Archive for ‘FAAB’

Tuesday: 05.29.2012

Roy Oswalt in 2012

It is being reported that the Texas Rangers have won the Roy Oswalt Sweepstakes, a not-too-shocking result on the heels of the Neftali Feliz injury, the ineffectiveness of Scott Feldman in his stead and the reticence of the Rangers to put Alexi Ogando back into the rotation in light of how excellent he has been as a bullpen asset.

The Rangers were always a frontrunner for Oswalt and while the Feliz injury may have expedited the process to get him signed, the Roy Halladay injury and subsequent DL’ing may have been the final push to get something done officially.  I don’t necessarily believe the Phillies would’ve made a big push for Oswalt, though.  Their staff can withstand a two month absence of Halladay as it is their abysmal hitting that leaves them tied for last in the division, four games behind the Washington Nationals.

What should the Rangers expect in an abbreviated season from the 34-year old righty making his foray into the American League?

They are getting a pitcher coming off of his worst season in a lot of respects: ERA, WHIP, fastball velocity, strikeout rate and innings pitched.  His xFIP of 3.95 was just 0.02 better than his career-worst mark set in 2007.  From 2002-2008, Oswalt was one of the most reliable starters in the game averaging 32 starts and 211 innings per season with 2003 standing as the only season that saw him throw fewer than 209 innings or make fewer than 32 starts (127 IP in 21 starts losing time to a recurring groin injury).

The 2009 season was the first time that back issues cropped up costing him some time and snapping his streak of five straight 200+ inning seasons (181 in 30 starts).  He bounced back with a vengeance in 2010 splitting time between Houston and Philly and posting his best ERA (2.76) and strikeout rate (8.2 K/9) since his rookie season (2.73 ERA & 9.1 K/9 in 142 IP).

Then last year he was limited to just 139 innings as the lower back issues returned and put him on the disabled list two separate times.  It clearly hampered his production as pointed earlier with the diminished velocity and suppressed production compared to his career marks.  He was still above average, but definitely vintage Oswalt.

A 34-year old Oswalt returning from back issues and trying his hand in the American League for the first time isn’t likely to be vintage Oswalt, either.  Having pitched in Houston for so many years, he was guaranteed interleague time against the Rangers so he has a sizeable in that ballpark.  The obvious caveat is that he had to face the Texas lineup which has seemingly always been good even when they were a third or fourth place team in their division.

A snapshot of his stats in Texas, against the AL as a whole, for his career and in the last three years shows the disparity in production in that ballpark.

Oswalt has always been a groundball pitcher with career 1.5 GB/FB and 47% groundball rates, however there has been a shift in recent years as his flyball rate has crept up a bit.  He still has a discernible groundball lean, but more flyballs than ever, too.  After ranging above 32% with his flyball rate just once from 2002-2008, Oswalt has been at 36% each of the last three years.  Meanwhile his groundball rate, which used to sit high-40s/low-50s, has been between 43-46% the last three years.

It is hard to even foster a guess what kind of peripherals we will see from Oswalt given the wide range of his recent track record and the great unknown of his back issues. Last year’s 6.0 K/9, if a new level for aged Oswalt, will likely erode some transitioning to the AL leaving him only marginally better than Feldman.  His 2.1 BB/9 from last year is significantly better than anything Feldman has ever posted, though, and the limiting of free passes has long been a calling card of Oswalt’s.

It will come down the command of his stuff.  With last year’s walk rate as good as ever, but the strikeout and hits allowed rates at their nadir, Oswalt was clearly displaying plenty of control but not much command as he pounded the zone with too many hittable pitches.  This isn’t Andy Pettitte/Roger Clemens hired gun stuff, rather it is a pitcher who likely knew he couldn’t make it through an entire season so he sat out the first two months in order to save some bullets.

Keep that in mind as your rush to place your FAAB bid or pick up Oswalt off of your waiver wire.  His name alone will draw attention and likely has him scooped off of any fastest-finger waiver wires, but I would be cautious in my expectations, especially in weekly transaction leagues.

Is he really more than a spot starter at best in 10 and 12 team mixed leagues?  How much of his struggles in Texas were the lineup and how much were the ballpark?  Getting starts in Oakland and Seattle helps mitigate the Texas starts, but I think we need to see something from him before trusting him fully.  I realize that will take you out of the running for him in most leagues as the FAAB bids will come long before he suits up, but that might not be such a bad thing if you can’t get him at a price commensurate with a 34-year old coming off of an injury-addled 2011.

In a 12 team mixed league where I could’ve scooped him on the open wire, I passed as I didn’t feel he was any better than my current staff that includes Dan Haren, James Shields, Matt Garza, Jordan Zimmermann, Jake Peavy, Max Scherzer, Derek Holland, Erik Bedard and some closers.  With names like Ervin Santana, Daniel Hudson, Tim Hudson and Brandon McCarthy on the wire, Oswalt doesn’t stand out as a “must have”.  If he doesn’t regain his velocity and thus his strikeout rate, can he really be expected to be anything other than Paul Maholm/Mike Leake circa 2011?  A solid performer likely to have some gems, but not a season saver for your fantasy team.

Tuesday: 08.2.2011

Fantasy Impact of NL Players Moving to AL

Fantasy Impact of NL to AL Guys

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).

Ubaldo Jimenez (COL to CLE) – There is a lot of talk about much Jimenez has struggled this year which is expected because comparing his 2.88 ERA and 1.15 WHIP from 2010 to his 4.46 and 1.37 marks this year tells us he has been significantly worse.  But has he really?  The one significant cause for concern is the drop in fastball velocity from 96 MPH to 93 MPH.  Velocity drops are often an indicator of trouble, but beyond that there isn’t a great deal of difference in Jimenez’s profile.

He has a 2.3 K/BB rate for the third straight with virtually identical components to last year’s: 8.69 K/9 & 3.74 BB/9 in 2010; 8.63 K/9 & 3.73 BB/9 in 2011.  I don’t usually go two places after the decimal point, but I wanted to show just how close it has been.  His xFIP and SIERA are remarkable steady over the last three years with xFIPs of 3.59, 3.60, and 3.56 this year while his SIERAs are 3.77, 3.68 and 3.56 this year.

I realize most leagues don’t use xFIP or SIERA but the point is that he is pitching better than his ERA suggests.  The big differences are a career-high .312 BABIP (.280 and .271 the last two years) and severe struggles with men on base leading to a career-worst LOB% of 67% (74% and 77% the last two years; league-average is around 72%).

Another concern for many is his moving from the NL to AL as it is a league generally tougher on pitchers due in large part to replacing the pitcher batting with a designated hitter.  I would theorize that the change in park factors from Coors Field to Jacobs Field (shut up, Flo from the insurance company) would mitigate the league difference.  Coors Field significantly plays up 1B, 2B, 3B and HR while Jacobs Field plays essentially neutral or pitcher-heavy to all eight (each category for righties and lefties) except left-hander home runs (107 park factor, which is still an improvement from Coors’ 113).

This is the prize of the trade deadline for AL-only leaguers and if you need an arm then you need to take your chances on Jimenez.  He leaves a massively under-performing and disappointing team in Colorado for a pennant race in Cleveland which can only help.  At the very least, I think it would be a neutral factor.  His K/9 when slotted into the AL leaderboard is 6th-best so he is even better in 5×5 leagues.  The velocity drop may in fact be problematic, but his profile says there isn’t a reason for grave concern.  He could be a game-changer down the stretch for any team capable of real traction in strikeouts, ERA and WHIP.  Wins are always a crapshoot, but there is no denying that the Indians have been sticking around for four months and this kind of big time trade could spark the whole team.  Or not.  Don’t chase wins.

Colby Rasmus (StL to TOR) – The Blue Jays earned raved reviews for plucking Rasmus from the Cardinals for what amounts to a pile of parts since Edwin Jackson wasn’t really a Jay except in passing.  I do think it was a nice pickup for the long term especially in light of what they gave up, but for the rest of 2011 it might not make that much of a fantasy impact.  Since the potential is there, I understand putting a significant portion of FAAB on him and even encourage it, but you have to be prepared for it to not work out.

The simple fact is he is regressing by the month.  After an .867 OPS in April, he has fallen to .777 then .684 and then most recently .544 in August.  A player of his caliber is unlikely to show up on the wire throughout the remainder of the season so take a chance on the upside if an offensive spark is what you’re missing.  Last year he ended the season on a very high note with a .318/.403/.514 line and four home runs, 12 RBIs, 19 runs scored and two stolen bases in 107 at-bats in September.  Let’s hope this fresh start rejuvenates him and gets back to the Rasmus we saw in 2010 and the first month of 2011.

Mike Adams (SD to TEX) – His move in home ballpark is just about the opposite of Jimenez’s, but as a short reliever there is less chance that it will greatly impact his rock solid skills profile.  He strikes out more than a batter per inning (9.2 K/9), doesn’t walk anybody (1.7 BB/9) and induces a decent amount of groundballs (46%) so I wouldn’t be surprised if he continued to excel despite the move to a hitter’s park in the more hitter-friendly league.

As a reliever, it’s not like he was facing pitchers in the 7th and 8th innings anyway.  He is worth a few bucks as the last man on your pitching staff and might be worth even a few extra bucks if you’re in dire need of saves and don’t mind speculating.  Rangers manager Ron Washington has publicly soured on Neftali Feliz a bit and while that might just be his way of motivating him, he might also be looking for a reason to make a change (even though it’s his fault Feliz is there in the first place when he should be in the rotation).

Kosuke Fukudome (CHC to CLE) – Those in OBP leagues take note, Fukudome has gotten on base at a 36% or better clip all four years in the majors and 37% or better in each of the last three years.  That’s really ALL he does, though.  He has three home runs and two stolen bases on the season.  I understand that leadoff is hardly a run-producing spot in the lineup, but despite more than 300 plate appearances there, Fukudome has 12 RBIs.  The next worst is Austin Jackson with 24.  Of course a lot of that goes on the Cubs and their anemic offense, but he has never had more than 60 RBIs in a season.  He should be looked at as a 4th or 5th outfielder at best.

Brandon Allen (ARI to OAK) – This feels like a pretty typical Oakland pickup, doesn’t it?  Allen has thwarted AAA quite handily alas he is headed back there for now, but many suspect the A’s will give him a legitimate shot to see if they finally have a first basemen who is fantasy relevant (sorry, Daric Barton).  Allen has only gotten 65 games spread out across the last three years and while his line is a meager .213/.325/.404, he does have eight home runs and 27 RBIs, numbers that pace out to 27 and 91 in 600 at-bats.  A dollar reserve player in leagues where reserves are applicable, otherwise keep an eye out for his return to the majors which should happen at some point this year.

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.