Posts tagged ‘Carl Crawford’

Monday: 07.4.2011

Hail Mary Team, Part 3

Yikes, let’s get the rest of this Hail Mary Team out so you can go trade for the guys.  The first parts have unleashed a Midas touch on some of these guys and may have taken them out of contention for a discount.  Mark Reynolds and Hanley Ramirez both had multi-home run games after being mentioned (not implying causation… merely a coincidence) and Reynolds actually hit three over the weekend.

One of the outfielders I had slated for the team has also gone off as Nelson Cruz blasted home runs on Friday and Sunday.  His Friday performance also included six RBIs.  Perhaps his team manager will focus less on that mini-hot streak and more on the .245 batting average and sub-.300 on-base percentage and not charge you the full price for his services.

Catchers, First Basemen & Second Basemen

Shortstops & Third Basemen

Let’s see what else the outfield offers the Hail Mary Team.

OUTFIELD:

Cruz (TEX) – He is on pace for 38 home runs now so he isn’t exactly tanking his manager’s team, nor was he before his recent little outburst, but the 95 RBI pace and aforementioned weak batting average & on-base percentage totals might allow you to squeeze him out in a trade for less than full value.  As I have mentioned in earlier parts of this series, with guys like this it isn’t necessarily that I think you can get them dirt cheap rather you can trade your prime asset for him AND someone else which results in a net gain for your team.  So please don’t see Cruz or Martin Prado included on these lists and think that I value them the same as Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla. 

Carl Crawford (BOS) – He was just getting going when he hit the disabled list.  I cannot imagine how frustrating that must be for him after signing the massive contract and joining the Red Sox this offseason.  He went on the DL on June 17th, the previous month he was hitting .298 with five home runs and 21 RBIs.  The speed was still noticeably absent (just 2 SBs in that hot stretch), but the four category production made it easier to forget the lack of speed.

There is almost always at least some type of discount when trading for guys on the DL so strike as soon as possible with Crawford.  When he was hitting like trash in April and May, no one was selling low on him because he was still playing daily and everyone believed he would come out of it (and he was starting to), but when a guy is no longer putting up daily numbers (even if they are below expectations) prices tend to drop.

Jayson Werth (WAS) – Many people believed that Washington would regret the seven year deal to Werth at some point, no one thought that point would be year 1.  The fact that they have been poking around .500 despite their $100-million-dollar-man carrying a .709 OPS is quite impressive.  In the last three years when he emerged as a big time player that allowed him to get such a contract, he was always good throughout the year essentially putting up balanced halves.  In other words, he doesn’t wear down so hopefully the Nats start to see some dividends returned on that hefty contract with a big second half out of Werth.

He is on pace for his third 20 HR-20 SB season in his last four (27 HR, but only 13 SB last year) so he hasn’t been a complete shlub despite what the batting average might tell you.  A complete reversal in groundball-flyball distribution and a 10% rise of infield flyballs have been the culprits in his .223 average & .265 BABIP.  Add in that he has hit .155 with just 6 RBIs in the last month and there is no way a fantasy manager can realistically ask for anything near full price halfway through the season.  At least not with a straight face.

Jason Heyward (ATL) – Skip this one in keeper leagues, he could be hitting .051 and I don’t think a keeper league manager would bail on him.  He gets a small pass for some time missed, but a .228 batting average and just 20 RBIs & 30 runs scored in the 62 games he has played has to be leaving his managers wanting more.  His scant track record isn’t enough to blindly believe he will have a big second half, perhaps it is simply a sophomore slump for the 21 year old, but if you can get a talent like him at a significant discount, it is worth taking a shot on especially in what is an otherwise lost season for your ballclub.

Corey Hart (MIL) – Hart can catch fire and stay hot for a while as he has posted halves of 21 and 15 home runs within the last three years.  The big reason he has been kind of “blah” so far this year is that his groundball-flyball profiles have flipped much like Werth’s.  He is a career 41% flyball hitter down at 35% this year meanwhile he’s a career 40% groundball hitter who was at 38% last year, but has rocketed up to 47% this year.  If he can get that figured out, he can have a huge second half with a mid-teens home run total if not something pushing 20.

Alex Rios (CWS) – He was quite overrated coming into this year when consider that his 2010 season was essentially a blistering hot May and five mediocre months during which he topped .760 OPS just once (April) and slid from month-over-month from that .760 “perch” in June down to .645 by September after the hot May.  Essentially to buy in on Rios is to bet that one of his summer months will match or at least approach his eight home run, 1.106 OPS May from last year.  Of course the way he is going this year, he would kill for a .700-something OPS month as his high for 2011 is .685 in June.

Magglio Ordonez (DET) – He finally looks healthy again after the nasty ankle injury last July and what that means is a .300+ batting average with plenty of runs driven in.  He won’t be a huge power source, but at 37 you aren’t expecting him to at this point.  I have been really impressed watching him the last few days and I feel confident that he is ready to contribute to the middle of that strong Detroit lineup.  He should be on the waiver wire of more than a few leagues and I would consider rostering him and getting in now before he is mid-hot streak.

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Monday: 06.6.2011

Sunday Twidbits: June 5th

Here are this week’s MLB Sunday Twidbits which is something I’ll be doing every Sunday throughout the baseball season.  It’s a simple exercise whereby I tour the league giving a statistical tidbit per team on Twitter feed (@sporer).  Sometimes a team or two will get more than one if I have more than one nugget I really want to share, but every team will be represented at least once.

Det – Austin Jackson was sub-.200 on 5/6, hitting .284/.346/.432 w/2 HR, 9 RBI, 14 R, 9BB, 6 SB since. DET 15-9 during stretch; 15-18 before.

CWS – Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn & Alex Rios are a combined .205/.291/.324 w/14 HR & 55 RBI in 581 AB

CWS2 – 5 players have more HR than the trio & 4 are within 10 of their RBI total; it’s a near-miracle CWS is just 4 under .500

Tex – Mitch Moreland is hitting .308/.381/.506 w/8 HR, but just 19 RBI. Prob bc of 1.056 OPS w/no one on against .691 w/men on & .687 w/RISP

Cle – Cleveland is 12-15 in last month & just 4-9 since big sweep of Cincy. Sets at NYY-DET-SF-ARI-CIN & home v. NYY in next month will show a lot

LAD – Matt Kemp is on fire since 5/23: .341/.413/.829 w/6 HR, 16 RBI, 10 R, 2 SB; has played in 263 straight games… MLB’s longest. Rest easy, Cal.

Cin – Johnny Cueto is a lone bright spot in CIN rotation, but K sliding yearly down to 5.2 this yr. BABIP & LOB% fueled 2.27 ERA will rise. Sell.

Tor – Yunel Escobar is sitting comfortably atop TOR lineup & is on pace for career year: .293/.373/.451, 7 HR-24 RBI paces for 19 HR-66 RBI.

Bal – Kevin Gregg‘s weak skills (1:1 K/BB) could open the door for Koji Uehara. He hates being healthy, but 11.7 K/9 & 6.4 K/BB are great. Speculate.

Oak – Brett Anderson‘s ERA is 4.00 thru Sunday start, but 6.6 K/9, 2.4 K/BB & 60% GB rate make his a must-buy profile. Discount possible.

Bos – Overall numbers don’t show it, but Carl Crawford is red-hot the last month: .306 AVG, 4 HR, 12 XBH, 22 RBI, 20 R, 3 SB. Hard to erase ugly starts.

Bos2 – Tell a friend Adrian Gonzalez has 12 HRs & ask him to guess how many came in April. Answer is 1. See why 1st mo. is no reason to freak out?

Mil – It’s never been talent w/Rickie Weeks, only health & he’s en route to 2nd str8 huge, healthy yr: .288/.358/.500, 30 HR, 71 RBI, 19 SB, 113 R

Mil2 – Weeks played w/fire in terms of his health last yr leading baseball w/25 HBP. On pace to cut that nearly in half w/13.

Flo – Marlins are being propped up by a bullpen that features 1 arm w/an ERA over 3.86. Easing pain of Johnson out & awful back end of rotation.

Phi – Chase Utley is hitting a paltry .227/.333/.318, but 3 SBs suggest he’s healthy meaning the rest will come. I’d buy where available.

Pit – Some prospects are late-bloomers: Neil Walker was 4-time top 81 ‘spect ’05-08, debuted in ’10, now on pace for 22-109. Can’t give up.

CHC – Do not stare directly into Tyler Colvin‘s 20 HRs from ’10, it’ll distract you from .147/.220/.250 line since Sept 1. of last year.

StL – Here comes Albert Pujols: .322/.395/.504 w/5 HR, 18 RBI, 16 R & 3 SB since Cinco de Mayo. Ole!

Min – With inj.ravaging MLB, you could do worse than Alexi Casilla: .329/.406/.353 w/13 R, 5 SB & 7 RBI since May 1st. Elig. at both MI positions

KC – Until Sat. Aaron Crow hadn’t even pitched much less SV’d a gm this wk. KC has either won big (1), late (1) or lost (4) since he got CL role.

NYY – Brett Gardner is really struggling in areas he excelled in last yr: pace of 51 BB in 159 G, 79 in 150 in ’10; 28/20 SB/CS (47/9 in ’10)

LAA – Bobby Abreu has .393/.493/.547 line since May 18th, up 40 pts to .292. On pace for 27 SB, but other #s struggling. Perhaps a selling point.

Col – Troy Tulowitzki hitting .289/.362/.404, 0 HR, but jello is shaking w/noise in the distance. Brace yourself, could be a hot streak coming.

Col2 – Daily leaguers: platoon Chris Iannetta home & away for maximization of value: H-.310/.432/.676, 6 HR, 19 RBI; R-.149/.329/.209, 2 HR, 4 RBI

SF – Ryan Vogelsong stays hot w/big 2 start week: 13 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 10 K, 3 BB. Season ERA down to 1.68, 7 K/9, 3 K/BB. Hard not to buy in.

Col-SF – 10 R scored in Col-SF series; all SP went 6+ IP; all SF SP went 7+. Bullpens combined for 11 IP w/1 ER (Lindstrom today, game-winner).

Was – Jason Marquis is a fantasy baseball amusement ride, though the drops can induce vomit: ERA in 1st five-2.62, next five-6.21, last two-1.54.

Ari – Kelly Johnson was hitting .190 on 5/24. Since: .326/.436/.739 w/6 HR, 10 RBI, 15 R & 2 SB. Up to .224, on pace for 30 HR/22 SB.

TB – On Apr. 23, Sam Fuld was hitting .365/.407/.541 w/13 R, 10 SB (3 CS); since .157/.215/.240 w/8 R, 4 SB (3 CS). #bonifacioed

Sea – Brandon League since 4 gm meltdown-fest: 9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 7 SV; tied for AL lead w/16 SV. Good luck getting that job Aardsma.

Hou – Welcome to the bigs, Jordan Lyles. Even the lowly Padres are tougher than the best AAA team: 4 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 3 K in 2nd career start

SD – Surely 3B is too thin for Chase Headley to be owned at only ~50% at the major outlets? Sure 1 HR sucks, but passable AVG & 20 SB is OK.

Atl – Freddie Freeman‘s .217/.314/.380 Apr may’ve dissuaded some, but patience has been rewarded w/.327/.378/.453 since May 1.  Power remains light, but that was expected.

NYM – Dillon Gee has been a gem for the Mets rotation this yr: 6-0, 3.33 ERA, 1.11, 6.5 K/9, 2.0 K/BB. Numbers support success, espec. in NL-Only

Tuesday: 05.24.2011

Fixing the Contenders – American League

As we near Memorial Day (less than a week away) and turn the calendar to June, we usually see the MLB standings start to stratify a bit with the contenders separating themselves from the rest of the pack.  That may not happen in the 2011 season, at least not for a while.  Right now there are just three teams who are 10+ games out two of which are the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, a pair of teams many still refuse to bury given the uncertainty of the Cleveland Indians and the expectations on those two teams coming into the season.

The other is the Houston Astros who were out of it before the season started.  Only three other teams are more than five games away from .500 (Padres, Dodgers and Cubs) so there could be a dearth of sellers as trading season in the MLB heats up.  Nobody really thought Seattle was going to be much of anything this year, but alas their rotation is running five deep headlined by two aces (Felix Hernandez & Michael Pineda; Erik Bedard, Jason Vargas & Doug Fister round out an impressive rotation) meanwhile Jamey Wright, David Pauley and Aaron Laffey have been nails out of the pen masking the fact that they still have a completely horrible offense.  The pitching has them just one game below .500 and a game and a half out of the division lead.

Similarly, expected bottom-feeders Arizona (23-23), Pittsburgh (22-24), Kansas City (22-24) and Baltimore (21-24) continue to linger.  While the league lacks a truly great team, there are still a group of contenders to be found within the 30, teams that should be focusing their attention on 2011 and doing what they can, whether internally or through trade, to get those October playoff tickets printed as soon as possible.

Today, I will go through the contenders who are ripe for a trade and identify the potential move(s) they could make.  I have seven teams on the list.  There are eight other contenders who I didn’t feel needed to make a significant trade because they are either getting some significant pieces back from injury and/or have the available talent in their minor leagues to fill their holes.  Or, at least in one case, I simply didn’t see a move to be made.  That doesn’t mean that it is a perfect team, just that their path to improvement is either a minor trade or sticking with what they have already.

Cleveland Indians (30-15)

Team Needs: 3B, SP, RP

Let’s start with the league’s best team record-wise.  Wow, that reads weird when in reference to the 2011 Cleveland Indians, but you can’t deny the fact that they have the best record in the baseball after 45 games.  If this team stays as is, I can’t see them holding on for 162.  I just don’t buy in the pitching outside of Justin Masterson, and he isn’t without his flaws (lefties still destroy him).  I think Masterson can be a solid pitcher, but their “best” pitcher to date, Josh Tomlin, will not hold up at all, in my opinion.  The 1.2 HR/9 will soon bite back in a big way and the 4.5 K/9 is just too low for this kind of success.

Jack Hannahan’s hot start (hitting .284 w/.837 OPS on May 3rd) has bought Lonnie Chisenhall some time to try and iron out his issues against southpaws (.208 in 48 AB), but now Hannahan has returned to Hannahandom (.238, .691) and it is time to give Chisenhall a shot.  It actually works out where they wouldn’t have to throw him in the fire right away against lefties as Hannahan is actually crushing them with a .387 average and 1.135 OPS in 31 at-bats.  They could run a straight platoon and improve their lineup.  Currently rated 4th or better in runs, average, on-base and slugging, the Indians lineup is performing beautifully to date, but you can never have too much offense.

To fix their starting pitching, I think they need to focus on someone who can miss some bats. With Alex White and his team-best 7.8 K/9 headed to the disabled list for up to three months with a finger injury, Masterson is the leader with a 6.7 K/9.  That is barely above the AL average of 6.5 among starters, so they should call up the Astros and inquire about a trade for an arm.

TRADE: Prospects Joe Gardner and Zack Putnam to the Houston Astros for Wandy Rodriguez – A pair of upper minors arms who ranked 9th and 17th in the org. list from Baseball America for the 32-year old lefty.  With two years left on his contract plus a 2014 option, Wandy won’t come cheap, but given his age the Astros should be open to trading him as he won’t be a part of their next great team.  Their minor league system is disgustingly low on talent so it’s time to start replenishing in earnest via trade.

They might still need to shore up the bullpen a little bit, too.  But that may be handled internally with the recent call up of Josh Judy, who struck out 20 in 17 innings at AAA prior to his call up.  Elsewhere, Nick Hagadone, their #10 prospect, has recently hit AAA after striking out 24 in 23 innings at AA and he could be there to shore up the relief corps early in the summer.

Moves:

  1. 3B – Promote Chisenhall up to platoon w/Hannahan
  2. SP – Trade Gardner & Putnam for Rodriguez, W
  3. RP – Judy recently called up; Hagadone en route

New York Yankees (25-21)

Team Need: SP

The Yankees are having the exact issue that everyone thought they would back in Spring Training with C.C. Sabathia as their top starter and a giant question mark after that.  Bartolo Colon has been a godsend with a strong ERA (3.77) and WHIP (1.20) and great skills (8.8 K/9, 3.7 K/BB) backing the rates up, but how long will it last for the 37 year old?  A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova have been up and down while Freddy Garcia, filling in for Phil Hughes, has been better (3.12 ERA) than his skills suggest as a 34-year old journeyman.

There is nothing at the AAA level that stands to be any better than what they have and Manny Banuelos in AA has gone more than five innings just once in his eight starts so he isn’t the savior that fans want him to be after seeing him excel in Spring Training.  That leaves the trade markets.  And while delusional fans might think Felix Hernandez is available, he’s not.  But they should venture out for a trade.

TRADE: Prospect Adam Warren to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Hiroki Kuroda – The 36-year old veteran is a free agent after this year so despite how well he has pitched since coming over to the States in 2008, he won’t net the Dodgers an overwhelming return of prospects.  That said, Warren was just outside of the top 10 on org. lists and the Yankees system is a deep one so that’s not chopped liver.  He has struggled with his control at AAA (27 K, 24 BB in 45 IP), but he is still just 23 years old and the Yankees have moved him aggressively (just 54 IP in AA).

The Dodgers system has a crap-ton of pitching and while you can never have too much, they might opt for a bat instead and I could see a toolsy, raw bat like Melky Mesa being dealt for Kuroda.  Mesa has 16 extra-base hits out of just 30 (.204 avg in 147 AB), seven stolen bases but also caught seven times and 16 walks aiding a solid 83-point AVG-OBP split, but also 50 strikeouts (34% K rate).  The 24-year old has been much better lately (.290/.372/.507 in May) after a horrid April (.129/.209/.256) which may elevate his trade stock a bit, though front offices focus more on pure talent & projectability than stats when it comes to prospects.

The Yankees might need more than one starting pitcher so they could also be in for someone like Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Aaron Harang or Francisco Liriano, too.  Again, they have a remarkably deep system so trading for a second level arm like one of the above (can you believe Liriano is now regarded as a second level arm?!) as well as a bigger impact arm would be doable.

Moves:

  1. SP – Trade Warren or Mesa for Kuroda
  2. SP2 – Trade David Adams for Harang

Detroit Tigers (24-23)

Team Need: RP

Relief pitching was supposed to be a strength of the 2011 Tigers after signing super-setup man Joaquin Benoit and pairing him with Jose Valverde at the back end of the bullpen.  The constant stream of power arms drafted and traded for recently was supposed to fill any gaps from starter to Benoit with guys like Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, specifically.   Al Alburquerque has been a pleasant surprise with a 15.3 K/9 in his 15 innings, but walks have been a problem (11) for the rookie.

Chance Ruffin is doing well in his debut season as a pro, but he is just 22 and in AA, so the chances of him as a savior are slim.  Plus, the bullpen is young enough already.  Charlie Furbush was just called up from AAA and thrown right into the fire on Monday night after a Phil Coke injury in the fourth inning left the Tigers scrambling.  He responded admirably with 3.7 shutout innings striking out three and walking one.

He has been huge strikeout guy as a starter in the minors (9.5 K/9 career, over 10 the last two years) and he has a legitimate shot to keep those kind of rates in short stints out of the pen.  But with no reliever toting a sub-3.00 ERA, the Tigers will need more than one arm to cure those bullpen woes.

Thankfully for the Tigers, relief pitching is usually one of the most plentiful items in the trade market year in and year out.  And oftentimes, it is the cheapest commodity to acquire, too.  The Padres seem like a great trade partner as I count five arms that could (and should) be up for trade ranging from ace closer Heath Bell to the reborn Pat Neshek.

TRADE: Bruce Rondon and a throw in C-rated (or lower) prospect to the San Diego Padres for Mike Adams – Rondon is a 20-year old flamethrowing reliever (14.6 K/9), but control is a big time issue right now (8.6 BB/9).  He is allowing next to nothing when it comes to hits (1.6 H/9), though, so he has a 1.62 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.  Adams is 32 years old and a free agent after this year.  Plus he comes with loads of injury risk having never put together back-to-back full seasons.

As such, I’m not sure the Padres could really ask for too much from a prospective trade partner even given how great he is when he does pitch, especially this year with his otherworldly 10.5 K/BB in 22 innings.  His 8.7 K/9 is pretty good, but it’s the disgusting 0.8 BB/9 that is powering his insane season.

Luke Gregerson is five years younger, but also a free agent after the season.  He might draw a little more in return than Adams, but he hasn’t been the Gregerson from 2009 and 2010 so far this year.  His strikeout rate has seen a precipitous drop from 10.2 to 6.0 and he has become a lot more hittable allowing 10.3 H/9 (after 5.4 last year).

I can’t see the Tigers trading for Bell as the cost would be too much and Valverde isn’t going anywhere while Neshek would be too much of an injury risk having pitched just 34 innings since 2008 including his 12 this year.

Moves:

  1. RP1 – Promoted Furbush
  2. RP2 – Trade Rondon + PTBNL for Adams, M

 

Oakland A’s (22-25)

Team Need: Bats… about nine of them.

I covered the A’s a good bit last week specifically tied to them addressing their need of a bat (or several!) so I won’t do an entire re-hash.  Internally, I think Jemile Weeks should be called up soon because he is healthy for once and hitting really well in AAA while Mark Ellis is not.  Ellis had a stretch where he had multi-hit games in three out of six (10-for-24) and it moved his average up to a blistering .208.  That wouldn’t cut in 1968 much less now (OK, it might cut it in ’68… but it really doesn’t in ’11 even with the down hitting).

If they don’t want to try Weeks out just yet, then they should look to Adrian Cardenas, who continues to hit well having raised his batting average yearly since 2007 up to .357 this year while finally adding some pop, too, with a career high slugging percentage of .478.  He has shown a strong eye at the plate throughout his career as well, especially at the high minors with 136 walks to 150 strikeouts in 306 games at AA and AAA.  One of the two prospects deserves a look to jumpstart their anemic offense if they want to realistically contend this year.  I also think a trade is in order as they match up really well with another team in contention.

TRADE: Andrew Bailey to the Cincinnati Reds for Yonder Alonso – I covered this in great detail in this piece about Bailey a week ago.  Assuming he comes up back healthy and as good as we’ve seen him, this is a great fit for both teams involved.  Alonso doesn’t really have a future in Cincinnati being blocked by Joey Votto, Chris Heisey and Jonny Gomes and the Oakland bullpen is stocked.  Alonso can move directly into Daric Barton’s spot at first or into the outfield which would allow Josh Willingham to take Barton’s place.  Either way, Barton’s vomit-inducing .280 SLG has to get out of the everyday lineup.  They just can’t expect to win with that lack of production at a power position.  Hell, you can’t really take it on at any position, but especially first base.

The A’s could make another move closer to the deadline, but it would hinge on Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross coming back from their recent injuries to pitch like they were before getting hurt and recently returned Josh Outman to pick up where he left off in 2009 (which he showed he might do on Monday night with 7 strong innings).  That would give them some rotation depth which they could flip for another bat.

TRADE: McCarthy to the Detroit Tigers for Brennan Boesch – Starting pitching isn’t a primary need for the Tigers, but you really can’t have too much and the back end is tenuous with Phil Coke (who left his last start injured) and Brad Penny, meanwhile their outfield has developed some depth with Casper Wells and Andy Dirks joining the club.  Plus Magglio Ordonez will be back at some point which would give them six outfielders plus Don Kelly for three spots (DH is locked up by Victor Martinez most days).  This one would really be contingent on McCarthy’s health, of course.

Boesch isn’t tearing the cover off of the ball or anything, but David DeJesus has been awful and Boesch has at least shown the capability for some power in his time as a major leaguer.  McCarthy was a million dollar flier for the A’s and netting a 26-year old outfielder with some potential would probably be much more than they truly expected when they took the gamble on the former top prospect pitcher.

Moves:

  1. Bat1 – Trade Bailey for Alonso
  2. Bat2 – Trade McCarthy for Boesch

That covers the American League contenders.   I left out the Rays, Red Sox, Rangers and Angels, all of whom are contenders in my eyes, but don’t have an obvious trade scenario for a high-impact move.  The Rays, Red Sox and Rangers have pretty deep systems to attack needs or can be expected to play better once their current set of 25 begins to meet expectations (Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford; Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz returning from injury).

Meanwhile the Angels don’t have a glaring flaw they can attack via the market.  There aren’t any major first basemen available that would be a huge upgrade over Mark Trumbo.  If Vernon Wells performs anything like expected upon his return from the DL, he will help their power woes and they could shore up their pen via trade, but Scott Downs, Rich Thompson and Jordan Walden give them a solid trio and they can probably manufacture one more reliable arm without having to make a move.

Next up, the National League contenders.

Wednesday: 05.18.2011

We’re Going Streaking!

Carlos Pena is in the midst of one of his famous Pena Power Pushes with five home runs in his last 12 games.  He has a .368/.490/.789 line during the stretch with 9 R, 11 RBI and 10 BB.  I’m sure many of his fantasy league owners didn’t get all of or any of this stretch as they were frustrated by the .157/.286/.171 line prior to the run.

Of course if you know anything about Pena then you know you have to sit through these kind of slumps so if you draft him then the onus is on you to practice extreme levels of patience.  Since emerging as a prolific and consistent power hitter in 2007, he has been possibly the streakiest home run hitter in the game.

  • He had 10 streaks of 10+ games without a home run from 2007-2010:
    • 10 – 3 times
    • 11 – 2 times
    • 12 – 2 times
    • 13 – 1 time
    • 18 – 1 time
    • 19 – 1 time
  • He had 12 streaks of 5+ home runs where he hit at least one every other game:
    • 5 in 6 games
    • 5 in 10 games
    • 5 in 11 games
    • 6 in 5 games
    • 6 in 8 games
    • 6 in 10 games
    • 6 in 10 games (followed by an 18-game cold streak, his longest of ’08)
    • 6 in 11 games
    • 7 in 6 games
    • 7 in 13 games (followed by an 11-game cold streak, his longest of ’09)
    • 7 in 13 games (preceded by a 13-game cold streak, his longest of ’07)
    • 9 in 11 games

The 21-game homer-less streak he started this season with is his longest since his rise to prominence, but it was also injury-related as he was dealing with a thumb injury so that only compounded things for a guy who is naturally inconsistent.  Morale of the story: if you are willing to take the risk of drafting him, set it and forget it.  Secondary morale: NEVER draft him in a H2H week.  He will kill you three weeks at a time before finally winning one by himself.

Carl Crawford is hitting .290 in 62 May at-bats notching a hit in 13 of his 15 games.  There hasn’t really been much else yet (2 SB, 4 RBI, 7 R), but considering the fact that he hit .155 for entire month of April his owners will take any glimmer of hope that their first round (or second round at latest) pick is ready to perform like one.

Drew Stubbs has reached base in his last 10 games posting a very strong .349/.440/.535 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 SB, 7 BB and 9 R in 43 at-bats.  He was a target sleeper for many, namely Matthew Berry of ESPN and Cory Schwartz of MLB.com, being tabbed as potentially this year’s Carlos Gonzalez.  So far he has lived up to the billing pacing for a season of .279 batting average with 27 home runs, 77 RBIs, 123 runs scored and 54 stolen bases which would no doubt make him one of the best fantasy players in all of baseball.  He is currently rated 5th on ESPN’s Player Rater and checks in 8th overall in Yahoo!’s ranking.

Before hitting the disabled list with an injury, Victor Martinez had a .250/.292/.417 line and hadn’t hit a home run in 12 games as the Tigers were an underwhelming 8-9.  He has torched the place since coming back from injury hitting .415/.489/.683 with 7 XBH (including 2 HR), 14 RBI, 9 R and 6 BB in 41 at-bats.  His surge places him 3rd among catchers on ESPN’s Player Rater behind teammate Alex Avila.

Martin Prado has reached base in 20 straight games dating back to April 26th including hits in 19 of them.  He was hitting .240 before the run, but going .360/.394/.551 w/4 HR, 17 RBI, 13 R, 5 BB, 3 CS in 89 AB has brought him to .296/.338/.450 which is just a tick below his career marks while his 117 OPS+ is right in line with his career 116 given the down hitting environment of 2011.

Perhaps Alberto Callaspo is the oasis you are looking for in the third base wasteland.  It was pretty weak before the season started and a rash of injuries might have taken it past shortstop as the worst fantasy position on the diamond.  He is available in a lot of leagues, too: CBS: 60%, ESPN: 49%, Y!: 32%.  In his last 12 games he is hitting .391/.404/.522 w/11 RBI.  Only 2 R and 0 HR & 0 SB, but again, it’s awful at third base so beggars can’t be choosy.  He is hitting .309 on the season and on pace for 75 RBI.

Adrian Gonzalez is positively destroying the competition in his last 10 games to the tune of a .386/.429/.932(!) line with 7 HR, 16 RBI and 12 R in 44 at-bats.  He was hitting .250 exactly a month ago; he is hitting .327 now.

Rajai Davis has surged since returning from injury with 10 stolen bases and 10 runs scored in 15 games.

Mike Trout is living up to the prospect hype following his 2010 breakout, especially in his last 10 games: .357/.417/.643 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 2 SB, 5 BB in 42 AB.  Of course, he has been raking all year long hitting .315/.400/.569 with 6 HR, 17 XBH, 17 RBI, 17 BB so he is almost making it difficult on himself to have a stretch that actually stands out.

The Kansas City Royals have already called up two of their best prospects in Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy, who makes his major league debut on Wednesday night.  Could Mike Moustakas be next?  There isn’t quite the natural opening that there was for both Hosmer and Duffy as Mike Aviles is playing well and even if you were to suggest moving him to second base, they still have Wilson Betemit.  That hasn’t stopped Mous from letting his bat make a bid for a call up as he has posted a .394/.474/.909 line in his last nine games with 9 XBH (4 HR), 12 RBI, 10 R, 1 SB, 5 BB and just 3 K (24 in his other 26 games) in 33 at-bats.  Man, perhaps even Dayton Moore can’t mess this up.  What a ridiculous crop of talent.

Dustin Ackley is also making a strong bid to get called up, but unlike with Moustakas in KC, the Mariners can definitely use his bat… and how.  Ackley is white-hot in his last 10 going .463/.540/.707 with 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R, 8 BB, 5 K in 41 AB.  During the streak he has one 0-fer and seven multi-hit games.  His season line is now up to .280/.399(!)/.445.  He has 33 walks against just 25 strikeouts.  Given their anemic offense and his brilliant control of the strike zone, it might be time to speculate on Ackley in leagues where he is available and would be useful (this wouldn’t include 10 team mixed leagues) such as any AL-Only league and deeper mixed leagues with a bench.  I would definitely speculate in any OBP league that fits these size criteria because at the very least he will draw walks as soon as he reaches the bigs.

Next time, I will look at some pitchers in the midst of a hot streaks.

Thursday: 01.20.2011

Three Questions – Los Angeles Angels

With the 2011 Starting Pitcher Guide slated for next month, I have a jam packed volume covering all the ins and outs of starting pitching in the 2011 season for your viewing pleasure.  Of course that doesn’t do much to address the offensive side of things so I decided to start this “Three Questions” where I will cover some key offensive issues for each of the 30 teams.  There will be more content here dealing with offense, but this is the beginning.

Will Howie Kendrick finally be the batting title contender he was thought to be as a prospect?

If there was one thing Kendrick could do in the minor leagues, it was get base hits.  He hit .363 or better in four minor league seasons from 2003-2006 leading many to believe he would be a perennial batting title contender once he hit the major leagues.  It hasn’t quote turned out that way in his first five seasons as a big leaguer.

First off, last year was the first in which he topped 105 games played, but it was also the first one he hit below .285 (.279 in 616 at-bats).  Then there is the fact that his batting average dropped year since a 2nd-season peak of .322 back in 2007.  From there he hit .301 then .291 and then last year’s .279.  So is a .350+ batting average in store for Kendrick?

No, probably not.  Coinciding with his batting average decline is a BABIP decline (not surprisingly), but while pitchers generally tend to cluster around .300 for BABIP, a hitter sets his own over time.  Kendrick’s is declining rapidly (.313 last year, career high of .381 in 2007) as both his groundball and line drive rates erode while his flyball rate ticks up in the last three years.

The case for him (however thin) would be that he is just entering his prime and despite having logged five years of major league time, it’s really just parts of four seasons and one full one.  He has shown the mix of skills needed for a batting title worthy average (high contact rate, high BABIP, significantly more groundballs & line drives than flyballs and decent speed needed to beat out a handful of hits over the course of the season) and 2011 could be the year that all of those skills combine for the breakout we have been waiting on for a while.

I am fine endorsing Kendrick as an asset to buy, just make sure your expectations are in the right of frame of mind.  You can dream of the scenario where he has the unexpected breakthrough season, but don’t pay for more than a double-double (10+ HR/SB) with a batting average floor that won’t ever hurt and a ceiling for much more.

What does Kendry Morales’ late-May broken leg do to his 2011 value?

In a word?  Nothing.  Not for me at least.  He will be nearly nine months removed from perhaps the most embarrassing walkoff grand slam celebration ever when Spring Training fires up next month and all reports indicate he will be 100% ready to go.  As such it is reasonable to expect that he will start 2011 where his breakout 2009 season and excellent start to the 2010 season left off: mashing.  In the 203 games spanning that time, he had a .302/.353/.548 triple slash with 45 home runs, 147 RBIs and 115 runs scored.

Even with the incredible depth at first base, I have Morales just making the cut of the top 10: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard and Morales.  Though if we knew Justin Morneau was going to be 100% and ready to go by Opening Day, he would crack that list and push Morales just outside.  Look for Morales to settle into a cozy .290-80-30-100 prime for the next few years.

Is Brandon Wood… nevermind, who cares?  What does a full season of Peter Bourjos look like?

Bourjos is a bright 24-year old prospect for the Angels who few had penciled into the 2011 lineup when the offseason began back in November.  The Angels were heavy favorites in the Carl Crawford Sweepstakes which would have left them with a Crawford-Torii HunterBobby Abreu outfield.  Abreu would take some days off at DH sliding Hunter to right and getting Bourjos some burn, so it’s not like he was expected to head back to AAA-Salt Lake, but after the spectacular failure that was their offseason, the Angels will now look to him for 500+ at-bats in centerfield.

Known primarily for his blazing speed (and exemplary defense), Bourjos will have fantasy value even if he isn’t ripping the cover off of the ball.  Obviously he will have to hit enough to merit everyday at-bats, and extrapolating a 51-game sample is dangerous so you can’t just look at Bourjos’ six home runs and 10 stolen bases and expect 17/27 over 500 ABs.  However, his minor league record suggests he can be a .270 hitter with 10-12 home runs and 30+ stolen bases.  His .204 batting average from last season was driven mostly by a .228 BABIP so the bulk of the 66-point increase I am projecting is tied to regression improvement of his abnormal BABIP.

Tuesday: 05.12.2009

Running Wild

Teams across the league are stealing bases as a rapid pace (pun completely intended) as compared to last year. On average, teams have swiped 20 bags apiece paced by Tampa Bay’s 53, who are of course paced by Carl Crawford and his 22 steals. Teams are on pace for a 101 average after 93 in 2008.

Meanwhile, Crawford’s stolen base total is better than 20 other teams!!! Crawford really caught everyone’s eye when he abused Jason Varitek to the tune of six stolen bases. This was after rookie Rockie Dexter Fowler burst onto the scene with five against the notoriously slow delivery of Chris Young. And now tonight, Jayson Werth grabbed four off of the Dodgers.

One of the vagaries of the game is that catchers take the full brunt of the blame when players run wild even though the pitcher is at least as culpable if not more so in many instances. That said, any pitcher is only starting every five days so any catcher that finds himself atop the stolen bases allowed list isn’t blameless. So who are the stolen base sieves behind the dish? It’s no surprise that the two guys victimized by Crawford and Fowler are the top two in SBA:

C SBA

But it’s actually another guy who has the worst caught stealing percentage:

C CS%

A.J. Pierzynski is allowing a stolen base per game! Meanwhile, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is ensuring he stays out of a full timeshare with Taylor Teagarden by adding value behind the dish. Of course Teagarden is only hitting .219 right now, so it hasn’t been hard for Salty to set himself apart. Get your basestealers in against Chicago (A), San Diego, Boston and Baltimore. But if you have a stolen base guy on your bench that you rotate in, you might want to choose the other option, whether it’s an AVG or HR-RBI option ahead of the SB guy when playing Texas, Colorado, St. Louis, Los Angeles (N), Washington, Houston and Detroit. And I’m talking more of the marginal basestealers like a Shin-Soo Choo, Kaz Matsui or Ryan Spilborghs, not Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Willy Taveras, etc…