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Chat: Mike Gianella

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday March 14, 2014 9:00 AM ET chat session with Mike Gianella.

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Join Mike for a morning fantasy chat.

Mike Gianella: Since the baseball season's starting a little early, I'm starting my chat a little early. See you on the other side...

Lenny Randle (Queens, NY): 15 team deep keeper league - 6x6 add obp and ip. Need to choose last keeper: Jansen (4 - can hold at 6,9 for 3 years); Fister 9 (last year); Matt Adams 8 - then 12 and 18)or Cuddyer (1B eligible at 11). What say you?

Mike Gianella: Hi Lenny, I miss you AND Shea Stadium.

I normally wouldn't recommend keeping a closer, but at those prices (and with the # of years you can hold onto Jansen, I'd keep Jansen. Adams has the highest ceiling if he can figure out lefties, but I don't like the log jam in STL at 1B/OF. Roll with Jansen.

TheGaffer (NY): Can you folks reconcile some differing thoughts your staff has on Marco Estrada? One article puts him among starting pitchers to target, but more recent pieces are concentrating on his poor posture when pitching and citing it as a big risk and a link to possible velocity loss. What's the prognosis for this coming year, for one, and then going forward?

Mike Gianella: There's definitely a difference between the fantasy side of analysis and the scouting side. The fantasy team leans heavily on the awesome scouting information provided by Jason Parks and his amazing team, but we're not scouts. We probably look more at sabermetric info just because it's a little "easier" for us to handle that information. I can't speak for the other writers, but my non-BP career is in analytics, so I tend to look at this first.

Regarding Estrada, I'm not as high on him as some of the other BP staff is. He certainly is a decent deeper mixed and NL-only sleeper, but I think he's going too high in shallow mixed, particularly if you're in a non-keeper league. I think Estrada will take a step forward this year, but have to admit that the scouting reports give me pause. I see him long term as a #3 or #4 starter if he can put everything together.

papabearjere (Columbus, Oh): My 10 team mixed 5x5 30-man roster $300 auction budget league is doing a new keeper process where each team selects 6 designated players for whom they receive a $3 "right of final refusal" in a keeper auction prior to the actual auction. My question is: Am I better off simply designating my six best players, or trying to mix and match position eligibility and dollar values? Players I have under consideration are Rizzo, Pedroia, Segura, Zimmerman, C Gomez, Choo, Rios, Bautista, Verlander.

Mike Gianella: What you're talking about is essentially a modified version of a topper rule. If you have no other keepers, you're probably better off just "keeping" your best players. However, you might want to consider how your league rolls at your auctions. Do pitchers generally go for more money? Will having Verlander locked in at price give you an advantage heading into the auction? I like the idea of keeping the six best guys (probably Pedroia, Gomez, Choo, Rios, Bautista, and Verlander) because you create a situation where either you get the guy at your price or create deflation if people target these guys and overpay. Regarding the positional part of the equation, this again goes back to your league. If middle infielders typically go for more, protect both Pedroia and Segura instead of Choo or Rios and lock in at one or both MI positions.

DServi4 (Maryland): I'm in a league that has holds as a category. Who are 3 guys I can target?

Mike Gianella: I never really recommend targeting pitchers specifically for holds. With non-closers, I'm an advocate for going for skills, not roles. If you are going to target holds, though, I would probably go with Brian Wilson, David Carpenter, and Kelvin Herrera. I like the idea of getting pitchers behind strong closers, since you reduce your risk of losing holds with a solid option in the stopper role.

krrtaa (South Jersey): I have Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler in option years in NL only league. Cole at $15 and Wheeler at $10. Do I add 1 year for $5, 2 years at $10, or keep this year only at this price? I'm thinking adding 2 years to Cole at $25 and 1 extra year on Wheeler at $15. thoughts?

Mike Gianella: I'm more conservative with contracts than some are. I would option both. Kris Medlen is example #4,279 of why giving pitchers contracts often blows up in our faces. My rule of thumb for pitcher contracts is anything over $15 in a $260 budget league is assuming too much risk. And while Wheeler would fit that at $15, I don't see him at the level (yet) where he's earned that kind of extension. Cole's a special pitcher, so I get the temptation to go $20. But I would resist that temptation.

JoshC77 (Columbus, OH): Perhaps a bit of trader's remorse...I'd like to know your thoughts on a deal I just made. I am in a 14 team, mixed H2H league (5 x 5 with OPS and Holds). I just traded my 8th round pick to allow me to keep Billy Hamilton with a 21st rounder for the next 2 years. Am I crazy? Caveat: He is eligible at SS for this season...

Mike Gianella: You're not crazy at all. Hamilton has been going in the 6th round in many 15 team mixed leagues. While I like him less than that in your format, I still think you're adding some pretty good value in Hamilton that late...and you're doing so for 2 years. The shortstop eligibility is just a cherry on the...erm, speed sundae. I like that deal a lot for you, though as many know I am a Hamilton believer.

DanDaMan (Sea Cliff): Hey Mike, love the position rankings and appreciate them coming out early this year. Since some have been out a while are there any rankings that you would really like to change based on something you've seen in the Spring (like an injury perhaps)? Thanks.

Mike Gianella: Hi Dan.

I reflect the changes in my bid limits that I update every week (including today! http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23036). Today, I moved Joakim Soria up and Neftali Feliz down and moved Alexander Guerrero down and Dee Gordon up. Kris Medlen is out while Ervin Santana is in in the National League. Check out the rankings for all the latest movers and shakers.

Billy Hamilton (Cinci): Okay, so I may not hit a lot and will hurt you in the power dept. too, but I could well steal 70+ bases this year. So around what pick would you draft me in a standard mixed league? 50? 75? 150?

Mike Gianella: I think I had you ranked somewhere in the 60s for LABR mixed, although that was a deeper mixed league (15 teams). In a standard mixed, I might move you down a little bit since you don't do anything in HR/RBI and are an OBP/BA risk. Still, given the potential you have to completely own a category (and contribute big time in another) it's hard to push you down past 80-90.

Something I don't get are experts saying "you shouldn't take Hamilton because he does nothing in three categories." Can't you say the same thing for a power hitter who hits .260 in two categories? You can...and no power hitter is going to own a category the way Hamilton can own SB. The risk is there and you have to account for the lack of contributions in RBI/HR/BA (possibly). But you can't simply say he's not worth owning at all. So silly...

boatman44 (Liverpool): Hey Mike, I would value an opinion on the effectiveness of Kris Medlen in the future , as I own him in a 20 team dynasty league where we keep 24 players.If as seems likely he needs a second Tommy John surgery, what is the likelihood of Medlen returning as a top 25 pitcher in the next couple of years, or would I be better off cutting him and keeping Erasmo Ramirez ? Thanks for the chat.

Mike Gianella: I wish I had any kind of real idea. Medlen had a higher ceiling before the surgery, but I would be purely guessing at this point and not giving you an honest answer. I'd roll with Erasmo and take the certainty over the complete unknown, particularly in your deep format.

TeamPineTar (KC): Mike, the most vexing question in our fantasy league this year is surely how to pronounce the given name of prospect Rougned Odor. The second most vexing is which is the stressed syllable of his surname. There are all sorts of kinky possibilities, but we would like to be correct.

Mike Gianella: The interwebs tell me that it's pronounced "ďROOG-ned o-DOOR.Ē If it makes you feel any better, I'm terrible at guessing pronunciations as well. As a kid, I used to say C.I. Young for Cy Young, much to everyone's amusement.

flashtheleather (glove side): Can you survive a poor rotation to win a roto league? See Estrada and Burnett holding your #2 and #3 spots. Will great hitting, good streaming and good relievers providing the ratios be enough to win?

Mike Gianella: It's possible, though easier in 4x4 when strikeouts aren't a factor. If you're going to go this route, I do like the idea of holding onto a guy like A.J. Burnett who provides a lot of strikeouts.

Last year in Tout Wars (NL), I stumbled into a $37 pitching staff. Latos was my ace, but the back end were a lot of risks. Cashner and Wood worked out but a lot of other guys didn't work out. You need to be really aggressive with your streamers. The more liberal the reserve rules are the better off you'll be. So to answer your question I think it's possible but you need a lot of luck. Don't try this unless your freeze list stinks and you have little if anything to lose.

Shawnykid23 (CT): I have a few pitchers on my roster in a Dynasty League who I have idetified as good "sells" - Francisco Liriano, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Michael Wacha. Do you agree and can you think of other specific pitchers you would be selling? Conversely, who are some pitchers you would be trying to buy?

Mike Gianella: It all depends on the context of where you're at in your success cycle. Do you have a shot at winning this year? If you do, while Taijuan Walker is likely a better long term play than Liriano, you're better off with Liriano - at least for now. Some of this also depends on how easily you can fill in with replacements. I'd only be selling pitchers like Liriano if I were in a rebuilding mode...or if I could get a pitcher like Walker on the cheap.

I don't necessarily agree or disagree with this approach. I think I would need more information about your team/situation before I could comment on whether or not it's a good or bad idea to sell these guys. I'm not sure, though, why you'd sell Wacha. He might struggle this year (and people might be overpaying for him for 2014) but I like the long term outlook.

Pete (NY, NY): 15 team deep keeper league with OBP and IP: Need to keep two of the following with 50% price increases each year for 3 years max: KJansen (4), WMyers (12), M Adams (8)or Cuddyer (1B elig at 11) Please help pick 2

Mike Gianella: Hi Pete.

I think I'd go with Jansen and Myers. Adams is cheaper under your scheme - so he potentially offers more value than Myers - but I think you have a superstar in the making with Myers...even if he is overvalued for this year in redraft leagues.

Marlins88 (Anoka MN): What kind of lines will Aledmys Diaz have in a few years? Whats his ceiling? What type of value does he have in dynasty league?

Mike Gianella: It's a hard question to answer because we don't have a lot of information. The scouting reports I've read are fairly negative, and think that he might be more of a Quad-A guy (at best) than a big league player. The comps I've seen are to players who did fairly well in the minors and just couldn't take that final step. If Diaz makes it, I see him as a 10/10 or 10/20 guy, but that seems generous. I'd take him later in a dynasty given the lack of information. Let someone else take the chance.

Blake (Mass): 8-team, H2H points, snake draft, weekly lineups. Do you think my start of Kershaw, Braun, Pedroia, Freeman, Andrus, Bumgarner is good or should I have gone a different route? I kinda feel like Andrus went too high? I feel like Andrus is the last of the decent SSís and then Iím stuck with Hardy, Rollins, etc way later on.

Mike Gianella: I think that's OK, although without seeing your entire draft it's hard to say. In shallower leagues it's hard to get too negative about any particular pick unless you're really reaching, and none of these guys seem like reaches to me based on their current ADP. I do like Andrus better than many, so I think you're fine with that pick.

Justin (Chi-town): 8-team, H2H points, snake draft, weekly lineups- draft is in 2 days. I know you guys usually say to go with 1 SP after 5 rounds and 2 SP after 7 rounds, but how does that change with a smaller 8-team league?

Mike Gianella: I don't have a particular philosophy with where you pick guys, but I'd say in shallower leagues you can push pitchers back even further after you grab that ace. There are going to be so many solid arms floating around in your free agent pool (unless you have a super deep reserve list) that it doesn't make sense to stick with traditional rankings and roll with pitchers on the back end. Even in 12-team mixed, I take pitchers late; I find there is enough variability in everyone's rankings that it doesn't matter all that much in the end, and I'm inevitability happy with guys who slip all the way to the back end.

Bryan (Miami): Iím a long-time snake draft, weekly h2h points guy. But my league just decided to completely switch to auction draft, weekly h2h 5x5. So Iím completely lost as to what to do. Any quick advice for me?

Mike Gianella: Take a look at other auction leagues. Since you're probably in a mixed league, Tout Wars mixed is a good place to start, but even looking at the AL/NL only pools can give you some ideas. If you can follow along at Tout Wars site next weekend live during the auctions, it'll give you some good insights into auction dynamics. However, the learning curve is something you're just going to have to experience. Good luck.

Justin (Chicago): Just looking at your guysí projections, in a H2H points league, if Iím trying to decide between two guys with similar projected stats, do you think the projected PAís is a good tiebreaker? Or should I just look at like HRís or BA or something?

Mike Gianella: Hey Justin.

I generally do look at playing time (PA) if two guys' statistics are close. H2H/points leagues are all about accumulation, so you're better off racking up as many AB/PA as you possibly can.

Blake (Boston): Thoughts on waiting to fill my 3B and SS spots and grabbing Bogaerts and Arenado late?

Mike Gianella: Hi Blake:

In a shallower league, sure, why not? In a deeper league, they're not going to be there. But I think both will be playable in a 12-team mixed. In a 10-team mixer, Arenado might be kind of meh.

NightmareRec0n (Boston): Thanks for the chat on my birthday. I'm in a 12 team H2H redraft where we use R,HR,RBI,OBP,SLG,NSB on offense. I tend to weight NSB down a bit because the close relation of the first 5 offensive stats. This has created an unusual problem I noticed when calculating value for positionally weighted z-scores. The drop off for certain positions has become rather extreme. For example, there is roughly a $20 drop of between Tulo($34) and Ian Desmond,which make sense because SS with power are rare and OBP skills. Roughly the same difference between a Goldschimdt/Davis/Votto and Rizzo/Abreu(which I have at $25ish). There is a big caveat though. This is a snake draft. How should I handle such a significant drop off? I know I should probably take the best player on the board,but if I don't take a top tier shortstop, I'm not going to find anything close.

Mike Gianella: I think you have to take value for the first few rounds, but eventually have to start considering positional needs. In your situation it sounds like you need to do that more. So instead of starting to look at positions and ignoring overall rankings in the first 10 rounds, I'd narrow it down to the first six or so. You still might miss out on Desmond, but you'll still be able to apply your z-score methodology while still not completely missing out on quality later on.

Daniel (Australia): When will George Springer become fantasy relevant (10-12 team standard mix leagues) and does he have top 30 OF potential in 2015?

Mike Gianella: Hi Daniel:

He'll be fantasy relevant this year as soon as he gets called up, which I think will be in May or June (I'm assuming June, since I'm guessing it will be tied to service time). He has the potential to get to the top 30, but this assumes that the batting average comes north along with the steals and power. So my guess is that he won't get there in 2015 but that he'll be close.

Dan (VA): Inevitably, Taveras just got sent down to AAA. When do you see him getting his first MLB at bat and what kind of impact do you think he will have this year in the majors?

Mike Gianella: Hi Dan (wow, there are a lot of Dans here this morning)

My educated guess is sometime in June. He has the potential to make a huge impact but he has to stay healthy/on the field. That seems to be the biggest issue right now. My fantasy guess is that he's a $15-20 player this year (pace) and takes a big step forward in 2015.

Gila Monster (Cambridge): You are drafting 4th in a 12 team H2H league with R,HR,RBI,OPS,SB/CS. Who do you take? To be honest this is a struggle for me. I absolutely hate this spot because the drop off after Trout/Miggy is huge and the rest of the 1st round/early 2nd is pretty even. It is a terrible point where safe options exist, but upside is limited and you probably don't get that borderline first rounder in the 2nd. Would it be crazy to take Votto there?

Mike Gianella: It's not crazy to take Votto, but I think I'd go with Braun or Goldy first, assuming you believe in Braun this year. The OPS adjustment helps Votto - and arguably pushes him into the top 5 - but I still have a hard time taking him at #4 given the dip in HR/RBI and the fact that teams still aren't going to pitch to him and Votto (to his credit, even though it hurts us) isn't going to change his approach.

Dave (Boston): Why are the experts so pessimistic on Drew Smyly? Obviously he can't replicate what he did last year but he still seems like a strong option.

Mike Gianella: Hi Dave (I'm going to be saying "Hi Dave" in my sleep tonight).

Are we? I like Smyly a lot. I think my big concern is going to be with durability/him holding up over the course of a full season given that he pitched out of the pen last year, but I think the numbers are going to be very good.

chopper (indy): Mike, who do you foresee getting more saves this year between grilli and janssen?

Mike Gianella: Hey chopper.

At the moment, I'd go with Jason Grilli. Casey Janssen's health gets me a little nervous, and Sergio Santos -if healthy - might be the best arm in that pen. But Mark Melancon is a risk for Grilli's saves too. I'm leaning Grilli here, not strongly endorsing.

mike (STL): Do you envision Raimel Tapia becoming an impact player in MLB? Thanks!

Mike Gianella: Hi Mike.

Your guess at this point is as good as mine. Bret Sayre ranked him in his fantasy Top 100 (in the bottom half), but noted that he can be anything from Carlos Gonzalez to a complete washout. The numbers in rookie ball for a 19-year-old make me drool; now let's see what he can do at a higher level.

Max (Chicago): How do you deal w league specific positional inflation? In my keeper auction league (mixed, 14 teams) closers annually go for $15+. Do you get involved of punt? Seems crazy high to me every year and haven't found the best way to deal w it yet.

Mike Gianella: Hi Max:

I usually try to adjust more for my team's needs than for what's going on in the league. If I don't have any middle infielders heading into an auction, I'll redistribute some money to the inflation values of the middle infielders I like so that I'll get at least one solid one. The same would apply to closers. I don't think $15+ is that unrealistic, but I'll set a price that I can live with/not kill the rest of my team. If I get there, great. If not, fine, I'll punt the category. The best way to deal is to figure out "if I pay x amount for a closer, can I compete?" Try to take my values or someone else's and run through some scenarios of how your auction might play out assuming higher closer prices. Can you field a competitive team or not?

Andrew (Chicago): How do you feel about drafting a dedicated DH? I have Chris Davis as a very cheap keeper in a 14 team OBP league and considering placing him at DH and going hard after Votto at auction. Silly?

Mike Gianella: When the players are this talented, it doesn't matter. I only don't like keeping a DH-only or clogging up a position if you're talking about a borderline guy (like maybe Victor Martinez in a shallow mixed). But with two studs like this, I think this is perfectly fine and valid. Talent should win out over later opportunity to get a slight bargain.

cal guy (cal): If O's end up not extending Hardy and move Machado over to SS, who is likely to have the better career, assuming they both stay at SS, Correa or Machado?

Mike Gianella: Hi cal guy.

I'd lean Machado just because I've already seen what he can do and am duly impressed, but if it were Correa I wouldn't be surprised in the least.

rsambrook (Sacramento): Mike Moustakas: Is his valuation moving up? I have a keeper decision to make - he was definately a throw away, but now I' not so sure.

Mike Gianella: He's not moving up for me. I'm still not convinced he can hit left-handed pitching, and haven't seen or heard any evidence that he has made an adjustment. He's feasting on early ST pitching. He might improve a little bit this year, but I'm not expecting a breakout. Maybe Moustakas will prove me wrong, but I'm not going to place a big bet on that possibility.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Do you employ any super platoon's in your fantasy league's ? Do you think they are a legit source of cheap counting stats or do you feel it's just a gimmick ? If you use super platoon's who are you targeting ? Cheers Mike.

Mike Gianella: I play mostly in deeper leagues so I usually don't have this option/luxury. But in standard mixed leagues with deeper reserve lists I like the idea. One of the challenges, though, is having the roster space. In a league with 3-4 reserve spots, I'd prefer to have pitchers on reserve that I can stream instead. Since I don't play in the deeper leagues, I don't have any super platoon players in mind. I'd recommend reading Bret Sayre's recent article on this; he had some great targets for this strategy. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=23014

Rick (chicago): Thoughts on Dahl and how many yrs until he can reach the majors?

Mike Gianella: Dahl is a likely Major League fixture/solid Major League outfielder at worst and a potential superstar at best. He'll probably settle in as a $25ish outfielder with maybe a $30 upside in Coors if everything breaks right. He probably won't be up until 2016. Late 2015 seems like the absolute best case, but I'll stick with my initial guess.

Rick (chicago): Is Alfaro showing enough growth defensively to stick at catcher? How soon can he reach the majors? Thanks

Mike Gianella: It's too early to tell. He has made enough improvements that I think he had a chance, but we'll know more as he moves up the ladder. I doubt we'll see him this year since I believe the Rangers are still committed to him as a catcher. 2015 is my guess.

mprzybylo (Fort Myers): With the not-so surprising news that both Oscar Taveras and Gregory Polanco start out in the minors, do either amass 250 AB's this season?

Mike Gianella: It's a good possibility for both. I don't see Travis Snider or Jose Tabata as a particularly tough obstacle for Polanco and while Taveras seems blocked, he's one of those prospects where the team will find a place for him when he's ready.

ganz1080 (NH): hey Mike, my draft is sunday night, 12 team H2H, 8x8. The hitting categories are Runs, doubles, triples, homers, rbi, SB, AVG, & OBP. I have the 11th pick and am looking at taking desmond and Choo in the 3rd and 4th rounds. If one of those guys is gone, would it be too early to take Mauer there? I think hes a phenomenal guy to have in this league, and would love to wait until rd 5, but its cutting it close in terms of ADP. Thanks!

Mike Gianella: I think that's early for Mauer in the third but not in the 4th. I'm assuming he's still eligible at catcher. There's some risk there in H2H if he misses some time, but the fact that you're counting all of those non-traditional categories makes Mauer a HUGE potential buy in that format.

Chesty (New Bern N C): Top of Da morning Mike.12 team H2H 4th pick (Sb,Ave,now his strength Hr,RBI,R,XBH).Against the consensus but can you see Chris Davis at # 4.Ball park and better offense than McCutchen and Goldy.Semper Fi

Mike Gianella: I think there's enough variability in the rankings past Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout that you can make an argument for at least half a dozen hitters at #4. In this format, Davis gets a big boost because of the double counting of XBH. Yes, I can buy this argument. I think I might still take Cutch, but Davis is OK if that's the way you're already leaning.

Phil (Memphis): Why is this chat so early? I'm still hungover.

Mike Gianella: I wanted to reach out to the people who are usually pregaming while I'm chatting at 6 pm.

Bryan (Miami): Am I crazy for just not wanting CarGo as my #1 pick (at 7th overall in an 8-team league)? I just feel like betting so much on a guy who is almost guaranteed to get injured is not smart. (Maybe Iím too conservative? I feel the same way for picking Tulo, Hanley, Reyes, Bautista, Kemp, etc.)

Mike Gianella: That is crazy, particularly in an 8-team league. You can get injury replacements way easier in this format, so you have to consider that you're not getting a zero when Gonzalez misses 20-30 games.

mprzybylo (Fort Myers): In a NL-Only 10 team league that uses holds as a 6th category, is there a balance for number of SP vs RP to use to fill out your 9 slots?

Mike Gianella: I'd probably go five and four or six and three depending upon the strength of your rotation and whether you can nab one closer or two. I'm thinking two holds guys should be enough, but since I don't play in holds leagues maybe it isn't and you need three? Don't you hate when someone answers a question with a question?

ElGuapo (Nashua): Long term, in a league that rates hitters by RC and pitchers by W's and league adjusted ERA, who is the better prospect pick: Giolito or Frazier?

Mike Gianella: I'd probably still go with the better prospect and weight toward the hitter since they're still prospects and a lot can happen between now and when they make it. That's Giolito for me, even with the discount I build in for pitchers. He has top-of-the-rotation-with-a-bullet-I-normally-don't-hyphenate-my-sentences-but-he's-that-good potential

Shawn (Cubicle): Who are a few hitters/pichers you like to break-out this year?

Mike Gianella: I don't know if he's a breakout candidate, but I'm a big Tyson Ross fan. I think the adjustments they made are real and while the injury risk might always be there, he was (tied) for the hardest pitcher to hit in the second half.

I think Brett Lawrie is a nice post-hype candidate put up some sneaky 15/20 goodness.

Brandon Belt isn't exactly a breakout candidate, but he is going to add even more power this year.

Justin (Ill): Iím in a weekly lineup league, and in the past, Iíve looked for a catcher who will play more frequently, since having your guy sit a couple times during the week is just lame. Do you think itís worth grabbing a C who will actually be playing 1B and more frequently early in the draft? Or wait for a Lucroy, Rosario, or McCann who might sit more but can get at a better price?

Mike Gianella: I'd rather just take the best player at the appropriate time. It seems that everyone is at this disadvantage, and getting the guy who plays 15-20 games here and there at other positions doesn't help THAT much. I have bumped up someone like Carlos Santana a $1-2 this year, so that's the appropriate draft adjustment...maybe a round higher, maybe just a few picks higher. Don't go crazy.

AJ (AZ): 11th pick in a 14-team redraft 5X5 league with OBP instead of AVG. Who are some of your preferred guys to target in the late 1st/early 2nd round?

Mike Gianella: Hmm. Well it obviously depends on who gets taken earlier, but I like Tulo if he's still there. It's a weird spot because it's too early to start getting cute. I generally would just go with value. Bryce Harper is another obvious play there if he's not gone. I don't see anyone that low in the ADP rankings (say 20 or below) that jumps out as a "wow" move there. I do like David Wright/Freddie Freeman better than sexier guys like Jason Kipnis or Yasiel Puig, but I think all of them are probably stretches there anyway.

Sumner (Atlanta): Lawrie or Profar, who do you see having the better season?

Mike Gianella: For this year, Lawrie. I'm still not convinced that Profar necessarily takes that leap in 2014.

Gary (New Jersey): What's the chance that Micah Johnson hits and defends well enough to become a regular so that he can become fantasy relevant with his speed?

Mike Gianella: 30-40%. He'll be relevant in mono formats if he makes the Majors, but I'm thinking more Elliot Johnson/Chris Getz here than a guy who sticks long term as a starter. Those batting averages as he has moved up the chain don't inspire confidence.

Jon (Tx): I am in a deep 30 round 10 team H2H keeper league where you can keep as many players as you want. i already have cespedes in the 11th trumbo in the 12th L Martin in the 21st. would you still keep Aoki in the 16th or throw him back?

Mike Gianella: Can you keep Trumbo at first base? If so, I think Aoki's fine. If not, four outfielders might be too much. I'd keep him, but this decision isn't going to make or break you in this format.

Russ (Chicago): Are there any other teams with 290 true average outfielders sitting on the bench? Why can't/won't the Dodgers move Ethier for a middle infielder?

Mike Gianella: Probably not. The answer is two-fold. The Dodgers probably want to see if Matt Kemp is going to be healthy this year before pulling the plug on Ethier in a deal where they won't get much in return. The other rub is that contract. If my maths are right, Ethier is guaranteed another $71.5MM through 2017 (and this assumes his 2018 option doesn't vest). The Dodgers are going to have to probably eat some money to move him if they even are inclined to do so.

RatedRookie (Atlanta): If I roster both Yordano Ventura and Carlos Martinez, what will I have at the end of the season? Two gasoline-throwing RPs? Or two top-50 SPs? Or something in between?

Mike Gianella: You'll probably have something in the middle in Ventura's case. I think he'll come up later in the year, show flashes of brilliance but offer outings that are maddeningly frustrating. Martinez will likely stay in the pen, but events in St. Louis could prove me wrong. I think he'll be an amazing set up to Trevor Rosenthal, and could provide the Cardinals with the best 1-2 postseason punch since Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland in 1996.

Schiraldi (Baltimore): SBs look very scarce on the IF generally, especially in deep leagues. (Beyond Kipnis/Pedroia/Altuve, there's barely any steals contribution from 2B at all.) In deep leagues, how would you propose dealing with that? Suck it up and pay for Segura/Cabrera, trust that there are enough steals to be found in the OF, or focus on a MI all-rounder who gets at least some steals (Reyes, Pedroia, Hanley) at the very top of the draft?

Mike Gianella: In deep enough leagues, I'd just get the stats where they come. I don't necessarily believe in a blueprint where "I have to get steals at middle" or "I need 30+ HR thump from my 1B." In my early drafts/auctions this year, I've had some teams with speed up the middle (Andrus) and some teams where I've been getting it out of my outfield. I don't see an imperative to grab SB at a position. To your final point, I do like the idea of getting all around players early in drafts when I can as opposed to a no-SB bopper.

uvasuperman (Atlanta): Who do you think gets the most saves for Houston this year, and is that player worth drafting?

Mike Gianella: I still like Jesse Crain assuming health, although that's an open question right now. I have no faith in Chad Qualls even if he does start the year with the job. But to your point, Crain is a trade candidate even if he does get on track so all of these guys are late round fliers and maybe even reserve picks in 12-team mixers.

Greg (KC): Need a shortstop in NL-only deep dynasty league, traditional 5x5, and options are running slim: Gregorious, Furcal, Hechavarria, Dee Gordon, Ruben Tejada, Freddy Galvis, Haveabananarama. Not a rebuilding team, should compete this year, but did not keep Gregorious.

Mike Gianella: Gordon is the guy I'd take a flier on at the moment. OBP risk and could flame out again but he has the upside. Furcal and Gregorius are the next two players on my list but - as you point out - this is a deep NL-only so the options are unsurprisingly uninspiring.

stewbies (Rochester): I'm surprised you have Napoli so low. Is this a good example where you think less of a player than other "experts"?

Mike Gianella: On my bid limit? I have him earning $19 last year and have him at an $18 bid limit in AL-only. I'm not sure where others have him ranked, but I feel like my ranking is fair. I think Napoli's fine but have to admit that his hip worries me. That's a chronic condition that is never going to go away. Maybe he's fine for a few more years, maybe it becomes an issue this year. Without his medicals, I don't know, but I'm not clear on why this isn't a worry for some.

Sara (Tacoma): Made a bit of a blockbuster in a 10-team dynasty league. Traded Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, David Robertson, Glen Perkins, Zach Greinke, plus prospects (farm roster) Joey Gallo and Eddie Butler. Got back Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Homer Bailey, and prospects Xander Bogaerts and Billy Hamilton. I like the trade for me as I can play Xander and Billy right away, but I have my concerns over Harper breaking out. What do you think?

Mike Gianella: Hi Sara:

Wow, that is a blockbuster! In a league that size, I like that trade for you in the here and now. You got four potential impact players and a strong pitcher in Bailey for two potential impact guys in Harper and Werth with two closers and Greinke. A lot depends on what happens with Gallo and Butler, but if you're playing for this year (and flags fly forever, as we like to say around here) you did well.

gerrybraun (san diego): Hey Mike. Thanks for chatting. I have Oscar Taveras is in his option year. $260 NL-only league, very competitive, deep farm systems. I can extend him through 2015 for $7, through 2016 for $12, through 2017 for $17, or through 2018 for $22. (I would go higher.) What would you do?

Mike Gianella: Tough one. Probably $7 so I could use him as a dump chip this year. I could see going $12, but that's a lot of money to give to someone who in a worst case won't play this year. $12 if you really believe.

dshemie8 (Montreal): Who is winning the Nats 5th starter job? I already have Roark on my team, not sure if I should get Jordan.

Mike Gianella: Ross Detwiler has looked good in camp and is out of options so it's probably going to be him to start the year. If you can stash Roark and Jordan in deep enough leagues, do so (I think Detwiler's ceiling is limited) but if you're looking for help now, look elsewhere.

RatedRookie (Atlanta): I'm thinking of drafting a 2B late (11-team, 5x5 roto), someone like Dozier or Rendon who I think will be available. I am also thinking of drafting Baez early, betting that the Cubs bring him up as a 2B this season. What's your opinion on this gamble?

Mike Gianella: If you can get Rendon and you're playing for this year, get him instead of Baez. Rendon still hasn't reached his upside and has more MLB reps than Baez, who will go through his struggles this year if he's promoted.

John (Boston): Hey Mike, would you deal Aaron Sanchez and Jackie Bradley for Trumbo, Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney??? Thanks

Mike Gianella: Can you keep forever or do you have limits? In a keep forever that seems like a lot of ceiling (particularly with Sanchez) to give up for two uninspiring closers and Trumbo, but in a league with shorter term keeps that might be worth the gamble. My instincts tell me to pass, but if you can easily replace guys like Sanchez/Bradley in a farm draft, it might be worth it.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Drew Hutchison has the inside track for the rotation in Toronto , Is he Meh or is there any upside left ? Cheers Mike.

Mike Gianella: He's meh for me, and with Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman beating down the door, he's more of a capable AL-only fill in than a guy I'd gamble on in a deeper mixed.

Rick (chicago): Do you think Alfaro has shown enough improvement to stick as a catcher and what is realistic timeframe to make it to Texas? Thanks for the chat.

Mike Gianella: I think I answered this one already. There's a ghost in the machine.

dastard (on): Alfonso Soriano recently dropped a 40/40 potential on Junior Lake. Crazy yes, but what do you see his peak as?

Mike Gianella: Yes, that is crazy. 15/15 seems more reasonable, and I worry that Lake is going to get pushed aside by the tidal wave of Cubs prospects who will be on the scene sooner rather than later.

Dave (DC): In the same vein as the Springer/Taveras questions-- who are some guys you think will start the year in the minors but would be worth drafting in a 12-team roto keeper league?

Mike Gianella: If Nick Franklin doesn't get traded and gets optioned, he's an obvious choice. He'll be up at some point and the questions about the glove don't matter as much to us. I mentioned him earlier, but Gregory Polanco is an interesting reserve gamble in this format. Getting guys like this in a 12-team mixed is kind of risky. I know you need keeps, but you're wasting spots sometimes on guys who never make it. Billy Hamilton and Oscar Taveras seemed like great guys like this to gamble on last year and did nothing. Unless they're top of the pops prospects, I tend to avoid these plays in a standard mixer.

chris (nyc): Thoughts on marcell ozuna this year? Can he make an impact or too risky?

Mike Gianella: He could make an impact but I'm not sold that the minor league power is going to translate. I'm thinking he's a later round play in deeper mixed and a $10-12 bid in NL-only. The ceiling is probably $20 in NL-only, but there's no way I'd bet that.

uvasuperman (Atlanta): What's your take on Michael Pineda for this year and long term? I'm looking at him for my deep 35-man 10 team dynasty (keep anyone forever) league where my staff currently is Strasburg, Darvish, Verlander, Cole, Archer, J. Gray, Giolito, Walker, and Haren.

Mike Gianella: I still don't have a good handle on this. I hear reports about how great the velocity is, but that has never been the issue. What's the secondary stuff going to look like? Can he stay healthy/ He has #2/#3 potential if everything comes together, but I'd like to see some MLB reps before I make a call here. Pineda for Haren in this format is a worthy risk if you believe in Pineda.

JJ (MPLS): Is it time to give up on Alcides Escobar from a hitting perspective?

Mike Gianella: Nope. I was too high on him last year, but given his speed and really low BABIP, he should hit for a better BA this year. I just wouldn't expect any more power than what we have already seen.

Chris (NYC): would you pay $22 for Werth in an NL only with high hitter inflation? Would you give up Mesoraco at $7 to get him?

Mike Gianella: Oh yeah, he's worth that even without inflation. I would make that trade unless there is a dump culture in your league where people will covet Mesoraco if he breaks out.

mj1453 (chicago): Are there any NL-only 4th OF'ers or equivalent that you really like? I'm thinking of someone along the lines of Allen Craig a few yearsa ago that flashed some promise but was in line to back up at the start of the season.

Mike Gianella: I like Drew Stubbs for the Colorado factor and because Corey Dickerson is no sure thing, Jon Jay as a sneaky value proposition behind the oft-injured Peter Bourjos, and Nate McLouth as a sneaky source of speed even as a backup.

Bryan (305): 10-team auction draft, 5x5 h2h weekly. I could get like Kershaw, Tillman, and Burnett for like $35 or Salazar, Teheran, and Corbin for the same amount. In your opinion, is it better to get 1 stud and 2 ehh guys or 3 average guys for the same price?

Mike Gianella: In shallower formats, get the ace. The eh guys are easily replaceable but unless there's another version of Jose Fernandez who is definitely going to get promoted from the minors, you can't replace Kershaw.

hardball (San Diego): Hey Mike..I just completed an auction where inflation was insane, which threw my plan out the window. Do you think my roster is top heavy enough to compete in 16tm ML H2H Dynasty or should I look to deal to address pitching or weakness in OF/Util. C-Castro 1B- Goldy 2B-Kipnis 3B-Miggy SS-Miller MI-Gyorko OF-Beltran OF-Revere OF-Rios OF- Chris Young SP-Darvish SP-Hamels SP-Shields SP-Kuroda SP- Peacock RP- McGee RP-Clippard RP-Melancon RP-Crain SPDuffy SP Erasmo and a few bench scrubs

Mike Gianella: I think it's OK. You're probably going to need some saves, but given that it's 16 teams I think your offense can compete.

RatedRookie (Atlanta): Any chance that injuries at the big league level and his own development push Robert Stephenson up to Cincinnati this year?

Mike Gianella: It's possible but a long shot. I think Stephenson is going to need the full year at AAA and a September cuppa joe is the best I'd expect. Of course, pitchers have a way of accelerating timetables.

Aaron (Long Beach): Hi Mike, How much extra value do you give to Jose Abreu and Tanaka in a league where there get four years of keepability as opposed to two for all other players in the draft? Would you draft them ahead of players like Alex Rios or Hunter Pence? Thanks!

Mike Gianella: I'd add a slight amount of value, but given that you'll probably be getting both at price without a lot of upside, this doesn't seem like a huge tactical advantage to me. I'd stick with Rios/Pence over Abreu/Tanaka.

boatman44 (Liverpool): Thanks for all the advice Mike ! One last thought Dice-K in Citi still got value or has that ship sailed into the sunset ?

Mike Gianella: He's a $1 flier in NL-only. He's keeping a seat warm for either Montero or Syndergaard.

Mustard (Kingston, Ontario): Been offered Yelich and A.Bradley for Trumbo. Do both of them make enough impact this year with their clubs, to offset the loss of Trumbo. Personally, I think Trumbo has hit his ceiling. Thanks!

Mike Gianella: I think you have to make that deal. Yelich won't quite provide what Trumbo will but I think you have to play the upside here. I'm not a Trumbo fan. That batting average hurts and I'm not a believer that AZ creates a 40 HR monster.

Bryan (Miami): 10-team auction draft, 5x5 h2h weekly. Whatís your thoughts on punting categories? Iím thinking of just not wasting $$ on closers and punting saves. I could also punt ERA and try to get more cheap guys who get lots of Kís like Samardzija, Burnett, CC, Dickey, etc. Thoughts?

Mike Gianella: In shallow formats I don't like it at all, especially not at the beginning of the season. I like trying to compete everywhere unless the prices are prohibitively high for closers.

hardball (San Diego): Thoughts on grabbing Baez in a 12 team ML redraft league? What round would you take the gamble in?

Mike Gianella: In a redraft? Eh, I'd take him pretty late if I took him at all. 20th? I don't know. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a big fan of this play in mixed. Seems like a 1-in-10 chance you wind up with this year's version of Bryce Harper in 2012 and a 9-in-10 chance you wind up with Oscar Taveras v.2013.

RatedRookie (Atlanta): Is this the year Jason Heyward makes some MVP noise? Top-5 OF in fantasy?

Mike Gianella: He certainly could given that he's a talented player and projections are always bound to be wrong, but that's a reach for him for me. I see more of a $25 player, not a $30+ one.

Joe (VA): 10 Team 6x6 H2H league (R, RBI, HR, SB, OBP, 2B for hitters and QS, K, SV, ERA, WHIP, and BB for pitchers) with 1 each of C, 1B, 2B, SS, UTI, 3 OF, 8 Pitchers. I have the first pick with Trout. But I am torn on what guys I should look for for my 20th and 21st pick. I like Longoria but I also like Seager's value later in the draft. Gomez and Puig seem like risky picks there. Your thoughts would be much appreciated!

Mike Gianella: Of the guys you mention, I like Gomez. I agree about Puig...I think he's incredibly overrated this year (21st right now in NFBC!!!) and shouldn't be going that high. In this format, though, I might take Longoria. (I'm assuming you mistyped and need a 3B). Gomez/Trout is a great OF but with only three OF spots a lot of strong guys should be floating around later...and the OBP/BA difference is enough of a differentiator with Gomez/Longo to go with Longo.

Bryan (Florida): 10-team auction draft, 5x5 h2h weekly. What do you think of the idea of getting the top player of each position (Trout for $45, Miggy for $42, Kershaw for $31, Tulo for $28, Pedroia for $22, Votto for $30, and Posey for $18) and then having $55 for 18 other spots (about $3 per spot)? That would be if each of those guys went for about their average prices.

Mike Gianella: It's doable in a shallower league. A lot depends on how savvy your competition is. The stronger the league, the worse your bottom guys will be. But, yes, I like it in general. Enough variability in 10-team mixed where the scrubs will be guys you like.

hardball (San Diego): Is not the time to grab Rizzo...or do you think he will provide more of the same since his callup?

Mike Gianella: I think Rizzo will take a bit of a step forward this year, but I don't like the line-up around him (for runs/RBI ops) and still have my concerns about him against lefties. He'll be better. I don't think he'll crack the elites.

Bryan (Miami): 10-team auction draft, 5x5 h2h weekly. I have $260 to spend on 25 spots (the usual). If youíre in my position, what kind of game plan do you have going into the draft? Spend big bucks on a few guys and have a bunch of $1 guys? Or try to have a more evenly-spread team?

Mike Gianella: In a shallower league, I like the stars and scrubs plan. Don't balance your roster; a lot of these guys are just going to be people you burn and churn anyway.

Mustard (Kingston, Ontario): Good morning! Is Syndergaard a lock in the rotation at this point? Do you see 150 inning from him before he is capped?

Mike Gianella: I doubt Syndergaard will be up on Opening Day. I expect a mid-year ETA. I suspect something in the 140-170 IP range is realistic, though I don't know for sure.

Bryan (Florida): 8-team, H2H points, snake draft, weekly lineups- draft is in 2 days. I have 7th pick. All I know for sure is that Trout/Miggy are going 1 and 2, and Cano is going 4th. Can you rank these possible 7 and 10 combos for me? Kersh/Braun, Kersh/Fielder, Braun/CarGo, Braun/Fielder, or any others that immediately come to mind? THANKS!

Mike Gianella: Hmmm, probably Kershaw/Braun, Braun/Cargo, Kershaw/Fielder, and Braun/Fielder. I'm not a big believer in Fielder this year, at least not for a huge bounce back.

Mustard (Kingston, ): 13 team keeper league (with 5 minor slots available) I kept injured Harvey am now fielding offers on him. Would you accept something like Nolasco and A.Craig? Scared that Harvey is going to come back big time next year. Thanks!

Mike Gianella: I'd push a little harder on the pitcher (Nolasco seems thin in a 13-team mixed) but that's fair. Yes, you might get killed on Harvey in 2015 and going forward, but as Donald Rumsfeld used to say, there are a lot of unknown unknowns.

kddean (deerfield): on a whim, i joined a random ESPN league. I'm trying to figure out a draft strategy. NL only, 6*6 (obp and holds), real positions, 11 pitchers, 6 bench players. To me, the best strategy seems hitters and closers, get SP late. Does that make sense? Oh, also draft position is decided at draft time. Thanks.

Mike Gianella: In an NL only I'd probably make sure to get some SP early. The talent is there at SP but if you wait too long you could wind up with a pretty crappy staff. I tend to go value even more in only drafts with even more of an eye on positions, since you could really get hosed at MI or catcher if you wait too long.

Bryan (Fla): 10-team auction draft, 5x5 h2h weekly. Do you recommend using the auction values from your draft guide and trying to get the guys who are great values based on that? For example, your auction value for Beltran is $18 and the value on ESPN is like $14.

Mike Gianella: Yes, I would try to use my values to get bargains. Keep in mind for mixed, though, that there is a lot more variability and that Beltran could go for $20 or go for $6. In a 10-team league, you might want to push the bargain point down even further.

Mustard (Kingston, Ontario): Good morning! 13 team keeper league and I have Harvey. Am I being too greedy asking for A. Craig and Baez in a package or Bruce/Pineda? I am finding it hard to value Harvey given the injury. Thanks!

Mike Gianella: I think that's a lot to ask for. Yes, it's really hard to value injured players, especially in a keep forever. But even if Harvey is 100% healthy, Craig/Baez and Bruce/Pineda are probably going to be worth more than Harvey unless he comes all the way back, and that isn't 100% guaranteed.

Mike Gianella: Thanks for joining me this morning. Don't forget that Super Premium subscribers can get any questions answered within a 12-hour window by me or our crack staff of fantasy experts. See you soon.


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