Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

What To Do About Third Base

by Eno Sarris //

This past week has been a tough one for the third base position. Ryan Zimmerman underwent abdominal surgery and will be out up to another six weeks. Pablo Sandoval will miss at least that much time with a broken hamate bone. David Freese also broke his hand. Scott Rolen is having shoulder issues. Ian Stewart was sent down to the minor leagues. Pedro Alvarez
is struggling with the whiff. If you have multiple teams, odds are you
are looking for a third baseman in at least one league. We’ll break down
some options here, tiered by league depth, so that you can sort through
the mess. 

Shallow Leagues
It’s hard to know exactly which players are available on your waiver wire, but chances are, if you’re in a ten-teamer, Chase Headley
is out there for you. Ideally, you’d like to play him against righties
and away from home – so if you can platoon him in this manner, go ahead.
As a batter, Headley has made some strides. He’s showing the best walk
rate of his career and his power is up from last year. He has a lifetime
BABIP of .330, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get a little
luckier on balls in play despite owning a current .301 BABIP. By the end
of the year, Headley should be hitting around .260 with double digit
home runs and steals, so he’s a decent stop-gap player. Of course, if
you are lucky enough to find Chipper Jones on your waiver, he’s a much better option. But Headley’s no bum. Finally, the best option is probably Jed Lowrie, who made his eighth start at the position on Tuesday night. If he’s available and eligible, he’s your man. 

Standard Mixed Leagues
Edwin Encarnacion

is doing everything he’s always done in terms of his plate discipline
and hit trajectory stats, but the power hasn’t been there. It’s a little
much to ask him to recover his power so soon after a wrist injury, but
that might be what you are stuck with. If power is your sole goal, you
may want to go with Ian Stewart, who is now back in the
major leagues. In interviews he has practically demanded that he play
every day. If the team allows him that – it’s not like Jose Lopez is a much better option, and Ty Wigginton
is also a flawed player – he could go back to striking out a little
less than a third of the time, which would probably result in an
Encarnacion-ish .250 batting average with power. If every hit counts, Danny Valencia has had bad luck so far this season and should at least be able to hit .265 or so going forward. 

AL- and NL- Only Leagues
In these leagues, you’re mostly just screwed. In my 11-team AL-only, the best waiver option is either Omar Vizquel or Matt Tolbert. I’d take Tolbert, mostly just because he’s playing often because of the current state of the Twins infield. If Andy LaRoche
is available in your league, he’s been seeing more time for the
Athletics and has been acquitting himself well. On the NL side, Mike Fontenot
is getting more playing time at shortstop and, because of his position
eligiblity, actually create some trade value for himself by stealing the
starting shorstop role in San Francisco while your third baseman is
out. That’s how bad Miguel Tejada has been this year. Over with the Reds, Daniel Descalso is probably the man taking over for Freese right now, but watch Allen Craig if he’s available, as he’s the best bat in this paragraph – but he’ll have to build up eligibility at the positon, most likely.

Third base is hurting right now, literally and figuratively.
Hopefully some of these free agent options will help you survived until
you get your third baseman back.

For more check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office 2011.

What Jordan Walden, Closer, Can Tell Us

by Eno Sarris //

There’s a new closer in the greater Los Angeles / Anaheim area. Jordan Walden is young (23) and has a nice fastball (96 MPH+), and took over the role last night. What worked with him might tell us a little something about where to look for future closers.

What was wrong in front of Jordan Walden was Fernando Rodney. The veteran pitcher had never once put in a walk rate better than league average. Lately, he’d been inducing ground balls, but that caused his strikeout rate to fall even further. Mostly, the 33-year-old is in a decline off of a questionable peak.

So, first our future closer needs opportunity. Perhaps one of the worst closers in the league is Brandon Lyon – who has a bad strikeout rate (5.86 K/9 career) and supplements it with a flyball tendency in a home-run happy ball park (8.4% home runs above average park).  Ryan Franklin doesn’t really have a strikeout rate (5 K/9 career) or an elite groundball rate (around 44% the last three years, 40% is average). Recently, Francisco Cordero‘s strikeout rate has been falling and his walk rate has been rising.

Look behind these three guys and you might find a young, exciting pitcher. In Houston, Wilton Lopez doesn’t have the fastball (92+ MPH career), but he induces groundballs (56.1% career) and avoids the walk (1.32 BB/9 career). The Cardinals have Jason Motte, meaning they have a reliever with gas (95.9 MPH career on the fastball) that has fewer than 150 innings pitched in the major leagues. You’ve probably heard Aroldis Chapman.

In each of these cases, a weak veteran pitcher is in front of a young player with intriguing abilities. In each of these cases, the team would love to have a cost-controlled closer in their pen. In each of these cases, the young player should be on your team if you are looking for saves and need to get ahead of the pack.

So that the next Jordan Walden doesn’t end up already on some other team’s roster.

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com

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(Vid) Behind the Numbers: All Things New York Baseball

Behind the Numbers Season: All Things New York Baseball

Don’t use Bloomberg Sports Front Office 11 yet? Buy a copy and use the code Sienna for a discount.

Hosts: Robert Shaw and Wayne Parillo

Watch the entire episode, or use the links below to jump to the exact point you want:

The Yankees Episode
Guest: Tom Trudeau
Bloomberg Sports baseball analyst and former ESPN worker. Follow him at @Tom_Trudeau

The Mets Episode
Guest: Eno Sarris
Writer for fangraphs.com, Amazin’ Avenue, and Bloomberg Sports. Follow him at @EnoSarris

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com

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More Behind the Numbers is available at the BloombergSports Youtube channel

The House that Jeter Built (Video)

This off-season Hank Steinbrenner seemed to go after his franchise star when he said that last season the Yankees were too busy building mansions, that they did not focus enough to be champions.  Well good news for Yankees management and fantasy managers alike, is the fact that the Captain’s mansion has been built.

Derek Jeter’s mansion measures at greater than 31,000 square feet with a half dozen car garage.  The house was built for $7.7 million, which would likely buy only a four bedroom apartment in Manhattan.  

If, indeed, Jeter was consumed by the development of his house last season, the good news is that the construction has been completed (video below).

 

For access to the top baseball analytics and fantasy tool Bloomberg Sports Front Office visit BloombergSports.com 

Targeting Closers Of Tomorrow

By Tommy Rancel //

The production from relief pitchers is volatile in nature. In addition to the uncertainty of the position, there are also health concerns in some bullpens. Just this spring we’ve seen a few closers (Brad Lidge and Brian Wilson) go down with injury. With all things considered: injury, ineffectiveness, fatigue, it is wise to keep one eye on the future when building a bullpen.  That said, here are a few names to keep tabs on as we enter the 2011 season.

Jake McGee:

Among the top arms in the Rays’ system, McGee will complete the transformation from starter to reliever that began late last season. As a left-handed pitcher who can hit the high 90’s with his fastball, you can literally see the appeal of McGee as a late-inning option. While he struggled developing his secondary pitches as a starter, he can now focus on his fastball and slider as a reliever.

McGee pitched out of the Rays’ pen just eight times last season, but showed the strikeout stuff you want to see from a shutdown reliever. Bloomberg Sports’ projects him for 60 innings this season with nearly a strikeout per inning. If McGee’s stuff translates as expected, that number could be even higher. Tampa Bay will start the season with a closer-by-committee, although veterans Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta are likely to get the early ninth inning opportunities. Meanwhile, if McGee can get batters out on both sides of the plate, he could find himself as Joe Maddon’s high-leverage relief ace of choice.

Jordan Walden:

Another former starter, Walden pitched exclusively in relief during the 2010 season. Surprisingly, his strikeout rate actually dipped as a reliever in the minors.  Upon his late-season promotion to the majors, his K-rate spiked. In 15.1 innings with the big league club, Walden punched out 23 batters. That translates to a K/9 of 13/5. Like most young pitchers, Walden struggles with control and command. That said, his fastball can touch the triple digits and his slider is a decent second option. The interesting thing to watch is his strikeout rate going forward. If he is getting swings and misses in bunches, the walks will become more tolerable.

Fernando Rodney will begin the season as the Angels’ closer; however after rumored interest in several high-profiled relievers this winter, Los Angeles does not seemed to be married to Rodney in the ninth. If Rodney struggles, set-up man Kevin Jepsen could get a look, but Walden has the goods to be the guy at some point this year.

Kenley Jansen:

Like the others named above, Jansen is also transitioning to the bullpen. However, he is a converted catcher and not starting pitcher. He spent the first four seasons of his professional career as a catcher in the Dodgers’ system and was behind the plate for the Netherlands during 2009 World Baseball Classic. Jansen began the transation to the mound during the 2009 season. With a high-90’s fastball and a really good slider, it did not take him long to shoot up through the system. In fact, he bypassed the Triple-A level altogether.

He made his big league debut in late June and was a key piece in the bullpen going forward. In 27 innings of work he allowed just two earned runs (0.67) and racked up a ridiculous 41 strikeouts. The K/9 near 14.0 and BB/9 near 5.0 show the same wild, yet effective, approach exhibited by Carlos Marmol with the Cubs.

Unlike the Rays and Angels, the Dodgers have a very good closer in Jonathan Broxton. On the other hand, Broxton fell out of favor with the club last season and briefly lost his job as closer. Los Angeles also has another very good arm in Hong-Chih Kuo to close should Broxton falter. Jansen faces more obstacles than Walden or McGee, but has similar potential to become a true relief ace with time.

Even if McGee, Walden, and Jansen don’t rack up double-digit saves, the potential for high strikeouts make them attractive options in deep leagues and those that count holds.

Kila Ka’aihue: Finally?

By Eriq Gardner //

Kila Ka’aihue is zooming up the charts as a potential breakout player for the 2011 season. In 46 spring training at-bats, the Royals first-baseman has hit .413/.449/.804 with 5 HRs and 2 SBs. Not only has Ka’aihue finally won a full-time job at the age of 26, but Royals manager Ned Yost has praised his defensive progress too, telling reporters that Ka’aihue should see more time at first-base than Billy Butler this season.
For the past few years, Ka’aihue has generated a lot of conversation in the scouting community.
On one hand, Ka’aihue has demonstrated the rare combination of elite power and excellent plate discipline. In the last three seasons in the minors, Ka’aihue has slugged a home run once every 19 at-bats and walked 206 times compared to just 152 strikeouts in 842 at-bats. 
These stats are very noteworthy. When his time at AA and AAA gets translated into a full-season 2011 MLB projection, the results raise eyebrows. Most services project 20 HRs in under 500 at-bats, presumably giving him a shot at 30 HRs with a healthy on-base percentage if he plays a full season in the bigs.
Will that happen?
Ka’aihue has his doubters, too.
Some point to the fact that he achieved those gaudy statistics in the minors at a relatively advanced age. Others have labeled him a “Quad-A Player,” too good for the minors and maybe not good enough for the majors, on the belief that the much-better breaking stuff of MLB pitchers will eventually bedevil Ka’aihue. Finally, a few point to results from Ka’aihue’s debut at the major-league level last season, which at first glance, don’t seem very promising.
We’re on the sunny side here.
Ka’aihue may have achieved enormous things in the minors at the age of 25, which is a little bit old, but still youthful enough it shouldn’t be dismissed. Other players have succeeded after proving themselves in the minors at advanced ages. Nelson Cruz, for one, didn’t hit it big in the majors until age 28. Plus, Ka’aihue was knocking them out of the park and showing his great plate discipline all the way back in 2004-05 at Single-A when he was just 19 years old. He’s been overdue for a call-up for some time now, so it can hardly be counted against him that he hasn’t gotten a real shot.
Some might suggest that 2010 was his opportunity to prove himself. Last year, he suffered a .217 AVG in 180 at-bats.
Look closer, however, and last season gives more reason for hope than otherwise. He struggled badly in his first 84 at-bats in August, as do most call-ups, but then had a pretty outstanding September when nobody was looking. In 84 September at-bats, Ka’aihue hit .274 with 6 HRs. His OPS was ninth among first basemen in baseball that month.
Ka’aihue still has plenty to prove, especially when pitchers learn his tendencies and shy away from giving him fast-balls down the plate. But all evidence so far suggests he’s not a free swinger. He’ll take the walk if necessary and make pitchers put them in the strike zone.
Ka’aihue finally gets his chance to shine now, worrying those who imagine the Hawaiian-born slugger will feel some pressure to perform quickly, after being forced to bide his time so long, especially with one of the game’s best prospects, Eric Hosmer, waiting in the wings. The fact that Ka’aihue plays on the Kansas City Royals, however, might turn out to be advantageous. The team won’t contend for the division this season and have no reason to start Hosmer’s arbitration eligibility clock early. Ka’aihue knows better than anybody the organization’s commitment to “patience.” 
He could very easily fulfill the potential of his minor league career and hot spring training. Ka’aihue has waited for this opportunity; it doesn’t mean fantasy competitors should be as unhurried when seeing him available in a league.

The Top 10 Hitting Prospects

By R.J. Anderson //

Last week, I looked at the Top 10 Pitching Prospects according to Front Office. This week, let’s focus on the Top 10 Hitting Prospects.

1. J.P. Arencibia
2. Freddie Freeman
3. Domonic Brown
4. Desmond Jennings
5. Yonder Alonso
6. Devin Mesoraco
7. Jesus Montero
8. Wil Myers
9. Wilin Rosario
10. Gary Sanchez

Freeman is the healthiest and most assured of a starting gig out of the rest of the options, as he figures to be the Braves’ Opening Day starter at first base. Brown suffered a broken hamate bone earlier in the spring and will miss a few weeks into the regular season. Brown was in line to become at least a part time player in the Phillies’ outfield, so look for him to be an intriguing in-season addition.

A similar thing can be written for Jennings, although his situation depends on his own health as well as his major league counterparts (namely Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon). An injury to an outfielder or infielder could leave Jennings on his way up thanks to the Rays’ flexibility with players like Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez. Alonso has been described as pure trade bait despite working out in the outfield during the exhibition season. The Reds have a pretty good first baseman already who isn’t going anywhere else anytime soon, leaving Alonso’s value as minimal.

The list is loaded with backstops. Arencibia, Mesoraco, Montero, Myers, Rosario, and Sanchez all don the tools of ignorance. Of those, only Arencibia and Montero are likely to see time in the big leagues early on, although Mesoraco could very well reach the show by season’s end. Sanchez is probably the only one that you should remove from your draft boards, as he only turned 18 in December and isn’t a viable option outside of deep keeper leagues.

As is the case with all prospects, don’t build your team expecting them to live up to your wildest dreams. Instead, use them in complementary roles until they’ve proven otherwise. After all, not every season brings a Jason Heyward to the table.  

(Vid) Behind The Numbers – Cramming for The Draft

Behind the Numbers – Season 2: Cramming for the Draft When You Don’t Have Enough Time to Prepare

Behind The Numbers Season 2 tries out a new video format which includes pop-up information about the guests and subject matter.

Jonah Keri, New York Times National bestsell author of the Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First joins Behind the Numbers co-host Wayne Parillo and Fantasy Analyst Rob Shaw for a pre-draft cram
session, helping out since Parillo is a new father and hasn’t exactly had time to prepare. Oh, and there is a special Front Office discount code for listeners.

Curtis Granderson: Siren Call or Smart Pick?

by Eno Sarris //

According to the Bloomberg Sports Front Office tool, Curtis Granderson is the fourth-best center fielder and ranks at about 47th overall – and yet his ADP is hovering around triple-digits. Seems like a moment rife for opportunity. Except there’s the recent news about his health. And his ongoing platoon issues. Let’s take a look at these and see if they threaten to completely reduce his value to rubble.

GrandoGrab.jpgFirst, it’s true that Granderson is not a great batter against lefties. His .215/.275/.347 line against lefties is much worse than his .287/.363/.528 line against righties. And that lacking lefty line has come in 859 plate appearances, so it’s somewhat reliable. He’s not great against lefties.

The thing is, he still takes at-bats against them. It only seems like he’s a platoon outfielder. Take a look at the chart below, and you’ll see that he actually took more at-bats against lefties than the average player last year. The Yankees know that, with his glove, he’s still valuable. And fantasy fans should know that he still hits 3-5 home runs a year against lefties, and, as the chart shows, GrandersonLefties.jpgisn’t sitting versus them. If you’ve got a good fourth outfielder in your daily-lineup fantasy league, fine, put him in instead of Granderson versus a lefty. But don’t discount Granderson too far for having a slight flaw.

Now Granderson is hurting from an oblique strain, but during the last spring training game, manager Joe Girardi said that his center fielder said that he would have played if it was the season. There’s still a week left before the season opens, but obliques are tricky. It’s hard to know exactly how much time, if any, Granderson will miss, and watching the news wire in the next couple days will hopefully help.

The injury news, along with his struggles against lefties, will surely depress Granderson further than his current ADP. On Yahoo, Delmon Young‘s ADP is 101.1, Nick Markakis‘ is 111.6, and Granderson’s is 112.5. I’d take the chance at power and speed over those two outfielders, even if the batting average is not always there. On ESPN, Granderson’s ADP is higher (87.7), and he might not be a good option over a healthy Corey Hart (93.4), but I’d certainly take him over Torii Hunter (116.4) and Juan Pierre (115.6), more one-dimensional players at this point in their careers.

Curtis Granderson is not perfect. But at some point, he’s a value. In mixed leagues, start looking at him once you approach double-digit rounds.

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com

Young Starters To Target Late In Fantasy Drafts

By Tommy Rancel //

Names like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, and Felix Hernandez dominate the top tier of starting pitching in fantasy leagues. While getting a bonafide ace to anchor your rotation is important, filling the final few spots of your staff is also key, especially if you can find some gems in the later rounds. One way to find value late in the draft is targeting young, yet talented arms. Here are the top 5 projected youthful starters with an ADP of 150 or later.

Jaime Garcia
Madison Bumgarner
Jhoulys Chacin
James McDonald
Jeremy Hellickson

Garcia is the latest disciple of St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan. As a rookie, he finished with a 13-8 record and a ridiculous 2.70 ERA in 163.1 innings. Even with a strikeout to walk ratio of over 2.0 and a phenomenal groundball rate, he is not likely to produce another sub-3.00 ERA in 2010. That said, Bloomberg Sports’ projects him with another double-digit win season and a more than respectable ERA of 3.73.

Despite being just 21-years-old, Bumgarner will enter 2011 as a key member of the defending World Series Champions’ rotation. The young lefty went 7-6 in his first big league season with a nice round 3.00 ERA. He won’t provide you with a ton of strikeouts, but should top 10 wins with an ERA under 4.00.

Staying in the National League West, Jhoulys Chacin was a much better pitcher than his 9-11 record showed. The Rockies’ right-hander compiled a 3.28 ERA in his first full season while striking out more batters (138) than innings pitched (137.1). Like many other Colorado starters, Chacin’s ERA at home (3.98) was much higher than his road mark (2.44). Even with regression, he should still be an above-average starter who gets drafted after round 20.

James McDonald was stolen by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Dodgers in exchange for a handful of innings from Octavio Dotel. In 11 starts for the Pirates, he earned an ERA of 3.52 with a strong strikeout rate of 8.58. The Pirates may finish with another 90 losses, however, McDonald should provide solid numbers at the top of their rotation and value at the back end of fantasy ones.

Our lone American League representative is the most inexperienced member of the list. Jeremy Hellickson made just four starts for the Tampa Bay Rays late last season. That said, arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball goes into 2011 entrenched as the Rays’ fifth starter. Although his time with the club was brief, Hellickson showed his trademark control should easily transition to the big leagues. He’ll probably be limited to 175-185 innings, but Bloomberg Sports says those innings will be quality ones as his ERA projects to be under 4.0 (3.89).

Filling the front end of your rotation with the Halladay’s of the world is essential. But remember the Bumgarner types as you look for value from the SP4 and SP5 spots. All five of our pitchers have ADP’s in the triple-digits with the potential to provide double-digits in the win column.

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