Some days you wake up with a plan. Other days you roll out of bed and have a hard time making it to the shower. I had one of those mornings today, so I'm not going to fight it, I'm just going to plow ahead in a haphazard manner and see what kind of trouble I can get into. How does that sound? I'll give some thoughts on A.J. Burnett and the Orioles' bullpen while also getting straight jiggy wit it and just randomly letting the fur fly. And yes, I have no idea what that means either.
Stream of Consciousness
Why does Anibal Sanchez get little love? How many NL pitchers struck out 200 batters last year? The answer is seven, and Sanchez was one of them (202). He was also one of two to reach that number while throwing less than 200-innings (he had 196.1 while Zack Greinke tossed only 171.2). Sanchez is a fine target on draft day and one that will likely be undervalued leaving you room for a nice return on your investment.
Kate Beckinsale in leather. Who knew that would sell?
Is Emilio Bonafacio really worth $2.2 million? Let's put that in perspective. If you make $75,000 a year, a pretty darn good salary in about 40 states in the union, it would take you 29 years to make $2.2 million. Emilio is only 26 years old. On the field he can run, he stole 40 bases last year, and he will qualify at third base, shortstop and the outfield bringing with it a ton of fantasy value. Still, I find it hard to believe he'll get another 565 at-bats this season. I guess center field is open – Chris Coghlan is the main competition – but regardless Emilio should play enough everywhere to have certain value because of his wheels. Just don't expect a repeat of the batting average (.296).
Why is it that no matter how well you plan something out the thing always goes haywire anyway? Speaking of haywire, have you seen that new action flick called Haywire with Gina Carano? What is it with me and women that could kick my ass. Oh, that was self explanatory?
Mitch Moreland says that his surgically repaired wrist is feeling great and that he has been taken batting practice four days a week. Moreland reportedly is also using the Rangers flirtation with Prince Fielder as a motivational tool. Though Fielder signed with the Tigers, the Rangers did sign Conor Jackson and Brad Hawpe to deals, and those two veterans figure to push Moreland for work at first base. Let's assume that Moreland is healthy, and that he's able to hold off the others in the battle for playing time. Does that mean Moreland is someone to target in mixed leagues? Unfortunately the answer is no. Last year Moreland hit .259 with 16 homers and 60 RBI in 464 at-bats, middling numbers at best for a first sacker (as a bonus, Moreland also appeared in 34 games in right field last season to at least add to his versatility). Given big league average marks in his walk rate, K-rate, GB/FB rate, line drive rate, HR/F rate, AVG/OBP/SLG... do I need to finish that thought when it comes to the outlook of Moreland?
Why is my mood always better when it's sunny outside? Perhaps I have seasonal affective disorder? Don't worry, it's not contagious.
I'm standing by my thoughts that Bryce Harper should not be starting on opening day for the Nationals. However, with each passing week it's looking more and more likely that he, and his 19 year old body, one that has accrued a mere 515 professional at-bats, will be out there for the Nats when the games count. He has to be moving up draft boards as a result. Still, I would hesitate to go all-in with Harper unless you are in a keeper league. If he goes out and has a good season, and for a 19 year old let's just say something like .270-25-75, are you going to be disappointed? If you are you might hit the pause button when you're about to call out his name on draft day.
When can I head back to Vegas? I had a rockin' time there in January with the one and only Jeff Mans. Here's my little rundown of the weekend – Vegas, The FSTA & More. If you don't click on any other link in this piece, I'd recommend this being the one you target.
The Yankees signed Bill Hall to compete with Eric Chavez for a bench spot with the Yankees (the Yanks are still talking to Chavez and have yet to sign him, but it certainly sounds like he might sign on again with the Bronx Bombers). Did I miss my Hot Tub Time Machine? Is it 2006?
A.J. Burnett – The Arm, But Nothing Else?
The Yankees have a starting rotation that includes a motley group of arms in the back end. At the top they have CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, a strong trio. Ivan Nova is a decent #4 – you can read why I'm not a huge fan of his in his Player Profile – but then the 5th spot is a hodgepodge of young guys looking to comeback (Phil Hughes – here is his Player Profile) and old guys (Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett). Obviously given the title of this section I'm going to be focusing on the righty with 37 tattoos --- Mr. Burnett.
First off, the Yankees want to get rid of Burnett. The issue though is money (isn't it always). Burnett is due, make sure you haven't just eaten lunch before you continue reading, $33 million the next two years. Being the Yankees is great, they always have the cash to sign anyone they want to a deal, but if that players performance takes a downward turn they become impossible to deal. A report in the NY Post suggested that the Yankees would deal him if someone would take on $25 million of that deal. Um, does the term tripping balls mean anything to you? There isn't a team in baseball that would pay Burnett $25 million the next two years. In fact, I'd be surprised if many would go to $20 million. The only way the Yankees are moving him is if they're willing to burn a whole lot more money to rid themselves of Burnett.
As for what Burnett brings to the field, and hence what his value should be in the fantasy game, here are some thoughts.
At one time an injury risk, you have to give Burnett some credit in that he's been on the hill for at least 32 starts and 185 innings each of the past four years. He's one of 22 big leaguers who belong in that group.
Burnett has also been a winner. In each of the last seven years he's won at least 10 games. He's one of only eight pitchers in the game that belongs to that group.
The strikeouts with Burnett are always solid. Over the past five years he has averaged 184 strikeouts a year, four times he has been over 170, with a K/9 mark of 8.53. Those are some pretty big numbers, aren't they? In fact, his total of 920 Ks the past five years is the 10th best mark in baseball.
All of that paints Burnett as an excellent 5th starter in the real world, and a solid depth option in the fantasy game. However, there are a couple of obvious issues with Burnett, mainly, his ratios.
Since 2008 here are his ERA numbers: 4.07, 4.04, 5.26 and 5.15
Since 2008 here are his WHIP numbers: 1.34, 1.40, 1.51 and 1.43
At the same time, and without going into tremendous detail cause I'm sure that most of you don't really care that much, Burnett's skills say 4.20 ERA not 5.20 ERA. If you are looking for cheap Ks, and don't mind taking a chance on your ratios, Burnett's a fair add late in drafts. Oh, an I wouldn't be overly concerned about Burnett not being in the starting rotation. First off he's making a gazillion dollars, and teams are reluctant to put guys like that in the bullpen. Secondly, he's made 314 appearances in the big leagues and 309 of them have been starts. Third, Freddy Garcia isn't good. And finally, Hughes has had success in the pen, so the Yanks could easily just slot him back in that spot.
Astros Bullpen Situation
I know this isn't exactly how you thought you would be spending five minutes today, reading about the Astros bullpen, so I apologize for that. Still, closers are huge in the 5x5 roto game, so knowing which arms to target and add to your club matter, a lot. That is especially true if you are doing a draft well in advance of the start of the regular season when we are forced to do some guessing. Here are some things you need to know about this situation.
1- There is no clear cut option to work the 9th inning. In fact, if you are doing a draft in the next, say two weeks, then the Astros' bullpen is akin to a speculator panning for gold in a river in California 150 years ago. You might strike it rich, but there might be a ton of fool's gold out there.
2- The Astros won't win many games this season, we all know that. At the same time, and I write about this every year, even terrible teams can provide quality closers for the fantasy game. In fact, poor teams often have less depth in the bullpen which means one arm is often leaned on heavily leading to a lot of save chances for that individual. For my study on Where Do Saves Come From?, and the proof that you can take a closer on a “bad” team and still have success, just click on the link.
3- Here are the contenders for the closing spot (GM Jeff Luhnow said on Wednesday that no determination has been made as to who will work the 9th inning).
Brandon Lyon: Coming back from shoulder surgery, I'd bet the team would like him to close in the first half and then the would look to peddle him on the trade market. Lyon has two seasons with 20 saves, including one in 2010, but he lacks the type of skills one would normally associate with the 9th inning (career: 5.82 K/9, 2.03 K/BB, 1.16 GB/FB).
David Carpenter: In his first big league exposure last year he had 29 Ks in 27.2 innings and posted a 2.93 ERA. However, he walked more than four batters per nine leading to a terrible 1.48 WHIP. Over his last two minor league seasons he has 34 saves an, ideally, he'd be the closer by year's end.
Wilton Lopez: This righty has worked 141 games the past two years with an ERA under three an a WHIP less than 1.20. That's pretty solid pitching in any format. He's also induced a whopping 56 percent ground ball rate. If only he struck more batters out (he still possesses a solid seven per nine mark the past two years).
All are cheap fliers with Lyon being my favorite to open the year as the closer. I will offer no declaration of support that he will lead the team in saves though – his skills are pretty darn spotty.
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