Over at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account I get questions every day with people asking me to give my sage advice. Here are my answers to some of those queries.
I’m losing ground in saves. I have Brett Lawrie and Martin Prado for my last Util. spot. Would you trade either for Kevin Gregg?
One word – no.
Brett Lawrie is killing it. The uber prospect has hit .343 with three homers, eight RBI and a 1.121 OPS. Given the hype that he entered the league with after similarly crushing Triple-A pitchers (.353-18-61-64-13 in 69 games), his value has to be sky-high right now. He won’t keep up the average, that .375 BABIP is pretty darn high, and he’s hitting too many fly balls (50 percent) while converting to large a percentage of them for homers (23.1 percent). Still, this amazing start hints at the talent that Lawrie does possess and explains why everyone was falling all over themselves look to add him to their squad this year.
Martin Prado qualifies at third base in outfield in all leagues, and though he hasn’t played second this season, he appeared in 98 games there last year so he should be good to go there as well. As we get deeper into the season injuries are always an issue, as is potential playing time loss for some veterans to youngsters. That gives a guy like Prado, who qualifies at three spots, even more value because he can fill in all over the field. A career .300 hitter, Prado is at .274. I would expect that number to rise a bit. The reason is three fold. First, his BB.K rate of 0.70 is better than his career 0.58 rate thanks to a career low K-rate. Second, though his GB/FB ratio is 1.48, right on his 1.38 career mark, he’s managed a line drive rate of 14.7 percent. A career 19.3 producer in that category, he’s posted at least an 18.9 percent mark the last four years. Third, his BABIP is just .278. Now that isn’t surprising given his line drive rate, but again it is out of the norm for a guy who owns a .322 mark in his career. Like I said, I wouldn’t be shocked if he hit .300 from here on out because those numbers will eventually normalize (hopefully it will happen before the season ends).
Let’s break down the save. A 30 save performer averages five saves a month (the season is six months long). Therefore, it should be relatively easy to determine your chances of moving up, or moving down by using that as a baseline. Gregg has 17 saves likely meaning he will fall short of that 30 level. Not just that, he might be the worst full time closer in the American League. That’s not hyperbole either. Amongst AL hurlers with at least 15 saves he is last in WHIP (1.57) and second to the bottom in ERA at 4.11 (Matt Capps is last at 4.38). Gregg also leads the group with 30 walks leading to a simply putrid K/BB ratio of 1.30. That’s just pathetic. He’s also pitching poorly of late with a 6.17 ERA, 1.80 WHIP and 1.22 K/BB ratio over his last 13 outings. I want nothing to do with him.
If you’re dealing either of your two hitters you should be aiming much higher than the bespectacled one from Baltimore.
Jason Kipnis, Mike Carp, or Delmon Young for power ROTW?
Kipnis has certainly started off his career with the proverbial bang. He’s gone deep six times in 68 at-bats, a pace that would net him 44 homers over 500 at-bats. Considering that he hit all of 32 homers over his first 1,050 professional at-bats… do I need to even finish that sentence? It’s early so it’s tough to draw any conclusions, but Kipnis is going to have to cut his 29 percent K-rate quickly or that average (.279) could head south. With little hope of being a base stealing asset, Kipnis is likely to settle in as a moderate mixed play option the rest of the way at second base unless he can somehow sustain his unsustainable homer pace (look no further than his 38 percent HR/F ratio for a reason that he has no chance to keep this up).
Carp is totally out of control, an I mean totally. A .200 hitter his first 15 games in the majors this season, Carp has morphed into Adrian Gonzalez since the All-Star break. In 24 games he is batting .371, has six homers, has knocked in 26 runners and has posted a 1.041 OPS. The question is, how long will it be before he realizes that he isn’t Adrian Gonzalez? His 19 percent HR/F ratio is a bit elevated, and with less than 34 percent of his batted balls ending up in the air, it would be a stretch to expect the power to continue at this rate, especially given his home park (still, he has flashed 30 homer power in the minors, so there is a reasonable expectation that the power will continue). More concerning is the 30 percent line drive rate and .411 BABIP mark. Ty Cobb couldn’t match that.
All of a sudden everyone wants to know about Young with his surprising deal to the Tigers. He should see plenty of pitches to hit batting in front of Miguel Cabrera, and the move out of Minnesota should help as well since that’s a tough park to hit in. Still, he’s been a huge disappointment this season. Oddly though, he’s exactly matched his .312 BABIP from last season though he’s lost .029 points in batting average (.269), and his 0.32 BB/K mark is only 0.03 off of last year. Also, his 18.4 percent line drive rate is two tenths off his career norm, and his 1.31 GB/FB ratio is pretty close to his 1.44 career mark. What I’m saying is that he would appear to have a decent shot to improve his batting average the rest of the way.
So who to add? Young is the most accomplished hitter, but he’s no power threat – at all. Kipnis has been the best power bat of the trio of late, but there is simply no way he can sustain his pace. Therefore, if your goal is to add power to your lineup, I’d suggest adding Carp. Heaven help us.
Drop Anibal Sanchez for Ivan Nova for rest of season?
Sanchez has had a fine season and produced a great return on your investment. However, he’s performed poorly of late allowing at least four earned runs in four of five games. He’s also gone 0-4 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over his last six starts. Is he simply wearing down? It’s tough to be too hard on the guy as he has still exceeded his career K/9 rate by two batters (9.41) while dropping a full batter off his walk rate (2.58). He deserves better than his 6-6 record, and his ERA according to xFIP should be closer to three (3.05) than his actual ERA of 4.00.
Nova may or may not remain in the rotation for the Yankees. The good news fore Nova is that A.J. Burnett has a 6.17 ERA and 1.83 over his last six starts, Freddy Garcia doesn’t know how to use a kitchen knife (he cut his finger and had to miss a start) and Phil Hughes is all over the map looking good one outing then getting bombed (it looks like Hughes will likely be sent to the bullpen leaving Nova in the rotation). Nova has a win in seven of his last eight outings, and five times in that stretch he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs. Though he’s pitching better than Sanchez right now he’s giving away four strikeouts per nine (5.37) and is walking more batters (3.28 per nine). He makes up for it with an impressive 55 percent ground ball rate, and pitching for the Yanks obviously affords him a better chance to pick up a “W”.
If your goal is to target wins, something that is always a risk, then go with Nova. If you’re trying to move up, or maintain, your spot in the strikeout column, then Sanchez is the choice. How is that for an answer?
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87.