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Just a quick look and acknowledgement of the highlights from Thursday as I just don’t have it in me to perpetuate the hype-machine and feed into the Yasiel Puig lovefest that’s going on. He had a phenomenal spring and three of his first four games have been absolutely fantastic. But while I may own him on a few of my fantasy teams and have been lucky enough to benefit from his white-hot start, I’m not quite ready to ship his cleats off to Cooperstown and start engraving the plaque just yet. We’ve seen a number of ballplayers come and go over the years, many who have gotten off to hot starts such as this. Some have lasted. Some haven’t. So for those who are freaking out over Puig’s start, tread lightly. It’s four games in right now. Let’s see where we’re at after say, 40 or 50 more. The Cuban hype is on such overdrive that I've stopped drinking mojitos in protest.
Holy offensive explosion! No, I’m not talking about the effect of eating too much Indian food on my delicate constitution; I’m talking about the big bats that were being swung recently. There were 37 home runs hit Wednesday and while that doesn’t even come close to the record (62 set in 2002), it’s still a whole lot of power and big offensive category boosts for a number of fantasy owners. If you had the right make-up of guys, you were probably in hog heaven as the hits just kept coming all night. That’s not to say that there weren’t some real nice pitching performances, but the hitters took stage, front and center, and shined ridiculously bright.
OK, yes, I saw the final strike called in the Texas/Tampa Bay game on Monday. Yes, it was an ugly call. Was it the worst call I’ve ever seen to end a game? Maybe. There have been so many over the years. But rather than dwell on something that has very little impact on your fantasy baseball team and will, in the grand scheme of things, mean absolutely nothing, I’d rather discuss something that may actually help you this season. I know it’s painful – like dentist chair painful – but let’s talk closers.
The Diamondbacks had a blue chip outfielder in Justin Upton. For some reason I've yet to be able to fathom, they were unhappy with that situation. Finally, after doing the old do-se-do for about 12 months (that's a fancy country dance move folks), the D'backs sent Justin Upton, their best and brightest player, out of town to Atlanta where he will be reunited with his older brother, B.J. Upton, to form a potentially dominating duo in the outfield. The main piece the D'backs got back in return was Martin Prado, but they also added a whole host of other youngsters in the deal including Randall Delgado. How does this deal effect the fantasy value for the main players involved? So glad you asked.
Albert Pujols is a superstar by any definition of the word. He produces time and time again on the field. He does nothing off the field to bring shame to himself of his team. He's someone the kiddies should try to emulate. However, does that mean that he's still a good enough hitter that he should be a top-10 lock in 2013? Maybe – maybe not. The Marlins have faced, and will continue to face, innumerable questions about how they continue to run their franchise into the ground. On the field they have some questions about the 9th inning as well as what the health situation is with Logan Morrison. We'll investigate. We'll also touch on a right-handed pitcher who seems intent on coming out of retirement as well as trying to discern just what in the heck the D'backs are doing with their best player, Justin Upton.
Too often we find ourselves intensely focused on the first handful of rounds in a draft. We all want to know should we start out team off with Braun or Trout? Is Kershaw or Verlander the top ace to roster? Those are certainly valid issues to ponder, but too often we end up neglecting those players that aren't high on anyone's draft boards but still offer a potentially high return on investment opportunities. In today's piece I will break down a handful of those players, and honestly, there might only be one player on this list who has a chance at being a top-100 overall selection, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware of everyone I discuss (save for one washed up former power hitter).
Adam Eaton, the young Diamondbacks outfielder, says he is recovering well from the broken hand he suffered at the end of last season. "I got cleared right before Christmas and I've been hitting for probably about three weeks or so. It feels great. There's no pain...” That's obviously good news. However, hand and wrist injuries are notorious for sapping a players' power, at least when the player is first coming back to the field (are you hearing that people who are targeting Jose Bautista this year?). Luckily for Eaton he's not a power hitter and never will be as he only hit a total of nine homers last season. What he can do though is rap out liners with the best of them. In 119 games at Triple-A last year all he did was hit .381 with 119 runs scored and 38 steals. Wowzah's is right as he produced one whopper of a season. The D'backs realize that he is ready to contribute at the big league level, and the hope is that he will be able to start in center field this season with the deal sending Chris Young to the Athletics opening up a spot in the outfield. However, there is a complication. The D'backs have Jason Kubel and Justin Upton already set to play in the daily lineup, and they went out and added Cody Ross this offseason (for more on Ross see his Player Profile). If Kubel or Upton isn't dealt, and I think it would be absolutely insane for them do deal Upton even with the fact that they tried to deal Upton to the Mariners despite the fact that they are one of four teams on his no-trade list (you can read more about my thoughts in Upton's Player Profile), Eaton would likely have to begin the '13 season in the minors even if Kubel-Upton-Ross really aren't strong options in center (not even close actually). Eaton is a prime NL-only option no matter if he is on the roster on Opening Day or not, and if the D'backs do move either Kubel or Upton the speedster has mixed league appeal as well.
Jason Giambi wants to continue his playing career (he flirted with the idea of entering the coaching ranks this offseason before ultimately decided that he would give playing one more shot). Jason can still pop the odd long ball but he hit just .225 with one homer in 89 at-bats last season, so no matter how deep your league specific setup is it doesn't seem like Giambi is going to be able to help you out.
Rich Harden is trying to make a comeback after missing last season due to shoulder surgery. Always an injury risk, there is still enough here to keep an eye on Harden as he tries to return to the field with the Twins. There is some debate as to what role Harden will be asked to fill if he is healthy enough to compete, the bullpen and the starting rotation are in the discussion, though they club is leaning toward trying Harden as a starter. "He has done both," GM Terry Ryan said. "And I would tell you starter if the health issue was not a part of this thing, but he's not been healthy. So we have to keep that option open." Harden last threw a pitch in a game in 2011, and he last threw 100 innings in 2009, and he last threw 150 innings in 2004. Clearly, health has never been one of his better assets, which is odd considering how great a shape he keeps himself in physically. Harden has posted a 3.76 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 9.20 K/9 over his 928.1 inning career showing his quality stuff at every turn. The guy has flat out dominating stuff. Period. He always has. That's not the issue. Never has been. Even if reports are positive that his health is good in camp, this is still a guy you should only take a chance on in AL-only leagues. Even then, be wise with how you evaluate him. There is no reason to reach, even with all the talent he possesses.
Scott Hairston appears to have narrowed down his choices to the Mets and the Yankees, though the Yankees seem to think he is leaning toward the Mets because he would be assured more playing time. Why does it matter you're saying? Did you neglect to note that Hairston was two steals away from going 20/10 last season in an year that saw him accrue less than 380 at-bats? He was a very effective fantasy performer, on the cheap, and that's what today's article is all about. For those of you that use actual positions in your outfield Hairston is a great add as he appeared in 59 games in left and 48 in right while also being out there 14 times in center. He's also always flashed a power bat. The negative with Scott is that he really can't hit righties as his career slash line against righties is embarrassing (.229/.288/.416 in 1,347 at-bats). On the flip side he mashes lefties with a .275 average and .500 SLG. He really should be on the short end of a platoon if his team wants to utilize him properly, so no matter where he ends up use his '12 numbers as a best case scenario for 2013 cause he isn't likely to approach 400 at-bats again – at least he shouldn't if his team uses him properly.
Francisco Liriano's deal with the Pirates is on hold, and reports out of Pittsburgh suggest that the team might withdraw the two year deal worth $12.75 million the two sides agreed to because Liriano injured his right, non-throwing, arm. It could be as simple as Liriano wasn't able to make it to his physical because of the injury so he didn't bother even trying to pass the test. It would seem likely, at least in my mind, that the situation will work itself out. The injury is to his non-throwing arm so should it really be that big of a deal? Still, it's a situation we will continue to monitor. As to what to expect from Liriano when he does take the field this year check out his Player Profile.
Michael Morse is on the trade block after the Nationals and Adam LaRoche agreed on a two year, $24 million deal (there is a third year option as well). LaRoche, who hit 33 homers with 100 RBIs last season while winning the Gold Glove at first base, should be looked at as a solid bet to once again pull of his traditional .275-25-85 type effort. However, with LaRoche locked in at first base, the Nats have nowhere to play Morse given that their outfield is set (Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth). Upwards of ten teams have contacted the Nationals about Morse who has one year for $7 million left on his contract before he becomes a free agent. Morse's agent stated that his client has no interest in being a DH which might make a deal to some AL clubs a big tricky, but ultimately Morse would like to be dealt to a place that will play him everyday so he can rack up some big numbers heading into free agency. Morse can rake, he's hit .295 for his career and over the last two seasons he's averaged 25 homers a campaign despite averaging a mere 460 at-bats the past two years. He's also just a year removed from going .303 with 31 big flies and 95 RBIs. An impressive talent.
Placido Polanco believes that his body is ready to play on a daily basis, and he believe he will be able to handle the Marlins' starting spot at third base with aplomb. Polanco was limited to 90 games last season due mostly to a wonky back, and back issues tend to linger. It's also fair to question how a 37 year old will be able to overcome the physical woes. On the plus side the Marlins, after their fire-sale, are desperately in need of some veteran's to show the youngsters how to play the game, so if Polanco truly is healthy he should see ample playing time. Is that a good thing? That's another question. Polanco hit .257 with two homers last season in 303 at-bats, poor production even for he of the middling bat. Polanco did hit .277 with five homers and 50 RBIs for the Phillies in 2011, and he could repeat those numbers this season given his still solid approach and contact rate, but he has no power, doesn't steal bases, and is an injury/health risk. He's worth looking at as a corner infield option in NL-only leagues, but that's about it.
Oh man. Look at this. A guy goes away for a couple of days and look how everything falls apart. Say it ain’t so, Bartolo. Say it ain’t so. I guess we all now know how, at 39 years old and 267 pounds (which is definitely lowballing),Bartolo Colon managed to post up 10 wins and a 3.43 ERA while pitching for the A’s this season. But now,he's following in the footsteps of Melky Cabrera and sitting out the next 50 games which kisses this season goodbye as well as any chance of a legitimate contract during the offseason.
As we gear up for the second half, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t get a chance to vent our frustrations and call out those players that fell way short of expectations and basically screwed us in the first half. We’re always so quick to praise those players who returned a significant value and helped us along (2012 First Half Best Value All Stars), but let’s also bring a little accountability to the forefront here and acknowledge those that cost us a bundle on draft day only to turn around and put up a stinker of a first half. I present to you the 2012 First Half Worst Value All Bust Team.
Tim Lincecum is the worst pitcher ever. Alex Gordon has been a massive disappointment. Mike Napoli is flipping killing my fantasy team. I hear comments like that on a daily basis from people. Maybe all of the above is true, but there might also be something else going on here. What is that something else? The most obvious situation that has to be addressed is expectations. Were your expectations for a player reasonable given his skill level, age, club situation etc. Second, it's sample size. A quick example. Adam Jones has been a superstar this year, a top-25 performer overall, hitting .289 with 20 homers, 44 RBI, 54 runs and 11 steals. However, were you aware that since the start of June that he's hit .252 with 10 RBIs an a .681 OPS? Yeah, he's been pretty bad of late. So that brings me to the heart of today's article --- sample size. What does it mean, when is it important, and how should you work with it?
“I love my life. I love my wife. And I wish you my kind of success.” These are the words of legendary sports agent Dickey Fox, inspiration and mentor to Jerry Maguire, and they ring true for me almost each and every day. I spend the majority of my days watching and writing about the game of baseball – both real and fantasy. It doesn’t quite pay the bills yet, but I sling some drinks on the side and am married to a very loving and supportive woman whose job does more than just pick up my slack. But what’s even better than having a “sugar mama” like that is that she is a die-hard baseball fan as well, has two fantasy baseball championships under her belt, and never asks me to turn off the ballgame so that she can watch The Real Housewives of Who Gives a Crap. So I’ve got it pretty good. While some people sit there and lament over what their lives could have been and wish that they walked a different path, I’m pretty happy with the way things are here. I like who I am and I don’t wish to be anyone else.