October 2012

Zach’s Musings (10/25)

THANKS FROM THE 411

Hey everyone,

What do Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols and now Pablo Sandoval have in common? Yep, they’re the only players in MLB history who have homered three times in a single World Series game. And the fact that two of Sandoval’s three homers last night came off Justin Verlander makes his performance all the more impressive. I still expect this to be a long series, but if the Giants continue to score runs at this clip, it could very well be over in four or five games. I’m sticking with my Tigers in seven prediction. Let’s see tonight if Madison Bumgarner has fixed whatever mechanical problems he says he’s been battling throughout the postseason.

But getting back to Sandoval. I owned the Panda in three different fantasy leagues this year, and I have to say that he’s one of the most frustrating guys to deal with. He’s missed a combined 99 games over the past two seasons and many have questioned his dedication to staying in shape. We have him ranked as the #8 3B heading into 2013, right behind the equally frustrating Ryan Zimmerman, and I think that’s pretty accurate. I’d be open to drafting him again due to his solid AVG and power numbers, but be careful not to overpay. It’s very common for a player who enjoys a signature postseason moment to be overvalued going into the following season.

Anyway, let’s run through a bunch of fantasy-relevant news stories that have developed over the past week.

CC Sabathia to see Dr. James Andrews about left elbow

Scary stuff but since his ligament remains intact, there’s no chance he’ll need Tommy John surgery. Rather, it’s believed that he has just a bone spur in the elbow, which would require only a minor procedure. A model of durability throughout his career, the 32-year-old Sabathia now enters 2013 as a slight injury risk, and while he’s still an ace, he’s no longer a top-5 SP. We had him at #10 before this news surfaced, and I’d think about bumping him down a couple of spots. Another example as to why you shouldn’t invest too heavily in starting pitching on draft day. Even the sure things aren’t really sure things.

***UPDATE (10/25 NYY Press Release on Sabathia)

New York Yankees LHP CC Sabathia was seen by Dr. James Andrews today in Birmingham, Ala. Dr. Andrews performed arthroscopic surgery on Sabathia’s left elbow to remove a small bone spur. Sabathia is expected to fully recover prior to the start of the 2013 regular season.

Derek Jeter undergoes successful ankle surgery, out 4-5 months

Continuing with the Yankee theme, it was really a shame to see Jeter’s fantastic season come to an end on such a bitter note, and we’re reminded that he’s 38 years of age. I’m not overly concerned about his availability for the start of spring training, but will he look like the same player? I’d be OK with him as my starting SS but wouldn’t go out of my way to draft him. He’s not running much these days and I’m more intrigued by some of the younger players at the position, like Elvis Andrus and Asdrubal Cabrera, both of whom I might be able to draft at a lesser cost.

Marlins trade Heath Bell to D-Backs for Yordy Cabrera

And so ends Bell’s disastrous stint in Miami and in all likelihood his stint as a fantasy-worthy pitcher. He’ll serve as a middle reliever for the D-Backs, and even if the oft-injured J.J. Putz misses any time, don’t expect Bell to handle closing duties. David Hernandez has already proven that he can thrive in the ninth inning role.

A’s acquire Chris Young from D-Backs for Cliff Pennington and Yordy Cabrera

A sneaky move by A’s GM Billy Beane, who surely hopes that a change of scenery will help the struggling Young, but going from hitter-friendly Chase Field to the spacious Coliseum in Oakland doesn’t excite me all that much. We all know the deal with CBY. He’ll give you solid power and speed production at the expense of a mediocre AVG. Young’s best all-around season came back in 2010 when he smacked 27 homers with 91 RBIs, 91 runs, 28 steals and a tolerable .257 average. I don’t see him duplicating those numbers, but he’s still a decent mid to late-round flier just because he could go 20/20, but I’ve spent enough years drafting Young with the hope that he can develop into a star. I’m done with him! Pennington should slot in as Arizona’s everyday shortstop and makes for an intriguing NL-only pick as his offensive production could improve now that he’ll be playing in a more favorable ballpark.

And by the way, who is this Yordy Cabrera guy? A .232/.293/.332 line at High-A ball this year has me wondering why he was such a hot commodity.

C.J. Wilson’s elbow surgery goes well

Maybe Wilson’s elbow is to blame for his poor second half (4-5, 5.54 ERA, 1.57 WHIP), but either way, the fact that the surgery was considered minor is good news, and I wouldn’t hesitate to draft Wilson as a high-end #3 SP in 12-team mixed leagues. Your league mates might overlook his exceptional first half (9-5, 2.43 ERA, 1.16 WHIP). There’s value to be had here.

Until next time,

Zach

Zach’s Musings (10/18)

THANKS FROM THE 411

Some postseason! We’ve got closer demotions, trade rumors involving guys who are still playing and the Yankees’ lineup all of a sudden looking like the Astros’ lineup while their pitching, which was considered a weakness heading into the season, has been absolutely lights out in October. Anyway, here are my fantasy-related thoughts on some of the recent developments from around the league.

Jose Valverde yanked from the closer role after imploding in Game 1 vs. the Yankees

Fortunately for the Tigers, Valverde’s horrendous outing didn’t cost them the win, but this performance was on the heels of an equally disastrous nightmare appearance vs. the A’s that actually did cost Detroit a win. I’m not one to pay too much attention to postseason results when ranking a player for the following year, but this is just another reminder that Valverde is far from a sure thing. Let’s also note that he’s entering free agency this winter and it remains to be seen if the Tigers want him back. If he’s still closing in 2013, I view him as a decent second closer in 12-team mixed leagues. Gone are the days of him being a high-end #2 or low-end #1.

Brian McCann to face six months of rehab following shoulder surgery

This means that McCann will miss the first few weeks of the 2013 season and maybe even the entire month of April. We had him ranked as the #6 backstop heading into next season, and that seems about right for now. But you should obviously monitor this situation very closely in the weeks leading up to draft day. Be careful not to pay for past performance, as McCann was a pretty big disappointment in 2012. You might be better off taking Salvador Perez, Wilin Rosario or Jonathan LuCroy for a fraction of the price. That’s what I’ll be doing!

A-Rod, 3-for-23 with no RBIs this postseason, is all of a sudden a part-time player

Now this is strange. I know he’s been terrible, but Eric Chavez is 0-for-14! There has to be more to this story. Cashman can dismiss the Rodriguez to Miami rumors all he wants, but it’s clear that the Yankees are trying to make life as uncomfortable as possible for their aging third baseman. For fantasy purposes, he’s YPNM, even if I could draft him at a bargain basement price. I just don’t need the drama.

Curtis Granderson is 3-for-29 this postseason with one homer, one RBI, one run scored and 15 strikeouts

Somewhat lost amidst the Grandy Man’s 43-homer regular season is that he hit just .232 with 195 strikeouts. Also, he stole a pedestrian 10 bases after swiping 25 bags in 2011. Are we looking at the next Adam Dunn here? Or even worse, Adam Dunn without the high OBP? I’m not willing to go that far just yet, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable drafting Granderson before the fifth or sixth round of a 12-team mixed. Someone in almost every league will snatch him up sooner.

Ryan Ludwick will reportedly turn down his $5 million mutual option for 2013, but the Reds will attempt to keep him.

As well they should. Ludwick enjoyed a major bounce back season in his first year with the Reds and would continue to benefit from playing half of his games at Great American Ballpark. While he’s been very inconsistent over the past few years, I wouldn’t be against drafting him in the mid to late rounds should he stay with Cincy. Just make sure you’re not passing on more reliable alternatives. Ludwick does come with some risk.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll be back next week with some more notes. In the meantime, feel free to post your keeper questions.

-Zach

Zach’s Musings (10/10)

THANKS FROM THE 411

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of the second wild card. Just look at how crazy the final few weeks of the season were with so many teams still in contention. What I’m not in love with though is baseball’s rushed decision to implement the second wild card this year, prior to the Astros’ move to the AL West and after having already set the 2012 schedule with the idea that there would not be a couple of wild card games to squeeze in. Is it really fair that each of the NL Central teams opened the season with a 1/6 chance of getting a first-round playoff “bye” while the AL West clubs had a ¼ chance of earning this advantage?

As if this isn’t enough of a reason to delay the second wild card rule until 2013, I absolutely hate the 2-3 Division Series format. At least it sounds like this will be switched back to 2-2-1 next year, with the only reason for the 2-3 system being that the old schedule didn’t leave enough room for the extra off-day. But if we waited another year for the second wild card, this would not be an issue. So instead of the A’s, Yankees, Reds and Nationals getting rewarded for outstanding seasons, they had to open their playoff series on the road. I feel especially bad for the A’s, who followed up an outstanding regular season finish that was capped off by an improbable sweep of the Rangers by promptly losing both of their DS road games. Yeah, they’re now home for the remainder of the series and avoided elimination last night, but having to win three games in a row, even at home, is a daunting task. So if Bud Selig happens to read the Fantasy 411 blog, I’m urging you to go back to the 2-2-1 format. From what I read, the 2-3 schedule is a one-year thing. But if it isn’t, the league would be making a huge mistake.

Alright, enough of this non-fantasy stuff. A few notes on some fantasy-relevant news stories from the past few days

                                                                                                                                                  Joakim Soria (elbow) looks good playing catch on Tuesday

Remember him? Soria should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery by the start of the 2013 season, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to target him as a late-round deep league sleeper. The Royals hold an $8 million team option on him, which they almost certainly will decline, and while they might try to re-sign Soria at a cheaper cost, there’s a good chance that they just let him walk. Greg Holland thrived in the closer role this year and I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t remain the club’s closer in 2013. I can easily see Soria pitching elsewhere, maybe even as a setup man.

Jaime Garcia gets removed from the Cardinals’ NLDS roster after an MRI reveals a rotator cuff strain and inflammation

Garcia would be eligible to pitch should the Cards advance to the World Series but I’m expecting the club to shut him down, even if this turns out to be a minor injury. Garcia will be YPNM (your problem, not mine) heading into 2013 drafts unless I can get him in the final couple of rounds. He’s too much of an injury risk for a guy who I doubt will last that long.

Brett Anderson tosses six shutout innings in Game 3 victory over Tigers

Anderson had been sidelined for the past three weeks with an oblique injury but dominated a very strong lineup. Like Garcia, he’s an injury risk, but I’m a lot more bullish on him heading into next year. If the A’s hadn’t made the postseason, he would be totally under the radar since he didn’t make his return from Tommy John surgery until very late in the season, but I still think he’ll be taken after Garcia in 2013 drafts.

Homer Bailey dominates the Giants in Game 3 (7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K)

Spoiler alert! You’ll see Homer on our 2013 List of 12, which we will post very soon. Inconsistency has plagued Bailey throughout his big league career but we at the 411 still believe in him. 2012 was by far his best season, and keep in mind that he’s still only 26 and was lights out in September (3-1, 2.01 ERA, 42 K’s in 44 2/3 IP). An ideal value pick in the mid to late rounds.

OK, that’s all for this week. I’ll be back with some more thoughts next week. And in the meantime, continue to post your keeper questions here.

-Zach

Thanks from the 411

Cory celebrates his Mixed Tout Wars victory

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your contributions to the blog and support of the podcasts throughout the season. Hopefully, the 411 played a small part in your fantasy success, but ultimately you guys deserve the credit as the final decisions were up to you.

Below, I’ve posted the blog links to all of our special end of season content. You’ll see our preliminary 2013 positional rankings, our end of season teams, Mike and Cory’s report cards and our final updated Pitch or Ditch category chart.

First Base and Third Base Rankings for 2013

Second Base and Shortstop Rankings for 2013

Catcher and Outfield Rankings for 2013

Starting Pitcher and Closer Rankings for 2013

All-Surprise and All-Disappointment Teams for 2012

2012 Report Cards

All-Rookie, All-Injury and All-Fantasy Teams for 2012

The Final Pitch or Ditch Category Chart

And major congrats to our listener league winners:

411 League – Steve Cozzolino aka Neighbor Steve (by a single point over Zack Stair!)

Ron Cey League – Tony Bartlett

Paul C. Smith League – Jayson Panetta

Marzano League – Johan Weidolf (and it came down to the final day)

And last but certainly not least, a big time thanks to all of our listener league commissioners: Tony Bartlett (Ron Cey), Dean Baker (Paul C. Smith) and Joe Curley (Marzano). Trust me, I know what you guys have to deal with, particularly when it comes to deciding on that all-important draft time. Well done!

Enjoy the postseason and keep checking the blog throughout the offseason as we’ll be routinely posting new content.

Also note that Cory will be posting his Tout Wars season recap sometime next week.

-Zach

Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, October 3 (The Finale)

FANTASY 411 SEASON RECAP CENTRAL

ZACH’S PICKS

Dempster @ Griffin – Griffin a category-based decision. Is the ERA/WHIP risk worth it?

Weaver @ Beavan – Beavan at home not a bad gamble if chasing counting stats.

Matsuzaka @ Kuroda

Floyd @ Huff – I really had high hopes for Floyd this year. Oh well.

Diamond @ Morrow – Too tough of a matchup for the inconsistent Diamond.

Tillman @ Hellickson – Tillman is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA through four September starts.

Marte @ Mendoza

Sheets @ Burnett - Nice matchup for Sheets in his final MLB start.

Lee @ Jackson

E. Gonzalez @ Wood – Wood a decent NL-only option.

Hefner @ Buehrle - Fun fact: Hefner’s last two starts are mirror images of each other. 7 IP, 0 ER and 0 IP, 7 ER

Francis @ Kennedy

Vogelsong @ Kershaw

Werner @ Stinson

Bailey @ Miller – Tough road matchup for Homer, but how can you ditch a guy who’s coming off a no-no? Taking the conservative route on Miller. Reds still have something to play for.

Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, October 2

FANTASY 411 SEASON RECAP CENTRAL

CORY’S PICKS

Lester @ Phelps – Lester has been better of late but still not awesome; category-based decision

Peavy @ Masterson

Swarzak @ Jenkins

M. Gonzalez @ Shields

Fister @ Guthrie

Harrison @ Blackley

Haren @ Iwakuma

Hanson @ Correia – one last shot on Hanson vs. scuffling Pirates

Cloyd @ Gorzelanny

Dickey @ Turner

Norris @ Volstad – Norris on the road vs. Volstad… could be 12-9

Bass @ Thornburg

Latos @ Carpenter

Chacin @ Corbin

Zito @ Capuano – risk/reward on both, go with the categories

All-Rookie, All-Injury and All-Fantasy Teams for 2012

FANTASY 411 SEASON RECAP CENTRAL

Hey everyone,

On the final 411 podcast of the 2012 fantasy season, Mike and Cory discussed in-depth our All-Rookie, All-Injury and All-Fantasy teams. Here are the rosters, and be sure to check out the podcast when it comes out later today.

And as always, feel free to post your opinions about these teams.

-Zach

                                                                                                                                          ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

C     Wilin Rosario
1B  Anthony Rizzo
2B  Steve Lombardozzi
SS  Zack Cozart
3B  Todd Frazier


OF  Mike Trout
OF  Bryce Harper
OF  Yoenis Cespedes
SP  Yu Darvish
SP  Wade Miley
RP  Addison Reed

ALL-INJURY TEAM

C   Wilson Ramos
1B  Lance Berkman
2B  Chase Utley


SS  Troy Tulowitzki
3B  Evan Longoria
OF  Matt Kemp
OF  Jacoby Ellsbury
OF  Brett Gardner
SP  Roy Halladay
SP  Daniel Hudson
RP  Mariano Rivera

ALL-FANTASY TEAM

C     Buster Posey
1B  Miguel Cabrera
2B  Aaron Hill (a narrow but clear edge over Robinson Cano)
SS  Jimmy Rollins (edges Ian Desmond and Jose Reyes)
3B  Edwin Encarnacion (honorable mention to Chase Headley)
OF  Mike Trout


OF  Ryan Braun
OF  Andrew McCutchen
SP  R.A. Dickey
SP  Justin Verlander (David Price the clear-cut #3)
RP  Craig Kimbrel (honorable mentions to Aroldis Chapman and Fernando Rodney)

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