May 2008

More Knowledge and Nuggets from Tout Wars

Unread for 5/6

10 Team Mixed Head to Head League
Someone is offering me Smoltz, Weeks, and Helton for Brandon Philips and Hunter Pence.  Do you think I should pull the trigger on this one?


Totowa, NJ

Hey Joe,

How badly do you need saves? If you don’t, I would stay with Phillips and Pence. Weeks, despite his atrocious .197 hitting thus far, has 20/20 ability (he had 16 homers and 25 steals last season) IF he can stay healthy. He hasn’t played more than 118 games in his three seasons in the Majors so he can be considered a major health risk. It’s also worth noting that Weeks hit .239 and .235 in two of his three seasons, so could you also afford to take a drop in team batting average? Phillips went 30/32 last year and there is no reason to think he can’t do it again. He has five home runs and five steals and is hitting .278, which is in line with his .276 and .288 averages of the past two seasons. I like Phillips more this year and beyond as the second baseman.

Pence or Helton is an interesting discussion. Helton is more valuable than most people think. He is a career .331 hitter, including his .279 batting average this season. You have to believe that his average will rise, though, as his on-base percentage is still north of .400 (.401). This shows that he is seeing the ball well at the plate, still drawing walks, so perhaps he is hitting the ball where the defense is, instead of where it isn’t. Many think of Helton in his twilight years as purely an AVG hitter, but his OPS the past two seasons is .880 and .928. Sure, he’s not a dynamic home run hitter, but his 82 doubles the past two seasons prove that he doesn’t have to hit home runs to be an important chip in a team’s offense.

What I like about Pence is his power/speed combination. He’s starting to heat up a bit after a dreadful 9-for-56 (.161) start. Pence is 6-for-19 (.316) with three home runs and seven RBIs the past four games. He hit very well all last season, including a .343 average in May, and he stole 11 bases. That’s not an awfully high amount, but it shows his potential as a 20/20 guy in the outfield (he hit 17 long balls last season). It would be great if Astros manager Cecil Cooper could settle on a batting order position, since Pence has already logged 18-plus plate appearances at four spots (1, 2, 6 and 7). Pence bats in a great lineup and he seems to be the kind of player who will work his butt off to keep improving.

Smoltz’s production is really an unknown at this point. It’s been determined that he will go to the bullpen, but don’t assume he’ll step into the closer role. What if Rafael Soriano returns before Smoltz? What if Smoltz keeps struggling, even as the closer? I wouldn’t want to risk Brandon Phillips for the possibility that Smoltz will accrue enough saves to make him valuable to your team.

If you need saves, look elsewhere for help. Check out the Roundtable discussion on our fantasy homepage for some tips on setup men whom you can target for possible future saves.

Kyle Stack,

Fave five dishes

Siano, Sterno and I will unveil ours tomorrow, what are yours? Of course everyone loves pizza…

Thumbnail image for Pie.jpg 

See, the great thing about pizza is, you can never go wrong. Whether it’s thin-crust, or deep dish, New York style or Chicago style, you name it… it’s very hard to screw up. Of course, any self-respecting New Yorker will tell you we have the best pizza because of the water here, which is true. But I like California Pizza Kitchen and Pizzaria Uno, too. Gotta love me some hot bread, tomato sauce and melted cheese!

What are your fave dishes, let’s hear ’em!


Fading Closers

Here’s the latest roundtable as our fantasy staff give their picks for top setup men in waiting.

Unread for 5/5

Hey guys, love the show.

I’m in 1st in my 12 team roto league.  6×6 (OPS and holds)

My offense is sick, but I can improve the most in the pitching cats.

I just lost my #2 SP in Gallardo, but do still have Peavy, Billingsley, Randy, Jurrjens, Hudson, and O. Perez.  I also have Fuentes, F. Cordero, Lidge, Acosta and Neshek.

I was just offered Lincecum and McClouth for Crawford and Fuentes.  He needs a closer bad.

I have Crawford, Holliday, C. Young, Victorino and Brown as my OF.  I would have Utley, Wright, Kinsler, Guillen, Longoria, and Escobar left to give me steals, as well as McClouth (whom I believe could still give me 20 steals).

I love Crawford, but feel like in this league his value is a little lower with his low OBP and SLG.  I think Lincecum would really give me a boost and I think I can afford the loss of Fuentes.

He also has Zambrano, Bedard and Verlander, but I like Lincecum the most followed by Bedard.  Thanks.

Rob Monacelli
Grand Rapids, MI

Hey Rob,

I would pass on this one.  Crawford is just too valuable to give up for this kind of mid-level return.  He’s a virtual lock for 50 steals, and really doesn’t kill you in OPS despite the low home run totals.  After having a .309 OBP in his first full season in the bigs, Crawford posted a .355 mark last year, so he’s clearly made great strides in that department.  With Young, Victorino, Wright, and Kinsler, you can definitely afford the loss of Crawford’s speed, but that doesn’t mean you should trade him for less than fair value.  Fuentes was always a very underrated closer, and would never have lost the job if not for one horrendous week last July.  Now once again firmly implanted in the closer role, view Fuentes as a high end #2 stopper.
Even without Gallardo, this staff is solid.  Though I’d consider not making any trade and using the waiver wire to fill the holes, I can see why you feel the need to add another top notch SP considering Randy’s injury risk and Perez’s inconsistency.  Just remember that Crawford would be the best player in any of these deals.  Don’t settle for the first offer that comes your way.  

As for the potentially available pitchers, Lincecum would actually be the last guy I’d target.  There’s no doubt Tim’s an elite talent, but he’s also a 23 year old who has yet to reach the 200 career innings plateau.  And that’s not to mention the team he plays for.  Wins will be hard to come by as long as the Giants run out a Double-A level lineup on a daily basis.  Zambrano, despite some concerns about his workload over the years, is my top choice.  He’s experienced and reliable, and along with Peavy would form an outstanding 1-2 punch!  Bedard and Verlander are also very attractive but they don’t have as much of a track record as “Big Z.”  

In exchange for Crawford and Fuentes, Zambrano and an outfielder in the likes of a Vernon Wells/Jason Bay/Torii Hunter seems like a reasonable package.  Nate McClouth is nowhere near enough!

Zach Steinhorn,      

Feud Standings through Wk 5

Click on this link to download the latest version of the Fantasy Feud standings:


One other note:  The next 411 chat, conducted by Mike and Cory, will take place on MONDAY, MAY 19 starting at 3 pm ET.  You’ve got plenty of time to get those questions ready!


POD for Monday May 5th Games

Happy Cinco De Mayo!!!!!


Yes: Daisuke, Vazquez, McGowan, Santana, Eveland, Billingsley
No: Bonderman, Dempster, Cueto, Tomko, Pineiro, Jimenez, Moyer, Scherzer, Olson, Figueroa, Millwood, Washburn
Re. Bonderman, simply not trusting him yet vs. red hot Red Sox
Re. Dempster, I think he’s a total fluke, 22-19 K-BB ratio, albeit with a good groundall rate
Re. Cueto, the trend is obvious, can’t touch him right now vs. smokin’ Cubs offense

Unread for 5/2

Hey guys,
I’m in a roto, non-keeper, daily league.  Who is a better backup to have on my bench…Bill Hall or Edwin Encarnacion?  I am starting Reynolds & Longoria at 3rd and the corner slot.  Hall can play 2 positions (3B/OF) but does that matter?

Scottie R.
Charleston, SC

Hey Scottie,

Hall and Encarnacion can be maddening in their own ways. Hall will kill your team batting average (he’s batting .236 this season and .262 for his career, but it drops to .254 if you disregard his .291 average in 2006). Encarnacion is among the streakiest players in the league (he was batting .241 with two homers and seven RBIs on April 19, but is hitting .349 with five home runs and eight RBIs since). I would go with Encarnacion.

Many Hall supporters like to reference his 2006 season in which he walloped 35 home runs in 537 at-bats. However, they fail to point out that he hit 17 homers in 501 at-bats in 2005 and just 14 long balls in 452 at-bats last season. He has hit .270 and .254 the past two seasons and is batting just .236 with a .283 on-base percentage this season. His outfield eligibility is a comforting bonus, but his batting average can really hurt you in a roto league.

Encarnacion has matched Hall’s home run total (7), has nearly matched his RBIs (15 to Halls’ 19) and has hit .287 with a .374 on-base percentage. Not only does Encarnacion have good power numbers, he gets on base enough to contribute mightily to your runs scored.

As the season wears on, you might be more tempted to replace Reynolds with Encarnacion than with Hall.

Kyle Stack, 

Unreads for 5/1

Hi Guys, love the show.  I play in a 15-team 5×5, 25-active, 8-reserve roster league.  Somebody queried if I ever thought about selling Andruw Jones at a discount, he might be interested.  Well let me tell you that I thought about it – I thought about it A LOT!  Do you think getting Shaun Marcum back for Jones would be just too much of a discount or should I take it and run?  I’ve got adequate alternatives to Jones, not great but serviceable – Wily Mo Pena and Jason Werth for example.  And I’m sitting on Chase Headley and hoping for a call-up.  What do you think?  Just how DONE is Andruw?

Stuart from Thousand Oaks, CA

Hey Stuart,

It’s looking more and more like the move to Hollywood  will do nothing to return Andruw Jones to his former star status.  Jones has opened his Dodger career in the exact same fashion in which he ended his run with the Braves…posting a pathetic batting average and striking out a ton.  Not only is he hitting .159 and slugging .250, Andruw ranks fifth in the majors in strikeouts with 29 whiffs in 88 AB’s.  Now I’d still be shocked if Jones doesn’t reach at least the 25 HR mark by year’s end, but how much value do the homers have if the guy single-handedly ruins your team’s batting average?  Normally I would say to wait until Jones’ stock rises a little before dealing him, but seven months is certainly enough of a sample size to convince me otherwise.  Without knowing your other starting pitchers, it’s hard to determine whether Marcum would really help you.  That said, the 26 year old is very underrated.  He went 12-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 25 starts last season, and has kicked off his first full year in a starting role with a solid 3.24 ERA.  It’s quite possible that Marcum will fade towards the end of the season, as he’s not used to throwing a lot of innings.  But that’s no sure thing.  If you truly can’t do better, make the trade.  For the time being, start Werth, who showed some pop in April (5 HR  13 RBI).  Should Werth struggle, try working another trade to upgrade your outfield.  Come August, when Andruw’s average is still hovering around .200, you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief that he’s someone else’s problem!

Zach Steinhorn,

Hey guys,

Long time podcaster – first time emailer…12 Team-Mixed-Yahoo vanilla. I have been offered a trade where I give up Hanley Ramírez for Peavy and Jeter. Ramirez is my only sure thing in my infield – Jackson, K. Johnson/Theriot, Encarnacion, Posada/Napoli.  My pitching is Hamels, Kazmir, Cueto, E. Santana, and Ol. Perez..  
How big a drop is Jeter from Ramirez?
Thanks guys.

Pasadena, CA
[if needed: OF/Bench – Holliday, CB Young, Dunn, Quentin, Swisher, Thome]

Hey Chris,

Your offensive roster is impressive. I wouldn’t discount Conor Jackson, though. I think you can count on him to produce – at least – 20 home runs and 90 RBIs. You can also move Swisher to first if Jackson goes into a prolonged slump. Encarnacion might be better than people think and your outfield has really great power and depth.

With that said, I still wouldn’t do the deal. Now that Alex Rodriguez is on the shelf with a quad injury, Hanley could end up being the most valuable fantasy player this season. He might have the best power/speed combination in baseball and he is only 24 years old. He hit 29 home runs and stole 51 bases last season and it’s very realistic that he can go 40/40 this season; he already has eight homers and nine steals.

Derek Jeter went 12/15 last season and I don’t get the feeling that he will exceed those numbers this year. It’s quite apparent that there is a precipitous drop in production from Hanley to Jeter.

Of course, Jake Peavy is a great coup and many fantasy folks would probably live with a drop in production at shortstop if they could get their hands on one of the best pitchers in the game. His 2006 struggles (11-14, 4.09 ERA) are hard to imagine when you observe his numbers this season (2.09 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .196 BAA, 38 strikeouts in 43 innings).

I guess the way I would assess this is to think of one of the basic principles of fantasy baseball: hitters are more reliable than pitchers. Injury is less likely to negatively alter a hitter’s performance. I also adhere to the theory that the team getting the best player in a trade is typically the “winner.” That doesn’t mean that Hanley doesn’t have a price – every player does. If you were offered Peavy, Jeter and Brandon Phillips, I would probably make the trade. That’s hypothetically speaking, but in this case, Peavy/Jeter isn’t enough to convince me that you should part with Hanley.

Hanley is the anchor for your team and he is the type of player who can lead you to a championship. Stick with the guy who can become the most valuable fantasy player in 2008.

Kyle Stack,



Cory’s Top 100 Fave Bands

No disrespect to Casey’s or Mike’s lists, because everyone has their own tastes in music. But hey, I’m a music junkie, so I didn’t want to limit myself to just 5 or 10 bands or whatever. So, here are my top five favorite bands of all time:

1. Ramones
2. Supersuckers
3. Metallica
4. Lunachickscrumb-beast.jpg
5. Kiss
First honorable mentions (6-15): Black Sabbath, Misfits, Nirvana, Rocket From the Crypt, Slayer, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Superchunk, Therapy?, Voivod.
Second honorable mentions (16-25): Brand New; Crumbsuckers (right); Doom Kounty Electric Chair; Fudge Tunnel; Hot Snakes; Jane’s Addiction; Led Zeppelin; Monsterland; Queens of the Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine. 
Additional honorable mentions (26-100): …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead; AC/DC; Accept; Aerosmith; Afghan Whigs; Agnostic Front; Alice In Chains; Anthrax; Black Crowes; Black Flag; Bloody Hollies; Bottom; Cheap Trick; Clash; Danzig; Dead Kennedys; Detroit Cobras; Devo (below);
Thumbnail image for Devo.jpgDiamond Head; Dinosaur Jr.; Donnas; Dwarves; Faith No More; Fastbacks; Fear Factory; Fireball Ministry; Foo Fighters; Gaza Strippers; Gits; Guns’n’Roses; Hellacopters; Helmet; High On Fire; I.N.C.; Ice-T; Iggy & The Stooges; Iron Maiden; Lard; Megadeth; Melvins; Mighty Mighty Bosstones; Ministry; Motley Crue; Motorhead; Murphy’s Law; Nailbomb; Nuclear Assault; Pearl Jam; Pitchshifter; Pixies; Plasmatics; Primus; Pro-Pain; Red Hot Chili Peppers; Reverend Horton Heat; Runaways; Rush; S.O.D.; Samhain; Screaming Trees; Sepultura; Sex Pistols; Smashing Pumpkins; Soulfly; Suicidal Tendencies; Tenacious D (below)
The D.jpg; Testament; Tool; Turbonegro; Urge Overkill; Van Halen; Vaz; Wick Effect; Wobblies; Zeke.

* * *

Truth be told, the top three are the only rock-solid picks here… any other band on this list could crack my top five at some point depending on what mood I’m in at any given moment, and there are probably 100 or more other bands that I love that I didn’t list here. 100 is enough!


Later tonight when I get home I’ll update this post with more pictures and some anecdotes and stories and whatnot… rock on!


Thanks, Cory