Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time to Shake up Your Fantasy Baseball NL Only League Roster?

This fantasy baseball season is almost already at the quarter mark and many of you are either disappointed or ..... really disappointed with your fantasy baseball team. So if you're sitting in the middle of the standings or even worse, at the bottom, it might be time to shake things up..... or is it? My advice is be careful and you must have a plan. The first thing you need to do is look at each category and see where you're struggling. With a bit of improvement in your players performances, things can change dramatically so and a "shake up " could disrupt that potential improvement. You need to look at your players individually and see who is struggling and why.  Is your team down because you just don't have enough starting pitching or saves or speed or power? Or is the reason you have a proven player just off to a terrible start?  For instance, on my NL Only team I have Ubaldo Jimenez. Now I would venture to say in my league, which is a 12 team 5X5 NL only league, Jimenez being conservative is a $30 player. But for the first six weeks of the season Jimenez now only has not performed at that level but probably has been a negative $15 player in my estimation so far. That's a big weight to carry.  Think of Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"... that kind of weight. My point being is when I look at the categories for my team in Wins, Ratio and ERA this will have a big impact. So instead of getting the impact starting pitcher I drafted, I am getting a negative player and then some. This is where my particular team has faltered. If Jimenez decides to turn it around, he only can take care of most of my problems making a shake up on my team useless. However, I am betting on Ubaldo Jimenez for the rest of the year and will not currently make any drastic moves to shake things up. Sometimes its about being patient and sticking with your guy.

The reason I illustrate Jimenez is because even though my team is middle of the pack right now, making a trade just to shake things up is not a smart move for me personally. But, not all situations this season are like mine. You may indeed need to make some changes especially if you are employing players who are performing poorly but have never proven themselves or you have too many injuries and too much dependance on the waiver wire, both of which can decimate a team.  If you are short in certain categories and need to make a trade to make things happen in those categories then you need to do look at everyone's roster and find a trade that works and is a smart move. Must keep in mind certain players get off to great starts and certain others start out slow. There have been many players to have huge years who had a bad first six weeks to the season. Look at your roster and carefully analyze each player and why you are struggling in particular categories. Sometimes it's hard being patient and you may need to make a trade ASAP to help your team but don't make a trade just because you feel the need to shake things up.

Everyone be well.

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Prospect Watch

It's just about that time of year when teams are filling holes due to injuries or poor performances and fantasy baseball leaguers are drooling over being the first to grab the next big superstar off the waiver wire. If you were smart and had the space, hopefully you drafted a few of these talented young players at the end of your draft and stashed away for what's about to come in the next few weeks. Below are a few of the prospects you need to keep an eye on as teams start to make the call ups. Most will arrive in June, so you'll want to get ahead of the game and grab and stash these players now in hopes they will fill a spot or upgrade your active roster when they become activated.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC - You might have already missed the boat here as he was called up last week while sending down Kila Ka'aihue. I was a fan of Kila and thought he'd atleast last a little longer but Hosmer has done well hitting a few HR's and coming up big against the Yankees. I got to see this guy hit for three games this week, this dude can rake! He's also better defensively than Kila and Billy Butler, so he should stick around in the majors the entire season.

Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC - Moustakas is the next best hitting prospect in the majors in my opinion. He's a HR and RBI machine and the Royals are carrying Wilson Betemit at 3B. While Betemit has actually been hitting well, he's just keeping the spot warm for Moustakas who the Royals probably want to hold back for service time as he's clearly ready. Moustakas is currently hitting .256/6HR/26RBI in 125AB.... that's money! I think I'll call him Money Moustakas!

Dustin Ackley, 2B, SEA - currently batting .247/5HR/17RBI/6SB in 150AB.  At first glance, the batting average looks like he needs more seasoning, which is probably true, but he's got a .374OBP with 31BB and 24K. So more walks then K's. I love that and you should too. We know the majors will be a different situation but you have to like what he's showing in AAA.  If he can get one hot 10 day stretch here in May, he'll be ready for a call up in June! He's already been compared to Chase Utley.

Dayan Viciedo, UT, CWS - The 22 year old Viciedo has been forced all around the field as the White Sox have no where for him to play. However, the White Sox currently stink and need some kind of offensive shakeup to get their bats going. Viciedo is currently hitting .307/5HR/29RBI. He's doesn't run much and he's not much of a walker, but he can hit and makes great contact. He's that type of hitter that never has a bad at bat. Since he came from Cuba and has been scuffled back and forth between the majors and minors the last 2 years, he doesn't get much respect on the prospect lists. This guy will get called up this year and make a splash and you'll miss the keeper boat if you're not paying attention.  Don't let the lack of hype pass you by, this guy can hit for AVG and power.

Desmond Jennings, OF, TB - Remember this guy? Currently batting .291/5HR/17RBI/8SB while sporting a .404OBP with 21BB/29K in 134AB. Sounds like he's ready. I'm not sure how much longer Sam Fuld can hold onto a spot but Jennings is ready. If he's sitting on that waiver wire, it's only a matter of time.

Julio Teheran, SP ATL - Already experienced a cup of tea in a spot start for Atlanta that didn't make you burst out of your shoes but in AAA he's currently at 1.91ERA/1.06WHIP/32K in 37IP with only 28H/12BB/0HR. He's clearly dominating AAA and the fact that Atlanta brought him up tells you that you should see him again soon. He's only 20 years old so even if he does get the call, temper your expectations. Otherwise though, he'll make for a great keeper and trade bait in the off-season because his stuff is super nasty!

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, SD - Rizzo is tering up AAA batting .373/10HR/45RBI/5SB/.442OBP. This is the guy that takes over the the power lost from Adrian Gonzalez. He's a low hyped prospect that can easily out hit the others above.

Brett Lawrie, 3B, TOR - Currently ripping up AAA batting .338/8HR/25RBI/9SB in 157AB. Lawrie needs work on his defense and is really the reason he's still in the minors other than service time of course. Lawrie possesses the power/speed combo we fantasy baseballers covet and he'll get a shot this summer if he keeps hitting like this, but let's hope that defense is improving!

So these are the big prospects we need to keep an eye on as they seem like the best to make an impact in the second half of 2011. Don't be lazy, do your homework, look at stats, look at team situations and make sure you grab and stash these guys early, especially in keeper leagues.

The Fantasy Man

Monday, May 09, 2011

Fantasy Baseball - Love and Hamstrings

What can I say about the Disabled List? It's like your weird Uncle. He's given you some great gifts over the years, maybe a great piece of advice here or there, but he's a nut. You don't mind seeing him, but you want him out of your house before he finds the Peppermint Schnapps.

My Disabled List consists of two spots. For several weeks, I never needed it, but now I am loaded with hurt players. It started with Rafael Furcal, then Victor Martinez. Logan Morrison was next up, and I was already out of spots. Since then, Jose Contreras and Pablo Sandoval have become DL-eligible as well, so I've had several tough decisions to make. I like the DL, don't get me wrong, it's handy...but when it's active, you get a sort of visceral attitude toward it.
Now I want this to serve as a guide to you n00bs because I am one of you after all, but rest assured, there is no ideal way to handle a lot of injuries (unless you can DL ALL of them, then Mazel Tov to ya).

As I said, Furcal went on the DL first. I was ready to cut him anyway, but I figured I'd throw him on the list and pick someone else up. I had the DL spot free, I may as well keep him regardless. V-Mart went on next, so that filled the DL. Once Morrison went on though, I had to move someone else off the DL and onto my active roster, or cut someone. That was a pretty easy decision, needless to say. Morrison to DL, Furcal, out.

The decisions since then have been trickier. I've made roster moves like crazy these last few weeks. Most of the moves are to spot-start Pitchers that I think have good matchups. I've solidified my Catcher position by snagging Mike Napoli from an impatient owner (qualifies for 1B as well, which is handy since I still only have Moreland there). To replace Morrison for a couple weeks, I felt like I could pick up a hot Outfielder and hope he sticks to it for a while. I got Jeff Francoeur, who has been filling in quite well for Morrison. I dropped Ryan Franklin (finally) and picked up Mitchell Boggs just around the time Franklin had officially lost his closer role.

As these injuries have piled up though, I've found that my ability to keep adding/dropping Starting Pitchers during the week to maximize my opportunities from those spots has been very limited. I think I've actually been doing better since I stopped doing that. Seems odd, you'd think that when I have a Starter going every day that I'd be gaining more points, but that hasn't panned out somehow. But hey, stick with what works, right? Perhaps this roster immobility is a blessing in disguise.

Anyway, I finally elected to let SP Jordan Zimmerman go in favor of SS/2B Darwin Barney because I need the SS. I have Marco Estrada who has been stellar for me in the...well, the one game he's pitched since then (losing 4-2 as I finish this piece). But, he qualifies as an RP as well as a SP. I slotted him in a RP role (so my 4 relievers were him, Rivera, K-Rod, and Boggs), and that worked nicely. Zimmerman became flexible after another questionable outing, so I'm opting to go short a RP in favor of having some depth to my bench offensively.

I think that's ultimately the best advice I can give as a newbie. If the DL starts to become more Hyde than Jekyll, consider how important the player in question is. Keep them if you can, but if it's like the decision I had with Furcal/V-Mart/Morrison, then you may have to dump someone. If they're valuable enough, ride it out. I don't like saying that you should have a dead spot on your roster for 2 weeks, but if they're good enough, you'll have to look at trade options and keep eyes on your long-term roster. Shrewd pickups, a good deal or two, and you can cover up that hole on your roster for a while. I'd recommend, if your league is anything like mine (Points League), going short a SP. Marco Estrada is moving back to the pen shortly (presumably) now that Greinke is back. I hate being short an RP, but my other closers are strong enough that I can survive it in the short term.

A good way to see how valuable your players are...check out the Players list in your league, and look over everyone, not just Free Agents, but everyone. Line them up by “Points” or “Points Per Game” and look over the list. Obviously, you'll need to do a little filtering, but you should be able to determine who the best/hottest players are throughout the year. My general rule is, if I have one player in the Top 10 (10 teams in my league, hence that number) at each position, I'm in good shape. I make adjustments for guys who missed time for whatever reason, and I will cut my guys some slack for having a player outside of the Top 10 who is gaining ground at a solid pace (like say, a Mitchell Boggs, who didn't start scoring big points until recently).

For example...here's how my 2-2 team looks:

My top C is ranked 3rd in points. With V-Mart coming back (and surprisingly, not that far outside the Top 10) I know I'm doing well there.
1B - Napoli and Moreland are ranked 16th and 19th. That sucks. Definitely an area I need to address.
2B– Cano is #1.
3B – A-Rod, Chipper, and the Panda are ranked 4, 6, and 8 in my league. I can easily afford to trade one of these guys.
SS – Picked up Yunel Escobar and Barney, which puts me in slightly better shape here. They're ranked 10th and 15th though. Not bad for a shallow position, but certainly a spot I need to monitor. Barney the Dinosaur would almost be an improvement over the guys I drafted...almost...the kid's show host is not available in my league though.
OF – Among my 6 active OF's and one on the DL, they rank 7, 31, 32, 34, 39, 45, 46. Not so hot. On the other hand, my top 4 are all underachieving, and I'm still confident they'll get it turned around. Cargo, McCutchen, Choo, Bruce...can you blame me for waiting it out with these guys (BTW, just got the news on Choo, and I'm not concerned about any suspensions, although I wonder how this will affect him over the next few days)? 39th is a strong spot for my 5th and final OF in a daily lineup, and they've all had very good days for me at some point.
DH – Ortiz is only 11th, but just had a great day, and I'm really not concerned with his current pace. I think this stock will rise as the year goes on. Maybe not the top DH, but he'll be quietly solid.
P – Top 3 SP's are 9, 31, and 50. Not great at all. My top 3 RP's are 8, 18, and 22. Starting Pitching could use some help, but given the major fluctuations I've had through the year so far, I'm neither surprised nor bothered by this. Carpenter, Kuroda, Nolasco, and Masterson are holding their own, and that's all I'm asking of them. SP was going to be my weak position, so I can't say I'm shocked here.

So I definitely have room for improvement. I like the idea of taking risks in fantasy sports, so I'll keep looking at Shortstops, maybe First Basemen that come up from the minors if they're in a good spot. But again, that DL will have to help me out, just like that crazy Uncle coming over to fix my sink.

David Bobke

Friday, May 06, 2011

Where's CarGo?

Let the NL King treat you to a fantasy baseball poem...

Where have you gone, Carlos Gonzalez
Fantasy Owners turn it's lonely eyes to you
Woo, Woo, Woo
What's that you say, NL King
Cargo has left and gone away
Say it ain't so, hey hey hey

Well, as a CarGo owner I am hear to tell you it ain't so. Yes I have been frustrated by CarGo's start like everyone else across the globe have been but it's interesting to note as I write this article on Friday morning May 6th where Cargo's numbers stand this morning compared to this time last year.

May 6th, 2011 - 2HR, 15RBI, 16R, 4SB, .245 AVG
May 6th, 2010 - 3HR, 20RBI, 18R, 4SB, .317 AVG

Other than the batting average Cargo's numbers are pretty much spot on to last season. CarGo's final numbers last year were 34HR, 117RBI, 111R, 26SB, .336 AVG. My message to all CarGo owners and all fantasy baseball owners in general out there from New York City to Austin, Texas to San Jose California to London England and even you fantasy baseball managers over in Hong Kong, Carlos Gonzalez is a stud and he will play to the back of his baseball card. 2011 will be a huge year for Carlos Gonzalez just be patient.

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, May 02, 2011

April Fantasy Baseball Thoughts for NL Only Leagues

These are some random fantasy baseball thoughts or advice in NL Only leagues based on the first month of the season. As the NL King, I like to think I know my NL players. Follow the logic.... A hitter like Carlos Gonzalez for example, can have an awful April and then have a hot 10 days and all of sudden his numbers look great. That is not uncommon as hitters catch fire and then can really put up numbers in a short period of time. Keep that in mind in regards to hitters that are struggling. Also, Home Run hitters tend to hit them in bunches. Another point is it seems to me that reading the various fantasy sites for information I notice these sites are very bandwagon as far as view points in their analysis. What I mean in that is when a guy is hot who looks like he is playing well over his head these sites talk about how this player is going to have a career year. Or, if a player is struggling they make it sound like he won't turn it around. Below are some of my real thoughts on some of our struggling stars.

Remember players are going to have peaks and valleys and it's your job to understand the talent of the player and the team he is on in terms of opportunity and what you can expect for his numbers over the course of a full season. Do not take what any one site says as Gospel. To illustrate this, after Mitchell Boggs got his first save a website said how he was the Cardinals closer of the future etc., etc., etc. After one blown save he was back in middle relief. Obviously that situation in St. Louis is very up in the air but my point being is do the research and think of the long term possibilities.
- Ubaldo Jimenez - April was an awful. That cuticle cut really has messed him up. I still expect his final numbers to be strong so don't let any other site influence you differently.
- Lance Berkman - Looked completely shot last year especially with the Yankees. Some how he cloned himself into Albert Pujols. I cannot see it lasting and with his body and age and playing the outfield every day. I expect Berkman to have a rough second half. Enjoy the ride while it lasts and quite frankly at the end of the day if Berkman gives you a $20 year you are way ahead of the game.
- Jorge De la Rosa - His track record indicates he is very up and down and that is reflective in his career ERA and Ratio. Also been known to catch the injury bug.
- Neil Walker - So far looks like last year was no fluke.
- Chris Coghlan - As long as he can stay healthy showing he can be a real good NL only bat.
- Josh Johnson - Didn't have a great spring and with his past injury issues a lot of people were a little concerned. Showing that he is one of the top starting pitchers in baseball.
 - Kyle Lohse - I am not buying in, at the end of the year could be a good depth starter for you but don't expect more than that.
 - Drew Storen - It doesn't matter he couldn't get anyone out in the Spring.
 - Troy Tulowitzki - Love to see his final numbers if he can play over 150 games.
 - Chipper Jones - Can be a solid bat just has to stay healthy which is a huge if. Can he hold up?
 - Alfonso Soriano - Not the same player he once was but if you make a mistake he can hit in out of the ballpark which is what is happening.
 - Ike Davis - I was wrong about him, don't get me wrong I liked Ike bit thought he could have a sophomore slump because I didn't think he would have any protection behind him and that would effect him. One of the few things Met fans should feel good about.
 - Drew Stubbs - Looking like a 4 category player with a .250 average. Looks like last year could be a typical year for him.
 - Stephen Drew - Excelling in the # 4 spot.
 - Tommy Hanson - I think he is about to take off.
 - Chris Young - I am from Missouri so you have to show me first that he can even be healthy for half a season.
 - Zack Greinke - Comes back this week so be patient as it could take him 3 or so starts to get rolling.
 - Pablo Sandoval - Bad break as Panda looked like he was getting back to 2009 form just at a much lower weight.
 - Logan Morrison - I liked this kid and thought he could be a sleeper for this year. Comes off the DL soon. Keep in mind while his numbers last summer were far from eye popping he always put up good at bats, had good game plan and I figured good things were ahead for this kid.
 - Angel Pagan - Be patient Pagan owners long season.
 - Shawn Marcum & Matt Garza - Big difference pitching in the NL Central than the AL East. Expect both to have real good years.
 - Carlos Beltran - Looks great I would be slightly concerned that the
Mets never give him a day off. They are going to run him into the ground if they keep this up.
Ian Stewart - Back with the Rocks, expect decent power numbers for this year. Again needs to put more balls in play way too many K's.
 - Raul Ibanez - When you start out like he has at his age people are going to say your done. He better get going because Dominic Brown is right around the corner.
 - Carlos Gonzalez - I predict a huge May for Cargo. He tried to do too much in April. Remember signed a big extension in the off-season and that could have lead to a slow start this year. That's very common.
 - Andrew McCutchen - I predict a big May as well, needs to get those caught steals down.
 - Pedro Alvarez - Off to a rough start remember how I said power hitters can be streaky. If you can buy low on him now - POUNCE !!!
 - Mat Latos - Keep the faith the injury probably set him back a little before hitting his grove. Although keep in mind how many IP he did last year compared to 09.
- Jonathan Broxton - Have to like the number of saves he has but he has looked awful. Saving grace is LAD has Kuo and Janse.
- Kelly Johnson - He is a streaky player so must keep that in mind so don't jump off the bridge yet.
- James Loney - Never been a fan, no pop.
- Hanley Ramirez - He will have a huge May, he is just pressing.
- Mike Pelfrey - I would be worried if I was a Pelfrey owner.
- Eduardo Sanchez - In terms of the St.Louis bullpen I predict no later than Memorial Day Weekend Eduardo Sanchez will be the Cardinals full time closer.

C. Lizza - NL King

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Win Your League with FantasyAlarm.com

Have you been to Fantasy Alarm yet? You can get fantasy player text and email alerts straight to your phone or pda!  It's awesome and now that the season has started, this tool will come in handy. Go to http://www.fantasyalarm.com/ to see how it works and sign up!  They give you a 14 day free trial, they have a BlogTalkRadio show, and many other cool features!  Great product! Try it out!