Posts tagged ‘Kelly Johnson’

Thursday: 06.30.2011

The Hail Mary Team, Part 1

As of right now 13 others are at 82 games, 11 teams are at the exact halfway point (81 games) and the remaining six are very close.  By Monday, every team will be at or beyond the halfway point so it’s safe to say the fantasy baseball season is also at the midpoint.  By now you should have a pretty strong feel for your team one way or another.  Unfortunately for some of us, that way might be “another” meaning lower end of the standings seemingly without a prayer.

You might not be like me, a guy who plays multiple leagues, meaning your summer could essentially be ruined before the fourth of July and with football (and with it fantasy football) in limbo, things look bleak.  But fear not, I am here to help.  While things may seem hopeless, they aren’t always as they seem and there may still be some hope or at the very least you can put in every last bit of effort and buy yourself at least another month to six weeks of fun trying climb back into the race.  Remember, while it best to win the league, many leagues still have a strong incentive to finish second, third or fourth (and sometimes fifth depending on league format) assuming there is a prize pool on the line (or a minor league draft which is often the reward for that first spot out of the money).

With that, I present to you the Hail Mary Team.  This team is for the owners who are down deep in the standings and for whom it looks like nothing short of a miracle will save them.  The Hail Mary Team is a list of currently underperforming (and thus almost certainly undervalued) assets who can reasonably be believed to be in for a major upturn in the second half of the season as they regress toward their career mean (regression to the mean isn’t always negative).  Whether they are dealing with a rash of bad luck, injury, flat out poor play or all three, their track record says they are way better than this and thus why not invest, especially at a discounted rate?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula to determine if a team is a candidate for this method, so you will have to base it on your league and the standings are stratified (though feel free to contact me in the comments or on Twitter if you want my opinion on the matter).  Ideally, you would want to have the most points to gain the counting categories (HR, R, RBI, W, SV, K) as opposed to the rate stats (AVG or OBP, ERA & WHIP) because the rate stats will be much harder to move at this point and going forward.  As you pile up innings and at-bats, great performances, even the best of the best, have less impact on those three categories.  That doesn’t mean you want to be dead last in the counting stats, but ideally a few (if not all) would be nicely clumped to where a surge could earn you several points instead of needing 6 HR for 1 pt but then another 20 for the next pt and still 10 more the third point, etc… you get the point.

The guys on the HMT should be available via trade at less than full price in your league (and some may even be waiver wire assets).  What you might do is trade one of your decent guys (not stars) for two or even three (depending on the players involved) of these players so the end result is still a net gain (assuming the Hail Marys [Maries?] connect, of course).  You may already have some of these guys which has led to your issues in the first place.  Hang onto them, add more and hope to catch lightning in a bottle.  The really fun part here will be the building of this team since actually winning is a longshot.  So if you team is on the ropes and you love trading, then this is a strategy for you.

Don’t be afraid to trade your stars in this strategy, but make sure you get a mint and that the extra assets are filling for zeroes or close to it.  Also make sure to get the upper echelon Hail Mary Teamers for your stars.  Don’t trade off your solid Hunter Pence for two “Also Keep In Mind” guys.  That will make more sense when you see the players, but the main point is that if you are getting several assets to plug some of the many holes that buried you in the first place, then don’t trade your star asset or at least don’t trade him to the owner who won’t pay.  Ideally you would like to keep your two or three best assets while adding a handful of the HMT’ers to the equation.  As always, I am available on Twitter (@sporer) clarification or for advice on potential offers.

One other thing before we get to the team of players, this is best executed in redraft leagues for obvious reasons.  If you are toast or near toast in a keeper league, you should be building for 2012 (and reading my Keeper Building Block series to help you with that) as opposed to taking a flier on winning the league or pushing your way into a money spot.

I will break this up a bit, but the entire team will be out by Monday so you can spend your fourth of July day off working the trade wires (or hanging out by the pool with some cold ones… either or).

CATCHER:

Carlos Santana (CLE) – Right or wrong, fantasy managers still pay a lot of attention to batting average and let that be the primary indicator as to whether or not a guy is playing well.  Santana’s batting average is .226 meaning he could be discounted.  However, some owners may realize he has 11 home runs already and he’s on pace for 23 with 74 runs scored and batted in along with an unexpected six stolen bases which is damn good from catcher even with a bad batting average.  If your league’s Santana manager is one of those realizing his full value, just move along, I have another name for you to fall back on.

Mike Napoli (TEX) – He is coming off of a busted month where he only played eight games before getting hurt.  He is slated to started his rehab assignment soon so now is the time to pounce.  His owner might look at the .221 average and think, “Man, I knew he wouldn’t be a batting average asset, but I wanted better than this, plus he only has 10 homers, dude’s weak.”  Dude’s not weak.  He’s toting an .836 OPS and .365 wOBA despite that garbage average because he’s walking at a near-career high clip (15%) and smashing a bomb every 14 at-bats.

Also keep in mind: Joe Mauer.  I can’t imagine he is anywhere near full price.  Some people never discount big names, though.  But check in on his team’s manager, you never know.  He won’t offer the power potential of the other two, though, and his primary asset (batting average) is the toughest category to fix.

FIRST BASE:

Coincidentally, both Santana and Napoli qualify at first base so you could use one of them or go with the obvious name…

Adam Dunn (CHW) – Do I really need to enlighten you on why he’s on this team?  Seven seasons of 38+ home runs including five with 40+, he didn’t just forget how to play.  He’s never been great against lefties, but a career mark of .234 with an .800 OPS is a helluva better than the 1-for-53 superslump he is current mired in against southpaws.  He might suck the rest of the year, there’s a real chance of that when you see him play.  That’s why it is a Hail Mary Team, because he might also smash 20+ home runs and getting some BABIP fortune to push his current .262 BABIP closer to his .294 career mark.

Also keep in mind: Aubrey Huff.  Should be dirt cheap and he was great as recently as last year.

SECOND BASE:

Dan Uggla (ATL) – Going with the obvious name here again, but it’s the best fit so there’s no reason not to put him on this “team”.  He does have 12 home runs so he isn’t terribly far off the pace of the 31 average he has set the over the last five years, but it comes with a .178 average and modest RBI and runs scored paces of 55 and 69, respectively, so he certainly shouldn’t be untouchable.  He is basically on pace for Aaron Hill’s 2010 season at this point right down to the absurdly low .189 BABIP so there is a precedent for this kind of season out of a proven player, but his power upside is worth the gamble for this experiment.

Ryan Raburn (DET) – He has become the second half surge posterboy over the last two years.  Last year he ended the first half with a .637 OPS and just two home runs.  He went on to rip 13 home runs, drive in 46, hit .305 and post a .900 OPS in the second half.  In 2009, it wasn’t so much that he languished through the first half, he was solid (.842 OPS, 6 HR in 50 G), but he took it to another level in the second half.  From the trade deadline to season’s end, he hit .350 (in 55 games) with 10 home runs.  Something about the dog days of summer puts a spring in Raburn’s bat.  He has the added benefit of dual-eligibility at second base and in the outfield.

Also keep in mind: Kelly Johnson & Hill.  Johnson is another guy who might draw a discount because of his .210 batting average, but a more savvy owner (or just one paying attention) realizes that his 26 HR/16 SB pace takes a lot of the sting out of that batting average.  You won’t know if you don’t inquire.  Hill’s comically low 3.2% HR/FB can’t  stick all year can it?  Not after years of 15% and 11%, right?  Although he did go a full season with a 4% rate back in 2004 plus he loves being the outlier of bad luck in metrics (see also: his 2010 BABIP mentioned above).  He can be a last resort at this position.

 

Next: Shortstops & Third Basemen

Tuesday: 06.21.2011

Keeper Building Blocks: Second Base

Second base is a position that has some sneaky depth.  To wit, on ESPN’s player rater the 3rd and 12th ranked second basemen are split by just 0.86 points on the scale.  Conversely, it’s a 3.35 point split at first base at least 2.72 at every other position except for relief pitcher (but that’s not too surprising giving how little variance there is between RPs).

Despite this depth at the position, there aren’t a ton of building blocks at the position as the best are in their late 20s and already high-priced assets and the next cut is also filled with mid-20s guys with solid production, but nothing overwhelming that you would want as a primary keeper.  Let’s take a look at the ones I did come up with, though.

Danny Espinosa (WAS, 24) – He just barely crossed the 100-game plateau for his career so there is a lack of track record, but it’s hard to argue with the across the board production even at the cost of batting average.  He has a career .250 BABIP so far, though, so we could even see some growth there.  I have been saying it since last year, but the Nats are really building something there in Washington and Espinosa will be a key part of the success.

Howard Kendrick (LAA, 27) – See what I mean?  There’s nothing wrong with the actual depth of the position, but it’s thin on burgeoning talent.  Even though he is atop of this list, if you combined the catchers, first basemen and second basemen, he’d be near the bottom.  He is on pace for .308-16 HR-11 SB, but just 52 RBI (thanks to an inept supporting cast) and decent 81 runs scored, again because of his teammates.  His price will vary from league to league, but considering that last year was his first full season and he already blew his shot at a second in a row this year, I doubt he’s too expensive anywhere.

Kelly Johnson (ARI, 29) – I have Johnson and Kendrick neck & neck here (along w/the next guy, to be honest).  Johnson’s .215 batting average is no doubt ugly, but I am more focused on the 27 HR-18 SB-71 RBI-87 R pace and since we are focused on 2012, his batting average this year doesn’t mean much.  He can be a .260ish or better hitter just as he was last year (.284) and in his two other full seasons (.287, .276).  However, like Kendrick, even with an average at his career .264 he isn’t a prime building block.

Ben Zobrist (TB, 30) – Rinse and repeat from the first two guys.  Zobrist has been an inconsistent, yet ultimately productive player the last two years and he is on pace for a season closer to his 2009 breakout when he was one of baseball’s best overall.  While many believe 2008 to be his career year, his current pace is just 6 HR, 9 RBI and 1 SB behind.  His runs are ahead by seven.  The biggest difference is his batting average which by just over 3% (.297 to .265), but the counting stats production across four categories is more important than the average.

Neil Walker (PIT, 25) – A younger option than the last three, but I still have him as the lowest because he doesn’t produce across the board like the others and his power lags a bit, at least right now.  He is doing his best work with runners on which has led to his gaudy RBI total, but we know it is hard to bank on that year-to-year and since that is his biggest category at this point I am reticent to rate too highly.

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

Wednesday: 03.23.2011

2011 Bold Predictions-Part 1

One of the more exciting things to think about as the season approaches is which players are going to have the break through seasons?  Who are going to be this year’s Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto and Jose Bautista or David Price, Jaime Garcia and Ubaldo Jimenez?  For the past few years I have tried to answer that question with “Bold Prediction” columns over at Fanball.  I could’ve sworn I posted at least the 2009 iteration here, too, but I can’t seem to find after an extensive search.

I’m hardly the only one undertaking this task as Ron Shandler and crew have their Longshot Caucus over at BaseballHQ.com and Matthew Berry has his You Heard Me! piece over at his page on ESPN.  I believe he will be releasing that soon and it’s always a fun read.  Both are, in fact.  Hopefully I am able to deliver to that end as well.

In case you don’t remember from previous versions over at Fanball, the bold predictions column isn’t a bunch of aimless predictions, but rather it looks at a player’s whole profile, in the pros and minors, and tries to project out some best case scenarios for them.  These aren’t surefire bets, they are longshots that need a myriad of factors to go right if they are to happen.  You should reasonably expect between 15% and 20% of them to come to fruition.  The point is to get you thinking outside of the box(score) and not focus so much on what we’ve seen, rather entertain what we could see.

I am not going to have the Brady Anderson 50 home run season-type prediction in here because nothing in his profile would’ve told me that was possible so I wouldn’t project it.  Some of these may be “duhs” to you which simply means you’re already looking at possible outcomes beyond what we’ve seen to date.  In the end if there is a prediction you agree with and it causes you to go the extra buck on a guy and outperforms his cost, but doesn’t necessarily meet the exact figure in the prediction, it’s still a win (i.e. I had Gio Gonzalez projected for 175 Ks last year coming off of a season in which he had a near-6.00 ERA.  He finished with 171 and a 3.23 ERA.  If you bought in, you certainly profited significantly).

Some of the other calls from last year include:

  • Shaun Marcum will pick up right where 2008 left off
  • Luis Valbuena will hit 18 HR and steal 18 bases
  • Juan Pierre will steal 70 bases
  • Kelly Johnson will hit 21 HR and .300
  • Manny Ramirez will hit 40 HR
  • Nate Schierholtz will hit .320 with 15 HR
  • Ubaldo Jimenez wins 20 games
  • Billy Wagner will save 40 games (“And might very well be the league’s best closer.”)
  • Mike Stanton will hit 17 HR
  • Mike Jacobs will hit 35 HR
  • Lastings Milledge will hit 20 HR, steal 20 bases
  • Joey Votto will hit 35 HR, drive in 120 runs

That’s a decent sample of wins and losses.  As you can see, some were incredibly far off the mark by October, but you could have envisioned a scenario where they came true and you wouldn’t have have been utterly baffled as to how like you probably were after Ben Zobrist’s 2009 line of .297, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 91 R and 17 SB.  Yes, I highlighted some of the big wins there.  I definitely did not have a 58% success rate as this sample of 12 might lead you to believe.  In fact, I went 18-for-73 yielding a 25% success rate.  Let’s see if we can top that for 2011:

AL East

Baltimore Orioles:

J.J. Hardy hits a career-high 33 home runs – A bum wrist (and other various bumps & bruises) have sapped his power the last two years after a pair of mid-20s home run seasons in Milwaukee back in 2007 and 2008.  He moves to a very hitter-friendly ballpark and he is reportedly finally 100% healthy and clear of the wrist issues.  He is in the midst of his prime and I’m buying the clean bill of health.  He is going very late in fantasy drafts at the most scarce position on the diamond.  If you out on the “studs” at short in an AL-Only, wait on Hardy.

Zach Britton pitches 120+ quality innings at the big leagues – His absurd sinker and devastating slider are major league ready while his changeup is catching up quickly.  He will almost certainly start the season in AAA, but he shouldn’t be there long.  The O’s rotation is hardly stable as it currently stands so once the Super 2 Deadline passes, he should be inserted into the big league rotation where I think he will be an instant success.  “Quality innings” is a bit vague so to clarify, I’m thinking he can net a 3.50ish ERA (give or take .15 for random variance) with 6.5 K/9 and 2.0+ K/BB.  The strikeouts will rise as he gains experience, but he will utilize that sinker to induce a ton of groundballs as he gains his feel for the big leagues.

Nick Markakis finally has the .300-30-100 season – I made this one last year and I’m headed to the well again.  I was only off by 18 home runs and 40 RBIs last year!  Joking aside, he is just too good of a player to be hitting 12 home runs in a season.  A 30-home run season would be seven higher than his previous career high and 10 more than his last three seasons.  He is still at the front end of his prime so don’t rule out an explosion that would shock the narrow-minded.

Jake Fox’s regular season home run total won’t match his Spring Training total… – … because he’s not good.  He has eight as of this writing and even if he doesn’t hit another one this spring, he still won’t top that figure in the 2011 regular season.  Don’t waste your money.

Boston Red Sox:

Jacoby Ellsbury hits .320 with 16 HR – The speed will be there, too, but with a career high of 70 there is nothing that would be all that bold.  If he met this projection, he would be a Carl Crawford-lite.

Jon Lester posts a 2.50-2.75 ERA with 24 wins en route to an AL Cy Young – I had too many wins-based predictions for pitchers last year which was dumb because I’m always beating the “skill doesn’t always translate to wins” drum so I was leaving the projection in the hands of the offenses, defenses and bullpens when I was really trying to comment on the pitcher’s skill.  I included the 24-win mark in Lester’s prediction because I think he has the appropriate backing of offense, defense and bullpen to reward his increasingly excellent skill.

New York Yankees:

Alex Rodriguez hits 52 home runs – It’s hard to really predict anything that can reasonably be considered bold with A-Rod, but he’s 35 years old and has back-to-back 30 home run seasons leading many to believe he is firmly into his decline phase.  There is some skill erosion, but the decline is much smoother with transcendent players like A-Rod and I think he has at least one more MVP-type season in him.  He is a bona fide bargain at a very thin position as he goes mid-to-late second round in many leagues.  The best part about A-Rod, other than the fact that he’s finally healthy again, is that there’s a very high floor so why not invest?

Nick Swisher hits 38 home runs – He’s actually getting better the deeper he goes into his prime and though he hasn’t topped 29 in the last four seasons and 38 would be a career-high, the potential is there especially in that park.  He’s another guy with a high floor having played 150+ games each of the last five seasons.  The batting average isn’t quite the risk that many make it out to be as his .219 season in 2008 is now the clear outlier of his career.

Tampa Bay Rays:

Evan Longoria hits .324-41-133 – No, I’m not among those freaking out about his 11 homer  drop from 2009 to 2010.  After all, his OPS dropped a whopping .010 to .879.  This guy is a superstar and as such he will have some truly excellent seasons in his career.  I am looking at his age 25 in 2011 as the first such season.  All three figures would be career highs and while it wouldn’t necessarily come out of nowhere as he’s a clear first round pick, it would definitely be a profit-laden season.  Some outlets have questioned his mid-first round status, but I think it’s justified even if he “just” repeats 2010 because third base is so lame after the star cut.

James Shields posts a 3.25 ERA – His base skills actually showed significant improvement in 2010 yet his surface stats were the worst of his career because of an atrocious 1.5 home run rate.  He’s not a flyball-heavy pitcher, in fact he’s had a sub-40% flyball rate each of the last three years, yet when someone got a hold of one it was gone.  His skills are just too damn good for a 5.18 ERA or even the 4.14 ERA from 2009. I’m seeing a major course correction.

Toronto Blue Jays:

Ricky Romero shaves nearly a full walk off of his control rate and takes his ERA below 3.00 – I could see the strikeouts rising up above eight per game, but I’m not betting on it just yet as he seems to understand that inducing groundballs is the more efficient way of pitching.  I love that he has the groundball and strikeout in his arsenal.

Travis Snider completes his Adam Lind Path to Stardom – I hope he doesn’t take every step Adam Lind has after Lind’s 2010.  Both had a strong call up, then regressed in their true rookie season and bounced back to average in another half season of play.  Lind followed it up with an explosive 2009 hitting .305 with 35 HR and 114 RBIs.  I’m not sure Snider will hit .305, but he could also top the 35 homers that Lind hit.  I think a big season is in the offing and he’s two years younger than Lind was during his ascension.  Put Snider down for .270 and 38 bombs.  His RBIs will be determined by batting order.

Brandon Morrow improves his walk rate and cuts over a run off of his ERA – With his incredibly electric stuff, Morrow could accelerate his progression with improved command.  Regardless of how much he can improve his walk rate, I think there is a legitimate ceiling on Morrow’s 2011 because the Jays will cap his innings.  I could see the cap ending up somewhere around 175.  In a surprise announcement today, he will start the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.  Hopefully this curbs his value a few days before one of the biggest draft/auction weekends of the season.  As I mentioned re: Kevin Slowey yesterday, don’t draft for April.  If anything, take advantage of any inherent discount brought on by his missing a start or maybe two.

Next Up: AL Central

The goal is to put these up throughout the day tomorrow.  I didn’t realize how lengthy they were going to get as I originally intended to go AL/NL in a two-parter.  That would’ve been too long (that’s what she said) so I’m breaking it up by division.  I will also have my Middle Reliever Guide out this week.  I was hoping for today, but again this project expanded a bit more than I expected.