Archive for July 31st, 2011

Sunday: 07.31.2011

Trolling the Wire: Week 18 Monday-Friday

With the trade deadline week as well as end of quarter at my day job, I was hyper-busy and didn’t get a chance to put out any weekend spot starters.  I didn’t want to rush some poor picks and end up burning people.  If the picks are going to be poor, then I want them to be thoroughly researched so I can at least stand behind them confidently.

Let’s take a look at how the last two weeks have gone for the spot starter picks:

There was a nice stretch there last weekend to close out week 16, but the damage was done as Dempster, Holland and Vazquez gave up a combined 18 runs in 13 innings.  The only silver lining to my worst week of the season from an ERA & WHIP standpoint is that the picks struck out 7.9 batters per game, the highest mark since week 11 when the picks had the same rate.  It’s better than nothing, but that’s perfume on a turd, the week still stunk.

Week 17, with just seven picks, ended up pretty strong everywhere but strikeouts so it was sort of a mirror image of week 16.  The week could have been quite exceptional had Collmenter not imploded to cap off the shortened week.  For the season, I am still quite happy with the results of 3.65 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 and 2.5 K/BB rates.

Let’s take a look at week 18…

(remember, these are ranked in order of preference on each day so if you only have one spot then pick the first guy listed if you want who I am most confident in.)


Cory Luebke (SD v. LAD) – Back-to-back losses aren’t dissuading from this bandwagon, especially at home.  Strikeouts remain elite (30 K in 30 IP during July) and he doesn’t walk anyone either (6.0 K/BB in July).

Bud Norris (HOU v. CIN) – After being snapped up from most waiver wires earlier in the season, he is now appearing in free agent pools despite his 8.9 K/9 and 3.39 ERA.  What is the problem exactly?  Buy.

Paul Maholm (PIT v. CHC) – He is a low strikeout guy for the year (5.9 K/9), but had two 8 K outings in July.  Rates have been strong and Cubs are hardly imposing.

Blake Beavan (SEA v. OAK) – Pass if you are in dire need of strikeouts and/or have an innings cap (4.1 K/9).


John Danks (CHW v. NYY) – Been excellent in 2 starts since DL return; even more brilliant since a 4 IP/9 ER outing to close out May: 0.98 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 8.5 K/9 & 5.0 K/BB in 37 IP.  Always dangerous to go against NYY, but this is more about picking up and holding Danks the rest of the way (E-53%, Y!-51%, C-81%) than it is this one start.

Rich Harden (OAK @ SEA) – Only rough outing has come in Texas (unsurprisingly) and he’s allowed 3, 2, 2 & 2 in rest of his starts.  Outside of last year with Texas, he’s been great when healthy and this year is no different (9.2 K/9, 3.0 K/BB).

WEDNESDAY: (random note – Doug Fister & Charlie Furbush both start on Wednesday for their new teams)

Edwin Jackson (STL @ MIL) – Looked sharp in his first outing with the Cardinals and there is no reason to bet on that continuing.  He is another guy I like as a permanent pickup even if this start in Milwaukee doesn’t go exactly like his 7 IP/1 ER outing against the Cubbies.

Tim Stauffer (SD v. LAD) – If you’ve been following Trolling for amount of time this year, you know how much I like Stauffer.  I have no reason why he isn’t heavily owned in ESPN & Yahoo! leagues, he’s available in 21% of CBS leagues.

Gavin Floyd (CHW v. NYY) – He is perennially better in the second half and he is tracking that way again with an 0.81 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 5.3 K/BB in 22 IP spanning 3 GS since the break.  Like Danks, it’s tough to go against the Yanks, but this is more about the rest of the way.



James McDonald (PIT v. CHC) – Getting knocked around at Philly isn’t a major crime, but just the second time he’d given up more than 3 ER since April 27th.

Brett Cecil (TOR @ TB) – Welcome back to the big leagues, Mr. Cecil.  Under the radar he went off in July posting a 2.19 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 37 IP along with 6.6 K/9 and 3.0 K/BB rates.  That includes two outings against the Rangers (one in Texas) and another in Boston.  Oddly enough his worst outing of the month was a 7 IP/5 ER start against the Seattle Mariners.



Derek Holland (TEX v. CLE) – Holland has appeared in Trolling three times, but unfortunately none of league-leading four shutouts (tied w/Cliff Lee) have been picked.  It has been feast or famine in July with three of those shutouts and six scoreless innings in another outing during the month while in his other two starts he went a combined six innings allowing 12 earned runs.  His opponent for his first shutout of the year?  Cleveland.

Jeff Niemann (TB v. OAK) – Has been excellent since his return from injury back in late June: 1.88 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 and 3.4 K/BB in 43 innings across seven starts.  That includes outings against the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals and Brewers so a start against the Athletics is a no-brainer.

Rick Porcello (DET@ KC) – Bounced back from a dismal June (6.97 ERA, 1.81 WHIP) to have a really strong July (3.06 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) including very healthy 6.7 K/9 and 4.8 K/BB rates.

More trade analysis pieces coming out throughout Monday & Tuesday, too.

Sunday: 07.31.2011

Fantasy Impact of AL Players Moving to NL

I’m going to take a look at the guys moved all around during the deadline, but only from the fantasy angle.  So it is less about judging the team’s front office on the returns whether short or long term, but rather about how these players can have fantasy impact for you in the next two months and beyond (for prospects).  You’ll see what I mean right away with this first guy…

Edwin Jackson, SP (CHW to TOR to StL) – Jackson is pretty easily the best player who switched from the AL to the NL and for teams in dire need of starting pitching, he will be the perfect jumpstart to their rotation and comes for “free”.  Free in that he simply costs FAAB and your worst pitcher as opposed to going out and trading for a starter which can be costly.  Judging Jackson by his 3.92 ERA at the time of trade is foolish at best and horribly misguided at worst.  Anyone paying attention sees how well he’s been pitching since a rough April (5.86 in 35 IP) having posted a 2.99 ERA in 93 innings including his first start with the Cards.

His second-level numbers are even better with a 3.21 FIP, 3.49 xFIP and 3.69 SIERA.  The WHIP is a bit hefty for the year at 1.41, but again that is inflated by April’s 1.71 mark.  His 1.31 WHIP in the subsequent three months still isn’t great, but it is quite a bit more palpable.  Keep in mind also that WHIP is especially tough to move this late into the season for better or worse.  Over the final two months, Jackson at a 1.31 WHIP might move a team up 0.01 in WHIP and that depends entirely on how the rest of the team’s staff pitches around him.  So don’t overrate that aspect of his game.

Jackson’s 7.1 K/9 rate ranks 27th among qualified starters in the National League and could stand to tick up facing non-DH lineups the rest of the way.  Combine that with his already favorable rates and a better home park and all of a sudden you have an “all-in” type of player when it comes to FAAB if pitching is your biggest need down the stretch. 

Corey Patterson, OF (TOR to StL) – It is Jon Jay who will benefit most from the trade of Colby Rasmus, but Patterson becomes the backup at all three outfield positions so he will get some at-bats on the Cardinals.  A .251/.284/.375 line in 347 plate appearances this year should tell you all you need to know about Patterson and his fantasy prospects.  He does have six home runs with 13 stolen bases so he has a tick of power-speed potential, but at what cost to your batting average?  If you have a dead spot at UTIL or your OF5 and you want to start getting some ABs that could result in something then Patterson warrants a few bucks of FAAB.  Otherwise, pass, because he isn’t an impact player even if he were somehow guaranteed regular playing time.

Derrek Lee, 1B (BAL to PIT) – My thoughts on Lee to Pittsburgh can be found here in greater detail, but from a fantasy perspective his value is similar to what it was in the AL with the Orioles which is to say minimal at best.  He is the 30th rated first baseman according to ESPN’s Player Rater.  In fairness, he has been 14th over the last month so if he stays warmish (.250/.294/.510 w/6 HR, 19 RBI) then he could be a low-level corner infield/utility option.  Then again, I say warmish because most of that 14 ranking is RBI driven which has little to do with actual skill.  He hasn’t been much of a power source in a friendly home like Camden Yards, so don’t expect a sudden uptick in PNC Park.

Marc Rzepczynski (pronounced Zep-chin-skee), RP (TOR to StL) – Dynasty NL-only leaguers might want to file The Chin away for a buck or two looking forward to the future because this 25-year old could move back to the rotation eventually.  He started 23 of his 25 appearances in 2009-2010 before shifting to the bullpen full-time this year.  After two years of a 51% groundball rate in the rotation, he has upped that mark to an eye-popping 65% in 41 relief innings.

All the while his 8+ strikeout rate has maintained (8.1 K/9 the last two years, 8.8 in 2009) suggesting some legitimate promise going forward.  His major hurdle will be figuring out righties more consistently as his strikeout to walk ratio against them is 1.7 while he posts a much healthier 3.2 mark against lefties.  Similarly his OPS allowed goes up 200 points from .578 to .778 when facing righties.

Brad Ziegler, RP (OAK to ARI) – If Jackson’s WHIP in 60+ innings the rest of the way isn’t really going to hurt you then Ziegler’s (1.35 this year and last, 1.50 in 2009) in far fewer innings (maybe 20 or so) will barely register.  Ziegler is a solid real-life reliever, but he doesn’t strikeout enough batters (career best 6.9 K/9 this year, career total of 6.0) to even have much NL-only value as your ninth pitcher on the staff.

Octavio Dotel, RP (TOR to STL) – Dotel does have the strikeouts that Ziegler doesn’t (9.2 K/9 this year, 10.9 career), but his ERA is always around the mid-3.00s and you can definitely find a high strikeout, low ERA guy who would better fit that middle reliever last spot on your staff.

Orlando Cabrera, SS (CLE to SF) – When bringing in a guy with a  .268 wOBA improves you at a position, there is trouble at that position on your team.  Cabrera, owner of the aforementioned .268 wOBA, is marginally better than Miguel Tejada (.260) and Brandon Crawford (.239), but he has been abysmal defensively at second base so why would the Giants think he could be better at shortstop?  He has zero fantasy value so don’t let the name recognition fool you into a bad move.

The only way I could see justifying so much as a dollar of your FAAB on him is if you have a dead spot at shortstop and your standings are tight in runs scored and driven in and you want to get something out of the roster spot.  And even then, you better not have a tenuous hold on your batting average spot because his .244 isn’t doing you any favors.  Perhaps he gets back to the .263 level he showed in the NL a year ago and hurts less.

There will be several pieces like this including:

  • NL players moving to AL
  • NL players changing teams in NL
  • AL players changing teams in AL
  • AL prospects moving to NL
  • NL prospects moving to AL
  • NL prospects changing orgs in NL
  • AL prospects changing orgs in AL

I think this is easier for fantasy purposes that analyzing every single trade one-by-one.  I’ll have them all out as soon as possible, but it might not be finished until Tuesday.  In the meantime, if you want my opinion on a traded player for your FAAB or waiver pickups that happen sooner, mention something in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter (@sporer) and I’ll get to you there.