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October 20, 2011

Resident Fantasy Genius

Fantasy Rumor Mill for 10/20/11

by Derek Carty

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Shaun Marcum | Milwaukee Brewers | SP | Pitching Injured?

[Brewers manager Ron Roenicke] on why Shaun Marcum collapsed so badly: "I don't think there was anything health-wise. We aren't concerned with that. Pitchers and hitters will go into slumps at different times of the year. It's just unfortunate that his came at this time… I'm not that worried about Shaun Marcum for next year. These are all learning experiences for everybody."

Despite a solid season overall, Marcum posted a 5.17 ERA and a 4.49 FIP in September even with a zero-run outing in his first start of the month. He then failed to go five innings in all of his post-season starts, accumulating a 14.90 ERA. This led to speculation that Marcum might have been tiring or pitching injured at the end of the season—his second since returning from Tommy John surgery—but Roenicke says that isn’t true. It’s telling that Roenicke trusted Marcum in Game Six of the NLCS, so I wouldn’t be too worried about the hurler entering 2012. He posted a 3.73 FIP on the year, and his 7.1 K/9 was actually a little lower than I’d expected with the move to the NL. Good things should be in store for Marcum next season if he flies under the radar or if owners are worried about his late-season struggles.
Potential Value Change: Gain for Shaun Marcum

Hiroki Kuroda | Los Angeles Dodgers | SP | New York? LA? Or Japan?

One name the Yankees can't completely cross off their list yet, but may draw a line in pencil through, is Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda. The Yankees were interested in Kuroda last winter. They looked into dealing for him at the trade deadline in July. Now, he would seem perhaps a better fit than C.J. Wilson because he would cost much less in years and dollars.

Kuroda, who is going to be 37, was 13-16 with 3.07 ERA. However, a source said the expectation is that he wants to either stay in Los Angeles or go back to Japan.

The Yankees are certainly going to be in the market for at least one starting pitcher this offseason, and whoever goes to the team is going to have a mixed bag as far as value goes, as I began to talk about on Monday. While the Yankees will be able to provide a pitcher with top-notch offensive support, the pitcher’s ratios will take a hit based on the team’s hitter’s park and the quality of opposing hitters in the AL East.

It doesn’t seem like Kuroda wants to play in New York, though, as there’s been talk for a while now that there’s a very real chance he returns to Japan. It’s a shame because Kuroda has been an undervalued fantasy asset his entire career and is a perennial target of mine. The best-case scenario for Kuroda, it seems, is for him to stay in LA and maintain the value he presently has.
Potential Value Change: Small Loss for Hiroki Kuroda if he signs with New York; Enormous Loss if he moves to Japan

Victor Martinez | Detroit Tigers | C/1B/DH | Catching Again?

After the Detroit Tigers’ season ended Saturday night, Victor Martinez was asked if it will be possible for him to catch next season.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Definitely.”

That answer, and whether Tigers officials agree with it, could have an impact on the team’s offseason plans…

Martinez started just 26 games at catcher, down from 106 with Boston the year before. He didn’t catch at all after Aug. 4 because of a sprained left knee.

So long as the team agrees to it, this has to be terrific news for Martinez owners in keeper leagues. Starting 26 games in 2011 allows Martinez to retain his catcher eligibility into 2012, but there was some question as to whether he would be catcher-eligible beyond that. As long as he’s allowed to play even part-time and log 15 or 20 games at catcher, he’ll keep his eligibility, which makes up a huge portion of his value. While he’s a great hitter in general, catcher is the scarcest position in most fantasy leagues, which can turn a great hitter into an elite option. However, keep an eye on any rumors of the Tigers being interested in backup catchers. They could bring in a lower-tier option for depth since they absolutely won’t want to work Alex Avila as hard as they did this season again, but bringing on a top-tier backup catcher could spell trouble for Martinez. But for now, so far, so good.
Potential Value Change: Large Gain for Victor Martinez

Philadelphia Phillies | Closer | Madson or External?

[General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr.] on Ryan Madson: “…I talked to Ryan yesterday. He knows how we feel. We’d like to bring him back as our closer next year. It takes two to tango. Again, negotiations will be private. He is excited about being a free agent…”

On the closer, if Madson signs elsewhere: “I don’t feel comfortable with the guys we have internally. If Ryan does not sign, we might have to go outside the organization. There are some people in our system who think DeFratus or Aumont can do that; I am not convinced of that yet.

Well that’s interesting news. Not the part about Madson as much as the lack of mention of Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo had a terrific season with a 2.64 ERA and a 3.30 FIP, and I’d previously speculatedthat he would make sense as the team’s closer if Madson moves on. That does not seem to be the case, which severely diminishes his value. Amaro Jr. clearly wants Madson to stay with the team, though, and the closing job appears to be his as long as he agrees to a reasonable salary.
Potential Value Change:
Small Gain for Ryan Madson; Huge Loss for Antonio Bastardo

Joey Votto | Cincinnati Reds | 1B | On the Block?

There has been growing speculation that the Reds should or would entertain trade offers for All-Star first baseman and 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto.

Reds GM Walt Jocketty emphaticaly denied he would listen to offers. The Reds have no plans to trade Votto or entertain an offer to move him.

“We haven’t talked about it. I wish that people would stop writing it,” Jocketty said Monday. “Why would we trade one of the best players in the game? We’re trying to win.”

While it could easily just be posturing to increase his trade value, a general manager saying that his team hasn’t discussed trading its star player is better than saying they have. That’s good news for Votto owners in keeper leagues, since it would be difficult to find a better situation for the young stud first bagger. Playing in a great hitter’s park, in the National League, and in one of the better lineups in baseball, a trade would almost certainly ding Votto’s value.

If Votto were traded, it would open up playing time for prospect Yonder Alonso, who could move back to first full-time. While the team could still find a place for him in left field, it will be a bit more difficult since the Reds always have a plethora of halfway decent outfield options. Chris Heisey is a guy who many believe could be a quality regular and who has very interesting power/speed potential for fantasy owners, and if Votto stays and Alonso takes the bulk of the playing time in left, he would be relegated to fourth outfielder duty with Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce entrenched in center and right.
Potential Value Change:
Gain for Joey Votto; Small Loss for Yonder Alonso; Big Loss for Chris Heisey  

Related Content:  Shaun Marcum,  Hiroki Kuroda

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