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April 20, 2012

Fantasy Beat

Fantasy Chat Accountability

by Jason Collette

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Yesterday, Jason Parks ran a piece entitled Chat Accountability where he went back and revisited advice he had given in earlier chats. I love this concept because as writers, what we spat forth in a chat should be praised as well as panned. We are advising with the information at hand at the time, and that kind of analysis is tougher than results-based analysis because you are advising based on the potential rather than the actual.

I have only done two chats over the past six months, but I would like to revisit some of the questions and answers from them and see how smart or silly I look now:

Charles (nyc): How can David Price be more efficient, so he's not throwing 100 pitches by the fifth inning?

Me Then: Price was throwing 82 percent fastballs in August until his last start, when he started mixing his secondary stuff in more. Over the past month, his fastball rate has sat at a cool 74 percent. He's throwing a nice-looking cutter of late and was flashing a good change-up in July. He needs to trust that secondary stuff more because he still has a lot of games left against the Yankees and Red Sox who spoil pitches better than anyone. The Rays have not typically called up many guys when rosters expand, even when out of contention, but it wouldn't surprise me to see them taper off Price and Shields in September and give those starts to someone like Alex Torres or even Matt Moore over the final two weeks of the season.

Me Now: He has only had three starts in 2012, but the outing against the Red Sox was very much like the ones last season that frustrated Charles. Price’s pitch mixture this season, according to Brooks Baseball, is as follows:

  • Four-seam fastballs: 63%
  • Sinkers: 9%
  • Cutters: 2%
  • Sliders: 9%
  • Curveballs: 10%
  • Change-ups: 7%

In his last start against the Blue Jays, he had all of those working, even if he did groove an 0-2 fastball to Jeff Mathis that wound up 410 feet into left center field. Price’s confidence in his secondary pitches comes and goes, but his change-up in particular has looked better this year. He had enough confidence to throw it in a 2-0 count to Jose Bautista on Wednesday night, and the more he can do that, the more it can help him last deeper into games. He is working with two new catchers this season in Jose Molina and Chris Gimenez (for now), but so far, so good; he is 2-1 in three starts against AL East opponents.


DS (LA): In a fantasy keeper league where the only pitching stats that count are Innings Pitched and Runs Allowed, would you rather have Brian Matusz or Jeff Niemann over the next three years? Matusz will cost at least $15 per year going forward; Niemann will only make around $6 next season and possibly around $10-15 a season after that. Thank you!

Me Then: At the start of this season, that would have been an easy Matusz answer. Now that both guys have durability issues on their resume, the answer isn't as clearcut. Maddon will let his guys work deeper into games if they show they can handle it, so I'll take Niemann here as he's more likely to go 110 pitches into a game than Matusz is.

Me Now: Both pitchers had strong springs but have gone in opposite directions since. Matusz has had two awful starts to the season and has logged eight walks to just five strikeouts thus far. Niemann has also made two starts but has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched and has 11 strikeouts to just three walks in 10 innings of work. The issue with Niemann has been his inability to last deep into games, something Tommy Rancel of ESPNFlorida recently explained very well.


Matt (NYC): I have the #1 pick in a dynasty league (hopefully). The right pick is Anthony Rendon right?

Me Then: That's the pick I would make

Me Now: Oops. The broken ankle for Rendon certainly slows down his timetable, but if he is to ever shift to second base, I really like him as a fantasy player.


Steven (New York): Who has bigger upside: Kate Upton, Lily Carter, or Brooklyn Decker?

Me Then: Lily Carter is committed to giving it her all (nsfw); you have to admire that

Me Now: After seeing Kate Upton in the SI swimsuit issue, I wish to change my vote.


Francois (Toronto): Regarding your earlier answer about first round fantasy picks: why Bauer over Cole? Is it because Bauer has already made multiple professional ball starts, or do you like his tools better?

Me Then: That, and I also like the Diamondbacks situation better than the Pirates situation. There's something to be said about getting signed early and getting the work done now rather than waiting until the last minute.

Me Now: I stick by this. Bauer is doing well in Double-A while Cole is in High-A ball. The more you read and hear about Bauer, the more you like.


Bubbles (Zoo): Does Brett Lawrie have a chance to hit 20 home runs with 75 RBI next season?

Me Then: I wouldn't put anything by Full Tilt, but I think the RBI benchmark is more realistic. We don't know how the league will adjust to him yet—he hasn't made a full pass around the league just yet—and he hit just 18 homers this season while playing in the launching pad that is Vegas in the PCL.

Me Now: He has two home runs and nine RBI thus far, so the pace is there. That said, he went for ridiculous amounts of money in any auction I was a part of this draft season, and 20 HR and 75 RBI is not going to earn the dollar values he went for. The helium in Lawrie this off-season was unbelievable.


Rachel (Las Vegas): I'm in a keeper league, and I was just offered Jayson Werth for Adam Dunn. Should I accept the deal?

Me Then: I'd take my ex-wife in a deal where I was giving up Adam Dunn. There are no signs of life there.

Me Now: Batting .222/.340/.400, Dunn is already leading the league in strikeouts and has just one home run. The three true outcome player is pretty much a one outcome player right now, and if he is not homering, he is not helping you.  He still has one more home run than Werth this season, but I would still make this deal any day of the week.


Bryan (The OC): You think there's any chance Matt Moore makes a start in September?

Me Then: A 2 percent chance, at best. They only did it with Price in 2008 because of the post-season contention. Nothing to be gained by throwing him this year other than (what I'd hope would be) a strong night at the gate.

Me Now: Oops, part deaux. He did indeed start, and start well. This year, things are not as sharp; he has struggled to adjust to a new catcher and has even been tipping pitches.


Bryan (The OC): What do you think Jennings goes for in a standard mixed auction next year?

Me Then: $20-$22, mostly on the steals. He has nine steals now in 22 games—you figure he's good for 35-40 over a full season, and he has the power to hit 10-12 even in the suppressing Tropicana Field.

Me Now: He went for $24 in the Tout Wars Mixed and is off to a .264/.339/.358 start with one home run and three steals. Jennings has been hitting the ball quite well this season, especially in this recent series against Toronto, but he has only attempted four stolen bases and has had some issues with contact; the high fastball continues to be his kryptonite.


Matt (NYC): Which prospect in the minors do you see taking the biggest leap in the minds of prospect rankers in the next 365 days?

Me Then: I think Hak-Ju Lee was that guy if you look at pre-season to mid-season. Looking at mid-season 2011 to mid-season 2012… um… err… um… I’ll take a flier on Chih-Hsien Chiang with Seattle proving that 2011 isn't a fluke.

Me Now: Lee is off to a horrendous start in Double-A, hitting just .186/.284/.220, and he already has four errors in the field. He looked fantastic in the field the few times I saw him in March but these disappointing numbers come on the heels of him hitting .190/.272/.310 after a late promotion to Double-A last year after raking in High-A ball. He is just 30-for-159 hitting Double-A pitching so far.

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Jeff Niemann

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