Friday, May 31, 2013

NL King - Frustration Can't Lead to the "R" Word

In my recent discussions with a number of Roto owners whose teams are struggling at this point I heard a lot of frustration come out which is only natural. I myself at this point and time in my league am at the bottom of the standings. If it wasn't for bad luck I would have no luck at all but you guys don't want to hear me whine. But getting back to my point I have heard so much frustration from fellow struggling owners and the Rebuilding word has come up.

Now if your in a keeper league and depending upon your league rules there could come a point and time where rebuilding is the right choice for your team. Every league is different and then is no cookie cut formula of when you should rebuild. You must know your league and all of the nuances of it in making this decision. For instance in my league we can only keep up to 10 players prior to the draft and no minor leaguers with rookie status who is not going to be on the opening day roster of that season can be kept as well. In addition because over the years there has been so much controversy regarding rebuilding in my league we made a rule a few years ago that no team can make a rebuilding trade until July 1st & the commissioner of our league we have the authority to decide what is a rebuilding trade.

While one's team is off to a bad start you have to look at few things. First off why am I off to a bad start? Is it injuries, is it certain proven players right now their numbers are down 20%, is certain proven players off to awful starts, what is it? Then you have to look at each category and where you stand and look at the potential of making up ground. So for instance if I told you my team was last in HR's you would say Chris that's terrible. But if I told you I am last in HR's but I am only 7 HR's behind 8 teams in a 11 team league you would say wow what an opportunity you have to pick up a lot of points. So again you need to understand your roster & the categories in making big decisions such as rebuilding.

Rebuilding is a button kind of like Def Con 5 (remember the 80's movie War Games with a young Matthew Broderick?) button once you push it that's it and your season is over. I find that many times so many owners are so frustrated and so mad at their team they say to themselves "I know what I am going to do I am going to rebuild". Of course many of your colleagues in the top of the standings give you a sympathetic ear and say yes that's the way to go and by the way I will give this nice future player for one of your stars.

The problem I think with rebuilding one's team today is their are so many players that are inconsistent and when getting players at good contracts who are doing well this season does not mean their performance is a given for next season. For instance in my league in the off-season in an attempt to finish in the money last season an owner traded two very low contract players last August in Kris Medlen & Josh Rutledge. This off-season after just missing out on the money that owner said "boy I wish I had those players back". Well as much as they were highly regarded going into this season Rutledge is now back in the minors and there is no more talk currently he is the Rocks future 2B and Medlen everyone had pegged for an ace is 1-6 with a 3.48 ERA & 1.36 Ratio.

In rebuilding there needs to be two aspects for it to make sense. First you have to feel either you have no chance or very little chance  to contend for at least a money position in your league and second you are confident you are getting significant pieces for the following season at excellent contracts. Those two elements must exist otherwise why would you give up on your season?

So I am writing this article to once again remind everyone there is still a lot of season left and as much as your team has gone through a bad streak it's capable of going through a hot streak as well. I practice what I preach because as low as I am in the standings I still believe with my team a good season is possible. Most importantly do not let your frustrations lead you to bad decisions such as rebuilding when you shouldn't.

Next article Monday morning.

Follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, May 30, 2013

NL King - Marlins 13 Worst NL Roto Team Ever

Going into this season I think all of us roto players and especially NL only league players knew that the 2013 version of the Miami Marlins would be very bad. But did we all think it would be this bad? As of Wednesday morning the Marlins are 13-39, that's a .250 winning percentage. To put that in perspective the Marlins are on pace to win between 40 - 41 games this season. That will go down as one of the all time worst MLB seasons. They have a chance to be worse than the 62 Mets (40-120, .250 Winning %) & the 1935 Boston Braves (38-115, .248 Winning %). There are 3 teams worst than that but all were part of the dead ball era including the all time worst winning percentage the 1899 Cleveland Spiders who went 20-134 with a .130 winning percentage but all of you guys knew that already. On top of that from a Roto perspective it's probably been worse than their record.

- Only Ozuna has a batting average above .280 (.316 but only has 98 AB's). And only 3 Marlin hitters are hitting above .260

- Ruggiano has 8HR's no one else has more than 3.

- Only 2 players have scored more than 15 runs (Ruggiano & Pierre)

- Ruggiano has 22RBI but no one else has more than 12.

- Pierre has 13 Steals & Ruggiano has 7 but no one else has more than 2.

- GianCarlo Stanton who is an absolute stud has been a dud so far as he got off to a terrible start then when he finally looked like he was getting it gone he injured his hamstring badly. Stanton has missed most of May and his stats are 3HR, 9RBI, 8R, 1SB, .227 Avg

- Only Nolasco & Sanabia (who is now hurt) have at least 3 wins.

- Actually Nolasco, Slowey & Fernandez have been put good numbers albeit with very little wins.

- Steve Cishek has 6 saves but has been terrible as he has a 4.87 ERA & 1.48 Ratio & the Marlins are now using a closer by committee but again how many save chances does the team get.

Expect the Marlins to trade before the July 31st deadline Nolasco, Pierre, Slowey & Cishek as the Marlins are in full rebuild mode and Nolasco, Slowey & Pierre are free agents after the season. I do not expect Stanton to be traded until the off-season. It's going to be a few miserable seasons for the Marlins both in terms of the NL East standings as well as the Roto standings.

Follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NL King - The Art of the Trade

This is an article I posted back during Spring Training and I post this article every year during that time. But since in most leagues trade talks are getting hot and heavy, I thought it was a good idea to post this article again. I believe these points in terms of the art of the trade will really help everyone out there in Fantasy Baseball Land.

1 - Respect Your Fellow Owner
I know there is a segment of fantasy baseball owners who feel they should start with a low ball offer. Personally, if you're in a competitive league I don't see how you can expect a low ball offer to be accepted or close to being accepted. Furthermore, a vast majority of owners get very upset and insulted when you present them with a low ball offer. Also, not only will they not accept the offer, but most likely they will not counter back with a dialogue. In the future they will remember your poor offer and say to themselves ... :why am I going to contact that owner?" Knowing this, always send an offer that you can honestly say is at least fair.

2 - Interest Level
Has another owner communicated to you in the past ... "I really like so and so." Or has the owner had the player you are offering in the past ... and did that player do well for that owner? If you got the player in the most recent draft, was that owner involved in the bidding towards the end? The reason I am asking these questions is because if we can establish the other owners on a specific player or players, you are heading in the right direction to get a deal done.

3 - The Smell Test
Before sending an offer over to that particular owner, review it one final time and ask yourself ... Does it pass the smell test? The trade works for me but how does it work for the other owner? Now everyone has different values on players and opinions and different philosophies on putting their team together. If you can look at the offer and honestly say this is a fair offer, then it passed the smell test.

4 - Communication
When the owner gets back to you and let's say declines the offer, try to establish a dialogue and find out why he turned down the deal and see if it's possible to change some of the parameters around to get a deal done. You need to effectively communicate to get deals done.

5 - Strike When the Iron is Hot
If a deal is close and the difference is slight, do everything you can to get that deal over the finish line. Also if you are close and sense that other owner is ready to make a deal do not sit and wait keep the communication going and get the trade talks over the finish line. Many owners sometimes become inflexible when it's 1st and goal to get a deal done. Do not fall into that trap. Also, you allow the opportunity for other owners to communicate with the person you are close to a deal with and that other owner can swoop in and make a deal with the other owner you are trying to finalize a deal with. Again when you are close do everything you can to get it done.

6 - To Quote the late great Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse "Always Be Nice"
Always keep it friendly and positive. Good attitude and camaraderie help get deals done in my experience.

Final Point
Even if you cannot get a deal done and if you followed these points, the next go around with that same owner on a possible trade could work to your advantage. You have established a positive rapport and given yourself a better chance to get a deal done in the future.

Follow me on twitter @ TheNLKing.

NL King - C.Lizza 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

NL King - When Will Ike Get Right ?

One of the many mysterious so far to this season is the disastrous start by NY Mets 1B Ike Davis. So much so that a trip to the minors could happen to get his swing  and confidence right. In Sunday nights game Ike got the game winning hit in the 8th inning, a 2 run single so maybe that gives him a bit of a boost. But first let's look at Ike's background going into this season.

Was regarded as a top prospect as he was a 1st round pick in 2008 Had a solid rookie year in 2010 as Ike came up in late April and in 147 games put up 19HR, 71RBI, 73R, 3SB & .264 Avg. Ike' sophomore season looked like he was going to be even better until a freak injury in May of 2011 and KO'd his season after just playing in 36 games where Ike went 7HR, 25RBI, 20R, 0SB, .302 Avg. But going into last season Ike had two things going against him, first he had not played since May 10th the previous year and Ike was struggling with some sort of effects of valley fever. So when Ike struggled in the 1st half last season in 2012 it wasn't a huge surprise and could be explained. But Ike had a huge second half and his body started to feel better and get back in the swing of things (pun intended) and finished with stats of 32HR, 90RBI, 66R, 0SB, .227 Avg. The average was horrible but everyone felt Ike got things straightened out and the valley fever was behind him.

This season Ike has looked worse than last year. Going into Monday May 27th games Ike's stats are 4HR, 11RBI, 14RBI, 0SB, .158v Avg. Ike has struck out 54 times in 152 AB's and only has 6 extra base hits. If Ike did not get that 2 run single in Sunday nights game and struck out instead I think it's quite possible he could have be sent down to the minors on Monday morning May 28th. But for now Ike is here and can he finally get it going? I am not saying Ike's hitting mechanics are one of Paul Molitor or Tony Gwynn but he is not the hitter he has shown this season so far. Has Ike got into bad habits so far this season yes but like most athletes the biggest problem they have when the go into a huge slump is CONFIDENCE !!!!

When you struggle as much as Ike has his confidence has to be at an all time low even worse than last year. It does happen and it happens to the best players in any sport. In 2002 Pete Sampras who hold not won a tournament since 2000 at Wimbledon was in the worst slump of his career. Sampras at times looked like a park player they way he was hitting the ball. But he was back at Wimbledon in 2002 where Sampras was a 7 time champion so only good things could happen right? That's a big no as Sampras lost in the 2nd round to 145th ranked qualifier from Switzerland George Bastl. Sampras after the tournament called up his old coach Paul Annecone (now Roger Federer's coach) and begged him to come back and help him. Annecone did but the next round of tournaments leading into the US Open Sampras failed miserably losing to everyone along the way. So Pete entered the US Open as the 17th seed ad won his first two matches against top 100 players playing good enough to win. Then Sampras found a way to win a 5 set match against Greg Rusedski (33th seed) although he struggled mightly and found a way to win which he had not been doing. Then in the next round Pete played Tommy Haas who was playing well and many people thought Pete didn't have a chance. Pete didn't have his A game yet but played well and beat Haas in 4. Then in the Quarters Pete played the young American Andy Roddick and the old Pete came out trounced Roddick in straights. In the semi's Pete got a good draw and beat veteran Sjeng Schalken and low and behold faced his old time rival in the finals Andre Agassi and beat him in 4 sets to win his 5th US Open, 14th grand slam and win the last match he ever played on the tour.

How did this happen when Pete could barely beat anyone leading into the US Open? Confidence my friends when you don't believe in life you can accomplish a certain task but it playing major league baseball, professional tennis, presenting a new business pitch or solving a problem in you office the odds of one being successful is about zero. You have to believe to be succesful in anything one does in life. So when a baseball player is in a massve slmup it's like the old saying goes a couple of bloop hits or seeing eye hits then one good hit and then a big hit and away you go. It can happen that quickly. I believe this coming week is a huge week for Ike Davis. He does not have to be the National League player of the week but he needs to start moving forward. If he doesn't the Mets are going to have no choice but to send him to AAA in Vegas. So for Ike and all of us out there believe in yourself no matter what. You can't do anything unless you do. Who would of thought todays article would have a flare of Tony Robbins and a comparision to Pete Sampras.

Follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, May 24, 2013

NL King - Biggest Disappointments So Far by Position

Okay yesterday you got biggest surprises by position, today you get biggest disappointments by position with commentary for what to expect going forward.

Please keep in mind stats as of Thursday am 5/23

Miguel Montero - Arz - 3HR, 14RBI, 13R, 0SB, .189 Avg
Montero is a proven .280 - .285 hitter he will be fine, he better be he is on my team.

First Base:
Ike Davis - NY - 4HR, 9RBI, 14R, 0SB, .147 Avg
Got off to a horrible start last year but could blame that on the effects from the Valley Fever he was suffering from but as bad as Ike's numbers are he has looked worse at the plate. I think he is heading to the minors any day.

Second Base:
Rickie Weeks - Mil - 3HR, 10RBI, 20R, 4SB, .169 Avg
Great numbers for someone hitting .168 but Weeks is showing he is a poor average hitter with all his K's you think he get the memo. Doesn't look like it.

Danny Espinosa - Wsh - 3HR, 12RBI, 1SB, .163 Avg
I own him so I feel your pain. He had a rough 1st 6 weeks last year so be patient. I know he is not a great average hitter but has almost been a 20/20 man last 2 years. I know it requires literally biting a bullet but be patient.

Third Base:
Michael Young - Phil - 1HR, 10RBI, 17R, 0SB, .287 Avg
How do you have so little numbers with nearly a .300 average & .400 OBP? I thought he would have a little more punch.

Outfield #1
Matt Kemp - LA - 2HR, 17RBI, 21R, 7SB, .270 Avg
I believe there is a huge hot streak coming shortly stay patient.

Outfield #2
BJ Upton - Atl - 4HR, 7RBI, 12R, 3SB, .155 Avg
When I wrote in the pre-season I can see a very slow start due to monster contract and switching leagues I never thought it would be this bad. I still expect for him to reach numbers similar to last year just you have to realize he is a poor batting average player.

Outfield #3
Dernard Span - Wsh - 0HR, 11RBI, 18R, 5SB, .266 Avg
Not that I thought Span was start showing power but going to the Nats I thought he would evaluate his game. So I am bit disappointed in him being the leadoff hitter on that team but quite frankly practically the whole Nats team has been a disappointment.

Starting Pitcher #1
Ryan Vogelsong - SF - 2W, 7.19 ERA, 1.73 Ratio, 40K in 46 1/3 IP
Vogelsong was a solid pitcher the last 2 years and has got off to a disastrous start this year. Finally was having a big start last night and then after 5 shutout innings broke his hand and is now out roughly 6 weeks. Hope he can be a steady Eddie for the 2nd half.

Starting Pitcher #2
Roy Halladay - Phil - 2W, 8.65 ERA, 1.46 Ratio, 35K in 34 1/3 IP
The hammering that went on in the spring continued during the season and then there was the shoulder injury. Shoulder injuries are really bad especially given Doc's age and mileage. Not sure if we see him again this year.

Starting Pitcher #3
Matt Cain - SF - 3W, 5.12 ERA, 1.17 Ratio, 56K in 63 1/3 IP
How do you have a 5.43 ERA with a 1.21 Ratio? Well when you give up 13 HR's in 9 starts that's how. I have full confidence in Matt Cain will finish as the upper echelon starter that he is.

Starting Pitcher #4
Dan Haren - Wsh - 4W, 5.54 ERA, 1.43 Ratio, 36K in 50 1/3 IP
Good news is he has been healthy bad news has not been very effective. 64 Hits allowed in 50 1/3 IP is not a good sign.

Starting Pitcher #5
Jonathan Niese - NY - 3W, 4.80 ERA, 1.62 Ratio, 31K in 54 1/3 IP
One of the many Mets off to a very bad start. 27 Walks in 54+ Innings is very alarming.

Where do I start? Jason Motte is out for the year with Tommy John, Cishek off to a bad start and that team averages a win a week, Marmol & Axford got off to a terrible starts and lost their jobs. Putz was ineffective but was not losing his job as of yet but then got injured. Closers has been a mine field and has many owners in various NL only leagues asking to take away Saves as a category.

Okay I am taking off for the Memorial Day Weekend, everyone enjoy the weekend and the best to our troops present & past for what they have given to this country.

Follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, May 23, 2013

NL King - Unexpected Surpises by Position

Okay so I am going to break down by position the big unexpected surprises in the NL so far this year and what to expect going forward.

Stats as of Wednesday am 5/22

John Buck - NY - 10HR, 31RBI, 21R, 1SB, .224 Avg
Starting to cool off and the Mets play him almost every game because they have a AA player as their backup and hardly anyone is hitting in Mets lineup. I am predicting he will wear down tremendously.

Evan Gattis - Atl - 9HR, 23RBI, 16R, 0SB, .254 Avg
This cinderalla story is making the Braves think let Brian McCann walk after this year.

First Base:
Yuniesky Betancourt - Mil - 8HR, 26RBI, 14R, 0SB, .230 Avg
Reality is starting to set in as he is 6 for last 47 with zero stats other than 2 RBI. Only got a chance by Brew Crew because of all of their injuries, glass slippery is falling off & Corey Hart will be back soon.

Second Base:
Matt Carpentar - Stl - 3HR, 15RBI, 34R, 0SB, .293 Avg
Super utility player is being given a chance to play every day and giving good production. Keep in mind Cards have a real good 2B prospect in AAA in Kolten Wong so Carpentar needs to keep producing.

Shortstop #1:
Jean Segura - Mil - 7HR, 20RBI, 26R, 14SB, .353 Avg
Already written on article on him how he is playing like A-Rod in his prime. I have no clue what to tell you.

Shortstop #2 - No 3B so you get 2 SS
Brandon Crawford - SF - 5HR, 23RBI, 24R, 0SB, .283 Avg
Already career high for HR in a season, 1st 2 seasons hit a combined .213. Time will tell if he unlocked something or this is a mirage.

Outfield #1
Domonic Brown - Phil - 8HR, 23RBI, 16R, 2SB, .248 Avg
At the end of Spring was talking about he would start the year in AAA then Delmon Young got hurt. The former top prospect is off to a very good start. His name will be in the lineup everyday as long as he contributes.

Outfield #2
Carl Crawford - LA - 5HR, 11RBI, 26R, 8SB, .297 Avg
Considering he was still dealing with injuries late in the spring, producing at this level is a major surprise. Huge injury risk going forward.

Outfield #3
AJ Pollock - Arz - 4HR, 15RBI, 20R, 5SB, .246 Avg
D-Backs have a lot of outfielders and Adam Eaton is on the comeback trail so he needs to continue to produce because a lot of competition in that OF. Has cooled off the last 2 weeks.

Starting Pitcher #1
Matt Harvey - NY - 5W, 1.55 ERA, 0.72 Ratio, 68K in 63 2/3 IP
Are we surprised he has been good no but are we surprised he is pitching like Koufax yes. Harvey looks like the real deal.

Starting Pitcher #2
Patrick Corbin - Arz - 7W, 1.44 ERA, 0.98 Ratio, 51K in 62 1/3 IP
Won the 5th starting spot late in the spring, he was a guy who could be someone you got at the end of the draft for a cheap price who could be a depth starter but instead he is pitching like his going to win the Cy Young. Corbin has to cool off hard to believe he is a front of the rotation starter.

Starting Pitcher #3
Scott Feldman - Cubs - 4W, 2.19 ERA, 1.16 Ratio, 39K in 49 1/3 IP
Had over a 5 ERA last year granted was for the Rangers in the AL but this magic carpet ride will cool off soon.

Starting Pitcher #4
Travis Wood - Cubs - 4W, 2.24 ERA, 0.93 ERA, 39K in 60 1/3 IP
You forget he had a very impressive rookie year and then the last 2 years kind of lost his way. Again he is not a front of the rotation starter but very easily can be great secondary guy.

Starting Pitcher #5
Jeff Locke - Pitt - 4W, 2.73 ERA, 1.16 Ratio, 32K in 52 2/3 IP
Was fighting in spring for 5th starting spot and is pitching like front end guy. Again a nice prospect in the Pirates system but more of a strong secondary guy than a front end guy.

Jason Grilli - Pitt - 0W, 18SV, 1.31 ERA, 0.77 Ratio, 32K in 20 2/3 IP
Has been a strong 8th inning man last 2 years of his career and the Pirates thought he had the mentality to be a closer and they were right. However this will not be a year for Grilli circa 2003 Eric Gagne

Follow me on twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

NL King - New Sheriff in Town and His Name is Goldschmidt

At the quarter poll of the season Paul Goldschmidt is emerging as one of the top NL Roto bats. Goldschmidt is entering his prime ages as he is just 25 and has had a good amount of major league success coming into this season. In 2011 Goldschmidt got called up to the Show mid summer and put up nice numbers in 48 games, 8HR, 26RBI, 28R, 4SB, .250 Avg, .333 OBP. Then going into last season Goldschmidt was given the chance to show he was an everyday player. Goldschmidt had a strong 1st full season in MLB so much so that the D-Backs signed Goldschmidt to a 5 year deal for 32 Million with a team option for a 6th year. Goldschmidt finished last season with 20HR, 82RBI, 82R, 18SB, .286 Avg, .359 OBP. Quietly Goldschmidt put up a 5 category season if you will. In fact even though he did not have the longest of resumes one had to think Goldschmidt was one of the top 5 1B in the NL going into this season.

Then this season happened and Godlschmidt has erupted. So far his stats are 12HR, 35RBI, 29R, 4SB, .333 Avg & .414 OBP. Goldschmidt is now the D-Backs number 3 hitter and he has a good supporting cast around him and plays in a very hitter friendly ballpark. You have heard me say many times that Arizona home park the ball flies there.

While I don't know if Goldschmidt will keep a .333 average up I expect a plus average from him at the minimum with big HR numbers close to 100 R & RBI and at least 15 steals to finish this season. In fact when this season ends I believe we will all consider Goldschmidt the #1 NL Fantasy Baseball 1B (yes passing Joey Votto) and one of the top fantasy hitters in the NL.

Follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NL King - Breaking Down Bad Starts

A lot of owners out there in Fantasy Baseball Land are freaking out what position they are in their league standings and how far they are out of first place. Okay I am hear to tell you to take a breath and let's analyze a number of things.

The Percentage Categories:
As I have written before every season everyone must respect the percentage categories of Batting Average, ERA & Ratio. Now we are just at the one quarter poll and there is still 75% of the season left but need to analyze certain facts about your team if you are struggling in these categories.

- Is you batting average bad because you have put together too many low average hitters or is it you have a number of proven hitters just off to really bad starts. So is it you have way too many Dan Uggla's or Pedro Alvarez's or is it you have proven guys just off to terrible starts like Miguel Montero?

- ERA & Ratio I ask the same question is it you have a lot of iffy guys who are killing you or is it  you have a number of decent to good pitchers off to bad starts. That's a huge difference because depending upon the answer the right strategy could be patience versus looking to make trades.
Remember about Batting Average you have 14 hitters potentially everyday to get your batting average in gear so it's a lot easier to get your batting average back to where it belongs than the pitching categories of ERA & Ratio. In pitching again a starter only pitches once every 5 days and a reliever on a given week will pitch 3 to 4 innings. There is plenty of time obviously left in the season but you want to start improving in the percentage categories at least to getting within striking distance of moving up these categories by the halfway mark.

The Whole Number Categories:
Unlike the Percentage Categories the remaining 7 Categories are Whole Number Categories where you only add to your numbers. You don't wake up this morning with your team having 50HR's and then tomorrow morning you at 48. Also in regards to these categories it's a lot easier to move up in the categories very quickly with a hot streak. But let's consider some analytical facts in breaking down where you are in the standings.

Let's say you are 10HR's behind really picking up a lot of points. At this stage of the season especially in an NL only league that seems like a lot and you can get down on your team very quickly. But what does that mean? The season is roughly 6 weeks old so being 10HR's down from a bunch of points means that other grouping so far has averaged 1.67 more HR's per week than you or 0.83 per half week. That doesn't seem like a lot at all does it? Furthermore with 75% of the season left that's your team needs to average 0.55 more HR's per week or 0.27 more HR's per every half week. Use this break down for every category and then look at your team and in many cases I think you will see how your team really is not that far behind.

Breaking it down even more let's use that being behind by 10HR example again. When looking at your squad you might find that your big HR hitters are down a bit, your good players are down a bit and a couple of injuries have hampered your numbers as well. That can all turn around very quickly. Understanding why you are down in a certain category is very important because that will lead to good decision making on the right course of action.

Final point is being objective and looking at your roster as you did after your draft and asking yourself do I have enough Power, Speed, Starting Pitching, Saves and am I strong in the percentage categories. You might find you need to make some moves in certain area's because certain things have not worked out or you have been killed by injuries. That's one thing but it's very important not to fly off the handle and break down the numbers and realize where you are in each particular category. Then looking at your roster asking yourself do I have the players to make up the ground and realizing how much ground needs to be made up. I think many of you find I am really not that far behind given how much of the season is left in most of the categories your struggling.

Follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, May 20, 2013

NL King - Breaking Down Lincecum

Going into this season to me the biggest wildcard in the NL was Tim Lincecum. Linceum entered his 7th season in the big leagues this year, and the two time Cy Young award winner was coming off an unexplainable disatrous season. Linceum had a strong 2011 with a 2.74 ERA & 1.207 Ratio and averaged a K per inning but last year while the K's per inning where there The Freak finished with a 5.18 ERA & 1.468 Ratio. What this can be attributed to the 28 year old young is he had career highs in walks (90) & HR's allowed (23). While last season Lincecum's hits allowed of 183 versus 186IP seems good, for him that was not good. Hitters are getting a lot more hits off of Lincecum then they use to.

In comparing Lincecum IP vs Hits allowed we see the following:

2012 - +3 (186IP vs 183 Hits)
2011 - +41 (217IP vs 176 Hits)
2010 - +18 (212IP vs 194 Hits)
2009 - +57 (225IP vs 168 Hits)
2008 - +45 (227IP vs 182 Hits)
2007 - +24 (146IP vs 122 Hits)

So you add up much more hits allowed as well as the walks and the Home Runs and you get where Tim Lincecum is at right now.

Lincecum going into this season was on his walk year and was hoping for a huge season as he hit the free agent market to show everyone that 2012 was a fluke. Well so far that is not the case when we look at Lincecum's numbers this year.

3W, 4.70 ERA, 1.42 Ratio, 56K in 53 2/3, 51 Hits Allowed, 25BB, 6HR Allowed, 9 Starts and only 3 of them are quality starts.

Notice that Lincecum at the one quarter pole is on pace to break his career high in walks & HR allowed in a given season. Also Lincecum like last year is allowing a hit per inning. Now Lincecum can get on a great streak still, 75% of the season is still ahead of us. But so far Roto owners should notice that Lincecum is looking like the pitcher from last year and his Cy Young days seem like a long time ago. Also remember Lincecum pitches in a pitchers ballpark in San Francisco. I think the analysis speaks for itself.

Follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, May 17, 2013

NL King - Don't Expect Help from AL

I thought I would write an article for NL only leagues and explore possibilities of real good to big AL players coming over to the NL via trade during this season. I am here to tell you it's not looking good and I wouldn't count on any help from the AL. Here is the possibilities I can see.

The Twins are in a rebuild mode even though they are just 1 game under .500 at this point and time. The Twins won't have a lot to dangle but Justin Morneau is a free agent after the season and the Twins hope he is having a big injury free year come late July so they can get a prospect or two for him. Morneau staying healthy is a big IF. Morneau is having a strange year for him as he is hitting .306 so far but only has 2HR's. Granted that a tough park to hit in and the weather in Minnesota so far this season has been rough.

Mike Morse is a free agent for the M's after the season. Morse hit his 10th HR of the season at Yankee stadium last night. The M's would have to be out of the wild card race and feel like they have no chance to resign Morse as the M's need a bat like his in their lineup.

The Blue Jays were picked by many to win the AL East and be one of the big teams in baseball. As of this morning the Blue Jays are 17-24 and are 8 games behind the 1st place Yankees however the Blue Jays have won 4 in a row. The Blue Jays need to start playing well because they have work to do just to get back to .500. If the Blue Jays do not get it together and are not in the race come July with the amount of dollars the Blue Jays invested they might look to move some salary. Josh Johnson who is extremely talented but is just an injury waiting to happen at all times is a free agent after the season. Johnson is currently dealing with a triceps injury and is probably will stay on the DL until at least the end of May. I have read some speculation by various big baseball insiders also that if things go south for the Jays maybe they would move RA Dickey come July. Again I don't expect this to happen as the bottom has to really fall out for the Jays to consider these moves.

White Sox:
They nearly won the division last year and they got off to a bit of a slow start with an 18-21 record but have won their last 3 in a row. It's a tough division  as by most accounts Detroit is considered one of the top teams in the AL if not the best, Kansas City & Cleveland are very competitive and have a good chance to be above .500 as well. Again if things go south for the Sox then they could look to move Paul Konerko who is a free agent after the season but keep in mind he is a 10-5 man so he has a no trade clause & has been in Chicago since 1999 so I don't know if he would agree to a trade. Then there is Jake Peavy who is off to an excellent start this season BUT Peavy who has dealt with  a ton of injuries in his career is making 14.5 Million this year & next so other than the Dodgers who would be willing to take on that money?

Of course there is always the expected that can happen but as you can see not looking good of a big AL player coming to the NL. Okay I am taking the weekend off from writing, so everyone have a good weekend.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, May 16, 2013

NL King - Checking in on Prospects

Back in March I wrote an article profiling on a bunch of prospects who were in position to make the opening day rosters and then prospects to expect a call-up to see at least a good amount of time during the season. To review J.Gyorko, S.Miller, W.Peralta, T.Rosenthal. H.Ryu & J.Teheran all made the opening day roster. A.Eaton was slated to make the opening day roster but a late Spring Training injury shelved him and he is still working his way back.

Nolan Arenado got called up a couple of weeks ago and is off to a solid start and will be Rockies everyday 3B the rest of the way. Didi Gregorius got called up in mid April and has been very impressive not just in the field but with the bat. Gregorius might make GM Kevin Towers look like a genius. Finally Tony Cingrani also got called up in mid April due to an injury to Johnny Cueto and has been impressive but he might be sent down to AAA next week with Cueto coming back and the Reds leaning to staying with status quo in terms of their rotation. I would not be surprised to see Cingrani come back to the Reds in the short term due to another injury or lack of performance by someone. So that leaves the rest of the list and I thought I would do an update to show how their season is going and when & if we can expect them to come up to the show. This list is in alphabetical order.

Gerrit Cole - Pitt - SP - (AAA) 3-1, 2.55 ERA, 1.18 Ratio, 31K in 42 1/3 IP.
One of the top prospects in baseball (Ranked 7th overall in Baseball America Top 100 in Feb) and is off to a very good start in AAA. As long as Cole keeps progressing and given the Pirates rotation I expect Cole to be in the majors no later than the all-star break.

Travis D'Arnaud - NY - C (AAA) 1HR, 8RBI, 12R, 0SB, .250 Avg - only played in 12 games.
D'Arnaud in another freak injury is sidelined with a foot injury. I expect him back in Vegas sometime in July and that could work out well with the Mets trading John Buck late July and have D'Arnaud take over then, provided he does not get injured again.

JR Graham - Atl - SP (AA) 1-3, 4.04 ERA, 1.37 Ratio, 28K in 35 2/3 IP.
Won't be apart of the Braves until summer of 2014.

Billi Hamilton - Cinn - OF (AAA) - 2HR, 12RBI, 21R, 21SB, .284 Avg
He is learning a new position in CF and because of that and given the Reds roster I wouldn't expect Hamilton to be part of the Reds until as a September call-up. Hamilton needs to work on his game playing CF and cutting down the K's (27 in 36 games).

Casey Kelly - SD - SP - Had Tommy John surgery in early April so he is out for this season and most likely won't see him in the majors until July of next year. Good news is Kelly is only 23.

Darin Ruf - Phil - OF - (AAA) 5HR, 22RBI, 21R, 1SB, .290 Avg
Seems to me this guy deserves a chance to play to see what he has with the big club. If Phillies are not part of the wild card contention for the 2nd half he will definitely be given a chance to show if he belongs.

Tyler Skaggs - Arz - SP - (AAA) 2-5, 6.21 ERA, 1.51 Ratio, 39K in 37 2/3 IP
Skaggs is off to a very rough start in AAA and right now with the way Patrick Corbin is producing there isn't an opening to consider. Keep in mind Skaggs is just 21 so he might stay in the minors all year.

Oscar Taveras - Stl - OF (AAA) 4HR, 20RBI, 17R, 5SB, .317 Avg.
Was ranked by Baseball America as the 3rd best prospect in MLB in February on their top 100 list. Cards are hoping he will be a huge part of their future but given Cards roster he will need a injury to happen to see significant time this year in St.Louis.

Zack Wheeler - NY - SP (AAA) 2-1, 3.74 ERA, 1.34 Ratio, 47K in 43 1/3 IP.
Another huge prospect (#11 on BA Top 100) but has just been okay in AAA. Mets envision him and Harvey being future aces so they will not rush him. I would not expect to see Wheeler until he starts dominating in AAA so I am thinking sometime in July.

Kolten Wong - Stl - 2B (AAA) 1HR, 13RBI, 22R, 5SB, .309 Avg
Could be Cards future 2B and projects as a nice player could get an opportunity in the near future given certain circumstances with the big club.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NL King - Segura What Did I Miss?

Okay what did I miss with Jean Segura ? I mean I read a lot of the preview magazines, read as many articles on-line on the upcoming season and they all said the same thing about the Brewers Starting Shortstop Jean Segura. Projects to be a nice fantasy player with speed, decent to good average and not a lot of pop and will start the season hitting towards the bottom of the lineup. Nowhere did it make comparisons to a young Alex Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners or no one said Segura has sleeper breakout potential.

Going into last season Segura was considered a very good prospect as he was ranked 55th on Baseball America Top 100 for 2012. Segura had a good year in AA last year before getting traded to the Brewers in the Zack Greinke deal where he went 7HR, 44RBI, 57R, 37SB, .304 Avg. Segura finished the season with the Brewers last year and in 148AB's had 0HR, 14RBI, 19R, 7SB, .264 Avg. This year so far Segura is not just showing great stolen base potential but he is creaming the ball as Segura has 16 extra base hits and as of this morning his stat line is 7HR, 18RBI, 21R, 13SB, .359 Avg. Segura due to early season injuries got a chance to hit towards the top of the lineup and is running with the better placement in the lineup. Keep in the mind in the minors Segura never hit more than 10HR's in a season & in 102 Games last year in AA Segura had 25 extra base hits. In 36 games so far this year at the major league level like I said he has 16. What the heck happened here? No one saw this coming anywhere. The Brewers are so convinced that Segura is the real deal that they are talking long term contract with him even though he is not arbitration eligible until 2016. This is another example of how now every season in fantasy baseball they are so many unexplained situations with players both in a positive manner and a negative one. If you were lucky enough to draft Segura good for you.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NL King - NL Trade Bait to Watch

Something to keep in mind if you are in NL only leagues and either have these players on your own roster or maybe looking at acquiring them to add to your team in the short term. I am going to break down each team that I think will either definitely be sellers or could be sellers this year.

Could Be Sellers:
Brewers are team that tries to stay as competitive as possible even though they are a mid market team. They did lose Fielder & Greinke although they tried to keep them both & this spring they signed Kyle Lohse to a 3 year deal.  However the Brewers have holes on their team and if there young starters do not come through they could use more depth in the rotation and their bullpen is a disaster. So if they are out of contention come late July for a wild card spot they will be sellers.

 Corey Hart - Hart is only 31 so he has a few good years left in him but he is a free agent after the season. Hart should come off the DL in late May - early June and there is a good chance he winds up resigning with the Brewers. But if the Brewers feel they can't resign him and they are out of contention for a wild card spot come late July he will be moved.

I don't expect the Padres to be in contention but given their team I do not see a lot of choices other than Chase Headley and Houston Street.

Chase Headley - Headley is looking like the player he was last year and at least publicly the Padres are saying they want to Headley to be a Padre for life. Headley and his agent have said they will not talk contract during the season. I think the Padres will take the stance with Headley like the Marlins with Stanton just a touch different. The Padres will wait until the off-season and make a big push to sign Headley who at that point will be 1 year away from free agency. If the Padres feel they cannot sign Headley they will trade him at the next Winter Meetings. Again every team can be a part of the discussion and every team will have a lot of roster flexibility at that point. However if someone wows the Padres come July for Headley they will most certainly take a very hard look at that, but it would have to be a major package otherwise I believe they will wait until the off-season.

Houston Street - He is signed through next season 2014 but when your a bad team a closer is way down the list. The Padres also have Luke Gregerson who could take over as closer. They will not give Street away but if a team comes up with a good package that might be to hard to the Friars to resist. 

The Phillies could make a run to at least stay in contention for one of the wild card spots and if that is the case they won't even think about selling. However if the bottom starts to fall out then the Phillies might realize it's time to regroup. Last week although he has been terrible it seems they have lost Roy Halladay for at least a considerable amount of time. Here are their candidates.

Cliff Lee - They would probably love to move him and he is still a front line guy BUT at age 34 between this season and the next 2 years (signed through 2015) Lee is owed 87.5 million. That's nearly 30 million a year that's going to be almost impossible to move. Lee also has a limited 9 team no trade clause.

Jimmy Rollins - Still effective and signed through at least next season 2014 and has a vesting option for 2015 that could kick in for 11 million dollars if Rollins stays healthy. However Rollins has a no trade clause because he is a 10-5 man so he isn't going anywhere without his permission. Rollins is from Oakland so maybe he be willing to go to a California team.

Carlos Ruiz - He is a free agent after the season (34 years old) but honestly not a huge rebuild chip for Phillies.

Chase Utley - He is also a free agent after the season and is 34 years old. Utley is off to a very good start but between his no trade clause (10-5 man as well) and his beat up body going to be tough to move Utley and get a good return for him.

Michael Young - A free agent after the season I believe he also has a no trade clause and there is only so much the Phils would get for him.

Right now the Rockies are above .500 and like the Brewers as long as they are in contention for at least a wild card spot they will not be sellers. But honestly with their starting rotation I have a hard time seeing them staying in contention for even a wild card spot. But you never know.

Rafael Betancourt - He has been excellent as the Rockies closer since last year but he is 37 and will most certainly be a free agent after the season (4.25 million mutual option). Given his salary a lot of teams will be interested in Betancourt to bolster their bullpen and the Rocks should get a nice prospect or two for him.

Michael Cuddyer - A real good bat and he could really help someone especially an AL team where he could DH. However Cuddyer is a guy who has a lot of bumps and bruises on him, he is 34 and he is signed through next season at 11 million dollars per year. The Rockies have plenty of bats on the main roster and in fact they just called up Charlie Blackmon who is a good looking young player if he can stay healthy and they still have Tyler Colvin in AAA and all he did last year was hit .290 and have 18HR & 70+RBI in a little over 400AB's.

Jorge De La Rosa - Off to a fantastic start and as long as he De La Rosa is having a very good season and stays healthy the Rocks should be able to get a couple of good prospects for him come July.

Will be Sellers:
Theo Epstein knew when taking the team over he was at the start of a rebuilding program.

 Matt Garza - In the final year of his deal and when healthy he is a front line starting pitcher. Should be off the DL and back in the Cubs rotation sometime next week. Cubs are hoping that Garza pitches like the front end guy he is and stays healthy for the next 2 months and trade him for the best deal they can get come late July. If that pans out their will be a lot of suitors.

 Carlos Marmol - In the final year of his deal and making 9.6 million this season. Cubs will have to hope for a hot streak between now and the trade deadline, be willing to pay part of his contract to be able to get a raw low level prospect.

Alfonso Soriano - Soriano is making 18 million both this year & next and the Cubs want to move to him to open a spot for their younger players. Soriano does have a no trade clause but would move it for certain teams. The Cubs will have to hope that Soriano has a power year like last season, find an AL team desperate for a bat, be willing to eat a significant portion of the contract and expect back at best a couple of low level raw prospects.

The Marlins are in business to sell players.

Rickey Nolasco - Off to a nice start to the season and is a free agent after this year. The Marlins will definitely move him and that might do it way sooner that the end of July and take advantage when Nolasco is pitching well and strike when the iron is hot.

Giancarlo Stanton - Currently on the DL and unless some team blows away the Marlins with a huge package I don't believe the Marlins will look to trade Stanton until the off-season. Stanton is only making $537,000 and does not become arbitration eligible until after the season. Also in the off-season you can get every team involved and have every team have a lot more flexibility in terms of what they can give up. I believe Stanton owners are safe for the 2013 season in terms of Stanton not getting traded.

Still have a lot of work to do as they do not have enough quality players.

John Buck - Do not be fooled Travis D'Arnaud as long as he stops getting these freak injuries is the Mets catcher of the future and that future should start in August. Buck is off to a ridiculous start but come late July the Mets will hope Buck is continuing to have a career year and be able to trade him  for a good young player or two.

Follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, May 12, 2013

NL King - NY Islanders in Review & Going Forward

As all of you know this is a forum where we talk about Fantasy Baseball for NL Leagues. If you follow me on twitter you realize I am a very passionate New York Islanders fan. I am going to use today's article to write about the Islanders. This is a one time only deal for this season. Tomorrow morning there will be a new NL King article up talking about the possible trade candidates in the NL during this season. For those of you who read my articles and are a New York Islander Fan I hope you enjoy this.

Season In Review:
Going into this shortened 48 game season the Hockey News picked the New York Islanders to finish dead last in the Eastern Conference. In fact most publications or websites who made such proclamations had the Islanders finishing no better than 3rd worst in the Eastern Conference and probably heading to the draft with another top 5 or top 6 pick. The Isles the first 60% of the season were very competitive but had trouble putting together wins. Every time the Isles got close to .500 then would slip to 3 games under or so. Losing 3rd period leads was a big problem early in the season. It wasn't like the Islanders were getting blown out in fact I believe in the 48 game season the Isles were something like in 41 or 42 of their regular season games they headed into the 3rd period either tied or ahead. So the Isles were in pretty much in every game to say the least. But then from mid March on everything came together for this young team as the finished on an incredible run and made the playoffs for the 1st time since 2007. They of course drew the Penguins in the first round and they were an incredible underdog. After getting embarrassed and blown out in Game 1 the Islanders showed their talent, their resilience, their toughness both physically and mentally and played a great series. However they came up short by losing last night in Game 6 in OT after some bad luck on the tying goal by Paul Martin late in the 3rd deflecting off Frans Nielsen stick. While if you had asked any Islander before the season this is how this season would play out would you sign up for that, I would say 99% would not only sign up for it but be thrilled. I know I would've, however having said that last nights loss was a hit to the solar plexus and while I am extremely disappointed and this will stay with me for a couple of weeks I am extremely proud of the team and know really good days are ahead.

Going Forward:
Okay I am going to break down the big factors for the Isles going forward starting with this off-season.

Rick DiPietro:
It was clear early on this season that DiPietro could not compete at the NHL level. The Isles sent down DiPietro to Bridgeport to try and find his game. DiPietro in 18 games went 9-9 with a 2.93 GAA & .893 Save Percentage. While not horrible this is minor league hockey. He is a great kid and he does everything he can to be the best he can be but DiPietro due to a gigantic list of injuries is done. With the last lockout every team is given up to 2 Amnesty Buyouts to use between the beginning of this past season until the end of next season before July 1st. From a pure financial perspective I can not see how the New York Islanders and specifically owner Charles Wang does not buy out DiPietro. If the Isles do not use the Amnesty on DiPietro he is owed 36 million dollars over the next 8 years (4.5 Million per year) and of course it counts against the cap. If the Islanders use their Amnesty Buyout on DiPietro they owe him 24 million dollars over the next 15 years (1.6 Million per year) and it does not count against the cap. Cap situations aside from a pure financial perspective you have to use the buyout. An athlete that is finished that you can pay either 36 million over 8 years or 24 million over15 years what would you do?

The Isles have an excellent core of young forwards lead of course by Taveras (22), Bailey (23), Cizikas (22), Grabner (25), Martin (24), Okposo (25). The veterans of the Isles forwards are all still under 30 in C.McDonald (28), Moulson & Nielsen (29). The Isles have locked up long term Taveras, Grabner, Martin, Okposo & Nielsen. Josh Bailey is an RFA and everything really came together for him in the 2nd half of the season. Remember he missed the beginning of the season due to an injury from playing in the lockout. I believe it would make a lot of sense for Snow to lock up Bailey in a long term deal that works well for both the club and the player just like he did with Grabner, Okposo & Nielsen. I expect Brock Nelson (21), Anders Lee (22) & David Ullstrom (24) to be a part of the Isles 3rd and 4th lines giving them incredible depth. UFA forwards for the Isles are Reasoner, Aucoin, Boulton and these were stop gap guys until the young forwards were truly ready so I doubt they will be back. That leaves Brad Boyes (31) and while he was a really good player for the Isles and a great pickup by Snow to replace Parenteau (Boyes signed 1 year deal for 1 million) the Isles have two top notch kid forwards ready to break through in Nino Niedereiter and Ryan Strome. Even if one of these guys are used in a trade I don't see the room for Boyes.

This is where I want Snow to go out and make a big trade. I want a strong defenseman added to this group who is very defense minded, a leader and a physically player and someone who is in his prime age (late 20's). Snow has plenty of inventory to get a trade down it's just finding the right guy. I would be shocked if Mark Streit is not back. He is the captain of the team he has endured tough years here before this season and now the team is in position for big days ahead. Plus I hear he loves Long Island like most current and past players. Remember Streit has been here for the last 5 years. He wants a 3 year deal and the Isles and his agent have agreed on the years they are just a little bit off on the money from what I read. I expect common ground to be found well before free agency. In fact most of the NHL world both the other teams and NHL insiders expect this to happen. The Isles have resigned Visnovsky for the next 2 years and then they have a young core of Hamonic (also a RFA I can see Snow locking him up to a LT deal), Brain Strait & Andrew McDonald. They also have Matt Carkner signed for 2 more seasons and they have Thomas Hickey who is only 24. Radek Martinek is a free agent and will have to find work elsewhere. The Isles have talented defense prospects coming but the only one's who I think will be ready next year is Matt Donovan and Scott Mayfield.

This is probably the most interesting area for Garth Snow. Does Snow believe between Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson & Mikko Koshinen are the Isles set in goal for years to come? Even if Snow really likes that trio but is not sure, he can sign a stop gap safety net goalie such as resigning Nabakov and having the youngsters split time with him and see where that goes or Snow can go the Free Agent market route or the trade route. Mike Smith of Phoenix is a UFA and with the ownership problems that team has it's doubtful they can afford him. Ray Emery of the Hawks is also a UFA and with their cap structure I can't see the Hawks being able to bring him back. A big name that will be very available in the trade market is Buffalo's Ryan Miller. Miller (32) is signed for 1 more year (6.25 Mil) and then becomes a UFA. Buffalo has made no secret they are in a full rebuild mode and both Ryan Miller & Thomas Vanek (also a UFA in 1 years time) have said they want no part of rebuild. So both will be shopped hard leading into the draft. Now in Miller's case you will have to trade a package of young players & picks and then sign him to a nice extension probably at least 3 years at 6+ plus million. I also hear that the Ducks who after signing their 2 big forwards preventing them from becoming UFA's this summer will move one of their two goalie's this off-season in either Hiller (31 and is a UFA after next season) & Fasta (30). Both had great regular seasons splitting time although Hiller has been the guy in the playoffs. These are some of the options.

Cap Space:
Isles have a ton of cap space and that's before using their Amnesty Buyout on DiPietro. In UFA's the Isles have a little over 16 million in cap space between Reasoner, Boyes, Aucoin, Boulton, M.Streit, Martinek, Tim Thomas and Nabokov. I believe Mark Streit will be back close to 5 million a year for 3 years and maybe Nabokov but he might have to come back at a lesser rate than his 2.75 million number this season on a 1 year deal. Everyone else I expect to be gone.

Hockey Futures which is the place to go to read about NHL Prospects and and the upcoming draft within the last couple of weeks just redid their 30 team prospect rankings and the Islanders were ranked with the 5th best system. The highlight guy I did not mention was last years 1st round pick and 5th pick overall defenseman Griffin Reinhardt. Reinhardt is projected to be an all around top D-Man. However while not impossible for him to make the team next season I expect Reinhardt to get one more season in juniors before coming to the Islanders. Also the Isles while making the playoffs do have a nice 1st round draft pick with the 15th overall selection in the 1st round. This is a very deep draft so they will add another really good prospect to their staple and while the Isles do not have a 2nd round pick (Anaheim for Visnovsky) the Isles have their own pick in rounds 3 - 7 & Montreal's 4th round pick. In addition to the guys I mentioned above  keep an eye out on the following prospects as well:

Forwards: Kabanov, Sundstrom
Defense:  De Haan, Kichton, Pelech, Pokka, Reinhart

Final Analysis:
Islander fans really good days are ahead. The building situation is finally settled, the current young core team is really coming together, the Isles have a very deep strong farm system, they are in great position with the cap, they have most of their core players already locked up and I believe given all of this and this past seasons team success the Isles will be able to attract top free agents as well. Keep in mind Snow has gone after a number of the top free agents in recent years and in many cases offering more money but those players said no for a lot of reasons and went elsewhere. It's going to be harder to say no now. Great days are ahead my friends.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, May 10, 2013

NL King - Calmo Calmo

I am throwing a little Italian in for today for my international readers. But today is a quick article on remaining calm even if your team is off to a bad start. In Italian calmo means even tempered and settled and that's what a successful Fantasy Baseball Owner needs to be. Look my team has gone off to a very bad start due to poor performances, injuries and bad luck so I feel all of your pain out there in that same boat. But I have looked at my team and on paper it's a solid team and you have to remember it's only May 10th. Some of you who are negative Nancy's might say Chris it's no longer April but I would reply it's a marathon not a sprint.

Two years ago I had a very strong team on paper in my estimation one of the top 2 teams after the draft. However due to a number of circumstances mostly poor performances heading into Memorial Day Weekend I found myself in 10th place in a 12 team league well behind the money position teams. In fact one owner who reads my articles asked me if I was looking to rebuild. My team started to come around and do what it was suppose to do. So despite a terrible first 2 months, while I did not win my league that season I did finish in 2nd place in a 12 team league. Now the reason I am bringing this up is to illustrate when you have a good team you must ride out the tough stretches by showing incredible patience.

Look if you have a deficiency in a particular area then yes you should be investigating trade scenarios. However if you are doing poorly in certain categories due to guys off to poor starts or unfathomable starts YOU MUST STAY THE COURSE !!!!

There are teams towards the top of your leagues just waiting for a team towards the bottom to make a panic move and take advantage of you. They look at as easy prey. Don't fall into that trap. Don't say to yourself "I hate my team I am going to change the roster". Change for the sake of change rarely works. Changes that analyzed and make sense work. For instance I have Miguel Montero who is off to a terrible start and is hitting .200. Montero is a hitter who hits between .280 and .285 every year so patience my friends.

Remember Calmo Calmo Calmo, the Even Tempered Settled GM is a Successful GM. Nietzsche said that.

Okay guys you got an article every day this week. I am taking the weekend off. For all of your New York Islander fans out there do not give up hope. In 1993 last time Isles played Pens in the playoffs they lost Game 5 in Pittsburgh pretty handily and then came home to the Coliseum and won Game 6 in a high scoring close game (7-5) and then went to Pittsburgh for Game 7 and won in OT on David Volek's goal. BeLIeve.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, May 09, 2013

NL KIng - Arizona Saves

With what looks like season ending surgery headed for JJ Putz the Arizona bullpen in terms of who will get the saves is an interesting point and time in terms of going forward. In my pres-season article I talked about how I really liked Putz but I did warn everyone due to his age (35) and past problems with injuries that was a red flag with JJ. Once again this shows how you need to be lucky in Fantasy Baseball to avoid bad luck in order to have a successful squad. Lets break it down.

Heath Bell:
Kirk Gibson is going to go with Bell first in terms of the 9th inning duties. Bell has the experience of course however Bell is coming off a nightmare 2012 season with the Marlins where he lost the closing job after getting his big 3 year contract. Bell last year had a 5.09 ERA, 1.555 Ratio. Many fantasy experts last year pointed to warning signs for Bell as he left Petco how each year his fly ball ratio was up and his K's were down. This is important aspect going forward as Arizona the ball does fly and Bell has given up a couple of HR's already. In fact Bell while not off to a terrible start like last year hasn't been great either currently with a 4.40 ERA & 1.395 Ratio. Having said that Bell has converted his first 2 save opportunities although with some stress. Bell is not going to get a long leash in my opinion but having said that Heath Bell is smart enough to know that this is his last chance to get his closer job back for his career. So there will be an urgency on his part to be successful but having said that I don't think that's what hurt Bell last year. To me Bell since going to San Diego has been a gamer but a combination of his stuff, age (now 35) and probably his weight has had his performance fallen. But he does get the first crack for Kirk Gibson.

David Hernandez:
By far the guy with the best stuff in the Arizona bullpen is David Hernandez. Having said that does not mean he can handle the 9th inning mental aspect of closing games. That's another skill and I am not saying Hernandez can't do it but until he does it you never know. Look last year David Robertson albeit in a small sample by his own admission struggled with the 9th inning and Mitchell Boggs failed this year with that as well. While Hernandez is not off to a great start this year (4.02 ERA & 1.468 Ratio) he is electric. Hernandez has been a key cog in the D-Backs bullpen last 2 years and in 2011 when Putz went down for nearly a month with an injury Hernandez was exceptional picking up 11 saves. Last year Hernandez only had 4 saves but had a 2.50 ERA, 1.02 Ratio & 98K in 68 1/3 IP & the league just hit .190 against Hernandez. To me especially after Mitchell Boggs failing in St.Louis maybe the D-Backs are taking it slow with Hernandez to aleviate the stress and pressure of the situation. Again if Bell gets on a roll then Hernandez probably doesn't get the chance but I believe he will get the chance to close for the D-Backs in the not to distant future.

Matt Reynolds:
The 28 year old came over to the D-Backs from Colorado and the last 2 seasons in Colorado Reynolds was a middle of the road bullpen arm for the Rockies. However you cannot get off to a better start than Reynolds has this year as he has yet to give up a run and in 16 1/3 IP has only given up 7 hits with 1 BB and compiled 14K's. I can see Reynolds getting some save opportunities based on situations with him being a lefty and with other relievers not being available on a certain day (does have 2 saves already) but to me Hernandez would be the more likely long term guy.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

NL King - Who Are These Guys ?

Today I take a look at a number of players where I have to quote from Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid "Who are these Guys?". I take a look at the fast starts from a number of surprising players.

Yuniesky Betancourt - Mil - 8HR, 24RBI, 14R, .276 Avg. Looked like his baseball career could be over but all of the Brewer injuries gave Betancourt maybe his last chance. Find it hard to believe this will continue.

Domonic Brown - Phil - 6HR, 15RBI, 12R, .239 Avg. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer for young players.

John Buck - NY - 10HR, 29RBI, 16R, .245 Avg. Has been ridiculously good, however last 2 years he has hit .192 & .227 and the Mets have to play him an awful lot. I see the glass slipper coming off in the not to distant future.

Matt Carpentar - Stl - 3HR, 9RBI, 24R, .271 Avg. Run scoring machine and Carpentar is showing he deserves a chance to play every day.

Tony Cingrani - Cinn - 2W, 2.63 ERA, 0.83 Ratio, 33K in 24IP. This young phenom is showing he is ready for prime time.

Patrick Corbin - Arz - 4W, 1.80 ERA, 1.08 Ratio, 32K in 40 IP. Was up and down last year when he got a chance to start for the snakes but off to a terrific start this year.

Brandon Crawford - SF - 5HR, 15RBI, 18R. Has more HR's already than all of last year. I thought he was a negative player because the numbers he gives you get washed away due to his poor average but so far he is above the .250 mark and giving good numbers.

David DeJesus - Cubs - 4HR, 8RBI, 18R, 2SB, .275 Avg. DeJesus is the kind of guy who gets over looked even though he is a nice player. You also forget he had some nice years in KC not that long ago.

Chris Denorfia - SD - 2HR, 11RBI, 17R, 2SB, .288 Avg. Super utility player is showing he is just super.

Evan Gattis - Atl - 7HR, 19RBI, 11R, .250 Avg. Has gone from feel good story to dominant power catching bat so far.

Jason Grilli - Pitt - 13SV, 0.64 ERA, 0.79 Ratio, 23K in 14IP. Showing that he can handle closing out games. He won't keep up this pace but he will be fine as a save option.

Chris Johnson - Atl - .323 Avg. Considering his batting average his other numbers are small. But he is doing his part. Keep in mind Johnson is a guy who looks like a player for 2 months and then can't get a hit for the rest of the season. Ride the wave but I am skeptical.

Matt Harvey - NY - 4W, 1.28 ERA, 0.69 Ratio, 58K in 49 1/3 IP. Am I surprised Harvey is having a good season of of course not. Am I surprised he is pitching like Sandy Koufax that's a big yes.

Jim Henderson - Mil - 7SV, 1.29 ERA, 0.93 Ratio. Keep in mind came up last year as a 29 year old rookie. Ride the wave and hope it lasts all year but I think this is a short term shelf life.

Nick Hundley - SD - 3HR, 11RBI, 13R, .278 Avg. After a disastrous 2012 (hit .157) is bouncing back with a solid year. Hundley has to with Grandal waiting in the wings come June after serving his 50 game suspension.

Kyle Kenderick - Phil - 4W, 2.45 ERA, 1.09 Ratio, 35K in 47 2/3IP. Has been sensational but keep in mind he is the kind of pitcher who has to hit his spots who he will get hit hard.

AJ Pollack - Arz - 4HR, 14RBI, 17R, 5SB, .267 Avg. Was a shoe-in to be sent to AAA after the Spring but due to all the injuries getting the chance to play every day. I have to see more before I am sold and what happens when Eaton is ready?

Jean Segura - Mil - 4HR, 13RBI, 16R, 8SB, .339 Avg. Did I think he could be a good player this year yes but not a dominant one. Injuries early on to Milwaukee has given Segura to hit at the top of the lineup.

Luis Valbuena - Cubs - 5HR, 13RBI, 7R, .264 Avg. Valbuena is doing what Ian Stewart should be doing.

Carlos Villanueva - Cubs - 1W, 2.85 ERA, 0.93 Ratio, 33K in 41 IP. Could easily have 4 wins, always had talent but inconsistency has been his bugaboo. Now he is getting chance to start which is what he always wanted.

Jake Westbrook - Stl - 2W, 1.07 ERA, 1.39 Ratio, 18K in 33 2/3 IP. How do you have a 1.07 ERA with a 1.39 Whip? Westbrook will come back to earth soon because he has to be picture perfect to get outs.

Travis Wood - Cubs - 3W, 2.33 ERA, 0.93 Ratio, 34K in 46 1/3 IP. Had a nice rookie year in 2010 and since then has been bad and switched organizations.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

NL King - Thinking about Closers

I thought I would do an article on NL closers and looking at the past 10 years of the NL Closers and where we are at presently.

Godfathers of NL Closers:
It would be nice if there could be a group of NL Closers for a number of years you could bank on such as Trevor Hoffman & Billy Wagner. Hoffman was an elite closer from 1994 through 2009 (injured almost all of 03) & Wagner was elite from 1997 through 2010 (injured in 2000 & 2009). On top of huge save numbers you got huge numbers across the board and they were money in the bank. Oh the good old days.

Most Closers Only Last 3 Years, 4 at Best:
If you look at it there are a number of closers who had big years and looked like they would be a huge closer for the next number of years. But after about 3 - 4 years time due to performance or injury they do not last. Closers who fall into this category are Kerry Wood, Chad Cordero, Eric Gagne, Brad Lidge (although up and down over a number of years), Brian Fuentes, Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez), Francisco Rodriguez (his prime years were gone when he came to the Mets), Ryan Franklin & Brian Wilson. I am sure these names are a blast from the past.

Closers who were better than you think:
In the NL over the last number of years the closers that while were not Wagner & Hoffman were the next rung down and were better than you think. These closers included Jose Valverde (before going to AL), Francisco Cordero & Jason Isringhausen.

Closers who were one hit wonders:
Closers in recent time who had huge seasons and looked like would be stud closers for years to come only to crash and burn and they include Carlos Marmol, John Axford, Todd Jones, Jonathan Broxton, and Drew Storen.

So where do we stand now:
Elite - Craig Kimbrel, Rafael Soriano (only signed with Nats through next season), Jonathan Papelbon (signed through 2015 season), Aroldis Chapman (signed through 2014). I would have put Jason Motte on this list but his recent Tommy John Injury ended that. I think as long as he holds up physically Sergio Romo could join this elite list for the next couple of years, if not then he is the next rung down.

Good Veterans but for how much longer:
Houston Street, JJ Putz (although early struggles are a concern), Jason Grilli. All signed just through next season 2014 and Putz & Grilli will be in late 30's.

Future Closers ?
Bobby Parnell (does he have the mental toughness to be a closer?), Kenley Jansen (will his health hold up no brainer stuff wise)

Stop Gaps:
Steve Cishek, Rafael Betancourt (age 37 and probably free agent to be), Brandon League (Kenley Jansen?) & Cardinals current situation. The Cubs & Brewers don't know what their long term plans are right now.

What I am telling you there are hardly any gurantees in terms of NL Closers and as much as I think Craig Kimbrel will be the next Trevor Hoffman or Billy Wagner remember what Eric Gagne did from 2002 - 2004. Gagne compiled 152 saves in 3 years with ERA's of 1.97, 1.20, 2.19, Ratio's of 0.86, 0.69, 0.91 & yearly K's of 114, 137, 114 only to really never to be heard from again. It's hard to believe but it's happened. In essence the closers are a mind field.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, May 06, 2013

NL King - Struggling Starting Pitchers

Okay today we take a look at the struggling starting pitchers in the NL at this point and time. Originally I was going to do a combo article of struggling starting pitchers and on closers an overall view but I don't want to short change either topic so each gets it's own article. Today is struggling starting pitchers.

NL East:
Gio Gonzalez - Wsh:
Gio is off to a slow start and it's easy to see why as Gonzalez has walked 20 hitters in his 1st 38 IP and given up 5 Home Runs already. Keep in mind Gio walked a total of 76 hitters in 199+ IP last year while only giving up 9 Home Runs last year. Gio will be fine as long as the walks come down.

Roy Halladay - Phil:
Other than a couple of starts Doc has been awful. He got destroyed yesterday by a Marlins team that did not have Stanton in the lineup. Halladay with his 8.65 ERA & 1.46 Ratio is now heading to the DL with shoulder issues. From what you read it seems Halladay was dealing with ailments last year which most likely effected his performance. This spring Halladay was taking about changing mechanics due to these ailments last year which was a warning sign. Halladay is 36 next week and with his contract not guranteed for next season (vested option) this could mean the beginning of the end of a guy who is considered the #1 pitcher in all of baseball going into last season.

NL Central:
Marco Estrada - Mil:
The K's are there, the problem is in just 38 2/3 IP has allowed 11HR's. That is not going to work.

Yovani Gallardo - Mil:
Has been his his usual inconsistent self and while I expect him to finish the year with good numbers thats why I consider Gallardo a tease and a very frustrating player to own.

Edwin Jackson - Chi:
I know for Roto purposes he is considered a depth starter but Jackson has been so bad it's ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous of the contract the Cubs gave him in the off-season (4 years 52 Mil).

James McDonald - Pitt:
Looks like McDonald is the pitcher who finished the season last year and not the won who was strong for the first 4 months. 20 walks in 29 2/3 IP is not going to work.

Wily Peralta - Mil:
He isn't fooling anyone 55 Baserunners in 33 IP.

NL West:
Josh Beckett - LA:
Lets face it after he got his last big contract from the Red Sox it does not seem like Beckett has really cared how he has performed.

Matt Cain - SF:
I know the usual reliable Matt Cain is off to a rocky start but he got the train back on track last night and I expect Cain to be fine.

Ian Kennedy - Arz:
Starting to remind of Gallardo but with not as good of stuff. I told everyone in the pre-season article I would worry about his maturity level.

Brandon McCarthy - Arz:
Has been beyond awful. I thought as long as he can stay healthy and pitch 150 innings which is a big if for him McCarthy would be a good pitcher. But leaving the Oakland Coliseum and going into Arizona where the ball flies and switching leagues has not helped McCarthy. I wouldn't abandon ship but you have a right to be very concerned.

Clayton Richard - SD:
Had a nice year last year albeit with not a lot of K's but off to a horrible start and now on the DL with a stomach ailment. Ironic considering how many upset stomach's he has given his roto owners.

Ryan Vogelsong - SF:
The steady Eddie from the last 2 years has been kidnapped. I would think Vogelsong would turn it around to at least a certain degree but keep in mind 2 years ago the Giants got Vogelsong off the scrap heap.

Edison Volquez - SD:
This guy must be maddening to own with his inconsistencies.

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NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, May 02, 2013

NL King - Hitters Struggling

Today's article I am going to look into a number of hitters per team that are off to some rough starts and give my thoughts. So as the late great one Jackie Gleason once said "And Away We Go."

BJ Upton - Yes BJ is hitting .138 but if you read my preseason article on BJ Upton I talked about how I thought he would get off to a rough start due to putting pressure on himself regarding his big new contract and learning the pitchers of a new league for the most part. Again by seasons end I expect BJ to be what he is a 20/20 man with good numbers in R & RBI and a poor average.

Jason Heyward - Considering he is hitting .121 his numbers aren't that bad and he has been drawing walks. Comes off the DL soon and I expect Heyward to have a solid to strong year. Show patience here.

Giancarlo Stanton - Probably got off to a rough first couple of weeks because still shell shocked what ownership did and was swinging at bad pitches. Started to get it going but just popped his hamstring which probably means he misses the month of May.

NY Mets:
Ike Davis - Considering he is hitting .169 his other numbers are good. His swing and balance at the plate seem all messed up. Davis hit .232 last year so I would be a bit concerned that Ike could be a strong power hitter but one with a poor average.

Philadelphia - None

Adam LaRoche - Yes he is hitting .129 but for his whole career other than last year LaRoche is a guy who either has a red hot month or is ice cold. At the end of day most years he has his usual numbers. I didn't think he would repeat his 2012 career year but he will finish with solid power numbers.

Alfonso Soriano - His average is not bad (.263) but has very little numbers. Soriano is no kid at 37 and his body is very beat up. I think last season was the last year where he will put up strong power numbers.

Cincinnati - No one major

Rickie Weeks - Hitting .186 but his other numbers are strong. He is a low average hitter remember he hit .232 last year and he strikes out a lot.

Pedro Alvarez - Again like Weeks hitting sub .200 and strikes out a ton but when he puts the ball in play can do damage. Will be a real good power guy but one with a poor average.

David Feese - Off to a bad start and has been dealing with injuries (only negative about him to me is he is always dealing with some sort of ailment). As long as Freese is feeling okay physically he will be fine.

Miguel Montero - As long as he gets his usually 480 AB's he will put up his standard line of hitting stats which is pretty solid overall and excellent as a NL catcher.

Colorado - Seems like all the bats are producing

LA Dodgers:
Matt Kemp - Has yet to take off but don't worry he will. If their is a Matt Kemp owner frustrated and dangling him in trade talks then POUNCE !!!!

San Diego:
Cameron Maybin - Huge year for Maybin and so far it's been about poor performance and injury. I don't know if this tools player is going to translate into a good roto player. I am seriously doubting it.

San Francisco - Believe it or not their hitting has been fine

I will post an article over the weekend looking at the struggling pitchers both starters and closers.

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NL King - C.Lizza