Monday, May 31, 2010

NL King - Memorial Day Special - The Ultimate Rebuilding Game Plan - Part 2

I want to start off by saying thank you to the men and woman who currently serve our country and have served our country in the past, making the ultimate sacrifice by giving up their lives for this country. I can't say enough about our people in our armed forces both past and present.

Well, after reading part 1 of the Memorial Day Weekend Special article, part 2 focuses on rebuilding. After reviewing everything you have decided that your team needs to go through the rebuilding process. While it's not what you wanted for this season but this process can be a lot of fun as you try to shape together a keeper list that will be the envy of every team going into next season. Obviously, you will be talking a lot of trades with teams hoping for big success from the current season and maybe you can get those teams in a bidding war for your players. Here are the key points in putting together a rebuilding plan.

- What are the rules of your league? How many players can you keep up to? Does your league have minor leaguers & can you trade for them? Are there any kind of restrictions you need to know about? These are key questions especially how many players you can keep. For instance, in my league every team can keep anywhere from 0 to 10 players for the draft (minor leaguers are not available in my league). So keeping that in mind you want to focus on quality over quantity although once you decide to rebuild you goal should be to get as many good players under valued as possible. Remember even if you go over the maximum amount of keepers in your league, you still have your league's off-season where you can trade your depth in 2 for 1 or even 3 for 1 deals.

- The players you should look to trade - Depending on how your league works you should first look to trade players who can bring back keeper players who are either going to be a free agent in your league (if your league has contracts) after this season or their contracts are above their market value. Important to note is you do not have to trade everyone. Remember, a top team is a balanced team so if you have a proven player like a Shane Victorino for instance and he is a little below market value in terms of his contract, you should not look to trade someone like that. Now, if another owner steps up and offers you a tremendous keeper in a deal where Victorino has to be included that's different. Short of that, players who you would keep you should not look to trade unless you get great value back. So you need to focus on guys who wouldn't be on your keeper list for next season.

- Its all about values - You want to go over every single team in your league and highlight the players who are way under valued. Obviously the more proven of a player the better. Ideally, I would not be looking at older players even if they went for a good price in this past draft. There are no set rules here everything is on a case by case basis, but, your goal is landing as many high quality keepers as possible. The ideal type of player is one who is at a low contract with big upside. You need to do your homework on all these players you highlight on each team. Then after making a shopping list and contacting each owner and start a dialogue and try to figure out what's it going to take to land that player. Now if one is rebuilding it's 99.9% of the time because you don't have that many players having good to great years. So you maybe be limited on what big keepers you can trade for. Teams may want the same big players of your team for their big time keeper players so you are going to have to figure out which keeper you want the most. In a perfect world when you are done with you're rebuilding trades you would like to have a good blend of hitters both in power & speed, starting pitchers and relievers. But it may not shake out that way the number one thing is for you to get as many best valued players you can in a keeper sense.

- Go after killer keepers - Ideally you would love to add two anchors as I call them in this rebuilding phase. The last time I rebuilt was the 2007 season where I landed Hanley Ramirez who was signed for one more season at $14 & JJ Hardy at $1(had a big 1st half in 07 and had overall a really good year in 07 probably close to a $20 year). These were my anchors in terms of trading for big keeper players.

- Always get a sleeper thrown in - Two examples to illustrate the point. In 2007 when I rebuilt, I had just about a done deal where I traded Rafael Furcal, Ben Sheets & Ryan Dempster (a closer then) for Hanley Ramirez at $14. All 3 guys I traded were going back into the draft day pool the following season. Back then, our league allowed you to have minor leaguers and we allowed each team to have up to 5 players in what we called our farm system. The person I made the trade with had Clayton Kershaw in their farm system at $1. Now keep in mind I believe he was 19 at that time and by most accounts he was not supposed to be up until at least the 2009 season. However I also read how he was skyrocketing through the Dodger system and it was very possible he could be up as early as June 2008 (which he was). So I got that owner to put Kershaw in the deal to go with Hanley. I then used Kershaw as a trading chip that following off-season to help me get another player.A more recent example is where I was the buyer was in 2008 (I won my league that year). I was on the verge of a mega deal that gave me a great chance to win my league. I was in 1st place and I was either going to finish 1st or 2nd that year. I wanted to seize the day so I had on the table Edison Volzquez (1), Andrew McCutchen (1) & Chris Perez (1 - now with the Indians) for Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Derek Lowe. All 3 players I was getting were going back into the draft day pool after the season and at the time Fielder was off to a slow start and Lowe was off to a bad start but I believed in those players. While my friend liked the deal he felt he needed a little bit more to get the deal done. I told him that in early April I picked up through our free agency Josh Johnson at $2. My friend said he is hurt and been out since last summer with shoulder problems. I told him that was correct but his rehab was going great, the Marlins felt he would be better than every and that he should be up with them come that summer. I said look, Josh Johnson has already proven he can be a really good pitcher at the major league level, he just needs to stay healthy. Plus, he was a sweetener or a throw in if you will to get the deal over the finish line. My friend agreed and we got the deal done. Those players helped me win a championship and my friend got some great keepers.

- Play one team against another if you can - Whenever possible to extract as much as you can, try talking with all the top teams and have them bid against each other. Tell the team in 1st hey I am talking with the team in 2nd if I pull off this trade with them and they land Prince Fielder that's going to really help them and maybe surpass you. That might you get the player or players you want most of all from the team in first. Keep in mind when doing this do it in a nice way don't be a jerk. Don't say you better make a deal with me or your in big trouble. Tell them hey I am talking with the 2nd place team and ideally I would like to get your players however if we can't get a deal done the 2nd place team has already told me he will trade me the following keepers and that's the direction I am going to have to go in if we can't get a deal done. As the late great Patrick Swayze said in the movie classic Road House - "Be Nice. Ask him to leave the bar but be nice."

- Be Careful when trading for minor leaguers - If your league allows it there is nothing wrong for trading for minor leaguers as part of you're rebuilding process. However you want to be trading for prospects who are very close to be getting called up ideally some time the current season and who will definitely have a starting job come opening day next season. You do not want to load up and have most of you're rebuilding process tied to prospects. One or two are fine I wouldn't go beyond that. Also keep in mind some top prospects get called up and are tremendous right away and stay that way. Tim Lincecum & Albert Pujols are examples of that. However other players they really struggle in the beginning and even might have to be sent back down again to work things out in order to reach their potential. Roy Halladay is an example of that. Top minor leaguers can help you the following year and beyond just don't put all your eggs in the prospect basket.

- When in doubt best values even if you are not sold on player - Like I stated above, the last time I rebuilt was the 2007 season. After, I landed Hanley Ramirez based on what I had left I would be able to make one major trade. The best keeper player value I could get was JJ Hardy who was at $1 and had a very big 1st half. Now I was not sold on Hardy as he had 2 seasons prior to the 07 season where he wasn't worth much but then came 2007. However, he was the best value I could get I was trading players who would be thrown back in the draft pool the following season. So I made the deal for Hardy and in the off-season I used Hardy as a major chip in a package I gave up to land Adam Wainwright who was at just $6 for the 2008 season. I couldn't get Wainwright at the time when I was rebuilding as much as I wanted to but I was able to use Hardy to get the guy I wanted in the off-season and at the end of the day I landed my guy before draft day which is all I cared about.

- After trading, your work still isn't done, must monitor free agency & waiver wire - After you have completed all of you're rebuilding trades one might say let me put my feet up for the rest of the season I am done I can take a vacation from fantasy baseball. The answer to that is a big no. During the summer of 2007 after my rebuilding trades I kept an eye on my leagues free agency and to make a long story short during that time I acquired via the free agency - waiver wire - Ubaldo Jimenez at $2, Brian Wilson at $1, Carlos Marmol at $8 and Jonathan Sanchez at $1. Now all look great as of today but I was researching in the summer these players potential, opportunities and quite frankly can they help me in 2008. Jimenez was good in 2008 for me, Wilson was great in saves (41 that year), Marmol I used as a chip in the Adam Wainwright off- season deal I talked above and Sanchez wasn't ready for prime time quite yet. But my point being you should be doing the same thing looking at guys who have potential & opportunity for the following season.

- My last rebuilding job in 2007 - Just to use my rebuilding job in 2007 as an example as it help me set my team up for a championship in 2008 I landed Hanley Ramirez (14), JJ Hardy (1), Mike Pelfrey (6), Justin Upton (5), Clayton Kershaw (1), Mark DeRosa (5) & Matt Harrison (1) in rebuilding trades. As stated above I also added via free agency Ubaldo Jimenez (2), Brian Wilson (1), Carlos Marmol (8) & Jonathan Sanchez (1). I also had a couple of great keepers at that point time already before my rebuilding trades in Russell Martin (8) & Hunter Pence (11). In the winter I used my depth in keepers and landed Adam Wainwright (6) & Ted Lilly (15). After the entire process heading into the draft I had a killer keeper list which is the goal of any rebuilding plan. A killer keeper list gives you a great chance to win your league.

Happy Memorial Day

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, May 30, 2010

NL King - Buster Posey's Time Has Arrived

I am somewhat surprised by the news yesterday on Saturday the 29th that the Giants have called up Buster Posey. Not from an offensive stand point as the Giants need all the help they can get and Posey numbers in AAA have been great (6HR, 32RBI, 31R, 1SB, .349 Avg, .442 OBP, also has 13 2B & 2 3B in 208 Plate Appearances), but Posey has a lot work to do on his defensive game. The game plan was for Posey to be the opening day catcher for the Giants come 2011 and for many years after that. That development does not sound like it will happen now. The plan is for Posey to play 1B, Sandoval obviously will play all his games at 3B and Aubrey Huff will have to play in the outfield.

What does this mean for fantasy baseball owners and what can we expect from Posey? Posey is a solid hitter BUT Posey is not projected to be a big Home Run guy nor does he steal anymore than the occasion base (last 2 years in the minors 7 steals). Posey should help owners in terms of batting average, runs and RBI's with some Home Runs. Posey will start his run as eligible at catcher and should pick up 1B eligbility immediately in some leagues. I don't have to tell you how hard it is to find in the NL good numbers at catcher. What concerns me about Posey is the Giants are so starved for offense I have to wonder if Posey will feel a lot of pressure to produce at a high level immediately. When guys press good things do not happen.

Having said all that Posey can help your team but don't expect him to be a savior just yet.

NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, May 28, 2010

NL King - Memorial Day Special - "Should I Rebuild?" - Part 1

In a keeper league when your team is struggling come Memorial Day Weekend be it AL or NL only or mixed league, you have to ask the big question and that is, Should I Rebuild? Rebuilding is not what any owner hopes for going into a season. An owner hopes for an exciting season with an opportunity to compete in your league for the championship crown. However, only one team can finish first and only few teams can finish in the money. So how do we answer the big question? Let's look at the following points....

- Does the current makeup of my team have a chance to finish in the money? When looking at your team, why is it struggling? Is it big players who are healthy off to slow starts? Is it I had a number of injuries and a bunch of lost games because of it? When looking at my team how do I rate my team in terms of my offense, my starting pitchers and my relievers? You need to be honest with these questions in determining what you have. If you feel on paper you have a good squad that's just off to a slow start then you shouldn't even think about rebuilding and see where your team is at come 4th of July weekend.

- Do I have potential keeper buys to improve my chances this year? What can be a great jump start to your team is swinging a trade with another owner who is rebuilding to improve your team now. Do you have keeper players where you can swing such a trade? A friend of mine in my league last season was struggling come Memorial Day Weekend but he felt he had a good squad just off to a terrible start. So even though he was low in the standings rebuilding was not on his mind. My friend had two potential keepers in Andrew McCutchen (was at $1 but in the minors at the time) and Edison Volzquez (was signed for $6 for the following season and this was before he got hurt). So my friend Mark contacted one of the guys whose team was really bad and he had no choice but to rebuild. My friend Mark traded Volzquez & McCutchen to the rebuilding team for Lance Berkman, Rich Harden (then with the Cubs) and Brian Wilson. It was a trade that was a leap of faith believing in his team that his players would catch fire and his team would get better as well with these guys added to his squad. That's exactly what happened. By the way, my friend Mark finished in 3rd place last year missing 2nd place by an eyelash. So if one has a good team but off to a slow start and you believe in it then see if there is a team or teams in your league that are ready to rebuild and see if you can find a trade to make your team better now.

- Do I have key injuries? Big question that must be answered is am I without some of my big guns right now. Is it a short term thing or a long term? By the time these players come off the DL will it be to late?

- The Percentage Categories, where am I? I wrote article on the percentage categories in the winter on how hard it is to come back when you buried in the standings in these categories. It's not so much what place you are in the standings in these categories as it's in relation to how far behind you are everyone else. For instance going into todays action my team has only 3 points out of possible 12 in the ERA category. Sounds bad right? Well, it's not where I want to be but my team ERA is at 4.27, however, there are 6 teams ahead of me that are between 3.86 & 4.26. So with just some good work by my pitchers I can gain a ton of points. But if we look at the team who is behind me at 2 points his team ERA is at 5.21 almost a full run behind me. So in essence that team has to do incredible work just to get to point where he can be in a strong position to move up. That is the kind of thing you have to look at when comes to batting average, ERA & Ratio. Average is the easiest of the three to move up because you have 14 hitters versus 9 pitchers and a hitter can play everyday where as a starting pitcher pitches once every 5 days and a good reliever pitches 3 or 4 innings a week.

- Realistically if all goes right what is the highest I can finish? After analyzing these points you have to ask yourself what is the best case scenario? Can I still win my league or are we talking about a back end money slot. Also if were to put odds on it what are my chances? Are they 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 or 1 in 10 etc? Am I better off giving up that chance and putting together the pieces so next year I have a championship team? That's something you have to answer.

- If I have just about zero chance than I must rebuild. If after reviewing everything you come to the conclusion I have a better chance at winning the lottery than my fantasy baseball league then you must rebuild. My next article will help you game plan that.

Next Article.....Part 2 - The Ultimate Game Plan For Rebuilding

NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Fantasy Man - Make Money or Throw in the Towel?

That is the big question heading into this Memorial Day weekend. There you are sitting in front of your computer/phone deciding what to do with your fantasy baseball team. Your pondering one of three scenarios....

1. I'm at the top of the standings, how do I make my team stronger?
2. I'm in the middle of the standings, do I make a run or cut bait and rebuild
3. This league sucks! Fire Sale! On the Block - "Looking for Keepers!"

Coming up this weekend the NL King will cover this very topic and while most of his analysis relates to NL Only leagues, the same strategies really do apply to every kind of keeper league. So I'll let NL King do much of the talking this weekend and so I don't want to steal his thunder. However, I do want to add my two cents, some past experience, and what I am doing right now as I write this in hopes that you the reader will take this advice, see what you can use, and make your fantasy team a winner in 2010....or 2011.

Currently, I personally have two big money leagues, these are the two leagues I have been involved with for years and are the reason I originally started doing fantasy advice back in 2006. Much of my advice derives from these leagues as they are super competitive and involves much of the crapola we all experience on a daily basis within fantasy leagues around the world.

This is the right time for me to do this post because I have Team A in first place with a cozy lead and Team B in last place probably ready to throw in the towel and rebuild. Both leagues are 12 team, mixed, roto, auction style leagues with 14 reserve players based on a $55 budget. So that $.20 for the cheap players which is equivalent to the $1 player in normal $260 leagues. So a $10-$12 Albert Pujols is like a $50 Pujols. The difference with League A and League B is that League A is 6x6 to include OBP and IP and League B is normal 5x5. Both leagues contain many of the same players.

Team A is in first place with a lead ranging from 1 point to 12 points on any given night, its a tight race. This team is a powerhouse where we kept 8 players and I went in with Matt Kemp, Billy Butler, Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo Sandoval, and Brian McCann as my stars and all for under $3.00 each. This left me plenty of cash advance to spend on pitching where I drafted Justin Verlander, Johan Santana, A.J. Burnett, Ricky Romero and David Price to name a few. I drafted Jon Garland in the reserve and Chris B. Young and Casey McGeHee at $.20 that's value! I entered this league in 2005, won it in 2007, rebuilt in 2008, tanked again in 2009, and making a run again in 2010. So that's a little background.

While I'm off to a great start, I know I have work to do. I can't win this league without making some moves. Currently, Dontrelle Willis is my 9th SP and in a league that counts innings, he needs to be upgraded. I also have Pablo Sandoval at $3 ($5 next year) who is not hitting for power and I also just lost Asdrubal Cabrera to injury so I have Reid Brignac (Reserve pick) in there currently. So when I sat down this week to adjust my lineup for the week, these were the issues I was faced with and I decided that if I was to stay at the top, I need to address these issues quickly. This league is notorious for quitting early and dumping stars for keepers (I'm a huge culprit of that) but that's what needs to be done to win or rebuild. Usually, the best time to make that type of decision is now. So yesterday I decided to offer one of my major keepers (Butler, McCutchen, Zimmerman, Kemp, Sandoval). These guys are normally untouchable and what I have to be careful with is that I am winning with these guys so trading them for higher priced players could be pointless. In this league, we have an active salary cap that needs to stay between $70 and $100. I was at about $80 as of yesterday. Usually, one of the above players will net an expensive superstar plus one or two other solid players you can use to fill holes from a last place team that's looking to rebuild. Yesterday, I pulled a trade off where I decided to part ways with Sandoval, Alex Rios (owned for $3.80 and was a keeper) and a $.20 Chad Qualls for Ryan Howard ($11.20 and won't be kept because of price), Francisco Liriano (can't be kept), and Marco Scutaro ($.80 potential low end keeper). So Sandoval/Rios/Qualls for Howard/Liriano/Scutaro. Liriano upgrades me at SP over D-Train, Scutaro upgrades me at SS until Asdrubal Cabrera comes back and is an OBP guy, and Howard obviously upgrades me over Sandoval in every way. No brainer on my part. The key here was that I don't know if Sandoval is going to hit like we all thought because he just doesn't have the team hitting behind him, he has no protection in the lineup. Plus, everyone in this league asks for Pablo so he's had major trade value.

Bottomline, this team was built to win, but I had to make a move using one of my major chips to help upgrade and plug holes and did it with a team that had no use for Ryan Howard except to rebuild. Plus, I was able to plug all my holes without trading my $.20 McGeHee, Chris Young, Derek Holland, or Chris Tillman. I can save those guys for later.

My philosophy is .... who cares about the future if you can win now...especially in a money league. This league nets the winner $1500+ so its worth it. Plus, in the off season, you'll always have trade chips to move for the next year. Last years winner traded all its keepers and was in first all year until the end and lost in the last few weeks. He made a few moves in the off season for cheap keepers like a $.40 Ian Stewart, $.40 Colby Rasmus, $.20 Stephen Strassburg, made moves for some young studs in the auction and is currently a few points away from being in the money. If he can do it, so can you! You just have to be trade savvy! Trading in fantasy baseball is an art.

Team B has not been so lucky and this league was started in 2006. Its been a learning experience and it seems I just haven't found the right mix of players I guess. So this year, I've decided to tank and rebuild for 2011. I mean I'm completely gutting this team out and building around two players, Robinson Cano and Pablo Sandoval. However, the plan is to tank without looking like I'm tanking. Problem is, every just says I'm tanking because this is what I do every year. It's a vicious cycle. I won't go into huge detail but lets just say I went into the season with an outfield of Nate McLouth, Jason Kubel, Drew Stubbs, Carlos Quentin and a $5.00 overpaid John Lackey as my bottom five keepers. That should explain it all right there. We keep 10 in this league, same set up as League A with a $70-$100 active salary cap. My stars going in were a $4 Robbie Cano, $3.00 Pablo Sandoval, and a $6 B.J. Upton who I stupidly flipped for Denard Span and Brian Matusz the second week of the season. Either way, this team sucks! I have decided that my only goal is to steal keepers away at any and all costs. Currently, I still have Cano and Sandoval. I traded my $12 Ryan Howard for a $2 Kendry Morales who I can keep next year for $4, but, I had to package a $2 Ricky Romero ($4 next year) to get him. No brainer for me. I traded Johnny Cueto and Gavin Floyd for Phenom Mike Stanton ($2.00) and a pitcher who I can't remember. Then I traded Julio Bourbon for Kevin Slowey ($1.00) and traded Trevor Hoffman for Rick Porcello ($1.40) and started to build up some young pitching. Then today, I unleashed Mike Pelfrey (flipped Denard Span for him), Mike Leake (waiver wire grab), and Casey McGeHee (reserve pick) for a $2 Justin Verlander ($4 next year), $1.00 Jorge Posada who I can stash while on the DL, and a $2 Ian Desmond.

My goal is to get the best keeper talent at the best prices. Right now for Team B, my 2011 keeper list looks like this....

We keep 10
Kendry Morales $4.00
Robbie Cano $6.00
Pablo Sandoval $5.00
Justin Verlander $4.00
Jonathon Sanchez $1.00 (Same stats as Verlander for less than half the price)
Kevin Slowey $1.00
Mike Stanton $2.00 (slightly overpriced and if he stinks, I can drop)
Ike Davis $2.00 (grabbed him in the reserve)

Players I've picked up in trades since opening day
Kendry Morales
Justin Verlander
Kevin Slowey
Jorge Posada
Max Scherzer
Felipe Paulino $.20
Mike Stanton
Mike Pelfrey
Joel Piniero
Nick Blackburn
Rick Porcello
Brian Matusz
Julio Bourbon
Nate McLouth
Johnny Peralta
Dominic Brown
Ian Desmond
Denard Span
Delmon Young
Austin Kearns
Fernando Rodney

Players picked from the waiver wire (One every two weeks at $2.00)Mike Leake
Wade LeBlanc
Brennan Boesch

Players I've traded or flipped
Trevor Hoffman
Ryan Howard
Ricky Romero
Carlos Quentin
Mike Pelfrey
Julio Bourbon
Casey McGeHee
Mike Leake
Delmon Young
Austin Kearns
Fernando Rodney
Ryan Raburn
Bobby Jenks
Johnny Cueto
Gavin Floyd
Carlos Zambrano

See what I mean? Team B is and was terrible and the decision at this time is to tank and rebuild. Team A is a powerhouse and the decision is to go for it without losing my nucleus of Butler, McCutchen, Kemp and Zimmerman... unless a great offer to help me win presents itself.

So I hope this has been a bit educational. I just wanted you to see my thought process in a big money fantasy league. I hope this helps! It's tough to win a league without making moves whether it's for this year or next. If you have a chance to win, go for it! Sometimes bragging rights is just as valuable as money!

The Fantasy Man

Friday, May 21, 2010

NL King - Quick Hits

- Don't be so concerned where you are in the standings right now as much as where you are in the categories. If you low in a category in points but very close to a lot of teams in terms of passing them then that's a okay. You might want to try and add a player to help you in those specific categories. The big concern is being low in a certain category and being way behind everyone else especially the percentage categores in average, ERA & Ratio.

- Brandon Webb is now changing his arm slot after consulting with Dr.James Andrews. This kind of reworking and adjustments to Webb's mechanics just makes you wonder when and if he will pitch for Arizona this year. Realistic how can we expect to be a front end starter this year or going forward? I hate to say it but Webb's career maybe be over.

- Speaking of careers being over, same might be true for Trevor Hoffman. I drafted Hoffman when he first came up with San Diego and I was lucky enough to own him the first few years of his career. I recently got Hoffman back last seaosn and he was great. However this year he has gotten torched. Sounds like the Brewers are going to give him one last chance. Hoffman has blown 5 saves out of 10 chances and has been smoked in those outings. It's not like Hoffman was throwing 95 last year but he must be ahead of hitters, mix up his pitches well and hit his spots. As a Trevor Hoffman owner this year I feel your pain. After Hoffman blew another save earlier this week I was able to get a trade done in my league and land Carlos Villanueva. It seems that Hoffman will get one last chance to show he can still be the closer. On Thursday May 20th in his 1st save chance Villanueva came through and quite frankly has been the Brewers best bullpen arm this year (one of the best arms period along with Gallardo) and with his pitches being a strikeout guy it makes him a natural choice to be the next closer for the Brewers. Through Thursday May 20th Villanueva has a 2.91 ERA with a 1.01 Ratio with 27K's in 21 2/3 IP. Mr Hells Bells is on his last chance I hope he comes through as both a roto owner and a MLB fan.

- Is Casey McGehee the next Ryan Ludwick kind of late bloomer?

- This could be Manny Ramirez last year as well. He seems very brittle this year and quite frankly how much is his heart really in it? You never know with Manny

- So many big hitters are waiting to catch fire. Again it's a long season.

- Since Nate McLouth has left the Pirates and put on a Braves uniform he has been terrible. Very odd.

NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Fantasy Man - Being Sneaky

Do you have an iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Blackberry, or Droid?? Looking for a great Fantasy Baseball application?? Let me know what you have, what you'd want in an app and how much you'd pay for it! Please email me at fantasymanshow at aol dot com. I just want to see if I am on the same page as you guys! I'm looking to re-invent The Fantasy Man brand and a mobile app just might be the answer. Thanks for taking the time.

Anyway, being sneaky is cool. Raise your hand if you love being the guy to pick up a player before he gets hot! How about being the guy who picked up Big Papi on Sunday to start at DH this week? I did!! YAY! Below are a few players to help your fantasy team whoo look like their ready to break out at least over the next 2-3 weeks. This is your chance to be sneaky...

1. Cody Ross - .461 in last 26 AB... you know how streaky this guy gets.
2. Nate McLouth - Batting .381 in his last 21AB with 1HR, 4RBI, 1SB.
3. David Ortiz - Batting .416 with 4HR and 10 RBI last 7 games and will still end up with 25+HR despite his bad April.

4. Alcides Escobar - Batting .363 in last 22AB with 1HR and 1SB.
5. Travis Snider - Just landed on the DL with a wrist injury, not too serious though and should be back in a week or so. Pick him up and stash. He was an HR Machine this past week.
6. Rajai Davis - 7 hits last 18 AB....remember how hot he got last season??
7. Mike Napoli - .333 last 18 AB with a HR.
8. Eric Hinske - .400+ and 2HR last 19 AB with more playing time (See NL King's last post)
9. Will Venable - Was a HR away from the cyle last night but sits against tough lefties.
10. Cameron Maybin - 2HR and 10 RBI in last 7 games. He's got the body to be a big time player, maybe this is a sign of whats to come...

Hot Streaks you may have missed...
Luke Scott - 4 HR last 7 games
Brennan Boesch - Could be a solid player if he stays when Guillen returns
Lyle Overbay - 2HR/6RBI last 7 games... don't get too excited
Ty Wiggington - Does he have like 25HR already? He's been unbelievable. I just don't see it continuing
Jose Bautista - Showing power but he's batting under .250 and playing way over his head
Jeff Francis and Edwin Encarnacion - Don't set yourself up for disappointment

The Fantasy Man

NL King - Punting Saves .... Bad Idea!

When someone's fantasy team really gets off to a horrible start and needs helps in both hitting & pitching, that owner says to himself ... should I punt saves? In an NL only league, you would be punting saves only if you had one of the better closers. The theory is trade the closer to help your hitting or pitching or if you can swing a deal where you help both. I don't like that idea in mid May. The reason being is by punting saves now you're pretty much given up any chance of winning your league. Now I know teams off to a horrible start say to themselves... win my league, what are you crazy? It can happen. In my league where we are a 12 team NL only 5 X 5 league the owner who finished in 3rd place last year (87.5 Points) was buried come Memorial Day weekend (was a little under 50 points) last year. But he made a leap of faith trade with a rebuilding team in mid June and his team caught fire. In fact had the season been a couple of days longer he probably would have finished second.

The problem with a punting saves or any one category is if you do the math to win your league you almost have to finish in the top 2 of every other single category. However if we're half way through the season and you look at the categories and say to yourself I am not catching anyone else and I will lose only a point or two by trading saves or steals and the players I am gaining will help me in these other categories where I can gain as much as 10 points for instance, that's a different story. However you should be looking at that until July 1st at the earliest. Having said all that, if you you have an elite closer and you want to roll the dice a little and trade the elite closer for a good closer and pick up a solid bat or starting pitcher then depending upon the players that's a risk that might make sense. But that's not punting, that's rolling the dice. You only punt when it's 4th down, right now we are in mid May so it's only 2nd down.

Quick Hits:
- Drew Storen who was the other 1st round pick for the Nats last year dominated the 1st 6 weeks in the minors. Storen is up to help the Nats come the 7th & 8th innings. While many believe Storen is the Nats closer of the future (most likely is) that may not come until at least the 2012 season. Obviously Matt Capps is doing tremendous and as long as he is doing well he will be the Nats closer unless Washington collapses and come July 31st some team offers the Nats a top prospect for Capps. I wouldn't count on all those things happening. Storen can be a real good middle reliever for you that helps you with ERA, Ratio & K's. He is a kid so he might be up and down.

- Word is Stephen Strasburg will be up in early June for the Nats once his Super 2 status is gone.

- Bad break for Andre Ethier owners as he heads to the DL for 15 days with a broken finger. Could be a little bit more than 15 days hopefully not more than 3 weeks.

- AJ Hinch has come out and said their bullpen roles are up for grabs including the closer. The only guy pitching decent in the D-Backs pen is Heilman and it's not like a 3.78 ERA will set the world on fire. There is save opportunities here but I have no clue who to tell you to go after. Most of the guys are either very young so it's hard to say how good they are (the young guys are all doing poorly) or the guys are very mediocre at best like Heilman or Saul Rivera. To me Qualls is the only decent guy and he is off to an horrific start. Too bad Luke Grgerson or Mike Adams are not on the D- Backs if you own those players

- Eric Hinske is finally going to get a chance to play a lot. Hinske is off to a great start for the Braves and with so many guys struggling Bobby Cox is finally going to give Hinske regular at bats unless it's against a tough lefty.

- When Rafael Furcal comes back do not expect a lot of stolen bases. He is coming back from a hamstring injury and like I said before in previous articles Furcal played a full season last year and only had 12 steals. Furcal was probably protecting his body.

- Jose Reyes & Jason Bay owners be patient (I know it's not easy). Jason Bay is ridiculously streaky player & remember Jose Reyes missed 2/3 of last season.

- Mike Leake is the real deal. I am not saying he is the next Doc Halladay but Leake is a pitcher. Leake moves the ball around, throws a number of pitches and quite simply knows how to pitch. He is a pitcher, not a thrower. I expect Mike Leake to be a solid starter in the NL for years to come.

- John Ely the young starter for the Dodgers has started out really well for the Dodgers. I don't know if he is this good as Baseball America did not have Ely as one of the Dodgers top 10 prospects in January.

NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NL King - Starlin Castro is Up.. Who's Next?

So now that Starlin Castro, one of the leagues top prospects, was called up to the show, let's track the progress on the other top prospects in the NL and when we can expect them to be up.

Aroldis Chapman - Cinn - SP - 6 Starts in AAA - 3-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.44 Ratio, 31 2/3 IP, 36K but 18 BB. Chapman is signed to a long term contract so the super 2 status is meaningless in his case which means once the Reds think Chapman is ready he will be up. It's all about the walks with Chapman, he has looked excellent in AAA but too many walks. Once those walks start coming down then Chapman will be in the rotation. Chapman would most likely take Homer Bailey's spot who has been awful.

Mike Stanton - Fla - OF - AA - 103 AB's - 15HR, 33RBI, 28R, 1SB, .340 AVG, .481 OBP. All the Marlins outfielders are struggling and the Marlins could use a middle of the order power bat like Mike Stanton. It certainly looks like this is all about the Marlins waiting out Mike Stanton's super 2 status (this way Stanton does not hit arbitration until after 3 full seasons instead of 2). Come early to mid June the super 2 status will be over and I would imagine Stanton will be up.

Stephen Strasburg - Wsh - SP - Just got promoted to AAA - 6 starts - 4-1, 1.29 ERA, 0.75 Ratio, 33K in 28 IP. It's all about waiting for the super 2 status to end just like Stanton.

Further Away:
Pedro Alvarez - Pitt - 3B - Has 7HR & 29 RBI in AAA but hitting .248 with 34Ks. If he can start getting that batting average up and the strikeouts down could be up around the all-star break.

Madison Bumgarner - SF - SP - Struggled in the spring and has a 4.97 ERA in AAA. If he can get it going very likely will get called up because SF 5th starter is Todd Wellemeyer.

Jason Castro - Hou - C - Hitting .229 in AAA. If he gets called up this year it will be in the 2nd half.

Todd Frazier - Cinn - OF - Hitting .217 in AAA. Too bad because Reds LF situation is wide open.

Logan Morrison - Fla - 1B - Has only played in 12 games because he hurt his shoulder. Probably won't be back playing in AAA until the end of May. Gaby Sanchez has done a nice job so we may not see Morrison until opening day 2011.

Buster Posey - SF - C - In AAA has 5HR, 21 RBI, is hitting .345 with a .436 OBP. Giants could really use his bat the problem is Posey is the Giants catcher of the future and he needs to work on his game behind the plate. Posey can't do that in the majors with Molina around. Posey should be up at some point but and may not be until mid summer. Remember the Giants have to have Posey ready come opening day next year to be their #1 catcher.

Jose Tabata - Pitt - OF - Have to love the .344 batting average & .409 OBP in AAA but just 2HR in 122 AB's. Tabata has a good bat but the Pirates are waiting for him to develop some punch. In 1,973 career minor league AB's Tabata has just 9 HR. Tabata turns 22 in August so he is young but I think the Pirates are going to take it slow with Tabata.

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, May 09, 2010

NL King - Starlin Castro

The Cubs have called up their top prospect Shortstop Starlin Castro (turned 20 at the end of March) and got off to a great start in Cincinnati.

In 26 games in AA Tennessee Castro is hitting .376 with a .421 OBP. Castro has 8 doubles, 5 triples & 1 home run. Castro also has scored 20 runs and driven in 20 runs. In terms of stolen bases Castro has 4 steals in 9 attempts.

Analysis: Castro is one of the top prospects in baseball as Baseball America has Castro ranked as the 16th best prospect with their new top 100 listing that came out at the end of February. Castro ceiling is one where he will be a leadoff hitter that will hit over .300 with 30 to 40 steals and hit in the mid teens regarding home runs. In terms of what to expect for the rest of 2010? As stated up top Castro just turned 20 so he is very young. Think about he was a teenager 6 weeks ago. While Castro has a big ceiling right now while he has dominated hitting wise at AA with a .376 average Castro only has 1 HR & 4 SB in 9 attempts. Furthermore Castro in 995 career minor league AB's has 9HR & 51 SB (69% success rate for his minor career). The Cubs did not bring up Castro unless he was going to play every day. I would imagine Pinella will bat Castro either 1st or 2nd and eventually Castro will stay as the leadoff hitter. I believe Castro can help NL owners for the rest of this year, the kid can hit. But do not expect those high ceiling projections that mentioned before this season. Castro should give you some steals, a few home runs and some runs batted in. Where I think Castro will make a really good impact this year is batting average and runs scored. If you can get Castro in your free agency and or waiver wire by all means do it but don't expect Castro to be a roto hitting savior.

Fantasy - I know Castro had a huge debut Friday night with a couple of hits including a HR, run scored and 6 RBI. But guys remember, it's just one game. Like I said, although Castro has a high ceiling remember he is a kid who just turned 20 so expect decent production out of Castro this year. If you have to put in waiver requests, his price will be slightly inflated thanks to the 6 RBI night. if you can grab him for a reasonable price, go for it, but I wouldn't be throwing $20+ with a $100 FAAB budget!

NL King - C.Lizza

Saturday, May 08, 2010

NL King - Why Your Back-end Starters are so Important

This may sound silly but the hardest thing to do when putting your team together in an NL only league is finding the right back-end starters to round out your roster. Depending upon the makeup of your team, you can go with either five or six starters. In a perfect world you have an ace, two really good starting pitchers and three or four bullpen arms who are strong in ERA, Ratio and K's. That leaves two or three back-end starting pitchers spots to round out your staff. Again, what you're looking for in your depth starters is a starting pitching who can give some wins and K's and give you your leagues average in ERA & Ratio. This way your ERA & Ratio will feed off your top starting pitchers and your strong relievers and put you towards the top in these categories in your league.

Why do I say this is so hard to do? Because there are so many starting pitchers out there who can really hurt your team in either ERA or Ratio or worse both. As I stated in an article, I wrote over the winter how difficult the percentage categories can be especially on the pitching side. Remember you only have nine pitchers to determine your ERA & Ratio and a starting pitcher only pitches once every five days and a good reliever gives you three to four innings a week. So when you fall behind in these categories, it's a very slow hard climb to get back to where you need to be in these categories.

Also, you have a small budget from your draft dollars to land these depth starters or you rely on your league's free agency - waiver wire phase when the season starts. Point being there are not a lot of good depth starters that you can find in the draft cheap and find in either free agency or the waiver wire. However what you must recognize is you cannot continue to go with starters who are beating up your ERA & Ratio. Finding solutions to this problem is hard I agree but you cannot continue to go with guys who have track records of hurting you. Obviously going the trade route is always a good way to go if you can swing a trade.

So keep an eye on your teams ERA & Ratio and how it's doing. If your ERA is off to a bad start because Dan Haren has a 4.50 ERA I wouldn't worry. But if you went with some young guys who are hurting you or if you have gone with some veterans who are up and down in pitching percentage categories then you need to start thinking about solutions.

Quick Hits:
- Kyle Blanks owners I be worried. Blanks is hitting .202 with 35K's in 79 AB's.
- Jair Jurrjens was put on the DL retro-active to last week yesterday. I wouldn't expect to see Jair until Memorial day weekend. Groins & hamstring injuries in most cases for pitchers are a 1 month turn around.
- Good to see Alfonso Soriano hitting HR's but looks like his stolen base days are over.
- Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Hunter Pence, Aramis Ramirez, Prince Fielder owners relax it's only a matter of time before these guys get on a big hot streak.
- Matt Lindstrom looks great and big reason is just 3 walks in 12 IP.
- If Evan Meek is on your teams waiver wire grab him he could be the Pirates closer of the future
- I be worried about Rafael Furcal stolen bases going forward when he comes off the DL. Last year Furcal only has 12 steals in 18 attempts in 150 games played, which says to me Furcal was being cautious with his body to avoid injury. I would expect the same when he comes off the DL from this latest hamstring injury.

- By the way, you can find great deals on name brand baseball equipment and gear.

NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A.L. Maharishi - Three to Trade, Three to Keep and Three to Dump?

Here we are, one month into the season and we need to ask some difficult questions…Who to keep and who to trade or who to dump after 1/6 of the season? Sometimes there are players that simply start slow but will end up having great numbers at the end of the season. (Mark Teixeira…and no don’t drop him and his .139 BA and 2 HR’s in April…he’ll come around) But which players are the ones that are playing over their head and you need to trade while their stock is at an all-time high and which players are simply trending in the wrong direction and are just going to end up with a bad year and maybe the end of their careers?

Three to trade:
Scott Podsednik - While his .359 BA and 8 SB looks great; he simply will not be able to sustain these numbers. His career BA is .2785 and his 30 SB in 2009 were the most he’s had since 2006 when he stole 40. His projections this year work out to 58 SB’s, not gonna happen!
Jose Guillen - He’s on pace to hit 51 HR’s with 132 RBI and a .302 BA this year that may happen…in an alternate universe. His career high in HR’s is 31 in 2003 (7 years ago) RBI’s are 104 in 2004 and a .272 lifetime batting average. Let me say this loudly.
Paul Konerko - 10 HR’s and 18 RBI’s put him in the league lead in HR and 3rd in RBI. Now I would have to say Paulie is legit to have good numbers at the end of the year, but not elite numbers. He hasn’t broken the 30 HR plateau since 2007 and he hasn’t had 100 RBI or more since 2006. I’m not saying he couldn’t have a renaissance year, I’m simply saying, if you could package him with an overachieving pitcher or other spare part and pickup an elite 1B like Mr. I Can’t Hit in April (Mark Teixeira) I’d jump on that in a heartbeat.

Three to Keep:
Mark Teixeira — We’ve already established this…Tex has a history of hitting poorly in April. Last year he hit .197 with 10 RBI and finished tied for the AL HR lead with 39 and 122 RBI. Not shabby and he’ll do it again.
Ben Zobrist - was given a contract extension on April 23rd for 5 years and the 30 Mil. Dollar range, Zobrilla is multi-positional and is locked in and will be given every chance to succeed. I believe there is a weight that Ben is putting on himself now to justify the contract. He’ll come around, he’s too talented and the team around him is too good, as he’ll find he doesn’t have to do it all on his own.
Grady Sizemore - Will someone please tell Grady that the season has started? Barely above the Mendoza line @ .205 with 9 RBI and 2 SB it would be tempting to trade this 30/30 threat…don’t! His value has never been lower so what are you going to get for him? An overachieving Jose Guillen and a broken Kerry Wood? Last year battling through injuries Grady still hit 18 HR’s with 13 SB’s. The best is yet to come and you don’t want to be stuck with the worst 78 AB’s Sizemore has this year.

Three to Dump:
Joe Saunders — If you can say one this about Joe Saunders, it’s this…the guy piles up wins without having other great numbers to go along with it. The last two seasons he has won 16 and 17 games respectively. Only problem is…his K’s and ERA are less than stellar…His ERA in that time averages about a 4 and his whip is in the 1.30 area. This year though…he’s not even getting the wins, he is on pace for 6 Wins, 67 K’s an ERA nearing 6 and a whip in the 1.5 range. It’s time to cut bait.
Garrett Atkins — The logic was, a change of scenery will help him. The reality is, it’s not. Rookie Ryhne Hughes is now getting Atkins AB’s…I’m pretty sure that’s not what was expected at the beginning of the year. Garrett Atkins peaked in 2006 and his numbers across the board have fallen since then. IMO, I could see the Orioles releasing him sometime this year as they are falling farther and farther away from any kind of respectability this year. The kids are going to come up and play. Look for more of Hughes, Bell, Snyder and Aubrey later this year.
Sean Rodriguez - seems to be in the manager’s doghouse. S-Rod breaks out on April 21st going 3/5 with a HR and 4 RBI and promptly gets benched and has 8 AB’s in the last 10 days. If you’ve got a bench, put him there until Joe Maddon gives him some rope. If not it’s probably time to release him as Ben Zobrist and Reid Brignac are eating up his AB’s. I hate to say it because he was my “Ray” of sunshine at the end of the draft for $1, but…

Bonus Player on the fence: Brandon Wood
I have been rooting for this player for the last 3 years and waiting for his Ruthian power to come and save my franchise. Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not giving up on him quite yet. I am believing that the tough start to this year is just that but he will turn it around and by the end of the year be at .270 BA, 24 HR’s, 75 RBI’s with a handful of SB’s.
Well there you go…April is gone and May starts something new!

P. Kelley- A.L. Maharishi
About the A.L. Maharishi

NL King - 1st Week of May Thoughts

- You know Nate McLouth has really struggled going back to the 2nd half of last year including a brutual spring. I am not saying to give up on him but it's a concern.

- I know Troy Glaus is off to a slow start but keep in mind power hitters are usually streaky and remember Glaus missed all of 2009 so it makes sense that the beginning of 2010 would be slow start for him.

- Jurrjens went out this week with a hamstring injury. I remember Brian Cashman talking about pitchers with hamstring or groin injuries it's usually a 1 month lay off and that's if everything goes well.

- Derek Lowe off to a brutual start despite the 3 wins. I can't believe he has walked 16 in 28 innings.

- Chris Coghlan I know is off to a slow start but the kind of hitter Coghlan is a line drive machine he will catch fire. Be patient.

- I know Rod Barajas has 5 HR and may hit around 20 again like last year but he will murder your average. Barajas hit .219 last year and is hitting .227 so far this year.

- Niese of the Mets has to get his walks down to stay later in games so he can be in line for the win not to mention not to kill his roto owners ratio.

- Imagine what Drew Stubbs can do when he starts hitting? Hitting .186 but has 1HR, 7RBI, 15R & 7 SB.

- If Homer Bailey doesn't turn it around soon Mr. Chapman will take his spot sometime this month.

- Despite reports by some media outlets the GM of the Cubs claims that Starlin Castro is not going to be called up anytime soon. Will see I can see a June callup in the offering.
- If Mike Stanton keeps dominating for the Marlins in the minors he could be up by late June.

- Mr.Dotel better start throwing some zero's soon because Evan Meek is performing like he can do the closers job

- Brad Hawpe sounds like he will come off the DL the 1st day he is eligible on May 10th. If Eric Young Jr stays hot will he put Clint Barmes on the bench?

- Remember Kelly Johnson owners even Johnson's good years like 2008 he was very streaky.

- Furcal's hamstring is very concerning because due to his age and past assortment of injuries he could pretty much shut down his running game (8 steals already, remember he only had 12 all of last year) to make sure he doesn't re-injury himself.

- JA Happ had a bad bullpen session on Friday may not be off the DL until towards the end of May.

- Houston Street could be closing for the Rocks come mid May if all goes well
NL King - C. Lizza