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Triple Play: Miguel Cabrera, Mitchell Boggs, Roy Oswalt

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Triple Play: Miguel Cabrera, Mitchell Boggs, Roy Oswalt

Posted on 06 May 2013 by Chris Caylor

In this week’s edition of the Triple Play, we look at the most consistent hitter in the game, a closer banished to the minors and more. Off we go:

Miguel Cabrera

Who’s Hot?

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

Talk about en fuego. In the past week, he smashed four homers, drove in 13 runs and punished opposing pitchers to the tune of a .461/.562/1.038 batting line. Prepare to roll your eyes: Cabrera is on pace to drive in 201 runs. While that obviously isn’t happening, what is happening is that the 30-year-old is continuing to prove he is the most consistent hitter in baseball. For the season, Cabrera is hitting .389/.467/.627, with six home runs, 36 RBI and 26 runs scored. If you drafted Miggy with your first-round pick in your fantasy draft or you spent the big bucks required in your auction league, you are likely having no buyer’s remorse pangs. Credit must be given, of course, to Austin Jackson for doing a terrific job getting on base in front of Cabrera (30 runs scored already) and to Prince Fielder hitting behind Cabrera. Going into Sunday’s games, the Jackson/Cabrera duo had scored 56 of the Tigers’ 155 runs, while Cabrera and Fielder have teamed up to drive in 64 of the team’s 152 RBI. The key to it all, though, is Cabrera – the best hitter in baseball (including fantasy baseball). Period.

Who’s Not?

Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals

I hate to pile on Boggs here, but my goodness, has he ever been awful. After a 2012 season in which he was one of the best setup men in baseball, Boggs has cratered. In his first 10 appearances, Boggs tallied two blown saves, two losses, and a 12.66 ERA. He allowed a ghastly 30 baserunners in just 10 2/3 innings. The final straw came last Thursday, when he walked the only two batters he faced against Milwaukee. With usual closer Jason Motte now facing Tommy John surgery and out until midseason 2014, Boggs was supposed to provide stability in the Cardinals bullpen. He did not. The instability was further compounded when left-hander Marc Rzepczynski was demoted last week as well. It is fortunate for St. Louis (and fantasy owners) that Edward Mujica has stepped up to fill the void at closer. As the Cardinals try to rebuild their bullpen on the fly, it is worth remembering that the same thing happened in 2011. If Boggs is trying to find a bright side in his demotion, perhaps this will help: Boggs was last sent to the minors in 2011. When he returned, he was a key cog in the retooled bullpen that helped propel the Cards to their 11th world championship in 2011. General manager John Mozeliak hinted that Boggs’ stay at Triple-A Memphis would be short. Cards fans and fantasy owners hope that Boggs can return and be the pitcher he was in 2012.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, 12 IP, 16/2 K/BB ratio
Player B: 1-0, 1.63 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 11 IP, 13/4 K/BB ratio

Player A is Reds’ rookie pitcher Tony Cingrani. Player B is the Marlins’ own rookie, righty Jose Fernandez. What a pair these two are. Cingrani has been everything the Reds expected and then some in his four starts in 2013. His six-inning, 11 strikeout performance against the Nationals was nothing short of dominating. I don’t see how the Reds can justify sending their prized southpaw back down to the minors even when Johnny Cueto returns from the disabled list. He has proven he belongs. Meanwhile, in Miami, Fernandez, who was born the year before the Marlins came into existence, is becoming the only reason to watch the Marlins while Giancarlo Stanton is injured. After scuffling his past three starts, Fernandez was brilliant over the weekend in earning his first career victory. He struck out nine Phillies, allowed one hit and one walk during seven shutout innings. At age 20, Fernandez is likely to be strictly monitored this season, but the strikeout potential is there for fantasy owners if you can live with the shorter outings and occasional spells of inconsistency. If he’s available in your league, he’s worth a look.

Player A: 4-2, 1.59 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 51/7 K/BB ratio
Player B: 3-1, 1.61 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 42/8 K/BB ratio

Player A is Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. Player B is his teammate Hisashi Iwakuma. It’s no secret that I’m a big Iwakuma fan. The numbers above illustrate why. Iwakuma is King Felix Lite. You can pay big auction dollars or use an early draft pick on Hernandez and be satisfied with the numbers he provides. Or, you could have spent that early pick/auction cash on a hitter like Prince Fielder and then picked up Iwakuma many rounds later and enjoy the similar stats at a bargain-basement price. Obviously, it’s early in the season and Iwakuma does not have King Felix’s track record. But don’t dismiss this as a fluke. Iwakuma has great stuff, doesn’t walk many batters and pitches in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the game. I believe he’s the real deal

Random Thoughts

News: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Chris Carpenter thinks the nerve pain in his throwing arm has improved enough that he wants to try to come back as a reliever. Views: If anyone can do it, it’s Carpenter. But the man has nothing to prove to anyone. He was as fierce a competitor as anyone you’ll ever see.

So, Roy Oswalt signed a minor-league contract with the Rockies. This tells me two things: 1) that ol’ Roy isn’t looking for the best chance to win, but rather a team that would stick him in the rotation as soon as possible, and 2) his pouty antics last year in Texas really damaged his reputation. I find it very difficult to believe that Oswalt couldn’t have hooked on with a better team than the Rockies if he hadn’t been such an unprofessional whiner with the Rangers. If he hadn’t acted that way, doesn’t it seem reasonable that teams like the Yankees, Angels, or Mets (all teams in dire need of starting pitching depth in spring training) might have kicked Oswalt’s tires if they thought he would do his job like a pro and not complain to the media constantly like a prissy NFL wide receiver?

Congratulations to Scott Kazmir, who earned his first major-league win since September 2010 this past Saturday. The lanky lefty is only 29. It would be a major, if unlikely, boost for the Indians if he could recapture the success he enjoyed with Tampa Bay. Still, he’s not going near my fantasy team’s roster.

Yu Darvish is receiving in tons of accolades in Texas, but let’s not lose sight of what Pirates starter AJ Burnett has done so far this season. The 36-year-old Burnett has whiffed 57 batters in 42 innings so far this season with a 1.12 WHIP.

Speaking of the Pirates, they’re going to be a real handful for everyone once Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker start hitting. McCutchen is off to a .259/.319/.444 start, while Walker is hitting (or should I say, NOT hitting) .253/.352/.342. Meanwhile, left fielder Starling Marte is putting up McCutchen-like numbers (.328/.394/.513, while leading the NL with 10 steals).

Wainwright Walk Watch: In 49 2/3 innings pitched this season, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has walked three batters. Or, about what the Padres’ Edinson Volquez averages per inning of work.


Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Edison Volquez: Stream Dream?

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Edison Volquez: Stream Dream?

Posted on 22 March 2013 by Will Emerson

Alright, time to take a look at another starting pitcher who may be available after your fantasy baseball draft, thus making him a viable streaming option during the season. As somewhat promised I will venture outside of the American League East this time around, as I take a look at Edison Volquez’s streaming viability.


Volquez is currently consistently ranked in the high 90s amongst starting pitchers, and this is fairly accurate location for him in my eyes. Last season, Volquez was 11-11 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, so he was not exactly a world beater or anything. Also it is not as if he was tremendously unlucky and these fantasy statistics are that misleading. Volquez had a 4.20 xFIP and he walked over five batters per nine innings which does not exactly help his cause and shows us that his ERA is pretty much right where you should expect it to be. Sadly, those walks are huge detractor when thinking about picking up Volquez. With a career walks per nine innings of right around five, last season was also not anomaly or fluke and those walks will continue. However, if you are streaming Edison, then you may be able to work with the free passes and a generally high WHIP.

Now, much like skinning a cat, there is more than one way to go about streaming. Some people will stream until their little hearts are content, if their league settings and rules will allow. For those who stream with reckless abandon, Volquez will be all over their radars because for some reason I feel like Volquez has been considered a “name” starting pitcher for years. Although Volquez has only really had one very good season in the majors, he has been continuously taken on draft day. The ERA is tolerable, but that WHIP should be a big red flag causing some hesitance and caution when thinking about throwing Volquez out there at any point in your scoring week. Now, for those who do stream this way they are basically looking to take wins and strikeouts and hope for the best in the other categories. So if this is your method of choice Volquez should be a solid option. Well, sort of.

I mean, wins in general can be a crapshoot and any pitcher with the potential to win 12-15 games is draftable and any pitcher with double digit win potential that is not drafted is certainly a viable streaming option. I believe Volquez may be able to get to 12 wins and anything more is just icing on the cake. When streaming for wins you will need to pick a favorable match up for not only the pitcher but his team in general. So while wins, are quite possibly attainable with Volquez, strikeouts are definitely attainable with Volquez. Edison had a K/9 of 8.57 last year and that number for his career is 8.65. So if you are looking to stream to capture strikeouts and you are not too concerned with your other categories Volquez is your man. However, if you are in a tight race in the other categories you may need a little more help in deciding whether or not Volquez is a good pickup.

So, from the information we now have about Volquez, it seems he is a better streaming option for the end of the week. At that point you will have a better idea of where you stand in your match up and can decide if you should roll the dice with Volquez. Your other option, if you are looking to Volquez for an early week game, is to look for his most favorable matchups. Now if Volquez is facing a struggling, weak, or, especially in his case, free-swinging offense this would be an ideal time to take a chance and throw him out there. But another thing you could look at, is his splits.

Volquez plays his home games in what is widely known to be a pitcher’s park and while most pitchers will throw better at home, Volquez is extremely better at home. In 2012 Volquez had an ERA of 2.95, a 1.29 WHIP, and an 8.85 K/9. See? Extremely good. It may also be interesting to point out that Volquez’s walk rate was about the same at home as it was on the road, so clearly he was not giving up a lot of hits at Petco in 2012. On the road he posted an ERA over five, a WHIP of 1.65, with an 8.23 K/9. As you should have read above, for the most part the strikeouts should consistently be there for Volquez. Now his home xFIP was still 3.88, but this is still better than the 4.56 xFIP he posted on the road. Of course, fantasy leagues don’t care about a pitcher’s xFIP and with a FIP of 3.20 at home I would say you can expect some more home cookin’ from Volquez in 2013, leading to a home ERA in the low threes.

So I would say for the most part Volquez will be a very viable streaming option whenever he takes the bump at Petco and possibly on several other occasions. When looking through last season’s splits, I also noticed Volquez managed a 3.52 ERA in the first half, but do not get too hyped about this as his FIP in the first and second half were pretty much the same, so the second half was more or less just a regression, bringing his numbers to where we can expect them to be. Currently Volquez is owned in 5.4% of ESPN leagues and 16% in Yahoo! Leagues, so there’s a great chance he will not be drafted in your league(s), but is worth keeping an eye on for streaming. With that I am sure Edison will be making several appearances in Field of Streams this season. Alright well, keep, keep on truckin’ folks.

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Murphy’s Law Part III: R.A. Dickey

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Murphy’s Law Part III: R.A. Dickey

Posted on 10 August 2012 by Trish Vignola

R.A. Dickey pitched a 6-1 gem against the Miami Marlins this afternoon. His complete game masterpiece was the 15th victory notch on his belt. He stopped Jose Reyes‘ 26-game hitting streak, which is kind of a conflict for me. As a Mets fan, who wouldn’t want to see Reyes get his comeuppance?

I’m not a sentimental idiot though. He was my first round fantasy draft pick. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

Today ended a dreadful New York Mets’ nine-game home skid. ”That nine-game streak that was stopped today is more important than the 15 wins,” Dickey told the Associated Press (AP). Don’t worry, R.A. We didn’t like watching it either.

Dickey allowed five hits and struck out 10. It was the third straight spectacular outing for the knuckler, who is starting to make me wonder why his nickname isn’t “The Freak.” (Sorry, Tim Lincecum.) In his previous two starts, Dickey allowed only two earned runs combined.

Here’s my second conflict. I’m probably the most ardent Dickey fan (he’s on my roster as well). Nonetheless, I thought that his month long drought after the All-Star Break was the beginning of the end. Come on! We’re talking about the Mets here!

After that insane 12-1 start, he got played by Tony La Russa and his All Star politics. Coming out of the break, he was 2-2 in his next six starts. Now I am starting to think, could I have been wrong? As my fantasy baseball team slides down the tubes, is a New York Met actually not falling victim to Murphy’s Law (for once)?

Was last month actually an apparition?

Today’s weather in Flushing, Queens, was 89-degrees and hot. It was ideal weather for the fluttery pitch. Today marked the fourth complete game of the year for Dickey and eighth of his career. ”He’s got the feel for it back, again,” manager Terry Collins told the AP. ”All I can tell you is I hope the next eight starts are like this one.”

I’m sorry Terry. You can’t pitch him every day. Or can you?

Collins was prepared to ride his ace down the stretch. That’s right. Dickey is now considered the team’s ace. He wanted to go to Dickey on three days’ rest. However, that idea went out the window once the team essentially fell out of contention. The Mets have gone from 46-40 at the break to 54-58 after Thursday’s win.

Justin Ruggiano homered off Dickey in the fourth to tie it 1-all. Take away that and the Marlins have had little success against a pitcher, whose story makes “The Rookie” look pedestrian. Jose Reyes went 0 for 4. He twice stranded runners on third base and ending the longest hitting streak of his career.

I don’t even want to look at my team’s stats tonight.

Regarding today’s game, the holder of the best hitting streak in the majors this season could only mutter, ”Nothing close, nothing close.” Reyes took his bafflement into the field apparently. He lost a popup in the sun allowing the struggling Andres Torres to drive in the go-ahead run.

Torres homered off Josh Johnson in the sixth and got an RBI triple in the eighth after umpires went to replay to review whether the ball had left the park. If Torres has truly got his groove back and Dickey continues driving the National League to distraction, the last month and a half of the season is going to look far more palatable for the Mets.

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Strategies For The Late Rounds Of Your Draft

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Strategies For The Late Rounds Of Your Draft

Posted on 13 February 2012 by Ryan Van Bibber

Last time I shared some thoughts on how not to screw up the first overall pick in your fantasy draft. This time, we turn our attention to the other end of the snake, the late rounds of the draft and figuring out just what to do with those future drops.

Attention spans start to wane by the time round 15 starts. I love to play the waiver wire. In fact, I usually check the waiver wire before bothering to look at my own lineup. Now I play in a league that charges $2 per transaction. That changed my perspective on the waiver wire a little bit. To prevent dumping oodles of cash into a one-week replacement I now focus more intently on those late round picks I used to think of mostly as just a grab bag.

There is a strategy, several strategies, for making your last ten picks or so. It depends largely on the kind of league you play in and what kind of rules govern it.  The reality is that you want to mix these different takes in with your final picks, likely depending on which players are available.

Future Stars
For the most devoted of baseball fans, the kind of people who have prospect lists committed to memory, the later part of the draft is time to shine … and annoy friends with obscure baseball knowledge. If you play in a keeper league, this will be your most important track for late picks. The biggest names in prospects, last season’s call-ups ready for prominence, will probably be off the board by round 15.

Go deeper into those top prospect lists. Identify players in opening day lineups likely to be on shaky ground by the first of May and whether or not teams have youngsters wainting in the wings for their shot. This is not just a ploy for keeper leagues. Grabbing a top prospect with a good chance to crack the starting lineup by Memorial Day is an easy to way to reinforce weak spots on your own roster.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
I play in a head-to-head league these days, where starting pitching, even of the most mediocre variety, can still produce points. Loading up on two-start pitchers every Monday morning is also cost prohibitive at $2 per transaction.

Rounds 15-20 in standard leagues with 25 roster spots are meant for adding third and fourth starters. Here you can even chase wins, giving back-of-the-rotation guys on contenders a flyer for your roster. Of course, there are more than wins to be had from this group of pitchers. Look for potential breakout players, guys who had a strong September or someone whose peripheral statistics indicate better things in 2012.

Replacement closers are another option, eighth inning guys ready to step in for a shaky or oft-injured ninth inning guy. I tend to lean on the wire for in-season closer replacements since those decisions tend to be less predictable and less productive than starting pitching. However, if you miss out on closers earlier in the draft, this might be the place to grab some potential saves.

Aging Names
This is a Billy Beane favorite. Remember when the Athletics signed an unwanted Frank Thomas in 2006 and got 39 home runs and a .926 OPS out of him? They might do it again with Manny Ramirez this season, once he gets past that 50-game suspension. Aging greats can surprise everyone with bouts of productivity, and you will more than likely find a few in the late rounds of the draft.

Every year one or more of your starters, your top picks in the draft, will struggle at some point in the season. Colorado’s Todd Helton was probably an afterthought in most league’s last year, assigned to more teams via the robot draft than a purposeful addition. However, he had a pretty solid start to the season. Helton had 17 extra base hits in the first two months of the season to go with 21 runs scored, 22 RBI and an .870 OPS. It was hardly the line you want out of a starting first baseman, but it was good enough to be a fill-in for stragglers drafted in the early rounds.

Position Scarcity
Third base is notoriously thin again this season. There are never enough shortstops and second basemen to go around in a 12-team league. Adding a few backups at those positions, even if you do somehow manage to get a top tier player for all three, is a smart idea for a couple reasons.

Try to find a young player poised for a breakout or even a rebound candidate sitting in the right circumstances at one or more of these positions. They can serve as a fill-in if your starters are injured or in a slump. If they really get going, they could also give you some bargaining power as other owners deal with slumps and injuries.

A productive draft will use all of these strategies to get through the later rounds. It just might be the difference between fantasy gold and another wasted summer on the internet.

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Fantasy Draft Preparations

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Fantasy Draft Preparations

Posted on 09 February 2012 by Dennis Lawson

THE Couch (from your mom's basement)

As the countdown until pitchers and catchers report to spring training closes in on single digits, avid fantasy baseball owners must prepare themselves for the annual rite of the season.  That’s right.  It’s time to prepare your mom’s basement for draft day.  Set aside all pretense now.  Put away the facade of normalcy that you usually project to the outside world and consider these helpful tips for a successful draft.

  1. Carefully consider the placement of all those 3rd place Little League trophies you have strewn around the basement.  For the maximum intimidation factor, place them directly behind the draft board or 36″ tube television that is sitting on top of your G.I. Joe collection.  Nothing says “I am a bad, bad man” quite like plastic trophies and mangled action figures.
  2. Make backup copies of your draft plan.  Use graph paper, invisible ink, or that wall where you were supposed to hang that picture of your dog’s pet rock.
  3. About 1/3 of the way through the draft, arrange for a power outage.  It’s too late to change venues, and you have conveniently emailed yourself a copy of your draft data sheets to your smartphone.  Too bad for everybody else.  As long as the beverages stay cold, nobody will notice you checking your phone for “texts” from your cousin, Elfie.
  4. If you draft Tyler Greene for any reason, then you are doing fantasy baseball wrong.
  5. The list of acceptable foods for draft night starts with pizza and ends with nachos.  Do not spring for the expensive paper plates, either.  The cheap, flimsy ones will work just fine.  No draft party is complete until cheese dip has slowly crept into the crevices of your old couch.  NOTE:  There will be no fondue, crepes, or little cubes of cheese on a stick.
  6. If you must rely on some writers to help you figure out who the 14th best catcher is in the American League, then this just check out the rest of FullSpectrumBaseball.com.  Rumor has it that Full Spectrum covers fantasy like nobody else.  DISCLAIMER:  I may or may not actually write for the aforementioned site, but I do not actually provide legitimate fantasy draft advice (except for #4 in this list).
  7. Take a minute to ask your friendly neighborhood IT person to secure your WiFi network.  You may find it hilarious that you named the network “Your Mom”, because that “connecting to Your Mom” message never gets old, but the 12 year-old juvenile delinquent next door has been running a counterfeiting ring using it for 2 years running.  Also, change the name of the network to something more appropriate for someone your age….like “Pippa Middleton” or something like that.
  8. Spend at least 5 minutes asking an adult how to iron your good sweatpants for the occasion.
  9. Be sure to inform the other members of the household that you will be having friends over, and some of those friends may be “girls”.  Make it absolutely clear that this does not mean that any of them are your “girlfriend”.  That might be awkward.
  10. Avoid the temptation to check the latest updates at VirtualFantasyRotoPlanet right before everyone arrives.  Roy Oswalt will probably pull a “Brett Favre” to avoid going through that awful spring training exercise thing so many people of his age group detest.
  11. Put away the head-to-toe Under Armor outfit and forget about the “We must protect this house!” chant you had planned for the pre-draft festivities.  Both represent absolute abominations unless you happen to be Ray Lewis.  If you happen to be Ray Lewis, then I simply ask that you do not shoot me.
  12. Remind your parents that you do not want to be interrupted during the draft, and also remind them to leave your Superman pajamas UNDER your pillow.
  13. If you find yourself unable to pronounce a particular name, then either make up a nickname on the spot, or skip to a name you can pronounce.  No need to get all hung up on “Cliff Lee” or something complicated like that.
  14. No double dipping.  That party foul will get your thrown out of your own party, and it will be far too late at night to borrow the car or watch the “big TV” in the living room.
  15. Turn the lights off in the basement when you are done, because your mom said so.

Fail to abide by these 15 rules, and I will find a picture of Dennys Reyes shirtless and send a poster-size version to you.

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