Hot Stove in July? How the MLB Trade Deadline Can Impact Your Team

There is nothing like it. Other than soccer who has a transfer window period in January, no other sport has a trade deadline quite like the MLB.

NFL and NBA have a “trade deadline” but let’s be real, unless we are talking fantasy nothing of major consequence happens.

Odds of Tom Brady or Calvin Johnson getting traded mid-season are about the same odds as me getting a modeling gig. And if you haven’t seen me lately, those odds are getting smaller by the moment.

We have seen some unthinkable “deadline deals” in the past that have altered the course of team’s projections. In 2000, Philadelphia Phillies’ SP Curt Schilling  was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a list of prospects and Schilling ended up being the miss piece as the Diamondbacks won the World Series the following year.

2003 was another year that altered the course of team’s fate. Had it not been for the infamous “Steve Bartman Catch”, the Chicago Cubs could have seen their gamble pay off even more when they acquired 3B Aramis Ramirez from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ramirez put up 15 HR and 39 RBI after the trade and was a pivotal piece for the Cubs who almost made it to the World Series.

That one had to be a brutal reminder for Cubs’ fans. I do apologize.

Rumor mills have being spinning faster than we can keep up with them this season. There has been talk of big name pitching making a jump along with several key positional players who could be the boost teams need in order to make a post-season run. With a second Wild Card spot and more parity then we have seen in a long time, the MLB Trade Deadline can be a crucial piece for teams and fantasy owners alike.

At least they didn't have to spell Jeff Samardizja's name right as part of the July 4th deal.

At least they didn’t have to spell Jeff Samardizja’s name right as part of the July 4th deal.

So far we have already seen a trade with serious consequences. The Oakland A’s might have shifted the odds in their favor on July 4 as they dealt for SP Jeff Samardzija (4-8, 2.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 123 SO) and SP Jason Hammel (8-7, 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 109 SO) for a top 20 prospect in SS Addison Russell (.269 BA, 4 HR, 17 RBI in the minors in 2014). While fantasy owners will not be on the “Russell Watch” this season, it does make things interesting in “AL Only” or “NL Only” Leagues. Samardzija has gained since joining the A’s, picking up 3 wins (he had 1 in 16 starts previously with the Cubs) and has done it with a respectable 2.80 ERA with 20 SO.

Samardzija had been on the rumor mill for awhile and he is not the only one. Perhaps the most prized-arm in trade deadline history is still up for grabs, for the right “price”.

No pun intended.

Tampa Bay Rays’ SP David Price (10-7, 3.06 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 173 SO) has been dominating the airwaves the last couple of weeks and with good reason; he’s a former Cy Young winner and having an impressive season on a “bad” team. He’s 4-0 in the July and owning a ridiculous 0.85 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. On top of that, he has more SO (29) than H (20).

If there has been a better pitcher as of late, I haven’t heard his name yet.

Price is the prize but it’s not a forgone conclusion he’s available. Rays’ General Manager Andrew Friedman is asking for the sun, moon, and stars in order to get one of the best left-handed pitchers in MLB. He is wanting elite prospects and with teams stock piling prospects like people hoard gold, it’s hard to imagine anyone out there who could pull off a deal.

Price has been an absolute beast this season already posting 173 SO.

Price has been an absolute beast this season already posting 173 SO.

However, consider this most modest proposal. The Cubs! That’s right, I said the Cubs.

They have the prospects (5 in the Top 50) and they are in dire need of pitching (traded most of their’s away with the A’s). They are 15.5 games out of first place so in terms of making an impact this season, not going to happen. But from a long term standpoint, it gets General Manager Theo Epstein’s “rebuilding project” ahead of schedule and gives the Cubs a legit ace.

Other teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals will be in the discussion but in terms of bounty, the Cubs have the best stockpile of any team.

Here are a couple of other names to keep a close eye on.

  • Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: Another prized arm to go with Price, Lee has less shine than he once had. Lee is used to be dealt at the deadline after being traded in 2009 from the Cleveland Indians to the Texas Rangers, but this year he is currently owed $25 million (unlike 2009). He has a respectable 3.67 ERA to go with a 4-5 mark but with the money owed, it’s tough to see any team taking that deal.
  • Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: How the mighty have fallen. Kemp, who was once regarded as the best OF in baseball in 2011 (.324 BA, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB) has been a shell of himself this season (.268 BA, 8 HR, 38 RBI). Kemp wants to be an “everyday” OF for the Dodgers but with a loaded OF, he may be on the move to get more playing time. His contract ($21 million this season) makes him tough to move (like Lee).

    Kemp is not the banger he once was but still has something to offer (for the low price of $21 million).

    Kemp is not the banger he once was but still has something to offer (for the low price of $21 million).

  • John Danks, SP, Chicago White Sox: This scenario keeps looking better since he is rumored to be headed to the New York Yankees. His record of 8-6 is respectable but he is posting a 4.35 ERA to go with a 1.42 WHIP. He could benefit from a change of scenery and with a better situation, could be worth an add in mixed leagues.
  • Tommy Milone, SP, Oakland A’s: He, like Kemp, is looking for more playing time and in Milone’s case, you can see why. He is 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He hasn’t been the most lethal arm in their rotation, but he can help virtually any team that’s in the playoff push. He’s cheaper than Price and could be effective; if you’re a fantasy owner, keep a sharp eye.
  • Ian Kennedy, SP, San Diego Padres: Another pitcher (yes this is this week’s theme). Kennedy has been shopped around over his career (3 teams in 7 years) but he has a lot to offer for a team that needs one more piece to the puzzle. His 8-9 record on a team that ranks 30th in offense is respectable and he has a solid 3.66 ERA to compliment a 1.22 WHIP. His stock could soar if he gets dealt.

Sit back, relax, and get ready for some crazy wheeling and dealing the next couple of days!

Till next time..

Chad Bates

The Votes Are In! First Half Awards

It’s hard to imagine that the All-Star Break is already here and gone. It just seems like yesterday I was drafting my team and trying to figure out how I was going to compete for first when I was in the hole 2 games.

Luckily some things have been moving fast and I’m tied for first in my league (for now).

One of the things I enjoy more than anything is looking at something and breaking it down. Whether it’s business statistics, art, or fantasy baseball there is something to be said about taking an item and getting to it’s root cause.

Fantasy baseball, as we have showed, can be a game of numbers AND intangibles.

This season has been one of the bigger surprises that we have seen in awhile. No one would have thought that the Oakland A’s would sport one of the best records in baseball and that the Kansas City Royals could be in position to make their first playoff appearance since 1985! Combine that with 25 “first-time” All-Stars at this year’s MLB All-Star Game and needless to say, this season has been a lot like the “Red Wedding” in Game of Thrones.

I’m talking the shock and surprise, not people getting mercilessly killed (should have clarified that one).

Redemption has been one of the major themes this season. A good example would be once fantasy-stud, turned dud, back to stud in San Francisco Giants’ SP Tim Lincecum (9-5, 3.66 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 101 SO). Lincecum, by all counts, was relegated to “done” status to begin the start of the season. The 2-time Cy Young winner had posted consecutive seasons where he lost at least 14 games and had ERA’s of 4.38 and 5.17 respectfully. His velocity was down and basically, his stock plummeted.

Lincecum has been hot this season and looks to be on-pace for 15 wins.

Lincecum has been hot this season and looks to be on-pace for 15 wins.

This season has been a somewhat different story for “The Freak”. He is currently on-pace to win 15 games and so far he has posted 5 weeks where he has scored 30 or more points (including an average of 41 points a week). He’s not a front line ace but as long as he can contribute like this the rest of the season, he is worth having on any team.

Another good case of redemption comes from Baltimore Orioles OF Nelson Cruz (.286 BA, 28 HR, 74 RBI, 332.5 fantasy points). After being suspended for the end of the season in 2013 for breaking MLB’s “Banned Substance Policy”, Cruz has resurrected himself as one of the top power-hitters in baseball. His 28 HR and his 74 RBI place him second overall behind Chicago White Sox 1B Jose Abreu (29 HR) Detroit Tigers’ 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera (75 RBI). He was not high on anyone’s radar due to the time he missed but on a team with quality bats like OF Adam Jones (.301 BA, 16 HR, 54 RBI) and 1B/OF Chris Davis (.199 BA, 15 HR, 48 RBI), Cruz has shined the brightest.

You can also make a case for Los Angeles Angels’ 1B Albert Pujols (.278 BA, 20 HR, 64 RBI) who is in the top 10 fantasy hitters for total points scored (321.5). Pujols, if you paid attention to the last 2 years, took a sharp decline when he landed in the “City of Angels” posting career lows in BA (.285 and .258) as well as in HR (30 and 17). This year, he has already eclipsed last season in terms of power and he is on-pace to hit 34 HR and 111 RBI. On this blog, we talked extensively about the decline of Pujols but this season he has taught us you can never count out a great player like him.

With that being said, here is a list of this year’s hardware.

  • AL Player of the Year: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angles Angels – He is the leader amongst hitters in fantasy points (375.5) and 2nd overall in fantasy. He is the rare combination of power (22 HR) and speed (10 SB). Combine that with a .310 BA and it’s hard to imagine that he won’t bring home the hardware at the end of the season.

    Trout is the leader in the AL  in terms of points scored and has 22 HR to go with 10 SB.

    Trout is the leader in the AL in terms of points scored and has 22 HR to go with 10 SB.

  • AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners - They call him “The King” for a reason. His 11 wins, 154 SO, 2.12 ERA, and 0.90 WHIP are several reasons why. He is tops this season in fantasy points (464) and quite honestly having one of the better runs we have seen in a long time. He, like Trout, should be bringing home hardware at the end of the season.
  • AL Rookie of the Year: Mashario Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees - It would be hard not to argue Abreu and his 312 fantasy points. What sets Tanaka apart from Abreu is the fact that until his injury, he had been one of the more dominating forces in MLB (11-1 through June 22nd). Tanaka, despite the injury, ranks 4th overall in fantasy points (398) and is tied for the league-lead in W (12). He’s been a stud this season.
  • AL Surprise of the Year: Scott Kazmir, SP, Oakland A’s - You could say the whole Oakland A’s team for that matter but Kazmir (11-3, 2.37 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 108 SO) has been the biggest of them all. After missing the majority of 2011 and 2012, Kazmir had a solid stint with the Cleveland Indians before coming to Oakland and becoming an All-Star. He ranks in the Top 10 fantasy pitcher wise and should turn into a Top 20 player next season.

    Kazmir is in the Top 10 in terms of fantasy points and he has 11 wins this season.

    Kazmir is in the Top 10 in terms of fantasy points and he has 11 wins this season.

  • AL Disappointment of the Year: Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles - We expected a decline, but no one could have envisioned this. After crushing 54 HR and a league-leading 138 RBI last season, Davis is no where near that mark (15 HR and 48 RBI). His .199 BA and 106 K are making last year look like a mirage in what could have been a promising 2014.

 

  • NL Player of the Year: Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates - He leads all fantasy hitters in points (376) and has continued to put himself amongst the elite. His .323 BA, 17 HR, 61 RBI, and 15 SB are great to see in any league format and we haven’t even mentioned his OBP (.420). His SO (74) are up but he is still one of the best in the game.
  • NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers - He should have been the starter for the NL because he is arguably the best in baseball. His 1.77 ERA is tops in MLB to go with a 0.83 WHIP and 11 wins. His K/BB ratio (9.69) is jaw-dropping to go with 11.8 SO per 9 innings. He’s been worth every penny of the $215 million he was signed to.

    Kershaw leads the league in ERA at 1.77 and has 11 wins.

    Kershaw leads the league in ERA at 1.77 and has 11 wins.

  • NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds - After starting out this season on a rough patch, Hamilton has rebounded nicely. His 38 SB rank him second in the NL and he has improved significantly in BA (.285) which had been his opportunity in AA and AAA. He has already netted 40 points this scoring period and could be a must-have in Roto Leagues this season and seasons to come.
  • NL Surprise of the Year: Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros - If I would have told you he was in the Top 10 in fantasy points and he has done this with only 2 HR, would you believe me? No one has done more with less power than Altuve who is second in SB (41) and 3rd in BA (.335). He is proof you don’t need power to contribute in fantasy.

    Altuve ranks 3rd in BA at .335 and is in the Top in fantasy points.

    Altuve ranks 3rd in BA at .335 and is in the Top in fantasy points.

  • NL Disappointment of the Year: Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds - How the mighty have fallen? Votto, riddled with injuries, is posting career lows in HR (6), BA (.254), and RBI (23) while posting a higher than normal SO total (49). The Reds should get him back in 2 weeks but if he can’t turn it around, this could be a sign of things to come.

Good luck in the second half and we will see you next time!

Chad Bates

The Arms Race

You can never have enough of many things in life. You can never have enough vacation, never have enough money, and my personal favorite: beer.

Ok, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch.

For fantasy owners, pitching would definitely fall into this category. Since the implementation of middle relief back in the 1970′s and “saves” became a recorded metric, pitching has become a game changer and fantasy is no exception to the rule. With quality starts earning 3 points and every inning pitched earning 3 points, owners are beginning to look to the mound in order to ensure their survival.

With this new found reliance on pitching, there has been a price to be paid.

New York Yankees SP Mashario Tanaka (12-4, 2.51 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 135 SO) is another harsh reminder the risk owners face with an ace. Yesterday, Tanaka was placed on the 15-day DL due to a partially torn ligament in his elbow that doesn’t necessarily require surgery, but could side line the All-Star up to 6 weeks.

In fantasy terms, that’s a substantial sum of money at this point in the season.

Tanaka is not the only ace to go down throwing this season. NL Rookie of the Year and fantasy stud SP Jose Fernandez (4-2, 2.44 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 70 SO) of the Miami Marlins was another casualty of “Tommy John Surgery” this season as he landed on the 60-day DL just 5 weeks into the 2014 season. Fernandez before this injury was on pace to not only match his 12-6 record from last season, but he looked poised to smash his previous mark of 187 SO.

Jose Fernandez had an All-Star season cut short with Tommy John Surgery back in May.

Jose Fernandez had an All-Star season cut short with Tommy John Surgery back in May.

The “Arms Race” though is a marathon not a sprint.

Tough blows to your rotation will always leave you lingering but the one great thing about baseball is you always have a stock pile of arms you can tap into if you know the right places to shop. The key is knowing what’s worn down and what still has value.

Obvious places to look include AA and AAA. Some people have benefited from call ups in the past but this season has not been the most kind for those of us that are scouting the milb.com news feed for hidden gems. Seattle Mariners SP Taijuan Walker (1-1, 3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 10 SO, 2 GS) was the talk of the town last week when he was called up to face the Houston Astros and although he managed a W, his outing (6 IP, 5 HA, 3 ER, 2BB, 6 K) was not the gem some owners were expecting. Combine that with a rough outing on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox (2 HA, 1 ER, 5 BB, 3 K) and Walker earned himself a plane ticket back to AAA Tacoma to work on his command issues (7 BB in 2 starts).

Another place to look is once broken arms coming off the DL who are getting another lease on life. A good example of this is Cincinnati Reds SP Mat Latos (2-1, 2.41 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 17 SO). Ever since he was activated from the DL on June 14th, he has had 4 quality starts and  94 fantasy points. While Latos is not out there on the waiver wire (owned in 96% of leagues) he is someone that reminds us the DL spot can be a great place to stash a potential stud who can help you later on.

Turning this into a science would be an insult to the science community. And I honestly don’t want “Bill Nigh the Science Guy” breaking down my door anytime soon. There are several tips I can offer that can help you find that gem and potential ace that can help solidify any fantasy rotation.

Key is looking at the obvious metrics. ERA and WHIP are a great chapter of the book on a pitcher. You take a guy like Texas Rangers SP Colby Lewis (6-6, 6.53 ERA, 1.82 WHIP) and while he does boast 6 wins and 73 SO he has surrendered 31 ER and 59 H in his last 7 outings! Take away last night’s historic slugfest against the Los Angeles Angels and he has still given up 21 ER and 46 H. Guys like him and Baltimore Orioles SP Ubaldo Jimenez (3-8, 4.51 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) have win potential you can’t trust them in a head to head setting.

Some people like high strikeout guys like St. Louis Cardinals SP Carlos Martinez (2-3, 4.11 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 52 SO) who can rack up points and wins on a good team. But with that high SO potential you have be careful when it comes to the command. Martinez, albeit a strikeout machine, is prone to command issues which leads to an inflated WHIP (1.35) fueled by BB (25).

Carlos Martinez has a world of SO potential but has to learn how to cut down on the BB (25 this season).

Carlos Martinez has a world of SO potential but has to learn how to cut down on the BB (25 this season).

Minnesota Twins SP Phil Hughes (9-5, 3.71 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 112 SO) is a prime example of 2 things; a change can do you good and don’t forget about K/BB ratio. When he was the future of the New York Yankees, Hughes posted as good as 18-8 but also went 4-14 last season with an inflated 5.19 ERA. Since coming to Minnesota this season, Hughes has been a changed man. He is on pace for a career high in SO (182) but his most impressive stat is his K/BB ratio. With the Yankees, it fluctuated between 1.74 and 3.59. With the Twins, Hughes is posting a 9.27! Take solace in knowing that he won’t beat himself and fill your points with -1 for BB.

Phil Hughes has been "reborn" in Minnesota posting a 9-5 record with 102 SO and just 12 BB.

Phil Hughes has been “reborn” in Minnesota posting a 9-5 record with 102 SO and just 12 BB.

When it comes to closers, these same principals apply. Guys like Washington Nationals RP Rafael Soriano (21 S, 1.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) and Philadelphia Phillies RP Jonathan Papelbon (22 S, 1.23 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) have been studs this season while keeping their pitch count down (only twice have either gone above 20 pitches since June). Pitch count, albeit a traditional focal point in the minors, can be key when evaluating a closer. Guys who keep theirs low historically turn out better in terms of saves, ERA, and WHIP. Those who let theirs get out of hand like San Francisco Giants RP Sergio Romo (22 S, 5.19 ERA, 4 blown saves, 182 pitches in May) find themselves in the “committee role”.

May the odds always be in your favor and hope you all enjoy All-Star Weekend!

Till next time..

Chad Bates

New Blood Rising: Top Prospects this Season.

I have to admit, I am fairly heart broken at the moment.

No, I am not talking about my fantasy baseball team (which is actually first right now, oddly enough), I am talking about yesterday’s World Cup Match between USA and Germany. I have been a heavy USA Soccer support for years and I was hoping, like others, that this year could be the year the USA finally breaks through the barrier.

Advancing to the Round of 16 is better than nothing though.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

For the last 5 years, we have been focusing on fantasy baseball but we have never talked about the minors and how it can impact your team. Some would say “well, unless I am in a dynasty league, what do the minors have anything to do with me?”

Brett Jackson, currently with AAA Iowa, has yet to find a permanent home in Chicago in his career.

Brett Jackson, currently with AAA Iowa, has yet to find a permanent home in Chicago in his career.

Those are probably the same people that missed on Los Angeles Angels’ OF Mike Trout (.326 BA, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 49 SB) in 2012 when he had his breakout, Rookie of the Year performance.

Advocating you go out right now and select 5 of the top 10 milb.com prospects though would be insane. We have all heard of “Greek Tragedies” like Chicago Cubs OF Brett Jackson who was once considered a “can’t miss” prospect but is currently batting .194 with the AAA Iowa Cubs with just 3 HR and 8 RBI. You also look at a guy like Cleveland Indians SP Trevor Bauer, ranked 5th in 2012 on the Top 100, who had an impressive 12-2 campaign but was dealt after going 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA for the Arizona Diamondbacks in his call up.

Playing the prospect game can be a lot like the stock market except the odds are worse sometimes.

This year, as always, there are a number of guys down in the farms that are catching the attention of owners. Several of those names have already made their debut (Pittsburgh Pirates’ OF Gregory Polanco comes to mind) and have already made an impact in a big way. When you are focusing on the waiver wire that includes seasoned and unseasoned talent, it can be difficult deciphering who is ripe and who needs to be left in the sun a little bit longer.

As I have been examining this year’s lot, there are not too many guys oddly enough who are worth the gamble. There are some familiar faces a top the Top 100 who we are waiting to take that next step but as is with any sport, timing is crucial. There are also several names you want to keep a close eye on because they are making themselves look like men amongst boys already.

With that being said, here’s a look at a couple of guys to keep tabs on and a couple of guys to let someone else gamble on.

RISING

  1. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs: He is shooting up the system like a rocket. He completely dominated in AA Tennessee (.355 BA, 22 HR, 58 RBI, .702 SLG) and could possibly see the light of day in Chicago before the year is out. He would solidify the corners with 1B Anthony Rizzo (.291 BA, 17 HR, 44 RBI) and is an upgrade over current 3B Mike Olt (.145 BA, 10 HR, 25 RBI). Bryant has been one of the best to this point and could have a “Trout like” impact if he keeps his current pace.

    Bryant, ranked 8th on the Top 100, has been in Beast Mode this season with 22 HR, 58 RBI in AA Tennessee.

    Bryant, ranked 8th on the Top 100, has been in Beast Mode this season with 22 HR, 58 RBI in AA Tennessee.

  2. Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners: As if Seattle needs any more arms, they have another one waiting in AAA Tacoma that could have a serious impact. Walker, who has been slowed down this season by shoulder injuries, has been shredding the PCL going 3-1 this season with opponents only batting .192 against him. I have him stashed currently and he is definitely worth the gamble.
  3. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians: He’s currently in AA Akron at the moment, but he could find his way in Cleveland before too long. His speed (19 SB) to go with a respectable .283 BA have gotten him into the Top 10. Not to mention that he is one of the best defensive SS in the farm system. He has some ways to go but could be a great grab late in the season.
  4. Henry Owens, SP, Boston Red Sox: Looks like San Francisco Giants’ SP Tim Lincecum and throws like him too. He’s currently 10-3 in AA Portland with opponents hitting a meager .181 against him this season. His K’s (95) make him even more intriguing but how he develops in AAA Pawtucket will be crucial. If he can keep the ERA (2.25) down, he’s worth looking at.

FALLING

  1. Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks: Ranked 4th currently on the Top 100, Bradley has been getting lit up in AAA Reno. His 1-4 mark is not the biggest concern as opponents are hitting .277 against him and his K/BB ratio is hovering around 2:1. He could be a solid back end rotation guy but he’s not worth gambling on until he can prove he can keep guys off base.
  2. Dylan Bundy, SP, Baltimore Orioles: Once ranked 2nd on the Top 100, Bundy has fallen like a comet since undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2013. He has all the makings to be an ace in the Orioles rotation (9-3 in the minors in 2012) but with the injury set backs he has had, best to wait and see how he responds.

    Bundy, once ranked 2nd on the Top 100, had Tommy John Surgery last season and is looking to find his groove in 2014.

    Bundy, once ranked 2nd on the Top 100, had Tommy John Surgery last season and is looking to find his groove in 2014.

  3. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros: Sometimes the baseball gods have a cruel sense of humor. Correa, who was tearing the cover off the ball in Adv A California, will miss the rest of the 2014 season after fracturing his fibula. Correa was batting .325 with 6 HR, 57 RBI, and 20 SB and looked like he could have a huge impact. For now, have to wait and see what happens.
  4. Jameson Taillon, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates: Another guy who looked like he was going to have a huge impact for owners got dealt a rough hand to kick of the 2014 season. Taillon, ranked 10th last season on the Top 100, will miss all of 2014 with Tommy John Surgery (which has seemingly claimed it’s fair share of arms this season). He has potential, but you got to stash for now until we see how he responds from it.

Continue to go picking on the waiver wire and hopefully you find a gem or 2 (or 3 if you’re lucky).

Till next time..

 

Back and Better than Ever! The Fantasy Files 5.0

A half a century later and I am still here.

If this was a Hollywood marriage, I would have already beat the odds. Maybe I should start insuring my blog.

After being suspended for 50 games in 2013, Cruz has been on a tear this season.

After being suspended for 50 games in 2013, Cruz has been on a tear this season.

To those who have been reading this the last 4 seasons, thank you for your continued support. I took on an internship nearly 4 years ago and even though I have moved on from the world of full time employment in the world of sports, I countdown the days when I can talk baseball. Between playing fantasy baseball and writing about it, it’s an addiction that’s more severe than Facebook or Twitter.

It’s been awhile since I have given my thoughts and with good reason; I have apparently discovered the world of dynasty leagues and every thing that is the World Cup. Between having my inbox fill up with 5 trade requests a day and having England and Spain ruin my bracket on ESPN, life can get pretty complicated. Like a good series drama on HBO.

This fantasy season has already shown us some interesting sights and it’s not even July yet! To think Toronto Blue Jays’ SP Mark Buehrle (10-4, 2.32 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) would be 2nd in the AL wins blows my mind. The once suspended Baltimore Orioles OF Nelson Cruz (.299 BA, 22 HR, 58 RBI) is our current leader in the majors in HR & RBI is another jaw-dropping number. Combine that with Cincinnati Reds’ SP Alfredo Simon (10-3, 3.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) leading the NL in wins and the Kansas City Royals in 1st place in the AL Central, and you have a cocktail of excitement stirring this Summer.

Irony of all this is that we still have over 4 months of baseball to be played.

It’s week 11 in the fantasy baseball world and whether you’re in a league or on draftkings.com, there is still excitement of things to come. We have already seen a number of top flight prospects get called up and there are several rookies who are making their case for not only an All-Star bid, but Rookie of the Year and other MLB Award Honors as well.

Since it has been 10 months prior to my last entry, I’ll keep this one more informative and less “buy or sell”. There are some names I am about to drop that are definitely recognizable but maybe one or two of these guys will open your eyes. There is always fortune to be had in a complete gamble.

  1. Mashario Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees: He’s made a bigger impact than Godzilla this Summer and looks to be strong candidate for AL Cy Young. His 11 wins lead MLB and his mind-numbing 1.99 ERA is 2nd to the Reds’ Johnny Cueto (1.92). Not to mention he is 2nd in total fantasy points (349.5). I could give you a laundry list of stats that make him look larger than life, but bottom line the guy is getting it done. He’s a must start in any format, daily league or a season-long league.

    After signing for $155 million in the off-season, Tanaka has been carving up lineups with his 113 K in route to a 11-1 record.

    After signing for $155 million in the off-season, Tanaka has been carving up lineups with his 113 K in route to a 11-1 record.

  2. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox: For 2 months he was leading MLB in HR and arguably the front runner for AL Rookie of the Year. His power stroke (20 HR) has been one of the best and he’s dominating at home with a .319 BA and 9 HR. He is prone to strikeouts (65) like most power hitters but he is worth having for his HR and RBI (53) potential.
  3. Charlie Blackmon, 0F, Colorado Rockies: If I were to tell you that he is in the Top 10 for fantasy outfielders in points (240), would you believe me? One of the more surprising stories this season, Blackmon has been crushing it over his last 7 games (.400 BA) and is on pace to smash is career totals in HR (27) and RBI (99). With OF Carlos Gonzalez on the DL, he’s a must-start in all leagues.
  4. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds: I would have came up with a better opening-line for blog, but Hamilton stole (more than once). His 29 SB are 2nd in the MLB and he is currently on pace to reach 66 in his rookie season. He has been known for A++ speed but getting on base (.313 OBP) has been a challenge. He is having an amazing June with a .356 BA and 8 SB; he’s gold in any Roto league you can dream up.

    "Grand Theft Hamilton" has been at it again this season, swiping 29 bags and is on pace to hit 66 this season.

    “Grand Theft Hamilton” has been at it again this season, swiping 29 bags and is on pace to hit 66 this season.

  5. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: This team seems to breed great OF and Polanco has been no exception. He’s batting .385 in Pittsburgh after going .347 with 7 HR, 49 RBI, and 15 SB in AAA Indianapolis and what’s even more impressive is his .429 OBP. He’s a source for SB (38 in 2013) along with power (12 in 2013). He could be the next line of great OF’s in the Pirates organization.

Welcome back to another year of fantasy baseball from your’s truly. If this is already an indicator of things to come, the next couple of months should be more epic than the season finale of Game of Thrones.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

On with the new guy.. Who do you keep in 2014?

It’s hard to move on sometimes. Whether it’s a car or a job, parting ways with something that you have coveted for so long can be an emotional experience.

Keepers in fantasy baseball are no exception.

The art of keeping a player is a skill in and of itself. Choose wisely and you can reap the benefits year after year. Choose wrong and you could be the proverbial “goat” of your league.

He is easily one of the best, if not the best pitcher in the MLB.

He is easily one of the best, if not the best pitcher in the MLB.

Every year new stars rise to the top and make the choice difficult for owners who are plentiful with talent. Most leagues only allow one which on a team of 24 to 25 players can be stressful. Combine that with the age old debate of “hitter vs pitcher” and you have a recipe for a long off-season.

This season has been a tough one for those who have kept guys like Milwaukee Brewers’ OF Ryan Braun, Los Angeles Angels’ 1B Albert Pujols, and Washington Nationals’ SP Stephen Strasburg to name a few. One is suspended, one is injured, and the other one has been less than stellar (along with his team).

Going with your gut and common sense is obviously part of the game. Detroit Tigers’ 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera will pay dividends for years to come and is obviously always going to be off the board come March. Pitching wise it’s plentiful with the likes of Los Angeles Dodgers’ SP Clayton Kershaw and Texas Rangers’ SP Yu Darvish; both are in the prime of what promises to be record setting careers.

I make this sound easier than it really is.

Trickiness comes into play when you deal with guys like Detroit Tigers’ SP Max Scherzer or Baltimore Orioles’ 1B/OF Chris Davis. Scherzer, who looks like a guarantee for the AL Cy Young, is having a monumental season and Davis is on pace to hit 58 HR this season. Scherzer is 19-1 which tops MLB and he is approaching 200 K (191) with a minuscule 0.91 WHIP. The guy has been more dominant than last year’s story (now) Toronto Blue Jays’ SP R.A. Dickey.

Good ole Dickey. A stark contrast of seasons.

Dickey blew the top off last season when he was with the New York Mets, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA (both career bests). He had 230 K to compliment 233.3 IP and was a keeper target for owners this season. Better bats behind him in Toronto after the team went on an off-season spending spree. What’s not to love?

This season has been a different story as Dickey has gone 9-12 with a 4.49 ERA and he has already given up more ER (88) and HR (28) than he did all of last season (71 and 24 respectfully). It’s a reminder that one good season doesn’t always guarantee fruitful results going forward.

With that being said, here are a few names to consider when deciding who the franchise will be on your team next season.

  • Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit Tigers: We know Scherzer is one of the best options going into the off-season but is he a guarantee? Over the last 3 seasons (minus 2013), he boasts a 3.89 ERA with opponents hitting .256 against him during that stretch. He is a K machine (averaging 196) which adds to his value along with the fact he has the most potent offense in the MLB behind him. He will get plenty of wins (43 over the last 3 seasons) and he could be worth a gamble depending on expectations. He’s good, but temper the projections if you keep him.
    He will get plenty of looks next season, with the 19 wins and 192 K he has already amassed.

    He will get plenty of looks next season, with the 19 wins and 192 K he has already amassed.

  • Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels: This past season has been unkind to “The King” and with that comes doubt from owners. Combine the injuries (arm and ankle) along with his career lows in production this season (.256 BA, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 55 K) and there is cause for concern. He could be someone that still goes high because of his potential (hit at least 30 HR and 99 RBI every season since rookie season) but with everything out there he is still a gamble as a keeper. But don’t be surprised if he has a bounce back in 2014.
  • Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles: He is having a historic season in which like Scherzer, is bucking his trend. His HR (46) and RBI (118) are career highs and he has been benefiting from the “golden year” for players (age 27). The Orioles are young and talented which bodes well for Davis who will have guys like 3B Manny Machado (.296 BA) and OF Adam Jones (.299 BA) in front of him. His lifetime BA of .269 is something to consider but like Scherzer, he is a great option because of his team.
  • Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: What a year it has been for Braun. His production this season (.298 BA, 9 HR, 38 RBI) was nothing special but he is always a lock to be in the Top 10 every March. The swirling winds of bad publicity have unquestionably affected him this season but now that he has served his time, will he return to form? A .312 BA lifetime will get him plenty of attention.
    Making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    Making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

  • Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals: Another player who has fallen short of expectations was kept by owners in hopes of a Cy Young performance. Strasburg has a less than stellar record (6-9) but has maintained the par for him in ERA (3.00) along with K (162). His record doesn’t accurately tell the story due to a lackluster offense but when you look at his organics, he has had a pretty solid season. He may not get the nod when keepers are announced but dive in deep before shutting the door on him.
  • Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets: Like Dickey, Harvey had another solid season in the Mets’ uniform and did it in identical form. His ERA (2.27) and WHIP (0.93) have been spectacular but the wins (9) where no where near as bountiful as Dickey’s last season. Another wrinkle is that today he was announced with having a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, which is a precursor for Tommy John Surgery. You have to keep an eye on it but if he can avoid surgery he would be a fine keeper. But if he goes under the knife, you have to play your cards in 2015.

Whether you end up rich or broke, just know the odds always favor the bold.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

The Two Front War: Fantasy Baseball and Football

It’s that time of the year again.

No, I’m not talking about Fall (although that is vastly approaching) or wedding season (I didn’t get invited to one this year). I’m talking about the month-long extravaganza known as Fantasy Football Pre-Season.

Mock drafts, player kits, and Buffalo Wild Wings reservations are all the rage in August as owners switch gears from the diamond to the gridiron in hopes of earning some cold hard cash. It’s the most popular fantasy sport and with good reason; everyone from a seasoned veteran to the little old lady can play. It’s the one game where you can know nothing about it and almost have a better chance of winning.

Touche.

Touche.

Attention is going to shift for many owners who play both sports which is a prime opportunity for the savvy baseball veterans who may be looking to cash in. Football, which is less time and focus than baseball, can still be a decent amount of prep work depending on what league you are in. I am not saying to completely abandon your football team (I even have a few teams myself) but don’t keep your eye off the baseball for a second. If you are in the thick of things and have a chance to land a playoff spot, now is the time that you can pick up some undervalued treasurers that most people would miss on because they are breaking down 4th string wide receives in their NFL Draft Kit.

For example, those who have not been paying attention the past couple of weeks may not know about Atlanta Braves’ SP Alex Wood. Wood, who is hoovering around 65% ownership, has been lights out for the Braves in his last 4 starts. He has gone 6+ in all 4 of his starts and he has only given up 5 earned in all of those combined starts. His 2.63 ERA and 1.02 WHIP are better than average and he has a red-hot, division leading offense to back him up. He has been one of the more hidden gems over the last couple of weeks.

Another guy that people will overlook (which is surprising to hear me say this) is New York Yankees’ 3B Alex Rodriguez. Everyone’s favorite “sound byte” has been red-hot over his last 7 days; he is batting .357 and has collected at least 1 hit in 6 of his last 7 games. His K are down (10 on the season) and his OBP (4.07) is close to 60 points higher than his 3 year average. I get tired of seeing his name pop up on ESPN Sports Center every minute but you can’t deny that he has been producing (surprisingly) in August.

Being able to pay attention to the signs is the key to survival in fantasy baseball. But for all of you fantasy football owners out there, I will go ahead and break tradition and leave a little something for you.

Rodriguez is lighting up the scoreboards, hitting .357 over his last 7 days.

Rodriguez is lighting up the scoreboards, hitting .357 over his last 7 days.

There are the dedicated few (like myself) who would trade 10 fantasy football titles for 1 fantasy baseball title. Football, in my eyes, is the “poker” of the sporting world and baseball is the “7-card stud”. Anyone can play poker but very few want to tangle with 7 card high-low.

With that being said, fantasy football and poker have a common theme. They are easy to play but take a lifetime to master.

Football is typically won in your draft; there are very few times that you can win it on the waiver wire (trust me, I know). There are the known quantities but there are a handful of guys that you can pick up later that will have substantial value if you play the cards right. Last year Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ RB Doug Martin was second amongst running backs behind Minnesota Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson and was drafted as the 10th-15th best running back available. His 1,454 rushing yards and 11 rushing TD to go with 472 receiving yards and 1 Rec TD were amongst the best in the NFL last season and he compiled at least 10 fantasy points in 12 games last season. Needless to say, someone got great value drafting him.

This year looks to be no different as several players are being talked about for a break out campaign. One of them just happens to play with Martin in Tampa Bay. QB Josh Freeman (4,065 passing yards, 27 TD, 17 INT) is in the final year of a 5 year, $32.14 million contract and playing for a lot this season. He has shown glimpses of brilliance but has had issues in terms of turnovers (17 INT and 10 fumbles last season). With another year with standout WR Vincent Jackson (1,384 receiving yards and 8 TD) and newly acquired WR Kevin Ogletree (4 TD last season), Freeman could be a heck of steal late in drafts.

Another guy who could see tons of value is New England Patriots’ RB Stevan Ridley (1,263 rushing yards, 12 TD). Ridley had a career campaign last year in yardage and TD and established himself as the guy in the Patriots backfield. With the litany of issues in the receiving core, Ridley will shoulder more of the load this season and could see 1,500 yards in a more diverse Patriots’ offense.

#selfie

#selfie

It’s hard to know which way the cards will fall but one thing is for sure, playing two games at the same time can be a lot of fun or it can crushing. Hopefully you don’t get blitzkrieg on both fronts.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

 

How the Mighty Have Fallen

No one stays at the top forever. Not even Charlie Sheen or Ricky Martin can be on their A-game for eternity.

Maybe I exaggerated with those examples.

Regardless if it’s television, music, or baseball, stars rise and fade with no shortage of examples. We have seen this play out in fantasy baseball time and time with reminders every season of how the baseball gods can be brutal when you make them mad.

King Albert has been dethroned but for how long?

King Albert has been dethroned but for how long?

The news about Los Angeles Angels’ 1B Albert Pujols (.258, 17 HR, 64 RBI) and his $16 million contract have been the talk this week and with good reason; he was the one guy that we thought could never “sink”. But with a foot injury and wrist injury, “King Albert” has become a boat anchor for the owners who drafted him this season. And with his average draft ranking around 8.36, owners lost out big time (along with the Angels).

To give Pujols some benfit of the doubt, he has been hobbled this season with an ailing foot/ankle injury that you can tell has affected him. Where the critics will counter point is that if you look at his impact since he was traded to the Angels in 2012, he has shown serious signs of regression. His .285 BA and 76 K last season along with just a meager 30 HR were far short of what we expect out of one of the best hitters in MLB.

Ironically enough, Pujols is not the only guy you can put on display. There are plenty of others to serve up.

We know already about the soap opera that is the New York Yankees and their highly publicized (yet ineffective) 3B Alex Rodriguez.  His ongoing negotiations with MLB around his alleged HGH use has become more annoying than the Brett Favre “dog and pony show” that takes place every season (seemingly). Rodriguez was once the darling of those who had the #1 overall pick but has now fallen faster than Paula Dean with no signs of coming close to what he once was. You factor that in with the $32 million annual salary and you have recipe for disaster.

I’m just happy I’m not on the hook for the money.

With Pujols and Rodriguez making news for all the wrong reasons (along with Riley Cooper), it got me thinking as to some of the biggest declines we have seen in the fantasy baseball world. Guys get old and the laws of averages kick in, but there have been several guys this season who have had their stars flame out.

  • Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies: We always knew he would strike out a lot (averaging 143 over last 3 seasons) but when the power goes away (averaging 26 HR over same span), makes it a real liability. He was the definition of “glass half empty, half full” but he has become bone dry (.265 BA, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 95 K). Shame too because the Phillies pay him roughly $20 million annually.

    A rise in K and a decline in power make for a long season for fantasy owners.

    A rise in K and a decline in power make for a long season for fantasy owners.

  • Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers: At one time, you could argue he was the best 2B in baseball. His power and speed with a respectable average made him high on draft boards. The last couple of seasons have been short by standards and this season may take the cake (.275 BA, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 7 SB). Kinsler has had injury problems but the decline in production (BA dropped 30 points since 2010; SB dropped 8, CS up each season) has made him a mid-tier 2B at best.
  • Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies: It’s no surprise that he made it on the list after having one of the better seasons in 2007 (30 HR and 41 SB). Rollins has never been one to help your average (.263 career BA) but the regression in power (averaging 16 HR last 3 seasons) and speed (averaging 26 SB over the last 3 seasons) make him as big of a liability as Howard.
  • Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays: Before the sudden surge of great 3B, you could live with the K’s (averaging 93 last 3 years) and potential for production. But Longoria (after having last year cut short by injury) has been on the down slide. He has 21 HR but is well short of his 3 year average in RBI (86 over 3 years, 58 now) and is on pace for 168 K. He has value, but not nearly what he once had.
  • Josh Hamilton, OF, Los Angeles Angels: He is the other half of the Angels’ nightmare this season. After signing him to a 5 year, $125 million contract Hamilton has been a bust with career lows in BA (.226) and OBP (.283). His power usually can offset his K (averaging 117 over the last 3 years) but he has had an outage of sorts this season (16 HR, on pace for 24). Hamilton has hurt those who drafted him and has an unknown future ahead.
  • Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: The 3rd Phillies player to make the list but his decline is a shock to many. At one point, he was a guaranteed ace (averaging 17 wins over last 3 years) but the last 2 seasons have been unkind to his ERA (4.49 and 8.65) and he has been hurt for over a collective season of baseball. We knew their were signs coming into this season, but no one could have predicted a decline like this.

    At one point, they were the best. Now, both guys are in scramble mode to revive their careers.

    At one point, they were the best. Now, both guys are in scramble mode to revive their careers.

  • Tim Lincecum, SP, San Francisco Giants: He is another former ace who has seen better days (and not due to injury). He did pitch a no-hitter which was a nice thing to see, but you can’t deny his problems over the last 3 seasons. His ERA last year (5.17) and WHIP (1.46) were career highs and clearly not a myth this season (4.60 ERA and 1.34 WHIP). He still has signs of brilliance but no where near the Cy Young caliber.
  • Heath Bell, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: It’s bad enough being replaced but twice in one season? Bell is far removed from being one of the best closers in MLB (43 saves in 2011) but when he went to Miami last season, a big part of his game stayed there. His 19 saves last year and 15 this year are well short of his potential and you combine that with a 5.12 and 3.82 ERA, and you have a problem.

Doors never 100 percent close but sometimes there is enough writing on the wall to make you think twice before opening. Hopefully this group can get it together before they have things shut on them permanently.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

Send em Packing.. MLB Trade Deadline Deals that could impact your Roster!

For those of us that are tired of the soap opera known as Biogenesis, luckily the trade deadline is approaching.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a New York Yankees fan. Sad and crushing for all of you, I know. The dark side is heavy with this one.

Baseball is being talked about virtually every day but in my opinion, it’s for the wrong reasons. There is more to this game than who is doping and who is covering up but because we are people who enjoy this kind of thing, we focus more on the negatives than the positives. There are a lot of great things going on right now but if you watch the media over the last couple of days, you would have no idea which is kinda sad.

Now that it’s out of my system, it’s safe to say the Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, and others are going to be active for obvious reasons.

Garza has already made an impact for the Rangers going 7+ strong for a win on Wednesday.

Garza has already made an impact for the Rangers going 7+ strong for a win on Wednesday.

Whether is suspensions or the need to get out from behind some lofty contracts, the rumors have been like brush fire over the last couple of days with the Chicago Cubs selling off one of the prized pieces in SP Matt Garza. Gazra (7-1, 2.87 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 67 K) is unquestionably a game changer for the Texas Rangers and based on Wednesday’s results (W, 7.1 IP, 5 K, 5 H, 0 ER) should be a great lift for fantasy owners who have stuck with him through his litany of injuries. The big key in the statement though is “injuries”; Garza has been on the DL each of his last 3 seasons and missed the first 6 weeks of this season due to a strained side muscle.

With the dealing of Gazra, Cubs nation did not go empty handed and in my opinion, could benefit tremendously from the potential pieces they were able to acquire. 3B Mike Olt (.217 BA, 12 HR, 34 RBI, .316 OBP) was the highest rated prospect left in the Rangers system and in spite of some challenges this season (98 K), he is a guy with a ton of potential and could serve as a great long term 3B which is desperately needed for the Cubs (see Luis Valbuena). Combine that with the addition of 3 other prospects and SP Justin Grimm, the Cubs got more than fair value and fantasy owners have more players that can impact their team.

Ironically enough, another player from the Cubs may improve his stock soon as OF Alfonso Soriano (.254 BA, 17 HR, 51 RBI) has been dealt today to the Yankees. This news has to be a relief to the 88 percent of fantasy owners who have stock in him as Soriano netted 18, 39, and 38 HR seasons for the Yankees between 2001-2003. A hitter friendly park along with some protection in the form of 2B Robinson Cano and Soriano could be a lift for owners over the rest of the season.

With this amount of deals closing, who else is left for the taking?

Luckily, there are several teams still in the market for help. Not to say that a guy getting traded is always going to help his value but sometimes a change of scenery turns a flower into a rose. And for some owners, it can turn that prospect you have been holding onto into a solid contributor as the playoffs are lingering in the future.

Here are some names to keep an eye who could impact your fantasy roster.

  • Jake Peavy, SP, Chicago White Sox: Pitching is always a valued commodity at the deadline and Peavy will be heavily sought after. He has shined in his last 2 starts (2 W, 13 IP, 10 K, 11 H) since coming off of the DL and has posted a respectable 8-4 record this season. Injury is always a concern with him as well but if he lands on a team like St. Louis, Boston, or Cincinnati, his value could soar.

    Peavy has been linked to 8 different teams who are looking to bolster their rotation.

    Peavy has been linked to 8 different teams who are looking to bolster their rotation.

  • Ervin Santana, SP, Kansas City Royals: He has quietly put together a solid campaign this season with the Royals (6-6, 3.05 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 107 K) which makes this surprising. Losing former top prospect OF Wil Myers in the the “James Shields trade” has to still be lingering with the Royals. Santana is a great option for a lot of teams and could get a boost, especially in head-to-head leagues where IP get you points (138 this season).
  • Yovani Gallardo, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: He couldn’t have picked a worse time than yesterday to hurt his value (L, 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 K). Gallardo has been one of the more inconsistent pitchers this season for the 90 percent of owners who have him (including myself). He is a bit of a liability due to the high ERA (4.88) but Milwaukee has never been a pitcher’s paradise.
  • Andre Either, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: With the plethora of talent they have in the outfield, the Dodgers have been trying to cut loose the albatross that is his contract. Either (.271 BA, 7 HR, 36 RBI) has seen some sharp decline in the power department which makes his trade prospects iffy. If he can land with a hitter friendly park, he could be good in head-to-head or roto due to the high OBP (.350).
  • Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox: The rumor mill is strong with Rios who is linked to the Rangers. Rios (.276 BA, 12 HR, 49 RBI) has not been putting up insane numbers but if you recall from last year, he has a knack for turning it on (.289, 13 HR, 42 RBI) after the All-Star Break. He would a heck of an addition to a team that has a solid lineup.
  • Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins: It’s sometimes crazy to see how the mighty have fallen, but Morneau has been long overdue for a change of scenery. He hasn’t clearly been the MVP caliber player he once was (.269 BA, 7 HR, 52 RBI this season) but he is someone the Twins are serious about moving. Keep an eye on him but he could be quality depth for fantasy owners.

    He is far removed from the glory days but still has something to offer if you can get him at the right price.

    He is far removed from the glory days but still has something to offer if you can get him at the right price.

It’s tough trying to bet the market but then again, you can’t win big if you don’t gamble big. Hopefully you catch some lightning in a bottle and we look forward to seeing you every Friday night on The Fantasy Focus! Tune in tonight at 8:45pm on 93.1 KTIK “The Ticket”.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

The 2nd Half Steal.. Who can Impact your Fantasy Roster?

I was going to make this a blog about MVP’s and who’s been a bust, breakout. Then it occurred to me; just about everyone knows who those guys are.

It’s no secret that Detroit Tigers’ 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera (.365 BA, 30 HR, 95 RBI, .458 OBP) is becoming a dead lock for the AL MVP or that Baltimore Orioles 1B/OF Chris Davis (.315 BA, 37 HR, 93 RBI, .392 OBP) is easily a shoe in for the AL Breakout Player of the Year. These guys, along with others, have been smashing since April and there is no reason not to believe that they won’t continue the same trend into October.

Could another Triple Crown be in sight for MLB's best hitter?

Could another Triple Crown be in sight for MLB’s best hitter?

Then I begin to wonder what else could be relevant about the 2nd half of the season? Is this like Fantasy Football where if you don’t get off to a hot start you are pretty much toast come playoff time?

One of the beauties of Fantasy Baseball is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are still 8 weeks left in this season before the playoffs which means there are plenty of chances to make an impact or get yourself close to a potential playoff position. And even though you may not have guys like Cabrera, Davis, or even Los Angeles Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig (.391 BA, 8 HR, 19 RBI, .422 OBP) it doesn’t mean that it’s time to pack up and start looking at Top 20 QB’s for the upcoming season. There is still plenty of money to be made on the waiver wire and some guys are even starring you in the face. You just don’t know it.

With the All-Star Break finally in the books, teams are obviously going to be evaluating whether or not they have a legitimate chance to make the Fall Classic. The good news for fantasy owners is that with these moves, plenty of doors will open up and it’ll be a good ole “Texas Land Grab”. Top prospects will get the call up to “The Show” and guys who were in sub par situations will have some value added to their stock. Happens every year.

As is the theme with this season, you have to know when to buy and sell. The Trade Deadline can always throw a kink into the plan but every once in a while, the chips can fall your way. And honestly, some guys are just prone to heating up in the 2nd Half. Before he went on the season-ending DL, New York Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira was a great candidate to find his swing and get things turned around for patient fantasy owners.

Getting a steal is all about timing. Kind of like a SB; you have to be patient but once you get the sign, it’s all or nothing. Here are several guys who have the potential to pay off big for you if you can get them while they’re there.

  • Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: A complete game gem heading into the All-Star Break will get you plenty of looks. Archer threw a gem against the Houston Astros (9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 8 K) and came up big for owners last week posting 60 points. He his a guy who has really fell into a groove in the month of July (2-0, 0.86 ERA, 21 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 15 K) and could be a great pick up for those looking to find another 6-8 wins in the 2nd Half.
  • Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: Shocking, I know. The report is that Carpenter will be making a rehab start in AAA Memphis tomorrow with potential to make it to St. Louis later on this month. Carpenter is obviously one of the biggest unknowns on this list. The guy tends to pick it up after the break (14-10, 3.10 ERA over the last 3 years) but health is always the number one concern. He is on arguably the best team in baseball so if you can get him in the 60 percent of leagues out there, he could be a great addition especially when the postseason starts.

    Injury is a concern, but Carpenter adds depth to an already potent rotation.

    Injury is a concern, but Carpenter adds depth to an already potent rotation.

  • Eric Stults, SP, San Diego Padres: Another guy who has picked it up in the month of July (2-1, 2.79 ERA, 19.1 IP, 10 K) and even though the data is limited, has shown that he can be a force after the ASB (7-1, 73.1 IP, .250 OPP BA). Granted, he is not a major source for K’s and he is on a team that could be in a sell mentality.
  • Danny Hultzen, SP, Seattle Mariners: Like we mentioned earlier, you can never count out what is waiting in the wings. Hultzen has been stellar in AAA Tacoma this season (4-1, 2.20 ERA, 31 K, 7 BB) and if there is one thing that Seattle knows it’s starting pitching. Hultzen would definitely be a solid 5 on any team and if you can get him in the 84 percent of leagues out there. As long as the shoulder issue isn’t serious, he could make his way to Seattle this season.
  • Taijuan Walker, SP, Seatlle Mariners: Depending on how this shakes out, this could be one of the best rotations we have seen in a long time. Walker, ranked 4th on MLB.com’s Prospect Watch, has been red hot this season in AAA Tacoma (2-0, 0.56 ERA, 16 K, 5 BB) and even though the Mariners are being conservative with him, he is easily one of the top arms in the minors this season. If they are there in the AL West, he could be a hell of an add to any rotation.

    Walker is ranked 4th on MLB.com's Top Prospects.

    Walker is ranked 4th on MLB.com’s Top Prospects.

  • Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox: He’s, like Carpenter, continue to be the ageless wonders. Konerko has had a rough 2013 (.249 BA, 7 HR, 30 RBI) but he is someone who if you can get for cheap, could be a solid addition considering he is hitting .288 post ASB his last 3 seasons. The numbers this season don’t make him a sure-fire bet but at only 50 percent ownership, he could be worth a flier.
  • Darin Ruf, 1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies: With the injury to Ryan Howard, Ruf has paid off early since being called up. He has power potential (2 HR, 3 RBI) and in the month of July, he has been solid in terms of BA (.321) and OBP ( .441) all pluses if you ask me. He could take a dip depending on how the Phillies manage this roster but he is worth a look at the CI position.
  • Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds: Continuing to stay with the minor league theme, this guy could be the one piece that gets you over the hump. He is not the most consistent hitter that has played here (.243 BA in AAA Louisville) but once he gets on base, no one is better (52 SB this season). The Reds obviously have Zack Cozart at SS but with his inconsistency in terms of getting on base (.233 BA and .262 OBP) at what point do they give Hamilton a shot. Given the tight race in the NL Central, may be sooner than later.
  • Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: He is the new number 1 and could be making his way to a fantasy roster near you. Taveras has shown why he is the top prospect in minors (.310 BA, 5 HR, 32 RBI) and he is a prototypical Cardinal; he does a lot of things well. He is not a major source in the power/speed departments, but he is a guy who can be a hit machine in a deep line up. With the injury to Matt Holliday, Taveras could be in St. Louis very shortly.

    Taveras is one of several names waiting for the Cardinals in the minors. He is a 5-tool player with lots of upside.

    Taveras is one of several names waiting for the Cardinals in the minors. He is a 5-tool player with lots of upside.

  • Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals: You would think I am a Cardinals fan with the number of guys on here. I just like winning in fantasy and Adams is a guy who can help. He had one of the better stretches heading into the ASB (.316 BA) and he is someone who can also give you power (7 HR) in head-to-head leagues. There will undoubtedly being dealings and if he can get everyday playing time, he’s a worthy addition.

As the saying goes “you have to know when to fold and when to go all in”. Hopefully you can cash in on one of these guys. Good luck and tune in tonight on 93.1 KTIK at 8:45 PM for another edition of “The Fantasy Focus”!

Till next time..

Chad Bates

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.