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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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Welcome to the Bigs, Kid: Jose Fernandez

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Welcome to the Bigs, Kid: Jose Fernandez

Posted on 08 April 2013 by T.J. McDonald

Welcome back for another exciting year of fantasy baseball action.  The season is only a week old but we have already had one of the top prospects in the game, Jose Fernandez, make his unexpected debut & boy did he not disappoint! In the 2013 debut edition of Welcome to the bigs, kid we will be profiling and discussing him and his debut outing. Also as always we will be discussing his fantasy value for the rest of the year and many years to come.

JoseFernandez

Jose Fernandez is a 20 year old right hand pitcher from Cuba for the Miami Marlins.  He is the third youngest Marlin to make their major league debut and youngest starting pitcher. He was drafted by the Marlins with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. In his first full professional season last year in 25 starts 14 coming in low A and 11 in high A he went 14-1, striking out 158 batters and walking just 35 in 134.0 innings. His ERA was 1.75 and his was WHIP 0.93.  He was ranked as the #1 Marlins prospect & #5 in all of baseball to start the year by Baseball America.  He was surprisingly called up to be the Marlins 5th starter to start the year, after they had two projected starters of their rotation start the year on the disabled list.

Once the announcement was made he would start the rotation, the skeptics were out as to whether he would be a viable fantasy option this year or not. After his debut performance I am confidante in saying he will be. I sat down yesterday and with the help of DirectTV watched every pitch of his debut outing and not only did he not let me down he greatly exceeded by expectations.  He went a very strong 5 innings with a Marlins debut record of 8 strike outs. He pitched flawlessly the first three innings getting the side out in order all three and striking out the side in the 2nd. He then got into a slight jam in the 4th after allowing a single with one out and a walk with two outs  before getting the next hitter to ground out.  His control that inning did seem to be a bit shaky out of the stretch as he walked one and went to a 2-2 count with the final batter of the inning. He was able to get it under control and get a inning ending ground out leaving both runners stranded.  In his fifth and final inning of work he gave up his lone earned run but was able to limit the damage by leaving a runner stranded on second.  He exited after throwing 80 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Now that we know a little bit about Jose Fernandez and have detailed how his first outing in the big leagues went, lets talk fantasy value. After watching his impressive debut there is no doubt in my mind that not only is he a top dynasty/keeper lg player but that he will also be a relevant redraft mixed leagued starter.  Will he have his ups and downs, yes and wins may be hard to come by playing for the lowly Marlins but the Ks and other quality pitchers stats will be there. One thing to keep an eye on however is that the Marlins do plan on limiting him to around 150 to 170 this season. He only went 5 today and I foresee that to be a pretty regular occurrence.   This may mean he will not be leading your team come playoff time but first you have to reach the playoffs and he could be the type of free pickup that helps you reach that goal.

Regarding his keeper/dynasty league value there is not a lot to say that already hasn’t been. He was the #5 prospect in baseball coming into the season and had a very impressive debut. Add to the fact that he is only 20 years old, if your league mates haven’t been smart enough to roster him already drop what you are doing and RUN to pick him up. Pitchers like this don’t come along everyday and in a long term format he looks to be the type of pitcher that can anchor your pitching staff for many years to come.  As of this writing he is currently owned in 70% of CBS, 32% of yahoo, & 9.9% of ESPN leagues, which I imagine will have a pretty big spike following his debut outing.

Now that we have welcomed Jose Fernandez to the bigs, will you have him rostered? I do. Let me know in the comments and as always follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ for all your fantasy baseball needs. Enjoy the season gamers, it has only just begun.

 

 

 

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Bursting Bubbles

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Bursting Bubbles

Posted on 18 February 2013 by Will Emerson

The Blue Jays are not going to win the World Series. Well, I mean, not, not ever. I am sure they will win the World Series again at some point in time, but not in 2013. Yes, you read that correctly. It is not my opinion, it is a fact. No, I did not ride a Delorean into the future and steal Biff Tannen’s Sports Almanac. I am not a soothsayer. Well, you got me, I almost never say sooth. I am not a mind reader and I do not have ESP. I just know that that Toronto Blue Jays will not win the World Series in 2013. This is a boldish statement, I suppose. And I am sure the best way to back this up would be with statistical proof and some sort of makings of sound reasoning, which I don’t have per se. What I do have is the 2012 Miami Marlins.

Toronto_Blue_Jays

In 2012 the Miami Marlins opened up their hearts and, well, checkbooks to Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle among others. They opened a new ballpark and they were the talk of the town. Expectations were high in the Sunshine State. The Marlins and their fans were ready to take the world, or at least the NL East, by storm. So how did that work out for the Marlins? Well they finished absolutely dead last in the NL East. They took absolutely nothing by storm. Now the Toronto Blue Jays are not the Miami Marlins, despite Toronto being the Miami of Canada, but you have to admit there are a few glaring similarities.

The 2012 Marlins went out and got themselves a superstar speedster shortstop. So did the 2013 Blue Jays. The exact same superstar shortstop, to be specific. The 2012 Marlins had a new manager. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins had another speedster, to go along with their superstar speedster shortstop, by the name of Emilio Bonifacio. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins got Mark Buehrle to supplement their rotation and eat some delicious innings. So did the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins had Josh Johnson in their rotation. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins had a fading starting pitcher named Ricky. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. The 2012 Marlins had a couple of “superstar” hitters returning. So do the 2013 Blue Jays. Quite a few similarities there, wouldn’t ya say? Of course with similarities, there are some differences as well.

Unlike the 2012 Marlins, the 2013 Blue Jays did not, or have not, inked a “big time” closer. But, they don’t have a totally proven closer either (although I do like Santos and Jannsen) and after Bell kind of had some early season implosions it did not look like the 2012 Marlins did either. Also, the 2012 Miami Marlins did not sign a Cy Young starting pitcher like 2013 Blue Jays did. Even if R.A. Dickey does not, and he more than likely won’t, duplicate his 2012, he could still be a very reliable starter and I feel that does give the 2013 Blue Jays a slight edge over the 2012 Marlins in the starting rotation area. The 2013 Blue Jays also, unlike the 2012 Marlins, added another All-Star outfielder. But, in Melky Cabrera, does anyone really know what to expect in 2013, post PED suspension? At the very least he could be a Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison for the Jays, so there is that. The 2013 Jays also have Edwin Encarnacion, which is maybe one more bat the 2012 Marlins did not have. So yeah, on paper, the 2013 Blue Jays are a slightly better looking team than the Marlins were a year ago, but I still think Blue Jays fans will be in for a disappointing season.

I feel like there is just so much darned hype and foofarah surrounding the busy Blue Jay off-season and the team they have put together for 2013. It is a classic trap. A set up for what will seem like failure. In baseball especially there is just a certain, as the French would say, “I don’t know what” that causes what appears to be a very good team on paper, to just not come together as a cohesive unit and win a bunch of games. Look, I can’t say for sure that it is World Series or bust for the Jays and their fans, but if they don’t make the playoffs, at least, you would have to think that the season would definitely be considered as something of a failure. You know what, I am stating here first, not only will the Blue Jays not win the 2013 World Series, they will not make the playoffs in 2013. Boom. Roasted.

Not only do I expect a fairly sizable regression from Dickey and Cabrera, but even without that, the Jays are also in arguably the toughest division in baseball. The Yankees always find ways to win despite whatever soap operatic-like drama or supposed gaping weakness or what have you they may have going on. The Rays have just an all around solid squad with some superb pitching to boot. The Orioles made the playoffs last season somehow and the Red Sox should be much improved over last season (although it would be hard for them to not be). The Blue Jays have a scary roster to be sure and I can’t say how convincing my argument has been, but I am just not ready to hand anything over to them just yet. I mean, R.A. Dickey had a downright spectacular 2012, but he is no Dave Stieb. I just feel like history is getting ready to repeat itself..sort of.

Hey, I’m not saying the Blue Jays are going to finish last in their division like the 2012 Marlins did. I am certainly not saying that Blue Jays fans should not be excited about their chances. I am just saying that someone needs to burst the bubble. Well, okay, I guess no one has to go bursting the bubble, I just wanted to do it, what of it? Jays fans should just temper their expectations a tad, so they will not be as crushed come October when their team is no longer playing, much like those poor, poor souls in Miami, four months ago. But hey, what do I know, right? Well, okay, I do know this is definitely the most times I have typed the numbers 2012 and 2013 in a single post. Good day and godspeed!

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dickey3

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Who’s Hot: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets’ Ace

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Chris Caylor

Clint Eastwood has been a popular topic of discussion the past several days. Must be because of that new “baseball” movie he has coming out soon. That’s got to be it. Otherwise, he sure has kept a low profile lately. Speaking of Eastwood, doesn’t it seem far more realistic for him to be playing a crusty old football coach? Leather helmets, three yards and a cloud of dust, and all that? Even at 82, he could probably whoop Mark Sanchez with one arm tied behind his back. What’s that? Oh, right, sorry. Back to the topic at hand: for this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not, I feel inclined to do a “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” theme. Off we go:

The Good: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets – The Last Knuckleballer is back in a groove again. He crafted a complete-game shutout of the Miami Marlins in his most recent start. For the season, Dickey sits in the top three in the following categories: wins (17; first), innings (191 1/3; second), strikeouts (190; second), ERA (2.63; third), WHIP (1.01; first) and complete games (4; first). The strikeouts and WHIP stats illustrate just how dominant Dickey has been while throwing the game’s most unpredictable pitch. Here are two more: 1) in so-called “high leverage” situations, opposing batters are hitting just .184 against Dickey in 2012; 2) in those same situations, he is generating ground balls over 51% of the time. Batters simply have not been able to make good contact against Dickey when it counts the most. As an aside, if you haven’t R.A. Dickey’s book (Wherever I Wind Up), get on it. Compelling read, as well as a perfect example of a man who knows his limitations and learned to thrive anyway. He’s just one of many Cy Young candidates in the National League, but he is far and away the sentimental favorite. What a great story it would be for a 37-year-old knuckleballer to win the award over younger power pitchers like Johnny Cueto, Matt Cain, AJ Burnett or Gio Gonzalez. Dickey has been a gift for his fantasy owners as well. If you drafted him or scooped him up off the waiver wire, you’ve been feeling lucky all season long.

The Good: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers – The Rangers’ third baseman has been tearing the rawhide off the baseball, going 23 for his last 54, with an eye-popping OPS of 1.633. In the past two weeks, Beltre has bashed 8 homers, driven in 16, and scored 12 runs. That’s a good MONTH for a lot of players. Mixed in this scorched-earth streak (“hot” just doesn’t seem to do it justice), Beltre enjoyed his first career three-homer game and hit for the cycle for the second time in his career. He does have a tendency to cluster his hits together: four hits one night, none the next, three more hits the day after that. In the “neat, but does it really matter?” department, Beltre became the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle in the same ballpark as a visiting player and a home player. For the season, Beltre has 28 HR, 85 RBI and 79 runs scored, making him one of the top five fantasy performers at the position. He’s been worth 5.0 WAR so far in 2012. He doesn’t steal bases any more, but when he’s racking up stats like this in the other four categories, that’s a small nit to pick.

The Bad: Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals – Zimmermann endured the worst outing of his career Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Worse, he’s in a slump at the worst possible time for the Nationals. After 21 consecutive starts of at least six innings, Zimmermann has been unable to go six innings in 5 of his past 6 starts. With the Strasburg Shutdown now in sight, Washington can’t afford to have one of their remaining starters getting knocked around every five days. In the past two weeks, Zimmermann’s K/BB ratio is at a season-worst 1.50 with a 1.96 WHIP. Worst of all for the Nats (and fantasy owners), Zimmermann was pushed back in the rotation a few weeks ago due to shoulder tightness. There haven’t been any other issues reported, but Zimmermann has a history of injuries in his short career. The Nats need need him to stay healthy and get back on track. They have John Lannan to plug into the rotation in Strasburg’s place, and a man with no name after that. If they have to go into October without two of their top three starters, it may be a short trip to the playoffs.

The Ugly: Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians – I didn’t just pick Ubaldo for the Ugly category for the alliteration; his pitching has been an eyesore, particularly since the All-Star break. In 52 innings pitched since the break (which is awful in itself, since he has made 10 starts), the former Rockies ace has been surrendered 72 hits and 26 walks. Fantasy owners can point to the 10.5 K/9 ratio he compiled in August, but it is completely canceled out by the atrocious 1.80 WHIP and 7.67 ERA. Both of those numbers are roto pitching-staff killers. Jimenez’s home run to fly ball ratio is the worst of his career (13.1%; worst at Coors Field was 11.5% in 2007) and his fastball velocity is the lowest it has ever been (92.7 mph). You have to believe the Indians would like a do-over with this trade. Regardless of how bad Drew Pomeranz and Alex White might struggle, it would have to be more pleasant than watching Jimenez deteriorate into a right-handed Oliver Perez.

Follow me on Twitter @chriscaylor….and get off my lawn.

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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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