Its not Thursday, but I have been out of commission since last Thursday, moving from southern California to central Nebraska to start a new job as the editor of a small newspaper. Meanwhile, you have flooded my box with questions that need answering.
Where do you think Francisco Liriano finishes the season among starting pitchers? You were high on him pre-season, then he was horrendous. Now he looks good. -Terry, Boston
I understand the frustration. Honestly, he has top-10 stuff, but he won’t be consistent enough to approach that. I think somewhere between 20-30 among SP is a reasonably optimistic expectation. But just know when its good, he’s a Cy Young type guy. When its bad, he’s Carl Pavano, or worse.
When are we going to see Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. They are crushing and their major league teams can’t hit. -James, Austin
2012 most likely. If the Angels fall out of the AL West race, then I don’t think we see Trout this year, and I don’t care what Washington does, I can’t imagine seeing Harper before June 2012. The only chance we see either, is if the Angels pitching is so dominant that they somehow stay in the division race until the roster expansion, at which point Trout COULD get a September call.
Anthony Rizzo is drawing comparisons to Adrian Gonzalez. What do you see for him this year? -Timothy, Wisconsin
Anthony Rizzo has several things going against him. First, he has struggled mightily against lefties in the past. Second, he plays in San Diego. Third, he struck out a lot in the minors. I want to say .260 and 15 home runs, but as I say that, I remember watching Justin Smoak when he came up, and I tend to think that might be the most realistic expectation. Smoak batted .218 with 13 home runs and 91 strikeouts in 100 games. If Rizzo comes up and feels pressure to put up major power numbers for the hapless Padres’ offense, then he’s going to strike out a lot!
Jose Reyes seems to be back, but he has that injury prone tag, and he plays in the cavernous Citi Field, surrounded by not much protection, or guys to knock him in when he gets on. Considering everything, where does he rank among shortstops and overall, and what kind of pitcher would you trade him for in a 12-team category league? -Marcus, Omaha
Jose Reyes leads the league with a .346 average, 49 runs scored, 97 hits and 11 triples. He has also stolen 22 bases. Meanwhile, Troy Tulowitzki is batting .273 with an OPS 70 points below Reyes. Hanley Ramirez is batting .205 with just one more home run than Reyes, and an OPS 300 points below. Also, his injury history is exaggerated. Between 2005-2008, Reyes played 153 or more games every season. He was hurt in 2009, then in 2010 he played 133 games with a .282 average, 11 homers and 30 steals. For me, Reyes is equal to Tulo and HanRam in value right now. That trio makes up the top tier of fantasy shortstops. If I owned Reyes, I would have to be blown away by an offer to deal him. And if I didn’t own one of the other two, it’d be very hard.
Travis Hafner is coming off the DL soon. He was on fire before the injury. What is a realistic expectation and is he a sell-high candidate? -Lucy, Lakewood
How high can you sell him? I own him in a deep keeper and no one is buying. I think .280 and 20 home runs is a fair expectation. If you can sell him anywhere close to .300 and 30, you do it in a heartbeat.
I know you always tend to lean on track record when there’s a guy underwhelming or overwhelming expectations, but what about Ubaldo Jimenez? The stuff is so good, but he hasn’t found a groove. Also, what do you think of Trevor Cahill the rest of the way? -Ryan, Miami
Ubaldo is no longer a must-start. I think he has better days ahead, but that’s probably closer to 3.70 and 7.5 K/9 than the sub-3 and 8.7 that he put up last season. As far as Cahill goes, look at the track record. He’s never had a K/9 over 5.4 so in April when he had a 7.7 K/9, you had to know there was a wake-up call coming. He is what he is. Very good ERA and WHIP, low strikeouts and not many wins. He’s around the top-50 starting pitchers, might dip a bit below or climb a bit above depending on the week and the matchup.
Adam Dunn, Dan Uggla, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez……. thoughts? -Matthew, San Antonio
I think they will all be fine. Obviously we’ve seen the Pujols we know and love. Uggla and Dunn have shown signs of awakening. Ramirez might take the longest but I think he will come out of it at some point.
That’s it for now. We will have the regular Q&A tomorrow, along with some catchup articles from the last week of action.