Jeff Erickson, host of XM's "Fantasy Focus" every weekday at noon, longtime executive at Rotowire and BP contributor, stops in to talk fantasy baseball at the season's halfway mark.
Jeff Erickson: Greetings everybody - hope everyone is still in the hunt in your leagues for the second half.
Brian Oakchunas (NFBC): How does LV9 stack up against the 'expert' leagues you are in this year?
Jeff Erickson: Equally competitive, I'd say. We've got the 2006 Main Event champ, two industry players, and a number of NFBC veterans. At one point last week, we had two guys in our league in the overall top 10 in this year's event. I've been outbid on a number of key free agents - so I'd say the majority of the league really knows their stuff.
Phil (McCrakkin): For the love of God, why were you the only one to not reply to Sheehan in the Great Tout Give Away? It really upset him. He could only communicate with hand puppets for two days after your shun.
Jeff Erickson: There's a reason why we call him The Volcano....
GilGaucho (Orange, Ca): Who do you see as the front runner for the Pirates closer job? Do they have a closer in waiting in the minors?
Jeff Erickson: I'd like to see Damaso Marte get the shot. Tyler Yates pitched the ninth last night, but that's only because Marte was getting the night off. If you look at the metrics, though, Marte has been their best reliever lately. The only problem with him is that he was rumored to be on the trade block. If I'm the Pirates, I keep my focus on the long-term plan and still deal him if the price is right. I don't see anyone in the minors that's a ready replacement for that role.
Rob (New York): How do you explain the Yankees inconsistent offense? They have a great offense overall, but they score in bursts. Have there been sabermetric studies on offense consistency?
Jeff Erickson: Is this the Joe Morgan chat?
I think that there have been some studies on reliability, and I suppose there's some variance between offenses built with take-and-rake hitters versus those that are put-it-play types, such as some of the better Mariners teams from earlier in the decade, but I don't have a good answer for you. I think it's just the normal ebbs-and-flows of an offense. It would be nice to have Melky and Cano doing more, and for Matsui to heal.
codymomo (Hawaii): Crawford or Sizemore the rest of the way? Kershaw, Snell or Penny the rest of the way?
Jeff Erickson: I'd go with Sizemore because of the power - I think he'll do more across the board. Crawford will probably run more, maybe hit for better average.
Kershaw/Snell/Penny - Is death an option? Kershaw just got sent back down, though I'd bet it'll be a short trip, and Penny is due back this weekend. I'd gamble on Kershaw's quick return.
jake1m (Jenny Lind, Ca.): I am looking forward to attending the Future's Game. Traditionally alot of these players have made an MLB impact. I am wondering what you project of Dexter Fowler, Gorkys Hernandez, and Taylor Teagarden. Will I see you there?
Jeff Erickson: I won't be able to make it to the game. I don't get too many chances to travel right now, between family and radio obligations.
I think that Teagarden would have gotten the call over Ramirez had he been healthy when Laird got hurt. But therein lies the rub - staying healthy has been his biggest problem as a professional. I like him better defensively than the other Ranger catching prospects. I think that Fowler's development is one of the reasons why the Rockies are entertaining notions of trading Holliday. My only concern with Hernandez is whether he develops any power, but I love his speed and his contact rate.
Dave Martinez (Chicago): NL only.I just lost Capps. Any ideas for saves that might fall out of the bushes? Thanks
Jeff Erickson: Marte is a possibility; I'd speculate on Colorado if either Corpas or Buchholz (prefer Buchholz) is available. Maybe see if the Nats think about trading Rauch - they have so few other tradeworthy commodities, and speculate on their alternatives.
Jeff (Evanston, IL): If the Cubs land a starter(from the AL)that most think they will, who do you see being the bait? Pie, Murton, Hill?
Jeff Erickson: Either Pie or Murton - I don't think too many teams are going to touch Hill at this point, given his drastic dropoff in control. I think Murton is the guy most likely to be dealt - he just doesn't have much of a future in the organization.
jj (san diego): rafeal rodriguez or angel villalona?
bumgardner or alderson?
posey or villalona/rodriguez?
Jeff Erickson: Villalona - I'm almost always going to take the position prospect over a relief prospect.
Bumgarner over Alderson, but just barely; you could make the case for Alderson since he's doing it at a much tougher track at a higher level, but I think (and I'll qualify this by saying that I'm not that confident in the comparison) Bumgarner has a high ceiling.
Posey over Villalona/Rodriguez - scarce position, and I think that Posey's track to the big league squad will be quicker.
George (Queens): How good will Volquez be from here on out?
Jeff Erickson: I'm worried about the walk rate, and his tendency to rack up a high pitch count early. It limits how deep into games he can work, and gives him a pretty high overall workload on the season. I also don't think that he maintains his low home run rate. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a 4.00 ERA the rest of the way - I'd still take that, especially if the strikeouts are still there, though.
kenfa03 (Texas): Which of the young starting pitchers that weren't as hyped as the Joba's and the Homer's has the potential to develop into dominant strike out pitchers?
Jeff Erickson: One guy I'm watching closely is Brett Anderson with the A's - just got promoted to Double-A. If he can make the transition in the Texas League, he could come quick.
tycobb (ga): whats manny corpas's deal?
Jeff Erickson: He's still inducing a lot of ground balls, but even last year he didn't strike out that many hitters. You put that many balls in play, there's going to be some variance. Then you factor in the sample size with relievers, and there's even more likelihood that his performance would fluctuate from year-to-year. He's also yet another bullet point for the argument to not give long-term deals to relievers.
Ben (St. Paul): How much of LaPorta and/or Gamel's success do you think could be attributed to the fact that the other guy is hitting so well? Would either of those guys be doing what they're doing without the lineup protection of the other?
Jeff Erickson: I'm not a big fan of the protection argument. It helps their counting stats, but especially at the minor league level, you are what you are. LaPorta was a first-round pick - clearly the talent was always latent.
dshugert (OH): Better 3b the rest of the season: Glaus, Beltre, or Alex Gordon?
Jeff Erickson: Glaus as strictly a power play, Gordon overall. I'm still worried about Beltre's wrist; if the M's don't trade him, they could very well shut him down at some point.
Josh (Detroit): Jeff,
For the rest of 08 in a standard league how do you rank the following 1b: Konerko, Swisher, Cantu, La Roche, C Davis or Butler? Anyone jump out at you? Thanks
Jeff Erickson: Swisher/LaRoche/Konerko/Davis/Cantu/Butler. Butler rates so low because he hasn't hit for power yet at the major league level, and he just doesn't have the organizational commitment behind him. Ross Gload? Really?
Dennis (LA): Thanks for the chat. I'm in a keeper league where the only pitching stats that count are innings pitched and runs (both earned and unearned) allowed. I'm thinking of trading Brian Bannister and Leo Nunez for Mike Mussina. Are my frustrations with Bannister leading to a bad move? Another wrinkle: whoever has Bannister would have control over him for the next few years, whoever has Mussina would be stuck with him next year as well, but I want to win this year. Thanks!
Jeff Erickson: I think I'd do that. As much as I love Bannister's cerebral approach to the game and want to root for him, I don't want to touch him on any of my leagues. The blowup potential is just too high. Don't mistake that with an endorsement of Mussina - he's getting by now, but I think that dissipating strikeout rate is really scary. But ... he will get you those innings, and he's safer than Banny right now.
temple (Madison Wisconsin): Do you think Orlando Hudson will re-sign? If not, would Emilio Bonifacio be likely to take over?
Jeff Erickson: The only grumblings I heard about the O-dog were in the offseason, and the consensus was that him re-signing was going to be dicey. But his defense is so valuable to that team, that I think that they'll make a good faith effort to re-sign him. If not, I don't think Bonifacio necessarily takes over. I'm somewhat underwhelmed by his numbers at Tucson (.302/.348/.387) - his BABIP there is .364. Some of that comes from his speed, but he's also been lucky from an average standpoint. With no power to speak of, almost all of his value offensively derives from his speed.
Mike (Utica,NY): Gomez or Ellsbury in fantasy baseball in the future?
Jeff Erickson: Ellsbury. Joe has documented his June swoon this week, but I still like his batting ability better than Gomez's, because he just doesn't have the same idea of the strike zone.
Matt (Bloomington, IL): Evan Longoria or Aramis Ramirez...who do you think will be more productive the rest of the year?
Jeff Erickson: Ramirez.
Jenna (DC): Jeff, i heart your radio show to no end. Do you guys offer a podcast for it? I searched around to no avail.
Jeff Erickson: I think that XM is working on it - I need to press them on it. XM175 has a few more restrictions than XM144, I'm pretty sure. That's why Chris' show has been able to go to podcast quicker.
Mike (DC): Alot of people think the unhittable Buchholz would get passed over in favor or Corpas for the Rox closer job if Fuentes were to be dealt. How about you?
Jeff Erickson: Because Corpas is signed to the long-term deal, there's a reasonable chance he gets another shot. Buchholz has certainly pitched well enough so far, but part of me still wants the Rox to think of him as a starter. Again, we're trying to read the tea leaves on what Clint Hurdle thinks, not necessarily who has earned the gig. If push comes to shove and I could only roster one, I'd go with Buchholz, just because he's pitching better.
mase1361 (Boston): I've lost furcal, and am considering giving Sabathia and Kelly Johnson for Ellsbury and Mike Young. Seems like a pretty fair deal to me, whachuthink?
Jeff Erickson: Wait on that deal. Young just got hurt last night. Ellsbury also has dropped off considerably lately; I'd see if I could find a better deal.
ted (the cubicle): Is punting average a viable strategy in head-to-head? There are values to be had in terms of hitters (Encarnacion, Cameron, Jacobs), but I'm wondering if you leave yourself vulnerable to your whole team slumping.
Jeff Erickson: I'm not a big fan of punting average, just because usually the guys that do well there are your best players in other categories. You're right - there's some value with the low average guys that do well in others (see also Adam Dunn, Rickie Weeks), but yeah, if they all go bad at the same time, then you're probably stuck in all the offensive categories across the boards. I think punting is still a good h-to-h strategy, but moreso with saves and/or SB's.
Mike (Dallas): Will Huff keep hitting?
Jeff Erickson: Sure - why not? He's healthy, he has demonstrated this skill set before. He might be within the upper bounds of his range, but he's not that far off his past production.
ericmilburn (San Francisco): Jeff, how would you rank these SPs in a keeper league: Liriano, Hughes, Scherzer? Thanks!
Jeff Erickson: In the order that you've listed them. I wonder a little bit about what Scherzer's future role is with the Diamondbacks; durability is a concern for all three, but I think that Liriano has the best chance to be a dominant starter.
Mike (DC): Thouhgts on the Tribe's bullpen?
Jeff Erickson: I'm mystified about Betancourt's collapse this season, but the funny thing is that his strikeout rate is still there. Now that they're probably out of the race, I think that they'll be more inclined to swap out Borowski than they would have otherwise been. I'd rank the potential replacements, in terms of likelihood of closing, as Kobayashi/Perez/Betancourt.
Brent (Scottsdale): I am an unfortunate owner of Matt Capps (and Eric Gagne-ouch). I was lucky enough to pick up Damaso Marte before the rest of the vultures in my league plucked him up. Is he the front runner to get the nod in Capps' absence? Also, what can we expect from Josh Johnson in the second half of the year?
Jeff Erickson: I'd expect nothing from Johnson - even when a pitcher comes back from TJS, there's usually a lag in his command, and that's especially true when a guy comes back earlier than expected. If you have ample room on your reserve, sure, roster him, but don't activate him until he gets a few starts in to see what's going to happen.
Marte - yes, frontrunner, but don't be surprised if there's some sort of committee at work with Yates, because Marte is a lefty.
Ameer (Bloomington, IN): In terms of fantasy, everyone has been talking about Slowey, Garza, and Parra, and C. Buccholz lately. What are their relative values in the second half and how big is the gap between them>
Jeff Erickson: In a redraft league, I'd rank them as: Garza/Parra/Slowey/Buchholz. The gap is extremely narrow - Buchholz rates last because of his walk rate and lack of job security, but he has the talent to be the best. I'd want him the most of the four in a keeper league. Slowey is pitching great right now, but I think that he's feasted on some weaker opponents lately and is still vulnerable to the gopherball.
Mike (Atlanta): Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman or Jesus Montero and Almonte?
Jeff Erickson: The side getting Heyward; he's the best prospect in the deal, as I don't see Montero sticking behind the plate.
Jay (Madison): Jenks has missed the last couple of save ops. Sox say it is a balky back. Should i be worried?
Jeff Erickson: Moderately worried - it's not the first time he's had this problem.
Just a quick note - I'm switching from "live" to "plausibly live" for the remaining questions - I have to watch the kids for a few minutes.
Jay (Madison): Any more minor leaguers likely to get the call and make a splash this year?
Jeff Erickson: I think that Cameron Maybin and the PIT outfielders might be viable, depending on how quickly/if they trade either Bay or Nady.
Brad (Phoenix): I am looking to deal starting pitching and a position player for a closer. Who would you rather deal, Kuroda or Loshe? I am leaning towards Loshe since I think he is more likely to implode. Also, do you think DeRosa is destined for a second half drop off?
Jeff Erickson: Agreed on both accounts. Strikeout rate isn't the be-all end-all, but it's a pretty good starting point, and Lohse's is pretty low. He'll also fetch you more in a trade.
DeRosa will drop off some, though he's not outrageously over his expected outcome.
Michael (Toronto): Any chance Girardi and Co. listen to Goldman and Brett Gardner steals Melky's job in CF?
Jeff Erickson: Sure; but both are probably placeholders for Austin Jackson eventually.
Goldeye99 (Canadian Prairies): What's your guess at a major's ETA for Colby Rasmus & Fernando Martinez, given their slow starts in 2008? April 2009?
Jeff Erickson: Rasmus - Aug. 08; Martinez - June '09. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Mets play the arbitration-eligibility game, even if Martinez's performance begins to demand a promotion, which it hasn't yet.
mhixpgh (Pittsburgh): Hiya Jeff. Avid fan, first time chatter..... I have Soto C/CHI on all three of my fantasy teams. Should I keep him for the remainder of the season or deal him for speed (which I really need). I think he is going to be productive the rest of the season. But a friend of mine keeps whispering in my ear to trade him while his value is high.
Jeff Erickson: Is your "friend" in your league, and wanting to trade for him? I think Soto is for real; whether you should trade him depends on the specific needs in your league. Can you replace him with someone semi-viable? How badly do you need the bags? It's all contextual - but yes, I agree that he'll still be productive.
ghost of Ron Gant (roto history): Jeff:
Thanks for the chat! Ian Kinsler is the greatest thing since sliced bread. He's God's gift. He's the yin and the yang. That is all.
Jeff Erickson: About five comments/questions to this effect. Yep, agreed - he's my #2 2B now, only behind Utley. The thing that I love is the SB success rate - 23-of-24. Just unreal.
GilGaucho (Orange, Ca): Ianetta or Salty for the rest of 08?
Jeff Erickson: Iannetta - Salty might be getting the playing time now, but I think that he goes back into some form of a timeshare when Laird returns, and Iannetta is a little more polished right now.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Is McLouth and Torres for Sizemore a great deal for me? I'd take Morrow off of the wire afterwards.
Jeff Erickson: Yes, absolutely, factoring in that you can get Morrow - Torres might get more save opportunities, but Morrow makes up for it in strikeouts.
Mike (NY): Austin Jackson over Jose Tabata? And when will we see them playing for the yankees? Could we see Jackson as a September call-up? What is Melky Cabrera's future?
Jeff Erickson: Melky's future: 4th outfielder. Jackson looks a lot closer to being ready than Tabata, who has really regressed this season. Jackson could be an August callup, even, if Melky and/or Gardner don't produce soon.
juiced (sf): Assuming Chase Headley gets consistent playing time the rest of the year, what kind 5x5 stats can we expect him to put up?
Jeff Erickson: I'd think about about .270, 12-15 HR, 40 runs and RBI, 0 SB.
Corkedbat (Dallas): Would you drop Pedro Martinez now or later?
Jeff Erickson: Later - give him a handful more starts first to see if he can turn it around.
Ray (Tampa): Navarro or Iannetta through the end of the year?
Jeff Erickson: Navarro
tmcghan (Bay Area, CA): Yahoo! Sports today just claimed that Cabrera's trade value is way up, which I guess makes sense if you only care about his start last night. They also claim the O's aren't likely to trade him unless blown away, since he's likely "just turned a corner". We've been hearing that for years. Do you think he can be moved this year?
Jeff Erickson: I actually think that Cabrera is a tricky case for the O's. Clearly, they're rebuilding and should continue to do so, even with the good record right now. He's starting to get to the portion of his career where he'll be more expensive, so they're either going to have to lock him up long-term and take that leap of faith, or risk losing him via free agency right when he's at his peak value. That is, if you believe that his gains in his walk rate are for real. I'm not entirely persuaded, especially because along with that drop in his walk rate has been a dramatic drop in his strikeouts. If I'm the O's, I trade him. I just don't know what he'll bring. Last night's start is easily written off, factoring in the opponent.
forlostcauses (Chicago, IL): Hey Jeff,
In a salaried keeper league deal between a contender and an also-ran is this a fair deal?
Kershaw at bare minimum salary (with inflation, Kershaw could be held for years) plus McLouth at just over minimum to the contending team for Jose Reyes at a non-keeper price?
Jeff Erickson: It's a perfect dump trade. In fact, the dumping team got more value than I'd anticipate them getting.
ted (the cubicle): What starting pitchers (if any) would be an acceptible return for Matt Holliday in a one-for-one trade? I'm in a head-to-head league & thinking about punting average & bolstering my current rotation of Kazmir/Shields/Baker/Duch/Wandy/Buchholz
Jeff Erickson: Santana/Beckett/Webb/Hamels/Lincecum/Haren/Sabbathia, for sure. Kazmir if he weren't on your team already. I think that the risk of Holliday getting dealt is very real, and looking at his home/road splits, you might want to get out in front of that trade.
Scott (NJ): I need to sack a reliever and pick up a starter to boost my wins and K's. Who's the best option from here on out to run up numbers in those two categories without killing me in the rate stats: Parra, Wakefield, Wellemeyer, Arroyo or Sonnanstine.
Jeff Erickson: Parra or Wellemeyer. Sonnanstine would be third. I'm not touching Arroyo right now.
Swingingbunts (NY): What do the Mariners do with Morrow when Putz comes back? Bury him in the bullpen, transition him like Joba or maybe, keep him as the closer?
Jeff Erickson: What should they do, or what will they do? I think that they should do the transition to the rotation now. Forget about what they need this year - their only priority should be what makes them better in '09 and 2010. Get him to the minors, have him build up his innings and learn how to pace himself (he hasn't started a game above A-ball). It's not the same equation as Joba because Morrow really hasn't ever been a starter at the professional level.
What will they do? Probably leave him as the closer all year, even after Putz returns.
Jay (Boston): Sell high on Garza? Will Conor Jackson give me .310-10-50 in the second half?
Jeff Erickson: I think that's too high on Jackson, across the board, but especially with the 10 homers.
Garza - hold.
jphan44 (boston): is c b young worth keeping after the season. i feel like he loses a lot of his value if he's not stealing bases
Jeff Erickson: He does indeed lose a lot of value, particularly in standard roto leagues, if he's not running. The thing is, there's really no good explanation for his lack of attempts, unless there's an undisclosed injury. It's not as if AZ has had a change in philosophy. I'd expect him at some point, maybe next year, to run again. I still view him as a keeper.
Tim (Pronkville): How would you rate Travis Hafner's value in the second half and when do you expect him to return?
Jeff Erickson: Pretty darn low - you hate seeing reports about one shoulder being significantly weaker than the other and seeing how slow the pace of recovery has been. I'm a little out of my element in diagnosing him, but I don't expect him back until August, and who knows what form he'll be in.
Jeff Erickson: Thanks folks for chiming in - I apologize if I couldn't get to everyone's question. Have a great and safe 4th, and hopefully we can do this again sometime!