Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses three playeres to pick up this week for your fantasy baseball team.
Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics
In his 2012 debut, Anderson had a strong performance with 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K, and the win. This 24 year-old southpaw had a good 2010 as well, going 7-6 with a 2.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP
Andrew Bailey, RP, Red Sox
In only six appearances this season, Bailey has gone 4.1 IP, 1 SV, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP. In his first three years, he has convered 75 of 84 save opportunities. In his career he has a 2.07 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP.
Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies
In his first start since May 1, Chacin went 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K against the Mets. In his second start on Sunday, he went 5 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 K against the Cubs. He had 11 wins last year with a 3.62 ERA and .231 OPP AVG
Players to watch for
Troy Tulowitzki and Lucas Duda are both returning for their respective teams, so look for them to possibly make an impact if you pick them up for your fantasy team.
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BY ROB SHAW
To put it mildly, Aramis Ramirez has not had Brewers fans forget about Prince Fielder. While Fielder has already offered the Tigers a .345 average with two home runs, Ramirez has chipped in with just a .129 average and no home runs for the Brew Crew. This is a far cry from the .306 average Ramirez offered last season, not to mention the expectations coming into this season with Milwaukee.
While Ramirez is off to a slow start, he has had a tad of bad luck. Alfonso Soriano robbed him at the left-field wall of an extra base hit on Tuesday, and he already has swiped two bases while nailing two doubles. Plus, Ramirez is a notorious slow starter as March and April are his worst batting months throughout his career.
At this point, fantasy managers should be in a holding pattern, as Ramirez is likely to bounce back. For the first time this season, Ramirez did not strike out in two consecutive games. It looks like he is starting to see the ball better, and that usually leads to a rise in batting average and the power metrics. Patience is a virtue in dealing with A-Ram’s early slump.
There has been a very scary trend in Cleveland for fantasy managers in recent years. We’ve seen players who reach superstardom with the Indians only to lose their luster seemingly overnight due to injuries.
First it was MVP contender Travis Hafner, who went from a .300-plus hitting machine with loads of power to a lackluster DH who struggles to stay healthy. More recently, it’s been all-around sensation Grady Sizemore, who has lost his speed and power in recent years and now is once again on the disabled list for an extended period.
The question that is plaguing fantasy managers right now is whether Shin-Soo Choo will follow that undesirable path. Following consecutive 20-20 seasons, Choo had a season to forget last year with off-the-field controversy followed by an injury-plagued season. Fresh off his worst season with 8 home runs and a .259 average, Choo is struggling once again. The two-time 20-20 fantasy star has five hits, all of them singles.
The good news is that Shoo is drawing walks and already has two stolen bases while his OBP is north of .400. For now fantasy managers should be in a holding power with Choo. The solid plate discipline suggests that he is seeing the ball well and could bust out of his power outage at any moment. In fact, if you have confidence in the 29-year-old outfielder go ahead and acquire him while his stock is low.
What’s the deal with Mets first baseman Ike Davis? Last season he got off to a excellent start before a bum ankle shut him down for the season with seven home runs, 25 RBI, and a .302 average through 36 games. This season has been the total opposite. Davis has two hits through 28 at bats, and both hits have been singles.
While the Mets are calling Davis healthy, there are some questions as to whether a fungal disease suffered during spring training is still limiting him physically, or if at this point, the toll is mental, as Davis has 10 strikeouts through the first eight games of the season.
To be specific, the ailment that Davis encountered this spring was Valley Fever, a lung disease that could lead to fatigue. It very much should be taken seriously, as the illness once knocked 130 games out of the season from Conor Jackson. So yes, fantasy managers should be on red alert, as the disease commonly found in desert environments such as Davis’ hometown in Phoenix could be an issue.
Some good news is that David Wright returned from his broken pinkie on Saturday and blasted a home run. With Wright’s return to the Mets lineup, there are more likely to be runners on base for Davis to drive home. Furthermore, Lucas Duda has looked very much like a slugger this season with three home runs already. With Duda batting behind Davis, there could be an uptick in the runs scored as well.
Of course, the main focus for Davis right not is to snap out of the slump, then he will no longer hear the whispers of mystery ailments and more concerns about the health of Mets players.
When last season concluded with Tim Lincecum brandishing a losing record, there was not much panic in San Francisco as his 13-14 record came with a superb 2.74 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. On that note, fantasy managers again picked Lincecum early in the drafts this season expecting him to contend with rival Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young award. Through two starts the Giants ace may have already pitched himself out of contention.
Tim Lincecum currently sits at 0-1 with a 12.91 ERA. Fantasy managers are wondering if it will it be sink or swim by the Bay this season for Lincecum. This is a major concern for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list is that Lincecum is usually strong out of the gates. April is usually the best month for him, at 12-3 entering this season with a sub-3 ERA.
Another key concern has been the diminishing velocity. Lincecum is so far throwing his fastball at 90 MPH this season, down from 91 MPH last year and 92 MPH the year before. He relies a great deal on his high velocity since his outpitch is no longer his slider, but his change-up. In fact, Lincecum has mentioned that he will try to avoid use of his slider this season since it puts pressure on his arm. It will be tough to get away with just a fastball and change-up if he can’t reach the mid-90s.
Keep an eye on Lincecum’s next start as this may be a concerning trend. For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.
BY ROB SHAW
The New York Mets can finally move on from the loss of Jose Reyes, as they opened the season with two straight wins against the Braves. The team has accomplished the hot start because of the rise of young talent including Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, and Ike Davis as well as some help from old friends most notably David Wright and Johan Santana.
The two wins were not exactly expected. Mets fans had been in mourning for several months as the news of the Madoff scandal attracted the most attention and the poster boy for the Mets reversal of financial fortune was the loss of the greatest shortstop in franchise history, Jose Reyes to the rival Marlins.
Wright understands as much as anyone how difficult it is to replace a talent like Reyes, but he also knows that the team has to move on, “You know one player, granted he’s very good and he’s a great player and great teammate, but you cannot worry about who is not here. I have a tremendous relationship with Jose, I’ve got a ton of respect for him, like I said, I think he’s one of the best position players to put this Mets uniform on, but that’s not how this game works, we’ve still got games to play and games to win and we need other players to step up and fill that void,” said Wright.
Another former teammate of Reyes and Wright, Endy Chavez explains the shock he felt when word came out that Reyes was no longer a Mets shortstop, “That was unbelievable, I understand this is a business, but to Reyes leaving New York, just saying Jose Reyes is like saying New York Mets, so it’s something crazy, but you know things happen in baseball and that’s one of those things.”
Finally, Reyes himself understands that he has to move on. His role goes from helping the Mets to now competing against them with a long-time rival, “You know in the beginning it was a little weird for me because all of my career I played with David the same thing, but now I have to adjust to the new team, so I know I was there with David for a long time and we every year became very good friends, I’m going to miss David and I wish him all the best.”
While the loss of Reyes is certainly hard to swallow for Mets fans, one thing that would make it easier is the return to prominence of Wright. The 29-year-old franchise player has tallied five hits and two RBI through the first two games of the season. It looks like the drawn in fences could be exactly what Wright needs to get his confidence back. The young up-and-coming Mets look at Wright to set the tone.
“Huge, huge key for us, David is. Not only as a player, but clubhouse guy. He’s awesome in the clubhouse and he keeps us motivated, we follow him and where he goes we go,” says Mets slugger Lucas Duda.
First baseman Ike Davis adds on Wright, “Definitely a big part of our lineup and he’s going to be the leader of the team and it’s really exciting seeing him play again.”
Meanwhile, the pitching has been great and the biggest surprise of them all is Johan Santana. After picking up 29 wins the first two seasons with the Mets, Santana has just 11 over the last two seasons, missing all of 2011 due to surgery. However, he was back on the hill on Opening Day and gave the type of performance that will gain confidence in the ball club.
“He’s been the bright spot so far this spring, just his health, the way he’s throwing the ball, so I’m excited about what he’s going to bring to the table this year, and it will be a lot of fun to play defense behind him,” says Wright.
As impressive as the Mets have been, this is still very much a rebuilding year. In fact, if Jason Bay and/or Johan Santana can sustain their production, there is a really good chance that they will get traded. The Mets may be able to hang around .500 for the majority of the season, but the bright days ahead will be when their top pitching prospects develop into stars that can compete with Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg on the Nationals. Maybe then, the big three in Philadelphia will no longer be in their prime. The question is whether David Wright will still be a Mets third baseman.
BY ROB SHAW
One player for fantasy managers to acquaint themselves with is Daniel Murphy. The second baseman can help a fantasy team in many ways, specifically with depth due to his position eligibility. In fact, Murphy played some first, second, and third base last season after struggling in the outfield in past seasons.
A top-10 hitter last season with a .320 average, Murphy has been working on driving the ball with a little more power this season. Considering his maturation and natural growth, fantasy managers should look at Murphy as someone who can contribute a .290 average with 15 home runs and 5+ stolen bases. There’s a good chance Murphy can end up playing better than Mets rival Chase Utley this season.
Next, there should be some fantasy excitement for the return of Ike Davis to first base for the Mets. Davis looked like a legitimate slugger last season before enduring a season-ending ankle injury. At 6’4 and a large frame, Davis already has great power, with 26 home runs through his first 652 at bats, but now with the fences drawn in there is even more reason to raise expectations this season. In fact, Davis as a left-handed hitter, will be impacted the most by the fences being drawn in right-field this season. Expect Davis to prove to be a better pickup than Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez.
Finally, a major sleeper this season, Lucas Duda could end up being the best homegrown slugger since Darryl Strawberry was wearing number 18 on a Mets jersey. Duda has raised eyebrows in batting practice with his moon-shots. After pulling or driving to center field all 10 home runs last season, Duda has already belted two home runs the opposite way this spring.
He’s a player that can belt 25-30 home runs with a respectable average. What’s most impressive so far has been his plate discipline, which is giving hope to Mets fans that he can be the next big star in Flushing.
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On television they call him Lebowski, but Mets fans should call him their next great hope. While David Wright has regressed to being just a solid player and Jose Reyes can’t stay healthy, the team is desperate for a bat to play the role they anticipated from Jason Bay.
Fortunately for them a player has stepped up. His name is Lucas Duda and he boasts a .279 average with seven home runs with 36 RBI. While those numbers are not the most impressive, if you take a look at what has occurred since the All-Star break it’s a different story: 7 HR, .321 average, with 24 RBI.
The best news is that Mets fans may have more power coming. Justin Turner has played with Duda in the Minor Leagues and he has seen with his own eyes what Duda is capable of, “You guys haven’t even seen him get hot yet… I played with him last year when he was unbelievable… when he starts hitting the ball over the fence, it comes in bunches, so we’re waiting to see that, it’s really fun to watch.”
At the moment, Duda has been splitting his time between first base and right field. Though he has offered decent defense at first base, his future will be at right-field once Ike Davis returns from injury. “I think wherever.. right field or first base… right field is a work in progress, but anywhere that is going to get me at bats.” The fact that the Mets will be able to pencil him in at right-field is a big lift for a team that will look to fill some holes after losing Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez in trades.
While there is some fear that Jose Reyes may be the next to leave Flushing, at least Mets fans know that the Duda abides. “As you play more as you get more at bats…, your confidence grows and I think it is growing right now,” says the red-hot Mets slugger.
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It seems like the baseball world is just waiting for the Mets to finally fly its white flag. It is clear that at 19 games behind the Phillies in the NL East and more than 10 games behind the Braves for the Wild Card, there is no real shot at making the postseason. Nonetheless, the Mets have played extremely well on the road, keeping them within .500 through 117 games into the season.
The tide may have finally turned in recent days. The Mets fell twice to the last-place Padres at home and will now have to take on the first place Diamondbacks on the road this weekend.
It’s also the way that the Mets have fallen that hurts the most. On Wednesday, a well-pitched game by Jon Niese was wasted thanks in large part to shoddy defensive by 21-year-old shortstop Ruben Tejada. The only reason Tejada was even in the field was the most recent hamstring injury to star shortstop Jose Reyes.
One positive that Mets fans can focus on is the continued success of rookie Lucas Duda. The 6’4, 254 lbs. slugger drove in four RBI in the four-game series with seven hits. Though his season statistics are solid with three home runs, three triples, 12 doubles, and a .279 average through 62 games, his teammate Justin Turner tells us that we have not seen anything yet. “When he gets into a hot streak, the ball just sails over the fence in bunches,” said Turner, who played with Duda in the Minor Leagues.
Despite the fun name and slugger’s role, Duda is soft-spoken and modest, though his confidence shines through, “It will come.” he says. “The more comfortable I get the better I’ll perform.” Duda has good reason to be confident. He is hitting .348 since the All-Star break with three home runs and a .427 OBP.
While Duda is playing first base in place of the injured Ike Davis, his future home for the Mets will likely be in the outfield. After all, the Mets have no shortage of first basemen with both Davis and Daniel Murphy both posting big numbers before each landed on the DL with season-ending injuries.
As usual, it is anything but easy to be a Mets fan. However, there is some good news as the season crawls to an end. Both Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda look like keepers, though finding a position for each will be a challenge. Jose Reyes seems happy to be with the Mets and could end up extending this off-season in a long-term deal. Jason Bay has progressed a bit from his early struggles, and even Justin Turner may be a short-term fix at second base.
The Mets still have plenty of issues to sort out. They could use another big arm in the rotation even while assuming Johan Santana returns as a front of the rotation hurler. Bobby Parnell does not look like a closer. Then there is the gaping hole in centerfield that Angel Pagan has not been able to fill this season.
For those who prefer the glass half full, consider that the Mets have lost their first baseman and their backup first baseman to injuries. David Wright and Jose Reyes have both spent weeks on the disabled list. Johan Santana has not thrown a single pitch for the Mets this season. Jason Bay and Angel Pagan are having down seasons. The team traded away its best all-around hitter and its ace closer, and yet they sit just one game under .500. In other words, for Mets fans there is just enough positive to still believe.