Saturday, August 01, 2015

2015 Big Finishes and Slow Fades Part 2

posted by Jon Williams

The Slow Fade - there are the players I see slowing down as the season comes to a close. Not necessarily at a disastrous level but way off their first half pace

C - Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers

Grandal is a good young hitter and he has clearly benefited from the move to Dodger Stadium from Petco Park. But I think his power numbers are a bit over his head and will fade over the last two months of the season. He can hit, I just do not see him as the 25-30 homer guy his 21.2 HR/FB rate (career 16.2) makes him out to be. I do have to give him credit for the improvement in his catcher defense.

1B -  Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

Although Freeman has returned from his wrist injury quickly, I do not expect a big finish. Wrist injuries are notorious for sapping power. If I owned Freeman I would be grateful if he just stayed in the line up and hit for average. For the rest of this season I would consider any power a huge bonus.

3B - Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

I love Arenado but this is the season I expect the Rockies to finally trade off some of their more expensive players for an influx of younger talent. The result, I expect, would be a decrease in the pace of Arenado's runs and RBI. But if the Rockies sit on their hands again, you can ignore this completely. ***Since I started writing this piece the Rockies traded Tulo and there were plenty of rumors about CarGo as well.

2B - Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins

It is easy to pick on Dee Gordon here, since he clearly is unlikely to hit .330 all year. He also has a history of second half collapses. I don't think he'll lose all value in the second half but the average will drop and his stolen base total pace will slow dramatically. I blame this more on a Marlins team that has lost all reason to keep fighting more than on Gordon's skills or lack thereof. I will like him again next year.

SS - Jose Reyes, Colorado Rockies

If you are in an AL-only league you already be feeling Reyes' loss. The temptation will probably be to anticipate a huge jump in stats for Reyes playing in the thinner air around Coors Field, but Reyes has never hit well there with a .254/.259/.447 slash in just over a hundred at-bats. On top of that, Reyes is getting old and already slowing down. The prediction for one of my favorite players is that he limps to the finish this season.

OF - A. J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks

I like Pollock. I just think he's been playing over his head a bit. The power is already showing signs of fading. I think he will finish with quality season totals but the second half will not be nearly a great as the first. And I don't mean to pick on the Diamondbacks but...

OF - Yasmany Tomas, Arizona Diamondbacks

Tomas has been much better than I anticipated he would be. But he has surprised a lot of people by hitting for average without power. I'm only surprised by the average. Still, the Diamondbacks (one of the more badly run organizations in my opinion) seem to be favoring keeping David Peralta and Ender Inciarte in the lineup at Tomas's expense. And I don't see the him hitting .300 in the second half.

OF - Carlos Gomez, Houston Astros

Gomez is already having a down season but with the trade there seems to be a lot of speculation that merely being an Astro will transform him back into the All-Star of the last few seasons. Despite the Mets horrible track record with diagnosing injuries, I find it easy to believe he is playing through injury given his down power and speed this season. Just because he is able to play does not mean he is truly healthy.

SP - Lance McCullers, Houston Astros

McCullers has been great and I think he has an awesome future but the Astros want to control his innings count and have added arms that will allow them to push him to the

CL - Jeurys Familia, New York Mets

He already has a few second half blown saves and now the Mets have brought in Tyler Clippard. I think the Mets will stick with him but Clippard is almost certain to steal chances from him.


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Sunday, July 26, 2015

2015 Big Finishes and Slow Fades

posted by Jon Williams

Whether you are in contention or rebuilding, the player movement around the trade deadline is bound to be of interest. The contending teams are hoping to see big names changing leagues while the re-builders are hoping that some fresh young talents find new roles on new teams while they can still be had cheaply. But as fantasy owners we can not count on MLB owners and general managers to create the influx of talent we are all hoping to see. We are forced to make the best of what is already available and that is the focus of today's article.

The Big Finish - these are the players I see as likely to be better down the stretch than they may have been in the first half of the season.


C - John Jaso, Tampa Bay Rays

Jaso was hurt on the first day of the 2015 season and didn't player again until just a couple of weeks ago. He is already off to a hot start. Jaso hits for average with only occasional power but for a catcher (where he still qualifies in most leagues) he is an excellent hitter.

1B - Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox

The White Sox offense has been embarrassingly bad this season after making some big moves over the winter months in hopes of putting a contender on the field. Instead most of the White Sox young players have disappointed or crashed altogether. Abreu has had a fine season thus far, though not on the blistering pace of 2014. There have been signs of the White Sox breaking out of their team-wide slump and I think a big finish for the entire team is in the cards. When they do, Abreu will be right in the middle of it.

3B - Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

Bogaerts has had a strong season thus far but I think it gets even better from here. While Bogaerts has been working on making better contact, he is also starting to hit the ball harder and I think we're about to see a power surge. He also has the speed to do more on the bases than he has thus far, though that may not be part of the game plan.

2B - Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners

After an extremely slow start, Cano is finally cranking like an MVP should. Over the last three weeks he has hit .314/.368/.600 with five homers 15 runs and 14 RBI. You can probably get him on the
cheap from a disappointed owner out of the running.

SS - Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies

Hernandez was a decent infield prospect a few years back but has always been blocked by the Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley legacy. Now that Rollins is a Dodger and Utley's performance and health has declined to the replaceable level, Hernandez is getting his shot. Ruben Amaro has already made it clear that the job is Hernandez's to lose for the rest of the season. He is hitting for average and stealing bases. He is still available in a lot of leagues.

OF - Matt Kemp, San Diego Padres

After the first two months of the season it would be easy to call Kemp a bust in San Diego and the deal that brought him there a horrible one fot the Padres (and they may still be true). Howver, Kemp has looked a lot like Kemp since June 1st. I bet you can get him for a song from his non-contending owners.

OF - Michael Conforto, New York Mets

Conforto is not the strongest or the fastest prospect in the Mets system but he was their best prospect because he works and the Mets can be confident he will continue to work to be the best player he can possibly be. He should hit for average with decent power this season. I think he is destined to be a Mets favorite for the next decade.

OF - Odubel Herrera, Philadelphia Phillies

Odubal Herrera has already had a solid season in limited at-bats. As the Phillies trade off veteran bats, expect Herrera's playing time to increase and his stats to improve with more consistent at-bats. The former Mid-West league betting champ could become a .300 hitting, gold-glove worthy center fielder with 40 steal speed in the very near future.

SP - Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

Hamels is expected to be on the move soon. Returning to a contender should be the spark that pushes Hamels back into the top tier of major league starters. The no=hitter certainly won't hurt his trade value.

SP - Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians

Carrasco has had a solid season marred by some bad luck. The bullpen has let him down to a certain extent and his BABIP against has soared this season to a fairly ridiculous .341 which should fall steadily if there is any justice in the world. His 2.89 FIP tells the story.

SP - Jeff Samardzija, Chicago White Sox

A poor start to the season and an under performing lineup have been a bad combination for Samardzija owners. But of late he is pitching well and I think the opportunity to play for a contender down the stretch and build value for his upcoming free agency will drive him forward.

MR - Kevin Seigrist, St. Louis Cardinals

Unless disaster strikes Trevor Rosenthal, Seigrist is unlikely to gain a closer role this season. But the Cardinals are winning so much and Seigrist has been so good that he is a worthy pickup in any league. He will probably add another half dozen saves down the stretch of the Cards keep winning.

MR - Ken Giles, Philadelphia Phillies - Giles is not perfect, he still walks a few too many and his BABIP is high. But Giles is the clear next-in-line as closer for the Phillies when Papelbon is traded.

CL - Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies

Papelbon has had another very good season on a lousy team. He has been adamant amount moving on to a contending team and the Phillies seem likely to grant his wish. Papelbon's value should only improve on a better team.

Bonus Prospects to Watch:

Corey Seager SS Los Angeles Dodgers - The consensus best prospect still in the minors is ready.

Hector Olivera 3B Los Angeles Dodgers - Olivera just needs to stay healthy and Justin Turner slows down.

Ketel Marte SS Seattle Mariners - A potential stud shortstop with a real bat needs to stay healthy and a shot will come.

Luis Severino SP New York Yankees - The Yankees best prospect is ready for the big leagues.

Robert Stephenson SP Cincinnati Reds - He is still developing but should get an opportunity if the Reds trade off their impending free agents.

Derek Law RP San Francisco Giants - His recovery from TJS seems to be complete and he could be a dominate reliever down the stretch.

Carl Edwards RP Chicago Cubs - He still walks too many but if the Cubs are still in it down the stretch he could be a big arm in the bullpen.



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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hot Stove Junkie: The Late Edition

posted by Jon Williams
Finally, we are up to date with the Winter Transactions. You should see a post every Sunday regarding the week's transactions and their impact on our fantasy game. As the transactions slow, Sundays will feature articles on strategy, mock draft results and expert league draft results. In January  you should see the first of a series of team previews for every team, I already have the skeleton for most of these done. The plan is to release one every other day for the following ten weeks or so with player features on alternate days. This would take us through the third week of March and finish just in time for most draft days.

See you in the comments section.

Jon



The Braves Trade Evan Gattis to the Astros

I honestly did not think the Braves would trade Evan Gattis despite all the rumors to the contrary. I knew the Braves were re-building but I thought the opportunity to get Gattis full time at-bats in left field would actually be appealing to the Braves. Now I am forced to believe they did not ever intend to keep Gattis when they could trade him for a package of prospects while his value to another team was still high due to his years of control and massive power potential.

There is a tendency among the sabermetric crowd to look down on players that do not draw walks and produce high on-base percentages. But Gattis was about average at getting on base in 2014 and when he finds a regular role in the Astros lineup and receives everyday at-bats his on-base percentage is likely to rise based on his extreme power and the tendency of most pitchers to avoid it. In a full season with say 550 at-bats, Gattis could easily hit 30-plus homeruns. Left field in Minute Maid Park is not huge and probably the perfect place for the kind of outfielder Gattis is (a bat without a position). He could also see time at first base assuming the Astros send Singleton back to the minors. Whatever spot he lands in I expect to see him in the lineup everyday. Gattis is a 20 dollar player for me and probably gets a few dollars more than that in most leagues since El Oso Blanco is both popular and powerful.

In return for Gattis the Braves receive three prospects.





The Tampa Bay Rays Trade Ben Zobrist to the Oakland Athletics

The Rays, Athletics and Braves have all made lots of similar deals this season - trading away some of their best and most popular players for greater depth at both the major league and minor league level. And yet all three teams have held on to very good and deep rotations and seem to plan on fielding competitive teams.

At this point Ben Zobrist looks like the starting second baseman for the A's. This could obviously change as GM Billy Beane has made move after move in a record-setting offseason of transactions(nine trades, 27 players and counting). Zobrist should have an above average batting average with 10-plus homers and 10-plus stolen bases. He had a short run of 20-plus homer seasons but those days seem to be past. I expect that no matter what his position he will bat near the top of the A's lineup and score a ton of runs. Zobrist is a 20 dollar player the last few seasons and I think he has another few seasons at that level.

The Rays Side of the Deal

The Rays received catcher/designated hitter John Jaso (who they developed and traded not so long ago), the A's number one prospect - shortstop Daniel Robertson, and center field prospect Boog Powell. Jaso is recovering from a spat of injuries in 2014 including a concussion. He is a decent hitter when healthy but not a impact player for fantasy purposes. Robertson is the real target of the trade from the Rays perspective, he should be an above average hitter at shortstop with decent power and a few stolen bases. Powell gets on base but that is probably his only real skill.

Jaso is probably worth a buck or two in an only league. The concussion problems make him a risk I would rather avoid. The Rays will probably use him mostly as a DH and very rarely behind the plate. I would definitely use a minor league pick on Robertson but while he is a nice prospect he is not a stud, sure-thing type. Powell I would not bother with unless it was a deep Dynasty League and there was just no one with speed or power left to draft.

The Rays recently signed Asdrubal Cabrera which confused many watchers since the Rays did in fact have Zobrist, Escobar and Nick Franklin in their middle infield competition. It makes a lot more sense now. The Rays have confirmed that Cabrera will be their starting shortstop and Nick Franklin the second baseman. I would definitely invest a few bucks in Nick Franklin. 

Did the Nationals Add a Second Baseman or a Shortstop?

The A's were forced to take Yunel Escobar in the Zobrist deal and the A's immediately traded him to the Washington Nationals for top tier set-up man Tyler Clippard. The Nationals can use Escobar at second base which has been a problem for them. But Escobar was not good last season and I feel certain that the Nats will allow Dan Uggla (now recovered from his oculomotor dysfunction) and Dan Espinosa to compete for the job.There were some hints that Escobar dogged it on defense but there is no real way to substantiate those kind of claims but it is telling that one of the better defense shortstops rated as one of the worst in 2014. The Nationals own his rights for the next three seasons and rumors of Ian Desmond being on his way out of town are rampant. I seriously doubt that Washington would move Desmond as long as they are contending but I was wrong about Gattis, so... I would probably spend in the high single digits for Escobar's bat if I missed out on the higher ceiling options. 

The Athletics Bullpen Looks Really Good

Tyler Clippard is one of my favorite players and I've owned him almost every season of his career. He gets an elite level of innings and strikeouts for a reliever. His durability is a major part of his value. He allows a ton of fly balls, a good percentage of them are of the infield variety but playing in the Oakland football stadium with their great defensive outfielders could allow Clippard to be at his very best. Clippard has been worth 10-12 dollars even without getting more than the occasional save.

The San Francisco Giants Signed OF Nori Aoki 

Nori Aoki is a quality player. He gets on base, he plays good defense, he contributes on the bases and he hits for average. Fantasy owners will not like the lack of power but just like the San Francisco Giants, you take your production where you can get it. Aoki has been a 20 dollar player the last few years and I see no reason that would not continue in San Francisco.

The Giants are More Saber-Savy Than They Let On

The Padres Jose Valverde to Minor League Deal

Jose Valverde throws the ball hard but has not been a very good closer. He pitched for the Mets in 2014 but was not very good and was eventually released. I assume he is just depth for the Padres bullpen which is already pretty good. Not worth an investment for fantasy purposes. 

The Pittsburgh Pirates Close to Agreement with Korean SS Jung-ho Kang

This is an interesting move for the Pirates. We have very little idea what we can expect from Jung-ho Kang in MLB. The KBO is definitely a hitter's league. Some compare it to the California League. Still, Kang's numbers are far above the league's average level and that does bode well for his statistics in MLB. My hunch is he would be a slightly above average major league hitter. If he can stay at shortstop that is a fantasy asset if he gets the at-bats, which is another big question. It looks like he will begin the season as a utility player getting frequent at-bats at multiple positions. Neal Huntington specifically mentioned third base which has to make you worry about Josh Harrison a bit. Still the supposed bench role should keep his price low. I'd gamble a few bucks on him.

The Angels and Braves Swap Prospects 

The Angels acquired third base prospect Kyle Kubitza as depth at third base to protect them from David Freese's impending free agency and their lack of a reasonable option in the farm system. In return the Braves get 17-year old Ricardo Sanchez. Sanchez has a lot of upside potential but is probably several years from having a major league impact. I would not go out of my way to acquire either player at this point but both are probably worth minor league picks.

The White Sox Sign Emilio Bonafacio

Emilio Bonafacio was signed to act as a super utility player. He should get something close to regular starter at-bats but will play multiple positions over the course of the season. Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson will still battle for the second base job. As the article linked suggests their leash just got a bit shorter. Bonafacio should receive in the neighborhood of 400 at-bats and hit for an average batting average (.250-.260) with 25-30 stolen bases. The power will not make much impact, though he does have some pop in his bat. He is a 10-15 dollar player most seasons and that is a safe place to draft him.

The Reds Acquire Marlon Byrd 

The Cincinnati Reds completed the last trade of the 2014 season when they sent minor league starter Ben Lively to the Philadelphia Phillies for veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd and half of his 2015 salary. Marlon Byrd took a losing time to become a productive major leaguer and never actually became the big star he was once projected to be. But Byrd kept working at it and has been a solid role player for several teams and even earned full-time at-bats the last few years.

Great American Ball Park is a good hitting environment for right-handed power just not as good as Citizens Bank Park according to StatCorner.com park factors. However, if Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips are healthy and Devin Mesoraco continues his development at the plate, the Reds have the far superior lineup.  Byrd's primary selling point is 20-homer power. His speed has evaporated and while he is not a disaster at the bat, his batting average is not likely to be a major asset, expect something around the major league average or slightly better and you won't go wrong. Byrd has been a 20 dollar player in three of the last five seasons. I think he has another good year in him playing for the Reds. He is 37-years old so a decline can be expected but his work ethic and conditioning are at such a high level that I do not expect a sudden cliff this coming season. I would feel comfortable bidding in the 15-20 area.

It has little relevancy to fantasy baseball but I thought this quote from Reds manager Bryan Price said a lot about the Reds and how their management team thinks: (From Mark Sheldon)
“It’s one of those things that just stand out,” Price said. “What the intangibles are beyond the productivity in a particular role. Those to me are always on display for guys who never shut it down. There are a lot of guys that can play hard when things are going well and swinging the bat well or pitching well. There’s a certain energy that emanates from that player. The guys that stand out as true professionals are the guys that continue to play at that high of a level of intensity and aggressiveness and effort when they’re not playing well or their team is not winning consistently. I always noticed that about Marlon that it didn’t matter the circumstances. He played the game hard and he played it the right way.”
This move pretty much guarantees that the Reds top prospect Jesse Winker will spend most of 2015 in the minors. It could even delay his full season debut until 2017 if Byrd has enough at-bats to earn the one-year vesting option on his contract.

What Happened to Joey Votto's Power?

The Philadelphia Phillies add another advanced pitching prospect. Ben Lively pitched at Double-A in 2014 and could impact the Phillies at some point in 2015. He uses four solid slightly above average pitches headlined by the fastball and the slider. He complements his deep arsenal of pitches with very good control. He has a deceptive delivery that allowed him to finish this season second in the minor leagues in strikeouts with 171 in just 151 innings pitched. Scouts label him a mid-rotation starter but he may beat that projection. In his pro career Lively has thrown 192 innings with a 2.58 ERA and 227 strikeouts. He is more finesse than power but I really like this kid. I would invest a minor league pick on him. He reminds me of Doug Fister in a way.

The Phillies have been slow to part with their pricey veterans but they have done a very good job getting back quality prospects that should be able to help them sooner than later.If they manage to get similar returns for Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard (I don't see either moving until close to the trade deadline, as they need to build up some faith in their remaining skills) Ben Revere and closer Jon Papelbon, you can make a case for holding onto Cole Hamels.

In a couple of years without guessing on the return for their other players, this could look like the core of a team close to contention again:

SS J.P. Crawford
3B Maikel Franco
LF Domonic Brown
CF Roman Quinn
SP Cole Hamels
SP Aaron Nola
SP Ben Lively
SP Tom Windle
RP Joely Rodriguez
RP Ben Giles

The Phillies just need to draft better and maybe make better contract decisions. Johnny Almaraz, the new scouting director who did similar work for the Braves and Rangers should help with the draft aspect of the re-build. The Phillies have enough financial resources that there is no reason they can't rebuild in a fashion similar to the Boston Red Sox who have gone through a rebuilding of sorts over the last few years without ever completely giving up on playing competitive baseball.

Pat Gillick as the interim CEO should (and I believe already does) have an impact on many of GM Ruben Amaro's decisions. I do not believe the Phillies would be committing to the re-build without Gillick's influence.For a few years at least the Phillies need to concentrate on players they can acquire without sacrificing picks or financial flexibility. They should spend as much as possible on international amateur talent - acquiring prospects in bulk rather than going too nuts on any prospect in particular. They should only lay out major cash for players that are going to be part of their long term plans.

But the Phillies should also use some of that financial advantage to sign as many veteran major leaguers as possible to one or two year deals. Then take a page from the Cubs book and trade those veterans at the trade deadline if they are not in spitting distance of a playoff spot. This has the dual benefit of putting at least an interesting team on the field to keep attendance and television ratings from plummeting while also giving them players they can continue to move to build young minor league depth.  Even now they could sign players such as Emilio Bonafacio, Everth Cabrera, Wandy Rodriguez, Chris Young, Brian Wilson or Joe Thatcher. Any of these guys could be had on a relatively cheap one-year contract and have value to a contender at the deadline. Add the possible return for their remaining veterans to this idea and the Phillies minor league depth could explode very quickly.

The Rockies Sign Catcher Nick Hundley

Michael McKendry can hit a little and if he ever earned even half of a starting role he would qualify as a sleeper in my book. He is strong in traditional catcher defense but he is a below average pitch framer.I have no interest in Nick Hundley for fantasy purposes but you can probably do worse as a one dollar catcher...probably.

10 Questions for the Colorado Rockies

OLD NEWS: the rest of this is mostly links to coverage of stuff so old I no loner feel like writing about it and some writing about the Padres. Most of this will be covered in the team previews I have been working on and which should debut soon. 

The Yankees Trade Veterans Prado and Phelps for Youth

Thinking Positive On Nathan Eovaldi


The Yankees Trade Manny Banuelos to the Braves

How Chasen Shreve Got His Groove Back

Who is Chasen Shreve?

The Yankees Also Traded Shawn Kelley to the Padres

The Yankees Unusual Off-Season

The Cubs Sign Chris Denorfia

The Dodgers Sign Starter Brett Anderson

The Royals Sign Edison Volquez

The Marlins Trade Casey McGehee to the Giants

The Royals Trade Johnny Giavotella to the Los Angeles Angels

I have always liked Johnny Giavotella and felt he never received a real opportunity to show what he could do in the majors. Stupid Ned Yost... (/Homer Voice)

Gavin Floyd Signs With the Cleveland Indians

After Tommy John Surgery robbed him of his 2013 season Gavin Floyd came back very successfully with the Atlanta Braves in 2014. He looks like a clear member of the rotation to me. His potential 10 million dollar deal has six million in incentives added to a four million dollar base. For the Indians this is a lot of money. They obviously liked what they saw from him in Atlanta, a lot, since they already had 6-7 intriguing rotation candidates. He looked like a slightly better than average starting pitcher in nine 2014 starts, inducing ground balls at a nice rate with a decent strikeout rate. Yep, he was doing well until breaking a bone in his elbow and validating his injury prone label. Surgery was performed soon after and most reports indicate he should have a normal offseason and come into Spring Training like everyone else. He will be worth more in a AL-only league but he still smells like an endgame buy to me. Even if you think he came back from TJS better than ever, the consistent injury history should reduce his price to the 1-5 dollar area. If he manages to stay healthy there is potential profit at that price range.

The Pirates Sign Corey Hart 

Hart has been an excellent player when healthy but he has not been healthy the last couple of seasons. The Pirates are making a good buy-low decision while adding insurance at first base should Pedro Alvarez prove less than worthy of full-time at-bats. Hart should play against most lefty starters in any case. 

The San Diego Padres

The Padres Acquire 2013 ROY Wil Myers 

The Tampa Bay Rays received catcher Rene Rivera, right-hander Burch Smith and first base prospect Jake Bauers from San Diego and outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and minor league left-hander Travis Ott from Washington in return for Myers, catcher Ryan Hanigan and minor league pitchers Jose Castillo and Gerardo Reyes.The Nationals received pitcher Joe Ross and a player to be named later, widely believed to be shortstop Trea Turner, the Padres’ first pick in last June’s draft.

The Padres GM A.J. Preller is taking a page out of Fantasy Baseball for Sharks and zigging when they zag.With so many teams looking at the Royals pitching and defense as the model for the new low offense era, Preller is sacrificing defense in the name of brutal, overwhelming amounts of power and hopefully that leads to a ton of runs scored. That said, I think the talk of how awful the Padres defense will be is being overstated.

Matt Kemp is not a good center fielder but he has had seasons where he appeared to be at least tolerable. He had one year where by the numbers he was actually a fair center fielder. In right field, where he is projected to play for the Padres, Kemp has been a tolerable outfielder. I think with time he will actually be a good right fielder. I think you have to give Kemp the benefit of the doubt for his defense in 2014 (which was rated as truly horrid) as he was clearly getting his legs under him after knocking off a couple of years of rust. If you check out the link on his name above you'll see that he was horrible in center, bad in left field and not great in right field. But if you think about it this mirrors his progression throughout the season with the bat as well. He finished the season as almost passable in right field as his bat was cranking as you would expect from the former MVP. With another normal offseason I think the bat will justify the slightly below average  or better defense.

Will Myers came through the minors as first a catcher and then transitioned to outfielder to rush his bat to the major leagues. In his short career so far he has been just okay in the outfield, mostly in right field. He has the youngest and freshest leagues so it makes some sense that he would be the one to move to center field. He is excited by it judging by interviews I've seen since the trade. I would love to see the Padres move him to first base and let one of the real center fielders man the position but they do not listen to me. But for fantasy owners the big question is about the bat. The wrist injury pretty clearly had an impact and those types of injuries can impact a player's hitting even after being judged healthy. I happen to think he will bounce back just fine. In the minors he showed he could make adjustments and hit for average and power. I do not think we have seen the best of Myers just yet. That said, he does hit too many ground balls to expect a big power surge and moving to Petco Park is not going to help. He is still quite young and I would bid cautiously in the 15-18 dollar area, maybe a few bucks more in a keeper league.

The Padres Also Trade Prospects For Atlanta's Justin Upton

In return the Braves receive a haul of prospects: left-handed starting pitcher Max Fried, infielders Jace Peterson and Dustin Peterson (no relation), and outfielder Mallex Smith. The Braves also send minor league pitcher Aaron Northcraft to the Padres, and receive an international bonus slot, valued at $182,300, from San Diego. The Padres get another power hitter in Upton.

Justin Upton increased his hard contact last season and looks like he could mash 30-plus homers easily in most parks That seems tough to do in Petco but I still think he will hit 25-plus homers. He has been a mid-20's player in dollar value. I like him in that area again. I think it is risky to bid 30-plus when he is moving to Petco park this season.

The Braves Trade and Receive a Younger Version of Anthony Varvaro

The Padres Also Acquire All-Star Catcher Derrek Norris

Who is Josh Phegley?

Then the Padres Flipped Ryan Hannigan to Boston for Will Middlebrooks

The Red Sox Trade Their Top Prospects A Lot

The Padres Trade Seth Smith to the Mariners

Spin Rates Indicate Sleeper Value for Maurer

But David Ross Decided on the Cubs

Other Articles of Interest to Fantasy Owners

Building A New Starting Pitcher Ranking Stat

A Follow-up Post on Arsenal Score

Three Things The Red Sox Will Do For Rick Porcello

10 Breakout Pitcher Picks

10 Breakout Hitter Picks 

Jon Niese Changing It Up 

The 2016 HOF Class Features "The Kid"

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Friday, January 02, 2015

The Baseball Blogger Alliance HOF Recommendations

posted by Jon Williams
Seven players from the 2014 Baseball Writers of America ballot were recommended for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame by the members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance on Friday.
Given the backlog of quality players on the ballot, this year the BBA adopted the plan suggested by St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Derrick Goold of a binary ballot.  Each player on the ballot was given a yes or no vote by the BBA voters and those receiving over 75% were then recommended.
With this format, pitcher Randy Johnson received 100% of the vote while pitcher Pedro Martinez was close behind at 95%.  Others that topped the 75% mark were catcher/second baseman/outfielder Craig Biggio (90%), pitcher John Smoltz (89%), catcher Mike Piazza (85%), first baseman Jeff Bagwell (77%) and outfielder Tim Raines (77%).
Those that just fell short of the mark were designated hitter Edgar Martinez (71%) and pitcher Curt Schilling (68%).
The rest of the voting was as follows:
Mike Mussina 67%
Barry Bonds 65%
Roger Clemens 63%
Alan Trammell 53%
Jeff Kent 44%
Gary Sheffield 38%
Larry Walker 37%
Fred McGriff 33%
Mark McGwire 33%
Don Mattingly 31%
Lee Smith 31%
Sammy Sosa 23%
Carlos Delgado 19%
Nomar Garciaparra 13%
Cliff Floyd 4%
Brian Giles 4%
Rich Aurilia 3%
Darin Erstad 3%
Troy Percival 3%
Aaron Boone 1%
Jason Schmidt 1%
Jermaine Dye 0%
Tom Gordon 0%
Eddie Guardado 0%
Using this binary method, only 13% turned in a ballot with less than 10 names selected. 40% turned in a ballot with 15 or more names selected, with a high of 20.
The official website of the BBA is located at baseballbloggersalliance.wordpress.com.
 The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba.  For more information, contact Niko Goutakolis at baseballbloggersalliance@gmail.com.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Hot Stove Junkie: Over Dose at the Winter Meetings!

posted by Jon Williams
The Winter Meetings seem like an eternity of moves ago at this point. But the impact of these moves is still being evaluated as these moves have been followed by even more moves. This is the second post about the moves of the last couple of weeks and my third version of this article due to some stupid glitch with my save function. Yes, it is agonizing, thanks for asking. Not as many links as usual because honestly I did not save them and I do not feel like searching for them again. The next post will include the most recent moves as of this weekend and I will finally be up to date.

Your Pal 

Jon

Dee Gordon and Dan Haren Traded to the Miami Marlins

There has been a lot of pessimism expressed online regarding Dee Gordon's ability to be a even a productive  player going forward and even the most optimistic views often suggest that Gordon might be okay hitting at the end of the lineup rather than leading off. The silly part is a lot of this is based almost entirely on Gordon's second half walk rate and slumping down the stretch. Gordon had a very long season. He played winter ball before the season, and then came into the 2014 season fighting for a job. This was his first full season in MLB. He had a career high in plate appearances after the shortest offseason of his career. Fatigue is a bitch.

The Steamer Projections I see quoted often do not give Gordon any credit for his minor league and career babip levels. Gordon bunts for hits and uses his speed to great advantage and that has almost always led to higher than average babip levels. He also takes walks. No, he isn't the African American God of Plate Patience but he is not some ultra aggressive three percent walk guy either. Gordon was a good prospect who almost always performed well in the minors. His major league debut in 2011 was fantastic which made the 87 game audition in 2012 look all the worse. He went back to the minors in 2013 and rocked it. He fought back to the majors in 2014 and he rocked it. I am betting he rocks it in 2015 as well. He was a 40 dollar player in 2014. Even if you expect quite a bit of regression, the anticipating playing time alone should make him worth 25 or so. I bid 30 without a problem.

The Dodgers were dumping Dan Haren and the Marlins were only too happy to accept the possibility of adding him to their rotation for free. If he retires they use the money to sign a first baseman or a different veteran starter.he's probably a safe pick at 5-8 dollars, assuming he doesn't retire.

What the Marlins Gave Up

What shocked me most about this deal is that the Dodgers were the ones trading for prospects. In fact they paid the entire salary of both Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to the Marlins (and they get this money even if Haren decides not to play). The prize prospect of the group was Andrew Heaney. The Dodgers also received Enrique Hernandez, Austin Barnes and Chris Hatcher.

Andrew Heaney projects as a solid mid-rotation starter and some evaluators see him as a potential front-line starter. He has a solid low to mid-90's fastball and two other solid pitches. He should excel in a pitcher's park in front of a good defensive team. Though that will not be with the Dodgers, as you probably know by now. He will probably cost you more than I would be willing to pay for a rookie starter in an AL-Only league but given a full shot I think he will be at least league average this season for a pretty good team. He'll get wins to go with solid strikeouts.

Enrique Hernandez is a 24-year old who can take a walk and has a strong contact rate. He does not have much power or speed but looks like he could become a decent role player or lower tier starter at second base. He might have been a solid $1-3 sleeper in NL-only leagues with the Marlins. If he remains a Dodger he will be a reserve at best and unlikely to get enough at-bats to give him value in most fantasy leagues.

Austin Barnes has split time in the minors between catcher and second base. His offense looks nice, really nice. He walks a lot. He makes excellent contact and has solid power (even if he is not really a homerun hitter) and has more speed than the average catcher. If nothing else he should be a solid and versatile reserve for the Dodgers at some point and that moment could be relatively close. I'd take him as a one-dollar second catcher in a deep NL-Only.

Chris Hatcher will be 30-years old soon but does not have a ton of major league experience. He did however have an excellent season in the Marlins bullpen in 2014. He was a catcher until the 2011 season when he switched to pitching. He has a good arm and I see him becoming a valuable piece of the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen which needed some more depth. He isn't likely to have a ton of fantasy value but if Jansen went down with an injury it would not shock to see him as a closer possibility.

Despite some underrating of Dee Gordon, I don't think anyone would argue this isn't a pretty good haul of prospects for him. Andrew Friedman was known for building his rosters from the bottom out in Tampa Bay. It was very important to him that he had strong reserves and depth in place and obviously the Dodgers are adopting that philosophy as well.

Then the Dodgers shipped Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick.

Howie Kendrick is a good player. He never developed into the batting champion that some saw in his future as a prospect but he hits for a solid average. He has solid but unspectacular power. He runs well but is not a prolific base stealer. He plays strong defense at second base. His game should not change much in the move to Dodger Stadium. I have a hunch he'll bat second in the lineup behind Carl Crawford so they can keep Yasiel Puig in more of an RBI spot. He is a 25 dollar player.


Rutledge is not that good. He received a certain amount of hype in Colorado but the 20/20 potential once thought possible for him never materialized and playing in Colorado didn't help. If he only managed a few dollars of value in Colorado how much will he be worth in Angel Stadium? Not enough for me to bid on him. He and Grant Green can battle it out for most useless starting middle infielder in fantasy. 

They Love This Trade in Colorado
Jairo Diaz is a Potential Closer for the Rockies

Diaz throws the ball hard! He seemed to put it together at Double-A in 2014. He has three solid pitches so I guess the potential to start is still there but he has the potential to be a devastating closer and the Rockies do not have an established closer of the future at this point. The strikeouts will be there, if the control sticks around he will be extremely popular this time next year. I plan to invest. I would not hesitate to spend 5-8 in keeper leagues, at the right time in an auction I could see going a few dollars further but not too much more than that.  

Brandon McCarthy Signs with the Dodgers

Brandon McCarthy is a very good pitcher when healthy. He has solid control and induces ground balls. He isn't an amazing strikeout artist but he gets the job done. The biggest issue he has is with health. He and the Dodgers seems to believe that a workout regimen has solved the shoulder issues, though his owners will need to hope his luck improves as well. Not just so that his results are closer to his skills but so that he can avoid balls to the face and other accidents of fate. Typically he has not been very valuable for fantasy purposes (usually less than 10 bucks) but his second half showed what could happen if the skills and results converge. I think the 10-15 area is a fair gamble but that embraces quite a bit of risk. 


Is Brandon McCarthy the Next Jason Schmidt?

Matt Kemp and Tim Ferderowicz were Traded to the San Diego Padres

Matt Kemp suffered through a couple of years of injuries to his shoulder, hamstrings and ankles before finally regaining his mojo during the second half of the 2014 season. Although he is clearly the best of the Dodgers offensive weapons when healthy, the new Dodgers management had a problem with his defense. Kemp has never been rated as a good center fielder (by the stats I mean) but there was a point not that long ago where you could probably project him as a solid defender on an outfield corner. This was not the case in 2014 but as his legs get back into shape and he is able to resume his workout routine I do not believe it is ridiculous to project him as a tolerable defender (or even better) on one of the corners. I mention the defense because there is a lot of talk about how bad the Padres outfield defense will be. I think that is being overstated a bit. (more on this on the next report - coming soon)


But for fantasy purposes I think the bat is back and minus the stolen bases I believe we will see Kemp's MVP form. If we could project his second half out to a full season he would be a clear first round pick. He walks enough. He may not walk more than he strikes out but that is not necessary. His career eight percent walk rate is just fine. This is especially true because Kemp has a career .292 batting average and .349 OBP with a career wRC+ of 128, and this is even with the lousy injury years included. His wRC+ was 140 in 2014 and that was with a lousy first half. In the low offense era his bat is worth even more. You can count on a good to great batting average and 20-25 homeruns. I have a hunch he will hit more homers but going from Dodger Stadium to Petco Field is a huge decline in hitting environment, especially as far as right-handed power is concerned. I would spend 25 on him in an NL-only without hesitation but I would not bid over 30 due to the park factors and injury history.

A Look at Matt Kemp's Defense

The Change to Kemp's Batting Mechanics

Tim Ferderowicz has been around a while but with little opportunity to play in the major leagues. He is just 27 years old and has a reputation as a solid defensive catcher who is also a patient line drive hitter at the plate. As a pitch framer however he is mediocre at best depending on which measures you use. Given the chance to play he would probably be a fantasy asset with his bat and would not hurt a pitching staff despite not receiving the bonus points that pitch framing provides. He projects as the major league back-up for the Padres and should receive more at-bats than he did with the Dodgers the last few years. I like him for a buck or two in the end game and probably qualifies as a sleeper given his length of service without fantasy value.

Yasmani Grandal hits well for a catcher with nice power but not much batting average (in the majors, he did hit for average in the minors so there is the potential for better). He takes walks and makes decent contact by modern standards anyway. He has been a pretty lousy defensive catcher by traditional standards but has been a solid pitch framer which is likely part of the appeal for the Dodgers. If he starts at catcher he should be a popular fantasy option. I am not as ready to declare him the Dodgers starting catcher as some seem to be. Pitch Framing is important but it isn't everything. He is probably a 10-15 dollar player in keeper leagues but I do not have much faith in his ability to keep a job as a starting catcher.The way Andrew Friedman has built his teams tells me he values having strong reserves and Grandal could back up at catcher and first base. The Dodgers front office may not think much of Ellis but they could look to add a more established catching option with both the pitch framing and traditional defensive skills for the position. Jason Castro comes to mind.

The Dodgers Continue to Re-Work Their Catching Depth

Joe Wieland projects as a back-end starter or decent relief pitcher in the major leagues. He was terrible in 2014 after returning from various injuries. I do not like his upside enough to invest in him but I expect he will make frequent appearances in the Major Leagues in 2015.


The Dodgers flipped Zach Eflin who they received in the Kemp deal and lefty pitching prospect Tom Windle to the Phillies for shortstop Jimmy Rollins and cash. This is a pretty good deal for the Phillies who need to add real prospects in the worse way. However Jimmy Rollins is a great get for the Dodgers who manage to replace most of Hanley Ramirez's offense while improving the shortstop defense greatly. The Dodger pitching staff should only benefit by having a better defense behind them.

Rollins is obviously on the downside of his career but is still a very productive player and a fantasy asset at shortstop. He is still a 20/20 threat though that possibility is reduced a bit by Dodger Stadium. The only real downside is in the batting average. His contact rate has been falling which probably says something about his bat speed fading a bit. However with the state of offense in baseball these days, Rollins is only slightly below average in the BA category. He has been about a 20 dollar player and is moving to a much better lineup. I bid 20 with confidence.

Tom Windle spent 2014 in the California League where he had a nice strikeout rate and decent control but mediocre results. Those results are not as meaningful at this level especially when its the hitter friendly California League. He should debut in Double-A for the Phillies and projects as a solid mid-rotation starter. Windle is a decent pick in a really deep minor league system but in leagues with smaller farm teams I think you can do better, especially considering the poor track record of the Phillies in pitcher development.

Zach Eflin should also debut at Double-A this year. He is more of a ground ball pitcher than a strikeout artist, though he has the potential to improve his K-rate. He was mediocre in one of the better minor league pitching environments in 2014 but still projects as a mid-rotation starter with some upside. I don't see him as must get minor league pick but is a solid pick in deeper farm systems.

More on the Phillies' New Prospects



Ervin Santana seems to building a career as the ace for teams that cannot afford an ace. The Royals, then the Braves and now the Twins will use Santana to front their rotation. He is durable and usually an effective pitcher with a good number of strikeouts, reasonable control and that tends to help him collect wins. The fantasy reality (eh) is that he is closer to a ten dollar starter than an ace. In keeper leagues he is probably a 10-15 dollar starter who might get a few dollars more due to name value. The Twins are collecting some solid pitchers in their rotation. I think the hope is that the farm system will eventually provide the ace they really need. Hopefully, the advancement of some of their better prospects will get some of the first basemen out of the outfield and allow the defense to contribute to the pitching stats. 

The Reds Traded Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos to the Tigers and Marlins

By some measures the Reds were the best defensive team in the National League, this contributed greatly to Alfredo Simon out-performing his skills by metrics such as xFIP. Still, the Tigers should have their best defensive team in years to start the 2015 season and seem to have a knack for getting the most out of starting pitchers (relievers not so much). If Simon fails it will not doom the Tigers.

The Tigers will still have David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander to front the rotation. With the solid and potentially better than projected Shane Greene, plus a few pitching prospects that can at least approach the level of the league's fourth and fifth starters, the Tigers rotation is still in good shape even without Simon. I would consider Simon only in the endgame and he is likely to go for more than that in most leagues. I like Greene a lot more and would pay in the high single digits, 8-10 in keeper leagues has room for some profit in my opinion. 

Eugenio Suarez was a first round pick in 2013 was contributing to the Major League Detroit Tigers in 2014, not an unprecedented feat but still an impressive accomplishment. The article linked below compared him to Didi Gregorious and that isn't a shabby return for an over achieving 33-year old journeyman pitcher. Throw in Jonathan Crawford, a solid if unspectacular pitching prospect, and the Reds did well in this deal.

Zack Cozart is a pretty good defensive player but his bat is not great. His homeruns numbers dropped off quite drastically in 2014 and his already middling batting average sunk to almost intolerable levels. Suarez will either begin the year in the minors or as a reserve bat. However, if Cozart does not rebound he could find himself watching Suarez take his position as the 2015 season continues.

Mat Latos Returns Home to Florida

Mat Latos also out performed his skills during the 2014 season but he has a much better reputation as a starting pitcher and much of his skills (and tool decline - his velocity was drastically reduced in 2014) can be laid at the feet of various injuries that robbed him of a large portion of the regular season. Latos was probably not at 100 percent at any time during the 2014 season and if he can return to health there is a decent chance that he can return to being a front of the rotation type. The Marlins are certainly betting on his rebound. It is difficult to say the Marlins overpaid or that the Reds sold too low with the injuries still a huge question mark. That said, with the entire rotation entering its final season before free agency, the Reds did well to secure a MLB ready starter with six years of control left, throw in a catching prospect that gets on base and it makes sense even if it was not a sexy move. For the Marlins they have little to lose. They are deep in their major league rotation and have a nice bunch of pitching prospects for depth.

Minor League Ball on the Prospects


The Texas Rangers Trade Prospects For Ross Detwiler

Ross Detwiler was a decent fifth starter for the Nationals until the rotation got loaded with all-stars and he was pushed to the bullpen. The Rangers are in need of veteran rotation depth due to injuries and lots of young and unpredictable arms. But do not mistake the adjective "decent" to equate to "fantasy value" of which he has very little at this point. 

Minor League Ball on the Prospects 

The Royals Sign Free-Agent Kendry Morales

Sitting out half the season is not good for your stats or your prospects for signing a high-value long term contract. I have a hunch that with a full spring training and a full season of at-bats he will put up something close to his 2012-13 numbers something in the range of .270/.330/.450 20-25 homers and 15-20 dollars worth of fantasy value.



The Cubs dealt prospects Zack Godley and Jefferson Mejia to the Arizona Diamondbacks and received veteran catcher Miguel Montero. Montero has been in a steady fade the last couple of seasons. It did look like he was rebounding in the first half of the 2014 season but he was so incredibly bad in the second half that it's difficult to tell there were any positives to his 2014 season. Montero is still an excellent pitch framer and the Cubs are starting to put together a solid pitching staff. This is a big move for the Chicago Cubs but not a big deal for his fantasy value. A bid of 8-10 is value but this would not have provided any profit the last two seasons. 

Why Miguel Montero is Perfect for the Cubs

Minor League Ball on the Prospects

The Cubs also committed $155 Million to free agent starter Jon Lester to front their rotation and help lead their young team into contention. Lester is a fine pitcher but probably a bit overrated. If he were moving to a severe pitching environment I might be more optimistic but he is closer to a 20 dollar starter than a 30 dollar one. 2014 was probably his best season and he was worth about 25 dollars and that includes his incredible weeks with the Oakland A's in their extreme pitching environment. Moving to the National League probably earns him a small boost from his career level performances. Bid 20 -25 and you should get your money's worth. If your bids approach 30 or more there are better places to spend it. 

The Jon Lester Factor 

Epstein and Cherington's Contrasting Management Styles

The Red Sox Add Rotation Depth 

After losing out on Jon Lester, the Red Sox made rapid fire transactions to add reliable innings to their rotation.They sent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (who they acquired in the Lester deal last summer) and reliever Alex Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello. They sent Ruby De La Rosa and Allen Webster to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Wade Miley. The Red Red Sox completed their trio of new starters by signing free agent (and former farm hand) Justin Masterson to a one-year incentive laden deal. These starters all have something in common. They induce ground balls and pitch to their defense.

The Red Sox defense is a work in progress. They have been a good defensive team the last few years but this year they have again managed to change over almost the entire lineup. Pablo Sandoval is the new third baseman. He has usually been a defensive positive but his irregular conditioning efforts have contributed to occasional inconsistency. Xander Bogearts is moving back to shortstop. He has a good reputation from the minor leagues but has not played short on a regular basis in the majors. Christian Vasquez will be the new full time catcher. Vasquez has the reputation of an elite pitch framer and solid traditional defensive catcher stats, but he is a rookie and there are likely to be growing pains. The Red Sox will feature three new outfielders. Mookie Betts, a rookie and converted second baseman, will be the center fielder. In small samples he has been good in center field but he is learning the position on the fly. Rusney Castillo has been a center fielder in the past but is moving to right field for the Red Sox. Castillo was a defensive positive in his ten game audition last year. In left field is Hanley Ramirez a career shortstop. Ramirez still has the speed to make up for some mistakes but he will also have to deal with the Green Monster. Obviously the Red Sox think the defense will come together well but it could take some time.

Rick Porcello has been on the verge of a breakout the last couple of seasons. He has proven to be durable and reliable to both the Tigers and fantasy owners. The only real flaw in his game is a mediocre strikeout rate. There have been indications in the past of a boost to his k-rate but it has never really come together. Perhaps working with an elite pitch framer gives him the boost necessary to make it happen. I like him at 15-20 dollars, that may be a little high if you do not believe the strikeouts are coming.
Wade Miley is another elite ground baller with a better history of strikeouts than Porcello. In fact his k-rate seems to be on the rise as he refines his pitch sequencing. He works the edges of the zone and that has led to lots of swing and miss. But despite these skills his results have not matched up. This is at least partially due to the Diamondbacks typically lousy defense and their ballpark which pumps up the opposing offense. Fenway should prevent a few homeruns at least and the Red Sox defense should count as an improvement even with the expected growing pains. His fantasy value has been in the single digits (or less...) since his 17 dollar 2012 season. I have a hunch his value will rebound this year but I would keep the bidding in the single digits and leave plenty of room for profit. 
Justin Masterson also induces ground balls at an elite level. He gets the strikeouts too but has not managed to produce consistent fantasy value as his ERA has been all over the place. Part of this is his periodic control problems and minor injuries that mess up his mechanics. In 2014 it was a knee problem. When he is right, Masterson is a 15 dollar starter and he has a bit of upside at that price.



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The White Sox sent infielder Marcus Semien (who will play shortstop for the Athletics) and Prospects Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo to the Athletics for one guaranteed year of right-handed starter Jeff Samardzija and giant right-hander Michael Ynoa. The Athletics designated Jorge De Leon to make room on the 40-man roster for the incoming players.

Jeff Samardzija has begun to earn his reputation as a front line starter. His ground ball rate has risen the last four seasons. His strikeouts are at about a K per inning. His ERA projectors such as xFIP have been in a steady decline as he gains pitching experience. The Shark has less experience than most pitchers his age because he spent his amateur years playing football. I like him a lot and I think he is about to have a true breakout season as he heads into free agency for the first time. He was a 20 dollar starter in 2014 and in 2015 I will bid 25 with confidence in keeper leagues. 

GM Rick Hahn on Ynoa:
“Yeah, nobody asked about him — I was surprised,” Hahn said. “Ynoa was a true target of ours. This is a kid with a big arm, with a multi-pitch mix. He certainly has a plus fastball and a plus slider and a feel for two other pitches, as well.”
Michael Ynoa was hugely hyped as a international prospect and is still young despite what seems like an eternity in the minors. He has a triple digit fastball and a solid slider. The change-up is a work in progress. Last season the Athletics moved him to the bullpen and as you might expect his strikeout rate soared. His control is still shaky but from the bullpen it is not as great an issue. He has the stuff to be a dominating closer and will get a shot to join the major league bullpen in 2015. I would bet a few bucks on him.

David Robertson spurned the Yankees (who made a similar offer by some reports) and signed a four year $46M contract with the White Sox. The deal includes a limited no-trade clause which allows him to block trades to at least five teams per season. Robertson was a top tier closer last season and that should not change with the White Sox. You can bid 20-25 for one of the better closers in the game. 

Despite trading away some of their better players, the Athletics still look like contenders to me. They have less star power but greater depth that they'll use to fill some of the weak spots that plagued them in 2014. There was some interesting speculation spreading around the Athletics Blogs that the A's would use the cash savings on Cuban second baseman Jose Fernandez. You can be certain that they are not done making deals.

Marcus Semien will start at shortstop for the Athletics.He can probably manage average range but his arm is weak for the position. He is likely just a stop gap at short until Daniel Robertson is ready to take over sometime this summer. Then in theory, Semien moves to second base. His first season was mostly a disaster but he finished strong. He will not be the last rookie to struggle in his first season in the majors. Semien isn't likely to hit for a great average but it should be tolerable. He will give you a great on-base percentage and provide nice pop. He has 20-plus homer potential and could kick in 10 stolen bases in a full season. I like the kid and think he will do well in Oakland. I would bid 10 or so in keeper leagues but he has not earned that yet.

Chris Bassitt was a 16th round pick and has exceeded expectations since. He has a mid-90's fastball with nice sink. He complements the fastball with a solid and improving slider and a change that needs work but should become at least average. He missed half the 2014 season with a broken hand. He was dominate at Double-A to finish the season. He has been given a mid-rotation projection by some scouts and I like that projection. He has a chance to contribute to the Athletics rotation or bullpen this season, but there is a lot of competition for those roles. I would bid a few bucks on him if he makes the team. 
Josh Phegley can hit a bit. He is not very selective at the plate. He does not draw walks. However, he also does not strikeout much especially for a power hitter. He has 20-plus homer power and has hit for average in the minors. He has not shown much with the bat in the majors. Behind the plate Phegley has a good arm and can throw out runners but is not great at the other aspects of catcher defense such as calling games and pitch framing. If you like drafting one dollar catchers you could do a lot worse than a guy with his power and contact skills. He will back-up Stephen Vogt in Oakland.

Rangel Ravelo is a player I really like. He has good plate discipline and an excellent eye at the plate. he collects walks and makes strong contact. He has hit for average and has developing power. He has just average speed at best but is good on the bases. He was drafted as a third baseman but was moved to first soon after. He can also play a passable corner outfield position. I am certain the Athletics value that versatility but his bat is what makes him truly valuable. I will definitely spend a minor league pick on this player.




The Pittsburgh Pirates Re-Sign Francisco Liriano

The deal is for three years and $39M. This deal works for both teams. Obviously Francisco Liriano receives the security of a long term deal. He also gets to stay in the pitching environment that has allowed him to rebuild his career. The Pirates need someone to front their rotation until Gerrit Cole and their younger pitchers are more established. Liriano is a 10-15 dollar starter, he may get a few bucks more for name value.

The Pirates also acquired left reliever Antonio Bastardo from the Philadelphia Phillies.

It is a minor deal with little if any fantasy significance but makes the Pirates bullpen a little stronger as Antonio Bastardo gives them the needed second lefty arm. The Phillies get Joely Rodriguez a decent starting pitching prospect who projects to be at worst a solid lefty reliever. It works for both teams. Neither has significant fantasy value. 

The Cardinals Signed Corner Infielder Mark Reynolds

Mark Reynolds could find himself relieving Matt Adams against lefties. He hit 22 homeruns in 378 at-bats with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals have been masters at finding at-bats for their bench players. Still, do not pay for the 22 homers. Reynolds is an endgame pick and paying more than that is going to reduce your team's overall value.

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