Sunday, August 30, 2009

Early 2010 Opening Day Closer Predictions

posted by Jon Williams
One of the biggest battles in keeper leagues is over the players that will soon become closers. These days, everyone is hip to the idea that paying full price for saves is a strategy that often blows up in your face. You just can't afford to spend 25-35 dollars (and if you really want to lead in the saves category almost twice that amount) to buy one of the closers that you'll have to pray doesn't lose his job. The recent outcome of this mass realization is that the next in line relievers have become more expensive. Whereas in the old days, you could buy one of the top set-up guys for a few dollars, you see the best set-up guys under the weaker closers going for $10-15 and even up to $20 in some cases. Don't believe me? Check out how much guys like Carlos Marmol and Manny Corpas cost this spring and how much were they actually worth?

With this article, I am not trying to predict free agent activity and trades. Instead I want to give you an early look at the players with closer skills who have the eyes of their respective teams as potential closers. In addition I'll be evaluating the present closers for weaknesses that may not be apparent on the surface. Most of this will be done with AL & NL-only leagues as the context but it should have tons of value for mixed leaguers also.

Baltimore Orioles
Jim Johnson has been closing for the Orioles since they traded George Sherrill to the Los Angeles Dodgers just before the trading deadline. He is a solid reliever with a high groundball rate. His K9 is decent but not spectacular. Johnson has done nothing to lose the role this year and would probably continue to do a solid job as the closer next season. However, Chris Ray is still on this team. He was the closer before he was hurt and has the flashy K-rate that managers love to see. Unfortunately, Ray has never been as good as he looked according to FIP, mostly due to poor walk rates and relatively few groundballs. But lately Ray has concentrated on using his two-seam fastball which has greater movement than his harder but straighter four-seam fastball. The results have been extremely good for him. If this keeps up he'll be hard to keep out of the role.

2010 Prediction: Jim Johnson remains the closer to start the season, but Chris Ray will be forever rumored to take the job and will by mid-season.

Boston Red Sox
Though his strikeout rate remains high, Jonathan Papelbon's three year decline in K9 and this year's loss of control is becoming a much discussed issue in Boston. Papelbon refuses to sign a long term deal with the Red Sox, insisting that he will become a free agent after the 2011 season. He is looking for Mariano Rivera money, that the Red Sox and Theo Epstein have been reluctant to give to relief pitchers. Meanwhile, Daniel Bard has reached the majors and his stuff is just as good as Papelbon's. There have already been rumors and talk of a Papelbon trade so that Bard can take over as closer. Having watched Bard frequently, I do not think the Red Sox would lose much by making the change.

2010 Prediction:
Papelbon will keep the job after the Red Sox explore trade possibilities this winter. But if his stuff continues to degrade, the Red Sox will not hesitate to make the change to Daniel Bard.

Chicago White Sox
Bobby Jenks has had injury issues this season, including missing time after the removal of kidney stones. His K-rate is back where it should be at close to a strikeout per inning. But the reduction in his groundball rate and a freakishly high HR/FB has led to a surge in his ERA. Matt Thornton has become next-in-line thanks to superb performances over the last two seasons. Octavio Dotel becomes a free agent after the season and is likely to find a new team. Bobby Jenks will be due a big raise in arbitration this season but the White Sox can afford to pay him.

2010 Prediction:
Jenks is not the best closer, but he seems like one of the safer ones for fantasy owners. If anything developed, Thornton would step in without a hitch.

Cleveland Indians
I have always loved Kerry Wood but he has not been good this season. The main problem is his control. Wood has never been considered a control pitcher but after last season it seemed like being in the bullpen clicked with him. It could be the change in leagues, or the nagging injuries that have always plagued him, but realistically his walk rate looks like it has always looked which is a problem. Joe Smith, Tony Sipp, Chris Perez and Rafael Perez are all options if they decide to make a change. The favorite looks like Chris Perez who has control problems of his own. Wood has a vesting option in his contract at 55 games finished which I have a feeling the Indians will try to avoid. So we might see someone besides Wood seeing some save chances over the next five weeks.

2010 Prediction:
Kerry Wood will be shopped at the Winter Meetings but the Indians will find few buyers. Wood starts the season as the closer with Perez a popular sleeper pick.

2011 DARK HORSE SELECTION: Tony Sipp - This kid has the stuff to close without question. He has been up and down all season. He had a terrible month of July but has been Lights Out in August. He had Tommy John Surgery in 2007 and took some time to get his mojo working but he is certainly on right now. This time next season everyone will want him.

Detroit Tigers
The Tigers always seem to have bullpen issues. Fernando Rodney has held on to the job without any problems this season but the Tigers will almost certainly try to upgrade their bullpen after the season and Rodney will be a free agent. Ryan Perry is the closer of the future but he should probably be pitching at double-a Erie this season and in triple-a in 2010. Brandon Lyon has closer experience and has had a solid season, but I see him as a set-up man next season if he remains with the Tigers. Joel Zumaya should be an option only as a reserve on very deep rosters in very deep leagues.

2010 Prediction: No one on the present roster will take the job from Rodney if he stays. But the Tigers will be looking to trade for or sign a closer if they can do so without breaking the bank. Wouldn't the idea of a Tigers/Red Sox trade be interesting? I sincerely doubt that the Tigers would allow Rodney to leave only to sign Lyon on as their closer. If everyone leaves Ryan Perry will be forced into the closer role.

Kansas City Royals
With Joakim Soria the Royals have one of the better closers in baseball. Unfortunately, the Royals have a terrible reputation when it comes to protecting their players from injury and properly diagnosing and treating them after they occur. Soria suffered from some mysterious ailments that the team refused to discuss in much detail. It has greatly reduced Soria's innings this season and thus his impact on fantasy teams. Kyle Farnsworth would close if Soria was unavailable.

2010 Predictions: The Royals need to make improvements all over the field. I would be shocked if they did much to address the bullpen beyond Soria and Farnsworth. Soria is the unquestioned closer for the Royals.

LA Angels
Brian Fuentes has continued the Angel tradition of collecting a ton of saves after replacing Francisco Rodriguez. He won't break K-Rod's record but should easily surpass 40 saves this year. There is no doubt that given health Fuentes will start 2010 as the closer. But with Fuentes being less than awe inspiring it would not shock me if a change came in 2010 if he were ineffective. Jose Arredondo is still the next best option. His inflated ERA is the result of a bloated BABIP of .363, but his solid .332 FIP is a sign that he is still a very good pitcher.

2010 Prediction: Brian Fuentes will be the unquestioned closer to start 2010. Jose Arredondo is the future.

Minnesota Twins
Joe Nathan is one of the top three closers in the game. The Twins are moving into a brand new stadium next season so any thoughts of trading one of their most popular players should be out the window. Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares can both make claims on being next in line but most likely they'll need to wait until 2012 before it begins to look like a possibility. The Twins traded a player to be named later for Arizona's Jon Rauch on Friday to add depth to their bullpen, but it would take a disaster to find him in a position to get saves.

2010 Prediction: Joe Nathan is the closer. There is no doubt. I like Guerrier as the future closer but in fantasy years that is decades away.

New York Yankees
The Yankees have a Hall-of-Fame closer who should be just fine through the end of his contract in 2010. The question then becomes how much and how many years with the Yankees be willing to invest in a 41-year old reliever like Mariano Rivera. The Yankees have plenty of in-house options to replace Rivera should he decide to retire. But if he continues to pitch I cannot see anyone outbidding the Bombers for his services. The future at closer in New York could come from almost anywhere. I would cross both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes off the list of possibilities, they'll be in the rotation. My favorite to take over the role is David Robertson, who still has some control issues but a K-rate over 13.00 makes up for quite a bit. Mark Melancon, Brian Bruney, and half a dozen names from the minors could be closing in a few years. This is a team where speculation on what the future holds will be both expensive and risky.

2010 Prediction: Mariano Rivera has another World Series MVP in his future. David Robertson and Mark Melancon will both emerge as great set-up relievers and possible closers.

Oakland Athletics
When Joey Devine was unable to go this season Brad Ziegler stepped into the role and performed decently but still managed to lose the role to Andrew Bailey who has pitched great. Michael Wuertz also managed to collect a few saves. The A's have a solid and deep bullpen that should only improve when Devine returns next season. Though Bailey has done nothing to lose the job this season, he will need to re-win the job next spring. Billy Beane could very well trade Bailey or Ziegler if the return is good enough.

2010 Prediction: Joey Devine will emerge as the closer the Athletics meant him to be since acquiring him. Health will always be a consideration for Devine owners, so Ziegler and Wuertz will see plenty of bids.

Seattle Mariners
I have been really proud of myself for calling David Aardsma as the Mariners closer (you should see the size of my head). But Aardsma is not a long-term closer. His walk rate is still bloated (5.17 BB9) and he's been a bit lucky that those walks haven't done more damage. The Mariners are slowly putting together a nice collection of arms. Brandon Morrow will be a starter next season and will stay a starter long enough to get through the ups and downs of starting (which means the entire season). Sean White, Shawn Kelley, Josh Fields and Mark Lowe are all possibilities but I have a feeling that the next long term closer for the Mariners isn't in the picture just yet.

2010 Prediction: David Aardsma won't be quite as good next year but he'll start the season in the role and keep it all year.

Tampa Bay Rays
After struggling to find a permanent closer for the last few years, J.P. Howell emerged this season as a legit option. Howell is far from the perfect closer. His walk rate is mediocre. He looks lucky with a 86.8 percent LOB and a .259 BABIP. But I can see the Rays going with him next year rather than invest resources to bring in a more established option. Long term the closer willcome from the farm system. Mostly likely from the group of very good starters they have trapped at triple-A. Jeremy Hellickson, Jake McGee, Wade Davis and Jeff Neimann will battle for the last spot in the rotation next year and the losers are likely to find roles in the bullpen. These are not your typical fifth starters.

2010 Predictions: The Rays will have another Spring Training battle of potential closer candidates. Howell will be the established favorite with an edge in earning the role.

Texas Rangers
Frank Francisco has been a great closer for the Rangers when healthy this season. But his frequent DL stints have spotlighted C.J. Wilson as another fine possibility. Both get the job done with plenty of strikeouts. Francisco's stuff is a bit better but Wilson is more durable and induces groundballs.

2010 Prediction: Frank Francisco remains the number one option. C.J. Wilson will be a nice alternative when Francisco requires a few days off. Wilson makes a nice speculation pick.

Toronto Blue Jays
Cito Gaston gave us hints that he wanted Scott Downs as the closer all winter and throughout Spring Training. If you listened you were not surprised when B.J. Ryan was quickly replaced. Downs has been very good but injuries have been a problem. Jason Frasor has been a fine replacement when needed but the Blue Jays would probably look elsewhere when Downs becomes a free agent after the 2010 season. But with the Blue Jays you never know. They dump contracts and say they are raising the payroll in essentially the same breath.

2010 Prediction: Downs will begin and end the 2010 season as the Jays' closer.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Chad Qualls is a free agent after next season, so considering that the Diamondbacks tried to trade him before the deadline (and still could in a quite active waiver period) they should have a new closer in 2010. The D'Backs have several good young arms in their bullpen that could replace Qualls. Juan Gutierrez and Esmerling Vasquez both have the stuff if not quite the guile at this point. The pitcher I like for the role has the stuff, a cool story, and a Rollie Fingers mustache too boot. Clay Zavada is my pick. In addition to a nice strikeout rate he has prevented the long ball despite not inducing many groundballs.

2010 Prediction: Chad Qualls will be a free agent after the 2010 season and will probably be traded before Opening Day. Clay Zavada will become the new closer.

Atlanta Braves
Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano have basically been co-closers this season. Neither has been especially bad but Soriano has been much better statistically. Both will be free agents after the season. The Braves could re-sign one of the two or another free agent closer but their bullpen could still use a bit more depth. The side-arming Peter Moylan is probably the most likely in-house option but it is a bit of a stretch to see him in the role.

2010 Prediction: The Braves 2010 closer is not yet on the roster.

Chicago Cubs
After a season of speculation the Cubs finally gave Carlos Marmol the closer role after Kevin Gregg experienced an inconveniently timed streak if awfulness. Ironically, Marmol has been just as awful (if not worse) since gaining the role. "We'll continue to give him the ball," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "But boy he makes it tough on himself." The Cubs are looking incapable of making up the games they need to get back into the Wild Card race. They have almost no chance at catching the Cardinals for the division. So, giving Marmol the role for the remainder of the season makes some sense. Gregg is a free agent after the season and will be in demand as a mid-priced closer option.

2010 Prediction: He'll be pissed about it, but once again Carlos Marmol will have to earn the closer role in Spring Training. In addition to whatever free agent options the Cubs bring into the mix, he'll have to compete with Angel Guzman and Jeff Samardzija as well. Marmol is the odds on favorite but I'll be bidding on Guzman and Samardzija instead.

Cincinnati Reds
Francisco Cordero has been very effective as the Reds closer. Although many have speculated that the Reds would be looking to trade away some salary after the season, I do not believe that will be the case. It certainly won't be Cordero who is traded. Nick Masset is probably the closer-in-waiting and a nice option should I be wrong about the Reds intentions. Masset has a decent but uncloser-like K-rate of 7.74 this season and a high groundball rate of 54.2 percent. He would probably be of use to NL-only league owners even without a regular opportunity for saves.

2010 Prediction: Francisco Cordero will remain the closer in Cincinnati.

Colorado Rockies
It was not hard to predict that Huston Street would be a solid closer for the Colorado Rockies. being effective has never been as much of a problem as staying healthy. In the spring rumors flew around that the Rockies only acquired Street to trade him and there seems to have been some truth to that notion. But when the Rockies found themselves in the playoff hunt and one of the favorites to win the Wild Card, the idea of trading Street was pulled off the table. Manny Corpas, who was the player predicted to take over as closer at some point this season was disappointing to say the least. In addition to a 5.88 ERA (3.54 FIP), he suffered a variety of injuries. Corpas' most recent problem was an infection that occurred in his surgically repaired elbow. He'll miss the rest of the season as a result. Matt Daley and Rafael Betancourt have both been solid set-up men. Betancourt is the likely fill-in should anything happen to Street at this point. The Rockies hold a reasonable option on Betancourt for the 2010 season and they seem likely to retain him. Street is in his last year of arbitration and could still be traded after the season.

2010 Prediction: Street stays on for the 2010 season and is once again a solid saves option for fantasy owners.

Florida Marlins
Leo Nunez has done a decent job as the closer since Matt Lindstrom went down with injuries. Lindstrom had been on the verge of replacement before getting hurt anyway. However Lindstrom is back and has pitched much better of late. The Marlins have been pretty open about shopping for a veteran closer but with the Marlins the price is most often too high. Dan Meyer, the former top prospect of the Braves and Athletics has been priceless in the pen and has been mentioned as a potential closing candidate. As a lefty the Marlins may prefer him in a set-up role.

2010 Prediction: Matt Lindstrom is reinstalled as the closer even if Nunez finishes the 2009 season in the role.

Houston Astros
Injuries prevented Jose Valverde from providing his fantasy owners with a satisfying season but statistically he has been the same pitcher he's always been. he provides tons of strikeouts with a mediocre walk rate. Valverde is unsigned and a potential free agent after this season but the Astros almost have to re-sign him because they have no prospects or even much in the way of a veteran reliever that could fill the role on a full-time basis. LaTroy Hawkins was a nice fill-in this season but he's a free agent again after this season and is likely to make a lot more money elsewhere.

2010 Prediction: The Astros will try to re-sign Valverde but may go for a cheaper option instead like Kevin Gregg or Mike Gonzalez. They have almost nothing in the way of an in-house option.

LA Dodgers
In his first full season as the regular closer, Jonathan Broxton has been very good. He has a killer strikeout rate (13.28) and a very nice groundball percentage (54 percent) that combine to make him one of the better closer's available. The Dodgers have built a very nice bullpen around him. George Sherrill was a pretty good closer himself and is now Broxton's set-up man. Guillermo Mota has been solid but is a free agent after this season. Ramon Troncoso has a good arm and should continue to develop into a solid reliever in his own right. Hong-Chih Kuo could be one of the better pitchers in baseball if he could stay healthy and available.

2010 Prediction: Jonathan Broxton is one of the better closers in baseball.

Milwaukee Brewers
Trevor Hoffman was great this season for the Brewers. He has a very good chance at signing on as a closer somewhere for the 2010 season and it could be to stay in Milwaukee. The Brewers haven't developed any obvious closer candidates but Todd Coffey looks like he could handle the role. Coffey was frequently touted as a potential closer in his Cincinnati days. He owns a 3.87 K/BB with a groundball rate of over 50 percent.

2010 Prediction: Hoffman sticks around as the closer for one more season.

New York Mets
It is safe to say that the 2009 season has been a disaster for the New York Mets. But at least they can say that in a season where 20 different Mets went on the disabled list (including first baseman Carlos Delgado, shortstop Jose Reyes, third baseman David Wright, center fielder Carlos Beltran, starters Johan Santana, Oliver Perez, and John Maine as well as set-up man, J.J. Putz) closer Francisco Rodriguez stayed relatively healthy. That is not to say that K-Rod has not been a little disappointing. His strikeout rate fell for the fifth straight season even as his walk rate rose for the third straight season to a career high 5.12 BB9, resulting in a career high 4.07 FIP. I suggested he might have an arm injury in Spring Training due to reports of his declining velocity on his fastball, though it rebounded slightly this season to 92.7 from 91.9 in 2008 with the Angels. I still think of K-Rod as a closer to avoid investing too heavily in owning.

2010 Prediction: Rodriguez will remain the Mets closer as long as he is healthy and able to do so.

Philadelphia Phillies
He was almost the perfect closer in 2008 but Brad Lidge has been a disaster in 2009 with nine blown saves and a bloated ERA. Almost every appearance has been an adventure. The team has used DL stints, brief breaks from the role to try an jar Lidge back into the pitcher he can be. Nothing has worked. Lidge has done this before. With the Astros, Lidge was often on and off as a great closer and then inexplicably awful. Unfortunately, when called on to close Ryan Madson (the theoretical next-in-line) has also failed to impress. Madson has been okay in his eighth inning role but has five blown saves of his own. The Phillies failed in their attempts to add a veteran closer to their pen before the deadline and nothing appears to be imminent on the trade front. But there is another option. Brett Myers is due to return from a minor league rehab assignment very soon. Myers was a solid closing option in 2007 and the rotation has been fine without him.

2010 Prediction: Thanks to a pricey contract Lidge returns as the closer. But September of 2009 and the playoffs are an entirely different story. I'm betting on Myers to close 2009.

Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are becoming a difficult team to predict. I never thought they would trade the reasonably signed Nate McClouth for a collection of B and C prospects. They traded just about every position player who wasn't a first or second year player in exchange for sometimes promising but usually disappointing prospects. I think this was backwards thinking on their part. I know they were trying to add depth to their system but they've already proven that they can produce decent major league role players. Where the Pirates system has always failed them is in developing star level players. The players worthy of building around. This is why I would have preferred fewer top level prospects rather than so many players similar to the ones they already have. But they do have Andrew McCutchen and he looks like a star, but all by himself he just isn't enough. Closer Matt Capps was often involved in trade rumors but has remained a Pirate thus far. Capps is arbitration eligible this season which is likely the reasoning behind offering him in trades. Or maybe, Capps is still a Pirate because his 6.23 ERA/ 5.03 FIP is awful. Capps has been worked to death in his time with the Pirates and would probably benefit from a few months off. Unfortunately, the Pirates don't seem to have anyone remaining with closer worthy skills.

2010 Prediction: The Pirates fail to trade Matt Capps and he remains their closer.

San Diego Padres
The Padres seemed to be shopping Heath Bell pretty aggressively. I have no idea why. Bell is one of the better closers in baseball and he made just over one million dollars this season. Even with the raise he is due next season he should remain one of the better bargains in baseball. But I have to admit the Padres have usually underwhelmed me with their baseball decisions though they have excelled at finding relief pitchers. Mike Adams who has been around the block and been called the closer of various futures pitched great for the Padres this season before suffering a shoulder strain. The club is insisting that this shoulder strain has nothing to do with the torn labrum that required off-season shoulder surgery. I have my doubts about whether that is true or not. Adams was in the middle of his best season and would have become the closer had Bell been traded. With Bell sidelined, Edward Mujica moves to the top of the next-in-line list. Mujica has the stuff but is short on experience.

2010 Prediction: The Padres will realize that Bell is more than worth his salary and let him remain as closer for another season. Mike Adams will be worth drafting next season but will remain an injury risk.

San Francisco Giants
Brian Wilson has been a fine closer for the Giants. He has a decent strikeout rate. He walks a few too many but is not in disaster territory. He also induces groundballs at around a 50 percent rate. He also comes very cheap. The Giants have no reason to make a change. The bullpen around Wilson is strong with a nice mix of veteran experience and live young arms. Brandon Medders, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Alfeldt and Bobby Howry are all solid relievers and decent options to close if the need arose.

2010 Prediction: Brian Wilson is a lock to remain the closer for the Giants.

St. Louis Cardinals
This spring everyone was declaring their loyalty to one or the other Cardinals reliever. Popular opinion had Chris Perez and Jason Motte both seeing time as the closer this season. But the thing that so many missed (and I know they missed it because of the high prices attached to Perez and Motte) is that Tony LaRussa was not fond of the idea of either one of the players as his closer. I am not a big fan of Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan for reasons that have little to do with their levels of ability. But one thing I've learned is that LaRussa usually says exactly what he means. This spring he went about his thinking of what was required in a closer. Basically he stated that he did not like the idea of rookies in such an important role. He believed that a great quality in an effective closer was intimidation. He didn't believe that any rookie could intimidate professional hitters. If he couldn't have that intimidation factor he wanted a track record of success that no rookie has for obvious reasons. Knowing that LaRussa trusted Ryan Franklin as his closer in 2008, it was a cinch to predict that Franklin would be LaRussa's choice in 2009. That Franklin has been outstanding in the role is just gravy. The Cardinals hold an option on Franklin for 2010 at $2.75 million.

2010 Prediction: Another Tony LaRussa trait? Trusting veterans to continue doing what they have always done until they prove otherwise. Ryan Franklin will remain the Cardinals closer in 2010.

Washington Nationals
Mike MacDougal has been attempting to become somebody's closer for a long time. For reasons mostly concerning his lack of control, MacDougal has failed over and over again. So while MacDougal has been rather effective (despite still dicey control and a severe loss of dominance) for the Nationals, it is difficult to believe that he will remain the closer for very long. I believe the Nationals have two excellent possibilities for closing. Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett both have the stuff, though Clippard could still wind up in the rotation.

2010 Prediction: Despite Mike MacDougal''s best efforts, Tyler Clippard closes for the Nationals.

Under Not Fantasy Sports but Still Awesome!

Dan Brown, author of the Di Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, has a new book coming out called The Lost Symbol. The new book also features the historian detective, Robert Langdon. Dan brown writes books that are almost impossible to put down. Everyone you know will be talking about it very soon. The even greater news is that Amazon is offering an insane discount on the book right off the bat. You can get the Hardcover edition for just $16.17 which is 46 percent off the cover price. If you buy through one of my Amazon links you'll also be helping out Advanced Fantasy Baseball. In fact, if you buy stuff from Amazon.com you can always do so through the portals on this site and help me out while doing your shopping as usual.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hot Prospect: Matt Young PLUS Some Other Stuff...

posted by Jon Williams
Sometimes really smart people do stupid things. They do things like dismiss a prospect entirely based on his age or his height. That's dumb. Yes, your age at a given level is an indication of a player's talent and skill level but it isn't everything. And at least in baseball, size doesn't matter. Matt Young is 26-years old and short. He is a very good prospect.

Young was a fantastic High School Player for Plano East High School where he made the All-Texas Team. At the University of New Mexico he was a Freshman All-American. He led the Mid-West Conference in walks and On-Base Percentage. His sophomore year he led the conference in walks and steals. His junior year he hit .381 and led the MWC in triples. He went undrafted but signed as a free agent with the Braves.

With the Rome Braves in 2005 he hit .312/.412/.409 with 85 runs and he had a .992 fielding percentage in center field. He led the Braves organization in OBP and runs scored. In 2006 with Myrtle Beach he hit .281/.389/.375 with 30 doubles and 71 walks, while playing excellent defense and stealing 21 bases. In 2007 he missed time due to injuries but still had a .381 on-base percentage for the Pelicans. He was promoted to double-A and struggled for the first time in his life batting .242/.308/.305 in 33 games. In 2008 repeating double-A he hit .289/.384/.385 with 30 stolen bases.

Last fall the Braves sent Young to the Arizona Fall League, a prospect showcase and he sparkled hitting .367/.426/.571. But for some reason the Braves sent him back to double-A Mississippi where he is presently hitting .281/.409/.393 with 33 stolen bases in 427 at-bats. Young looks like another Nyjer Morgan (maybe not quite as good the base stealer --more on him later). Remember last weekk when we discussed the way teams are going to change? Young is a perfect example of the type of player that will be receiving more chances in the majors than in past years. The Braves haven't shown many signs of including him in their plans (I believe he'll be Rule V eligible) but he should be on the radar of fantasy owners as a potential steal source.

Some Other Stuff...

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated is suggesting that Major League Baseball is almost certain to have a slotting system for Amateur Draft picks in place by the 2012 draft. This is a great idea. MLB should model their plan after the NBA's and eliminate arbitration altogether. It seems to me that the problem with baseball's present system is not so much that the Free Agents demand so much money. The true problem is that the arbitration eligible players demand so much and and often are not worth it. But under the present rules teams are screwed if they don't offer arbitration.

Should the Twins have to pay Delmon Young $3-4 million dollars next year to keep him around? No, but they will because it would be far worse to let him go for nothing before they even managed to squeeze a good season out of him. This is why the NBA's restricted free agent process is so much better. The player can still get a huge payday if he's worth it (as Tim Lincecum absolutely is) but guys like Young (and the dozens just like him) get the raise without the ridiculous demands attached.

***

Tyler Hissey of MVN's Around the Majors blog has put together some rankings of this winter's class of free agent pitchers. He has three different lists but here's the FIP rankings. Check out the Around the Majors blog for the others.

Free Agent Pitchers By Fielding Independent Pitching:

Joel Pineiro: 3.04
Erik Bedard: 3.54
John Lackey: 3.79
Jose Contreras: 3.96
Randy Wolf: 3.98
Jason Marquis: 4.00
Andy Pettitte: 4.12
Tim Wakefield: 4.19
Carl Pavano: 4.26
Rich Harden: 4.46
Kevin Millwood: 4.56
Brad Penny: 4.57
Doug Davis: 4.59
Jon Garland: 4.64
Vicente Padilla: 4.83
Jarrod Washburn: 4.86

***
Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle is daydreaming about an unlimited budget for free agents to boost the Houston Astros back into contention. He suggests that the dream lineup for 2010 would look like this:

C--Jason Castro.
1b--Lance Berkman.
2b--Felipe Lopez.
3b--Miguel Tejada.
SS--Tommy Manzella.
LF--Carlos Lee.
CF--Michael Bourn.
RF--Hunter Pence.

SP--Roy Oswalt.
SP--Wandy Rodriguez.
SP--Bud Norris.
SP--Justin Duchscherer.
SP--John Lackey.

Plus some undefined changes to the bullpen...Is this the best he can do? I bet everyone reading this can do better without adding more than $30 million to their $102 million dollar payroll. Use Cot's Baseball Contracts if you'd like to show me how much better you can do...(yes, hint, hint).

***

The Chicago Cubs have finally been sold. After years of rumors and at least two years of negotiations the Cubs (or 95 percent of them) are now the property of the Ricketts family for a cool $845 million. Hopefully, this will free the Cubs to do whatever it takes to finally return to the World Series and even to win one. The Cubs were severely hampered by this process in Spring Training when they attempted to acquire Jake Peavy or another top starter. The Cubs should make big moves this fall.

***

Who says the Mets don't have any prospects? He came into the spotlight this week when he made Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis is not just the flavor of the week. He was a third round pick in 2008 and just had his 22nd birthday. He'll be moving quickly through the Mets organization if this keeps up. This week's hot sheet also includes my second favorite prospect ( after Michael Stanton), Brett Wallace. Check out the write ups on the whole list which is not behind the subscriber wall.

***

Early this season I was a doubter when it came to Nyjer Morgan. I was not discounting his ability to play good defense and steal bases. I just did not think the Pittsburgh Pirates were the type of team to allow an older player like Morgan a full-time opportunity. I thought they would lean on their younger players even if it hurt a little. I should have known better. But I am now as big a Nyjer Morgan fan as there is. I love to see that guys like Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post are also on the bandwagon.

The Washington Nationals are quickly becoming my second favorite team. Now that Mike Rizzo is the GM I'm confident that they will continue to make all the right moves. They are closer than you think to being a contender. They have the key parts of a quality offense. If you can't find a way to score runs with a speedster with on-base skills like Nyjer Morgan, an on-base machine like Nick Johnson (I know he's gone but still...) and middle of the order bats like Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn (who should be moving to first base next season), and Josh Willingham you should be fired. Just ask Manny Acta.

Rizzo will keep building up the farm system. This time next season Stephen Strasburg should be the best pitching prospect in the country (if he isn't already) and about to join the Nationals' rotation (if he isn't already there). I enjoyed reading how the Nationals led by Mike Rizzo out-maneuvered super agent Scott Boras. The stories are probably overblown but Strasburg apparently always intended to sign provided he received a fair offer. So when the Nats discovered this and stuck to their record breaking (but far from the 25-50 million Boras was supposedly looking for) offer, and given his client's wishes, Boras had to accept it.

Strasburg is far from flawless but he is deserving of the attention he is receiving. Despite the hype you can count on the Nationals doing the right thing. They'll keep Strasburg in the minors where he belongs until he proves himself. Do not expect to see him in the majors before mid-June, if even that soon.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Delmon Young, Joe Mauer and Stuff...

posted by Jon Williams
Delmon Young on a Roll

Delmon Young
was once expected to become a major offensive baseball force. He was the next in a line of young stars that included Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, James Shields and others in the Tampa Bay Rays minor league system. He was questioned for having a bad attitude and being hard to coach, but no one doubted his potential. Four years later from that peak of interest he has yet to have much impact. He has been average at best and often much worse than that. But whereas the Rays quickly cut their loses the Minnesota Twins have stuck with him and there are signs that it is about to pay off for them and fantasy owners.

Young's mother died early this season of cancer, he received a week off. This is tough for anyone to deal with, so maybe we can understand a little better some of this season's lack of focus. To date, Young is batting .265/.292/.388 with 7 homeruns, 2 stolen bases, and three caught stealing. Though he has never been a very patient hitter (contrary to popular opinion this isn't the end of his usefulness as a hitter) Young's lack of power has been very disappointing. This is the stuff you probably already knew.

What you may not have realized is fairly significant. Like Josh Hamilton, Delmon Young has always had a slight hitch in his swing. This is something that Young has been working on since the end of last season. Changing your swing is one of the most difficult (and dangerous for your production) things that a hitter can do. Some hitters manage it easily some are forever fiddling trying to find what works again. Since the All-Star Break Young has hit .265/.292/.515 which is not amazing but a huge step up from his first half. In July he hit .313/.343/.500 and .269/.296/.558 in August. This is not mind-blowing statistically but it is progress. When you combine his statistical progress with the recent comments by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire praising Young for his change in attitude and the work he has put in working with the the coaching staff, it gives you hope that his potential is still in reach. Young is still just 24-years old, an age where most prospects are still at triple-A. Young of course has spent the last three seasons in the major leagues. I'm looking at a huge breakout in the 2010 season.

Your American League MVP is Joe MauerBold
Joe Mauer is a beast. Right now he is the best player in baseball. Yes, better than Albert Pujols. In fact Mauer could be having the best season ever for a catcher. Better than Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, or Ivan Rodriguez or any catcher in history has ever recorded.

Random Bits and Pieces

The New York Yankees may not get center fielder Brett Gardner back as soon as expected. His doctors suggested that he keep the splint on his thumb another week. So under even the most optimistic program he's another couple of weeks away. But lefty reliever Damaso Marte may be back on Friday. Don't drop Gardner unless you absolutely must. The Yankees could use his fresh legs in the last few weeks of the season to rest the older knees of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.

Ed DeCaria of BaseballHQ.com has just completed a two-part study of the correlation between pitching performance and wins. In an attempt to see what factors matter most in predicting wins. The results are a bit unsatisfying (after a whole lot of math and charting he never manages better than a 50/50 shot at predicting wins) but the articles are interesting and may make it easier to understand what makes the best pitchers tick if you have access to HQ.

Mike Hampton, who has been useful at times this season, has a torn rotator cuff. He has chosen to go the rehab route rather than have surgery. You can hardly blame him. After missing huge chunks of the last five years the idea of another serious surgery and lengthy rehab had to be daunting. I doubt he'll be of any use the rest of the season and I would be very hesitant to draft him in 2010.

Drew Stubbs (Cincinnati Reds center field prospect) has been promoted to the majors today. He should be in the majors to stay. It is actually a little shocking that the Reds did not promote him earlier considering his nice production in the minors and the Reds' needs in the outfield. He still needs to cut down the strikeouts but has begun to take walks at a decent rate and should continue to improve. He is already a better hitter than Wily Tavares. He should provide his owners with boatloads of steals.

Arizona Diamondbacks manager AJ Hinch is excited about the potential of the club's likely September callups. In particular he mentioned first base prospect Brandon Allen, who is hitting .341 with 12 homers and 31 RBIs in 35 games with Triple-A Reno since the D-backs acquired him from the White Sox. Also, outfielder Cole Gillespie who has hit .325 for triple-A Reno. Those two make nice speculation picks on FAAB if your league rules allow.

Mike Morse has been called up by the Washington Nationals. He doesn't have a clear position but he can seriously hit when given the chance. If he's still available snatch himup on the cheap.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Industry News: Fanball Buys NFFC, NFBC and Fantasy Sports Magazine

posted by Jon Williams
The Press Release:

Fanball, the premier provider of online fantasy sports contests, content, strategy and insight, announced the acquisition of the fantasy sports properties from F+W Media, Inc-- including the National Fantasy Football Championship and National Fantasy Baseball Championship contests as well as Fantasy Sports Magazine and the Company’s fantasy sports custom publications division.

Fanball’s acquisition combines two of the fantasy sports industry’s leading online and offline properties.

The National Fantasy Football Championship and National Fantasy Baseball Championship are the leading high stakes fantasy sports live event contests. Both contests feature a $100,000 Grand Prize, along with several other overall and league prizes. The high stakes contests also feature online and satellite leagues with varying price points.

Fantasy Sports Magazine has been published since 1989, and is one of the foremost fantasy sports analysis publications. The magazine currently prints four issues per year. The publication will join forces with Fanball’s wide array of fantasy sports and NFL draft-related publications. Fanball has provided fantasy sports contests and content since 1992, and has awarded more than $50 million in prize money over that time.

"Fanball is leveraging our extensive online userbase to enter the fast growing live events business for fantasy sports," said Ryan Houston, SVP of http://www.facebook.com/l/;Fanball.com http://www.facebook.com/l/;. "This enhances our product offerings and adds key personnel to our group as we continue to look at partnerships. We are thrilled to add two pioneers in the fantasy sports industry, Greg Ambrosius and Tom Kessenich. Their collective industry experience increases our presence on the national newsstand and bolsters our array of existing print publications."

“I’m excited and honored to be working with the Fanball team. This is the right move at the right time for our live events,” said Greg Ambrosius, founder of the National Fantasy Baseball and Football Championships. “With the great customer base that already exists with http://www.facebook.com/l/;Fanball.com http://www.facebook.com/l/; and CDM Fantasy Sports, the future is now brighter than it’s ever been for the NFBC, NFFC and other sports we look to be a leader in. Tom and I are excited about the future of the live events industry, about working on all of the Fanball print and online products, and about being a big part of one of the leading companies in the industry.”

Said David Blansfield, President, F+W Media, “Although we are exiting the fantasy sports market, this does not affect the rest of the sports community at F+W Media. We will continue to build our sports collectibles community through our books and magazines, auctions, data and online presence. It is a testament to their talent and reputation in the field that Greg and Tom, who have managed our fantasy sports and events businesses, have become employees of Fanball concurrent with this transaction. We congratulate them on this new opportunity.”

The National Fantasy Football Championship Main Event will occur Saturday, September 5 in Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York simultaneously, with satellite leagues taking place throughout the the next four weeks. The National Fantasy Football Championship also offers online leagues that are ongoing through the beginning of the NFL season at different price points from $125 to $1,000.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

An Early Look at 2010 Keepers

posted by Jon Williams
When you are in a competitive keeper league, next year's team is always on your mind. You look at every available player and consider his value to cost ratio. You wonder how much they might go for in next year's auction. Or at least you should do all that. I imagine sometimes you put it off. Maybe you wait until after the present season, or maybe until December when the Baseball Forecaster arrives in the mail. Still others may wait until their favorite NFL team is eliminated or (God forbid) until Spring Training begins...

Well I'm always thinking about it. And if you're an annual procrastinator you may find this article extremely useful. Here is a list of players that I am very interested in for the 2010 season. You won't find Albert Pujols or Chase Utley on this list. Some are players that are probably not on your radar yet. In some cases you may even have released or traded them away this season, but next year is a whole different beast. Some are players that have been excellent but whose season's have incorrectly been chalked up to luck. Players that have been bad for a combination of reasons that can be explained have also made the list, some are even potential superstars. Still others are players that have earned a greater opportunity that we can pounce on before they get hyped up this winter. I've broken them down into various categories for ease of use and my own entertainment.

Future Closers

Sean Burnett LHP Washington Nationals - He is a lefty with a dominate fastball and the control necessary in a quality closer. The Nationals have settled on Mike MacDougal as closer in recent weeks but that doesn't mean that Burnett does not have closing in his future. If nothing else he is a quality reliever of value in NL-only leagues.

Matt Thornton LHP Chicago White Sox -He's the best left-handed reliever in the American League. He shows the skill and the guile to close games. He is not young but is definitely a closer candidate should the White Sox part ways with Bobby Jenks.

Mike Adams RHP San Diego Padres - After injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness Mike Adams has arrived as the Padres closer-of-the-future. His mid-nineties sinking fastball has always been a dangerous pitch and he has finally developed his other pitches into assets. The rumors of a Heath Bell trade are everywhere. Adams is the man you want to own.

First Round for the First Time

Curtis Granderson OF Detroit Tigers - He has a shot at his first 30/30 season and is a young rising star in the American League. It may be a bit weird that his increase in homers seems to have robbed him of a good deal of doubles. But this is due to a large increase in fly balls more than an increase in luck. He is trying to hit them out more often and it is working.

Matt Kemp OF Los Angeles Dodgers - I predicted he would become a first round pick this season and I was right. His combination of power and speed would be even more valuable if Joe Torre used his brain a little more often when filling out the lineup cards.

Evan Longoria 3B Tampa Bay Rays - If it wasn't for the injuries, Longoria would be a clear first round pick. He is what we all expected from David Wright this season. With Wright clearly not earning a return to the first round this season, Longoria becomes the second best third baseman available.

Post-Hype Prospects

Delmon Young OF Minnesota Twins - He has officially been wiped off of every sleeper list in the country following his pretty terrible 2009 season. But he has shown signs in the second half of the player that all the prospect watchers predicted. He is still just 25 years old and the Twins are not giving up on him. You should not either, especially when he will have a single-digit price.

Brayan Pena C Kansas City Royals - I called him a sleeper in Spring Training but it took the Royals a little longer to see it. He is the starter now and will likely be next season as well. He should hit for a solid average in a lineup that should improve next season.

Prospects I Like a Lot

Alex Avila C Detroit Tigers - A promising hitter and better defensively than many projected.

Peter Bourjos OF Los Angeles Angels - One of the fastest and most exciting players in the minors or the majors.

Jason Heyward OF Atlanta Braves - The best hitter in the minors with improving power and defense.

Michael Stanton OF Florida Marlins - The most powerful hitter in the minors with improving discipline and defense.

Donovan Tate OF San Diego Padres - An incredible athlete whom the Padres are close to talking out of a North Carolina scholarship. He could be very much like Michael Stanton this time next year.

Brett Wallace 3B Oakland Athletics - A very talented hitter on the verge of the major leagues. He should hit better than .300 most seasons with power. I compare him to Joey Votto.

The Unbelievably Good

Joel Pineiro RHP St. Louis Cardinals - I have not been a big fan of Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan because despite their success, they have a long list of players they abused and discarded because they had a different way of doing things. But Pineiro is undeniably a success story based on morphing him from a mediocre strikeout pitcher into a groundball machine. By making Pineiro throw his sinker 60-70 percent of the time his game has been transformed. Pineiro was on board with the change and was quite excited about it this spring. It has worked for him and there is little chance he would abandon it. Still, most fantasy leaguers have become skeptical about seemingly mediocre talents taking a huge step up in production and will fail to properly value him. I'll take him.

Mark Reynolds 3B Arizona Diamondbacks - Most of us were not shocked by the power that Reynolds showed. But the batting average and stolen bases blew a lot of minds. The average was a little over his head but not by as much as you might think. Reynolds does not steal bases like a true speedster but he is a good base runner. Though if the Diamondbacks improve their lineup next season his opportunities could be limited. It is easy to let him run wild when the team is losing if they start winning games they'll start making more responsible decisions.

Marcos Scutaro SS Toronto Blue Jays - In the post I made the other day about the flood of rookies coming to Major League Baseball I should have mentioned that we will also be seeing more and more Marco Scutaro types. These are the players that look like great hitters in the minors and in part-time duty but for some reason fail to win a full-time opportunity in the majors. That's all going to change. Look for another large group of players like Russell Branyan, Marcos Scutaro, Ryan Ludwick and Nelson Cruz before them to get extended opportunities. I'd name them all but that will be another post altogether.

The Injury Discount

Josh Hamilton OF Texas Rangers - I don't care that he slipped up in January. I care much more that he owned up to his mistake the very next day to everyone who truly had a right to know and that was not us. He tried to take a step in normal drinking and he failed miserably. If you've been concerned about his actual performance you really shouldn't be. Hamilton is a fantastic athlete and a terrific baseball player. Towards the end the of the 2008 season he (with the helpof the best hitting coach in baseball) attempted to remove a hitch from his swing that would in theory make his already great bat speed -Otherworldly. The process was going okay but was interrupted by almost three straight months of injury problems. He'll be fine when he's healthy again and you'll get him at a discount to boot.

Vladimir Guerrero OF Los Angeles Angels - Vlad is no longer the best outfielder in all the land, the player that made us drool over 40/40 possibilities. However, he still owns incredible power when his aching old bones are properly medicated. You can now get the lesser Vlad for far less of investment than was once the case, in fact he now goes for less than he's actually worth. That makes him a target in my mind.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Does B.J. Upton Deserve Another Chance?

posted by Jon Williams
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Roundtable: Does Your Trade Pitch Work?

posted by Jon Williams
This week's Fantasy Baseball Roundtable has been posted at The Hardball Times. Derek Carty poses a question regarding trade talks:
Have you ever "pitched” or “marketed” a player in a trade and changed a potential trading partner's opinion about the player? Or, conversely, have you ever had you own opinion about a player changed by an opponent's pitch? Or could pushing a player actually have a negative effect and make a deal less attainable?
It is an interesting question that resulted in some interesting answers. Please, check it out by clicking here.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Michael Vick Decision...

posted by Jon Williams
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Sunday, August 09, 2009

2008 Quarterbacks Ranked By Yards per Game

posted by Jon Williams

Name Team Comp Att Pct Yds Y/G Y/A TD Int Sacks YdsL
Drew Brees NOR 413 635 65 5069 316.8 8 34 17 13 92
Kurt Warner ARI 401 598 67.1 4583 286.4 7.7 30 14 26 182
Jay Cutler DEN 384 616 62.3 4526 282.9 7.3 25 18 11 69
Matt Schaub HOU 251 380 66.1 3043 276.6 8 15 10 23 149
Tony Romo DAL 276 450 61.3 3448 265.2 7.7 26 14 20 123
Aaron Rodgers GNB 341 536 63.6 4038 252.4 7.5 28 13 34 231
Philip Rivers SDG 312 478 65.3 4009 250.6 8.4 34 11 25 151
Peyton Manning IND 371 555 66.8 4002 250.1 7.2 27 12 14 86
Donovan McNabb PHI 345 571 60.4 3916 244.8 6.9 23 11 23 149
Sage Rosenfels HOU 116 174 66.7 1431 238.5 8.2 6 10 9 58
Matt Cassel NWE 327 516 63.4 3693 230.8 7.2 21 11 47 219
Chad Pennington MIA 321 476 67.4 3653 228.3 7.7 19 7 24 121
Shaun Hill SFO 181 288 62.8 2046 227.3 7.1 13 8 23 148
David Garrard JAC 335 535 62.6 3620 226.3 6.8 15 13 42 288
Jeff Garcia TAM 244 376 64.9 2712 226 7.2 12 6 23 100
Brett Favre NYJ 343 522 65.7 3472 217 6.7 22 22 30 213
Matt Ryan ATL 265 434 61.1 3440 215 7.9 16 11 17 104
Brian Griese TAM 110 184 59.8 1073 214.6 5.8 5 7 9 69
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 281 469 59.9 3301 206.3 7 17 15 46 284
Jake Delhomme CAR 246 414 59.4 3288 205.5 7.9 15 12 20 130
Jason Campbell WAS 315 506 62.3 3245 202.8 6.4 13 6 38 266
Eli Manning NYG 289 479 60.3 3238 202.4 6.8 21 10 27 174
Kyle Orton CHI 272 465 58.5 2972 198.1 6.4 18 12 27 160
Gus Frerotte MIN 178 301 59.1 2157 196.1 7.2 12 15 29 164
Trent Edwards BUF 245 374 65.5 2699 192.8 7.2 11 10 23 143
Jon Kitna DET 68 120 56.7 758 189.5 6.3 5 5 15 89
J.T. O'Sullivan SFO 128 220 58.2 1678 186.4 7.6 8 11 32 197
Tyler Thigpen KAN 230 420 54.8 2608 186.3 6.2 18 12 26 162
Joe Flacco BAL 257 428 60 2971 185.7 6.9 14 12 32 276
Carson Palmer CIN 75 129 58.1 731 182.8 5.7 3 4 11 67
Marc Bulger STL 251 440 57 2720 181.3 6.2 11 13 38 263

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Get Ready for Rookies, Rookies Everywhere

posted by Jon Williams
As more and more Major League Baseball teams reshape their team-building philosophies from "sign free agents and trade minor leaguers" to more development-centric methods, we will see a greater and greater number of rookies and young players making rosters out of spring training. Rookies will be given longer chances and more opportunities to contribute than we are used to seeing from most teams. Conversely we are going to start to see older veterans, who have begun to fade, shuffled out of the majors sooner than was once the case.

For fantasy owners this is both good and bad news. The good news is this will mean that there are lots of interesting new players available on an annual basis. Rather than filling out the ends of your rosters with the Shawn Dunston, Omar Vizquel, and Ken Griffey Jr types, you will find yourself drafting more Daniel Murphy, Justin Masterson, and Ben Zobrist types. These are players whose upside has often been higher than their initial roles might indicate. Insouciant owners who continue to waste their endgame picks on old guys will be far less effective.

The bad news is this means more work for fantasy owners. You will have to work hard to gain an edge. That geek in your league (it could be you) that reads every page of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook and the Baseball Prospectus will suddenly be more of a contender than he was before. Sure there are many websites that publish Top 100 lists but they won't help you much if you don't understand why a player is ranked the way he is. You need to immerse yourself into reading the work of writers like Kevin Goldstein of BaseballProspectus.com, John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com, Adam Foster and his extremely talented staff at ProjectProspect.com (a lot of their focus is on gathering and filtering information for people who play in deep fantasy baseball leagues, so they can help you quite a bit), or any of the talented guys like Jim Callis and John Manuel at Baseball America, the standard for tracking minor leagues and top prospects. If you just commit to reading the work of these writers you will be way ahead of the curve of the changes coming to baseball's player population.

This happens to be the start of that point in the season where you start to see rookies added to the major league roster of contending teams. The trade deadline has passed and the stretch run has begun. Every team wants their best hands on deck. Sure, you will see even more rookies added in September but they will be there to watch and learn on the contending teams. This is when you should be using low FAAB bids to acquire players, especially if you can reserve them or you are not really in contention for a title. They may be very useful next season.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Advanced Fantasy Football: Magazines

posted by Jon Williams
This is a little bit dated but I thought there might still be some interest in this here. This is a combination of some info that appeared on another short-lived blog of mine (it could come back but there has been no demand so far).

The RotoWire Fantasy Football Guide 2009 ships July 15th and should be everywhere by July 25th. It will include the following according to their website:
  • Player Rankings & Profiles For More Than 250 Players!
  • Comprehensive Cheatsheets & Projected Stats
  • Will Carroll's Injury Analysis
  • College Fantasy Football Preview
  • Top rookies, sleepers, projected 2009 stats and more!
I obviously haven't seen this magazine yet, but RotoWire.com is one of the most reliable sites for Fantasy Football News on the internet. They have a great group of writers/experts who I'm certain will deliver quality product. Rotowire also offers a discount on their premium service to magazine buyers. You can check out the offer at the link above.

Fanball.com Three-Pack


I know a few of the writers at Fanball.com and can confidently state that the writing on this three-pack of Fantasy Football Magazines will be very good. The Fanball.com package consists of three fantasy football magazines:
  • The Annual Guide - Often referred to as "the Bible of fantasy football," the full-color Annual Guide is in its 10th year of bringing readers the best analysis in a distinctive entertaining style. Chock-full of team reports, cheat sheets, sleepers, busts, profiles and projections for every relevant player, and much more, it is the ultimate draft-day reference. (Mid-June)
  • Just Cheat Sheets - Tired of those run-of-the-mill fantasy football rags? Then this is the publication for you. Jam-packed with cheat sheets, mock drafts, auctions and specific player write-ups for almost every scoring format imaginable, Fantasy Football Just Cheat Sheets 2009 has everything you need to trounce the competition on draft day. (Early July)
  • The Draft Issue - The fantasy football landscape is constantly changing with injuries, signings, trades and job battles, which is why the Draft Issue is a must-have resource. It contains the most up-to-date rankings and content on the newsstand, ensuring you enter your fantasy draft with all of the information you need to build a championship roster. (Early August)
The Fanball.com Combo is a great deal at $19.95 for all three issues. With the average Sports Magazine Annual approaching ten dollars a book any discount is going to be very welcome. I also like the fact that the release dates are spread out so that the later magazines will actually contain updated information that could be the primary difference between this magazine and many of the others.

Rotoman's 2009 Fantasy Football Guide

I consider the Rotoman's guide an Old School fantasy magazine because it features the work of so many experienced fantasy writers and experts such as the great staff of RotoRob.com and the Rotoman himself. They've made a few changes to the guide this year. They've finally arranged the capsules by position rather than alphabetically, a welcomed change for many frequent buyers.

The mag also features the KFFL Injury Guide, Strength of schedule, mock drafts, rookie reports, and the annual Overlooked/Over-Hyped blurbs throughout the magazine. This is good stuff and a magazine I'll pick up. It is available now.

Fantasy Football Index 2009

I love this magazine and the baseball version. One of my favorite features is the survey of fantasy experts. They are asked all sorts of questions from their favorite sleepers to players to avoid. They also offer a wide variety of cheat sheets and rankings. There is always a mock draft or two as well.
Fantasy Football Index magazine: $7.99
Fantasy Football Index includes 200 pages of player ratings, team analysis, stat projections, defensive player analysis, unique stat charts, sleeper picks, rule suggestions, offensive line analysis, and more -- plus passwords needed to access some web pages in the Toolbox area of the Fantasy Index website. The price includes shipping via USPS first-class mail, and there's no sale tax unless you live in Washington state. (mailed to subscribers July 1st - should be in stores Mid-July)
This is the one magazine I've actually subscribed to receive, because I want it that badly. I like most of you don't depend on magazines for analysis but like you I love having them for reading on the bus or in the bathroom.

The Roto Times Guide to Winning Fantasy Football ($6.99)


Roto Times has a collection of the best and most experienced fantasy football experts in the business. This guide is a must have if for no other reason than it includes Bob Lung's annual Quality Game Scores articles. This is one of the best performance predictors available.
Expert analysis from expert league winners, player profiles, mock drafts, player values, rookies to watch, team and position overviews and the best projections anywhere. Includes free update in late August. The Roto Times Guide to Winning Fantasy Football will be shipped the week of July 25.
The Street&Smith and Sporting News Fantasy Football annuals are now just one book. The cover image is from last year's annual because the only photo of this year's cover was ridiculously small. This magazine is supposedly already on the magazine stands although I have not seen it yet.
Fantasy Football 2009 $7.99
The Sporting News Fantasy Football annual proves why it is number one with features like exclusive player rankings and projections, NFL depth charts, a pull out cheat sheet and over 500 individual scouting reports. All of this plus “7 Must-Know items to win your league” and other draft day tips will be everything needed to help readers become number one of their fantasy football leagues.
Together Street & Smith and the Sporting News have a long history of solid publications. Although sometimes both magazines cater to the shallower leagues, it still contains lots of useful information and entertaining reading. The scouting reports are great for newbie owners who need to double check a player before drafting him. Plus you get three-year stats for just about every player. I usually buy it as one of the first releases of the season.

2009 Footballguys Strategy Guide Magazine - FREE

This is a fantastic resource for Fantasy Football participants at every level. It includes everything you need to dominate your drafts this season. It has taken me more than a week to finish reading it and I'm tempted to print it out and place it in a binder so I can keep it forever. It is that good.

Here's what the Football Guys have to say about their own product:
David and I have decided to produce our Footballguys 2009 Strategy Guide Magazine in a pdf that you can download online instead of printing the magazine and selling from the newsstand. The price to download this pdf online? NONE. NADA. ZIP. As in FREE. The magazine that we would have normally written in May, printed in June and put on the newsstand in July is now available to you on June 5th. For FREE. We figured if we were going to write the magazine in June, we might as well make it available to you as soon as we finished writing it. Pretty much like we do everything else. It's not conventional wisdom to give away a product we used to charge $8 bucks for. But we know things are tight out there. Call it our Footballguys Stimulus Package. You get the 2009 Footballguys Magazine for FREE. Then you take it from there. Check out the link in the headline. Let us know what you think. Share it with your friends if you really want to help us. But mostly, enjoy.


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