Monthly Archives: February 2011

Hot Stove Baseball: Spring Training Edition

Spring is here, kind of, as we had the start of baseball this weekend. All of us fantasy baseball fanatics have been waiting for this day since the end of last season and it’s been a long winter of withdrawal.

Without further ado, let’s get to the highlights from the games and the week of training:

Game Highlights

Friday

  • Giants 7, Diamondbacks 6 . Lincecum started and pitched 1 2/3 giving up 3 runs and 5 hits. Not a stellar start for the ace, but about typical for him in spring training. Joe Saunders started for Arizona and took the loss but had a nice 1-2-3 first inning. Aaron Rowand started in center with Andres Torres at DH, they are the 2 candidates for the CF job at the moment.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: SHORTSTOP

Hanley Ramirez tops our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings. A 15 HR September could not propel Troy Tulowitzki into our consensus #1, even though Tulow was the #1 SS in 5×5 leagues on a per-game-basis last year. If you’re drafting in the first round this year, one could not blame you for grabbing one of these guys as the drop-off is pretty sharp after they’re off the board. Might as well wait 6 rounds before taking the plunge.

Onto our Composite Rankings…

RANK PLAYER Brian Mike Killboy Jesse Eric COMP
1 Hanley Ramirez – FLA 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Troy Tulowitzki – COL 2 2 2 2 2 2
3 Jose Reyes – NYM 3 4 3 5 3 3.6
4 Jimmy Rollins – PHI 4 3 4 7 4 4.4
5 Derek Jeter – NYY 5 5 8 3 5 5.2
6 Alexei Ramirez – CHW 6 6 5 6 6 5.8
7 Elvis Andrus – TEX 8 9 7 4 7 7
8 Stephen Drew – ARI 7 7 6 8 8 7.2
9 Rafael Furcal – LAD 10 10 10 10 9 9.8
10 Starlin Castro – CHC 9 12 9 9 11 10
11 Ian Desmond – WAS 11 8 11 13 10 10.6
12 Yunel Escobar – TOR 12 13 12 12 14 12.6
13 Miguel Tejada – SF 15 16 15 11 15 14.4
14 Marco Scutaro – BOS 13 11 19 12 15.2
15 Jhonny Peralta – DET 14 14 19 14 18 15.8
16 Asdrubal Cabrera – CLE 16 15 18 13 16.6
17 Juan Uribe – LAD 20 14 16 18.4
18 Alcides Escobar – KC 19 16 15 18.4
19 Jason Bartlett – SD 17 17 16 18.4
20 Omar Infante – FLA 13 19.4

 

Some thoughts…

ELVIS ANDRUS…The shortstop position isn’t as deep as it once was, so if you’re in a keeper league chances are you’re on the outside looking in on the elite SS pool. Enter Elvis stage left.  He’s only going to contribute well at two categories (SB, R) but such is life these days.  He is still very young and if he can find the .350 BABIPs of his minor league seasons, a .300 season is a possibility.  He’s bulked up this off season as he looks to avoid another goose egg in the HR category. .275/85/5/45/33

STARLIN CASTRO…It’s hard to find a SS with a .300 average, so when a 20 year old bats .300 in his rookie season you should pay attention.  Castro’s also shown some speed in the minors, so hopefully the Cubs give him the opportunity to steal more than 10 bases this year.  This kid is no where near his prime, and should only be starting in deep leagues or NL only leagues, but keep an eye this one. .305/65/5/50/18

OMAR INFANTE…Omar Infante will start everyday and hit at the top of the order. Over a full season he will be an above average producer in runs, reach low double digit homers and steals while hitting over .300. I’ll take that from a SS. .305/86/11/51/11

SLEEPER: MARCO SCUTARO…Scutaro set a career high in games in 2010 with 150, though he dealt with some nagging injuries. Marco was still the #8 SS last year. A healthy 2011 Scutaro equals big things. Heck, bat him 12th in that Sawx lineup and he’s still a great fallback option at SS. .275/85/10/55/5

BUST: RAFAEL FURCAL…Bookending his hot streak last year was a slow start and a terrible finish. Look for this season to be like last year minus the hot streak. .280/80/10/50/20

2011 National League East Previews: Phillies

Today’s focus: Philadelphia Phillies


2010 Record 97-65 1st Place NL East, Best Record in MLB.  Lost to Giants in NLCS
The Phillies off season can be summed up with two words: CLIFF LEERuben Amaro Jr and the Phillies shocked the baseball universe when they emerged as the “Mystery Team” swooping in to sign Lee for fewer years and dollars than the Yankees and Rangers were reported to have offered.  The Phils have assembled easily the best pitching rotation in baseball, and on paper, the best in the past 20 years.

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Fantasy Prospect Preview: Part Deux

 

Lonnie Chisenhall (Chuck Crow/Cleveland Plain Dealer)

15. Lonnie Chisenhall, Cle, 3b – Chisenhall is by no means a lock to even make it past triple A this year, but because Cleveland’s infield is in shambles, especially at the hot corner (Jayson Nix anyone?), I like his chances of being brought along by mid-season to man that position.  Chisenhall put up very versatile, if not amazing, numbers in AA last year: 81/17/84/.278 in 117 games.  Plus his strikeout rate was under 17% while his BABIP was .297, a solid sign that he wasn’t just getting lucky.  He showed less power than in high A ball in ‘09, but it wasn’t too drastic of a drop-off.   He will start the year in double or triple A no doubt, but if Nix is replacement level or worse as expected, don’t be surprised to see him called up early.  3b isn’t that deep in fantasyland, so keep an eye on Lonnie Chiz during spring training; he might not be draftable, but he should be um, pickupable later in the year.  Some of the previous prospects may make an earlier impact, but Chisenhall has the potential to provide a bigger boost to your team when it counts.

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The 4th and Home Show

Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning at 10:30 am EST to listen to the team discuss the AL West, Third Base rankings and the latest in baseball news. Click Here to listen and make sure to follow us for the latest show updates. Call during the show to get your questions answered, (909) 202-8720.

Fantasy Baseball Bounce Back Player Of The Week: Pablo Sandoval

 

Panda is coming off a year in which he took a considerable step backwards. Through his first 2 seasons in the big leagues he had consistently performed offensively:

Year Games R HR RBI AVG OBP SLG BABIP
2008 41 24 3 24 .345 .357 .490 .356
2009 153 79 25 90 .330 .387 .556 .350

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: 2010s All “Extrapolation Team”

Everyone loves doing this with rookies who made a splash in a half or even a quarter of a season, so why not try it with pinch hitters and back-ups? Ok, fine. I will.

The ground rules are that the player had to acquire stats in more than one game, but not more than 50 in 2010 – or maybe I’ll cherry-pick as I please. I simply entered the 5 categories in Baseball Monster’s Hitter Ranking system to find out who had the most value on a “per game basis.” From there, I grabbed the first pinch-hitter or back-up I could find to enter him on the ALL EXTRAPOLATION TEAM!

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: THIRD BASE

Well, I’ve been called a lot of things but our 3B Fantasy Baseball Rankings have now earned me the taunting of being a Homer. Yes, I may be the only one ranking David Wright ahead of Evan Longoria this year, but my own projection system has them so close with a minimal edge given to Wright for 2011. I think their numbers will be similar with Wright getting a slight advantage in SBs. In a keeper, yes, Longoria is the clear #1. Let’s see where everyone else is ranked…

Longoria celebrates his 4th and Home Composite Rankings


RANK PLAYER Brian Mike Killboy Jesse Eric COMP
1 Evan Longoria – TB 1 2 1 1 1 1.2
2 David Wright – NYM 2 1 3 2 2 2
3 Alex Rodriguez – NYY 4 5 2 3 3 3.4
4 Ryan Zimmerman – WAS 3 4 4 4 4 3.8
5 Kevin Youkilis – BOS 5 3 6 5 5 4.8
6 Jose Bautista – TOR 6 6 5 7 6 6
7 Adrian Beltre – TEX 7 9 7 6 7 7.2
8 Michael Young – TEX 9 12 8 10 8 9.4
9 Aramis Ramirez – CHC 8 13 9 8 12 10
10 Martin Prado – ATL 10 11 12 11 9 10.6
11 Pablo Sandoval – SF 14 8 13 9 11 11
12 Mark Reynolds – BAL 11 7 11 13 13 11
13 Casey McGehee – MIL 12 10 10 14 10 11.2
14 Pedro Alvarez – PIT 13 14 14 15 14 14
15 Scott Rolen – CIN 16 20 18 12 15 16.2
16 Ian Stewart – COL 15 15 16 16 16.6
17 Chris Johnson – HOU 17 18 17 17 18
18 Chone Figgins – SEA 15 16 19 18.4
19 Michael Cuddyer – MIN 16 19 18 19
20 Chase Headley – SD 19 17 19.8

 

PABLO SANDOVAL

Kung Fu Panda is coming off a disappointing season and it seems to given him motivation to get his act in gear this winter.  He’s lost 38 pounds and dropped his body fat percentage by over 10%.  The 5′-11″ third baseman is down to a svelte 240lbs.  He’s also spent some time working on his hitting with Barry Bonds.  Expect his numbers to be closer to his 2009 debut than to 2010’s let down. .305/70/20/80/5

CASEY McGEHEE

McGehee silenced his critics by following up his 2009 career year with a very solid 2010 campaign. McGehee finished 9th among fantasy 3B in 2010 while improving his strike out rate. Expect more of the same from McGehee in 2011 unless Ken Macha moves him to 2nd in the order. This move would hurt his RBI opportunities and slightly diminish his value, but right now I have him at .288/79/21/96/1.

SCOTT ROLEN

Rolen’s career peaked in ’04. 2005 was a lost season, ’06 a bounceback and since a poor ’07 he has steadily improved to fantasy respectability. Call it the career death rattle, but FanGraphs career paths show a consistent spike leading to the Age 37 season – Rolen will be 36 in 2011. Just be sure you milk his production early in the season and sell high as he always fades in the later months. Another season of .280/70/20/80/3 would not be a surprise and it could be higher.

SLEEPER: MARK REYNOLDS

If you listened to The 4th and Home Show this past Saturday, you heard me talk about the drop in home runs across the league. That will not change, so jump on HR before you have to start paying a premium for them via trade. In that O’s lineup, Reynolds will kill the ball – along with your average so make sure you have some .300 hitters on your team. Reynolds is currently being drafted as the 11th 3B off the board (much like the jokers here!) and that is way too late for a guy who has averaged 35HR and 14 SBs the past 3 seasons. I have Reynolds down for .240/85/35/95/10.

BUST: JOSE BAUTISTA

16, 15, 15, 13, 54…which of these numbers don’t belong? He’s a career .244 hitter that had never had more than 16 home runs in a season. Even with his swing adjustments, expect pitchers to figure him out this year and those power numbers to come back to Earth. I think we’re looking at an upside of low 30’s in homers. .250/85/30/95/5

2011 American League West Previews: Mariners

Today’s Focus: SEATTLE MARINERS


2010 Record: 61-101 (Last in Division; Last in AL)

2010 saw 24 fewer wins than in 2009 and 2009 saw 24 more wins than in 2008. So what gives? Well, Cliff Lee only pitched 13 games for them, Erik Bedard was a no-show, the ever-consistent Jose Lopez had his worst season, Milton Bradley played terrible WHEN he played, newcomer Chone Figgins stole some bases but little else, and Casey Kotchman was dreadful. Oh, and the M’s were just 17-40 vs. the AL West. But 2010 wasn’t all that bad in Seattle – Felix Hernandez won the Cy and the Mariners avoided having the worst record in baseball! (Go Pirates!)

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Fantasy Baseball 2011 – Wainwright Tommy John Surgery Fallout

Cardinal’s ace Adam Wainwright is likely headed for season ending Tommy John surgery. History has shown this surgery can take 12-18 months to recover from. This will make Wainwright lucky to be ready for opening day 2012.

Fantasy wise this means there is no reason to even waste a late round draft pick on Wainwright unless you are in a keeper league. Keeper league managers will have a difficult dilemma. Do they burn a keeper and a roster spot all season to stash Wainwright for 2012 and beyond? It depends on the number of DL and Bench spots your league allows. If the current owner of Wainwright lets him go, the rest of the managers face a similar dilemma but with more upside. Stashing a top 5 ace with a late round pick could pay dividends next year and beyond. Choose wisely my friends, it could become a game of chicken. Wainwright’s ADP is currently as the #5 SP (37 overall) so move everyone else up a spot and it also increases the value of the elite top tier SPs.

For the Cardinals, the loss of Wainwright could easily amount to 4-5 fewer wins in 2011 and could prove the difference between playing meaningful games in October and planning their golf rounds. The NL Central was looking like one of the better races to watch with the defending champion Reds and the re-tooled Brewers now looking to have an edge over St. Louis. Wainwright might also have pitched his last game for the Cards as his contract options will not vest if he is on the DL at the end of 2011.