Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What We've Learned

June 22, 2010

There are many things that are perfectly viable reason for not updating a website for six weeks, and there are also many things that are not.  Let’s start with five excuses that, as Marisa Tomei would say, “hold waw-tah”:

1)        “I’m expecting a child”
2)        “I’m moving”
3)        “I’ve been training for and/or participating in the Amazing Race”
4)        “I’ve been in the hospital”
5)        “My computer stopped working”

Now, the excuses which are just lame:

1)        “I forgot”
2)        “I’m training for a reality show that is NOT the Amazing Race”
3)        “I’ve been focusing on my real job”
4)        “Anything excuse involving a pet”
5)        “I got married”

So let’s just get this over with.  My wife and I are having a baby and we bought a house, so stop holding my damn feet to the fire and let’s get back to fantasy baseball!  Excuses over!

Six weeks is an eternity in baseball, so let’s go over what we’ve learned since I last updated this abomination of a website.  In getting into the World Cup spirit, this is going to be a list of 32 items separated into eight groups – just go with it:

Group A – The Rookies

1)        Stephen Strasburg is the second coming of whatever you believe in.  If it’s Jesus, great.  If it’s unicorns, fine.  Whatever you believe to be the symbol of spirituality or enlightenment, Strasburg is that entity personified.
2)        Mike Stanton swings and misses a lot.  So much so that as of writing this, he’s got a .233 average which is completely unsustainable based on his .391 BABIP.  Yea, that’s correct.
3)        Starlin Castro is going to be a good player.  Just not yet.  A singles hitter at the bottom of a punchless lineup, no thank you.  Buy him in keeper leagues where his value has been deflated.
4)        Carlos Santana is the real deal.  7 walks and 3 K’s in his first 35 plate appearances means he’s not intimidated by MLB pitching.  You definitely want him over fellow catching rookie Buster Posey.

Group B – The Resurrected

1)        Alex Rios will keep this up, folks.  He’s now a legit top-20 player.
2)        The Texas OF/DH combo of Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero is absolutely raking.  You know the type of injury risk that comes with this territory, but as the Texas sun heats up, bats don’t cool off.
3)        David Wright’s power.  Yes he can hit 30 HR’s, as I told you at the beginning of the season.
4)        Francisco Liriano is taking a dagger straight to the heart of the owners who believed in him last season by being completely dominant this season.  I am one of those owners.  

Group C – The Wheels are Coming Off

1)        A.J. Burnett is not getting enough K’s to warrant being this inconsistent.  Make him someone else’s problem, but wait until he has a good start first.
2)        James Shields is struggling as of late too, but he’s got the stones to back it up.  A 4.50 ERA and 3.51 xFIP, along with a .345 BABIPa, mean buy low on him while you can.
3)        Alfonso Soriano has had an awful June (and his BA has dipped from around .320 to .270), but his rate stats are almost identical to his first two months.  He won’t get his average back up to .300, but he’s not falling off a cliff.
4)        Michael Bourn, however, is falling off a cliff.  I know he’s got the steals, but if you’re in a non-deep H2H league, he needs to be dropped.

Group D – Closers

1)        Brad Lidge is a top-10 closer the rest of the way.  I know he makes people nervous, but if he didn’t, he’d be top-5.
2)        Same goes for Bobby Jenks.  His ERA is down to 4.39, as compared to his xFIP of 2.70 - and on top of that, he’s got a 13/1 K-BB ratio in 9 2/3 June innings.
3)        Sell on Matt Lindstrom, if you can.  His stats still look good, but his 4.3% HR/FB ratio won’t stay that low.  Plus, Brandon Lyon is dealing in the 8th and is still making closer money…
4)        In the obvious department, Mariano Rivera is awesome.  So awesome in fact that he hasn’t given up a hit since June 1st.  That was three weeks ago.  I mean, he can’t sustain his .144 BABIP, but who cares?  The guy’s a marvel.

Group E – Guys who are injured that I want

1)        Edinson Volquez
2)        Brett Anderson
3)        Coco Crisp
4)        Jorge De La Rosa

Group F – Guys who are injured that I do NOT want

1)        Brandon Webb
2)        Travis Snider
3)        Brad Penny
4)        Mark Derosa

Group G – For deeper leagues

1)        Don’t sleep on Tommy Hunter.  He certainly won’t maintain a 2.31 ERA, but you could do much worse in a 12 or 14 team league.  Hunter is bound to have some soft matchups, a.k.a. Oakland and Seattle, down the stretch and isn’t walking many guys (6 BB in 4 starts).
2)        Russell Branyan has been heating up a bit as of late, hitting .279 with 4 HR’s so far in June.  That’s a 30-HR pace, and he’s definitely less widely owned than he should be.
3)        Rick Porcello has had a brutal start to the season for sure, but you only need to look back a few weeks to see what a couple of starts in the minors did to help Max Scherzer.  Porcello will be valuable down the stretch if you can stash him now.
4)        Evan Meek is getting closer to potentially logging some time at closer in Pittsburgh.  Dotel will be on the block, and if they can get anything decent for him, he’ll be moved.  Meek and his 0.68 should then step in quite adequately.

Group H – Lingering Questions

1)        Will Phil Hughes have a soft or hard innings cap?  If the Yanks limit him down the stretch, it could sink fantasy teams relying on him.  If the Yanks push him down the stretch, his value in keeper leagues goes down since his 2011 injury risk will be much higher.
2)        Will Dan Haren really be WORSE in the 2nd half this year?  He’s clearly been unlucky so far – his ERA is more than a point higher than his xFIP and his BABIPa is unsustainably high (.344) – but expecting him to be better as the season goes on, defies all current Dan Haren logic we have.
3)        Will Zack Greinke win 10 games?  He doesn’t look like the same pitcher we saw last year, but he surely doesn’t deserve this horrendous lack of run support.  By the way, his story is one all you Ubaldo Jimenez owners in keeper leagues should heed.
4)        What is the deal with Brennan Boesch?  And yes, that was meant to be said in a very Seinfeld-ian voice.  A man cannot maintain a BABIP of above .380 – look for him to fall back to earth as Austin Jackson has this past month.  There must be something in the water in Detroit which allows these rookies to tempt fate for an extended period of time.