Archive for ‘All BbP Originals’

Wednesday: 10.20.2010

Carl Crawford a Tiger?

Look who rises from the grave like a Phoenix after over 3 months of no posts. I’m not going to delve into why I fell off the map. The important thing is that I am back and I didn’t just use a fake catchy headline to get your attention. There is at least something to this. How much I don’t really know though we will know pretty quickly into the Hot Stove season following the World Series.

The notion of Tampa Bay Rays free agent leftfielder Carl Crawford coming to the Tigers came from Buster Olney during his appearance on the Bill Simmons’ podcast, the BS Report (10/11 episode). The two were discussing Crawford who is likely to be the most coveted hitter this offseason and of course Simmons was curious about Boston’s prospects for signing him. Olney mentioned that they would go hard for him and then mentioned three teams who would also be gunning for him: Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and our very own Detroit Tigers. He didn’t expound on the prospect of any of the other team besides Boston so there isn’t a ton to go off of and thus not a ton to get overly excited about at this juncture.

With so much money coming off of the books (Magglio Ordonez, Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Johnny Damon, Brandon Inge and Adam Everett), the Tigers should be able to get in on the best free agents, financially speaking. This isn’t a shmuck team they are trying to attract free agents too, either. Crawford is the type of game-changing signing that makes an entire offseason. He’d be a perfect fit for the Tigers given what ailed them during this 81-81 season of 2010.

He’s a defensive superstar out in leftfield and the combination of he and Austin Jackson would not only be a marked improvement, but it would also offer some stability out there coming out of a season that saw seven different guys log time in leftfield and six patrol rightfield. There were four guys who logged serious time at each corner outfield while the five remaining players played just a few games.

If Crawford were brought in, that would leave rightfield to Brennan Boesch for the most part (even if Magglio is re-signed, I don’t think it would be to be a full-time RF’er). He was a negative value fielder and though the hardcore sabermetricians suggest not putting too much stock into one year of defensive data, I’m not surprised Boesch came out with a negative rating. There were too many times he just made the wrong play. That said, I would be fine with him out there because a) I think you could reasonably expect improvements from a 26-year old and b) despite the second half collapse, I still want his bat in the bottom four of the lineup.

According to FanGraphs.com UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) for 2010, Jackson was the 4th-best centerfielder in the American League and 6th-best overall, while Crawford was the 2nd-best leftfielder in all of baseball behind only Brett Gardner of the Yankees. In fact, Crawford’s UZR was the 3rd-best in all of baseball, regardless of position (Gardner, Jay Bruce).

Crawford would already be a major addition before you even get into his contributions at the plate, which are vast & many. I consider Crawford a 5-tool player, though some overlook him because they don’t realize that he actually does contribute a decent bit of power. This past season he popped a career-high 19 home runs and he has been in double digits in 6 of his 8 full seasons and in the mid-to-upper teens for 4 of those. Everyone knows about his dynamic speed as he has topped 50 five times, four of which led the league. This year he didn’t reach the mark (47), but no one is complaining.

He would be a perfect #2 hitter behind Jackson who would actually do what we all expect Damon to do this year and much, much more (ed. note: no one was banking on Damon to steal or hit triples like Crawford does, not at 36, but I expected twice as many home runs as the eight he logged and a batting average better than .271). He could also hit 3rd if needed, though that would likely sap some of stolen base prowess with Cabrera hitting behind him. But let’s not put the cart before the horse too much more here and just settle on the fact that Crawford would be a MASSIVE addition, one that would make the offseason a complete success almost regardless of whatever other moves were made.

Luring him won’t be easy, but I certainly hope the Tigers are in on the bidding as Olney suggested.

Thursday: 07.8.2010

Going for Broke – Catchers & Corners

I know I said podcasts were returning this week, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s really difficult to sit at the desk for 2+ hours to record and edit the show. I need to prop my broken ankle up all the time and it’s impossible to do so comfortably at my desk. What I can do is write in the meantime, so here is part one of a series.

Did you draft Joe Mauer this year? How about Grady Sizemore or Jason Bay? Jacoby Ellsbury? Javier Vazquez? Jake Peavy? Josh Beckett? You get the point. If you drafted one or more these guys (or a host of others not included) then your season isn’t panning out how you planned. Whether injury, lack of performance or both, these guys were all top 100 picks who aren’t putting up what you expected when constructing your team.

You may have offset your duds with a handful of the diamonds in the rough that have emerged in the first half of the season, but these things seem to snowball so it is more likely that you are wallowing in the middle to bottom of your standings with two or three of these guys wondering what in the world you should do with the rest of your summer. You could give up, ignore your team and become “that owner” or you could suck it up and try your hardest to get back in it. If you have been playing this game for length of time, you have heard stories about how a team was in last place at the All-Star break, but they surged all the way back to win it.

They may have had some crafty trades or their weak links started performing, but one thing is certain: they took some chances. They went out and got some guys whether via trade or waiver wire and just said, “Hey, what’s the worst that can happen? I’m already in last! This guy will either perform up to his talent or continue to flounder, but I’m in last so it can’t hurt!” You need to invest in some gambles who have a reasonable chance to pay off big time if you’re going to surge up through the standings.

Going out and trying to acquire the Evan Longorias and Josh Johnsons of the world will cost far too much and the gain, if there is any, will be minimal. You will end up damaging yourself too much in one category or another to get what those superstars bring. With that in mind, I have put together a team of lottery ticket guys you should be targeting for this strategy. Some are next-to-nothing cost lottery tickets, while others have a cost, but it is definitely not that of a Ryan Braun or Roy Halladay. The idea is these guys will be among the hottest in the second half and start leading teams through the standings.

Catcher – Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks

Last year after the All-Star break Montero hit .316/.366/.534 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs in 234 at-bats showing you just how hot he can get for a period of time. And it wasn’t one especially hot month that propelled him, either. His OPS totals by month were: 1.007 in July, .910 in August and .824 in September. In his tiny 81 at-bat sample so far this year, he has been excellent, but he is still returning from knee surgery and Chris Snyder has still been taking at-bats.

You should look to use the injury concern as leverage to drive the price down a little bit. He won’t be free by any stretch, especially since he was a highly touted sleeper coming into the season, but he is definitely worth targeting. Only four catchers have hit 11 home runs so far and only two of those have driven in 40 runs so if Montero can repeat or at least approach his second half numbers from 2009, then he will definitely be among the elite backstops in baseball.

First Base – Adam LaRoche, Arizona Diamondbacks

A perennial second half star, LaRoche has this odd knack for really turning it up as the thermometer jumps. In the last three years, he has a .246/.330/.440 line with 36 home runs in 925 at-bats before the break and a .309/.371/.537 line with 35 home runs in 685 at-bats after the break. Only one fewer home run in 240 fewer at-bats. He also goes from batting average anchor to batting average booster after the Midsummer Classic.

If he stays in Arizona, he could reasonably drop 20 home runs from here on out as Chase Field has been known for being a home run haven, especially for lefties like LaRoche. The honorable mention here would be Prince Fielder if your league’s Prince owner foolishly discounts him because of a ho-hum .265 batting average. It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened. The point of this group of players is again to minimize cost while returning as much upside as possible. Generally, Fielder should still be at full price, but some people are dumb.

Third Base – Alex Gordon, 1B/3B/OF, Kansas City Royals

I seriously just put Kansas City Chiefs by accident. Whoops. I’m not even a football diehard, I prefer baseball by leaps and bounds over the NFL. I would be much higher on Gordon if he played for a competent franchise. Don’t cry about money disparity, Royals fans. You (and the Pirates and Astros, etc…) suck because of awful management. Many teams are able to overcome the financial disadvantage, but there is no defense against stupid.

Excuse the rant, it stems from the fact that Gordon is inexplicably stuck in AAA where he is annihilating pitchers with a .314/.439/.563 line including 12 home runs and even seven stolen bases in 229 at-bats. What is he proving down there? Why was he even sent down in the first place? Oh yeah, because he hit .194 in a whopping 31 at-bats. Joba Chamberlain thinks the Royals mishandled Gordon, that is how badly they have messed this up.

Anyway, he should be up soon and I think he is worth taking a chance on to see if he finally delivers #2 overall pick production. Depending on your league, he might not cost you anything more than a waiver claim. Those are probably the shallower 10 and 12 team mixed leagues in which case you probably don’t even need to consider him until he is actually called up. For those of you in those leagues, your gamble pick is Chone Figgins.

Remember in 2007 when Figgins missed the first month and then hit .160 in May? He ended the season at .330 thanks to a .376 average from June 1st on. That is the kind of crazy streak he is capable of going on if he gets himself right. And at the very least, he is on pace for 44 stolen bases.

Corner Infielder – Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays

In need a power surge? Pena is your guy. In need a batting average surge? Ehhh, you might want to look elsewhere. Pena showed what kind of damage he is capable of in short order when he popped seven home runs in a six game stretch in June. He is on pace for “just” 31 home runs this year, but with the kind of streaks he can go on during a given month, he may very well approach 40 home runs as he has in two of the last three years (46 in 2007, 39 last year). A 40-home run season would mean he has 24 in the bank; for the sake of comparison Joey Votto leads all first basemen with 21 right now.

As I mentioned at the outset, he is a batting average anchor in fact he has been in every one of his 10 seasons except 2007 when he hit .282. He’s a career .244 hitter, but I think impact of one guy to a batting average is often overrated. Consider that he had 490 at-bats in 2007 when he hit .282 and 2008 when he hit .247 and the difference between those two was 17 hits. If you think he will get to his career .244 mark over say 260 at-bats in the second half, he would have to hit .292 in which case he would be a batting average boost.

Even if he hits the .227 he hit last year, he would hit .258 the rest of the way which won’t kill you. And .258 just happens to be his second-half average the last three years. He has 58 home runs before and after the breaks the last three years, but the latter 58 came in 643 at-bats while the former 58 were in 808.

Wednesday: 06.30.2010

Baseball by Paul Podcast 6/30/10 – Cancelled

It’s end of quarter and end of year for many partners at work which means nothing to you, but it means I’m really, really, really, really busy so I had to cancel today’s show. I wasn’t able to get everything done this morning so I had hoped to push it out and finish in the late morning, but it didn’t happen.

Back on tomorrow…

Tuesday: 06.29.2010

Baseball by Paul Podcast 6/29/10 Show Notes

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Trolling the Wire Pickup

Jeff Francis, SP, Colorado Rockies –Back in 2007 Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis put together his best season yet going 215 innings and striking out 6.9 batters per nine while walking just 2.6 good for a 2.7 K/BB ratio. He compiled a 17-9 record with a 4.22 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. The WHIP as a little high and the ERA was hardly ace-worthy, but in Colorado it was pretty impressive for a starter to put up back-to-back seasons with an ERA below 4.25.

And he was consistent whether home or away so he wasn’t just padding his stats on the road. But then the injuries set in. His 2008 was an injury-marred disaster that resulted in just 144 innings and saw his ERA rocket to 5.01 and the WHIP follow suit at 1.48. Shoulder surgery took him out for the entire 2009 season leaving him off the radar entirely for 2010.

He didn’t get going until May 16th, but he’s been pretty solid this year in eight starts with a 3.53 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 3.0 K/BB ratio in 51 innings. He is today’s Trolling the Wire pickup. His strikeouts are a bit low at 4.8, but I think he will still wind up with about 6 by season’s end. If he can keep his control at 1.6 walks per nine, then 6 strikeouts will be great. His xFIP is 3.91 so his luck pretty much in line with the stats he has been posting. His home run rate is sitting at 0.4 HR/9 so that will likely move up a bit as he has a career mark just over 1, but his LOB% is a little light too so if he gets closer to his 71% career mark there too, it will help balance out the HR correction.

Francis is owned in 40% of CBS leagues, 12% of Y! leagues and 8% of ESPN leagues, so he is available in the majority of leagues. The strikeout rate likely has owners shying away, but I think he’s worth the pickup.

Articles of the Day

I didn’t feature one on the show, but plenty of good stuff here:

Top 10 Week – General Manager Candidates – by Will Carroll

The 2010 Amateur Draft: Bulk Investments – Marc Hulet

Keith Hernandez Wants to Contract Four Teams, But Hates Replay – Michael McCarthy

Stephen Strasburg is NOT an All-Star – by Joe Lemire

Interleague Records Through 2010, Eat it National League! (italicized part mine) – by Beyond the Boxscore

Jered Weaver Revisited Yet Again – by Dave Cameron

The Branyan Deal – by Jack Moore

Tampa Fans Who Voted in this Poll are Stupid Idiots (my headline) – by Joe Henderson

Who Am I? – by Ray Flowers

Can Brennan Boesch Keep Hitting Like Pujols? – by Jon Williams

Bet of the Day

A tough loss as Strasburg looked Strasburgian for the first 6 innings, but the Braves got to him in the 7th handing him his second loss in a row. But like I said, I’m always taking a guy like him as an underdog. There’s just too much talent not to make that value bet.

Today, I’m going to take Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers against the hapless Houston Astros. Brett Myers is a decent pitcher so it’s not a slamdunk, especially since I’m going with the run line to avoid the lofty moneyline, but I’ll take my chances on the Brewers staying hot at home of late.

Brewers RL -110
Record: 4-6, -$224

Spot Starters

Yesterday I picked Brandon Morrow for today against the Indians and then for tomorrow I selected Tom Gorzelanny back in the rotation against his former team.

Tuesday Brandon Morrow v. Cleveland (Fausto Carmona)
Wednesday Tom Gorzelanny v. Pittsburgh (Jeff Karstens)

Monday: 06.28.2010

Baseball by Paul 6/28/10 Show Notes

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Trolling the Wire Pickup

Pat Burrell, OF, San Francisco Giants

Four days ago, I recommended Russell Branyan as the Trolling the Wire pickup with the primary reason being that power is often in short supply on the waiver wire. You can never have too much because it home runs contribute to four categories: home runs obviously, RBIs, R and batting average. You should want to hoard power every year, but this year it seems especially true as it looks like the Year of the Pitcher and many teams have turned to the running game, too.

There are currently 11 players on pace to top 45 steals this year; only three players accomplished that feat in 2009. And that is just top end speed, there are tons of steals available in smaller bunches from plenty of unexpected sources, many of who are likely on your league’s waiver wire. So power remains the focus. As such, Monday’s trolling the wire pickup is San Francisco Giants outfielder, Pat Burrell.

Burrell is back in the National League where he averaged nearly 30 home runs for eight seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies including 33 just 2 years ago. After laboring for a season plus with the Tampa Bay Rays, Burrell has been reborn in 18 games with the Giants posting a .315/.387/.593 line with 4 HR, 10 RBI and 8 R. He matched his hit total of 17 with the Rays in 30 fewer at-bats.

Burrell should hit mid-teens home runs with 50+ RBIs the rest of the way with a legitimate shot at 20 if he stays healthy and manages not to embarrass himself too much out in leftfield. It’s a rare league that has Burrell owned with a 14% ownership rate in CBS leagues, just 3% in Y! leagues and a whopping 1% in ESPN leagues.

If you’re power deficient or even if you’re doing OK, but can gain points in HR, RBI and R, then see if Burrell can be slid into your lineup.

Articles of the Day
Today we have a double-feature centered around the Tampa Bay Rays. Jonah Keri and Jason Collette put together a pair of excellent pieces on the struggling team highlighting what has gone wrong and what can be done to fix the ills. Keri put together the 10 Things the Rays Should Do to Compete for the World Series including ditching Hank Blalock and looking into a trade for David DeJesus. While Collette outlines 30 reasons the Rays have gone 12-19 including Matt Garza’s cold streak, who I discussed last week as well as the toothpick-like bats the team is wielding with a .397 SLG during the slump. A pair of great people writing a pair of great articles that are worth reading whether you’re a Rays fan or not.

Featured Pieces
30 for 30: Why the Rays Have Slumped – by Jason Collette
10 Things the Rays Should do to Compete for the World Series – Jonah Keri

Others:
Backstop Depth: NYY v. TOR – by Marc Hulet
Who You Face Matters – by Pat Andriola
We Shouldn’t Be Surprised to See the ChiSox in the Race – by Tim Marchman
A Quick (and Effective?!) Way to Evaluate a Team – by Faketeams.com
Is Johan Santana Droppable?? – by Ray Guilfoyle
More on the Strasburg as an All-Star Debate – by Howard Bryant & Jerry Crasnick

Bet of the Day

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a bet of the day, so just to bring you back up to speed: I’m 4-5 with a -$119 balance. My Monday pick was kind of an easy one for me. Of course, I’m about to pick a team that was just swept by the Baltimore Orioles, but I’ll take Stephen Strasburg as an underdog without even blinking. Strasburg and his Washington Nationals are +105 in Atlanta against Tim Hudson and the Braves. I respect both Hudson and the Braves, but Strasburg as an underdog is very appealing.

Nationals +105
Record: 4-5, -$119

Spot Starter for Tuesday

Reviewing my weekend spot starters shows some carnage as I doubled up with the Seattle Mariners neither of whom were Cliff Lee or Felix Hernandez. I went with Doug Fister and Jason Vargas and the results were severely underwhelming. The two combined to go nine innings allowing seven runs on 12 hits and two walks, but they only struck out three. Neither squeaked out a win, either.

On Tuesday there are a lot of aces and #2s going so there isn’t much to choose from. I will go with Brandon Morrow at Cleveland. As a Trolling the Wire choice the other day, he is available in a lot of leagues and he has a light hitting opponent to pick on so he’s worth getting in your lineup if you need a start.

TuesdayBrandon Morrow (CBS-76%, Y!-27%, ESPN-18%)

Friday: 06.25.2010

Baseball by Paul 6/25/10 Show Notes

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Trolling the Wire Pickup

Gio Gonzalez, SP, Oakland A’s

*Ownership Rates: CBS – 67%, Y! – 27%, ESPN – 19%
*CB value – 8.8 (3rd-best in baseball behind Wainwright & Carpenter) according to Fangraphs.com
*FB value is solid at 36th in baseball – Similar to Dallas Braden, Colby Lewis and Cole Hamels
*CH value still negative but improved significantly from 2009: -6.2 to -3.3

Brandon Morrow, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

*Ownership Rates: CBS – 64%, Y! – 19%, ESPN – 13%
*92 strikeouts, but 42 walks too
*1.85 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in last 39 IP
*Only 2-1 in that stretch
*K rate down to 7.6 from season 9.9 during stretch
*BB rate down to 3.2 from season 4.9, too

Articles of the Day

How to Catch Up in WHIP
Five Numbers: Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Max Scherzer and more…
Don’t Give Up on James Shields
By the Numbers: Getting Control of the Situation
Matt Wieters’ Disappointing Season
Preventing Runs as Important as Scoring Runs

Spot Starters

Ugh, stupid Scott Feldman sucks. He went six, but gave up 5 runs on 12 hits. He struck out 7 and walked just one, but he was very hittable.

FridayAaron Harang
SaturdayDoug Fister (E-20%, Y-34%, C-47%) first start off of DL v. Milwaukee
Sunday Jason Vargas (E-28%, Y-35%, C-63%)
Monday – Most of the starters haven’t been named for Monday so unfortunately, I can’t go that far.

Thursday: 06.24.2010

Baseball by Paul for Thursday Cancelled; Truncated Show Notes

So, as I mentioned last night, I merely planned on the show being delayed until this afternoon while I went and picked up my iPhone 4. I knew there would be a crazy long line and it would be an investment of hours, but I didn’t know it would be a full workday worth of hours. Yes, I stood in line for eight hours for a new toy. It was an experience. I met some cool people, sweated off about 12 pounds and did in fact get the product without incident.

However, given that the time it took was quite a bit longer than I anticipated, I’m cancelling today’s show. It’s almost time for the night games and there is no real point especially since I’m about to start on Friday’s show already. That said, I will still post a some articles and a Friday spot starter for your viewing pleasure.

Articles of the Day

Billy Beane Has Bob Geren’s Back
Best Decisions of the Last Year
Would You Rather Have Jason Heyward or Andrew McCutchen?
Strikeout Efficiency
Another Brian Bannister Article… He Likes Stats!
Latos’ Maturity Shows Great Benefits on the Mound

Spot Starters

Gah, another shellacking. Thanks for nothing, Brian Matusz. That’s what I get for banking on young, erratic pitching. Let’s hope the Rangers can stay hot for me today. For Friday, I’m going to take a shot on Aaron Harang. He’s got a 3.1 K/BB and he is facing the lowly Cleveland Indians. He’s toting a 5.17 ERA, but his FIP is 4.26 and xFIP is 4.08 so he has been very unlucky thus far. With the skills he has displayed, his ERA should be much better than 5.00+. Perhaps he can start the turnaround against the Indians.

Today’s pick: Scott Feldman v. Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Karstens)
Friday’s pick: Aaron Harang v. Cleveland Indians (Aaron Laffey)

Wednesday: 06.23.2010

Baseball by Paul 6/23/10 Show Notes

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Trolling the Wire Pickup

Russell Branyan, 1B, Cleveland Indians – With pitching seemingly popping up out of nowhere throughout the year every season and speed such a niche category that can be heavily impacted with one big trade, the one scarcity on the wire usually ends up being power production. That leads me to today’s Trolling the Wire pickup and it’s Russell Branyan. He of the 174 420 career home runs after cranking his 10th of the season on Tuesday night. I incorrectly said 420 on the show, but that is his RBI total. Apologies for that and thanks to commenter Nick for the clarification.

Most impressive about his double-digit home runs is that he missed the first 21 games of the season and it still took him just 48 games to get there. After hitting 24 home runs in 378 at-bats, Branyan went six seasons with 241 or fewer at-bats. Injuries played a role, but it really seemed that teams were hung up on his poor batting average and focused more on that than his incredible 30-home run power.

Last year Seattle was committed to giving him 500 plate appearances come hell or high water. He played just 116 games, but broke the 500-mark by five plate appearances and delivered as expected with 31 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .251 average. Though he proved the Mariners brass right with their investment, he wasn’t brought back and thus he landed in Cleveland.

He is actually 3 at-bats off of last year’s AB/HR rate of 14, but he is still on pace for 29 in 458 at-bats. Like I said, power is usually tough to come by and yet fantasy owners continue to ignore him. He is owned in just 22% of CBS leagues, 6% of Y! leagues and a paltry 3% of ESPN leagues. Of course that is mainly because ESPN’s standard league is a 4-team mixed league.

But seriously, you’re not going to find any guys on the wire with 20 homer capability from here on out. His batting average isn’t going to help you on any level, but any team can take on ONE of these guys. If you’ve got three or four big time batting average slugs, that is when you start to get in big trouble. If you need power, Branyan should be on your radar.

Articles of the Day

Chris Heisey: Sleeper – Jason Grey (sub. req.)
Prospectus Q&A: Dan Haren – David Laurila
How to Catch Up in ERA in Fantasy Baseball – by Eriq Gardner
Bleacher Report Interview w/Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com – by Cliff Eastham (yes, something from Bleacher Report that doesn’t suck!)
2010 Futures Game Rosters – MLB.com
By the Numbers: Rangers Making Their Pitch – by Al Melchior
Baseball’s Best GM – Tom Van Riper
Morgan Ensberg’s Blog – Morgan Ensberg
Jay Bruce Showing Improvement Against Lefties – Joe Pawlikowski
More Nonsense on Time of Game – by Dave Cameron

Bet of the Day

Yikes! I think I might have jinxed Justin Verlander. And since he plays for my favorite team, I might have to avoid putting the Tigers in the Bet of the Day for a while. Actually it was rookie Jay Sborz who totally crapped the bed and let that game get out of hand. Either way, it’s a loss for me. At least Tim Lincecum held up his end of the bargain dominating the Astros giving me a 1-1 record for the day, but I still lost $35 pushing me back into the red at -$19.

By the way, to give you some context on why I chose Verlander at -135 and Lincecum at -140, let’s look at a few games for today. Stephen Strasburg faces the lowly Kansas City Royals and he is at -265. Now, it helps that he is facing Brian Bannister instead of Roy Oswalt like Lincecum did, but Lincecum is better than Strasburg and the Giants are better than the Nationals so I’m jumping on that price every single time.

Furthering the point, Ubaldo Jimenez is at -190 against John Lackey and the Red Sox. That leads me to my pick for today. I’m going to go against Jimenez and take the Red Sox +160. Now I respect how great Jimenez has been this year, but getting one of the top 5 teams in baseball at +160 with a pitcher as accomplished on the mound as Lackey is something you have to do every single day and twice on Sundays.

There are certain teams worth taking any time they are dogs just because they are good enough to beat anyone on any given night and the Boston Red Sox are most certainly one of those clubs. Right now, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are probably the only other two. The Philadelphia Phillies were there early in the year, but their stagnant offense has taken them out of that mix. So there’s my pick, I’m going against the grain taking the Boston Red Sox +160 against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Colorado Rockies.

Red Sox +160
Record: 4-4, -$19

Spot Starters

I have to pick on Pittsburgh again after having success with Tommy Hunter against the Buccos on Tuesday. Scott Feldman closes out the series against Jeff Karstens on Thursday and I think he can stay hot. He is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 16 Ks in 18.2 innings in his last three starts. The Rangers on a big time roll so I might as well stay with the hot hand… or arm as it was.

Today’s pick: Brian Matusz v. Florida Marlins (Ricky Nolasco)
Thursday’s pick: Scott Feldman v. Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Karstens)

Tuesday: 06.22.2010

Baseball by Paul 6/22/10 Show Notes

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Trolling the Wire Pickup

Luke Gregerson, RP, San Diego Padres – Are you a Jake Peavy owner? How about Wandy Rodriguez or Javier Vazquez? Or maybe even Gavin Floyd or Edwin Jackson? You get the point. The common thread with those five is that they all have ERAs over 5.00 despite the fact that they were drafted as #1 and 2 starters on many teams or at least no worse than #3. They have been colossal disappointments and even a turnaround by them won’t completely negate the damage they have inflicted upon your ERA and WHIP.

That’s where today’s Trolling the Wire pickup comes in. Luke Gregerson of San Diego is an elite middle reliever who broke out in his rookie year last year with 75 sparkling innings during which he posted a 3.24 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and struck out 93. Add that to a line like Ricky Nolasco’s from 2009 who you might have stuck with all year because of the high strikeouts and because he was excellent following his demotion. Combining those two you’ve now got 260 innings of 4.53 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 288 strikeouts. That alone won’t win you any leagues, but Gregerson just shaved half of a run off of Nolasco’s 5.06 ERA.

Let’s say you have been laboring through Edwin Jackson’s 5.05 ERA this season, but had Gregerson alongside for the ride. Instead of 98 innings of 5.05 ERA, you would have 134 innings of 4.10 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 122 strikeouts. Now you can’t go out and retroactively get Gregerson’s first 36 innings, but what you can do is roster him now and stop the bleeding being done by the failing starting pitcher you paid a handsome price. And Gregerson isn’t the only one out there, but in keeper leagues he sets up as a nice heir apparent to Heath Bell who should make it through the season since the Padres are in contention, but may not be back for 2011 with his contract up in October.

Other middle relievers to look at include: Hong-Chih Kuo, Jason Motte, Mike Adams and Evan Meek.

Articles of the day

Lady Gaga Really Needs to Go the F Away
The All-2014 Fantasy Team
Reviewing the 2008 Trade Deadline
Josh Hamilton’s Resurgent Hitting
Not a Rookie: Ian Stewart
Should the Diamondbacks Start Over?
Monday 10 Pack (sub. req.)

Bets of the day

Of course I would call yesterday’s bet of the day a safe pick only to watch AJ Burnett and the Yankees get thrashed 10-4 costing me a cool 120. I’m back to even at 3-3 with the winnings down to a whopping 16 bucks. I’m going big today as I see a pair of plays that I really like so I want to relay both to you.

First, I’m going with Tim Lincecum in Houston against Roy Oswalt and the Astros. Yes, the Giants have to face a big starter as well, but as I outlined in yesterday’s show, their lineup is really starting to look quite a bit better. Plus Lincecum appears to be completely back on track from his control woes suffered at the end of May when he walked five in four straight starts. In June he has a 23-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 21 innings. One of the premier aces in the game going against one of the worst teams in baseball at -140 is a nice play, even when facing another strong pitcher.

And for the other play, I’m sticking with ace theme and taking Justin Verlander against the Mets at -135 in Citi Field. Though his ERA is a bit higher on the road, Verlander’s skills are dead even regardless of venue and he has absolutely embarrassed the National League in 15 interleague starts. He has an 11-1 record with a 2.92 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 9.4 strikeouts per nine. Meanwhile the Tigers offense faces lefty Jonathon Niese but southpaws aren’t usually an issue for the Tigers. The team is 12-7 vs. lefty starters and the team has posted a .792 OPS against them, 7th-best in baseball.

So two bets of the day today with Tim Lincecum and the Giants -140 at the Astros and Roy Oswalt. And Justin Verlander and the Tigers -135 at the Mets and Jonathon Niese.

Giants -140
Tigers -135
Record 3-3, $16

Spot Starters

I didn’t have one for Monday because I don’t do weekend shows. I think I will start picking a Monday one on Friday’s show.

Tuesday pick: (from Monday show) Tommy Hunter v. Pittsburgh Pirates
Wednesday pick: Brian Matusz v. Florida Marlins

Tuesday: 06.22.2010

Baseball by Paul 6/21/10 Show Notes

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Trolling the Wire Pickup

Austin Kearns, OF, Cleveland Indians – He is available in the 12 and 13 team mixed leagues I’m in despite a strong .288/.371/.462 line with 7 HR, 32 RBI and 4 SB. He is an everyday outfielder with several double digit HR seasons on his record including 24 in 2006. With most leagues rostering five outfielders and at least one DH, I’m surprised that an everyday starter with a decent amount of power and a good batting average is still available on the wire.

If you thought the Rockies were going to struggle to replace Tulowitzki, imagine what fantasy owners will have to suffer through. Erick Aybar is available in my 12-team mixer, which is a bit surprising since he is hitting .382 this month including two 4-hit games. He has raised his average from .238 to .272 in that span and he hasn’t been caught stealing for a full calendar month. He is only owned in 68% of ESPN league, 54% of CBS leagues and 42% of Y! leagues. Some other names I would look at if I were a Tulow owner would include Ian Desmond, Omar Infante and Reid Brignac.

Bet of the day

The Mets came through for me on Friday with a 4-0 shutout of the Yankees and I cashed in at +170. That ran my record to 3-2 and elevated my winnings out of the red to $136 dollars. There are just three games to choose from on Monday and very little jumps out at me. As such, I will go safe and take the Yankees in Arizona -1.5 at -120. AJ Burnett faces Rodrigo Lopez with a 9:10 central start time.

Yankees RL -120
Record 3-2, $136

Spot Starters

Weekend Review: Rick Porcello and Jake Arrieta were bombed, the former was also optioned to AAA.

Tuesday Pick: Tommy Hunter v. Pittsburgh