Archive for the ‘Player News’ Category

h2h Corner ~ A save in the Hanrahan is worth two in the Bush

According to an important Twitterer that everyone should follow @KristiePie, Joel Hanrahan, not Evan Meek and not a timeshare will nail down the door for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While this might seem like small potatoes, I think it is a relatively important change to note for the fantasy baseball community. I originally thought Hanrahan would see the multitude of early save chances in the hopes of driving up his value to trade him come the second half – but this adds a lot of certainty.

I’ve always been a big fan of Hanrahan (and for some reason Pirates closers, in general). Hanrahan burst on the scene in 2008 with a nine save performance and a brilliant 9.9 K/9 rate. Next season saw an increase in that K-rate to 10.13, however he had a .378 BABip, a 66.2% strand rate and some injuries. It was a down year by any measure.

However, he bounced back nicely in 2010 to post an even better k-rate (12.92) and a more stabilized BABip and strand rate, which lead to a 3.62 ERA.

Hanrahan has also averaged 88 Ks (including the somewhat short/injury-riddled 2009 campaign) over the last three seasons. While he’ll be volatile (given his career 4.7 BB/9 rate) and Evan Meek is always present, Hanrahan will be a top closer over the first part of the year.

Hanrahan has been the 251st person off the board in early mock drafts, making him considerably undervalued. Obviously, that will change, but I see him as a top 90 pitcher (he was previously 119) and a top 20 reliever (he was previously 27).

You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/h2h_Corner.

h2h Corner ~ I’m a Believer: August Edition

Welcome to this month’s “I’m a Believer” column. Yes, I got the name from a Monkees’ song. And yes, I like the song. Did you know that Neil Diamond wrote it, as well as many other songs by the Monkees? Isn’t Neil Diamond cool (Red Sox fans)?

Like the song teaches us, this column attempts to be a fun, quick read, mostly focused on what performances we can/can’t believe in.

Without further ado, I’m a believer that:

If you need speed, Emilio Bonifacio makes an interesting add in deep leagues.

Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Rodriguez and Brad Lidge have been three of the worst relievers over the last month. With Lidge actually being the most valuable of the trio. Go figure.

The best thing about summer that isn’t sports or bikini related is Big Brother. I like big boobed chemist sounds like Maria from Celebrity Apprentice. Agree? Also I feel like Matt is a less nerdy version of Ronnie. He is playing way too hard this early. The brigade will be picked apart when Enzo turns on Hayden because of Kristen. The winner: Lane. I think he is sneaky smart. Also Britney is very pretty/bitchy.

Jered Weaver is a dream weaver.

As I mentioned last month, the Astros have, at least one intriguing young player in Chris Johnson. The Astros should trade anyone they can to get young cheap pieces for, including Brett Myers.

This is the easiest column to write. It’s lazy, like you and me.

I still don’t buy Adrian Beltre’s production (.358 BAbip). Just an FYI: his average has gone down from .349 to .333 over the last month. During the last 28 days his BAbip was .265. That is closer to his career total of .294.

Ed will win Hell’s Kitchen.Boy was I wrong with that one. My girlfriend thought Holli a few weeks ago. She might be right.

The minute I give up on Cole Hamels he starts to dominate again.

I thought I was crazy when I said Billy Wagner could strike out 100 batters this year. Well he has 61 Ks already.

You never should draft a catcher high. Your top 5 fantasy catchers on the year: Joe Mauer, Miguel Olivo, Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, and John Buck. Three were afterthoughts on draft day. Buster Posey has been the number one fantasy player over the last month.

I will own James Shields all year – I will never give up on him.

Rickie Weeks is one of the best kept fantasy secrets – a top five second baseman. He is Dan Uggla with a little speed and better average.

I still find it hard to trust Josh Hamilton. Let’s call it a hunch.

I’ve tried to write negative things about Alex Rios, but I can’t find any facts to support those negative views. In short, he’ll continue to be the rock star I thought he was a few years ago.

Ricky Nolasco is back: 49 Ks over his last 40 IPs with a sub 1.00 WHIP

I’ll still take Albert Pujols as the top first basemen next year, even if he finishes behind Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and Ryan Howard this year.

Robinson Cano, depending on how much you paid/where you drafted him, could be a very nice keeper next year. I’ll go ahead and call him the next fantasy Chase Utley (he doesn’t have Utley’s glove or base running acumen).

I stand by July’s statement: “Dan Haren, notwithstanding his regular second half swoons, makes an interesting buy. If he is traded, we could see an uptick in performance.”

While he hasn’t been exceptional, Mark Teixeira is looking at 35+ HRs and a top 30 ranking at the end of the year.

Ranking Alex Rodriguez in 2011 will be very interesting. Evan Longoria (on pace for a near 30-30 season with over 100 runs and RBIs), Kevin Youkilis and David Wright seem to have left him behind. Is he a third rounder?

Justin Upton has brought his average up to .280. He’ll have a monster rest of the year.

It really shouldn’t be a shock that Derek Jeter (in a semi-unlucky/down year) is the second best fantasy shortstop. At some point, we have to just believe.

Tim Lincecum’s 2010 is exactly why you don’t draft a pitcher in the first round. You never know what can happen. Another reason? The top five pitchers this year: Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Ubaldo Jimenez. The next five Mat Latos, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver, Carl Pavano and Felix Hernandez. That’s crazy preseason fluctuation.

That said, people are overreacting to Lincecum’s swoon. I’d have no problem buying him. I certainly see him as a top 15 pitcher going forward.

Elvis Andrus has a just enough Chone Figgins in him to scare me a tiny bit.

Vicente Padilla has been downright nasty over his last 34 IPs. He won’t continue to be this good.

Next year I am only drafting Rangers outfielders. If Nelson Cruz could stay healthy, he might challenge for top 10 status.

People are always happy when they draft Torii Hunter. There he sits in the top 50 again this year above the likes of Hollywood Matt Kemp, Phenom Justin Upton, and lefty-masher Jayson Werth.

Ryan Dempster is the most underrated fantasy pitcher. Teammate Ted Lilly isn’t too far behind.

I’m surprised Andrew McCutchen barely sneaks into the top 100 and that his numbers are marginally better than Andres Torres. I like Torres, he has been a godsend in an NL-only league where I finally traded Jason Bay and dropped Nate McLouth. By the way, Jose Tabata should be owned a lot more.

Speaking of speedy Pirates, Nyjer Morgan is starting to get on base and not get caught stealing.

Jim Thome benefits the most from Justin Morneau’s concussion.

I’m looking good for saying Alfredo Simon would end up with “the most saves of anyone who is SP-eligible.”

FB101’s 411: Stick to your guns. Don’t stop believing.

All stats as of July 28.

h2h_Corner on Twitter

h2h Corner ~ the Closer Carousel

As Kevin Nealon said, “yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.”

It is no different than with a majority of major league closers. Sure some are like violent roller coasters (Armando Benitez) and some are like the teacups (Mariano Rivera), but most are in the muddy middle. Thus introduces your weekly reliever mash-up.

Relievers you should be jumping on (in order):

Chicago White Sox – I feel like I’ve written this story a dozen times this year: “The White Sox’s closer’s role is open,” reports Mark Gonzales for Chicago Breaking Sports. From a baseball sense, you would like Guillen to always play the match-ups, given that he has two shut-down righties and one shut-down lefty. Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ the Closer Carousel

As Kevin Nealon said, “yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.”

It is no different than with a majority of major league cl Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ the Closer Carousel

As Kevin Nealon said, “yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.” Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ the Closer Carousel

As Kevin Nealon said, “yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.” Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ the Closer Carousel

As Kevin Nealon said, “yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.”

It is no different than with a majority of major league closers. Sure some are like violent roller coasters (Armando Benitez) and some are like the teacups (Mariano Rivera), but most are in the muddy middle. Thus introduces your weekly reliever mash-up.

Relievers you should be jumping on (in order):

Milwaukee Brewers – Up until yesterday, Trevor Hoffman had pitched three scoreless innings in a row. Unfortunately, he couldn’t maintain the momentum as he gave up three runs in just one inning last night. Of course, on the year, his WHIP is still north of 2.00 and ERA is comfortably in the double digits. Meanwhile, John Axford has recorded two saves and has struck out 13 batters in eight innings. He has posted a much more friendly 2.25 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. While I think the Brewers will give Hoffman every opportunity to pursue save 600, his complete ineptitude might prohibit him from doing his Joe Borowski impression. Axford is a good add right now as someone who could maintain the closer role

Toronto Blue JaysKevin Gregg is happy to see May go away (5.11 ERA and 1.95 WHIP). Unfortunately, his struggles are following him (one could say they have followed him throughout his career), as he blew a save in spectacular fashion going only 0.2 IPs, while walking FIVE, allowing one hit and four runs. Meanwhile, since a disastrous start, Jason Frasor has been good. He has lowered his ERA to 4.64 and WHIP to 1.69. While those aren’t great, they are light years better then where they were at the end of April (8.38 ERA and 2.59 WHIP). Still, the best Blue Jays reliever has been lefty Scott Downs. He sports a 2.96 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Even though he is a lefty, I’d prefer to have Downs if I am speculating for saves in Toronto. When in doubt, take the best arm and that is certainly Downs.

Philadelphia Phillies – Apparently the fountain of youth is a move to the bull pen in the National League as Jose Contreras has been super dominant (0.56 ERA and 0.75 WHIP). Unfortunately, Charlie Manuel seems to believe that Brad Lidge is both healthy and effective (he hasn’t been either for 1.5 years). According to Matt Gelb, “We’ll work him in,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Lidge. “I’m not going to say how long it’s going to be. It probably won’t be very long.” JC Romero’s usefulness has ended. Keep Contreras around for awhile, as Lidge is not far away from a bad outing or DL-stint.

Arizona Diamondbacks Chad Qualls hasn’t been any good all year – neither have the other arms in the bullpen. If you own Qualls or need to speculate, Aaron Heilman, while imperfect, is the addition here.

Chicago White Sox – The White Sox are 8.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins. No one outside the AL East is earning the Wild Card. Soon the White Sox will be sellers. Clearly Bobby Jenks can be moved as the Sox have two viable replacements in Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos. Both have pitched well this year and sport K/9 rates over 10. Thornton has seven years on Santos. So, long-term, the White Sox will want to see if Santos has the stuff to be their closer of the future. I say Santos will get the most save opportunities down the stretch (when the White Sox are out of it). However, if they stay in the race, the Sox could split time between Santos and Thornton, with Thornton getting heavy lefty line-ups. Either way, Santos should get the most save opportunities, if Jenks gets dealt.

If you need help with a snap closer decision, check out the below hierarchy of middling relievers.

untitled

All stats as of June 1.

h2h_Corner on Twitter

h2h Corner ~ I’m a Believer: June Edition

Welcome to June’s “I’m a Believer” column. Yes, I got the name from a Monkees’ song. And yes, I like the song. Did you know that Neil Diamond wrote it, as well as many other songs by the Monkees? Isn’t Neil Diamond cool (Red Sox fans)?

Like the song teaches us, this column attempts to be a fun, quick read, mostly focused on what performances we can/can’t believe in.

Without further ado, So I’m a believer that:

Ryan Braun will be the #1 fantasy hitter for the season. Last month I said he could challenge, I’ve upgraded my belief.

Injuries suck. Good bye Andre Ethier remaining a top 10 hitter for the balance of the year. Good bye Jacoby Ellsbury being valuable.

Alex Rios has finally put it all together. He is a top 40 hitter at the worst, perhaps top 20. I was two years too late on this prediction.

Robinson Cano will end up the number one second baseman.

Six of the current top 10 hitters will not finish the year in the top 10. Those (oceanic) six are: Vlad Guerrero, Justin Morneau, Andre Ethier, Alex Rios, Joey Votto and Jose Bautista. They will be replaced by Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Matt Kemp, Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Utley, and Nelson Cruz (if his hamstring is better).

Jack Sheppard died in the bamboo forest (after smokey stabbed him) – not in the plane crash or the atomic bomb. (That was a ridiculous sentence). The flash sideways was corny but absolutely awesome. That nothing in the flash sideways actually happened (in a I think therefore I am kind of way).

It’s incredibly fun to own Miguel Olivo (four SBs), but I’d be mighty worried about Chris Iannetta.

The catching position is incredibly frustrating, to wit: your top five backstops: Olivo, Rod Barajas, Joe Mauer, John Buck and Jorge Posada. One is on the DL, two were drafted, one barely drafted and two were afterthoughts. This won’t continue, but the catching position is too volatile to spend an early draft pick on.

None of the late first-round first basemen darlings (Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira) will finish among the top 5 at the position. Also this should remind you that you can wait on first basemen. All first rounder 1bs (including Pujols) have put up worse fantasy seasons than Paul Konerko. In addition, Ty Wigginton, Billy Butler and James Loney have performed better than Howard, Fielder and Teixeira. Meanwhile Jorge Cantu, Adam LaRoche, Nick Swisher, Martin Prado, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz have performed better than Teixeira and Fielder.

Adam LaRoche will have an under-the-radar awesome season.

I can’t buy Alberto Callaspo as anything other than a Placido Polanco clone – I just won’t do it.

You deserve a pat on the back for buying low on Ben Zobrist.

Come this time next month, I’ll be patting those on the back who bought low on Chone Figgins.

Elvis Andrus is the next Jose Reyes.

The original Jose Reyes is starting to look good, buy while you can.

Orlando Cabrera has played himself into consideration to be a top five SS option for the rest of the year.

You can sell high on Scott Rolen, but you don’t have to. He seems to hold up better playing on grass versus turf. He’ll get dinged up, but might avoid a massive DL-stint this year.

I’m not sure if I believe what I just wrote.

Adrian Beltre is proving me wrong. Those who bought him late deserve some kudos.

I hope you traded Chase Headley when he was stealing all those bases. He has stolen 2 bases since April 26.

Jason Heyward is awesome, but I’d still trade him. Listen, there is no way to quantify how he’ll hold up for a 162-game season (in a potential Wild Card/Pennant Race, no less). What happens when he sees pitchers for the third, four, fifth time? Odds are he’ll continue to succeed. However, he is only 20. I’d rather someone else take the risk and enjoy his rookie year from afar.

You all everybody!

Shin-soo Choo remains criminally underrated. Ditto Denard Span.

Andrew McCutchen is basically Carl Crawford with a bit more pop, a lot less hype and a much worse supporting cast.

Brett Gardner is everything I thought Nyjer Morgan would be

Russell Hantz will never win Survivor. Parvati is the best player ever.

I wish I listened to myself and drafted Ubaldo Jimenez on more teams. I said “I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up more valuable than Beckett, Clayton Kershaw, Josh Johnson or Chris Carpenter.”

Josh Johnson can become the next Roy Halladay. They’re both consistently awesome.

I’d trade Jaime Garcia – it can’t get better than this.

Jon Lester is the best pitcher in the American League – and his competition comes from the Rays (Matt Garza, David Price and James Shields).

You should trade Barry Zito. He will start to give up HRs, it’s a certainty.

Tim Hudson doesn’t strike out enough batters.

The American League East is brutal on pitchers AND hitters (three of the top five K pitchers are Ricky Romero, Lester and Shields).

Jonathan Broxton might make me wrong, as I predicted Carlos Marmol would end up the top ranked reliever. Broxton is equally as nasty and less volatile.

While Brett Michaels is cornier than the Lost finale, he’s still cool. His performance on Celebrity Apprentice was imminently likeable. Holly Robinson Peete has aged really well.

You can’t give up on Brian Matusz (which explains why I’m an unqualified Orioles homer), Cole Hamels, Randy Wolf, Carlos Zambrano, Rick Porcello and Gavin Floyd.

You can give up on Scott Kazmir, Jake Peavy, and Derek Lowe.

Alfredo Simon will get the most saves of anyone who is SP-eligible.

I’m going to be incredibly sad when I finish the samosa I am eating.

FB101’s 411: Stick to your guns. Don’t stop believing.

All stats as of May 27.

h2h_Corner on Twitter

h2h Corner ~ Team Profile: Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have scored more runs than the Rays (and every other American League team not nicknamed the Bronx Bombers). The Blue Jays have the most extra base hits – 35 more than the Red Sox, who have the second most. The Blue Jays have 16 more HRs than the second place team (also the Red Sox). The Blue Jays have the most RBIs. While the average (fourth to last) and OBP (third to last) aren’t good, they have been four category dominators. Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ the Closer Carousel UPDATED

As Kevin Nealon said, “yeah, lot of pressure. You gotta rise above it. You gotta harness in the good energy, block out the bad. Harness. Energy. Block. Bad. Feel the flow, Happy. Feel it. It’s circular. It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse. It goes up and down and around. Circular. Circle. With the music. The flow… all good things.”

It is no different than with a majority of major league closers. Sure some are like violent roller coasters (Armando Benitez) and some are like the teacups (Mariano Rivera), but most are in the muddy middle. Thus introduces your weekly reliever mash-up.

Relievers you should be jumping on (in order):

Philadelphia PhilliesAccording to Todd Zolecki and Zach Schonbrun, Brad Lidge wants to return early next week. He will, likely, throw a few bullpen sessions later this week or over the weekend. If those go well, he could very well be back in the majors and closing. Is that a good thing? Who knows? I might as well ask what the sideways flash was in Lost (I’d get more consensus, anyway). Anyway, Jose Contreras should be rostered everywhere. In addition, those in deeper leagues should kick the tires on JC Romero. He’ll get opportunities against lefty-heavy line-ups. As they say, a save by any other name is just a save.

Milwaukee Brewers – It looked like Carlos Villanueva was all set to take the closer’s job and run with it. However, he blew his most recent save opportunity, giving up one run, four hits and two walks in just two innings. This opened the door for John Axford, a 27 year-old rookie, to attempt to close out a game. The flamethrower did just that by striking out the side. Unfortunately, in between Ks, he allowed one run, three hits and a walk. Clearly he didn’t completely seize the opportunity. I still think Villanueva is the top dog for the moment. Still, Axford is definitely rosterable. Nevertheless, if Trevor Hoffman can string together a few decent middle relief appearances he’ll be back in the saddle again. I’d rank them (in terms of save opportunities going forward): Hoffman, Villanueva and Axford.

Arizona Diamondbacks – the only good thing about the Diamondbacks bullpen this year has been Aaron Heilman. Heilman has a 3.44 ERA, and 1.10 WHIP. He is keeping his walks down this year to levels similar to his successful 2006 and 2007 campaigns, something that he hasn’t been capable of over the last two seasons. With Juan Gutierrez being horrible and Chad Qualls struggling, Heilman very well could get some save opportunities.

Baltimore Orioles Alfredo Simon hasn’t really been good as the closer, but it’s hard to say he’s been “bad” in a traditional sense. He has blown only one save and pitched as admirably as someone can with a 1.54 WHIP. Koji Uehara, who has been manning the eighth inning for the Orioles, might be headed to the DL, reports Britt Ghiroli. This is important, as Simon left his last outing after tweaking a hamstring. As reported by Dan Connolly at the Baltimore Sun, “Simon said the strained left hamstring that forced him out of the 10th inning of Sunday’s game with the Washington Nationals shouldn’t sideline him for an extended period.” In the interim, Cla Meredith is the add. However he is horrible. Only in super deep leagues where you aren’t worried about your ratios should you add him. Keep an eye on Will Ohman. He is a lefty and could get the saves against lefty-heavy line-ups. He also hasn’t allowed a run all year, whereas Meredith allowed the game winning run yesterday. In other horrible Orioles reliever news, Roch Kubatko of School of Rock has reported that Mike Gonzalez threw an extended spring training outing, tossing 19 pitches and 11 strikes. He’ll get the keys to the closer job once he is healthy. The Orioles are simply too invested in him.

[UPDATE] It appears everyone realizes Cla Meredith is not good. So most of those in the know are speculating that Will Ohman will be the Orioles interim closer. For instance, Orioles Insider’s Jeff Zrebeic thinks so. This is a moving target — even David Hernandez or Frank Mata could earn saves. For now, I don’t think you have to worry about Meredith. Ohman is the proper add.

So, I rank these splendid relievers: Lidge, Hoffman, Gonzalez, Contreras, Simon, Villanueva, Romero, Axford, Meredith, Ohman, Hernandez, Mata, and Heilman.

untitled

All stats as of May 24.

h2h_Corner on Twitter

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,756 other followers