Walking the Walk- Week 3

Posted: May 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

Tim Lincecum remembered how to pitch, producing two good starts for 48.5 total points and I won 258.5-248.

Despite Justin Verlander and Derek Holland posting rough starts, I got solid contributions from Ben Zobrist and Eric Hosmer as well as good starts from Chris Sale and Jon Niese. I was helped out tremendously by my opponent’s negative weeks out of Ivan Nova, Jon Danks, Randall Delgado, and Phil Hughes.

In some other team news, I am now 1-2. Brian Matusz has produced two good starts against the Blue Jays and Yankees, both while sitting  on my bench, so it may be time to start using him again. I am in trade negotiations for a possible blockbuster deal which I will post if it happens.

Meanwhile, last night Chris Sale threw his third straight start of exactly 22.5 points, which is very useful considering Niese got hammered. I’ve had to bench Mark Reynolds in favor of Placido Polanco and with the injury to Miguel Olivo, Jesus Montero is inching closer to catcher eligibility.

I’m going to sort through some questions and do a Q&A soon, and keep your eyes open for Snakes and Ladders, the risers and fallers of the early going.

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Bryce Harper to Debut Saturday for Nats

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

Bryce Harper is batting .250 with a .708 OPS at Triple-A, but will make his major league debut Saturday night in Los Angeles. If you drafted him, I would trade him ASAP because, while the power will be awesome, the average and OBP might suffer in his first season at this level. You should be able to get a very useful player in return. Seasonal leagues should ignore the preceding advice and hold on, barring an offer of an elite player in return. 

Every fantasy owner has trades they look back on at the end of the year and say “what was I thinking?” But that is not what this article is meant to prevent. That will happen every year because, in all reality, you can’t see the future, so some trades are bound to not work out. This article is meant to stop the trades you regret the next day. Its important to note these are not rules, but merely tips and suggestions coming largely (though not exclusively) from personal experience. Lastly, I strongly encourage anyone with other tips and experiences to share in the comments when you’re done reading. Every league is different, and no one is immune to bonehead mistakes.

Check every single player’s health before finalizing a trade. Someone, somewhere traded for Ryan Madsen the day of, or the day after, his season-ending injury was announced. Shrewd owners, who heard about it early on, sent out trade offers to try and get a little value for him while they still could. Major League executives know this simple tip. Every player who is traded must pass a physical before the trade is finalized. There is any number of free websites to check the health of any major leaguer in moments, so there is no excuse to hit the accept button before checking.
Drunk trading is like drunk dialing. You never get the person you thought you were getting, and it always ends up costing you more than it’s worth. If you’ve been out drinking with your friends and one of them starts asking about your fantasy team, call a cab and go home. On the other hand, if you’re around friends who have been drinking, it can’t hurt to ask them about their players, and you might even come away with a bargain at the end of the night. Also in this category, don’t trade the day after a breakup or a change in your employment situation. Ultimately, you should never complete a deal at any time when you’re not thinking clearly. This is an easy way to be duped. In 2011, Logan Morrison’s off-the-field issues with his team finally erupted, and he was unexpectedly demoted in the middle of his best season since coming up to the major leagues. There were probably some savvy Morrison owners who saw his demotion and made clever trade offers to people who knew to check his health, but never thought he would be in the minors. It doesn’t matter who is involved in the trade; always check to make sure they haven’t been unexpectedly demoted. It only takes a moment to check that everyone is still in the major leagues, and it could save an immediate headache. Are you trading for a guy who is sitting in a jail cell? Admittedly, this isn’t quite as pertinent in baseball as it is in the NBA or NFL, but every once in a while, someone gets busted, and you don’t want to be the guy who trades for him. On this same note, keep in mind the risk with people who have had off-the-field issues before, either with the law or with suspensions, or even within their own clubhouses. Those kind of players tend to miss extra games. Trade upside for safety. Matt Cain is the poster boy for safety. The last three years, his ERA has been 2.89, 3.14, 2.88. His WHIP has been 1.181, 1.084, 1.083. He has struck out 171, 177 and 179 in those years. He has pitched over 200 innings every year since 2007. Since 07, his K/9 has been between 7.1 and 7.7 All that being said, Zack Greinke, who most people would rank ahead of Cain, has had ERA of 2.16, 4.17 and 3.83, and his WHIP has gone from 1.073, 1.245, 1.200. FInally, his strikeouts have gone from 242 to 181 to 201. I would gladly trade Greinke away for Cain, and one could probably demand a second player be added in with Cain in that deal, which makes it a bargain. Always trade the sure thing for the upside with drastic downside. Have you ever been in trade talks for two hours or more and gotten to the point where you took less than you intended because you didn’t want the time to be wasted? This is especially dangerous close to the trading deadline because an owner feels the need to get a deal done and loses perspective. If it doesn’t happen in an hour, walk away, have a burger and then, if both sides want, come back and try again.In fact, having been burned by this tip before, it might be wise to set yourself a trade deadline, prior to the real deadline, just to avoid the frantic deadline chaos.

Never negotiate in the presence of your wife or girlfriend. Women are generally more sympathetic than men. And they want their husbands to be as compassionate as they are, which makes the cutthroat process of trading seem barbaric and cruel. Negotiating in front of your wife/girlfriend cannot end well. Either you give in to her pleas that you be nicer and you get ripped off, or you don’t give in, drive your bargain and she ends up mad at you. And gentlemen, if you have a wife or girlfriend who is as competitive a fantasy baseballer as you, hold on tight. The last side of this tip is negotiating WITH your significant other. Being in a league with them is dangerous because you can play to win, in which case it might be a long season around the house, or you can give in to her begging for a certain player, and it will be a long season in your own competitive mind.
Everyone is prone to having a bad year. Whether they had injury concerns or bad luck or mechanical issues, even the best players can have bad years. So when valuing a player, use the past three years as a barometer for your expectations.  For example, Evan Longoria batted .244 last season (yes, with 31 HR and 99 RBI). Someone trying to trade for him will repeat that average over and over and insist on the risk. However, he batted .281 in 2009 and .294 in 2010. He had 100-plus RBI and 95-plus runs scored in each of those seasons. On the flip side, beware the fluke. Jeff Francoeur had an .805 OPS, 20 HR, 87 RBI, 77 runs and 22 steals last season. The homers were his most since 2006, RBI most since 2007, runs most since 2007 and he had never stolen more than eight bases in major league baseball. Have some perspective when you negotiate. You never NEED to trade. The San Francisco Giants gave up a top pitching prospect because they thought they NEEDED to get Carlos Beltran. It turned out Beltran couldn’t save their season, and they lost a prospect for what amounts to nothing now. Never make a deal just for the sake of “needing to make a deal.” At no point in the season is a bad trade suddenly a good trade just because you need to do something. Bad value and overpaying is still a mistake. Let this ring in your ears if you’ve started 0-2 this season. On that point, it’s not a bad idea to avoid trading on any Monday. Why? Because an owner reeling from a heartbreaking loss may be vulnerable to foolish offers. Allow yourself Monday to cope with the past week and then move forward. Know your league.  Mark Reynolds has very different value in a league that does not penalize for strikeouts as opposed to a league in which on-base percentage is a category in the scoring. Likewise, Johnny Venters is as good, or better than, many closers in a league that counts holds. And starters on good teams lose value if the league counts quality starts instead of wins. Every league is a little bit different, and therefore, the players in it are valued slightly differently due to those changes. Always be aware of those things when drafting, and in trade negotiations. You may be able to steal a player who is thought of as less valuable, but who fits your league’s scoring to a T. Play to win this year.  Keeper league owners are notorious for falling in love with prospects and overpaying for them. One owner in my 18-team keeper league drafts one or two top prospects every year just to trade them for exponentially more than they are worth, and every year, he does. After an 0-3 or 1-4 start, you might be contacted by owners offering you an up-and-coming “star” and demanding your proven player in return. Don’t be fooled. No prospect is a sure thing, and even some who do eventually pan out take much longer than expected to do so, as seems to be the case with Cameron Maybin and Alex Gordon. Conversely, if you can get a proven producer for one of your minor leaguers, don’t fall in love with the potential. Make the deal. If you trade Harper for Shane Victorino this year and Harper hits 35 home runs in 2015, you still made a good deal. No regrets!  Being a fantasy owner is like being a closer for a baseball team. There will be good deals and bad deals (hopefully more good ones), but a closer who blows a save, or an owner who traded Jose Bautista for Gordon Beckham before the 2010 season, must always be looking forward. There are lessons to be learned. Look back on the bad deals from the perspective of hoping not to repeat the same mistake in approach next time, not necessarily just to kick yourself about a certain player. Were there signs player “X” was warming up or starting to slump? Those are things to learn. The game is meant to be fun. There’s no point hating yourself for past mistakes. Take each week in stride and enjoy the game. There’s always next year.

Walking the Walk- Week 2

Posted: April 23, 2012 in Fantasy Baseball

Tim Lincecum was rained out and I lost by 1/2 point to fall to 0-2. To put that in perspective, Lincecum averaged 18 points per start last season, so I have no doubt the weather cost me the week. Of course, to add more perspective, my opponent had Philip Humber’s perfect game (and 42.5 points) on the bench, so if he’s in the lineup then it wouldn’t have been close. He also had Frank Francisco notch -8 points on Sunday, which made it close as well.

All that being said, I’ve had two photo-finish losses which could have each gone either way. I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either.

News out of Boston, they will skip the 5th rotation spot this time around and Daniel Bard will be available out of the bullpen. Now, they say its temporary. But they tried Alfredo Aceves in the closer role and he now has a 24.00 ERA in six games. They tried Mark Melancon and he has a 49.50 ERA and is back in the minors.

I have said since preseason 2011 that Bard should be the closer. I thought he was better than Jonathan Papelbon and when Pap left, I thought Boston would be smart enough to make the move, and they made a different move, putting him into the rotation.

I would bet Bard leads the Red Sox in saves this season, and if he doesn’t, then this team doesn’t make the playoffs. He’s the best arm in the bullpen by a long shot. And he was moved to the rotation before Bobby Valentine was hired, so we don’t know what Valentine really thinks, so we will see.

Week 2 Q&A

Posted: April 23, 2012 in Fantasy Baseball

Yes, it is STILL too early to freak out…

Justin, Delaware: Dude! I’m 0-2 and my team needs a boost. I’ve been offered Daniel Bard and Melky Cabrera for Tim Lincecum. Do it while Timmy has some value left, right?

Justin… Lincecum has a K/9 over 10. His xFip is under three and his BABIP is sky high. All that being said, Bard is headed back to the bullpen, where he belongs, and Lincecum will be a top-10 SP by year’s end. Have some patience.

Uri, New Mexico: I’m 0-2 and struggling in a long term keeper league. When is it early enough to start bailing on 2012 to get ahead for 2013? 

Uri, I was 0-5 last year in an 18-team keeper due to a slew of critical injuries and some poor pitching. If I had gotten the right offer, I may have jumped ship at that point, but I held on, went 13-3 over the next 16 weeks and only missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker for the last spot. Weeks five to seven are about the time, in a keeper league, where I could start looking to next year. I wouldnt even consider it before 0-5 or 1-6 start. And seasonal leagues, you may as well play it out all the way. You never know.

Claire, Indiana: Can you take a fantasy football question? What rookies do you see having an impact for 2013, if any?

Well Claire, with the draft this week, I will take some football questions. And if you’ve read my blog before, you know I hate rookies in general. I think Andrew Luck will land somewhere between No. 13 and 18 on my initial QB rankings, and Robert Griffin III will probably be in the same range. I don’t think either will be great right away. I will probably have Griffin higher initially due to his running ability, but I think Luck will be better long term. Side note, I like Kellen Moore to have a great career if he lands behind a good solid veteran (maybe Peyton Manning) and has a couple years to learn.

Nathan, Michigan: Josh Hamilton has seven home runs. Dee Gordon has eight steals. Gordon is on pace for around 85 steals and Hamilton for 70 HR. Who gets closer?

Gordon and its not close. I’ve been a believer since the preseason in Gordon’s speed. Gordon has an atrocious .277 on base percentage. If that even gets to .310, he’ll that that many more opportunities and he is that fast. If he plays 150 games, I’d put the minimum at 60 steals, with a ceiling around 80-85. Meanwhile, if Hamilton plays 140 games, he will be the AL MVP, and I’m not betting he does. I’d put the over/under games played around 120, with excellent production in that time. Pay for top-15 overall per-game production, but only for 75% of the games played.

Kevin, California: If Mike Trout is up May 15 (just guessing) then what does he do this year? I’m getting all kinds of offers for him. Own him in a keeper league (unlimited contract for a 12th round pick) as well as a seasonal league.

I guess it depends on what you’re being offered, but to answer your question, if he is up May 15… The Angels return from a road trip  and start a home series with Oakland on May 14. May 14 would be the Angels 36th game of the season. Considering predictable off days, let’s say 115 games… I would expect around .270, 13 home runs, maybe 20 steals and 60 runs scored. Those seem like reasonable numbers. He can fly, has some pop, and should bat high in the order. The Angels have already said he will only be called up to play everyday. In the keeper league, I’d have to be blown away to trade him, considering you can keep this probable superstar at that price.

Angel, Omaha: Football question, Trent Richardson to Cleveland and Justin Blackmon to St. Louis… which would you rather have? 

Richardson, not close. I think IF both of these scenarios play out, Blackmon will get constant double teams in St. Louis and Sam Bradford is good, not necessarily great. Meanwhile, Richardson looks like he could be in line for AT LEAST half the carries (with Montario Hardesty getting 40% of the rest), but Richardson could emerge to get 60-70% of the Browns carries if he starts off well.

That’s all for now, friends. Keep the questions coming. I’ll have a new Walking the Walk up soon, and some other stuff coming up.

Shameless Plug Alert!

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Fantasy Baseball

As some of you know, I’m a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, and write baseball and fantasy content during baseball season. Below are links to two recent articles, one in particular deals with some amusing fantasy baseball trades made by those who panic.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1152749-fantasy-baseball-7-early-season-panic-trades

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1151529-mlb-five-perennial-buyers-who-will-be-selling-this-year