Some Fantasy Thoughts

A couple of thoughts on fantasy baseball as we head in to the final stretch before the regular season (really) gets underway. Hope this is helpful for anyone still waiting to draft…

Guys Who I Went All In For:

  • Joey Votto: I had the 10th pick in the draft and I took JV as my lineup cornerstone. The big debate here was Votto or Prince Fielder. I also the had option for going for a position pick (taking a Jose Reyes/SS) or a toolsy outfielder (Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez went shortly after my pick). JV had a “down” year last year and still had better numbers than say, Adrian Gonzalez, who went two picks ahead of Joey. I expect a huge year: A batting title, 35 home runs, and lots of runs and rbis on a team that competes for (and probably wins) its division.
  • Madison Bumgarner: I honestly think that Giants fans will have heated debates after this season about who is the best starter on the Giants. Madbum will have a huge year, push himself into the elite, and hopefully the offense will score enough runs to pump up the win total.
  • Brandon Morrow: He’s going to have great run support but he’s going to have to do battle with some tough lineups. That said, the kid is nasty and could see his strikeout total run upwards of 230. You can get him in the 10-12 round range and I think that is a bargain for a guy who is top 15 material.
  • Honorable Mention: I tried hard to get this guy and didn’t, but I really think Matt Wieters is going to have a great season in 2012.

Guys I Avoided

  • Buster Posey: I love Buster and I hope he has a huge year. But he went in the 5th round and that is way too much risk for me. Again, I hope he is great and I am rooting for him to lead the Giants back to the promised land, but I just don’t want him on my fantasy team.
  • Aging Infielders on the New York Yankees: Sorry A-Rod, Jeter, and Tex…you may still have decent seasons but I have low confidence in you guys and I don’t want to root for you to do well…don’t want you on my team.
  • Prince Fielder: Going back to first round dilemma, there are plenty of reason to like Fielder…lineup protection with Miguel Cabrera…better overall lineup in Detroit…expectations to live up to. But I am wary and here’s why: he was motivated last year, had the protection of Ryan Braun (NL MVP), and a pretty decent lineup. And he had a good year, don’t get me wrong. But he’s in a bigger ball park, with a LOT of expectations. We’ve seen some pretty spectacular big contract flops recently (see Carl Crawford/Jason Werth), and I don’t think Fielder will have that kind of downswing, but I’m hesistant and a lot more confident in JV.

The Market Inefficiency

When I first started playing fantasy, the late rounds were all about stockpiling prospects and young guys who might break out for the first time. But now, I’ve found that some of the best late round picks can be spent on proven commodities coming off down years or coming back from injuries. Last year, I was able to take James Shields in the 2oth round. He had an amazing season and went in the 6th round in my draft this year. There are plenty of similar gems this year:

  • Johan Santana: Don’t expect the Santana of old, but he’s had a great spring and seems on track to have a solid season. I’m hoping for 12-15 wins, 170 ks, 3.50 ERA, and 1.20 WHIP. I got him in the 18th round, which could be a huge bargain! Not bad for a 5th starter.
  • Adam Dunn: I have never been a Dunn fan, but even if he only hits .230 and produces 30 home runs, how can you not love that from a 20th round pick. He doesn’t even fit in my current starting lineup but has the potential to lead my team in home runs. I really do think he will bounce back…not all the way to his 40 home run/elite masher days, but more than good enough for how long he is available in the draft.
  • Honorable mentions: I didn’t draft these guys, but Clay Bucholz and Phil Hughes are both available pretty late. Phil Hughes didn’t even get drafted in my league. Both represent major bargains if they bounce back…lots of cheap wins and good ratios if they are on their game.

Good Luck in Fantasy this year!

(-SB)

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Making the Cut

It’s baseball time boys and girls! Along with that joyous occasion comes a variety of exciting things to keep our attention! Fantasy baseball, the trade rumor mill, funny bloggers and roster speculation!

The standard MLB roster is 25 players, both pitchers and catchers, below is the list of Giants who’ll be a lock for the roster:

  • Pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Santiago Castilla, Javy Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Guilleramo Mota.
  • Infield/Catcher: Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez (possibly starts the year on the DL, which would free up a roster spot),Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey.
  • Outfield: Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Nate Schierholtz, Gregor Blanco.

That’s 20 players, 19 if you put Freddy Sanchez on the DL, which is what I will be doing for the sake of this post. So what other 6 players make the cut?

First of all, one of those spots will go to a backup catcher, either Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart. Honestly it doesn’t matter which one as they are fairly equal and up to the task, so that takes us down to 5 players. My guess is that they add 1 reliever and use the other 4 for IF/OF spots, mostly because Sanchez is hurt and Crawford is not exactly the best hitter in the world, I think Bochy will keep the middle of the IF rotating and getting other batters in play, especially in later innings and having that flexibility will be key. So with that said I don’t see how Mike Fontenot doesn’t make the Opening Day lineup. He can play SS, 2B and 3B and is an average hitter who has experience filling in last season, which leaves us with 4 spots. Doing the rest of the hitter spots, I can see Manny Burris starting the year in the big leagues as the starting 2B while Sanchez is out. He’s hitting great in Spring Training, .417 actually, which doesn’t mean anything in the regular season, but he’s out of Minor League options (meaning if he gets sent down to AAA he is put on waivers first and any team can claim him) and the Giants have said, and have shown in the past, that options are considered big time, plus the Giants have always have had lots of love for Burris. Down to 3!

I think Ryan Theriot is another close lock. He can play multiple infield positions, is cheap and has a good glove. Plus baseball fans love nicknames, and Ryan “The Riot” Theriot is one of the best! In all honesty though, the Theriot signing is one of my more favorite moves of the Giants this past offseason. He’s not an amazing player, and has never hit for power (17 total HR’s in 7 MLB seasons) put he’s an above average hitter (.282 lifetime BA with a .344 lifetime OBP) and a good glove, could go a long way to solidifying the middle. 2 left! I’m going to skip over to the bullpen, since the last position will be the big Belt debate that I want to give some focus to. The last bullpen spot will either got to Clay Hensley or Steve Edlefsen. Clay is a free agent signing with a 7 season career 3.96 ERA with 329 K’s, and a 1.35 WHIP, not lights out numbers by any stretch, and last season he had a 5.19 ERA with 46 K’s, although that is one year removed from a 2.16 ERA and 77 K’s. Edlefsen debuted with the Giants last year and had a 0.96 ERA with 8K’s in 11 games, not exactly a large sample size. I could see Hensley making the roster out the gate, only to get released and replaced with Edlefsen, although Edlefsen has a 2.50 ERA in Spring, while Hensley is 4.50. Could go either way.

Finally the last roster spot. Who should this go to? Brandon Belt. The boy needs to play, is having a good Spring and has done everything he can do in the minors. I would put him at first and use Huff in the OF with the occasional spell at 1B and pinch-hitting. Who will probably end up getting this spot? Brett Pill. He can play 1B, 2B, probably fill in at 3B if needed and can play either corner OF spot. Versatility. Plus Bochy isn’t going to bench Huff, not unless he really really struggles this season, in which case Belt will probably get his chance, unless Bochy decides to move Posey over to 1B and call up Hector Sanchez to catch. Honestly though Pill isn’t the worst choice, he had a very nice end of last season and is having a solid spring. My biggest frustration isn’t with him, it’s with the lack of Belt playing.

The Giants have had awful luck recently with hitting prospects, pitching not so much, hitting? Yes. Travis Ishakawa, Todd Linden, Dan Ortmeier, Lance Niekro, John Bowker, none of them panned out. Posey did, but Bengie Molina had to be traded to make room for him. Belt looks like another one, yes he strikes out a lot, but he needs repetition to get that right. I’d much rather have Belt at AAA getting playing time than grabbing pine in San Francisco, but at some point he needs a consistent chance.

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The DH and Brandon Belt

So, I was totally going to write about this and then Tom Verducci had to go and steal my thunder! But I think my point is still pertinent and his article actually helps me out, so here we go…

A lot has been made over the disparity between the American and National Leagues. Until the last two seasons, it was looking like the AL was going to just go on dominating endlessly, with the exception of a year where the Phillies would rise up and say “no more.”

Now, in this offseason which has seen two huge NL stars jump to the AL (Pujols and Fielder) in no small part because of the DH rule, there is some sentiment that the balance of power will shift back in that direction.

There are some obvious reasons why the DH gives the AL an advantage. Having an extra “real” hitter in the lineup helps.

But, a more subtle reason has to do with player development. No team illustrates this more clearly than the Giants. Aside from the health of stars, the major story line in camp this year will be the “battle” for first base.

Brandon Belt got off to a nice start by going 4 for his first 5. Yesterday Aubrey Huff hit a home run. Brett Pill has his best (last?) shot at making an opening day roster. The real question seems to be: would you rather have Belt taking 4 ab’s in Fresno or sitting on the bench in San Fran? Huff is going to get his shot.

However, if the Giants played in the AL this all would be a non-issue. Belt would play 1B pretty much every day and Huff and Pill would make a decent DH platoon. Simple. Done.

AL teams have a clear, if sometimes unnoticed, advantage here. The DH allows them another spot to let young players develop and impact their team instead of rotting on the bench or having to go to AAA.

I’m with Verducci: I think pitchers should have to hit. I like the extra element and strategy that it brings. But, I think the imbalance is ridiculous. And the reality is the DH isn’t going anywhere. The players love it because it can help them extend their careers. We are not going back.

But as baseball becomes more and more uniform across league lines, the day is coming where the DH is a universal rule. And, as much as it might offend my purist sensibilities it will be more fair and it will allow players like Brandon Belt to cut their chops in the big leagues, where he belongs.*

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*of course, the Giants might be in this position anyway with the DH rule by signing a vlad guerrero (or whoever) who would be blocking belt.