There was a bit of a delay getting the latest Fantasy Five out. So, I’ll include a sixth question for you, to make up for it. The weeks theme is MLB teams. I’ve asked 2 questions of 3 bloggers about their specific MLB teams. Let me know what you think of the team theme this week. If you like it, I may mix it in on a regular basis.
1. Ryan Langerhans seems to be losing a bit of playing time in LF and Diaz isn’t really stepping up with his opportunities to take the job from him. Is either one of these guys the answer in LF? (UPDATE - This question was asked and answered prior to April 29th trade)
Will Schaffer (Chop-n-Change): There is still a platoon out in left, the reason Langerhans isn’t playing as much is that the Braves have faced an absurd number of lefties early in the season. As far as production, they have both been god awful and Diaz looks a lot more vulnerable now that it seems the scouting report has gotten around. Langerhans has some more value to the team because he is great in the field while Diaz is awful, but neither of these guys is the answer. There are a couple options this season for left. A quick fix would be Gregor Blanco, who brings good defense, the ability to get on base, and some speed but a complete lack of power. He is hitting in Richmond and the only one you can really consider to be called up right now. A bit later on, Brandon Jones could make his way up or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Braves top prospect, could be converted to the outfield with his athleticism and McCann in front of him in Atlanta. Those two probably wouldn’t get a shot until at least the All-Star break though.
2. Can you impart some Braves wisdom on us? Tell us about a future transaction, some player personnel issue, or some hidden fantasy nugget that can give us a leg up in our fantasy leagues.
Will Schaffer (Chop-n-Change): Here is a great bit of Braves wisdom. Always trust in Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz. For those of you who want something a bit more concrete, the Braves are probably going to make a couple moves soon. I think we’ll see Trey Hodges and Phil Stockman up from Richmond soon. Hodges is a vet starter, who won’t have any fantasy value, but is probably going to get a shot to prove he can pitch better than Mark Redman (won’t be hard to do). Also, Lance Cormier should be coming off the DL soon and Blaine Boyer could make a big impact in the pen once he comes back from injury. For fantasy advice, if you have a shot to pick up Francoeur, take it. This is not a fluke, his plate discipline is light years ahead of ‘06, not only in the number of walks, but he is waiting for pitches he likes now instead of just swinging. Another couple of little fantasy nuggets, if Blanco does get the call, he could be a cheap source of steals for someone a bit down in that area. One pretty big story has been Willy Aybar. His agent says he is having drug problems and teammates, his brother Erik on the Angels, Vlad Guerrero, Braves management, and even his own Mother have tried but been unsuccessful in contacting him. I would have told you to keep him in mind in keeper leagues as a super utility guy that could have shifted to a starting role, but his career with the Braves and in pro baseball is in jeopardy.
1. Lots of folks really hyped Corey Hart this off season. And we have been told to expect a 20/20 type season in ‘07. Is Corey Hart the real deal?
Jeff Sackmann (Brew Crew Ball): Yep, he’s the real deal. He’s not going to get 600 ABs this year because he’s gotten stuck in a three-way platoon with Geoff Jenkins and Kevin Mench, but he’s going to be good starting right now. He’s very fast and a high-percentage base stealer, and he even bunts for base hits. He’s not a future star of the Fielder/Weeks/Braun category, but he has a shot at a Jenkins-type peak.
2. Can you impart some Brewers wisdom on us? Tell us about a future transaction, some player personnel issue, or a hidden fantasy nugget that can give us a leg up in our fantasy leagues.
Jeff Sackmann (Brew Crew Ball): Yovani Gallardo is going to be up sooner than you think. He’s not going to be an ace-caliber pitcher immediately (maybe not ever), but he could be a #3-type guy right away. While there isn’t a clear path into the rotation for him, I’d be shocked if he’s still pitching in Nashville on July 1st.
[tag]New York Mets[/tag]
1. John Maine seems to be doing fine and Mike Pelfrey isn’t. Is this what you expected out of them?
Jason (Faith and Fear in Flushing): I have Glavine, Oliver Perez and Pelfrey on my fantasy team. (That many Mets is a little nuts, but it wasn’t on purpose — I thought Perez and Pelfrey had some upside compared to the other pitchers left in the pool.)
I did not expect Maine to do as well as he’s done so far — he has dramatically changed his repertoire and approach, proof that he’s a smart guy and has really taken to Rick Peterson’s advice. (Though we don’t like to admit it, most baseball players are pretty resistant to advice.) I do think he’ll have further lessons to learn — right now the league is still responding to an out-of-date scouting report on him, and that will change.
Pelfrey is very young — if the Mets had their druthers, he’d still be learning in New Orleans. That said, he’s relying too much on a fastball that’s awfully straight, and needs to learn to use his other pitches the way Maine has. Should he doubt the value of listening to Peterson, he has object lessons in why he should in Glavine, Maine and Perez. I don’t think Pelfrey’s going to generate a lot of Ks while going through these growing pains, which hurts his fantasy value. Still, he’ll get the ball every fifth day or so on a 100-win team with a terrifying offense. That ought to be good for some wins and more job security than he’d get elsewhere. I just hope that job security doesn’t kill my ERA and WHIP.
2. Can you impart some Mets wisdom on us? Tell us about a future transaction, some player personnel issue, or some hidden fantasy nugget that can give us a leg up in our fantasy leagues.
Jason (Faith and Fear in Flushing): The Mets aren’t particularly mysterious right now — the roles are set and there aren’t too many questions beyond the fifth starter and the middle relief, so there’s not a lot to look for beyond the obvious. It’s valuable to understand the team’s philosophy: Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya tend to give veterans a lot of time to prove themselves or stop proving themselves, and they don’t usually bring young players up if they’re not going to get used. So if you own Sean Green or Jose Valentin and they hit a skid, don’t expect them to get benched or lose their jobs for a good while. Correspondingly, if Lastings Milledge, Philip Humber or Carlos Gomez are called up, expect them to do more than just fill in.
The early returns on Pedro Martinez’s comeback are good — he might be worth plucking off the DL in June if you can spare the spot. Finally, I would not be surprised to see Joe Smith get increasingly important assignments as the year goes on. As a middle reliever he’s pretty much useless in fantasy leagues right now, but keep an eye on him.
Many thanks to the three guest experts we welcomed for this installment of The Fantasy Five. Please check out their blogs.
Will Schaffer is a Braves reporter for Chop-n-Change, the official Atlanta Braves team blog on MVN. While you’re checking his blog out, ask him how the Langerhans trade effects his answer that he gave me.
Jeff Sackmann consults for several major league teams. He runs the websites MinorLeagueSplits.com, CollegeSplits.com, BrewCrewBall.com and BeyondTheBoxscore.com, and contributes to The Hardball Times and the fantasy magazine Heater. He welcomes comments via e-mail.
Jason is a life long Mets fan and publishes the blog Faith and Fear in Flushing. His expert insight into the New York Mets entertains tons of fans who frequent his blog.
If you would like to see past issues of [tag]The Fantasy Five[/tag], check them out here.
The Fantasy Five: Issue #1
The Fantasy Five: Issue #2