Tag Archive | "Shin-Soo Choo"

Playing the Name Game: Spring Training edition, Part Two

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Playing the Name Game: Spring Training edition, Part Two

Posted on 21 March 2013 by Chris Caylor

This is the 2nd of a two-part Spring Training edition of Playing the Name Game. In Part 1, I listed some infielders for you to focus on during your AL-only or NL-only drafts or auctions. As a reminder, I am not advocating that Player B is better than Player A; I am simply pointing out some players that may produce elite numbers at a less-than-elite cost. Now, let’s take a look at some pitchers and outfielders:

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista is brushed back by a pitch in the third inning against the New York Yankees in their American League MLB baseball game in Toronto August 23, 2010. Bautista homered on the next pitch.  REUTERS/Fred Thornhill  (CANADA - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Outfielders

Player A: .303/.371/.510, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 20 SB, 89 R, 119 OPS+

Player B: .283/.373/.441, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 21 SB, 88 R, 131 OPS+

Player A is Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies. Player B is the Reds’ new centerfielder, Shin-Soo Choo. CarGo suffered in 2012, along with the rest of the Rockies (and their fans), clearly missing Troy Tulowitzki to protect him in the lineup. However, it remains questionable whether Gonzalez will reach the mid-30s in home runs again, as he did in 2010. Choo, meanwhile, bounced back from in injury-plagued 2011 season and to post solid numbers for a mediocre Cleveland team. Now that he is leading off for the deep, talented Reds, Choo could post career-high numbers. Projections I have seen have Choo virtually equaling Gonzalez in home runs, stolen bases and batting average, while besting Gonzalez in runs scored. Gonzalez will retain the edge in RBI, but Choo is being drafted 3-4 rounds later and is going for much cheaper in auction leagues.

Player A: .241/.358/.527, 27 HR, 65 RBI, 5 SB, 64 R, 137 OPS+

Player B: .242/.305/.463, 32 HR, 85 RBI, 11 SB, 85 R, 110 OPS+

Player A is Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays. Player B is the Athletics’ Josh Reddick. Joey Bats’ 2012 season was marred by his wrist injury, which disabled him in July and eventually required surgery. Before that, he led the AL in home runs two consecutive seasons. Reddick came out of nowhere to mash 32 homers for the A’s in 2012. At age 26, his prime years are ahead of him. Bautista might – I repeat, might – drop of the 2nd round in some leagues due to fears about his wrist sapping his power stroke, but he won’t fall much further than that. Reddick, meanwhile, is ranked 20+ spots lower in ESPN leagues. Don’t that let deter you. The power is real and still developing. If Reddick played in a park other than the cavernous Oakland dump, he might threaten for the league home run title.

Pitchers

Finally, we come to the pitchers. In over 20 years of playing fantasy baseball, I have found it much more challenging to consistently build a good pitching staff than to construct a strong lineup. Is it because so many pitchers are one wrong pitch away from a trip to the disabled list? Or is it more that many pitchers who succeed one year struggle the next? Or is it something else entirely? Perhaps a combination of all three?

In any event, I subscribe to two theories when it comes to fantasy baseball and pitching: 1) pitchers with a solid WHIP rarely steer you wrong, and 2) do not punt the saves category. That is not to say that you should spend excessively on saves, but judiciously. Example:

Player A: 3-1 W-L, 42 Sv, 116 K, 0.65 WHIP

Player B: 2-1 W-L, 42 Sv, 69 K, 1.16 WHIP

Player A is Craig Kimbrel of the Braves. Player B is Rafael Soriano of the Nationals. Obviously, Kimbrel put together one of the most dominating seasons we have seen from a closer not named Mariano Rivera in many years. If you put aside the staggering difference in strikeouts, however, Kimbrel is not much more valuable than Soriano in standard fantasy baseball leagues. They compiled the same number of saves. The wins total is negligible. Both WHIP ratios are outstanding. But would you rather have Kimbrel (whom you would have to select in the early rounds of a draft or pay Rivera-like prices for at an auction), or would you rather use that early draft pick/big auction money on a starter like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto, knowing you can pick up Soriano several rounds later? I’d take the latter.

Player A: 20-5 W-L, 2.81 ERA, 142 K, 1.02 WHIP

Player B: 8-14 W-L, 3.81 ERA, 165 K, 1.28 WHIP

Player A is Jered Weaver of the Angels. Player B is Josh Johnson of the Blue Jays. Weaver has finished in the Top 5 in Cy Young balloting each of the past three seasons. Johnson was acquired as part of that massive trade between Toronto and Miami. Although the transition from NL to AL is typically more difficult for pitchers, that in this case is cancelled out by Johnson moving to a much better team. Forget the win-loss totals from last season; Johnson is still getting plenty of swings and misses when he pitches. Weaver missed almost a month in 2012 with back pain. Johnson is an injury-risk himself, but he is a year younger than Weaver and offers ace-like potential at No. 2 starter value. I’ll take my chances here.

Opening Day is rapidly approaching. If you’re like me and have your draft or auction coming up in the next 7-10 days, I hope this article proves helpful to you.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Players Who Benefited Most With A Change In Scenery

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Players Who Benefited Most With A Change In Scenery

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Guest Writer

Fantasy baseball value can fluctuate depending on the situation that a player is in. Pitchers have a better chance to pick up wins on a good team, while hitters have a better chance of racking up runs and/or RBI when they have talent surrounding them. With so many changes already this offseason, which three players will benefit the most?

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Ryan Madson
After spending his entire career in Philadelphia, Ryan Madson headed to Cincinnati last offseason. He went down with an arm injury before Spring Training ended though, causing him to undergo Tommy John surgery. Now healthy, Madson has signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels who just happen to need a closer.

Before his injury, Madson was emerging as one of the best ninth-inning guys in fantasy baseball. If he can hold onto the job for the Angels, he will get a ton of opportunities to close games as they figure to be pretty good this year.

Shin-Soo Choo
He might just be going down I-71 in Ohio, but Shin-Soo Choo will be going from one of the worst offenses in 2012 to one of the best in 2013. The Reds play in a hitter-friendly ballpark, and he will be flanked with a number of solid hitters to make life easy for him. If Choo stays healthy, he will get a chance to play every day and improve his already impressive all-around numbers.

R.A. Dickey
Dickey won the National League Cy Young Award last season, but is there a chance that he could be even better in 2013? It might seem unrealistic, but several factors could play into things.

For starters, Dickey will be on a team that should win quite a few more games than the Mets. The Toronto Blue Jays are built for 2013, and he will have an offensive squad behind him that could possibly help him pick up a few more wins.

Another thing working in Dickey’s favor is the element of surprise. In the National League, most hitters have seen the knuckleballer quite a bit. In the American League, many will be seeing it for the first time. This should give Dickey a strong advantage against even the most powerful lineups.

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Opposite Field: Melky Cabrera Like A Boss

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Opposite Field: Melky Cabrera Like A Boss

Posted on 03 August 2012 by Brian M. Jones

Who amongst us has a boss who seemed undeserving of the praise and a chance to punch the coin box.

Many of you may feel your boss seemed to achieve his position based on some reasoning other than actual performance. Perhaps he took credit for others performances. Maybe it was due to the fact that every time he did do something right the right people were looking. Maybe his mistakes weren’t noticed at all. Maybe the people doing the evaluating weren’t all that qualified to start with.

The positive results of all these scenarios amount to luck.

Sound like someone you know?

No deductive reasoning can tell us why this person is in charge of your daily grind.

Melky Cabrera is this man.

If you own Melky Cabrera in a fantasy league, sell now. The market has never been higher and it never will be.

Melky’s insane performance over the last 18 months has been a by product of a huge amount of luck and I’m about to show you how.

Look at the following chart.

Name

BB%

K%

ISO

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Austin Jackson

8.7 %

25.2 %

.132

.375

.281

.347

.413

.337

109

11.2

Rogers Hornsby

11.7 %

6.8 %

.236

.373

.370

.448

.606

.475

177

114.0

David Freese

7.9 %

21.4 %

.151

.371

.305

.365

.456

.359

127

7.7

Ty Cobb

10.3 %

3.1 %

.146

.366

.360

.431

.506

.432

144

50.7

Harry Heilmann

9.8 %

5.7 %

.194

.365

.358

.425

.551

.443

151

69.1

Joe Jackson

9.3 %

1.9 %

.182

.364

.367

.434

.550

.453

162

15.6

Rod Carew

9.6 %

9.7 %

.101

.359

.328

.393

.429

.370

132

80.4

Joey Votto

13.6 %

18.3 %

.240

.357

.316

.412

.556

.412

155

27.6

Derek Jeter

8.8 %

14.7 %

.135

.354

.313

.382

.447

.368

123

75.6

Matt Kemp

8.1 %

23.2 %

.209

.354

.297

.354

.506

.369

130

22.1

Mike Darr

10.9 %

22.1 %

.098

.354

.273

.353

.371

.326

98

3.6

Shin-Soo Choo

11.4 %

21.2 %

.183

.354

.291

.383

.474

.374

132

18.9

Carlos Gonzalez

7.5 %

21.5 %

.228

.353

.303

.357

.532

.382

130

17.0

This chart illustrates the top 13 players of ALL-TIME in BABIP between 1919-today with at least 600 plate appearance.  In case you’re unfamiliar with BABIP just follow this link.

Why 13 and what does BABIP have to do with Melky?  Last one first, we know that BABIP contains a large quantity of luck.  There’s that word again.  Some hitters with very good bat control, an ability to hit to all fields, or who cover large areas of the plate can sustain higher BABIPs than normal.  These hitters thusly are able to influence BABIP in a way that is to be viewed as a skill.

I’m betting that Melky is not one these hitters.

The reason I have 13 names on this list is to reference #13 player on the list and put to Melky into the perspective of history.

Carlos Gonzalez has a career .353 BABIP.  That is the same as what Melky has done since the start of 2011.

Take a minute to soak in some of the names on the above list. Do you still think Melky is for real?

Lets explore deeper. From the start of his career in 2005 through 2010 just prior to his breakout season Cabrera put up a .288 BABIP. In 2011 that number jumped to .332 and to .386 through about 100 games in 2012.

If you still think Cabrera has graduated to elite status I offer you the following. If you can suggest that .332 in 2011 his new standard then that would put Melky in a 3 way tie with Lou Gehrig and Larry Walker, both players who carried a .332 BABIP.

So what can we learn by comparision? Gehrig had a 15.6% walk rate and Walker 11.4% Prior to his 2011 break out Melky had a walk rate of 8.0%. This has fallen to 5.0 and 6.7 in 11 and 12. Another area of regression we say from Melky has been an increase, albeit a small one, in his K%. His BA in 2011 jumped 50 points from 2010 and is up almost another 50 in 2012.

I think I have made a fairly good point with the numbers and based on the evidence I see what would I attribute this luck to? My opinion is that from 2010 to 2011 the Melkman saw an increase of nearly 200 plate appearances. Given his drop in BB and K rates combined with a lofty near historic BABIP I would point to the suggestion that Melky is just swinging away. He has sacrificed walks for extra swings and given the massive uptick in BABIP we can deduce those swings are leading to hits.

Finally if you’re going to point to Melkys HR rate or ISO, don’t. Because remembering how BABIP is calculated we know that the HR were already subtracted from the equation. And, if you read my article last week on FIP we know that there are only three true outcomes, homeruns, walks, and strikeouts. A quick look at his plate discipline will enhance the theory I have suggested here.

They support the luck factor by illustrating over the past three years Melky has seen his swing rate jump from just under 25% to 35.5%, he is swinging at more pitches. His first strike swing rate is up 6% and his contact rate up 7%.

Finally lets get back to the fantasy angle.

While there is certainly a chance Melky has improved, I don’t think it is to the degree that we have seen the last year and half. So this comes back to my suggestion to sell Melky. If his drop in BABIP returns back to even a league average of about .300 you can count on big losses of production. Remember fantasy is like playing with living, breathing stocks. Sometimes they get hurt, go to jail or post funny zingers on twitter, but the similarity remains the same. Buy low sell high. Unless Cabrera reaches for truly historic figures you can rest assured selling him now would be selling at his highest.

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Open Mic: Critique This Draft Part 2

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Open Mic: Critique This Draft Part 2

Posted on 12 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Mic Check, 6 - 4 - 3

Consider this a 2nd open invitation to critique a fantasy baseball draft.  Flay it open, rip into it, and do not hold back.  But…before you do any flaying, ripping, or holding, consider the rules of etiquette.

  • Avoid the low-hanging fruit.  No references to anyone’s mom or a basement.
  • Try to omit words like “idiot”, “moron”, and “clueless”.  You will only receive the “I know you are but what I am” classic retort.  Welcome to the baseball kindergarten playground.  My Tonka truck is over there in the corner of the sand box.  Leave it alone.
  • Just assume that I’m aware of my mental health state, and I’m considered competent to drive a Segway on the sidewalks in my neighborhood.

When I wrote the original “Open Mic” piece, I was in the middle of a slow draft on Twitter for a 5×5 fantasy league.  Now seems like a good time to revisit that draft and bare my baseball soul for all to see.  Here is the end result for all 25 rounds along with a defense for some (if not all) of the picks.

  1. Robinson Cano (2B) – 104 runs, 28 hr, 118 rbi, 8 steals, .882 ops
  2. Jered Weaver (P) – 18 wins, 2.41 era, 0 saves, 198 strikeouts, 1.010 whip
  3. Clayton Kershaw (P) – 21 wins, 2.28 era, 0 saves, 248 strikeouts, 0.977 whip
  4. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS) – 87 runs, 25 hr, 92 rbi, 17 steals, .792 ops
  5. Alex Gordon (OF) – 101 runs, 23 hr, 87 rbi, 17 steals, .879 ops
  6. Shin-Soo Choo (OF) – 37 runs, 8 hr, 36 rbi, 12 steals, .733 ops
  7. Ben Zobrist (OF) – 99 runs, 20 hr, 91 rbi, 19 steals, .822 ops
  8. Aramis Ramirez (3B) – 80 runs, 26 hr, 93 rbi, 1 steal, .871 ops
  9. David Freese (CI) – 41 runs, 10 hr, 55 rbi, 1 steal, .791 ops
  10. Josh Beckett (P) – 13 wins, 2.89 era, 0 saves, 175 strikeouts, 1.026 whip
  11. Jose Valverde (P) – 2 wins, 2.24 era, 49 saves, 69 strikeouts, 1.189 whip
  12. Ricky Romero (P) – 15 wins, 2.92 era, 0 saves, 178 strikeouts, 1.138 whip
  13. Alex Avila (C) – 63 runs, 19 hr, 82 rbi, 3 steals, .895 ops
  14. Ryan Vogelsong (P) – 13 wins, 2.71 era, 0 saves, 139 strikeouts, 1.252 whip
  15. Nick Swisher (1B) – 81 runs, 23 hr, 85 rbi, 2 steals, .822 ops
  16. Jhonny Peralta (MI) – 68 runs, 21 hr, 86 rbi, 0 steals, .824 ops
  17. Jaime Garcia (P) – 13 wins, 3.56 era, 0 saves, 156 strikeouts, 1.320 whip
  18. Vance Worley (P) – 11 wins, 3.01 era, 0 saves, 119 strikeouts, 1.230 whip
  19. Allen Craig (OF) – 33 runs, 11 hr, 40 rbi, 5 steals, .917 ops
  20. Josh Willingham (OF) – 69 runs, 29 hr, 98 rbi, 4 steals, .810 ops
  21. Jason Motte (P) – 5 wins, 2.25 era, 9 saves, 63 strikeouts, 0.956 whip
  22. Jair Jurrjens (P) – 13 wins, 2.96 era, 0 saves, 90 strikeouts, 1.224 whip
  23. Matt Joyce (OF) – 69 runs, 19 hr, 75 rbi, 13 steals, .825 ops
  24. Russell Martin (UTIL) – 57 runs, 18 hr, 65 rbi, 8 steals, .732 ops
  25. Melky Cabrera (UTIL) – 102 runs, 18 hr, 87 rbi, 20 steals, .809 ops

In my own defense, I am just a huge Robinson Cano fan and think he could actually improve on last year.  On the other hand, I am putting a lot of faith in guys like Choo and Freese who lost significant time last season due to injury.  I admit to trying a catch a flyer (or three), but I believe I am taking chances on the right kinds of players.

Post-mortem:

  • I am already on record as stating that Cano is a stretch at the #1 pick.  However, I went with my philosophy that creating a substantial differential by stocking up on players at positions I deem shallow will help me success in the long term.  I consider Cano and Zobrist to be 2 of the top 8 guys at 2B.  Since snagging both also impacts the pool of available middle infielders (MI), I believe I may have given myself an advantage.
  • In theoretically giving myself an advantage, did I give up too much by not taking a top 3 guy at 1B.  Probably.  Possibly.  Dunno.  Though he is currently listed as an outfielder by Yahoo, Alex Gordan will be the man 1B for my team.  I truly expect him to be a top 10 guy at 1B, and I do not believe that the distinction between top 3 and top 10 at that position is enough to worry me.
  • I am to blame for starting a bit of an early run on starting pitchers, but Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander were both drafted early.  Actually, Halladay went at the end of the first round, and Verlander went in the middle of round 2.  The next two on my list were Kershaw and Weaver, so I took both.  Honestly, I do not regret the move at all, because the pitching staff could very well be the strength of this team.
  • Combining closers Valverde and Motte may be a bit of a gamble, but I tend to favor closers on teams that I believe will win a lot of games.  Drew Storen was a very tempting choice over Motte, but I just do not know what to expect from the Nationals this year.

Stealing Late:

  • There are several definitions of a “steal” in fantasy drafts.  My definition is picking up a player 2 or more rounds later than you expected OR drafting a player so late that you celebrate with a “man giggle”.  (NOTE: It is technically possible for both men and women to “man giggle”, but it is way funnier when a woman does it.)  Maybe I am wrong about Worley, but I was sure shocked to see him still on the board for my 18th pick.  He only started 21 games in 2011 and threw 131 2/3 innings.  If he gets another 8-10 starts, he projects to be a top 30 starter.  The fact that he was still available in the 18th round may only be slightly less surprising than Jurrjens being available in the 22nd round.
  • Melky Cabrera in the 25th round?  At that point most people are looking for a guy who maybe excels in one stat category or had a really off year.  Not this time.  Cabrera is coming off a season in which he posted a .809 ops, and his move to San Francisco does not scare me off at all.   His power numbers might suffer a little, but he may simply fill the stat sheet everywhere else.

That is it.  Have at it, but try to be kind.  If not for me, then do it for the children’s sake.

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The Roster Report – March 3, 2012

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The Roster Report – March 3, 2012

Posted on 03 March 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans. Welcome to the first Roster Report of March. Spring Training has sprung on us, and players are showing up and getting ready for the 2012 season. With the beginning of Spring Training comes the inevitable swath of injuries throughout the league, and this column focuses on some of the most important injuries that have cropped up over the last few days. Two Central Division squads will be missing big-name (and big-money) players for the start of the season – one due to a freak injury, the other due to an injury that was anything but unexpected.

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Cleveland Indians CF Grady Sizemore will miss 8-12 weeks due to back surgery.

It was almost a given that Grady Sizemore would miss time in 2012, but even the Indians probably didn’t expect it to happen so soon. The superstar outfielder had a micro discectomy, and this back surgery will cause him to miss most of Spring Training, as well as the start to the season. With an extensive rehab process needed before Grady can get back on the field, and his existing history of injury, I’d say mid-May is the earliest we’d see Sizemore take the field for Cleveland. This is not the way the Indians wanted to spend the $5MM contract they signed Sizemore to before the season started.

With Grady missing from center field, it is safe to assume that Michael Brantley will take over in the middle of the outfield. Brantley posted respectable, if not stupendous, numbers in 2011. He amassed nearly 500 plate appearances, hit .266/.318/.384, and stole 13 bases. There’s still potential for his power, speed, and OBP numbers to improve a bit, and Brantley’s defense in center is solid enough to play everyday there. Brantley probably would have been the everyday left-fielder with Sizemore healthy, but now he’s more likely to hit near the top of the order, depending on the choices the Indians make with the newly-open left field position.

There’s no absolute clear left fielder in Cleveland with Brantley moving to center. The Indians have a host of guys in camp looking for a spot, including Russ Canzler, Matt LaPorta, Shelley Duncan, Aaron Cunningham, Ezequiel Carrera, Ryan Spilborghs, and Trevor Crowe. Spilborghs looks to have very, very little left in the tank after a terrible 2011, and Thomas Neal was very unimpressive in 2011 as well, except he was bad in Triple-A. Carrera makes a fine pinch-runner, but doesn’t project to have the bat to play every day. And Matt LaPorta may just be out of luck and time to prove himself as something greater than a Triple-A hitter. In fact, Canzler, LaPorta, and Cunningham all have a similar knock. All three have played well in the minors, but haven’t seen their production translate at the ML level yet. All three are also right-handed, which makes them pretty interchangeable as an option in left. I’d actually expect that Cunningham’s versatility will keep him in the mix in Cleveland, but as a fourth-outfielder capable of spelling Brantley, Choo, or whomever gets the LF job. Canzler is able to back up all four corner spots, but LaPorta has more upside if his bat ever starts working in the bigs, but both could wind up in Columbus to begin the year.

That leaves two options for the LF job: Shelley Duncan and Trevor Crowe. Duncan, like the three candidates I just covered, bats right-handed. But unlike those three, Duncan actually put up pretty decent numbers in limited action last season. Duncan hit 11 HR in 247 plate appearances last year, and was good for a 118 wRC+. That will play, especially given how badly he treated right-handed pitchers, torching them for a .390 wOBA. If he could keep up that level of hitting against same-handed pitchers, that would make for a worthwhile everyday left fielder. But that performance was outside of his usual abilities, he typically hits lefties better than righties. If Duncan needed a platoon partner, the Indians might want to leverage one of the only backup outfielders on the roster who can hit left-handed in Trevor Crowe. Crowe’s a switch-hitting outfielder with some speed, and he has a tendency to perform better when hitting left-handed in the majors. If Crowe can put up league-average numbers against opposite-handed pitchers, he might be as good a caddy as anyone if the Indians want to get the platoon advantage.

Ultimately, I see this as Shelley Duncan’s position to lose, unless LaPorta, Canzler, or one of the other candidates has a ridiculous Spring Training. Duncan has enough power to be a worthwhile (if very, very late round) fantasy pickup, as his power is legit. In a full season, he’s the type of player who could put up 20+ HR. But we’ll certainly have to see how Spring Training plays out before we know anything definite. And even once Sizemore comes back from this particular injury, don’t expect the position shuffle to end. Given injury histories for fellow Indians Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner, there could be a lot of moving a shaking before the season is over in Cleveland.

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Pittsburgh Pirates SP A.J. Burnett will miss 8-12 weeks due to facial surgery.

Freak injuries like the one to A.J. Burnett’s face during bunting practice are never a good thing. And as someone projected to be the Opening Day starter for an improving Pittsburgh team, this one has to particularly sting. Now that A.J. will be having surgery on his face due to a fractured orbital bone around his eye, the Pirates are back to where they were a month ago: a rotation filled with young guys who don’t have a whole lot to offer. While Burnett isn’t an elite starter, he would have provided heft to a rotation full of end-of-the-bench starters.

With A.J. out, both Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton should be guaranteed their spots in the rotation to start. Neither player is particularly noteworthy, but hey, it’s a slow week so we’ll break them down anyways! Charlie Morton got a little bit of press by admitting he tried to copy Roy Halladay‘s delivery and style note-for-note before the 2011 season, and then started off having quite a bit of success with the copycat style. Pretty soon, though, things came back to normal. By the end of the season, the Pirates might have been better served by running the other baseball-playing Charlie Morton out there every fifth day. You know, the one who’s been dead for nearly a century. The current Morton is great at not giving up home runs (0.31 HR/9 in 2011), but his Roy Halladay impersonation doesn’t include the requisite strikeouts to make him a top-level starter. He’s a replacement-level guy, or maybe a little better if he can continue to keep the ball in the yard at such a low rate.

Jeff Karstens, like Burnett, is another former Yankee who’s been exiled to Pittsburgh. Karstens had a good season if you use ERA as measure (3.38 ERA in 2011), but the advanced metrics tell a different story. His FIP was a full run higher at 4.29, which isn’t awful, but belied a very low BABIP of .275. Karsten relies on his command, reducing walks, and getting guys out on balls in play, so luck plays a big part in his success. The Pirates won’t get killed running him out there every fifth day, but chances are that they’ll wish they had Burnett back sooner rather than later.

Before the injury, A.J. Burnett was a pretty solid fantasy option in the later rounds of a draft or in deep leagues. Now, he’s more of a wait-and-see guy. The only reason this injury should affect his game is the missed Spring Training time to get ready; remember that this isn’t an arm injury that could mess with his velocity or control. Hopefully, Burnett will have a speedy recovery and be back soon, but until he does, you might be better off drafting someone else and waiting for A.J. on the waiver wire.

Quick Hits

  • The Cleveland Indians already have another injury issue worth watching. Closer Chris Perez is dealing with an oblique strain and will probably miss the first few weeks of the season. Yeah, Perez is the closer, but he was pretty bad in 2011. A live arm in previous seasons, Perez saw his strikeout rate (2010: 8.71 K/9, 2011: 5.88 K/9) crater all of a sudden, with no change to his walk rate (3.92 BB/9) at all. He managed a 3.32 ERA and 36 saves, but that masked a SIERA of 4.65 and xFIP of 5.01. That’s hardly closer quality. Picking up the slack in the meantime will be Vinnie Pestano, who emerged in his rookie season as the best reliever in the Cleveland ‘pen. Pestano struck out a mountain of guys (84, to be exact) and could well be more effective in a ninth-inning role than Perez ever was. Since we don’t know if Pestano will snatch the job away on a permanent basis, don’t go crazy drafting Pestano in fantasy yet. But I trust that Manny Acta and punk-rock pitching coach Scott Radinsky will eventually turn the ninth over to Pestano. And don’t be too surprised in Tony Sipp sees a few holds chances with Pestano closing.

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