The Week That Was: “Kluberrific”
Corey Kluber delivering in Kluberrific form highlight this week’s Week That Was:
Corey Kluber: Corey Kluber was everything his honor, the Oracle Ray Flowers, and I knew he would be this week, tossing a complete game allowing just one unearned run on four hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts. If you only look at his 3.90 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, you are missing the picture. Kluber has a 5:1 K/BB on the young season. His 2.71 FIP and inflated .370 BABIP against only further support how misleading the surface stats are. Bottom line here is that your window to go out and grab Kluber while his surface stats are inflated is rapidly closing. The Indians’ hurler will return tremendous value this year – do not be left behind.
Chase Headley: According to reports, Chase Headley will be out at least 2-3 weeks with his latest malady – a strained right calf. At this point, you pretty much have to attach the injury prone tag to the Friar’s 3B. If you own Headley, there is really nothing to do but wait for his return. However, when he hits his first hot streak during that return, give some serious thoughts to sending Chase “its Headley, not Heddy” packing before he gets hurt yet again. In the meantime, those in NL-only leagues should consider Alexi Amarista. Through Thursday, Alexi has flown under the radar quietly delivering 5R, 4RBI, 3SB and an OBP of .330 in just 41AB. Of course, Amarista is not a star but he is still just 25 and has 800 major league AB under his belt. If you have a need for cheap speed, speculate. [For what it is worth, Amarista did steal 38 in his first full minor league season in 2009].
Huston Street: Huston Street has been sharp so far in 2014. Thursday the Padre closer notched his 8th save in 8 chances, this time against the Nats. Skill and ability have never been at issue with Street. The issue has always been health. Are you willing to bet he stays healthy all year? I am not. He has thrown 70 IP only once since 2007, saved 30 games only twice in that span and struck out 70 only once in that span. I do not own Street in any league but if I did, I would be taking a detour off of Houston Street and selling high while I still can. And yes, for those savvy readers out there, I would go the extra buck on Joaquin Benoit because it is only a matter of time before the Street gets closed down and Benoit gets registers some saves.
Eric Stults: Eric Stults did what Eric Stults does on the road this week, giving up 10 hits over 5.1 innings against the Nats. Newsflash – if you look up Stults in the dictionary, you will see the following “the ultimate home/away splits pitcher to be coveted at home and shunned on the road.” Last year, Stults had a 3.06 ERA and 1.05 WHIP at home as opposed to the swollen 4.77 ERA and 1.49 WHIP he posted on the road. Expect that trend to continue and make sure he starts at home and sits on the road. If you need it spoon fed, here it is: for those in shallow leagues, Stults makes a great streaming option. Rick Wolf, Stacie Stern and I are doing exactly that with Stults in the FSTA 13 team mixed expert league this year.
Dayan Viciedo: Dayan Viciedo is proving one of the old maxims that is repeated over and over and over again here at the Week that Was: do not pigeon hole young players before they get a chance to get enough MLB time under their belt. At the 2014 draft table, many considered Viciedo a 4th OF type who could not hit for average. Well, after his 3-4 Thursday against the Tigers, Dayan is hitting a cool .377. Will he hit .350? No. Will his crazy BABIP of .431 continue? Of course not. Will Viciedo likely set career highs in Batting Average and across the board in counting stats? I think so. After all, he is only 25 and already has 1200 MLB AB under his belt. As soon as there is a little cold streak, call up the Viciedo owner in your league and see if he is ready to panic. I hope so for your sake.
Mark Trumbo: In a tough break literally and figuratively, the DBacks put slugger Mark Trumbo on the DL with a reported stress fracture in his foot. Trumbo was doing what Trumbo does – hit in the first half. Indeed he had already blasted 7 HR and knocked in 19 for a team that is otherwise stone cold. Substantial questions remain. Will Trumbo get back quickly? Will the layoff affect his recent stark 1st half/2nd half splits? [e.g., Trumbo hit .300 last April then failed to top .248 in any succeeding month]. Unfortunately, I do not have the answers. I also do not know how Gibby will shake up the lineup but I see a greater role for Eric Chavez with Martin Prado getting more OF time while Trumbo is laid up.
Alcides Escobar: Last Saturday, we wrote as follows in this space: “Alcides Escobar got off to a very slow start but in the week that was (the last 7 days), the Royals SS hit .417 with a .959 OPS. Stated simply, Escobar presents a great buy low opportunity at a scarce position. His slow start, together with a subpar 2013, masks substantial upside. First, Escobar is 27 and already has 4 full seasons under his belt. Second, Escobar already has posted a .293 season (2012) and has averaged 27 SB per year over the last three years. Most importantly, when closely examined, his facially subpar 2013 should have been much better. He posted a strong line drive percentage and reduced his strikeout rate. Bottom line – he was unlucky as shown by his .264 BABIP, a number way below that which a player of Escobar’s speed should post. Again, buy now before it is too late. [Note – in case you are wondering, I own him in LABR, Tout Wars and NFBC, so I have put my money where my mouth is].” If you listened to us last week, you have been rewarded with a .333 average, 4R, 3RBI, a dinger and a swipe in 18 AB through Thursday. Not too shabby – especially from the MI position.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page. Schultz says: “While it's still too early in the season to truly panic, Schultz can't blame those that are getting a little warm under the collar worrying about their significant investment in Danny Salazar. Last year, The Tribe handled their future ace with kid gloves. Not-so-distantly removed from Tommy John surgery, Salazar's outings were limited to 60 or 70 pitches. Nonetheless, he proved himself worthy of starting for the Indians in the 2013 wild card game. In real life terms, Salazar's 2013 line of a 3.12 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 65Ks in 52 innings made him a lock for Cleveland's 2014 starting rotation; in roto-terms, it made him a monster-in-waiting.
Like most monster features, it gets ugly at the beginning; against the White Sox, he struck out 10 but couldn't get out of the fourth inning. After four April starts, Salazar's 23 Ks in 18 innings aren't enough to relieve the burden of carrying a 7.85 ERA and a 1.96 WHIP. Health wise Salazar is fine and despite his claim that hitters seem to know what's coming, Tribe management doesn't seem to think he's tipping his pitches. The main problem with Salazar seems to be in his head. Once he gives up a hit or a walk, he starts grooving his pitches and there isn't a major league hitter that won't clobber a 99 mph fastball down the middle. Once Salazar gets his head straightened out and learns how to keep it together on the mound when faced with slight adversity, he's going to be every bit as good as advertised.
In another dashing of the hope that springs eternal (bad pun intended), George Springer hasn't quite come out of the starting gate putting up Mike Trout numbers that all were expecting. Although that comparison depends on which Mike Trout call up as his 2011 stint was quite unimpressive. Roto-owners that expended a large portion of their free agent budget have to be concerned that the only thing the Astros' rookie has carried into the big leagues is his penchant for striking out at a prodigious pace. The silver lining is that Springer's line of no homers, one RBI, one steal and a .179 average can't get worse. The worst case scenario is that he spends 2014 learning how to play in the major leagues, you struggle with cutting him and letting someone else pick him up for a bargain and, in 2015, eat crow while Springer helps one of your competitors. It's not time to panic but maybe some measured concern might be justified. ”
Response: Hmmm, some optimism and some pessimism. Not sure what to make of the weekly Schultz-isms other than to say that one should never pay full value in roto for a player without a track record. If you do, you can only tie or lose. You cannot win and I do not believe in the no-win scenario. Just sayin.