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By Eddie Mayrose

Who Do You Trust?

There isn’t a Fantasy Baseball writer or publication, (including this one), that isn’t penning a piece this week cautioning Fantasy owners to be patient; that the season is a marathon, not a sprint, and that the convictions you held entering your draft should not have been shaken by a player’s performance over the first few weeks.

That is a predominantly valid theory, as three weeks is certainly not a large enough sample to make a decision on how a player’s season will evolve.  At least not those of whom you had a very strong opinion before the season began.  But what about those major leaguers of whom you weren’t sure?  The guys returning from injury, the kids making their major league debuts or the veterans looking to bounce back from bad years?  When have we seen enough to make an informed decision about them?

As part of our weekly quest to guide you to a Yoo-Hoo shower in he fall, we present the following list of players that have our full faith and confidence, as well as those for whom we’d accept a few felt tip pens and a 2013 Draft Cheat Sheet in return. It’ll help you identify the guys you should keep, discard or acquire.  Good luck

“Maybe this is Heaven.”… Ray Kinsella

Bartolo Colon (A’s)- If Colon keeps this up, he may be the second pitcher in MLB history to have a surgery named after him.  In one stretch during his last start, he threw 38 consecutive strikes.  Much like Tommy John, he seems even stronger in the second season after his return than the first- and Colon was certainly a pleasant surprise in the Bronx last year. Colon is becoming the workhorse of the Oakland staff and absolutely warrants a spot on your roster.

 

Lance Lynn (Cardinals)- At first glance, their is no reason to believe that his 3-0 record and excellent peripherals are anything more than a hot streak.  Maybe,  but, given that his next three starts come against Chicago, Pittsburgh and Houston,  ride him for another two weeks, at least.

David Freese (Cardinals)- His fast start is actually a carryover from an incredible September and Postseason.  Lots of players can put together productive streaks but the stars are the ones that can do it when it counts.  We strongly believe that Freese is serving notice that he is one of the NL’s next big names.

Austin Jackson (Tigers)-  Every once in a while, Fantasy owners have to put away the spreadsheets and SABR metrics and listen to the men on the field.  Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland was adamant during spring training that Jackson was in for a big year after changing his approach at the plate.  He’s off to a sizzling start, drawing more bases on balls than last year and making a prophet of his skipper.  Expect a performance much closer to his 2010 total than those of last season.

Justin Morneau (Twins)- Many Fantasy owners were burned last season when Morneau couldn’t shake the effects of the concussion that cost him most of 2010.  Even more vowed that they wouldn’t make that mistake this year and are dismissive of his production over the first few weeks.  But, we’ll take the word of Ron Gardenhire.  The Twins’ skipper was the most cautious voice during Morneau’s return in 2011, vowing to keep his MVP first baseman out of the lineup until he was completely healthy, no matter how long it took.  So, when Gardenhire declared him ready for a big year, we listened.  Good thing.

Jonathan Niese (Mets)- There used to be a time when pitchers, especially lefties, were given time to hit their stride.  To gain the experience necessary for success.  Niese, in his third full season, has arrived at that point in his career.  A fluid lefty with sneaky fast velocity, he’s learned how to pitch in the big leagues and will soon be the Mets’ ace.  None other than Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson agrees, as he signed Niese to a long term deal just before the season.

“You said your finger was a gun!”… Terrence Mann

Adam Dunn (White Sox)- Don’t be fooled by his 2 HR game yesterday.  Dunn had three more hits vs LHP in 2011 than you did.  We have no idea why Dunn is no longer the HRv terror he was in the NL but, as Fantasy Owners, we don’t have the time to find out.  There is every possibility he’ll return to form.  Just let someone else bet on that.  Not you.

 

Chris Davis (Orioles)- His .375 BA into this weekend is encouraging, as is the fact that he’s cut down dramatically on his strikeouts. However, that contact rate comes at a price, as Davis has but 1 HR so far.  You can’t have a first baseman with no pop.

Bryan LaHair(Cubs)- Admittedly, we don’t know much about him.  What we do know, however, is that it took him more than a decade to reach the majors. There’s a reason for that.  Take what LaHair gives you for now and dump him as soon as he hits a bump in the road, as GM Theo Epstein is dying to get his old Boston farmhand, Anthony Rizzo, into that spot.

Chase Headley (Padres)- We all know the story of the blind squirrel. Nine of Headley’s first sixteen hits have been for extra bases, despite the fact that he has never been a power hitter.Couple that with Petco park’s unfriendly nature toward hitters and you have a classic, “sell high” candidate.

Jake Arrietta (Orioles)- We got a glimpse of the rest of Arrietta’s season last night as he was cuffed around by the Angels.  He’s a talented kid with all the tools, but has yet to put them all together to the degree necessary for him to survive the brutal lineups he’ll face in the AL East.

Fantasy News and Notes
Don’t miss a great piece by  Joe Sheehan in last week’s SI.  In the column, titled, “Abolishing Savery”, Sheehan makes the point about the absurdity by which the save rule dictates how managers employ their bullpens.  Nice to know I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness… In 50+ seasons, the New York Mets have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter.  However, after yesterday’s perfecto by Philip Humber, ex Mets have now accounted for 13… Before you look to acquire Marlon Byrd for your AL-only roster, take a look at his dismal start in Chicago.  His 3 for 43 start might take a little of the Boston Boo-Birds’ focus away from Bobby V… The greatest thing about my XM Radio and MLB.TV accounts?  Having the daily enjoyment of listening to Vin Scully broadcast a game.  It should be a crime for hacks like John Sterling to say their in the seame business… After watching  a few A’s games, I’m quite impressed with RF Josh Reddick.  He’s got a terrific swing, good speed and is a strong defensive outfielder.  His slow start may give you an opportunity to stash him as a prospect on your reserve roster… Umpire Joe West is easily my least favorite figure in all of baseball,as his pugnacious, combative nature and diminishing skills as an arbiter combine with his desire to be the focus of attention to create a mountain of incompetence.  Have to give Cowboy Joe his props, though, when it comes to Yankees-Red Sox.  With all of the stepping out of the box, interminable pitching changes and softball lineups, games between these two rivals are unbearably and unnecessarily long… Stick your toe in the water and see if anyone in your league is frustrated enough with Josh Johnson or Tim Lincecum to dump him in a trade. Given their pedigrees, their is no reason not to expect both to respond from their sub-par Aprils and give you a huge return on investment… With Aroldis Chapman’s K rate at 2 per IP and Sean Marshall struggling, how long will it be before Dusty Baker makes Chapman his closer.

Closers Continue to Cause Angst for Fantasy Owners

by Eddie Mayrose

Last August, I wrote a column that was, essentially, a letter to my 2012 Draft-Day self, beseeching caution on a number of fronts where, in the past, a blind eye had served to bite me in the butt during the season.

Luckily, I included that column as part of my Draft Prep last month and skirted the biggest pitfall- Closers.  Highlighting the line: “No matter how often we hear that Saves are Fantasy Baseball’s most unreliable statistic, it’s difficult to pass on established closers” , I remained patient and didn’t reach early.  That pearl of wisdom, seemingly obvious, was unfortunately ignored by many once the first two or three relievers came off the board.

Think about it.  The “Closer Run” is the first in any draft, as some Fantasy Owners scurry like frightened deer to grab recognizable names three and four rounds earlier than their statistics/opportunity/reliability dictate.  And, every year, many of these guys spend April bemoaning the fact that their selections have gotten out of the gate slowly, or, worse, performed poorly enough to lose the job.

The first two weeks of the 2012 campaign have followed the annual script, with as many as ten teams uncertain about the role or being forced to show patience with their struggling stoppers. While this ambiguity may be a headache for the likes of Bobby Valentine, it’s an opportunity for Fantasy Owners to add 20+ Saves to the statistics through judicious use of the waiver wire. Here’s a quick, Moonlight synopsis of how some of these situations might play out. Continue reading »

Things to Remember in March 2012

by Eddie Mayrose

Dear Moonlight,

I’m writing  from here in August, 2011 to urge you, the 2012 Moonlight Graham, to remember a few, critical points as you sit down at the draft table.  Just a few suggestions that, if taken, should spare you the misery that your 2011 self has had to endure.

I feel this letter is necessary because, had I been fortunate enough to receive the same courtesy from the 2010 Moonlight, I’d at least have been reminded to stay away from the almost irresistible temptations that pop up during a Fantasy Draft.

It happens to all of us.  No matter how much we’ve prepared, there comes a moment during a draft where we must put our money where our mouth is.  To strike boldly and grab that young player we believe to be on the cusp of stardom and resist the fading star that MIGHT have another big season left.  To ignore position scarcity and bolster the roster with the most talented player available and, most of all, know in your heart that a history of injury will likely continue. Because I was weak this year, turned my back on solid info in favor of a few pipe dreams, I’m hoping that this letter will save you from the same pitfalls. Continue reading »

The Doctor is In

by Eddie Mayrose

Ray Kinsella: “Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within… you came this close.  It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it.  God, they’d consider it a tragedy.”

Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham: “Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes… now that would have been a tragedy.”

One of our favorite scenes from the classic, “Field of Dreams”, regarded by FantasySportsDirt staff as the greatest film ever made.  While we admire Moonlight’s dedication to the wonderful people of Chisholm, Minnesota, we can’t help but wish that Giants’ manager John McGraw had “waved a bony finger in my direction” just a few innings earlier, enabling the rookie to get that one Major League at bat that had eluded him.

With just about half of the 2011 season in the books, maybe we can pave the way for Moonlight to combine his two passions, as our mailbag is filled with letters from patients complaining of many symptoms that have their Fantasy Baseball teams under the weather and seeking advice.  Whattaya think, Doc? Continue reading »

by Eddie Mayrose

It’s one of baseball’s unusual feats.  Not so much achievement as oddity, hitting for the cycle is about as rare as a no-hitter.  Four hits in a game doesn’t happen very often; even to the game’s best hitters.  To not only bang out four knocks but a single, double, triple and homer in the same game is the baseball equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack.  We’ve all heard players during post-game interviews talking about how they were looking to drive a pitch out of the park in a given situation.  But, have you ever heard one say that he went up to the plate looking for a triple to complete a cycle?  Of course not.  It either happens or it doesn’t.  However, even with this example, many Fantasy Baseball owners in Roto formats turn a blind eye to the improbabilities; instead running up transaction bills while fruitlessly chasing their own version of the cycle.

For the most part, established MLB players will achieve totals within expected parameters.  However, the stats will more often be the end result of a season filled with hot streaks and slumps rather than one, long, consistent performance.  Imagine that you were one of the geniuses that inserted Pirates’ closer Joel Hanrahan into his lineup after the Pirates’ closer had 4 saves in the season’s first week.  You knew that Hanrahan, a talented pitcher with a great K ratio, wouldn’t get save opportunities with the struggling Bucs as would John Axford in Milwaukee.  But you’d seen Axford get cuffed around in his season debut and decided to make the switch and hit for the Cycle.  A week later, however, Hanrahan was still stuck on 4 while you’d missed 3 saves from Axford. Continue reading »

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