Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Crunch Time 2010: Pitch for the stars

By Ian Kay
With eight weeks of regular season remaining, I think we can officially declare it CRUNCH TIME 2010

You know your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Here are some widely-available dudes (listed in the order I’d claim them) who can help with the latter and won’t cost much more than a roster spot. 
We looked at power sources on Monday and speedsters on Tuesday. W’ll wrap things up today with some pitchers.
At this point in the season, you’re looking for upside on the mound. Sure Randy Wolf can give you six innings of three-run ball and four Ks, but how much does that really help you? With that innings limit looming, a 4.20 ERA over 10 starts is tolerable if it comes with 8-plus K/9. 
Mixed leagues

  • Jeremy Hellickson (owned in 27 percent of Yahoo! leagues) and Mike Minor (2 percent) were both called up recently, and they have more upside than anyone else on this list. Dave has the details here. Summary: you want them — a lot.
  • Daniel Hudson (10 percent) has been sharp (1.59 ERA, 0.75 WHIP) in three turns since the D-backs acquired him in a Deadline deal with the White Sox. Three walks in 22 2/3 innings is very encouraging, and the right-hander should up his K rate (7.3 on the year) by at least a strikeout per nine before all is said and done.
  • Anibal Sanchez (29 percent) has been under-owned for most of the season, and especially of late. The right-hander has a 2.25 ERA and a 33/11 K/BB in 32 innings over his last five starts.
  • Like Sanchez, Brett Cecil (32 percent) is on a hot streak. The southpaw has whiffed 20 in his last 20 innings and allowed just four runs in that span.
  • James McDonald (2 percent) is a former top prospect finally living up to his billing. The right-hander struck out 14 and issued just two free passes in his first 10 2/3 innings with the Pirates. Don’t be surprised if he’s mixed league relevant before the end of the month.
  • After posting a 3.64 ERA and a 74/34 K/BB ratio in 12 starts (72 2/3 IP) for the Rockies earlier this season, Jhoulys Chacin (2 percent) didn’t deserve a late July demotion to the Minors. The right-hander will be back in Colorado’s rotation soon and should post plenty of Ks once he gets there.
  • September call-up season is just around the corner, so now is prime time for owners in deep leagues to make a preemptive strike. Mariners right-hander Michael Pineda (not yet available in Yahoo! leagues) will probably be the top pitching prospect recalled for the season’s final month. In 126 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A this season, the 21-year-old has K’d 137 and walked just 30 en route to a 2.79 ERA. Even four or five Pineda starts will have huge implications in head-to-head leagues and playoff formats.

Crunch Time 2010: Speed to burn

By Ian Kay
With eight weeks of regular season remaining, I think we can officially declare it CRUNCH TIME 2010

You know your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Here are some widely-available dudes (listed in the order I’d claim them) who can help with the latter and won’t cost much more than a roster spot. 
We looked at power sources yesterday and will cover pitching later in the week. Today is the speed demon edition.
Mixed leagues
  • Desmond DeChone Figgins is on the wire in nearly one fifth of Yahoo! leagues (81 percent owned), but you’ll probably need to trade for him in competitive groups. That would be a good move right now. The dual-eligible (2B, 3B) infielder has a .384/.430/.493 line with six steals over his last 19 games and has trended better in the second half throughout this career.
  • Ryan Kalish (3 percent) profiles as more of a 15-20 steal player than a true burner, but he has enough power to compensate. Baseball America’s No. 5 Red Sox prospect before the season went 10-for-29 with a homer and a steal in his first nine big league games and should should enjoy starting duties in hitter-friendly Fenway Park at least until Mike Cameron is healthy.
  • In a league where everyone hits, Peter Bourjos (1 percent) hit the most. The speedy outfielder, who forced Torii Hunter to right field, set Pacific Coast League records with 56 hits and 37 runs in July. He’s also stolen 27 bases in 32 tries this season after swiping 32 in Double-A last year and 50 at Class A in ’08. Playing time over Juan Rivera is assured and a future move to the leadoff spot could pay big time dividends. 
  • Only four Major League teams have stolen more bases than the A’s this year. Coco Crisp (7 percent) and Cliff Pennington (11 percent) won’t provide power, but they should each hit between .255 and .265 with 8-10 swipes the rest of the way. 
  • Lorenzo Cain (1 percent) is just a flyer at this point. The outfielder showed speed, contact ability and a decent eye in the Minors, but it’s unclear how much he’ll play once Carlos Gomez returns from the DL. An 8-for-16 start is encouraging, though. 
  • Manny Acta continues to bat Michael Brantley (7 percent) leadoff most days despite a .167 average and two steals in 128 at-bats this season. A turn in luck (.180 BABIP) could reward that faith in a guy with a .303 career Minor League average and 59 thefts in 183 Triple-A games. 

Crunch Time 2010: Power upgrades

By Ian Kay

With eight weeks of regular season remaining, I think we can officially declare it CRUNCH TIME 2010. 

You know your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Here are some widely-available dudes (listed in the order I’d claim them) who can help with the latter and won’t cost much more than a roster spot. We’ll look at power sources today, then speed and pitching later in the week. 
Mixed leagues

  • Check if Adam LaRoche (62 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) is still hanging around your waiver wire. He’s LaRaking .339 with five homers and 15 RBIs in his last 16 games and has a career .301/.363/.547 line after the All-Star break.
  • Pat Burrell (3 percent) loves him some National League. The outfielder is hitting .283/.378/.493 in 164 at-bats with the Giants and is now batting fifth or sixth regularly.
  • Matt LaPorta (11 percent) has a career .563 Minor League slugging percentage. He’s going to start hitting home runs at some point. With a pair of dingers in his last four games, this could be that point.
  • Third trade’s a charm for Brett Wallace (4 percent). A hot streak could land him regular at-bats from the Astros’ three-hole and the third base eligibility is a bonus. Expect 6-8 home runs with an average that won’t kill you. 

  • Hey, the Royals are finally giving Kila Ka’aihue (1 percent) and his .521 career Triple-A slugging percentage a big league shot. Leis for everyone!
  • Mike Morse (2 percent) is very quietly batting .316 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 114 at-bats for the Nationals this season. He’ll hit sixth behind ZimmermanDunn and Willingham while Nyjer Morgan is on the DL. 
  • Mitch Moreland (0 percent) looks more like an average/doubles hitter than a true masher, but all bets are off in Rangers Ballpark and that lineup. He’ll see regular at-bats as the left-handed side of a first base platoon with Jorge Cantu.
  • Dan Johnson (0 percent — don’t all jump on the bandwagon at once!) hasn’t seen regular Major League playing time since ’07 and spent last year hitting .215 in the Japanese Central League. He’s probably not very good. Even so, he hit second on Saturday and cleanup Sunday, and that should lead to some runs and ribbies on the days when Tampa Bay manages more than one hit.

Wednesday hodgepodge


(By Dave)

Guys I’m looking at after Funky Tuesday, which is my favorite flavor of Tuesday, barely edging Tasty Tuesday.

Mike LowellThumbs down for Youk means thumbs up for Lowell!  He really likes it, Mikey really likes it. That’s me liking Lowell, who goes by Mikey when I think about him in ’70s commercials. Lowell will get all the at-bats at the not-hot corner with Youk out, will be placed in the heart of a Red Sox lineup that just got Jacoby Ellsbury back and let the world know of his arrival by tatering last night.
Travis SniderI <3’ed Travis so much that I just dropped Carlos Beltran for him in my Uber Wars league. I <3’ed him less once I saw that he’s batting leadoff vs. the Yankees today. What’s Uber Wars? Exactly what you think it is. What’s Snider gonna do for you that Beltran won’t? Hit homers, mister — just like he did last night. What’s Beltran gonna do for you that Snider won’t? Steal bases.  Strikethrough strikes again!
Alex GordonHey, I’ve seen you here before. Gordon went 2-for-4 with a homer last night and has three bombs with five RBIs over his last five games. Don’t make me put up his Triple-A numbers this year.
Thomas Diamond — Once upon a time, Diamond was 1/3 of the Rangers’ D-V-D trio, along with Edinson Volquez and John Danks. Last night, the 27-year-old Diamond struck out 10 Brewers hitters over six innings of three-run ball in a tough-luck loss in his Major League debut. The Cubs really found a Diamond in the rough. Hey, look, the Cubs are wearing Diamonds on the soles of their shoes! Hey, Neil Diamond, why are your 30-year-old jingles blared on stadiums nationwide? I don’t know but I do know that Ks are Ks and Diamond averaged a 9.8 K/9 in his six-year Minor League career and should get an
extended tryout replacing Ted Lilly in the Cubs rotation. Hello NL-only leagues!
Joel Hanrahan — Hanrahan pitched a scoreless ninth after watching Evan Meek allow a pair of runs pitching the seventh and eighth. I believe this means Hanrahan is the closer. 
Carlos Santana, Ryan Howard, Travis Hafner to the DL — Not good, Carlos Ruiz (.452 AVG, 2 HR, 9 RBIs) and Yorvit Torrealba (15-game hitting streak) are good options to replace the Black Magic catcher; Mike Lowell and Alex Gordon can help you out if you need a cornerman to replace Ryno. Bobby Higginson can help you replace Hafner’s production.

Tradespin deadline roundup: Lilly in L.A., new closers in Cleveland, Pittsburgh

By Ian Kay
Pencils down, people — he non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed.
Here are the CliffsNotes: Grab Chris Perez and Joel Hanrahan. Trade for Ted Lilly. Drop Kerry Wood and Octavio Dotel. Keep an eye on James McDonald
Read on for the full rundown.
Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and SS/2B Ryan Theriot from Cubs for 2B Blake DeWitt and two prospects:
  • This is a major win for Lilly owners. The left-hander has pitched well this season (3.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.8 K/9) but has just 3-8 thanks to the third-worst run support of any NL starter. The Dodgers offense should provide a boost and Dodger Stadium is a much better fit for his flyball tendencies than Wrigley Field. Consider Lilly a top 40 SP the rest of the way.
  • Theriot’s value should remain roughly the unchanged as Joe Torre starts him regularly at second base. Extra playing time for Ronnie Belliard or Jamey Carroll could complicate things. The new ballpark is more pitcher-friendly, but a stronger lineup and a more frequent green light on the bases is a plus. 
  • The 24-year-old DeWitt flashed promising power for a keystone in the Minors but it hasn’t translated to the big leagues yet. While a change of scenery could help, he’s not mixed-league relevant at this point.
Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from Indians for PTBNL: 
  • Wood loses just about all of his value with the move. He’ll be setting up for Mariano Rivera instead of recording his own saves from here on out.
  • Chris Perez is the guy to grab. The 25-year-old converted 11 of 14 save opportunities — including each of his last six — while Wood was on the DL and is now entrenched in the stopper role. Barring further control issues (4.7 K/9), he should be good for at least 10 more saves.
Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from Pirates for SP James McDonald and a prospect:
  • Dotel is basically in the same situation as Wood. He’ll lose his save opportunities — and almost all of his fantasy value — in L.A.
  • Either Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek will now assume the Pirates’ closer role. Meek has better numbers on the year but Hanrahan has closing experience and 10 straight scoreless outings. I’d add Hanrahan first, but we won’t know for sure for at least a couple days.
  • McDonald will likely slot into the Pirates rotation. He hasn’t impressed in 53 career Major League games (five starts) but was a highly touted prospect as recently as two years ago. The Minor League numbers — 3.49 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 — should entice pitching-needy NL-only owners immediately. Don’t be shocked if he gains spot-start usefulness in mixers late this year. 


Tradespin: Westbrook, Jay big winners in three-team swap

(By Alex Novick)
In a notable three-team swap Saturday, the Cardinals acquired starter Jake Westbrook from the Indians, sending outfielder Ryan Ludwick to the Padres while the Tribe received Double-A starter Corey Kluber from San Diego. 
Westbrook is a huge winner here, and should now be scooped up immediately in NL-only formats, while kept a close eye on in mixed leagues. The 32-year-old right-hander always had solid stuff, but labored to an up-and-down career in Cleveland which included three 14-win seasons despite a mediocre career 4.34 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. 

He got handed a winning lottery ticket on Saturday, however, not only getting a boost from going to a contending team in the National League, but landing in the hands of the magic wizard also know as Dave Duncan. Westbrook will try to follow in the footsteps of fellow right-handers like Chris Carpenter, Jeff Suppan, Kyle Lohse, Joel Pineiro, and Brad Penny (pre-injury), who rejuvenated their careers under the tutelage of Duncan. Expect Westbrook’s current 4.65 ERA to drop at least a full run for the rest of the season, while he racks up 5-6 victories.

Ludwick, currently with a .281-11-43 line, suffers the opposite fate as Westbrook with his relocation, although things aren’t all that bad. At first glance this seems devastating for the 31-year-old slugger’s fantasy value, going from hitting next to Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, to likely batting cleanup with no protection from the weak Friars lineup, where home runs go to die in Petco Park. 
On the bright side, however, Ludwick will be guaranteed regular playing time in San Diego. He was starting to become the victim of a bit of a Wally Pip situation, as Jon Jay raked his way into regular playing time while Ludwick was on the disabled list for most of July. Ludwick had started only one of the last three games, and things weren’t likely to improve much for him in St. Louis. So basically, Ludwick was saved from falling into fantasy irrelevance, and now becomes an average-at-best mixed-league outfielder.


The other large beneficiary here is the aforementioned Jay, who no longer has to look over his shoulder and will remain a fixture in right field for the Cards. The 25-year-old has posted an absurd .396 average in 111 at-bats this year, with an even more eye-popping .456 clip in July. This is a pretty huge surprise — despite the fact he hit .321 in 165 Triple-A at-bats — as Jay wasn’t a very heralded prospect working his way up from the Minors. 
Nonetheless, the sweet-swinging lefty has looked great so far, and should be owned in pretty much all formats going forward.  He’s not going to give you a ton of power, but should cross the plate a ton batting second in front of the Cardinals bashers, so a .320-5-25 line with 30-plus runs scored doesn’t seem out of the question over the next couple months.
  • The 24-year-old Kluber is a mid-level prospect at this point, and is at least a year away from making an impact in Cleveland. The right-hander has racked up a great strikeout rate at Double-A (136 Ks in 122 2/3 innings) but his 6-6 record, 3.46 ERA and 1.31 WHIP screams No. 3 starter at best.

Tradespin: Yanks getting greedy, grab Kearns

Thumbnail image for AustinKearns_20100730225032_320_240.JPG                                         (Guest appearance by Alex Novick)

The Yankees, apparently not fully satiated from nabbing Lance Berkman, plucked Austin Kearns from the Indians late Friday night in exchange for a player to be named later. 

Kearns was offering some moderate AL-only value playing every day in left field for the Tribe, posting a .272-8-42 line in 301 at-bats. He went out in style on Friday, going 2-for-3 with a double before getting pulled in the seventh inning from what could be his last start for a while. 
The 30-year-old journeyman will be limited to a bench role in the Bronx, sending any potential fantasy value out the window. Logic would dictate the Yanks acquired Kearns, a right-handed hitter, to occasionally spell Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner against southpaws, however Kearns is batting just .250 against lefty hurlers this season. Can someone say higher-than-usual-profile pinch-hitter?
AL-Only: Maybe the only fantasy-relevant aspect to this trade would be if the Indians promote Michael Brantley to fill the void in left field. The 23-year-old has struggled severely over 26 games with Cleveland in 2010, compiling a scary .157 average resulting in two separate demotions to the Minors. Brantley has talent, however, evidenced by a .315 clip and 13 steals in 62 Triple-A games this year. He notched three multi-hit efforts over a four-game stretch the week before getting sent down on July 27, possibly a sign of getting accustomed to big league pitching. 
Keep an eye on Brantley in AL-only formats if he gets the call, which is more than one can say about the always exciting PTBNL.

Tradespin: Berkman to the Bronx

(By Dave)


The Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Lance Berkman from the Astros. This is good news for the Big Puma. 

Should this deal go down, and indications are that it will, two people’s value will increase somewhat dramatically: Berman’s and Astros new first baseman Brett Wallace’s.  

The lowdown on Berkman:

  • Berkman stumbled out of the gate this season after undergoing offseason knee surgery, as he posted a .227-5-17 line with a .398 slugging through his first 128 at-bats.
  • However, the Puma has flashed his All-Star form as of late, hitting .274 with six taters, 14 RBIs and a .613 slugging over his last 61 at-bats, covering a span of 18 games.
  • Batting in the heart of the Yankees lineup, Berkman will be hitting in the best lineup he’s ever been placed in, and should thrive with the short right field porch at his disposal. 
  • Though he’s struggled largely on the year, I’m banking he returns to his dominant mixed-league form that we’ve been accustomed to for the last 11 seasons while starting primarily as New York’s designated hitter.
The lowdown on Wallace:

  • The moment the Astros swapped outfielder Anthony Gose for Wallace right after the Roy Oswalt deal, you knew Berkman’s day would be numbered.
  • The 24-year-old Wallace was a key cog in the Matt Holliday trade last season and was
    sent to Toronto in exchange for Michael Taylor right after the Roy
    Halladay trade in December. 
  • Wallace was hitting .301 with 18 homers, 61
    RBIs and a .509 slugging percentage with Triple-A Las Vegas prior to
    Thursday’s swap.
  • He should immediately take over as the Astros’ starting first baseman and could be placed in the heart of the lineup around Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson.
  • A .285-5-30 line down the stretch is well within reach, making Wallace a borderline mixed-league option. 

Tradespin: Christian Guzman — Kinsler insurance or Kinsler replacement?

By Ian Kay

In a relatively minor deal, the Rangers acquired infielder/outfielder Christian Guzman (.282 AVG, 44 R, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB) from the Nationals on Friday for a couple of low-level pitching prospects.

Mixed leagues: Owners in mixers with 12 or fewer teams only to worry about this deal for one reason: It may mean Ian Kinsler isn’t coming back from that groin strain any time soon. Sure, it’s possible Texas just wanted a better backup middle infielder than Joaquin Arias. But with an 8.5 game lead in the AL West, would they really trade for Guzman if they expected Kinsler back by mid-August? Owners invested in the All-Star keystone should make sure they have a backup they’d be comfortable using for most of August and possibly September, too — preferably one more productive than Guzman.
Ian Desmond and Adam Kennedy should each receive a playing time boost in Washington as a result of the move. Desmond is the more valuable of that pair. His approach at the plate is still a little raw (66K, 15 BB), but he has the talent to hit four or five homers and swipe as many bases down the stretch.
AL-only: A .280-plus average at a middle infield slot — even without much power or speed — certainly holds value in these formats. The Rangers’ stacked lineup and Arlington’s August heat figure to increase Guzman’s run and RBI totals, and the 32-year-old’s versatility (20-plus games at 2B, SS; 8 at OF this season) could earn him a few starts per week even after Kinsler returns. If you’re starting Maicer Izturis, Mike Aviles or Mark Ellis, Guzman will likely be an upgrade over the season’s final two months.

Tradespin: Capps sent to Twins for catching prospect Ramos


(By Dave)

The Twins joined the Trade Deadline bonanza late Thursday night, acquiring Nationals closer Matt Capps in exchange for highly regarded catching prospect Wilson Ramos.

As I post this I have no idea if Capps will become the Twins closer or if the job will remain with Jon Rauch. My gut tells me the Twins won’t want to mess with a good thing and will keep Rauch in the ninth-inning role. My gut also tells me gorditas from the taco truck was a good idea a couple hours ago. (Editor’s note: Capps is reportedly the favorite to close in the Twin Cities). 
Anyway, whoever becomes the closer has fantasy value. Whoever becomes the setup man loses fantasy value — it’s that easy.
Another question emerges in the nation’s capital as either Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard will take the reigns as the club’s stopper. Storen, widely considered the team’s closer of the future after being selected in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft last season, owns a 2.73 ERA with a 26/14 K/BB ratio over 29 2/3 frames with the big club. The veteran Clippard has a 3.26 ERA with a 69/28 K/BB ratio. My money is on the young’en who throws heat  — Storen.
Ramos is a nice return for the Nats. Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 58 overall prospect in the game heading into the season, Ramos is a stellar defensive catcher but has had trouble staying on the field and has been scuffling at the plate all season long. Over 71 games with Triple-A Rochester, the soon-to-be 23-year-old sports a .241 average with five homers, 30 RBIs and a .345 slugging over 75 games. He did manage to turn in a combined .317-.339-.496 triple-slash across a couple Minor League stints last year. Expect him to start behind the plate next season on Opening Day for the Nats.