- Should you draft any Pittsburgh starting pitcher?
- Can Octavio Dotel be an effective closer for the entire year?
- Is Garrett Jones the real deal?
- Will Andrew McCutchen suffer from any sophomore slumps?
- Will Lastings Milledge talent give fantasy owners good numbers this year?
- Can Jeff Clement be a nice player?
- Will Pedro Alvarez be up in early June?

St. Louis Cardinals:
- Can Kyle Lohse or Brad Penny be effective depth starters?
- Who is at Shortstop if Brendan Ryan is out for a while?
- Is David Freese ready to be an every day starter?
- Will Colby Rasmus emerge this year?

Your thoughts?? Next article - NL West

NL King - C.Lizza
About the N.L. King

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NL King - Russell Martin Starts the Year Hurt

Spring Training lifted off to a terrible start last week for Russell Martin as he's dealing with a groin issue and is listed as being out 4 to 6 weeks. Sounds like Martin will start the regular season on the DL. Martin's injury is listed as a strain but 4 to 6 weeks is significant time. Depending upon when your draft is in your league, do some research on Martin's health progress before your draft. Martin did show up to camp 25 pounds heavier although he claimed he added muscle but word is he also added some fat to his body.

As of now your guess is as good as anyone's if Martin will be ready in early April or even as late as late April - early May. Keep in mind groin injuries are very slow healing and it's very easy to re-injury them if you go too fast in one's rehab. The combination of this injury and the added extra pounds is definitely going to hurt Martin's stolen base potential, especially in the first half. In drafts, the stock price on Russell Martin took a huge hit. My advice, unless a lot changes between now and the end of Spring, look at Martin has a gamble as your # 2 catcher late in the draft for cheap dollars.

NL King - C.Lizza
About the N.L. King

Monday, March 08, 2010

NL King - NL East Key Fantasy Questions

Every year around this time we all like to analyze the big questions for the upcoming baseball season and that's why we all love spring training! Who's going to have a comeback year? Who's healthy? Who's not? Where is this guy going to bat? What position is that guy going to play? The questions are endless. We don't have all the answers yet, if any, but we thought we'd throw out some of thise years biggest question marks. Let's see if we can get the talk started....

Atlanta Braves:
- Can Tommy Hanson emerge as an ace?
- Can Derek Lowe bounce back to his old reliable self?
- Should we be concerned with Jair Jurrjens latest shoulder developments?
- What should we expect from Troy Glaus, Tim Hudson & Billy Wagner after missing most of 2009?
- Does Chipper Jones have one more special year in him?
- Will Jason Heyward be the starting RF and blast off from the beginning?

Florida Marlins:
- Can anyone out of Chris Volstad, Annibal Sanchez, Sean West, Andrew Miller or anyone else be a good backend starter on your fantasy team?
- Can Leo Nunez be an effective closer for the whole year?
- Will Cameron Maybin talent come through this?
- Will Gaby Sanchez be the opening day 1B?
- Will Chris Coghlan stay away from the sophomore jinx?

New York Mets:
- Can any of Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez be a good depth starter?
- How many steals can we count on with Jose Reyes? Will he hit leadoff or 3rd to start the season?
- Will David Wright bounce back big power wise?
- How long will Carlos Beltran be out for and what kind of player will he be when he comes back?
- Will Jason Bay's power #'s been bitten by the Citi Field bug?
- Between Angel Pagan, Luis Castillo & Daniel Murphy who bats in the front of the lineup and who bats in the back of the lineup?
- Who plays 1B for the Mets?
- What's up with Carlos Delgado?

Philadelphia Phillies:
- Can Cole Hamels get back to his 2008 form and maybe be an ace?
- Are J.A. Happ's 2009 numbers a fluke?
- Can Brad Lidge bounce back or does Ryan Madson steal the closer role?
- Will Jayson Werth explode in a contract year?
- Does Shane Victorino's fantasy value decrease outside of the second spot?

Washington Nationals:
- Should you draft any Nationals' starter?
- Can Matt Capps bounce back?
- Will Ian Desmond get playing time?
- Will Nyjer Morgan swipe 50 bags?
- Will Dukes give us anything this year with his talent?

Your thoughts??? Next article - the NL Central questions.

C. Lizza - NL King
About the NL King

Thursday, March 04, 2010

NL King - 10 Draft Day Strategies and Tips - Part 3 of 3

Fantasy baseball advice at its best! Here is part 3 of 3 of the NL King's NL Only 10 Draft Day strategies.

- Remember steals & saves are like playing a game of musical chairs. There only so many chairs just like there are only so many guys who get saves or decent amount of steals. Make sure you are not chasing these categories late in the draft. If you are chasing these categories late, odds are you will overpay for mediocre talent.

- If your a player short, make it a hitter instead of a pitcher. A lot more players come through the waiver wire that are at least decent hitters than guys who can help your starting rotation or get you saves. It's also easier to trade for a hitter than a pitcher. More teams have depth in hitting than pitching.

- Sometimes you have to overpay. If the guys on your draft board lists start dwindling down, you must make sure you secure the kind of players you need to win. So if your team needs a big hitter who can also give you 20 steals and your draft board was Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki and David Wright and only Wright is left but you have to overpay by $3 on draft day, you have to do it. You must secure the talent.

- Attack the draft with your draft dollars. Most owners increase there bidding one or two dollars at a time. Do not be afraid to increase it by 7 or 8 or even more draft dollars as long as you're getting the player you want at your estimated price. Using this tactic can scare away other owners from the bidding. Also remember many owners get cautious as you break certain threshold numbers during the draft especially after the first couple of rounds. Take advantage of that. Threshold numbers would be $10, $15, $20 etc., so bid $9, $19, $29, etc.

- Do everything you can to save a few bucks for the last 6 to 8 players you need to finish filling out your roster. You need purchasing power late and having a good $15-$20 to fill out the last few spots is ideal. This will be huge as you get the better secondary players in the league. Very hard filling out the back end of your roster with good secondary players when you have $7 for 5 spots.

- Target a promising prospect who could be up 2 months into the season as your 14th hitter for $1. The guy I would choose for this year is Pedro Alvarez (3B, Pirates) because of his talent level and because the opportunity is there with Andy LaRoche being the so called opening day starter in Pittsburgh.

- Don't take too many old players, or to many rookies, or to many injury risks or to many guys trying to bounce back from a bad season. Must pick your spots.

- Early on it's a good idea to bring up big players that you won't be bidding on to get some of the competition draft day budgets drained as soon as possible, especially a manager who you could be in competition with on area's of need. Also it's a good idea to bring up a mid level guy early as you can get him for a good price because everyone is fixated on the top players at that point.

- Remember do not draft secondary players who will hurt either your ERA, Ratio or Batting Average. Remember the
percentage categories article I did.

- Finally remember good numbers from your secondary players on your roster can work up to all-star performances very quickly.

C. Lizza - NL King
About the NL King

Monday, March 01, 2010

NL King - Executing the Draft Plan - Part 2 of 3

Fantasy baseball draft advice is everywhere this time of year, but specific NL Only strategies are hard to come by so listen good. After doing your prep work and with your draft plan in place, you're ready for the draft. It now comes down to execution of that draft plan. It's just like producing the two out single with a runner in scoring position. Here are the key points on executing your draft plan....

- Stick to your Plan. You can deviate if players go much lower in area's of need. If players go a few dollars less than you thought in non area's of need in the 1st half of the draft, let them slide. For example if your strong in steals going into the draft and Nyjer Morgan goes $5 less than you thought, still let him go to another team. Stick to your draft plan and what you need.

- Remember the goal is to walk out of the draft as one of the top contending teams. The goal isn't to walk out saying wow I got two great values in players X & Y. Must have a balanced team to win a championship. Good numbers from your secondary players add up and can lead to a championship. I cannot stress that point enough.

- In the second half of the draft where teams have serious money restrictions that's where you can go after guys to add to your strengths who go under valued. In my league last year Mark Reynolds did not get called out until very late in the draft. The team in my league who won Reynolds was strong in hitting already but he was able to get Mark Reynolds at $16 (most teams in the league at that point had very little money left) which was a steal for 2009 and a great keeper for 2010.

- Know your other owners tendencies and how that wll impact your draft plan. Must size up the competition on who else in the league are going to go after your targeted core players.

- You must monitor during the draft the other owners who need the same kind of players as you and where they stand during the draft with their draft dollars.

- Finally you must be patient with your draft plan. Do not panic. As long as there are players on the board that fit the bill for your core open slots there is no reason to panic. As your lists start dwindling you may have to spend a little more than you thought for these players. You must keep that in mind. Remember every draft is it's own animal.

Next article: 10 Strategies - Tips for Draft Day

C. Lizza - NL King
About the NL King