Author Archives: mrcane

AL at a Glance 4/26

by mrCane

Has anyone noticed Chris Davis has 3hr in his past 4 games?  Davis is starting to heat up after a very slow start.  His teammate Nelson Cruz is doing just the opposite hitting at a .200 clip over his past 20AB, although one of those hits was a homerun off Roy Halladay.

Ian Kinsler just might be the best fantasy player right now.  To date Kinsler has 7hr and 7sb, 21RBI, 18RS and has not missed a beat since getting a sports hernia last year to end his season.  If he can only stay healthy is a great candidate to approach 30/30 this year.

Carlos Pena, a notoriously streaky hitter has 8hr and 21RBI.  In my opinion Pena is a great sell high candidate right now.  He won’t continue at his currently clip, and when he slumps it can get ugly. 

Big Papi continues to struggle at the plate.  As a die hard Red Sox fan my heart says everything will be ok.  As an experience fantasy baller I say sell if someone is buying. 

Zach Greinke continues to be dominant with 29IP and 36K.  The most impressive thing is that Zach still hasn’t allowed an earned run.  Don’t sell!  He will continue to be impressive all year, and will top 200K.

Eric Bedard has squashed owners injury fears to this point with some great pitching.  With more than a strikeout per inning Bedard is looking like the guy from a couple years ago.  When his value gets high enough, look to get a more sure arm in a trade and let someone else deal with the injury waiting to happen.  I do think that Bedard makes 25 starts, but I would rather get a number two guy back who will make 34 starts.

Jarred Washburn add a new pitch to his arsenal.  He did get shelled today but is a good bet in spacious Safeco to be a respectable number 5 in larger mixed leagues. 

James Shields has only 13K in 27IP.  This is showing a progression over the last couple years, where Sheilds has decreased his K’s from 184 in 2007, 160 in 2008 and is on pace to go right below those numbers now, 103 k’s!!  Sell high cause his other numbers look pretty good.

Lastly, AJ Burnett got destroyed by the Boston Red Sox saturday after cruising through the first 5 innings.  I was not a Burnett fan coming in, his best years being in contract years.  Most owners either love him or hate him.  Expect a roller coaster of a year with some DL stints included.

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Now I’m a Believer…

by mrCane

Some players we draft in the first round and get 4th round production from them. Others we draft in the 10th round and get 5th round production from them. Below are a few players that have impressed me based on when they were drafted and the impressive production we have received.

I think number one on this list is Ryan Ludwick..Coming into the season I wasn’t a believer. My feeling was something around 25hr and 85rbi would be a good year. Right now Ludwick is 3rd in the majors in RBI with 5hr and an OPS north of 1.000, last year was obviously not a fluke. Fantasy Advice: Keep Ludwick and ride the wave. Chances are most people won’t give you fair market value. Another option is to go out and get him. If you can convince another owner he is only a 25hr guy, take him off that owners hand and watch the 35hr leave the yard this summer.

Kevin Youkilis, a member of my beloved Red Sox is making me realize that he might just be a guy who can top 30hr and 120rbi. I always felt he was more of a 20hr hitter, but it looks to me like he is upper echelon at this point. I think by years end he will out perform all first basemen not named Pujols or Cabrera. His 3rd or 4th round draft position will be a steal at this point. He has guys on base he will be driving in, and with Drew, Bay and Lowell hitting behind him he will score plenty of runs. Fantasy Advice: Look for a year of 110RS 120RBI 32HR and .308BA….he is elite.

Bobby Abreau is a stealing machine. I’ve seen reports of many who think he’ll wind up with 25 stolen bases, something I completely disagree with. Abreau plays for a team now (LAA) notorious for running. He is a efficient base stealer and this will be taken advantage of by the Angels. I’m looking more for 32 stolen bases this season. Fantasy Advice: Expect .300BA 100RS 100RBI 30SB and 15HR which will make Abreau a top outfielder.

Nyjer Morgan is another bonafide base stealer. He is very one dimensional which limits his value but hitting leadoff will provide ample opportunities to score runs. I project upwards of 40 stolen bases for the speedy outfielder making him useful in all roto leagues. Fantasy Advice: Most owners picked Morgan up off waivers. Check your ww to see if he is still available.

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Diamonds in the Rough – Fantasy Sleepers

by mrCane

Before the draft there is always talk about sleepers.  This year guys like Nelson Cruz, Chris Volstad and Josh Johnson come to mind.  Now that we are in week two many owners will go into panic mode, cutting guys they had previously thought so highly about.  In many roto leagues it is difficult to understand your teams weaknesses until the first month is complete (assuming its not H2H).  Its ok to make some adjusments before then, but waiving guys simply because they are batting .200 is unjust.  If this same hitter was playing well and went into a 2 week slump but it was June, you would never think twice about keeping them.  Here are some names who have recently been cut, and might be your Diamond in the Rough.

Kelly Shoppach/Ramon Hernandez – Both catchers coming into the year were seen as sleepers.  With Shoppach now in an opportunity to surpass last years AB’s, 20 hr is still a reasonable expectation.  Hernandez playing in that little league park in Cincy should be able to hit just under 20hr.  Now neither player is going to crack to the top tier, but in virtually all leagues, both guys should be owned.

Chien-Ming Wang –  I think people forget that Wang had a major foot injury and didn’t pitch for quite a long time.  I’m not the biggest Wang fan because of his lack of K’s but he should be owned in all AL-only leagues and deeper mixed (say 12 teams or bigger).  If you recall, in 2007 Wang had an ERA north of 5.00 for the month of April.  He finished the season with 19 wins and a 3.70 era. 

John Maine – Maine didn’t come into the season as hyped as last season, but people were optimistic he could be a servicable 3rd or 4th starter depending on the league.  He still has nice strikeout potential, and in match ups (assuming you have a bench) could be more valuable.  Two very important points about Maine; good offense, great bullpen equals wins.

Billy Butler/Pablo Sandoval  – Both of these portly men have been declared by many minds as very good hitters.  One NL scout said Sandoval could flat out hit.  Butler is a little different because he has played this tune before.  No matter how disappointing the first week is, these guys don’t get cut.  Both should hit about .285 reach 15hr and drive in 80 rbi.

These are just a couple names, and there could be others.  In a 15 team mixed league I’m in one owner cut Kelly Johnson the second day of the season.  Keep your eyes open on the waiver wire for players who can help your team.  Chances are if you liked them a couple weeks ago, you should give them a chance to prove their worth.

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David Wright versus Evan Longoria

by mrCane

Only one week into the season I would like to raise a point that we may be looking at a changing of the guard in the 3rd base position.  Not that it would be dramatic, but it would definately benefit owners who took Longoria about 15-20 picks later than Wright.

What they both offer in real life is great defense, good character, young, athletic and talented.  In the world of fantasy we have two guys with very similar numbers.  Power – I would give the nod to Longoria.  With 27 bombs in 4 months last year he displayed what he is capable of on the Major League level.   Speed – This goes to Wright who should steal 5-10 more bases annually than Longoria.  Average – This goes to Wright, only because Longoria has yet to bat .300 in the Majors, but I do feel this gap will close rapidly.  RBI and RS – I would have to call a draw because they both hit on good teams in similar spots of the lineup. 

Ultimately the decision comes down to HR and SB, who offers more.  My intuition tells me that by year ends their numbers will look something like this

Longoria  .292  36hr 104rs  117rbi  9sb  Wright .307  27hr  108rs 113rbi  17sb  With numbers like these the slight bump goes toward David Wright and his +8sb.  If that gap were to close to say 5sb then my edge goes toward Longoria.

For what its worth, right now I would trade Longoria to acquire David Wright straight up.  My reason being that Wright has better numbers left and Longoria will not continue at a pace of 145hr.  No matter who you choose, you won’t be wrong.

In other news….

  • Elijah Dukes now has a starting position in Washington.  His combination of speed and power makes him an intriguing pick up in roto formats.  With the addition of Dukes comes the subtraction of Lastings Milledge who was sent to the minors.
  • Ryan Franklin closed the game last night and its likely he is going to get some opportunities in St. Louis.  If your looking for saves, he could be a nice pick up.
  • Jon Lester took another beating last night at the hands of Oakland.  Pitchers usually take longer to shake the cobwebs than batters do.  If you can you might want to bench him next start until he rights the ship; but you always run the risk of missing a gem.
  • Some other pitchers who had rough outings are Randy Johnson and Chien-Ming Wang.  In fact neither has thrown well since the season started.  It’s not time to throw the towel in, but monitor progress.  It should be noted that Wang is down 6mph on his power sinker.
  • I recently added Dexter Fowler in a 15 team no bench roto league, and I’m excited about that pick up.  First, I don’t see Seth Smith holding Fowler off for playing time.  Second, Fowler has batted leadoff for the Rockies, can run and has a little pop.
  • Josh Johnson is rewarding owners who drafted him as a 3rd starter with ace numbers.  I for one feel that Johnson will be excellent all year and if someone wants to sell high, this is a guy you can buy because his stats wont sink.
  • Mark Teixeira missed another game and could be in danger of landing on the DL.  Wrists are tricky business, just ask Derrek Lee, Nomar Garciapara and Big Papi all good hitters who suffered a major wrist injury.  Right now Tex doesn’t have a major injury and a DL stint may help to keep it that way.

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AL at a Glance 4/9

by mrCane

Before we start this, I want to point out that everything we know can end without warning.  Nick Adenhart, a 22 year old pitcher from the Anaheim Angels was killed this morning when his car was struck by a van.  I obviously don’t know Nick, his friends, his family but want to acknowledge the tradgedy of what took place.  No one deserves to pass at the age of 22.

So far in this young season there have some performers who have stood out.  Many are people you would expect by their draft position, others are nice surprises.  Some we can expect this trend to continue, while others are much less likely to continue with their current performance.

Adam Lind has 2 HR including his 6rbi game against Detroit.  He is a kid I expect will continue his current trend, though not at this pace.  Two Detroit pitchers, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello, have had very similar results.  The difference between the two is many owners drafted Verlander as a top 40 pitcher while Porcello in any league but a keeper probably went undrafted.  Fantasy Advice:  Ride the Lind wave, I feel like he is going to have a very good year; say 20hr 85rbi.  Verlander you should dump and get as much as you can from any owner willing to pay for the name.  Porcello is a guy strictly for keepers as he plays on a team with an awful bullpen.

Most of the Minnesota pitching staff has been medicore, which is suprising because they were at home against a lowly Mariners offense.  Glen Perkins was the one exception going 8IP 1ER.  Brandon Morrow finally got his first save of the year after his loss of control in his first appearance.  Fantasy Advice:  I like all the Minnesota pitchers, mostly for matchups.  Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey are all guys I start every week.  Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn are decent larger mixed league options for the right match up.

A couple things I want to point out from the Orioles verse Yankees series.  An offense of Brian Robers, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff will cause fits for many of the teams in the AL EAST, and this is without Matt Wieters who hasn’t been called up yet.   Adam Jones in particular looked good, driving the ball to right center off Sabathia.  While CC looked bad, AJ Burnett was able to be quite effective going 51/3 IP with 6 strike outs.  The notoriously slow starters Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira both homered.  Nick Swisher even got the start and took advantage with a home run of his own.  Fantasy Advice:  Jump on the Jones bandwagon, I have been since spring training.  He will be 20/20 this year.  Be patient with CC but Burnett is a guy I never like on my team, deal him after a few good outings and avoid the DL stint.

Tampa Bay pitchers Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir looked great against the Red Sox.  With James Shields Tampa has 3 top 30 starting pitchers.  Throw in the ever steady Andy Sonnanstine and David Price waiting in the wings; Tampa has the horses to repeat as Division champs.  David Ortiz performance thus far is discouraging, even with the very small sample size.  The Red Sox and fantasy homers need Big Papi to approach 30hr this year to justify his draft day value.  Fantasy Advice:  Look for a guy like Garza, you might be able to still get him cheap, you won’t in a couple weeks.  If you can get some name recognition from a Big Papi fan, deal the slugger away.  It kills me as a sox fan but I think Ortiz is only good for 25hr this year, not worth his draft day price.

Kyle Davies was a source of hype as a sleeper pitcher and he lived up to that bill in his first start.  Unfortunately he was matched pitch by pitch by John Danks.  Jim Thome was a slugger I targeted late on draft day.  I feel Thome is a lock for 30hr with the possibilty of hitting more depending on his health.  The Royals pitching with Meche, Grienke and Davies is actually a formidable 1, 2, 3 combination with a closer to slam the door.  Fantasy Advice:  Danks I like to be a top 35 pitcher by years end and Davies seems like a viable larger mix league option now. 

The Cleveland Indians will not win the AL Central.  They don’t have the pitching to pull it off.  Carl Pavano is their third starter and Cliff Lee will regress from last years stellar performance.  Their offense is good, evidence by Grady Sizemores 2 hr game, but not great with lots of guys who strike out.  Kevin Millwood looked good in his first outing and has an offense to back him up.  Nelson Cruz is on the board with a 2 hr game, he may have finally arrived.  Fantasy Advice:  Sell sell sell Cliff Lee if you can, while I don’t think is as bad as his first start, I do see a 4 ERA and 12 wins, not what you expect if you draft him as your number 1 pitcher.  Kelly Shoppach is the guy behind the plate, check your waiver wire for a 20hr catcher. 

It didn’t take long for Brian Fuentes to raise doubts about his ability to close games in the AL.  With two great arms in back of him (Jose Arredondo, Scott Shields) he won’t have much of a leash with Mike Scioscia.  Oaklands young guns, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, are both in the starting rotation and Brad Ziegler is the closer with Joey Devine out of the picture and in Dr. Andrews office.  Fantasy Advice:  I’m not sold on Fuentes, if you have a spot on your bench I would grab Arredondo.  Stay away from the young Oakland pitchers, though they will have good outings, they will be inconsistent and frustrating.

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Opening Day

by mrCane

One of the best day’s of the year, besides draft day of course, is baseball opening day.  It’s when fantasy owners finally get to the see rosters they’ve assembled put into action.  Some teams and players will get off to amazing starts while others will inch out of the gate.  Keep your emotions stable and enjoy the ride.  Here are just a couple of things to look for today, opening day.

Aaron Harang gets to take on Johan Santana and the NY Mets.  It will be interesting to see how Harang fares after his awful 2008 season.  On the other side, Johan is not pitching in nice weather right now.  I will be curious to see if the cold has any effect on his arm tightening up over the course of the game.  Remember that Johan did have elbow stiffness earlier this spring.  A couple other young players to watch are Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, who I predict will both struggle a great deal with Johan.  I think the mets take this one 4-2.

Cliff Lee is going to get pounded by the Texas Rangers.  Look for Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz to have big games.  Micheal Young is over at third base adding to his eligibility this year.  Let’s see how Travis Hafner responds to offseason shoulder surgery.  I predict Hafner hits less than 20hr, say 17 this year. 

Ricky Nolasco is going to have a day with the Washington Nationals.  The Nationals have far too many guys who whiff, most notably Adam Dunn.  Nolasco should strike out 9 while the Marlins kick this season off with a win.  Its time to Cameron Maybin excite fantasy managers across the nation.

Toronto and Detroit square off where Justin Verlander will no doubt lose to Roy Halladay.  I don’t like Verlander this year, not one bit.  There are about 40 or more pitchers I would take before him.  I think Verlander struggles to get through 5IP and then the Detroit bullpen gets lit up by the Toronto bats.

In a battle of Aces, King Felix duals Francisco Liriano with two teams who’s offenses need work.  I like the Twins in this, because they are at home and their team has the ability to manufacture runs when needed.  Twins take this one 3-2 on opening day.  I am curious to see who the Mariners send out to the mound in the 8th and 9th inning if they are ahead. 

Another battle of aces are Roy Oswalt and Carlos Zambrano.  I like the Cubs all the way in this one.  Lance Berkman is still struggling with his shoulder and without him in the lineup, its a different Astros team.  Soriano was red hot to end the spring and Oswalt got off to a slow start last year, it will be interesting to see what happens this year.

These are just some of the games that are going to be fun to watch in what should be another great fantasy baseball season.  Good luck to all!

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AL at a Glance..

by mrCane

Brett Gardner (OF NYY) was able to beat out Melky Cabrera to start in CF for the Bombers.  This is significant because Gardner as the ability to wipe 30 bags with regular playing time.  Fantasy Advice:  Pick this guy up off waivers in larger  Roto leagues for his SB potential.

News out of Cleveland is that Kelly Shoppach is only going to start 2 or 3 days a week.  This isn’t great news for a starting C.  Fantasy Advice:  Hold on to Shoppach because otherwise they are going to have to find Ryan Garko a spot in the lineup, this would not be the best option for the Indians.  Shoppach should register more than 400 AB, plenty for a catcher.

Mark Teahen (OF KC) continues to rake and has even chipped in 3 SB with his 6 hr.  Teahen has teased before, but some ballplayers take longer to develop.  Fantasy Advice:  Teahen is probably available in your leage. He could be a good pickup as a 4th outfielder.

Chris Davis (3B Tex) continues to put his slow start behind him.  His batting average is up to .310 and Davis has 5hr to go with the lofty BAvg.  He has slowed considerably in striking out, but still represents an awful 23K in 71AB, almost 33%!!  Fantasy Advice:  Look for Davis after the top 3B are off the board and expect 30hr.

Taylor Teargarden (C Tex).  Taylor is currently a battle for a starting position with the big switch hitting Jarrod Saltalamachia.  After a slow start Teargarden is beginning to make a case for himself;  .297avg and 3hr.  Fantasy Advice:  As of right now the job goes to Saltalamacchia but Teargarden could take that spot via trade or by performing to the level we expect from him.

Brandon Inge (C Det) Very few people probably even realize Inge does qualify for catcher.  Fantasy Advice:  Any catcher who qualifies and hits 20hr has value. 

Carl Crawford (OF TB)  He’s baaaccckkkk.  Crawford has swiped 7 bags this spring with only 1 caugt stealing.  Fantasy Advice:  Expect numbers around .285 12hr 40sb; lets hope Carl is all done dealing with leg injuries from last year.

Kansas City sent Luke Hochevar(SP) to the minors while giving Sidney Ponson (SP) a chance in the rotation.  Neither warrant any fantasy consideration.

Over in Oakland Brad Ziegler (RP) is going to become a valuable fantasy asset in the absence of Joey Devine and his elbow trouble.  Fantasy Advice:  Add Ziegler in all large mixed or AL only leagues.  Devine has never proved healthy and a visit to Dr. James Andrews is never positive.

Justin Verlander (SP Det) has a deceiving 2.30 era.  Verlander has walked more batters (15) than he has struck out(14).  Fantasy Advice:  At this point Verlander is no higher than top 40, and that may be generous.

Kyle Davies (SP KC) is starting to get some praise by lot’s of baseball people.  Davies is still young (25 years old) and has the ability to put up decent fantasy numbers, evident by last Septembers 4-1   2.27 era display.  Fantasy Advice:  In larger mixed leagues and AL-only leagues Davies now deserves consideration.  He should not be a go to option at this point but may return reliable fantasy numbers in the future.

Watch out for Gavin Floyd (SP ChiW).  Last year Floyd struck out only 145 batters; has 20 strike outs in 21 IP this spring.  Floyd was once a can’t miss, monster prospect with the Phillies organization.  He has a great knock out pitch, his knee buckling curve.  If he keeps pounding the zone, getting ahead of hitters, he will rack up more strikeouts.  Fantasy Advice:  Coming into the season I had Floyd right around top 60, in light of his performance this spring, new contract, and good offensive team I am willing to bump him up a few spots to 45-50 range.

Jon Lester (SP Boston) continues to take steps toward ace material.  More than a strike out per inning with a 1.72 era, on an offensive machine only makes Lester’s value more appealing.  Fantasy Advice:  You will be able to get tremendous value with this pick.  He will be anywhere from the 15th-25th pitcher off the board on draft day.  He might just pitch you a top 10 return as soon as this year. 

Cliff Lee (SP Clev) has been getting pounded this spring.  Lee has given up 37 hits in 16IP.  I know spring stats don’t count for much but they counted for Cliff last year when he had a lights out spring.  His control is still excellent which gives us a sigh of relief; somewhat.  Fantasy Advice:  I’m looking for Lee to take a step back this year but still put up respectable numbers.  He is a top 30 pitcher at this point in my rankings.

Nick Adenhart (SP ANA) is the beneficiary of injuries to the Angels staff.  With injuries to John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar, Adenhart now has the opportunity to start a few games for the Angles this April.  If he pitches well, who knows what could happen from there.  His spring stats are 3.26era  19IP  13/4  K/BB ratio.  Fantasy Advice:  Take a flier on Adenhart in larger mixed leagues, he has the ability to pitch himself into the rotation even as the other return from injuries.

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