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buy_sell_hold

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Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch – Sold In Hindsight

Posted on 11 September 2012 by Patrick Hayes

After taking a look last week on the undecided’s, this evening I’ll hopefully be finding out that I sold at the perfect time on six players over the course of two months. These three hitters and three pitchers are all players that I did not have the luxury of having on any of my teams this year, probably helped aid my decision making in cutting ties. Same format as last week (for the most part), here are the players and when I said sayonora.

So it may seem as though I didn’t take too many big risks in determining who I selected, and although that could be a fair-ish argument, these players all have had solid years (for the most part). They were probably bargains when you drafted them, so that played into my criteria on maximizing payout for your investment.

Time to rank them in order of how the selection played out. Just like golf, the lower the number the better and whoever ends up number six, well, you probably missed your window of opportunity by a few weeks. Here we go!

  1. Drew Stubbs – When I visited him on August 6 he was riding a very nice hot streak. Talking to the likes of .362/.415/.660 in the 14 days prior with 4 homers and 5 stolen bases. Since that deciding day I have looked like I know what I’m doing. In the past 30 days from now, Drew is batting .169 in 89 at-bats with 0 homeruns, 2 stolen bases and only five walks. This pick makes me feel good inside.
  2. Starlin Castro – I wrote about Starlin just a few days after he signed a mega contract extension and I predicted gloom for the rest of the year (his slash was .280/.311/.428). Since then, he has been proving me wrong, but only slightly. Castro has started seeing the ball a lot better and has had his average bounce back up to where he normally hits. He hasn’t provided much fantasy stats, other than average, even with hitting .350 for the month of September thus far.
  3. R. A. Dickey – The knuckleballer who stole the attention of the first half of the season. When I decided to push sell, Dickey was in a stretch where he allowed 20 earned runs in his last five appearances. In his last 30 days R.A. has thrown just under 36 innings while allowing 9 earned runs and accumulating 29 strikeouts. Good enough for a 2.27 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Needless to say, he has been back on track for the most part. Check swinging strike for my decision here.
  4. Ian Desmond – This shortstop, who is having a career year, was in the midst of getting injured and missed some games after I sold on July 16th. Ian was riding a hot streak where he smacked four homers, knocked in nine and had five swipes in his last 15 games. In his last 30 games he is batting .329 with four more homers, 11 RBI and two swipes. Yup, I clearly missed here. And he was a free agent in my league but I passed. I regret both decisions.
  5. Gio Gonzalez – Before I sold on the 27th of August his K/9 was returning to his career average, almost as an indication that the NL has caught on to him. Well, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In his three starts since he has thrown 22 innings, allowed one run and struck out 23. All three of his starts have resulted in wins. He has been clutch down the stretch for the NL East leading Washington Nationals. I whiffed here.
  6. Ryan Dempster – Selling on August 13, just a few starts into his AL stint, I felt real good about this call. His ERA was a low 2.65 but his SIERRA had him at 1.18 higher. Playing in the heat of Texas, I thought this was a no brainer. Well, since then, Ryan has thrown 26 innings in four starts (all leading to wins), struck out 28 and has allowed five earned runs. Dempster is my worst case scenario because of how confident I was, especially after the way he get all pissy when news of being traded to the Braves leaked early. Ugh.

So there you have it. I was actually pretty awful in figuring out who to sell. I hope you didn’t take my advice for all of them, but if you did, hopefully you got some good value in return!

Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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Tim Lincecum

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Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch – Come on down, Timmy!

Posted on 27 August 2012 by Patrick Hayes

It’s that time again. We are racing towards the end of August (HOLY CRAP) and some fantasy leagues have already started their playoffs. This edition will be the last one with a focus on the current year. Next week (depending on if I push one out for Labor day) I plan on writing with an eye on next year, with an emphasis for keeper leagues. I will also end the year with a recap of how my buy, sell and holds have played out. So that will be neat, eh?

Tim Lincecum – SP, San Francisco Giants

Tim Lincecum

#152 on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs

I write this knowing that Lincecum is throwing live on ESPN right now, but I’m not watching (still no cable) so the results shouldn’t be factored into what I’m about to write. Any-who, Timmy has had quite the wild ride of a year. After seeing the wheels completely fall off the train in the first two months with an ERA well north of 5.00, he has regained some of his magic of late. Post All-Star break he has an ERA of 3.10.

So what has changed? Actually, a lot, and not for the better. He is walking more batters (3.5+ BB/9) and is striking out batters less (15.3% from his avg of 22-24%). However, he isn’t giving up the long ball as he was in the first half of the year (HR/FB of 6.3% in August, 17% in July). After seeing these numbers, and knowing that he is allowing a lot of base hits still (30 hits in last 29  2/3 IP), I am still holding him. Going in I was solid in buying, but I’ve just changed my mind. He isn’t a keeper for your team next year but he still can provide a boost for your championship run.

My verdict: Hold,  just like that pile of clothes you keep meaning to give to Goodwill.

Gio Gonzalez – SP, Washington Nationals

Gio Gonzalez

#13 on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs

Gio Gonzalez started the 2012 year lights out for his new team in the National League. He is a great example of a steal in the draft for where you picked him up at (134 ADP). The first two months saw him have an ERA near 2.00 and fanning batters at a rate in 10+/9. The case could be made that these numbers, along with a BABIP of near .230, that the NL opponents simply haven’t had a chance to adjust to seeing Gio for their first time.

That isn’t the case anymore, hitters are becoming very comfortable with Gio now. His ERA during the early summer months ballooned to above 4.00, but have now regressed to near 3.oo-ish. It seems that the hitters got to Gio the 2nd time through and he as made adjustments to end up somewhere in the middle of the two extremes so far. The downside is that his K/9 rate has fallen to under 8.0 the past two months and his BABIP has rebounded to near the league average. He still is a solid play in all formats and should be inserted into your lineup with confidence, just know that the beginning of the year is a distant past and to have reasonable expectations.

Side note, Gio might have the most hilarious face when he releases the ball out of any pitcher I’ve seen.

My verdict: Selling! His value has maxed out and now is the best time to try and capitalize on it.

Brandon Morrow – SP, Toronto Blue Jays

Brandon Morrow

#51 on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs

After a bit of time on the DL, @2morrow23 has only made one appearance, and it was a short one (struck out 7 in 4 2/3 IP). Sure he plays on a team that has been playing with half of its firepower, not to mention completely cemented in the basement of the AL East. That won’t stop me from pursuing him on my team though. When he is on, his K/9 is on the front page of the leaderboard of all MLB. His 2012 year has been a little step back as far as K’s go, but his ERA is sitting nicely at 3.06. He has simply stopped walking as many batters as he used to (2.73/9 down from 3.46/9 in 2011).

If he can remain healthy for the rest of the year he could be a real nice piece to have for your fantasy baseball stretch run. Although I don’t have him right now, I’m mentally placing him on  my targeted list of starting pitchers I like for next year. As far as acquiring him this year, work the health angle with the current owner. His upcoming slate of starts is somewhat favorable too – vs TB, @ BAL and vs SEA. Go and get him!

My verdict: Buy and stash under your bed just like that guitar you purchased but never play.

Reactions and opinions are always welcomed. Find me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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Time To Pounce On Jhonny Peralta

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Time To Pounce On Jhonny Peralta

Posted on 18 June 2012 by Bryan Geary

Shortstop is not an especially deep position this season — not that it ever is — and that means now is a great time to hunt for value at that spot. While the ESPN Player Rater is not a perfect tool, it is telling that only one shortstop ranks in the top 20 (Starlin Castro) and only two rank in the top 40 (Hanley Ramirez, Rafael Furcal). With Troy Tulowitzski’s groin injury and Emilio Bonifacio likely not back until after the break, owners will be looking for help, or perhaps just an upgrade. Jhonny Peralta can be that help.

Peralta’s 2011 campaign (.299/.345/.478, 21 HR) made him a top 10 shortstop and a target for many in their drafts for 2012. He did not do much to live up to the expectations over the first month of the season, hitting a dismal .236/.273/.347 without a home run in March and April. This left many owners frustrated and as a result, Peralta is now available in nearly 47% of ESPN leagues. I will tell you right now that I think that number is way too high.

One of the more astounding stats that I have come across this year is that Peralta currently ranks 4th out of 165 qualified hitters in line drive percentage, at 29%. But for as many line drives as he has been hitting, he was not rewarded in the first two months of the season. His BABIP in March/April was .304 and that number shrunk to .262 in May. Both numbers are below his career average of .314 and paired with his line drive statistics, they are evidence of a hitter that was subject to poor luck in the early goings. The good news is that things seem to be turning around in a big way for Peralta. So far in June he is hitting .385/.444/.590 thanks to a much more friendly BABIP of .405 that has taken his season number to a more appropriate .310. This number is still below his career BABIP of .314, so it is fair to assume that he settles somewhere in this range for the rest of the season.

Another reason for Peralta’s early struggles was a dip in his ISO, which stands for isolated power (SLG%-AVG). This stat measures raw power by looking at extra base hits per at bat. According to Fangraphs, league average is right around .145. Last year Peralta had a .179 ISO, which ranks as above average, while this year he is back down to an average .146 mark. Since Peralta is not a base stealer, most of his value is derived from his power numbers. After having only 13 extra base hits in his first 46 games, Peralta already has 6 in 12 games in May. While he is not going to reach 21 home runs again this season,  I would bet on 15, which is excellent from the shortstop position. All signs point to a strong second half from Peralta, so scoop him up now, especially if you are a Tulo owner.

One Overrated

Mike Aviles’ big start made him a must add early on for owners. He is currently 100% owned in ESPN leagues and ranked 6th on the Player Rater for shortstops. While Aviles has been good, I think owners should try to sell high before the fall. His season line remains respectable, especially the 8 home runs and 8 steals, but there is one glaring flaw that may spell doom. Aviles owns a walk rate of 2.9%, which is tied for 3rd worst among all qualified hitters. He makes plenty of contact (84%), but not many good hitters succeed without the ability to take a walk. Especially given that Aviles is on pace to play 161 games, easily a career high, pitchers are going to capitalize on his impatience. Over his last 43 games, he has drawn only 3 walks and is hitting .261/.269/.349. Get something for him while you can.

One Underrated 

I like Alcides Escobar, especially if you need help with average and stolen bases. He probably will not be a top 10 offensive shortstop in fantasy, but in deeper leagues I think he can be a nice asset. His .291 average ranks 4th among qualified shortstops as do his 12 stolen bases. While he has been helped by .348 BABIP which is 55 points higher than his career average, he is also hitting more line drives — 25% this year as compared to 20% in his career. If you have enough power on your roster, you could do a lot worse than Escobar as a Tulo fill-in or middle infield depth. He is also available in 57% of ESPN leagues so he is likely available in your league.

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Getaway Day Lineups for Dummies

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Getaway Day Lineups for Dummies

Posted on 16 April 2012 by Dennis Lawson

You can't stop Joey Bombs; you can only hope to contain him.

Consider this line that I tweeted earlier today from Busch Stadium where the Cardinals hosted the Cubs.

“#Cubs lineup avg by batter: .182, .000, .371, .111, .267, .167, .120, .071, .000. #GetawayDay

The last game in a series is often considered a “Getaway Day” for the visiting team, and there are times when the lineup reflects greater concern for the next series than the current one.  That Getaway Day often consists of an early afternoon game that follows a night game, so it makes perfect sense to rest a player or two.  Players who may need an extra day off:

  • Aging veterans who have trouble playing back-to-back days due to the whole “running and throwing” thing that baseball players are required to do (except in the AL where those people are called “Designated Hitters”)
  • Players with nagging injuries that would benefit greatly from 24-30 hours of legitimate rest and treatment
  • The starting catcher, because a man really should the amount of squatting performed in a short period of time
  • Any player who shows up for batting practice while wearing leather pants while holding a carry-on bag

Back to the tweet:  The batting averages for each player in the Cubs’ starting lineup appeared on the board, and the numbers were enough to inspire awe in even the most ardent Cubs supporter (like the guy wearing the SOTO jersey in front of me).  Just imagine this:

  1. Reed Johnson – .182
  2. Blake DeWitt – .000
  3. Starlin Castro – .371
  4. Jeff Baker – .111
  5. Ian Stewart – .267
  6. Joe Mather – .167
  7. Geovany Soto – .120
  8. Marlon Byrd – .071
  9. Paul Maholm – .000

So, the Cubs have an opening day payroll of around $110M, and you’re telling me that Alfonso Soriano ($18M in 2012) sits to give Joe Mather a few at-bats?  Do you see what is wrong with this picture?

  • The cleanup hitter, Jeff Baker, has hit 10+ HR in a season only once, and that was 4 years ago.
  • The guy hitting in the 2-hole has exactly the same batting average as the starting pitcher who has only had 1 plate appearance prior to today.
  • Soto has caught the bulk of the innings behind the plate, so if anybody needs a day off, it would seem like Soto would be a great candidate.

Think of the situation the Cubs find themselves in to this point.  Entering Sunday, the Cubs were 3-6 and trailing the division leading Cardinals by 3 games.  Sure, the season is still young, but why not take a shot at stealing a game and a series against the #5 starter for the Cardinals?  The Cubs likely won’t contend or event simulate contending this season, but it does not hurt a bit to try and snag a few wins here and there when the other team may be looking ahead just a bit or isn’t at full strength.  After all, the Cardinals fielded at team without Lance Berkman, David Freese, Allen Craig, and Skip Schumaker.  If the Cubs face the Cardinals at full strength, the task of winning a few against a division rival does not get any easier.  Sunday represented a great opportunity to take a shot, and the Cubs failed to go all-in on that opportunity.

Naturally, the fantasy baseball implications for using Getaway Day lineups should not be ignored.  While it makes sense that many players could benefit from an extra day off, the missed chances to fill the stat sheet impact fantasy leagues in a significant way.  The implication for fantasy owners is that adding a weighting factor for players who tend to take very few days off should be considered.  Maybe Starlin Castro deserves a bump up the rankings at SS, because he has played all 10 games the Cubs have played this season.  The lesson here could be that owners should consider carefully whether or not a team’s ultimate goal and respective fortunes strongly correlate to what a particular player does, that player deserves a longer look in your fantasy rankings.

On the other hand, the lesson really could just be that Getaway Day lineups are a bad idea for teams dwelling in their division cellars.

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DOs And DONTs: Chicago Cubs

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DOs And DONTs: Chicago Cubs

Posted on 11 February 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The Chicago Cubs are in the midst of rebuilding their roster this year, but that does not mean you should overlook them when it comes to building your fantasy team.

Here is a look at the Do’s and Don’ts regarding the Cubs roster and their fantasy impact:

DO draft Starlin Castro.  He is the Cubs star and a fantasy star in the making.  He is still young and has yet to reach his full potential, so I wouldn’t go overboard and take him in the first round. But those of you in keeper leagues need to jump on his bandwagon before his price skyrockets.

DON’T expect a lot of wins from the Cubs pitchers.  Let’s face it, this team is not going to be very good.   They finished 71-91 last year with Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster leading the team with 10 wins apiece.  Do not expect more than 10 wins from any of the Cubs starters.

DO take a chance on Bryan LaHair in the end game or late rounds.  He hit .331/.405/.664 with 38 homeruns in just 456 at bats at AAA Iowa in 2011.  Yes, at 28, he is old, but there have been other late bloomers, such as Casey McGehee and Ryan Ludwick.  After holding his own in 59 at bats with the Cubs late last season, he will be given a chance to prove he belongs.  But, at the same time…

DON’T forget about Anthony Rizzo.  He is the Cubs future at first base and could get a mid-season callup if LaHair does not hit the ground running.  Rizzo struggled in 128 at bats with the Padres last season, hitting only .141/.281/.242.  But he is a career .296/.366/.514 hitter in the minors.

DO look at Tony Campana as a source of cheap speed.  He stole 24 bases in 143 at bats last year and will be used as a 4th or 5th outfielder for the Cubs.  He also showed the ability to hit for average in the minors, posting a career line of .303/.359/.353 .  Just do not expect any power from him.

DON’T be fooled by Darwin Barney.  After hitting .306/.334/.374 in the first half last year, he struggled in the second half, hitting only .238/.286/.328.  There are rumors that the Cubs consider him a utility player and recent addition, Adrian Cardenas, could compete with Barney for the starting second base job this spring.

DO draft Brett Jackson for your reserve or bench.  The Cubs top prospect has 20/20 potential and although he will start at AAA this year, he could get the call should Marlon Byrd or Alfonso Soriano be traded.  His strikeout totals are somewhat concerning, but his ability to draw walks helps to make up for it.

DON’T rely on Carlos Marmol as your main source of saves.  He struggled last year with a 4.01 ERA and has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason.  He could end up as trade bait come July, which means…

DO hedge your bets.  If you draft Marmol, make sure you look at Kerry Wood and/or Jeff Samardzija as a backup plan.  If Marmol is ineffective or traded, one of those two could take his place, with rookie Chris Carpenter as a possible dark horse.

Finally, I DON’T know what to make of Ian Stewart.  Is he the capable of bouncing back after a truly awful 2011 campaign or is he washed up?  The Cubs are hoping that a change of scenery will help him return to form and he might be worth a late round flier.  Just don’t expect much from him and you could be pleasantly surprised.

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