Archive for April, 2007

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[tag]Atlanta Braves[/tag] closer, [tag]Bob Wickman[/tag], has been placed on the 15 day disabled list with tendinitis in his upper right back.

“Rafael Soriano likely will fill in as closer, along with Mike Gonzalez, though manager Bobby Cox said he would play it by feel.”

It’s time to go grab Soriano and look at Gonzalez as well. As it stands right now, it’s only 15 days of save opportunities for the two of them, but remember, Wickman is 38. If this stint on the DL lasts longer, you’ll want some coverage.

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I asked the question last week as to how long it was going to take ARod to fall from the top spot at third base on our weekly MVP list. For everyone who took the under, well done. Let’s see if anyone else is going to step up and challenge the top spot of three straight weeks on the list.

Catcher: To be honest with you, nobody really tore it up at this position this week. Victor Martinez (CLE) had 7 RBI, but only hit .250/.344/.429. Ryan Doumit (PIT) had a big game and some big numbers for a backup going .545/.545/1.000 with a home run and 4 RBI.

First Base: Derrek Lee (CHC) hit .522/.542/.913 with a home run and 5 RBI to edge out Adrian Gonzalez (SD) who hit .320/.370/.600 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI.

Second Base: Wow, B.J. Upton (TB) has arrived! .417/.440/.958 with 3 home runs, 9 RBI and 3 stolen bases take top honor here. Another close race at 2B had Chase Utley (PHI) coming in second with .444/.500/.778 with 2 home runs, 10 RBI and a stolen base.

Third Base: Just like the catcher position this week, no third baseman really stood out or excelled. I’m giving the trophy to Chipper Jones (ATL) who hit .345/.387/.724 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI and Jones gets the bounty for knocking ARod out of this top spot. Mike Lowell (BOS) did some damage to the Yankees this past week as he lands on the list with a .333/.448/.542 with a home run and 6 RBI.

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins (PHI) was the man last week going .344/.364/.688 with 3 home runs, 6 RBI and 4 stolen bases. It was the 4 stolen bases that separated Rollins from Alex Gonzalez (CIN) who hit .520/.538/.1.040 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI.

Outfield: Magglio Ordonez (DET) hit .571/.654/.1.095 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI. Vernon Wells (TOR) hit .458/.567/.750 with a home run, 5 RBI and 3 stolen bases. Gary Matthews Jr. (LAA) hit .448/.515/.724 with 2 home runs, 6 RBI and a stolen base. The big surprise here, both for the week and for 2007, is Sammy Sosa (TEX). WHo would of thought I would be mentioning his name in MVP circles? Sosa went .348/.423/.826 with 3 home runs and 7 RBI.

Starting Pitcher: John Maine (NYM) continues to excel winning twice this week while posting a 0.61 ERA and a 13:5 strikeout to walk ratio. Dan Haren (OAK) also won twice, posted a 1.88 ERA and his strikeout to walk ratio was an astounding 12:1.

Relief Pitcher: J.J. Putz (SEA) notched 3 saves while posting a 0.00 ERA and 0.35 WHIP. His K:BB was 3:1. Armando Benitez (NYM) also recorded 3 saves with a 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and a 3:0 K:BB ratio.

If you would like to see fantasy MVP’s from past weeks you can click below.
Week 1 Fantasy Baseball MVP’s
Week 2 Fantasy Baseball MVP’s
Week 3 Fantasy Baseball MVP’s

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For those of you who have had [tag]Chone Figgins[/tag] stashed on your DL, waiting patiently while your team flounders in the stolen base category, I’ve got good news for you. Figgins was activated off the DL Sunday after the Angels game against the White Sox and will be with the team as it starts its series in Kansas City.

I can feel the collective smiles of Figgins owners everywhere. Run Chone Run!!!

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As Julian Tavarez flounders at 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA, the [tag]Boston Red Sox[/tag] are keeping a close watch on the rehab starts of [tag]Jon Lester[/tag]. With a few more positive minor league starts and once his pitch counts reach 100, we may see the Red Sox shake up their rotation. Lester had a very solid start Saturday evening in Pawtucket.

“Once Lester is ready, it looks like he’ll take over the reigns as the number five guy in Boston’s rotation. That’ll push someone down to Pawtucket. I could foresee Kyle Snyder getting the demotion, as Joel Pineiro and JC Romero may be more valuable at this point in the season. Julian Tavarez will become the long-man in the bullpen.”

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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.

[tag]Atlanta Braves[/tag]
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.

[tag]Milwaukee Brewers[/tag]
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

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Thursday April 26, 2007 marks the beginning of what Angels fans’ hope is the [tag]Brandon Wood[/tag] era. Woods is being called up, and the 8th ranked prospect in baseball hopes to make the best of it.

In 2005, in high A ball and AAA, Wood hit a sick 43 home runs and 116 RBI in 134 games. His average was .320.
In 2006, in AA, his power total dropped a bit to 25 home runs and 83 RBI in 118 games. He hit .276.

ZiPS projects Wood to hit .248/.303/.444 with 19 HR and 10 SB in 520 at bats. CHONE projections look very similar at .241/.301/.413 with 16 HR and 11 SB in 475 at bats.

Keep an eye on Wood to see if he can start thumping big league pitching like he’s tore up the minors. You also need to watch the lineup for the Angels to see how long it takes to become a full time player and where Wood fits in. Figgins should be back within the next week to 10 days, so some shifting is bound to happen.

***Update*** With Chone Figgins’ return on April 30th, Brandon Wood has been sent back down to the minors.

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Last week, maybe a few more days ago than that, I randomly clicked around the [tag]fantasy baseball[/tag] world and found some fabulous writing. Well, I am sitting here, watching the Braves game, and thought I would take another stroll.

Over at Greener on the Other Side, I found a very interesting post that could help you climb the ranks in the runs scored category. The post speaks about using Secondary Average (SecA) as a way to forecast crossing the plate.

A player’s secondary average is, according to ESPN, a way to look at a player’s extra bases gained, independent of Batting Average. The formula is (TB - H + BB + SB - CS) / AB. I showed that a player’s SecA is a great indicator for the runs scored category.

Warning Track Power writes about a way for us to evaluate pitchers and find candidates for buying low. By looking for pitchers with high ground ball percentages and high strikeout rates fantasy baseball owners can find hidden gems, who are on the rise to stardom.

These are the pitchers that finished ‘06 with at least a 45% ground ball rate and 6.5K/9: Brandon Webb, Felix Hernandez, Chris Carpenter, Andy Pettite, Erik Bedard, Roy Oswalt, Jeremy Bonderman, Carlos Zambrano, David Bush, John Smoltz, Brett Myers, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, and CC Sabathia. On its own, neither stat does a good job weeding out poor starting pitchers. Combine the two, and you’ve got a list of fantasy aces.

Over at MLB Fantasy Advice, a projection of Alex Rodriguez has him hitting 53 home runs and 146 RBI. But what’s even more interesting is who he says he would have to get in trade for ARod.

In my view, unless you can get a top tier hitter (Pujols, Ortiz, Hafner etc.) AND a top pitcher (Santana, Oswalt, Peavy etc), then keep him.

Would you like to see an up to date look at the 2007 closer situation? Who wouldn’t?

Baseball closer is not a position with much job security. It’s a competition that continues year-round, as every manager tries to keep the hottest pitcher on the mound for the ninth.

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