May 2008

Unread for 5/13

12 team mixed that highly values strikeouts. I’ve spent the season with the number one waiver spot, and have allowed Scherzer and Cueto to pass by, all in the hope of snagging Clayton Kershaw. With his promotion looking all the more likely this week, I’m suddenly faced with a dilemma: After a couple of poor outings, Clay Buchholz has been dropped.

I can’t decide between the two. Is the fact that Kershaw would pitch in the NL West and in a pitcher’s park enough to sway you towards the Dodgers phenom?

Joe Gallagher, Ireland

Hey Joe,

Wow, you must really want Kershaw if you were willing to pass on Scherzer in a league that values strikeouts. It’s understandable, though, as Kershaw has dominated Minor League hitting. His K/9 rate in Class A and Double-A ball combined last season was a 12.0 and he had struck out 37 batters in 33 1/3 innings in Double-A going into last night’s outing. The Dodgers have discussed starting him this weekend, but Hong-Chih Kuo and Chan Ho Park are also possibilities to take the fifth starter role.

Unlike the 20-year-old Kershaw, Buchholz, who is 23, has pitched in the big leagues. He has a 43/20 K/BB ratio in 42.3 innings this season and has three quality starts in eight outings. He has looked extremely impressive at times, but, like most young, inexperienced starting pitchers, Buchholz has been consistently inconsistent.

Kershaw and Buchholz have promising futures and both have been described as potentially special No. 1 starters. Their respective home parks may not make as much of a difference as you think. Dodger Stadium has ranked 12th and 10th in run rate each of the past two seasons, while Fenway Park has ranked first and 13th.

Frankly, I would take Buchholz since he has already shown that he can dominate big league hitting (remember that no-hitter last season?). Don’t feel as though you have to take Kershaw now just because you have already passed on other players (Scherzer, Cueto) for the chance to add him. What’s in the past is in the past, it’s lost time. Don’t let that affect your future decision-making.

Kyle Stack,

Updated Feud Standings (through Week 6)


Latest Roundtable

Here’s a link to the latest fantasy roundtable on struggling starting pitchers who are due to bounce back.

Unread for 5/12

Hey Guys,
6×6 Roto w/OBP & L, 10-team…My pitching is in as good of shape as Hillary’s campaign for the White House. I have J Vazquez, B Penny, Jered Weaver, C Buchholz, C Billingsley, J Jurrjens, J Cueto, & I just picked up Duchscherer and dropped Scherzer. I have Lyon & Sherrill as my RPs after starting the season with R Soriano & M Corpas.

I have been offered a trade of John Maine or Fausto Carmona for Joey Votto. My other 1B’s are Pujols/C Jackson/J Loney so I do have a logjam at that position. I’m tempted to do this for Maine. What are your thoughts?
Your faithful listener,
Dale A. Sensenig

Hey Dale,

Although I must say that your pitching is in slightly better shape than the Clinton campaign in that it actually has a chance, I’d absolutely do either of these deals, preferably the one for Maine.  Carmona’s strikeout rate is awfully low (3.40 K/9) and I’ll always lean towards the NL pitcher.  As impressive as Votto’s been through the opening six weeks of the season (.286 AVG  7 HR  19 RBI), ups and downs should be expected from anyone playing in their first full major league season.  But more importantly, your depth at 1B allows you, even if this league uses a corner infield spot, to have at least one solid bench option at the position despite the loss of Votto.

I’m a big fan of John Maine, and view him as a very respectable #3 SP in mixed leagues.  One cause for concern is Maine’s tendency to walk a few too many hitters (4.50 BB/9 this season compared to 3.53 BB/9 last year).  That said, take away his first three starts, Maine’s control has gotten much better (3.20 BB/9).  The bottom line is that he’ll strike out around 170, pitches in a favorable park, and should win 15 games.  Amidst a staff of mostly upside guys (Buchholz, Jurrjens, Cueto), Maine will be a welcome addition, someone you can plug into your lineup and leave alone.  In the end, the numbers will be there.

Zach Steinhorn,      


Fave five cartoons

21477BP~Wile-E-Coyote-Posters.jpgNot sure how we can top pizza with anchovies, but let’s give it a try with our fave five cartoons… post yours now and we will pick some of the best lists to include in the show on Wednesday!


Be aware though that Siano has disqualified any cartoon that aired routinely in prime time, so that eliminates the Simpsons, King of the Hill, Futurama, etc., etc.

And, while I went to high school with his son Preston, don’t expect to see any XXX-rated stuff from Ralph Bakshi in there either!




POD for Monday May 12th

click here for Monday’s probables


yes on all pitchers in jays vs tribe double dip (carmona, lee, marcum, burnett)


yes on buchoz no on livan


yes on pettitte no on garza


yes on bedard and i think you have to let padilla go out there


no on adenhart and buerhle


for the NL


yes on jurrjens, hudson, harangatang, wolf, zambrano, wainwright and oswalt


no on rest……



Unreads for 5/8

10 team mixed vanilla 5X5.  I have been offered Cano for Kazmir straight up.  I currently have Upton at 2nd and could move him to my outfield, which is somewhat weak for a 10 teamer with Abreu, Hart, Francoeur, Swisher, and Fukudome.  My pitching staff is pretty solid, even though I just lost Gallardo, I still have Zambrano, Cain, Perez, McGowan, and Vazquez.  Would you make this deal?


JT in Texas

Hey JT,

If I were assured that Kazmir would stay healthy for the remainder of the season, I might not do this deal.  Aside from the absence of a clear #1 guy, your outfield really isn’t that bad, as Swisher and Fukudome are more than adequate fourth and fifth outfielders, even in a 10 team league.  But any injury to the pitching elbow is scary, and Kazmir hasn’t exactly been the model of durability over the course of his professional career, having also missed a good portion of the 2006 campaign.  The Rays’ ace was far from sharp in his 2008 debut vs the Red Sox, needing 90 pitches to get through four innings.  The pitching depth on this roster is good enough that you can afford the loss of Kazmir.  Zambrano (5-1  1.80 ERA) looks to be in Cy Young form while Cain, Vazquez, and McGowan will all provide solid ERA, WHIP, and K numbers.  At this point, anything you get from Perez should be viewed as a bonus.  If Ollie manages to limit those blowup outings, this staff would really be something!  There should also be plenty of quality arms available on the wire throughout the year.                           

Cano’s stock is at a career low right now, thanks to an awful .172 batting average and just 9 runs scored in 35 games.  This won’t last.  The Yankee second baseman is a career .304 hitter, and as the Bombers’ offense heats up, you can bet Cano will be right in the middle of all the rallies.  By adding Cano, you’ll also have the luxury of owning two top five second basemen.  Not only will this provide injury insurance at a thin position (assuming there’s no MI spot), but moving Upton to the outfield would instantly transform it from decent to well above average.

This trade is an intriguing one in that, for the time being, the price of both Kazmir and Cano is relatively cheap.  I just think that the chances of Cano returning to his elite status significantly outweigh that of Kazmir providing the ace-level production we saw in 2007.

Zach Steinhorn, 

Hey guys:

Oliver Perez, should I be concerned or do I keep throwing him out there?

Chris in NorCal

Hey Chris,

It’s certainly been a rough stretch for Perez, hasn’t it? The 26-year-old lefty’s allowed five-plus runs in four of his last five starts, inflating his once microscopic ERA to 4.63. He’s posted an unsightly 19/19 K/BB ratio over his last 23 1/3 innings of work, as he’s had trouble commanding the nasty slider that’s his best out pitch when he’s cruising. That said, I’d give him a few more starts before you send him packing. Perez had a breakout year in ’07, notching 15 wins with a 3.56 ERA and an impressive .229 BAA in 177 frames. His early numbers this season (0 ER, 8 H, 4 BB, 10 K in his first two starts) were evidence that he’s got the stuff to produce another ace-like year, if only he can regain his command. Stow the young gun on your bench for the moment and see if he’s able to work out the kinks.

Corey Gottlieb,

I’m in desperate need for closers (I have Gagne, Hoffman and Todd Jones). I’ve been offered Jacoby Ellsbury and Joakim Soria for Jeff Francoeur. What do you guys think?

Kevin in SoCal

Hey Kevin,

I actually like this deal even though I don’t typically support trading good hitters for relievers. Ellsbury makes this deal very enticing, though.

I must admit that I wasn’t optimistic about Ellsbury’s potential this season, but his production has been impressive. He has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 starts, including six multi-hit efforts, and is scoring runs in bunches. He has seven runs in his last five games and has scored 27 on the year. He has made the majority of his plate appearances (98 of 117) as the leadoff hitter for what is obviously a high-octane offense. His plate discipline has been excellent (17 walks), though it was much better last month when he took 13 walks from April 9-21. You can’t forget the speed dimension he brings, though, as he has swiped five bags since May 2. I think a .290 batting average with 80-90 runs and 30-35 steals is realistic if he plays every day. If you can make up for the loss of Francoeur’s RBIs somewhere else, then Ellsbury will be an excellent addition.

Getting to the crux of your issue, there is no question Gagne (five blown saves, 6.14 ERA) and Hoffman (two blown saves, 6.52 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) are making their fantasy owners squeamish. It could be a wise move to handcuff Gagne with Guillermo Mota or Salomon Torres and Hoffman with Heath Bell, but Soria would be an outstanding addition.

Soria hasn’t given up a run and has allowed just four base runners in 13 innings. He has 15 strikeouts, with just one walk, and is 8-for-8 in save opportunities. It doesn’t get much more dominant than that. I suppose the biggest question regarding Soria’s production is whether the Royals, who won 69 games last season and are 15-18 entering Wednesday, will give him enough save opportunities to allow him to become an elite closer. The potential is absolutely there and he should be regarded as one of the safest closer options.

I would take a chance on this move. Close the deal, Kevin.

Kyle Stack,

Unread for 5/7

Hey guys,

Great show, loving the fave 5.

10 team mixed, 5×5 roto.
Over the last couple of weeks my pitching staff has gone completely south. What used to be Smolz, Dice-K, Myers, Hill, Burnett, Liriano has basically turned into Dice-K, Myers, Burnett… I dropped Hill and Liriano for Kuroda and Greg Smith.

2 questions:
1) Is it time to say goodbye to R. Soriano and add another starter (Lilly and Wandy are on waivers)?
2) Do I have to make a trade to upgrade my pitching?

Bastian, Denmark

Hey BR,

Yeah, it’s been a rough start indeed. Burnett was shelled for five earned runs on nine hits last night, but he did strike out ten batters, his first game in which he has fanned more than six. Myers looked much better in his last start on May 3 (7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 10 K’s).

In answer to your first question, no, it is not time to say goodbye to Rafael Soriano, but it’s not looking good. Soriano’s bullpen session on Tuesday was cut short due to MORE pain in his right elbow. If you recall, he had Tommy John surgery on that right elbow after the 2003 season. He is undergoing an MRI and other tests today, so don’t make a definitive move until the test results are released.

As far as your second question is concerned, I don’t know the makeup of your offense, but your pitching staff could be alright. Dice-K, Myers and Burnett is a fine core. Greg Smith (1.02 WHIP, 31/13 K/BB ratio in 39 innings) is a good addition and Kuroda has some positive numbers. Sure, his 1.44 WHIP could raise some red flags, but his 3.95 ERA looks even better (3.34) if you take away his April 25 start in which he gave up five earned runs in six innings. His ground ball-to-fly ball ratio is an outstanding 40-to-12 in his last three starts, two of which were at pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium.

I would keep an eye on Smoltz and Liriano. If Soriano is out for an extended period of time, then Smoltz could become the closer for Atlanta. Although he has arm issues himself, his 144 saves from 2002-04 show that he can excel in the transition from starter to reliever.

Fantasy owners want to give up on Liriano, but can we give the guy some more time to come back from a major arm injury? One month of poor pitching (13 earned runs on 15 hits and 13 walks in 10 1/3 innings over three starts) shouldn’t dictate whether or not he will be effective long-term. I think he could return close to his old form after the All-Star break, once he has had some time to work out any mechanical kinks and gain some confidence. There aren’t any guarantees, of course, but he is too talented to just throw onto the wire without monitoring his status.

This is a long-winded way of saying that your pitching staff doesn’t need any dramatic upgrades. You can add a pitcher here or there, but you’re not playing head-to-head, so matchups aren’t as important. Considering you’re league is only 10 teams deep, there should be plenty of talent on the wire. If offense is your strength, then think of your pitching as a complement. It’s pretty tough to be the best in your league in both, so I wouldn’t sacrifice a great deal of your offense in a trade for what you think will improve your pitching staff. Hope this helps.

Kyle Stack,

Fav 5 Dishes


#1 Slice of pizza with pepperoni and anchovies. Can be regular or Sicilian.
#2 hot buffalo wings with extra blue cheese and celery. Not the bready kind like Hooters.
#3 Dads dish. Eggplant and chicken parm with sausage and meatballs and hot cheery peppers in garlic and oil with a side antipasto of imported meats and cheeses.
#4 Cold chicken breast with black pepper, mayo and hot sauce
#5 3 taco Supremes and a baja chicken gordita


1. Rigatoni Ala Vodka

2. Spicy Tuna Roll

3. Pizza

4. Thanksgiving dinner

5. Pizzaburger and Fries


1. Chocolate in all its many magical forms and shapes and variations
2. Magic Johnson (by a nose over Pete Maravich)
3. Chicken parmagiana
4. The Dish on BaseballChannel.TV… JB, Tara Gore, Furno, Nikifortchuck (love that name)… it’s all there      
5. NY strip steak with mashed potatoes and gravy


PoD Woes

Pitch or Ditch is an inexact science, so not every selection will be the right one. But it really hurts when the three guys you decide to use (Sanchez, Sonnanstine, Burress) do this:

16.2 IP, 8 K’s, 8.10 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 1 win

…and the two guys you had but let go (Jurrjens, Olsen), do this:

14.2 IP, 16 K’s, 0.61 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 2 wins

Not to mention the fact that I gave the thumbs-down to Gavin Floyd (below) last night because I was worried (and to some extent still am) that his poor BB-K rate is going to lead to some ugly lines at some point.


At least I can console myself in the knowledge that I also gave the thumbs-down to Brian Bannister and Nick Blackburn, among others, neither of whom distinguished themselves last night. We’ll go back to the drawing board today!

Happy 411,