Finally! After a long, cold, wet and dreary winter here in the northeast, it is time for baseball! This is an especially exciting spring for me as I have joined forces with the best and brightest in fantasy sports at FantasyAlarm.com. I am thrilled to work side-by-side with the Oracle Ray Flowers, the incomparable Jeff Mans, fellow fantasy sports Hall of Famer Rick Wolf and others. I kind of feel like Christian Laettner must have felt in 1992 joining the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and others on the Dream Team!
Have no fear, the Week That Was in its new home will not only continue to highlight events of the past week and provide guidance for the week to come, it will also continue to feature the wisdom and witticisms of the one and only Baron of the Bottom of the Page! Yes, the Carlton the Doorman of fantasy sports is here too!
All right, now on to the business at hand!
Lucas Duda: Lucas Duda made Terry Collins look smart Friday, going yard twice after being named the Mets starting 1B. Nice work Lucas! The issue of course is can he provide consistent production worthy of your 1B or CI spot. Answer: I just do not know. For sure, there are many obstacles. First, Duda faces the threat of Ike stealing playing time. Second, Duda will have to drastically improve his 26% K rate in order to avoid those deadly slumps. Third, he will have to learn to hit LHP in order to avoid Satin stealing ABs even if Ike does not. Bottom line: Lucas is probably NL-only fodder right now but keep an eye on the situation.
Nate Jones: From bargain closer to bargain basement in just one week. Ugh, not a good start for the pale hose potential closer as Nate Jones has landed on the DL. Will Jones get the job back at some point this year? Probably. The real issue is whether you can trust Matt Lindstrom to hold down the job? My answer: no. Lindstrom has not been a closer since a partial season gig in 2010, has a marginal at best K rate despite throwing 95 and walks too many for comfort. Add in the fact that he has already blown a save this year and you see why I am skeptical. If you are in an AL-only league, speculate on Daniel Webb and Ronald Belisario as this situation will be quite fluid for a while.
Ryan Braun: According to reports, Ryan Braun is suffering from a nerve issue in his thumb. Eek! Leaving aside all the issue about whether he will be the same post-PED, the thumb issue is a major problem. Power hitters need strength in their hands. There is no doubt that thumb pain will take away from that much needed strength. If you are drafting this weekend, drop Braun way down your rankings. The injury plus the PED question is just too much risk for me.
Josh Donaldson: Josh Donaldson has begun the season ice cold. The Oakland 3B took the collar, striking out twice in Thursday's tilt with the Mariners. Thus far this year, Donaldson is just 2-18 and has not had a hit since opening day. So, should we panic? No. There should be nothing other than injuries about which to panic in less than one week of action. That said, I continue to firmly believe regression is on its way. Remember, this is a guy who hit .272 in his first year in AA, .261 in his first year in AAA, .241 in his first year in the show and then somehow hit .301 for Oakland in 2013. Add in the fact that Josh never, yes NEVER, hit more than 18 HR in a minor league season despite playing in the PCL and yet hit 24 in Oakland and you have some serious questions. Will he be a bust in 2014? No. Will he hit .300? No. Will he hit 20 HR? No. Draft and trade accordingly.
Jim Johnson: Jim Johnson has been, well, bad to start his Oakland career. So far, the former O closer has given up five runs over his first two appearances, blown one save, lost two games, walked 3 and struck none. It is hard to imagine a more inauspicious beginning. The velocity has been the same as last year, so that is not the issue. Of course, the sample size is small but unlike in Baltimore, there are a bevy of closer-worthy pitchers ready to take on the ninth inning if Johnson continues to fail. Each of Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle, and Ryan Cook can close at the major league level and I doubt the A’s will live through the 9 blown saves and 8 losses Johnson registered a year ago. Speculate on any of the three Oakland set-up men if you need saves.
Dan Haren: Dan Haren got his Dodger career off to a strong start Wednesday in a win over the Padres. Haren allowed no earned runs, no walks and only four hits in six innings of work. Add in the six K’s and you have a fine looking outing. Prognosis: Haren has landed in a perfect situation pitching for a really good team in a pitcher’s park. Invest.
Charlie Blackmon: Charlie Blackmon will likely never be enshrined in Cooperstown but he had a Hall of Fame day Friday, going 6-6 with a dinger, three two-baggers, five RBI, and four runs scored. Nice work! Unfortunately, fantasy players are no closer to answering the Colorado CF question than they were a week ago. Blackmon, Drew Stubbs and Corey Dickerson will all see time there over the near term. Long term, can Blackmon win the job outright? Who knows? However, keep in mind that he has never hit for a lot of power and has not been a serious steals threat since low minors, so the ceiling is not Rocky Mountain High.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page. Schultz says: “What’s one of the greatest things about moving into a new home? All your old things look and feel completely different simply because they’re no longer in the location you’re used to seeing them. While the bottom of the column may not be that drastic of a change from where Schultz Says has resided for the last decade or so, it feels like a whole new world over here at Fantasy Alarm. Your humble narrator is truly flattered to have been packed in Styrofoam and brought along for the move and not left behind as a plaything for the new tenants.
What’s one of the greatest things about the first week of the rotisserie baseball season? It’s practically the only time of the year when every single roto-owner is legitimately optimistic and excited about their team. Think about it. How many people do you know that walk out of their draft or auction proclaiming “I blew it!” or reconcile themselves to dumping before the first pitch is thrown. None, I tell you. None. Even if your team starts slow, there’s so much baseball to be played that only the Schleprocks and Eeyores of the roto-universe can be depressed. If you’ve been late out of the gate in the pitching categories, try to remember that Hyun-Jin Ryu has pitched three games before half the starters in the league have logged a third of an inning.
What’s the worst thing any roto-owner can do in the first week of the season? Panic!!! Everyone that predicted that Billy Hamilton would never hit in the major leagues is surely giggling with Schadenfreudic glee over his 0-12 start with 6 Ks and no steals. Until the Cincinnati speedster loses one of his legs, there’s little cause to worry. There will be many hitters during the season that are going to have that same line when facing Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn. Hamilton’s poor start stands out because it’s happening at the beginning of the season when a three game hitless streak results in .000 being posted at every turn. I suspect he’ll fare a little better against the Mets pitching staff. Jim Henderson roto-owners should also pay heed to Ron Roenicke’s assurance that he will be the closer once he’s ready.
What’s the second worst thing any roto-owner can do in the first week of the season? Forget the past. If you look back through the annals of history, you will find a plethora of columns from the opening week praising the emergence of Emilio Bonifacio. Those with good memories will recall that he customarily ingratiates himself to every new team he joins by racking up early-April hits like a gossip site promising nude photos of Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, like baseball, is also returning. Geek Spring has arrived). Enjoy the hot start but keep your expectations fully rooted in reality.
Glenn, the new place looks terrific. I think I’ll like it here. Yes Yes Yes!”
Response: As much as I want to, I cannot argue with Schultzie this week, our new roto home does look terrific!