Posts tagged ‘Jason Hammel’

Saturday: 04.30.2011

Trolling the Wire: Week 4 The Weekend

It’s been an interesting week.  A few of the picks were knocked around while others excelled and perhaps excelled enough to keep the weekly totals strong.  We’ll see after the week.  Some things got bumped around this week including Scott Baker getting pushed to start against Kansas City instead of Tampa Bay which was beneficial since he got to avoid the white-hot Ben ZobristJason Hammel didn’t start yesterday and is instead starting today.  I guess he will count for a Saturday pick.

I’ll give another Saturday pick, but it is academic at this point since games have already started.  I meant to post them yesterday, but I passed out early last night after a week of not getting much sleep.  The last thing I saw for the night was Carlos Santana’s walkoff home run against my Tigers… what an awful way to fall asleep.

Chris Tillman (BAL @ CHW) – The White Sox just aren’t playing up to their ability.  Tillman has had two good and two bad starts so far.  He can feast on lesser teams so I’ll give him a shot against Chicago.

SUNDAY:

Jon Garland (LA v. SD) – Some like him, some don’t, but he performs.  He has been especially reliable in the National League despite an unimpressive strikeout rate almost every year (just once above 4.8 since 2004).  The Padres offense is downright abysmal making him an easy start.  In fact, several lesser starters would be a start against this offense.  It’s just sooo bad.

Bud Norris (HOU v. MIL) – What does this guy need to do to get his ownership rates up?  All he has done is strikeout six or more in each of his five starts and allow just three runs in his last three starts totaling 18 innings.  He has really cut down his walks from 4.5 BB/9 last year down below to 3.0 at 2.9.  He isn’t just picking on trash, either.  His last start came against the St. Louis Cardinals when he allowed 0 ER in six innings.

Look for the week’s results and the week 5 picks on Sunday.

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Tuesday: 03.22.2011

18 of My Favorite Pitchers for 2011, Part 2

Here is the second half of my favorites for this year:

Part 1

10. Kevin Slowey – Without a spot in the rotation his value is going to plummet, but it’s a buying opportunity.  Don’t draft solely for April.  It’s a 6-month grind and skills almost always win out.  Slowey has more talent than Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing, but to start the season both will have rotation spots while Slowey will work out of the bullpen.  Slowey will be an afterthought even in AL-Only leagues and I would be more than willing to slot in him as your 8th or 9th pitcher for a few bucks and wait for him to win a spot that he deserves.  A 4.6 K/BB rate doesn’t lie.  He’s long been one of my favorite pitchers and a poor decision by Minnesota at the beginning of the season isn’t going to change that.

11. Tim Stauffer – The former #4 pick overall took a while (29 y/o in 2011), but it looks like he’s finally paying dividends on that lofty draft status.  He plays in the perfect park for pitchers, showed a major uptick in groundballs last year (up to 55%) and has seen his team add strong middle infielders (Jason Bartlett & Orlando Hudson) to field those grounders adding up to a potential breakout season.  There is a slight premium on anyone in PETCO for obvious reasons, but Stauffer seems to be firmly entrenched off the radar in most standard drafts.  He went for $8 in NL Tout Wars and could easily return twice that when you consider what PETCO did for someone with lesser skills than Stauffer in Jon Garland.

12. Chris Narveson – His near-5.00 ERA from 2010 (4.99 in 168 IP) is sure to scare most away, but he pitched much better than that.  He doesn’t have the groundball tilt I usually like out of my pitchers, but with Milwaukee’s horrendous infield defense, that might not be such a bad thing.  He has nice base skills, the next step is learning to work with runners on so he can strand a few more guys.  Part of that is cutting down the long balls, too.  I think he takes a step forward in 2011 and ends up as one of those $1-3 glue guys instrumental in a team’s success.

13. Bud Norris – Like Narveson, his skills were better than his 4.92 ERA indicates, but many will pass based on that figure and the team name on his jersey.  I’d caution strongly against that as Norris has the kind of stuff that “out-of-nowhere” seasons are made of starting with his 9.3 K/9 rate being overshadowed by unimportant factors.  Are you one of those owners dying for an upside pick?  Norris is your guy.  The lofty strikeout rate is matched with an average groundball rate and a BABIP and LOB% combo worse than league norms that could be in for positive regression.  Even if he doesn’t take that major step forward this year, his sub-$5 price tag is at worst an even investment with all of the strikeouts.

14. Carlos Carrasco – We could have a budding Sporer Trifecta of Excellence (patent pending) profile on our hands.  It was only 45 innings of work last year, so temper the expectations a bit, but he had a 7.7 K/9 with an elite 57% groundball rate and his changeup was the best pitch in his arsenal.  This is a 3-time top 54 prospect (2007: 41, 2008: 54, 2009: 52) according to Baseball America so the pedigree is there, too.  Like Norris, his jersey will have some shying away or ignoring him completely, but his first full season in the majors could be a big one.

15. Derek Holland – It seems like I have been touting Holland for so long that he should be older than 24.  Alas, he doesn’t even have 200 major league innings under his belt yet here I am again espousing the virtues of this man’s abilities.  He started to come together in a 57-inning sample last year, but the loss of Cliff Lee opens an opportunity for him to finally prove it over a full season.  Although the sample was tiny, it was nice to see him greatly improve on 2009’s ugly 1.7 HR/9 down to 0.9 a season ago.  That’s about the limit for him if he is to have that breakthrough season many see as a possibility.  He’s one of those popular sleepers so be careful if his value gets too high in your league.

16. Jason Hammel – Similar to several guys on the list whereby he has above average base skills, but is missing one ingredient that keeps him from legitimate success.  For Hammel, it’s an ability to work with runners on as he his LOB% actually got further from league average 2010 leaving him with an ERA a half run higher despite improved skills.  You could easily be looking at $10+ profit out of Hammel if leaves a few extra men on base and continues or improves his already impressive skill set.

17. Chris Tillman – Remember when Tillman was the 22nd-ranked prospect in all of baseball?  It was alllll the way back in 2009.  He then proceeded to dominate AAA for 97 innings posting a 2.70 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 9.2 K/9 and a 3.8 K/BB.  Later that season he was knocked around in 12 starts in his major league debut resulting in an ugly 5.40 ERA and 1.55 WHIP.  The skills were nothing like his minor league pedigree at 5.4 K/9 and 1.6 K/BB.  It was essentially rinse & repeat for 2010 with 121 strong innings at AAA then 54 ugly ones in the majors.  He turns 23 on Tax Day this year.  Too often the fantasy community gives up on top prospects if they don’t set the world afire right away a la Ryan Braun or Jered Weaver.  This is a post-hype play going for as little as a dollar in some AL-Only leagues who could end up as a tremendous keeper for 2012 and beyond.  Worst case is he is still not ready in 2011 and you cut bait with little invested.

18. Ross Detwiler – This is my biggest spec play of the bunch.  I just think there could be something here with Detwiler.  He has 278 innings of minor league success suggesting he is better than the 106 innings of major league work thus far.  He is the left-handed Tillman with less fanfare and a few years older (OK, I guess there are a enough differences to make that a bad comp).  Point being he showed enough in the minors to be something of a top prospect and though he hasn’t put it all together at the major league level yet, there is reason to believe he still can and will.  Furthering his spec play status is the fact that he’s not going to have a rotation spot on Opening Day, but the four surrounding Jordan Zimmermann are neither bastions of health, nor particularly skilled at pitching so he will get a shot at some point.  If he doesn’t win a bullpen spot, just monitor him.  But if he does make the team out of camp, he could be a high strikeout $1 reliever as he bides his time for a rotation chance.

So there they are, my favorite 18 for 2011.  There is something in here for everyone regardless of what kind of league format you play in.  I guess the only thing missing is minor league prospects, but I posted 50 from each league just a few weeks ago, so you know who I like there.  I know it’s a big draft/auction week for everybody so I’m trying to get as much material out as possible for your last minute prep.  I have a draft tonight, but hopefully I can get another piece up shortly after it finishes.

Wednesday: 02.2.2011

Daily Dose: February 2nd

I woke up this morning to something you don’t often (ever?) see in Austin, TX: rolling blackouts.  It’s Coldpocalypse  2011 here in Central Texas and it sucks.  No, it’s not as bad as the feet of snow being dumped on the Midwest and Northeast, but it’s all about context.  I don’t live in those places for a reason.  I hate cold weather and so 15 degrees with a wind chill of 0 is my own personal winter hell.  Oh for those who don’t know, I grew up in Detroit where obviously I went through plenty of blistering winters.  The fact is I lived there from 0-14 and you just don’t have the same disdain for inclement weather at that age that you do as an adult.

I can’t fathom how anyone would rather be cold than hot.  Give me 100 any day of the week over 40, much less teens.  Sure, sometimes the sweltering heat can be annoying, but it doesn’t instantly put me in a bad mood like freezing cold.  I think heatwaves can cause rolling blackouts, too, but since I have never experienced them in the summer, I will forever associate them with awful cold weather, increasing my utter disdain for winter temperatures.

OK, enough of my frozen tears as I’m sure plenty of you reading this have 9 ThermaCare wraps on your back to alleviate the uncontrollable pain sustained shoveling 23 inches of snow out of your driveway.  Time for the Daily Dose.

One of my favorite articles every winter is the List of 12 by Cory Schwartz (@schwartzstops) from MLB Network’s Fantasy 411 TV show and podcast.  Schwartz developed the list years ago (the original iteration had 12 guys if you can believe that) as a way of identifying potential breakouts in the upcoming fantasy season.  It’s not as simple as being on it makes you a breakout candidate, which is why Schwartz analyzes each of the 15 arms on this year’s list.  There are some very enticing names on the list including Jason Hammel and Shaun Marcum.  I’m worried that Marcum’s offseason trade to Milwaukee may raise his profile a bit when he would otherwise be an overlooked gem.

I swear I’m not a Baseball Prospectus fanboy.  You’re going to have to trust me on that, but I could understand how it might look that way with so many of their links popping up in the first two editions of the Daily Dose.  It was quite fitting on that on National Signing Day, they unveiled a talent-laden recruiting class of their own.  If you’re not already a subscriber, today should be your impetus.

Obviously there is a lot of great free content out there, but your money would be well invested in a BP subscription.  Congrats to entire new group of writers over there, but specifically my good friend Jason Collette (@jasoncollette), who I have known for years and Sky Kalkman (@Sky_Kalkman), who I’ve known virtually for some time as we are both  members of the Rotojunkie message.

One of the debuts was from Jason Parks (@ProfessorParks) who took the devil’s advocate approach to prospects by looking at what could go wrong in 2011.  He looked at five Kansas City Royals prospects first.  The Royals are widely regarded as the best system in baseball right now and Parks looked at the five best in their organization, so he was getting at the best of the best and making sure you don’t get too caught up in the hype and understand that it might not pan out as planned right away.

It’s one thing to be a pretty face.  It’s quite another to be a very pretty girl who also happens to be absolutely hilarious and that’s what ESPN’s Michelle Beadle (@ESPN_Michelle) pulls off regularly.  Most recently it was in this excellent Super Bowl Ad video.  Lots of girls are pretty, Michelle is attractive because she seems to offer much more than her looks.  Oh yeah, she’s also from Texas and her birthday is just a day before mine (Oct. 23rd).

Speaking of pretty girls, AskMen has released their Top 99 Women of 2011 and Mint.com does a great job breaking down the list in a series of interesting ways.   I definitely don’t agree with their #1, Blake Lively.  She’s definitely pretty, but not #1 pretty.  Scarlett Johansson remains my #1 with my #2 matching AskMen’s, Mila Kunis.  I was happy to see that brunettes overwhelmingly dominated the list proving what I’ve known for some time: they are just better than blondes.  I’m glad to see they wedged Emma Stone in there with her strawberry blonde/reddish hair as opposed to her natural blonde look which doesn’t look natural (or good) at all.  I couldn’t help but laugh when they listed someone named Whitney Port as a notably absent “A-Lister”.  I thought A-Listers were people that everyone knew?  I had to Google this no-talent hack to find out exactly why I had no clue who she was: she’s an MTV “reality” person.  Who are your favorites on the list?  Any major snubs in your opinion?

I have long detested “reality” TV if for no other reason than the completely idiotic name.  It couldn’t possibly be less real if it tried yet this name has inexplicably stuck.  I was thrilled to see the czar of this genre, Mark Burnett, agree with my sentiment recently:

Muttered the man seated behind me: “Um, it’s a reality show.”

No it’s not! says Burnett. “I hate the word ‘reality.’ I think it’s just a made-up word by journalists. What the hell has it got to do with reality? Reality is me standing here right now. Let’s face it: None of the shows are reality. They’re not really marooned on the island in Survivor. [laughter] But the feeling’s real. They’re not really applying for a job with Donald Trump. I mean, who would?” [more laughter]

IMDB.com released part one of a four-part documentary on the making of The Social Network.  I love behind the scenes looks into things so I was really interested in this documentary especially because I really enjoyed the movie back in October.  My only real problem is that for some reason Rooney Mara, the girl who played Mark Zuckerberg’s girlfriend in the opening scene, is being getting so much attention for her innocuous scene.

I’m so sick and tired of hearing how great she was in her 9 seconds of screen time.  I was surprised she wasn’t up for Best Actress in the Oscars after hearing everyone talk about it.  I’m sure most of it is just to build hype for her in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but it didn’t make the gushing any less nauseating.  She didn’t steal her scene let alone the movie.  It was standard Sorkin dialogue that she executed well enough, but the hype to performance ratio is off-the-charts.

Podcast Recommendation: First off, I feel like not enough people listen to podcasts.  They are excellent.  They are a much better version of sports radio (mainly because there are no commercials).  Whether you’re new to podcasts are a savvy veteran, you have to subscribe to The Jonah Keri Podcast.  I dare you not to get the theme song stuck in your head after hearing it once, but beyond that it’s just a brilliantly done show.  He gets amazing guests including writers, announcers, bloggers, ballplayers and other podcasters and while most are sports-centric, he isn’t just focused on one sport.  He did a Hall of Fame week back in January where he did five days of shows including ones with Tim Raines and Bert Blyleven.  Keri has put together arguably the best podcast going and yet it’s all of 21 episodes old.

As I noted yesterday, I’m a 2K sports guy.  Of course, since I have an Xbox360, it isn’t 100% by choice, but I’ve been happy with their improving baseball series the last few years.  In the interest of equal time, though, here is the MLB 11: The Show trailer

Knowledge Bomb: Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis is likely to fly a bit under the radar in drafts and auctions this year as he not only failed to meet the high power expectations of him (12 HR in 2010), but he fell off significantly from his 2009 figure of 18.  Mix in weak counting stats (60 RBI, 79 R) thanks to an anemic Orioles offense (613 runs, 27th in MLB) and it was a tough season for the 26-year old.  But don’t forget his primary category where he counted to be a high impact producer: batting average.  Markakis hasn’t hit below .291 in any of his five seasons and delivered 629 at-bats of .297 goodness last year.

If you replace 550-600 ABs of a fantasy team’s batting average with Markakis, it is worth three batting average points.  That may not sound like a lot, but when you’re talking about one guy impacting a 6500 at-bat sample by three points, it is significant.  Replacing Mark Teixeira, who had an atypical batting average year in 2010, with Markakis would have been worth four batting average points.

When you are looking to build your batting average, the high volume of at-bats is just important as the average itself.  In the last three years only Markakis and Ichiro Suzuki have managed a .290 or better average in 595 or more at-bats.  You don’t have to necessarily build for batting average when taking one of these guys, they can be your insurance policy to roster a low-average, high-power type like Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds or Carlos Pena who all come at a bit cheaper because of their unappealing batting averages.

Saturday: 06.12.2010

Baseball by Paul 6/12/10 Show Notes

Here are the show notes from the Saturday, June 12th episode:

Trolling the Wire Pickup

Jason Hammel, SP, Colorado Rockies – He has been EXCELLENT in his last four starts and in five of six since returning from the disabled list. Now might be the last chance to get him as he owned the Toronto Blue Jays tonight going eight shutout innings allowing just three hits and walking three others while striking out six. Taking out his May 21st start at Kansas City, Hammel is 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his 34 innings with 7.6 K/9 and a 3.6 K/BB ratio. Even leaving the start in only takes his ERA to 2.41 and actually lowers his WHIP a tick to 1.07 while the K/BB ratio also moves up slightly to 3.9.

He was solid in 2009, though mostly an NL only play with a 4.33 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 176.2 innings. He had a huge home/road split going 3-3 with a 5.73 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 81.2 innings at Coors Field while putting together a 7-5 record with a 3.13 ERA and 1.19 WHIP on the road.

The oddest thing about the severe split was that his strikeout-to-walk rate was significantly better at home. This year, he has reversed the split statistically with the better record, ERA and WHIP at home, but the better strikeout-to-walk ratio on the road. That said, he is pitching well enough that I would start him anywhere right now. Last year, avoiding Coors was the right play, but there isn’t enough data to buy into a home/road split with Hammel right now. He’s proven he can pitch on the road and this year he appears to have corrected the home woes making him a full-time option in deeper mixed league formats as well as all NL-Only leagues.

The Minor Leaguer Strategy

Some of the strategies I will discuss on this show include one I learned from Mike Siano of MLB Network’s Fantasy 411 show. He brought it up last year and what he does is picks up a hot minor leaguer on Thursday when fewer teams are playing and just holds the guy through the weekend in hopes of him getting called up. If he’s not called up by the new week’s deadline, he cuts ties and tries it again next week. This landed him Tommy Hanson in one of his league’s last year and Mike Stanton this year. Employing the strategy would’ve also gotten you Carlos Santana and Buster Posey, too.

In both cases, the young catchers received what essentially boils down to votes of non-confidence. Their front offices said they were still working on important aspects of their game and would not be called up all that soon. And in both cases, they were called up shortly thereafter. Posey came on a Saturday in late May and Santana was called up just yesterday on a Friday. Now in any only league with a reserve or keeper list, neither of these guys would be found on the wire, but they were available in a lot of mixed leagues because the roster spot was too precious to hold open for them.

The next players I would recommend trying this strategy with are Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez and Philly’s Dominic Brown. Pittsburgh knows the future is now and their lineup is already chocked full of youngsters especially after they recently called up Jose Tabata and Brad Lincoln. Alvarez can’t be far off. He’s has a .291/.378/.551 triple slash line with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs. Andy LaRoche just doesn’t appear to be as good as his minor league numbers suggested. He’s hitting .240 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 167 ABs so there is no reason for him to block Alvarez much longer.

Brown is a bigger gamble because he is only in AA right now, but so was Stanton. Brown is hitting .311/.381/.568 with 10 home runs, 36 RBIs and 9 stolen bases in 190 at-bats so far. When you add that to his 37 games at AA last year, he’s hitting .297/.376/.472 with 13 bombs, 56 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 337 at-bats. At the very least, he seems ready for a promotion to AAA. But with the Phillies struggling to get any consistency at the dish and Raul Ibanez a major part of those problems, it wouldn’t be farfetched to see the Phils promote Brown to the majors. After all, there is very little chance that Jayson Werth will be resigned next year and Brown is the heir apparent. Perhaps they could play together for three and a half months before the baton is passed entirely.

Jason Castro is another name that leapt to mind. Houston is awful. Their catching situation is awful and it’s about time they infuse some young talent into their team.

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