Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hot Fantasy Baseball Starts - Real or Fluke?

Hi My Name Is __________, Nice to Meet Me. Every year a few players start hot out of the gates but eventually fall off the proverbial cliff (like the Jersey Shore did), but here is my list of players that I think are legitimate breakout candidates and can maintain productivity for the full season (like Mad Men has).

Sam Fuld – Sammy Superman. The Little Outfielder Who Could. Fuld is currently rocking the bat posting a ridiculous .346 BA with 13R and 10 SB. Despite his 5’8 inch frame, my guess is Sam Fuld doesn’t fold this season. He’s endeared himself to the Tampa Fans with his speed and defense, which means he should hold onto his roster spot for the foreseen future. He needs to keep producing with Desmond Jennings knocking on his door.

Logan Morrison – LoMo just hit the DL with a foot sprain; prior to that he sported a .327 BA with 4HR and 11 RBIs. If he does hit the waiver wire in your league, keep an eye out for his return and grab him. He could be poised for a monster season if he keeps the power coming.

Alex Gordon – Gordon has shown flashes of his potential breakout for 3 years, but maybe this is finally it. I hope he can produce like this for a full season (current .356 BA with 18R, 1HR, and 14RBIs). Even if he falls off some, he’s still a fantasy worthy outfielder.

Starlin Castro – Shows the potential of a future NL batting champion (very Derek Jeter-esque). He’s currently batting .357 with 16 runs, 11 rbis, and 3 SB. Learn his name now because at just 21, he wont be going away. Could jump into the 3rd SS spot next year behind only HanRam and Tulo.

Jared Weaver - Everyone already knows him, but its time to add him to the elite aces group. Other than Roy Holliday, there isn’t another pitcher I’d rather own this year. He broke out last year, except nobody noticed. Now he’s forcing people to take note as he is currently running away with the Cy Young with a filthy 45.2 IP, 6-0, 0.99 era, 0.79 whip, 9.66 k/9.

Jed Lowrie – See my previous post, but as a synopsis, he’s good and Boston can hit. Add him immediately if you need a MI.

Norman Homers

Friday, April 29, 2011

Beginner Fantasy Baseball Advice

And my experience as a beginner fantasy baseball manager continues...

C – Nick Hundley

1B – Matt LaPorta
2B – Freddy Sanchez
SS – Angel Sanchez
3B – Alberto Callaspo
LF – Jonny Gomes
CF – Marlon Byrd
RF – Ben Francisco
OF – Alfonso Soriano
OF – Sam Fuld
UT – 3B Scott Rolen
BE – RF Jeff Francoeur
BE – SS/2B Orlando Cabrera
SP – Edwin Jackson, Zach Britton, Josh Tomlin, Justin Masterson, Kevin Correia
RP – Chris Sale, Logan Ondrusek, and SPs who qualify as RPs Chris Narveson and Sam LeCure.

These are the top available players in my league by position this time last week. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea who some of these guys are.

Here's what I've learned about these guys...the Relievers scored 186 points so far, Starting Pitchers scored 307, and 1075 from the position players (not including the Bench guys). Take off the stats of a couple days (since I can't seem to do that, at least I haven't figured out how), and you're looking at a score of...let's be conservative, 875. That number would have easily won any matchup in our league (first game was a 2-weeker). So are free agents important? You darn right they are!

Take me for example, I've already let some...I don't want to call them “dead weight”...but some “I'm-not-dead-yet-weight” go. Guys like Ludwick (whom I still like), McGee, and Posada were not proving as valuable to me as I'd like. I'm probably as loyal a fantasy player as you can find, but even I had to let these guys go. The question seems to be, how does one make good free agent pickups?

As I often remind myself, I'm writing primarily for you new here's a few of my tips so far.

1 - “He's teaching me to change my instincts...or at least ignore them.” - Sheila, “Waiting For Guffman
Know your hunches and know whether they're good. If you're not playing this game yet, try it out. What players would you have liked this season? How are they doing this year? (Hint: listen to Fantasy Baseball podcasts and listen for your players) Personally, I know some of my instincts are absolutely terrible. I liked Curt Schilling in a year when he didn't put great numbers up, I liked Prince Fielder to breakout in a year he hit something like...-.122 or something awful like that. This year? Carl Crawford. That was “my guy”, and thankfully, someone took him before I could. He might turn things around, but good gravy, is he off to a bad start. I had to listen to my fantasy experts to drown out my own opinions.

2 – Admit you MAY be wrong...and you may be right

I didn't dislike Scott Rolen, but I knew nobody else was high on him at all, so I passed on him in the draft. He's currently 7th highest in points among 3-baggers in our league. I may have been sorta right about him. On the other hand...Matt LaPorta. I'm a Brewer fan, I remember hearing about this guy coming up the ranks, and I was fairly excited about him. I didn't like letting him go, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked passing him off. He hadn't proven himself very well in Cleveland as far as I could see to this point, and I wasn't on his bandwagon this season. Maybe, just maybe, he's actually going to be decent this year. He's got power, but how long will he hold up?

Ultimately, that's always the question. How long will (insert name here) perform at this level? They will falter at some point, as every player does, but will they rebound?

Bottom line, here's my best advice to you: If your team is doing well, don't mess with what works. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


...don't be afraid to grab someone if you are sure they'll turn out to be pretty good. I'm a believer in trading rather than releasing when possible. If I can trade off 2 players for 1, I have an open roster spot for a Gomes or Francisco or whomever. The end result is a 2-for-2 deal, in which my trade partner only had to give up 1 player. There are always good free agents available, so I generally advise trying to make deals where you get fewer players than you give. It's like that saying, “it's better to give that to receive.” It's true here too, at least that's (usually) what I think. Perspective is important; find the positives and look over every aspect of potential moves.

That said, all of my moves so far have been drops and adds. When nobody wants to trade their best pieces, you have to settle for the small moves.

David Bobke

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Buy Low National League West Players

Ian Kennedy - Off to an inconsistent start, I am not in love with any starting pitcher in that ballpark and Arizona looks like a real bad team. Kennedy pitched a gem earlier this week but the start before that, he gave up 9 ER. Get Kennedy on a hot streak and he's as good as anybody.

Carlos Gonzalez - If you ask Cargo, Cargo his struggling. A red hot streak is right around the corner Cargo owners, be patient. It's tough to say buy low but lets say that right now may be the lowest point as he's batting .214 with 1 HR. Maybe you suddenly get a manager who decides that Cargo was a fluke last year, so it's then up to you to take advantage of that situation. The best thing that can happen is that Cargo struggles for another week or two and hope trade demands get lesser.

Ian Stewart - After a slow start also due to a nagging injury was sent to the minors to get his game together. Stewart is currently raking in AAA. He's obviously too good for the minors and maybe a shake up like this helps Stewart get his act together. His price has never been lower. Beef nuggets.

Ubaldo Jimenez
- Everyone take a breath, his first start he was bothered by the cut on his cuticle and after taking 2 weeks off to get that cut healed Jimenez had a rusty 1st inning against the Giants and then was strong. Colorado is going to be a strong team and Jimenez will have a big year. Take advantage of a manager who is panicking.

Los Angeles:
James Loney - He is a mediocre player he will never become a front line player. However, he will boost up his BA, score runs and get RBI's. Look at his yearly stats and buy low with confidence.

Juan Uribe - Will wind up doing his thing low average, good pop and roster flexibility. Juan Uribe is not a guy you give up on this early. He's always been more a second half guy anyway.

Jonathan Broxton - Has a win and 5 saves but almost every outing has been an adventure. But with Kuo battling injuries and Jansen serving batting practice it's Broxton's job for a while. His metrics are currently terrible but he'll straighten out. He's easy to obtain.

San Diego:
Brad Hawpe - Brutal start to the season. I am an owner of Hawpe and I am officially worried.  Can't sell low but maybe you can find a believer in another manager who has owned Hawpe in the past. So if you're that guy, then you can buy super low.

Will Venable - Has 8 steals but has been brutal at the plate. Keep in mind even though had a decent 2010 season where he hit .242. Nobody is talking about Venable and he has a tendency to get super streaky.

Matt Latos - As long as he is healthy he will have a strong season.  The DL stint lowered his price a bit.

San Francisco:
Brandon Belt - With Cody Ross being activated Belt heads back to AAA. I wouldn't be surprised to see him back with SF by mid June. In keeper leagues, might be easier to get him now.

Miguel Tejada - Off to a slow start but even being in his late 30's should give you decent numbers at the shortstop position. In NL Only leagues, could be super easy to obtain. Buy for beef nuggets.

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Express Waiver Wire Fire

It's that time again. Time to start surfing that trusty waiver wire. Whether your team is suffering through injuries to key players, you're just not up to par in a few areas, or you just flat out have that itch to make some roster moves, then look no further!

Seth Smith OF - COL (Owned: Yahoo 11%, CBS 38%, ESPN 15.3%)
One weapon that is often overlooked in fantasy baseball is the usefulness of the situational hitter. Seth Smith is this type of player. In 306 AB against right handed pitchers last season, Smith hit 17 HR while scoring 50 runs. His batting average against righties may not have been exciting at .261, but his career average against right handers is .287. So far this season Smith is hitting .325 against right handed pitching in 40 AB with 2 HR. His value is even better in H2H leagues because of his K/BB ratio and his ability to notch extra base hits. In those 306 AB against righties in 2010, Smith hit 16 2B and 5 3B while walking 34 times compared to 56 strikeouts. Only use him against right handed starters and you will benefit.

Alex Gonzalez - ATL (Owned: Yahoo 36%, CBS 40%, ESPN 20.6%)
It amazes me that at a position as shallow as SS a player such as Gonzalez goes as unowned as he does. Last season he hit 23 HR over 595 AB. Yes, his batting average is atrocious and if you are in a H2H league this can be made worse by his OBP and K/BB ratio, but who else are you going to play at SS? Beggars can't be choosers, and there sure are a lot of beggars in fantasy baseball when it comes to SS. So far this season he has 3 HR.

Coco Crisp OF-OAK (Owned: Yahoo 37%, CBS 56%, ESPN 41.3%)
The biggest problem for Crisp is health. Right now Crisp is playing, so he should be owned in mixed leagues of 10 teams or more. In only 290 AB last season Crisp hit .279 with 8 HR and 32 SB. He was only caught stealing 3 times. He also walked 30 times last season while only whiffing 49 times. With good plate discipline and outstanding stolen base potential Crisp is a great addition to any fantasy team if he can stay on the field. Crisp already has 7 stolen bases this season.

Derek Holland SP - TEX (Owned: Yahoo 33%, CBS 55%, ESPN 17.6%)
Much hype has been made of Holland around the Rangers organization. At the age of 24, Holland may finally be ready to make that hype a reality. His growing pains continued last season as noted by his 4.08 ERA. He showed what he was capable of during game 4 of the ALCS against the Yankees last postseason. He pitched 3.2 innings allowing no runs on only 1 hit. Up to this point Holland has an ERA of 3.66 with 16 K and 5 BB. This includes his recent 5 run game against the Yankees in which Holland held the Yanks to only 3 runs prior to surrendering a 2 run bomb by Robinson Cano in the 8th.

Sergio Santos RP - CWS (Owned: Yahoo 19%, CBS 19%, ESPN 2.1%)
With Bobby Jenks gone it seemed Matt Thornton was destined to be a great fantasy option to rack up saves this season. Now it's becoming apparent that many members of the White Sox bullpen are allergic to pitching in the 9th inning. Santos has yet to be given the opportunity to save a game this season, but he has publicly expressed desire to eventually do so. Having pitched himself into a debate over who should get the next save in Chicago, Santos' value is very close to skyrocketing in fantasy baseball. He has yet to allow a run this season and will get the next opportunity to close out a game.

Andrew Bilbo

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Buy Low National League Central Players

Chicago Cubs:

Carlos Pena - Off to a slow start which makes you worried especially after his 2010 season. Battling a thumb injury does not help. Might not be until that thumb gets better before he breaks out. That's if he breaks out of course. Buy low for pennies right now and hope you get him before a hot streak.

Ryan Dempster - Last 3 seasons has been a solid pitcher be patient. the Cubs aren't getting much hype right now so anyone can be had pretty easily.

Matt Garza - If he can do what he did in the AL East he should do better in the NL Central. Probably trying to hard being on a new team. He is a battler so be patient. It's possible he ends up on the wiaver wire if he doesn't get his act together which could mean great value for yourself.

Cincinnati Reds:
Edinson Volzquez - Too many walks and too many home runs allowed. Love the K's. remember, he's coming back from major surgery it takes time, there will be bumps in the road. Buy low.

Houston Astros:
Chris Johnson - I am not saying to be worried, could be just a slow start but 2011 we will find out if Chris Johnson is an everyday player.

Wandy Rodriguez - Keep in mind got off to a slow start last year and still had his usually good year. Pitched a gem against the Mets the other night although doesn't everyone?

Milwaukee Brewers:
Yuniesky Betancourt - Hitting towards the bottom of the Brewer lineup he will not have nowhere near the stats he had with the Royals last season. You can get him for beef nuggets but you'll be better off passing.

Carlos Gomez - Had a great spring but not a great start. He's been on fire but could be an easy buy from someone who thinks he's selling high. Gomez has 5 tool ability, he's still young, great size and speed and a great player to take a flyer on. Plus, he's batting in front of Ryan Braun.... HELLOOOOO!

John Axford - Has been shaky and has had control issues which plagued him in the minors. If the Brewers had a Luke Gregerson or Mike Adams, Axford would be in big trouble but fortunately for Axford owners they don't. He'll come around. Grab cheap from a panicked manager.

Yovani Gallardo - Very inconsistent. Is he ever going to reach his potential? Buy low to find out!

Pittsburgh Pirates:
Pedro Alvarez - Talented kid off to a slow start. Remember HR's come in bunches.

St.Louis Cardinals:
Eduardo Sanchez - Ask for as a throw in just in case Mitchell Boggs implodes.

Jake Westbrook - With his stuff has to be close to pin point otherwise he is going to get hit. That's what's going on so far. But, can be a serviceable starting pitcher on the back end of your fantasy roster.

NL King - C.Lizza

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My First Fantasy Baseball Battle

My first Fantasy Baseball battle is over. Our league goes with a 2 week matchup, which seemed a little daunting to me. One could certainly make up for a bad day, but then again, so could one's opponent. Not to mention, if I drift off somewhere during the week and miss a day or two, it could mean the difference of a great many points.

Fortunately, I felt great about my team after the draft. I thought my top 3 picks were solid, I liked my draft through the first 10 rounds, and I thought I did at least okay with the rest of the draft. As they say, “the proof is in the pudding.” I have no idea who originally used that quote in an intelligent fashion, but it seems appropriate here.

The day-to-day operations of my team were not too difficult. When you have a total of 3 bench players, it's not too hard to decide who goes into the lineup each day. We could make a few moves easily enough, but one risks losing any dropped player pretty easily. This brings me to one of the first things I've learned from this season.

Lesson #1: Make as many players as possible “undroppable”.

This goes with having a solid start to your draft, but I cannot tell you how important my top players were to me. Not just in terms of getting points, but in terms of not sucking. Lenny Melnick promoted the idea of avoiding anyone who had injury issues. “There are so many other players to choose from,” he says, more or less in those exact words. That made good sense to me.

That said, the fringe guys had to be players I had some sort of confidence in. I figured I could push V-Mart to 1B (which I can't in our league for an undetermined reason), so I picked up Jorge Posada to play C in that event. If Mitch Moreland played well, I wouldn't need to make that move. SS was another position of sacrifice for me. Furcal and Escobar are my guys there, but it's an area I may keep checking the waiver wire for, unless I can score an amazingly good trade. My pitching staff had one SP on the bench. That brings me to Lesson #2:

Lesson #2: Have a great bullpen.

Seriously. In a points league, I've realized how important these guys are. I'm so happy I drafted closers when I did. I got Rivera, K-Rod, and Franklin (yeah, he hasn't hurt me too much yet...key word “yet”). I drafted Jake McGee, but managed to get Jose Contreras as soon as Lidge went down. So I've got 3 pretty solid closers and one okay one. Should you be in a points league that is anything like mine, gentle reader, you'd better sure up that 'pen!

As I was saying, I have been rotating my Starting Pitchers due to their frequent inactivity. This brings me to pat Mike the Fantasy Man on the back and say he was definitely right about my next big point.

Lesson #3: Have a couple solid Starting Pitchers.

In a 5x5, maybe this isn't such a big deal, but in a points league like this, jeepers and crimony man, you need to know you can count on a couple of guys. I almost wish I'd waited on some of my other Starting Pitchers because I could literally just rotate the SPs I used in a week. If I have 7 moves to make over the course of two weeks, I could easily play hunches on those guys and Add/Drop like crazy to get some boku points (yes I said “boku”, and yes it is 1994 in my mind) off of those guys. Wins mean big points, and that may be something I play on later in the year. My experts were spot on: Starting Pitching is deep! I certainly think having a couple of these guys to rely on is a good thing, but I think the Waiver Wire is a place I will visit a lot in the coming weeks.

As far as making moves goes, I made a trade inquiry, which was turned down (for the time being), and I made a couple Add/Drops. I dropped McGee for Contreras, as I said earlier. I opted to let Posada go in favor of Chipper Jones. Yes, I don't need 3 Third Basemen, but offensively, I'm doing quite well there. I also dropped Ryan Ludwick, who was doing okay in fairness, for Logan Morrison. Morrison was one of the best available OFs, and I felt I needed to be aggressive in the middle of the week. Ludwick had a day off and Morrison was active. I'm keeping Morrison, if you were wondering.

Now these are all things I've learned while playing the game. For those of you interested in how exactly my team did, I'll sum it up this way:

Bad news: The “Top Scorer” on my team over these 2 weeks was SP Hiroki Kuroda with 61 points.

Worse news: In our 10 team league, that was the 2nd worst total for a Top Scorer.

Great news: I still recorded the third-highest point total overall.
I take from this that my draft was pretty solid. I'm no mathematician, but the numbers seem to add up!

Good news: I fell behind in the first few days, but made a great comeback through the next week (final score being 703-673, if you really wanted to know). I had to hold on these last couple days, but the balance on my team proved to be good enough for now.

I take from this that I'm picking up this game pretty far.

Bad news: Rafael Furcal stinks. Escobar would be a much better option at this point. Kinda. Okay, not really, but I am hurting at SS. I may look some of those free agents over and dump Furcal.

Good news: I'm solid almost everywhere else. Moreland has been picking it up at 1B, Ortiz is making me look good at DH, and my bullpen is killer.

Bad news: For whatever reason, I can't move V-Mart to 1B. Not sure why, but it just ain't happening.

It may behoove me to move one of my 3Bs in favor of some positional flexibility. Between Chipper and Sandoval, I can only use one or the other in the Utility spot. Other than SS, I have no flexibility (which begs the question, would I deal Pablo who plays more regularly or Chipper who may put up better numbers but won't play every day?)

Bad news: Cargo hasn't done a lot for me so far. He's sixth in my positional points so far.

Good news: Cargo hasn't done a lot for me so far. He's due. I'm confident he'll pick those numbers up soon (and actually, he's hitting like .333 right now, it's not like he's laying eggs out there).

Next time, I'll get into the temptations to ruin everything good because I think I'm a genius and can build a team of free agents!

David Bobke

Friday, April 22, 2011

Buy Low National League East Players

Atlanta Braves:
Nate McLouth - Since becoming a Brave in 2009, McLouth has struggled mightily. In 2010, McLouth nursed injuries and was even sent back down to the minors. He did have a good spring and Freddi Gonzalez is staying behind him batting McLouth in the #2 hole. He is a total wild card so if he works out for you great, but don't count on him.
Dan Uggla - He will be fine, not sure if he will duplicate his 2010 production from a batting average stand point but Uggla at the end of the season will give you big power numbers at the 2B position. Keep in mind he is probably pressing because he is on a new team and has a new fat contract.  Buy low from an impatient manager and play up the fat contract and new surroundings.

Brandon Beachy - Had an unbelievable spring, strong first start and has gone 6 innings in 4 of his 5 starts. He also has 31K in 29 IP. Obviously great K potential. You'll likely encounter a manager trying to sell high, so play the unproven card and knock that price down.

Florida Marlins:
Hanley Ramirez - He is one of the best fantasy players in the game he will be fine. Don't panic, it's April. In June, panic.

Mike Stanton - The hamstring issue slowed Stanton out of the gates but he's been heating up the past couple of days. If you want to strike, right now is the time. Stanton's value is about to skyrocket! Ever see this guy his a HR in real life or on TV? Awesome.

Anibal Sanchez - Was healthy last year and gave owners a solid year. Off to a rough start, has the talent to be a solid SP in NL only leagues. He's a buy low because he's on no one's radar.

Javier Vazquez - His velocity is way down and he looks worse than last year which was bad, I can tell you that as a Yankee fan. He's a crapshoot but if you take a chance, he can produce top of the rotation stats heading later into the second half. Just give him time to work out some kinks. He obviously has the talent.

Chris Volstad - Even when he is going well he is a low K and a bit of a high ratio guy. Stay away.

New York Mets:
Angel Pagan - Off to a slow start, I wouldn't worry yet, Pagan has been an excellent performer the last year and half..... but he's on the DL. Value just dropped, go get him and stash.

Mike Pelfrey - Since the end of May last year the league has adjusted to Pelfrey and since then for the most part it has not been pretty. Pelfrey looks like he has no confidence as well. Again, when Pelfrey is going well he is a low K guy to boot. I be worried. If you're a believer, you can get him for beef nuggets.

Jonathan Niese - Young pitcher with growing pains I am not sure due to his ratio (remember last year it was 1.46) Niese will be a positive player in 2011 and he has high K potential.

Philadelphia Phillies:
Joe Blanton - Probably the only Phillie not doing well, has gotten hammered so far this season. Blanton flip flops between solid seasons and disappointing one's with the odd years being solid. So far that is not the case. More beef nuggets.

Washington Nationals:
Michael Morse - Youngster off to a bad start and you hate to see that because then it gets into their heads and it can get ugly fast. But, Riggleman believes so I believe. I have a feeling he's about to get hot!.

Jason Werth - He will be fine again like Uggla, just trying to do too much on a new team and with too much money.

NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Young Fantasy Baseball Prospects Jerry Sands and Eduardo Sanchez

We're already heading into May and their have been two call-ups everyone in an NL only league must have on their radar and that's outfielder Jerry Sands of the Los Angeles Dodgers and relief pitcher Eduardo Sanchez of the St. Louis Cardinals. Both of these guys were in my off-season article on national league minor leaguers you have to watch for in 2011.

Jerry Sands - Dodgers - OF - Age 23:
After a good start to the beginning of his season at AAA, Jerry Sands got the call to the show. The Dodgers are desperate for offensive help and are hoping Sands can provide some punch in left field. Sands this off-season was ranked the Dodgers 6th best prospect by Baseball America. Sands last year between A and AA had 35HR, 93RBI, 102R, 18SB, .301 Avg, .395 OBP and had 123K's in 137 games. Sands went 1 for 3 in his debut for the Dodgers batting 7th. I am not saying he will play for the Dodgers like he did in the minors last year but I believe Sands has got a good shot to give owners a $15 year in an NL only league.

Eduardo Sanchez - Cardinals - RP - Age 22:
Sanchez was called up late last week to help the Cardinals bullpen. Right now there is a lot of uncertainty in the Cardinals bullpen and as I stated in the off-season, Sanchez was a sleeper candidate to become the next Cardinals closer. With Ryan Franklin saying he was going to retire after the 2011 season the Cardinals were looking at possible alternatives as the season progressed already. Franklin has struggled mightily this season which reminds me of Trevor Hoffman last year. Mitchell Boggs currently has a grasp on full-time closer duties but who knows what his potential is and so far, he's been great. There is also Jason Motte who had a great 2010 but did not have a good spring this year and is off to somewhat of a slow start. Then we have Eduardo Sanchez, who is a rookie, who just got called up so it is asking a lot for Sanchez to be the closer now. However, Sanchez is off to a blazing start, in his first 7 innings of work he has 12 k's and 1 BB with 0 earned runs. For Sanchez, getting the closers job now would take to some misfortune from Boggs. for now, think of Sanchez as a Mike Adams or Luke Gregerson type.  If you're in a league that counts holds, Sanchez might still be out on the wire.

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fantasy Baseball April Waiver Wire Gems

Everyday like clockwork I wake up to my Paulie D Jersey Shore Alarm rintone "Oh Yeah, Wake Up Yeah!", I brush my teeth, take a shower, skip breakfast, drive to work, settle in, and before I check email, I'm scouring the waiver wire! I'm just livin' the dream!

Milton Bradley, OF, SEA - Why does this guy get no love? I mean he's available in like 98% of leagues. Well, truth is, he has been way overrated the last few seasons and now hits third on one of the worst offensive teams in baseball in Seattle. Still, he's proven in the past that he can hit for average, hit HR and steal bases. At this point he's serviceable but he can also get super hot for a week or two. Since you're most likely dealing with injuries, you can do a lot worse than Bradley. In my opinion, he's serviceable enough with potential to spark at anytime hitting in the heart of any lineup.

Mike Morse, OF, WAS - Morse is finding his way onto waiver wires quickly. He's must be on the same train as Kila Ka'aihue. Anyway, Morse really does possess the power and I think because he was so hot, he's just pressing to much at the plate. Manager Jim Riggleman has super confidence in Morse and for anyone to think Morse will play into a platoon is an idiot! The Nats traded Nyjer Morgan and the run Rick Ankiel out in centerfield along with Roger Bernadina. So who is going to steal Morse's spot? Exactly, no one. This guy has mega power and has been a little bit of a late bloomer. Pick up this guy and stash until he hits one.

Kila Ka'aihue, 1B, OF - Let me just say, I'm still a believer. Same deal as Morse. He's was a super sleeper, we all got excited when he hit the walk off on opening day, and he hasn't done much since. This is his first real chance to play full-time at the start of the season. He's most likely pressing hard. He has the power an an excellent batting eye with OBP potential. He's a strikeout machine as well but you just can't ignore his power. At this point I'd bench until he gets hot, which I believe he will. If he's available off the waiver wire, why not take a shot and stash?

Brandon Webb, SP, TEX - At some point this guy is going to come back and at least be serviceable for your fantasy team. I actually drafted Webb in a league, traded him for Matt Thorton before opening day (Obviously a bad trade currently), the other manager then just dropped Webb yesterday.... So I picked him back up and once he starts, I'll trade him to someone else!  I love this job!

Bartolo Colon, SP/RP, NYY - With Phil Hughes out on the DL with a dead arm, it looks like Colon will get the start this week vs. Toronto. Colon looked great all spring and dominated in a relief effort against the awesome Red Sox last week.  He's got consistent 92-93 on his fastball with nasty movement and his command is insane. I won't say he'll be lights out but if you need a bottle of pick-me-up, Colon should deliver 5-6 solid innings on Wednesday.

Jarrod Dyson, OF, KC - This guy has 5 AB and 5 SB!!! He was 0-5 this weekend with 3K and 3 BB but he had a couple of SB's from pinch running duty. Manager Ned Yost said they want to give Dyson some starts in the near future to utilize his speed. He can hit for average and obviously walk, steal bases and score runs. Dyson is a guy to grab now while no one is paying attention if you have room to stash. If he figures out how to hit in the majors while he's developing, he can be nasty!

Hank Conger, C, LAA - Conger hit his second HR of the year this weekend and is hitting .285 in 21 AB as a back up to Jeff Mathis. Conger has the higher offensive ceiling of the two so I wouldn't be surprised if Conger takes over the job full-time by mid season. Still in a deep league, you can probably roll with Conger as your #2 with potential to become #1. Keep an eye on this situation but if you're looking to find value deep off the waiver wire, look here at a weak position.

The Fantasy Man

Fantasy Baseball Players to Stash

Are you trying to find the best place on your fantasy baseball team to roster a high upside guy whom you can get without much expense in a 10 team mixed league? My answer to you is to look immediately to the outfield. The reason is because of the sheer amount of outfielders used in just about every form of fantasy baseball. This results in relatively less risk when compared to clogging your team up with too many first basemen or shortstops for example.

Ben Francisco Phi-OF
With the injury to Domonic Brown, Francisco is getting everyday playing time in right field. So far so good. He's batting .275 with 2 homeruns to go along with 7 runs and 8 RBI early in the season. Barring a huge slump Francisco should be able to maintain his current role as a starter as Dominic Brown will go to the minors for a while before being called up in order to get his timing down following the aforementioned injury.

Mike Morse Was-OF/1B
Morse's value is obvious seeing how he hit 15 homeruns in only 266 at-bats in 2010. Of those 15 homeruns, 11 came after the all-star break. Morse also had a stellar spring hitting .364 with 9 homeruns. Early into the 2011 season Morse is struggling at the plate and could easily slump his way into a platoon. However, with Morse's potential as a power hitter in his prime at age 29 he is a guy you should stash for now, and not give up on just yet.

Desmond Jennings TB-OF
Jennings is the obvious heir to Carl Crawford in Tampa. Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon were brought in to help with this transition which (with Manny's sudden departure) is almost assured to come this summer. Jennings is a monster on the basepaths having swiped 52 bases between AA Montgomery and AAA Durham in 2009 followed by 37 with AAA Durham and 2 with the major league squad in 2010.

Peter Bourjos LAA-OF
Bourjos has won the starting center field job because of his defensive abilities. Obviously he isn't on this list for those reasons. He is on this list for his speed. Bourjos has the potential to steal 30 bases if he can get on base enough. His inability to get on base (.237 OBP in 181 AB in 2010) really hurts his value in H2H leagues as does his K/BB ratio. In his 181 AB in the bigs last season he struck out 40 times while only walking 6 times. He does have some power potential as long as he makes contact, but his value is definitely his speed.

Lorenzo Cain KC-OF
Cain is another guy who is expected to join the big league roster some point this summer. Cain plays great defense which should help him unseat Melky Cabrera in center field. If you find yourself looking for speed at that point in the season consider Cain before all of your opponents do. During a late season stint in the majors last season with the Brewers, Cain hit .306 with 7 SB in 147 AB. He had 26 stolen bases in the minors during the 2010 season between AA Huntsville and AAA Nashville.

Andrew Bilbo

Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight - Jed Lowrie

What the heck is Patriots Day? A quick Google search tells me it’s an annual Boston tradition centered around the Boston Marathon and an 11am Red Sox game.

Since Boston’s game is the only Monday day game, lets take a minute to spotlight Red Sox SS/2B Jed Lowrie. Lowrie has started 3 straight games (4 straight with an AB) at short and it seems his .516 BA has made Terry Francona finally take notice. Lowrie is off to a hot stat and could carry the Sox until the ice cold Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis heat up this summer (and they will).

Don’t hesitate to pick up Jed Lowrie now. His owned percentage will sky rocket over the next few days, so don’t let another manager beat you to the wire because Lowrie WILL displace Marco Scutaro and his .188 BA (sooner rather than later) and Lowrie’s bat could definitely help your team from the weak shortstop position.

Norman Homers

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fantasy Baseball - Too Early to Trade in April?

Too early to trade in April?  It's always a fine line early on in the season when an owner asks himself  "Can I really make a trade now, it's so early?" The answer to that question is... it all depends on the makeup of your team. For instance, if you have a good squad and have no glaring holes then I would stay in touch with fellow owners to understand the trade landscape but give your team the first 6 weeks to see how your team performs. For example, after one week of play in my NL only league I am in last place. I had a tough first week but you have to remember it's a marathon not a sprint. When I look at my team I see a contending team that is balanced between all phases of hitting and pitching, I just have a lot of guys off to slow starts. If you are in that position like me be patient and give your team some time. Being too aggressive and not patient enough can cost you dearly and you will seriously regret it later on in the season.

You can easily make the mistake of over rating your players due to a good first week or being too conservative when you have glaring holes on your team. If you walked out of your draft and said to yourself I am short on power or speed or starting pitching or saves then those areas need to be addressed via the trade route. Most leagues it's not easy to find help with great impact from one's free agency - waiver wire. Look at Andres Torres last season for instance. That is by far the exception and not the norm. Also keep in mind, especially in the NL, the 2011 rookie class has nowhere near the impact like the 2010 rookies did.

So what should be the game plan if you are short in a certain area in terms of an early season trade? You want to be aggressive but you want to be smart as well. If you are short a bat or a starting pitcher you don't have to make a trade the first or second week of April but by early to mid May that area of need has to be addressed. If you found someone via your free agency - waiver wire then great, if not you have to go the trade route. Early on you should be targeting teams that have depth in the area that you need. Then do you have what that owner needs and is it an area of depth you can trade from? Hopefully if your short a bat you can trade a pitcher or if you short speed you can trade power etc etc. You should be in contact with these owners so when the right opportunity presents itself you can nail down a trade at a moments notice due to your legwork. Like I said in previous articles, guys might start poorly and are good players but that owner becomes frustrated with that player and he becomes available for a reduced price no less. Or like I said above, an owner may over value his secondary players due to a hot first two - three weeks and other players become available. There are a lot of scenarios when guys become available but keep in mind the trade window to these guys may only be open for two - three days so you have to be ready to pounce.

So do the legwork on possible trade partners on your area's of need, keep a line of communication open with those owners and be ready to strike at a moments notice due to your advanced research and legwork.

NL King - C.Lizza

Exercising Fantasy Baseball Patience

I hope everyone is enjoying the early part of the baseball season. In talking to friends in my NL Only league, I already hear the angst, the frustration, the pulling out the hair over the phone etc. My message is very clear everyone... relax and most of all, be patient. Some teams will get off to fast starts and some slow one's. Remember the baseball season is a marathon not a sprint.. The key question is when you walked out of your draft did you feel you had a great team?  If yes, then exercise some patience.  The first half of April is nothing in the grand scheme of things in a traditional roto league (head to head might be a different animal and not my area of expertise). If the answer was no, you've got work to do. Any team, no matter how bad it seems, can certainly pull out of the gutter. there's still plenty of time.

When an owner is impatient, many times, bad decisions are made. You might put a good pitcher to your reserve squad because he is off to a slow start or even worse you might make an awful trade and trade a very good player who is in early April slump and then that player goes off for his new owner. I am not saying you shouldn't make a trade in early April, just as long as it's a smart trade and helps your team in area of need. What I have seen over the years is an owner gives up on a player way too early and they wind up regretting it big time. Don't be that owner.

Final thing to remember is it's suppose to be difficult to win your league. If it's an easy go every year in your league in terms of your success you probably should be in a more competitive league. The NL Only league I am in is very difficult. I am in with 11 other guys who are very dedicated to their teams and there are no secrets and there are no sleepers. Someone has to be a very deep deep sleeper to be a sleeper in my league. But like I've said, that makes success that much enjoyable. Germaine Greer said "The struggle that is not joyous is the wrong struggle." Point being it's a long season and there will be ups and downs. The key is to be patient and enjoy your league, that's why all of us do these leagues. Remember to have a championship team is very hard, you need your pitching and hitting to come together in a big way. You need to avoid injuries as much as you can and really stay away from a big injury to a big player and you need for players not to have fall off the reservations kind of years (think of Nate McLouth or Russell Martin over the last couple of years). Also it wouldn't hurt to have a little bit of luck and have a player or two give you his career year in 2011. But just do me a favor remember three things, be patient, be patient and be patient.

Enjoy !

NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What do Manny Ramirez and Tsuyoshi Nishioka have in Common?

Answer: If you said they both have injected women’s hormones to hide steroids, you’d be wrong. Probably a few days to late, but, it’s that Sean Rodriguez could serve as an adequate replacement for both players if you need to fill either an outfield or second base roster spot.

Poor Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Minnesota’s new middle infielder broke his leg after a hard slide by Yankee Nick Swisher. Advertised as a possible Ichiro lite candidate, we’ll have to say Sayonara, to Mr Nisioka, we hardly knew you. A broken leg is pretty hard to come back from anytime soon for a speed guy, I’d have to guess 2 months minimum.

Man-Ram, as opposed to facing a 100 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, decided to retire thus opening up the log jammed Tampa Bay outfield.

I like Sean Rodriguez to benefit the most in terms of playing time. As an added bonus he should add 3B eligibility as he fills in for Evan Longoria’s 15 day stint on the DL. This could also mean more playing time for Matt Joyce and/or Sam Fuld who is a stolen bases demon at the moment. This could also lead to Desmond Jennings being called up soon rather than later, and what fantasy guy doesn’t want to see Jennings get a shot?

Norman Homers

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice for Beginners Part 3

This last piece will conclude my draft results. I'm a fantasy baseball rookie and I'm sure many of you can relate to my thoughts. I realize draft results are old news at this point but I'm able to look at this team after the fact and see where I need to make improvements. So just to summarize the first ten rounds, I had filled out my individual outfield spots with Cargo in Left, McCutchen in Center, Choo in Right, along with A-Rod at Third, Cano at Second, and V-Mart behind the dish. Bruce was my 4th OF, and my pitching staff had Carpenter and Liriano starting with Rivera closing.

Track live fantasy baseball stats for your favorite players and build custom teams with the Fantasy Baseball Express APP!

I was satisfied with my pitching so far, so I was probably looking for offense again with at least one of my next two picks, and beyond that, I was starting to look for “my guys.”

The closer run began in Round 10, and all I could do during that long turn was look over my charts, and see what the best values were. I may have reached slightly for 3B Pablo Sandoval here as my Utility player, but again, shallow position and a player I liked a lot...I was willing to stretch.

Then...then the doppelganger struck again. I thought I'd grab CL Jonathan Papelbon with my 12th pick, but low and behold, Adam struck again with his second closer just one pick before my next selection, and shame on me, I did not have a backup plan in place.

With a bit of a rush to get my pick in, I chose CL Francisco Rodriguez. I wasn't sure about him, he actually was below Axford on my charts, but I figured I could try waiting and maybe grab the Ax with my next pick. Even though I wasn't crazy about Rodriguez, I thought that a Rivera/K-Rod/Axford trio would be solid enough in my bullpen...until Axford got picked three selections later.

After calling Adam a...let me get this right...a “dirty rotten pudgy-faced applejohn”, and reminding myself that he is going to torture me the rest of the draft, AND that Brewers will go higher than usual throughout the draft, I settled down and watched the long turn through Rounds 12 and 13.

That part of the draft didn't bring too many frustrations. Billy Butler got selected, as did Ted Lilly and Vlad, but there wasn't too much to get frustrated about. With my 13th pick, I opted for Hiroki Kuroda as my third Starting Pitcher. I could've had Jonathan Sanchez or Wandy Rodriguez, but I opted for Kuroda. I don't know why other than I think he'll be halfway decent.

Adam followed that pick with Grady Sizemore, which completely confused me. I won't touch the guy. Literally. I might get polio or leprosy or something for all I know.

Round 14, I took my DH, figuring that I REALLY didn't like anyone after David Ortiz. I think he'll have an okay year, not as bad as last season, but not an astronomical one either. I really wanted Vlad, but I think he got picked a bit high in our draft.

Again, at this point, no SS available that I had much interest in, although I was considering Rafael Furcal a bit. I didn't have a 5th OF yet, and my pitching staff needed some filling out. A number of closers were flying through this long turn including Joe Nathan, Francisco Cordero, and Brad Lidge. So, with my 15th pick, I took CL Ryan Franklin entirely too early. I actually wanted to select Furcal because I'd have a SS, but I was certain the other two guys on the short turn of the draft wouldn't take a SS. So, I took Franklin instead. I have him ranked higher than most, I still think he'll be pretty good overall, and I don't mind him at all with Rivera and K-Rod. Sure enough, Furcal was available with my next pick, so he went in the 16th. I did miss out on Manny though, but I figured I'd survive the loss somehow. I would suffer in the “Crazy Antics” category...

We were getting down to the last 8 picks of the draft, and by this point, we were all basically looking for value picks at positions and pitching. Most people's lineups were basically set, save for a position or two. I STILL didn't have a 1B or my 5th OF. So what did I do in the 17th? I took another Shortstop. Oh yeah. I didn't trust these guys at all by this point to leave Escobar on the board past my pick, so in my paranoid state, I took him. Adam once again baffled me with his next pick of Jason Bay.

In Round 18, I was a little surprised to see Mitch Moreland on the board, so I went ahead and took him. I wanted pitching, but that was a good looking player in a good offensive lineup, so what the hey, might as well. I would've considered him later, but again, it was a long time before my next pick.

A few good players feel into the 18th and 19th rounds, such as 3B Ian Stewart, 3B Mark Reynolds, an 2B Brian Roberts. I didn't need another 3B, and tempting as Roberts was, with Cano on my roster, I didn't feel I needed to get Roberts, even though I like him quite a bit this year.

The picks got a little more scattered here, going more by who someone really wanted to get rather than who was tops on the “Best Available” board ESPN offered us. I was as guilty as anyone by reaching for SP Jordan Zimmerman here. I really like him. I probably could have waited another round, possibly two, but by this point, I'd allowed myself to get so paranoid that Adam would take my guy that I was considering never leaving my living room again, letting my fingernails grow long, and keeping my urine in jars.

I took Ricky Nolasco in the 20th after missing out on four players I didn't want anyway. I felt that it might somehow justify the Zimmerman pick. I'm not big on Nolasco,but he was the top pitcher on my board, and he might get me a decent number of Ks.

I had very little wiggle room for my final 4 picks; I wanted to get C/DH Jorge Posada, no question. I needed my 5th OF, one more Closer, and maybe one more pitcher of some sort. My targets for those last three spots were Ryan Ludwick (really undervalued on ESPN if you ask me, but then again, what do I know?), Gio Gonzalez as the extra pitcher, and any guy with two arms and two legs at Closer.

So, I deviated...I took SP Edinson Volquez in the 21st because I felt I couldn't possibly pass on him. That did mean I had to pass on Gio because I wasn't allowed to draft a 7th SP at this point, but I thought that with a trade, I might be able to make room for him. Adam picked SP Josh Beckett and 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka with his next picks, which reaffirmed that we do think alike. I followed with Jorge Posada in the 22nd Round. I would've taken him in the 21st out of fear that Adam would read my mind, but I thought Volquez was actually more likely to get snagged.

My last two picks were CL Jake McGee and RF Ryan Ludwick.

So what do you think? Congratulations if you read all of these results by the way! I'd love to hear your feedback. I did make one move since this draft; after Jose Contreras was named the closer for Philly, I dropped McGee and picked up Contreras. Other than that, I've left everyone in place.

How was it for a first draft? I'll put a rundown of the scoring system, if you want to know, but I would love to get a little feedback.

Batting – Home Runs, Hitting for Cycle= 4; Hits, RBIs, Walks, Stolen Bases, Runs, Total Bases = 1; Ks = -1

Pitching – IP = 3; Wins, Shutouts = 10; Saves = 5; Ks = 1; Hits allowed, Walks issued = -1; Earned Runs = -2; Losses = -5

David Bobke

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice for Beginners Part 2

In my last article, I let you into my mind during the opening round of my first Fantasy Baseball draft. In Part 2, I will bring you through Rounds 5 through 10.

At this point, I'm ecstatic about my team. Cano, Cargo, A-Rod, and McCutchen. Did I mention the Fantasy Baseball Express app yet?

Snake-style draft, so we're starting with Owner 7 (not his real name), picking right after my McCutchen pick, aka, back to sitting and waiting and watching guys I like getting picked off.

7: 2B Dan Uggla
6: RF Justin Upton
5: 2B Ian Kinsler
4: RF Jayson Werth
3: 1B Ryan Howard
2: RF Jason Heyward
1: 2B Chase Utley – Yeah, none of us said anything, but I'm sure he'll regret this pick soon enough.
1: SP Ubaldo Jimenez
2: 3B Adrian Beltre
3: 2B Rickie Weeks
4: SP Justin Verlander – I NEVER get him in drafts! With his value, I seriously would've thought about taking him if he's fallen to me. Keeping in mind, I probably do need to address pitching a little earlier than in your average draft.

Since I'm interrupting anyway, I'm at the point where I have to think about my next pick. My top three are Dunn, Choo, and Ichiro...which sounds like the beginning of a joke to me...or a law firm...or both.

5: C Brian McCann -Good, my top three are available.
6: RF Hunter Pence
7: 1B Adam Dunn – That pick hurt. If I'd gotten him, I'd be ready to declare this draft a complete and utter success. I could draft a duck as my Shortstop and I'd still be happy. Alas, I missed out on this power hitter.

My pick wound up being RF Shin-Soo Choo. Another combo guy, similar to Cargo, but a few less homers and stolen bases projected. Not a guy I had very high on my list, but none of the next few guys are very high on my list. I actually like Jacoby Ellsbury, but Choo was a value here. Fifth round combo threat...can't pass that up. I know I have to grab power where I can get it, and Choo ain't a bad one. Maybe not the best one, but not a bad one.

9: SP Tommy Hanson – This is Adam drafting another guy I like, but taking him earlier than I would've, not that this is a bad place to take him.
10: 2B Brandon Phillips
10: C Buster Posey
9: 1B Justin Morneau – Another pick that makes me think that maybe Adam and I don't think alike after all.

After my last pick, I knew I should start looking at pitching. I had Chris Carpenter as my best available, followed by Hamels, Cain, Oswalt, and Gallardo. Knowing that there are still plenty of guys I like there, I opt to go for more offense. Any one of those guys in the 7th would be fine by me. Carpenter was the only guy I had listed as a “top-tier” for me, largely because of the value. I think he'll have another solid season, and I'd be happy to take him if he falls much further.

When in doubt, take offense, and that was my plan. My best available guy was C Victor Martinez. I was surprised to see him in Round 6, and again, I like Jacoby Ellsbury, and he would've been a nice selection here as my fourth OF, but I knew there were plenty of OFs that I'd like later on. I decided to stick with my list and address Catcher, although it's a little earlier than I might have liked.

The next picks went as follows:
7: SP Dan Haren
6: RP Brian Wilson
5: SP Yovani Gallardo
4: CF Alex Rios
3: RF Ichiro Suzuki
2: SS Jose Reyes
1: SS Derek Jeter

Somewhere around this point, I was about to throw in the towel on Shortstops and try for Escobar later in the draft. I like taking chances (probably too much), but if Rollins were available, I'd probably snag him. Of course, the pitchers came into play as well. Carpenter, Hamels, and Cain were on the board, and any of them would be good picks.

1: RF Andre Ethier
2: CF B.J. Upton
3: SP Cole Hamels
4: SS Jimmy Rollins
5: SP Matt Cain

Again, looking over my top available players, I figured Carpenter was my guy...if he were still there. Ellsbury went to owner 6 with the next pick, so I just missed out on him. Granderson went next, which left my top pitcher available for me. So with my 7th Round pick, I gladly welcomed Chris Carpenter.

I figured that my next pick would be my first closer. Get him, and I can wait a little longer on a second closer I thought. But unfortunately for me, I failed to remember who was drafting in the 9 spot. Adam, who is at times, my drafting doppelganger. He took my top overall closer Heath Bell. That had me a little frustrated, but luckily for me, I did have a backup player that jumped out at me before long. I took RF Jay Bruce with my 8th overall pick. Projected for 31 HRs by (yeah, I know, not the ideal source), he's a much lesser strikeout risk than Mike Stanton, whom I might have otherwise picked here.

This meant passing up Elvis Andrus, my last hope for a solid SS (in theory) and 3B Michael Young, who was slipping in our draft. I'll forgo the other draft results since, at this point, I was looking to fill holes more than I was looking to stick with a specific value chart (not that I was ignoring that chart, mind you).

Players that went before my next pick included Roy Oswalt, Andrus, Young, Nick Swisher, and Aubrey Huff. All guys I would have considered, but alas, didn't have a chance at. With picks 9 and 10, I figured I should look at pitching very hard. I had 7 offensive players I was pretty confident in, and the pitching I wanted was starting to dwindle, so I figured it was time to grab my guys. In Round 9, I took SP Francisco Liriano, and with my 10th pick, I chose CL Mariano Rivera. I liked Neftali Feliz, but not more than Rivera, and it was just as well since Feliz went during the short turn between my picks anyway.

Ten rounds in, and I'm looking over my team again...

Positives: I've got a great Outfield. Cargo, McCutchen, Choo, Bruce. That is not bad. Cano and A-Rod are covering two of the shallower positions in the draft, so I'm great there as well.

Negatives: I do not have a Shortstop. The top Shortstops available would have been reaches at this point as far as I'm concerned, so I'm not very upset about that either. I have no First Baseman, which is a bit problematic for me. I don't like the guys available very much (but if one drops far enough, I'll take my chances), and I may end up drafting a couple of young guys late in the draft and hoping one sticks.

I'll wrap up the draft in my next piece, and I'll take you through the tougher spots in my draft, the picks I could hardly prepare for...

David Bobke

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice for Beginners Part 1

Darn you PTI! I meant to say “Draft Day.” The big day finally came, and I participated in my first Fantasy Baseball draft. I know this was a few weeks ago but it's interesting, as a fantasy baseball rookie, to look back and see where I might have been right or wrong. This is for you folks who are interested in following my rookie campaign year-long and for you rookies who are trying desperately to anticipate how your draft will play out, and like a lonely senior two days before the prom, you're looking for anyone, anything who will be your date...but instead of a date, I'll be a guide. I will tell you everything going through my mind for most of this draft (the last few rounds weren't very exciting). That said, yes, this will be a long one. Might as well try out the Fantasy Baseball Express app in the meantime.
Going into the draft, I knew that I only knew two of the other eight participants. Anthony, whom I don't know very well yet, and Adam, whom I have played against in Fantasy Football for several years.

I tried to remind myself of several things before we actually started:
- Targeting 80 HRs and 60 SBs with my first three picks
- Targeting 285 HRs and 190 SBs overall
- Go offensive early and often
- Upon discovering that I had the 8th pick in the draft, I would miss on some of the “sure-fire” guys, unless I was drafting against Leonard the Stock Picking Monkey and his friends
- I presumed I was drafting with Brewers' fans, so I figured those guys would go higher than usual

This league is a points league, not a 5x5. There are single points given for things like stolen bases, runs, total bases, but extra points for home runs, Wins (Pitchers), Shutouts, things like that. Also, we have no Corner or Middle Infield slots. We must have a LF, CF, and RF, along with two other Outfielders, regardless of specific position.

I've been advised (mostly through your buddy and mine, Mike the Fantasy Man) to go for pitching a little earlier than I might otherwise. The Shutout is not something that will come up often, but I want at least one guy who can be a threat to pitch those on occasion. Power is also a big concern for me. Homers are 4 points in this league (plus the 4 in total bases, totaling 8), and there are only a handful of people who can crank a ton of homers.

Going into the first round, since I wouldn't be picking for a while, I knew I had a good chance of getting two of my top-tier players. In order, my value list had: Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Cano (yes, 3rd on my list), Crawford, Braun, Cargo, Wright, Cabrera (feeling a LOT better about him lately), Adrian Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, Longoria. Knowing that some pitching would probably go in the first couple rounds, I thought 2 of these guys in my top 11 could be mine in the first 13 picks of the draft. I debated my list a lot over the last week or so, it was assembled, ready to go, and the early part of the draft would be the easy part.

For now though, all I could do was look over my list, and wait to see how things played out.

Round 1
1: 1B Albert Pujols – Note: Duh.
2: LF Ryan Braun – Proves my 5th prep note to be true, because no one who was not a Brewer fan would take Braun this high...but hey, that might help me, right? I immediately presumed that this owner either A) is crazy or B) is good, but just really really wanted Braun.
3: SS Hanley Ramirez – Again, “Duh.” I was surprised at how long it took him to make this pick.
4: 3B Evan Longoria – I'm with Mike, I think he's a little overrated this year. Glad to see him go though, as it makes the odds of getting one of my more desired players better!
5: (friend Anthony) - 1B Miguel Cabrera – Solves the question of whether I should consider him or not. If everyone had gone by my list, Miggy would've been the top guy on the board when my pick came around. Not surprised he went before my pick, not that upset either, but the more I hear about his situation, the more convinced I am that he'll have a very good year.

At this point, my pick is “in the hole” as they say, I reassessed my list. Cano, Crawford, Cargo were my top three. The debating and disputing had been done earlier, so there wasn't any question...these were my guys. One of these guys would be mine, then I would reassess while the final two guys picked.

6: SP Roy Halladay – Celebrate.
7: LF Carl Crawford – I really liked Crawford, still do...but a day or two ago I decided I HAD to put Cano over him. I felt a lot better about my mock drafts overall when I had him.
8 (Me): 2B Robinson Cano

Absolutely thrilled. I proclaimed “Robinson Cano, welcome to the Obscure References!” Oh...that's my team titled because I often make jokes referencing shows or movies that none of my friends have or ever will see...mostly because I think I'm the only person who's ever seen these shows/movies...moving on...

Reassessing my position, I see Cargo, Wright, Adrian G, and Tulo as the only guys on my top tier remaining. Odds are, I'll get one of these guys with my next pick. If not, Votto is next on my list, and he's not a bad value at #13.

9 (friend Adam): SS Troy Tulowitzki – Wise pick.
10: 1B Joey Votto – I'm kinda down on him, don't mind seeing him go.

That pick completed the first round. I'll give you more in-depth analysis of the mind of a rookie during the draft in my next post.

10: SP Tim Lincecum – We hit the turn, and another pitcher goes. So much the better! Means one of my guys will fall to me!
9: 3B David Wright – And I'm reminded how difficult it is drafting against Adam. It would've been nice taking care of my 3B spot, but now he's got his SS and 3B spots filled. Looking back, this is the second time in as many rounds where I identified the top two players on my value list, and the second one was selected just ahead of my pick.
8 (Me): OF Carlos Gonzalez – Thrilled. Dual threat, some power, some speed. Qualifies for all Outfield positions. Thrilled. Stoked.

Let me pause here for a second. At this point in the draft, I have two of my “top-tier” players, two guys I would've been perfectly happy with in the first round. Granted, I had 11 guys on that list, and I'm in a 10 team league. I'm easy to please, okay? I only had 9 on my second-tier, so no matter what, I can't complain so far. I prepared well to this point in the draft. I got guys I like, I picked quickly, which may have added some pressure to the guys around me if they didn't do their homework. One position of need was filled (2B), and the second guy I got is a great all-around help to my team.

Now back to watching other people draft. At this point, I'm tracking who is taken, but I am not looking at who I hope will be available with my next pick. 14 players will be chosen before I can pick up my next guy, so I'm not gonna fret over guys I like being picked.

7: 3B Ryan Zimmerman – Dang it, liked him. This isn't far from where he was supposed to be picked, so I can't say I'm surprised.
6: CF Josh Hamilton
5: 1B Adrian Gonzalez
4: SP Felix Hernandez – I like King Felix, don't get me wrong, but I am happy to see pitchers going here because it means guys that I really like will slide a little bit further.
3: 1B Kevin Youkilis – I also like seeing guys like him going here because I have Youk very low on my list. Not sure about his health over the course of the year, so I really don't mind him going.
2: SP Cliff Lee
1: LF Matt Holliday – Celebrate.
1: SP Zach Greinke – Point 5 proven correct once again.
2: 1B Mark Teixeira
3: RF Nelson Cruz
4: 1B Prince Fielder – Drats. I would have loved to have had a chance at him.

Although truthfully, as I looked at my list once again, a number of my second-tier guys were gone, but a few remained. Matt Kemp was second on my list, Fielder had been third, but now Pedroia occupied that spot, followed by Andrew McCutchen. Number one on my list was still available, and I hoped...I hoped he'd still be available. I knew I didn't need Pedroia at this point, and McCutchen in the third seemed a little early, as did the next guys on my list, so I was hoping one of my top two would survive the next three picks.

5: CF Matt Kemp – The good news: my top available player was still on the board (and I could only hope he would still be there, because otherwise, I'd be getting one of my third-tier players instead). Secretly...little nervous about my pick.
6: SP Jon Lester
7: SP CC Sabathia
8: (with great pleasure) 3B Alex Rodriguez - *insert Happy Dance here*

At this point, I'm so happy with my first three picks, I don't care who I get with my fourth. Any of the next four on my list (Pedroia, McCutchen, Bautista, Dunn) would be fine with me...although I have to admit, Dan Uggla was looking more tempting at this point, since I already had Cano and figured a little more power wouldn't be a bad idea. Yes, I need a 1B like Dunn more, even Bautista who qualifies as a RF would be better for me, but I do so love annoying my opponents, and picking another 2B would be such fun. Buuuut...any of my top four would be nice (yes, four picks would be made before my next pick, but I wasn't concerned that ALL four would get picked.

9: C Joe Mauer – One pick where Adam and I differ. He can have Mauer confirms what I just said about my top four not ALL being picked.
10: 3B Jose Bautista – Dang...would've liked him, as he also qualifies as a RF.
10: SP Clayton Kershaw
9: 2B Dustin Pedroia on my board is available, and I could sure use him, so I gladly select CF Andrew McCutchen here. I was majorly tempted to risk losing McCutchen and drafting power hitter Adam Dunn, to address my 1B spot, but I like Andrew too much. I knew I needed some stolen bases as well, and that my power was okay so far, so I went McCutchen.

That's the first four rounds...I'll be back with my thoughts as they changed through the next few rounds. These were trickier rounds because my prep could only help me so much, and the unpredictable picks would become more frequent.

David Bobke

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Sleepers, Deep Sleepers and Prospects

Unlike fantasy football where leagues are generally won through savvy draft strategy, fantasy baseball is won by finding the guys who breakout and by playing the waiver wire successfully. In 2010, Buster Posey helped many fantasy owners win their leagues. So who are these players in 2011? That's the million dollar question. Lets take a look at some guys who could fill that role. (Note: This is only a few names to look at. "Post-hype" type players were intentionally left off as well as players who seem to be a little further away from a spot at the big leagues this season.)

Zack Cozart Cin-SS
With the old and oft injured Edgar Renteria currently teaming up with Paul Janish to man the shortstop position for the Reds, Cozart could earn his way up to the majors at some point in this season. Janish is not a very good hitter with a career .228 batting average in the majors and he only has 3 stolen bases and 7 homeruns over 3 seasons. Last season at AAA Louisville, Cozart batted .255 with 30 stolen bases and 17 homeruns. He also hit 30 doubles and 4 triples during the season which increases his potential value for H2H leagues in particular.

Jed Lowrie Bos-2B/SS
It seems that someone is injured in Boston's infield every season. While it is usually Kevin Youkilis, both Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez have a very recent history of injury as well. Lowrie seems poised to be the guy to get most of the playing time behind all three of these players. There is also the strong possibility that Lowrie could unseat Marco Scutaro as the teams starting shortstop. For just a taste of what Lowrie has the potential to do in the majors just look at his stats over 171 at-bats last season. In that limited time he had a .287 average with 9 homeruns and a slugging percentage of .526. Lowrie is off to a slow start, probably pressing a bit, and his value is super low right now.

Mike Moustakas KC-3B
Over the past year Moustakas has become a very well known prospect to most who follow baseball. The most frequent comparison I hear is to Evan Longoria. While I'm not prepared to make that comparison, I am ready to own him in fantasy baseball. Between AA NW Arkansas and AAA Omaha Moustakas hit .322 with a whopping 36 homers in only 484 AB. He also had 124 RBI, .630 slugging percentage, and 67 K's to 34 BB's. For those of you playing in H2H leagues he also ripped 41 2B. Expect Moustakas to get called up at some point this season, maybe as soon as this summer.

Brandon Belt SF-1B
Because of injuries Belt has been able to forgo starting the season in the minors this year. He already has a homerun and appears to be comfortable at the plate. The only concern for Belt has been his quick rise from the low minors to the majors. The majority of Belt's 136 games last season came below the AA level. However, In those 136 games Belt hit 23 homeruns while swiping 22 bases. With a batting average of .352 in the minors last season we know Belt can hit and it seems inevitable he will do it in the majors. As Belt is already in the majors, he should be a must get in any deep keeper or dynasty league.

Jesus Montero NYY-C
At 6-2 235 lbs Montero is a pretty big catcher. He sounds more like a linebacker. The only problem for Montero thus far has been his defense, and his defense appears to be holding him out of the majors for the time being. But this could change. With the Yankees in need of starting pitching it would come as a surprise to only a few if the Yanks dealt the young Montero for a more stable arm in the rotation. If he is traded Montero could possibly come up sooner than he would if he remains with the Yankees. His best bet with the Yankees this season is that Russell Martin and currently injured Francisco Cervelli open the position up for him.In 453 AB last season in AAA Montero hit .289 with 21 HR. If his defense continues to hold him back, don't be surprised to see Montero suit up to play in the bigs at a different position as his size and hitting abilities may very well lead to that scenario.

A few more players to keep an eye on that I like include (but are not limited to):
Brett Lawrie Tor-2B
Tsuyoshi Nishioka Min-2B/SS
J.P. Arencibia Tor-C
Freddie Freeman Atl-1B

Andrew Bilbo

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Chase Utley Fantasy Baseball Update

I listened to an interview with baseball insider Jon Heyman this morning on local radio station WFAN here in New York. He gave an update on Chase Utley and it's not good. Heyman conveyed that he spoke to Jimmy Rollins during spring training to get some insight on what's going on with Utley and Rollins told Heyman "It's not good, he is basically doing everything he can to avoid surgery." Utley, according to Heyman, has bone inflammation and patellar tendinitis in his knee. Basically, Utley cannot move right now. Heyman seemed to feel while it was an educated guess, we are talking at least a half season but also said all his information is pretty bad news on Utley's knee situation. This is very sobering news for Utley owners.

Obviously, you should monitor this situation and stay on top of the news.  Go online and search for the local Philadelphia newspapers as those are really the best source of information. - The Inquirer seems like the most prominent. I wouldn't panic as most of know about this situiation already. If you are keeper leagues, obviously you want to either keep Utley or trade him later in the season once news gets better. In non-keeper leagues, I'd stash Utley for now and take a wait-and-see approach.
NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, April 04, 2011

Head-to-Head League Player Comparison - Mike Stanton vs Delmon Young

As with every year, I have been totally absorbed with fantasy baseball these first few days. Two guys I have my eye on early this season are Delmon Young and Mike Stanton. Both of these young outfielders are high on my fantasy radar this season. Depending on the type of league you are in, you need to pay attention to these guys as well.


Mike Stanton 2010: .259/22/59/45/5

As you well know by now, Stanton is a prime target for anyone in a dynasty or other deeper style league. He is also very valuable in redraft leagues as well. He is a great player to target in both H2H and roto leagues as he has a very good chance to really breakout in the power department in particular. The numbers shown above are the product of only 359 at-bats, so the chance that Stanton hits 30-35 homeruns in 2011 are pretty good indeed.

Delmon Young 2010: .298/21/112/77/5

Young had the best year of his short career last season. If he didn't play half his games at Target Field, just imagine how impressive his numbers could have been last season. Minnesota's deep lineup insures Young has plenty of opportunities to knock in runs helping him overcome the effects of Target Field.

Mike Stanton 2010: .259/22/59/45/5/21/34/123
Delmon Young 2010: .298/21/112/77/5/46/28/81

After looking at the standard 5x5 roto categories I would prefer Stanton because of the great power potential. If you are in a dynasty or deep keeper league I would say that the gap between the two in 5x5 roto leagues is even greater. Now lets think about the two players in the context of the three added categories used often in H2H leagues shown above. Delmon Young was a monster last season in the 2B category. Young's dominance in 2B really boosts him a lot in H2H leagues which use 2B. While neither player has a wonderful K/BB ratio, Young doesn't hurt you quite as bad there as Stanton does at this point in their careers.

In conclusion, I would say it is to your benefit to target both players for your team in 2011. As a testament to this fact, I either own Delmon Young or have offered multiple trades for him in every H2H league using 2B which I am in this season. Even though I prefer Young in H2H and Stanton in 5x5 roto, I prefer owning both of these players as opposed to owning neither.

Andrew Bilbo

Fantasy Baseball Advice - Dealing with the Ups and Downs of April

A fantastic way to improve your fantasy baseball team is to take advantage of a player who gets off to a hot start and is "playing way over his head". For instance, last year Brad Penny was on fire in April, he was 3-1 with a 1.56 ERA. Some fantasy team managers might feel Penny is going to have a huge year, but, the smart and savvy owner would say Brad Penny is off to a ridiculous start and is an injury prone guy. Even in his best years, Penny was a $15 or less NL only pitcher. So the savvy owner says stranger things have happened but this is not going to last with Penny. At the same time, any time a player of yours is doing well, his trade value increases. Many times you don't have to sell the player as the other owner looks at that particular players stats and says wow Brad Penny is doing well, maybe he can help solve my starting pitching shortage. By the way, last year Brad Penny had 4 more starts in May, one was excellent the others were awful and then got hurt and was done for the year.

Get the Fantasy Baseball Express APP for Android and track the stats of your favorite players as they play!
Also, when a good player is struggling, sometimes it brings the players value down. If Player X is a $20 player and had a poor April, as long as he's healthy and and he's proven, you might be able to get that player for as much as a 50% discount. The best scenario is the other owner is frustrated and disgusted with that player and quite frankly is lacking patience. Don't fall into that trap, you must be patient..... unless you're on the receiving end of that discounted player!

The moral of these stories is you can take advantage of a so-so players hot April or a very good players poor April.

NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, April 01, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Breakout Starting Pitchers for 2011

I know the season has already started and you're done with your fantasy baseball draft, but I wanted to point out some of my favorite breakout pitchers for 2011. In this situation, maybe you can start wearing down a trade partner if you feel the same about these guys as I do.  My strategy was to try and draft as many of the breakout pitching contenders as possible for my fantasy baseball team. Best case, you land a top 10 pitcher in the late rounds of a draft. Worst case, you draft a bum and cut him for the next shinny thing that catches your eye.
Brandon Morrow
I’ve been following Morrow closely as he went from a sleeper in Seattle in 2007 and watched as they tried to pull a Joba on him and ruin him by converting him to a relief pitcher in 2008 to watch Seattle ultimately give up on him and trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010. If you paid attention you’d know that Morrow had a near league leading 10.9 K/9 in Toronto last year and had one of the most impressive games of the season (even more impressive than some of the no-hitters) going 9 IP, only allowing 1 hit, walking just 2 and striking out 17! If anyone can jump to greatness, it Brandon The Bone Morrow. He’ll miss his first start on 2011 on the DL, which could make him even more of a steal.

Daniel Hudson

Dashboard confessional: I’m keeping Brandon Morrow and Daniel Hudson in my own keeper league. These two are my favorite mid to late round sleeper pitchers. I’ll be owning them in every league. Hudson’s second half went completely under the radar last year (unfortunately he’s starting to pick up steam as a sleeper in 2011). Since being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks he had 11 GS, averaged 7.2 innings per start, had 70 K’s with a 1.69 era and a 0.84 whip. That’s outstanding. I think it was a sign Hudson is destined for greatness.

Phil Hughes
My history with Yankees in fantasy baseball is that they are severely overvalued. Oddly enough Hughes breaks that trend this year. If anything, he’s undervalued. The Yankees babied him last year only allowing him to pitch 176 innings in 2010. They claim that the reigns will be off in 2011 and he could hit the 200 IP mark. I love him to build on his numbers last year (18 wins, 146 K’s with a 4.19 era and a 1.25 whip). Those numbers were hurt by his inconsistent schedule.

Jonathan O. Sanchez
Had 205 K’s and 13 wins in 2010 with only 193 innings. Scary to think what he could do with 200+ innings. 200 K’s and still flying way under the radar…

Other Breakout Candidates:
Jordan Zimmermann
Kyle McClellan
Ian Kennedy
Jamie Garcia
Rick Porcello
Bud Norris

By Norman Homers