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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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Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

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Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Trish Vignola

Stephen Strasburg – Is he a keeper?

sstrasburg

Well, I guess that’s too late to figure out now. I kept him. He’s now the “ace” of my fantasy baseball team. I know what you might be thinking. Keeping Strasburg? Isn’t that a no-brainer? He’s already been named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter. However, you are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year. The same Joey Votto who missed like a third of the season due to injury.

In fantasy baseball, I’m kind of the kiss of death.

Last Friday, Strasburg yielded 3 runs in 6 innings of pitching to the Tigers. All right that’s pretty average. Actually, that’s pretty good by mid-season standards. He only walked one person and he struck out five, which is even better. Then Strasburg took a comebacker off his thumb. Yes, it was his non-throwing thumb but shades of Joey Votto flooded my nightmares for the next half of week.

Yes, my nightmares are of the fantasy baseball variety.

There are positives though. He’s not Johan Santana and he’s not signed by the Mets. Seriously though, Rotoworld ranks him 5th. Only Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, David Price and Cole Hamels are ranked higher. ESPN ranked him lower but still in the top 20. The key to Strasburg’s success though is pretty obvious. It comes down to two words…

Innings… Count…

Is there one or not? The Nationals ended Strasburg’s season in early September last year at 159 1/3 innings pitched. Their concerns about Strasburg’s health in his first season following Tommy John surgery seemed to trump the importance of their first trip to the playoffs. It seems ludicrous. However, think about the situation with Johan Santana. After throwing the Mets first no-hitter, coming off of a season ending surgery, he’s now headed again towards… you guessed it… season ending surgery.

Based on how the Nationals treated Jordan Zimmerman’s rehabilitation, there will be a watchful eye but no official innings count. I am essentially banking on Strasburg giving me 190 innings, give or take, in order to get me out of the fantasy cellar. (No, that’s not something from “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I’m that bad in fantasy baseball.)

ESPN is projecting that if Strasburg can give me (yes, me personally) about 196 innings, his line would look something like 16 wins, 244 strikeouts, a 2.94 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. That would pretty much keep him in the elite of fantasy statistics amongst starting pitchers. That also gets me out of the proverbial cellar. If he “Joey Votto”’s me, I’m going to start testing for mold because I will be living in the cellar for the rest of the season.

If Strasburg stays healthy, he could be the best keeper you or I could have ever traded for. A healthy Strasburg has tremendous upside. He’s only 24 and has an entire career ahead of him. Regardless of the little knock to his finger, Strasburg is projected to have no issue in completing the season. If that is the case, he might help me out of the cellar to at least the middle of the pack of my head-to-head league.

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Bullpen Idol – The Mets search for a closer

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Bullpen Idol – The Mets search for a closer

Posted on 04 February 2013 by Trish Vignola

The way things are going…Mr. Met might be the closer.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, second from left, high-fives Mr. Met as Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, left, and New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, right, look on after it was announced that the 2013 All-Star game will be hosted by the Mets at Citi Field, during a news conference at New York's City Hall,  Wednesday, May 16, 2012. The Mets last hosted the All-Stars in 1964, the year Shea Stadium opened. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Frank Francisco‘s time as Mets closer looks like it’s coming to an end. General manager Sandy Alderson signed veteran relievers Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins to Minor League deals earlier this week and they still aren’t done adding bullpen help. As per mlb.com, Alderson has made “no secret” that he would like to add at least one veteran reliever to a Major League deal.

Several intriguing options are available. The Tigers did not make a serious attempt to sign Jose Valverde. Their former closer lost his ninth-inning duties during Detroit’s World Series run last season. Although 33, Valverde saved 35 games in 40 chances with a 3.78 ERA last season. Statistically speaking, that was technically his worst season in years. Valverde has saved 277 games over a 10-year career with the D-backs, Astros and Tigers. He posted a 3.11 lifetime ERA with more than a strikeout per inning.

The Mets are still gauging the health of Brian Wilson. They have scheduled a second visit to watch the former Giants closer pitch. Whether the Mets sign Wilson depends in large part upon how they assess his recovery from Tommy John surgery. In a telephone interview with mlb.com, Alderson confirmed the team’s continued interest.

Brandon Lyon is available. His checkered career includes ninth-inning duties in Arizona and Houston. Familiar face Francisco Rodriguez is available as well. He served as the Mets’ closer from 2009-11. Only 31 years old, Rodriguez could help the Mets. He would though have to accept a significant decrease from the $8 million he made last season. Francisco is infamous in New York for assaulting his girlfriend’s father following a 2010 game at Citi Field.

Rodriguez and Valverde are both represented by Scott Boras, notorious for extracting top deals for his clients. Nonetheless, mlb.com reports the Mets have made it clear that they are not going to overpay for their bullpen.

Compromise is possible. Kyle Farnsworth‘s recent deal with the Rays signaled that the market for relief pitchers has softened considerably. Farnsworth, a former closer, can make no more than $3 million through base salary and incentives.

“There are still a bunch of names out there,” the insider reported to mlb.com, indicating his club’s preference to acquire one big name as opposed to two lesser ones. “The value now with the Farnsworth signing, it’s obviously changed considerably from where it was earlier in the winter. There are still several — maybe even more than that — guys that we think can help us at the back of the bullpen.”

If the Mets sign even one of them, it could spell the end of Francisco’s time as closer. Alderson has made it abundantly clear in recent weeks that he is not committed to his incumbent ninth-inning man, who still has one year and $6 million remaining on his contract.

Francisco fell out of favor with the organization after posting a 5.53 ERA in 48 appearances last year. He then underwent surgery after the season to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Speaking on SNY’s Hot Stove show Thursday evening, Alderson went as far as to say he is not “terribly comfortable” with the idea of Francisco as his Opening Day closer.

“Coming out of last season, looking with what Frankie has been dealing with in the offseason as far as his elbow is concerned, I don’t know that we could have a lot of confidence in where we are,” Alderson said. “I hope that Frankie is able to step up. We’ve taken a lot of the time to look at other possibilities and ways that we can shore this up. At this point, we have added some pitching, but more at the front end of the bullpen as opposed to the back end.

“I think we’re going to have another guy or two between now and Spring Training. Now whether it’s a back-end guy that will really compete with Frankie, or whether Frankie is the guy going in and the competition comes from Bobby Parnell or someone else, who knows? We’ll just have to see.”

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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?

dickey3

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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Finding Keepers: Washington Nationals

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Finding Keepers: Washington Nationals

Posted on 27 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

After years of mediocrity, the Washington Nationals are finally starting to generate some buzz. With young starters Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals already have two of the better pitchers in the NL. Add to that the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez and many pundits are picking the Nationals to contend for the NL East title.

But, will the hype reduce your chances for finding keepers? Let run through their roster and find out.

3B Ryan Zimmerman had a down year by his standards in 2011, hitting only 12 homeruns while posting a slash line of .289/.355/.443. Injuries limited him to just 101 games in 2011, but, if healthy, he should produce 20-25 homers with a .290-.300 average. His ADP is 42.67. He is ranked: ESPN #34; CBS #42; Yahoo! #54.

C Wilson Ramos had a solid rookie season, but does not appear to get much love from the fantasy community. As a catcher who is expected to hit .260+ and hit 15-20 homers, he should be going higher than his ADP of 213.09. He is ranked: CBS #156; Yahoo! #180; ESPN #212.

SP Stephen Strasburg had a breakout rookie campaign before Tommy John surgery put him on the shelf until late last season. Much is still expected from this young righthander and he may not come much cheaper than this year. Now is the time to buy before his value soars again. His ADP is 66.43. He is ranked: CBS #58; ESPN #74; Yahoo! NR.

SP Gio Gonzalez is switching to the “weaker” league and gets to face the opposing pitcher at least once a game. He is expected to produce similar results as 2011, but could outperform those expectations. His ADP is 107.61. He is ranked: CBS #73; Yahoo! #94; ESPN #129.

OF Michael Morse surprised a lot of people by hitting .303 with 31 homeruns last year. His numbers may tail off a little bit this year, as pitchers adjust to him, but he should still be good for 25 homers and a .285 average. His ADP is 84.05. He is ranked: Yahoo! #80; CBS #83; ESPN #83.

SP Jordan Zimmerman had a 3.18 ERA while winning 8 games in 2011. The Nationals limited him to 161.1 IP as he was coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2009. He should see a bump up in innings to the 180 range in 2012 and should be good for a 3.50 ERA and 10 wins. His ADP is 119.73. He is ranked: ESPN #105; CBS #115; Yahoo! #163.

OF Bryce Harper is a future stud, but he has only played 37 games above A ball. In most leagues that have minor leagues or reserve drafts, he is probably already taken. But for those of you in keepers leagues where he is still available, now is the time to pounce. He may not provide much help this year, but he is definitely worth owning. His ADP is 229.94. He is unranked in CBS, ESPN and Yahoo!.

SP Edwin Jackson has good stuff and shows flashes of brilliance, including a no-hitter in 2010, but has yet to put it all together. He is still only 28 and has time to improve. If you can deal with his madding inconsistency, you may reap some rewards. His ADP is 247.39. He is ranked: Yahoo! #178; ESPN #221; CBS #271.

Best of the rest, but not keepers

RP Drew Storen saved 43 games last year and should save 35-40 again this year. However, he does not come cheap. His ADP is 80.28. He is ranked: CBS #93; ESPN #149; Yahoo! NR.

OF Jayson Werth had a down year after signing a huge 7 year, $126 million contract with the Nationals. He should bounce back some in 2012, just don’t expect him to return to his 2009-2010 levels. A .260 average and around 25 homers seem to be reasonable expectations. His ADP is 97.72. He is ranked: ESPN #80; CBS #137; Yahoo! #182.

2B Danny Espinosa has 20/20 potential, but will likely struggle to hit for a decent average each year. His ADP is 149.85. He is ranked: CBS #182; ESPN #186; Yahoo! #248.

With Storen battling some forearm soreness, RP Tyler Clippard could see some save opportunities at the beginning of the season. His ADP is 243.10. He is ranked: ESPN #249 and is unranked by CBS and Yahoo!.

Finally, SS Ian Desmond has some pop and some speed, but until he learns to control the strike zone better, he will be lucky to hit .260. His ADP is 258.39. He is ranked: ESPN #233; CBS #263 and Yahoo! NR.

Note: All ADP values are from Mock Draft Central as of March 26, 2012 and player projections are based on BaseballHQ.com.

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