Jason Kubel as Reliable as They Come

by Eddie Mayrose

I remember the last time I saw Billy Joel in concert.  It was 2005 at The Garden, more than a decade after he’d released his last album, River of Dreams.  Yet, here was the world’s most famous arena, packed to the rafters by middle aged men and women who’d been following the Piano Man for decades.  Why?  Because they all knew what they were going to get.  A terrific performance by an artist that had never let them down.  Like an old friend, Billy Joel delivers, and that reliability is what makes him so attractive.

Diamondbacks’ OF Jason Kubel may not be able to play the piano, but he’s another artist that never lets you down.  Better still, he doesn’t even cost very much as, year after year, Kubel goes in the very late stages of most mixed league drafts.  Yet, for his loyal followers, he’s a huge bargain- delivering robust BA, HR and RBI stats worthy of a selection made much earlier. Continue reading »

But Will They Dig the Same Guys In August?

By Eddie Mayrose

No matter how closely we follow Fantasy Baseball, there are still those, “Really?”, moments that occur as we follow the scroll on the bottom of the screen during MLB Network’s Quick Pitch. Adam Dunn has 15?!  Who’s this guy Reddick with 12 for Oakland?!  Isn’t Dayan Viciedo in the minors?  Some form of each of these questions has been asked over the past few weeks by just about everyone but the jurors that fell asleep at the Roger Clemens trial. And each was followed by the same musing:  Can he keep this up or have I already missed the boat.

The late, great Forte Bellino of the 40Kane Fantasy Baseball League had a saying for such transactions. “Missed the wedding, made the funeral.”  It seems more likely that, having missed the hot streak from Edwin Encarnacion that owners have expected for the better part of a decade, you’ll pick him up or trade for him and watch him immediately revert to his standard mediocrity.  For the good Doctor, such transactions become Fantasy Baseball’s version of a cold shower, as he’s never had a problem cooling off the hottest of players.  So, where does that leave us with those guys that have enjoyed an unexpected burst of power to this point? And, perhaps more importantly, who are the late bloomers that might land a date with the hot girl before the season is out?  Let’s take a look. Continue reading »

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 »

Work To Do After Auction

by Eddie Mayrose

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I was recently invited into an Auction League by Colby Schaeffer of ProFSL.  I don’t know that Colby called it an experts league, (tough to do, I suppose, after inviting me), but I certainly considered it to be.  I’ve got some work to do now that the auction is complete, as I came up a little short on the back end of my pitching staff.  You’ll also see that Joe Mauer is my UT for $17, as I got caught with my pants down, after grabbing Alex Avila,  trying to inflate his value.  Well, as you all know, I love the Twins anyway, so maybe Mauer stays off the DL this year.

Check out the impressive list of GM’s, as well as Colby’s extremely cool, Bill James based scoring. We’ll be posting from time to time about my progress, (or lack thereof), during the season.  For now, Can’t wait for Thursday! Enough of these up and down games with clocks.  Take me out to the ball game! Continue reading »

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