Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NL King - Arenado Up !!!

Sorry I did not get this article posted sooner. Things have been hectic. Over the weekend the Rockies promoted top 3B prospect Nolan Arenado and designated for assignment Chris Nelson. Nelson was under whelming in April (Nelson is a really a utility player) and Arenado continued his strong spring with a ridiculous April in AAA in Colorado Springs.

Arenado was the Rockies 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft. Prior to 2011 Arenado was already on the Baseball America top 100 Prospect list ranked at 80 and Arenado has been on BA top 100 the last 2 years as well ranked 42 in 2012 and 52 this year. Arenado was progressing very well and go into last season it seemed that a strong 2012 and Arenado could be the Rocks starting 3B come opening day in 2013. However Arenado had a very mediocre year last season in AA with 12HR-56RBI-55R-0SB-.285AVG-.337OBP in 134 games and 573 PA. Those numbers were not awful but that was not what the Rockies were expecting out of Arenado.

But keep in mind Arenado just turned 22 a couple of weeks ago so the Rocks felt Arenado needed another year of seasoning in the minors heading into Spring. Arenado came into Spring as the player the Rocks thought he was and had a very strong spring, so much so he was one of the last day cuts. I think the Rocks figured they had enough hitting and lets not rush him especially after his mediocre 2012. Also I am sure delaying Arenado's free agent 6 year clock came into play as well. So Arenado went down to AAA and tore it up for the month of April. In 75 Plate Appearances Arenado had 3HR-21RBI-14R-0SB-.364AVG-.392OBP-.667SLG-1.059OPS.

Arenado is off to a good start as he had a monster night last night at Dodger stadium going 3 for 6 with a HR, 2 RBI and 3 Runs scored. I highly advise picking up Arenado off of your leagues free agency / waiver wire if you can. I recommend being very aggressive in picking this kid up (I was in my league) as I believe Arenado has a strong chance to be a $20+ player this year in Auction leagues and I think he will be in the top of the voting for Rookie of the Year. Maybe Arenado won't be an impact bat his rookie year but I expect for him to be just a notch below that. I am very high on this kid as I have been tracking his progress the last 2 years. Buy on Arenado.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NL King - Weekly Thoughts

Okay a quick thought or two on each team as the season progresses. As I tweeted this morning today is April 23rd so we are still 8 days away from May. I know it's very frustrating to have your team get off to a bad start due to poor performances and or injuries. My own team is off to that kind of start. Remember it's a long 6 month race so be patient and keep looking at your leagues waiver wire / free agency to pick up guys who can help.

Atlanta - In my preseason article on BJ Upton I thought there was a strong chance BJ could get off to a slow start due to his new surroundings, new league and after signing the big contract. Upton's numbers will be there by season's end albeit with a sub .250 batting average.

Miami - I am very amazed by just how bad this team is. Mike Stanton has been dealing with a nagging injury situation so I believe he will wake up soon. But again if I was an opposing pitcher to the Marlins lineup why would I pitch to Stanton with the rest of his supporting cast?

New York - Matt Harvey / John Buck are some amazing stories. How long can this keep up?

Philly - Good to see Roy Halladay put up back to back good starts. He might not wind up being the #1 pitcher in the NL anymore by seasons end but I think there is a good chance his fantasy owners can at least get a quality numbers out of him.

Washington - They will hit their stride soon, I expect their bullpen to get rolling as well as Gio. Haren I expect to be at least decent as long as he is healthy.

Cubs - What is Anthony Rizzo going to do once he gets that batting average going? Yes he is hitting .191 but with 6HR's & 14RBI.

Cincinnati - I expect a hot streak to start any day for Votto & Bruce.

Milwaukee - Jim Henderson has calmed things down for that team. Let's see if he can keep it up.

Pittsburgh - Pedro Alvarez owners have to remember he is a very streaky hitter as well as being very feast or famine and he will be a low batting average guy.

St. Louis - Bullpen has been a mess except for Mujica who is now closing. I am surprised that Boggs struggled so much and it's not because of talent it's because of the mentality one has to have to be a closer.

Arizona - Ian Kennedy off to a slow start, as I wrote in my preseason article this is a key year for Kennedy to show us if he will be a prime time starter or a mediocre one.

Colorado - So many bats off to hot starts I wish I had one of them.

Dodgers - Matt Kemp owners relax he will catch fire very soon and he will pile up the numbers.

San Diego - As a Chase Headley owner glad to see he was able to come back a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Now if he can just perform like he did last year.

San Francisco - Hard to believe the starts of the season for Barry Zito & Matt Cain. Two different ends of the spectrum.

You can follow me on twitter @ TheNLKing.

Feel free to ask me fantasy baseball advice via twitter.

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, April 21, 2013

NL King - Rendon Up & R.Zimmerman Down

Well it's not even May and Ryan Zimmerman is already dealing with a injury situation, which has caused the Nationals to call up top prospect Anthony Rendon. Zimmerman recently suffered a hamstring injury and went for an MRI yesterday. After seeing the results the Nats put Ryan Zimmerman on the DL and called up Rendon. A bad hamstring injury can keep someone sidelined for a while and the fact the Nats brought up Rendon says to me that this injury is going to a situation where it will be much later than sooner. The Nats have not given a time frame on Ryan Zimmerman.

Rendon (23 years old) is the 6th overall pick of the 2011 draft and the kid is an offensive force. Rendon's biggest problem so far in his young career ironically is staying healthy. In his first 14 games in AA Rendon has 2HR, 7RBI, 8R, 0SB, .292 AVG, .462 OBP. Rendon is the Nats top prospect and projects as a middle of the order hitter with all-star potential. Rendon last year only had 133 AB's between Rookie ball and AA due to a fractured left ankle injury in early April last season. Rendon came back in July but did not really get going until his Arizona Fall League where is was most impressive.

The talent is there and for the Nats to call him up I believe the Ryan Zimmerman injury is signifcant. If your hitting lineup needs depth picking up Anthony Rendon is a good pickup. He is a rookie so don't expect him to be a savior but he does have a lot of talent.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NL King - Didi & Tony

Today I am doing a quick little article on Didi Gregerios of the Arizona D-Backs & Tony Cingrani of the Cincinnati Reds. Both started the season in AAA as top prospects for these organizations and both were mentioned in my March 9th Prospect article.

Didi Gregorius got hurt mid to late Spring which meant he would start the year in the minors for sure. Because of that injury Gregorius missed the beginning of the season and only has played 7 games in AAA but Didi has come out flying hitting .387 with a .424 OBP. Last season between AA & AAA Gregorius had a stat line of 7HR-54RBI-70R-3SB-.265 Avg as part of the Cincinnati Reds farm system. Gregorius was part of the 3 way trade between the Reds, D-Backs and Indians in the off-season. With all the injuries the D-Backs have and after they lost Aaron Hill for the next 4-6 weeks Arizona pulled the trigger and called up Gregorius. Didi will play but for starters at least Kirk Gibson will use different lineups between moving Prado around the diamond, Pennington, Chavez etc. Gregorius is the D-Backs shortstop of the future no doubt. There is no doubt that Gregorius will be a difference maker at shortstop in terms of his glove according to all the scouts. The question the scouts have is will Gregorius be a very good hitter, an okay hitter or an 8th place hitter with a great glove. The scouts have many different opinions on Didi but when GM Kevin Towers landed him in the trade he compared him to a young Derek Jeter. Now in terms of fantasy for this year, if you can pick him up via your waiver wire or league free agency depending upon your league rules without going crazy (for instance many leagues have a free agent budget) then it cannot hurt as Gregorius could be a nice depth / complementary hitter for you. I would not expect Gregorius to come out and be a big roto player but hey if John Buck can why not Didi. So Didi can help for this year but keep in mind Aaron Hill is only out 4-6 weeks and eventually Arizona will start to get some of their hitters back.

In terms of Tony Cingrani he is part of the plans for the Reds future rotation with Bronson Arroyo being up there in age and a free agent after this season. With Johnny Cueto going to miss probably between 4-6 starts Cingrani is going to get a shot in the rotation to show if he is ready. If Cingrani pitches well when Cueto returns that could more likely mean Mike Leake becomes a long reliever and Cingrani stays in the rotation. Cingrani had a strong year last season in AA going 5-3 with a 2.12 ERA & 1.10 Ratio. He has only made 3 starts this year in AAA and one was cut short (2 innings after Cueto got hurt over the weekend) but Cingrani has been dominant in his limited time this year in AAA going 1-0 without giving up a earned run in 14 1/3 IP with a 0.35 Ratio and 26K's. The majors leagues is much different than AAA so don't expect Cingrani to be an ace this year and the Great American Ballpark is a great hitters park. But the Reds are a strong team in terms of their lineup and bullpen so I can see Cingrani giving good value to NL only roto owners. Very few top pitching prospects arrive on the scene and dominant but no reason Cingrani cannot be at least good. His 1st start in the show should be the end of the week.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NL King - Early Surprises

Here is a quick rundown of some early surprises / comments per team. Again it's only mid April so I don't think John Buck will continues his pace and vice versa for Jason Heyward. So everyone keep that in mind.

Atlanta - Paul Maholm somehow put Greg Maddux brain and his arm into his body. It was a great story that Evan Gattis made the Braves but really now he is going to hit like John Bench.

Miami - I knew they would be bad but this bad? Who knows what this means in terms of how the front office handles this in terms of trades and when.

NY Mets - Yes Matt Harvey is a talented young pitcher but this is a bit crazy. Again John Buck is doing his best Mike Piazza impression.

Phillies - Again if Chase Utley is healthy he can be a franchise fantasy player. I find it hard to believe his knees will hold up over the course of an entire season but you never know.

Washington - How bad the Nats bullpen has been and blowing games for starters such as Ross Detwiler. As a Detwiler owner I am not happy.

Cincinnati - Have a deep team should feed off each other. No big surprises here.

Cubs - Carlos Villanueva would be a bigger surprise if the Cubs bullpen hasn't blown his 2 great games and he was 2-0. As a Villanueva owner I am not happy.

Milwaukee - I think they will be a bad team and now they are dealing with big injuries. Horrible bullpen, bad defense, mediocre starting pitching at best. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Brew Crew move some people come this summer like Corey Hart or maybe even just blow the whole team up.

Pittsburgh - I know their hitting is a bit challenged outside of McCutchen but I didn't think it was this bad. Good to see Marte get off to a great start.

St Louis - I thought Boggs had enough experience in MLB to handle the 9th inning obviously having a mental challenge right now.

Arizona - Despite all the injuries playing well because they have a deep team. I am not surprised I picked them to win the division.

Colorado - I know he is a streaky player but I am surprised how good Dexter Fowler has been so far. If he keeps this up the Rockies won't be able to afford to keep him.

Dodgers - I am surprised how good Carl Crawford & Ryu have been right out of the blocks. Yes Matt Kemp has had an awful start he will be fine Kemp owners relax.

San Diego - Critical year on tools player Cameron Maybin, Padres should give him a long leash because they are going nowhere but one has to wonder.

SF Giants - Barry Zito really?

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NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, April 12, 2013

NL King - Weekly Thoughts

Okay here is the next weekly thoughts per team.

Atlanta - Jason Heyward will be a stud so Heyward owners show patience and my Mike Minor article is looking good.

Miami - Already whispers of Giancarlo Stanton trade rumors.

NY Mets - Matt Harvey just might emerge as a front line starter this year. I have heard comparisons to Justin Verlander.

Phillies -So far Chase Utley looks like the Utley in his prime but can his body hold up? Halladay owners have to be very concerned.

Washington - Jason Werth is showing when healthy he is a strong fantasy player.

Cubs - The Cubs can say what they want Carlos Marmol days of closing for the Cubs are over. They did sign Fujikawa to a 2 year 10 million dollar deal in the off-season which said it was only a matter of time before he become the closer. This is also the last year of Marmol's contract.

Reds - Todd Frazier since last June has finally been given a chance to play everyday and he has shown to be a very good power bat. Will have a bigger role and better spot in the lineup with Ludwick out the 1st half.

Milwaukee - Carlos Gomez off to a slow start and the Brew Crew needs him now. Was 2012 a 1 year wonder and now that he got a nice fat 3 year extension is the desire waning a bit?

Pittsburgh - Nice start from the talented Starling Marte. McCutchen needs help around him.

Cardinals - Boggs blow up the other day was a combination of a bloop double, infield single, an error and Mike Matheny strange strategy of intentionally walking 2 players. Boggs will be fine.

Arizona - Goldschmidt will become an elite fantasy player this year.

Colorado - Tulo is showing everyone as long as he is healthy he will put up huge numbers. Fowler will as well as long as he can stay healthy and consistent.

Dodgers - Nice to see a big start by Car Crawford hopefully his body holds up, remember he has not played a lot of baseball the last couple of years. Greinke fluke injury is an absolute killer to Greinke owners and once again shows how luck plays such a huge role on having a top team in fantasy baseball.

San Diego - Wow this is one weak lineup.

San Francisco - The Giants need Brandon Belt to be a good player. This is a make or break year for Belt.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NL King - Don't Fall into April Panic

Okay this is a service announcement to all Roto owners about making April trades. I am very leery about making April trades. Unless you walked out of your draft and said to yourself "self I am way short on steals or power or starting pitching etc" my advice is to let your team breathe in the month of April and see where you stand in your league come May 1st.

Certain players will get off to hot starts and certain players will be ice cold. But you have to remember the baseball regular season is a marathon. It's a 6 month season. There are a lot of players who are doing great the first 10 days of the season but a lot of these guys who are red hot now have had a history of being streaky or inconsistent players or injury prone etc.

My point being is making a trade is a very big move so if you left your draft and felt that your team had a number of strengths and balance to it and the categories that you needed to work on you are in striking distance then I say let's see how your team looks come May 1st. I would keep an eye on your leagues free agency / waiver wire sometimes picking up a small player this time of the year could wind up being a huge move. In my league this time last year the owner who winded up winning the league picked up Wade Miley off the free agency list for a minimum bid. Miley went on to have a huge year. That does happen so comb through your free agent / waiver wire lists and do everything you can to see if you can find these kind of small moves that can help your team both in big and small ways.

But most important don't panic yourself into making an April trade because I have seen it really bite people in the past. Having said that if someone approaches you with a trade in April, take a look at it, analyze it thoroughly and maybe you can take advantage of someones April panic.

You can follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, April 07, 2013

NL King - Week 1 Thoughts

I will do an article once a week with some of my thoughts based on what I am seeing and reading.

- Justin Upton off to a big start which could mean an MVP like year. No longer has to worry about the trade rumors and playing with his brother seems to be a good thing. Juan Francisco & Chris Johnson will play everyday now with Freeman on the DL with an oblique. Oblique's are 3 weeks minimun, most of the time it's a month.

- I am not saying to push the Roy Halladay panic button yet but have to be concerned after his spring. Remember though Halladay is the ultimate competitor and may no longer be an ace but could still be a solid pitcher. But needs to put together some solid starts.

- Bryce Harper is going to have a monster season. I know I am being captain obvious here.

- I like Matt Harvey but the let's see how he performs after the league see's him more. Not going to face the Padres on a frigid night every time.

- How is Giancarlo Stanton going to put up numbers in that lineup?

- Reds have enough hitting that they can live with Heisey & Paul in left field for the 1st half. This is Heisey window to show he can be an everyday player.

- Mitchell Boggs has the stuff to be a closer just needs more experience. He has pitched well so far a HBP cost him a save this week.

- Brewers look like they are in for a rough year now with Aramis Ramirez on the DL and Corey Hart still a bit away and Ryan Braun can't move his neck. That bullpen is awful and John Axford owners are lucky the Brewers really don't have that many options back there.

- McCutchen needs help from others.

- It didn't take long for Marmol to lose the closers job. Despite the poor performance by Fijikawa last night he is now the Cubs closer. Marmol is on the last year of his deal so the Cubs will move forward.

- Arizona has a very balanced team more people should be talking about them.

- Lincecum 7 walks in his first start not what Lincecum owners wanted to see.

- Clayton Kershaw with just a little run support might win 25 games this year.

- Rockies have so many issues and sending down Tyler Colvin who hit .290 with 18HR's last season is mighty confusing.

- Boy do the Padres need Chase Headley back in that lineup.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, April 04, 2013

NL King - Kyle Lohse What to Expect

Since Kyle Lohse went through a very strange off-season I thought it would be a good idea to write an article on him and what to expect in terms of his stats for 2013. Lohse who turned 34 last October is coming off a career year where he went 16-3, 2.86 ERA, 1.09 Ratio, 143K in 211 IP. All those numbers were career highs for Lohse as he finished 7th in the Cy Young voting last season.

Quite a year to have heading into free agency but Lohse and his super agent Scott Boras due to a number of factors found themselves not getting that mega deal. Lohse watched players like Edwin Jackson & Annibal Sanchez cash in big time but like a game of musical chairs Lohse found himself without a chair. It wasn't until the end of Spring Training that Lohse signed a 3 year deal for 33 million dollars with the Brewers.

Now in terms of projecting this year can Lohse repeat his fantastic 2012 season? Well Lohse did have a real good season in 2011 as well ending up with 14 wins, 3.39 ERA, 1.17 Ratio, 111K in 188+ IP. But from 2004 through 2010 Lohse only had 1 season where he had double digit wins (15 in 2008 for Stl), an ERA below 4.00 (also in 2008 with a 3.78 ERA) and never a ratio below 1.30. Plus Lohse has always been a low strikeout guy. Lohse 12 year career numbers are with a 4.45 ERA & 1.37 Ratio.

So at the age of 33 with the help of the Cardinal organization and maybe Dave Duncan in 2011 did Kyle Lohse unlock something and turned himself into a front line pitcher? It appears that has happened, however there are number of things that has me considered about Kyle Lohse. for 2013. First he did not have a regular spring training. Yes he worked out and threw on his own but spring training is very important especially for the pitchers. Secondly he is leaving the Cardinal organization and St.Louis seems to get the most out of players like Kyle Lohse. These kind of players leave St.Louis for bigger dollars and are never close to being the same it seems to me. Thirdly that Brewer ballpark the ball flies out of there more so than a lot of other ballparks. Another reason is Kyle Lohse is not a pitcher who has killer stuff he will get you out by really hitting his spots. If Lohse is a bit off he can struggle and given he hardly had a spring training this concerns me. Finally when Lohse pitches well you have to worry about that Brewer bullpen coughing up wins for Lohse.

I am not saying Lohse can't be a decent pitcher but I see a lot of warning signs so I would not expect nowhere near the season Lohse put up last season. My expectation is Lohse will be a secondary depth starter this season given all the factors with the chance of having a down year.

Again feel free to send me NL advice questions via twitter. You can follow me on twitter @ TheNLKing.

NL King - C.Lizza