Archive for July, 2008

Thursday: 07.31.2008

Ramirez to the Dodgers; Bay to the Sox

The biggest chips being discussed today finally moved and presented great FAAB players for both the AL and NL as Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay switched leagues in a 3-way deal between Boston, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.

(Posted at 3:58 pm)

How can you not like Ramirez?!?! This was taken at last night’s game:

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Thursday: 07.31.2008

Bay to the Rays

An MLB.com source is reporting that Jason Bay headed to the Tampa Bay Rays for prospects Reid Brignac and Jeff Neimann.

(Posted: 2:14 PM)

The same website posted above is now saying that the Bay deal might not be as done as originally perceived. Neimann or Brignac is believed to have been untouchable in trade talks which would be holding things up. At this point, it’s unknown since there are multiple reports on both sides.

(Posted at 2:51 PM)

Thursday: 07.31.2008

Griffey to the White Sox

Sources have told me that Ken Griffey Jr. is headed to the White Sox. No word yet on what has returned to the Cincinnati Reds.

Today promises to be a fast-n-furious Trade Deadline! (Posted at 7:51 AM)

Edit to add: An MLB.com Blog is confirming the Griffey deal pending his approval. (Posted at 8:21 AM)

Edit to add: It’s now awaiting Selig’s approval and Nick Masset and Danny Richar have been named as the returning pieces for the Reds. (Posted at 2:20 PM)

Thursday: 07.31.2008

All-Star Break Fizzlers…

I’ve been asked in a few comments and about five emails to post some of the players that fizzle out after the break. I should’ve done it about 10 days ago, but it didn’t get done. I will have it up by Friday morning at the latest. There will still be two months to utilize the data in practice and at the very worst, it’ll be worth looking at against those that perform well during the dog days.

Wednesday: 07.30.2008

Player Focus: 7/30/08

I didn’t deliver on my promise to post something last night, but I was again just too beat. Things have been a whirlwind of late, but I wanted to at least get something going tonight.

Cabrera Showing Why He’s One of the Best
Chances are you know someone (or perhaps you yourself are the one) that traded Miguel Cabrera for around 75 cents on the dollar back in the early summer. After all, his numbers were downright pedestrian when compared against the backdrop of his career lines. His torrid July marks the billionth case of the baseball season being a marathon and not a sprint, thus requiring a great deal of patience. First of all, it’s not like he was ever in the midst of a BAD season. He wasn’t putting up the otherworldly numbers that many predicted him for, but he was a still a producer. His night is now over after being pinch-ran for, but he went 3-for-5 with four runs driven in and his eighth July home run.

Lately it seems that if someone is on base, then Cabrera is going to drive him in. He has 31 runs batted in during his past 24 games! He would need to stay pretty hot with the home runs to reach 30 for the season, but there is no reason to believe he can’t do it. He needs 12 in two months, but this month’s eight is twice as many as he has had in any other month. I think there are times where we as fantasy owners get a little nuts with our expectations of superstars. Anything other than improvement on the season before for first or second round picks is unacceptable and it really shouldn’t be that way. If the low-end of Cabrera is a .300-30-100 season, that’s still pretty darn good. With his hot July, he has set himself up to top both the 30 and 100 marks handily.

Shoppach Enjoys Career Night, Year
With a brilliant 5-for-6 effort against the Tigers tonight, Shoppach continued his solid, if unspectacular, career year going. I am not much for drafting/paying for catchers in my leagues unless I see someone great going at a bargain. Instead, I opt for the $1 route and usually look to find either diamonds in the rough that could emerge or guys I know won’t play too much but can do something when they do get an opportunity. Shoppach was a big target of mine in all leagues because I liked his potential to smack 10 home runs while spelling Victor Martinez for an off-day or catching when Martinez plays first base. It turns out I struck it rich (relatively speaking) with the Martinez injury that has led to almost 200 at-bats for Shoppach already with more on the way.

A day before the trade deadline, Shoppach has topped the 10-home run mark I had hoped for so at this point everything else is bonus. He has a terrible batting eye that hasn’t really improved, but he delivers exactly what you want out of a $1 catcher: power, without killing any other categories. Playing time will be a factor when (if?) Martinez returns, but he should end the season in the upper teens for home runs.

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The trade deadline is tomorrow and there has already been a ton of action to this point. I can’t remember the last season with this many season-changing crossovers to spend FAAB on. First it was the pair of aces in C.C. Sabathia and Rich Harden and then the consolation prize of Joe Blanton to the Phillies. Then it was Xavier Nady to the Yankees followed by Casey Blake to the Dodgers. Now Mark Teixeira heads over to Angels while Casey Kotchman comes over for the Braves. The three-way deal being discussed right now would move Manny Ramirez to Florida and Jason Bay to Boston. For some reason, I get the feeling that the Ramirez-Bay 3-way will go down tomorrow. Here’s a look at the pitching and hitting numbers that have been available via FAAB this season so far. These numbers are the totals prior to the trade:

Wow, that is some talent!! Blanton severely skews the pitching data and it is still a solid stat-line. Included Bay and Ramirez wasn’t done to make the hitting numbers look better, they standalone just fine. I just feel like that deal will get done by the end of tomorrow so I went ahead and threw the tremendous lines of those two into the mix. Without them, there was still 1406 at-bats of .297 average along 56 home runs and 247 runs batted in on the move so far this season.

Monday: 07.28.2008

I’m Beat!

I had a great trip to Philadelphia this weekend, but I’m still beat down after three plus hours of delays on my flight back. It was already a late flight so adding the three hours and change made work pretty brutal today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a worthwhile posting!

Thursday: 07.24.2008

The Last 365

Fantasy owners (and baseball fans in general for that matter) make a lot decisions and engage in a host of arguments based on different sized samples of data. The first thing that someone disagreeing with an assertion will generally look at is the sample size. If you tout an unknown commodity after a hot week, you’re likely to get hammered for putting far too much stock into a 7-day period. Sometimes when we’re on the side that wants to be right, we’ll ignore obvious sample size issues in hopes of not being called out.

What is a big enough sample size? Honestly, that depends on what you’re asserting or trying to prove. If you look back at a .417/.489/.590 week of a player you chose over the .231/.300/.378 player for your head-to-head league match, then you can pound your chest a little bit because you clearly made the right decision. But if the latter player is clearly the better player and you let that week make you chose player A again then you start getting yourself into trouble.

Does a month offer enough data to start making judgments on players? Again, it’s going to depend at what you’re hoping to accomplish. At the beginning of the seasons, fantasy team owners across the world are hypersensitive to the highs and lows that their players (and even those not on their team) are going through. Entering May 1st, Emil Brown had 25 RBIs. He has 49 through Wednesday. Josh Willingham was hitting .341, but he has .167 since (missed all of May) to leave him at .260 on the season.

Most are familiar with the awful start of C.C. Sabathia, but it bears mentioning that he was 1-4 with a 7.88 ERA. After a complete game shutout of the Cardinals tonight, he is 10-8 with a 3.30 ERA. How many watched as the owner of Sabathia in their league dealt him for a quarter of his true value because it wasn’t just a bad start or two, but rather a month? Furthermore, how many watch Mark Hendrickson get picked up because of a 4-1 start with a 3.68 ERA for the Marlins? You start looking for reasons, however flimsy, to believe these things to be true. For someone like Hendrickson, it was the previous track record of Florida arms and the home stadium that all of sudden made him worthwhile. Sabathia was out of shape and his workload had caught up to him.

If a player has an established track record (of success or failure), then you shouldn’t begin to take numbers seriously until June 1st rolls around if they are going against that previously established record. Even at that point, you should be cautious of making hasty moves that could end up hurting you in the long run. Remember that on June 1st, there are still FOUR months in a fantasy baseball season. I’m not suggesting you have to stand pat until two months or more into the season, rather that it can be foolish that make moves because of numbers posted in the first 2-2 1/2 months into the season if they are inexplicably against years of unlike data. I grant that there are variables to this line of thinking that can come into play. Injuries, age, team situation (lineup/ballpark/playing time) are primary amongst these factors.

I have spent the last 500+ words telling you which time periods aren’t long enough to make, so what time period of statistics do I find suitable enough to make judgments off of for players who performing against career norms? I think a year’s worth of data is pretty solid. Meaning if a guy has a great 1st half, how is he looking against his peers when it is combined with his previous season’s second half? Believe it or not, a half season of data—no matter how good or bad—can be a fluke especially when it’s complete contrary to a player’s history that spans much more than a half season.

I’m going to post some of the 365-day Leaderboards so we can get a better idea of who has been performing the best over the past “season” worth of games. Plenty of this year’s top performers will be found within these lists, but others not currently atop the league leaders for 2008 will be scattered across these lists as well. This exercise isn’t meant to be a predictive measure so much as it is a better look who has been performing the best for a more sustained period of time than just the nearly four months of the 2008 season.

This set of lists covers the Top 25 across the main roto categories of home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases and runs scored. I took OPS instead of batting average because I (as many do) find it a better measure of a player’s value. I realize average or even on-base percentage are used in fantasy scoring, but went with the OPS anyway.

Again, I’m not looking at these to be predictive of the final two months of the season, instead just another set of data to chew on when judging talent. Most of the names found within the above listings have been getting it done for a full season’s worth of plate appearances and it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to rely on them to get it done for you during the final two months of the season.

I leave for Philadelphia tomorrow and I’ll be gone until Sunday evening. While I hope to have some stuff up during that time period, I’m unsure if I’ll have time for much of anything. When I get back, I’ll most assuredly report on my trip to Citizen’s Bank Ballpark as the Phillies play host to the Atlanta Braves. I think we’re down for at least Saturday’s matchup which features Cole Hamels against Jo-Jo Reyes. We might go to the Kyle Kendrick-Jair Jurrjens showdown on Friday evening as well, but that is TBD at this point.

Wednesday: 07.23.2008

Hurricane Dolly Attacks My Family

After touching down earlier today, Hurricane Dolly has brutalized my other hometown of Harlingen, TX. My parents and brother (17) were pretty well-prepared so they are hunkered down and just watching the rain come down in Biblical proportions. Here are a few shots my brother took with his phone and sent to me that show how their wooden privacy fence went down on both sides of the backyard:

The painfully slow movement of this hurricane is the biggest issue now as it will continue dump inches of rain on an area ill-prepared to handle it.

I’ll be back later tonight with a baseball-related posting.

Monday: 07.21.2008

Need an Arm for the Stretch?

I got an email shortly after posting the Second Half hitter pieces asking if I had plans for anything on pitchers. I compiled the data to do a study on pitchers after the break, but the results were very light. I took the same three year data set of 2005-2007 and looked at the pitchers with 80+ innings and an ERA of 3.50 and below. The results were very underwhelming as only 63 results came back for all three seasons combined.

I could’ve loosened the ERA threshold, but even 80 innings of a 3.50 from a starter isn’t going to move the needle of a fantasy team’s ERA very much at all. I also could’ve lowered the innings threshold to 60+ or 40+, but 60 only brought in few more samples and 40 started to bring in relievers (and again, a 40-inning sample won’t dent an ERA).

There were 14 pitchers that showed up twice (well, John Smoltz qualified all three seasons, but he’s done for 2008 anyway), but these names aren’t going to surprise and Smoltz is one of three that isn’t even available via trade or waiver wire rendering this entire process just about useless. Thankfully it didn’t take terribly long, so I’ll share the results with you all and move on to the next project:

Pitchers w/80+ IP of <3.50 ERA for the 2nd-half twice from 2005-07:
1. Andy Pettitte
2. Brandon Webb
3. CC Sabathia
4. Chris Carpenter
5. Derek Lowe
6. Jake Peavy
7. Jeff Suppan
8. Johan Santana
9. John Lackey
10. John Smoltz
11. Josh Beckett
12. Roger Clemens
13. Scott Kazmir
14. Tim Hudson

Don’t get me wrong, you should probably still target these guys as your hired gun for the duration of the season, but the point of the exercise was to highlight a group of players to target that might turn up some unknown jewels given the narrowed data set. This list would be targeted regardless of the split analyzed.

Sunday: 07.20.2008

Monday Return

I’ll be back Monday with a full article. The weekend was just too hectic and stressful to sit down and get anything worthwhile done.