Zach’s Musings (1/11)

Hey everyone,

First, 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

Writing the Relief Pitcher section for the 2013 MLB.com Player Preview, which will be coming out early next month, has helped me a lot in my own preparation, as I’ve taken the time to study more than 100 players. So I figured I’d share some of my thoughts on a few guys who I think will be undervalued on draft day and a few who I can see being overvalued.

UNDERVALUED

US PRESSWIRE Sports

Ryan Madson 

Yeah, it’s always risky to invest heavily in a guy who is coming off Tommy John surgery, but in Madson’s case I’m willing to take the risk. The reality is that I don’t think his price will be all that steep. He’s ranked as the #22 RP on the latest ESPN rankings and CBS, for the time being, has him at #20. Should Madson prove to be 100 percent healthy in spring training, I’m sure his stock will go up, but I don’t think it will rise to the level that it should. A longtime dominant setup man, Madson finally overcame his closer demons in 2011, saving 32 games for the Phillies while posting a 2.37 ERA and striking out more than a batter per inning, and the contending Angels are sure to provide him with plenty of save chances. He’s a borderline #1/high-end #2 mixed league closer who you might be able to grab for a mid to low #2 closer price. I would not be surprised if he finishes 2013 in the top-10 at the position. But if you draft him, it’s a good idea to also scoop up Ernesto Frieri in the late rounds for insurance purposes.

Sergio Romo

Although a small part of me kind of believes Bruce Bochy when he says that he will also give Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt a look in the ninth inning, a larger part of me doesn’t buy it. 2012 marked the second straight season in which Romo pitched to a sub-2.00 ERA and the third straight year that he posted a sub-1.00 WHIP. All Romo needed was the opportunity to close on a full-time basis, and towards the end of the year he got it and ran with it, going a combined 9-for-9 in save chances in August and September. Add in a career 10.68 K/9 rate and 5.77 K/BB ratio and I have little doubt that he can perform like a top-10 closer. And where is he being ranked? #18 by ESPN and outside of the top-20 by CBS. Go figure.

John Axford

There’s no way around it. Axford was a major disappointment last season following a 2011 campaign that saw him join the elite class of closers. The Brewers’ stopper had trouble keeping the ball in the yard (1.30 HR/9) and often struggled with his control. There is reason for optimism, however, as his 12.07 K/9 rate represented a significant hike from his 2011 strikeout rate. Also, Axford did finish the year on a high note, registering a 3.65 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in September. Currently ranked outside of the top-20 by both ESPN and CBS, he could be a big-time bargain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     OVERVALUED

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox

Fernando Rodney

Rodney’s 2013 outlook will surely be a hot-button topic over the coming months, and for good reason. On one hand, any pitcher who puts together the kind of season Rodney did in 2012 deserves a ton of credit. But do you really feel comfortable drafting him as your #1 closer? I don’t. Keep in mind that this is a guy who was coming off five straight seasons of an ERA over 4.00 and had posted a combined 1.55 WHIP over his previous four seasons. I don’t think you will need to pay top dollar for him, as there are plenty of doubters out there, but I honestly don’t want him at all. Well, maybe for a buck. That’s not happening though. ESPN ranking him at #14 isn’t crazy. CBS slotting him in at #6 is flat-out ridiculous!

Addison Reed

#6? Really? That’s where ESPN had Reed ranked last week (they’ve dropped him to #11 since), and it baffles me to no end. To be fair, Reed has a number of things going for him. He’s only 24 and has the stuff to thrive in the closer role. But if you owned him last season, you’re probably still dizzy from the roller coaster ride, and his brutal September (8.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP) might have cost you a league title. Although I won’t necessarily be avoiding Reed in drafts this year, there’s no way I’m taking him over, let’s see, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, J.J. Putz, Huston Street, the list goes on and on.

Drew Storen

I’d be happy to own Storen this year…just not as my #1 closer. Elbow surgery postponed his 2012 debut until mid-July, but when Storen did return he was as dominant as ever, registering a sub-3.00 ERA for the second straight season while posting a career-best WHIP. Still, he was never quite able to re-claim the Nats’ closer job from Tyler Clippard, who pitched brilliantly for most of the season. Add in Storen’s NLDS meltdown and I’m uneasy about this whole situation. Storen will likely open 2013 as the Nats’ closer but he will have little margin for error with the proven Clippard waiting in the wings.

________________________________________________________________________

As for the past week’s signings, there were only two that I consider to be fantasy-relevant:

MLB: Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks

Adam LaRoche re-signs with Nationals for two yrs/$24 million

One of the more overlooked yet consistent hitters in the game over the course of his career, LaRoche has always found a home on at least one of my teams, whether it be as a rock solid CI in a 12-team mixed league or an affordable starting 1B in an NL-only. From 2005-2010, LaRoche averaged 25 homers and 87 RBIs per season, yet he routinely lasted past the top-150 or so picks on draft day. As if he wasn’t under-appreciated enough heading into the 2011 campaign, an injury-plagued season seemed to knock him off the fantasy radar entirely entering last year. So how does he respond? By driving in 100 runs for the second time in three years and launching a career-high 33 homers. The Nats did well here as they refused to budge from their two-year offer even though LaRoche was holding out for three years. So what’s the bottom line? LaRoche remains an ultra-safe bet for 25 home runs and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he again reaches the 30-homer plateau. Oh yeah, and a strong supporting lineup will continue to provide him with plenty of RBI opportunities.

Lance Berkman signs with Rangers for one yr/$10 million

Even though it’s only a one year contract, 10 million bucks is an awful lot of dough for a 36-year-old (he’ll turn 37 next month) who is coming off an injury-ravaged season in which he was limited to just 32 games. Even without Josh Hamilton, the Rangers’ lineup remains formidable. A hitter-friendly ballpark helps, as does the fact that Berkman will serve as a full-time DH, thus limiting the risk of injury. Still though, I just can’t see myself investing too much in this guy. His current Mock Draft Central ADP of 260 is fair, and I’d probably be willing to take a flier on him at that point in the draft, which equates to the 22nd round in a 12-team mixed league. But I have a feeling that he’ll go off the board well before then in the vast majority of drafts, due in part to name recognition. If we’re talking late-teen rounds, I’d rather scoop up a younger and more exciting player.

22 Comments

I’m allowed 4 keepers in a 12 Team Rotisserie 5 x 5 with OPS & QS

I’m fairly certain about 3 picks

Beltre
Cano
Kershaw

But trying to sort out the other

Melky Cabrera
Allen Craig
Desmond Jennings
Michael Morse
Carlos Santana
Mark Trumbo
Gio Gonzalez
Carlos Gomez

Thanks for all the tips last year, looking forward to another great season.

Zach,

I’d go with Santana. After a slow start last year, he went nuts in the second half (.281-13-46) and should only get better. It’s always nice to have that big bat at the catcher position. And guess what? He’s entering his age-27 season!

Zach

Hi Zach
May I ask who your top 12 picks are ( or dare I ask, your top 24 ) for 5×5 rotisserie snake drafts? Glad you are on baseball. I am counting the days to opening day!

Jim,

My top 12:

Braun
M-Cab
Trout
Kemp
Pujols
McCutchen
Car-Go
Votto
Cano
Stanton
Fielder
Posey

Zach

In a five year keeper league, keep 5 over $5 and 8 under $5. Who are the two under $5 players that I cut?
Adam Laroche ($3)
David Freese ($5)
Dylan Bundy ($1)
Greg Holland ($2)
Kenley Jansen ($1)
Espinosa ($1)

10 team roto league btw

Ross,

In this type of league, which is basically a dynasty format, I’d cut LaRoche (age and deeper position) and, surprisingly, Bundy. He’s a very good keeper but I just like your other guys more. It typically takes starting pitchers some time to fully adjust to the big leagues, so how long will it take Bundy to develop into an impact 10-team league SP? The size of the league is important too as the waiver wire pool for SPs in a 10-teamer tends to be very deep. Even though League has been named the Dodgers’ closer for now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jansen finishes the 2013 season with more saves than him, and I still love Kenley’s long-term outlook.

Zach

Hey Goose, like the calls on Madson and Romo, Madsons a big sleeper of mine too. As for Axford though, do the Brewers have any young flamethrowers who we could see take over the closers job? Axford isn’t a lock for this year by any means, so if they have someone in reserve I’d bet they could give him a try before long.

Heard Soriano’s off to the Nats, so keeping with the closer talk, you reckon he inherits the job too? All 3 guys are pretty similar to me, so it’ll be a bit of a toss-up who gets the gig.

BB,

Jim Henderson put together a solid season last year and did save a few games, so I guess the Brewers could turn to him in the event of an Axford implosion. But I think Axford will definitely open the season as the closer and I’m pretty confident he’ll pitch well enough to hold onto the job. I’m seeing him going off the board very late in mocks to the point where you could conceivably even draft him as your third closer! As for Soriano, yes, the club has announced he’ll be their closer.

Zach

Zach,
I am so excited about this coming year of baseball I thought I would like to ask this question twice. Now before spring training and right after it to see if the answer changes due to injury or trades.
I am in a two keeper ten team league, and not sure who my two keepers should be.So I narrowed it down from 24 to the following 17 players. If I were to make my selection on points alone my two top performers would be Aaron Hill and MIke Trout , but looking over the list I think there is more involved here. Which two would you keep, and why?

Anthony Rizzo
Aaron Hill
David Wright
Ian Desmond
Pablo Sandoval
Adam Jones
Bryce Harper
Mike Trout
Justin Upton
Josh Willingham
Shin-Soo Choo
Troy Tulowitzki
Jake Peavy
Claton Kershaw
Cliff Lee
Zach Greinke
Yovani Gallardo

Herman,

Trout’s a no-brainer. He’s an undisputed top-5 overall pick and it’s hard to fault anyone who opts to take him #1. Tulo would be my other keeper choice. Yeah, he’s a health risk, but the upside and proven track record is too tremendous to ignore. He’s been drafted in the first round in all of the mocks I’ve participated in up to this point.

Zach

Big Z, what are your thoughts on Morneau next year, like him as a bounceback candidate? Some people I know disagree with me and think he’s done as a major fantasy player, but I still get the feeling he could bounceback. Didn’t own him but once healthy he seemed to find his power stroke again last year I think? And didn’t sacrificice the AVG too much.

1B is deep this year but I could see myself gambling on him mid-late as a corner guy. Think 28 homers and a solid .275 isnt out of the question. You agree? Or maybe im just crazy having owned him in some of his best years and thinking its 2007 again…

BB,

I’ve never been a huge Morneau fan (his AVG has fluctuated wildly from one season to the next, even in his prime years) but he did show last year that he still has something left in the tank. As long as the price is right, sure, I wouldn’t be afraid to draft him as my CI, but only after guys like Freddie Freeman, Ike Davis and even Adam LaRoche are off the board.

Zach

Hey Zach,
I can keep 8 in my 12 team 8×8 keeper league where we start two at each infield position (30 man roster total). Extra cats are H, OBP (no AVG), SLG, and K for hitters and ER, TB, K/BB, and QS (no W) for pitchers. Pretty sure I’m keeping the following:
Beltre (Rd 1)
Holliday (Rd 1)
Kinsler (Rd 2)
R. Zimmerman (Rd 5)
A. Dunn (Rd 12)
I need two more hitters and one pitcher from the following group:
J. Montero (Rd 25)
Seager (Rd 30)
C. Gomez (Rd 30)
Revere (Rd 30)
D. Jennings (Rd 21)
T. Frazier (Rd 30)
Napoli (Rd 8)
Archer (Rd 30)
Minor (Rd 17)
Shields (Rd 9)
Morrow (Rd 10)
Thanks for the help!
Everett

Everett,

I’d go with Montero (great value and he fills a thin position), Jennings (excellent value and I think he will improve enough in the OBP department to make this a good choice) and Minor, who was lights out in the second half last year and obviously offers a ton of upside.

Zach

Hi well I usually dont pick a pitcher til later rounds, will draft a closer 1st and seems to work well….what round would you consider a starting pitcher as I know the top 2 or 3 go early…also I like D Jennings and will pick if there around 4 or 5? When would you expect L cain to go off the boards in a 12 team league…thx

Alan,

It totally depends on how the early rounds play out but I tend to wait until the 8th or 9th round to take my first SP after drafting a closer in the 5th or 6th. I’m a big fan of Jennings this year but I doubt you’ll need to spend a 4th or 5th round pick on him, especially in a non-keeper league. I was able to draft him towards the end of the 7th round in a 15-team expert mock (#102 overall) that we’ve been conducting through e-mail over the past couple weeks, and I was thrilled to get him there! As for Cain, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he goes undrafted in some 12-team leagues as a lot of people might have forgot about him. But I haven’t and will certainly be targeting him in the late rounds. He’s one of this year’s biggest “post-hype sleepers.”

Zach

Hey Zach,

I’m excited to start another season. I am in a 10 team 5×5 roto with the standard categories where ave is replaced by obp and there is a 1500 inning limit on pitchers. It is an auction draft (standard $260 budget). I can keep 3 guys and i have shortened the list but i have very few good value guys. Who would you pick of these and would you even keep 3 at these prices?
Stanton $33
BJ Upton $14
Hamilton $20
Bumgarner $17
Gallardo $17
Marmol $4

Hamilton is the only real value gain but i am leaning towards BJ and Bumgarner for my other two. I really like Stanton but figure it is worth the gamble to get him back at worst at the same price.

Let me know what you think.
Thanks,
Vande

Vande,

I totally agree with those three. Marmol is pretty good value for $4 but he’s so erratic and I wouldn’t be surprised if the newly signed Fujikawa is saving games by May.

Zach

Zach,

I have to make an addendum to my thought process. Looking at who the other likely keepers are going to be in the league i am guessing that the following guys are going to be off the table.
Outfielders
Trout
Mccutchen
CarGo
Adam Jones
Jason Heyward
Harper
Cespedes
Choo
Rios
Willingham

SP:
Strasburg
Gonzalez
Sale

We also amended the rules this year to go from no innings limit to 1500, which should increase the value of pitchers.
Upton and Hamilton are definites for me. The toss up is now between bumgarner and Stanton. Based on the fact that so many more top level OFs are not an option should I go with the $33 for stanton as I can see that being a good value or should I stick with bumgarner as it locks in another key piece whose value could be inflated. This is our first draft coming in with keepers so I am still trying to figure out the strategy. My guess is that with everyone locking up positoins at some ridiculously low prices, Trout=$1, Harper=$1,Jones=$12,Cespedes=$1 (I have one of the highest keeper costs) they are going to throw more money at the scarce top guys remaining and hitters always go higher than pitchers. I will take any words of wisdom as I have been racking my brain on this one. basically i see it as fair value on both but figure that stanton may have a higher likelyhood of going for more if put back into the pool. Sorry for hte lengthy post. Thoughts?

Thanks,
Vande

Zach,
just a couple of early questions for you here,

What do you think Halladay will do this year? more of the 2012 Halladay or will he get back his old dominant self?
also I’m hearing alot about Bruce Rondon as a lights out possibility for closer in Detroit what are your thoughts on that?
last but not least Carl Crawford, what are your projections and in what round would you be comfortable drafting him?

thanks,
Dmenz

Dmenz,

Halladay was taken mid-6th round in our expert mock draft in progress (15 teams) behind guys like Dickey, Gio and even Latos, which is pretty good value. I probably wouldn’t draft him at that stage but if he’s hanging around beyond pick #100 and I’ve yet to draft my first SP, there are much worse “cheap ace” gambles. I have a feeling though that he won’t fall too far in most drafts, if for no other reason than name recognition.

As for Rondon, it’s always tricky to trust “lights out potential closers”, especially someone like Rondon who has yet to even throw a big league pitch, but his MILB stats certainly speak for themselves. To me, he’s an ideal #3 RP. I wouldn’t quite trust him as my second closer though.

Crawford was taken towards the beginning of the eighth round in our mock, too early in my opinion. I’m not afraid to draft anyone at the right price but I highly doubt that Crawford will come at a price to my liking. Too much of a risk at that stage of the draft.

Zach

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