December 2012

Zach’s Musings (12/17)

Hey everybody,

A brand new podcast will be available to you later today as Cory will talk in-depth about the fantasy implications of many of the notable trades/signings that have taken place since the end of the Winter Meetings. Here are the links to access the podcast when it comes out:

iTunes Audio: http://tinyurl.com/32346q8 

iTunes Video: http://tinyurl.com/268r7gz 

MLB.com Podcast Page: http://tinyurl.com/6xk6cx5

And here’s what he’ll cover:

-Josh Hamilton signs with the Angels, who also trade Jordan Walden for Tommy Hanson and sign Ryan Madson, Sean Burnett and Joe Blanton

-Rangers trade Michael Young to the Phillies

-Rays trade James Shields and Wade Davis to Royals for Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard

-Reds acquire Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald; Indians acquire Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers; Diamondbacks acquire Didi Gregorius, Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson

-Zack Greinke signs with the Dodgers

-Kevin Youkilis signs with the Yankees

And here are my thoughts on some of the recent moves that were not discussed on today’s podcast:

Ichiro Suzuki re-signs with Yankees for two years/$13 million

It sounds like the Yanks were forced to go two years on Ichiro since he had a couple of other multi-year offers on the table, but despite him being 39 years old, I don’t really have a problem with this move. Getting traded to the Yankees seemed to rejuvenate Ichiro, as he batted .322 with five homers and 14 steals in 67 games with the Bombers. While he’s not someone who I’ll be actively targeting on draft day, you can do a lot worse than Ichiro as your fourth or fifth outfielder in a standard mixed league. A .285 average with double-digit homers and 30 steals is very possible. The bottom line is that he still has something left in the tank.

Anibal Sanchez re-signs with Tigers for five years/$80 million

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Anibal fan, but this contract seems a bit excessive, don’t you think? But then again, A.J. Burnett got five years/$82.5 million from the Yankees a few years back, so maybe this isn’t so crazy. Anyway, Sanchez’s transition to the AL was by no means a disaster but we can’t say it was a seamless one as he pitched to an ERA just under 4.00 and his strikeout rate took a hit. Still, I do like him at the right price, figure a low-end #3/high-end #4 starter in 12-team mixed leagues. Some owners might get scared off by the AL factor, but he’ll be pitching in a pitcher-friendly park and U.S. Cellular is really the only hitter-friendly ballpark in the AL Central. Despite the hefty contract, I could actually see Anibal being undervalued heading into drafts.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Texas Rangers

Ryan Dempster signs with Red Sox for two years/$26.5 million

This contract could look very bad very quickly. How exactly will a 35-year-old who got lit up in his first taste of the AL (5.09 ERA, 1.43 WHIP in 12 starts for the Rangers last season) adapt to the AL East? And to Fenway Park? Sorry, I’m not touching Dempster with a ten-foot pole.

Brandon McCarthy signs with D-Backs for two years/$15.5 million

This might turn out to be a quality signing for Arizona provided that McCarthy is fully recovered from last season’s scary brain injury. McCarthy has now put together two straight stellar seasons, and the most impressive thing about him has been his impeccable control. The fact that he isn’t home run-prone will help him in his move from an extreme pitcher’s park to an extreme home run park. Don’t expect many strikeouts, but a repeat of last season’s stat line is certainly possible. He’s a viable back-end of the rotation mixed league starter.

Stephen Drew signs with Red Sox for one year/$9.5 million

I’ve never really been a big believer in Drew. Outside of his ’08 career year, he just hasn’t been anything special, and injuries have plagued him throughout the past few seasons. That said, Boston is a great place to boost your stats, provided that you stay healthy and can handle the media scrutiny. Plus, he’s still just 29 and will be extra motivated to land a new multi-year contract. While I’m not enamored with the idea of drafting Drew as my starting MI in a 12-team mixed, I reluctantly will if I have to. Seriously though, there’s definitely upside potential here.

Zach’s Musings (12/8)

Hey everyone,

A ton to cover here as the time since my last post has been jam-packed with key free agent signings and trades. In fact, it’s so much to cover that I’m splitting it into two posts. Today, we’ll look at the pitching side. Next week, we’ll talk hitters.

Also, be sure to check out our latest podcast. It’s a special Winter Meetings edition where Cory discusses a bunch of these moves in-depth. Here are the links to access the podcast:

iTunes Audio: http://tinyurl.com/32346q8 

iTunes Video: http://tinyurl.com/268r7gz 

MLB.com Podcast Page: http://tinyurl.com/6xk6cx5

Alright, let’s get to my analysis.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Angeles

Dan Haren signs with Nationals for 1 yr/$13 million

I can safely say that Haren will be on at least one of my teams next year. I love this signing and love the fact that he will be pitching with the extra motivation of both proving that he’s healthy and proving that he’s worthy of a new lucrative contract. The injury questions will significantly lower his draft day price tag but the skills are still there. Note that Haren pitched extremely well down the stretch last year, posting a 3.07 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in September. The Nats are a talented and young team that should once again be in the thick of the postseason picture and the NL East is a pitcher-friendly division. I won’t hesitate to draft Haren as my No. 2 starter in a 12-team mixed league and if I really go cheap on pitching, there are few better ace-upside gambles.

Mariano Rivera re-signs with Yankees for 1 yr/$10 million

For the first time in his career, there are legitimate questions concerning Rivera as we head into a new season. Will he be the same Rivera, the greatest closer of all time? Who knows, but I’m fairly certain that he’ll once again be a top-tier fantasy stopper. Mariano fell to the 14th round in a recent 15-team mixed industry mock draft in which I participated, and if I wasn’t looking to address other positions at that point, I would’ve gladly scooped him up before then. I usually don’t go out of my way to draft players who are returning from significant injuries, but usually it’s all about the price, and 14th round sounds good to me!

Andy Pettitte re-signs with Yankees for 1 yr/$12 million

Although a broken ankle limited him to just 12 starts last season, Pettitte proved that he can still be a highly effective big league pitcher, posting an ERA under 3.00 for the first time since ’05 while striking out nearly a batter per inning. Despite being 40 years old, I can’t see Pettitte all of a sudden falling off the map. He’s at the very least a back end of the rotation mixed league starter.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies

Tommy Hanson traded to Angels for Jordan Walden

Now this is an interesting one. Hanson’s numbers have steadily regressed since his sensational ’09 rookie campaign. Last year, his career path hit a new low as he allowed more than a hit per inning while serving up a whopping 27 homers in just 174 2/3 innings. Not to mention that he’s dealt with shoulder issues of late. That said, I would not be afraid to take a risk and draft him as my No. 4 or No. 5 starter in a 12-team mixed league if the price is reasonable. And I think there will be enough skeptics out there that the price will be very reasonable. As for Walden, his days of closing games are obviously over but he could very well emerge as the Braves’ lockdown eighth inning man. Walden struggled out of the gate last year and quickly lost the Angels’ closer job, but take a look at his end of season stat line. It’s pretty good. For fantasy purposes though, he’s strictly an NL-only option primarily as injury insurance for Craig Kimbrel owners.

Ryan Madson signs with Angels for 1 yr/$3.5 million

Madson will look to re-establish himself as one of the game’s elite relief pitchers after missing the entire 2012 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. He overcame his closer demons in 2011 as he saved 32 games for the Phillies and has recorded a sub-3.00 ERA and better than a strikeout per inning in each of his last two seasons. I expect him to do just fine as the Angels’ new stopper and view him as a high-end No. 2 mixed league closer who could easily perform like a No. 1. The only risk with drafting Madson is that there’s a slight chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day but it sounds like he’ll be good to go as long as he avoids any setbacks.

Jonathan Broxton re-signs with Reds for 3 yrs/$21 million

Broxton bounced back nicely last year following a nightmarish 2011 season, though his 6.98 K/9 rate represented a significant drop from his career mark. Still, it seems like he has learned to compensate for his declining velocity and the Reds were clearly pleased enough with his performance to offer him this new contract. Broxton’s return to Cincinnati’s bullpen will allow the club to move Aroldis Chapman into their starting rotation, an idea that sounds great but could backfire. Keep in mind that Chapman has yet to make a single big league start, so it’s not like he’s a guaranteed top of the rotation starter. Should Broxton struggle, the Reds will wish that they had left Chapman in the closer role, and don’t rule out the possibility that we’ll see Chapman saving games again at some point. It’s not likely, but it’s possible! To me, Broxton is no better than a low-end No. 2 mixed league closer.

Joakim Soria signs with Rangers for 2 yrs/$8 million

Soria is aiming for a May return as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. When he does come back, he’s expected to set up for closer Joe Nathan, giving the Rangers quite the 1-2 punch at the back end of their bullpen. For fantasy purposes, he’s merely a speculative $1 flier for AL-only leaguers.

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