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Funnyball

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Funnyball

Posted on 21 January 2013 by Will Emerson

When Jack Zduriencik completed the deal that landed the Mariners Michael Morse, he was not applauded for his efforts. In fact, the countdown to his dismissal as the Mariner general manager was started or perhaps the clock was just sped up a bit.

MichaelMorse2

The Mariners and their lowly offense needed a power bat and Jackie Z went out and got a power bat. But of course that is not the whole story surrounding the trade, because there is more than one side to every trade. What the Mariners had to give up is of course also a big factor in evaluating the trade. They gave up John Jaso. Now, in theory, that looks okay, in that, this does improve the Mariner offense. Sure they now have one catcher on their roster, Jesus Montero, and he is someone that they don’t want as an everyday catcher. Now, would Mariners fans rather have Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton? Sure, who wouldn’t? But Upton would not go to Seattle (can’t imagine why) despite JZ’s best efforts, so you can’t fault him for that. But overall, in the grand scheme of things, are we being a bit too harsh on old Z? I mean maybe he is actually an evil genius. Not every plan or idea that seems bad or “off” ends up being bad down the road, right? Does a little thing called Moneyball, ring any bells?

Yeah, Brad Pitt, er Billy Beane, was met with some pretty strong criticisms when he started his wackadoo advanced stat based scheme. Jeremy Giambi? Scott Hatteberg? An outside of his prime Dave Justice? Fans and critics were not exactly jumping on board and lauding Beane’s maneuvers and cockamamie on base percentage talk. He was making moves and evaluating players in a way that no one else was. And yeah, Beane and that whole cockamamie (boy, I sure do like the word cockamamie), hair-brained scheme of his was eventually the talk of the town and Brad Pitt was playing him in a movie. And I think I speak for most men when I say that having Brad Pitt play us in a movie is the dream. But, enough about Beane, let’s get back to Jackie Z. Maybe, just maybe, old Z has a plan. Perhaps, just perhaps, Zduriencik is an evil genius mastermind. Creating his own brand of baseball…Funnyball (we can work on the name later)!

With the Mariners continually finishing at the bottom of the league in offensive production clearly they needed some good bats. So who does he get? Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and Michael Morse. All four do have bats and can swing them, you have to grant that. But in the case of all four players they are not good fielders and as far as the bat swinging is concerned they are, well, how do I put this delicately, past their prime. Also, of the four, only Morales is not over 30, but he will turn 30 this upcoming June. Okay, so here’s what we got- Four players who are 1) outfielders/ first baseman but do not play either position particularly well 2) in, or will be in, their 30s and 3) only one-dimensional hitters at best. To our simplistic mind we cannot look at this and see the brilliant plan that is unfolding in Seattle. It might as well be one of those equations Will Hunting figures out while washing floors at MIT. You want to complicate the equation even more? This is not even counting the players the Mariners already have in place!

Mike Carp? Justin Smoak? Eric Thames? Casper Wells? Michael Saunders? Ever heard of ‘em? Yeah, I know, the possibilities here are endless. Now I don’t like batting average as a telling stat, per se, but none of these players hit over .247 last season with the Mariners. Not one of them got a hit even once every four at  bats?! Well, they must have added something else then, right? Like they got on base a bunch, right? Wrong. The highest OBP of the bunch was .312. .312! Of course with averages that low, the OBPs are decent, I guess, if you choose to look at it that way. None of them knocked in more than 57 runs and only Saunders, of this group, scored more than 50 runs. But since no one seemed to generally get on base for the Mariners, RBIs and runs would be hard to come by. Sort of a chicken and the egg thing. So we can’t really see how Funnyball will work just yet. But we can sort of see the shaping of  Zduriencik’s plan, can’t we?

So Funnyball ( I will be happily accepting ideas for a new moniker for this) is gonna revolutionize the way we look at baseball and building baseball teams into contenders. Clearly, and I am just going on what I have seen so far, Funnyball is all about stockpiling designated hitter types. I’m telling ya, revolutionary! Think about it! Small market teams are always looking for a way to compete with the resources they have. Building a team around young pitching prospects and good defense? It’s been done. Building a team around good defense and speed? I’ve seen it a hundred times. But, building a team around hitting, and not 1927 New York Yankees hitting, but for the most part, mediocre at best, hitting while ignoring speed and defense pretty much altogether? No one one has had the brass buttons or cojones to be so bold as to build a team that way. Building a roster while basically ignoring any and all statistcal data that is out there. It’s unheard of! No one has done it! No one, that is, until Jack Zduriencik.

So, yeah, it’s easy to mock JZ and say he is a fool that will be out of a job come October, but maybe we should give this a chance folks. The plan just seems so outright nonsensical and ridiculous that there has to be something we’re not seeing, right? Something only Jack sees? There just has to be!  There is no other explanation for it. Sure, like most revolutionary ideas that will come to turn a sport on its heels, this will be a wait and see type of deal. You know the old saying, ‘”The Astrodome wasn’t built in a day!” Just don’t come crawling to me, saying I didn’t tell you so, when you are curled up under the covers reading the Funnyball chapter “The House That Ibanez Built”, waiting for Funnyball the movie (starring Paul Giamatti as Jack Zduriencik) to come out. Cause I will be hanging with JZ cracking a few Pike I.P.A.s and laughing at all of you who choose to live in ignorant bliss rather than seeing this idea for what it will prove to be…sheer and utter brilliance.

Can’t get enough of me? Follow me on Twitter- @WillieMoe and I assure you, you will get tired of me very quickly!

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Finding Keepers:Seattle Mariners

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Finding Keepers:Seattle Mariners

Posted on 17 April 2012 by Gary Marchese

The Seattle Mariners can’t get much worse then they were last year.  They still have a couple of marquee names in Felix Hernandez and Ichiro Suzuki.  They have some young promising players that should help them.  I don’t think they are a contender this year but maybe they can at least keep the fan interest for most of the season.  Lets take a look at some guys on their team that I would consider keepers.

RF Ichiro Suzuki had the worst season of his career last year.  I don’t expect him to be as bad as he was last year.  Is he getting older, yes he is but he is basically a singles hitter with a little bit of pop.  I don’t think he forgot how to hit and should have around 200 hits again this season.  I wouldn’t drop him just yet, give him a chance to rebound this season.

SP Felix Hernandez plays for a bad team in a market where he doesn’t get much publicity.  He is a great pitcher though, one of the best in the game if not the best.  He is still young and will continue to put up numbers.  There would be no reason at all to drop this guy, he hasn’t even been injury prone.  The only think with him is that sometimes his wins totals are low because of the team he is on.

SP Hector Noesi is a second year pitcher who came over from the Yankees in the trade that landed the Yankees Michael Pineda.  He was a long reliever for the Yankees but is a starter now.  I think he is pretty good pitcher who will do well out in Seattle.  He is a guy that I would keep, hoping he develops into something pretty good. 

DH/C Jesus Montero is the big name that the Mariners got from the Yankees in the trade with Noesi coming to Seattle also.  Montero is a promising hitter it is his defense that is in question.  I have no doubt this guy is going to hit and hit a lot.  I think he will be around a 30 homerun guy with 100 RBI potential and I think he can hit 280-290.  I would not let go of this guy too easily.

2B Dustin Ackley is a pretty good second baseman.  He is only in his second year in the majors.  He is a guy that can hit for a decent average, can have a pretty high on base and has some pop.  I wouldn’t mind keeping him on my team if he was there.  He could also be a pretty good backup to have.  He should be able to hit 275-280 with around 10 homeruns and 50+RBI.  He could also steal a few bases for you.

Closer Brandon League became a closer with Seattle last year.  He had 37 saves last season in 42 chances.  He in his career was mainly a middle relief and setup man.  He is 17-22 in his career with a 3.65 ERA.  He is a guy that has always had good stuff but needed to harness it.  It looks like he is in a good situation now in Seattle where he can grow and be a pretty good major league closer.  I would hold onto him and see if he can repeat what he did last year.  If he can he is a keeper.

I hope you enjoy my work and that of my colleagues.  As always you can comment on the articles on the website or reach me through face book or twitter.  @gmarchesej on twitter and my name on facebook.

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Finding Keepers:  Arizona Diamondbacks

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Finding Keepers: Arizona Diamondbacks

Posted on 20 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

After winning the NL West in 2011, one would think the Arizona Diamondback would have a lot of quality players on their team. And they would be right. But how many of them are potential keepers?

Let’s take a look:

SP Ian Kennedy broke out in a big way last season, leading the NL with 21 wins to go along with a 2.88 ERA and 198 K’s. His numbers are projected to regress a little in 2012, but he still should be a quality pitcher on any fantasy staff. However, he consistently lasts longer in drafts than he should. His ADP is 70.57. He is ranked: CBS #35; Yahoo! #52; ESPN #72.

SP Daniel Hudson also had a strong season in 2011, with 16 wins, a 3.49 ERA and 169 K’s in 222 IP. More of the same is expected in 2012, but like Kennedy, he is undervalued in fantasy leagues. His ADP is 84.70. He is ranked: Yahoo! #56; CBS #63; ESPN #85.

C Miguel Montero hit .282/.351/.469 in 2011 with 18 homers, a pretty good line for most players and even better considering he’s a catcher. He should continue his assault on NL pitching in 2012, with a .270-.280 average and around 20 homeruns. His ADP is 101.70. He is ranked: CBS #53; Yahoo! #66; ESPN #116.

OF Chris Young is unlikely to ever hit for a high average, but he has posted back-to-back 20/20 seasons and should be in line to do the same in 2012. His ADP is 122.82. He is ranked: CBS #88; ESPN #106; Yahoo! #147.

3B Ryan Roberts (aka “Tatman”) is another player who will not post a high batting average but can give you double-digit homers and stolen bases. He nearly missed a 20/20 season last year with 19 homers and 18 stolen bases. His ADP is 194.75. He is ranked: CBS #123; ESPN #165; Yahoo! #233.

When healthy, OF Jason Kubel can provide you with 20+ homers and a .270 average. However, health concerns may be keeping his value down. His ADP is 238.99. He is ranked: ESPN #199; CBS #227; Yahoo! NR.

2B Aaron Hill is not too far removed from hitting 36 homeruns in 2009, but he has been far too inconsistent since then. He could provide double-digit homers and steals, but he could also fall flat. His ADP is 232.09. He is ranked: CBS #197; ESPN #211; Yahoo! NR.

SP Josh Collmenter had a strong rookie year with 10 wins and a 3.38 ERA, but still needs to convince people that he is for real. His ADP is 248.13. He is ranked: Yahoo! #130; CBS #231; ESPN NR.

Best of the rest, but not keepers

OF Justin Upton had arguably his best season to date in 2011, hitting .289/.369/.529 with 31 homers and 21 steals. He would be an obvious keeper, if he weren’t being overdrafted in most leagues. His ADP is 9.56. He is ranked: ESPN #9; CBS #18; Yahoo! #28.

1B Paul Goldschmidt had a strong rookie campaign in 2011, hitting .250/.333/.474 with 8 homeruns in 156 at bats. However, as with most highly ranked prospects, his hype is higher than his production, leading many to overdraft him. His ADP is 144.17. He is ranked: Yahoo! #125; ESPN #182; CBS #240.

SS Stephen Drew had one excellent season in 2008, in which he hit .291 with 21 homeruns, and has not approached those numbers since. Combine that with him likely starting the year on the DL and owners should probably pass on him. His ADP is 150.10. He is ranked: ESPN #160; CBS NR; Yahoo! NR.

The Diamondbacks gave up top prospect Jarrod Parker to acquire the more proven Trevor Cahill over the winter. Cahill has posted a 3.91 ERA over 583 IP in the AL and should benefit from the move to the NL, but many are expecting too much. His ADP is 178.99. He is ranked: CBS #179; Yahoo! #201; ESPN #269.

Finally, RP J.J. Putz saved 45 games for Arizona in 2011 while posting a stellar 2.17 ERA in 58 IP. However, elbow issues caused him to miss time in the middle of the season and at age 35 you have to wonder how much longer he can keep it up. His ADP is 137.86. He is ranked: CBS #113; ESPN #142; Yahoo! #169.

Note: All ADP values are from Mock Draft Central as of March 14, 2012 and player projections are based on BaseballHQ.com.

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Fantasy Sleeper Picks For Each Position

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Fantasy Sleeper Picks For Each Position

Posted on 09 February 2012 by Jared Thatcher

Fantasy baseball drafts are upon us and most of the time you don’t get everyone you want. The tough part is finding guys who will perform once the few elite players at each position are taken. In this article I will give you one player for each position that will probably NOT get drafted in the top 10 for his individual position, but that WILL probably end the year as one of the top 10 most productive for his position.

C – Jesus Montero – Mariners

I realize he is more of a prospect right now and might end up as a DH, but he should break camp with the Mariners and get at bats right away. It will take a little time for him to qualify at the catcher position but once he does, he might be the most productive in the game of fantasy baseball.

1B – Eric Hosmer – Royals

Hosmer had a great year in 2011 hitting .293 with 19 HR and 73 RBIs over 128 games. He probably won’t be one of the top 10 drafted first basemen so grab him if you miss out on the Vottos, Fielders, and Gonzalez. A little known fact about Hosmer is that possesses some speed also. He had 11 stolen bases and 3 triples last year which will be an added bonus to his fantasy points.

2B – Aaron Hill – Diamondbacks

Hill had an abysmal 2011 inTorontobut showed flashes of his ability when he arrived inArizona. Grab Hill after the Kinslers, Canos, and Pedroias because this year he should return to his 20+ HR and 70+ RBIs. He will never bring you a high batting average but last year he swiped 21 bags and that should help make up for it in fantasy points.

SS – J.J. Hardy – Orioles

This is probably the riskiest pick you can find. I believe in Hardy and if he can stay healthy he will bring power to a light hitting position. In 2011 he quietly hit 30 HR on a terrible Orioles offense which probably wont be any better this year but don’t forget, your drafting him because you missed out on Tulo, Andrus, and Reyes.

3B – Ryan Roberts – Diamondbacks

Someone may take Roberts in the first 10 third basemen but the chances are slim. He ranked in the top five third basemen last year in some fantasy leagues and if he comes to spring training this year with the same attitude, owners might get an even better product. Last year he struggled with the high fastball and this year he vowed to lay off it, which should improve his average and walk rate. Tatman steals bases and may be eligible at other positions so draft him after Bautista, Longoria, and Wright type players are gone.

LF – Nolan Reimold – Orioles

He only played 87 games last year but he showed he could really hold it down in LF. He is only 28 years old and hitting his prime so watch out for a breakout year in 2012. Picking up Reimold is risky but it could payoff big if you are in a squeeze.

CF – Colby Rasmus – Blue Jays

2011 was a lost year for Rasmus and he knows that. His batting average was terrible and he didn’t have the power he showed the past two seasons. Let’s remember, he is only 25 in 2012 and the change of scenery has probably done him well. Hopefully Rasmus catches the home run fever inTorontobut also look for him to exploit his speed this year. Should be a breakout year for the kid.

RF – Matt Joyce – Rays

Given the chance to play full-time in 2011 he really showed what he could do. He hit 19 HR and 75 RBIs while stealing 13 bases last season and this year he should improve on those numbers. The Rays offense is powerful and he should provide pop and batting average this year for his fantasy owners.

SP – Trevor Cahill – Diamondbacks

At only 24 years old, Cahill should become the Ace of the Dbacks in 2012. His ERA and win totals weren’t great inOaklandlast year but he was backed by a pretty terrible defense and the AL West is not as forgiving as you might think. A move to the light-hitting NL West were he will pitch to a pitcher in the 9-hole instead of a DH somewhere in the lineup should help his numbers. The Diamondbacks can also score runs so he should have more than 10 wins this year. Pick him up in the middle rounds and be prepared to be amazed as he turns into a star.

RP – Joey Devine – Athletics

Relief pitchers are hard to figure out because closers can be changed very regularly. Devine is in the mix to close for the Athletics this year and I think he is the most qualified of the mix. Add him to your roster very late in the draft or off the waiver wire and wait to see how the closer situation inOaklandshakes out. Downside you have a very good reliever, upside you have a 30+ saves candidate.

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2012 Top 10 Minor Leaguers You Should Draft

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2012 Top 10 Minor Leaguers You Should Draft

Posted on 02 February 2012 by Jared Thatcher

Fantasy baseball is not won with the superstars you draft in the first five rounds. Fantasy baseball is won by being active and owning the break out players before anyone else knows who they are. Injuries and cold streaks affect most MLB players so you need to be ready to replace them with someone who can produce for at least a short period time. The players you will see listed below will not start out the year in the big leagues most likely and should be drafted in the later rounds of your fantasy draft. These are guys who will be knocking at the door in 2012 and will at some point probably be called up. I did not include Jesus Montero or Matt Moore because they will start out the season on their team’s big league squad. The players you are about to consider for your draft are well kept secrets and/or have MLB talent but still have something to prove in the minors before their promotion.

Shelby Miller / Photo By Erika Lynn

  1. Shelby Miller – SP – Cardinals

Miller will make his MLB debut this year barring a serious injury and he should dominate. The Cards will need him to be their third ace if they want a repeat championship. They have lost a major offensive contributor in Albert Pujols and will need the added pitching to get to the playoffs. Miller is a strikeout machine and has the control to go along with the stuff. He has some injury risk but as long as he shows up to Spring Training in good condition and with the right attitude, he will contribute in a major way this year. Draft him in the later rounds and let him sit on your bench. He may become the ace of your staff in no time.

  1. Trevor Bauer – SP – Diamondbacks

Bauer was a workhorse pitcher in college and I fully expect him to be a workhorse this year for the Diamondbacks. He boasts having over 8 different pitches and he can control them all although I’m sure they will hone that down to only about four pitches. Bauer’s off-season workouts and delivery are strange and unconventional but they seem to work just fine for him. I expect him to show up to Spring Training in great shape and battle for a rotation spot. Draft him in the middle rounds on the hopes that he can become even half of the pitcher scouts compare him to – Tim Lincecum.

  1. Danny Hultzen – SP – Mariners

Hultzen’s stuff is already major league ready and all he needs is the chance to go out and prove it. He dominated hitters in the AFL last year with a wicked slider and a pin-point fastball. There is a rotation spot open inSeattlenow that they traded away Michael Pineda to the Yankees. Hultzen will get the chance to pitch in the rotation but probably not right out of Spring Training. Use your last draft pick on him if he is still available and hope for half a season of brilliant pitching.

  1. Tyler Skaggs – SP – Diamondbacks

Skaggs is the youngest player on this list at 20 years old, but quite possibly has the most fantasy upside. Strikeouts are always a good thing in fantasy baseball and this guy racks them up like they are nothing. The keys to Skaggs are that he is left-handed and not only throws a loopy curve-ball but can also come straight in with an above-average fastball. He has the command and mechanics to be a 200+ innings #2 starter for years to come. He excelled at Double-A last year and I expect him to start the year there again. Draft him late or pick him up off the waivers in early 2012 and wait for him to get his shot at major league hitters.

  1. Matt Harvey – SP – Mets

Harveymostly makes this list because he is in the Mets system and they have terrible pitching at the major league level. He has good stuff and decent command that should allow him to easily become the ace of the Mets rotation. He may break camp with a rotation spot but most people will probably overlook him in the draft. Let him fall as far as you possibly can and pick him up for his Ks and innings. He may not pick up very many wins and his ERA could easily be over 4.00 with the team the Mets have this year. He will have fantasy value and the upside is true ace potential.

  1. Gary Brown – CF – Giants

Our first position player! Most people see Brown as a 2013 call-up. I disagree. With the outfield the Giants have they are going to give this kid a shot to see if he can spark their offense and defense. He has blazing speed on the base paths and could easily steal 30 bases in half a season. If he can become the Giants leadoff man he will have tons of fantasy potential. I expect a midseason call-up so draft him in deep leagues and let him ride the bench until he arrives inSan Francisco.

  1. James Paxton – SP – Mariners

Another Mariners starting pitcher who should get his chance this year! Paxton may even get the call-up before Hultzen. Paxton has shown he can get hitters out at every level of the minor leagues and he should make his MLB debut this year early in the season. Although he may not get a ton of wins, he should get strikeouts and have a low ERA with his control. Draft him in deeper leagues and keep an eye on him in any other league.

  1. Leonys Martin – OF – Rangers

Martin might make it easy for the Rangers to keep Josh Hamilton in left-field. His defense is stellar and he has the tools to be a high average hitter with average power in the big leagues. At 24 years old the Rangers should give him a chance this year to see what he can do. They want to go back to the World Series so look for them to make many adjustments this year including bringing Martin up. If you can’t draft an elite outfield, draft him in deeper leagues and wait for his call-up.

  1. Tyler Pastornicky – SS – Braves

The Braves were so close to the playoffs last year and will be a contender this year as well. The team is shedding its older players to make room for the up-and-coming young talent. There should be no reason Pastornicky won’t be this years Jason Heyward or Freddie Freeman. He made it to Triple-A last year and showed he could hit at that level. The Braves are unhappy with their situation at shortstop and should give Pastornicky the opportunity to start right out of Spring Training. Draft him as a backup SS and watch as he turns into your primary SS.

  1. Jaff Decker – LF – Padres

The Padres are essentially in a rebuilding mode with tons of young talent in the minors after some big trades this off-season. Decker is one of those talents. He struggled to make contact last year at Double-A but when he did, he smoked the ball. He had 19 HR last year at Double-A and the Padres need some power in their lineup. He may not make contact enough to stay in the big leagues but keep your eye on him this season because he may have a powerful year inSan Diego.

Follow Jared on Twitter @Jared_Thatcher

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