Thursday, April 30, 2009

Moving Up: Matt LaPorta

posted by Jon Williams
With Travis Hafner on the disabled list the Cleveland Indians have called up top outfield prospect Matt LaPorta. LaPorta of course was the key reward when the Indians dealt CC Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers. He should be picked up in all but the shallowest of leagues. He begins by platooning with David Dellucci but if he continues to hit the way he was at triple-A that won't last long.

LaPorta has amazing power and should eventually hit for a good average. He has good contact skills but still needs to develop more patience and discipline at the plate. In a full season of at-bats he could easily hit 30 homeruns and is likely to approach forty once he adjusts to the major leagues. This season I would expect something in the 260-270 range with 25-plus homers if he stays in the majors the rest of the season. He is likely to be streaky as pitchers adjust and he adjusts back to them. But those hot streaks will be what fantasy owners live for -- like the older players in your league when they talk about Darryl Strawberry's epic streaks.

IMPORTANT: Do not sleep on Luis Valbuena who was also called up. He could very well be starting before the end of the week. He has pop and speed and qualifies at second base.

Season Team G AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2007 Brewers (R) 7 27 7 1 0 2 4 4 1 8 0 0 0.259
2007 Brewers (A) 23 88 28 8 0 10 18 27 7 22 0 1 0.318
2008 Indians (AA) 17 60 14 1 0 2 6 8 4 12 0 0 0.233
2008 Brewers (AA) 84 302 87 23 2 20 56 66 45 63 2 1 0.288
2009 Indians (AAA) 21 75 25 4 2 5 22 14 9 10 0 0 0.333

LaPorta called up and ready to play


Matt LaPorta and Luis Valbuena Ready for Impact

Hot Prospect Profile—MATT LAPORTA

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Me, Albert Pujols, and the Magic Lamp

posted by Jon Williams

I was walking around the perimeter of the little league field scouting for future big leaguers I could take in my farm system drafts when I tripped over some junk behind the center field fence. Russell Field was very deep in center field (for a little league park) thus very few people wandered this way. I pulled myself back onto my feet, holding the fence for support. I kicked the pile of junk and saw what appeared to be an old kerosene lamp. I picked it up and rubbed the face of it with my sleeve -- more in the interest of keeping the gunk off my hands than actually cleaning it. It suddenly became very hot and I dropped it. It began to smoke. I started to walk away quickly but then the smoke began to take the shape of a man who looked an awful lot like Albert Pujols if you discounted the fact that he had wisps of smoke rather than legs.

I stood in stunned silence starring at what I was certain was an hallucination of some kind. It reminded me of the time I thought I saw a giant space craft floating over Malden Square. I don't do drugs and I was not drinking this time. The smokey man was adjusting his sweater vest which looked very tacky over his otherwise bare torso. He said something to me but it did not register. He repeated it but much louder.

"Thank you for freeing me," he said. "I've been trapped in that thing since the seventies."

I really wasn't sure I wanted to enter into conversation with my delusions so I just nodded. He seemed slightly annoyed with me as if waiting for me to do something. I tried just turning and walking away, I had settled on the idea that I was dehydrated and should pick up a bottle of water as soon as possible. But the smokey Pujols appeared directly in front of me as if he had been there all along.

"Apparently you do not know how this works. I am a Baseball Genie. I can influence events and give you knowledge of baseball beyond all men. As the person who has freed me from my captivity I will allow you five wishes."

"Five," I asked. "I thought genies customarily only allowed three wishes."

"Are you complaining or would you rather not have any wishes at all?"

"Uh, okay sorry about that. Can you give me enough money to buy the New York Yankees and still have billions to spare?"

"Are you not listening? I am a Baseball Genie. I do not have the power to grant wishes that are unrelated to baseball. So I cannot give you money or make any part of you bigger or smaller. I cannot make girls fall in love with you or make being fat cool."

"Fine. You don't have to get all testy about it. You being a lame genie is not my fault."

"I walk perfectly fine when I choose not to float. I am growing tired of this. What are your five wishes?"

WISH ONE
I wish to have a perfect understanding of baseball. I want to be able to look at stats or see a player on the field and instantly know exactly what his potential is. I want this understanding to also include what general managers are thinking when they make personnel changes. Eventually word of my outstanding understanding will reach general managers and owners everywhere. But I would turn down offers from every team except the most pathetic franchises. The worse the team the more likely I would be to help. Just think what that would do for my blog!


WISH TWO

I wish steroids has never existed. I wish every achievement in baseball history was completely untainted by anything having to do with performance enhancing drugs. I am assuming that this would result in Barry Bonds being perceived as a Hall-of-Fame bastard, rather than a bastard who will never be in the Hall-of-Fame. Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, and Jose Canseco could all be fun again.


WISH THREE
I wish MLB Opening Day was a National Holiday. We have so many stupid holidays for so and so's birthday and to honor this group and that group. Just think how many people could avoid lying to their bosses or using up vacation days. We could have parades in the morning (parades in April have to be better than parades in January, right?) and barbecue traditions after the game. Since everyone had the day off all the games could be day games.


WISH FOUR
I wish everyone played fantasy baseball the way everyone listens to music. I know not everyone listens to music but the people who never listen to any music at all are few and far between. I want fantasy baseball to be integrated into normal life that way. Think about it, kids would want to learn advanced math to improve their ability to understand baseball through statistical analysis. Men and Women of all ages would have another common point of interest. Parents could tell their children stories of the days when every league was either American League or National League and they never mixed and their children could be annoyed about it.


WISH FIVE
I wish that every kid would play baseball. I want baseball to be everyone's favorite sport. I never want to pass a baseball field again that isn't either covered with snow or kids playing ball. I want little league to be like the cub scouts used to be before too many scary things happened. I want being on a little league team to teach kids the values that so many do not seem to be learning. I want kids to learn to work together and to support each other. I want baseball to work through children to eliminate prejudice. I want baseball to be too important to be tainted by petty differences.


"Damn you sound like a beauty pagaent contestant," the genie laughed. "But I like it."

He winked and made some odd gestures with his hands. There was a distant rumble and he blinked out of site. I can only hope my wishes come true.

Now, Back to the other kind of fantasy baseball...

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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Injuries Pile Up Quickly

posted by Jon Williams
Dealing with injuries is probably the toughest thing a fantasy owner has to deal with during the season. In deeper leagues it can be incredibly difficult to find replacements capable of putting up acceptable numbers, especially when it comes to pitchers. Sure, there are usually lots of arms on the free-agent list but rarely are they the types you want to have on your roster for a month or two. I judge whether or not to replace a particular player with a particular free agent on a few different criteria.

  1. Do the league rules allow me to drop a player at will? In leagues that force you to hold on to replacement players until the original player returns or the replacement is himself disabled or sent to the minors, I will often avoid picking up previously unknown quantities.
  2. Is the player being replaced expected to be out longer than two weeks? If a player is going to be out for the season (especially when the injury occurs in April or May) I will hold off on replacing them (as rules allow) until I can find a good long term replacement. I don't want to risk being stuck with Omir Santos all season if I have no chance of dumping him.
  3. How good is the team of the potential replacement? This can be tricky but I would prefer to find replacement on good teams. This is because a good team is unlikely to keep a player around who fails to produce. Unfortunately, the good teams will sometimes just keep the player on the roster (especially pitchers) and use them in the absolute worse situations --blow outs and in the 14th inning when there are no other options.
  4. Could the potential replacement win a regular role if he does well? I love when this happens. Right now, I'm hoping Garrett Mock and Omir Santos turn into regulars. Top prospects and older veterans are great for this type of speculation. At some point this season I hope to take a chance on Jim Edmonds and Pedro Martinez.
  5. How desperate am I am for at-bats or innings? Under normal circumstances I would not go near a player a like Augie Ojeda but when the injuries start to pile up at-bats become very important. You want to remain competitive in runs and rbi and even the worst players when they continue to receive at-bats can help you in these categories. When I'm desperate for innings things are a little different. Obviously you don't want to pick up a pitcher just because he pitches a lot. That's a good way to end up with the worst Rockies type starter who will almost certainly blow up your ERA and WHIP. If you can add/drop players at will you can just rotate between favorable starts. Otherwise I suggest you pick the pitcher with the highest combination of groundball rate and strikeout rate. Hopefully that pitcher will be on a good team with a good defense.

Orioles expect Mora back Friday

Soria tests shoulder, throws on Sunday

McLouth's return likely a few days away

Derrek Lee day-to-day with neck spasms

Mauer targets Friday return to Twins

Girardi hopeful Damon can return to action on Monday

With Drew on DL, D-backs shuffle roster

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The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable

posted by Jon Williams
This week's Fantasy Baseball Roundtable is up at FantasyPros911. The question of the week:

Would you prefer to have Howie Kendrick or Aaron Hill for the remainder of the season?

You can check out the various answers right here.

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Advanced Fantasy Baseball

posted by Jon Williams
Happy Birthday to me. I only mention it because I would like something from everyone who visits the site today. I want you to tell me how I can improve this site. How to make it a site you'd like to visit everyday.

Please leave a comment, send me an e-mail, twitter me, find me on facebook...whatever way you like. If you aren't into fantasy baseball that doesn't mean you can't comment. Just judge the site on other criteria.

Thanks.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Yankees Re-Boot their Pitching Staff

posted by Jon Williams

Sometimes I wonder why the Yankees (and every other big market team) have to see things fail before they make the moves that seem so obvious to me and I'm certain many others. The Yankees finally placed Chien-Ming Wang on the disabled list to give him time to re-build his arm strength. Brian Bruney and Cody Ransom also hit the disabled list. They recalled closer of the future Mark Melancon and the talented David Robertson to fill roles in the bullpen. Angel Berroa who looked great this spring had to wait for Cody Ransom of all people to get hurt before getting a job.

I thought it was obvious at the end of the 2008 season that those two players would have big roles to play in the 2009 bullpen. It also seemed as if the Yankees knew it too. But rather than give them jobs to start the season they insist on working with lesser talents and blow a few games before doing what they knew months ago they would do eventually. But maybe I'm missing some subtle ability in Cody Ransom and some skill that Robertson and Melancon were missing that a few weeks in the minor leagues solved...

Owners in American League-only should grab Melancon as soon as possible. He should take over the eighth inning role this season and eventually replace Mariano Rivera as the Yankees closer. David Robertson is another option for the Yankees that I like a lot. He has great stuff and should provide strikeouts in bunches. He has control issues at times like most young pitchers but has shown improvement lately. The Yankees released Humberto Sanchez which seemed unnecessary to me. I can think of a few names I would rather dump before giving up on him. Though again, the Yankees probably have some information I don't. Seriously, they probably do.

Phil Hughes, who I suggested to anyone who listened as a bullpen candidate out of spring training, is expected to get the call on Tuesday to start in Wang's spot. He is probably getting two starts on the road which is not really a bad thing. I sincerely believe that Hughes will never ride a minor league bus again. I'll be picking him up in every league possible. It wasn't so long ago that Hughes was more highly thought of than Joba Chamberlain.

Speaking of Joba...the Yankees need to stop babying him so much. I respect that they want to be responsible with his arm and put restraints on his pitch counts but I think its holding him back. From watching him, I think Joba pitches better when his arm is well stretched. In the bullpen he always seemed to pitch better when he had multiple outings in a week. When he went long stretches his control would leave him. This is not an argument that he should return to the pen. But rather that the Yankees should extend his pitch count a little and stop skipping him in the rotation. I still love Joba as a fantasy option he just won't do much good for fantasy owners or the Yankees until they stop treating him with kid gloves.

Mark Melancon Statistics


Mark Melancon Profile


Mark Melancon Spring Report

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Scott Downs is the New Closer in Toronto

posted by Jon Williams
Scott Downs has become the new closer in Toronto after the Blue Jays disabled B.J. Ryan with "muscle tightness" which is actually code for "you suck majorly right now." Coincidentally this took place immediately after Ryan blew his second save of the season. Downs has been ready for an important role on the Blue Jays for a while and Cito Gaston has been waiting for an excuse to make the change since mid-March.

It doesn't seem likely that anyone that reads this blog is in a league where Downs is still available (I've been drooling over him for as long as Cito Gaston has wanted him in the role --since last season in other words) but it is definitely worth checking. He is an extreme groundball pitcher who strikes out nearly a batter per inning (far better than that so far this season) and plays in front of what is an excellent defense. There is nothing not to like here.

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2000 Cubs/Expos 5.85 3.71 1.58 1.21 1.67 0.341 0.71 4.97
2000 Cubs 6.03 3.54 1.70 1.24 1.64 0.340 0.71 4.93
2000 Expos 0.00 9.00 0.00 0.00 2.67 0.371 0.63 6.13
2003 Expos 12.00 9.00 1.33 6.00 2.67 0.402 0.58 12.03
2004 Expos 5.43 3.29 1.65 1.29 1.62 0.334 0.63 4.94
2005 Blue Jays 7.18 3.26 2.21 1.15 1.35 0.299 0.72 4.33
2006 Blue Jays 7.13 3.51 2.03 1.05 1.34 0.291 0.73 4.33
2007 Blue Jays 8.84 3.72 2.38 0.47 1.22 0.292 0.84 3.24
2008 Blue Jays 7.26 3.44 2.11 0.38 1.15 0.264 0.87 3.39
2009 Blue Jays 13.50 0.00 13.00 0.00 0.46 0.259 0.80 0.58


Cubs call up Samardzija; Bradley back in right

Pedro, Big Hurt, Edmonds among the free agents still looking for work

Angels should be a bit more worried, but they did call up Brandon Wood

Riske facing possible surgery Tigers designated hitter Marcus Thames out with 'major injury' to rib cage area

Another two-strikeout inning for Zumaya Oblique strain forces Romero to DL

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just A Little Trade Advice

posted by Jon Williams
The longer articles I promised last week are still in progress (just becoming very very long). I'm diverting my attention from those articles to offer a little advice. I received an e-mail from a reader, call him Jay. He wanted some advice on a trade. His AL-only team had some strength in pitching but definitely has some holes on offense. He was offered the following deal:

Jay Deals: Cliff Lee $3

Jay Receives: Travis Snider $10, Taylor Teagarden $4, and Joel Zumaya $5

Cliff Lee at $3 is a great deal but at his age I think his future is as a competent, slightly above average major league starter and not a perennial Cy Young contender.

Travis Snider gives the Jay the big bat he needs in the outfield. Although Snider is a rookie he has had no problem making adjustments and should be a top 20 American League outfielder in the very near future.

Taylor Teagarden fills the gapping hole Jay has at catcher. Teagarden should also gain at-bats as Jarrod Saltalamacchia makes much slower adjustments to the major leagues. Teagarden has good power and while he won't win any batting titles should hit for a decent average.

Joel Zumaya is a great pitcher when he's healthy which has not been often. I see him assuming the closer role for the Tigers in the second half of the season. Jay, as you may have guessed could also use some help in the saves department.

The players Jay is receiving should all be very keepable in an AL-only league. They also have great value to rebuilding teams (which I don't think Jay should consider just yet) and will either set him up well for the future or become bait for dumping teams. Either way I think this is a great trade for Jay.

In fact I can't see this trade as bad for Jay unless Lee threatens to win another Cy Young (not happening says my pyschic powers).

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Good News and Bad News

posted by Jon Williams
The Good News is Miguel Cabrera is staying put on the Detroit Tigers. This means that his AL-only owners do not have to fear losing one of the better hitters in baseball. The Bad News is that Miguel Cabrera is still on one of the lesser teams in the American League. The Tigers do not have a bad lineup but just because they won't consider trading Cabrera does not mean they won't trade any of their other hitters to improve the team in the long term, which would seriously impact Cabrera's production.

The Angels are considering a group of free agent starters that could be of interest to fantasy owners, which is Good News. General Manager David Reagins has contacted the agents for Pedro Martinez, Paul Byrd, and Mark Mulder. All of these pitchers have been fantastic fantasy options at one point or another. As a fantasy owner I am always happy when more options become available even if I am not the beneficiary. The Bad News is that these guys are all unemployed right now for a reason -- their lack of production or health (sometimes both) in their most recent appearances.

John Lackey and Ervin Santana should begin rehab assignments soon. This is good news for those owners. If they both come back healthy and effective they could be among the better pitchers in the American League. The Bad News is elbow and shoulder injuries in pitchers are always a cause for concern. The rest and rehabbing they have done did not rid them of their problems but merely strengthened the area around the injuries. The hope is that this will allow them to ignore the problem for another chunk of time. That could be a matter of years or days.

Xavier Nady will not need surgery and may be able to return in a month or so, which is Good News. The Yankees and Nady's owners were counting on him to maintain the gains he showed in the last couple of years. Unfortunately (and this is the Bad News), Nady does have a partially torn ligament in his elbow. It could completely tear at any time which is why the Yankees are now considering using him as a designated hitter. Which means that Hideki Matsui will be in the field sooner and perhaps more often than we thought. It could also mean that the Yankees will have two DH's on the roster and both will be less productive (less at-bats) than projected.

Ryan Doumit will miss the next 8 weeks (at least) after wrist surgery. This has to be considered Bad News. I engaged in some twittering yesterday about Doumit replacements (you can follow me @bigjonwilliams) and the consensus in most AL-only leagues is that the pickings are quite slim. In some leagues Lou Marson is available (I can't see him receiving many at-bats but he can hit), or Jason Jaramillo (he is not a great hitter but there are worse options). In shallower mixed leagues you might find John Baker (a great hitter without much power) or Nick Hundley ( he has power but isn't much of a hitter). The Good News is that Doumit is projected to be back in 8-10 weeks so his return to your roster will seem like a nice post All-Star Break acquisition. I also revealed that I had an opportunity to trade for Geovanny Soto to replace Doumit but the asking price turned out to be too high in my opinion. My rebuilding league mate wanted Doumit $10A, Nate McClouth $12c11, and minor leaguer Brett Wallace for Soto $15A and Brad Hawpe $27. With Soto also banged up and struggling at the plate I thought this was way too much.

What the hell is wrong with Geovanny Soto?

Ryan Doumit out 8-10 weeks, having surgery

Xavier Nady's ligament is only partially torn

Angels' Reagins begins looking outside for pitching help

The Facts About Omir Santos and (much older) Santos Shakes Off the Rust

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Xavier Nady Likely Out for the Season

posted by Jon Williams
UPDATE: According to Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog, Xavier Nady will not require surgery on his injured elbow. Unfortunately the return date for Nady is still unknown.

The Best Yankees Blog on the Planet

Xavier Nady
had Tommy John Surgery on his elbow in 2001 and he may need it again. He will be placed on the disabled list before Thursday's Home Opener.

From the New York Daily News:
Although nothing is official, Nady told several teammates that he was likely headed for Tommy John reconstructive surgery, the same procedure he underwent in Sept. 2001. That would knock him out for the rest of this season, leaving the start of 2010 in doubt for the free agent-to-be. Nady will be examined by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad before Thursday's home-opener, at which time a final diagnosis will likely be released
For the New York Yankees and obviously Xavier Nady, this is bad news. Fortunately, Nick Swisher is still around and hot to boot. He is the obvious replacement in right field which is good for his owners but a problem for the Yankees' depth. Melky Cabrera will obviously get to hang around a lot longer. The Yankees will need some corner infield depth which with third baseman Alex Rodriguez out and first baseman Mark Teixeira's wrist bothering him when he bats right-handed was already a problem. Shelly Duncan is probably the first option. This may force the Yankees to consider some trade options. Players such as Hank Blalock and Dallas McPherson could be available.

In the short term, Nady owners in shallower leagues should check the waiver wire for Swisher, who with is hot start may already be out of reach. In deeper leagues, Melky Cabrera will see an increase in at-bats especially against left-handers. This could also force the Yankees to seriously consider A-Rod's claims that he could be ready by the end of April.

More as it comes together...

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Eight (plus one) Pitchers That Improve Your Fantasy Team

posted by Jon Williams
Okay, they are not available in every league, but they are available in a surprising number of mixed leagues. Check out my latest article on Crucial Sports (posted Monday Afternoon) for write-ups and statistics on the following pitchers that can improve your fantasy team.

  1. Manny Corpas
  2. LaTroy Hawkins
  3. Derek Holland
  4. Justin Masterson
  5. Garrett Mock
  6. Franklin Morales
  7. Carl Pavano
  8. Glen Perkins
  9. Jordan Zimmerman

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Moving Up: Julio Lugo

posted by Jon Williams
With Jed Lowrie looking more and more like he will miss the remainder of the season, Julio Lugo's health and ability becomes huge for the Red Sox. Fantasy owners would probably prefer the more aggressive Lugo to Lowrie in any case. Lugo has shown the ability to steal 30-plus bases and hit 10-15 homeruns. His on-base percentage is not stellar but his other numbers (if he's healthy) could make that irrelevant.

On Friday Lugo had five plate appearances in a rehab assignment. According to Red Sox manager Terry Francona "Lugo ran the bases a couple of times and scored on an extra-base hit. " which would seem to indicate that he could return to action very soon. In any case, the Red Sox do not have a qualified major league alternative. All Lowrie owners should pick up Lugo if he is available. Any owner with a need for steals or an upgrade to their infield positions is advised to do the same.

Julio Lugo's FanGraph's Page


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Friday, April 17, 2009

The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable

posted by Jon Williams
This week's Fantasy Baseball Roundtable is hosted by Patrick Cain of the Albany Times Union.

What "cold" starts are most concerning to you? Who would you look to trade before their value plummets even further? What makes you convinced that this is not just a slow start to 2009?

Check out the variety of great answers!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The (Waiver) Wire

posted by Jon Williams
You can read this week's edition of the (Waiver) Wire at Crucial Sports. Today, as it usually will, the article features several players available in various types of leagues.

Check out the (Waiver) Wire

...With DeWayne Wise sent to the disabled list, the Chicago White Sox once again return to Brian Anderson and Jerry Owens as options. Anderson will receive the first opportunity to solidify himself as the regular center fielder. Anderson was well thought of as a prospect but failed to live up to his potential. At best, he should hit for average with middling power. He does not have much above average speed (if at all) but will steal bases given the opportunity and manager Ozzie Guillen is likely to demand it of his leadoff hitter. Jerry Owens does not have the skills that Anderson has shown at times but he definitely has superior tools. Those tools are what make him a constant stolen base threat when he can find his way on base. Scott Podsednik signed a minor league deal with the White Sox after his late spring release from the Colorado Rockies. Podsednik was an effective leadoff hitter for the ChiSox a few years ago and should Anderson and Owens fail to deliver, Guillen would not hesitate to call for Podsednik’s return...
Read More

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Daisuke Matsuzaka to Disabled List

posted by Jon Williams
The Red Sox have now placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list. He left last night's game in the first inning after struggling with what the team called arm fatigue. It has been suggested that this is a result of his use during the World Baseball Classic.
The Red Sox have placed Daisuke Matsuzaka on the 15-day disabled list and recalled lefthanded reliever Hunter Jones from Pawtucket.
To read more, visit http://www.boston.com
This sounds relatively minor. Although any arm related problems are worrisome in pitchers this problem seems easily retified with a couple of weeks off. Owners should not panic, nor should they release Matsuzaka under any circumstances.

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Lastings Milledge Optioned to Minors

posted by Jon Williams
This is ridiculous. Less than ten games into the season you send your starting center fielder to the minors? Obviously he was not off to the greatest of starts but again, less than ten days into the season. This will not do good things for Lasting Milledge's supposedly questionable attitude.

Via USA Today
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nationals center fielder Lastings Milledge has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Milledge is batting .167 with no extra-base hits, one RBI, one walk and 10 strikeouts this season. He has been hitting in the leadoff spot.

Washington is 0-7, the only team in the major leagues without a victory.

The Nationals did not immediately announce who will replace Milledge on the active roster. They were off Tuesday and scheduled to host Philadelphia on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Some of the reasoning according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com

Milledge, 24, is off to a slow start, batting .167 (4-for-24) with one RBI. Milledge was the leadoff hitter, and the front office didn't like the fact that he didn't take enough pitches to draw walks.

It was an adventure for Milledge in center field so far this season. On Opening Day against the Marlins on April 6, Emilio Bonifacio hit a ball that went over Milledge's head for an inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning. The next day, Bonifacio hit a triple that went over Milledge's glove. In both cases, some people in the organization believe Milledge should have caught the ball. Not Milledge. He followed the scouting report, which said to play shallow.

The team had warned Milledge about a possible demotion since Opening Day. Members of the organization were upset that Milledge was late for a meeting held by manager Manny Acta the day before, and they wanted Milledge to sit out for Opening Day. Acta refused, however, so the team fined Milledge instead.


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The Wednesday Morning News

posted by Jon Williams
  • Tom Glavine may have to retire due to an at least inflamed rotator cuff, an MRI did not reveal a significant tear. He will make a decision based on progress over the next two weeks and the advice of Doctor James Andrews.
  • Just as Chris Carpenter was making believers out of people concerning his comeback to full health he strains his rib-cage. He should be placed on the disabled list soon.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Roundtable

posted by Jon Williams
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Josh Beckett Suspended

posted by Jon Williams
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this suspension will be appealed. Josh Beckett did absolutely nothing to warrant a suspension.
Boston pitcher Josh Beckett has been suspended for six games and fined by Major League Baseball, which determined he intentionally threw a pitch near the head of the Los Angeles Angels' Bobby Abreu last week. Beckett also was cited for "aggressive actions" after the pitch that led to the benches clearing Sunday, according to Bob Watson, vice president for discipline in the commissioner's office.



To read more, visit http://www.boston.com

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Scheduling - Posting Back on Track

posted by Jon Williams
OK, Easter and yet more computer/wireless problems have thrown things off yet again. Tonight you'll see the second half of the 26th man pieces, which featured the projected first (major) call-up of each team. The first half featured the American League. After I get my piece for Crucial Sports up you'll see links for that as well. Coming soon - How to Build a Dominating Dynasty Team and How to Trade Like a Champion.

Check back soon.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

The 26th Man - American League

posted by Jon Williams
There is absolutely no reason to doubt that every team in baseball will make use of it's minor league system this season. Below you'll find the hitting and pitching prospects that not only would have a huge impact, but are also nearly ready for action in the major leagues. These are the guys you need to be ready to grab when they hit the free agent lists.

All statistics are courtesy of FanGraphs.com

AMERICAN LEAGUE

The Baltimore Orioles - Matt Wieters
The Orioles are just killing time (and maybe saving a few bucks) by keeping catcher Matt Wieters in the minor leagues. Not only is he ready for the major leagues by most estimations but he would also be the kind of impact bat the Orioles tried so desperately to sign over the winter. The Orioles have a decent lineup already and what they really need is pitching but they won't rush their arms to the majors. Wieters however can help the Orioles win by bludgeoning their opponents to death.

Honorable Mention:
Chris Tillman

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2008 Orioles (A+) 229 79 15 48 40 44 47 1 2 0.345
2008 Orioles (AA) 208 76 12 41 51 38 29 1 0 0.365
2009 Bill James 416 127 21 60 74 67 56 2 1 0.305

The Boston Red Sox - Lars Anderson
Although a lot of analysts might predict that Clay Buchholz would be the first call-up, I believe they would be wrong. The Red Sox are loaded with pitching and John Smoltz should come off the disabled list in June making the starting rotation even deeper. But Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, and Rocco Baldelli are all established injury risks and major cogs in Boston's offense. Should one of them go down Lars Anderson's ability to hit for average and power (think Joey Votto at best, James Loney at worst) should come in very handy.

Honorable Mention:
Josh Reddick

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2007 Red Sox (A) 458 132 10 69 69 71 112 2 4 0.288
2007 Red Sox (A+) 35 12 1 13 9 11 9 0 0 0.343
2008 Red Sox (A+) 306 97 13 58 50 46 64 0 0 0.317
2008 Red Sox (AA) 133 42 5 27 30 29 43 1 0 0.316
2009 CHONE 461 107 7 57 56 51 142 2 1 0.232
2009 Oliver 458 121 13

54 114

0.265
2009 ZiPS 557 139 15 65 74 56 150 3 3 0.25

The New York Yankees - Mark Melancon
The Yankees don't have many problems that cannot be cured by the throwing of millions of dollars, but they have failed to build a bullpen that provides anyone with much faith that Joba Chamberlain will remain in the rotation. Mark Melancon could be exactly the number two guy in the bullpen the Yankees need. This of course assumes that the bullpen is more of a problem than the rotation, which judging by the first week of games is a rather large assumption.

Honorable Mention: Phil Hughes

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2006 Yankees (A-) 9.39 2.35 4 0 0.294 1.43 0.398 36.40% 1.9
2008 Yankees (A+) 7.11 2.13 3.33 0.71 0.267 1.26 0.318 79.50% 3.48
2008 Yankees (AA) 8.52 2.17 3.92 0.54 0.186 0.89 0.238 75.40% 2.82
2008 Yankees (AAA) 9.9 1.8 5.5 0.45 0.163 0.75 0.225 61.60% 2.4
2009 CHONE 6.75 3.38 2 1.35 0.271 1.43 0.303 72.60% 4.78
2009 ZiPS 6.12 2.83 2.17 1.41 0.287 1.45 0.313
4.75

The Tampa Bay Rays - David Price

He came thisclose to making the team out of spring training but the Rays who are loaded with pitching chose to give him a few weeks at AAA before he comes to the majors for good. The funny thing is I can see the Rays having an offensive need far before they have a pitching one but they don't really have that hitting prospect of both the impact and ready variety. If they truly have an offensive need the Rays are most likely to trade some of their pitching for it.

Honorable Mention: Reid Brignac

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2008 Rays (A+) 9.61 1.82 5.29 0 0.223 1.01 0.315 80.00% 1.67
2008 Rays (AA) 8.68 2.53 3.44 1.11 0.207 1.02 0.249 93.90% 3.92
2008 Rays (AAA) 8.5 4.5 1.89 0 0.302 1.72 0.395 67.70% 2.81
2008 Rays 7.71 2.57 3 0.64 0.186 0.93 0.225 79.40% 3.42
2008 Rays 12.71 6.35 2 1.59 0.111 1.06 0.111 87.00% 4.72
2009 CHONE 6.72 3.87 1.74 1.14 0.271 1.48 0.308 71.00% 4.72
2009 Marcel 6.92 3.23 2.14 0.92 0.252 1.31 0.292 71.70% 4.16
2009 ZiPS 6.3 3.15 2 1.18 0.258 1.33 0.286
4.49

The Toronto Blue Jays - Brett Cecil/Brad Mills

Adding Travis Snider and Adam Lind to the lineup on a regular basis should be a giant boost to the Blue Jays offense. Their pitching staff has taken quite a few hits due to injuries and free agent defections. This is why I see the Jays calling on their pair of lefty starters before anyone else. Why cheat and list them both? Because I'm fairly confident they'll need both really soon. Cecil probably has the edge if I have to pick just one. These guys are not aces but they are solid rotation starters who should be solid contributors to fantasy squads for a long time.

Honorable Mention: J.P. Arencibia

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2007 Blue Jays (A-) 10.15 1.99 5.09 0.18 0.204 0.95 0.294 82.30% 2.05
2008 Blue Jays (A+) 9.58 1.74 5.5 0.87 0.171 0.77 0.216 90.90% 2.91
2008 Blue Jays (AA) 10.08 2.67 3.78 0.46 0.232 1.15 0.32 79.20% 2.71
2008 Blue Jays (AAA) 9.1 4.7 1.94 0.29 0.245 1.43 0.327 63.40% 3.17
2009 CHONE 7.07 4.18 1.69 1.18 0.264 1.48 0.302 71.90% 4.8
2009 ZiPS 6.5 3.6 1.81 1 0.26 1.39 0.295
4.33

The Chicago White Sox - Gordon Beckham
The White Sox already need him. There is no way they can continue with Dewayne Wise and Chris Getz as the leadoff hitters. Gordon Beckham is not a classic leadoff hitter but he'll do until the White Sox can develop or trade for one. Beckham is a natural shortstop but showed this spring that he could easily transition to second base, and I can only imagine a switch to the outfield would be even simpler for such a gifted athlete.

Honorable Mention: Dayan Viciedo

Season Team BB% K% BB/K OBP OPS ISO BABIP wOBA
2008 White Sox (A) 7.90% 12.10% 0.71 0.365 0.865 0.19 0.313 0.379
The Cleveland Indians - David Huff
I happen to believe that Cliff Lee will have a fine season for the Indians. However Fausto Carmona is on my likely to flop list. Their rotation is the biggest weakness on a team loaded offensively and in the bullpen. David Huff projects as a solid rotation starter by most accounts but I see a lot of Brandon Webb in him. He induces lots of groundballs and strikes out enough batters to make him a fantasy favorite. Matt LaPorta is probably ready to be a big bat in the lineup but the Indians are not desperate for his bat just yet. They'll need Huff very soon.

Honorable Mention: Matt LaPorta

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2006 Indians (A-) 9.39 8.22 1.14 0 0.294 2.09 0.398 70.60% 4.24
2007 Indians (A+) 6.94 2.26 3.07 0.6 0.253 1.21 0.302 74.20% 3.33
2008 Indians (AA) 8.5 1.92 4.43 0.69 0.192 0.88 0.24 80.80% 2.99
2008 Indians (AAA) 9.04 1.67 5.4 0.89 0.23 1.03 0.291 73.50% 3.15
2009 CHONE 6.92 2.97 2.33 1.29 0.264 1.34 0.297 73.00% 4.54
2009 ZiPS 6 2.32 2.58 1.35 0.282 1.37 0.308
4.53

The Detroit Tigers - Cale Iorg
There is just no way that Adam Everett can survive an entire season as the Tigers shortstop. He has zero for a bat and his glove while good is not so good that the Tigers will tolerate a hole in the lineup longer than it takes Cale Iorg to make an impact at AA Erie. Iorg has been compared to a young Nomar Garciaparra (ironically they used to compare Adam Everett to Nomar as well - "they" sure screwed up that one) but probably will not be as good as Nomar was at his best. That's my opinion, GM Dave Dombrowski believes he'll be an All-Star for the Tigers which doesn't necessarily contradict my idea, does it? The Tigers will be desperate for pitching by May but their system does not have anyone ready to make an impact who is not already in the majors.

Honorable Mention: Wilkin Ramirez

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2007 Tigers (R) 11 2 0 1 0 1 6 0 0 0.182
2007 Tigers (A+) 18 5 0 0 5 1 5 0 0 0.278
2008 Tigers (A+) 383 96 10 61 47 35 111 22 11 0.251
2009 CHONE 400 79 6 43 39 23 153 12 5 0.198
2009 ZiPS 409 80 10 44 35 22 148 16 13 0.196

The Kansas City Royals - Daniel Cortes
The Royals actually have solid players at most positions. Their rotation is not stellar but is very solid. The bullpen includes a collection of solid veteran arms with a a variety of pitching styles. Daniel Cortes is the prospect that is easiest to see on the Royals in 2009 even if he isn't their best prospect. He has the stuff to be a dominate reliever right now. The Royals still see him as a starter which is why he remains in the minors. I'm calling it 50/50 whether Cortes will get the call as a starter or reliever.

Honorable Mention: Mitch Maier

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2006 Royals (A) 7.71 4.37 1.76 1.8 0.288 1.63 0.324 65.70% 5.8
2006 White Sox (A) 8.02 3.18 2.53 0.5 0.264 1.37 0.332 63.40% 3.34
2007 Royals (A+) 8.78 3.29 2.67 0.51 0.227 1.2 0.295 72.30% 3.28
2008 Royals (AA) 8.41 4.24 1.98 1 0.238 1.35 0.29 77.80% 4.4
2009 CHONE 6.73 5.5 1.22 1.57 0.294 1.79 0.325 68.60% 5.92
2009 ZiPS 5.27 4.76 1.11 1.59 0.288 1.67 0.302
5.84

The Minnesota Twins - Kevin Mulvey
The Twins are pretty solid from 1-25 but it is pretty easy to predict they'll need another arm at some point during the season. Kevin Mulvey is a likely candidate to be the first callup due to his versatility (starting or relieving) and his minor league experience.

Honorable Mention: Anthony Swarzak

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2006 Mets (R) 4.5 0 1 0 0.151 0.5 0.177 100.00% 2.2
2006 Mets (AA) 6.75 3.38 2 0.68 0.21 1.13 0.246 80.90% 3.8
2007 Mets (AA) 6.53 2.55 2.56 0.24 0.253 1.24 0.307 63.90% 3.08
2007 Mets (AAA) 4.5 0 3 0 0.106 0.33 0.126 100.00% 2.2
2008 Twins (AAA) 7.36 2.92 2.52 0.97 0.267 1.35 0.315 68.60% 4.06
2009 CHONE 5.95 3.44 1.73 1.25 0.283 1.5 0.311 70.50% 4.9
2009 ZiPS 4.81 3.35 1.43 1.2 0.285 1.5 0.302
4.91

The Los Angeles Angels - Brandon Wood

In almost any other organization, Brandon Wood would be an established major leaguer by now. His power is definitely real. He isn't likely to hit better than .250-.260 but that kind of average with 30 homers from the shortstop position is very acceptable. Any injury in the infield will bring Wood to the majors.

Honorable Mention:

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2006 Angels (AA) 453 125 25 74 83 54 149 19 3 0.276
2007 Angels (AAA) 437 119 23 73 77 45 120 10 1 0.272
2007 Angels 33 5 1 2 3 0 12 0 0 0.152
2008 Angels (AAA) 395 117 31 82 84 45 104 6 5 0.296
2008 Angels 150 30 5 12 13 4 43 4 0 0.2
2009 Bill James 257 65 13 36 39 20 71 6 2 0.253
2009 CHONE 491 114 21 68 69 42 164 9 3 0.232
2009 Marcel 260 62 8 30 30 17 61 5 1 0.238
2009 Oliver 551 134 27

43 158

0.243
2009 ZiPS 532 122 21 62 77 38 148 9 3 0.229

The Oakland Athletics - Aaron Cunningham

The Athletics have tons of options for a call-up but with Billy Beane's aggressive promoting and signing style this season I think he'll reach for the best available when he dips into his minor league system (as opposed to a more known but mediocre option). Aaron Cunningham looks a lot like Matt Holliday. He has good but not great tools and decent plate discipline for such a young player.

Honorable Mention: Adrian Cardenas

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO CS AVG
2006 White Sox (A) 341 104 11 58 41 34 72 10 0.305
2007 White Sox (A+) 252 74 8 51 37 34 39 8 0.294
2007 Diamondbacks (A+) 123 44 3 25 20 5 23 3 0.358
2007 Diamondbacks (AA) 118 34 5 25 20 12 27 3 0.288
2008 Athletics (AA) 347 110 12 65 52 38 92 4 0.317
2008 Athletics (AAA) 76 29 5 21 14 11 16 1 0.382
2008 Athletics 80 20 1 7 14 6 24 0 0.25
2009 Bill James 256 74 8 42 37 24 64 4 0.289
2009 CHONE 473 120 11 71 55 39 129 7 0.254
2009 Marcel 219 60 6 28 33 21 47 1 0.274
2009 Oliver 436 121 15

35 99
0.278
2009 ZiPS 532 132 17 72 69 42 110 9 0.248

The Seattle Mariners - Greg Halman
The Mariners have no need to rush anyone through their system. They have made it clear to their fanbase (if not outright admitting it) that this is a rebuilding year (they like to call it a transition year) and losing a lot of games may be a part of that. Greg Halman is a player that almost demands that he be advanced through the system quickly. He also has the most star qualities of anyone to come through the Mariner system since Alex Rodriguez. Halman will be an annual 30/30 threat that has been compared to Andre Dawson. I happen to think Grady Sizemore is a good comparison.

Honorable Mention: Michael Saunders

Season Team AB H HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
2006 Mariners (A-) 116 30 5 19 15 3 32 10 4 0.259
2007 Mariners (A-) 238 73 16 37 37 21 85 16 8 0.307
2007 Mariners (A) 187 34 4 26 15 8 77 15 7 0.182
2008 Mariners (A+) 257 69 19 52 53 16 76 23 1 0.268
2008 Mariners (AA) 235 65 10 43 30 16 66 8 6 0.277
2009 CHONE 452 90 10 59 45 21 172 16 7 0.199
2009 Oliver 499 119 23

24 157

0.238
2009 ZiPS 480 108 19 55 64 20 138 30 12 0.225

The Texas Rangers - Derek Holland
The Rangers have a loaded minor league system. They could probably call up a player to fill-in at any position and that player would warrent consideration by fantasy owners. Derek Holland is a potential ace pitcher. The Rangers need nothing more desperately.

Honorable Mention: Neftali Feliz / Justin Smoak

Season Team K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9 AVG WHIP BABIP LOB% FIP
2007 Rangers (A-) 11.15 2.82 3.95 0.94 0.232 1.16 0.321 68.70% 3.29
2008 Rangers (A) 8.74 2.79 3.14 0.19 0.226 1.13 0.302 74.10% 2.53
2008 Rangers (A+) 10.74 1.45 7.4 0.29 0.186 0.81 0.274 56.90% 1.81
2008 Rangers (AA) 10.04 2.08 4.83 0 0.16 0.77 0.24 80.00% 1.66
2009 CHONE 6.79 4.11 1.65 1.74 0.278 1.54 0.302 71.00% 5.6
2009 ZiPS 5.19 3.38 1.54 0.87 0.267 1.4 0.294
4.35

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