Each week I’ll be here answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter page.
What do you think of this trade offer: Dan Haren for Ryan Zimmerman?
Haren has lost his last four trips to the hill and he’s given up at least three runs in all four of the outings. He’s also dealing with a bit of a wonky back, an overall he’s 1-5 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Is it time to grab a pitchfork and a flaming torch to storm the castle? Not so fast. Haren is matching his K-rate from last season, though it is in the 7.2′s for the second straight year after 3-straight seasons over eight. His walk rate would be an 8-year high but we’re still talking about a 2.26 per nine mark. His BABIP is slightly elevated (.315) while his LOB% is slightly down (71 percent), and his GB/FB ratio of 1.08 is within shouting distance of his 1.19 career mark. He hasn’t pitched anywhere near as poorly as it would appear from his record and ERA. There are some signs of erosion of course, but it’s a gradual thing and not something that should add a run to his ERA and cause him to lose 15 games this season.
Zimmerman continues to be bothered, at least somewhat, by his shoulder. The result is a poor slash line of .248/.341/.350 from a guy who has career mark of .287/.354/.475. That’s right. Zimmerman’s current SLG is below his career OBP. A look at the rest of his line this year reveals a 0.62 BB/K mark, slightly above his 0.55 career rate, and his BABIP of .300 is just a hot week or two away from being right there with his career mark of .318. What has changed this year is a lack of fly balls, and this is a concern. Since the start of last season Zimmerman has hit more than 50 percent of his batted balls into the ground, that the is going to make big homer totals impossible to attain given his 12.5 percent career HR/F mark. In fact, his 1.50 GB/FB ratio since the start of last season is something you want to see on the back of the ball card of a 30 steal guy, not a middle of the order thumper.
Both these struggling options should improve as the season progresses. Third base has been hit by some injuries this year, including the one that has felled Zimmerman, so it would be understandable to add the Nationals third sacker with the hope that he is healthy. Given that I’m not sure he is, I’m going to side with Haren here but under the proviso that there are certainly setups in which it would make more sense to add Zimmerman (i.e. if your roster was deep in pitching and you needed a boost at the hot corner).
Stay the course with Miguel Montero at catcher?
Last year Montero was a top-5 catcher as he hit .282 with 18 homer, 86 RBI, 65 runs scored, a .351 OBP an a .820 OPS. This season he has been far from that level as he has hit .255 with two homers, 21 RBI and 16 runs scored. However, he’s still on pace for 75 RBI and 57 runs scored, numbers right in line with his production last year. He also is sporting a .350 OBP which is virtually identical to last season, and his 0.44 BB/K mark is just under the 0.48 mark he had last year. The average should come up, Montero has hit .282 the past three years, and it’s unlikely that after 4-straight years with a line drive rate of at least 19 percent that he’ll continue to struggle along at 16 percent the rest of the way. The power? That’s the big issue here. An 11 percent HR/F guy for his career, that number is just 5.7 percent this year. Of course, if Montero hits three homers in the next week that number will be right back where it should be. Bottom line for me is that Montero should still be a solid #1 catcher by the time the season is over if he stays healthy and you remain patient.
Do you think Felipe Paulino is a better value than James McDonald or Carlos Zambrano?
Paulino has always had a big arm, one that has produced a total of 349 strikeouts in 373 innings. Unfortunately injuries have long been a part of his game, as well as the fact that teams haven’t been sure if he would be best served as a starter or reliever. The Royals are committed to him as a starter, an in four starts this year has has allowed zero runs three times as he’s blown away hitters with 29 Ks, and just seven walks, in 25.1 innings. Obviously it would be wise not to read too much into four starts, so let’s look a bit further back. In 25 career appearances with the Royals (24 starts) Paulino has a 3.66 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 148 Ks in 150 innings. Could I see him pitching at that level this season? He certainly could given his power arm. There is a question about durability though. Here are his innings pitched totals for his career starting in 2006: 126.1, 131, 0.2, 132.1, 95.2 and 139.1. Clearly he is far from certain to be a guy we can bank on taking the ball in September.
McDonald has made nine starts this season and he has yet to allow more than three runs in a start leading to a 2.51 ERA. He;s also been rather stingy with the walks allowing no more than three in any outing which has helped him to post a 0.99 WHIP. James has also struck out 58 batters in 57.1 innings as he is fulfilling the potential that had the Dodgers so excited about him for years. However, consistency has always eluded him which brings up the question of what expectations should be for the rest of the season? Is McDonald going to be able to hold on to his batter per nine gain in the strikeout column? Is he going to be able to hold on to the batter per nine inning reduction he’s provided in his walk rate (Currently 2.83 per nine)? Is he going to continue to be so stingy with the home run ball which seems unlikely given that his 0.31 HR/9 mark is less than half his career 0.88 mark? Is he going to continue to have a BABIP of .264, below his .299 career mark, which has enabled him to hold batters to a .198 batting average?
Until Wednesday, Zambrano had been off to a remarkable start to the season. Even with the beating he took at the hands of the Rockies (seven runs in five innings) his numbers are still rather impressive highlighted by his 2.85 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Still, his K/BB continues to languish at 1.76, his BABIP is about .045 points low at .233 and for a guy has had a GB/FB ratio under 1.25 in each of the past three seasons it’s pretty hard to believe he’ll be able to sustain the 1.76 mark he currently owns. Zambrano has a great set of ratios, but they are deceiving. He really hasn’t pitched much different than “normal” and there is always the possibility that he could go postal on something at any point which has to make you nervous.
If I was ranking these guys, and let’s face it that’s what I’ve been asked to do, I’d go McDonald, Paulino and Zambrano.
Would you drop Josh Willingham for Matt Adams? Keeper league, but competing for 1st this year.
Willingham has tanked of late as he’s hit .212 in May with only one homer in his last 12 games. However, let’s not be too short sighted here. Willingham was terrific in April so in total he’s hitting .283 with eight homers, 27 RBI and 24 runs scored putting him on pace to go .281-30-100-90 which would be the best season of his career (his previous bests are .277-29-98-75). Willingham has also ramped up his walk rate helping lead to a .400 OBP while his .565 SLG is nearly .100 points clear of his career mark (.479). Overall, a terrific start to his Twins career.
I touched on the outlook of Adams earlier this week in the On Deck Circle where I mentioned that Adams has a big bat but that he lacks experience. I also mentioned that playing time could be an issue since Matt Carpenter was around to potentially take at-bats from Adams. Consider one road block removed as Carpenter was placed on the DL with an oblique issue. The Cards will welcome back Allen Craig shortly, but Adams should be given an ample opportunity to secure a full-time position given the bat he possesses.
It’s a keeper league and that certainly swings the pendulum toward Adams, but at the same time if you’re playing to win this year you have to hold on to Willingham. Not only is he the one locked into a full-time role, he’s also the one who has the experience/success at the big league level. Put it this way – Adams hopes to one day be what Willingham is right now, so if you’re goal is to win now keep Willingham.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday.
It’s Friday, and that means a couple of things. First, the weekend is nearly upon us (thank goodness). Second, it’s time to get your drink on. Third, it’s time to get ready for your weekend of fantasy baseball with DailyJoust.com.
For those of you unaware of just what DailyJoust is and what the offer, click on the link to BBGuys Partners with DailyJoust. The bottom line is DJ allows you the chance to play daily fantasy baseball, choose a team today an another one tomorrow if you want, all the while giving you the chance to make some real money. Today, I’ll give some advice on how you might choose to fill out your lineup for Friday or Saturday.
HITTERS – FRIDAY
Derek Jeter: When a guy has a .421 batting average against a pitcher as Jeter does against Bruce Chen, you take notice. When it comes over 38 at-bats you should pay even closer attention. When that batter is hitting .404, leading the AL in batting average, you have yourself a must start.
Carlos Lee: He seems to be over his ankle issue, and he had two hits Tuesday in his last game played. Friday he takes on Kyle Lohse, a pitcher who is on quite the roll this year (4-0, 1.62 ERA, 0.84 WHIP), but one who he has consistently handled in his career. Lee has a substantial 70 at-bats against Lohse, and the results have been mighty impressive as they include five homers, nine RBI, a .300 average an a .965 OPS.
Mark Teixeira: Killing Bruce Chen, besides sounding like a movie title for a Kung Fu epic, could also be the title of Mark Teixeira’s outings against Chen in his career. In 19 at-bats Tex is batting .474 with, get this, a 2.003 OPS. Tex also has six homers and 13 RBI in one of the most impressive batting lines you will ever see for a batter against a pitcher.
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Josh Johnson: When the competition is the Padres, opposing pitchers are always worth taking a look at. Over his last two starts Johnson has racked up 17 Ks in just 12 innings, and though his ratios this season leave a lot to be desired (5.34 ERA, 1.74 WHIP), the good news is that (a) he is healthy and (b) he’s facing the Padres in San Diego. In six career starts against the Padres Johnson is just 1-2 but he has 31 Ks in 29.2 innings while posting a 2.43 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. Batters that are currently on the Padres have hit .146 against Johnson.
Jon Lester: Are you looking for a lock? OK, there is no lock in the real world, but this is as good as it could possibly get. Lester not only has a 2.36 ERA an a 1.26 WHIP against the Orioles, but the lefty from Boston is also 14-0 against the club from Baltimore. Wow is right.
Wade Miley: The NL Rookie Pitcher of the Month going 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 0.81 WHIP as he held batters to a microscopic .133 batting average against. He faces a Mets team that has scored only 95 runs, tied for 9th in the NL in runs scored.
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Mark Kotsay: This is the type of play for those of you who want to load up on a ton of expensive options on your club leaving you scant money for your final player. Kotsay isn’t a lock to start, but I bet you when the coaching staff of the Padres realizes that he has produced 10 hits and eight RBI against Mark Buehrle in 23 at-bats (.435 average) they will be certain to have Kotsay in their starting lineup.
Joe Mauer: Normally when a guy is facing Felix Hernandez you are very interested in running and hiding which must be how Justin Morneau (.138) and Denard Span (.067) feel. However, one man in baseball actually relishes the matchup and that is Mauer. In an almost incomprehensible run of excellence, Mauer has 13 hits in 26 at-bats against the righty which obviously results in a .500 average. Not just hitting singles either, Mauer has two homers and four doubles amongst his 13 hits.
Martin Prado: It only seems like everyone in baseball has 25 at-bats against Jamie Moyer. Well, Prado is one of those fellas with exactly 25 at-bats, and he’s used them to produce 10 hits leading to a .400 average. He’s also powered three balls into the seats leading to a 1.263 OPS and six RBI. Pretty solid work from this professional hitter wouldn’t you say?
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Chris Capuano: He faces the Cubs, a team that has produced seven hits in 31 at-bats against him amongst the current squad (.226/.273/.484). Capuano is also 8-3 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.16 WHIP against the Cubs in his career and he’s allowed a total of five runs over his last four starts this season as he’s lowered his yearly ERA down to 2.73.
James McDonald: Over his last three outings James has allowed five runs in 18.2 innings (2.41 ERA) while striking out 20 batters in 18.2 innings. Clearly he’s on a roll right now. Now he will face a Reds team that he is 3-1 against in his career with a 3.06 ERA. Current Reds hitters have also hit only .269 with a .717 OPS and just two homers in 93 at-bats.
Clayton Richard: All you need to know about Richard is whether he is starting at home or on the road. If it’s in San Diego, Richard is never a bad play. In two starts at home this year he is 1-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 0.83 WHIP an in his career at Petco Park he is 12-12 with a 2.63 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 163 Ks in 202 innings. The Marlins better be wearing their hitting shoes.
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By Ray Flowers
I was in New York over the weekend for Tout Wars. Looking to redeem myself after my LABR experience, I thought I would change my approach with Tout. The plan? Draft a good team, something that somewhat eluded me in Arizona.
After wading slowly into the mix in LABR, I decided to be a bit more aggressive this time out (probably a good idea I think we would all agree). In this 15 team mixed league I was able to roster a solid group of bats, but I really love my power pitching. Before I get emails from all of you saying ‘but Ray, you always say don’t draft pitching early’ you have to realize two things. (1) Things are different at an auction. The amount of control that you have is exponentially greater so you can have a couple of “aces” an not necessarily miss out on bats. If you take an SP in the 2nd round in a snake-draft you miss out on a big time hitter. In an auction there are no rounds to worry about so you can add Roy Halladay and still get Prince Fielder if you want instead of just being able to get either/or in the second round of an snake draft. (2) If there is value present, I’m going to jump into the mix. Check out the names that I was able to roster for my staff:
Cliff Lee ($26), Felix Hernandez ($23), John Danks ($3), Chad Billingsley ($3), Ricky Nolasco ($3), Sergio Santos ($13), Kenley Jansen ($6), Sergio Romo ($4) and Tyler Clippard ($3)
I know, I know, you’re saying to yourself ‘Ray, when is the love affair with Billingsley and Nolasco going to end?’ My response is that I’m a glutton for punishment. Billingsley should offer a moderate bounce back from last season, an I always, an I mean every season, point out how Nolasco has great skills even if he’s rarely able to put things together. You also read about Danks in his Player Profile, right? He’s a nice rebound candidate since he actually pitched better last year than he did in 2010. As for the bullpen arms, I have to say I’m pretty darn excited about the group. Jansen is one of the best arms in the game, and Santos was great as a first year closer last year. In San Francisco Brian Wilson doesn’t appear to be 100 percent, while Drew Storen is dealing with some health issues of his own in Washington. It wouldn’t take a whole hell of a lot for Clippard and Romo to pick up at least a few saves. For good measure, I also added James McDonald in the reserve rounds, along with David Robertson. McDonald has a great arm and showed some nice signs of growth last year with the Pirates. Robertson continues to impress after injuring his foot, and he’ll slide in well with my stable of power arms out of the pen.
On offense, a moderate approach was key. Here’s what I ended up with:
C: Kurt Suzuki ($7), John Buck (4)
1B: Carlos Lee (8)
2B: Chase Utley (6)
3B: Pablo Sandoval (23)
SS: Derek Jeter (13)
MI/CI: Dustin Ackley (8) Gaby Sanchez (12)
OF: B.J. Upton (27) Nelson Cruz (20), Carl Crawford (18), Alex Rios (13), Denard Span (2)
UT: Danny Espinosa (8)
Remember, this is a 15 team league, so guys like Lee and Sanchez at first and corner infield, while not even remotely exciting, provide plenty of counting stat production. You’ll notice Utley as my “starter” at second, and you’re likely thinking – huh? But for $6, and he was tossed out there relatively early in the draft, I felt like it was a risk worth taking. I felt even better about it when I was able to roster Dustin Ackley and Danny Espinosa for a combined $16 to handle second and middle infield if Utley is a waste. I mean, Jemile Weeks went for $16 by his lonesome. I like Weeks’ speed, but I’d certainly rather have Ackley and Espinosa for the same cost. Jeter is boring, but he was the last shortstop I trusted on the board other than Alexei Ramirez. The White Sox shortstop was brought up a couple of players after Jeter and he went for $17. Cruz and Crawford in the outfield are health risk, but for $38? There were probably leagues last year where Crawford went for that by his lonesome. I love B.J. Upton. Here’s why. I’m also a big fan of Alex Rios, see his Player Profile, and thought $13 was just right for his services (I have him at that cost in the 2012 BBGuys Draft Guide). Span may not excite you, but if he can stay healthy hitting atop the Twins order, then he could be a strong, cheap, option for my club. For support in the reserve round I added Aubrey Huff and Danny Valencia. Rather boring no doubt, but if they knock in 80 runs while not killing my average, I won’t mind too much.
I’d like to thank our gracious host, SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, for putting on a great event this past weekend (here’s a picture of me in action). The studio looked amazing, right across the street from Radio City Music Hall, and Howard Stern’s studio was right next door (I still can’t believe they pay a guy $100 million a year to talk about nude ladies and sex. I’d do that for a hundredth of that. Heck, I might do it for free).
Gotta say, I wasn’t overly impressed by NYC. I hadn’t been there since I was 16 so I was looking forward to a big bash of late night shenanigans. While we did get into some trouble, the fact that we wandered around New York at 3 AM and couldn’t find a place to get something to eat – simply amazing. Isn’t there supposed to be a late night pizza place open all night on every corner?
Click here for a review of all the selections in the Mixed Tout Wars League.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Martin Prado to DL with pinkie injury.
(2) Andrew Bailey hopes to return to action this weekend.
(3) Jorge Cantu will share time at 1B with Mitch Moreland.
(4) James McDonald to start for Pirates in place of Daniel McCutchen.
(5) Joe Mauer continues to miss time with sore shoulder.
(6) Corey Hart signs 3-year, $26.5 million deal.
(7) Jacoby Ellsbury still working at Triple-A.
By Ray Flowers