Zach’s Musings (1/4)
Happy 2013 everyone,
First, here are the links to access the most recent 411 podcasts:
iTunes Audio: http://tinyurl.com/32346q8
iTunes Video: http://tinyurl.com/268r7gz
MLB.com Podcast Page: http://tinyurl.com/6xk6cx5
It’s been awhile since my last post, so there’s no shortage of fantasy-relevant signings/trades to talk about. Here’s my take on a bunch of them.
Be sure to post all of your keeper/early draft prep questions here and I’ll get back to you ASAP. With the fantasy football season now over, I’m officially in a fantasy baseball state of mind!
Nick Swisher signs with Indians for four yrs/$56 million
It took awhile for Swish to decide on a team, and all indications are that the Indians were not at the top of his wish list. But it’s highly likely that the Tribe offered him the best contract, and you can’t blame him for signing it. The chances of Cleveland contending for a postseason spot this season are minute, so it’ll be interesting to see how Swisher will handle the losing after being spoiled with the Yankees for the past four years. It’ll also be interesting to see if his overall production suffers by moving into a far weaker lineup and from a hitter’s park to a pitcher’s park. One thing to consider is that he averaged 26 homers a year during his three full seasons with the A’s, so it’s not like he can’t succeed in a pitcher-friendly environment. But this can’t be a good thing for his overall fantasy value. I’ve always appreciated Swisher for his year-to-year consistency, and he’s still a quality #3 OF in standard mixed leagues. I just won’t be targeting him as heavily as I did throughout his tenure with the Yankees.
Joel Hanrahan traded to Red Sox
This one surprised me a little at first, but the more I thought about it the more it made perfect sense. Andrew Bailey just can’t stay healthy and the Red Sox were in serious need of bullpen help. Hanrahan slides into their closer spot and Bailey along with Koji Uehara form an excellent setup duo. And if Bailey finds his way back to the DL, Boston has insurance. As for Hanrahan’s fantasy outlook, this is scary. Moving from the NL to the AL East and the pressure cooker that is Boston is a recipe for disaster. I’m a big believer in mental factors when it comes to pitchers, and this is about as unfavorable a situation as it gets. Add in the fact that his walk rate skyrocketed from 2.10 BB/9 in 2011 to 5.43 BB/9 last season and there’s not a whole lot to like about Hanrahan this year. I guess I wouldn’t mind owning him as my No. 2 closer in a mixed league, but I’m unwilling to pay top-10 closer price to draft him. And that’s almost certainly what it will take.
Cubs sign Edwin Jackson for four yrs/$52 million
After coming up short in the Anibal Sanchez sweepstakes, the Cubbies were aggressive in their pursuit of Jackson, and relatively speaking I think they did well. I mean, is Anibal really one year and 28 million bucks better than E-Jax? Nope. An ugly September (7.92 ERA) put a small damper on what was, on the whole, Jackson’s finest season in the big leagues. I’d be perfectly happy drafting him as my #4 or #5 mixed league starter. The one cause for concern though is that Wrigley Field is a very home run-friendly ballpark and Jackson served up 23 homers last season despite making 15 of his 31 starts at pitcher-friendly Nationals Park. For this reason, pitching to an ERA below 4.00 this year will be a challenge.
Francisco Liriano signs with Pirates for two yrs/$14 million
How Liriano was able to score this contract coming off two straight seasons with an ERA above 5.00 and a WHIP of at least 1.47 is beyond me, but hey, all it takes is one team to overpay. To put it simply, I’m done with this guy. Too inconsistent, too many walks, too injury-prone, too much of a headache. If you want to draft him for the strikeouts, that’s fine. Rest assured though that there’s zero chance I’ll be joining you in the bidding. The change of scenery doesn’t change much for Liriano. If you can’t throw strikes, you can’t throw strikes.
Cody Ross signs with Diamondbacks for three yrs/$26 million
Arizona’s decision to add Ross is a curious one being that they already had four starting-worthy outfielders on their roster in Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton and Gerardo Parra, so the logical assumption is that they will trade either Upton or Kubel between now and the beginning of spring training. Ross is the kind of low-cost yet fairly consistent run producer that I tend to gravitate towards in the latter rounds on draft day, and homer-friendly Chase Field is a nice landing spot for him. Don’t expect much in the batting average department, but he should have little trouble topping last season’s 22 home runs. And I wouldn’t be shocked if he makes a serious run at 30 round trippers. He offers excellent value as a fourth or fifth mixed league outfielder.
Rangers sign A.J. Pierzynski for one yr/$7.5 million
Pierzynski’s failure to net a multi-year contract is a little surprising being that he’s coming off a 27-home run season, but the reality is that he just turned 36 and some teams, including the Yankees, were reportedly wary of his defense. For fantasy purposes, A.J. could not have found a better new home than in Texas. With Geovany Soto backing him up, Pierzynski will get the bulk of the playing time behind the plate, and another 20-plus home run campaign is well within reach as long as he stays healthy. Despite his advanced age, I’d feel comfortable drafting A.J. as my #1 catcher in a mixed league should I decide to pass on the top-tier guys, which is more than likely.
Jose Veras signs with Astros for one yr/$2 million
This could turn out to be a shrewd signing for Houston as they get a potential serviceable closer for a dirt cheap price. Although his 1.51 WHIP last season and high walk rate (5.37 BB/9) are concerning, Veras did strike out well over a batter per inning while posting a sub-4.00 ERA for the third straight year. Despite having saved just five games in his career, Veras is the leading candidate to open 2013 as the Astros’ ninth inning man, and there are even incentives in his contract based on games finished. As much as I understand the “saves are saves” argument, I’d feel extremely uncomfortable drafting Veras as more than my third closer in any mixed league given his lack of experience in the stopper role and his career-long control problems.
Angels trade Kendrys Morales to Mariners for Jason Vargas
2012 turned out to be a solid bounce back season for Morales after a freak leg injury sidelined him for a year and a half. Moving to cavernous Safeco Field won’t do him any favors and he will be hitting in a far weaker lineup, so expecting him to return to the 30-plus home run level is unrealistic. But Kendrys did launch 22 homers in just 134 games last year. In a full season, 25 home runs is by no means a stretch. Add in a strong AVG and I think Morales offers a great deal of value as a starting CI in a mixed league. As for Vargas, he remains a back end of the rotation guy in deeper mixed leagues.
Indians sign Brett Myers for one yr/$7 million
Coming off an impressive 2012 campaign pitching as a full-time reliever, Myers will now return to a starting role for his new club. The good news is that Myers has, over the course of his 11-year big league career, shown the ability to succeed as both a starter and a reliever. Also, last year’s mid-season trade to the more hitter-friendly AL had no adverse effect on him as he actually posted better numbers with the White Sox than he did prior to getting dealt by the Astros. The bad news is that in 2011, Myers registered an uninspiring 4.46 ERA in his 33 starts for Houston, serving up 30 homers in the process. Then again, he is moving into a more pitcher-friendly ballpark. For 12-team mixed league purposes, I’ll classify him as Pitch or Ditch to begin the season with the potential to either become a grad or get demoted to DTM. All in all, I’d rather not ride the Brett Myers roller coaster.