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The Waiver Wire: Small Sample Size

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The Waiver Wire: Small Sample Size

Posted on 11 April 2012 by Daniel Aubain

Most teams have played about five games so far in this young season and most fantasy owners are already chomping at the bit to make changes to their rosters. But here’s a bit of free advice; slow down and take a deep breath. Don’t go blowing up your entire roster or destroying a perfectly good draft strategy to pick up a player who is off to a fast start unless you’re dealing with an unexpected injury or bailing on a late-round pick or “sleeper” who isn’t going to pan out any time soon. You’ll surely regret making a huge mistake this early in the season.

Here’s a look at some players widely available in most fantasy baseball leagues who may be worth targeting if you already find yourself with an early season need:

  • 2B Omar Infante, Marlins – Infante has gone 6-for-18 with a double, triple, three home runs, four RBI and five runs in his first five games of the season. He’s stuck in the bottom third of the batting order for now but a continued hot streak could see him move the top third sooner than later. He’s a career .276 hitter but hit .305 in 2009 and .321 in 2010. He’s only owned in 58.1% of ESPN leagues, 35% of Yahoo! leagues and 52% of CBS leagues.
  • SS Zack Cozart, Reds – Cozart was mentioned on many “sleeper” lists this offseason and his hot start is showing why. He’s gone 8-for-17 with five extra-base hits (two doubles, two triples, one home run), two RBI and five runs scored. He’s currently batting second in front of Joey Votto and reaping the benefits early. He’s only owned in 35.6% of ESPN leagues, 48% of Yahoo! leagues and oddly, 80% of CBS leagues.
  • 1B Adam LaRoche, Nationals – A career .215 hitter in March/April, LaRoche’s hot start is a welcomed surprise for fantasy owners. He’s gone 8-for-20 with two home runs and six RBI. He could be a nice filler on a roster utilizing a corner infield, infielder or multiple DH/utility spots. He’s only owned in 22% of ESPN leagues, 24% of Yahoo! leagues and 50% of CBS leagues.
  • OF David Murphy, Rangers – It wasn’t clear what Murphy’s role in the Rangers outfield was going to be heading into the season but a hot start should keep him in the lineup against all righties and even some hittable lefties. He’s opened the season going 8-for-15 with a home run and only owned in 12% of ESPN leagues, 14% of Yahoo! leagues and 25% of CBS leagues. He may not be worth the pickup in shallower leagues but mixed and AL-only owners should be paying attention at this point.
  • SS Rafael Furcal, Cardinals – Furcal is off to a 10-for-23 (.435 BA) start with three RBI, three runs scored and two stolen bases batting atop the Cardinals lineup. A career .283 hitter with a .348 OBP, if healthy, he could steal 20 to 30 bases. He’s owned in 65.6% of ESPN leagues, 55% of Yahoo! leagues and 63% of CBS leagues so check your league’s waivers now because he may not be available much longer.
  • 3B Chone Figgins, Mariners – Okay, we’ve all been burned by Figgins in the past but he seems to have figured something out here in the early goings of 2012. He’s 8-for-24 with three runs, four RBI and a stolen base and working on outfield eligibility with five games played already due to the Mike Carp injury. He’s 21.6% owned in ESPN leagues, 34% owned in Yahoo! leagues and 42% owned in CBS leagues. Tread wisely, my friends. Tread wisely.
  • RP Hector Santiago, White Sox – So, guess who’s emerged as the White Sox closer? Yep, not Matt Thornton. Santiago has recorded two saves so far and will likely keep the job until he proves unworthy. He’s only owned in 29.8% of ESPN leagues, 54% of Yahoo! leagues and 54% of CBS leagues. If you’re the “trolling for saves on waivers” type, give Santiago a look.
  • RP Jonathan Broxton, Royals – Broxton recorded his first save as the Royals closer by striking out the side. Both positive signs if you are still looking for saves. He’s owned in 59% of ESPN leagues, 63% of Yahoo! leagues and 63% of CBS leagues.
  • RP Fernando Rodney, Rays – Still looking for saves? Rodney has recorded two and the Rays are the kind of team that would play matchups for saves (um, closer by committee?) while Kyle Farnsworth is out. Rodney’s owned in 20.8% of ESPN leagues, 48% of  Yahoo! leagues and 47% of CBS leagues. UPDATE: Rodney just recorded a save against the Tigers is now 3-for-3 in save chances.

Again, I’m not recommending you blow up your roster to chase any of these players. These are small sample sizes but each player may provide a short-term benefit to your roster, so be sure to weigh the player being dropped, accordingly. Most are going to be useful in your deeper mixed leagues or a league-only version. Shallow leagues are already playing out as All-Star teams and, in my opinion, hardly even worth joining unless you are new to the game and are trying to get a feel for the process.

What moves have you made that have benefited your team already? Have you grabbed a “star” off of waivers that some owner dumped as a knee-jerk reaction to fill a need? I was able to pick up B.J. Upton off waivers the day after he was placed on the DL and he’s a player I actively avoided in my drafts. I wasn’t interested in him at his 80.3 ESPN ADP but for free off waivers, yes please.

Be sure to connect with me on Twitter @DJAubain to continue the fantasy baseball discussion and more all season long.

NOTE: All statistics and ownership numbers quoted are as of games played through April 10th, 2012 unless otherwise noted.

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DOs and DONTs: Chicago White Sox

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DOs and DONTs: Chicago White Sox

Posted on 05 March 2012 by Jared Thatcher

At first glance there weren’t really that many players I would draft from the White Sox this year. But upon further investigation, they may have some very valuable middle to late round picks that could add depth and production to your team.

DO find solace in the many young arms in the bullpen this year. Addison Reed, Matt Thornton, and Jesse Crain should all be lock down out of the bullpen no matter what order you put them in. They probably won’t have a ton of save opportunities, but should provide innings and strikeouts.

DONT even think about drafting most of their starting rotation this year. Gavin Floyd is injury prone and doesn’t put up great numbers. Jake Peavy is an absolute mystery, even to himself. He has lost velocity and doctors say his arm is as good as it’s going to get.

DO consider drafting John Danks as your number 3-5 starting pitcher. He has had a rough couple of years but I’m confident he can pitch 200 innings this year with an ERA under 4.00. The 150 strikeouts from him will be nice also toward the back of your rotation.

DO not overlook a couple of the other young arms on the team, Philip Humber and Nestor Molina. Molina came over in a trade from the Blue Jays and is a decent prospect. Humber provided over 200 innings of 4.00 ERA ball last year while striking out 150 batters. He should once again be a workhorse in 2012.

DONT take the chance on any of their outfielders unless you are absolutely desperate. Alex Rios had a terrible year in 2011 and there is no reason why he should be any better this year. Alejandro De Aza had a nice line over 54 games in 2011 but he is unproven. Dayan Viciedo was a good prospect in his day and still has some potential, but I would stay away until he proves himself.

DO DO DO pick up Paul Konerko as at least your DH this year. He is an RBI machine and has a great batting average to go along with it. He should be the same productive player he has always been, even considering his age.

DONT draft young infielders Brent Morel or Gordon Beckham. They were touted as future superstars and have shined at times, but the shine tarnished quickly and they were revealed to be below-average players. Don’t take the chance on these two guys until they can prove they can be productive week in and week out.

DO not expect Adam Dunn to hit under .200 again. Although the batting average is never very high for Dunn (he strikes out a ton), he should regain his swing and once again hit at least 30 home runs. Let Dunn slide as far as you can in the draft but don’t be afraid to take him as your DH in 2012.

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Fantasy’s Biggest Winners And Losers Of The Offseason

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Fantasy’s Biggest Winners And Losers Of The Offseason

Posted on 07 February 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The Hot Stove is cooling down and fantasy baseball season is right around the corner.  With many fantasy owners starting to prepare for their drafts, here is a look at some of the biggest winners and losers of this offseason.

WINNERS

Yonder Alonso – Stuck behind Joey Votto in Cincinnati and incapable of playing left field, Alonso escaped his own personal purgatory when the Reds traded him to San Diego for Mat Latos.  After hitting .293/.370/.466 in 4 minor league seasons and .299/.354/.479 in 117 at bats in the majors, Alonso will finally get a chance to show what he can do.

Edinson Volquez – Another player whom the Reds sent over to the Padres as part of the Mat Latos trade, Volquez’ value immediately gets a boost as a result of pitching in Petco Park.  Volquez gave up 19 homeruns in just 108.2 innings pitched last year.  If Petco can help cut that total in half and he cuts down on his walks, he has a good chance to push his ERA under 4.00 for the first time since 2008.

Jarrod Parker/Brad Peacock/Tom Milone – Acquired by the A’s as part of the trades of Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, at least two of these 3 pitchers should step into the A’s rotation immediately.  With Dallas Braden and Matt Anderson injured, its possible all 3 will start the year in the rotation.  Parker and Peacock have the most upside of the 3 and all of them got a cup of coffee in the bigs last year.  Expect all of them to see significant time in the majors in 2012.

New Closers – Due to trades and free agency, Matt Thornton, Rafael Betancourt and one of Grant Balfour/Fautino De Los Santos/Joey Devine will be stepping into the closer role in 2012.

Thornton saved 3 games for the White Sox in 2011 and takes over for Sergio Santos, who was traded to the Blue Jays.

Betancourt filled in as closer for an injured Houston Street in 2011, saving 8 games.  With Street traded to San Diego, the closer job is Betancourt’s to lose.

Finally, with the trade of Andrew Bailey to Boston, either Balfour, De Los Santos or Devine will assume the role in 2012.

LOSERS

Ryan Braun – Although nothing has been decided yet, Braun’s value could take a serious hit if his 50 game suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs is upheld.  Braun has appealed and maintains his innocence, but to date no player has ever won an appeal.

Carlos Quentin – Acquired by the Pares from the White Sox, Quentin moves from one of the better hitters’ parks to one of the worst.  After hitting .288 in 2008 with 36 homeruns for the White Sox, Quentin has hit only .245 with an average of about 24 homeruns the last 3 years.  Both numbers could drop even lower in 2012.

Aging Veterans – It appears that teams are starting to realize that they can get the same productivity out of some young rookies that they would get from an over 35 veteran.  As a result, players like Johnny Damon, Vlad Guerrero, Raul Ibanez and Hideki Matsui are still looking for work, while others, like J.D. Drew, Milton Bradley and David Eckstein are considering retirement.

Former Closers – Since there are winners in the closing shuffle, there has to be losers as well.  This year’s losers are Mark Melancon, Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez), Francisco Cordero and Francisco Rodriguez.

After saving 20 games for the Astros in 2011, Melancon was traded to the Red Sox and was considered a replacement for the departed Jonathan Papelbon up until the Red Sox acquired AnDrew Bailey.

Caught for identify fraud, Oviedo’s status for the beginning of 2012 is still up in the air.  However, one thing is for certain, with the Marlins signing Heath Bell this offseason, Oviedo is no longer the closer.

Cordero saved 37 games for the Reds last season, but struggled to find a job this winter.  He finally signed a 1-year deal with Toronto, where he will set up Sergio Santos.

After being traded to the Brewers mid-season, Rodriguez surprised them by accepting arbitration this winter.  Unlikely to receive more on the open market, Rodriguez accepted a setup role with the Brewers.  The Brewers avoided arbitration with Rodriguez by signing him to a 1-year, $8 million contract and could still try to trade him.

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