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 »

By Eddie Mayrose

Looking forward to the greatest sports week of the year, featuring the NCAA championship game, the Masters and, of course, Opening Day of the MLB season. Come Sunday afternoon, it may take a surgeon to remove the remote control from my hand…Was disappointed by the result of the National Semi-Final between Kentucky and Louisville, as I was rooting for both coaches to lose… With Michael Pineda headed to the DL, (no doubt as a direct result of my drafting him), you have to wonder if the Mariners knew they were dealing damaged goods.  Why else would they give up on such a powerful young arm?… No matter how many opinions are offered as to the reason the Jets traded for Tim Tebow, very few have anything to do with the most important- He stinks.  Talk all you want about that winning streak the Broncos enjoyed when he first took over, but it was driven by an excellent defense.  Don’t forget how bad he was against New England, Buffalo and, especially, Kansas City when the Broncos needed a win to get into the playoffs… No matter how many Fantasy Drafts I’ve been in, I am always amazed how much importance guys place on stolen bases.  I don’t care if Emilio Bonifacio gets 100 bags, I can’t make up for the zeroes he gives me in the other categories… Don’t get caught sleeping on your roster during the first month, as the pickups you make can sometimes be more important than your draft picks… The fact that Tiger won at Bay Hill isn’t enough for me to slot him as the favorite at Augusta.  He did look a lot like the old Tiger, but Bay Hill is as close to a home-court advantage as any golfer can have, as Woods won for the seventh time.  If he’s on the first page of the leaderboard after the second day, then I’ll believe… Took Matt Kemp with the third pick in my mixed league the other night, not even considering Ryan Braun.  In fact, had Kemp been gone, I’d have taken Jose Bautista, so little faith have I in Braun the Juicehead.  With Fielder and Hart no longer protecting him and a reasonable expectation that he’s no longer using PED’s, I’m a short seller… Looking forward to the 25th season of the 40Kane Fantasy Baseball League.  After a quarter century, it’s now more about staying in touch with frienda than it is baseball.  We’ve been there for each other through marriage, births and deaths, as well as the trials and tribulations of the last decade, when a weakened economy ravaged our livelihood on Wall Street. We’ve leaned on each other for support, reveled in each other’s company and welcomed our sons into the league as owners.  I laugh when I hear gasbags like Mike Francesa label Fantasy players as guys with no lives.  In my league, we sustain the friendships that make our lives special.  Have a great season, guys.

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